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Sunday, 12 June 2011


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I'm delighted to see El Tigre roaming the jungle again.

Interesting comment about vignetting with thin emulsion films -- I'm not a physicist or similar, but when people were theorising (time of M7 and M8) about the impossibility of getting good digital edge performance from wide-angle non-digi lenses, it got me thinking about the last generation of flat or T-crystal emulsions and whether they should show a similar effect if really sitting in the emulsion in the way shown by Kodak, Fuji,Ilford et al (ie light at the edge of the frame would hit them much more edge on, rather than in old-fashioned TriX, FP4 etc film). I put this idea on a couple of forums and was shot down in flames as an ignoramus by various experts (including Puts and others). Is the Summicron 'fault' such an effect?
Danny (much more interested in the result than the technique, but I can think scientifically when I need to).

Great post, but satire loses much of its impact and reason for existence when accompanied by disclaimers.

Perhaps the use of disclaimers is an American thing - do they sue people in the US for satire?

OK, Leica nuts, we still love you all, read the Lloyd
article and respond. He makes some very valid points.
I could afford an M9, but my Lumix GH2 and GF1 with
20mm 1.7, 14-45mm, 7-14mm, and 100-300mm
lenses (that's 14mm-600mm equivalent) costs me
around $4000 total. Leica M9 with 35mm f2 = $10,000.
Ouch! I may have some discretionary money but I'm
not throwing it away.

What an odd concept. Fawning over a current model until it's no longer current, and actively attacking people who don't follow the code of conduct.

Leica has achieved a masterstroke of marketing, and they don't even need to get their hands dirty.

Well, that's quite a few sacred cows slaughtered this week. I wonder, does sacred cow steak taste better, or does it stick in one's craw? ;)

"Perhaps the use of disclaimers is an American thing"

The "SA" is put there because I have many readers for whom English is not their first or best language, some of whom don't pick up on it when I'm joking. But I'm just playing--not trying to make anyone feel like a fool just because they're more fluent in my language than I am in theirs.


With the exception of the digital sensor related criticisms, everything Lloyd Chambers said about the M9 could have been said about every M-series Leica that preceded it. They are things he must have known before he bought his M9. This makes his critique, though valid, sound disingenuous, much like Captain Louis Renault in the movie "Casablanca," who professes to be "shocked" to hear that Rick's Cafe Americain has permitted gambling--even as he pockets his cut of the profits. In short, what else is new?

"what else is new?"

Yes, and what else is Leica to do? If they made all his changes it would no longer be an M. Leica has much the same problem Porsche has. People complain about the endless parade of 911s, but alternatives come and go like normal cars do, and enthusiasts want their Porsches to be Porsche-like.

To me--quite honestly--the M9 is fine. It's the camera the M8 should have been, and it fits the bill perfectly well. It's what people wanted, it's what those who wanted it got--it's a digital M. Sure it can be improved (the only one I can suggest is that they could make it as much smaller than an M4 than it is currently larger than an M4), and it will be improved eventually as sensors change, but it doesn't really need to be. It is what it should be.


Erlik - I think you are missing the point

"One: if you can find so many things wrong with the camera, what have you been doing with it for two years?"
Using it I would guess. If he wasn't using it, why on earth would he care about what's wrong with it? I like being alive , but I have a few complaints about that too.

"Two: the camera is too expensive? Wasn't it too expensive when you bought it?"
Well obviously M9s just like gasoline are not overpriced people keep buying them. If the price were too high people would stop buying.

"Besides, for all his expertise and experience, I wonder whether he thought everything through. I'm not talking about the reactions. Couldn't care less. But we all know that Leica is a boutique manufacturer. He must have known that."

I think that Leica would very much like to get out of the boutique manufacturer business model or at least not depend on boutique product lines. They are doing that with the S2 and their Cine lens projects. On the other hand if they can subsidize development costs with gold plated cameras to be given out as party favors by third world despots it would be irresponsible of the company leave that money on the table.

"So where does he think that Leica is going to find manufacturing resources for increased numbers of cameras and lenses should they lower the prices? And why does he think that Leica wants to raise the numbers of its cameras and consequently lower its prestige and margins?"

