Leica Converting from Canon to Leica - A diary

flash

Veteran
May 6, 2011
103
Gordon
Well it's been about two weeks since I got my M9 and my Canon gear found loving new owners. I have a few bits and pieces left but in a week or so it's all gone. I though it may interest others considering a digital Leica to hear what the differences are as one gets used to the new system. And believe me, the M9 is a completely different beast to a 5D markII, and in both ways I expected and didn't.

So, lets start with things I like and don't like about the M9.

Likes:
1. I love the centre weighted metering. It's so simple. So predictable. I have shot with CW systems before so I know how to react. When you use a 354 zone super i metering system you really have no idea of what the camera is thinking, so it's hard to make judgement calls. With the M9 if it's a backlit subject open up. Dark room, close down. I can meter off my hand again. Yay!
2. The simplicity. No portrait modes. No 15 parameters to set the motor drive. One menu and buttons that only do one thing each. I can already operate the camera blindfolded (but I'm having trouble focusing when doing so ;-))
3. The Voigtlander lenses. The net is full of Leica forums, full of Leica snobs who are full of themselves, who will hang, draw and quarter you for using non-Leica glass. I chose the CV lenses because I didn't want perfect japanese glass. i wanted lenses with character. And I got what I wanted. Honestly the Summiluxes don't interest me, at the moment. I will one day own a 0.95 Noctilux, but that's the only lens i crave. I really like the "classic" look of the CV lenses.
4. I like the grain of the M9. Notice that I said grain, not noise. The M9 has a lovely noise pattern that is organic and tactile. It's in stark contrast to the plastic noise free images from CMOS chips and japanese cameras.
5. It's small, but not too small and light but not light.
6. The sensor reacts more like film. You can push the shadows, but not the highlights. It gives a look I really like. But if you clip.......
7. I really like the simplicity of the viewfinder info. I've seen complaints but I like the arrows in manual and the one tiny dot to indicate exposure compensation. I love that you can set the aperture by feel. Turn to wide open and count the clicks.


Now the things they don't tell you in the camera shop. The things that annoy me.
1. Batteries. $200 EACH! Are you on drugs? That's just ludicrous for a battery that will give you 400 shots at best. I have two originals and bought 4 clones on eBay for $150.00. That's for all 4.
2. The rangefinder was out, out of the box. Leica should put a 2mm allen key in every box because it's apparently pretty common. It only takes 5 mins and a google search to fix the infinity focus. But it should be good to go on a $7K camera.
3. The LCD is atrocious. Worse than a $100 compact. The screen on an EP-1 is a massive step up on this rubbish. Oh, and it's glass not sapphire so I already have a tiny scratch on mine. I don't have a weird thing for perfect cameras but the 3 year old canon 5D2 I sold still had a perfect LCD after 40K shots.
4. Purple fringing. It's there and it's horrible. And it happens regardless of the lens. I tried a Noctilux 1.0 and a new 35mm summilux in the store as well as half a dozen lenses and they all have purple fringing with high contrast backlit subjects. C1 handles most of it fairly well, but some shots need to be converted to B&W to get rid of it.
5. What ever you do don't over expose. The sensor has a very sharp highlight cutoff. The tiniest over exposure and there's no hope of using the recovery slider. With a DSLR you expose to the right and pull the highlights back. With an M9 you keep the file from clipping and then push the shadows. The good news is I like the files better this way, but it took some getting used to.
6. There is a VERY limited range of flash options available. Only the two expensive Leica guns (made by Metz) and the two Metz hammerhead guns, which are huge. I think there's a message there. M9's are made for natural light photography.


So that's it for now. I may add more as time goes on. But overall, for me, it's the best thing I've done in years. Already taking away all the choices, all the complexity of the canons, has freed me up to start taking real images again. I'm still getting the feel, but it's coming faster every day. And I'm even getting the odd image I'm happy with.

M9. CV 75mm 1.8 @ f1.8
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M9. CV 35mm 1.4 @ f8
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Gordon
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
1. Batteries. $200 EACH! Are you on drugs? That's just ludicrous for a battery that will give you 400 shots at best. I have two originals and bought 4 clones on eBay for $150.00. That's for all 4.
4. Purple fringing. It's there and it's horrible. And it happens regardless of the lens. I tried a Noctilux 1.0 and a new 35mm summilux in the store as well as half a dozen lenses and they all have purple fringing with high contrast backlit subjects. C1 handles most of it fairly well, but some shots need to be converted to B&W to get rid of it.
I'd agree with everything you wrote except:-
I had a couple of cheap(er) batteries and they stopped working after a couple of months, just wouldn't charge up. Hope you don't have the same problem.

I've got lenses that have no fringing whatsoever. A Zeiss 50mm f/2 I have is "clean". Some of the Voigtlanders are very prone to it I found. I got rid of the 75mm f/1.8 from them because it was pretty terrible. But as you say so are other lenses. One of the worst I had was a Leica 90mm f/2.5, which actually also managed to detach its aperture ring for no good reason.
 

flash

Veteran
May 6, 2011
103
Gordon
I probably should have mentioned that the fringing seems to improve as the lens is stopped down. At f5.6 i dont see it in most images where it's a problem wide open. So a 50mm f2 would have less of an issue than a 50mm f1.1. At wider apertures the angles light travels to the sensor is more oblique than when stopped down. (thats my theory anyway) So far the 75 f1.8 I have has been pretty good. I've noticed a bit of fringing but not as bad as the faster 50mm. Controlling highlights also seems to help. But you are correct. I should have said it's an issue with the lenses I have tested so far, but not necessarily all lenses.

