Mar 172011

In March of 2010, I finally received my Leica M9. I had been thinking about this camera since its introduction. My sustained interest in the M9 taught me this: if you can’t get it out of your head, you have to get it into your hands. So, in January 2010 I placed orders at several stores, hoping to get this camera before an upcoming trip to Argentina. Quickly I realized that this was not going to happen; so many people had placed orders that my name landed at the very bottom of every last list. At the time, I was using a Canon 5Dmk2 with various lenses. I liked that system, but it felt too large for my kind of photography. I grew up using viewfinder cameras, like the Rollei 35Te and the Mamiya 7II. I had owned a Leica M6 for several years and it had been one of my favorite cameras ever. I sold my M6 when I moved to digital with the M8. That camera lasted all of three months. To put it plain: we did not bond. I just didn’t like it. It was close to my M6, but the overall feel and the fact that it failed me in several crucial situations soured the relationship. We parted company. Next came a Canon 5D. After that, I went out with a Nikon D700. The D700 was replaced by the Canon 5Dmk2. What can I say? It’s important to find the right fit in such an important relationship. I became a frequent E-bay seller while awaiting my M9.

My trip to Argentina came, along with the strong belief that the M9 would have been the perfect tool for the adventure. It did not materialize. I convinced myself to give the M8 another try. I bought a used M8.2. I still owned a 35mm Summicron from my M6 days. I kept it because I loved that lens so much and I believed that it would shine again. A 28mm lens got added to that set and I left for the three week trip. It was perfect. Along came my Canon SLR, though I rarely used it. I felt comfortable again carrying around the Leica and enjoyed taking stealth photos in the streets of Buenos Aires. I am not entirely sure what made the difference compared to the M8. I think the shutter sound and the feel of that button were huge for me. Anyone who wants to get into the M8 shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the shutter noise. With the M8.2 and the M9, you can hold down the shutter button and it winds the shutter up when you release it. Take a shot, keep holding down the button, walk around a corner and release to wind up the shutter. It makes the camera even more discreet. The M8 shutter is soft and loud. Using the M8.2 convinced me that the M9 would be the right fit for me. I wanted the same type of camera with higher resolution. And I wanted to use my 35mm Summicron as a 35mm lens again. I continued to nurse my anticipation of the M9 and how it would enhance my life.

Soon after my return from the trip, the M9 arrived, and it did not disappoint. For those interested in its intricacies and how it compares to some of the other cameras I know, read on!

First, as someone who has bought and sold a lot of cameras, I know that value matters a lot. Buying an M9 system is a huge stretch for most people and can feel hard to justify. Dealing with your credit limit is one thing. Having the camera around your neck is another experience entirely— like holding an infant. In the beginning it was constantly on my mind that I had a $10.000 block of metal and glass around my neck. One serious faux pas and the relationship ends. I have to admit that I dropped my M6 once. I was rushing to a ferry on the Island of Culebra/ Puerto Rico. It was dark and I was running with my luggage when suddenly the strap opened up and the camera dropped onto the street. I have to say that I didn’t work up the courage to look at the damage until I was on the ferry and I could slowly move my head down to investigate the result of the impact. The M9 reminds me of that moment. In the beginning, I carefully placed it on the table and wrapped the strap several times around my wrist when I walked around. I consciously planned every move. I went through stages of justification. Is this worth carrying around? Is this too much money? Is my photography good enough to justify owning this camera? After a few weeks everything settled down. My bank account moved from intensive care to rehab, and I got more relaxed. I treat it like a tool, leave it at work, and loan it to friends who want to try it out for a day. Once I left it hanging on a chair at a restaurant at the Boston International Airport. I remembered it as I was walking towards my car. My nonchalance was disrupted for a moment; my run inside the terminal would have challenged Carl Lewis. It was still hanging there.

