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Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Leica. Looks sexier and, both being relatively modern cameras, I can be sure they'll meet every single technical requirement I might have (and then some), so rather than SNR ratings at ISO settings I'll never use I may as well choose on aesthetics.

Oh, and cost of future lenses? two words: Cosina-Voigtländer. Oh yes. In fact, I'd likely send a purchase order for the 40mm Nokton as soon as I unwrapped my shiny new Leica, because even as an unresellable gift, a $7k piece of glass is a $7k piece of glass.

The Leica. I already have the lenses, and I can use the ASPH Cron on my M3s when I want to shoot super-sharp B&W!

In the same way that a Pigeon grade shotgun appeals, O/U, or S/S, though I don't shoot any more, it would have to be the Leica, just because. I already own very practical cameras, work horses for what I want to do; interesting to have a thoroughbred in the house.

The Sony, for sure. I like automation, and everything that I have read and seen suggests that the output is superior to the Leica's. Also, the A7R can use about a zillion different lenses with adapters in addition to a growing number of excellent native lenses.

For me the Sony is the choice. I had 2 Ms back in the film days, an M2R and an M5. Wonderful cameras and wonderful lenses. But I love Zeiss glass and the Zeiss look. So clear and such lovely color. That is, of course, to my eye.


Leica M digital full frame all the way. Already have the lenses to go with it so it would be a sweet little baby. Although if the Sony was under the tree I wouldn't complain.

I started with a Voightlander RF camera many years ago and have used SLR/DSLR's ever since. I'd take the Leica simply to have a first class RF type camera once again. When I couldn't afford a Leica, I wanted one; now I wouldn't buy one simply because I don't think that the incremental cost versus any other camera would be worth it. But as a freebie, bring it on!

At first I think, leica, but then upon further contemplation, I would use the Sony and the leica would gather dust. Just because of the way I photograph. So the Sony it should be!

As much as I would love a Leica, I must admit that the Sony A7r would be a better fit for me right now. I would admire the Leica, I would use the Sony. Use wins.

The Leica. I'm an RF guy, so for me it's a really a no-brainier.

And to those who wouldn't take the leica because they couldn't afford more lenses, well at least the lenses exist ;) Don't expect Sony to make what you're looking for before they head off in another direction.

I'd get the Leica for irrational emotional reasons. It'd be the only chance I'd ever have at getting one. If I got the Sony, a camera I could and would consider buying myself, I'd always regret not getting the Leica just because it is a Leica.

Emotional and irrational, because the Sony has features which fit me much better and would be far be a better camera for me.

I'll take the Leica and have it converted to film. Then I won't have to buy an M4 in January, as I plan to.

Well, without a doubt the Sony. I wrote this even before the featured comments appeared. I am far too dependent on autofocus, and I would only give it up for a substantial discount in price. Er...which I suppose a free camera would be. Maybe I'll have to think this over again.

In any case, the 55/1.8 focal length is really nice for what I'd like to use FF for, albeit it's no 35/1.4. I do like my soft backgrounds and shallow depth of field at a distance. I have been thinking of getting an inexpensive, discontinued NEX solely for the purpose of mounting a legacy 55 or 58 on a focal reducer, for just that reason.



I should perhaps qualify my choice of Leica M, now that I have decided why I chose one instinctively.

The Sony will almost certainly be obsolete in 2 years, when the next Sony comes out. At this point it will be just another used camera and the shine will undoubtedly have worn off. That's what happens with consumer products - even the expensive ones.

The Leica is already obsolete. It's obsolescence is however no hindrance because one doesn't buy a Leica as a technical choice or consumer choice. You buy one for the joy of using a supremely well made, simple and un-obstructive camera that is in effect timeless and which will probably last for a very long time (and hold it's value).

Sure, I won't use it much but when I do it will be for the sheer joy of handling one and the unique images it produces. Not because it does well on DXO (it doesn't) or because it's a status symbol (it is, but I don't care) but simply because it's the only real "raw" and direct photography experience you can get with digital.

Though I would perhaps prefer the Monochrom.

I would choose the M for two reasons: I like the rangefinder. The Sony has a very good video display in finder, better than the XPro-1 I own, but I like seeing through the window. But the killer for the Sony is the noise. I handled one in a store recently and its shutter noise is like a rifle going off. Twice. One super loud bang followed by a slightly less loud bang. Otherwise the Sony seemed wonderful. Its design reminds me of the look and feel of old Sony high-end audio equipment. Solid and functional. But this camera's shutter noise is nuts. It's as if the designers wanted it that way. Maybe "we aren't making it huge in the hands like a DSLR so we gotta impress people with something!"

