Jump to content
cornellfrancis

Do I really need a light meter for my M3?

Recommended Posts

Advertisement (gone after registration)

Friends, as the proud new owner of a late model single stroke M3 (soon to be delivered), I have been looking into purchasing a leicameter.

 

It seems that many people find leicameters to be a pain and I would obviously prefer to not use one, however, coming from an M6, I depend on the meter quite a bit. I mean sometimes I can guess the correct exposure before looking into the viewfinder, but other times I am off.

 

It got me wondering, how many of you use a light meter for your meter-less Leicas? If you aren’t using a meter, and just guessing exposure based on experience, I’m curious to know how good one can get at this. Do you hit 50% of your shots? 90%? 100%?

 

How did they do it in the old days in the M3’s heyday? Did most people use meters or no?

 

I appreciate your thoughts.

 

Francis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Francis and welcome to the Forum!

 

My own experience going without a light meter on a IIIg, M3 and M2 is that it's certainly possible, and one gets better and better at it. I love the experience of going meterless, because it requires me to think before each shot, one of the main reasons I've left automated point 'n shoots behind. I would estimate my B&W hit rate at 90% at the moment outdoors, 65% indoors. When in doubt, just bracket.

 

It was the advent of colour slide film, which is notoriously demanding of exact exposure, that (as I understand) required the use of meters. Negative film (particularly B&W) has good latitude, and is generally forgiving of human error.

 

It helps to stick to a particular film and get to know it intimately (tthough this probably applies equally well if you stick to a meter).

 

An added rationale for avoiding sticking on the old Leicameters is how often they end up fouling the chrome top of your camera.

 

Best wishes and happy shooting,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a meter (incident handheld) as well as relying on sunny 16.

 

Buy yourself a new or recent model handheld meter, Leicameters are old and less sensitive/reliable.

 

When I use sunny 16 I get exposure about right everytime, it's quite easy with some experience and the latitude of neg film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Leicameter for my M3 but never use it, since I don't like the handling of this combination. These days, I either use an Iphone or a Pentax spotmeter.

 

Whether you need a meter depends on the film and your expectations. My recommendation would be to get a meter, if only to check and train one's estimations.

 

Chromogenic Black and White film, such as BW400 or XP2 have enough latitude to allow guessing under normal daylight conditions, "classic" B/W films such as Tri-X, FP4/HP5 are similarly robust. "Modern" B/W films like Tmax or the Deltas need more accurate processing, as well as colour negative (C41) films. I wouldn't expose slide films unmetered.

 

Having said this, I would recommend to give metering a try in any case, it can be surprising how much more tonal ranges can be found in a carefully exposed (and processed) film.

 

Stefan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...welcome to the forum, Francis. Shooting meterless under bright conditions is one thing, but if, like some of us, you intend to do quite a bit of available and low-light photography, then you need to get to know your camera, lens(es) and film(s). You will also need a meter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Advertisement (gone after registration)

A Weston looks nice and if you can find one that has been refurbished they're good meters. I used to own one, a Euro-Master but sold it as it was too cumbersome and too large, particularly when I used it with the invercone for incident metering. Now I use a Gossen Digiflash - very small, light and works brilliantly. I like to use that with my cameras that have a built in meter too, for incident readings.

Carl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have always had a meter on the top of my m3, first MC, then MR, now Voigtlander. I use slide film and wouldn't be without it

 

Gerry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For black & white and color negative film, I say not really. With the M3, I'm meterless 95% of the time. I certainly do not meter before every exposure.

I like to take an initial incedent reading (I use a Sekonic L-328 but I learned on a Luna Pro) and then adjust exposure by feel.

If I'm outside and it's daytime, I usually don't bother, start with sunny 16 and move up or down.

The first couple of times you do it, it's downright scary until you see the negatives and then you just learn to trust yourself.

 

Jay

Edited by Jaybob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your responses. I would love to learn to be meter-free one of these days and will continue to work at it.

 

In the meantime I'm going to give one of these light meter apps for my iPhone a try. Additionally, since i will be using the m3 alongside the m6 most of the time (different focal lengths or now for b&w one for color) I suppose I can just use the exposure off of the m6 in that case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

It was the advent of colour slide film, which is notoriously demanding of exact exposure, that (as I understand) required the use of meters. Negative film (particularly B&W) has good latitude, and is generally forgiving of human error,

 

very interesting anecdote regarding color slide film. That makes sense to me. And thank you for the tip about learning the films.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello cornellfrancis,

 

Welcome to the Forum.

