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Digital Leica M8 / M8.2 / M9 / M-E /Mono / M10 aka "M" Discussions about the Leica M8 /M 8.2 / M9 / M9-P/ M-E / M Monochrom / M10 aka "M": Leica digital M mount rangefinder cameras. Naming the new digital M the "Leica M" is VERY unfortunate as it will only confuse newbies with other Leica M cameras of the the past. Happily there is room for confusion with only the past 59 years of Leica M production ... since Leica introduced the Leica M system in 1953. All Hail for the Leica Marketing Department learning Leica M history!

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Changing direction photographically (film to digital) and the M9/M10 conundrum.
Old 02-19-2012   #1
Keith
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Changing direction photographically (film to digital) and the M9/M10 conundrum.

35mm film photography is just not happening for me at the moment and there are several reasons why. There have been some recent changes in my life that are making it very difficult to find the time and energy to process and scan 135mm film and this causes me to not take photographs because I'm somewhat paranoid about building up a backlog of undeveloped rolls of film. I realise this never bothered Gary Winogrand but I am not he!

On considering a transition to digital: … I use and love my D700 for paid work but I have no desire to lug the thing about for recreational shooting and to me the D700 was always going to be a tool to use in the very tricky gallery lighting I work in where ISO 6400 is a requirement and not a luxury.

For a daily digital shooter there are a lot of interesting options currently but nothing that really grabs me. The X100 was OK but poor manual focus ability and the fixed 35mm lens didn’t win me over in the end. The new Xpro-1 looks exciting but by the time you get the body and a selection of lenses you’re getting up there price wise. The new OM-D seems the same to me and also has the penalty of being 4:3 … not sure that I can get along with that! Then there’s the increased depth of field with these smaller sensored cameras … I like to shoot wide open and I like to be able to isolate my subjects as I desire in the way that a 50mm f1.2 lens can when it’s entire image circle is being utilised.

Sitting in the cabinet I currently have in M mount … Heliar 15mm, Zeiss 25mm, Nokton f1.2 35mm, and several 50mm lenses the pride of them being the Canon 50mm f1.2 of which I am lucky enough to own a pristine example, not to mention the wonderful Zeiss C Sonnar I got from Jonmanjiro some time ago. None of these excellent lenses have seen the light of day for over a year now because I just don’t seem to use the one M mount body I have which is my M2 … add the inability to find the time for film developing/scanning etc and it becomes a completely stagnant system!

A couple of weeks ago I tentatively inquired about the possibility of getting a used M9 and was in contact with a member here who was able to procure one for me at a very reasonable price … and I’m still flip flopping totally over that decision I have to say! The M9 is an expensive camera even used but it has a certain logic to it when I look at that selection of unused M mount glass I own … but $5500.00 is a lot of money! I keep wondering what Leica may offer with the M10 … most likely a sensor better suited to higher ISO and not much else I suspect. I have fast M mount glass in 35mm and 50mm and the need to go over 1600 ISO is rarely required for my personal work. And what price the M10 when it lands …. $8500 to $9500 anyone care to take a guess? A damned sight more than the $5500 I could just scrape together for a used M9 if I put my mind to it.

Alternatively … why oh why doesn’t someone make a small full frame mirrorless or possibly a small uncomplicated full frame DSLR that can take lenses that are already out there … in abundance! (I do realise that last statement was pie in the sky stuff!)

ps ... I meant to add that I do intend continuing to shoot film in medium and large format, I just feel that a move to digital may get me back out there with a camera in my hands on a daily basis far more often than is currently happening.
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Old 02-19-2012   #2
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We live in interesting times!

I haven't kept up - what's wrong with the M9?

