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06-20-2012, 03:03 PM #1
Please talk me out of this (at least try)
I know Iīm bordering on the irrational here, but my mind is pretty set on getting a Leica M9 with a Summicron 35mm.
Shot SLRs and DSLRs the past 12 years, starting with an old Canon FTb.
Please, bear with me.. Longish rant and pointless dabbling ensues.
My kit until today was primarily a 1Ds mkII with a 24/1.4 attached to it, almost permanently. I like fixed focal lengths, forcing at least some creativity. One thing has been bugging me, though. While my best photos (the ones Iīve actually made any money from and/or been getting some praise for, and love myself) have been shot with the aforementioned combo. Iīve really had no problems with it, except for a trip to Canon for changing the focus motor on the lens, but when I left the lens with Canon just around new yearīs, I didnīt have a real camera to shoot, so I set my phone to monochrome, shot away, doing stuff I havenīt done or bothered to do before. After I got the lens back, I had gone three months (hooray for Canon fucking service centers) with no "real" camera, but I saw no loss on my end for that, in the end. What happened, though, was that I got camera conscious. I like the heft of a real camera, but come on. A full size DSLR is not something youīd call discrete, even less so with a sizely lens and hood that screams photographer. At least in my mind.
My mind is apparently the problem. Iīve never gotten shit from any subject about pulling the camera to my eye and start clacking, but Iīve grown to feel imposing when I do just that. In the mean time, Iīve gotten some hands-on with the Fuji X100, which is a great camera. Good files, great optical viewfinder, nice handling, but inevitably a bit limited due to just the one focal length. Fuji released the X-pro1, which I managed to name the most interesting thing to happen to photog gear in 2012. Well, got to fondle one a week or so ago, in a camera store in Nice, France. Walked away sorely disappointed. I wanted that camera to be the tits, and it wasnīt. Reasons why:
- Handling was pretty decent, but worse than the X100. Even the Sony NEX 7, which Iīve written off as a serious contender due to Playstation looks and <emotional> feel, feels great in the hand compared to that (the lack of an optical viewfinder finally killed that option for me, BTW, feels like a great camera other than that).
- The viewfinder, which I had high hopes for, positively sucked balls. Smaller than the X100, feels darker (though it probably isnīt).
- The camera simply feels cheap, which was a bit of an anti-climax. It looks like a quality piece of gear, with black metal surfaces and all that. Feels too light for what it is, or at least is supposed to be - a serious semi-pro camera. Again, the NEX 7, which I fondled side by side with it, feels like a serious camera, no comparisons made to anything. This is a bit of a prolonged apology to the Sony fans (Lonnie). Sorry.
- The lenses (at least the 18 and 35) felt too light and very insubstantial. The 18 would be my option, since thereīs no 35 FOV equivalent available yet, and I didnīt walk away from that meeting impressed, not at all. Although their outer housing is metal, they feel like plastic.
- Resale value. No one really knows how popular the X-pro line will be in the future. I saw a national ad for a mint X-pro kit (camera+60mm) for less than the cost of the camera body. It had been out for 6 weeks, no bites.
- It tries to be like a Leica rangefinder, and it tries to be a NEX, at the same time. Too fiddly to compete with Leica, too god damn slow to compete with a NEX. The manual focus is absolutely terrible with the native lenses, and the AF is, although very accurate, extremely slow. The VF mechanism is pretty cool, though. In the end, gimmicky.
Reasons why I want a Leica M:
- Simplicity, durability (although rangefinder alignments over the years are to be expected), proven resale value (look at used M8 ads to get an idea - itīs 6 years old!)
- Absolutely gorgeous viewfinder and RF focus mechanism. It just works, and itīs actually mechanical.
- Low key, pretty anonymous appearance, and while a few people recognize a Leica M camera, most people think itīs just old.
- Fantabulous optics, although this point can be made moot by cameras like the NEX or the MFT systems.
- Smallish size, about a kg with a couple of lenses, versus 2.5 or more with my Canon. I, my wife and daughter(soon to be two) likes to travel, and with me ending up carrying most of our crap anyways, any kilogram avoided is a nice kilogram.
- The camera body with pretty much any lens is stunningly beautiful, in my eyes. Of course thereīs a big emotional factor in this.
