Spot On – A First Look at the Reveni Labs Spotmeter
I like to work with a spot meter; it gives me the best versatility with how I meter my exposure and offers a lot of flexibility. But most important, it helps me make the best possible exposure for the situation. Since I started shooting 4×5, I’ve been working with a Pentax spotmeter V. This is an old school tool that is a bit bulky and entirely analogue. The EV reading is a needle on a fixed display inside the optical finder, and figuring out the aperture/shutter speed and setting the film speed is the traditional dial within a dial control on the side. And any calculations you have to do in your head. Plus, it only offers a single reading; if you want to average things out, you need to keep it in your head and remember it. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have a hard time remembering what I had for breakfast. There’s also the matter that my current Spotmeter V is my second one, the first one died, and I honestly don’t know how long this one will last. And even on the used market, the Spotmeter V is not cheap, and a modern spot meter is running at 600-700 dollars new. Enter Reveni Labs, a Canadian company run by Matt Bechberger. The first product from Reveni Labs was a hot shoe meter which, despite a sudden onslaught of similar meters upon release, met with some success. Next up from Reveni is a small portable spot meter for under 300 dollars. I received my first production run spot meter last month and have taken it out a few times now, and today, we’re going to take that first look at this wonderful photographic tool.
At an inch wide, 2.5 inches long and an inch high, the ReveniLabs Spotmeter is a compact solution for spot metering. It also weighs next to nothing and is perfectly comfortable in your pocket or around your next, and can fit into any pocket in your camera bag without adding too much weight or taking up too much space. At the meter’s front is the sensor that takes the light reading, and the large lens at the back is your display readout (more on this later), and the fluted design makes it comfortable in hand with easy access to the four-button control array. With these four buttons, you’ll be able to control all functions of the meter. Starting from the front is the power button; hold this down to power on, and a single push will take a new reading. The “M” button in the middle accesses the menus, and the left and right arrow keys will change settings or values. What makes the Reveni Spotmeter unique is how it displays and helps you meter; In contrast, traditional meters use a look through the lens; the Spotmeter uses a hybrid system that keeps both eyes open while holding the viewing lens up to your eye and allows you to see what your metering with your one eye, while the other looks at the metering readout and uses the parallax effect to overlay the two which I’ve represented below.
You have everything you need for metering; at the centre of your target reticle, the inner circle represents a 1-degree spot for accurate and pinpoint metering. The outer circle represents the section that will affect your centre circle metering. On the left are your shutter speed (top) and aperture (bottom). An arrow (not pictured) will show which is one is driving the metering. At the top centre is the status; it is either reading or locked. On the right are your EV value (top) and film speed (bottom). This screen layout is for single reading mode. In this mode, you can also hold down the “M” (Menu) button to set a compare mode and be able to compare different areas in real-time. But there are three additional metering modes. In averaging mode, that will let you pick a highlight and shadow area and show the difference in EV between those two. If you’re into the Zone System, you can pick a tone and assign it to a zone, then compare it with other areas. And if you are a fan of Nick Carver, his Precision Metering Method or P.M.M. is built right into the meter, allowing you to pick and assign different tones to get an exposure reading. There’s no need for paper or mental math; it’s all built right into the meter itself.
In the field, the meter, as I mentioned before, is compact and lightweight and offers up easy metering when I’m out shooting with a medium format camera and need that added level of precision when a reflective or incident meter will not do what I want it to do. It’s far less bulky even than my Gossen Lunasix F with a spot meter attachment and far more accurate with that 1-degree metering as opposed to a 7.5 degree that the Lunasix F offers. I’ll admit, it does take a while to get used to aiming the meter and that heads-up-display style of readouts, but by my third roll working with the meter, I got the hang of it. Personally, I tend to stick to the single reading mode, it’s what I’m used to, and it has not let me down yet. But I am looking forward to trying out the Zone system and especially the P.M.M mode. They may help get me into understanding both systems far better than I do currently. As for accuracy, I haven’t compared it to the results I get from my Pentax Spotmeter V, the only other comparable meter that I own. Still, in the three rolls that I’ve used, I have not seen any issues with the exposures unless I’ve made a mistake translating the settings across to the camera. I’m also still getting used to moving the setting across in my head and not having them sitting in front of me on a dial. Power for the meter comes from a pair of LR44 batteries which will provide plenty of hours of juice. Plus, if there are any firmware updates, a micro-USB port inside the battery compartment allows for user update of the firmware using a computer. Below is a selection of images I’ve exposed using the ReveniLabs Spotmeter using Cinestill BwXX and Kodak TMax 100.
While the meter is still under pre-order, if your interest has been peaked, you can head over to the Reveni Labs website (www.reveni-labs.com) and pre-order one for yourself. The Spotmeter is priced at 225$ CAD or $180 USD and will ship worldwide. Additionally, you can purchase the original hot shoe meter and a tonne of accessories for the meters. You can also check out over on YouTube Mat Marrash’s, Nick Carver’s and Todd Korol’s meter reviews.