I think the only reason that Leica makes the M9 is so that people will have a reason to buy the lenses. If there were a market for cheaper digital rangefinder cameras, Cosina / Voightlander / Zeiss would be all over it. As it is , they are happy to sell lenses to M9 owners, and back to the price of the camera, everybody I know who bought a M9 ( ok it's a sample size of 2 ) bought at least $20,000 of Leica lenses to go with them. As for prestige, I don't notice all the construction workers and civil engineers dragging Leica branded equiment through every mud pit in NYC doing anything harmful to the Leica brand prestige and margins, although I do see a few Leica photographers with gaffers tape all over their cameras. Could they be embarrassed?

All that said, the day Sony starts selling a full frame NEX, the price for Leica glass will go up and the price of digital M cameras will plummet.

BTW , my I like my NEX much more than my canon D5II , use it almost all the time because it's the best tool for what I want to do , but I could go on for days about what's wrong with it . ( For instance why is the focus assist button and the video buttons where they are instead of swapped ? all else pales against that stupidity)

Mike, I have to disagree with your last post re: M cameras ceasing to be M cameras if all Lloyd's changes were made. The ONLY changes Lloyd suggests that significantly alter the "M spirit" are the hybrid rangefinder (or even abandoning it) and the addition of focus confirmation. And those two would require serious redesigning and electronic know how--to the point where I don't think we'll ever see them.

The best we can hope for is more accurate rangefinders--possibly with parallax and distance corrected LCD framelines instead of the current "dumb" brightlines. But I wouldn't even count on that.

If Lloyd's other eight suggestions were implemented satisfactorily in the M10, Leica users would be praising Leica for addressing all the terrible shortcomings in the M9.


What else is Leica to do? Good question. So far they've survived on being a one trick pony that does its one trick exceptionally well. Leica has attempted other tricks--the R-series SLRs and Leitz/Minolta CLE, for example--that have been received with little more than polite applause, even by Leicaphiles. Yet even Leica had to adapt to the digital revolution or face extinction--and even there, their choice was gradual improvement rather than radical innovation. Judging by the success of the M9 it was the right decision--for them. I sincerely wish Leica well. It's just that I've ridden that pony before and although it was a fun and productive ride, once was enough.

Interesting. A good friend of mine just told me this weekend that he had sold his M9 kit that he had for about year. It seems that focusing was simply too big a deal for his middle-aged eyes. In place of the Leica is a Fuji X100 and Pentax 645D.

I'm shocked too.
But somehow little Leica has sold more M9's than M6's, thank you China.
It is a great landscape camera.
For portraits, I would suggest a Leica DSLR, and while at it, why not make the sensor even bigger, and triple the price. Oh, and call it an S.

Mike, your comment is perfect. And L.T. is very amusing.

Mike, I don't think Porsche are shy of using the most advanced technology available to make the 911 work better. Sure the format is the same, but the internals are completely different and the handling tamed, partly by immensely sophisticated electronics.

More to the point, they constantly attract a new generation of buyers to the brand to replace those that "move on".

Are Leica?

Just askin'.

"More to the point, they constantly attract a new generation of buyers to the brand to replace those that 'move on.' Are Leica? Just askin'."

Well, to answer that, all you need to do is compare Leica to Contax, and Bronica, and Minolta, and Rollei. I think Leica deserves credit for weathering a difficult transition successfully. It was not a journey without its pitfalls and its perils. But Leica has endured. I think the worst has passed. It looks to me that Leica will meet the future with increasing confidence and assurance.


Theoretically, I would welcome an M10 that returned to the classic proportions of the M3 and had a high-definition screen and better high-ISO performance. In reality, however, Leica has priced itself out of nearly everyone's reach, so it's all academic, really.

The comments about image quality make sense, but the comments about the viewfinder and usability of the camera make it sound like he should just buy a 5D MK II and save some money.

Seriously though, 18mp isn't enough for you? I think you'll be ok.

Leicas should be judged as cameras, not fetishes.

Lloyd Chambers' comments were not only valid, but useful, if anybody cares to consider them. Is it really out of bounds to criticize a crappy, slow-acting LCD on a $7000-plus-plus camera? Or to point out that high end digital capture worthy of the best lenses requires a more precise method of focus than film does? Or to mention that the M9 is miles behind current high-ISO quality?

I'd love to see a great compact digital camera with simple controls and an optical viewfinder. I used M3's and M6's and Mamiya 6's and 7's and Fuji rangefinders for years, so I get it. But I didn't buy an M9. And Chambers' article lists most of the reasons why. I think he's doing Leica a favor. Blind praise has little value. Constructive criticism has a lot of value.

