Shooting with the Leica M9-P

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The Leica M9-P with the Summilux-M 50mm/1.4 lens.

In light of the speculation surrounding the upcoming Leica press event in Berlin - expectation is high for an M10 announcement - a few of us here in dpreview's Seattle office took the opportunity to shoot briefly with the Leica M9-P and a selection of current M lenses. In this article we'll share our experiences using the Leica rangefinder system, not in the context of our normal studio tests and analyses, but out in the real world as a photographic tool.

Working with a rangefinder system

As anyone who's ever shot with a Leica M - or any rangefinder camera for that matter - can tell you, doing so is a vastly different photographic experience than shooting with an SLR. Setting manual focus via a 'focussing rectangle' located in the center of the optical viewfinder means that you'll often be using a focus-recompose technique or relying on zone focusing with the lens stopped down to a relatively narrow aperture.

And unlike the 'tunnel-vision' of an SLR, a rangefinder lets you look beyond the scene, with framelines superimposed in the viewfinder.

Seen through the viewfinder, the outer framelines shown here represent a 35mm field of view. These are paired with 135mm field of view framelines visible towards the center of the image.

With a rangefinder you turn the focus ring of the lens until objects in the the center 'focussing rectangle' (shown here in white) appear in perfect alignment in the viewfinder.

Experienced rangefinder shooters can work surprisingly quickly even without all of the electronic focusing aids and multiple metering modes that come standard on other modern cameras. Seeing beyond the edges of the 'frame' allows you to anticipate action and for many, triggers a much more critical sense of composition, in which more options are likely to be considered before releasing the shutter.

The Leica M9-P

The M9-P is a subtle revision of the Leica M9, which is itself the second generation of Leica digital rangefinders. Both cameras are identical in operation, image quality and in nearly all other technical specifications. The only significant hardware difference is an updated scratch-resistant rear LCD on the M9-P with an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare. In a nod to shooters who prefer discretion when carrying around a $8,000 camera, the M9-P also sees the removal of the famed red dot  and the 'M9' moniker from the front camera plate.

The Leica M9-P with (from left) the Summicron 90mm/2.0, Summilux 50mm/1.4, Summilux 35mm/1.4 and Super Elmar 21mm/3.4 lenses.

The design and form factor of the M9-P hews closely to the template Leica has embraced since the start of the M series back in 1954. The M9 and M9-P are Leica's first full frame digital rangefinders. They feature an 18MP CCD sensor that forgoes an anti-aliasing (AA) filter. In theory, the omission of an image-softening AA filter should translate into greater detail resolution. The downside is that without this filter, the sensor is more prone to color moiré artifacts.

A focal-plane shutter with metal blades... ...sits in front of an 18MP full frame CCD sensor.

Of course, a big draw of any Leica rangefinder is its compatibility with the highly regarded (and very expensive) collection of Leica M-mount lenses. Known for their uncompromising optical standards and robust build quality, these lenses have gained a sterling reputation through the work of photographers such as Cartiér Bresson, Elliott Erwitt and Sebastião Salgado, to name but three. The M9 and M9-P provided M lens owners  the long-awaited opportunity to use these optics with the field-of-view they were designed for, on a Leica digital rangefinder.

Handling and operation

The M9-P features a minimalist external control layout that gives you access to critical shooting parameters and nothing more. The viewfinder is largely free of electronic data, save for the shutter speed when in Aperture-priority mode, a temporary confirmation of any exposure compensation adjustment and over/under-exposure indicators in manual mode.

The camera's external controls fall nicely in hand. Build quality is exceptional, with a magnesium alloy frame and solid brass top and bottom plates adding welcome stability without feeling unnecessarily heavy. The camera's compact size means it can fit in a small shoulder bag, and its light weight - compared to a full frame DSLR - means that you won't need to to visit a chiropractor after a day spent walking with the camera around your neck. A bright viewfinder allows for quick and accurate focus even in low light. Engraved depth of field markings on the lenses make zone focusing relatively simple.

The M9-P embodies nearly all of the traits that make film-era Leica M models such great analog cameras. Concessions to the needs and conveniences related to digital camera use, however, are few and far between. The user interface design is where we struggle most with the M9-P. Every other 4-way controller we've ever seen includes an 'OK' button at its center. Here there is nothing but what looks to be a placeholder for a button that was going to go there at some point. Instead, you're forced to continually confirm settings with the 'Set' button which is rather inconveniently placed on the opposite side of the camera body. And the awkward process of adjusting ISO, in which you must continue holding the ISO button while using the 4-way controller or dial to navigate the choices, never ceased to be frustrating.

Both the M9 (shown here) and the M9-P continue the Leica M tradition of a removable base plate. Users will become all too familiar with its removal, as both the SD card and the battery are housed beneath it.

Also on the list of things we'd love to see improved upon in an M9-P successor is a higher resolution rear LCD screen. The 230k dot resolution of the M9-P is quite low by current standards and makes critical image evaluation virtually impossible. The camera is also rather slow in writing to the SD card, which means a delay in reviewing images even in single-shot mode. And removing the entire bottom plate cover just to get to the SD card can lose its charm rather quickly.

