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Why not a Leica M9

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by ajramirez, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. ajramirez

    ajramirez Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 16, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Since purchasing the Lumix 20mm and 45mm lenses to use on my E-P1, I have rediscovered the joy of photography with light and fast prime lenses, as opposed to zooms. My Canon EOS system has seen virtually no use in the last few months.

    I went through a similar process in my film shooting days. I had a Canon system, but upon purchasing a Contax G system, the Canon saw very little use. I loved the Contax G, but it is now long gone due to my switch to digital.

    Given the above, and setting aside the cost for the time being, would it make sense to buy a Leica M9 with maybe 35mm and 90mm lenses?

    I am sure several forum members own Leica systems, film or digital. To those of you who own film, but not digital, Leicas, why did you choose m4/3 over the M9 or M8?

    Those of you who have an M8 or M9 and m4/3 systems, how well do the systems complement each other? Am I likely to see a significant IQ advantage to the M9 as opposed to my E-P1?


    • Like Like x 1
  2. Vidar

    Vidar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2009
    Bergen, Norway
    I own a Leica M2..

    I can NEVER afford the M9 (or the M8 , and definetly not the Leica glass)., or justify paying the price for it

    The M9 with its big sensor sure looks like a great camera, but I am content with my E-P1, my pictures would not magicaly get better if I got the M9..

    Or would they?
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    I bought an M8 in January, the price for a lightly used 3-month old camera with a warranty was 1/3rd the price of a new M9. So I wanted to see how much I would like it. I do like it, and an M9 will be in the future for me.

    For the M8: I picked up used IR filters for a fraction of their original cost. i use mostly vintage glass on the M8.

    Lots of albums with the M8 and vintage glass here:

    Zeiss User Forums - Brian's Albums

    I have had the EP2 for a month. It produces beautiful images, and works with my vintage glass. The EVF is amazing. Size is nice. The crop factor of 2x does change the behavior of the lens, the 1.3x crop of the M8 is "close-enough" to what I am used to in film cameras. I'm waiting for a C-Mount adapter, have an M-Mount, and have used it with LTM lenses as well.

    If you do not mind the $7K entry price for the M9, go for it. If you want to find out if you like an DRF, get an M8. $2K gets a user, a few $ more gets one that is lightly used.
    • Like Like x 3
  4. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    I would like an M8 - simple as that - it's a Leica

    I can afford one - maybe one day I will not feel guilty about the price and buy one

    to date, even though I can afford one, I would not feel comfortable with spending that amount of money on ONE body - BUT if you add up the cost of the equipment that I currently have, it probably exceeds the cost of a M8 and a good new Leica lens - I should spend my time taking photographs rather than learning how to use my EP_1, G1, D300, Powershot etc., etc. - you bet I should - but the advertising guys always get you in the end - common sense is a rare commodity amongst us "humans"
    • Like Like x 3
  5. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    For me it's a matter of "don't buy something you can't afford to lose", and frankly the GH1 is at the edges of that for me right now. I'd have to earn a crapload (10x) more money in order to say the same thing about casually running around with $10,000 worth of photo gear (that's just the camera and the lens) in a Leica M9 system. My "luxury" camera will either be a GH2 or a 5D2 (or both if I sell my GH1 to help pay for the GH2), and I'll eventually get an M3 to get the Leica experience with come cheap CV lenses.

    So I think you simply can't set cost aside in making the comparison because if cost weren't an issue I'm guessing most of us would have a Leica M9 with the latest Leica lenses. Cost IS the issue!
    • Like Like x 4
  6. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    I went with the M8 on first issue...I had 2 bodies and both failed within a month. Leica replaced them and after a few months I decided to dump them as I felt that Leica wasn't meant to be in the digital world...YET!
    The M9......possibly but not yet...the Pens do it for me.
    I have used Leica M's for over 40+ years for everything imaginable and miss them all dearly...
    But alas......where's Walker at...hmmmm
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    I would have a Leica M9, but not any of the current lenses. I prefer my "classic" lenses for their "look". My M8 spends most of its time with a 1937 Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm F1.5 converted to LTM or a 1953 Jupiter-3 5cm F1.5 on it.

    Sometimes- a CZJ 5cm F2 Sonnar "T", converted to LTM...

    • Like Like x 6
  8. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    I almost decided to keep the M8's but that filter thing on the lens.....no way!
    How does Leica expect anyone to put a $89.00 filter on a $3000.00+ lens.....

    So, I agree with you, the older glass is better. I loved my Jupiter J8 50 on it....
    but then again...it's sweeter on the Pens....
    • Like Like x 2
  9. mabelsound

    mabelsound Guest

    I got my M8 at the same time as Brian and also usually have a Zeiss Sonnar on it as well, or the Canon 50/1.4. It's my main camera, with the E-P2 for when I need autofocus or stabilization. I don't like the M8 in artificial light, I have come to discover, and use the oly for indoor work usually...M8 is for outside or black and white.

