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I shoot with an Olympus OM-1n, 50mm Zuiko lens on Kodak Gold 200 film.

It was a bright, sunny day so I was shooting with the following:

  • Aperture: f/16
  • Shutter speed: 1/1000
  • ISO: 200

The photos were taken with the light meter reading OK (i.e: between the + and - for those of you familiar with the camera).

Yet I have lost a lot of detail in the darks. Why is that? Is the light meter off?

Example 1

enter image description here

Example 2

enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ as mentioned in photo.stackexchange.com/a/132169/32209 Your light meter is the right suspect. - was the right ISO (ASA) selected on the camera? - was a significant part of the image extremely bright and requiring exposure compensation? Usual advice: get hold of a handheld incident light meter. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nomaru
    Jul 21, 2023 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ or at least a smartphone lightmeter app - better than nothing. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Jul 21, 2023 at 22:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a good camera and lens, and you should be able to get great results with it. Some cursory web searching indicates that CdS meters may degrade over time. I wouldn't give up on the camera/lens, but you may have to give up on the built-in meter. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Jul 21, 2023 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are these scanned and inverted negatives or scans of paper prints made from negatives? Seems like it doesn't matter in this case as the light meter seems like a good suspect. But in the future it might help to clarify what we're looking at. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 24, 2023 at 2:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ToddWilcox I don't know to be honest with you; I just took the negatives to a store that processes film and asked for it to be digitised. Still very new to this, sorry. \$\endgroup\$
    – turnip
    Jul 24, 2023 at 10:00

4 Answers 4

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The "Sunny 16" rule says that on a sunny day at f/16 you should be at approximately 1/(ISO) seconds for a good exposure - i.e. 1/200s in your case. You're two and a bit stops shorter than that so it's unsurprising that your photos are underexposed.

So yes, my first suspect would be your light meter (assuming you had the camera set expect ISO 200 film).

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OM-1N: Was that the one that originally had a mercury battery in it? If so you need to understand that those are unobtanium and that they don't have the same voltage as standard alkaline etc.

My recollection is that when I finally managed to get of those (after having lusted after them since my childhood) I was able to get an adapter from the USA which allowed me to put a non-standard size something-air cell in it, i.e. it had to have a tab pulled off in order to activate it.

Apart from there's mutterings that you can allow an extra stop to get the exposure right, but in my view it would be far better to simply have the right type of cell provided that /something/ with the right voltage is available.

Slightly later: a bit of Googling gets me to this which looks familiar

enter image description here

That specifically says OM-1 on the front, but my recollection is still that there was some sort of adapter involved... or I could be mixing in the OM-2 (I've got a case with both in, currently very much inaccessible).

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    \$\begingroup\$ That "something-air" would be a zinc-air cell. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22, 2023 at 16:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JimMacKenzie agreed, looking at the photo I've just posted :-) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22, 2023 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ It occurs to me that calibrating an OM-1's exposure against a Gossen Luna Pro might be ill-advised :-) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22, 2023 at 20:27
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I'd say your cameras light meter is way off as 1000th at f16 is really optimistic for 200 speed film. Color negative film loves light, I normally shoot it at half box-speed (so 100 speed) as I can't stand murky shadows, and I've never really had any problems with it. If you have a digital camera you can use it to check your film camera's light meter side by side if you set the digital ISO to match the film speed; they should be in the same ball park roughly.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In fact, 1/1000 sec @ f/16 with ISO 200 film would be the right exposure for light conditions that were measured at EV 17... which is essentially never encountered in the natural world. Possibly some artificial lighting can reach this level of luminance, but not ordinary daylight as in the example photos. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Feb 9 at 14:13
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Your photos are not underexposed, they are overexposed. You can tell by the photos look like they have been bleached.

My suspecion is that you used a film with an ISO too high. ISO is generally prefered for outdoors photography. I would also use a smaller aperture.

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