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Do I really need a light meter for my M3?

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Hi! I use voigtlander vc meter on my M2, but if i must leave the light meter, i would be over the metering since the film's latitude is forgiveable (color film).

But i sold my M2 and use M6 now

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I take my Sekonic when I'm out and about, often without a camera, and play a game where I see a scene and use sunny 16 and then use the meter to see if i'm close.  If it's an overcast day I usually get close -- maybe one stop either way.  It's the clear early mornings and late afternoons that fool me.  

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I take my Sekonic when I'm out and about, often without a camera, and play a game where I see a scene and use sunny 16 and then use the meter to see if i'm close.  If it's an overcast day I usually get close -- maybe one stop either way.  It's the clear early mornings and late afternoons that fool me.  

 

When not carrying a camera and I see an interesting composition, I wink my right eye and remember the scene. My exposures are always correct and editing them in long-term memory is efficient. Who needs film or digital? Certainly printing is an issue, but I do not make pictures for anyone but myself.

Edited by pico

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  It's the clear early mornings and late afternoons that fool me.  

 

 

IMO they often fool the meter too if you are incident metering. If the sun is shining directly into the dome (as it often can be at these times of the day), the meter reading will likely underexpose neg film.

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Metering properly is a learned skill too, as one has to take into account the lightness or darkness of the subject when reflective metering, not so when incident metering. FWIW I began photography meterless, did ok, got a meter, did better. My first Leica was meterless and I got a meter which I used for several years. In the 1990s I got a digital reflectice/incident meter and every time I used it, I made note of my settings and the scene. One day I came upon the "sunny 16 rule" which was what the film manufacturers used to print on the inside of their film boxes. Then I found the "New Jiffy Exposure Calculator" online http://www.cppdh.org/download/jiffy-calculator-for-night-light-exposures.pdf . Studied it, and basically memorized it for the majority of my work, and have been meterless ever since. The best hints I can give you are for B&W

cut the mfr's ISO by about 15%, latitude will save you. For color, when using a meter, if you're using color negative film, slightly overexpose, if using transparencies (positive film) slightly underexpose for greater saturation of color. Good luck and have fun...eventually you may graduate to the freedom of meterless, despite what the pundits say.

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I have consistently better results with incident light readings than with reflected light readings. I use a Digisix. The M6 meter provides a sanity check, but I seldom change the exposure based on its readings. (I only shoot B&W.)

Like Doug, I miss way fewer exposures now by taking incident light readings. I plan this summer to push myself to do a hybrid of meter and sunny 16 by which I'll take an initial incident reading, then vary according to sunny 16 if the sun goes behind a cloud, or if a given subject is in shadows etc.

 

I want to do this, because I find myself an obsessive slave to the meter, and so often the conclusion is "yep, still the same. I knew it but . . . "

 

By the way, congratulations on the M3. I truly love mine!

Edited by Brenton C

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Leica meter left some scratches on my M3 ELC top plate. I use Sunny 16, if light is simple. If I want to be more accurate, I'm using Sekonic L208 Twinmatte meter, which is very small, yet, accurate.

Or I just use iPhone free light meter app.

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Leica meter left some scratches on my M3 ELC top plate. I use Sunny 16, if light is simple. If I want to be more accurate, I'm using Sekonic L208 Twinmatte meter, which is very small, yet, accurate.

Or I just use iPhone free light meter app.

 

 

I'm considering my first meterless camera, the Leica M-A.  Regarding handheld meters, it seems smartphone apps are the way to go, at least theoretically.  I have my iPhone with me always, so no additional space needed.  The reviews I see on-line for the light meter app I purchased are generally positive.  So what's not to love, at least in theory?

 

But I was wondering what experiences people here have with a light meter app from your smartphone?  Actual testing in the field, so to speak... Good or bad? Thanks!

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I'm considering my first meterless camera, the Leica M-A.  Regarding handheld meters, it seems smartphone apps are the way to go, at least theoretically.  I have my iPhone with me always, so no additional space needed.  The reviews I see on-line for the light meter app I purchased are generally positive.  So what's not to love, at least in theory?

 

But I was wondering what experiences people here have with a light meter app from your smartphone?  Actual testing in the field, so to speak... Good or bad? Thanks!

 

I prefer the Lumu dome to any of the apps that use the phone's camera.

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With time, and practice, you learn to judge light and exposure completely instinctively and meterless. I could do so as a teenager with my Pentax K1000. I have just bought a M3 and re-learning meterless and film. I am finding that the myLightmeter app on the Iphone is helpful as a guide in the process. 

 

Most modern films have good latitude and are really very forgiving.

Edited by Adrian Lord

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I have and use a couple of apps, they are both accurate enough that I can trust them when shooting slide film.

