Friday, April 26, 2013

The Leica M9 - Still a heavyweight contender

Once again I'm breaking out the studio lights for a little bit of still photography.  Seen here is my beloved Leica M9.  I have a love / hate relationship with this camera....well maybe hate is too strong a word.  Mostly love with a side serving of frustration.  

Not much has changed in the Leica world in the past 50 years - even with the onset of digital.  This camera feels like an old school film camera but with a digital sensor and a screen on the back to review images.  Its rangefinder focusing is all manual and can be a real challenge when you're shooting with longer lenses like the magnificent 75mm Summilux with a wide-open aperture of f1.4.  In cases like this, the depth of field is just a few hairs deep; focusing can be a real hit and miss affair.  All of that said, when you nail focus and exposure with great subject matter, this camera will blow you away with what comes out of it.  It's just about as good as it gets with a 35mm full frame camera.

Holding this camera is an experience in itself.  I remember the very first time that I held one; my friend Raaj handed me his and I thought, "this thing feels like a brick!"  It's extremely solid, it's quite heavy for its size, and the build quality is better than any other camera I had ever held.  There's just nothing plastic, or cheap on this camera.

When it comes to image quality, part of the reason for the quality that this thing puts out is the amazing glass that you attach to it.  Leica has long been known for producing some of the best glass in the world.  In this image, I have attached one of the world's sharpest lenses, the Leica 50mm f2 Summicron.  Though the M9 has a pretty robust 18MP full frame 35mm sensor, some would argue that it's falling a bit behind the newer generation of full frame DSLR's.  However, with superb Leica glass attached, this camera will give my D800E with the best Zeiss glass a run for its money.  Technoids and pixel peepers might dispute that, but the results in real-world use are very impressive.  Creating 30" prints from this camera is never a problem!

Though the Leica M9 is often thought of as a street-shooter's camera, for the person that won't compromise on image quality, the M9 is also a great travel camera .  You can carry your camera and a few of your favourite lenses in a small bag; light enough to carry around all day and small enough to tuck away just about anywhere. I can't even begin to compare that to the weight of my D800E and a few lenses which could easily put 20lbs on my back.

If you're an avid photographer, you owe it to yourself to try a Leica at some point.  It's an all together different experience in photography.

This following images were shot with my M9.

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