Leica M9 still worth buying?

Started May 17, 2012 | Discussions
malabito
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Leica M9 still worth buying?
May 17, 2012

Hi guys,

I am here with a great dillemma. I just started selling great part of my equipment to update to the new D800 and some nice lenses. But the idea of getting the leica M9, not M9-P, has been hunting my head for quite some time. I have a m6, so i know how to use the system....

If i do get the m9, of course will be out of a dslr, for quite a long time.....

I shoot mostly street, documentary, as well as portraits, in location and studio. Also some concerts but without a dslr, will have to wait.

At the time now, is it really worth it spending so much money on a m9?

Has anyone gone from dslr to M9 and what has been your experiance? has it been worth it.

Thanks for all your comments.

A bit of what i shoot:

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Nikon D700, Nikon D7000, Nikon 20mm 2.8, nikon 28mm 2.8 manual focus, Nikon 50mm 1.4, nikon 85mm 1.8, nikon 105mm 2.8 VR, nikon 70-200mm 2.8, Battery Grips, sb-900, sb-800, SB-600, su-800...

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MilSooper
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to malabito, May 17, 2012

I believe it is worth buying and will be for a long time to come.

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hariseldon2007
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to malabito, May 17, 2012

Hi,

I went from Nikon D200 to M9 in summer 2011. I had been waiting for a D700/D3S replacement, when I realised most of my photography was in the 20mm to 120mm focal length range and I realised that good as auto focus is, it is not psychic and does not know what I want to focus on.

I thought then that a digital version of a Nikon FM or Nikkormat, would have been ideal if it had existed, fast prime lenses and manual focus was not a problem when there was no option.

This chain of thought led me to the M9, very simple, intuitive controls. The rangefinder is quite quick and very accurate, with a smaller aperture, just set the focus scale and it is as quick as it can be. The end result is that I see a much higher success rate of pictures focussed correctly than with a DSLR.

It is a question of horses for courses and if one is focussing on rapidly moving subjects, with a longer lens then the auto focus is better, but 95% of the pictures I take, the manual focus M9 is great.

The auto exposure system is ok, but manual exposure is fine as well, it is easy to forget that on many shoots, the light levels remain fairly constant and only minor adjustments are required.

The modern DSLR is very clever,very competent and very complex, the focus settings options can run into literally millions of combinations, most of the time you do not need this level of automation.

The M9 is very zen like, reducing the operation to simple manual controls for focus, shutter speed, aperture (and iso sensitivity is a button press away).

The quality of results is great, the Leica lenses are very compact compared to zooms and the optical quality is very high. The sensor quality is more than good enough and I find the iso sensitivity is quite acceptable, with good results up to ISO 1250 but with F1.4 primes, this represents 1/45 second at EV3 which is as bad as you get shooting weddings in dim churches etc. IE Good enough, there will be improvements in due course but they may not be that significant. The Nikon D3s was a very significant improvement on the D2xs in many areas but the D4 is not a quantum leap forward on the D3S.

The D800 is clearly a great camera, with a very high resolution sensor but for most people , most of the time, they will not see the benefits. The D800 will require good technique to get the most out of it and rarely will this difference in quality be apparent in the end product.

The original Leica M8 8.2 has many drawbacks compared to the M9 but I have seen some wonderful images from this camera and again the M9 is better but that difference may not be readily apparent in prints unless they are quite large.

The M9 is great, an M10 will follow at some point in the future, I have no idea what changes there will be, but the M9 takes great pictures now and does not suffer from any huge drawbacks.

Finally I like your work, and an M9 with a 35mm lens would get you away.

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Artichoke
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ditto this
In reply to hariseldon2007, May 17, 2012

hariseldon2007 wrote:
snip

The M9 is great, an M10 will follow at some point in the future, I have no idea what changes there will be, but the M9 takes great pictures now and does not suffer from any huge drawbacks.

