Completely Manual

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by shaun_pereira, Nov 1, 2008.

  1. Hello guys,

    After getting my Bessa R3A an M-Hexanon a couple of months back, and getting hooked on rangefinders, I am now
    contemplating me first Leica M :)

    I am looking at an M2 and I would probably pair it up with a CV 35mm Colour-Skopar or a 35mm ZM Biogon. I'm
    thinking this would cover the 35mm and 50mm (with the R3A and hex) FLs which i feel are the best for RF. I
    however, have one reservation.

    I'm not so sure if I will be able to cope with shooting without AE, or with using a handheld meter. I have no idea what
    shooting with a meterless camera is like (before my Bessa I've only shot with crappy point and shoots, and a holga).
    In some ways I feel that it might make me think more about the pictures I take, but I'm rather perturbed at the idea of
    having no LED indicators in my VF even though I think it would be a welcome change (quite oxymoronic I know).

    I was hoping some of you guys who have made this change could give me some advice about my current dilemma,
    any tips would be welcome too :)

    Thank you so much for your time!

  2. Meterless is not bad in sunshine. Overcast gets to be more of a problem as light values vary considerably.

    Tri xxx in sun is 1/1400 at f16, then you make correction from the a certain number of stops for standard type conditions like hazy sun ( less distinct shadows), 1 stop, open shade, 1 more stop, overcast one more stop. It is the last that gets you as conditions don`t follow the rules.

    Old Leicas are not necessarily cheap. Most will need maintenence when you buy them at $300 ++ and you will not be experienced enough to know ahead of time.
  3. If you shoot only black and white, it's not that hard, but still, be prepared to mess up at first. If you shoot slide, going
    meterless is just like wearing a hair-shirt -- maybe you will prove something to yourself, but mostly you'll just suffer.
  4. Pick up a GE PR-1. They run about $5-$20. They will give you a very "close approximate" reading. You can get a VC meter that fits on top of the camera.
  5. It should not be a problem after some practice. I used a Retina IIa for years with Kodachrome 25 and no meter with few failures. Digest this - - in your spare time for inspiration.
  6. SCL


    Don't be overly the sunny 16 rule, memorize it then go out and shoot a B&W roll. Review your prints and negatives (especially if you do your own development). Then do it should be pretty close to target. Then do it with slide film. If this is too scary, (it being halloween time), get an incident meter. Really it is no takes a little practice...but having the confidence of knowing how to expose 95% of your outdoor daylight pictures is worth it.
  7. Going meterless is not for me at all. I'm experienced enough to always be close in guessing my exposure, and even with a
    meter you have to adjust its readings for the lighting conditions, but I greatly prefer having an accurate built-in meter. The
    meters on my M5 and M6 are highly accurate. You can also buy the equally accurate Voigtlander external meter and put that
    on your M2. I've seen or had described to me the contact sheets of such wellknown shooters like CArtier-Bresson and
    Leonard Freed. Their guessed exposures were often way off and was mostly saved by skillful darkroom work. True, going
    meterless sounds liberating, but in my own circumstances it's much less practical then depending on an accurate meter whose
    foibles are predictable.
  8. There's a handy little clip on meter from Voigtlander that fits in the flash shoe. If you have never used a manual camera I would suggest learning with a meter before going totally naked.
  9. Better make that occasionally be close to guessing the exposure, in my case. Always is not one of my favorite words in this
  10. I shoot color negative film and the thing that I try to remember is the "3 and 1" rule. The film can handle up to 3 stops overexposure, and 1 stop under. This makes it quite forgiving when erring on the overexposure side. Chromogenic B&W like Ilford XP2 has even more latitude.
  11. When I bought my M2, exposure was way off. I had the shutter overhauled and only then I found that not only my M2 had been at fault, but also that my Gossen Digiflash was off by 1 1/3th of a stop. Oh the fun I had finding that out!

    Anyway, if you are an experienced photographer and remember Sunny 16, coupled with the generous latitude of print film, you probably won't even need a meter, at all.

    There are many handheld and clip on meters out there, but for an M2 a Voigtlaender VC II sure looks tempting. I also found a Gossen Lunasix 3 second hand for next to nothing. Got some battery adapters for it and it will probably last me the rest of my life. The Digiflash has been calibrated and works too, but it feels and looks very cheap for something that really isn't.

    Anyway, with a meterless camera you will very soon learn how to 'read the light' in advance. I'm still thinking about the VC II for my M2, just for a little more convenience and speed, but usually one reading with the Digiflash and adjusting a bit where needed (guesstimating) will get me trough a roll.
  12. Get a meter. Than guess exposure, and confirm by metering. One ISO *only* recommended, like ASA 400! Do this exercise for some days in any circumstances, and you will get confident!
    This applies only to C41 and b/w!
  13. Yes, get a meter - one that gives incident readings, and learn/remember what the basic relationships are between
    full sunlight and various degrees of shade, and so forth. Ronald M, is spot on with his advice. You'll also start
    to learn how to handle a wide contrast range, with bright sunshine and deep shadow in the same scene, better than
    with a TTL meter. Soon you will be able to dispense with taking a meter reading for every shot, and just take a
    confirmation reading from time to time. A greater reliance on the meter will be needed for slide film than for B+W.

