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Old August 28th, 2010, 11:33 PM   #1
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Leica M9

I'm planning to buy one DSLR camera for photos ONLY. I've heard a lot about Leica's camera and service. They keep things simple and they have unbelievable lenses and service.

So, If money is no bar, then can I do better than a Leica M9?
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Old September 6th, 2010, 10:49 PM   #2
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No one owns a Leica?

I'm surprised there are too many canon and nikon enthusiasts here but nobody knows anything about a Leica?
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Old September 7th, 2010, 09:01 AM   #3
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I cannot comment specifically in re the M9 but I can say that I have owned Leicas going back to their early M film cameras and found them to produce spectacular images. In the not too distant past, I sold all of my film Leicas and purchased the M8, the precursor to the M9, and find that it is my go-to camera for stills. I own a Cannon 1ds MK II and although it is a great camera, its weight makes it an undesirable travel companion. The M8, on the other hand, is as light as a feather, easy to use––providing manual focus is not an issue for you––and produces great images with either the Leica M lenses or several of the less costly Voightlander pieces, their 50mm being an excellent low cost choice.

For portability, quality of construction, lenses and images, you could do no better in the manual focus class.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 12:23 AM   #4
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Well, this is a forum focused on video- and these Leica M8s and M9s don't shoot video.

I haven't had the pleasure of owning a Leica just yet, but the M9 is NOT a DSLR, nor does it function like one. It's a rangefinder camera, meaning that you don't focus the same way you would with a SLR camera like the Canon 5d or Nikon D3. I've seen some spectacular images come from Leicas, but it's not the right camera for everyone. The M9 would be a poor choice if you do a lot of macro photography, high-speed sports photography, or wildlife/telephoto photography. On the other hand, it seems to perform admirably for portraiture, street photography, and wide angle landscape photography.

It comes down to what kind of photography you're interested in and what you shoot the most. It may be one of the most expensive cameras available, but if you can't shoot what you like because of its design, you just bought yourself a very expensive camera that will spend more time sitting in a closet than out with you.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 12:38 AM   #5
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Price no object? Photokina rumors suggest the 1Ds mkIV is right around the corner. That will likely be the undisputed champ of 35mm digital SLRs.

The Leica M9, for roughly the same price ($8000?) has this going for it:
1) It looks awesomely retro.
2) It's pretty small if you need to keep it in a big coat pocket or lunch bag.
3) You get to act snobby around people who own Canons. Until one of them pulls out a 5D2 and shoots circles around the M9, upside down, hopping on one arm.

It's really not a lot of camera for the money. But even price no object, cameras 1/3rd of the price outperform it. But it does look pretty damn awesome. And ok.. I kind of want one now.
(and I should point out Leica doesn't have a great history of making good digital cameras)
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Old September 8th, 2010, 06:12 AM   #6
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Right the M9 is not a DSLR but I owned both an MII and MIII and they were 2 of my all time favorite still cameras. Even more than my Nikon Fs especially for photojournalism. Small compact quiet unobtrusive. Thinking about them I miss them, sigh. Anyway they were rangefinders and so is the M9 so you are limited.

Frankly if you want a digital camera there are probably others out there that are better but if you if you need something that has been used for award winning iconic photos (think Alfred Eisenstadt or Henry Cartier-Bresson and the covers of Life magazine) and of course have the minds-eye to see the shot as they did then the M9 might be the one for you ;-)

The more I think about it the more I miss my Ms and I don't even do still work anymore.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 03:13 PM   #7
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Damn this thread... now I want one.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 11:33 PM   #8
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Isn't the 1D MkIV out already with its 1.3x sensor? Anyway, since I was going to spend thousands on a camera anyway (plus lenses) why not get the best gear? Leica is like an iphone vs Canon's Nokia...if that makes any sense.

But I searched all over the internet, and I couldn't find one good comparison between Canon, Nikon and Leica that was objective...hence the thread. What's wrong with wanting a Leica anyway? Roger Deakins swears by it.
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Old September 9th, 2010, 11:30 AM   #9
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I'm referring to the 1D's' not the 1D. The 1Ds is full frame, no crop.

Yes, there is an iPhone vs. Nokia comparison, but you have it backwards. The Canon 1D or 1Ds is the iPhone. It does everything amazingly well, extremely powerful, hugely versitile, blisteringly fast, major range of lenses, and superb build quality. The M9 only does one thing, it does a good job of it, but does nothing else. The lenses are sharp, but if you're in the $2000 per lens range... so are Canon's.

For every Deakins shooting an M9, there are 500 professionals shooting a 1Ds. If not more.

The problem is, we aren't comparing apples to apples here. The M9, as mentioned above, is not a DLSR, it's a rangefinder. It's a very, very different camera, and if you've never used one, you're probably in for a very expensive (and possibly unhappy) surprise. There's a reason the rangefinder market is dead and the SLR market holds 99.95% of the market share.

