Leica Leica and my future with it

Apr 2, 2018
Now that I'm downsizing by getting rid of Fuji, I'm suddenly getting back the appeal of having one camera body, one master to it all. (Hold that thought!)

It's because the recent half-serious desire I had with Leica SL left me conflicted. To be sure, Leica SL would be the absolute best platform to adapt every kind of glass, lens design and flange distance permitting. At the same time, it's a big hulking body and not exactly "2nd body" type of a thing!

Worst of all, it would perform better with my Leica M lenses than my M240 so I'd always have these conflicts about the fun of shoot vs nailing the focus amidst wavy field curvatures. (Ok, this is not a particularly difficult question to answer... :D hold that thought?)

~

Let's get back to the premise: what exactly do I want to shoot? Right now and probably years to come, I want to keep Leica M and M mount lenses as my thing. They do things just right.

And going into the future, I also want to experiment a bit with legacy lenses of various origins. I would very much like to see what kind of landscapes and seascapes and things I could pull with a fast 200mm. Maybe try a tilt-shift lens against a building, that I would very much like to do. I might like to try an ultrafast 85 but not at those prices that M-mount native lenses command.

But for all intents and purposes I'm not currently too much of an experimenter. Let's say 95%-5% is a probable, realistic division between me shooting native M lenses and foreign glass.

~

So, why not the M10 then?

So far, I have successfully battled this particular desire. It is clear that M10-P is by every account a superior camera to M240-P, except for maybe the battery life. But M240 produces stellar images anyway. However, there are some things in M240 shooting experience that do drive me into occasionally lusting after SL or whatnot.

* The LV/EVF experience is not stellar.
* With wide angles / UWAs the need for TTL composing grows.
* Framing foreign or M-native lenses not supported by the framelines.
* Increased shutter lag while in LV.
* Tripod work.

All these items are actually all interlinked! The overall experience with low refresh-rate, low-resolution, image-tearing live view or EVF-2 is not stellar at all. Combine the fact that you can't zoom anywhere but the center while you focus on LV makes M240 super frustrating with tripods.

I was led to believe that M10 hasn't much improved with live view department, which essentially killed the GAS about it for me. And I was happy about it, not investigating much into the claims. :) But in case M10 had the live view capabilities comparable to 2012 Japanese cameras, I would be pretty satisfied.

~

M11.

My original idea was to sit on M240 and wait for M11 because currently I don't have those foreign lenses and my need for live view are very limited to those days when I'm out and about with my 21mm. The idea is to wait for M11 and see what it has in store. Preferably it has an all-new plugin EVF system and some internal features that help with the live view shooting.

M11 is to be expected within next year (assuming a 4-year cycle), it's a long wait. At the same time the rumored(/confirmed?) M10R might mean that M11 is going to be delayed. And let's not forget about the 6-12-month waiting list if one wants to buy new.

Another problem with M11 is that knowing Leica, it lacks something cool that was present in M10P, and then it means additional questions, such as if I should wait for M11P, two more years of waiting? :D

~

Side note.

Leica T and TL2 as secondary bodies to M10. These two gorgeous APS-C bodies are getting mighty affordable (with TL2 getting close to XPro2), and they sport very decent image quality with that Leica magic dust on the image processing and microlens alignment ensured to get a decent performance out of adapted M lenses. These T/TL bodies and M10 also share the pluggable EVF, the Visoflex 020.

~

Side note.

Money-wise, purchasing an SL to sit next to my M240-P is a bit cheaper option than to upgrade my M240-P to an M10-P.

~

Epilogue.

What was that one thought I told you to hold? Oh right, SL vs M and the IQ.

I am rather happy to say that these 13 months of Leica M ownership have honed my taste and my feelings about photography to a certain direction. With more certainty than ever I know what moves me deep down, what keeps me going. It is not just about chasing the best image quality within my preferred parameters (lightweight, compactness) any more but also the shooting experience. I window-browsed a Leica R lens the other day, a 50 mm f/2 was it. From the focus distance scale I noticed immediately despite its affordable price I wouldn't know about it as a lens of enjoyable shooting: its focus throw appeared to be very huge! Leica M, thanks to the rangefinder legacy, is also unique in that they offer fast fifties and other challenging lenses with very small (= quick) focus throws, yet thanks to RF they are super easy to focus accurately. The very favorable shooting experience of a rangefinder comes down to all these (probably hundreds of) little things that exist because of the mechanism.

