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Author Topic: The M9 for landscape  (Read 18792 times)
fredjeang
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« on: June 22, 2010, 08:30:57 AM »
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Hi,

I am not surprised at all why landscape photographers can be attracted by what Leica knows best: the M serie.

I photograph people, not landscapes, and even if I did landscape there was always a human being (or a dog) somewhere in the viewfinder.
To me, if I had to stay in a desert island with just one 35mm that would be with this Leica.

Despite my background in landscape imagery being close to zero, I can understand why such a camera is indeed a great tool for that genre.
And not specially because you are old and hairy, no.

I see a lot of similitude between street photography, reportage and landscapes and we all know that the M series shines in reportage "à la volée".

In fact, I'm happy to read these kind of refreshing articles and I think we are all lucky to still have this Leica available in digital, even more lucky if we can afford it.

Also, and I don't know if it is because of the lack of AA filter, the Leica glasses, but I found the M9 files (that I had the chance to explore some months ago) nothing less than the best 35mm IQ available today.
IMO, the M9 IQ beats any big, medium or small FF boy with no reservation. I had some pics from the garden and even at 100% (wich is something I hate to do) a leave in a distant tree is a leave,
not a sort of greenish splash. I was really impressed and since that, I started to reconsider the M digital for a future investment in FF.

I completly understand Jack and Michael. It is light, it forces to see and chalenges just enough, and it does have a stellar IQ.

What else?...do we need




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pegelli
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2010, 08:55:11 AM »
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Quote from: fredjeang
What else?...do we need

A warning that tells us when we try to take a shot with the cap on, but for the rest agree with your evaluation of the article fully.

I wasted a lot of film frames due to the "cap problem" with my M2 when I was much younger (and my forgetfulness was allready bad).
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 08:55:57 AM by pegelli » Logged

pieter, aka pegelli
Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2010, 09:17:46 AM »
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Quote from: pegelli
A warning that tells us when we try to take a shot with the cap on, but for the rest agree with your evaluation of the article fully.

I wasted a lot of film frames due to the "cap problem" with my M2 when I was much younger (and my forgetfulness was allready bad).



So why do you think you need a rangefinder and/or bad memory to do the funny cap-shot?

In 1999 I was in Spain doing my first calendar for a beer company. Along on the shoot was the Marketing Director and at one stage he wandered over and nudged me slyly and asked me whether I was aware my lens cap was still on. With a Nikon F series. What he was looking at was the black glare of a polarizing filter...

Oy veh (or something similar).

Rob C

P.S. We got on famously for a few more years after that.
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Don Libby
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2010, 09:25:31 AM »
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I had first thought of the M9 as being a companion camera to my Cambo/P45+ however after using it since February I now consider it a partner.

I also decided on the M9 for all the same reason as Michael and Jack Perkins.  I hadn't used a rangefinder for many years and I too had the occasional long wait while the camera took a longer than expected exposure due to the lens cap still in place.  Heck I did that while getting used to the Cambo WRS.  

The ease of this system still amazes me today, five months after I first started using it in my landscape work.  I've taken several multiple mile hikes in all types of weather and terrain and in each case came away with get exposures.

I too consider the Leica M9 a great landscape camera.

Don
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dseelig
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2010, 09:32:54 AM »
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You KNow it is funny I shoot a little landscape but street shooting is where my heart is. The m9 till recently was a better landscape camera then a street camera as the low light files were not so good. With the new lightroom it is a much better street camera as itcan now do good low light photopgraphy.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 09:39:49 AM »
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Quote from: pegelli
A warning that tells us when we try to take a shot with the cap on, but for the rest agree with your evaluation of the article fully.  

I wasted a lot of film frames due to the "cap problem" with my M2 when I was much younger (and my forgetfulness was allready bad).
After some 30-plus years of using view cameras (4x5 and 8x10) and SLRs (35mm and 6x7), I acquired a lovely Mamiya 6 RF camera (6x6) for landscapes. After about three rolls of film on which the first three or so exposures were blank (highly embarrassing -- I'm not new at this game!), I stuck a couple of Velcro dots on the front of the camera and a Velcroed-cardboard tab that would cover the rangefinder window when the lens cap was on, and sit out of the way when the cap was off. Ugly as hell, but I never had any more problems with the lens cap (except explaining to people what that funny piece of cardboard on my camera was for).

