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Question: Why do you own a digital M Leica?  (Voting closed: October 30, 2011, 07:03:58 AM)
Because I prefer shooting with a rangefinder. - 9 (45%)
Because I want to use Leica and other M lenses. - 11 (55%)
Total Voters: 20

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Author Topic: M Leica – Camera or Lenses?  (Read 69388 times)
michael
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« on: October 25, 2011, 07:03:58 AM »
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A Poll For Those Owning a Leica M8 or M9 Only

I'm working on an article on the future of rangefinder cameras. I have my own ideas, but I am therefore curious as to what you think.

If you own (or have owned) an M8 or M9, I'd like to know whether this is primarily because you like shooting with a rangefinder / viewfinder style camera, or because you want to be able to use Leica M lenses (including Voigtlander and Zeiss).
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2011, 09:07:39 AM »
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Michael, I own 2 M9's and 4 Leica asph lenses and shoot with this the majority ot the time. I still shoot with my P65 but not near as much since I goy the Leica system.  The Leica glass quality is Incredible, the system is small and light and perfect for travel, I don't use high iOS speeds much, and I like having full frame. Eleanor

A Poll For Those Owning a Leica M8 or M9 Only

I'm working on an article on the future of rangefinder cameras. I have my own ideas, but I am therefore curious as to what you think.

If you own (or have owned) an M8 or M9, I'd like to know whether this is primarily because you like shooting with a rangefinder / viewfinder style camera, or because you want to be able to use Leica M lenses (including Voigtlander and Zeiss).
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JeanMichel
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2011, 09:40:59 AM »
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Hi Michael,

First, thanks once again for maintaining this site and for the various articles, reviews, tutorials and such.

I purchased a new M4 with a new 50 Summicron on March 11, 1969 for $398.95 from Wongs Camera Wholesale on Yonge -- yes I still have the bill -- when a student at Ryerson.
I later acquired a used M3 (built in Ontario according to the serial number), 35 Summicron with goggles (Canada), a 135 Elmarit (Canada) (rarely used) and more recently an M6. I also purchased a Voigtlander  21.

The 35 with goggles was mainly used with my M4 or M6 -- I wear glasses and the 35 mm frame is outside of my viewing comfort zone, There was no problems with focussing with film.

Other equipment used included a Hasselblad 500CM and lenses.

When I finally decided to 'go digital' I opted for a Canon 5D -- your reviews helped with my choice. I strongly considered an M8 but was weary of buying a 'version 1.0' item at a substantial cost; did not like the crop sensor size, and did find it a bit weird to see the purple shirt on the man you photographed with an M8, and that was before the IR issue became news. I am quite happy to have delayed my purchase of a digital M.

I purchased an M9 this last July. I wondered if that meant also 'upgrading' my lenses but it appears that my old lenses will do just fine. Although I am sending them all (except the VC) to Leica for focus adjustment - the 21 VC, and 35 are fine, but the 50 is off by some 4 inches and the 135 is also off. i suspect that they were not perfectly adjusted by a local former Leica specialist.

As soon as I picked up the M9 all became familiar and easy again. With the Canon, even with a small 40 or 20 VC lens the camera feels like a fearsome rig; I mainly use the 24-105 with it, and it is an excellent tool. I use it to document exhibitions and the LiveView feature alone is worth the purchase. With the M9, I'm almost back to film thinking, where each frame cost - film, darkroom time, ...- I turned off the image display and only occasionally review an image to see the histogram. I was photographing an exhibition opening this past Sunday and it was neat to hear a few people commenting on 'Jean-Michel's liking to use old cameras' quaint!

So, to finally answer your question: I prefer using a rangefinder/viewfinder camera with a fixed focal length lens. I like the compact, unobtrusive size. The fixed focal length eliminates the distracting multiplicity of zoom settings when photographing, and unglues the feet.

When packing for a future trip, I will probably bring both the M9 and 5d2, and my wife will bring the GH2.

Thanks,

Jean-Michel




 
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fredjeang
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2011, 11:09:46 AM »
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I've worked intensively with M9 cameras during about 3 months.
If I had to go on a deserted island and choose one camera (understanding a still camera), I would choose the M over any other gear available, included MF.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't like the handling at all except the left hand because the size of the glasses is just about right. I didn't like very much the dificult focussing in some situations, the position
of the viewfinder and found the size of the body a little too large.
I didn't particularly find this extreme built quality Leica is known for (in the body I refer). It's well built, no doubt, but being used of a 1DMK3 and 4 you don't particularly find a stellar difference, at least I didn't.