And so I fully well know that for example taking my compact 35 Summicron with an SL to the streets would mean definite improvements in the pictures (because there's no need to focus-recompose moving targets, secondly SL won't mind focus shift or midfield astigmatism) but the rangefinder offering a stable view of the world and very reliable and unobstrusive focusing patch means I'm having more fun with it, I'm achieving the 90-95% level of focus accuracy super quickly. A year ago it was a tough pill for me to swallow but now I'm getting very comfortable about the fact that you pay a big premium to be able to forget about the pixels and just have fun on your shoots. :)
 

donlaw

Hall of Famer
Sep 14, 2012
Texas
Don
mike, having had the M240 and 246 gave me a renewed love of the rangefinder too. I used the M5, M6, and M7 back in my film days. I still have the M5, but have not shot a roll of film in years. I learned the art of quickly focusing the rangefinder. And the joy of setting hyperfocal distance and walking around taking photos with nothing on auto.

The Fuji faux rangefinders didn’t work for me. The 100X series just became a really nice point and shoot for me. Focus by wire is not rewarding.
So, I ended up dumping all Fuji.

So now I have the M10P and the original Monochrom. I love using both.
But is is a bit of a shock hearing the Monochrom shutter after the almost inaudible M10P!
My goal now is pick up some older lenses. Looking to get a Canon 50mm f1.2, and then possibly one of the 7Artisan lenses.
 
Apr 2, 2018
I loved the RF from the first use. Not at all difficult to achieve critical focus (at least in the 24 megapixel context).

The lovely thing about manual focus is that since you're doing it yourself, and not waiting for the machine to do its job, it never feels too slow :)

Yes, I feel invigorated, having such a clear mind about what I wish from a camera. My wallet doesn't feel too good, though!
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
The EVF-2 used by the M240 is 10 year old technology- things have improved. I bought one with the Olympus EP-2, still have it. Mostly used as a P&S.

Someday I might break down and get a new camera with an EVF. I prefer optical viewfinders, whether the Rangefinder camera or an SLR. It's "the speed of light" and less latency when taking the picture.

And of course I know that Sensor Noise is increases with temperature of the imaging array. Liveview means running the imager all the time, it gets hot, and increases noise in the image. I spent enough years writing code to get rid of noise in digital images.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
Melbourne, Australia
The SL and the M are such different cameras though.

I place the SL in the same camp as the Sony A7 series cameras (they even look very similar), and if so, I'd probably always go with the A7 cameras because of the price. It's such a different photography process when compared to rangefinder photography. I very seldom use the VF or screen to take photos on the M unless I'm in a very weird angle (eg. gotta hold the camera high above my head or very low to the ground and close to my body).


The lovely thing about manual focus is that since you're doing it yourself, and not waiting for the machine to do its job, it never feels too slow :)
This is why I love RF manual focusing. With other cameras, it's a really shitty frustrating feeling when I'm madly pressing on the shutter to catch a shot that's unfolding in front of you and the camera's not responding because it's too busy hunting for focus. Or maybe that camera does take the shot but the focus is so way, way off that it's unusable.
 
Oct 20, 2012
The Netherlands
Ad Dieleman
This is why I love RF manual focusing. With other cameras, it's a really shitty frustrating feeling when I'm madly pressing on the shutter to catch a shot that's unfolding in front of you and the camera's not responding because it's too busy hunting for focus. Or maybe that camera does take the shot but the focus is so way, way off that it's unusable.
Same here, I use manual focus almost all of the time and I just love the feel of the Zeiss Loxia lenses. Not so sure if I want rangefinder focussing though, the EVF and display of my Sony A7Rm2 get the job done. When GAS hit me hard and I lusted after a Leica M camera, I had an enlightening discussion here with some Leica afficionados and ultimately I made a list with the pros and cons of replacing the Sony FE system by a Leica M. Pros Leica: 5 points, cons: 22. Another GAS attack survived.
 
Oct 20, 2012
The Netherlands
Ad Dieleman
Brain is important in camera business, but you gotta listen to your heart too. What good is a hobby if it feels too much of a chore :coffee-79:
To be honest, I'm afraid I'd get frustrated by using a Leica M. I'm probably too spoilt by the facilities of mirrorless cameras, like spot-on focussing, IBIS, flip-up display, a B&W viewfinder if wanted, to name just a few things. Leica M on the side as a second camera? I'm a one-camera guy, I hate to carry a lot of gear. Etc. etc. Being rational in my case means that I know myself a little bit after all those years, and I'm not looking forward to frustration. As @mike3996 said, don't go for a Leica M if you're a perfectionist. That said, if I ever get the chance to really try a Leica M, I will do so, but I'm not going to spend thousands of euros to satisfy my curiosity.
 
Apr 2, 2018
like spot-on focussing
This is actually what frustrates me with mirrorless cameras! I place a tiny focus box on a subject and now the camera tells me it has focused on it. Well great?! Very often there are things at different depths in that box and I'm just letting the camera to do that choice for me, and I have limited feedback on a small-resolution EVF to check where the focus actually went.

With the rangefinder the "focus box" is pure optics and will offer ridiculously clear feedback about what and where my focus is in reality. When the feedback is not so ridiculously clear, I love I can gain clarity on the situation by using real-world physical phenomena* and experience as an brain-having biped ape to solve my confusion. With mirrorless cameras you're limited to the tools of the dear camera manufacturer and the programming team of the software in that camera...