The resale price of this camera will drop. It already has. I am calculating that it will drop by around $1000 a year for the first few years, and then the curve will flatten a bit. That is more or less the amount of money that I previously spent on film each year. Yes, I would save money with a cheaper camera. When I sold my Canon after a year I lost $500. In the end, I stopped looking at it. It is like paying the fees for a gym. It is a hobby, a creative outlet, a tool to tune my visual skills. That alone is worth every cent. Value matters, at least to me, but you have to ride out the phases of justification and disbelieve until you reach inner peace. That’s when you start handling the camera in the way it was intended. That describes any camera purchase. Don’t buy the M9 if it is a strain on your budget. You may not enjoy it. Some people may think that even a $400 camera would be a huge investment and they are right. Find out what is within your realistic comfort zone and buy accordingly. Good photography happens at any price level. If you are fortunate enough to even consider an M9 purchase, then go for it.

The Leica M9 immediately communicates its craftsmanship. It is a beautiful camera. At the same time it is an inconspicuous camera, not for those who want to walk around and get attention. Most people would mistake the M9 for a $50 camera from E-bay. A few people have asked me how old it is and then expressed surprise when I told them that it is a new camera. Only a few have noticed that this is something special, and I use that to my advantage. I feel more comfortable walking around with this camera under my arm than I do with any DSLR. Muggers most likely get attracted to larger cameras. Another advantage: a lot of people that I photograph are more relaxed when I point the camera at them. A big lens often intimidates. In many instances, people didn’t even realize that I took a photo of them with the M9.

On the other hand, the M9 has some minor cosmetic flaws. Some may know the moment when you discover the first scratch or dent on a new car—and the embarrassment of realizing you caused the scratch. The same happened with my M9 early on. During the first week we were together, I taped off the M9 label to make the camera look more discreet. I used some electrical tape for this task. After another week, I decided to take it off again. In addition to removing the tape, I removed 1/3 of the M as well. I was surprised since I had done this for years on my M6 without any problems. I read on the Internet that several M9 owners had similar experiences. Somehow, the paint seems to be less sticky. Maybe it is a more environmentally friendly solution. Thinking positively, I can see that it is good for those who like to remove that logo completely . Just take some tape, press it into the recessed area and rip it off. Think of it as waxing the M9. Another area that will show signs of use easily is the aperture dial. The 15 and the 2 are half gone after a year’s use.

My solution is a bottle of Testors Enamel paint. Take a fine brush and fill the cavities. Use a straight piece of rubber to remove all excess paint and let it dry. I bet Leica does the same. At least that’s how it looks in their M9 assembly video. After three months, the camera started getting brassy along the corners and edges. Again, I am not sure if Leica has changed anything in the coating, but it seems to wear more easily than my M6. A good way to protect it is the Leica neoprene case. I use it often.

The overall handling of the camera is great, although it is heavy for such a small object. It feels extremely dense. Many people who pick it up express surprise over its weight. It is not comparable in weight to a pro DSLR, but it is heavy for such a small box. Nonetheless, it is light enough to carry around on a daily basis—and that is exactly what I do. I take this camera with me every day. Before the M9, I took my Canon DSLR along when I was in a shooting mood. Otherwise, I grabbed a G10, just in case. I take the Leica every day, unless it is raining. What about weather sealing? As far as I know, the lenses are not sealed. A weather-sealed body will prevent any accidental damage to this pricey tool but to really use it in bad weather, the optics need to be redesigned as well. I am just imagining the new price. So, for me, it is a fair-weather friend, albeit a great one.

Rangefinders like the one on the M9 usually work for me, but I want to encourage anybody to try them out before buying this type of system. Too many people underestimate the difference between rangefinder and SLR systems, and they get frustrated when they have to envision and compose a shot. The rangefinder doesn’t let the photographer see the final image through the viewfinder. Instead, the person looks through a window with some framing lines. The user doesn’t see what is blurred and what is not because she or he is not looking through the lens. A 28mm lens matches the size of the entire viewfinder. If you put on a 50mm lens your view won’t zoom in. You will just get narrower frame lines in your finder. With the 90mm lens the frame is already very small and most of the viewfinder is being unused. SLRs always utilize the entire finder area. Viewfinder cameras don’t. Some people like that; some don’t. Over time, each person gets to know a lens and learn what kind of depth-of-field it will create at certain settings. M cameras force me to think a lot about what I am doing, and I like that. Looking through the window doesn’t give me great control over the image, but it gives me great control over the object. No mirror blocks my view. Usually I can tell instantaneously if someone closed her eyes during the exposure because I can see the person while I trigger the shutter. SLRs darken the image for a short period of time while they move the mirror on the inside.

