Toronto. Last century, a professional was able to decide the needed exposure for a printable negative. To be safe, critical shots could be bracketed – a shot taken at both double and half the estimated exposure. Also, with orthochromatic film, the development could be viewed and a trained eye could shorten or extend the time or change the temperature to get a printable gamma curve with details in the highlights and shadows alike. For large sheet films, a pencil and a knife could ‘correct’ the gamma curve.
Various exposure calculating devices allowed a better ‘guesstimate’ for the necessary exposure. In the mid-last century the questions were which maker to choose and whether reflected or incident light readings gave the best result. Of course until CdS cells arrived NO meter helped indoors or at night.
Eventually hand-held meters were replaced with clip-on or built-in meters. My first meter was a clip-on for a Minolta rangefinder camera. The meter was linked to the shutter setting. A hand-held meter was a step up for me and the big decision was Weston vs. GE. I went with Weston and bought a Master III. Used mainly in reflected mode, the big selenium cell of the meter failed just when needed most – at dusk and indoors.
Thanks to my good friend, George Dunbar for sharing this ad from the June 1947 issue of Popular Photography. The Weston ad is page 28 (Master II) and the GE ad is on page 11.