Several of my favorite cameras do not have built in light meters and the Sunny 16 Rule can be tricky with the changing light conditions of the foggy north coast of California. So an accurate, easy to use, pocketable light meter is essential.
I have several light meters (Weston Master III, Sekonic L-248 and L-308s). They're all great, but none are really small. And lately, I am on a quest for simple, minimalist photographic tools. So I went searching and shopping and came up with a cool selenium meter produced around 1960 -- the Gossen Pilot.
Selenium meters don't need batteries. Light powers the meter. The downside of these meters is that the selenium cells degrade over time, so they aren't always accurate. In addition, selenium meters don't measure low light levels very well, so they're best used outdoors. Which is exactly what I wanted this meter for--a small, light, simple exposure meter that I could slip into a pocket for long walks with my camera.
I found my Pilot on eBay for under twenty bucks. It came in it's original box with manual and plastic clam shell protective cover.
I tested my Pilot along side my modern digital L-308s and it's still accurate. Gossen and Sekonic make modern analog and digital display battery-powered meters that are as small as the Pilot, but they're both well over $100. I can buy another Pilot or two as spares in case this one dies and still be ahead of the game. There was also a Pilot II produced around 1975. Same meter with updated look.
I like this meter. It measures incident and reflected light. It's small, simple and is easy to use and read in the field. Perfect addition to my minimalist photographic toolbox.
Got a favorite light meter? I'd love to hear about it!