"If they made all his changes it would no longer be an M."

exactly. the m9 only needs a little refinement: a high quality lcd, better sensor, and faster image processor. i would add slimming down the camera to pre-m6 ttl dimensions and maybe adding a dust filter and weather sealing to the list. i wonder why he didn't mention those? well, he's not a photojournalist, right?

i disagree with a previous commenter that the changes lloyd wants to the leica m are insubstantial. he never says the word, but it's lurking just beneath the surface: tripod. on the other hand, i feel that lloyd kept his proposal modest, because a mirrorless full frame camera that was really well suited to tripod use would probably look nothing like the m9.

I wonder if it might not make more sense to complain to the bigger camera companies for not building retro-rangefinders? I doubt that Leica is listening. They're too busy trying to keep pace with back-orders.

Hi LT Gray and Mike

I think Lloyd's comments are fair. he's not suggesting Leica reinvent the camera - so, using the Porsche analogy, he's not asking them to turn the 911 into a 928. He's asking for an engine that works properly (electronics) and better steering (rangefinder).

The classic form factor could still be retained and a viewfinder with larger viewing aperture, greater magnification and longer baselength (a la Zeiss Ikon RF) could always be squished in to fix the focus error and frameline problem.

Personally I don't agree with his desire for more megapixels though. A sensor with D700 / 5D Mk 2 levels of high ISO noise and resolution would be fine for me. (A D700 in the size of a Leica M, including lens, is my dream camera!) Seriously, how much resolution did we get from Tri-X and a pre-asph summicron?

"One: if you can find so many things wrong with the camera, what have you been doing with it for two years?"
Using it I would guess. If he wasn't using it, why on earth would he care about what's wrong with it?

Hugh, some of his complaints sound like show stoppers to me. You can't use the viewfinder/rangefinder in low light, you think that the sensor is crap, you can't review the images properly, resolution is too low...

Obviously, you have a wrong camera. You want a completely different one. And you can come to that conclusion in much shorter period than two years. Six months or a year at most.

I really don't like the way manual focus works on my Pen with legacy lenses. (And I informed Olympus about it.) But I learned to work with it and accept the camera as it is. If I had additional serious objections to the sensor, Live view, resolution... I wouldn't keep on using it.

I have no idea why people tape over the brand on Leicas. May it be that they think that the photographer is important, not the camera? :)

i have no problem criticizing current leica models (and frankly, none of the leica owners i know have any problem about it either--it's practically a league sport). i've registered trenchant critiques of the m9 in many fora, on varied occasions. i've never been attacked for it, either.

the reason i think lloyd's criticisms are a problem is not because they are critical, but because many of them are either incorrect, or based on wanting the camera to be optimized for a different use (his), or both.

to start with, it is simply not correct to suggest that moire effects, dynamic range, and high iso performance are all so bad as to cripple the use of the camera. in actual fact, i've only encountered moire effects a handful of times over the course of 25k or so photos with the m9; not at a significantly higher rate than with my 5d and 5d2. moire just is not a problem for me (though it conceivably could be for a wedding pro, or fashion shooter). as for dynamic range, the m9 has the best, most usable, most natural looking dynamic range of any camera i've used. it blows my 5d2 out of the water in this respect. i can confidently expose dappled sunlit scenes to protect highlights, knowing that i can pull the shadows up later without the result looking artificial. for someone like me who shoots a lot of documentary photos on the streets in tropical sun, it is heaven-sent.

"poor high iso performance" is perhaps the biggest red herring in this whole dragnet. i have printed for exhibitions dozens of photos shot at iso 1250, in horrible light ranging from twilight (f/1.4, 1/30~125) to ghastly, low-wattage third world vapor lighting, at 40 inches across--there is no visible noise, and much better color and much more detail than the results from my canons. it is important to expose correctly in low light, but by that i don't mean expose more than with the canons--i've shot them side by side at the same exposure settings, and the leica remains better down to extremely low light levels. the leica simply captures more usable detail, in a more natural way that holds up better under enlargement, than any dslr i've used.

as for griping that the camera isn't optimized for landscape use--well, it's only natural that people should wish every appealing camera were optimized for their own favorite application. i certainly wish the m9 were fully weather-sealed. personally, i think that's a more apropos aspiration given the history of the m line, which was always famous for being reliable and indestructible (up until the m7, anyway). guess i should stay with my m6ttl for pouring rain. (although actually i frequently /do/ use the m9 in the rain... trying to be better about that.)