(My own answer to the subject isolation problem with crop-sensor digital - use a longer lens and take a few steps back. )
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Old 02-19-2012   #3
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Seems like a good deal on the M9 and surely it will hold it's value OK for a while yet (so you wouldn't lose too much). That selection of M lenses sounds great, and no current alternative will ultimately do it justice (Nex etc.) We all hope something will just appear but frankly what we are really waiting for is a FF digital rangefinder for $3K... but I can;t see it happening for a while ;-)

To think about... are you really going to use the digital M for your commercial work over the D700? If you're not shooting with the M2 at all - are you certain the digital M is the way to go? $5500 buys a whole lot of other stuff ;-)
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Old 02-19-2012   #4
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Why not send your films off for process and scan? This would would avoid the backlog. Good scans can be expensive, but not M9 expensive.
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Old 02-20-2012   #5
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I would personally opt for the x-pro1, a 35mm f1.4, and an 18mm f2. That would be under 3k all up. Sell off some unneeded m-mount gear that you don't use to soften the blow.
Yeah, it'll depreciate more than the leica, it's not as sexy or fondleworthy, but it should be more capable with a few exceptions (like no-light focussing).

I know exactly what you mean about film backlog and not having the time though!
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Old 02-20-2012   #6
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Yeah, I keep asking if the world is getting darker and no one answers. We DON'T NEED these extreme high ISOs that have become fashionable these days. What we need is better technique. Most of us here grew up with film bodies, pushed Tri-X and maybe a few fast lenses. My very first old kit was a Pentax ME Super with a 50mm f/1.4. That combination taught me so much, like how to hold still. One of my favorite cameras still to this day is the Pentax Spotmatic with the 50/1.4 SMC Takumar. A world class lens, without a doubt. And unless it has gotten six full stops darker, that camera and lens are still very usable today with 800 or even 400 ISO film and good technique.

As for the M9, it's a fantastic camera when used within its limitations. I complain about mine all the time but I think I'm keeping it. To invest in a suite of Nikkors and a good body that will do what I can with the M9 (that is some really FAST glass, super low vibration, extreme sharpness when I do my job) would cost almost as much as the M9. That's why I got into Leica digital. I already had the M4 and a few lenses that I dearly love and will not part with.
High ISO performance be damned, the M9 is an awesome camera for a shooter with good technique. If you can hack it using film, you can do it with the M9. The highest ISO I ever go to is 1600 and that is in very dimly lit situations using my Canon 50/1.2 or 35 'Lux. Usually my high ISO is 800 and I shoot at f/2.8 at night on the streets of Philadelphia. Granted, there is a decent amount of light but it's not bright by any account. The files are clean and as long as I do my job with the camera, the photos look good.
Go for it.

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Old 02-20-2012   #7
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Also; ever considered the voigtlander SL lineup for your d700? You can have a 20mm, 28mm, 40mm and 75mm, the first three being pancakes. Would probably make for a similar size and weight setup as the m9.
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Old 02-20-2012   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveywaugh View Post
Seems like a good deal on the M9 and surely it will hold it's value OK for a while yet (so you wouldn't lose too much). That selection of M lenses sounds great, and no current alternative will ultimately do it justice (Nex etc.) We all hope something will just appear but frankly what we are really waiting for is a FF digital rangefinder for $3K... but I can;t see it happening for a while ;-)

To think about... are you really going to use the digital M for your commercial work over the D700? If you're not shooting with the M2 at all - are you certain the digital M is the way to go? $5500 buys a whole lot of other stuff ;-)



Hi Davey,

No intention of using an M9 over the D700 for the paid work ... it wouldn't cut it and I'm well aware of that having had experience in that environment with an M8.

I just see an M9 as a go to (albeit expensive) recreational camera for the images I'm not getting now because film's too much like hard work ... and the D700 is somewhat of an ogre when it comes to portability.

I already have loads of 'other stuff' ... especially for 135mm but it gets little use for the same reasons the M mount glass doesn't. Film is a bother for me at the moment for various reasons ... that will change in the future (hopefully next year) and a return to 135mm film would be on the cards but in the meantime I'm suffering with a sense of frustration at not taking enough photographs outside of what I do professionally.
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Old 02-20-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mugent View Post
Why not send your films off for process and scan? This would would avoid the backlog. Good scans can be expensive, but not M9 expensive.
Possibly because developers don't deal with B&W? At least where I'm living...
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Old 02-20-2012   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mugent View Post
Why not send your films off for process and scan? This would would avoid the backlog. Good scans can be expensive, but not M9 expensive.