I am a fan of manual focusing as well. I loved the split screens of older SLR cameras and miss them a lot in modern cameras. While autofocus is great, it jumps directly to one area. With manual focus, I can dial in and out. It takes longer to find the focus point but I can more easily fine-tune the exact position. A Leica M camera focuses with a rangefinder. Basically it overlaps two images; the photographer has to align them perfectly in the area on which he or she wants to focus. Have a look at the small, rectangular window near the M9 sign. That’s the second rangefinder opening. If you don’t see an overlapping image in your finder, most likely you are covering this tiny window with your finger. When it happens, you wonder why you can’t focus.

How does it work? Think of a triangle spanning these two windows and the object. You turn the focus ring on the lens, which changes the relation of the angles in the triangle, which gets translated into the position of the overlapping images in the viewfinder. It amazes me to see how well that works. It sounds antiquated, but my 50mm Summilux is similarly spot on. It is the most mechanically complex element of that camera. I find that my Leica lenses are well aligned with this mechanism. I experimented with two Zeiss lenses and both were off. The focus did not translate exactly into the viewfinder. I wonder if non-Leica lenses have lower tolerances, which could lead to a misaligned focus mechanism. Here’s a tip: try a lens at a shop before you buy. Each lens has slight differences.

What’s it like to use the camera in a physical sense? I often wrap the strap around my wrist and hold the camera in my right hand. I like that I can turn on the camera while I am holding it like this. When I see an interesting situation coming up I turn the camera on as I move it up to my eye. With Nikon DSLRs that works nicely as well. The power switch is part of the shutter release button, which puts it into the ideal place. I don’t like Canon’s approach to the power switch. It is not in a consistent place throughout their camera portfolio, and for most cameras you need a second hand to turn them on.

Don’t expect me to talk about the menu options of the M9. There are not many and the few that are there are well-organized. I don’t get lost in endless layers of features. That is good, and it keeps me focused—no pun intended. Honestly, the only features that I use on a regular basis are the play and delete buttons and the ISO setting. The layout is simple and intuitive. I don’t miss the battery LCD from the M8. I have developed a feel for the battery life and when to check its status. For me, it lasts for a day, maybe two. The 5Dmk2 often ran for a week before I had to do anything. The M9 is not great in that regard, but is ok enough. I have a second battery and I don’t mind charging one while I am using the other.

Other people have noted the slow buffer speed of the M9. Personally, I have never encountered that problem. It may exist when you shoot a lot of images in a row. News photographers may run into that problem, and it may be true for wedding photographers as well. The M9 is not a camera for sports photography. My personal style is on the slower side of taking photos. I take one shot, maybe two. I feel weird when I take three or four shots of the same object. I got that from using film and I am preserving this behavior. It makes me value each ‘frame’ a bit more and it makes me think about the composition between each click. Leica M’s work well for a very specific kind of photography. They are not all-around tools; but for street photography, they are almost perfect.

I use a SanDisk 32Gb card, which gives me enough storage for a day of shooting. Seeing the number of images that are remaining on a LCD is not important to me. I think the M9 is the only digital camera that I have ever owned that I fully understand and where I have seen all of the software features. And that’s not because I am particularly interested in them but because the Leica provides just the number of settings that match my attention span. Personally I am not a live-view user. I could see myself using it if I used wide-angle lenses. It would help me with framing. Sensor cleaning would be more important to me. My 5Dmk2 stayed dust free without me cleaning the sensor at all. So far, I have been using Photographic Solutions sensor swaps on the M9 without encountering any problems to the sensor. They work for me and I do this every few weeks. I still don’t understand why they are so expensive. They must be from the same guys who bottle tap water and sell it as Smart Water.

Another nice accessory is the Giottos screen protector. I used this one on my Canon cameras as well, and I can recommend it highly. It is well-made and you will forget that it is on the screen. The only difficulty is in applying it. The glue works really well and it is bubble free, but its frame is tight and you don’t want to cut off any part of your screen. One trick that makes it easier is to take a photo of something white and have it on the screen while you are applying the protector. The white photo creates a better background for positioning the black frame.