i would love if an m10 featured live view, in addition to the current rangefinder. this would be /great/. it would address some of the currently marginal situations where the m9 could expand its usefulness. it isn't part of the core function of the camera, though, and ultimately it won't significantly affect my decision to buy it or not. same with an improved lcd; i'd welcome and expect it, but it won't actually matter for the photos i make.

that's because--like most of the film ms before it--the m9 is already a superbly optimized camera for certain sorts of photography--documentary, street use, family photos, and most situations where lightning-fast and precise control over every shooting parameter is the priority. it can ride all day hanging from my shoulder under my arm (and does), and i can get perfectly framed, focused, timed, and exposed shots off in under a second. that's important to me, and currently none of the large-sensor compact digital alternatives even comes close. lloyd suggests leica would be daunted by the thought of an x100 with higher resolution. piffle. they might be worried about an x200 that could be simply, quickly manually focussed; but as it stands, though the x100 is clearly capable of impressive image quality, it cannot be instantly and precisely focused from a dead stop. currently, i can easily focus an m camera faster and more accurately than my 5d2 can autofocus. in very low light, the gap widens, mostly because it gets harder to tell what the canon has locked onto, when and if it eventually locks onto something. and this is despite the fact that my eyes are (uncorrectably) far worse than 20/20--i have a harder time focusing my om3, and even with the 'precision mat focusing screen' much more difficulty manually focusing my 5d2, than i do focusing the m6 or m9. just because the rf patch system is old, doesn't mean it is outdated. it's still around because it still works.

if any of this sounds arrogant or a tad egotistical, consider that one of the advantages of a camera like the m is that *skill matters*. yes, i can practice and get better at anticipating the behavior of my canon or nikon af systems (and i certainly have), but at a certain point--rather soon, in fact--you run into a wall: you ultimately are at the mercy of the af sensor system performance. with an m9, not so much. heck, i can nail wide-open focus on my m9 six times out of ten without even looking through the rangefinder--just because i've practiced. and i expect to get even better. using the rangefinder, i have much greater confidence that the plane of focus will be where i expect it to be than i do using any autofocus camera. this is partly, but not entirely, because *i* choose exactly what to focus on, not the camera sensor. sure, i can pop the 5d2 into 10x live view and do critical focus that way for still life, but i haven't had many difficulties just using the rangefinder, either. (lloyd is certainly correct in pointing out that the review image on the lcd is not good enough to confirm critical focus, and that is a serious shortcoming--one of many--which should absolutely be fixed in whatever the next major m revision turns out to be.) likewise for framing; i can frame any of my three lenses with high confidence on the m9. (arguably better, of course, than with my 5d2, which leaves a mystery what is in-frame, at the periphery, as well as what is just out of frame, which can certainly affect framing decisions as well.)

is it too expensive? well, it is the smallest full frame digital camera in the world (not by a small margin, either, when one considers system footprint), and equals or outperforms any digital slr in terms of achievable image quality, especially in print. why would it be less expensive?

ultimately, the simple point is that the m9 is a unique camera, with unique strengths and weakness--plenty of both. in the m9, they succeeded in building a camera which was essentially a film leica, only digital. it has almost every advantage of an m7… and all the advantages (and disadvantages) associated with producing digital files instead of film. leica has a balancing act ahead. there is an endless list of things they /could/ do to change the m9. but the key will be to /not/ change as many things as possible, yet still deliver significant improvements. my short list is: smaller (slightly), lighter, quieter, more rugged and weather-proof, shorter shutter lag, faster processing, better power management, improved dr and high iso. not negotiable: eliminate left edge magenta casts with moderate wide angle lenses (ie out to 28). the common thread to all of these is that they will in no way change the performance of the things the m9 already does well. messing with the viewfinder and focus systems, otoh, might well screw up the gestalt.

if leica must proceed with evf and other fundamental changes, by all means, go for it--but not on an m camera. make it the x10, or the newR, or whatever, but please, don't take away our m.

People are using the wrong yardstick to evaluate a Leica. When you buy a Leica, you are paying for the name. Just say it in Long Island Lockjaw (clench your teeth while talking) - "My camera is a LEICA." Therein lies the mystique of luxury name-brand goods. If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it.

L. T. Gray, Lloyd Chambers and Mike Johnston are right.

I am a Leica user, I try to be objective and balanced and I have suffered the rant and even aggressive harassment in forums.

