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Shepherd Polaris Digital vs. Sekonic L-308BII

Craig Cunningham , Dec 21, 2003; 12:46 a.m.

I am down to the two meters mentioned in the subject due to my budget (~$180). I've worked once with each meter in a lighting class, but not enough to be able to determine the differences between them (other than their appearance).

Specs on both flash meters are almost identicle, except the following:

Cine Speeds 8 ~ 128fps on the Sekonic; none on the Polaris -- (if Cine Speeds are for video/motion pictures, I don't need 'em)

Multiple Flash Scale for calculating 2-9 flashes - Polaris; none on the Sekonic L-308

Exp Comp Adjust. +0.9EV - -0.9 (in 1/10 stop increments) Polaris; none on the Sekonic L-308

Other than that, the Polaris is a little bigger and weighs a half ounce more. If anyone has experiences with either of the above (or even better - both of them), please share them and help clear my indecision.


- Craig


Charles Twiss , Dec 21, 2003; 09:30 a.m.

You don't need cine speeds so why worry about it in the comparison? Do you NEED multiple flash scales? On the odd occasion you might you can take a first reading and keep doubling each time the flash is fired...so you don't NEED these either! Exposure compensation in 1/10th increments? Can you set the camera in 1/10 increments? If not these are useless. To compensate anyway, take the reading and bracket that exposure with the camera. So...answer to your question, the Sekonic. If you feel it is more robustly made. But I know it will be more accurate.

If you do need the above look at the Sekonic L508, but it may go over your budget.

Craig Cunningham , Dec 23, 2003; 10:42 p.m.

To be more clear, I guess I shouldn't have stated different features that don't really matter to me.

Of the features/functionality that I am interested in, both meters appear to be identical -- the problem is, there are very few real photo retailers in my town, and I've not been able to examine both side-by-side.

I'm sure that the Sekonic 508 is wonderful, but the Sekonic L-308 and the Polaris are the only two I'm considering due to my limited budget. Would someone that has had hands-on experience with both meters offer their perspective on which they prefer?



Barry Kenstler , Dec 24, 2003; 12:51 p.m.

I've been using the original Polaris digital for about 7 years and it has been flung across a room (photographing children), dropped to the floor multiple times, and it still works. I've used it side-by-side with a Minolta Flashmeter III and a Gossen Starlite. The readings have been comparable on all the meters in studio lighting situations. I have no experience with the L 308 meter series.

One weakness that you will experience with most, if not all, inexpensive flash meters is their inability to accurately break out the flash contribution when it is mixed with considerable continuous light. The readings you get from these meters are a combined ambient/flash reading; the Polaris is no exception. If you are trying to measure the flash contribution in a sunlighted setting, use the highest shutter speed available on the meter, i.e 1/500 sec., to get the best approximation.

Switching between incident and reflective reading methods is simple and quick for both of your choices. I often take advantage of that feature. If you will be doing primarily incident readings, I'd try and stretch the budget and go for the next model up in the Sekonic line. I believe it is the L-358--very nice!

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