Field Review: Leica M9 (Day 3)

I’ve run into some peaves while shooting with the M9. Some are minor, some are things that should have been in the camera in the first place. But overall, it is still holding on very strong. Some casual neighborhood shooting was done with the M9 and 35mm F2.5 Summarit recently. Here are some findings and analysis of both the camera and the images.

Let’s get the problems found out of the way first starting with the discrete + soft shooting mode. Discrete and soft shooting modes are supposed to not let anyone around you shooting become aware that you are indeed photographing them. It does this by trying to mask the shutter and advancement sounds. The concept is great—but the problem is that shooting in continuous mode doesn’t mask shutter or advancement at all. Further, there doesn’t even seem to be a logical reason for the advancement sound. Advancement is a process that was done by film cameras in order to automatically advance the film. Most Leicas didn’t have them for the reason that it blew the photographer’s cover. Instead, an advancement lever had to be pushed. The M9 is a digital rangefinder; the advancement sound seems to be there just for aesthetics.

In truth, it is a pain. I don’t understand why the M9 just can’t make a shutter sound the way that Micro Four Thirds cameras do.

The problems with focusing while the camera is in portrait mode are still apparent. To be fair, I was told that I’m actually still using a prototype camera that was updated with the latest firmware. Perhaps this problem was fixed with production versions of the camera.

Problems with the LCD screen also occurred. Because it isn’t very high resolution and not able to provide a large dynamic range, the images that one shoots and sees on the back of the camera aren’t necessarily what they see when they upload them onto their computer. For example, many of the landscape and portrait photos looked very dark on camera so it ultimately caused me to retake the photos at a slower shutter speed.

Overall this wasn’t too much of a problem though as all the photos were shot in RAW and wide open at F2.5 High ISO images aren’t that terrible either and can be converted to Black and White to make wonderful images. However, there is quite a bit of Color Noise.

And those are the great things. The M9 shoots in DNG mode, so it is essentially futureproof. Also, it allows users to shoot compressed or uncompressed DNG files. This feature saves space on the memory card.

Additionally, the lens is sharp wide open and doesn’t really seem to change much when the aperture changes. The exception is F11, where no bokeh really seems to appear. It really explains why photographers like Chris Weeks like shooting wide open.

The Leica M9 is really a pleasure to shoot and actually quite fun. Another problem that I forsee is the fact that slow focusing may annoy your subjects because of the fact that it is manual. Being a Blind Photographer, it sometimes even gets to become difficult and problematic to do.

More to come in the review! Stick around!

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Chris Gampat

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