No brainer for me - the Sony.

Why? EVF, AF, plugs into a far far far larger 'system' (acknowledging that right now 'native' lens choice extremely limited). But a few other things less easy to define - perhaps even heretical.

Whilst in my late 40's I came to photography very late and describe myself as a digital native. What many see as vital to photographic experience (lots of knobs and levers etc) I dont value while things like menu flexibility, NFC and wifi connectivity are really important to me. So in that context I find the sony interface and handling far superior to that offered by the Leica.

Seriously? APO-Summicron! No contest.

Body, schmoddy. I don't expect to love the M in the way I love the M2 or M3 but I'm sure I'd tolerate it just fine. (Er, can that be an M Monochrom, please?) Same goes for the A7r though. Yes, I hear the Sonnar kicks ass, and perhaps I'd end up using the Summicron on a A7r eventually, but in this particular scenario I can't pass up what may be the finest 50mm lens ever, especially as it's priced beyond my dreams.

Given that you've left a loophole I'll take either and do a trade-in for yet more Fuji gear.

A no brainer. It would be the Leica. Nothing can replace an optical viewfinder.
Of course, being as fond of my OM 50mm-f/1.4 as I am, I'd rather have the Summilux-M 50mm-f/1.4, but given the impossibility of swapping it, the Summicron would have to do. (I can think of a thousand things in life worse than being one f-stop short, though...)

Which choice keeps the cat alive?

I would take the Leica. I've done nearly all my time on cameras where I see the world through the taking lens and things would, I suppose, look different through the brightlined, always in focus viewfinder of the Leica.

It's a long time since I used a 50mm or equivalent prime lens, so that would be interesting too. Yes, I know the Sony would come with a similar field of view, but it's the different view of the world that would make the difference.

Sony/Zeiss, doing your own focusing is so 1999

If I woke up on Christmas, and found a box for me under the Christmas Tree, I would call the police and then the doctor, wondering how someone could have broken into my one room apartment, walked right by my bed, and put up Christmas decorations and then left me a present, without me waking up...

The Leica, no question. For capturing candid, spontaneous images of people, it's the tool for me. Could I get the monochrome version if I win this fantasy?

While I know the Sony is more practical, the chance to shoot with that APO 50 cron is just too tempting to pass up. Besides, I am tired of buttons and wheels instead of aperture rings and shutter speed dials :-)

The Leica M, because that's what my wife would tell me to choose.

The Leica. Its a more mature camera and system.

Image Quality is better overall with a larger amount of compact rangefinder lenses. Not to mention you can use whatever adapters you want and use the evf as well. I consider the a7r a manual focus camera as well, since it doesn't seem to AF very well in dim or backlit situations, and thus I'd take rangefinder manual focus with an evf option over only an evf any day.

I will be a sad puppy. I don't really want either one.

I have great historical fondness for Leica, I had an M3 from about 1973 to 1979, with 35, 50, and 90mm Summicron lenses. For the time it was a wonderful camera for me, essentially perfect. But it's not 1979 any more, my eyes are 30+ years older, my subjects don't seem to have slowed down any, and I need autofocus. And I don't have existing lenses for it, I'd have to buy at least two more.

And the Sony, well, I'm still holding a grudge over the rootkits on CDs, and they're too much of a cult for me to be comfortable with (not quite as bad as Apple, but pretty bad).

Which would produce better pictures for me? I haven't the faintest clue.

So, if faced with the actual proposition in the real world, I'd make some random spur-of-the-moment decision somehow. Probably having much more to do with the toy value than with utility as a photographic tool.

Another thing to consider is that the half-life of digital camera bodies is about 5 minutes 3 years. Either of these, if I built around it and planned to really use it, would be getting on a treadmill I probably couldn't afford.

I will take the Leica if you please. I just can't imagine photography without a real viewfinder. I know the A7r is a wonderful camera but I can't see myself ever printing large enough. And if I do I'll be moving to digital MF.

I'd go with the Leica, for an optical finder with which I can achieve systematically perfect focus and get amazing IQ wide open. (I'd proverbially glue the aperture ring at f/2.) That'd flip my photography 180°.

Speaking of which... Why, oh why, have they taken our split screens from us? I'd be focusing manually at wide apertures with confidence, something I simply cannot do today...

To be absolutely honest I would be delighted with either. I've used view cameras, TLRs, SLRs, rangefinders and cameras with justan LCD screen and I've found I can quiet easily. As long as I could use it to take good photos I would be happy.

I so want off the high-priced Leica train…

My 21 blows on the a7r. In fact, after playing with the lovely Sony 35 on the a7r, I have little interest in non-native lenses on the camera. And with no native Zeiss 18 or 21, I can't use the camera.