But...that said,

There is something different with this camera, the volume of pictures shot is much less while the rate of keepers is higher. That was constant on good or bad days. You can turn the problem up and down, left or right: it's a camera that helps to take better pictures. I suspect that it's because it's simple, non-intrusive and obliged to get more involved into the action. In other words, it's a camera that helps the photographer who is commited with what he-she's doing, and at the same time, very fast in use because it's dead simple. It's very painfull for fashion...in the studio, but, again, outside the studio, in a fashion session in-situ, it can smokes any dslr, without talking of MF.
The pictures taken by the Leica, or lets say in another way, the M allows a freedom in space that result in more dynamic and spontaneous action. It's a collaborative camera. The non-photographers (in short, the people that point the lens, talents included) react differently to a rangefinder and they tend to be more relaxed and let you enter in more intimacy. No other camera does that. A point and shoot, you look amateur voyeur, a dslr, you look distant pro. The M design is just about right. It's trustable.


But...that said #2

When I got the GH2, it was a discovery to me and a big surprise. The day I got the GH2 is the day I decided that I will not buy a M. Before someone jumps on me saying: "what? Are you comparing the GH2 with the M9?"...let me explains my view on that and then you can through your bombs on me if you feel like.
Yes, I will compare to some extend the GH2 to the M. (and I'm not making a mistake with the GF2 that looks more like a rangefinder).

The first time I used the EVF, I was amazed indeed. Now it's normal and Sony already does better EVF. But having all the infos inside, being able to zoom for focusing without having to get the eye away from the viewfinder, this is Leica spirit to me. Filming in live view within the viewfinder, this is M spirit too. Then, the size. The size of the gh2 is the size I'd like the future M generations to have, more or less. Also, the size of the m4/3 lenses are very much on the size of the M lenses. And it's just about perfect.
I found with the GH2 a camera with a similar flavour than the M, yes. It's fast, small, efficient and fun. But, it's electronic is way more advanced.
Then, the Leica M lenses are suiting very well the GH2, although, honestly, I don't find that they increase the IQ, at all.

So, a new generation Leica Rangefinder, but with the electronic of 2011 and video capabilities, then I would reconsider a possible M_ purchase.

Ps: and if an EVF, please, an EVF that display the "hors-champ"  (more than 100% but the surrownding).




Answering Michael question: my motivation to reconsider buying a M will not be because of the lens line, because those lenses are adaptable to more modern devices. It would be the body.
As I said, an EVF, maybe also a modular sensor, like Ricoh did, wouldn't be bad (something I'm asking for years), keeping the M spirit.
So shooting rangefinder, yes, but shooting modern, not any more with what's there.

And why not a universal mount, like the M42-M39 in the past ? (After all, I use the M39-M42 with the GH2 and it's great to have so many brands still usable in the 21' century)
With the recent progress of the APS, is it really necessary a FF rangefinder now? I 'm not sure really.
Leica could join a Sony Nex or a m4/3 standard, not kidding. Those are brilliant format in wich tech goes fast and they could benefit R&D. Then, they can apply their own sauce, a less agressive AA, hand-made built, golden components if they feel like, but the point is that they should escape the CCD.

And, oh yeah...video. With everything stabilized and digi ND filters so we don't need any more zacutories. The M should be able to shoot hand-held videos with no hassle. (actually, mobile phones do that now)


 
 


« Last Edit: October 25, 2011, 05:21:49 PM by fredjeang » Logged
John Camp
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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2011, 05:13:25 PM »
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I currently own an M7 with a Summilux 35, and once owned an M8 with most of the fast Leica M glass, which I have sold off. For most of my shooting career, I shot Nikons, starting with an F2, and I currently shoot a D3 and D300; I also have a Panasonic system with most of the Panasonic glass, and that's the system I now use most often. Also got an adapter and tried using the Panasonic system with M glass, but found I didn't get much better results than I did with Panasonic glass. I did find that I got a heck of a lot better results with the Panasonic and the 135 and 90 than I did with the same lenses on an M8, though.

In my opinion, rangefinder cameras are simply an older and antiquated style of camera which, like large format film cameras, can be used by enthusiasts to make exquisite photos. But, the key there word is not "photo," but "enthusiast." Rangefinders seem to me to be like great old English sports cars, fine old mechanical watches, and exceptional old fountain pens. You can take pictures, drive fast, tell time, and write beautifully with those things, just not as easily, or with the flexibility and range, of modern instruments.

