View Full Version : Mamiya 7 metering--what's the deal?
I call upon your collective wisdom in setting me straight.
I'm about two weeks into my first rangefinder, a Mamiya 7 with the 80mm lens. I'm having a tough time getting consistently accurate exposures. Assuming the camera is working properly (which I'll soon be verifying officially), maybe you all can steer me right.
I understand that the meter is centerweighted averaging, with the spot being just below the RF patch in my particular camera. I realized I've been trying to use the camera in AEL mode as a spot meter, pointing the meter area towards a Zone V area in the scene (if there is one) and locking exposure before recomposing and shooting.
Oddly, I think my better exposures have come when I just point and shoot at an "average" scene, so maybe I"m just overthinking things.
Do most of you do the zone-V-and-lock method as if it were a spotmeter; or simply compose and shoot with some exposure compensation on the dial if the scene calls for it? The former seems a little easier from a workflow standpoint, since dialing exp comp requires (at least for me) lowering the camera to look at the dial.
Suggestions welcomed. Still trying to decide if I like this beast, and learning when to trust it.
I've used this camera last year when I rented one for an event. I like the handling, the rangefinder is very good.
Exposure-wise, I think if the camera is operating normally, you just need to exercise the usual judgement yourself on the contrast difference in the scene, average contrast scenes would be a piece of cake for this camera to get it right, but for trickier lights, you need to dial in the compensation manually just like any other center-weighted metering cameras.
Am I wrong or is the meter next to the range finder? Not TTL?
check here for a little info (See "Quirks") for a metering explanation.
it talks about the metering size based on the lens used (43mm makes a spot meter)
I typicall shoot in "A" mode, never have any problem.
In my experience (M 7II), the meter is reliable, as long as you understand the usual limitations of a center-weighted meter. The camera has an AE lock, so you can get your reading off of a middle gray-ish part of your scene, your palm, gray card, etc., and recompose. You can use the exposure compensation feature, as well. For instance, if shooting close-up portraits (on slide film), I often overexpose by 1/2 stop. If shooting BW film, such as HP5+ or Tri-X, the meter is more than adequate.
Hope that helps.
I find the meter barely useable. Okay for BW or colour neg but pretty bad for slide. What I find it is good for is a giving a general ball park exposure reference for quick work. I've always been in the habit of using a hand held light meter anyway so perhaps I'm militant!
Bottom line, I think if you know the M7's quirks the light meter isn't too bad for general use or for shooting scenes with relatively flat light.
I use the M7II with a 65mm lens for the most part. I treat the meter as a center-weighted average, compose, meter and shoot. No problems so far with either film or slides.
I'm not familiar with the Mamiya 7 or 7II, but when I tried to use the spotmeter setting on my DSLR it was a disaster. I was always missing the Zone V spot and hitting zone II or III. It thought I was going to be clever and get better exposures than the auto-shooting punters that buy DSLRs. I finally went back to auto.
My Mamiya 7 meter seems very heavily center weighted to the point that I most commonly shoot on manual.
My personal solution to all metering is inserting some amount of thought into the process rather than letting the meter do all the thinking. I came to this conclusion when I realized most people who did not use a meter got consistently better exposures than most who did.
I shot a six month long project using Astia in my Mamiya 7 a while back. My most common metering was looking up at the sun and sky to conclude that it was yet another "f8 @ 1/500th day". Out of 60 rolls, I can't remember any chromes with exposure problems. I did use a hand held incident meter when shooting in deep shadows or inside.
The Mamiya 7 meter will always be a valid input in your exposure decision. You can make good decisions without it. But the meter's decisions, unassisted by your knowledge, will sometimes lead to bad exposures because of it's narrow range.
The first thing you should do is compare the meter readings of your Mamiya with a meter (or in-camera meter) that you're used to using. Of course you must take account of the differing angles of view of each meter, so start with a large uniformly illuminated wall.
The meter is very strongly center-weighted (and it's not exactly in the centre, so you need to work out where it is). It's not through the lens, so it's like a hand held meter in the sense that it always has the same angle of view regardless of the focal length of the lens.
I have found mine to underexpose, but I only use black and white so some overexposure is always called for.
Mine is just right BUT the location of the center of the metering patch is not on the center of the viewfinder. Using the rangefinder patch for relative position is not accurate because the rangefinder patch moves with focusing. So it is more of a guesstimate most of the time and I would not trust the meter with slides. With Tri-x, the meter is more than good enough, better than my sunny 16 estimates :D
For those who use the "A" mode instead of AEL (which I mostly use), what do you do when the subject is not on the center of the viewfinder? Is the meter still pretty much OK then if using black and white film?
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