Click here to continue reading our article on Shooting with Leica M9-P...

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Comments

Total comments: 647
1234
Timbukto
By Timbukto (May 6, 2012)

Whole pages fawning over how discreet and quiet this camera is without a slapping mirror yet the combined Nikon 1 cameras got 2 sentences in a full-fledged review in regards to its electronic shutter in regards to sound. One in the conclusion and the other a quickly passed over comment in regards to its 60 fps mode. It was so glossed over that being new to photo gear I had no clue how unique it was especially compared to MFT. Not to mention there are IQ compromises for having pure electronic shutter or on-sensor pdaf, but besides sensor size and dof, you are not compromised at all. Compare Nikon 1s sensor and pricing to Leica, and I wonder why the fuss and fawning here and why dpreview is so discreet about Nikon 1 being even more discreet. I let go of a bargain and now get to read how I can't afford to shoot a noisy FF sensor on a camera that is out of date tech rather quietly, vs a pure silent electronic shutter camera with leading edge tech.

1 upvote
AmateurSnaps
By AmateurSnaps (May 6, 2012)

That has to be the most overpriced excuse for a camera I have ever seen.

I can only imagine the type of person that pays $8,000 for such a poorly thought out design, full of old tech with nothing more than its name to sell it.

Just imagine the outcry if Canon/Nikon/Sony etc came out with something as poor as that!

4 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

"poorly thought out design", huh, are you joking? Or just not paying any attention.

It's an extraordinary design, which Leica was smart to keep.

If you mean that the sensor should shoot above ISO 1000 and produce good results or that the back screen could use a resolution increase and that the buffer needs to be faster, then you could have a point.

The only "design" problem with the M9 and the M8 is the silly bottom plate one has to remove to get to the battery and SD card.

3 upvotes
nologo
By nologo (May 8, 2012)

If Canon/Nikon/Sony came out with a digital camera with the same design ethos as a Leica, but with their modern features and full frame sensors, I would say there would be anything but outcry.

0 upvotes
mauro paillex
By mauro paillex (May 6, 2012)

Fetishist camera! For H.C.B or other great photographers of that period was the only camera you could carry around! Now it's a fetish. When u see such a camera at the neck of a contemporary photographer, he is generally black dressed trying to seem an intellectual...ahah! And he generally it is not able to take a good shot!! Go to Arles, France, in July and enjoy... Any entry level slr is better than M9!!! For sure!

1 upvote
f_stops
By f_stops (May 8, 2012)

For a beginner, yes.

For a low-iso shooter, this is a good as it gets. My 5dII can take shots 'as good' - except if you push up the shadows. The kodak CCD is great at pushing up shadows, where the Canon 5dII/5dIII fail. The Nikon 800e might the step up from the M9, besides that nothing competes.

I did have a Nex 7, didn't like the noise at low iso. Leica even beats it with lower noise at 1600. The EVF has issues - I found the Sony not worth the price and returned it (in addition the 'cheap' lenses are worthless).

Just did a little spring skiing with my M9 and a few lenses. Wouldn't try that with my 5dII.

The M9 is a tool, and a damn good one. It doesn't do everything, but goes places my 5dII doesn't with no compromise in image quality. If you typically shoot ISO's above 3200, it is of no use to you.

$10k isn't a lot in terms of other hobbies (boats, cars, planes). Also, the lenses hold value.
To each his own.

1 upvote
Samtendo 64
By Samtendo 64 (May 6, 2012)

Wow, those files are not particularly impressive... Is this the lowest quality full frame-sensor on the market right now?

Even some of the ISO160 shots are very noisy and ISO2500 is absolutely horrible. The only good thing seems to be resolution at base ISO, but buy any of the current full frame cameras, downsize the files to 18MP and you get equal or better detail without all that noise.

And maybe it's a focusing issue, but many of the photos taken at large apertures are pretty darn soft.

I know IQ is not everything, but I would have expected better from Leica.

I pity everyone who shells out the money for this camera with its ancient electronics and sensor and then need to tell themselves esoteric arguments about "3D pop" and the "Leica-look" (which only become visible once you transfered your money to Leica) to make themselves feel better about the money they wasted.

6 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

Really you got the DNGs?

1 upvote
photomeme
By photomeme (May 6, 2012)

the only reason the 160 shots are noisy is photographer error.

bad exposure by the dpreview crowd.

at base iso, the m9 is a class leader.

2 upvotes
jtan163
By jtan163 (May 10, 2012)

@photomeme
The M9 is likely to remain a class leader.
And a class follower.
And an exact middle of the range class member.
As far as I know it is the only camera in it's class i.e. full frame 35mm digital rangefinder.

As such class leading is not quite the superlative it sounds.

0 upvotes
Superka
By Superka (May 6, 2012)

Ha-ha, most of critics here have never used neither Leica, nor any rangefinder camera! These cameras are irreplaceable for street and people photography.
But still, I think Leica must be film camera, I hope M10 would be.