Finally I like your work, and an M9 with a 35mm lens would get you away.

excellent post above

I think the M9 will be a difficult act to follow & I don't see an M10 coming anytime soon
don't know that I will want one
I know what my M9 can do & love the results I get from it

from what I have seen of your work, I think you will love the M9, but you may want to play with an RF before taking the plunge
the experience is entirely different
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"Avoid making a commotion, just as you wouldn’t stir up the water before fishing. Don’t use a flash out of respect for the natural lighting, even when there isn’t any. If these rules aren’t followed, the photographer becomes unbearably obtrusive" -- attributed to HCB

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RaajS
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Re: ditto this
In reply to Artichoke, May 17, 2012

Completely agree with what Hariseldon (love that moniker!) and Arthur wrote above. Like Arthur, even if an M10 comes out in the near future, I'm not sure that I need/want it - the M9 is one heck of a camera and more than adequate for what I shoot today. In fact in my case upgrades are still needed for the eye behind the viewfinder and the brain behind it all... :). As Arthur also states, shooting a rangefinder is a completely different experience and something that took me a while to get used to.

Good luck with your decision.

Cheers,
-raaj

Artichoke wrote:
hariseldon2007 wrote:
snip

The M9 is great, an M10 will follow at some point in the future, I have no idea what changes there will be, but the M9 takes great pictures now and does not suffer from any huge drawbacks.

Finally I like your work, and an M9 with a 35mm lens would get you away.

excellent post above

I think the M9 will be a difficult act to follow & I don't see an M10 coming anytime soon
don't know that I will want one
I know what my M9 can do & love the results I get from it

from what I have seen of your work, I think you will love the M9, but you may want to play with an RF before taking the plunge
the experience is entirely different
--
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"Avoid making a commotion, just as you wouldn’t stir up the water before fishing. Don’t use a flash out of respect for the natural lighting, even when there isn’t any. If these rules aren’t followed, the photographer becomes unbearably obtrusive" -- attributed to HCB

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Godfrey
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to malabito, May 17, 2012

I've been through many radical changes of equipment throughout my 45+ years of doing photography. Remember that buying a Leica M9 is just ilke buying and selling any other high end camera ... yes, it costs a lot of money, but in the end it's just another camera.

Since I closed my photo business and decided to concentrate my photography on fine art and people work that satisfies me, not trying to sell for stock or garner assignments, my push has been to simplify and simplify again. The M9 and a couple of lenses fits perfectly into that aesthetic. I've had it since January and hadn't realized it but of the several thousand exposures I've made with it since then, more than 80% have been made with just one lens.

I think it's well worth the money for what it is, what it does. I still have some other cameras, and use them when I need a macro lens or want to enjoy shooting with a long tele or some film for a change of pace. But at the present time, for the foreseeable future, I can be 100% satisfied to pick up the M9 with either a Nokton 40 or Nokton 50 fitted to it.

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jammerbirdi_1
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to malabito, May 17, 2012

I had a D70, D2Hs, 2 D80s, D200, D3, and a D700. And every Nikon lens I ever wanted except the Noct-Nikkor. I went with an M7 and an M9 couple of years ago. But I sold my M9 after a year, I just didn't like the color. Everything else about the images, however, ruined me for Nikon DSLR gear forever I'm afraid.

I've sold almost all of my Nikon gear. I only have the D3 and a couple of lenses left. I can't shoot that stuff any more. I actually returned a lovely silver 50 Cron to get my D700 about a year ago and even with its size and imaging capabilities I couldn't shoot the D700 any more and sold it off as well.

It's Leica for me from now. Now I'm shooting only an M7 and the Fuji X100 once in a while. Can't wait to sell off the rest of my Nikon gear and close that chapter for good.

Now if Nikon would come out with a rangefinder that takes M lenses? Oh boy. I'm there. But right now I'm just waiting for the M10. I won't buy another M9 unless there never IS an M10. Again. I don't like the color from an M9. M8? Gorgeous color. M9? Uh-uh. If DPReview was based in the US with a more liberal fair use re: copyright etc. I would have used countless images from LFI taken by scores of different photographers from around the world to make my point about the color from M9s. And I would have done it a long time ago.

