The Leica MD Type 262 record light in the famous Leica fashion, but only in a RAW format.  While the temperature of the light is added to the RAW information, the value can be changed later in editing software like Adobe Lightroom.  This is different from cameras that provide a JPEG in addition to the RAW file.  A JPEG is optimized with a specific white balance determined at the time the shutter is pressed.  With no review or LCD ability, how does the Leica MD Type 262 determine the white balance that should be stored with the RAW file?

Light is the essence of a great image.  The portrayal of the light is the choice of the photographer.  Finding the light and recording it so that an image becomes timeless is the challenge.  Thorsten Overgaard has a great article on white balance with the Leica M Type 240.  He explains the concept of temperature and light with some great examples.

Remember that the Leica MD Type 262 is essentially the same as the Leica M Type 240, but without the LCD and viewing capabilities.  I have found that the Type 262 does a great job in many light conditions.  I have found that evening time at the beach is more challenging, but easy to adjust.  The beach is essentially grey sand in the evening.  Sometimes the Type 262 nails the sand as grey and all falls into place.  Sometimes, just one quick shutter push apart, the grey sand turns into blue and everything carries the blue from the sky.  While this is easy to fix in an editing program like Adobe Lightroom, it makes quick comparisons of the same shot more challenging.

However, the Type 262 does a great job with most morning light.  The two examples I have included here are of the Old Well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The images were taken just an hour or two apart, but in very different light and from different angles.  The first image is a typical image you might see of this iconic structure at UNC.  The oxidized copper top in bluish hue and white columns with the green tree backdrop.  This is the white balance selected by the Leica M Type 262 when shot.

Old Well at UNC Chapel Hill

Old Well

This earlier shot was from the back side and the early morning light was much more orange and yellow and had not yet used the blue sky to bounce back.  The result is a browner dome over the Old Well.  This is what the light was like that earlier part of the morning, and the colors are fairly true to what I saw.  The beauty is that the white balance was selected by the camera and it kept the other backdrop items in proper color of light.  Not every result is perfect, but many come out well.

Old Well at UNC Chapel Hill

Old Well in early morning light.

As Thorsten tells us, the best way is to use a white balance card.  I happen to use the same one that he shows because it is compact and easy to pull out and include in a frame when shooting.  I use either the G7 Studio Card or the G7 Compact Card, both of which you can find at B&H Video.

Old Well at UNC Chapel Hill

Old Well in early morning light.

If you read the Leica MD Type 262 manual, there is no discussion on how to use white balance and there is no button push or menu item for white balance.  So, how would one use a white balance card with this type of camera?  The answer is easy!  Simple expose the white balance card in a frame, just like you would with an M Type 240.  When you download all your images to your computer and edit them, you can then just use the white balance eye dropper in Adobe Lightroom and select the white balance card in that shot.  The temperature will be set to what you saw in the actual scene.  Then, simply copy it or synch the photos to use the same temperature for the other images.  Voila! White balance is set using a manual digital camera!

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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