So please put the Leica M under my tree. That lovely 50 (you won't let me sell) will spend some quality time on the shelf, and my 21 will have a great new home.

The Leica, even though I've refused to buy one. I haven't liked its color as well as M9, and in terms of high ISO, it's almost obsolescent. But because M lenses aren't working out as well as hoped on the A7r, I'd just have to swallow my pride and accept the Leica M.

The versatile little Sony.

The Leica outfit, of course, because during the times when it is idle, it will look nice sitting on a shelf.

Santa, may I please have the A7r with the 50 Cron APO. PLeez.

My 60 year old eyes need the assist of auto focus. I detest electronic viewfinders. So happily I'll be content with my Fuji x pro 1 and two lenses and vote neither.

I care about photography.

I care a lot less about equipment, except from a workman's perspective: lenses and cameras as tools, as implements.

So, which camera provides the more versatile platform?

Which is the system that I can adapt more easily to the task at hand?

Currently, beyond any doubt: Sony A7R.

With, for starters, the Zeiss FE lens (which hopefully will outlast the A7R when the latter plunges, as all current cameras do, into digital oblivion).

Plus, a Sony A7R may not always get you mugged during night shots in Barcelona. A Leica M + 'Cron surely will (kudos to the status-conscious and gear-savvy dacoits).

Sony, I've tried to love Leica. I even had an M8. Now I have a bunch of adapted R lenses but I just can't come to like the M itself.

Leica please. Sony EVF autofocus good. Leica OVF rangefinder better. IQ of both is better than I am ever likely to need.

The Sony. I have been a photographer for 40 years and have never been able to understand the appeal of rangefinders. When the Fuji X Pro 1 came out I thought "What great idea to add an EVF." Then the XE 1 & 2 came out and I thought "What a great idea to get rid of the OVF!" As my eyesight has deteriorated I have found that the current crop of improved EVFs has made it easier to focus than any OVF. And now the tests are showing that the A7r is capable of IQ every bit as good and sometimes better than the Leica. For me, it's a no brainer.

Mike replies: "Funny how few people have mentioned image quality."

My thesis: we are _there_ in terms of IQ. At least for what most folks want to do. It has ceased to be a criterion when choosing between models. Actually, for myself I was there at the Nikon D3 a couple of years ago -- all IQ gains after that have been gravy (and more or less unnoticed by me).

I would go with the Leica. And just shoot with the one lens.

For me, it would be the Leica. I would love the opportunity to get to know Leica's strengths and weaknesses first hand. I've always wanted to try using one.

I have a Leica M4 and an M6 film cameras, I would love to have a digital M but I can't. The Summicrons, Summiluxes and Elmarits are magical. Is not a matter of resolution, is the whole magical image rendering of those lenses. The closest to me are the best FT, MFT Zuikos, and because my finance is limited, those I'm shooting now. So my first choice would be a last generation digital Leica M with the APO 50 f2.0. My second choice, no, not a Sony A7r, an Olympus EM1.

I will never sell my soul to a Sony. The cameras are quite good, but the magical lenses, mmmm, to me they lack.

Here some samples of a 1962 50mm f2 summicron on my leica M4




Someone, who will remain nameless (but who runs a popular photography blog), once told me to never sell a Leica so now I have a nice M6 paperweight. I don't need another one. Rangefinders are not for me so definitely the Sony.

Maybe you picked the wrong Leica. If you instead you chose the S or the Monochrom, I'd have to pick the Leica. The S because it appeals to me in many ways but I will never own one or the Monochrom because I've always wanted to have a b&w only RAW shooting digital camera that doesn't let me second guess if my photographs would be better in color and it's the only game in town. I'd put up with a rangefinder for that.

I've had a couple of Leicas and a lot of Leica lenses, and after working with them for a half-dozen years went back to Nikons because I was simply losing too many shots to the antiquated focusing mechanism. (I had one truly horrible experience with them which I regret to this day.) The Sony is a no brainer for me. Some people might be able to perform well with a Leica, but not me.

Nobody wants to try to split the hypothetical baby and take the A7R with the Apo-Summicron? Ok -- I will! The Apo would give that sensor all it could handle. I am sure this combo would give me the best pictures of the batch; I typically photograph "objects at rest" and I don't see how the Leica M would be more sensible for that mission.

In fairness, image quality never really entered into the equation as cameras have gotten so insanely good that it's really a debate on controls, size, and what colors it comes in. I mean, a D3200 is a crazy, amazing, astounding camera. And most of us would not even looks at one twice - because it's only really really good, and we can get better.

