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Low light metering - Gossen Lunasix 3 / LunaPro?

Peter Kjaer , Oct 11, 2004; 07:10 p.m.

I need a meter that goes down to low EV values for dusk and darkness. I have had the opportunity to try out the Gossen Lunasix 3 (= LunaPro outside Europe?) against a Lunasix F - and the Lunasix 3 meters way lower. I had this confirmed from the Gossen website (Lunasix 3 down to EV -4, Lunasix F down to EV -1, some difference). Tried another Gossen (SBC?) with three LEDs instead of a needle. I hated it and, besides, I don't think it messured any lower than the 'F. So the Lunasix 3 seems to be the Gossen analog for me.


1) What is the difference between the Lunasix 3 and the 3s? The Battery?

2) The battery issue: would it be safe to buy any Lunasix 3 model, relying on availability of an adapter for the use of higher voltage non-mercury batteries? I just talked to a second-hand dealer here in Copenhagen and they told me they wouldn't try to sell a Lunasix 3 because of those discontinued batteries.

3) Are all Lunasix 3 (excluding the 3s) the same? Some look old and grey, others have a smart, black finish and a very different bag - must be much newer, but are they different and/or better? And again: do they use different batteries?

4) In the second-hand preferebly below $100 range, what other possibilities are there? I don't mind going digital at all. And if anyone has a suggestion for something WAY better than the Lunasix 3 for the purpose (no flash metering needed) I might even consider some $150-200 solutions. I have been recommended the Minolta Autometer, but that too has had some development over the years and I really wouldn't know which one to aim for.

Hope for answers! Peter Kjaer


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Lee Frost , Oct 11, 2004; 07:40 p.m.

I have a grey early Lunasix 3 and use modern batteries. the meter can be simply adjusted using the adjustment screw to compensate for the new batteries [a very small difference]. Set it and forget it with no voltage troubles.

Fantastic meters that are overlooked for more expensive and bulky meters that serve the same purpose.

Pavel Pinkas , Oct 11, 2004; 07:58 p.m.

Gossen Luna Pro SBC has zero-homing needle and its dial goes to -8EV (but I do not how low the sensor can actually go). You can definitely find one under $100 on the eBay and it's excellent meter (takes 9V battery, so no problems here). If you change you mind about flashmetering, you can buy optional LunaFlash module (it's about $30 bucks on the eBay).

gonzalo echeverria , Oct 12, 2004; 12:33 a.m.

hi Peter,

as a regular night fotografer, i searched for the most sensitive lightmeter for the night ( church interiors etc ) and came to the conclusion that it's either the calculight xp ( ev -9 100iso ) or do what they used to do - make notes and let your film / dev combo tell you about the required exposure. gonzalo.

ps i use a luna pro sbc (led) for everything else ( ev -1 ) and have borrowed a lunasix and it's pretty good ( ev -4 iso100)

Nick Wilson , Oct 12, 2004; 05:53 a.m.

The Lunasix has been made since 1966 and older ones from my vague memory were grey in colour. The new Lunasix 3S are darker and seem to have a more involved dial. The battery conversion from mercury comes with the new ones.

Some things seem similar, eg they still have a CdS cell, rather than a SBC one, and go to -4 EV at 100 ISO. I used to teach at a college with them and they did not inspire, compared to other meters. Very basic, but the new ones do seem augmented from my dodgy memory.

However, Gossen also sell the Lunasix F. The name is just confusing, as it is the successor to the Profisix, not the Lunasix. It does not have the same low light ability (-1 EV at 100 ISO).

I have a old Profisix and it is the one with the very low light ability. They look exactly like the new Lunasix F to get an idea (see gossen's web site). It gets to - 8 EV, but apparently down to - 5 EV at 100 ISO which is the standard Gossen uses, so it goes 1 EV lower at 100 ISO than the new Lunasix 3S.

This is pretty dim and both will meter to 8 hours.

The other name confusion is the different names for North America. I think the Profisix is the same as the LunaPro mentioned by Pavel.

Profisix is what Gossen call it, according to the chronology on their web site, and this may be the name used in Europe. Anyway, if you see a meter called Profisix, then it is good for you!