The M9 is very tempting. But could I bring myself to mar such a beautiful camera with a lens-cap reminder?    


Eric
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 09:40:57 AM by Eric Myrvaagnes » Logged

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Rob C
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2010, 09:41:16 AM »
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Yes, wonderful stuff, but one major problem: the price/value relationship.

I, too, am well of the age where not size but weight matters. I have shot lots of moolah chasing what used to be called silver dreams too, and find that in the end, it all comes down to the same thing: there is no single, simple solution and unless you are able to afford all the systems  you think you might need, you just swap one compromise for another. The moment you have something that gives splendid 21mm shots you discover that that old  500mm mirror lens gave just the spaced out look you suddenly think would make you flavour of the week again, but damn, that new body don't take them things no more!

For this simplicity to work, I believe you have to go through some mental catharsis - find a moment in your life when you understand as clearly as living or dying what your field really is, where you want to be and whether you can live there. Then armed with all those positives, perhaps you can simplify and settle for a unit. Short of that, my advice would be the opposite: keep everything you have and just buy what you can comfortably afford on top of that.

Sure, if you are a successful pro, then life follows another set of fiscal rules and you go with the flow of your work and build your armoury. Unless you are modern, of course, and own nothing.

Rob C

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stever
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2010, 10:36:13 AM »
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Lloyd Chambers (diglloyd.com) has been using and reporting on the M9 for landscapes for several months and has just added a number of examples to his paid site -- well worthwhile for anyone considering an M9 for landscape.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2010, 11:25:59 AM »
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/me puts his Mamiya Super 23, magazines and lenses packed in a huge LowePro bag on a scale and runs away wiping away the tears ....

Anyone wants to send me money ? ...  
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 11:27:51 AM by ChristophC » Logged

schrodingerscat
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2010, 10:27:18 PM »
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The last Sierra backpack trip was with a 5D II and 16-35 L II. Can't wait to get back up this year with the M9 and a 50/2 and 35/1.4(both legacy). Keeping my eyes peeled for a 28 deal.

Have spent the last couple months refamiliarizing myself with a rangefinder. Kinda like riding a bike, but not quite after 10 years of developing bad habits. Have also been testing how well hyperfocal works in the digital realm.
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tom b
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2010, 10:47:26 PM »
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Another thing to remember with rangefinders is coloured filters. I have still got boxes of slides where the first few slides have a green cast where I have changed from B&W film to colour transparencies and have left a green filter on the lens.

Cheers,
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schrodingerscat
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2010, 11:26:26 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Yes, wonderful stuff, but one major problem: the price/value relationship.

That's why pretty much all my equipment has been purchased used.

The moment you have something that gives splendid 21mm shots you discover that that old  500mm mirror lens gave just the spaced out look you suddenly think would make you flavour of the week again, but damn, that new body don't take them things no more!

Some Nikons will work with the Mirrors, and Sony has added a mirror to the Alpha line.

Rob C
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James R
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2010, 11:47:50 PM »
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Quote from: tom  b
Another thing to remember with rangefinders is coloured filters. I have still got boxes of slides where the first few slides have a green cast where I have changed from B&W film to colour transparencies and have left a green filter on the lens.

Cheers,


M9 is digital, no colored filters, so nothing to remember.
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tnargs
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« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2010, 03:07:18 AM »
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If you have the money for an M9, all the necessary lenses to cover your photographic landscape intentions, and the obligatory spare body  , ------- you can probably afford other solutions to deal with the weight of larger format kit.  Like a porter  


OTOH, the M9 + 5 primes kit the writer described weighs 2510g. A Canon 550D (also 18MP) with 5 equivalent primes (generally 0 to 1 stop faster) weighs 2110g. The Canon kit is lighter by 400g (almost a pound)!! What is the big deal about the M9 kit? I can't even imagine the cost difference, and what exactly is the quality differential?

