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Metering

The first M series camera with TTL metering was the M5 in 1971, it achieved this with a mechanical swing arm carrying the photo diode. In 1984 Leica introduced the M6 which achieved its metering by measuring the light reflected off a white dot on the shutter, with the photo diode mounted in the base of the lens mount / shutter chamber. The M8 had a single white painted shutter blade instead of a white dot, the M9 uses a development of this system optimised for the large sensor size.

The M9's shutter now has three painted blades, one bright blade in the middle and two darker ones above and below it. Because the metering sensor is aimed at the center of the blades the metering pattern is now virtually circular and very similar to center-weighted average found on other cameras.

Base / bottom cover

The base of the M9 is very clean, with a tripod thread and the locking toggle for the bottom cover on the left. The tripod mount does appear to be exactly central in the base (laterally), however that means it's offset slightly from the lens axis. The bottom cover itself is made from a piece of milled brass (just like the top) and is removed by turning the locking toggle counter-clockwise, hinging on a small protruding lip on the right side. Once removed you can access the battery and SD card compartments, which are in the same postions as they were in the M8.

Battery / SD card compartment

As mentioned above to access the compartments you must remove the bottom cover, this may seem eccentric (and it is) but it does mean that (a) the compartments are protected while the cover is in place and (b) the clean lines of the camera are not spoiled by such annoyances as doors. The M9 takes SD cards (up to 32 GB SDHC) and uses the same battery as the M8, a Lithium-Ion 1900 mAh, 3.7 V (7.03 Wh).

Battery charger

The M9 is provided with the (considerably better) compact charger that first made its appearance with the M8.2.

Connector

The M9 has just one connector, a USB 2.0 mini-B socket on the left rear side of the camera. This can be used for file transfer from the SD card as well as remote control shooting using the supplied Leica Digital Capture software. The M8 only supported PTP transfer (causing headaches for Mac OS X users) but the M9 now supports both PTP and Mass Storage Device.

Flash hot shoe

On the top of the camera is the 'flash shoe', this allows the mounting and use of compatible flash units, including the Leica SF 24D flash unit (best suited because of its compact size) and other flash units which comply to the SCA (System Camera Adaption system) * which allows guide number control. You can also fit basic third party flash units which are simply fired using the center X-contact.

Lens mount / 6-bit coding sensor

The M9 has a Leica M-bayonet lens mount with a 6-bit lens identification sensor. Lenses are attached to the body by matching the red dot on the lens to that by the body's release button, then just twist clockwise approximately thirty degrees and the locking pin will click satisfyingly into place (a simple but remarkably well executed mechanism). As the M9 doesn't have a mirror box the distance between the lens mount and sensor / film is much shorter, around 29 mm compared to about 45 mm on a typical SLR. This is very obvious when you first remove the body cap and does make it considerably easier to examine (and if needs be) clean the sensor. At the bottom right edge you can see the 6-bit lens coding 'sensor strip' which is used to identify the lens used (see below).

6-bit lens coding

The Leica 6-bit lens coding system was announced in June 2006, it enables the M9 to identify the lens in use. With no electrical connection between the lens and body the dots system was the only solution. All new M series lenses are coded and existing lenses can be updated for a small charge. The identification of the lens is used by the camera to apply additional vignetting correction (if required), you can also manually select lenses from an internal database.

Supplied In the Box

The Leica M9 box contains:

  • Leica M9 camera (silver or black)
  • Carrying strap
  • Body cover (M bayonet)
  • Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger
  • USB cable
  • User manual
  • Warranty card
  • Software DVD
    • Adobe Lightroom 2
    • Leica Digital Capture
    • User manuals in all languages (PDF)
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Comments

Total comments: 20
Wildbegonia

Guys,
I have a vision problem that causes not double but quintuple images. So for me, an excellent auto focus system is the only bridge between me and photography. I do not read it any where, does this mean the Leica M9 do not have this feature?
Thank you all and i do welcome suggestions.

0 upvotes
KonstantinosK

No AF. Keep your money for something else.

0 upvotes
Wildbegonia

Thank you boy, ;)

0 upvotes
jadmaister2

dear dp review.
Isnt it about time the actual review was published...I mean 3 years is a fair ol time to wait.

2 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio

guys if you need an m9 review, just read the m8 review, and add the information of this preview as it covers the differences of those two.

i dont know whats the big deal about that, if some of you want to buy a 7k camera, why on earth would you base that on a review site anyway? ^^

i personally find the looks of the m9 ugly, i would like to have an m9 in an m8 body, i cant understand why they made this ugly cutout next to the viewfinder

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
mka78

Leica is all about the glass, the digital version of the cameras and the sensor are below canon and nikon

0 upvotes
Superka

What are you waiting for? It must be a very short review. Something like "It is the best camera"" (on every of the 25 pages), ""100% Platinum award!" at the end. And thats all.

2 upvotes
Luta M

The best M9 review I have found so far is written by Danish photographer and writer Thorsten Overgaard: http://www.overgaard.dk/leica-M9-digital-rangefinder-camera.html
I'm keeping a blog about my experiences with the M9 here:
http://lutaatwork.blogspot.com/
There's some reviews on it as well, but the main thing about the blog is to show that it is possible to switch from a DSLR to a rangefinder and that it is fun, but hard work.

0 upvotes
DeMaatin

Well, thank You for introducing Scientology to dpreview !

Overgaard is an avid messiah all over the world.

Respectfully,

Tom C.Ruise

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio

his photos are not really an advertise his business^^ while the characteristics of the glass is clearly visible in some shots, the compositions are boring to extremely boring ..

this guy shoots like a tourist with a very expensive camera, that should be in the hands of a gifted unwealthy photog in my opinion

1 upvote
inevitable crafts studio

oh and he is in scientology, well that explaines A LOT hehe

there is not one single gifted artist in this moronic club, at least i dont know any

2 upvotes
DigitalPowerShot

dpreview is waiting for the M10 to be previewd ;-)

7 upvotes
bpalme

Yes.. should be a review by now. Probably not too many users but a lot of people that would really like to read it anyway. Need some Leica lens reviews too.

3 upvotes
Jason Butler

2 years later and still no proper REVIEW. I've noticed a trend here at DPreview lately: lots of PREVIEWS but few REVIEWS. Lazy.

7 upvotes
Ben1977

I Noticed that there is a Leica M9 Prizedraw cometition or whatver call you them

here http://www.iloverangefinders.com/2011/06/win-a-leica-m9/

0 upvotes
Scotsloon

I wonder why we have never had a full test of the M9, just a preview?

5 upvotes
snake_b

Same here. Now they've come out with something so incredibly different in the form of the P model.

2 upvotes
Poss

There's not much good to be said about the sensor I guess...

0 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio

i guess the reasons are more that the m9 is essentially an m8 with upgraded sensor, and that potential m9 buyers do not go to dpreview to decide if they gonna buy it or not ^^

this is no mFT or slr where you could judge whether buying the panasonic 400€ version or the olympus 399€ version.

so anyone that wants an m9 allready owns another m, and knows whats in the box, also, i guess if you want to spend 7k on a camera body, the least thing you gonna do is visit a review site^^

at least for me, whespending that much money, i go to a shop and review it myself

0 upvotes
Wang Man

I started with the M4, then the M6, now with the M9.
If you did not start early with Leica M cameras, you will find the M9 old school, manual focus, aperture setting, etc. I skipped the M8 and M8.2 because they did not have a full frame sensor.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 20