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Author Topic: M9 Review Discussion  (Read 46405 times)
Brian Gilkes
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« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2009, 08:08:07 PM »
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The reason why buying a Leica is expensive is that you need one or more lenses, and there is no point using anything but the most expensive there is. You may need more than one body.I have known both PJ and event photographers to use three Leicas, each with a different focal length lens.  More importantly you need an SLR system as well. It's a bit like a carpenter needing a hammer and a saw. They are that different. The Leica is a highly specialized crafted precision instrument. It is not an all in one workshop or whole body gym. Of course another way of looking at price is to say the cost of an M9 camera body is about the same as the mass produced, top of the line Canon or Nikon. It's more expensive than a lot of other highly featured cameras. So what?  Do you want a Porche or a Daiwo? It's much easier to fit the kids in the Daiwo. Isn't it?
In most cases the M9 will be owned by people who truly love it and what it is capable of.
Another point for pixel peepers. The sensor will hopefully extract a lot of what Leica lenses can produce. That is not just resolution. The Leitz glass has traditionally been somewhat lower in contrast than the Japanese designed lenses. This goes with smoother tonality and better separation of colours and tones. I don't know if this can be measured but it sure can be seen.
And then there is the bokeh...
Cheers,
Brian
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Graeme Nattress
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« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2009, 08:16:03 PM »
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Lenses themselves to add a lot to the image in many way. How a lens deals with contrast is certainly part of that. I'm told it's the magic in the lens coatings that does a lot of that, but I'm not a lens guy so don't take my word for that. There is indeed vastly more to a lens than resolution / MTF - that's only part of the story.

Graeme
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2009, 08:44:19 PM »
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Hi,

Coating is important as it reduces the amount of light bouncing about in the lens. The dominant factor used to be aberrations, however. Aberrations are deviations from ideal imaging. Ideally a point would be imaged as a point, surrounded by a series of diffraction rings. This is never achieved. There are different aberrations that cause the point to be rendered as a disc. A very usual one is chromatic aberration which means that different colors don't converge at the same plane or same point. This depends on optical glass having different index of refraction for different colors (wavelengths) but there are many others.

Aberrations can be kept at minimum by choosing combinations of different glasses and using different surfaces. Leica is quite aggressive in their choice of materials, surfaces and number of lenses. Also some construction need very close tolerances. All this makes the lenses expensive.

If you are really interested in Leica lens quality you may check Erwin Puts pages: http://www.imx.nl/photo/

Best regards
Erik


Quote from: Graeme Nattress
Lenses themselves to add a lot to the image in many way. How a lens deals with contrast is certainly part of that. I'm told it's the magic in the lens coatings that does a lot of that, but I'm not a lens guy so don't take my word for that. There is indeed vastly more to a lens than resolution / MTF - that's only part of the story.

Graeme
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2009, 08:57:36 PM »
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Hi,

I'd just point out a few issues.

1) Colours and tonality is probably dominated by raw conversion and the Bayer filter array and it's transmission characteristics.
2) One of the major strength of Leica lenses i that they perform near optimally at full aperture.
3) To utilize the sensor and lenses fully you need exact focus (and may need focus bracketing to achieve it) and have the camera on a stable tripod.

The rangefinder on the Leica is AFAIK good enough for the sensor resolution (around 70 LP/mm) but if you want your pictures sharp you need to do very careful focusing and avoid vibrations, and better forget about zone focusing.