I don't know exactly why anybody would want evolve rangefinders, because the heart of the system -- the rangefinder device -- seems basically inadequate to the demands of modern photography. It's not particularly accurate (not with all lenses at the same time, anyway) and not particularly fast, and I think that the quality that everybody seems to like, the ability to view the area around the photo, could be replicated with a mirrorless system, if anybody wanted to do it. Furthermore, evolution seems to adamantly opposed by most people on the rangefinder forums. The *point* of what they are doing is to use this older system. The camera is the point, not the photograph.

If someone were to determine that, say, Leica glass is so good that a modern rangefinder-style system should be built around it, that might appeal somewhat to the John Camps of the world, I'd say give the new camera:

-Focus assist. Can't do autofocus without creating a whole news lens system, but focus assist would make up some of the difference. Focusing would be much faster in marginal situations.
-Live View. You'd have to go to a CMOS chip, I guess, which most Leica people adamantly oppose, for some reason or other, but it would make usable the 90 and 135 lenses, which are really hard to focus accurately, and you could even have longer lenses. And, if anybody wanted them, sophisticated long zooms.
-Electronic frame lines that would adjust for parallax and for each specific lens focal length.

All of that, I'd point out, is currently available in the Panasonic/Olympus m4/3 system which can be used with Leica lenses. The downfall there is the Panasonic sensor, which, at this point, doesn't have the refinement of the Leica M9 sensor. A D7000-quality sensor in a m4/3 camera would be all I'd ever need, perhaps.

I do know for sure that some people make great photos with Leicas -- I've seen some of Eleanor Brown's work (she posted up a couple of frames) and it's really fine. But I think that has more to do with a sort of meeting of the minds between a person and this particular machine, and that you can find people who have the same relationship with their Nikons.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2011, 05:34:40 PM »
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... Also got an adapter and tried using the Panasonic system with M glass, but found I didn't get much better results than I did with Panasonic glass. I did find that I got a heck of a lot better results with the Panasonic and the 135 and 90 than I did with the same lenses on an M8, though.

...



All of that, I'd point out, is currently available in the Panasonic/Olympus m4/3 system which can be used with Leica lenses. The downfall there is the Panasonic sensor, which, at this point, doesn't have the refinement of the Leica M9 sensor. A D7000-quality sensor in a m4/3 camera would be all I'd ever need, perhaps.



Totally on line with you. I did the same with the M on a Pana and got exactly the same conclusions. And if my memory doesn't fail, the man who runs "the online photographer" (can't remember his name while I'm writing this) did a long time ago similar comments. Yes, no need to ruin the bank account with Leica primes on a Pana, they don't affect the render. (yes the Leica R on a Canon FF !)

Although, there is a line optimized for digital and it seems according to some sources that they are way better. I'm talking strictly about the classics here. On the new line I don't know.

Maybe the m4/3 sensor is not capable of rendering the excelence of the Leica lenses, or Pana lenses are stellar (wich I doubt for the price).
I think it's simply the sensor.

I'm sure the m4/3 will improve very fast, and they already did. I use to be very hostile to this format when they started, I didn't beleive tech will go that fast and well. Now I think they have a great future. I remember the first units and low-light was garbage. They made incredible progress. I shooted at 1600 quite a lot with the GH2 and yes there is slightly more noise than with the bigger APS, but I find the noise "grainy" in a good sense and better quality than the APS canons except the 1DMK4. There is noise and noise and the Pana engineers have done a great job. So I'm quite confident this system will get each time better and more mature.

About focussing, if a center of the image in a EVF could display a magnification (for ex each time you touch the focussing ring), it would work. Electronic should be able to detect that even without contacts between lens and body.

By the way, you remember that Leica joined in the past the 4/3? They should re-joined the m4/3 for a rangefinder IMO, or this new Sony, XEN or NEX.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2011, 05:49:22 PM by fredjeang » Logged
ixania2
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2011, 06:03:21 PM »
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i had three m6 and two m7 (and one mamiya 7II), and literally every single leica glass you could buy, summed up to big 6 figures. then no digi m showed up and i sold everything - some months before the m8 came to market eventually.

professionally i'm using two canon 1dsmk3 and one 1dk3.

for pleasure i'm buying cameras like desperate housewives are buying shoes: thake this, take that. but never leicas.

for me the spirit has vanished.

i can do street with a fuji x100 the same way i did it with my leicas then. you just have to know how to handle it, as always.

let's wait two more years, and there is no reason any more to buy a leica m body at all. you bet.
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geesbert
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2011, 02:02:21 PM »
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I always thought i loved shooting leicas for their glass, so I had to make up with the restrictions of the bodies, but recently i started to try to use my Leica glass on other cameras, like the gh2 and the sony nex, but it's not the same, optically they are fine, but the handling is lost. On the other side I never enjoyed shooting non Leica glass on a Leica body, not for quality reasons, which are mostly marginal, but again for handling. Any M with a 35 or a 50 Lux is a divine combo, which hasn't been bettered for pure joy of photography, at least for me.