The M9 is a beautiful camera, but below the quality standards of the S2 camera regarding electronic components (screen, processor, even sensor). It is a modified version of the M8, a peculiar design of Jenoptik from 2006.

This coming 22 of June a new M9-P will be presented, and we will see if there are mere cosmetic changes or some upgrade of the guts of the camera.


Mike - agree with you wholeheartedly. The M9 (and M8 for that matter) is simply a digital M for those, including myself, who want to replicate the experience of shooting with a film M in the digital age. I shoot with both film and digital M cameras and the transition from one camera to the other is intuitive. The results are also more than good enough to print up to A2, which is as large as most M shooters want to go. Sticking in lots of hi-tech "improvements" to turn it into a digital camera like all the rest, would simply destroy the experience.

Simple advice: don't discuss 'em, use 'em!

Fascinating thread and fascinating sites referred to. What I can't understand is why people get so worked up about all this. I bought a (new) IIIg in 1959 and still use it. It's a lovely camera and the 5cm Summicron I bought with it is a lovely lens. I do have a "few" other cameras, and drawers full of assorted lenses most of which get used from time to time, but the IIIg still stands up, despite hard use in the tropics in the 1960s and 70s. Not so long ago I bought a (second hand) M8. I've read all the bumf about its drawbacks and work within its acknowledged limitations but, on balance, it has advantages over anything else I've got except when I need long lenses for sport. It would be fun to try an M9 sometime but I'm in no hurry.

Now for the heretical bit. They aren't by any means the only cameras I have soft spots for. Lets hear it for the whole industry, not least the designers of a self assembly 5x4 I built from a cheap and cheerful kit a couple of years ago.

Lloyd is always stepping in it. He does, however, come to Leica as a newbie, not having any previous experience with Leica M's (or so it seems) so I suppose his complaints are valid for someone who has only shot SLR's. OTOH, he is very, very late to the party of those who complain about aspects of the digital M. For someone who still shoots with his M9 even after all the bitching, methinks he complains too much. He has just now tested the 50 Summicron as if he discovered America. How many years has this venerable lens been in production? He must cater to a very young or uninformed audience. In the pursuit of truth I admit I am a subscriber to his site, but not for his Leica ruminations.

I have always flown in the face of fashion which may explain why I bought an M8.2 and 28 Elmarit ASPH a few weeks ago instead of the X100.

Mike likes cars too so allow me an analogy. My D700 is the Mitsubishi Evo - it tackles almost every photographic challenge with aplomb and the results are invariably excellent. But the M8.2 is a Jaguar E-type - far harder to achieve the same quality of result, and altogether less capable, but it tests and improves its owner far more (and for those who jest, I saw a pristine MkI E-type for sale last month for £250,000 so placing it in a similarly elite category to Leica). Nor is it my first RF in case you wonder as I cut my teeth on an Olympus 35 RF and have owned a used Contax G2 for a few years.

Turning to the Leica R series, I have never quite understood the criticisms. Perhaps the problem is that they are not rangefinders. In my own experience, using primes on both marques, an R7 beats a Nikon FA and an R8 beats the exalted F6. It's not only down to the lenses as I find the R8 metering more accurate than the allegedly far superior metering of the F6. I was really hoping to see a digital R10 than the S2.

Long live Leica as a niche marque and as a valid but pricey alternative to the mainstream.

Hugh -- interesting that your sample (presumably not representative, but still) is buying so many lenses with their M9s; I would have expected that the M9 buyers would largely be established Leica users, who already had their favorite lenses. Since you know the two in your sample -- are they starting into Leica fresh, as I expect from the numbers? Or are they heavily extending an existing lens collection at the same time they buy their M9s?

Similarly, Jack -- "Leica has sold more M9's than M6's"? Is that total to date (which seems unlikely with the huge head start the M6 got), or this year, or what exactly?

It's not exactly surprising that that market doesn't work quite the way I expect it to, but I want to make sure I understand the actual facts correctly before I replace my preconceptions with them :-).

Well, I'm with the disingenuous brigade: it's not that Lloyd isn't making valid points, it's that none of them warrant the faux outrage aimed at people who primarily don't have the camera (I mean, gee, a sensor upgrade? Yeah, that would be nice... like it would be in any 2 year old digital).