Image quality didn't get mentioned for a reason Michael Reichmann figured out years ago - no one can tell the difference. He set out large prints from a Canon G10 beside prints from....dang! I can't remember...some medium format back. No one could tell the difference. That's a comparison between a teeny sensor and a much, much, much bigger sensor. So, is anyone really going to be able to tell the difference between one "full-frame" sensor and another "full-frame" sensor? Not likely.

Not to mention, "full-frame" compared to what? 35mm? How 'bout 6x6? Not to mention 4x5, 8x10.......

The Leica would (probably) feel better, mechanically, than the Sony, but that's it. And, yes, mechanical aesthetics are wonderful, if you've got the spare cash. Otherwise.....

The Leica, because it's something I'd like, but would never buy for myself.

Sony. Having had Leica M2/M4/M5/CL I would be sorry to find the new breed didn't take me back to my halcyon days. I'd go for the new experience.

So, when I was a kid, sometimes when my brother or I would tease, annoy or just generally get under my father's skin he would raise both hands, make fists and say,

"Hospital or death... pick a fist!"

This is how I feel about this question. The lesser of two evils is the Leica. I prefer a trip to the hospital.

I'd take the Leica. Then I'd destroy it in some creative fashion. I'd use the footage to promote my website.

The Sony of course !

Leica. No doubt. (Well, I have a film Leica already, and figure its best to build on a system I already have)

I have to chip in with my request for an A7r, thanks, Santa.

The leica to go with my M3 and M9. Just to add that sensible people put Zeiss glass I their Leicas anyway so the cost of additional lenses ought not figure (batteries though: ouch).

The leica without any hesitation!

Neither. For my style of photography, a RF + manual focus is not particularly useful, and neither is a 36MP with a tiny choice of lenses.

However, seeing as you're asking, I'll take the Leica package, sell it (can I be dishonest in a Thought Experiment?) and buy an Olympus EM-1 + ZD 12-40/2.8 PRO . In a couple years time I'll have another look at the Sony A situation.

I always wanted to be a "Leica Man" ;-)

The Sony for me. I already have an M3, old Cron, and a plenty of film. Having an "improved version" wouldn't enhance my experience of the of taking pictures as a hobbyist. I'm not sure if I'd use the Sony, but if they came out with a pancake lens it would be a pretty cool travel camera.

With a 35? Neither. I'll stick with what I have. With a 50? Either. I have an M9 and an A7 and get great enjoyment from both.

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.


Put them on the scales. I'll take the lightest...

The one with the Zeiss lens, please.

The A7r please. I've used the same/similar sensor in the D800 and love what I can get out of it. Why wouldn't I want that capability in a tiny camera with a great Zeiss lens up front? The decision is easy, I'll go for the cheaper, more capable in most respects, Sony. Thanks for the present!

M for sure. I'm unfortunately a Leica shooter and basically the output is good enough.


Leica, in a heartbeat. Love the Zeiss optics, but the Sony body is like a Computer with sensor, and Leica body is like Camera with sensor, if you know what I mean.

And one day I would quietly trade the M to the M9. Same style, no one would notice :D I just like the old sensor rendering more.

Leica M -- First because it would enable me to do my year of Leica with one lens only.

Secondly, because I like rangefinders (even if I don't use them as much as I could) and the type of photography I do is suited to the design.

Thirdly, because the lens works equally well on a film M, which I plan to acquire (again) at some point.

Finally (and I know this is pecuniary,) because if I decide to sell the kit, it will retain more value than a Sony. I do admit that the Zeiss glass is attractive, though. In fact, I am soon to go to my optometrist to collect new spectacle lenses made with the Zeiss ZiX system of measurement and manufacture. Woot!

Neither. I got myself a D800 and an OM-D E-M5 this year. So, I'm covered for cameras and image quality. Might could use a couple of particular lenses and accessories, but even then I'm making due there as well. What I really need is the time to get out to use them.

So, Santa, what I want for Christmas is six months paid to go out and shoot whatever I want.

No contest or question: Sony/Zeiss

I'd choose the Leica, not because it costs more, but because the Sony camera has only just been released.

As a rule I do not want to be the company's beta+ tester, which I think early adopters of any new product become.

Plus, c'mon it's a Leica - 'nuff said ;-)

I'll take the Leica, use it for few months, maybe even a year ;)
Then sell it, buy an A8 or whatever Sony comes with next

I have tried both, the M9 is convincing and unaffordable. The A7 or A7r are affordable but the EVF don't convince me (as in the X-E2).

I don't understand why people want to have an electronically mediated vision of reality instead of looking at it through glass: still mediated, but much more adherent and rich of details.

