I went for a walk this morning, and took along what is becoming my constant companion when I don’t have anything particular in mind, but I think that a picture might jump out in front of me: the M240 with the 28mm Elmarit-M ASPH. No EVF. Small, light, and unobtrusive. The 28 is pretty soft in the corners wide open, but steadies down at f/4, and is quite a respectable performer at f/5.6 and f/8. Don’t go beyond f/8 unless you need the DOF.
Anyway, I decided to play around with some handheld HDR. I set the camera up for sets of three images, two stops apart, and told it to expose all here automatically. I like this last option, which is missing on my D4 and D800E. When you’ve got the auto-expose mode selected, you press the shutter once, and the camera makes all the images in the set as fast as it can. It will do this if the motor is set to S, and it will also do it if the motor is set to C.
You don’t want to set the motor to C when you’re hand holding. Here’s why. You’ll get the images framed closer to the same way if you hold the shutter button down until the end of the sequence, rather than lifting it in the middle and disturbing your framing. However, when the camera is set to C, if you wait until after the last exposure in the set to release the shutter button, the camera will expose another set.
There are some limitations to the Leica bracketing system that don’t apply to the Nikon systems with which I am more familiar. You can’t choose the order in which the exposures are made. The steps can only be ½ shop, 1 stop, 2 stops, or 3 stops. You can’t bias the center value, except with the exposure compensation adjust. The choices for number of frames is 3 or 5. None of these impacts me in any important way.
Auto-bracketing is completely compatible with the self-timer, so you can leave your cable release at home if the camera is on a tripod.
After you set up auto bracketing, it will work as long as the camera is awake. Turning the camera off cancels it. I guess that’s OK, but I would prefer it to be sticky, perhaps with some indication that it’s engaged in the LED display. If the camera goes to sleep, that also cancels the bracketing. I don’t like that at all.
When you’re using auto-bracketing and setting the shutter manually, the shutter speed you pick is the middle one, although that’s not the speed of the first exposure. The order of exposures is fastest shutter speed first, working down to the slowest. But here’s something that’s passing strange; when you set the camera to A, the shutter speed displayed in the LED display is that of the first exposure, the fastest shutter speed of the whole series. Why the two modes work so differently is a mystery to me.
Like so many things on the M240 – and the M8 and M9 before it – there is much to love about the auto-bracketing system, a few things to dislike, and a couple of things that just make you want to scratch your head.