Best regards
Erik


Quote from: Brian Gilkes
The reason why buying a Leica is expensive is that you need one or more lenses, and there is no point using anything but the most expensive there is. You may need more than one body.I have known both PJ and event photographers to use three Leicas, each with a different focal length lens.  More importantly you need an SLR system as well. It's a bit like a carpenter needing a hammer and a saw. They are that different. The Leica is a highly specialized crafted precision instrument. It is not an all in one workshop or whole body gym. Of course another way of looking at price is to say the cost of an M9 camera body is about the same as the mass produced, top of the line Canon or Nikon. It's more expensive than a lot of other highly featured cameras. So what?  Do you want a Porche or a Daiwo? It's much easier to fit the kids in the Daiwo. Isn't it?
In most cases the M9 will be owned by people who truly love it and what it is capable of.
Another point for pixel peepers. The sensor will hopefully extract a lot of what Leica lenses can produce. That is not just resolution. The Leitz glass has traditionally been somewhat lower in contrast than the Japanese designed lenses. This goes with smoother tonality and better separation of colours and tones. I don't know if this can be measured but it sure can be seen.
And then there is the bokeh...
Cheers,
Brian
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John Camp
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« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2009, 09:17:16 PM »
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The purely practical, non-technical question I have is, How do M9 images compare to M8 images of the same subject under identical conditions? The 1.3x crop never bothered me -- in fact, I kind of like it. I bought the filters for all my lenses. I already use Lightroom. Given all that, is there really any reason to buy an M9? Shooting hand-held, would I gain anything that you could see in a 17-inch print?

To follow up on Erik's last point, it seems to me that the purpose of an M camera and the emphasis on super-quality and resolution in some ways conflict with each other. If you're going to haul around all the gear needed for tripod shots, why buy a camera with serious technical limitations (especially with macro and telephoto) whose basic physical design is optimized for hand-held work? Might as well buy a D3x or a 1DsIII or a digital back. If you're mostly shooting handheld, why 18mp and do you really need to worry about the tiny degradation created by moire filters?
« Last Edit: September 10, 2009, 09:40:21 PM by John Camp » Logged
Christopher
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« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2009, 09:24:41 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
The purely practical, non-technical question I have is, How do M9 images compare to M8 images of the same subject under identical conditions? The 1.3x crop never bothered me -- in fact, I kind of like it. I bought the filters for all my lenses. I already use Lightroom. Given all that, is there really any reason to buy an M9? Shooting hand-held, would I gain anything that you could see in a 17-inch print?

To follow up on Erik's last point, it seems to me that the purpose of an M camera and the emphasis on super-quality and resolution in some ways conflict with each other. If you're going to haul around all the gear needed for tripod shots, why buy a camera with serious technical limitations (especially with macro and telephoto) whose basic physical design is optimized for hand-held work? Might as well buy a D3x or a 1DsIII or a digital back. If you're mostly shooting handheld, why 18mp and do you really need to worry about moire at all?


It always depends on the conditions. I do sometimes shoot on the street with my P65 and the results are as sharp as with any tripod ... So it is not question between tripod and hand held. It is about weather and light conditions.
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leicaman94044
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« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2009, 10:03:30 PM »
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Hi John,
Your question is a good one.  I've been looking for an answer to that question myself.  
My thought is that the cropped sensor is really optimizing the qualities of your wide angle glass as it is eliminating the soft (er) edges that all lenses have.  There are already lots of posts stating that the Tri Elmar is looking soft at the edges with the M9, as well as other lenses.  One of the advantages of the M8 sensor is that you won't see this as much.

Over on the getdpi forum: fultonpics asked David Farkas of Dale Photo "are you saying that up to 20 X 30 printed image (with proper light) they will not look significantly different if from an M8 and M9?"  http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10124

David responded with: "The overall look and feel of the prints do look the same, but there is a bit more detail and sharpness in the M9 print. Carlos might want to chime in as well... he was at our event yesterday. I had the sample 20x30 M9 prints on display.
David"

I wouldn't worry about moiré at all.  I shoot with the DMR and the longest modular APO glass and nothing produces moiré like hummingbird feathers.  I process my files in Aperture (I'm in the process of switching to FlexColor and Phocus as the detail rendition is far superior with the latter) and moiré cleans up extremely well in Aperture.  I've heard the same for Phocus after the 3f file is brought in from Flex Color.  It's a non issue for me.  

I think Michael said it best with his comment above: "I think the approach though is that it's better to have it somewhat there occasionally, and have to deal with it in post, than to penalize every image just to make sure that it's completely squashed."

I couldn't agree moire !

Given the premium you'll have to pay for the M9 and the beating you'll take when you sell your M8, only you can decide whether the cost can be justified.  Think of the glass you could buy with the cost of moving to the M9!