Not really a great option in this country. (Aust) Film processing (pro level) is very expensive and scanning isn't much better.

I can currently afford a used M9 and to be honest my shooting pleasure is more important to me than a cost per shot calculation based on the two options of sticking with film or using a full frame digital RF.
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Old 02-20-2012   #11
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Nice used nex 5n with viewfinder for around 700. Compact, cheap, shoots everything. Sell it for 500 in a year when the full frame EVIL is out--or your mind is set on something else.
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Old 02-20-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gavinlg View Post
Also; ever considered the voigtlander SL lineup for your d700? You can have a 20mm, 28mm, 40mm and 75mm, the first three being pancakes. Would probably make for a similar size and weight setup as the m9.


The D700 is a lump of a camera that I can use happily professionally but it gives me little pleasure out of that environment ... no lens line up will change that!

I find the F6 far more usable which is odd because they look much the same ... in the hands they are vastly different.
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Old 02-20-2012   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
Yeah, I keep asking if the world is getting darker and no one answers. We DON'T NEED these extreme high ISOs that have become fashionable these days. What we need is better technique.
Depends entirely on what you shoot. I've got quite a few pictures on my blog (link below) that were iso 5000, 1/30th, f2 on my x100. Not possible with iso1600 at all. Saying you don't need high ISO is like saying you don't need planes because you have boats. If you don't need to use it, it really doesn't make a difference to you. If you need it, it's there.
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Old 02-20-2012   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
[/b][/i]

...

I just see an M9 as a go to (albeit expensive) recreational camera for the images I'm not getting now because film's too much like hard work ... and the D700 is somewhat of an ogre when it comes to portability.

...
Is the D700 that big with just a single prime lens? We're talking about recreational photography after all. It's gotta be smaller than that Crown Graphic you hauled around a few times, and you got some great photos with that!
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Old 02-20-2012   #15
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Quote:
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Is the D700 that big with just a single prime lens? We're talking about recreational photography after all. It's gotta be smaller than that Crown Graphic you hauled around a few times, and you got some great photos with that!

I think I used the Crown Graphic for the same reason Hillary climbed Everest ... it's the challenge!

I admire the D700 hugely Chris but I get absolutely no pleasure from using it outside of the work environment. Whereas I enjoy using a rangefinder and I like using a small SLR ... they make my world seem a better place!
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Old 02-20-2012   #16
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I think if processing and scanning 135 has become such a PITA then why bother with it. Question is what fits recreational (cool term, btw!!!) photography best? S100, GRDx, X100, X10, NEX, Pany, Pen? Plenty of choices! Prefer it all simple? Please! Looking for a system? There are m43 choices. Small sized crop DSLR? Easily! I think analysis step already is a part of recreational photography But seriously - M9 will sell year ago even if M10 will be heading market. Just will have to use it often enough to sqeeze out maximal ROI.
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Old 02-20-2012   #17
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If you can live with the cost of the M9, then why not? Otherwise, I would try to get over the idea of crop factors, and buy a camera for a fraction of the price. Maybe a NEX, maybe an R-D1?
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Old 02-20-2012   #18
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Quote:
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I think if processing and scanning 135 has become such a PITA then why bother with it. Question is what fits recreational (cool term, btw!!!) photography best? S100, GRDx, X100, X10, NEX, Pany, Pen? Plenty of choices! Prefer it all simple? Please! Looking for a system? There are m43 choices. Small sized crop DSLR? Easily! I think analysis step already is a part of recreational photography But seriously - M9 will sell year ago even if M10 will be heading market. Just will have to use it often enough to sqeeze out maximal ROI.




I figure an M9 may lose some value over a year or two but if it gets me where I want to be photographically the cost is worth it IMO. Return on investment is not my priority with a camera I use casually ... it has to make me happy also. I miss using my Canon 50mm f1.2 and the excellent 35mm f1.2 Nokton.

And I'm very comfortable with digital post processing these days, thanks to having to come to grips with it through my paid work.