The bottom plate is one of these references to older Leicas. For those, who have not seen it yet: you have to remove the bottom plate to get access to the battery and the SD card.

Is that annoying? Yes, it is. Especially when you have to remove the battery and you start stuffing the plate into your mouth because you have no hand left to deal with camera, batteries, and plate.

That being said, I don’t want another door on that camera. I like the clean layout. I looked at some of the after-market bottom plates that have battery doors and SD card slots and they look terrible. Does that matter? To me it does. I like clean-looking objects, so I have to deal with the annoying bottom plate. Let’s call it “Function follows Form.” That’s interesting to me because decades ago Leica started with a “Form follows Function” concept. Everything was laid out to function perfectly. Over time, Leica created the signature look of the M models — and now they have to compromise the functionality to preserve the look of that camera model. The M9 is still a highly functional camera, but I can guarantee you that the size of the LCD screen was not selected because it was the best functional screen size available. It just nicely fits between the lines of the camera. It is like Porsche’s 911. You just see slight modifications. At the same time, you hear voices that are asking for a camera that focuses on functionality again. What would a full frame Leica with M lenses look like that would be designed without compromises?

Image quality, of course, is the photographer’s Holy Grail. I am not sure what I can add to this. I came from fairly high ground with my 5Dmk2. All I wanted was something that comes close to it. The step from the 10Mp M8.2 to the M9 was great. I love it when I press the 1/1 button in Lightroom and it jumps deep into the image and shows me incredible detail. I had that with the Canon and I am getting this with the M9. In the beginning, I took some shots to see how these two systems would deal in certain situations.


I will stay away from many comparison shots. There are enough on the Internet. All I can say is that the 5Dmk2 has better performance at higher ISO. If I need detailed images I don’t go higher than 640ISO on the M9. 1000ISO works ok for images of people in dark environments. If you go much higher, the image will be very soft and grainy. It is better when you have enough contrasting light somewhere in the photo but without it, the image gets dull. That’s where the Canon 5dmk2 has the edge. In addition, the Canon shows better white balance at night shots. The M9 tends to compensate with too many yellow tones. Have a look at this image of a house on my street. The first one is from the Canon.

It clearly shows a contrast between the yellow panels and the white framing. The Leica makes a yellow house out of it.

With some quick fixes the Leica image shows that color contrast as well. Overall the M9’s white balance is good.

I am not so concerned about white balance. I shoot in Raw only and correct color in Lightroom. My M9 has a slight green shift in daylight photos as well. I prefer warmer tones, which I adjust during import into Lightroom. White balance is not anything that the sensor captures. It is the camera’s interpretation of what the sensor has captured. By shooting Raw files you basically use the original sensor data, bypass the camera’s algorithm, and you make your own interpretation of that data. Shooting in Jpeg means that the camera will do the interpretation for you and will bake it into an image file. Potential buyers should not be concerned about camera white balance, unless they prefer to shoot in Jpeg. All I can say is, that using software like Lightroom, etc eliminates any impact of Raw files on your workflow. I would always shoot Raw because it allows me to make adjustments that I can not do in a Jpeg file. I don’t really see storage size as being a reason to switch from Raw to Jpeg. Prices for 1TB hard drives are low and large SD cards are not expensive anymore. Don’t spend that much money on such an expensive camera system and then cut short by shooting Jpeg. It just doesn’t make sense.

This camera captures details in shadow areas really well, at least at low ISO. I am often amazed how much detail the camera captures in areas that just look dark when you open them up. Once you adjust the exposure, you can get a lot out of the photo. It doesn’t work that well with highlights. Blown out areas can be pulled back a bit, but not much. At higher ISO the image gets sensitive to adjustments. Pushing details would result in heavy grain and in, some situations, streaks.

