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CSC : Digital Compact System Cameras - This new category of digital Compact System Cameras with interchangeable lenses was mislabeled for a time as "Mirrorless Cameras" by those forgetting about "Mirrorless" Rangefinder cameras.  Such confusion is easily understandable, since interchangeable rangefinder cameras were only recently introduced in 1932.  hmm.    CSC or Compact System Camera is probably the best category description to date, although I am fond of the old RFF desigation of  CEVIL  indicating Compact Electronic Viewfidner Interchangeable Lens.   This forum is here at RFF because via adapters these cameras offer an inexpensive way to use rangefinder lenses on digital cameras -- in addition of just about every 35mm SLR lens you can think of.  All  offer the photo enthusiast an incredible array of adopted lenses which was not possible before these new digital formats.   This group continues to grow in popularity and new camera models! 

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Can't decide - digital camera with leica m lenses
Old 08-09-2015   #1
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Can't decide - digital camera with leica m lenses

I've been researching for about 5 months, on and off and can't seem to pull the trigger on a digital camera for my Leica Lenses (21mm VC/LTM, 28mm Elmarit, 35mm Summilux, 50mm Summicron). BUT, it doesn't have to necessarily take Leica glass since I have been shooting a Canon G11, which now has a chip in the glass and acting up, so I'm replacing it. However, it's kind of nice to think that I can use my great Leica glass, so why not, right? My budget is about $1000, so I know that limits things severely. I've been looking at the M8, Fuji X-pro1 (or similar) and Sony A7 and I haven't pulled the trigger on anything and I have a 4 month trip coming up at the end of August that I want it for. I have been shooting film for over 15 years and never really shoot digital except on my Samsung S6 and a point and shoot Canon G11 for work events and life snaps. Some of my dilemmas are:

- (biggest concern) I use 35mm and 28mm lengths for 99% of my shooting (so full farm is ideal, but not necessary since the 21mm and 28mm lenses I have can sub, but I lose my f1.4 for low light)
- The quality is important, but since I shoot film exclusively for printing at the moments, I don't know how many large prints I will squeeze out. But if I do, I will be comparing it to my 35mm film prints, so....just a dilemma.
- I don't need a million features.
- It has to be rugged and take a beating. I will be on a motorcycle for a month, then off to Brazil where it will sit in a backpack with lots of other things smashing into it.
- The less bulky the better for discreetness. I'll be shooting in some pretty slummy hoods and will tape and deface the hell out of it, but it would still be nice to keep small.

Any help would be great. Looking to make the purchase next week. Any other options would be fine too if I'm missing something. I've never shot digital seriously and own a Canon g11 for digital snaps and would consider something similar.
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Old 08-09-2015   #2
Larry H-L
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The Sony A7 won't work too well with your wide lenses (unless you get the Kolari thin glass conversion), and the Fuji will crop quite a bit, giving you 31.5mm, 42mm, 50mm and 75mm effective focal lengths.

The M8 will crop slightly less, but your ISO range will be more limited.

Tough call with your budget. I guess I'd look for a used A7 and spring for the conversion. No crop factor, and pretty good higher ISOs.
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Old 08-09-2015   #3
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i don't like digital images, but if someone pointed a gun to my head and told me to pick and use one, it be a Fujifilm X-E2, X-T1, X-T10. still doesn't compare to true film color and soul, but it's the best i've seen yet.
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Old 08-09-2015   #4
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I do not think M wides work well with Sony. Do some searches. Leica did some sensor mods to make them work .

Color needs the UV/IR filters to get decent color. It is not just the blacks that go wonky.

Rangefinders are a problem if the camera is handled too roughly.
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Old 08-09-2015   #5
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Maybe just replace the G11 with something like a Sony RX100 (four versions to pick from) or a Panasonic LX100. If you need a lot of lens, the new Canon G3 X has been well reviewed.

You will definitely run into image quality problems adapting your 21 and 28 to most non-Leica digital cameras because the thickness of the glass layers over the sensor are too thick for these types of lenses and result in smearing of details in the outer 1/4 to 1/3 of the image, particularly when focused at farther distances. This is often combined with another problem - sensor color shift. The color shift can be corrected in post but the detail smearing cannot. Apparently the Fuji cameras have quite thick sensor cover glass, so will likely be problematic. Some of the Sony NEX series cameras have been OK. Better still is the old Ricoh GXR with M-mount module. It has the least edge smearing of an APS-C sensor and the camera is quite customizable, but it's no speed demon. Being discontinued, you'll have to source a used one and should be somewhat under the $500 range for the body and module. You'll probably also want the EVF for it.