Ok it was a little exaggerated. But truthful about how I feel about it.

------

*) Consider this example. Wired fence. Closer up, it's a closely repeating pattern and as such, very common scenario to accidentally misfocus when using a rangefinder. But sure as hell you're using your nature-given instincts about physical properties of the real world -- you want to focus on the fence straight ahead of you, but you first take the focus of the supporting pole at a slight angle. You know it won't be the right distance but now you know you're within a couple of inches, and can trust the rangefinder box will show the shadow image of the particular bit of fence you want to place your focus on.

Likewise, the same wired fence will offer some difficulty for you when operating a mirrorless camera. Unless you're going for a very thin depth of field it might be very frustrating to examine if the camera got the focal plane right, if it went for the fence or the things in the background. In a camera with a smart set of features you might be in manual mode, having an electronic focus distance shown on the screen and then you'd use back button focusing and you'd somewhat be able to confirm the camera's decision by checking the distance -- if it's 3 feet or 30. But here it is you leaving the physical realm and relying, trusting our japanese overlords and their softwaremakers!

Consider a scene with the wired fence, a daisy half an inch behind the fence, and then some busy but interesting items in the background. If your precious camera focused on the fence, the daisy just might not be critically sharp.
For a rangefinder, making that shot would be literally just as easy to nail as any shot of a pole or something. And you'd keep your feet on the physical realm.

Even for me, human intelligence beats artificial one.
 
Last edited:
Oct 20, 2012
The Netherlands
Ad Dieleman
This is actually what frustrates me with mirrorless cameras! I place a tiny focus box on a subject and now the camera tells me it has focused on it. Well great?! Very often there are things at different depths in that box and I'm just letting the camera to do that choice for me, and I have limited feedback on a small-resolution EVF to check where the focus actually went.

With the rangefinder the "focus box" is pure optics and will offer ridiculously clear feedback about what and where my focus is in reality. When the feedback is not so ridiculously clear, I love I can gain clarity on the situation by using real-world physical phenomena* and experience as an brain-having biped ape to solve my confusion. With mirrorless cameras you're limited to the tools of the dear camera manufacturer and the programming team of the software in that camera...

Ok it was a little exaggerated. But truthful about how I feel about it.

------

*) Consider this example. Wired fence. Closer up, it's a closely repeating pattern and as such, very common scenario to accidentally misfocus when using a rangefinder. But sure as hell you're using your nature-given instincts about physical properties of the real world -- you want to focus on the fence straight ahead of you, but you first take the focus of the supporting pole at a slight angle. You know it won't be the right distance but now you know you're within a couple of inches, and can trust the rangefinder box will show the shadow image of the particular bit of fence you want to place your focus on.

Likewise, the same wired fence will offer some difficulty for you when operating a mirrorless camera. Unless you're going for a very thin depth of field it might be very frustrating to examine if the camera got the focal plane right, if it went for the fence or the things in the background. In a camera with a smart set of features you might be in manual mode, having an electronic focus distance shown on the screen and then you'd use back button focusing and you'd somewhat be able to confirm the camera's decision by checking the distance -- if it's 3 feet or 30. But here it is you leaving the physical realm and relying, trusting our japanese overlords and their softwaremakers!

Consider a scene with the wired fence, a daisy half an inch behind the fence, and then some busy but interesting items in the background. If your precious camera focused on the fence, the daisy just might not be critically sharp.
For a rangefinder, making that shot would be literally just as easy to nail as any shot of a pole or something. And you'd keep your feet on the physical realm.

Even for me, human intelligence beats artificial one.
I agree with you that autofocus with a mirrorless camera (or any camera for that matter) can be a problem in some cases. When I said "spot-on focussing" I referred to manual focus on a mirrorless camera, I almost forgot how it is to use AF :). I'm sure I'll try out a Leica M sometime, the itch doesn't go away, primarily to know how it is to work with a rangefinder camera and, for instance, a 35mm lens. When I go out, I have the Zeiss Loxia 2/35 as a default on my Sony A7Rm2 but to my own surprise, I also use the Loxia 2.4/85 a lot as well. I'm crazy enough to just get me a Leica M10P with a Summilux 1.4/35 at some point in time, then I'll know for sure if it's for me or not :). An older Leica to save money? No thanks, I want the best or nothing.
 
Apr 2, 2018
Yes have to agree with you. When one is doing careful work, hardly nothing is going to beat a mirrorless manual focusing with good magnifying. Part of the appeal of mine to consider the Leica SL with its 4.4 MP EVF.

The rangefinder hits a very good sweet spot with "good enough" accuracy and the speed of gaining said good-enough accuracy. "Good enough" is very good for my uses... (although I should learn to be more considerate of what I shoot!)
 

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