Yesterday I set up the M9 for a day of zone focusing. My setup was the Leica M9 and 50mm Summicron. I initially set the camera up in aperture priority with the aperture set to f/8 and the ISO to 160. There were two problems with this approach. First – the depth of field at f/8 was too shallow for me on this lens. At some point with more practice I might be able to ‘see’ the zone of focus at this aperture, but not yet. Second – In the shade I was getting shutter speed values of 1/30th or 1/45th of a second. That’s a little too slow for handholding this lens.
My second attempt was little more successful. I stopped down the aperture to f/11 to widen the sweet spot for grabbing in-focus photos and pushed up the ISO to 640. I also tried to stick to well lit areas to keep up the shutter speed. This setup yielded better results for this novice zone shooter. I found that after editing the keeper rate was decent as long as there was decent light and the subject wasn’t moving too fast.
Next steps – I would like to try setting the aperture to f/11, fix the shutter speed to 1/125th and use the benefit of auto ISO; I think this a more traditional approach to zone focusing. Shooting with a 35mm or shorter lens will also greatly increase the depth of field, but 50mm is all I have for the M9 at the moment.