For full frame, the best non-Leica route is as already mentioned - a used Sony a7 plus the $400 Kolari sensor modification.
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Old 08-09-2015   #6
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Originally Posted by rscheffler View Post
Maybe just replace the G11 with something like a Sony RX100 (four versions to pick from) or a Panasonic LX100. If you need a lot of lens, the new Canon G3 X has been well reviewed...
Kind of what I was thinking, especially when there is a concern about going into rough areas, and having a rugged camera. For 28mm and 35mm, you might want to consider the Ricoh GR; for a broader range, the rscheffler suggestions should be considered.

I like the controls on the Ricoh, but I've been using variations of the current model for some years now, so they're second nature. Another possible plus is you can get an external optical viewfinder for the 28mm.

There is a cropping option which will give you 35mm with large enough files for decent, but not gigantic, enlargements.

My GR fell from my belt pouch and bounced on some pavement, and kept on working.

I do have an M9, but for the situations you anticipate, would probably be more comfortable with the GR.
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Old 08-10-2015   #7
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still doesn't compare to true film color and soul...
soul? ...

It might be smart to forget about your lenses for this trip and just get a Fuji X100s and the wide adapter.
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Old 08-10-2015   #8
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Maybe you might want to consider the Ricoh GXR's M-mount together with the 28mm module. Since the M-mount module was designed for M lenses, it'll work really well with your current Leica lenses. Plus the GXR is also close to the G11's size.

The GXR set goes for less than $1000 these days.
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Old 08-10-2015   #9
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For your rugged trip consider another canon like you have or a Fuji X10/20/30.
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Old 08-10-2015   #10
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Quote:
It might be smart to forget about your lenses for this trip and just get a Fuji X100s and the wide adapter.
I tend to agree.... for that money the Fuji may be the way to go. However, scrape up a little more and get an M8 if you can... my fav digi and the color rendition is excellent. Also B&W with the M8 is terrific.
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Old 08-10-2015   #11
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I'd go for a ruggedized camera for that particular trip and sort everything else out later on. There is not much point in taking a set of Leica lenses on a slumming trip on a bike, even if you don't get robbed, chances are that mud, dirt and vibrations will mess up the sensor or lens, so that the image quality will deteriorate below what a rugged compact like the DMC-FT5 would deliver.
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Old 08-10-2015   #12
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Ricoh GR is the way to go.
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Old 08-10-2015   #13
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I believe the best solution is to buy a used A7 and do the filter modification. Other than Leica & Epson, GR worked the best but its an old body (that can still work great though).
A7 will offer you a modern sensor.

But others are right, that you should also consider using some other system all together.
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Old 08-10-2015   #14
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Although an older camera, I'd go with a Ricoh GXR for those lenses. Very solid, excellent controls, and a camera unit (mount, sensor, shutter) specifically designed for Leica M mount lenses.

The Ricoh GXR with A12 Camera Mount is the most compatible camera I've used with the Voigtländer 21mm f/4. It will certainly work well with Elmarit 28mm, Summilux 35, and Summicron 50 as well, although as you say the APS-C format will effectively bump your focal lengths up a bit.

They're available on Ebay new and used, and for very reasonable prices given how good a camera it is. Example: http://www.ebay.com/.../RICOH-GXR-CAMERA-BODY-A12-M-MOUNT-MODULE-FOR-LEICA-M-NEW-UNUSED

The Ricoh VF-2 EVF for the GXR is available too; a trifle pricey. However, it's well worth it if you want an eye-level viewfinder.

This camera, the EVF, and 21/40/90 lenses was my main shooting rig for two years, until I bought the M9. It produces results well above its price tag.

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Old 08-10-2015   #15
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I have considered the same problem for different reasons, and thought a Sony Nex-7 would possibly be a good thing. Eye-level finder, focus peaking, small, 24mp. But in your case, I'd probably just take the kit lens with it and leave the good stuff at home.
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Old 08-10-2015   #16
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You have some good glass, like to shoot wide, and want to shoot film Leicas in parallel. I feel you really have only one choice: get yourself a used M9, they are pretty affordable these days. Your 28 Elmarit and 35 Lux will sing on it, and your 21 color skopar will be OK with cornerFix.