It's unfortunate the overreaching application of copyright principles that actually aren't in the (US, anyway) law and the ethos among photographers against using other people's images without their permission in ANY way. Because for the purpose of critique or review and not commercial use it should be commonplace practice.

You would have to just go to a couple of people's websites for only their impressions and images of a piece of gear. We'd all be able to use whatever images are out there to make our points about cameras and lenses. Anyway. Sorry for the rant. M9 is better for me and more fun than any Nikon camera right now. I hate autofocus even on the best AF cameras in the world. And the size. And the performance of the lenses. But I'm waiting for an M10.

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malabito
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Re: ditto this
In reply to Artichoke, May 17, 2012

Thanks. I have an M6 which i been using for the last few months. But honestly i prefer the practiness of digital. I get to impatient after shooting to have the films develop, and afterwards my scanning ruins most of the images....

Artichoke wrote:
hariseldon2007 wrote:
snip

The M9 is great, an M10 will follow at some point in the future, I have no idea what changes there will be, but the M9 takes great pictures now and does not suffer from any huge drawbacks.

Finally I like your work, and an M9 with a 35mm lens would get you away.

excellent post above

I think the M9 will be a difficult act to follow & I don't see an M10 coming anytime soon
don't know that I will want one
I know what my M9 can do & love the results I get from it

from what I have seen of your work, I think you will love the M9, but you may want to play with an RF before taking the plunge
the experience is entirely different
--
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DPR forum member since 5/2001
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"Avoid making a commotion, just as you wouldn’t stir up the water before fishing. Don’t use a flash out of respect for the natural lighting, even when there isn’t any. If these rules aren’t followed, the photographer becomes unbearably obtrusive" -- attributed to HCB

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Nikon D700, Nikon D7000, Nikon 20mm 2.8, nikon 28mm 2.8 manual focus, Nikon 50mm 1.4, nikon 85mm 1.8, nikon 105mm 2.8 VR, nikon 70-200mm 2.8, Battery Grips, sb-900, sb-800, SB-600, su-800...

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photomeme
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to jammerbirdi_1, May 17, 2012

M9 is unparalleled for color rendition.

Some users, yourself and Ken Rockwell

http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/m9/color.htm

have had problems developing an appropriate workflow.

But that's not the experience of most users.

You do see a number of LFI images which experiment by moving away from true-to-life color rendition. Matter of taste.

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malabito
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to malabito, May 17, 2012

Thanks to alll for your replies, seems from what i read on the internet that most of the users that have swap their equipment for a leica have been more then happy, hope its not only buyers remorse....

Still need to give it a hard thought, but i do love the shooting experiance with the M6, so i can only imagine with the M9 will only be better. (also still selling part of my equipment)

Maybe getting the M9 plus the olympus will be a nice set.....

Hope to post pretty soon here with the M9 if i do finally go that way.

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harold1968
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to malabito, May 17, 2012

Yes, but

It is small and jewellery like

The lenses are superb (it's really tough finding a lens in Nikon or canon as good. And the good ones are usually heavy).
For street and studio it's great
At base ISO the picture is super sharp.

However above ISO 160 the dr and noise deteriorate fast.

Yes I take pictures on the m9 at 1250 sometimes and even 2500. But to be honest at these ISOs the pixel level quality and colour is no better then a 4/3s camera.

Also I love the xpro-1 now as I use the live view an AF at waist level for street.
On the m9 I guess focus which is no good for large apertures

If you can afford a dslr and a m9 that's great
If you can only afford 1 I would think hard about what you need

If you buy a m9 I would strongly recommend a good second hand one. From the Leica forum and eBay they can be had with guarantee intact for below £3500

Best of luck
.