What I can recommend is a good lens that creates sharp images wide open. It lets you lower the ISO. Good lenses are expensive, but in extreme lighting situations they let the M9 shine. If you spend that much money on the camera, don’t cut short on the glass. Get the best lens that you can afford. Don’t get many cheap lenses, get one good one. I am not saying that cheap lenses are not fun. They are, but if you want to get the most out of this camera, pair it with good optics. Does that mean you should buy Leica glass only? No, it does not. Lenses are a very personal choice and you can find good performers from Zeiss and Voigtlaender. They offer some weak performers as well; do some research before you buy. Lenses have a GIGANTIC impact on the camera’s performance and we should not underestimate this. I never understand why some Nikon and Canon users spend weeks with spec sheets to pick a great camera and then buy it with a kit lens. A good lens is an accelerator to any camera.

The Leica M9 can easily capture beautiful images at lower ISO. The output is simply incredible. The nice thing is that files can easily be printed in large scale. Once I did a five feet print from one file. The image got softer at close inspection but it didn’t look digital. That’s what is so nice about this tool. It can capture high resolution images in this small package. I may sound like someone who is trying to justify an expensive purchase. This camera is super pricy and I would be the first to buy a full-frame Canon or Nikon rangefinder if it were available. Currently there is no alternative to the M9 on the market. No other camera can be that discreet while outputting these beautiful files. It doesn’t do this automatically. It needs active engagement, commitment, and some photographic skills.

So, it has been a year. I am pleased with this tool. It feels like a good relationship. We go together everywhere, every day. Wrapping it around my neck has become a daily routine. There is rarely a moment that I just turn it on and shoot away. Usually I think about the light, I preset ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. I walk along, knowing that it is there when I need it. The Leica M9 is beautiful, intuitive, and trustworthy. We are a good team. And, yes, it was worth the wait.


A collection of images that I took with the M9. They demonstrate a variety of lighting situations. All taken with a 35 Summicron or 50mm Summilux ASPH.


  23 Responses to “One year with the Leica M9. A review”

  1. I have been an amateur photographer since 1958, I have done a lot of darkroom work over the years, I never found film like output from digital cameras until I had an M9, the OOC files are the closest I have seen to film, prints are excellent, even jpg’s, I have several digital cameras including two Olympus DSLR’s and like you my M9 is my constant companion, I do a lot of night work, musicians in pubs mainly at 1600iso and the M9 knocks spots off the other cameras, something about the results you can’t put your finger on, I have had a Leica flashgun for months, I never use it!

    Barrie Marshall

  2. Hi Barrie. I agree with you. The files have a very film-like feel. They need a bit of post-processing but not much. Curious to see your pub photography. Cheers, D!RK

  3. Hi Dirk
    Thanks a lot for this review and sharing it on dpreview. your image gallery you shot with the M9 is just beautiful (so natural, so simple, so well composed) great Kunstlicht gallery as well

    I own also a 5D2 with some L lens and I have been always thinking about the M9. I tested an M7 with a 50 lens and it looks so great this rangefinder simpler! almost like a split screen on film SLR

    I have several questions and would appreciated your insight
    * I am thinking of getting the M9 + the 50lux for now as only — would you get the same or better IQ than a 5D+35L or 85L (I know it’s different focal but those are 2 main i use)

    * I mainly looking for using for street photography ( and like the fact that it light small and doesn’t bring attention…but do you ever miss AF ? I mainly do MF,…but to have AF (except that the AF of 85L had screwed me and lost shot opportunities in the past)

    * there is one thing I couldn’t check is how much viewfinder blockage you get with the 50lux ?
    the only i have is this @ 4:10

    * does the magnifier 1.25x worth getting

    Many thanks !!!


    • Hi Vadim
      Thanks for your comments. Here are a few answers to your questions.
      1. I would say that you will get similar quality. I am not sure if better because the two lenses that you mention are really good. I owned the 35L and used it on my trip to China and was really pleased with it. I am using the Lux now and I am not missing the L lens. What I do miss from time to time is the close focusing range of SLR lenses. You can get very close while Leica lenses have limitations. So while the image quality is not that far apart (you will find people who will vote for one side or the other) to me the focusing range is better on SLRs. What I really like about the Leica glass is the size. Night and day.

      2 I don’t miss AF. It is that simple.

      3. Not much blockage. It cuts into the lower right corner by just a bit. Nothing distracting. The frame lines for the 50mm are cropping your viewfinder and most of the lens you will see outside of the frame lines.