I thought for a pretty long time that an M kit was something I simply couldnīt afford. This has been negated by a few things.
- First, Iīm a dad, and while being a dad costs a bit more money than being childless does, I donīt travel much for ski trips by myself, nor do I spend much time and money fuzzing about ski gear or anything like that, my rent is shared with my wife, in the end leaving more cash for fun.
- Iīm full time employed in a very, very safe environment. Iīm a nurse and nurses donīt get fired unless they fuck up (Norway). I donīt fuck up, so that means Iīm safe and get very appropriate paycheck each month, half of which goes to supporting the family. The rest is all mine for fun and games.
- Iīll have to save up cash for this, but not money Iīll miss. I can have the kit of my dreams before Christmas if I do things right.
- Itīs not an investment for me. I donīt make money on prints, I just really love photography, and want to keep it that way. If a new kit helps me on the way, Iīm OK with that. If something happens that forces me to sell, there wonīt be a problem recovering a nice portion of the initial cash out.
I feel like Iīve argued pretty well in favour of a Leica. Please, destroy my arguement.
Thanks for reading.
PS: Sold my 24/1.4 today. Psychologically, it helps a lot towards spending a huge amount of money on a camera.
06-20-2012, 04:12 PM #2
No need to apologize to me. If you think it's right for you, pull the trigger.
I'd repost this at getdpi.com tho. There are a bunch of Leica folks that post there. However, they will not talk you out of it.
http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/leica-m-x-r/This is the worst pain EVER!
06-20-2012, 04:21 PM #3
About the NEX-apology: Iīve had more preconceived notions about that system than anything else photographic. After Iīve fiddled with it for a bit, itīs not for me, but definitely a worthy camera (7). Therefore, the need to apologize.
06-20-2012, 06:17 PM #4
I came close to buying a M9 this year. I had the money set aside, and had it pretty much figured out which lenses I was going to get with it.
However, I ultimately didn't go that route. I too was interested in the X-pro 1, but didn't get it for many of the same reasons you listed.
Where I ended up was a Fuji X100 (black edition,) and an Olympus OMD-EM5 with a bunch of lenses. The X100 is a sweet camera that fills my need for a simple, aesthetic, walk-around street photography and family photography rangefinder. The OMD fills my need for an interchangeable lens system that's much smaller than a dslr system.
Ultimately, the thing that put me off most about the Leica system was not just the prices, but that the stuff is hard to buy even if you have the money. The lenses I wanted just weren't in stock anywhere, and I wasn't willing to pay "scalper" prices for gear that was really expensive at list price. Also, some of the lenses I wanted to use on the M9 body require some odd additions to the viewfinder, which kind of screws up the whole simplicity and elegance of the system. Ultimately, I decided that the X100 was actually a better "simple" camera than the M9, because the M9 is really only ideal if you're using it with lenses in the 35-50mm range. So, if that's the case, why not just get the fixed lens X100, and then get something else that will work well with a wide array of lenses.
I've been very happy with my solution. The OMD is an amazing camera, and there are a lot or really nice lenses that work with it. (Also, I can use my legacy manual focus lenses with it, using an adapter.) It's a more user friendly camera than the M9 for using a wide array of lenses, particularly if you're using telephotos and zooms, which the rangefinder on the M9 just isn't equipped to deal with.
I've got a review of my OMD system on my blog here: http://larsonweb.com/blog/
06-21-2012, 12:01 AM #5
It has to be said that Iīm keeping the 1Ds and a Tammy 90 macro for non-RF appropriate stuff. Iīve also considered the X100 black edition, because itīs simply a very cool camera, and itīs nice to use. Also, the extremely quiet leaf shutter isnīt to be shunned either, seeing as you can get flash synch at 1/2000 sec.. The other lens Iīm thinking of getting is the 75 or 90 summarit, or an appropriate Voigtländer/Zeiss.
Checking out your OMD review, Kai. I felt that up in the same store as the Xpro and NEX, and was impressed. Didnīt put it into the comparison, as I never considered a very DSLR like camera (trying to move away from the form factor, to be honest), though Iīve yet to hear a negative piece on the OMD, and if I didnīt keep my 1Ds around, that might be an option.
Edit: Kai, your blog is awesome!
