M4 problems
Old 05-13-2013   #1
Welland
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M4 problems

A few months back I got my first Leica, an M4. I coupled it with a Zeiss Biogon 35mm f2. (lovely lens)

I love the camera and the lens and have run about 10 rolls through it so far. I have to my standards had some really nice shots from it. Problem is Ive also ruined some opportunities which I feel if I had an in camera light meter would have nailed.

I am used to my OM1 which has a light meter and has served me well. Im learning about the exposures and have a light meter app and a weston master but I find it slows me down.

Should I perservere or should I cut my losses and sell the M4 to make way for an M6?
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Old 05-13-2013   #2
Roger Hicks
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Personally I prefer light meters but equally, a modest amount of practice will enable you to judge exposures surprisingly accurately, surprisingly often.

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Old 05-13-2013   #3
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Just bought nice VC II lightmeter for my M4....I can't believe how small this thing is...try it
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Old 05-13-2013   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zvos1 View Post
Just bought nice VC II lightmeter for my M4....I can't believe how small this thing is...try it
Interesting, hadn't thought of that. How much did it cost?

Have you started using it yet?
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Old 05-13-2013   #5
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Old 05-13-2013   #6
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I'm also a new M4 user, and I've been loving the Gossen DigiSix2. It's tiny and light and totally pocket-able. Most importantly, it has provided a great learning experience. I walk around the house and around the neighborhood with just the meter sometimes, just taking incidence readings and testing myself on what I think the EV will be. Won't be too long before I'm guessing closer to the mark more often.

With my D200 in matrix mode, I never know what the camera is really measuring.

Maybe I'm in the minority (globally speaking, not on RFF), but I'm rather glad to be shut of in-viewfinder distractions!
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Old 05-13-2013   #7
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The more you shoot without a meter, the better you'll become by judging the exposure.
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Old 05-13-2013   #8
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i used the m4 and canon 50/f1.5
2 week ago and shot around 8
rolls of 400 iso film. Reading the
light outdoors isn't an issue generally
as Sunny 16 works well. It is
troublesome when there it is indoors,
or partially shaded, for that I used a VC
meter II.

here is an example:



I pointed the VC meter pointed slightly downwards,
then used the settings on my M4. If I had pointed
straight ahead, it would have resulted in underexposure.

raytoei

ps. while the m6 is an excellent tool, the m4 is too nice to
be swapped out.
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Old 05-13-2013   #9
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My M2 always has the VC meter on it. Though outdoors I'm getting better with judging exposure, but its always good to double check against the meter

My only complaint is that I think the M2 looks much better without a meter on top!

Another option would be to find a decent M5. They have fairly decent pricing also. I would love to have one.
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Old 05-13-2013   #10
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I've come to prefer incident metering when possible. That makes in camera meters a fallback anyway. That said, if light is really changing fast I may take a R4M instead.
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Old 05-13-2013   #11
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Put a Leicameter (M4 version) on top, your camera will look uglier but it works and you can get it quite cheap. It is shutter dial coupled so it will speed you up a bit.
I agree with the people that say try going w/o a meter it is really the fastest way.
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Old 05-13-2013   #12
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Don't forget that smartphones can be used as meters. My current fave is iZoner (ios) which has lots of good functions, including spot meter.

A good app to memorise Sunny 16 is Expositor (also ios).
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Old 05-13-2013   #13
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Another vote for the MR meter that couples with the M4 shutter speeds. It's good historically correct practice, if that matters to you (it does to me). With any of these top-plate meters, though, you'll still be separating the metering from the composing/shooting, so getting an M6 or M5 is one way to keep your metering/composing continuous, though the wiser advisers here point to treating the meter (whatever type) as practice to mastering sunny 16.
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Old 05-13-2013   #14
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Another vote for the VC II from me. I find it ugly when mounted on the camera but it is always there, is easy to read, has a wide range and the batteries last long and are easy to find. To go meter-less I can easily remove it and drop it into a pocket. The VC II is remarkable smaller compared to a Seconic Twin-Mate (L-208) or Gossen Digisix.
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Old 05-13-2013   #15
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I used to use a Leica MR meter on whatever M I happened to be shooting, but I stopped using it. Reading the light with your eyes is not so hard, and the time ot takes to aim the camera and meter, depress the button on the meter, turn the camera to read the meter, and then adjust your shutter speed and/or aperture, you will likely miss the shot anyway.

