One of the fun challenges with the new Leica MD Type 262 is taking images with complex light and shadows.  There is no way to verify if you captured the image properly.  There is no histogram to show you whether you blew the highlights and lost the shadows.  As I continue to write about this new LCD-less digital Leica-M camera, you will see a theme emerge – I concentrate more on my exposure and frame content because I have to, and it makes me a better photographer.  I have said the same of film and still process between 70 and 100 rolls of black and white film a year.  Each frame on those rolls of film had care with the exposure setting and how I lined up the frame.  The same as the Leica MD, I didn’t know until later if I got the shot I was looking for.

This shot is a momentary glimpse of sunlight that came through one afternoon full of thunderstorms.  I was leaving the office and looked up as the sunlight emerged.  Grabbing the Leica MD out of my bag, I checked the ISO on the back while I flipped the power switch on.  Leaving it as ISO 200, I turned the aperture of the Summilux 50 ASPH to f/4.0 knowing the contrast and sharpness was a great balance at that f/stop.  I set the shutter speed to 1/2000 as a guess and held up the viewfinder.  The red LED’s told me I was barely overexposing the image, so I cranked it up one more stop to 1/4000 sec.  I framed the sunlight just behind a tree on Main Street and tried to give it the appearance of a diagonal line splitting the image in half.

Click.  The shutter was barely audible and quite short.  I looked down at the camera to make sure I didn’t have to wind the lever to the next frame.  After I got home and pulled in my new images to Lightroom, this was what I got.  I still decreased the exposure by 1.20 in Lightroom, but the other adjustments ranged from -18 to +4 which is not very much.  I loved how this image came out, but I only had one to choose from and didn’t know if it would work until much later.

Using this camera is a confidence booster.  The longer I use it, the better I feel about setting an exposure and anticipating what the image will look like before I press the shutter.  It has been all too easy to forget that skill with the LCD on the back to check my work.

About The Author

David taught film photography and development for 3 years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1989-1991). He began using Leica cameras in 2000 and still shoots 70-100 rolls of film through a Leica M3 and Leica MA while enjoying the challenges of the Leica Monochrom and the new Leica MD 262. David has written about photography and is working on several volumes documenting changes and artistic merit throughout Old Town in Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA. His full-time job is as a CPA, but spends free time with a camera at the ready.

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