Last edited by arild; 06-21-2012 at 12:38 AM.
06-21-2012, 07:59 AM #6
Regardless of how hard I beat the drum, I know where you are coming from.
To sum up my thoughts in a metaphor, the Leica is a Porsche, the Nex is a "Z car". The Z car has similar stats and performance (it might even be superior in some areas), but there's a experience driving the Porsche that you can't get with the z-car....
So I get it.
Last edited by Lonnie; 06-21-2012 at 09:19 AM.This is the worst pain EVER!
06-21-2012, 10:04 AM #7
I see sense in your metaphor. Iīd rather have a z-car, though. Shame theyīre not imported over here, and that the wife wouldnīt allow one (she has approved of the Leica hunt, though).
06-23-2012, 04:11 PM #8
You're not buying the M9 for video, so why compare it to the Fuji cameras whose only benefit over a Canon or Nikon DSLR is form factor plus video?
Disclaimer: I love Leicas. I have an M4 rig w/4 lenses that's one year younger than I am, given to me by my uncle. When shooting 35mm film - which was apples to apples with any other 35mm camera, the difference in IQ was directly attributable to the lens being superior/different coatings than the big Japanese equivalents. In today's world of sensors and RAW picture data that no longer is nearly the difference it was.
The pictures you can shoot with a $10k investment on a Laica M9/Summicron 35 setup are not going to be either noticeably different or better than those you can shoot on a $4000 Canon/35L combo. Guess which one focuses easier/better as well.
If the red dot is worth that much to you then rock on - it's your money. I'll likely buy a used M9 body someday when the price drops under $1k just to use my lenses again, but that's more for fun and nostalgia than anything else.
06-23-2012, 06:31 PM #9
are you set on FF? you could get the Ricoh GXR with the M-mount module for a fraction on the $$ and the files are supposed to be very nice
i know that's a bit rational for a Leica threadfur bearing, drunk, prancing eurosnob
06-23-2012, 08:17 PM #10
I love Leicas. I'd love an M9. Viewfinder has lines for 28-135mm a decent enough range, and it's a sweet sweet camera. Perfect for living out of a backpack and taking pictures of people and places.
But it costs a fortune. Little things like battery chargers ($150) and batteries ($130) in addition to lenses (many $k). I'm not sure about the M9 but the M8 had some durability issues. You can't use telephotos. Wide angle lenses require and accessory viewfinder. It's not 21st century, really, which makes it so great, but makes it slightly limiting and really a leap at that price.
Especially when there's so many other choices out there with M-mount capabilities at a lesser price. Like Arno mentioned the GXR or an M8 or even older Epson Rd1. Rumors have circulated about a cheaper leica too.Lord King of the Beater-Kooks
06-25-2012, 12:12 AM #11
Hugh: Havenīt heard too many bad things about the M9 durability. Main thing was an early batch of sensors cracking up, but havenīt heard of any such things lately. Donīt need telephotos, but have gotten to try the Elmarit-M 90, which was spectacular. Iīd be perfectly OK with 28 or 35 and 90 focal lengths. The M8.2 has crossed my mind more than once, and theyīre even semi cheap (Iīd like the revised shutter, donīt think Iīve ever used 1/8000 in my life). M8.2 with a 28 elmarit would be a very decent combo. I also have a line on one such, but I donīt have the money heīs asking..
Arno: Looked at the GXR, but I really want that rangefinder focus mechanism. Awesomely cool camera, though. Another possibility there could be the X-pro1 with an adapter, in which case Iīd get framelines in the optical vf for hyperfocal distance shooting (and EVF for anything closer), but the problem there would be the aforementioned lack of size wrt the actual viewfinder window. Itīs almost Canon g12 tiny (not really, but making a point). Not set on FF, but the FF alternative is the most attractive. Iīd love for Zeiss to get their fingers out of their arses and give Leica some competition in their own market. Digital Ikon? Yes, please. It could be APS-C for all I care, as long as it had an RF. You made a rational point, with the GXR, so applause for you!
