The Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V (1°)

The Spotmeter that Ansel Adams used creating the zone system.

The “Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V is a light meter for spot-metering, build by the Japanese brand Asahi Pentax.
It became famous, due to the fact that Ansel Adams used it to create his famous zone system.
Here is some technical info about the Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V.

Angle of light measurement: 1° / in words, “one degree”.
Measuring range: EV 1-19 (at ASA/ISO 100)
Measuring distance: 1.5m to infinity
Diaphragm ramge: f/1-f/128
ASA/ISO values : 6 – 6400
Shutter speed range: 1/4000s – 4s
Viewfinder type: Pentaprism
Field of vision: identical with 35mm camera (17°lateral, 12°horizontal viewing angle).  Magnification 1.5x.
Eyepiece correction: 0-  -1 Dptr.
1/4 inch screw mount
Build-in light
Battery test button
Battery driven ( 3x Type LR44)
Photocell:  SPD (Silicon Photo Diode)
weight: 436g (measured with kitchen scale)

The Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V is an extremely reliable light meter when I was testing it against some newer spot meters it had no drifts and all my pictures always turn out absolutely well.

How To Use The Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V

If you use an old analogue light meter like the Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V for the first time, it maybe is a little confusing to you, but I explain to you how to use it in some simple words under the next picture.

detial view of the Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V controlls

Instruction on how to use the Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V

The first thing you do is set your ASA/ISO with one of the silver buttons on top of the calculation dial (see image above).

The next thing you have to do is to look through the viewfinder and to point the circle in the middle at the subject you wish to measure. If you can’t see anything at all remove the lens cap :-P.

Press the measuring button (big black button at the front of the light meter). Now the indicator needle flips over the screen and stops at a number between 1 and 19. (image below) . Remember that number. Then turn the outer part of the Value calculation dial of the “Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V” until the arrow points at the number you saw the needle pointing at in the viewfinder before.

And that’s it, now you can search for your f-stop value and see the corresponding exposure time or vice versa.

Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V viewfinder

Trouble shooting

a small troubleshooting guide for the “Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V

Usually, there should not be any trouble with the lightmeter. But here are two situations in which you may need some help:

1: You want to meter but the needle is not moving.

in this case, you should push the battery test button, which you can find at the front of the meter just above the measuring button. It is grey and has a “B” on it. If the needle still does not move at all or only moves just a little and is not able to reach the thick battery indicator line in the viewfinder (image above), it means your batteries are empty and you should replace them.

You replace the batteries as follows: Turn the Meter heads down, and open the battery place at its bottom (image below). Take out the battery holder, remove the 3 LR44 button cells

and replace them with some fresh ones. Put the battery holder back into the lightmeter and close it. Now look through the viewfinder again, press the battery check button “B”. Now the needle should slide to the left side inside of the thick battery indicator line. And your Lightmeter.

2: It is dark and you can barely see the needle in the viewfinder.

For this situation, the “Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V” is equipped with a built-in light. Simply press the small white button on the left side of the lightmeters handle. A light should occur and you are now able to see the EV-values 1-9 without any problem. (in dark situations this usually is enough.)

detial view of the Asahi Pentax Spotmeter V battery place

Buy one yes or no?

I am super happy with my Asahi Pentax Spotmetr V, and would never give it away. It comes in super handy when I am in a situation where I can not do incident metering.

If you plan on buying one by yourself, I recommend you buying it off eBay . Since they tend to be overpriced in camera shops.
Also usually they work without any problems. and since they are battery-driven and do not use an old selenium cell anymore, you can nearly do nothing wrong.

Buy the original user manual here!