I own lots of cameras, love doing that and my business rectifies it, but I always come back to my m9. It's my favourite camera of all times.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2011, 03:16:07 PM »
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I always thought i loved shooting leicas for their glass, so I had to make up with the restrictions of the bodies, but recently i started to try to use my Leica glass on other cameras, like the gh2 and the sony nex, but it's not the same, optically they are fine, but the handling is lost. On the other side I never enjoyed shooting non Leica glass on a Leica body, not for quality reasons, which are mostly marginal, but again for handling. Any M with a 35 or a 50 Lux is a divine combo, which hasn't been bettered for pure joy of photography, at least for me.


I own lots of cameras, love doing that and my business rectifies it, but I always come back to my m9. It's my favourite camera of all times.

I agree. Leica glasses on a GH2 didn't convinced me neither. "Something's wrong". I tried them because I thought that they will increase drastically the IQ, wich I didn't find except wide open. But as you point, the balance is broken. I'm not sure if that comes from the adapter but I found that the M39 adapter for ex, on the GH2 doesn't produce that weired sensation.
It's like that the M lenses are for the M body and don't like to go out with others.

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deejjjaaaa
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2011, 04:29:54 PM »
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All of that, I'd point out, is currently available in the Panasonic/Olympus m4/3 system which can be used with Leica lenses. The downfall there is the Panasonic sensor, which, at this point, doesn't have the refinement of the Leica M9 sensor. A D7000-quality sensor in a m4/3 camera would be all I'd ever need, perhaps.

Ricoh is using Sony sensors for its M-module... currently 12mp/AA-less... but may be along w/ Pentax they might acquire enough selling capacity (as sensors now will be purchased for both Ricoh and Pentax branded cameras) to justify using Sony 16mp sensors in the next iteration of M-modules... may be
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deejjjaaaa
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2011, 04:32:30 PM »
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I'm sure the m4/3 will improve very fast, and they already did. I use to be very hostile to this format when they started, I didn't beleive tech will go that fast and well. Now I think they have a great future. I remember the first units and low-light was garbage. They made incredible progress.

if you compare the progress that Panasonic did from 12mp to their 18mp (GH2)/16mp (G3) sensors with what Sony did then I doubt you can use the word incredible... my GH2 is hopelessly behind even 3 generations old 12mp Sony sensor (Pentax Kx)
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Joakim Danielson
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2011, 08:15:01 AM »
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When I got my M9 my main objective was I wanted to use a digital rangefinder but as I have gotten more experienced with the Leica M system it is now the lenses I favor the most, especially the 50 Lux Smiley
But if you're implying with the second option that I would be prepared to get rid of my M9 and use the lenses on some inferior crop sensor then the answer is definitely No, the quality and size of the M9 sensor is far more important to me than any of the bells and whistles you might find on the alternatives from other vendors.

Cool, my first post on the LL forums.  Grin
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erickb
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2011, 09:08:21 AM »
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only for lenses and the simplicity of M body  , nearly no interest in range-finder
« Last Edit: October 27, 2011, 09:20:34 AM by erickb » Logged
rickk
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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2011, 03:09:41 PM »
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Alas, no M9 in my kit, but a couple of M3s were among my favorite tools prior to burning up. The Leica M lenses were and are my main attraction to the brand and the lens mount. Two tiny M-Rokkor lenses seemed completely comparable to the Summicron and Elmar equivalents (apologies to those who haven't tried them). I also had good results from a couple of the recent Cosina Voigtlander lenses (especially the 15mm). For the near future, my M-mount lenses will hopefully find use on a NEX-7, which has a vaguely similar form factor to the classic rangefinders. If Cosina (or Epson or Zeiss or somebody) can make a semi-affordable M10 competitor, then demand for M-mount lenses should remain high.

Regards,

Rick
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Joe S
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2011, 12:29:20 AM »
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only for lenses and the simplicity of M body  , nearly no interest in range-finder


Same here.   I would prefer more accurate framing in a small simple body.   Looks like some answers are coming.
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Geoff Boyce
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« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2011, 07:26:58 AM »
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only for lenses and the simplicity of M body  , nearly no interest in range-finder


I agree with this also.  I bought my first M6 in 1996 when I realized that I used my Nikon SLR in centre-weighted metering, manual focus, single-shot mode, with 35mm and 50mm lenses in preference to all the other lenses.  The M6 suited me for its simplicity, quality and longevity.  It was already an old design when I bought it and, naively, I believed that it would be the last camera I would ever buy as it had reached a state of perfection as far as my needs went.  The M7's improvements did nothing to change my mind.  The same held true for the lenses which I bought under the gentle prodding of Reg at High Street Radio in Croydon, all being the last versions of the pre-Aspherical generation:  35mm Summicron, 50mm Summilux and 90mm Elmarit.  They would see me out.