7 upvotes
Rubenski
By Rubenski (May 6, 2012)

I've shot many people and streets with my incredible cheap 7D and I didn't 'scare' anyone. Irreplaceable it is certainly not, X-1 pro would be the better choice if you prefer smaller size. I'm chocked by the terrible noise and relatively low IQ. I really don't want to diss Leica or any of it's users but to me this is just one big marketing thing with it's 'famous' users and overrated attached emotions.

7 upvotes
Superka
By Superka (May 6, 2012)

Hey, Rubenski! You didn't try, too! And you didn't try X1 PRO, too. Because it definetly not a substitute, not even close.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

Rubenski:

How's that auto focus on the X Pro1 for street work?

0 upvotes
Rubenski
By Rubenski (May 6, 2012)

It's louzy, I know, but check all the weak points of the Leica, for it's price it's just a shame.

0 upvotes
Pedro Botelho Neves
By Pedro Botelho Neves (May 7, 2012)

Superka
That's why I keep my M6.

0 upvotes
d10694
By d10694 (May 6, 2012)

Buy a D4, take the family on holiday with the difference.

2 upvotes
MPA1
By MPA1 (May 6, 2012)

What difference? The two bodies cost the same amount where I live!

4 upvotes
Nikonworks
By Nikonworks (May 6, 2012)

He is talking about the difference in the cost of the Glass to use these cameras.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

Nikonworks:

Right but Nikon glass is crap compared to Leica M lenses, so what would be the point of owning a D4 in this situation?

(I guess d10694 could mount some still expensive Leica R lenses on that D4 and get a good result, but there are mirror swing problems with some R lenses on full frame Nikons.)

(Or d10694 could buy MF Zeiss lenses for that D4, but those lenses aren't exactly cheap, and still lack compared to the best Leica lenses.)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Nikonworks
By Nikonworks (May 6, 2012)

Just one big horrible Ego Trip.

A 230K LCD? $8,000?

'There is one born every minute' is applicable to the crowd who buys this.

And I do believe there is a bankrupt Kodak sensor in the camera.

13 upvotes
danaceb
By danaceb (May 6, 2012)

All your files look like they were scanned from a washed out old magazine. I own and have owned my M9 for over a year, their files DO not look like that. Also with decent glass there is no reason to ever shoot over ISO 1250 and thusly micro detail is ALWAYS preserved.

Seriously though, those are some rotten files to 'show off' the M9 with. Looks like the IR filter was punched out and you shot at ISO 1600 the whole time

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

There are plenty of reasons to shoot over ISO 1200 and this is one of the big reasons digital bested film in about 2004.

Also there's no real point in looking at jpegs, though I guess you could complain about jpeg processing choices. And remember many of these DPReview files started out as jpegs which is even worse.

0 upvotes
caimi
By caimi (May 6, 2012)

A few years ago I shot exclusively with an M8 and M8.2 and I still marvel at the images they gave me. Well, with the summicron's attached that is. And I can remember an intangible gratification of shooting with what felt to be these well made mechanical cameras. So I lusted after the M9 when it came to market but in the end simply could not afford it and could not afford to spend so much on so little versatility. I suspect the M10 is just around the corner and its price will be stunning but its improvements over the M9 less so. Still I have to say if I could afford it, I'd be in line for an M1O already.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
peterpainter
By peterpainter (May 6, 2012)

Oh dear - got as far as 'viewfinder' and fell in love with the thing.
Reminds me of a Yashica rangefinder I bought second-hand years ago - mechanically it was so silky (even though I did have to re-set the rangefinder mirror every so often) and I loved the viewfinder - although I did have a tendency to compose as though it was an SLR. I enjoyed using it much more than my SLR (Pentax P30n - the later MZ5 was closer in smoothness of operation).
As far as I can gather, other than the Leica, there's only the Fuji X100 and X-Pro with this sort of viewfinder - what a shame.
Needles to say they're all too ******* expensive for me!

pete

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

Those Fujis do not have this kind of rangefinder.

0 upvotes
peterpainter
By peterpainter (May 6, 2012)

True. It was more the viewfinder with extra space around so that it was possible to frame within (can of course crop) plus the smooth operation - no mirror slap, nice leaf shutter.....

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

peterpainter:

Fuji needs to work on its X Pro manual focus, my Samsung NX100 is easily better for control, though I'd guess Fuji has a better indication system than the Samsung, maybe.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
peterpainter
By peterpainter (May 6, 2012)

HowaboutRAW

I must admit I rather fancy the NX100, but lack of viewfinder really puts me off. Actually, I've reached the 'not much cash retired' stage so will probably make do with my Fuji S5600 until it dies. Results aren't much good, but it satisfies the 'urge' and I never was a good photographer - just liked the toys.
Meanwhile, in the basement I still have some rangefinders: a folding Balda, a Braun and a Zorki.
Interesting mechanical stuff - see http://audierne.deviantart.com/gallery/3854404#/d1r0vq2
for another of the 'collection' (all cheapies - they fascinate me!)

