Back to film?
The M7 is now back from its latest repair attempt in Leica, and I have shot a couple of test films to re-check the focus calibration and metering.
So far, it looks promising. The metering is now usable at ISO 400, and ISO 1600 looks ok down to about 1/8th second (a huge improvement from before, where it was failing at 1/125th). But…
The downside is that now the ISO dial now seems to be unreliable, with the film speed rating often jumping randomly. This seems to be a combination of poor electrical contacts in the ISO dial and in the connectors between the film door and the camera body. Cleaning the contacts and spinning the dial a bit seem to have mostly resolved the problem for now, but the safest way to set the ISO seems to be to use the DX reader rather than entering the ISO setting directly. Fortunately, it is easy to hack the DX code on the film canister to make an ISO 400 film read as ISO 1600 for push processing.
I mostly shoot the M7 with manual settings, using the meter only occasionally when the lighting is difficult. Unfortunately, “difficult lighting” is where the M7’s meter was falling over previously – and also key for a night-time project that was supposed to have been shot this spring.
The end result of five months of repair time and three trips to Wetzlar is to leave me feeling very nervous about using the camera.
I am now carrying a Sekonic exposure meter to double-check the M7’s exposure in low light, which rather defeats the point of the M7 as opposed to an all-mechanical camera. I hope that confidence will return as I shoot more.