I would love to see blind comparisons of landscape prints made from the 2 kits above.      
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2010, 03:41:43 AM »
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One authoritative view: Ewin Puts writing about the M9 and where it sits in the hierarchy of cameras.

"Stunning as the M9 pictures are, they must be put in context and then the Nikon D3x images are just better."

http://www.imx.nl/photo/leica/camera/page155/m9part2.html

It can hardly be said that Mr Puts has a down on Leica!

However, I think the basic appeal of the camera must be (for me at least) the idea of just walking around with it and the lens of choice that happens to be on it. Any situation that requires a system to be toted around is going to be a PITA; it's why assistants come in useful - I am told.

Rob C
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2010, 04:57:29 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
However, I think the basic appeal of the camera must be (for me at least) the idea of just walking around with it and the lens of choice that happens to be on it. Any situation that requires a system to be toted around is going to be a PITA; it's why assistants come in useful - I am told.

Rob C

That, I find, is much of the appeal of a 35mm rangefinder. Today I have a Zeiss Ikon and 50mm lens and a roll of black and white film, which I will take for a short walk at lunchtime. No system, just a simple case of see it, feel it, make it (to steal a catchphrase)

The M9, and hopefully forthcoming competition in the drf market, fulfil that brief perfectly.

Mike
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fredjeang
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« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2010, 06:24:47 AM »
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I found something.

But before being accused of heresy I'm warning the most sensitive members that you will click at your own risk:
this is an interesting (yes, interesting) link to a Ken Rockwell's article on that matter.

http://kenrockwell.com/leica/m9/sharpness-28mm.htm

(look at the sizes of the glasses in the introduction)

Knowing the Ken's Nikonmaniak, he would have done everything to put the crowne to his D3 but that is not what happened.
Anyway, for those who do not want to have a nervous breakdown with that link, here is a small conclusion extracted from his article:

Ken Rockwell:With the same money spent on lenses, the Leica easily wins.
The Leica is usually superior, or at least as good, as the best from Nikon and Canon at the same price.
When you also consider that the Leica weighs only a fraction as much as either camera or lens, it's a no-brainer to see which is the best for outdoor photography.
Even then, the Leica shot instantly, while I had to jack with menus to set the Nikon and Canon. Worse, I had to deal with foolish electronic controls to set manual aperture and shutter speeds on the Nikon and Canon, while with the Leica, all I did was turn the dedicated, click-stopped knobs. I shot the Leica in a tenth the time that it took to shoot either the Canon or Nikon.
Overall, the Leica wins because of its great sensor coupled with Leica's superior optics. Canon's 21MP sensor is about as good, but the end results only match if you could get lenses this good for the Canon — which you can't do at most focal lengths.
Even if Nikon' slightly higher-on-paper resolution D3X was relevant here, it would also be limited by Nikon's optics, just like the D700 and D3 as shown above.


Ps: I'm aware who is Ken, till wich point he can be trustable and what's to take and what's not to take. This particular article is trustable.

And before the scientists and DoXers will come with their numbers and equations argumentation in order to disqualify
the testing as always, and allowing myself to follow Guy Mancuso's and others steps about that the only trustable instruiment is still the eyes, although it
depends I guess on the grade of training from the eyes in question,  I would say that I had the chance to examinate some M9 files
in a friend's house and I saw the same as Ken (and as many others). And I'm sorry but the D3 or anything from Canon stays behind IMO, with good glasses of course.

Remember that the M9 is another tech, much closer to MF.
Remember also that photographers like Michael, Don...are daily working with the best high-end gear MF+ LF, and therefore used to very high IQ.
Many really demanding photographers are curently using it, in preference of the Canikons. So there might be a good reason for that.
The first that comes into my mind is the availability to mount the best glasses ever built by any manufacturer in that format.
Then, no AA, no menu hassle, just the control that are needed, chalenging just enough, and in a lightweight package that could nearly compeat with this m4/3 format
and with a built quality that does not claim weather seal but that could put to shame any professional dslr today.
Oh yes, and with a discrete shutter noise and an unmatched elegance compared to the D3, 1D, 5D heavy tanks.