0 upvotes
Rotherhithe
By Rotherhithe (May 6, 2012)

Problem with leica is that it took them so long to realise that this new-fangled digital concept would appeal to 'serious/proper photographers'. Eventually they came up with the M8, threw it on the table and said "there you are, it's what you wanted, it's digital isn't it?" I think they were stunned by the bad criticism it received, so they revised it to the M8.2. But with the M9 they continued to cripple the camera centre-weighted only metering, which is hardly ideal. It should have matrix and spot metering. With the more forgiving nature of film, you could get away with some apalling lighting coniditions, but it's harder to manage with digital without more sophisitcated metering. The M9 is further crippled by the apalling noise at ISOs of around 640 and above. The slow write speeds are frustrating too.

1 upvote
SKPhoto12
By SKPhoto12 (May 6, 2012)

This deciedely looks like an article after pressure from Leica to show them more often. Obviously the Fuji X Pro 1 and the likes get more press and presence. I find the photos unimpressive and unable to convey any sort of advantage the M9 might have. At least you are honest in describing the disadvantages of this system, which is today way behind a Fuji with the 3 optics or any good SLR, like a D700, who walk circles around an M9 in terms of IQ, ISO sensibility, simplicity of operation, etc. I have personally tried the M9 and would never change from my D700 or a FUJI X Pro 1, which is going to be my "all the time in the pocket" camera.

1 upvote
Lea5
By Lea5 (May 6, 2012)

Here is another nice article from Scott Graham who sold all his Nikon gear (D3 and D700) for a Leica.

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/09/08/making-the-move-nikon-dslr-to-the-leica-m9-by-scott-graham/

If you understand German, here is a film about the story of Leica, how they are handmade and the manufacturing of the glass which is made by the company Schott in Germany.

http://markusrichterphoto.blogspot.de/2012/05/die-leica-geschichte-hr-fernsehen.html

0 upvotes
jackpro
By jackpro (May 6, 2012)

Leica lenses are very different from Nikon lenses they are low contrast sharp & tiny. I would love a M9 I have the M6 & 50mm f1.4 Summilux lens which does not focus very close. I settled for a 5DII & 85LII which is slightly better than the leica but is massive in comparison & a heck of a lot cheaper. I still don't own a good 50mm lens yet. Thanks for testing the M9 I would still want one for my 50mm that waits & hopes :-)

1 upvote
Emacs23
By Emacs23 (May 6, 2012)

I don't know. May be we are talking about different leicas. Or may be you mean pre-ASPH ones? Because NO SLR lens in the range ≤ 90mm comes close to my aspheric leica lenses.
The reason that forced me to convert to leica is the compact size without sacrificing the IQ at the wide angle. I didn't regret: they are even better compared to best SLR ones, like Distagon 21, etc.

1 upvote
jackpro
By jackpro (May 6, 2012)

any pictures to illustrate?

1 upvote
Viramati
By Viramati (May 6, 2012)

Here we go again!!
The only thing I will say as a leica M9 user is that it is surprising how good results you can actually get up to iso2500 if you know how to process the file. Yes you don't have the DR of the lower iso range and no it won't go to iso 12500000 but if you print you photographs they are very usable and nothing can beat the leica lenses!!

2 upvotes
Photozopia
By Photozopia (May 6, 2012)

Leica M quality - film cameras ... the whole user/quality experience was sublime. Leica continue to hawk this concept, but not it's ethos, in it's current digital model ranges - the M9 is no longer 'hand-made' - unless you mean low level, manual assembly (BIG difference) with relatively cheap internal components.

Sadly, digital is more than leather, brass, accessories and indefinable 'limited editions'. The M9 feels crude in operation compared to other digital competitors and image quality at anything more than base ISO is poor.

Film M bodies were superior mechanical machines - the future of the digital M seems to be as a high-priced fashion accessory which few can afford and will hang, largely unused, around the necks of wealthy owners.

As ever, it's not really about the camera - it's what you do with it ......

2 upvotes
Deleted1929
By Deleted1929 (May 6, 2012)

It would be interesting to see how the Leica M-9 compares to using something like an X100, XPro1, Panasonic G3 or an NEX-7, which feature all the things the authors listed as negatives for the M9-P ( better LCDs, TTL metering and to some extent controls ).

All the authors mentioned how it changed their approach by making them slower and more thoughtful. This really sounds like a glass-half-full kind of statement, as one of the things that we mark modern MILCs down for is anything that slows down the operation. If it's now an advantage shouldn't we be giving the first NEX and X100 menus systems more praise ?

Lastly I have to wonder how the authors would react in a production environment. There's a world of difference between indulging in nostalgic admiration for a bit of fun and using it for critical pay-my-mortgage type scenarios day-in and day-out. I just don't see the Leica M9-P, with it's high cost and mediocre value, being the choice of most pros.

8 upvotes
asw66
By asw66 (May 6, 2012)

Agreed. Extending this thought slightly, it would be great if DPR did a comparison of MILCs used as pseudo-rangefinders. I strongly suspect that the much-maligned Pentax K-01 would acquit itself very well in this context.

