Gossen Luna Pro F

I’m not normally one for product endorsements, or even positive product reviews. This is not because I don’t like sharing my interests, or promoting products and services I think deserve a wider audience; who doesn’t? Rather, it’s because far, far too many websites and reviewers seem to be spineless, beholden shills, all too happy to be given – or even just loaned – samples of the latest-and-greatest whatever in return for their producing glowing reviews. Some even manage to get paid actual money to promote a company or their products and services.

Nobody ever sends me stuff for review. (Please don’t, either; unsolicited packages may meet untimely ends.) Nobody pays me to say nice stuff about their goods or services. One guy once tried to pay me to stop saying not-so-nice things about his employer, but I never replied to his email. I have a little pride, after all. (But only a little; there are a handful of things I’d happily compromise my ethical standards for, to greater or lesser extents. The stupid little iPhone is not one of them, however. I should post a half-joking price list one of these days…) But, the thing is, like so many others, honesty and independence are only worth so much. In the end, you just have to accept that I’m telling the truth – either when I say that I’m not on the take, or what I say about something. Or both, of course.

Recently, I picked up a gently used Gossen Luna Pro F, for a very good price. The Luna Pro is a photographic light meter – or exposure meter, if you want to get really technical. I have a couple others, but none of them meter flash, and none of them can accurately meter such low light levels as the Luna Pro does.

It’s a nice meter that’s very easy to use, and takes a widely-available 9V battery. It can accurately meter some amazingly low light levels. What nobody ever seems to mention is just how big it is. Bigger than a cellphone, even an old one. Bigger, in fact, than most point-and-shoot digital cameras, like a Canon A80 or A620 or whatever. Bigger than my old Sekonic L-448, even. Too big to fit in a pocket, really. It’s not a big deal, really, but just a surprise. The meter’s virtues – simplicity of use, wide sensitivity, incident metering, flash metering, common battery – easily overcome the fact that it’s just downright huge.

Unless you have your heart set on an itty-bitty exposure meter, the Luna Pro is great. And no, Gossen didn’t pay me in any way to say that, unfortunately…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on July 7th, 2007| 8 Comments »

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8 Comments

  1. On 7/10/2007 at 10:30 pm Sue Said:

    I have a Luna-Pro F meter that I used during my college days. I don’t need to tell you how old I am to know how old this meter is..ha. I was wondering if you knew if the meter works the same with digital. Yes I’ve gone digital eventhough I still have all my 35mm film equipment? Thanks in advance for your time.

    Sue

  2. On 7/10/2007 at 10:53 pm Nemo Said:

    Yeah, they’ve been around forever, and will probably hang on for a long, long time yet. Why change a winning formula? 🙂

    A meter like this – or any other, really – works just fine with digital, though as with everything, you might find the results need a bit of tweaking to produce results you’re happy with. The Luna Pro, of course, makes including a regular exposure compensation of, say, 1/3 stop or whatever a breeze, should you need to.

    It’s especially useful if you ever start using non-dedicated flash, and squinting at tiny histograms isn’t good enough. 🙂 But don’t tell anyone, or the secondhand prices will go up…

  3. On 7/15/2007 at 8:39 am Max Said:

    Hello
    I own a GLP but Ijust don´t know how to meter flash. Could you give me any help with that?
    Thanks

  4. On 7/15/2007 at 2:13 pm Nemo Said:

    Sure, metering flash is easy – you have a Luna Pro F, right, not the older model? First, make sure the incident dome isn’t selected, press the flash button (the little red one on the side; it should be sticking out), point the meter at your subject like you would for regular, reflected metering, press and release the big red button, and fire the flash. Read the f/stop next to the little lightning-bolt symbol on the dial when the needle is zeroes, and you’re set. The shutter speed you use is, of course, the/a sync speed of your camera.

    Something related to remember is that many monolights with “test” buttons always fire at a fixed (usually really low) power when so triggered; Mine, for instance, seem to fire at 1/8 regardless of the power setting when triggered this way.

    Hope that helps!

  5. On 12/23/2007 at 9:35 pm Joe Said:

    Hi Nemo,

    Just purchased a used Luna Pro F like the one described above. I read the comment you made to Max about flash.

    I just purchased a set of small studio strobe lights. It was recommended by the place that sold it to me to use the following settings for portrait work: f/5.6 @ 1/125 sec.

    Anyway, I tried the lights for the first time and got OK results. Then I bought the Luna Pro F.

    I tried the method you mentioned above and the unit read f/8 at the small lightning bolt symbol.

    Using a Nikon (D40x) what shutter speed would be recommended or how do I locate the corresponding shutter speed?

    As you can tell, I am fairly new to this and downloaded a copy of the old instruction manual, but thus far am stumped.

    Can you make suggestions?

    Thanks…Joe

  6. On 12/24/2007 at 2:15 am Nemo Said:

    Joe –

    The flash sync speed is dependent on the camera, not the strobes. In the case of a digital camera like the D40x, it’ll also depend on how you’ve got the camera configured. Not having a D40x, I can’t much help you there; RTFM, as they say.

    Generally, the shutter speed isn’t really important with flash, except outdoors, where you’re trying to balance ambient with flash – an area where leaf shutters, which are much more common on medium-format cameras (even extremely old ones), really shine, as they (generally) sync flash at all speeds…

    If you’re stumped about flash stuff, check out Strobist; most everyone can learn something there, I expect.

  7. On 12/24/2007 at 3:20 pm Joe Said:

    Hi Nemo…

    Thanks for the suggestion. Last evening, I did what I usually do when I have a question and “Googled” it. Sure enough, someone had figured it out and the shutter speed recommended is: 1/200 sec. I tried a test shot on a painting that I am hoping to have prints made of and the Luna Pro F gave me a recommended f/stop of f/8. Tried it and got an excellent image.

    Am still wading through the manual, but figure that most of the material in it will probably not be used for a while.

    Thank you for you suggestions.

    Joe

  8. On 12/7/2012 at 2:57 am Sam Spoon Said:

    I have my original, well-used, and gently treated Luna Pro F that I purchased in 1985. It’s given me yeoman service over the years, and as I changed from film to digital it has given me consistently good results with and without flash. I love using it for setting up backlit and side-lit situations where even a modern digital camera metering system can be fooled, and it’s faster to use than changing camera metering modes. I’m currently using a Nikon D7000 with SB-400 and SB-700 flashes, and test shots with the light meter have been dead on with how Nikon and their CLS think it should be done. Hard to justify one of the new Gossen digital meters when this baby just keeps doing its job.