BTW ... I always enjoy your very informed rational posts!
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Old 02-20-2012   #19
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If it's totally non-professional and size is the main issue, then I cannot see how that $5500, plus the $3K in lenses can be justified. At some point you'll possibly be wanting the D800 too ;-) I'd second the Fuji XPro with the few primes and sell your M mount lenses and M2 (unless you're THAT attached to them). Better still, keep your M2 and fav lens and shoot s bit of film. It just seems like such a massive investment...
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Old 02-20-2012   #20
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I always found it difficult to separate what I need from what I want and then correlate the outcome with what I can afford ...
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Old 02-20-2012   #21
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Quote:
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If it's totally non-professional and size is the main issue, then I cannot see how that $5500, plus the $3K in lenses can be justified. At some point you'll possibly be wanting the D800 too ;-) I'd second the Fuji XPro with the few primes and sell your M mount lenses and M2 (unless you're THAT attached to them). Better still, keep your M2 and fav lens and shoot s bit of film. It just seems like such a massive investment...

Considering how well the D700 does what I ask of it that seems unlikely and I'd be incredibly reluctant to part with my M mount lenses ... or my M2!

And I hated the way the auto focus futzed about on the X100 when I had it ... in fact auto focus generally doesn't impress me. I never use it on the D700!
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Old 02-20-2012   #22
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If you can live with the cost then the M9 is the right camera for you. Instant output, portability, lens use and enjoyment of usage are all covered.
I don't mind carrying the D700 even with the pro zooms I have but that's me.
I sold the M9 because it just didn't do it for me and bought another MP instead. Each to their own as they say but I like Leica's for film and Nikon's for digital.
I would buy another M9 but only when the price hits $2500 and sooner or later it will, that's the nature of digital. As for waiting for the M10, one can sit and wait forever and there will always be the next best thing but in the meantime you are missing photos.
The M9 is a great camera when it works as intended and I don't want to get into reliability issues but it's always in the background so one has to calculate into the equation the cost of repair if it needs them. I'd always want a solid warranty with a Leica digital.
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Old 02-20-2012   #23
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Keith, I was in the very same position last year -- I have a D700 for work, and enjoy it for such, but could never think of using it on the weekends for 'personal' work, as I have no 'personal attachment' to it other than for work. And like you, I had a cabinet full of Leica glass, but wasn't really into using much film any more. Enter the Leica M9 -- yes, it's expensive, but look at all the pluses you'd get out of it. As far as the 'Leica M10' goes, it doesn't exist, except on 'rumors' sites. I've been waiting for the Nikon D800 for the last three years, and now finally it's being introduced this spring (supposedly!). Had I told myself not to buy the D700 because the D800 would be on the horizon, I'd still be using my D200 now and missing out on all that I accomplished over the last few years with my D700. So that wait for the mystical Leica M10 may be still a few years out, and you'll still be waiting. But who knows -- they could announce it next week for all I know.....
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Old 02-20-2012   #24
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For what it's worth, I also shoot some SLR for work and RF for family/pleasure. I Often, for family photography, I use a Nikon D40 with a 35/1.8 lens, or one of my older pre-AI lenses with some focus guesswork. I also do several rolls of film per month with the RF cameras. Here in southern Germany, the Schlecker chain of drug stores does affordable one-week turnaround on processing, with prints and a CD of 1800x1200 scans. That's sufficient for what I do with my pleasure pix, and on rare occassion I'll do a higher resolution scan with my Nikon 4000 negative scanner. I'm moving back to the U.S. in a month or so and may have to resort to a mail-away service or else start developing my own B&W negs.
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Old 02-20-2012   #25
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whether this will help or not, i cannot tell ...

not so long time ago, i was doing the film stuff only. then, i happened to hold an M9 for a few minutes, and i immediately knew, this is the thing. if i want a digital RF, it must be M9. the epson was nice, but too limiting to me (difficulties with wide angle).
then, i stumbled over a used one at a price too nice when compared to new. i argued with myself for 5 minutes, and i bought it.

since then, it's fun again to go digital. it is not a replacement for film based photography, though. just the properties of "digital" combined with RF.

so, i can only recommend: go for it!

the M9 is a very useable camera, and no M10 will be able to change that.

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