0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (May 6, 2012)

Slow operation is certainly a bad thing in any camera, but taking a more thoughtful, dare I say philosophical, approach to image composition can be a good thing. Of course, you don't need an expensive Leica for that, only the right mind set.

5 upvotes
sgoldswo
By sgoldswo (May 6, 2012)

I suspect it just means that since the controls are intuitive and easy to use they switched to full manual and ended up with far fewer pictures on an SD card but a far higher ratio of keepers...

0 upvotes
Noirist
By Noirist (May 6, 2012)

The most ridiculous thing about Leica-M is that you can easily purchase an M9 or M9-P body but it is almost impossible to purchase the high quality lenses like the 50mm f1.4 or the 35mm f1.4. So even if you're willing to shell out a ridiculous amount of money for a Leica-M, you can't.

0 upvotes
letempsdevoir
By letempsdevoir (May 6, 2012)

No problem : my Zeiss Ikon ZM lenses are totally as sharp as my Leica lenses, and can handle even BETTER flare !!

1 upvote
photomeme
By photomeme (May 6, 2012)

what's ridiculous about that?

demand has far outstripped all of leica's projections. that's how successful the m9 has been.

leica has been able to ramp up m9 production faster than glass production.

end of story.

1 upvote
nologo
By nologo (May 8, 2012)

And the most ridiculous things about DSLRs is trying to find a good 50mm 1.4 at all!

Canon's 50 1.4 doesn't perform great at 1.4, and the L's autofocus is tricky.
Sigma's has unreliable autofocus as well
Zeiss is manual focus only (and doesn't perform that much better than the Canon)

0 upvotes
bigdaddave
By bigdaddave (May 6, 2012)

Having used Leica film cameras extensively over the years I know precisely why they have almost died out. The dslr is a better photographic tool in every way.

Pointless expensive throwbacks for old men with too much cash.

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
15 upvotes
PaceSalute
By PaceSalute (May 6, 2012)

Some people invest 11K$ in a Leica + Lens to take boring flower pictures (just check out flickr groups). Some people do photo books with an iPhone (check out "I Dubai" from Joel Sternfeld).

The opposite is equally true; i'm just surprised to see the same debate going on with every camera release.
If i want to be better at taking pictures, i go out and take pictures and learn by looking at great photographer's work.

Camera doesn't matter, commitment does. It's so obvious that we tend to forget it.

20 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (May 6, 2012)

From the comments, I see that people are missing the point of using a Leica M

The price is high I agree, but it is almost hand made, it is a wonderful camera, I have used one the M6, and it is nice to have to focus manually, of course this is not for all neither for all the types of photography

3 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (May 6, 2012)

Great one, this is better than a review, almost :)

2 upvotes
snake_b
By snake_b (May 6, 2012)

Even in Germany, Leicas are a joke. Once in a while, someone walks around with one, making sure the red dot sticks through the half case. It's kind of funny, actually.

They're ok, but not worth the hype, nor the price for old technology and parts.

Leica lenses are nice, too, but they are overhyped by the people that own them to give the impression there is nothing that comes close.

Anything to keep resale value up, I guess.

9 upvotes
Superka
By Superka (May 6, 2012)

I use film cameras for stills, HDSLR for video.
Digital Leica is overpriced. There is nothing so expensive inside it. I would prefer film Leica. I wish it would be cheaper copies of Leica, made in China.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (May 6, 2012)

The price of a product have little to do with the cost of the materials. It's worth exactly as much as the intended buyers are willing to pay, which in the case of the Leica M9 is quite much. As long as a company is content with only a small slice of the market, it works for them.

0 upvotes
Bjrn SWE
By Bjrn SWE (May 6, 2012)

The noise performance in the picture of the man writing a letter is really not that impressive, and it is "only" ISO 1250... Maybe Leica start looking for another supplier of image sensors.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

And the curved micro lens array? At low ISOs, CCDs do well against CMOS sensors.

0 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (May 6, 2012)

This is basically the Rolex of cameras; more status symbol/jewelery... impeccable craftsmanship and timeless design, but it doesnt keep time any better.

18 upvotes
Rubenski
By Rubenski (May 6, 2012)

To comment on the Rolex part: I own a Rolex and frankly, it sucks big time. Every two weeks I've got to adjust the time, Rolex says it's within the margins (bla, bla, bla). Get the same feeling with this Leica thing: extension of ego. I've got to sell this watch....and buy a decent DSLR as back up.

1 upvote
Petka
By Petka (May 6, 2012)

"Certified Chronometer" means no more than 6 seconds off PER DAY. Any half-good quartz watch keeps that accuracy for a year... Getting a Rolex for timekeeping or a Leica M for serious photography is a decision not based on rational arguments. I have X-Pro1 (half rational, no more), and sometimes think about getting an Explorer II (fully irrational), so there must be other forces at work also...

5 upvotes
Rubenski
By Rubenski (May 6, 2012)

It's like smoking a big sigar...(read Freud on that one). But...sometimes a sigar is just a sigar (to make it more difficult).