I usually set the aperture to f/5.6-8, and adjust the shutter speed to match the conditions. With practice it is quick and reasonably accurate.

Use your eyes to read the light and choose your settings, and then check your meter to see of it agrees, not vice-versa. In a little time you'll become proficient.
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Old 05-14-2013   #16
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Thanks gang, good advice. i may just keep plodding away and admit i just need time to get it right
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Old 05-14-2013   #17
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Depends on your preferred shooting style & media.

IIRC, the OM bodies had some great metering options, including spot metering off the film.

I use both meterless cameras (including an M4) & those w/TTL metering (including an M6 TTL) & did not have problems learning to shoot w/an external meter. However, if you had a good work flow associated w/TTL shooting (&/or shoot a lot of slide film) & have no intention of getting other meterless cameras, then I think it's perfectly rational to cut your losses & get an M6 or other M body w/meter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Welland View Post
Thanks gang, good advice. i may just keep plodding away and admit i just need time to get it right
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Old 05-14-2013   #18
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There is no substitute for learning to read the light. Burn a dozen rolls of the b&w film of your choice, guessing. Try to remember what you did when you screw up and adjust. Always use the same film, same developer, same everything. Don't get too attached to your pictures, because until you get good at it, you'll make mistakes and ruin them. Eventually, you'll be pretty close to spot-on. Amuse your friends by telling them the exposure for the scene you're in. They'll check it on their metered cameras and say, with some awe, "Wow. You're right."
That's what a Leica is for. M6's are for wusses.
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Old 05-14-2013   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdotkling View Post
There is no substitute for learning to read the light. Burn a dozen rolls of the b&w film of your choice, guessing. Try to remember what you did when you screw up and adjust. Always use the same film, same developer, same everything. Don't get too attached to your pictures, because until you get good at it, you'll make mistakes and ruin them. Eventually, you'll be pretty close to spot-on. Amuse your friends by telling them the exposure for the scene you're in. They'll check it on their metered cameras and say, with some awe, "Wow. You're right."
That's what a Leica is for. M6's are for wusses.
haha love that. You're my new favourite
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Old 05-14-2013   #20
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Sunny 16 works and is very useful, but there is a learning curve. If you have a smartphone, get an exposure app. I use mine all the time with my M2. The light meter is my M6 does come in handy, but it's a spot meter and if you dont use it properly you can very easily take poor photographs. Even with an M6, you should still pick up a good external meter.

That said, there is something to be said for the convenience of a built-in meter. Try using an app for a while and if you still can't get the hang of it, get an M6. As great as the M4 is, if it's not for you, then that's OK.
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Old 05-14-2013   #21
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To become a good photographer (in regards to getting well-exposed images) you are going to have to learn to read the light, whether you use a meter or not. Meters often lie, or at least misinform, and you are likely to get mediocre results by relying on a meter in many situations. And there will be situations where you may want to subtract or add a stop for whatever reason, to make an image darker and more "moody", or the opposite. A practiced eye is much better in such situations than a meter.

To get the most accurate expsoures you will need to use an incident meter, or get a spot meter and learn how to use the zone system, or at least be able to average out the readings from different parts of your subject.

Sunny 16 is a good place to start, but you are going to find that sunny 16 is not so good for objects in shadows, buildings or subjects with the sun behind them, or when shooting when there is no sun, such as on cloudy days or at night.

Get yourself a garden-variety incident meter, not a Leica MR meter or VC meter. When walking around in different lighting situations, take a reading of a particular subject by holding the meter in front of the subject, and directing the dome of the meter toward the source of the light, and make a note of it. Get readings on cloudy days, lightly overcast days, in the shade of buildings and trees. Shoot a lot of film, and take notes of what settings you used.

