Light Meters: Go Weston, young man
The Weston meter was once an essential resident in any photographer's bag. Even when built-in light meters became popular, serious photographers and most professionals preferred the accuracy of a pro hand-held meter such as the Weston. I remember the pro photographers I worked with when I was a journalist in the sixties and the Weston meter was always on hand.
Now, with the revival of interest in film cameras, especially in old Leicas, the light meter is also seeing a comeback. Leica was rather late to the party when it came to built-in exposure metering—with the M5 from 1971 onwards—so there is still interest in external meters for use with earlier models. including the legendary M3. The hot-shoe-mounted Leicameter, especially the MR version I wrote about here, is becoming sought after once more. The traditional selenium-cell Weston meter is no longer viable for serious work, although the company did produce a more effective CdS-cell version, the Weston Ranger 9 from 1966 onwards. Like my Leicameter MR, the Ranger 9 now suffers from battery supply problems and requires an adapter to accommodate safer modern cells.
Many professional photographers still make regular use of light meters even though their digital cameras have effective built-in exposure capabilities. My friend Don Morley, for instance, tells me that he still uses a hand-held meter for anything important, especially with his Leicas because the metering is rather basic on all the latest Ms. His long-term choice of meter is a fairly cheap but very accurate Sektonic.
I have often looked at old Weston meters at photo fairs but have been unsure whether or not they still work effectively, so it was refreshing to read Tom Grill's history of the Weston brand on his site, About Photography. I had not realised that the original Weston was launched in 1935, nor that production ceased at the US company in 1972 but the brand soldiered on until 1984 at its one-time subsidiary in Britain. It makes an interesting read. I also hadn't realised that Weston produced a special Art Deco-style meter under the Leica brand in 1938. Now I that I would like, just for display however.