1 upvote
Anadrol
By Anadrol (May 6, 2012)

Buy an Audemars Piguet, that's real status :D

0 upvotes
FTW
By FTW (May 6, 2012)

Yep, could be, but do you see another time on a Rolex than on a Swatch? Good Question isn't it. There is nothing a Leica can do that any other camera can't. But, there are plenty of cameras that do things a Leica will not be able to do. Now, I know that Leica users will explain to you they do not need all that. So we pay just 8 times more expensive to get 10 times less, but that is a choice to do. The picture it takes can be compared to many others and most of them are far less expensive. So, on the End we buy only "LEICA". Red spot or 3 pointed star, one can discuss this till the end of times.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

FTW:

Are you really so silly as to equate Leicas with a Mercedes? How about instead a Ferrari F40, a very specialized car without electronic bells and whistles that many consider still one of the best sports cars ever made.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 6, 2012)

Rubenski:

You do get that professionals do in fact use M9?

0 upvotes
Kodachrome200
By Kodachrome200 (May 7, 2012)

no they dont maybe a couple photojournalist do somewhere but by and large nope not at all.

0 upvotes
JoeDaBassPlayer
By JoeDaBassPlayer (May 6, 2012)

Scott's comments on focus are much like mine when using focus peaking on a K 01. One does pay closer attention to what will be in focus and this results in better photos. Being free from the restrictions of an eye level viewfinder creates more opportunities as well.

The mirrorless, focus peaking camera is the rangefinder of the present and it can be yours for less than $1000. :-)

1 upvote
Bevardis
By Bevardis (May 6, 2012)

@obaliy, I think it is photographer's problem, not camera's. The pictures do not leverage on the main advantages of RF and look like quite standard SLR (snapshots)

0 upvotes
obaliy
By obaliy (May 6, 2012)

..hmmm... but even considering that the limting factor here is the human one;-): seen in the light of the technical aspects the results are diasappointing for me related the the price and HYPE of the Leica gear..

ps. and i dont think, that the RF principle is outdated - in several field like landscape, architecture, human interest / street it works very fast and reliable...=

0 upvotes
Bevardis
By Bevardis (May 6, 2012)

Rangefinder system is outdated? Please, with some training you can be just as fast as any SLR lens, if not even faster. And also >100% viewfinder is such an amazing thing.

Taking pictures with RFs is nothing like SLR in many respects- not better, not worse, but just so different.

It is such a shame no affordable camera exists.... Even at $9000 M9 body offers inferior performance to entry level DSLRs for $500. Solution- do the film and dream of Canonet D :)

5 upvotes
brkl
By brkl (May 6, 2012)

Show me a rangefinder user who can focus in 0.1 seconds.

10 upvotes
cboudier
By cboudier (May 6, 2012)

...dream of Canonet D...
Count me in !

1 upvote
Der Steppenwolf
By Der Steppenwolf (May 6, 2012)

I agree with you that rangefinders are NOT outdated in any way for what they are good for ie, streetphoto but when you write that "with some training you can be just as fast as any SLR lens, if not even faster" you start to go way overboard...
Try shoot sports or anything that moves fast and do it with fast apertures and see how many "keepers" you'll end up with.
Yes, one can focus fairly quickly with rangefinder but rangefinders are not even close when it comes to a good AF system.

0 upvotes
MichaelEchos
By MichaelEchos (May 6, 2012)

Show me a SLR that doesn't hunt.

7 upvotes
sgoldswo
By sgoldswo (May 6, 2012)

speed of focusing isn't the point, accuracy is. The lenses are so much smaller, lighter and higher quality than the DSLR equivalents being able to take misfocused shots in 0.1 seconds with an AF DSLR is somewhat irrelevant...

2 upvotes
Bevardis
By Bevardis (May 6, 2012)

The thing about RFs, is that they are not sports cameras and DSLRs are so much better for this. As I've said, Leica (and RFs in general) are nothing like SLRs and shouldn't be used like that.

Now think about street-sort photography. You walk for 1h in city and suddenly see something really good. In such cases MF is sooo much better. From personal experience it is much easier to capture such moment with Oly OM 10 + 50mm 1.8 MF SLR than with 5D + 24-70. Not to mention nicer DoF and less intrusive size. Or, even better, with Voigtlander RF (Leica is just tooooo overpriced).

However, if you decide to use RF like a SLR, you will inevitably be left dissapointed.

1 upvote
fotografiacoppola
By fotografiacoppola (May 6, 2012)

Go Canonet! I still have mine!

0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (May 6, 2012)

@brkl
Show me a DSLR user who can manually focus in 0.1 seconds.

0 upvotes
xtoph
By xtoph (May 8, 2012)

brki: you got it. i do it all the time.

just because /you/ can't do something, doesn't mean it can't be done.

the m cameras are as good as you are, no better--and, unlike auto-everything wunderkameras, no worse, either. most people will be better photographers with a d4 than with an m9, but with practice and some talent, you can keep getting better and better the more you use the m9; with the d4, you're pretty much stuck with the performance built into the camera, good as that is.

i'd rather know that any mistakes lie with me, than curse my camera and be able to do nothing about it besides upgrade to the next model...