Read photo books and magazines, look at the settings used to make each image (many books contain this info), go out and try shooting with the same settings in the same situations.

My first "meter" was the back cover of an old Rolleiflex, which has a simple table telling you which settings to use in certain situations at different times of the year. Simply adding a stop or two (or three) to the recommended settings depending on the film you are using is all you need to do.

It doesn't take that much time to become proficient, and with practice you can learn to read the light accurately.
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Old 05-14-2013   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdotkling View Post
There is no substitute for learning to read the light. Burn a dozen rolls of the b&w film of your choice, guessing. Try to remember what you did when you screw up and adjust. Always use the same film, same developer, same everything. Don't get too attached to your pictures, because until you get good at it, you'll make mistakes and ruin them. Eventually, you'll be pretty close to spot-on. Amuse your friends by telling them the exposure for the scene you're in. They'll check it on their metered cameras and say, with some awe, "Wow. You're right."
That's what a Leica is for. M6's are for wusses.
Yes. My wife thinks I have magical powers. When she brings out her old Pentax Spotmatic we play a game called "guess the exposure" where I guess and she checks. 95 % of the time I'm within a stop, indoors, outdoors, it doesn't matter. It's the result of learning to shoot film with an unmetered camera and having done it off and on (mostly on) for close to 40 years. I'm now doing the same with my niece, who is learning the basics of film photography. Learn the light and you'll substantially up your photography street cred.


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Old 05-14-2013   #23
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Wow. Someone looked at my Tumblr page? Thanks. I am sorely behind in my postings. Got quite a backlog.
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Old 05-14-2013   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frontman View Post
To become a good photographer (in regards to getting well-exposed images) you are going to have to learn to read the light, whether you use a meter or not. Meters often lie, or at least misinform, and you are likely to get mediocre results by relying on a meter in many situations. And there will be situations where you may want to subtract or add a stop for whatever reason, to make an image darker and more "moody", or the opposite. A practiced eye is much better in such situations than a meter.

To get the most accurate expsoures you will need to use an incident meter, or get a spot meter and learn how to use the zone system, or at least be able to average out the readings from different parts of your subject.

Sunny 16 is a good place to start, but you are going to find that sunny 16 is not so good for objects in shadows, buildings or subjects with the sun behind them, or when shooting when there is no sun, such as on cloudy days or at night.

Get yourself a garden-variety incident meter, not a Leica MR meter or VC meter. When walking around in different lighting situations, take a reading of a particular subject by holding the meter in front of the subject, and directing the dome of the meter toward the source of the light, and make a note of it. Get readings on cloudy days, lightly overcast days, in the shade of buildings and trees. Shoot a lot of film, and take notes of what settings you used.

Read photo books and magazines, look at the settings used to make each image (many books contain this info), go out and try shooting with the same settings in the same situations.

My first "meter" was the back cover of an old Rolleiflex, which has a simple table telling you which settings to use in certain situations at different times of the year. Simply adding a stop or two (or three) to the recommended settings depending on the film you are using is all you need to do.

It doesn't take that much time to become proficient, and with practice you can learn to read the light accurately.
Good post, some great advice in all of the posts here. I appreciate it guys. One thing I have taken is that I should keep trying and try and think about exposures even when not shooting and test myself using an app
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Old 05-16-2013   #25
Welland
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To give you all an update Ive decided to stick with the M4 but invest in a light meter.

Possibly looking at the Gossensix digital or the VC meter.
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Old 05-16-2013   #26
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In the olden days, back in the nineteen fifties & sixties, I didn't own a light meter. Didn't want to spend or had the money. Back then, with each film, came a fair amount of information printed on a thin white sheet of paper. It gave, for different conditions, what to set the f stop and shutter speed.