__________
Quote from: John Camp
The purely practical, non-technical question I have is, How do M9 images compare to M8 images of the same subject under identical conditions? The 1.3x crop never bothered me -- in fact, I kind of like it. I bought the filters for all my lenses. I already use Lightroom. Given all that, is there really any reason to buy an M9? Shooting hand-held, would I gain anything that you could see in a 17-inch print?

To follow up on Erik's last point, it seems to me that the purpose of an M camera and the emphasis on super-quality and resolution in some ways conflict with each other. If you're going to haul around all the gear needed for tripod shots, why buy a camera with serious technical limitations (especially with macro and telephoto) whose basic physical design is optimized for hand-held work? Might as well buy a D3x or a 1DsIII or a digital back. If you're mostly shooting handheld, why 18mp and do you really need to worry about the tiny degradation created by moire filters?
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MarkL
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« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2009, 02:22:04 AM »
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Quote from: John Camp
To follow up on Erik's last point, it seems to me that the purpose of an M camera and the emphasis on super-quality and resolution in some ways conflict with each other. If you're going to haul around all the gear needed for tripod shots, why buy a camera with serious technical limitations (especially with macro and telephoto) whose basic physical design is optimized for hand-held work? Might as well buy a D3x or a 1DsIII or a digital back. If you're mostly shooting handheld, why 18mp and do you really need to worry about the tiny degradation created by moire filters?

I totally agree with this, while I'd always want the best lenses/sensor for a camera, used handheld I'd happily take one at a lower price that had say a D3 sensor. The super quality and how/where rangefinders have been traditionally used seem to be at odds with each other; the pixel peepers will  love it though.

If I had an M9 I don't think I would ever shell out for leica lenses for the same reason, I guess perhaps I don't get 'it'. Still, it doesn't stop me wanting one though
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Jason Denning
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« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2009, 03:13:39 AM »
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You can get screw on filters that stop moire, http://www.caprockdev.com/antimoire.htm


Quote from: Christian Miersch
Hi Graeme,

do you know why there aren't any OLPF screw on filters? (Or are there any?) I guess it has to occur after the optics, but why?

Christian
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KevinA
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« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2009, 03:16:48 AM »
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Moire would be a real concern for me, I shoot aerials often over Cities, a clear day and views across a city at infinity will produce the right frequency for moire somewhere. I proved that with the Kodak SLR/n.
I have never owned a M of any kind but I do have a desire to own one, not because I can make a list of things it does better or worse than another camera, but because of the sum of what it is. I can appreciate the things Leica gets right, maybe because after too many decades of using film and digital my priorities are the basics and not the add ons. I'm sure you could get a degree in understanding the pro's and con's of Canons AF system, when to use this setting or that setting, God knows I've spent a year working on the permutations and hours standing out in the street at low light figuring when it will or will not deliver a focused image and to be honest I don't know much more now than I did when I started.
I am at least now pleased with Canons range of wide angle lenses and after weeks of searching I now own a 24mm mkII.
If I was a Leica owner the choice is much wider of decent optics.
I like the size, I like the control, I like the simplicity, I like the quality, I like the lens choice, I like there not being a mirror, I like the history of the Leica. I don't like the price, neither do I think it is over priced. Wether point for point a Nikon or Canon can beat the M9 on file quality is neither here nor there, they are completely different tools.

kevin.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2009, 04:24:16 AM »
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Hi,

On the other hand: The Leica is perfectly capable of exact focusing, has fast and small lenses. Using moderately high ISO and careful work may be possible hand held.

So you have a small kit that you can easily carry about. It's probably very good at street photography.

But there is a but, could be the case that the Panasonic G1 does the same job at one tenth of the price? That's a real question, some of those Micro 4/3 lenses are very good and the Panasonic is quite small.

Best regards
Erik

Quote from: MarkL
I totally agree with this, while I'd always want the best lenses/sensor for a camera, used handheld I'd happily take one at a lower price that had say a D3 sensor. The super quality and how/where rangefinders have been traditionally used seem to be at odds with each other; the pixel peepers will  love it though.

