Leica M9P

20 March, 2013

 

Niche.

Different because of it’s heritage, not different because it wants to be…. and that is a HUGE difference.

Digital Sensors and technology has come along in leaps and bounds.

Progression in this space is of course natural. The Leica lineup (barring the new M) has stayed true to it’s main unique function.

Being a great Rangefinder.

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Out of all my gear, the Leica, when I pick it up… brings a huge smile to my face.

The process of capturing takes over.  Automation is out.  I view all my gear as very very specific tools.

But if there was a combo that would take precedence over what I do for ‘normal’ work (barring Weddings),

then the M9P with Noct is clearly my choice.

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In Sensor Comparisons, it gets trounced by the Nikon D800/E sensor… but truth be told, almost everything gets trounced by that sensor.

But the Leica line has never been one to confrom (until the new M – but more on that later).

You buy a Leica to use the M lenses.  Period.

The difference?  Night and day.  We will take out the ‘bane’ of Leica users complaints for a second (Higher ISO image quality) and I’ll discuss why I love the M9P sensor.

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It’s the last of the great CCD sensors.  The Monochrom being the last.  This sensor for the M9/P/MM line up was custom made by Kodak for Leica.

At base ISO’s it displays wonderful bite.  The acuity is amazing.

The design to have no AA filter before the sensor was genius (Canon/Nikon/Sony are now following this path).

The tiny flange area to the contact points on the lens I believe is what gives Leica a HUGE advantage over any other manufacturer, as it needs no mirror (ala Rangefinder).

Glass designs can be made smaller with more minute tolerances.  To be quite honest here, tolerance, is what sets Photography gear and Photographers apart.

I can spout on about ‘it’s the photographer’ not the gear… ya da ya da till I’m blue in the face.

My line of thinking is vastly different to all the Photographers I know.

I believe that you should get the best gear that you can comfortably afford.  So that the remaining requirement in technical aspects of Photography is you.

No-one else to blame for a poor technical capture than you… the photographer.

Does it mean that a poor photographer instantly becomes a great one because of the gear?  umm… of course not.

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CMOS vs CCD?  That’s easy.  Yes there is a different look.

It’s not just in the colours that are immediately different (colour can be easily corrected later).  CMOS has a ‘smoother’ rendition.

Out of the box, it just doesn’t have the harder bite to the image than CCD.  But with a little tweaking in post.. it can.  CMOS levels of ISO absolutely annialate CCD Sensors.

Usable 12,800 ISO anyone?

Whereas I wouldn’t take the M9P past 800 iso.  That’s a big gain and difference in the real world.

However….  I have always been an advocate of getting the fastest lenses you can afford.

It is a really stupid and ignorant comment by Photographers that higher ISO’s negates fast lenses (ironic that these same people don’t have the Primes in their bags and only use Zooms… hmmmm….)

There is ALWAYS a need to have fast lenses.  Unless you want iphone looking shots for your clients OR you shoot in a studio.

Depth of Field, used the ‘right’ way… will always be with us.

If it is a ‘fad’… this fad has been with us since the beginning of Photography.

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The feel of a Leica, the Process of capturing and the smaller size compared to DSLRs is the allure of the Leica lineup.

The M9 line up was so popular because of the Full Frame sensor.

I have owned 2 now, an all black M9P and now the gorgeous silver M9P

It looks and feels exquisite.  As an ‘old school’ photographer.  The feel of the camera means alot to me.

With my Nikons, automation is king (not auto mode – big difference).

I can make it do what I want in an instant, the speed and agility it displays to not only allow me to get what I want quickly (which is HUGE for Weddings),

but the fact it just gets out of my way is why those tools are in my bag for those occasions.

But when I do have some time on my hands… the M9P comes out to play.

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The ability to be unobtrusive is so understated.  To blend into a crowd or getting in there nice and close but without having a huge DSLR shoved down people’s throats.

That is priceless.  Consequently, images show this phenomenon.  :)

The M9P to me, gives me a bond that any of my other cameras have not.  The onus is on me totally and I love that.

The precision (provided it is calibrate properly for you lenses) is insane.

There is no approximations of aperture, contrast detection e.t.c..

If it’s right in the viewfinder, it’s right in the image.. 100% of the time.

Precision.

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I’m a timepiece lover.  I love technical masterpieces and movements.  What humans can do, when $$$ is of no consequence.

Timepieces are exactly that.  You get the crowd that echo that why buy a $$$$$$ timepiece when a casio $2 watch can tell you the time and that it is overpriced…

to those people that is fair enough.. that is their own opinion.  A very ignorant opinion, but nevertheless their own.

If you cannot afford something, it most certainly does not mean it is overpriced.

I’m not a wealthy guy, far from it.  I appreciate the unique things in life and work damn hard to obtain some of it for myself and my family.

But when I see someone driving a ferrari past me, I don’t chastidise or have a derogatory comment as you hear so much these days… I give them a clap.

Well done.  If it was attained in a normal means of endevour, then absolutely… well done.  I like that.  Have a goal, hit it and go again.

The same is said of Leica and Leica products.  It is very unobtainable in the photographic world because of their pricing.

They are a very very small company vs the big guys… that negative also makes it their one big positive… they are not the other guys.

Leica forums are more ‘adult’ than the Nikon/Canon/Forums.

I believe this to be because there are not many teenagers that can afford Leica gear, more mature people don’t spout from the hip, they have a more.. shall we say.. upper class vocabulary.

Conversations in this manner are always pleasent and relevant.  The other crowd.. well, who wants to let fact stand in a way of a good lie?  It’s rediculous sometimes.

This adds to my appeal of Leica as a whole product.

It doesn’t easily get in the hands of idiots.

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I hope you have enjoyed my ‘review’ of this wonderful system.  There is no one ‘perfect’ camera.  There is specific tools for specific needs.

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I would encourage Photographers to ‘try’ a rangefinder for at least a week…

just so it can highlight the pro’s and con’s of different systems and open peoples creative minds a wee bit more.. that can only be a good thing.  :)

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