Time to take the pulse of the Commentariat.
Thought experiment: Let's say you come downstairs on Christmas morning to find a festively-wrapped box under your Christmas tree. The card says it's for you. (If you are Jewish or a Rationalist or for some other reason are not accustomed to receiving gifts at this time of year, you are very welcome to restructure this aspect of the thought experiment in a way that is most comfortable to you and most amenable to your own family's customs.)
The box contains a full-frame mirrorless camera, which you've been, er, pining for. In the box is EITHER a Leica M with a Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm ƒ/2 ASPH lens, OR a Sony A7r with a Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm ƒ/1.8 ZA lens.
Of course, being a gift, you cannot return it or resell it (well, let's say you can't). Then again, you didn't have to pay for it. The point is that it costs you nothing and it doesn't matter what it's worth at resale. What matters is which you'd rather take pictures with and which you think would give you better pictures. (IOW, please don't argue with the thought experiment's premises. <—I know, hopeless request.)
Which one would you want to be in your box?
(Inspired by last night's MegaMillions lottery drawing)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Steve Snyder: "Sony A7R! Can't stand manual focus!"
Mike: "Leica. I want the real viewfinder."
Edward Taylor (partial comment): "It's easy—the Sony. Even in the 20th century, I never liked Leicas, not because they were Leicas but because they have always been rangefinder cameras. I always want to be able to see through the lens—whether by mirror or electronically."
Peter Nilsson: "I know this is not what I'm supposed to do, but once I've thought 'the Leica, obviously, because I can afford an A7r if I actually want one' I can't then go back and try the thought experiment properly. I'd be surprised if I'm the only one to think that way!"
AdamR: "As much as I've always lusted after a Leica, I'd have to go with the Sony. The sad truth is I'd never be able to afford another lens for the Leica whereas the Sony gives me the opportunity to use the Nikon glass I already own via adapters. And I really like those lenses anyway. I feel like that answer is much more rational than you intended. Now, if my secret Santa were going to get me a 35mm next year and a 90mm the year after that I'd take the Leica. I could live with just a 50mm for a year but probably not indefinitely."
Mike adds: To drive home the point of the last two comments, some people would take the Leica because there would be no other way they could afford it except to get it as a gift; and some people would take the Sony because additional new lenses for the Leica would be too expensive. Good examples of how cost considerations enter in even when they don't.
Incidentally, the latter consideration is why I didn't buy a Leica when I was in photography school, at the very dawn of my interest in photography. I could have afforded a body and one lenses, but I couldn't see being able to afford a second lens in the then-foreseeable future.
Gary: "The Leica M. I have enough lenses, I want rangefinder focussing and a real viewfinder, and don't want to screw around (pun intended) with adapters."
Hugh Smith (partial comment): "No brainer for me. A7r with the Zeiss."
MarkB: "I'm sure they're both great, but I'd hope for the Sony. Leica (as a brand, as an object, as a camera) just rubs me the wrong way. I briefly had an M6 before going digital, and it was like your 'Mercedes experience' for me...went back to Canon/Toyota, though now I shoot with Pentax/Subaru."
Stephen McCullough: "The Leica. Why? It's a Leica dammit!!! (I'm very comfortable with RFs, the overall bulk (camera and lens) is more appealing, I have a camera that can do what the Sony can do, but I don't have one that can do what the Leica does, or the way it accomplishes it's work). Plus, it's a Leica dammit!!!"
Michel (partial comment): "Leica M for me please—should I send you my address via email or do you already have it?"
jim: "I've had the pleasure of owning an A7 for two weeks now (but not the Zeiss lens). And I've had an M8 for quite a few years (I know an M is different). So my answer is easy—the A7r! I'm not Leica bashing when I say my NEX-6 handles far better than the M8. I use the NEX-6 and now the A7 mostly with manual lenses—a lot of them M-mount ( and I've always been 'in love' with Leica—my very first serious camera was a rangefinder)."
yz (partial comment): "Surprise me!"
Benjamin Marks (partial comment): "Darn, Mike. Now you've got me all worked up. Better go shake some of the boxes under the tree."
Jeff: "It will be like this: I'll agonise, hesitate and vacillate and then eventually choose Leica just because it's cool and I never had one. Three weeks later I will hate shooting with it and a week after that will be kicking myself in the shins for not choosing A7r. By the end of the fifth week it will all be too much and I will put the Leica up on eBay and sell it at a loss, for which my wife will be mad at me, but I will go on and get the Sony. The Sony will not fit into the bag that I bought for the Leica, and two months later they will release A8r without the stupid VF hump that stopped it fitting into the bag in the first place. I will realise that what I really need is A8r. My wife will resort to domestic violence, and I will grow thin with worry. Three weeks later I will eBay A7r, make a loss and will end up not being able to afford the A8r. I will start saving up, but three weeks into that I will realise that it all went horribly wrong the moment evil entered my house in the guise of the Leica. At this point I will unearth my old RX100, will go out to shoot some pics and blow whatever cash is left on my wife to try and mend the relationships.
"The upshot is simple: I am not touching the stuff with a barge pole."
Drew Medlin: "A7r for image quality."
Mike replies: Funny how few people have mentioned image quality.
Andrew Eckert: "The Leica M, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, though, I would not be able to use either of them for awhile. For my 28th birthday this past Sunday, I bought myself an M6 to make 2014 my 'Leica year.' It's going to take enough willpower as it is to lock away my D700 and X-Pro1; the absolute last thing I need for Christmas is another tempting digital distraction."
Mike replies: Cool! Go, man, go.
Dogman: "Without hesitation, the Leica. I still miss my M6. Both of them."
Gordon Cahill (partial comment): "What I really want for Christmas is a week free when I have nothing to do but travel and take pictures. I'd bd happy to do that with any camera."
Craig A. Lee (partial comment): "What I really need is the time to get out to use [my cameras]. So, Santa, what I want for Christmas is six months paid to go out and shoot whatever I want."
Tam: "I am lucky enough to have both (including lenses) and I have just sold the Sony A7R. Why? While the IQ of the Sony is impressive, it is a camera that does not know what it wants to be. It tries to be a 'decisive moment' camera and a landscape camera not to mention other things and it ends up doing nothing well. And so for me, I would go for another Leica M. I think it is the best Leica since the MP (excluding the Monochrom)."