Besides, there are a number of weird factual errors in the open letter that beggar belief (the horribleness of ISO performance at ISO 640 (which isn't true IMO); the inability to save uncompressed 14bpp DNGs (also not true IMO))

When pressed, Lloyd says he defends his findings in a 67 page report... that you have to pay for to read.

The only people who will care about LLoyd's view are people who would potentially buy an M9.

M9 owners either love it or hate it... and I'd say the verdict is generally pretty positive for those who know how to use the camera. And yes, some of us have been calling for improvements to the focus system for years (but not something that would mess up, primarily, the superb optical experience of using an M).

So Lloyd's post would really be a yawn, except for one thing: Leica owners truly want Leica to remain successful.

I want Leica to develop the best M10 it can, and that also requires people consider the M9 as more than an over-priced, underachieving piece of jewellery. As I implied before, most professional owners I know understand the factual basis behind some of LLoyd's comments but still feel Leica got the M9 mostly right.

So when someone like Lloyd "secretly" reviews it via a rant, then calls out Leica in some weird way that can't even be fact-checked without paying Lloyd, well, that's pretty rotten, no?

So the only folks who will then pay for LLoyd's report are people contemplating a purchase, and if they're turned off by someone who apparently doesn't know how to process the files or set the menu settings, well that's really not fair.

And if they only read the rant--I'd love someone to show me a sub-$500 camera with better responsiveness than the m9, please--then they're going to be even more cheated.

I could mention some other things, including but not limited to the fact his blog entry doesn't allow comments, but I think this is enough.

Look: no-one is more fully aware of an M9's shortcomings than those of us who use it.

But I also have no doubt Leica will improve the M line without Lloyd's occasional rants. If he was serious about his concerns, he could have taken them to Leica directly without the virtual shouting from the rooftops... but that won't sell any reports.

"Well, to answer that, all you need to do is compare Leica to Contax, and Bronica, and Minolta, and Rollei".

That does not really answer the question ;) but they did report a strong uptick in earnings last year it appears, which kind of does.

At this point I will bow out of the conversation because much as I would LOVE a tough no-frills manual camera that took M lenses, it would not be an M camera. On the other hand, if they implemented some of Lloyd's suggestions...

Could someone expand on this point:

"He said the lens had excessive vignetting with thin-emulsioned B&W films such as 100 Delta."

Why would vignetting be more pronounced with a thin emulsion film?

David (A very worried user of Delta 100)

You made most of my points already. If you change the M to something that Lloyd has in mind, it won't be an M, anymore. Wondering, does Leica have an obligation to provide me with focus confirmation because my almost 60 year old eyes are shot? I don't really think so. I do remember that I used to focus a Noctilux at f1 at minimum focus distance with a .72 viewfinder and never gave it a thought. The subject's near eye was always in focus and since it was in the pre-web days, I didn't even know I should have any anxiety about it. :) I think I'm only good to f2 now.

If you're having problems, see an eye doctor and get a good pair of "monitor" glasses that are meant for mid range compute monitor viewing. These are great for focusing a Leica at 3 to 6 feet and are accurate enough for longer distances.

Since when did a Leica become a LANDSCAPE camera? Used to be you could put Delta 3200 or Ektar 100 in your Leica and make it any kind of camera you wanted. Come to think of it, you still can. :) I might argue that the M should have a lower resolution sensor as in the Nikon that you could crank up to 12,000 ISO or so, because the Leica's real forte is unobtrusive available light photography.

I'm told that the current M9 is good to ISO 640 and has the resolution of a Canon 24 megapixel DSLR. What exactly are people looking for??? They should be glad that they can still buy a new Leica with new lenses, if they so choose.

The issues raised by comments from lloyd does not bother me at all. I think it is a rangefinder, what do you expect. I really think that his comment is not fair and off the mark.

I am not upgrade from M8 to M9 myself for none of his reason. I have considered it and not to mainly because of the below:

- body 1mm too thick (strange but this factor annoyed me very much even I got the thumb up; my head feel tense and very tired during the year I have the M8)

- not waterproof or at least rain proof

- shutter too noisy (it is very noisy and you just do not like the sound; test 4 M9 for 1 hour and conclude it is way too loud)

- not 1:1 rangefinder (where like the cheap Cosina clone, one can actually open both eye and take photo of the world around you in a small floating windows).

BTW, I black taped the brand of both Pentax 67 and Leica M8.