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Old 08-10-2015   #17
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hard to beat the sony rx100 for small, sharp and inconspicuous...
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Old 08-10-2015   #18
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hard to beat the sony rx100 for small, sharp and inconspicuous...
well, for at least two of the three...
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Old 08-10-2015   #19
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well, for at least two of the three...
which one do you take issue with?
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Old 08-10-2015   #20
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....
- It has to be rugged and take a beating. I will be on a motorcycle for a month, then off to Brazil where it will sit in a backpack with lots of other things smashing into it.
- The less bulky the better for discreetness. I'll be shooting in some pretty slummy hoods and will tape and deface the hell out of it, but it would still be nice to keep small...
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Old 08-10-2015   #21
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Hmm, I wish an M9 could be had for your budget. I would think the A7 is going to be your best bet if you want to use your M-mount lenses to their best potential. Use Cornerfix on your wide images for now, and get the thin cover glass conversion (Kolari?) when your budget rebounds a bit. Then you'll be set. I see pre-owned A7's at your budget quite often.

I personally wouldn't consider any of the smaller format cameras. For me, I've found that I just need full frame for the familiarity of focal length behavior, DOF, and the image quality tends to be quite nice as well. I own some m4/3 gear, and I use it, but its sufficiently different than what I've used for so many decades that it affects how I feel while shooting, and ultimately how the photos turn out.

Now having said that, I wonder if you really want to take your "nice glass" and "new camera" on a trip that has such hazards to their well-being. I know, why have stuff if you don't use it. I also subscribe to that philosophy, but I also believe one should use the appropriate tool for the job at hand. That would steer me toward a ruggedized camera. Everyone needs one in their gear inventory anyway, so might as well get it now and be done with it. I heard the Olympus version lives up to its marketing hype...
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Old 08-10-2015   #22
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Plus one on the Fuji x100 suggestion

Used Fuji x100s or x100t w/ wcl and tcl adapters.. U get 35f2 fov base focal length and the adapters provide 28f2 and 50f2 fov.

Ricoh GR is another good suggestion.. Or gxr w/ a28 module and the optional evf.

I would leave your m glass at home myself and keep it simple.

Have a good trip
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Old 08-10-2015   #23
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I've been researching for about 5 months,
Seriously? A Sony NEX costs nothing these days. Get the cheapest NEX 3 or 5 available and see if digital and the crop factor are working for you. Given your research speed, I will come back to this thread in two years and then we can discuss your upgrade path.
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Old 08-10-2015   #24
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Originally Posted by jordanstarr View Post
I've been researching for about 5 months, on and off and can't seem to pull the trigger on a digital camera for my Leica Lenses (21mm VC/LTM, 28mm Elmarit, 35mm Summilux, 50mm Summicron). BUT, it doesn't have to necessarily take Leica glass since I have been shooting a Canon G11, which now has a chip in the glass and acting up, so I'm replacing it. However, it's kind of nice to think that I can use my great Leica glass, so why not, right? My budget is about $1000, so I know that limits things severely. I've been looking at the M8, Fuji X-pro1 (or similar) and Sony A7 and I haven't pulled the trigger on anything and I have a 4 month trip coming up at the end of August that I want it for. I have been shooting film for over 15 years and never really shoot digital except on my Samsung S6 and a point and shoot Canon G11 for work events and life snaps. Some of my dilemmas are:

- (biggest concern) I use 35mm and 28mm lengths for 99% of my shooting (so full farm is ideal, but not necessary since the 21mm and 28mm lenses I have can sub, but I lose my f1.4 for low light)
- The quality is important, but since I shoot film exclusively for printing at the moments, I don't know how many large prints I will squeeze out. But if I do, I will be comparing it to my 35mm film prints, so....just a dilemma.
- I don't need a million features.
- It has to be rugged and take a beating. I will be on a motorcycle for a month, then off to Brazil where it will sit in a backpack with lots of other things smashing into it.
- The less bulky the better for discreetness. I'll be shooting in some pretty slummy hoods and will tape and deface the hell out of it, but it would still be nice to keep small.

