An Affordable Option - Minolta Spotmeter F Review

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: April 20, 2019
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Minolta Spotmeter F Review

Affordable spotmeters are difficult to come by. The Minolta Spotmeter F is one of the least expensive digital meters available.

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

Buying a Used Spotmeter

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

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

Year of Release & Orignal Price

1987 or 1988 was the first year 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.

7 Alternative Spot Meters for Every Budget

  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

AA Battery to Power the Meter

One AA battery powers the spotmeter. No special replacement batteries are needed. 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.

Minolta Spotmeter F Review

Front of Light Meter with Minolta Lens Cap

The biggest drawback is having to use a PC sync port for flash photography. That is a big limitation for studio work with wireless strobes.

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.

Size & Weight

Being lighter and smaller than analog spotmeters doesn't say much. Newer spotmeters are lighter and more compact.

The meter weighs 366g (12.9oz) in the case with a battery. Without the case, 286g (10.1oz).

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.

PC Sync Port, Tripod Mount, Neck Strap, and Light for Seeing EV Reading.

Viewfinder

While not as ridiculously large as the viewfinder on the Pentax Spotmeter V, it is large.

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.

Digital Screen

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 when setting up a shot in low light.

LCD Screen Showing F Number and ISO Settings

Auto? Like Focus?

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. The other option is to attach a wireless trigger to the spotmeter.

Just Say No to Cables

Personally, I hate cables. I would rather pay hundreds more for a auto meter than deal with additional cables and batteries for triggers.

My Konica Minolta Auto Meter VF is a standalone unit. It has a PC sync port, but the 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.

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. The replacement would be a Sekonic L-608 or Skeonic L-858D-U.

Viewfinder with Adjustable Diopter and Battery Cover

Conclusion

Selling for significantly less than a Pentax Digital Spotmeter, the Minolta Spotmeter F is an attractive option for the right photographer.

Are your primary uses going to be landscapes or video? Then, yes. The Spotmeter will do what you need.

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.

Minolta Spotmeter F Manual

A PDF copy of the manual can be found on Butkus.org.

Minolta Spotmeter F vs M Differences

  • F stands for flash.
  • M stands for memory. Both meters can record 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 batteries are 4LR44, 28A, 1212A, PX28A, or A544.

Original Minolta Case & Accessories

A vinyl case originally came with the Spotmeter. The Minolta Logo is stamped on the front flap. There is a belt loop on the back. The neck strap can 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 match the threading of the spotmeter. Replacement close-up lenses cost $35 on eBay.

Case and Back of the Spotmeter F

How to Open & Disassemble the Minolta Spotmeter F

8 screws are used to keep the outer shell 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.

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