How clumbersome to adjust exposure on a Leica MP?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by david_c|3, May 18, 2009.

  1. I am considering changing my vacation camera from a Nikon F6 with an 85mm/1.4 for taking picture of the kids to something a little more compact. Usually, I shoot auto-focus, aperture priority so it is basically a point and shoot after I pick the aperture.
    A Leica MP with a 75/2.0 is what seems to be what I am looking for.
    Looking at the Leica, how natural does it feel to focus, adjust either the aperture (on the lens) and shutter speed on the top of the camera to get the right exposure? I know the M7 has aperture priority but I don't like the "M7" and red Leica painted on front.
    Can you learn to do this fast? What do most users of the manual Leicas (that have a built in exposure meter) do? Do you focus, have the aperture preset, and then adust the shutter speed last? I'm still not a great judge of the anticipated exposure needed.
  2. lawrence, the biggest challenge would be focusing a rangefinder. if you are used to slr bodies and autofocus for that matter, this might take a bit of getting used to. with top dial shutter selection, personally, i tend to meter the scene and take most subsequent shots with the shutter speed set to whatever it was, and varying the the aperture.
  3. Nothing your used to is "hard." But I suspect, if a Nikon F6 (100% AE) is what you're used to, a Leica MP would be too much of a leap for you (100% manual). I would suggest you move past your dislike for the looks of the M7 and just go with that. You'll find a smoother transition with the use of AE (aperture priority). I'm betting you will love the relatively small size of your proposed M kit.

    You might want to consider renting one first (there are some dealers that offer this) before pulling the trigger - if you buy new the combination will run you about $8,000.
  4. The MP is not a point and shoot -- it's a professional - all manual - rangefinder.
    If you're use to the F6 with it's wonderful auto focus and AE features -- you'll be disappointed with either the MP or the M7.
    I'm not sure why you want to make the jump from the F6 -- if it's size -- and you want something small to take on vacation -- find a Contax T3 -- or a Ricoh GR1V --
    More importantly - go to a camera store and take a look at the M's -- and whatever else you're thinking investing in. The MP and M7 are both very expensive -- and Leica glass equally expensive. If I wanted a great vacation camera only - I'd leave the MP at home and take the T3 every time... but that's just me.
  5. Set the aperture you want, then spin the shutter speed dial until the red dot lights up in the viewfinder. Focus and compose as necessary. It couldn't be easier.
  6. << ... Can you learn to do this fast ? ... >>
    Learn to do this -- yes, you can.
    Fast -- maybe not.
    I had a thought, Lawrence, and it's nothing anti-Leica or pro-Nikon. Consider an N80 (F80 in some countries), a compact and light but very capable Nikon film body that will mount your very good 85mm Nikkor lens, and other Nikkors, and offer you the autofocus and aperture priority you're accustomed to, but without the size and weight of your F6.
    For the price of an MP or M7, you could buy many N80's (too many to count), and even add one or more wider primes, such as 24/2.8, 28/2.8, or 35/2, so that you wouldn't be confined to the portrait/short tele length.
    Just a thought.
  7. You'd be suprised at how fast you'll learn to anticipate exposure with a manual camera, especially without sutter speed or f stop info in the viewfinder.
    A lot of people put a bit of electrical tape over the logos on the front of the M7 etc. Not that noticeable if it's a black one. You can also order it without the engraving, but it will cost more.
    Moving from an F6 to an MP is a big jump, but I don't think it will be a shock if a rangefinder is for you. My first Leica felt right, and found it a great change from the first day. Rangefinders are certainly not for everyone though, as suggested, rent one (or buy a used M6 which won't lose much if any money if you choose to resell) before spending large sums on an MP with 2/75.