Any help would be great. Looking to make the purchase next week. Any other options would be fine too if I'm missing something. I've never shot digital seriously and own a Canon g11 for digital snaps and would consider something similar.
Crop factor will only affect the DOF, not low light capability. The aperture (light gathering ability) does not change. From an exposure point of view, f1.4 is f1.4.
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Old 08-10-2015   #25
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I don't think there is much to research. It it mount Leica M lenses it is either a mirrorless or a Leica, if it costs around 1,000 US$ it is not a Leica. If lenses must have the same angle of view as in a Film M camera it must be FF, which nails it only to a few carefully selected second hand Sony cameras. They have problems with wide angle lenses which have already been mentioned, so you will probably not like the result. If you are ok with crop you can pick more or less any mirrorless camera. You will not really alter dof, just the angle of view. Your 28mm f2.0 lens will still have the same dof it has always had, but now the image will cover an angle similar to that of a 42mm lens on a film camera if your crop body has, say, a 1.5x factor, that of a 56mm lens on a 4/3 sensor. Whether the combination is good or not it's up to debate, but if you needed the angle of view of a 28mm lens of course you no longer have it. To end the suggestions, I have seen a lot of people trying to get sort of sub-par digital cameras on the base they like film. In my opinion they are two different beasts. Digital cameras are nice because they are fast, you can shoot a lot, you can set lights quickly, use them as Polaroid substitutes in this, put in an underwater housing and take 500 pictures in one dive etc. Film is nice because...it is film. I think you should either buy a Leica if you can afford it or buy a good digital system which was designed from the ground up as a digital system you probably will save money and be more satisfied. Ah, the Ricoh GXR module is a kind of a odd thing because it was designed for M lenses with a crop factor. I have it and it is nice but you will be buying into a dead system with sensor technology which is already several years old (think maybe a Nikon D300 sort of sensor) and it is not really very cheap if compared, say, top a Canon EOS M.

GLF
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Old 08-10-2015   #26
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I don't think there is much to research. It it mount Leica M lenses it is either a mirrorless or a Leica, if it costs around 1,000 US$ it is not a Leica. If lenses must have the same angle of view as in a Film M camera it must be FF, which nails it only to a few carefully selected second hand Sony cameras. They have problems with wide angle lenses which have already been mentioned, so you will probably not like the result. If you are ok with crop you can pick more or less any mirrorless camera. You will not really alter dof, just the angle of view. Your 28mm f2.0 lens will still have the same dof it has always had, but now the image will cover an angle similar to that of a 42mm lens on a film camera if your crop body has, say, a 1.5x factor, that of a 56mm lens on a 4/3 sensor. Whether the combination is good or not it's up to debate, but if you needed the angle of view of a 28mm lens of course you no longer have it. To end the suggestions, I have seen a lot of people trying to get sort of sub-par digital cameras on the base they like film. In my opinion they are two different beasts. Digital cameras are nice because they are fast, you can shoot a lot, you can set lights quickly, use them as Polaroid substitutes in this, put in an underwater housing and take 500 pictures in one dive etc. Film is nice because...it is film. I think you should either buy a Leica if you can afford it or buy a good digital system which was designed from the ground up as a digital system you probably will save money and be more satisfied. Ah, the Ricoh GXR module is a kind of a odd thing because it was designed for M lenses with a crop factor. I have it and it is nice but you will be buying into a dead system with sensor technology which is already several years old (think maybe a Nikon D300 sort of sensor) and it is not really very cheap if compared, say, top a Canon EOS M.

GLF
Actually depth of field is related to the crop factor. For a fairly detailed explanation of this, check out:

http://photo.net/learn/optics/dofdigital/

Usually the arguments are always about exposure, which does not change.
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Old 08-10-2015   #27
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Wow! Thanks everyone for the great feedback. Based on what is said and some more research, I'm leaning towards something like the Sony RX100 or similar. I guess I overestimated the m-mount capabilities of some of the digital cameras over a year old in my budget range. I knew my options would be limited, but it's good to hear first hand accounts of this. My research has been off and on for some time, comparing reviews, images, etc. and never really settled. It looks like if I want to get very serious about Leica lenses on digital bodies, I'll have to save up more than I have allotted for.