That is a lot to like about it.

And if you are an urban photographer, just experimenting the people reaction compare to a standard dslr. The M is friendly to the others, the dslr is agressive.
I could see clearly on field the differences with my friend. The M9 is THE camera for urban reportage.
And that can be the difference between coming back home with some keepers or not. You can get very close with an M and a wide lens.
Try that with your D3 or your 1D...

I will end this parenthesis mentionning that after a thread I wrote here about the R9 digital back, apparently "obsolete",only 10mp... I received some enthousistic letters from  R9 users saying
that people where actually seeing differences in prints, even compare to the 24MP Sony 900, all in favor of the Leica back.
In other words, that people could see differences in print and the Leica prints where more impacting, despite the lower resolution.
I've been critic with Leica after the S2 choice, but again, if I had to go on a desert island with just a gear, that would not be Canon neither Nikon.

All IMHO.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 06:54:03 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2010, 08:44:47 AM »
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Okay: Erwin1 - Ken 1.

The trouble with the 'eye' tests, of course, is that they are all subjective... folks tend to see what they want to see, particularly when they have spent a lot of money.

I giggle quietly - okay, sort of sotto voce, if you will - when I read about these awful, time-comsumig problems with starting up a dslr before it can shoot.  I never experience any such thing: I have but one af lens which is seldom used and the rest are the latest manuals. I have set the two bodies to as close to manual as dammit and nothing could be simpler in the field. Menu? What menu? The matrix metering is very accurate, you can either check your screen for the highlight sparkle or look at a histogram, exactly what I suppose the Leica offers; you can choose to do neither and just trust the meter. (One must learn to forget all about those siren bells, whistles and buttons; they're for the camera club smoking room.)

You want more simple?

Rob C
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 08:45:40 AM by Rob C » Logged

Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2010, 09:07:22 AM »
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Quote from: fredjeang
Ken Rockwell:With the same money spent on lenses, the Leica easily wins.
The Leica is usually superior, or at least as good, as the best from Nikon and Canon at the same price.

But Ken: You said "the camera doesn't matter."  
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fredjeang
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« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2010, 09:13:46 AM »
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I agree with you Rob. I did the same.

I finally setted both the dslr and lenses to full manual, but in that case I tend to use the manual film age primes and not the current generation lenses.
The irony is that I'm way faster with that configuration. The green light focus confirmation is much more accurate that my vision so I relly on it when I doubt.
If I where shooting sports I would think different, but even for fashion this configuration is possible when you get used to it.
I personally would not hesitate to use a M9 even for fashion shots, the only downside according to James Russel is the tethered configuration.

It has been a long time since I have not enter a dslr menu, not kidding, and guess what: I feel free to a point you can't imagine. I just refuse now to press buttons that
I should not. The lcd has became a sort of preview and use live view only when I really need it, for example at night or for macro.

Still, in most dslr, I'm talking about high-end products, the number of buttons and complicated menus drives me perplex.
As you have and had Nikon, when I was young I worked with the F3, FM2, F4. My favorite was the F3 but the FM2 beated it if you considered the size.
Do you remember Rob in those gear that you had to fight to find Mirror-lock-up? or any important setting?

So what we too often see are art filters instead of good synchro flash, obscurs menus instead of a great and bright viewfinder... the autofocus being supposed to do the job
for us, why should we be able to see bright then. Or mirrorless cameras that have a strong shutter noise, and the long list of marketing departments non-senses.
That is why the Contax 645 is a great machine because it is first and for most a pure photographic tool. And this Leica M is also a unique product (expensive I admit) that I'm sure
is able to restimulate the most bored and experienced photographer.

More they serve us these fantastic gadgets full of (generally useless) features that will be obsolete in 2 years, more I think that the real chic or the ultimate luxury today is simplicity+ efficiency+ relaibility.

Cheers.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 09:17:49 AM by fredjeang » Logged
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