1 upvote
brkl
By brkl (May 10, 2012)

xtoph: You are saying you can check focus, adjust focus and trigger the shutter in less time than it takes an Olympic sprinter to respond to a bang. I don't think your M could take the strain. Might catch fire or melt.

0 upvotes
obaliy
By obaliy (May 6, 2012)

hmmm.. as a regular reader of dpreview and many other photographic publications as well as an experienced amateur (="lover") in photographic themes i am a little bit astonished: i don`t see one picture, which necessarily had to be taken with such an expensive gear set..the only real advantages seem to be - the better control of the depth of field compared to aps-c (or minor) sized sensors - and eventually the size of the camera... but especially the low light pics can be done as will with my smallish Pen mini;-) - se is also much faster and more responsive than the overpriced, fat M 9 with it`s sluggish display and electronics....

ps. (i have some classical Leica M 6 and some very fast lenses..)..

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
profus
By profus (May 8, 2012)

never liked samples on any camera on dpreview...they show exactly nothing

0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (May 6, 2012)

I see no picture that could not have been taken with any other pro DSLR as well.
But hey ... owning a Leica means you are wealthy. I guess that's all about it.

Why shoot wit a 4k$ cam if you can afford a 9k$ cam ?

4 upvotes
FTW
By FTW (May 6, 2012)

Do you think the owing Cartier sun glasses or a Louis Vuitton suitcase makes you wealthy or is is just a question of " I have thus I am" or "I care a f''k what it costs" or maybe, "i care what people say". If someone tells me that it is a question of image quality, then it is just a lie.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 7, 2012)

gl2k:

Do you have the DNGs?

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 7, 2012)

FTW:

Why would image quality claims necessarily be a lie? You sound like the people who say it doesn't matter what quality of flour is used in baking the bread, or someone who says that tap water tastes like spring water.

Cartier is a jeweler, those sunglasses have about as much to do with Cartier as Ferrari sunglasses have to do with the car company.

1 upvote
IcyVeins
By IcyVeins (May 6, 2012)

This camera is a joke.

6 upvotes
shaocaholica
By shaocaholica (May 6, 2012)

There's a solution many M9 owners have for the lackluster rear LCD. Just lose it altogether. When you shot film, you don't know what the photo looked like till it was developed and that 'charm' is missing when shooting digital so if you're going in for a penny on retro handling you might as well go in for a pound.

2 upvotes
intruder61
By intruder61 (May 6, 2012)

....better still, just use leica film bodies.

5 upvotes
jaapv
By jaapv (May 6, 2012)

@gl2k:
You miss the point made: it is not that they could not have been taken, but that they would not have been taken.

2 upvotes
MENANT
By MENANT (May 6, 2012)

Hi, I've read with interest the various commentsof this page. Except a few statements as definitive as ridiculous, most of what is sit is true: Leica cameras are outrageously expensive and a few of the M9 components are weak compared to modern DSLRs ut many on this forum miss the point: Taking pictures with a Leica M be it a film one or a digitalone compels the photographer to use it differentky from a DSLR. the rangefinder is unique in letting you see what is outside the area you're going to photograph. An M9 is just a nice tool which can be updated easily if leica is ready to better the image treatment in high isos. The price and the red dot are ludicrous but I can't think of any other camera to shoot pictures in the (dying) tradition of Cartier-Bresson, Klein, Eugene Richards and many others. Should Nikon produce a digital Leica m mount camera I'm ready it buy it immediately because i know the quality of the pictures would be tremendous and much better than Leica's.

3 upvotes
Tom Caldwell
By Tom Caldwell (May 6, 2012)

Hmm.... Ricoh make the GXR wth a Leica M mount today - so you get your "shooting experience" with Leica lenses on a modern camera body. I am sure that HCB would switch to Ricoh if the dear chap was about today. Much more in the flavour of the camera he was then using than the rather expensive hunk of nostalgia being sold today.

0 upvotes
RDSChicago
By RDSChicago (May 6, 2012)

This is all a bunch of psycho babeling.. To each their own. When it comes down to it, it's not about getting what you want but wanting what you've got. My iPhone is a great clock but my vintage Rolex from my birth year 50 years ago really turns me on and provides a feeling of grounding, timelessness and cool TO ME. All subjective to me and practicality or price is not a consideration. Value is a subjective term. If I ever needed more money I couldn't earn, I would sell that vintage watch but for right now, it provides PLEASURE to me. Whatever floats your boat, right?

2 upvotes
teohyc
By teohyc (May 6, 2012)

The only thing that impresses me is the marketing prowess of Leica. Other than that, pictures that can be made on the Leica can be made with other cameras at much lower prices. Pictures that your viewers won't see a difference when compared to a Leica.