Still willing to hear about other options available, probably similar to the rx100 or maybe this is the wrong thread/forum now? I apologize if it is. Pretty ignorant towards digital and my Leica film cameras will still be my primary, but I guess in certain situations, I have to get with the times. *sigh*. Steep learning curve, but thanks for everyone's input. It's given me more to learn and look at to educate myself. I appreciate all your time to make my trip that much better. Muito obrigado amigos!
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Old 08-10-2015   #28
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I'm leaning towards something like the Sony RX100 or similar.
I have had the RX100 Mk1 for nearly three years, and I rate it very highly. It took a while - several weeks! - to get comfortable with it (menus are confusing), but once you have set it to your liking, you don't need to mess with the menus too much. It is superb; very small, light, and well-made, and the IQ is amazing for something so small. I would presume that the later models are at least as good - or better.

It goes without saying that you should try to handle one, before purchasing. The camera is a slippery little fella in the raw. I would recommend getting the case and using the lower half of it... alternatively, get one of the available grips. The half-case really improves the handling, IMO - with very little penalty in size (it still fits easily into a trouser pocket).
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Old 08-11-2015   #29
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Wow! Thanks everyone for the great feedback. Based on what is said and some more research, I'm leaning towards something like the Sony RX100 or similar. I guess I overestimated the m-mount capabilities of some of the digital cameras over a year old in my budget range. I knew my options would be limited, but it's good to hear first hand accounts of this. My research has been off and on for some time, comparing reviews, images, etc. and never really settled. It looks like if I want to get very serious about Leica lenses on digital bodies, I'll have to save up more than I have allotted for.

Still willing to hear about other options available, probably similar to the rx100 or maybe this is the wrong thread/forum now? I apologize if it is. Pretty ignorant towards digital and my Leica film cameras will still be my primary, but I guess in certain situations, I have to get with the times. *sigh*. Steep learning curve, but thanks for everyone's input. It's given me more to learn and look at to educate myself. I appreciate all your time to make my trip that much better. Muito obrigado amigos!
Practically speaking the A7 (even unmodified) is a fine camera for M lenses. Few people I know ever shoot fast lenses at wide apertures and infinity. In most cases you can stop down to achieve better corner performance, and corner resolution loss is a non-issue for portraits and most street work. And lenses above 35mm will perform perfectly fine on the sensor (with a few exceptions, though). Very few M lenses show visible resolution loss at F7.1-F8 on the unmodified A7, which for work at infinity barely reaches good in-focus zone coverage.

I've shot the A7 exclusively with M lenses for a year before the kolarivision mod. I still work with two unmodified A7 family cameras, but I try to keep the longer lenses on them. The system is now on par with Fuji/Canikon APS-C in terms of price - not much more expensive than an RX100 III and cheaper than an RX100 IV.

I would borrow or rent a body to see if you like the experience and how well your lenses perform on the sensor and, if things go well, perhaps think about potentially getting a filter stack mod.

And on a personal note, I've never found the RX100 cameras to be quite good enough for critical work and printing. The lens limits the output resolution of the sensor and color noise is fairly significant at moderate ISO levels. It's certainly no substitute for a proper APS-C or FF ILC.
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Old 08-11-2015   #30
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I've never found the RX100 cameras to be quite good enough for critical work and printing. The lens limits the output resolution of the sensor and color noise is fairly significant at moderate ISO levels. It's certainly no substitute for a proper APS-C or FF ILC.
I'd say that this depends on the intended print size, and also, one's personal preferences. I'm not trying to be contradictory here, and this certainly isn't an anti-A7 stance - as it happens, I've been considering getting one, myself. That said, I find the noise from the RX100 to be (mostly) quite acceptable, and often (when suitably processed through Rawtherapee) rather pleasingly grain-like. I also don't chase sharpness - in fact, I find absolute sharpness rather tiresome. However, I do realise that this might be seen as heresy on a camera forum.

Of course, ultimately, you're quite right... the maximum print size from the RX100 isn't going to get too close to that from the A7, but one also has to keep in mind the portability factor - especially for the OP's planned motorcycle trip. An A7 with lens(es) isn't going to fit in a jeans pocket...

