Giulio Fabricatore: I don't undestand the real spirit of many comments, most based on a rather "religious" consideration of the item: I am a Leica owner since 1956 but nevertheless I consider a camera (Leica or other) simply for the pictures produced.To be sincere, I find the sample images we can see here quite disappointing: no black, no white but a sad uniform and rather foggy gray.If I consider the pedigree and the price of the camera, then I am not only disappointed but...My advice would be to try examining images without considering the camera: do I like them or not? is this camera right for my purposes? can it help me to perform easier my job (if any)?Apart from these basic questions, all the rest is a simple question of "voluptas possidendi", for those that have no problem of budget.Be happy.
I doubt this example pic can give any idea of the (good or bad) quality of M9M images: the enlargement is not sufficient to judge. Besides, I think Leica is completely right with the M9M, as they kept the development costs to a minimum (slight changes in the firmware, essentially a simplification, and have Truesense (?) make one batch of M9-type sensors without the bayer matrix. Low investment, production cost same as M9, this is a clever addition to the catalogue even if they don't sell a lot. And again, the loss of colour allows a impressive jump in other qualities.
mandophoto: It is clear from this comments thread that there is a tremendous amount of Leica envy. The real issue is not Leica's prices, but the lack of imagination on the part of Canon and Nikon. Though Fuji and Sony are stumbling a bit (where are the wides for the NEX system,) they, with Olympus, Panasonic and other brands are where the future of photography is. Leica is a tiny company compared to the others, and can afford to be imperious. In fact, I would guess Leica needs to be exclusive in order to survive, and we all want them to continue, right?
Josh152, I am sorry to disagree with some of your points.'the novelty of a rangefinder': no, the rangefinder is the oldest among the 3 major focusing systems (RF, reflex and AF).Leica is not a 'designer brand', they develop and produce the M9 themselves at home (in Solms).`'Technology surpassed by much cheaper cameras', depends. Indeed plastic/composite camera bodies are more advanced technology than magnesium.I agree the LCD is mean, but do you really use it apart from menus and (sometimes) histograms? Are you sure a better LCD would be compatible (in terms of processing power) with the electronics inside, whose priority is to work out high quality images? The philosophy is quite different from a P&S or a mirrorless.The point is to choose the right tool for each particular user.There is more modern technology in a cheap CD player than in a costly Steinway grand piano. Some will choose the Steinway, most will make better music with the CD player.
The Fuji X-Pro1 is to my view the closest to a "digital CL". With a RF in place of AF it would cost even more.
A digital CL... yes of coure it would be great. This is what Epson tried with the RD-1. The issue is probably that the digital RF market is too small to be able to make mass production savings. Afaik, the M8, M9, Imacon/hasselblads. Mamiyas/Leaf etc. all use (expensive) xilinx technology because at such small production batches and frequent updates (how many years did they make the M8?), they would never get their money back with the high initial investment of custom made circuitry as found on mainstream cameras. However the Minolta CLE experience showed it was possible to recycle some essential components (here the shutter and electronics) from a mass produced SLR into a good though cheap RF. My uninformed guess is that Nikon should be able to recycle most of a camera like the D800 (i.e. sensor and electronics) into a DRF - maybe a digital Nikon S, but it wouldn't be cheap either. More, RF technology needs absolute adjustments (unlike SLRs) which don't like cheap plastic lenses.
PhillyFotog: A lot is being made of the bayer demosaicing process being inherently damaging to absolute resolution. I wonder, can the raw image processors be set to not do any demosaic prior to desaturation in order to obtain B&W from a color imager? If so, would this not negate the resolution advantage of a monochrmomatic imager in terms of resolution? Of course, sensitivity to light will always be hindered by a bayer filter, so the monochrome imager will be at an advantage in terms of S:N. But strictly in terms of resolution, would a modified raw converter be enough to level the field?
"a modified raw converter" is already built into the standard M9 and is triggered when you shoot B&W. Demosaicing is really necessary, otherwise any uniformly coloured object would look like a chessboard on the B&W picture, except neutral grey objects! Demosaicing means interpolation, more noise etc. (see my comment above).Personally I won't buy the M9M, for personal reasons (use, money etc.) but if my professional activity was needing high performance B&W imaging I would obviously rank it very high. Compared to the FF SLR competition, I think the performance of Leica optics made the M9 the best candidate on the market for a monochrome (and therefore real 19MP uninterpolated, equivalent to 38MP interpolated but with less noise) version. BTW, no Bayer means virtually no aliasing in spite of the lenses' high resolution! The poor man's antialiasing is bad lenses.
Yes, with the Bayer filters, e.g. on the M9 there are 18 million official pixels, but only half of them (9 million) are green pixels, and red and blue pixels are 4.5 million each. Therefore all the rest has to be interpolated in order to fill in all the 18 million R,G and B values.There is a loss of sensitivity (close to a factor 2 or 3) due to the Bayer filters, and subsequent interpolation increases the noise level which is a second factor that limits sensitivity - there is always a trade-off between resolution and noise. The global result must be, if referring to a given SNR (or noise level), a sensitivity about 4 to 6 times higher with the monochrome sensor, and still much better detail rendition, than the colour version.As someone pointed out on this thread, the weak point is the photographer. Actually the M9M belongs more to the medium format family, and in spite of its compacity it should rather be compared with bigger (and more expensive) Alpas and Mamiyas.