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Field Review: Leica M9 (Day 4)

Shooting candid photos with a rangefinder can be very tough—especially if your subject is moving around a lot. Granted, they were meant to do this and using one teaches you to think out of the box in terms of composition and to get your shot in differnt ways. This posting was written on Mother’s Day and the photos in this posting were all shot on Mother’s Day as well when my mother was opening up her gift. While the Leica M9 still takes fantastic photos when coupled with the 35mm F2.5 Summarit, it still can be tedious.

As stated before, shooting in portrait mode with the M9 is very tedious as the middle square in the viewfinder can either become obscured, disappear, or just not very effective. It almost seems as if the camera was meant to be shot in landscape mode. Further proof of this is just how much more comfortable the camera is while shooting in landscape.

With a DSLR, focusing manually for candid photos is easy because what you see is what you get. When shooting with a rangefinder, on needs to line up specific lines very carefully and perfectly. Of course, stopping your lenses down, cranking your ISO up and using Hyperfocal length shooting could always work as well. However, Leica lenses are meant to be shot wide open vs DSLR lenses that reach optimal sharpness when stopped down. This isn’t a bad thing at all though as the out-of-focus areas are rendered wonderfully and users will almost never need a flash.

Accurate and precise focusing is still a problem when you need to accomplish it quickly and when shooting important candids like these. I have a couple that would have been perfect if I only stood back a little bit more or was able to focus faster.

A major problem was encountered though: when I went to upload the photos, the camera’s information meter told me that the battery was down to 50%. As it is, I was only shooting for a couple of hours so far with the camera overall for a period of 4 days. It made no sense. Despite this being a pre-production unit that I am testing, I’d hope that the battery life of the camera really isn’t that terrible. To be fair, it also charges very quickly.

In contrast, the last time I charged my 5D Mk II was back before when the Nikon D3s was being reviewed. It only recently reached 50% battery life. For a working photographer, we usually need much better battery life and I would hope that better energy efficiency was allowed. On top of all this, I dimmed my screen quite a bit to save life even more. To be fair, I am using a slower SD card, so it may be pulling more processor power. Despite this, it shouldn’t be too significant.

Below I’ve made a video feature on the Leica M9, so take a look at it yourself. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Video shot with the Canon 5D Mk II with 24-105mm F4 L IS lens with IS off on a tripod. Also used was the Rode VideoMic. Shot in 30p with manual audio control on. Edited in iMovie HD.

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