Great choices to have available, though... it's ALL good!
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Old 08-11-2015   #31
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Originally Posted by tbhv55 View Post
I'd say that this depends on the intended print size, and also, one's personal preferences. I'm not trying to be contradictory here, and this certainly isn't an anti-A7 stance - as it happens, I've been considering getting one, myself. That said, I find the noise from the RX100 to be (mostly) quite acceptable, and often (when suitably processed through Rawtherapee) rather pleasingly grain-like. I also don't chase sharpness - in fact, I find absolute sharpness rather tiresome. However, I do realise that this might be seen as heresy on a camera forum.

Of course, ultimately, you're quite right... the maximum print size from the RX100 isn't going to get too close to that from the A7, but one also has to keep in mind the portability factor - especially for the OP's planned motorcycle trip. An A7 with lens(es) isn't going to fit in a jeans pocket...

Great choices to have available, though... it's ALL good!
I agree. IMO the RX100 could be better served by a slightly lower-resolution sensor. 16 or 12MP should help boost high iso by 1-1.5 stops without losing much print resolution. But you can actually get a lot out of the 24MP sensor if you are tedious and careful about the process...
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Old 08-11-2015   #32
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+1 on the X100/s/t and two converters. If you can't afford an M9, this is the most affordable rangefinder-like experience, and it's lightweight and well made, and the image quality is excellent. I've really been pleasantly surprised by those converters.
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Old 08-11-2015   #33
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Why would anyone risk buying a M9 until details about the technical solution for sensor cover-glass defect is formally announced?
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Old 08-11-2015   #34
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Ricoh mentioned above is very good option, or M8, which would also be good. A Sony A7 is about 700 and for 400 you can get a mod which makes it shoot M glass, well, but not the CV21/4. I think Kolari may even have these available to buy ready to go.

But the A7 is a very fragile camera compared to M9 or M8, with lots of exposed bits, and not much tolerance for water. Battery life is abysmal.

Rx100 is quite good and popular with climbers etc, but images will not compare to an M8 with RF glass.
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Old 08-11-2015   #35
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Actually depth of field is related to the crop factor. For a fairly detailed explanation of this, check out:

http://photo.net/learn/optics/dofdigital/

Usually the arguments are always about exposure, which does not change.
Ok, I knew this was going to happen... Since DOF involves a concept of "acceptably sharp" if you blow up a small portion of the image it can be that things which looked "sufficiently sharp" start to be not quite so. What I meant is that if you take a picture and you blow up a small portion of it, which is what you are doing anyway, since lenses project circular images and few of us take the whole picture (some home-made LF camera being the exception), this does not change the picture itself. When I wrote that "whether the result is ok or not it's up to discussion" I meant more or less what is in the article: it is possible that if you blow up the image produces in a 1mmx2mm square of the sensor to a 1'x2' print you get nothing which is actually sufficiently sharp, but you have not changed what is in that square.

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Old 08-11-2015   #36
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if it really will be for your Leica M lenses, that is 'not' a fixed lens camera, and for travel I'd take a Sony NEX 5n/r/t or NEX6, alpha 6000 for being cheap, small and lightweight, or a Ricoh GXR M. These all have APC-C sized sensor that make you lenses longer by x1.5. If you think you want fullframe a Sony A7. Some of these are only available used.
I would not be all that concerned about the reported shortcomings of corner performance of RF wide angles. On the APS-C cameras they aren't all that obvious to non existing as on the GXR M. On the A7 one could, in those instances where corner performance is important, plan on cropping in post already when taking photos
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Old 08-11-2015   #37
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But the A7 is a very fragile camera compared to M9 or M8, with lots of exposed bits, and not much tolerance for water.
It is relatively fragile, but hardly compared to Leicas, even less so to the digital ones. The M8/M9 aren't exactly kings of waterproofing either, and the Leica rangefinder is less knock resistant than the entire A7. If it must be waterproof and ruggedized, get a corresponding camera, or live with the risk and limit the budget to something you can write off if it breaks.
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Old 08-23-2015   #38
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Hey everyone. I went with an RX100 mii and decided against the leica glass option until I can pony up for an M9 or something full frame with the wide angle issue resolved. I found one used for like $300US and it works like a charm, so now I have more money for film and the trips.
I appreciate all the advice and warnings. I probably would have went a little over my head and would have to deal with a lot of unnecessary last minute frustrations.

Cheers!
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