May I rise to speak on behalf of Defendant Leica:

1.Somehow, I don't seem to have the problems with the camera that Lloyd does. I certainly don't see the "Christmas tree colored spots" in my images that Lloyd does. MY images look good at ISO 1600--amazingly sharp, in fact--so I don't what Lloyd's problem is. The camera is not perfect--but what is?. I've learned to live the M9's imperfections (i.e., iffy framelines in low light), so I don't know why Lloyd can't.

Especially after he's been using it for eighteen months...

2. Lloyd seems to forget that Leica is a unique camera in a world of samey-same, auto-everything products. A Leica forces you to (gasp!) DO THE WORK YOURSELF TO GET THE SHOT, being a minimalist camera--part of its charm, frankly. But if Lloyd had his way, it would be "improved" to the point it would not be much more different than any run of the mill DSLR....

...SO I suggest Lloyd go out and buy himself a Nikon or a Canon, or something...

M10-P, please, with the following changes:

1) Mechanical shutter cocking mechanism operated with a thumb-lever like the film Ms. Remove continuous mode.
2) Better reliability/electronics, make it fully weather-sealed
3) Better battery life (1. helps)
4) 12 megapixel sensor, larger sensor cells, luminance-only black and white option

Thank you!

Tried a Leica M9 a while back, found it to be poor excuse for my needs, and it was broke, would not focus correctly even from a tripod. That aside, good criticisms of "things" are the way most of us learn, we collect data and bang it against what we know/want to know and come to sometimes better conclusions. Knowledge is Power, really. Anyone that maintains you should not pass along knowledge because the prince may be offended is deep into the "Kings New Clothes" mentality, feel sorry for these people and keep on trying to learn facts, not fables.


5) Limited edition "landscape/studio" model with 60MP sensor and attachable 160ppi 10in display, double the price of the regular model, so Reichmanns' and Chambers' can use it for medium format landscape/ studio photography and help finance the street photographers.

Hey Mike,

Know of any workshops for Luddites looking for a darkroom anachronism such as me? I could show the Leica M film users how we used to brew our own high acutance film developers to get the most from a tripod mounted Leica M and a 50mm Summicron stopped down to optimum aperture:)

David G.,
There's no reason to worry--just look. If your pictures have vignetting, AND you don't like it, then you might have a problem. (Both those things have to pertain--some people like vignetting.) If they don't, then there's no cause to worry.

In photographs--technically at least--only what you can see counts.


I'm not really worried. I'm just curious about the technical explanation for why this would be. But, if it is something new to obsess about, why not? (SA)


One of the things about Leica that I find interesting is their legacy. Now defining that legacy is complicated. But for me it has nothing to do with 'build quality' or great lenses, and certainly not with high cost.

For me the best thing about a Leica's legacy is simply the photographers who chose to work with them. Their names are obvious and they have been synonymous with reportage. The stories that photographers have chosen to tell with a Leica are for me the most interesting thing. When I was practicing street photography I was inspired by Garry Winogrand, and I hit the street with a Bessa-L and a 21mm Color Skopar. The pictures I made with that combination (and Tri-X/Rodinal) were some of my favorites!

So I might be somewhat idealistic when I say that Leica should be most interested in facilitating people who will tell the best photographic stories with their cameras, but on the other hand, their legacy is defined not by their purchase price, but by their impact on photography at large.

How long can they sustain their hold on the luxury market? What happens when some other brand comes along and takes the "best" crown away from them?

I personally find it sad that they've taken the road they have. I don't have a problem with a 50mm Summilux being expensive. But at the current price it's not expensive, it's insane. There will be no more interesting photographic stories told with Leica cameras and lenses at this stage. What working artist would bother? If I was interested in quality and had the money to burn I'd buy a Phase one/Mamiya or a Pentax 645D, which are far more interesting cameras than even the S2.

Being of modest means I now make due with a Fuji X100 and a Pentax K5. Lucky for me when I want to shoot rangefinder I have a Contax G1 and a Bessa R4a.

Some day I'd love to own a Leica camera. But objectively I have to admit that owning one "did[does] not admit of discrimination whereby the love of display, the superiority purchasable by money, or the essential comfort of the individual could be expressed." -Quote from a classic article on the history of cycling, taken from Bike Snob by BikesnobNYC.

Leica is obviously (today) a very successful company. They are making record profits and paying out dividends. They are indeed making some truly beautiful pieces of design. However they are not facilitating photography as an art form. Thank goodness for Fujifilm, they at least provided us with the X100.

