Minolta Spotmeter F Review - Better Than the Pentax Digital Spotmeter

Affordable spotmeters are difficult to come by as there were never very many options. The Minolta Spotmeter F is one of the least expensive digital meters available. It uses AA batteries instead of discontinued batteries that are no longer produced.

If you are interested in a meter for landscape photography or for multiple lighting setups for photography or video lighting, the Minolta Spotmeter F light meter is a good choice.

Minolta Spotmeter F Lens
Minolta Spotmeter F Lens

If you’re in North America, eBay is the best place to find used spot meters As of February 2nd, 2019, prices for the Minolta Spotmeter F ranged from $170-$230. The M version can be found for $130-$170.

Update: Checking prices in July, 2023, the price range has dropped to $160-$200.

More expensive used listings include a manual, box, case, front lens cap, and/or close up lens.

1987 or 1988 was when the meter was released.

I own a series of Competitive Camera Corp catalogues spanning 1985-1989. A 1988 catalog was the first year the meter appeared for $369.95.

  1. Under $50 - Soligor Spot Sensor, Soligor Digital Spot Sensor, or Soligor Spot Sensor II. The Spot Sensor II will require getting lucky on an auction.
  2. $125 - Gossen Ultra Spot Meter
  3. $200 - Pentax Spotmeter V
  4. $350 - Asahi Pentax Digital Spotmeter
  5. $600 - Sekonic L-858D-U
Minolta Spotmeter F Battery Compartment
Minolta Spotmeter F Battery Compartment

The Minolta Spotmeter F is powered by one AA battery. No special hard to find or discontinued types of batteries are needed.Alkaline batteries or rechargeable Ni-HM batteries, such and Panasonic Enloops, will work.

The Spotmeter M needs a 6-volt battery. Models 4LR44, 28A, 1212A, PX28A, or A544 are compatible

Front of Light Meter with Minolta Lens Cap
Front of Light Meter with Minolta Lens Cap

The biggest drawback of the Minolta Spotmeter F is that it is not an auto flash meter. I don’t want to have to use a PC sync port for flash photography.

On the other hand, if you shoot landscapes or video, flash isn’t an issue. Portability is great because the meter is powered by a AA battery. That makes keeping a spare or taking one out of another piece of equipment easier.

Minolta Spotmeter F Tripod Mount
Minolta Spotmeter F Tripod Mount

Standard 1/4" tripod threading.

The Minolta Spot Meter F is lighter and smaller than analog spot meters, but that doesn’t say much. Newer spot meters are lighter and more compact than it.

The meter weighs 366g (12.9oz) in the case with a battery. Without the case, 286g (10.1oz). The Minolta Spotmeter F has excellent battery life, lasting tens of hours.

It’ll be up to you if saving some weight is worth paying significantly more for a smaller meter. I’m not sure I’d want to carry it around all day, but it’d be fine for golden hour.

Rough dimensions are 95mm (3-3/4") long, 152mm (6") tall, 45mm (1-3/4") wide, and the grip is 29mm (1-1/8") wide.

Minolta Spotmeter F Light Meter Viewfinder
Minolta Spotmeter F Viewfinder

While not as ridiculously large as the viewfinder on the Pentax Spotmeter V, the Minolta Spotmeter F has a large bright viewfinder.

The F-stop or EV reading is displayed on an LCD at the bottom of the viewfinder. Unlike the Pentax Digital Spotmeter, the LCD does not block a huge chunk of your view.

Having an unobstructed viewfinder is what makes the Minolta Spotmeter F a better spot meter than the Pentax Digital Spotmeter.

There is no backlight on the LCD. The illumination button on the meter lights up the exposure reading seen in the viewfinder. For landscape photography, this could be inconvenient as the digital screen will be hard to see when setting up a shot in low light.

Minolta Spotmeter F Side
Minolta Spotmeter F Side

The spotmeter is not an auto meter. You need to understand the implications of the lack of this feature. A flash trigger needs to trigger the spotmeter via the PC sync port.

You will need to run a PC sync cable that runs from your camera trigger to the Spotmeter F. The other option is to attach a wireless trigger to the Spotmeter F.

Personally, I hate cables. I would rather pay hundreds more for an auto meter than deal with cables running from the camera or needing batteries for triggers.

My Konica Minolta Auto Meter VF is a standalone unit. It has a PC sync port, but the sync port does not have to be used to take a reading.

The meter will automatically detect when a flash has been fired and display an exposure reading. No connection is needed for the meter to sync with a flash.

If I found myself in a situation where it was important to have a spot meter for flash, I would sell the Spotmeter F and Auto Meter VF. I would then shop around for a Sekonic L-608 or Skeonic L-858D-U as a replacement spot meter for both.

Viewfinder with Adjustable Diopter and Battery Cover
Viewfinder with Adjustable Diopter and Battery Cover

Selling for significantly less than a Pentax Digital Spotmeter, the Minolta Spotmeter F is an attractive product for the right photographer. I do think that it deserves a higher rating compared to the Pentax Digital Spotmeter.

Are your primary uses going to be landscapes or video? Then, yes. The Spotmeter F will do what you need and I think it offers the best value.

Any negative customer reviews I’ve come across have been people wanting the spot meter to do something it was not designed to do.

Do you do lots of flash photography? Then, no way! Buy a auto flash meter so you are not reliant on a PC sync cable.

A PDF copy of the manual can be found on Butkus.org. The manual has all of the product specifications and lists accessories, such as the case, that were offered when the Minolta Spotmeter F was new.

Here are the main differences between the Minolta Spotmeter F and the Minolta Spotmeter M spot meters. The F is the more advanced spot meter.

  • F stands for flash.
  • M stands for memory. Both meters can record and save light measurements.
  • The Spotmeter F can take flash readings. It has a PC sync port at the bottom of the grip.
  • F runs off a AA battery. A rechargeable Ni-MH battery will work.
  • M requires a 6-volt battery. Compatable battery models are 4LR44, 28A, 1212A, PX28A, or A544.
Minolta Spotmeter F Case
Minolta Spotmeter F Case

A vinyl case was an accessory that originally came with the Spotmeter F. The Minolta Logo is stamped on the front flap. There is a belt loop on the back. A neck strap could be pulled through a hole in the bottom of the case.

The plastic slip-on lens cap has the same Minolta logo as the case. It has a 39mm inner diameter.

To take light readings of close subjects, the Minolta Close-Up Lens No. 614 is needed. The lens has 35.5mm threads, which are what the filter threads on the spot meter are. Replacement close-up lenses can be found on eBay.

Case and Back of the Spotmeter F
Case and Back of the Spotmeter F

8 screws are used to keep the outer shell of the Spotmeter F in place.

There are two screws on the bottom, next to the tripod mount.

On the top, there is a piece of vinyl covering four screws. Double-sided tape was used to keep it on. A plastic pry tool or screwdriver can be used to remove it.

The final two screws are located inside the battery compartment.