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jammerbirdi_1
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to photomeme, May 17, 2012

Respectfully, the sheer number of images on page after page of M9 'master' shots on LFI

which, as you say, move away from true-to-life color as a "matter of personal taste" and the unique, what I would call a "tell tale" color signature of those images, one that is very very familiar to me after shooting 24,000 shots on my M9, and, as I said coming from photographers all around the world, scores if not hundreds of them, tells me that there's a color problem with this camera.

I made the same decisions that I see the photographers on LFI have made hundreds of times and for a long time I pretended they were a personal creative choice. TW color look is so tell tale now. Caucasian skin in anything less than great light is mandarin orange like the old Porsche 914. Lol. Black people are either green or magenta, take your pick. Everything is either pastels or charcoals. I was laughing about this two days ago with an AP photographer here in LA who's a long time Leica user.

Are there exceptions and probably options to save or restore true-to-life colors in many images? I'm sure there are. But I owned this camera for a year. The fight for great color was lost by this photog. Go shoot with a $1200 Fuji X100. Just give me that color, those skin tones, in the M10 and I'll be there.

wrote:

M9 is unparalleled for color rendition.

Some users, yourself and Ken Rockwell

http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/m9/color.htm

have had problems developing an appropriate workflow.

But that's not the experience of most users.

You do see a number of LFI images which experiment by moving away from true-to-life color rendition. Matter of taste.

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Dr. Ulrich  Rohde
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to malabito, May 17, 2012

I would not eliminate the M 10, you will be positively amazed

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zigorus
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to jammerbirdi_1, May 17, 2012

never looked at JPEGs out of the M9.

color with raw files is a matter of how the raw converter calibration is set up. use Xrite passport and it's the same out of any camera.

z

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malabito
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to Dr. Ulrich Rohde, May 17, 2012

I wouldn't either, but it probably will cost at least 2thousand more, and even if price was not an issue, they camera will still take at least 5 more months to be available....

Dr. Ulrich Rohde wrote:

I would not eliminate the M 10, you will be positively amazed

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jammerbirdi_1
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to Dr. Ulrich Rohde, May 17, 2012

I will be waiting. I was hoping the wait would be over on May 10th.

Dr. Ulrich Rohde wrote:

I would not eliminate the M 10, you will be positively amazed

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photomeme
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to jammerbirdi_1, May 17, 2012

Rubbish.

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malabito
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to photomeme, May 17, 2012

?

photomeme wrote:

Rubbish.

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ravinj
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to malabito, May 17, 2012

Based on the nice set of images you posted, I think you don't need the M9 (assuming the camera you used to take those images still works). Now if that is a big and heavy camera and you are tired of it, then it is a different story.

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jeff hladun
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Re: Leica M9 still worth buying?
In reply to photomeme, May 17, 2012

A contra view: spend the money you'd save not purchasing an M9 on film; learn how to develop B&W at home; spend more time mastering your scanner.

Advantages of film M bodies over digital:

1. Quieter shutter makes street engagement either more discreet or more comfortable for your subjects.

2. Built-in PC allows for tethered flash as it should be, rather than adding a hot-shoe adapter.

3. The ability to shoot lower ISO high-definition film like Ilford PanF+ (ASA50) for high micro-contrast, increased sharpness and dynamic range.

4. Small potatos, but the thinner bodies of film cameras makes the M8 feel less elegant and refined in hand. The fatter M9, even more so. They also fit in smaller pockets!

5. For the M6, M7 and MP, there is a choice of using the .58, .72, and .85 viewfinder. Tailor your camera to whether you like to shoot wide, normal or long.

6. Not knowing if the image was properly exposed or framed adds a higher degree of uncertainty and risk to your hobby. This ennervates your shooting experience, with the bonus of stepping-up your game. The result? An increase in creative self-expression. Simultaneously you worry about the shot and whether you "got it", but at the same time you are not frustrated by a failed attempt, as you would be if you were chimping.

Film takes you down a different sort of of artistic path. But then...to each his own!
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