The first two rolls of film from my new (51 years new…) Leica M4 has arrived. I must say I am happily surprised. I didn’t miss the exposure on any of the pictures, even though the camera lack a light meter. I have started to try and see and understand the light. It’s not always easy – far from it – but I see it as a challenge. This was exactly what I was looking for. A camera that challenge me…
I spent about 20 years or so, shooting black and white film (mostly TRI-X 400) back in the 1980:s and 1990:s. I love the grain and the smoothness you find in an analogue picture. The pictures are not technically perfect, as the digital pictures tend to be these days. There was a time in the beginning of the digital era, when film still was superior to the digital picture – but not any more. Still I find joy in both kinds of photography.
I measured the light in some different ways, but mainly I tried to make one reading and then judge how the light changed. Now and then I would check the readings of my grandfathers old Zeiss Ikophot light meter or my phone (with an app called Lux). I found that I could not really rely on the sunny 16 rule. I am not sure why – but I suppose that it could be due to the fact that the sun is really low in Sweden during the winter.
The sunny 16 rule says that I should be able to use 1/400 of a second and aperture 5.6 in heavy clouds. I often found that I had to open up to 2.8 in these situations, to get a proper exposure. Perhaps it will work better in the spring, as the sun get up higher in the sky. I have decided to use mainly 400 ASA film for starters, to get a feel of judging the exposure. Now I have put a good old TRI-X 400 in the camera. This film has a little more grain than the T-MAX, which can be really nice.
To practise the “exposure judging skill”, I have started to use my M240 at 400 ASA and fully manual control. The arrows in the finder shows how I should turn the speed/aperture, so I must make the judgement before I look in the finder. What I found is that it can be much faster to get a good exposure if I go fully manual. I get a better understanding of how the light affect the picture, when I am more involved in the metering process – compared to when I let the camera decide.
My new lens – the Leica Elmar M 50/2.8 is one cool little lens. One of the cheapest Leica lenses, but this a fantastic little lens. When I first took it up from the box it struck me how this little lens could be that heavy. It actually weighs just as much as my Zeiss Planar 50/2 with mounted lens hood and lens cap front and back. In the comparison the Elmar lens had no lenscap at all. When shot at wide open (2.8) I think the bokeh is nice. It has a little more soul than the Zeiss Planar. Could this be my first step into the Leica lens jungle, which I never will find my way out of?