Making any comment about Leica is opening a can of worms.
Firstly let me state I am a long term Leica user not fanatic.
50 years ago the M2 and M3 frames were wonderful but in the days of ultra bright DSLRs, X100, PEN EVF they are poor.
There has been much written far more elequently than I could for and against but I would like to make a minor point...
5000 UK pounds and no dioptre correction without paying more money out and there are probably more collectors/investors than users these days.
By the way I still have one but would not buy another.

The funny thing is, that back in 1925, or in 1950's, Leica did come up with MODERN cameras. Cameras, which could give a photographer opportunities one just could not have before. Nowadays, it produces something completely opposite and that's a pity.

Hello to all,

People talks of noise as digital "grain". That is not the problem. The problem of noise is the loss in color gamut, tonal detail, resolution and the so-called dynamic range. You cannot repair those effects of "noise" (losses) by means of software.

The M9 sensor is very similar to the M8, except for the size (and color and IR filters; 6,8 microns pixels). The sensor of the S2 belongs to a new generation (and 6 microns pixels). The A/D converter in the M9 seems to be different to that of the M8. The processors are similar (generic DSPs), but there are two in the M9 instead of just one in the M8. The only possible improvement in "noise" in the short term has to come from a new sensor, and the more likely solution is a new CCD sensor from Kodak of the same generation and technology of the S2 sensor. The lower resolution of the M cameras would allow for a more precise (but slow) and noiseless process of extraction of the signal from the sensor. The S2 camera is able to operate in a slow mode with less noise (but I don't know if Leica has implemented this possibility). The secret is in changing the way in which the 4 channels of signal extraction operate. The M9 sensor only has 2 channels of signal extraction.

The LCD screen is not good (2,5 inches and 230,000 dots), but the body constrains the maximum possible size of any screen, and there are not LCD screens of that size with higher resolution in the market. Anyway, a larger or higher resolution screen would require larger previews for reviewing, and this asks for a faster or more powerful processor. One more time, the S2 camera is a good reference here, with its Maestro processor (small, low consumption, very powerful).

A more radical change would imply a CMOS sensor, but there are no precedents of any 24x36mm sensor working in a body so small. Live view would make things even more complicated, due to power consumption and heat dissipation. There is another problem with a CMOS based design, leaving aside the need for supplier, and it is the angle of incidence of the light rays at the borders and corners of the sensor. Full frame transfer CCD are very thin, and the CCD of the M9 is even thinner thanks to special filters. However, CMOS sensors have a layer of circuits between the filters and the silicon substrate. I mean the pixels' wells are deeper! Back-illuminated CMOS sensors place the circuits at the bottom of the structure, just below the silicon substrate, but there are not back-illuminated CMOSes so large.

So, I agree with many of Lloyd Chambers' critiques, but we should complete the valuation placing all the elements in context.

Lets see what is going on in the months (or days) to come.


"I think the only reason that Leica makes the M9 is so that people will have a reason to buy the lenses."

Can't be true, since Leica is not shipping any lenses. If you follow the link in Mr. Chambers article, it shows that the only Leica M lens that B&H has in stock is the 75mm Summarit. Adorama has the 75mm, and at least one 24mm.

Astonishing! The two biggest photo retailers in the US have essentially no Leica lenses.

If that were the case with any of the large Japanese manufacturers, there would be rumors about their imminent demise.

Hard to imagine what's going on. As far as I know, there wasn't an earthquake in Germany.

"Can't be true, since Leica is not shipping any lenses."
Well it means that they are selling them faster than they can make them, which is a good thing for them. They might be shipping to other countries, or just not quite shipping enough to satisfy demand. Nobody makes any money on lenses sitting in inventory.

Porsche, another idiosyncratic german company always says that they want to consistently ship a few less cars than there is demand for in order to keep prices up.

"Nobody makes any money on lenses sitting in inventory."

Well, of course that's true, but you can't make money on lenses that are not available for order, either. B&H lists 22 M lenses. Of those, 1 is in stock, and 8 are available for order, with a 7 to 14 day delivery time.

The rest are "temporarily unavailable", backordered with no projected delivery date, and can't even be pre-ordered. Oddly, this includes all of the bread-and-butter 35s and 50s. (Except the Summarits.)

Just seems a little strange, is all.

This is a picture of the M9-P:


Well, it is a limited edition based on the soon to be announced M9-P. Look at the details: no Leica logo, no "M9" engraving on the front, "Leica" engraving on the top...

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