Google "rangefinder vs. SLR" and find the difference for yourself.
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Old September 9th, 2010, 12:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sareesh Sudhakaran View Post
Anyway, since I was going to spend thousands on a camera anyway (plus lenses) why not get the best gear?
The best camera isn't always the most expensive camera. The best camera for you is the camera that functions the way you require it to function. Buying the most expensive gear because "you were going to spend lots of money anyway" is a rather foolish approach in my opinion.

Besides, there are many cameras that offer more versatility than the M9- and a much heftier price tag. Have you looked at the Leica S System ? How about Mayima's new Medium Format DSLR ? You haven't told us what kind of photography you're most interested in or what you predominantly shoot, so it's difficult to say things like "The M9 is perfect for you!"

Quote:
What's wrong with wanting a Leica anyway? Roger Deakins swears by it.
No one is saying you're wrong for wanting a Leica. I think it goes without saying that all of us posting in this thread would be thrilled to have one of our own. Dylan's post is spot on. Rangefinder cameras are different from DSLRs, and they're not suitable for many different kinds of photography. If you want to buy a M9, then go and buy one. But don't be surprised by the responses you're getting from people here. This isn't the place to go if all you're looking for is validation.
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Old September 9th, 2010, 12:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sareesh Sudhakaran View Post
If money is no bar, can I do better than a Leica M9?
How do you define "better" pray tell? Assuming by "better" you mean higher image quality, then yes. Of course you can.

Since Leica seems to be your starting point, there's the Leica S2 to consider. The Pentax 645D will probably be a better value, but it's still yet-to-be-released.

But if "money is no bar" and you want to maximize image quality, the Phase One 645DF with a P65+ back is the clear choice. If you want to stay digital.

All of the options listed above get blown away by the image quality you can get from a view camera however. Most view cameras capture to good ol' photographic film. Sheet film, as in individual sheets, not rolls. Kodak, Fuji, and Harmon still make sheet film today, in 2010, because there's still enough demand to keep the manufacturing lines humming. View cameras typically cost orders of magnitude less than the Phase One solution. For many it's far more effort to use a view camera, but the effort is often rewarded with images impossible to capture any other way, limited only by one's skill level and artistic vision of course.

Again, it all depends on how you, personally, define "better."
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Old September 10th, 2010, 09:13 PM   #12
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Leica's are a breed of their own. You'll either love it or hate it. I have a M3 and a few old screw-mount film bodies. They take some getting used to compared to (D)SLR's but can be great fun.

I would suggest check out the rangefinderforum, as that's probably the largest gathering of M9, M8/M8.3 users around. Warning, there's probably an equal number of haters too :)
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Old September 11th, 2010, 01:04 AM   #13
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I'm not a cinematographer or a professional photographer, but I'm not a rank beginner either. My interest is telling stories (I'm a director) and that means shooting People - not landscapes or studio. I was interested in Leica M9 because it's a great "people's" camera.

Regarding medium formats, I can't go for large cameras with tripods because I will mostly shoot handheld. The camera will go where I will go, and I need digital, not film. This rules out Hasselblads and Phase Ones, but it can include the Leica S2. However, I'm not really going to blow up my visuals to billboard size any time soon. Plus the lenses available for these cameras are limited and the DSLR medium format is too new to get into without risk. For now, I'll stick to 35mm (or 135).

I didn't know about the Canon 1DS full frame. I was looking at a Canon, Nikon or Leica, and I was really impressed by Leica's size and rendering of people's faces. One great advantage is that Leica probably has the fastest lenses for people photography. Where I live, it's tough to just walk into a store (except maybe Canon's) and try out products. And because of this, most professionals here own Canons or Nikons. Therefore, I decided to pose this question in this forum.
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Old September 11th, 2010, 01:25 PM   #14
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One thought, while the Leica may have slightly faster lenses than Canon, the Canon 5D2 has a massive clean ISO range that will make up for that, as well as being faster to use if you are talking street photography.
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Old September 11th, 2010, 10:56 PM   #15
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Years ago when I did still photography my MII and MIII were my staple camera for "people on the street" work. Small lightweight, easy to fit into the pocket of my jacket, really, a 50mm lens was all I had and frankly I did not miss carrying my Nikon Fs with the bag full of lenses flash and extra body and film and filters and whatever else I carried with me then, I loved those Leicas for candid work. For news, sports and the "other stuff" I did yep the Nikons were the way to go but candids? LEICA all the way. Of course that was back in the old days, you know, 35mm film, no peeking at the shot to see if it was OK, generally one shot was all you got to get it right. TriX, film of choice, 400 to 2400 ASA depending on what you were shooting, see the composition before you put it to your eye, then quick focus and BAM! You either got it or not and more often than not you got it. Just seemed to work out that way. The M9 of course is a different camera than the old ones I had but the principle is the same.
IMO get the camera that fits your needs and budget and have fun with it.
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