Of course, digital happened and my Panasonic clone of the Digilux 2 (which I always preferred to the Leica version for aesthetic and ergonomic reasons) gradually pushed the M6 to the back of the drawer.  For many years I thought I would never use it or the lenses again.  The M8 was of no interest to me due to its idiosyncracies and the change in focal length with my lenses, but the M9 I resisted for only a few months after its introduction and I have now had it for 20 months.  It is my M6 reborn in a digital form, its simplicity only reinforced by my purchase, before the M9 was announced, of an Olympus EP1 the menus of which I can only assume were designed by a drunk business studies student on work experience.  I am no Luddite, and my day-job involves the use of complex software and GUIs but I have no desire to see them in a camera.

The rangefinder?  I like it and use it without a second thought.  However, it is not the reason I have an M9 and I would not shed a tear if it was replaced with focus-peaking or other form of focussing, provided that I can twiddle the focussing barrel and see the result in the viewfinder.  Is it the lenses?  I suppose so, and have voted so above, but in the end it is the simplicity, quality and longevity of the combined camera and lens.  I doubt it will last as long as my M6 but I cannot imagine wanting to upgrade unless it breaks terminally.  The M10 and onwards are unlikely to tempt me as the M9 does everything I want and produces images that are richer and more detailed than my printing skills can do justice to.  I have no interest in upgrading to the latest lenses for the same reason, although I occasionally ponder the wisdom of adding a 24mm to my little collection.

Apologies for the essay:  I suppose I am making up for lurking all these years on this august site!

Geoff
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erickb
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« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2011, 07:55:48 AM »
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vote options should be with checkboxes and multiselect

Because I prefer shooting with a rangefinder.
Because I want to use Leica and other M lenses.
Because I like a simple and small  M-like camera


I can use of course a rangefinder , but a good central AF and live view x 10 will be a great option on M cameras
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 07:57:43 AM by erickb » Logged
David Watson
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« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2011, 08:56:57 AM »
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Michael I have an M9 as well as a MFD system.  Chalk and cheese ? yes!

To answer your question I did not buy the M9 because it was rangefinder I bought it because of the excellent image quality (lenses and sensor) and more importantly because of its compact size and build quality.

On your, and others, recommendations I have tried many compact and micro 4/3 systems as a lightweight carry anywhere camera but none, IMO, can match Leica's image quality.

So - lenses and image quality first - rangefinder not important to me.

PS keep up the good work!
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« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2011, 10:47:30 AM »
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As I said in my post earlier, I agree with everything David said (below) but I will also add I have no interest in trying any other small compact cameras even if they will take my M glass. Eleanor

Michael I have an M9 as well as a MFD system.  Chalk and cheese ? yes!

To answer your question I did not buy the M9 because it was rangefinder I bought it because of the excellent image quality (lenses and sensor) and more importantly because of its compact size and build quality.

On your, and others, recommendations I have tried many compact and micro 4/3 systems as a lightweight carry anywhere camera but none, IMO, can match Leica's image quality.

So - lenses and image quality first - rangefinder not important to me.

PS keep up the good work!

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allegretto
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« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2011, 07:28:12 PM »
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Used so many different cameras over the years I lose track... admittedly I'm as much a gadget junkie as a photographer (there are probably some here just as sick as me though).

I like Leicas most of all for the stunning images. Maybe it's the lenses... maybe it's the sensor... maybe I just take so many pics with them over the years that I'm biased. Had M3's, 4's, 6's, 8 and 8.2 (wasn't that fond of the small sensor and filters however) and now the M9 and S2 are in my bag.

Many thousands of images in LR with Canons and Nikons as well. The reality is that one can tell instantly which images are Leica (sadly, I can also tell you which ones are Canon too for the same reasons, different direction), no need to look at metadata, just look at the image. Perhaps to some it's too...too. The contrast and color just blow away the others, just is.

Yes, the "feel" of the equipment is different too, but if the IQ wasn't there it wouldn't matter. And yes, the RF is good clean retro fun. Not being a pro, it really doesn't matter if I blow a shot cuz the darn RF focus fooled me here and there. Truly don't like RF focusing... but the IQ is divine.

But I have to tell you that A77 with Zeiss is a stunner too. Detail just about as good as the M9 unless you pixel peep.
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