  8. Adjusting from the F6 to any all-manual camera would require extensive practice, but it can be done. I love Leicas, but in your case, I'd advise considering a used Contax G2 ($500-600), with a 35/2 and a 90/2.8 ($450/both). AF, AE, exquisite lenses, and all for around 1,200 for a 2-lens kit. Add the TLA 200 flash ($140) and you're good to go, with an easy transition.
  9. As a relatively new MP user, I think the shutter dial is going to take me time to use, I have to take my eye away from the viewfinder, and look at the dial to change it. It may become second nature over time, and the truth is unless lighting conditions change quickly or you want to bracket with shutter speed, you set it once and leave it for a while.
    Olympus OM's have the shutter speed ring on the lens mount, which is really convenient when you get used to it.
  10. It can be done fast, but it will seem really slow to you. The M7 would be a better choice, in terms of nuts and bolts of shooting. I know even when I go from a M7 to a M6 it's a balky adjustment. Easier might be the contaxt G1 or G2, or a Hexar, very nice or Leica Minilux or the Contaxt t3 or t2 as mentioned above will be more what you are used to. None of them will respond like the F6, so just drop that concept out of your head if you're making the change. Or go retro, M3, sunny 16 with a back-up meter.
  11. The MP makes a great travel camera - you will soon really enjoy carrying and using such a compact lightweight combination. The rangefinder and mechanical focus with scales gives me a really positive confidence in it's precision and instantaneous action compared to the press, wait and hope with motorized AF lenses in modern compacts.
    The trick for fast work is to pre-set your shutter speed and aperture so you are ready to frame, focus and shoot.
    The 75mm/90mm lenses are going to be tricky for a Leica beginner to master in quick close action situations. Consider firstly a 50mm or a 35mm+75mm combination.
  12. Lawrence, since financial questions appear to be relevant, why don't you go ahead a buy an MP and the Summicron 75/2. I also recommend a Summicron 35/2 or Summilux 35/1.4. There is a learning curve to using a manual exposure camera, but it is not difficult. You might also have to get used to the Leica M loading system (of which I am not a fan but am tolerant of). I believe you will come to love the MP and the Leica lenses. Eventually, you may decided to get the M8 digital M Leica. I think you will like the light weight of the MP and the optical excellence of Leica lenses.
  13. Hi Lawrence,
    Until recently the MP (along with a second M body) was my vacation camera of choice. Yes, you can learn to adjust exposure very quickly and after a while it shouldn't be an issue. I normally set exposure before focusing because I have some old lenses that tend to move when aperture is adjusted. But if aperture is the priority this is not a problem, simply set it before bringing the camera to your eye. (Remember there's no depth of field pre-view available on a rangefinder.) As regards the 75 f2. I have it and agree that it's an excellent portrait choice. If you only want to take one lens, that will do, although personally I'd prefer a 50. I always take about five lenses (21,28,35,50 and 75). But as I say if I were to be limited to one, the 75 would be my second choice. First choice would be the 50 1.4. In fact if travelling in summer and I was only allowed one lens it would probably be a 50 elmar 2.8 because it's small and light and collapsible, but mine flares terribly for some reason - possibly shiny aperture blades!
  14. Lawrence, You're also going to have to consider which MP to get. I have a .85 because I prefer the larger magnification. And as you're considering the 75 summicron this might be the one for you too. However you definitely need to compare it to the .72 before purchasing. I personally find the framelines in my .72 M6 less obtrusive than the .85 framelines. You'll have to judge for yourself.
    Which ever one you choose you're going to love the MP, I'm sure of it. Go get it, good luck and good shooting.
  15. You didn't say where you go on vacation or how fast your kids move. If it's dusty or wet I wouldn't subject anything but a beat up Leica to that. If they move quickly I wouldn't use a rangefinder with a relatively long lens like a 75.
  16. Ray, I disagree, dusty, wet, fast moving kids; this is Leica MP territory.
  17. Opps, a typo I did not catch. Meant to write, "financial questions appear to be irrelevant..." But hope you got the idea. The MP and the 75/2, plus the 35/2 I recommended are going to cost a pretty penny. But if you got a pretty penny to spend go for it.