Usually wasn't off by much. Remember film has quite a lot of latitude, especially black & white film. Slide or transparency film doesn't have the latitude of negative film. When I made photos with slide film I tended to under expose by 1/2 to 1 f stop. With negative film, I tended to over expose a wee bit.

There is always the sunny f 16 rule!

M4 is an outstanding camera.

Hope this helps you.
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Old 05-17-2013   #27
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Thanks Bill. I am just going to crack on.

Ideally Id like to learn my Weston Master meter but info on the interweb is quite sparse. I need an idiots guide to using it. I think I may just being dumb but there is a lot of info on it

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #28
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I like to use the meter, because it's easier to change the shutter speeds.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #29
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I realize this is a really old thread, but just a couple weeks ago I got a VCII meter for my M4. I gotta say, I'm loving it. Am working on a project with the M4 where I'm shooting a lot of the new Ektachrome, so am a bit gun-shy about using the Sunny 16 method I've always used with this camera and Tri-X.

I found the VCII, mounted on the M4, was surprisingly easy to use and didn't upset my usual shooting method as much as I had expected. And the exposures have been spot on. Kinda wish I had picked one of these up years ago.

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #30
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I carry around a Sekonic L-308s with my M3, because it's quite small and pocketable (and it has flash metering capabilities--I use it with other cameras as well, including for flash).

However, as others have said, if you learn Sunny F16, and learn to judge exposure, with black and white film you really don't need a meter. In my early days of photography, I carred around an incident meter, and occasionally I'd look around and say, "Hmmmm, ISO 400, 1/250 at 5.6." Then I'd pull out the meter and check. Eventually, I got so proficient that, as others have also described above, I'd usually be easily within a stop of correct exposure. (And in fact, I always overexpose just a bit--I shoot 400 speed film at 250--so any errors will be generally rather harmless.)

There are several apps for phones that either use the phone's camera to meter, or provide a useful exposure guide. One of my favorites for iPhone used to be Expositor, but that seems to have disappeared (there's an app by that name on the App Store, but it's not the same thing). There is a 99-cent app called Exposure Calculator that seems to do the same thing, although it's not as polished as Expositor was.

But yeah, learning to estimate your exposure properly can save you time and give you a better ability to visualize what your photos are going to look like.
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All you need
Old 3 Weeks Ago   #31
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All you need

Is the Kodak sheet. Adjust the baseline shutter speed so it's the reciprocal of the film speed.
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Imperfect judgement backed up by sporadic reference to a meter ...
Old 2 Weeks Ago   #32
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Imperfect judgement backed up by sporadic reference to a meter ...

I have not been moved to post here more than a few times over the years, but I must say I find the inherent (il)logic expressed in this thread -- and many others like it -- to be absolutely absurd.

On the one hand, "real" photographers are exhorted to learn to judge light levels by trial and error and, on the other, it is urged that such judgements be empirically (if episodically) "calibrated" through resort to an external meter, or even a cell phone app!

Extraordinary.

What for? Should a pilot 'guesstimate' his height with only occasional reference to an altimeter? What exactly is accomplished by deliberately introducing error into the photographic process?

Certainly a proficiency at judging relative light levels is a necessity for the accomplished photographer, but many posters on RFF seem to think their very manhood depends upon it.

Buy an M5 (or an M6-upwards, if you like disposable cameras), and stop squandering film -- it's simply indefensible, if for no other reason than that it's environmentally unsound.

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M4... or metered Leica
Old 2 Weeks Ago   #33
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M4... or metered Leica

There have been many good ideas here. I think the general premise comes down to measuring (or guessing or judging or approximating) the exposure before you want to take a photo.....rather than pointing the camera the instant before you compose. The M4 is a great camera, & my personal favourite. In fact I sold my MP in order to get an M4. Any of the many small meters will work.... it's just adjusting to a way of thinking photographically....
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Welland View Post
To give you all an update Ive decided to stick with the M4 but invest in a light meter.

Possibly looking at the Gossensix digital or the VC meter.