If I had an M9 I don't think I would ever shell out for leica lenses for the same reason, I guess perhaps I don't get 'it'. Still, it doesn't stop me wanting one though
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KevinA
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« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2009, 07:31:28 AM »
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Quote from: ErikKaffehr
But there is a but, could be the case that the Panasonic G1 does the same job at one tenth of the price? That's a real question, some of those Micro 4/3 lenses are very good and the Panasonic is quite small.

Best regards
Erik

You could use the same argument against any of the top cameras, not just the Leica.

Kevin.
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Kevin.
pete_truman
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« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2009, 08:07:27 AM »
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My opinion...

The image quality of the M9 with Leica lenses will be more than good enough for most prints, even quite large ones. It was truly excellent with the M8 and there's nothing (yet) to suggest that the M9 image quality will be anything less.

The point (for me) about the M-series cameras is that it doesn't have many features, it's just a camera and me. No computing power to get in the way and take control of the picture taking. It becomes so much easier to connect with the subject using a rangefinder. Then there is the look of images taken using Leica glass. They have some magic that others don't have and which is almost impossible to measure or even describe.

Having used an M8 (and sold it, but kept the glass) and using Canon 5D and 1Ds3 since, I still miss the experience of using the Leica. There are serious limitations, telephoto and macro in particular, and the cost is high, yet the M9 is very tempting. Sadly my own piggy bank needs some replenishment first!
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Pete Truman
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2009, 08:10:27 AM »
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Hi,

I'd probably not treat my Sony Alpha 900 with 5/6 lenses for a Panasonic GS1. That equipment weighs about 11 kg and may be cumbersome to carry on a lot of European flights. For that reason it would be interesting to have a lightweight but competent equipment. The GS1 seems to be competent and with good lenses. Also a big camera with a big lens may be less than optimal for street shooting.

In a way I may see the GS1 as a contemporary alternative to the M9 at a much lower price.

Quote from: KevinA
You could use the same argument against any of the top cameras, not just the Leica.

Kevin.
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Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2009, 09:48:42 AM »
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I picked up an M9 on Friday (they've been available here in London for a few days now) together with a compact travel outfit of a wide Angle Tri-Elmar, a Zeiss ZF 35mm 2.8, and a 75mm Summarit.

After a couple of hundred frames my first reaction is complete delight. If the M9 proves reliable (I abandoned the M8 after it failed on a few occasions, mainly in humid tropical conditions) then here at last is a full-frame digital solution that's light enough to take everywhere and fit easily into an aircraft overhead locker along with all the other travel paraphenalia!

However, this morning using the Zeiss ZM 35mm 2.8 manually coded as a 35mm 2.0, I noticed some strange artifacts. In the far distance the girders and wire of a crane were rendered blue or yellow on the viewing screen at full magnification, instead of black silhouttes against the sky. Similarly the white framework of a window (again at the edge of resolution) were also rendered yellow or blue. As this shot was nearby I repeated the shot at all apertures from f2.8 to f22. Interestingly at f2.8 the effect was very much reduced, and at f22 it was gone completely, but at all other apertures it was present and most strongly at the highest resolving apertures of f5.6 to f11.

I wonder if this is moire related, a function of the camera viewing screen, or possibly due to "approximate" manual coding?
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #35 on: September 14, 2009, 09:53:14 AM »
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Quote from: Gary Ferguson
If the M9 proves reliable (I abandoned the M8 after it failed on a few occasions, mainly in humid tropical conditions) then here at last is a full-frame digital solution that's light enough to take everywhere and fit easily into an aircraft overhead locker along with all the other travel paraphenalia!
That's my biggest fear ... 'toughness' ...

Is the M9 supposed to be 'tougher' than the M8?  I'm definitely intrigued by the M9 ... but I can't spend that kind of money on something that needs to be babied.
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Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #36 on: September 14, 2009, 10:41:24 AM »
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Quote from: Jeremy Payne
That's my biggest fear ... 'toughness' ...

Is the M9 supposed to be 'tougher' than the M8?  I'm definitely intrigued by the M9 ... but I can't spend that kind of money on something that needs to be babied.

