Field Review: Leica M9 (Day 5)

As the field review of the Leica M9 continues, I’ve been running into a couple of more problems with the camera in terms of image capturing abilities. In contrast though, the camera has performed in a stellar fashion and for the first time in a while my neck and shoulders do not hurt me after a day of shooting.

Metering

The metering of the Leica M9 is a bit weird. Many of my photos seem to be very underexposed in my eyes and opinion. In practice, it actually threw me off many times.

Using Aperture mode didn’t seem very practical in use while on a stroll in Midtown and Downtown NYC because of the fact that the metering was always seemingly off. However, after a while I did remember that the LCD screen did just render the images as very dark or with problems.

Because of this problem, it can lead the photographer to believe that their images and years of training are not lining up with one another.

LCD Screen Problems

The LCD screen can display lots of detail; which is perhaps its major strength as the photographer zooms into their images in the review process. However, they can look very dark as I stated above. As a constructive criticism, Leica should really put a higher resolution LCD screen that allows for a wider gamut of colors into the successor to the M9.

Also, a larger screen would be much more appreciated.

This is all a big problem because it does not do justice to the wonderful images that this camera can create. Color rendering is once again superb and the versatility of the RAW files is greatly appreciated for creative purposes.

Discreteness

The discrete setting on this camera can actually be very useful in certain situations. Take this for example: one of the photos was shot on a NYC bus. The camera was set to the Discrete and Soft advance mode. After taking the shot, it was placed in a messenger bag to advance. No one noticed that the photo was taken and it wasn’t heard either. Such features are greatly appreciated.

Rangefinders have been known to be of great use in street photography over the years because of their discreteness. In my practice, it did help a bit.

One of my favorite approaches to shooting with the M9 is hyperfocal length shooting. It captures people in their most natural and when they’re not moving away from the camera.

Street Photography

Shooting with the 35mm F2.5 Summarit lens forced me to get closer to my subject that I usually do. Personally, I shoot at 50mm, 85mm or above. The reason for this is because of celebrity photographer training in the field; which taught me to not disturb my subjects and stay far away.

Rangefinders don’t work very well with large telephoto lenses, but an 85mm of some sort would have been appreciated.

So how did the people of NYC react? Some ignored it, some turned away or tried to hide. The reason for this could have been because I needed to get close up to them. If I had had an 85mm of some sort, it may not have been the case as I’d still be a comfortable distance away from them.

Feel and Ergonomics

The Leica M9’s ergonomics are to die for. Users of other brands may be a bit jealous of the sheer simplicity placed into the design. To be fair, it all depends on the type of work that you do. With the slew of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras coming out though, one really wonders if the other manufacturers will get it.

Some engineers should be beaten over the head with Leica M bodies until they figure out what good ergonomics are all about.

More to come in the days to follow!

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Chris Gampat

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