Buy the Leica MR-4 meter. It was made for this camera and everything else is a work around. You may or may not need a battery adapter. Fast and easy in use. For street shooting you do not even need to bring the camera to eye level. Only one control to move, either the shutter speed or aperture - not both. You on't need a separate meter to keep your hands full while you try transferring meter readings to your camera.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #35
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I find "guessing" the exposure in Northern Latitudes during winter, almost impossible.
Clouds slightly above one's head going up miles..
A meter is needed! Using digital sources a problem.
Digital "sees" way into darkness..
My experiences with MR meter are totally negative.
It was a lousy piece of equipment, unreliable, lack of service support..
both Leica ZA and Metrawatt..
I have the M6TTL and now know "No More Parts"..

I was a pro and soon drifted off to SLR Pentax and later Nikon-F,
due to high maintenance costs..
Nikon had few services and Pentax never, NEVER!
I still use all, love my old Pentaxes..
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #36
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The Leicameters from Metrawatt are not very good, very old now. Often they damage the camera. It is better to use a small meter from Voigtländer, both models are good. If you have a viewfinder on your camera so there is no more room for a meter, you can hang one around your neck.


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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Personally I prefer light meters but equally, a modest amount of practice will enable you to judge exposures surprisingly accurately, surprisingly often.

Cheers,

R.
This is absolutely true. It just takes practice. Counterintuitive as it may seem, after a little practice you will find that you become more accurate than an in camera meter in discerning correct exposure. The meter, after all, does not know what you want to emphasize or de-emphasize, whether your subject is the sun against the building or the shade under the tree, etc.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Welland View Post
A few months back I got my first Leica, an M4. I coupled it with a Zeiss Biogon 35mm f2. (lovely lens)

I love the camera and the lens and have run about 10 rolls through it so far. I have to my standards had some really nice shots from it. Problem is Ive also ruined some opportunities which I feel if I had an in camera light meter would have nailed.

I am used to my OM1 which has a light meter and has served me well. Im learning about the exposures and have a light meter app and a weston master but I find it slows me down.

Should I perservere or should I cut my losses and sell the M4 to make way for an M6?
I am a huge fan of the MR meter. not very big, couples with the shutter speed dial and even makes the dial easier to turn with one finger. find of that is working and enjoy the M4!
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mthomas View Post
I have not been moved to post here more than a few times over the years, but I must say I find the inherent (il)logic expressed in this thread -- and many others like it -- to be absolutely absurd.

On the one hand, "real" photographers are exhorted to learn to judge light levels by trial and error and, on the other, it is urged that such judgements be empirically (if episodically) "calibrated" through resort to an external meter, or even a cell phone app!

Extraordinary.

What for? Should a pilot 'guesstimate' his height with only occasional reference to an altimeter? What exactly is accomplished by deliberately introducing error into the photographic process?

Certainly a proficiency at judging relative light levels is a necessity for the accomplished photographer, but many posters on RFF seem to think their very manhood depends upon it.

Buy an M5 (or an M6-upwards, if you like disposable cameras), and stop squandering film -- it's simply indefensible, if for no other reason than that it's environmentally unsound.

Marc
There may be a generational factor here Marc. How you feel about using a light meter often is influenced by what you learned just starting out. For myself, and perhaps others, we started out just "learning" how to judge light. That was in the early 70's for myself and my mentor had a handheld meter he would consult only occasionally. The proof that his method worked (at least for him) was a strip of 36 Tti-X negs with very even and consistent density, they were easy to print.
Just turned 70 myself and often stuff a Gossen Pilot in my pocket if I'm wandering about outside. that cheap little meter will suffice for daylight and even do incident readings. I personally do not to consult if for every exposure.

Now, exposing photo paper in large format, that is really hard to get right, and a metering of the scene is only a starting point.

As far as wasting film....well I'm also a member of Filmwasters forum and as such authorized to waste film.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #40
Deardorff38
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"and stop squandering film -- it's simply indefensible, if for no other reason than that it's environmentally unsound."

...... really?
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