I've read nothing in the reviews to suggest any materially higher levels of weather proofing in the M9 versus the M8, however talking to Leica UK they emphasised that there's three years of practical manufacturing experience built into the new design, implying that it's evolved into a more robust camera even if it's not guaranteed as weather proof. I agree it's an ambiguous assurance for what's an expensive purchase, but I'm sure that as the months go past there'll be lots of user feedback to fill out the gaps in our knowledge!
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woof75
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« Reply #37 on: September 14, 2009, 11:29:17 AM »
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Quote from: Gary Ferguson
I've read nothing in the reviews to suggest any materially higher levels of weather proofing in the M9 versus the M8, however talking to Leica UK they emphasised that there's three years of practical manufacturing experience built into the new design, implying that it's evolved into a more robust camera even if it's not guaranteed as weather proof. I agree it's an ambiguous assurance for what's an expensive purchase, but I'm sure that as the months go past there'll be lots of user feedback to fill out the gaps in our knowledge!

So tell us what are the characteristics of the files, my experience is with phase files and canon files, how does it compare would you say, I know it's hard to compare like this.
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Gary Ferguson
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« Reply #38 on: September 14, 2009, 12:00:00 PM »
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Quote from: woof75
So tell us what are the characteristics of the files, my experience is with phase files and canon files, how does it compare would you say, I know it's hard to compare like this.

It's pretty much impossible to put the differences into words, in terms of simple resolution the results I get with my P65+ and a tripod mounted 120mm Macro are so far beyond what the M9 can deliver that there's simply no competition. However, versus Canon the results are far less clear cut. My current travel camera is a 5D MkII with the 24-105 IS. It delivers dependably great results out to the edges at f8 and f11, but corner quality is poor at any aperture, and at f4 or f5.6 I'm often a little disappointed right across the frame, consequently getting the results I want from the 24-105 requires taking liberties with the IS and using the ISO setting aggressively!

The M9 just provides more options at lower weight, but with the inconvenience of lens changes on the fly. Overall I prefer the look and feel of an M9 shot, it tends to have less of that "processed" digital feel (ie distant grass turning to uniformly coloured astro-turf!) or a slightly "smeared" look. Then there's the prime versus zoom question, as a huge generality (that's I'm sure more respected in the breach than the observance) zooms deliver outstanding definition in the central part of the frame, and perform well in both the near and far ranges. But the usual downside is poor performance out towards the edges and an intrusively "wirey" look to the out of focus areas. Hey, who's to say what's better, you pay's your money and you takes your choice!
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woof75
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« Reply #39 on: September 14, 2009, 12:36:18 PM »
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Quote from: Gary Ferguson
It's pretty much impossible to put the differences into words, in terms of simple resolution the results I get with my P65+ and a tripod mounted 120mm Macro are so far beyond what the M9 can deliver that there's simply no competition. However, versus Canon the results are far less clear cut. My current travel camera is a 5D MkII with the 24-105 IS. It delivers dependably great results out to the edges at f8 and f11, but corner quality is poor at any aperture, and at f4 or f5.6 I'm often a little disappointed right across the frame, consequently getting the results I want from the 24-105 requires taking liberties with the IS and using the ISO setting aggressively!

The M9 just provides more options at lower weight, but with the inconvenience of lens changes on the fly. Overall I prefer the look and feel of an M9 shot, it tends to have less of that "processed" digital feel (ie distant grass turning to uniformly coloured astro-turf!) or a slightly "smeared" look. Then there's the prime versus zoom question, as a huge generality (that's I'm sure more respected in the breach than the observance) zooms deliver outstanding definition in the central part of the frame, and perform well in both the near and far ranges. But the usual downside is poor performance out towards the edges and an intrusively "wirey" look to the out of focus areas. Hey, who's to say what's better, you pay's your money and you takes your choice!

Yes, it's that smeared look that really bothers me about dslr's, it's not resloution that makes me use a back, it's the feel and depth and inherent sharpness, I'm hoping that the M9 may get up to the level of my P21 in these respects, we'll see I guess.
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