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I have the MR meter as i can't be bothered to search my pockets for some device, measure, put it back, set the camera, wait for the clouds to pass, redo the whole procedure and then take a photo.  The top plate is already scratched, so the MR meter covers it nicely

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I use a Seikonic L-308S with my M-A. It's small, lightweight and works well. I've heard that some of the mobile apps and hardware meters for mobile phones work well too but I prefer a solution that doesn't require me to fiddle with a phone app or ensure that my phone is charged to use it.

 

For me, some of the benefits of using a film camera are the simple non-electronic interface and no need for constant battery charging, both of which I get with a separate handheld meter.

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Leicameters are now old, and finding a solid unit is a challenge. And it will certainly scratch your camera. Best avoided.

 

I mainly use a Sunny 5.6 rule. (a bright day, 200 ASA give f5.6 at 1/250th). When I have time for (say) a landscape, I use my Soligor 1 degree spot meter. My educated guesses are generally very accurate, and the spot meter is always 100%. All my negatives are technically pretty good. I am always looking for good shadow detail.

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As Micheal says.

 

The more you use the camera, and a specific film, the more you'll get your perfect exposures. Just by estimation. Forget light meters, they become a crutch...cast them away and trust yourself.

 

Even HCB was known for some "not so good" exposures.

 

...

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While use of one film and one camera will probably improve one's ability to estimate exposures, my feeling is that it's better to use a light meter, as David Vestal writes in his book, The Craft of Photography:

 

The Trouble with Eyes. Our eyes adjust themselves with miraculous sensitivity to changing brightnesses of light. However, this process is not conscious, so the eye is a poor light-measuring instrument for photography. We don't even notice some drastic changes.

Exposure Sense. With observation and luck, you may acquire a good photographic sense of light—part knowledge and part feel.

Not everyone can. It's usually more accurate to use a meter. Inaccurate exposure in shoot­ ing makes for dificult printing, so you can save much trouble by taking a little trouble where it counts. 

 

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There is a useful device called ExposureMat (http://expomat.tripod.com).

 

Its main advantage for me is the definitions and EVs it provides, which is the basis for informed estimates of light in a wide variety of situations. I don't use the physical device - but I have a strong sense of how to modify exposure based on the light of my situation when compared to my known bright day exposure of f5.6, 1/250 for 200 ASA.

 

It allows for good estimates instead of raw guesses.

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Leicameters are now old, and finding a solid unit is a challenge. And it will certainly scratch your camera. Best avoided.

 

I mainly use a Sunny 5.6 rule. (a bright day, 200 ASA give f5.6 at 1/250th). When I have time for (say) a landscape, I use my Soligor 1 degree spot meter. My educated guesses are generally very accurate, and the spot meter is always 100%. All my negatives are technically pretty good. I am always looking for good shadow detail.

I thought I'd read that the 'sunny 16' method needs to be modified based on latitude, so sunny 16 at the equator is sunny 5.6 in Montreal, it appears. How does this 'adjustment' to sunny 16 align with ExposureMat?

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I thought I'd read that the 'sunny 16' method needs to be modified based on latitude, so sunny 16 at the equator is sunny 5.6 in Montreal, it appears. How does this 'adjustment' to sunny 16 align with ExposureMat?

 

I have no link to earth latitude for Sunny Anything. I suspect that in brilliant sun on a white sand beach or arctic snows, my benchmark of f5.6 at 1/250 would be a significant over exposure. But I don’t make pictures in those environments.
 
I don’t directly use an ExposureMat as I walk around. I roughly use the definitions to determine adjustments from my standard benchmark exposure. My standard is pretty much “Cloudy bright day, soft shadows” (EV13). If my actual situation is “Overcast day, subject in Shade” (EV11), I know to open up 2 stops. Etc. So my challenge is to assess my light situation and determine how far away I am from EV13. It is all pretty easy, and I remember many of the scenarios and EV levels. I am very unlikely to be off by more than 1 stop.
 
If I am planning on photographing in a difficult environment (e.g. gothic cathedral), I will carry my spot meter (and likely my table tripod). Even educated guesses in these very different environments are difficult and can easily be wrong.
 
As far as actually using the ExposureMat while stumbling around, I would adjust it for my benchmark of f5.6  and 1/250 for EV13 (which I know is right because of good negatives) and see what ISO that shows on the ExposureMat, and stick with that. I did this once, but I don’t remember what ISO resulted. I just use the “EV offset” idea based on the EV value for a specific light situation. It works – my negatives are always easily scanable/printable.
 
After a now long life of making photographs, my experience is that “formulas” and such are usually a waste of time – if you want to know something and make it work for you, TEST in an organized scientific way. I have never found a reliable alternative.

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Leicameters are now old, and finding a solid unit is a challenge. And it will certainly scratch your camera. Best avoided.

 

Voightlander's clip-on meter is pretty good.

 

Regarding Leicameters for those that wish to use them, the scratching of the top plate is easily eliminated by using the adjustment screws on the mounting shoe, that is why they are there - and for backup protection putting a piece of tape on the top plate.

Edited by pico

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