    These two cameras have really put a dent in my film usage. I love 'em.
  10. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    With the M9 out- IR filters have dropped a lot. I use a 52mm "Hot Mirror" filter on my Nikkor 10.5cm F2.5 that was $10, NOS. Picked up a 49mm IR cut filter from Popflash for $5.
  11. landshark

    landshark Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 27, 2010
    SO CAL
    I think I will stay out of the M9 discussion this time:wink:
  12. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Me 2
  13. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2010

    I have an M9 in addition to m4/3. To answer the second part of your question first, yes you will see a significant IQ advantage. The M9 is easily the best image quality I have ever produced on a digital camera. The files are jaw dropping in terms of sharpness, colour and contrast. I sold a Nikon D3X to buy the Leica & if I interpolate an M9 file to the same size as a D3X file, the M9 file is sharper. The lack of an AA filter does make a difference & with the M9 Leica have "got it right" The M8 didn't quite "get it right" with the IR problems and some occasional strange colour shifts.

    Dealing with the first part of your question and the original premise is a little more complex. I use m4/3 extensively & will continue to do so. There are three obvious reasons - The need for autofocus, the ability to shoot video and the possibility of using zoom lenses. None are possible with an M9. Also the M9 is a "hoover" as far as dust spots go. Its easily the worst camera I've ever used for this. m4/3 is excellent in this regard. If I know that I'm going to be shooting with a lot of clear sky in the picture then the thought of the time taken removing endless dust spots is uninviting to say the least.

    I am also reluctant to take the M9 into what might be called "difficult terrain" There are waterproofing issues (lack of!!) with Leica digital cameras & I make sure that I don't take any chances with mine. I also don't use it in any situation where I might get knocked or jostled. Its an unfortunate consequence that I tend to be so protective of a camera that cost me an awful lot of money. I did think long and hard about buying it for that very reason & was concerned that I would almost be "scared" to use it in certain situations. To a certain extent that is the case, particularly as I managed to drop my M8, and destroyed the screen. Though this was repaired and replaced by Leica free under the passport scheme, it constantly reminds me that these cameras are far from indestructible.

    m4/3 also gives me certain advantages because of the size of the sensor and the size/weight. I'm a full-time photographer. I shoot some commercial/advertising/event work for which I use Canon DSLR's but the bulk of my income comes from shooting travel and landscape for picture libraries. Much of this requires low ISO, good weather and maximum depth of field. A lot of my work involves walking substantial distances and the Leica, though small, is not as light as m4/3. A GF1 plus 20mm f1.7 and 45mm f2.8 is a wonderfully light option. Because of the 2x crop I also get the advantage of being able to use wider apertures than I would with the full-frame Leica with the consequent increase in shutter speeds. Since I work hand held this helps enormously. Some see disadvantages in the fact that it is often difficult to get selective focus with m4/3, however for me this is an advantage, since I usually want the most DOF that I can get.

    I also get enormous enjoyment out of using m4/3. It was a system that I had longed for. Carting DSLR's and heavy lenses around for years has left me with a back that is prone to painful spasms. My consumption of pain killers has certainly diminished using m4/3!! They are also unobtrusive cameras. No-one takes any notice of me using them, unlike the big Nikons or Canons which seem to attract a lot of attention. Having said that the Leica goes almost completely unnoticed. Its only really photographers who know what they are. Most people just give me a "Poor soul, he's using his grandads camera" look.

    For me the two systems complement each other. I have recently returned to using m4/3 a lot after a spell with the Samsung NX10. Though an excellent system the somewhat bulky zooms for the NX10 tend to take away the advantages of the light body. Though still a lighter and smaller system than the majority of DSLR's, it doesn't have the compactness of m4/3.

    The M9 is a fabulous camera, and produces fabulous results, but m4/3 more than holds it own. I sell just as many pictures taken on my GH1 as I do pictures taken on the M9. So long as people are kind enough to buy my pictures in quantities that allow me to keep both systems, I will continue to do so.
    • Like Like x 18
  14. ajramirez

    ajramirez Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 16, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Thank you all for your insightful and considered responses. You have given me much to think about.


  15. jesse

    jesse Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 16, 2009
    Hong Kong
    M9 is a bit overpriced in my country, always lack of stock, price rise a lot so I could not afford to buy one :( 
    M8 is good for me now.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 6
  16. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    Someday I will custom Convert a Zeiss Opton Sonnar to M-Mount. It is a fantastic lens. The proportions of the optics module prevents it from fitting into a J-3 and Summarit focus mount.

    I use it with an Amedeo adpater, like Jesse's. I also custom-shimmed a Nikon S2 to focus properly with Contax mount lenses.
  17. ChristopheG

    ChristopheG Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 4, 2010

    I think M9 is best quality image camera in compare to the M8, it is a fabulous camera, and produces fabulous results, but m4/3 more than holds it own. I just pictures taken on my GH1 as I do pictures taken on the M9. So long as my pictures quality is good that allow me to keep both systems, I will continue to do so.
  18. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    If I could afford it, I'd get a Leica in a heartbeat. But it's about form factor. If ANYONE else produces a compact full frame or nearly-full frame (i.e. 1.3 crop) I'd get that. My E-P1 is the closest thing I can afford to this for now.
  19. Chuck Pike

    Chuck Pike Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 3, 2010
    Charlotte, NC.
    Don't mean to jump topic, but just looked at your web page. Where did you find those camera cases for the GF1. Would like to have something like that when I am walking around town.
  20. chefpush

    chefpush Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 20, 2010
    I'm thinking about getting an used M8. Been looking around ebay for a while. Is there any dealers m8-owners can recommend?
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