      4. Don’t know. I have not tried it yet but I may order one to use with my 90mm lens.

      I hope this helps.


      • Thanks so much Dirk ! One last question :
        OK to use a UV filter ? Most people don’t but when using such expense lense you better want to protect as I can see from above ….

        • Yes, totally. On a $3.6k lens you don’t want to scratch that front glass. Even cleaning the glass can leave marks in the coating. Personally I am using B&W multicoated UV filters. I have not experienced any impact in the image quality by using these filters. Their quality is superb. Maybe someone has to do a test on filters. I am not sure if modern filters still decrease the image quality or if they create extra flare. I wonder if this is a myth that is still floating around since times when filters were uncoated. I think that high end, multicoated filters are invisible in a print. Maybe I have to run some tests. BTW. Recently I lost one on my Summilux. I don’t know why and how, since they are pretty well secured in place, but it was gone. We found it weeks later outside when we were shoveling snow. I am still using it. I compared it to another filter that I have and it was fine. D!RK

          • Thanks Dirk ! I used some BW on m 35L and 85L and haven’t nothing anything…yes there might some alterations but invisible to us unless you use crazy machine the spectrums !! THanks for the feedback anyways

  4. Great “real life” review. At the end what matters are the photos it takes in good hands. Spectacular, in your case. And, oh, you forgot to mention the “envy factor”. There is something about Leicas that I cannot put my finger on, but I think it has less to do with the camera specs and more with the photographer’s state of mind when holding a Leica. It brings out our inner Cartier Bresson.

    • Jose, you are right. It changes the way you photograph. Maybe its limitation only allows you to use it like HCB did. -)

  5. Great review Dirk, I’m sure it will be of great interest to anyone thinking of buying the M9. Also some really nice shots on show here, such a diverse range of images! I agree with everything you have said about the M9, its a camera that has the potential to influence and improve the photography of anyone who enjoys using it.

  6. An excellent review. Thank you. And some fine images as well. I have had my M9 about the same length of time and adore it but I am not precious with it. It is a tool to be used. I love the IQ and like you I shoot RAW and do very little PP. I had used an M3 before and I am now motivated to get it out again and shoot some Tri X. I was so smitten with the M9 I bought an X1. So if anyone can’t face the leap from DSLR to Rangefinder but wants the Leica experience I highly recommend the X1 even with its flaws. With an M3, a M9 and an X1 I feel I am complete. Now all I need to do is to sell all my DSLRs.

    • Hi Andrew
      Thanks for your comment. Selling DSLRs and moving to a smaller system can be very liberating. I am curious what makes you use your X1 versus the M9. D!RK

  7. Nice user oriented review, but I especially liked your photographs! That’s what it is all about. I agree the M9 camera outshines everything in the 35mm form factor and everything below medium format digital. Keep on shooting everyone.

  8. Have had an M9 for about two months now, and it is everything you say. If I have to do low light work, there is nothing like a D3. But, the overall image quality of the M9 with either my new 28mm f/2 or version IV old 35mm f/2 is just terrific. As for the glass protector on the viewing screen, it beats those flimy, bubbly ones hands-down. Thanks for the review.

  9. Dirk,

    Very nice write about your thoughts on the camera after your experience of one year with it.

    … Dirk

  10. This is nice evaluation after 1 year with the M9..
    I like the results in this topic with the contrast compersion between both the canon and M9 above in ur hood. I just want to know how do you fix the contrast with M9 in the last shot is that in the camera with custom white balance or you use PS or other software. Did u use gray paper ?