  18. Thanks for all of your suggestions and opinions. The more I am learning about rangefinders and the M in particular, the more I think I should go wider in terms of lens choice. I use only B&W and am a novice developer/printer as well. (Presently also using a Hasselblad 203 FE and 205 FCC in their semi-auto aperture priority mode as well).
    I also have used a F2AS, F3, FM, FE2 as well so getting the LEDs to their correct setting wouldn't be any problem. If I get a MP, I would probably pre-meter and pre focus the scene as close as possible, preset the aperture so there will be minimal changes in the shutter speed which need to be performed when taking the actual shot.
    I think I want the 0.72 to have most lens available to me (is this reasonable?). Correct me if I am wrong, but is it easier to focus on a wider lens such as a 35mm than a 70mm lens as the frames will be bigger on the wider one?
    I like more portrait type compositions using the F6/85mm and 203FE/110 combination, and I think this is more of a beginner bias. Rather then more of the same with a MP/70mm, I was thinking of a change using the MP and not getting the 70mm but instead start with a 35mm and then getting the 70mm later if I would want it.
    Since this is primarily going to be used for family shots, I'd like to see your wide angle family pictures to see how others "compose" both candid and more formal shots. I'm a novice in a rut and can only take close up shots. Please show me the light to jump start my creativity.
  19. With a wider lens like a 35, you can set the aperture on the lens and then read the depth of field range of focus on the lens for that aperture. You can also pre focus on an object the approximate distance from your subject and/or learn to estimate distance and use that as a guide. So if you're shooting stopped down especially, like f/8 or f/11, the camera can be used basically like a point & shoot. That's faster when you're ready to shoot than any autofocus ever invented, or at least that I have experience with. Leica M's or other rangefinders are best at that. You can do it too with an SLR but depending on where focus is set the viewfinder isn't always a clear window to look through as with a rangefinder.
  20. Funny thing is, I use a 5D for family and usually save the Leica for street. This is 5D (full frame) with 28mm lens...
  21. Yes, I would agree that the .72 is the most versatile. The point being that it has frame lines for 6 different focal lengths. (They come in pairs: 28 coupled with 90, 35 with 135 and 50 with 75.) You will need an external finder for a 28mm lens if you get the .85 version and this can be irritating.
    You are wrong about the ease of focus. It makes no difference what lens you're using; as long as it couples to the rangefinder the focusing is the same. Having said that, the longer the lens is, the more noticeable focusing errors will be, and it is easier to be more precise if the magnification is greater.
    As regards lenses, the classic combination is M camera with 35 lens. The best (and most expensive) is the asph 'lux. Next best in my opinion is the first version 8 element summicron or the fourth version 7 element "bokeh king".
    But personally, as I've said, my first choice is a 50mm lens, after which I think I'd probably go for the 75 'cron. But I also very much enjoy using wide angles.
    If I could only have one lens it would be a 50. If only two then I might go for the 75 and the 28 'cron.
    But as I say, for a lot of people the best fit is the 35.
  22. I can't remember what lens this was, but I suspect that it might have been the 50 1.4.
    This shot was taken in Greece in 2005.
  23. Oops, pressed the wrong button. Here's the shot.
  24. Here's another from the same trip. Again, I don't remember the lens. This may have been the 75 'cron.
  25. Keep the 85/1.4 and buy a mint Nikon FE2 which has both manual and automatic aperture priority exposure, and a jewel of a camera. Cost you maybe $300.
    You'll get no joy out of spending $5k on an M7 plus a good lens for what you want to do, and the Nikon 85/1.4 is as good as the 90 Summicron to all intents and purposes.
  26. I like the idea of an N/F80. Very similiar interface as the F6, will mount the same lenses and be tons lighter. You'll have a lot of cash left over.