 

Would you erase the marked shutter speeds also? Certainly anyone smart enough to look @ a scene & determine exposure can figure out where the various shutter speeds are on an unmarked shutter dial.

 

What about aperture markings. If you erase those you could certainly learn to count clicks & put the aperture ring where it should be & like w/ the unmarked shutter speeds you probably would get it more or less right a good portion of the time.

 

Don't forget to erase the marked distances on the lens barrel as well. Those are not too hard to guess reasonably closely also.

 

But why?

 

A light meter is just like all those others. When you want to use it it allows you to personnaly better fine tune your camera to make the most of the fine tiuning of photography an M represents. Just like when you want to look @ the marked shutter speeds instead of counting clicks they are there for you.

 

Not having a light meter to use when you want to is pretty much like taking those silly little rectangles out of the range/viewfinder so you can have have a clearer field of view.

 

Best Regards,

 

Michael

 

BTW: Some other things:

 

If you put a piece of masking tape on the bottom of your clip on meter you will not scratch the top plate.

 

If you adjust the 2 smaller & 3 larger screws on the bottom of your Leitz slide on meter you will not only adjust it so it doesn't scratch the top plate but you will also help it to properly align in terms of clearance & angle w/ the cutout in the shutter speed dial.

 

If you prefer a hand held meter keep in mind a hand held meter takes about the same space & bother as bringing along another lens. It can sometimes be more useful.

Edited by Michael Geschlecht

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Going meterless can be a fun challenge, and you will quickly get to the point that you get a reasonably good exposure most of the time. Even with the great latitude of B&W film, however, a perfect exposure with ideal shadow detail and highlight separation will give you the most room to interpret the image while printing. Whenever I want this degree of precision, which is most of the time, I use a meter. The Leica meter seems primitive to me, I like the Gossen Luna-Pro.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A small digital camera that shows the exposure settings will be faster and more accurate than some meters for judging exposure since you can also see a live image and histogram on many of them. There are some exposure apps for cellphones too.

Edited by AlanG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a Gossen Digisix for (incident light) metering all my cameras. It’s small and unobtrusive, I usually let it hang around my neck, stop watch-style. I originally bought it for the M3, and I now use it with the M9 as well. About 80% of my M9 shots are metered with the Digisix rather than the built-in meter.

 

Reason: I regularly switch between three cameras for both work and leisure and mostly shoot RAW or slide film. Rather than keeping in mind how multiple meters behave in various situations I only need to know how to interpret the Digisix’s measurements. Makes it easier for me to get consistent results.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recommend a small handheld meter: the gossen digisix or sekonic l308s or l208 with a meterless M.

 

I find thAt using meter to confirm or refine my own internal sense of the light helps. but I use it only when I start or if the light changes.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you should get a Sekonic or a Digisix, something light that can go with you everywhere.

 

Using facts in photography has never been a waste of time. Using a meter will allow you to guess a correct exposure from time to time through familiarity with scenes, and there is nothing wrong with that. But a meter gives a datum point. Without a meter and all sorts of bad habits can creep in gradually, especially if working alone (without a picture editor or camera club to look over your shoulder). Like if you are consistently out with your guess and you start to think it is your development that is off, or the lab. Then you start to loose direction, one thing compensates for another, then another, and before you know it you have no facts to work on just because the initial exposure was off.

 

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome Francis,

 

Some great advice here already. I go meterless with my II and M2. It takes practice, and time to gain familiarity. It helps to anchor at least one (or more) of the variables, for instance I only ever use Kodak 400CN in my meterless cameras. I know how it behaves and I have "tuned myself" to ISO400 to get consistently decent results. Would I go meterless all the time? Of course not and, as Steve says, it is good to have a datum point occasionally - effectively to re-calibrate your brain. Alan's right too (sound of fainting

) a small digital camera is actually smaller than some of the meters mentioned and acts as a backup/proofing camera if you feel the need while still giving you that point of reference.

 

Regards,

 

Bill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...as Steve says, it is good to have a datum point occasionally - effectively to re-calibrate your brain.

 

I wish I had included that bit of info in my "I'm using the force to decide my exposure and completely meterless 95% of the time" rant. The importance of the 5% initial calibration and recalibration cannot be overstated.

 

Jay

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue., Read more about our Privacy Policy