Let There be Light

Weston Master III exposure meter with case. A selenium cell wonder in 1958.

Toronto. In the late 1950s I bought a meter to compliment my Exakta. I looked at all the options offered and decided the best of the bunch was the Weston Master III. I bought it with the “invercone” that clips over the light sensitive cell to produce a reading when facing the camera from the subject.

I was so disappointed to find that the meter barely registered indoors, just where it was most needed. Outdoors it was great, but often the film makers’ written instructions would do just as well.

It did help with colour-reversal film. The Kodachrome of the day was around ASA 10 and incredibly fussy.  Properly exposed clouds would plunge everything else into gloomy darkness. When the trees were correct, the sky was burnt out.

Anscochrome at ASA 32 was a bit better with a slightly greater dynamic range (number of stops from barely detectable dark shadow detail to barely detectable highlights). Tri-X black and white negative film clocked in around ASA 200 – 400 if you “pushed” it. This was a far cry from the digital cameras of today where ISO (i.e. ASA) of 100 is the slowest offered and the sensors range up to over 12,000 ISO. Colour is standard and black and white is a niche mode. How times changed in half a century!

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