    • Hi Josef
      I adjusted the color balance in Lightroom. I shoot in Raw only, so I can change the color balance later on. I don’t use in-camera white balance as it is not accurate enough. I just check that the overall exposure is correct and that it is. Does that answer your question. let me know if you would like to hear more details. D!RK

  11. Some really nice photos you’ve taken with your M9. I know this blog is well over a year old and I’m not sure that I’ll even get a response, no biggie.
    I was wondering, now that some time has passed, how you’re enjoying your M9? How about maintenance and keeping the Range Finder/Lenses in alignment? I ask because I’m thinking about going this way as I’m looking to go manual again, something I truly miss from photography theses days. I see a three demensionality(if that’s a word) to Leica photos that I just don’t see from other cameras. I’m currently using a Fuji X-Pro1 with the 18,35,60mm and while the images are spectacular I can’t stand the focus-by-wire that they’ve implemented into this. Would love to hear some feed back after you’ve owned the M9 for a while. Thanks, Kris

    • Hello Kris
      Sorry for the late reply but I was a bit too busy during the last few weeks. I totally understand how you are thinking about the X-Pro and the disconnect you have with modern focusing systems. I had used the M9 for 1 1/2 years, then moved up to the M9-P, which I keep for almost a year. I sold it when rumors about the new M showed up and I sold it at a really good price. I thought I would be able to cover the time in between the M9P and the new M with a Sony Nex-7 and an adapter. To be honest, the Sony stays home most of the time. I don’t enjoy taking photos with it. The viewfinder is good but not the same. The focus feature is not as smooth and precise as a calibrated rangefinder. But most of all the feel for the camera is different. It feels like a toy. I mean it is out of metal and has great specs but I am just not enjoying it. The same for the actual files. They often look very flat. Faces often lack some contrast. In between I had used a Nex 5 as well which I thought created better files than the 7. Now I am even considering rebuying a M9 to have something in my hands again. Who knows when the M shows up. It may take months but I am missing out on many great photos just because I had stopped taking photos when I moved to Sony. It is strange because I like photography very much. I even use the same lenses but the sense of full control I only have with an M camera.

      • Thanks Dirk,

        I too am tardy in my response back to you as I just re-found your blog. Thanks for your reply. I think my biggest concern on buying an M9(probably an M-E) is having to keep it calibrated. My fear is that I will have to send it off and be without it for quite some time, unless I can find a reputable person in my area that does this. I’ve scoured the internet for answers but there just isn’t much in the way of info on this. It could be that the camera hasn’t been around long enough for many to need calibrating. It’s the one thing that’s keeping me from making a decision. I took a short test ride with a used M9 today and OH how I miss manual focusing! For not a whole bunch more $$ I can have a brand new M-E, so that will probably be the way I go, matched up with a 50mm summicron f/2. Decisions, decisions………………

  12. Hi Kris. Calibration can be an issue. It can take about 4 weeks to get it calibrated at Leica in NJ. Finding a local specialist would be great. I think the ME is a great M9. I actually prefer the simpler layout. I am just a big fan of black and I wish they would have done it in all black. Actually today I bought a used M9 again. 😉
    I am going on a trip and the Sony Nex 7 is just not fun to use for me, even with manual lenses. I look at old M9 files and really like the results. I don’t know if this used camera will be flawed. Hopefully not.
    Good luck with your decision. D!RK

    • Thanks again, Dirk,

      Good luck with your new purchase! I’m considiring buying a used one as well as there are some pretty good deals out there, but I’m one who enjoys the assurance of knowing that if anything’s wrong I know it’s covered, still, more to think about! I’m also a little put off by the color of the M-E, but it’s not a deal breaker, something I’ll easily get used to as I’m not buying it to look at, just through!
      Good luck with your new M9, you take great pics with it!

  13. Let me start with some positives:

    -Good ’emotive’ view of ownership of a Leica M system. It probably helps those deciding on doling out the cash to embrace a new relationship with the art of photography.

    -I see many responses from dSLR shooters. Lets accept it. If dSLRs could be smaller, nobody would ‘not’ want to get them. Hence, I see the Leica appeal. But let’s not forget, its a lot more about ‘how’ you photograph (plan and shoot) rather than the accustomed style of dSRL shooters – incessant shooting multiple frames per second and chimping to see if you got it right at all…in ‘any’ of those thousands of shots. Where is your art? Just make a video and grab frames?Even better!

    -Leica shooters develop a relationship. Yes, true. But also, not all. A lot of Leica systems end up in showcases. One needs to be a gifted photographer with a creative mind…once you’ve been told that you have it, you need to learn film photography on a manual (Get the M3)..for a year…and then you are ready to embrace any system you feel you can bond with. For me…it always felt right with a M.

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