The performance of Sony with wide angle lenses is also questionable.

Yes, I could live with a 50mm for the rest of my life... and a 35/2.5 Summarit isn't outrageously expensive as well :-)

Josef, No need to agonize about the cost of modern Leica glass! The Cosina Voigtlander lenses are really excellent and easily affordable. And I do have some recent Leica lenses to compare them with.

You're making an assumption that we'll actually use the camera. Sure, for a couple of shots. Then we'll sell it and get what we really wanted ;~). Thus, the only answer is the Leica, because we can get more for it used.

I would pick the Leica, no contest. I can't bring myself to get excited about a system camera with no optical viewfinder. As a bonus, if I ever ran into Audrey Tautou I would have something to talk to her about.

The Leica and that new 50 Summicron would satisfy most of my needs and give me the manageable high quality files I need. Future A7R lenses will also have to be expensively made if they are to satisfy the capability of its 36MP sensor.
I'll take the Leica: Good camera size, good file size, great image quality, great available new and used lens assortment.

Santa is a generous hard working man and for this reason we must be happy with his choices!!!

Marry Xmas to all!!!

I would choose the Leica and the 50mm APO-Summicron ASPH because it's harder to justify the expense using "own money," and if there's one camera and one lens that I'd be ok with using for a long time, those would be near the top of my list.

Everyone seems to forget the beautiful and very affordable Voigtländer in M-mount!

[Um...what Voigtländer in M-mount? Are you talking about lenses? --Mike]

The Leica.

As a college student without enough money to buy any camera or really knowing what different cameras cost, I passed by the Leica in-house mag in the college library and fell in love with the pictures. They were somehow different and, to me, very beautiful. I now own an old M8 and a couple of very old M lenses and am very happy with the colors (and the black and whites) they produce. So give me a new one.

Steve Snyder says "Sony A7R! Can't stand manual focus!" but I say Sony A7R! Can't stand auto-focus!

So, could I please have the Sony A7r body and the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm ƒ/2 ASPH lens?

On the other hand if it were the Leica M Monochrom , well I think I could go for that

( I see the letter E got its own camera )

Leica, with no hesitation. I do tolerate (even like) the EVF in my NEX7, but the OVF in my M6 makes it the best candids shooting tool I've ever owned. This is the only way I'd ever be able to get a digital M mount body!

I'd like a Leica! For the excellent implementation of the rangefinder experience, as well as the rumoured build quaility, optics and IQ!

I would take either, use it for a week, then generously give it to Mike for all his hard work and my acquisition of knowledge throughout the year

[I approve of the way you think Sir. [s] --Mike]

The Leica please. The Sony A7r and its future development will accelerate the demise of the digital M, so I'd like to give it a whirl before it fades into the sunset.

The Leica of course. Mainly because it is a more expensive camera that I'd never buy myself. Though I'd never be able to afford Leica glass for it, I'd certainly be able to rationalize some Zeiss M mount lenses.

I would choose the Leica, mainly because it's almost button-free.

I want the simplest camera in the world, with controls for shutter speed, aperture and iso. I can live without pretty much everything else.

Image quality means nothing if you're not comfortable enough to shoot frequently.

In all fairness, I find it impossible to choose without having used both cameras for two weeks to get a feel for the ergonomics. The image quality is sufficient with both, so that's not an issue.

Since the rules say we have to keep it forever, then the Leica. The body would most probably remain functioning (& repairable) for far longer than the Sony (the lens most likely the same, since it is mechanical). Once dead, it would make a far more attractive paper weight too (& I can stick the lens on my M6, which I think will never die).

Oh yeah, and I am a rangefinder kind of guy.

Peace & Love.

Leica. Because I still miss my old Mercedes five years after having sold it.

In my current mood: neither. I'm sick of gear lust and want to be done with it all. I just wish I took more photos and had a photographic goal and an artistic community around me to work with, to try and impress, and to be inspired by. These are the important things. I have a nex 3N (plus various film cameras) and I know enough about photography to know that lack of the 'right' gear is not my problem.
If I were in a better mood I'd probably say the Leica, as I've never owned one and it might be close to the kind of 'pure but digital' experience that nikon promised with the df.
Thanks for your blog by the way Mike. Keep it up, I appreciate it.

i would definitely choose the sony, but can't i mix and match the lens camera combo? i'd get the a7r with leica 50mm summicron AA. i hate AF lenses, but i hate looking through a rangefinder even more.

i'd love to have that cron (the lux asph even more – the cron looks a bit too perfect for my taste), but i have no desire to shoot an m camera.

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