Field Review: Leica M9 (Day 2)

The Leica M9 field review continues with showing off some initial images from the camera along with some extra findings. All images were shot at ISO 400 and in total manual mode with the 35mm F2.5 Summarit. Findings are after the jump.

The Leica M9, coupled with Leica’s wonderful lenses, takes very good photos. When well calibrated, the finder allows users to focus perfectly on exactly what they want—this is something that can be hard for DSLR users that tend to shoot wide open at large F stops.

The first image is of some fresh chicken that my mother butchered into pieces for curry. Notice the color rendition. It is actually very lifelike and not super-saturated the way that Canon and Nikon work. Not to say that the latter don’t deliver great photos; they deliver wonderful photos. However, the CCD sensor in the M9 seems to be working very well in good lighting

The second image is of my MacBook screen. I was trying to focus on the text of some work I was trying to get accomplished. Using the M9’s focusing style, it was very easily done. The image is sharp as a tack.

Amongst the other images are random plants in our backyard. It is important to note the one portrait oriented photo that was taken. This was very hard to do as the focusing tends to become harder to accomplish. I can’t exactly explain why this is, but the world seems a bit off when looking through the viewfinder in portrait mode. Perhaps this is because the focusing was supposed to be on one specific leaf.

One thing that Leica should really account for is the fact that the screen is not a very high resolution. In fact, it really looks like those on an Olympus or Micro Four Thirds camera. For the price, Leica should provide a higher res screen. To be fair, they are probably ordering them in smaller numbers and therefore get less of a discount.

This taught me a lesson for shooting a rangefinder: one still needs to be very careful of their breathing habits if they are coming from a DSLR. The reasoning behind this is that your movements can cause misalignment in your focus unless you choose to stop your lens down more. Holding your breath cuts down movements, photojournalists are taught to do this when shooting.

Something that is a bit annoying is the sound the camera makes for advancement. One would think that since this is a digital camera that there is no need to make that sound at all. In truth, I don’t know why it is there at all. It sounds a bit like an automatic film advance camera. Because this is digital, there should only be need for a shutter sound the way that other digital cameras make. This cuts down on the discreteness of the camera. A good reason for the sound may perhaps be because it can give users that old film feel.

As a young photographer, I really care more about the picture quality and a quiet sound than anything.

To be fair, these sounds can be softened by going into the menu system and selecting the soft advance. Otherwise, the “discrete” setting allows users to hold down the shutter button to keep the camera quiet so that they can place it behind them or in a coat to allow for the advance sound to complete itself.

Overall though, the Leica M9 is starting to grow on me.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.