Hope I don't have the bad battery issue. But I have two originals just in case. So far so goos though. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Gordon

P.s. I should have also mentioned that this is MY experience with the M9. It is and will be biased, just as I am. It's just the ramblings of a grumpy opinionated, middle aged professional and should be taken with very large grains of salt.
 
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soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
Hope I don't have the bad battery issue. But I have two originals just in case. So far so goos though. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
If they are still working after a while I'll get you you to let me know what they are. Certainly mine were VERY cheap, so I shouldn't have been surprised.

I'd love to know how you get on with dust spots, because thats my biggest moan about the M9. Mines a hoover! I'm now working with just one lens on it, but I've got a feeling that won't last. I try to be so careful but they just keep getting in there, and I'm sure they are breeding!!. Since I shoot a lot of landscape with blue skies etc. its a real pain. If you have a solution let me know.
 
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Pelao

All-Pro
Jul 11, 2010
123
Ontario, Canada
Stephen
Hi Flash
Thanks for posting this, and it would be great to her more from you on your journey. I will confess to some envy.

Both the posted photographs are a real pleasure, but I have to say the first one, the child on the beach, is just so very good.
 

disambiguated

New Member
May 31, 2011
3
No dust problems w/my M9, either, heh.

soundimageplus;26235 I'd love to know how you get on with dust spots said:
Are you sure you're seating the lenses completely? I don't have dust problems with my M9; I change lenses quickly, I hold the body against my chest when I change lenses, with the sensor aperture snug against my chest until I'm ready to mount the next lens; and I try to make the change quickly.
 

BillN

Hall of Famer
Aug 25, 2010
123
S W France
Bill
yep- dust spot - I get them all the time on my mate, the M8 - I would not know what to do without them as they really make LR much more interesting!!!!

I keep looking at the M9 as I past through Gatwick - maybe once a month - I am really really tempted - it is such a "fine" looking camera and from what I have seen the IQ is just very good and (maybe) very distinctive - everyone wants to knock Leica - but a Leica is a Leica - they are "special" and (I think) always will be.

As far as the lens line up is concerned - Leica - CV - Zeiss - the modern range - they just add a new dimension to the experience, (I know that they are expensive at the Leica end - but "what the hell")

plus you can go back and buy all the old M mount Leica and Elmar etc., stuff - which again add (much) interest to the shooting experience of Leica users

In a way - it's quite nice to be "knocked" - and still be (very) satisfied with the camera and user experience

(there will still be many Leicas around when all your X100 etc., have been consigned to the "whatever in the sky"
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
I keep looking at the M9 as I past through Gatwick - maybe once a month - I am really really tempted - it is such a "fine" looking camera and from what I have seen the IQ is just very good and (maybe) very distinctive - everyone wants to knock Leica - but a Leica is a Leica - they are "special" and (I think) always will be.
Go on Bill. You know you want to!
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
123
It's hard to imagine using a rangefinder as an only camera, but I know many people do. I have a Zeiss Ikon, but even if I had an M9 I'd still want a DSLR or other serious compact. But I shoot the Ikon because I love B&W film.

If you want a lens with character then try the Zeiss C Sonnar 50mm. Very dreamy at f1.5. Great in B&W.

Are you in the US? You can rent m-mount lenses from Lensrentals.com and others.
 

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
123
Houston, Texas
Jack
Great write up Flash! I too use mostly CV lenses with the M9 -- CV21/4, 35/1.4, 50/1.5, 50/2.5, and 75/2.5. I got a 90 Cron because I felt compeled to own at least one Leica lens, but I rarely ever use the thing as the 75/2.5 is very very good and much lighter and smaller than the 90 Cron.

If you haven't tried the 50/1.5 (screwmount), I highly recommend that lens. IMO, probably the best out of the CV lenses. I don't think CV is making it anymore, but you can still find them used on Flebay or new at Cameraquest. The prices got jacked up from $400 to $700 in the past year or so though.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
If you haven't tried the 50/1.5 (screwmount), I highly recommend that lens. IMO, probably the best out of the CV lenses. I don't think CV is making it anymore, but you can still find them used on Flebay or new at Cameraquest. The prices got jacked up from $400 to $700 in the past year or so though.
My favourite was the 35mm f/1.7 screw mount Ultron which I sold and really wish I hadn't. I can't find one anywhere now! We live and learn, bird in the hand, the sun always shines and other cliches................
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
103
It's hard to imagine using a rangefinder as an only camera, but I know many people do.
If I didn't have to make a living from photography, I'd use the M9 plus my Zeiss 50mm and nothing else. But then I have to make a living from photography to afford the M9 and Zeiss lens. Tricky thing life!
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
123
If I didn't have to make a living from photography, I'd use the M9 plus my Zeiss 50mm and nothing else. But then I have to make a living from photography to afford the M9 and Zeiss lens. Tricky thing life!
Catch 22! I will admit that shooting with the Ikon is more pleasurable than most if not all other cameras, owing to the great wide open VF.
 

disambiguated

New Member
May 31, 2011
3
Look at other photos in the same set - you'll see that the dust spots are gone.

I'm normally very obsessive about cleaning my lenses, but that particular morning, I woke up at 6AM and immediately went to the Taj, so as to avoid the huge crowds. After taking a few shots, I realized that my lens was dusty, and I kicked myself, then used my LensPen to clean the lenses.

I was hardly going to try and clean the sensor in the field, heh.

Also, look at my other photosets. You'll see that there're no dust spots - that's because I took the time to clean the lenses, first.

The bottom line is that I don't have a chronic sensor dust problem. Given that the OP is experiencing fringing & sensor dust issues, I wonder if his M9 body is somehow twisted out of true so that it's not sealing properly.
 
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