I would go for Profisix/Luna Pro over the Lunasix, due to the SBC cell and the 9V battery available everywhere. Plus the greater sensitivity. They are rugged enough. I have had one for about 15 years and only had to have it recalibrated once when I dropped it on concrete.

They are not made anymore so have to be got 2nd hand. There are sometimes crazy bargains for such a competent meter, as the analogue display is not for everyone. I like it but I have read disparaging comments about 'old fashioned' etc.

Parts, as in a lot of older gear, might be a problem. If you want a new Gossen then the Lunasix 3S seems to be it.


Peter Kjaer , Oct 12, 2004; 08:23 a.m.

Thank you for your answers, everybody!

Gonzalo, you bet I take notes! I even learn from them.

Nick, it seems I have overlooked the Profisix SBC. It sounds good to me, only it looks indeed so much like the Lunasix F, that I thought it wouldn't measure any lower. But it seems that it does. And the sbc cell and standard 9V battery makes it a lot more attractive. By the way, there is also a LunaPro (non-sbc) that looks a lot more like the Lunasix 3. It really annoys me with different names for the same products.

Still: any other suggestions for low light meters?


gonzalo echeverria , Oct 12, 2004; 11:08 a.m.

Q.G. de Bakker , Oct 12, 2004; 02:32 p.m.


The Lunasix F is not the successor of the Profisix. Both meters were available at the same time (though the "professional" Profisix was discontinued while the Lunasix F is still available). Though they look alike, they were part of two distinct lines.
The Lunasix F did not only look very much like the Profisix, it was as expensive as the Profisix too, but lacked the ability to take attachments that plugged in to the meter electronics. It "made up" for that by having flash meterin on-baord, while you needed an attachment to do flash metering with the Profisix. The only attachments the Lanusix F took were the same as would fit the Lunisix. Maybe there's a clue? ;-)
The Profisix not only accepted more attachments, which hooked up to the electronics inside, but also had the extended (to the "low end") range. The Profisix was replaced (more or less) by the excellent Mastersix, and later Starlite.

But a word of warning: i have used several Lunasix F and Profisix meters. And they all "developed" the same problem, without fail. The needle would begin to show rather erratic behaviour, dropping to zero, running all the way to the other end again, "wobbling" in between, etc.
Seemed like lose contacts to me. Mainly because by "pinching" the meter housing in selected spots you could make the needle jump. I first suspected the rather optimistic way Gossen picked to let the dial in the top housing half contact the electronics situated in the bottom part of the housing. Just six pins, three up, three below, that hopefully would touch when the two halves of the meter were put together. I actually "hard-wired" the contacts in the top half to the things they supposed to connect to, but that only helped so much. This erratic behaviour got so bad that in the end, tightening or loosening screws that hold both halves of the housing together could "fine tune" this behaviour.

Nevertheless, i have indeed used several of these meters. Simply because they are very good meters, while they last. I just blamed "natural wear", and got another one.

And another warning: don't be fooled by how far the dial goes. The lowest EV a meter can meter is provided in the specs, and is specified at ISO 100. Now if you quadruple the speed of the film, the dial points to a lower value, but the light level doesn't change, the meter does not get more sensitive. So if the book says EV -2 at ISO 100, it's EV -2, no matter how low the scale goes.

Now my main meter is the Gossen Mastersix. Also a veteran by now. It not having a coil ampere meter display, is far more robust than the Lunasixes and Profisix. And it "goes" down to EV -4 too. They are not hard to find used.
But again a word of caution: there are two versions. The early version could not display results in EV values. Tha later version can.
The later version's capability to display results in the very common unit of cds/m^2 had to make way. I think very few people mind though. ;-) But especially many Hasselblad users will mind the early version not displaying EV values.

Peter Kjaer , Nov 10, 2004; 05:21 p.m.

Just a follow-up:

Followed the advice of Mr. de Bakker and bought myself a Gossen Mastersix. It seems very robust, can be operated single-handedly and measures really faint light. However, considering the very low light situations I will be using it for, I only wish the display could light up. Well...

Thank you, everyone


jim sowder , Nov 15, 2007; 02:37 p.m.

Batteries with the correct voltage are available from Ritz camera and other camera stores. Search for MRB625 Wein Cell. They are zinc-air and are exact replacements.

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