    I find that clip-on meters are next to useless compared to a good meter like a Gossen Lunasix 3 or Weston, which
    have full-featured dials rather than simple 'yes/no' l.e.d. display.
  14. One former American President once said, "trust, but verify." The same is true for estimating exposures.

    Using a handheld meter to check your exposure estimate is fairly painless and a good starting point. Make your estimate and then check it against the meter reading.

    When you get a new meter you should always check it against a known good meter or run a Sunny 16 slide test to make sure that it works properly.
  15. Don't worry about shooting without a built-in meter. There are no great mysteries involved. Like focusing Leica lenses, you just do things manually. It's mostly common sense. You may actually find that, by removing some potential distractions from the viewfinder, shooting without a built-in meter actually helps you to concentrate on composition and focus. Some non-technical suggestions:

    • Buy a used hand-held light meter (or a new one if you can afford it), something like a Gossen Scout 3 (if you will be shooting mostly in daylight) or Gossen Digital Luna-Pro (if you will be doing available-light shooting in dimmer light). Read the manual, or get an experienced photographer to demonstrate, how to set the meter, take readings, and use them to set your exposure. Use the meter to take a reading of the general subject you want to take pictures of, set the shutter speed and lens aperture accordingly, then stop worrying about exposure, concentrate on composition and focus, and take your pictures. If the lighting stays relatively constant, leave the shutter and aperture settings alone and just keep shooting.

    • If you turn your attention to a subject that is in significantly brighter or dimmer lighting, just take another reading for the new subject and adjust your settings as appropriate.

    • If you are shooting at a time of day when lighting levels change rapidly, such as late afternoon turning to sunset turning to dusk, or if you are moving back and forth between brightly lit and shadowed areas, meter more frequently to keep up with the changing conditions.

    • If some of your photos come out underexposed or overexposed after you get them developed, don't get upset about it. Just try to figure out what led you to make an incorrect exposure, so that you can avoid making the same mistake the next time. Over time, you will make fewer and fewer mistakes.

    • Since a light meter calculates the exposure required to render an average subject in a neutral tone of medium gray, be sure to adjust your exposure if you take a meter reading of either a very dark or very light subject. The meter will give readings that would render both a black piece of coal or a white patch of snow the same kind of medium gray, so you need to give the dark subject less exposure than the meter reading to make it come out dark, and the light subject more exposure than the meter reading to make it come out light, in order for the photos to come out looking like the subjects you were taking pictures of.

    • To provide a cross-check on what your meter readings are telling you, or to provide a basis for exposure if your can't afford to buy a hand-held meter or if your hand-held meter breaks, do a Google search for information on the "sunny sixteen" rule of thumb. The general idea is that, in bright sunlight, you set the aperture of your lens to f/16, and your shutter speed to the closest equivalent of one over the ISO speed of the film that you are shooting with. For example, if you are shooting in bright sunlight with ISO 400 color film, set your lens to f/16 and your shutter speed to 1/500, which is the closest equivalent of 1/400. If you will be shooting in cloudy bright, more heavily overcast, or open shade conditions, use larger lens apertures of f/11, f/8 or f/5.6 to compensate for the dimmer light.

    • Once you've got the basics down, check some photography books out of your local public library to find out more about how experienced photographers handle more challenging lighting situations.

    For what it's worth, I used a Leica M2 and a hand-held meter shooting, under a wide range of lighting conditions, to take all of the pictures in the following folder, and that didn't stop me from getting reasonably acceptable exposures: . I'm just an average amateur, so If I can do it, you can do it too, with some practice and patience.
  16. when shooting meterless cameras like my canon rangefinder i use my Nikon D50 with a 50mm f/1.8 as the light meter. you don't need to buy a separate light meter if you have a digital camera with manually adjustable ISO.
  17. Get a good handheld meter. For slides I use an incident meter. For B&W a spot meter.
  18. It sounds glamorous to shoot without a meter but really, it's not. Dr. Paul Wolff and his ilk were using light meters with Leica III's in the 1930's. He wanted his pictures to WORK and in order to do that, he needed an accurate judge of light.

    Don't be afraid to use a meter.
  19. Actually it doesn't matter whether you use a handheld meter, built-in meter, or no meter; just get the shot consistently. Try them
    all and see what works for certain situations. I always carry along my Gossen Luna Pro but mostly use my camera's light
    meter. I also get into those rapido situations where you don't have the time to change focus or exposure and hope you
    concidentally had the camera set correctly. In that case you click first, check and change later if the shot is still there.
  20. The Sekonic 308 is a handy, compact, accurate and easy-to-use meter. Going meterless sounds OK in theory but what if you see a great
    shot and you end up with a lousy result?
  21. A meter helps indoors and in twilight conditions, but during the day you shouldn't have any problems, at least with B&W and colour print film. The instructions used to be printed inside Kodak film cartons, and they still work. Set your shutter speed as close as you can to the ASA rating of the film (so 400 ASA = 1/500, 200ASA = 1/250 etc.). Then, as Ronald says, aperture is f16.0 in bright sunlight. Overcast conditions are a bit trickier, but most colour print films take quite well to being a little overexposed, and f5.6 is a good choice. F8.0 and f11.0 sit in between, for "watery sun" and "a few clouds". Always works for me.

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