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AHAB

how to use a M without light meter

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Hi,

I just have a M3 camera here to try out.

But I have not really any idea how to use a camera without light meter.

So the question is on one hand - how to use a M3 without a ight meter to get the right exposure (ISO Aperture and Speed) - and on the other hand this is not sticky to a M3 but how to use any camera without light meter.

Thanks for any help which is highly appreciated.

Any links to online help also welcome - I already asked google but did not do a great job.

Regards

AHAB

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Search the net for the "sunny 16" rule. And use a film with wide exposure lattitude like Kodak BW 400 CN.

 

Ulrik

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If you will be using the camera regularly, it would be worthwhile buying a used or new exposure meter. A hand-held meter is more versatile for measuring light indoors, but a clip-on one is more convenient when travelling. I have an M3 and added a Voigtlander meter which is popular and probably still available. Very old Leicameters are less reliable nowadays because battery types have changed and substitutes involve adjustments. But there are plenty of good used meters out there at reasonable prices.

 

Sunny 16 rule can be useful in emergencies, but is not reliable indoors!

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If you will be using the camera regularly, it would be worthwhile buying a used or new exposure meter. A hand-held meter is more versatile for measuring light indoors, but a clip-on one is more convenient when travelling. I have an M3 and added a Voigtlander meter which is popular and probably still available. Very old Leicameters are less reliable nowadays because battery types have changed and substitutes involve adjustments. But there are plenty of good used meters out there at reasonable prices.

 

Sunny 16 rule can be useful in emergencies, but is not reliable indoors!

 

Thanks for the hint with the Leicameter - I think I have a MR4 here and was looking for the right batteries - but I will look for a Voigtlander meter instead.

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Search the net for the "sunny 16" rule. And use a film with wide exposure lattitude like Kodak BW 400 CN.

 

Ulrik

 

Thanks Ulrik - will check this and will practice with a digital cam ro get used to it before using the M3 with film.

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I carry a Sekonic L208 in my pocket and a small grey card in case it gets confusing. Set how you want it in sunlight. 2 stops open in the shade. You begin get the feel. My suggestion is to stick with one ISO speed for a while. It will help. When you get stuck that little meter works wonders

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You also learn not to worry about metering every shot. Meter the area and set shutter an aperture. Then visually judge brightness changes and nudge the settings if needed.

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I have only one word of advice: bracket

 

If you do and you shoot B/W or colour neg you will be surprised how little difference quite large changes make, they can be critical in getting the look you want but those films are very tolerant.

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I've found this is true of color films like Portra too: I recently took out my Mamiya 645 on a sunny day, thinking it had 160 speed film in it (but it was 400) and because I wasn't sure I thought I'd experiment and over-expose the film to get the pastel colors that Portra gives under those conditions. And then I was shooting with an ND8 filter (3 stops) on the 1.9 lens and had metered accordingly... and then took the filter off but forgot to change my metering! (I have no idea what happened to me that day).

 

Short story: images that must have been 7 or even 8 or 9 stops over-exposed were actually fine - at least as far as colors and highlights were concerned. Unsurprisingly given my apparent state of mind that day, there were no masterpieces on the roll.

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I carry a Sekonic L208 in my pocket and a small grey card in case it gets confusing. Set how you want it in sunlight. 2 stops open in the shade. You begin get the feel. My suggestion is to stick with one ISO speed for a while. It will help. When you get stuck that little meter works wonders

A replacement for a gray card would be to take a light reading of the back of your own hand and look if your subject gets the same light, or more, or less.

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I would agree ..... Also, you can download a PDF of a Kodak sheet that gives fstop/speed for various films in various situations. It is particularly useful for taking photos at night, stage shows, streets, Times Sq (Picadilly), etc, where meter readings can be a bit more difficult to use to get what you want in terms of highlights and shadows etc.

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Thanks Ulrik - will check this and will practice with a digital cam ro get used to it before using the M3 with film.

 

I wouldn't recommend that. Reflective or matrix metering can give very wrong exposures.

Pete

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AHAB - Make it easy, learn the "sunny 16" rule. For those situations where you have uncertainty, try this, it has never failed me; http://kusner.com/download/MVLibrary/JiffyCalculator.pdf

 

Yes, I periodically use my light meter, a Gossen Luna-Pro digital, but not often. Years ago I did have Leica meters, beginning with the Metrawatt in the 1950s, then the Leica MR-4, and the internal one in my M6 (for the years I had it). Honestly, unless there was a very unusual lighting situation, the free Jiffy Calculator I referenced above, always did an excellent job. If you don't like cut and paste jobs of putting it together yourself, I've seen commercial copies online for $17-25 USD.

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there is also an app called expositor for the iphone that does the same as the physical one spydrxx references.

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My advice would be to carry a light meter, install a light meter app on your phone, or get very good at Sunny 16. The problem with the Sunny 16 is that while the calculations are sound (relatively speaking) the way we perceive light is very flaky. Determining what is sunny, cloudy, gloomy, etc. is very inconsistent when just using your personal judgement. Even an iPhone app is better then Sunny 16, even for the best photographer.

 

I do a couple of things to help when I use Sunny 16. Firstly I look not in front of me, but at the ground. How bright it appears when looking ahead is misleading because your eyes are permanently adjusting to balance things out. I look at the floor and the shadows being cast. He much contrast is there between them and lit areas. The intensity of light is usually relative to the contrast between shadows and lit areas. The sunny it is the more the contrast.

 

I also remember the time of day when I take a light reading I can be sure of and the weather. I know for instance where I am now it's pretty consistent in terms of light during the same part of the day because it's nearer the equator. I usually shoot at F8 at 1/125th of a second from 8am to 6pm if I have no meter and I'm in the open. I shoot negative film 99% of the time. Usually box rated at 400 ISO, but I shoot at around 100 to 200 ISO most of the time.

 

When I lived in London I could never be certain because light changes minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, month to month. If you are somewhere consistent memorise settings for that time of day and that weather. If not take a light meter.

 

Finally learn to gauge the difference in stops between shade and light. I tend to take one stop off aperture and one off speed going from light to shade at the very least outdoors. If I'm going indoors I usually drop it even more as much as 4 to 6 stops. On the underground I will shoot at the widest aperture I have and 1/60th of a second with 400 ISO film.

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I used a iiic and a M4 from 1946 through 1986 (40 years) and I found a light meter to really help. I didn't have an in-camera reflective meter until getting a M6. Reflective metering is OK most of the time: however, Incident readings are a godsend in unusual light or with unusual majority black or majority white subjects.

 

I've run the gamut of meters, and finally settled on the Sekonic 308S as bering the best compromise for getting good exposures. You can use it for either reflective or incident metering with a flick of your thumb, it fits in your shirt pocket and it uses one AA battery.

 

With your M3 (a wonderful Leica), it would be a shame not to have the capability, early on, to determine accurate exposures.

 

Just a thought

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