  27. You can get an M3 (basically a 50 year old MP) on ebay for $500, then sell it a year later for the same price. Or get a Voigtlander, which will have a better viewfinder than an M3. Either way, an MP is a very expensive thing to buy if you're not sure that you'll like it.
  28. I guy once said (I wish I could recall who) in an article that a Leica M is a camera that an experienced photographer steps up to, not a camera that a beginner steps into.
    That makes alot of sense to me, even though I understand that the OP probably isn't a beginner. The point is, (IMO) one usually chooses to move into rangefinder cameras in general and Leica M in particular as a means of broadening their horizons beyond the standard SLR/DSLR way of making photographs. To drop $6-8K on an MP and 75 Summicron just because the F6 is a little too cumbersome is kinda like trading your old Ford pickup in for a Porche because it gets better gas mileage.
    Good luck with whatever you choose, but I'd go with Bob Smith's suggestion of a Contax T3 or similar if all you want is smaller, lighter and a bunch of auto features.
  29. I'm not sure why everyone is trying to disuade you from getting a Leica. You obviously want to get one and presumably are willing to take the time to learn how to use it. After all, it's three dials and a button -- not rocket science. You just can't turn your brain off when taking pictures, which is sometimes nice to be able to do. But you seem to understand that. And Leica's hold their value nicely so if you change your mind, it's not the end of the world.
  30. David is right. I've switched to a Nikon DSLR only because I can't afford film processing at the moment. I love the ability to change ISO from shot to shot, but nothing beats shooting with a Leica. I'll be reverting to film as soon as I can afford to set up a proper dark room.
    And by the way it's really fun to take control of aperture, shutter speeds and focusing. I often use my Nikon D3 like that. I wish it were as quiet as a Leica and that the viewfinder didn't black out at the decisive moment.
  31. Take Bills' advice, first reply to your question. It's a leap. If you use a F6 as a point and shoot...
  32. Nobody has mentioned the role the film and the lens play in speed of operation. I see it like this: if you have a lens built like the pre-asph 35 mm Summicron with very haptic aperture ring and scalloped focussing knob (a more economical variant might be the Voigtländer pancake f/2.5 35 mm lens), you will be able to adjust exposure and focus very fast. Set the shutter speed to what you are confident will give you sharp pictures (we're shooting hand-held here, I assume), focus with middle finger and adjust exposure with index finger and thumb from under the camera.
    If you haven't even got time for that, measure in advance, estimate changes of light as they happen and adjust the aperture accordingly and pre-focus. Then it's pull the camera up to your face, frame and shoot. Any inaccuracies in exposure will fall into the latitude of colour negative film, not so with slides and fickle b&w document film developed to half tones that I like to use. There, you'll have to take that split-second longer ...
  33. Lawrence,
    Before you spend the $$$ on an MP, might I sugest looking at a nice M2 or M3? You can pick up either for about half the price of an MP. Not having a built in meter really isn't as tough as it sounds- you'd be suprised at how well you can judge exposure by eye using BDE/Sunny 16. This way, you can get a feel for wether or not you really want a rangefinder (and specifically, a Leica), you can build up a nice selection of lenses that can later be used if you do decide to get an MP, and you'll have no problem unloading the M3/2 if you decide it isn't for you.
    Joe Martin
  34. Nikon users often complain about Canons having so "few" focus points, and not being able to shoot 10 frames per second, and bracketing five stops per image, and so on. How in the world can you live with such a slow manual camera like a Leica M?
    In the eyes of SLR users, an MP does so little for so much coin.
  35. I missed 3 great photos today with an MP. Not only is focusing and metering not what you're used to, I missed another due to slow film loading.
    So I asked myself why do I use it, and my heart answered.
  36. I missed 3 great photos today with an MP. Not only is focusing and metering not what you're used to, I missed another due to slow film loading.