Tippster: Yes, a Canon rig is easier to deal with (AF, high speed continuous, etc etc), but thatīs where I am right now (tempted to get the new 40 pancake, just to try it out for landscapes). Iīm not as experienced as the rest of you when it comes to gear, but I do know my way around an SLR (11 years of SLR usage, first six with a film manual, the latter five with DSLRs). Yes, thereīs some red dot itch, but I would love to evolve a bit with a rangefinder. If itīs not for me, those things tend to not last long on the second hand market over here, and the price damage would be equivalent to a weekendīs rent if in exc/mint condition. I do know I like the RF patch way of doing things, so Iīm not very afraid of that. As far as my images not getting better by a 10k investment vs a 4k one, who knows? I wasnīt kidding when I said Iīve gotten camera conscious, and Iīd much rather spend a good deal of money to cope with that vs not making any photography at all. The investment part is a bit of a moot point, though. Iīve scrapped my plans of making money on photography, seeing as raising kids and working full time with my beta blockade ass-wipe gig (those two are unrelated) takes a bit more effort than Iīm willing to put into it. I have to get time to go skiing some time, too.
Thanks for chiming in, lads. Youīre enabling me towards the right decision here (Iīm blind to reason, so I read you that way). One point Iīve very slightly touched upon is that my wife actually morally supports me buying a $10k kit. Her thoughts being that if thatīs what I really want, Iīm not going to be happy until I get it - her point being that an M8 wonīt be FF, M9 wonīt do ISO 10000, and so forth. She thinks the M looks good, and thinks the Monochrom would be a great camera for me, seeing as I do most all B/W conversions after all. She even taped a picture of it on my computer so I can keep a bit of focus on saving money. A Monochrom would be nuts, right? (the price difference over here isnīt as bad as in the US or UK in practical terms - an 8-9% increase, but I figure if Iīm saving up big anyway, that money will be peanuts)
Fuck. I think Iīve made my decision, for now. When the time comes that Iīve actually saved up, though, Iīll probably decide I was better off with no gear at all, sell off all my extra stuff and take the wife to France instead.
06-25-2012, 10:58 PM #12
FWIW the Nex does have an detachable view finder. I am astonished every day at the quality of pictures that this camera takes. It does look like you are making a good choice though.
07-01-2012, 03:07 PM #13
Iīm saying fuck it. Iīve ended up not wanting an M9 after all, figured that Iīm going back to film. Anyone know of any Leica MPs with 0,85x (35mm) finder for sub $2500?
07-01-2012, 06:45 PM #14Lord King of the Beater-Kooks
07-02-2012, 08:25 AM #15
The MP is the rebirth of the M3/M4 classics. Here, buy one of these: http://www.ebay.com/sch/Film-Cameras...?_nkw=leica+m4
07-02-2012, 08:34 AM #16
Ikon is a possibility. The overly complex method of feeding film into an M is actually a reason Iīm drawn to them. Iīve had a "couple" of frames ruined by me inexplicably opening the back when bored and not thinking too much about it. I was ready to buy a nice, black MP on saturday, but the seller had already sold it the same day, after having the camera out on the market for two months. Heh.
M6 is out of the question. If going film Leica, I want brass, dammit. Been teaching a few work buddies about the virtues of sunny16, so I donīt even need a meter, I think. Been relying on TTL/Av for too long, I guess. M2 would probably work out very nicely for me, I think, if a good condition one could be found for less than insane money. In black.
07-02-2012, 03:03 PM #17
Last edited by Hugh Conway; 07-02-2012 at 03:15 PM.Lord King of the Beater-Kooks
07-02-2012, 03:39 PM #18
Oh, yes. This could get expensive in the long haul (still not anywhere near as bad as an M9, though). Didnīt read Tippīs reply until now (took too long to write that other one), but yes, I know. I guess I just want something that can still be serviced for a few years on, and have no idea how much longer Leica wants to support their old merchandise. And yeah, Iīll probably find use for a meter. Iīm not that good at metering, and definitely not fast enough if the light changes rapidly for street shooting.
I can see a pretty not-very-expensive M7 going locally, and that could be the ticket, else thereīs an M4 with 35 Summaron and Leica meter going for about the same price, and an M3 going for about half the price of that again. Definitely a market for those cameras over here (guess everyone using them have switched to digital Ms or NEX or Ricohs), and beauties pop up every once in a while.
Anyone used an Ikon? Never even held one, but they look pretty, and their viewfinders are huuge, so that might be something. Well. Need to buy something soon. Plan to get proficient until my next daughter arrives in Sept, and Iīd very much like the delivery room photos to be on film.
