Exclusive La Vida Leica content, "Tip of the Week."

Tip of the Week (#009) - Practice!

Practice. Or... How to shoot by instinct. With your eyes closed, try adjusting from one aperture to another (e.g. f/2 to f/5.6) by feel and sound. You need to know where you're starting from and how many clicks per stop (ZM lenses have thirds, Leica and Voigtländer have halves). Check and see if you're right. Do the same with the shutter speed dial. Once you're confident, try changing from one exposure to another using both controls. You can even do this with focus distance on lenses equipped with tabs, nub or levers. Or with the manual mode metering. Before you know it, you'll be able to control the camera quickly and precisely, even in the dark or down at your waist.


Tip of the Week (#008) - White Balance

White balance. On digital cameras you can select from a variety of white balance settings (e.g. Daylight, Cloudy, Shade). When shooting DNG, it's not that important since you can change it during import - but if you are shooting a series of photos in similar light, it's worthwhile to select the proper white balance so you don't have to change every image you import and because the "Auto" setting might set the exact balance differently between them all. Shooting JPEG, it's important to select the proper white balance before shooting!


Tip of the Week (#007) - Metering

Metering. Some times you have a tricky lighting situation or need a convenient "grey card." Use what's around you and meter the sky or the back of your hand, and add one stop - or just meter some grass - to get a roughly 18% exposure. If you don't have a meter, use the "Sunny 16" rule which states that at f/16 you set the shutter speed to the reciprocal of the ISO (e.g. 1/125s for ISO 100). You can adjust from there and if the lighting doesn't change - neither does the exposure. Both film and digital have enough of a latitude to make up small differences.

Tip of the Week (#006) - Self Timer

The self timer. More useful than you think, especially on the M9. When in bulb mode you can hit the shutter button once to open the shutter and the LCD will count up the seconds (up to 240). Just hit the shutter button again to close the shutter. On the Ti M9 it's the only way to use bulb since it lacks a threaded cable release socket. The M7 and M8's LCD work the same way (going up to 999), but you'll need a locking cable release to keep the shutter button down. New on the M9 is the ability to disable it altogether to prevent accidental activation.

Tip of the Week (#005) - Exposure Lock

Exposure lock. Available on the M7, M8 and M9. With a half-press of the shutter button, it's much faster to use for one-off shots than fiddling with exposure compensation. If your scene meters too dark/bright, just frame an appropriately brighter/darker area of the scene and lock the exposure; keep the shutter button depressed halfway as you recompose and shoot. Grass makes for a convenient 18% grey card equivalent for metering. You can also use your hand, but add about a stop to the exposure.

Tip of the Week (#004) - Close Focus

Close focus. What if you need to get a shot of something close-up and your lens only focuses down to 1m? The answer is rather simple. Stop down and move in! Set your lens to minimum focusing distance and stop down as much as the light allows. Move in accordingly by looking at the depth of field scale as a guideline. This is much easier with digital and/or wide angle lenses (which have more inherent depth of field).