    So I asked myself why do I use it, and my heart answered.​
    Yeah, and the leather half-case most of us use does not help (-;
    Perhaps Lawrence should go with an Ikon or Bessa. Not quite Nikon like automation but you would get aperture priority up to 1/2000 shutter speed. Having that little bit of automation does help a lot.
  37. Nah Thomas, no Italian leather on it. I'm turning it into a beater. It's on my neck with a 35 1.45 Lux or a 28 2.85 (I'm slow) as I practice Coneology.
    It lives on the floor of my 2500 HD Burb, I bring it inside to feed it.
  38. I missed a great photo this week with my first failed film load, doing it strictly according to the M6's instructions: I am back to checking sprocket engagement on both sides of the film like with the M2. Lots of considerations here in this thread. The OP wants to try a Leica. I would discount the difficulties, which are quickly overcome. What sort of vacation? I have just been to New Zealand and on Sunday hiked in the hills above Lyttleton harbour in fierce wind, carrying M2, M6, 25mm Zeiss, 35mm and 50mm Summicrons and a 90mm 2.8. Needed them all and the weight and size never bothered me. This is what makes a Leica a great vacation camera.
  39. I went from Nikon AF cameras to rangefinders too Lawrence, and I really missed the little thumb wheel and AE lock on the Nikons. My experiment w/ a Bessa R3a was a failure as 90% of the time I couldn't see the shutter readouts in the VF due to flare whenever I was outside. Build quality on the Bessas is ok but only that. Not even close to Leica or even Nikon, but it's AE was a real boon to taking photos. I think you should just make the plunge and get an M7. It's a great camera and will have less of a learning curve for you. If you buy it right you'll get your money back if you don't like it. There are other options too. A Contax G1 or G2 make fine travel cameras, as does the Leica CM. But really, wouldn't an M7 w/ a 35 and 75 or 90 lens be at the very top of the list?
  40. I like the FM3a Nikon, its nice and compact, no auto focus but its an all metal camera great MF high 1/250 second X-sync, looks great, and much cheaper than a M anything, I got the 45mm f2.8 pancake lens but Voightlander has a 40mm f2.0 manual lens for Nikon. You could use all your Nikon glass and still get a really simple beautiful camera. Or look for a mint Nikon F3 or F3hp, its much smaller than your F6 but no AF has center weighting meter but slow xsync.
    Or you could cut a little size and get like I have an F100 a little smaller and lighter than the F6 and the best bargain of Nikons.
    Of course if you want a rangefinder look at the Zeiss ZM Ikon, its got the best rangefinder viewfinder, has regular swing open back. It has the same AE as M7 but 1/125 sec. x-sync, It also saves you enough money you can buy another lens vs. the M-7.
  41. I like the FM3a Nikon, its nice and compact, no auto focus but its an all metal camera great MF high 1/250 second X-sync, looks great, and much cheaper than a M anything, I got the 45mm f2.8 pancake lens but Voightlander has a 40mm f2.0 manual lens for Nikon. You could use all your Nikon glass and still get a really simple beautiful camera. Or look for a mint Nikon F3 or F3hp, its much smaller than your F6 but no AF has center weighting meter but slow xsync.
    Or you could cut a little size and get like I have an F100 a little smaller and lighter than the F6 and the best bargain of Nikons.
    Of course if you want a rangefinder look at the Zeiss ZM Ikon, its got the best rangefinder viewfinder, has regular swing open back. It has the same AE as M7 but 1/125 sec. x-sync, It also saves you enough money you can buy another lens vs. the M-7.
  42. David -
    We can get used to anything. Your instincts are pretty good; respect them. Your suggestion is the most natural tool there is, once you acclimatize to it. Must train though and you will be able to work further by instinct.
    A possible alternative (or addition) to the 75 would be the APO 90 Elmarit. This would be your last camera; it will permit you to concentrate, then, on the more critical aspects of making pictures: where to place your body, ways to play subjects & objects into the frame, etc.

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