Thanks for helping me steer in the right direction (again, I read what I like to see in your replies, people). Hope to let you see photos from my next rig soon!
On the side of things. Anyone tried "scanning" film using a fix-rig DSLR with macro lens? Thatīs one thing the 1Ds could be very useful for, I think.
07-02-2012, 03:57 PM #19
I rocked the DSLR for a fewyears and began to tire of the weight and attention grabbing-ness of it. I just take pictures for fun after all. I also like prime lenses and I found interchangeable lenses to often be more hassle than benefit. I messed around a bit with 35mm and medium format film. My take away is that I like film but the developing/scanning is way too much of a time suck for regular use. The excitement of waiting to see if your shots came out is a ton of fun, but it wanes when you have 100's of frames to deal with. I liked the quality of the MF film so much that I will still use that occasionaly, but I think that 35mm requires a very expensive scanner to get the most out of. (I'm scanning with a cheap flatbed which works decently for medium format film.)
Anyways, I decided to sell my expensive (ish) Canon lenses and get an X100. Despite a few oddities, it is a great camera which excellent image quality that is really fun to use. Give it a second thought.
I also used an M9 for an afternoon. Image quality and attractive construction aside, I personally didn't like the usability very much. The lcd looked pretty bad for a ~$10k camera... Get what you want, but don't trick yourself into thinking that you need to spend a significant portion of your net worth on a setup like this to enjoy photography. (And yes I read that you passed on the M9.)
07-12-2012, 10:45 AM #20
Dromond: Iīve given the X100 more than second thoughts, more like 10th such. I have no doubt itīs a very capable camera, and I know itīs great from a users perspective. My dad even shot a bunch of our wedding pictures with one, and those might be the best of the bunch (his other cameras brought with were a 7D and a 1Ds mkIII, along with 85/1.2,24-105 and 70-200/2.8 lenses). IQ isnīt everything, and even in that department, it slaughters the 7D.
Funny thing happened a week ago. My wife and kid got home from a visit at her parentsī, and I happily exclaimed that I had decided to buy a film Leica. She utterly refused the notion, and basically told me I had to buy digital or nothing.
Soooo. Iīm back on the "saving for an M9 wagon". Rest assured, Dromond, I donīt think Iīm going to become the next HCB or Capa or anything like that by purchasing new, terrifyingly expensive gear. Thatīs just ludicrous, and I know a lot of people thinking that way. For me, itīs something I quite simply have to try out for myself. Itīs not like Leicas are tough to sell anywhere on the globe if it turns out itīs not for me. As for it being a significant piece of my income pie; yes it is. I can afford to, though (by saving up my already designated fun-money, after savings for house, kids and emergencies, along with household grocery money, are transferred to our joint account), and my wife, who is the economical mastermind in our household, supports me in this endeavor (yes, she knows how much it all costs).
Amelie, 14 months old, pure awesome (shot with my shitty cell phone camera)
07-12-2012, 11:30 AM #21
Well, enjoy it! They are sure nice to hold. Quality camera gear has such a shockingly low depreciation rate that - as you say - you can always sell it if you change your mind.
07-20-2012, 01:03 PM #22
Authorized Leica service centers still work on M2's, so if you're buying an M4 you will be long dead before they stop.
It's kinda like there will always be somebody to fix your Rolls Royce or Ferrari, regardless of age.
07-20-2012, 02:36 PM #23
there's rumours of an M10 coming out so some dentists will dump their M9s and/or discountsLord King of the Beater-Kooks
07-20-2012, 07:21 PM #24
I love my M9. I think it's a great ski camera, because it's small enough and light enough to carry in an easily accessible bag. You have to give a lot more thought to composition and exposure, but you should be doing that anyway. The same advantages apply to its use as a travel camera, too.
I think I have become a better photographer since I started using the M9, also, because it forced me to think more about what I was doing.
The lenses are fabulous. It takes beautiful pictures.
But - and it's a big but - the M9 didn't cost me a significant fraction of my net worth. Much though I love it, I don't think it's justifiable on a price/performance basis. If you get one, do it because you like to own and use beautiful and elegant tools.
07-21-2012, 09:56 AM #25