1 upvote
TheGodParticle
By TheGodParticle (May 6, 2012)

I have DSLR's (1s MKIII + 5D + 350D), SLR's (Contax AX, Leica R3 electronic), a few P&S cameras, a film RF (Contax G2) and a digital FF RF - an M9. With a decent pile of lenses. Each has its unique place in my world
I'm incompetent with matters of deep technical knowledge about cameras and what matters to me is how the cameras lets me take the picture i want and if i like the results or not.
With all due respect to all the 237 comments above mine, I don't think I have seen ANY comments with pictures supporting your stance
Here's why I love my M9 with all it's shortcomings ->
i'm a minimalist with post processing. rarely spend more than a minute in LightRoom

http://forum.mflenses.com/leica-summilux-m-75-1-4-t49263.html

http://forum.mflenses.com/voigtlander-heliar-75-2-5-ltm-t48695.html

http://forum.mflenses.com/leica-noctilux-50mm-f1-t45974.html

http://forum.mflenses.com/leica-summilux-35-1-4-asph-t38462.html

http://forum.mflenses.com/leica-elmar-m-50-2-8-t42872.html

1 upvote
TheGodParticle
By TheGodParticle (May 6, 2012)

http://forum.mflenses.com/leica-summicron-m-90-f2-t42485.html

0 upvotes
PG Thomas
By PG Thomas (May 6, 2012)

MENANT
"Taking pictures with a Leica M be it a film one or a digitalone compels the photographer to use it differentky from a DSLR. the rangefinder is unique in letting you see what is outside the area you're going to photograph"

Not true... Any camera with an optical viewfinder usualy has a 'frame' which defines the taken image. Leica is better than most, but not unique.

The Fuji X-Pro1 is the latest challenger, and will be found (when DP Review publish their report) to be where Leica should be for the M10.

But Leica will never match their price point. Nor will Fuji have the 'red dot', unless you get one stuck on.... :-)

Just see the examples in the Fuji forum to see just how good this camera is.. 'Press reviews are sying it's better than full frame'. My own experience over a month of use would agree.

1 upvote
Howard Shooter
By Howard Shooter (May 7, 2012)

Money aside, my M9 is like shooting medium format quality in a discreet package. The quality of image is remarkable and different to dslrs... The shooting experience is back to basics and does make you shoot differently to dslrs... I have a d800 and have always been a Nikon user, but the Leica is very different and has a vey different signature which you can easily spot when comparing prints. For some situations you can't improve in a dslr, but my preference is Leica where the situation doesn't dictate the camera.
They take some time to get used to and they're not for everyone... I use mine for work on location and I personally feel the image quality is unbeatable....

0 upvotes
Vetteran
By Vetteran (May 7, 2012)

No surprises here. DPReview continues its long history of Leica bashing along with posters who have never owned a Leica.

I don't feel obligated (it's a waste of time) to extol the quality of Leica images. FWIW, I know of few if any Leica owners who were disappointed with Leica image quality other than the exception of a few who bought a Panny knock-off and wished they had saved some money bought the Panny version.

0 upvotes
JustBob
By JustBob (May 7, 2012)

Most of you guys are so off base. Obviously you don't own one, haven't shot with one. I'll concede there are some vanity collectors that have too much money. Whatever.

For the rest of us, the M9 is a unique proposition. It's full frame! Hello! Posts above saying youl get a better file from a more up to date sensor which is m4/3 or aps-c: you just don't know what you are talking about.

I had a GH2. I have an NEX7, 5D2, M9. This is my #1 hobby, and even with all I have, it's a lot less $ than something like a bass boat that someone is making payments on, and by the time he's done with the payments it's worth 1/4 what he paid for it.

Why are mirrorless so popular? Because we are aging and it's hard to carry a pack full of pro-glass (i.e. L's in my case). And... airline travel today.

There simply is no small camera (including the XPro-1) that even approaches what an M9 and Leica glass can do. Manual AF, once learned, is a joy. In many situations, the small cameras don't AF anyway.

0 upvotes
gary
By gary (May 7, 2012)

I have yet to see a sharp photo of a face. muddy and soft.

0 upvotes
JustBob
By JustBob (May 7, 2012)

Gary, how about these?

http://bobtowery.typepad.com/bob_towery/2012/01/podotd-day-seven.html

http://bobtowery.typepad.com/bob_towery/2012/01/podotd-day-one.html

http://bobtowery.typepad.com/bob_towery/2011/12/model-monday-husband-and-wife.html

http://bobtowery.typepad.com/bob_towery/2011/11/model-monday-el-experimento-con-la-senora.html

0 upvotes
jgt jeff
By jgt jeff (Feb 12, 2013)

Hello all. i currently have an EOS50D with good lenses but i think i have outgrown it. I really like high quality images and I don't use every conceivable adjustment on the camera, but I am underwhelmed with so many of my photo's looking ordinary when printed to A3 or above. I noticed that the M9 is coming off its high price thanks to the M, and I do like the feel of the Nex and Fuji 100 and Pro - so I am thinking of other than an SLR for my next camera. so, in essence, park the price issue for a moment and tell me - can i get the best of the best prints at A3, A2 and A1 from a M9 or the above?

Thanks

0 upvotes
Total comments: 647
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