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Old 04-11-2019   #12
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Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
Pretty strong opinion there, Peterm1. I like my M9. Sometimes I miss my m8.2, but my lenses are not coded, and the m9 lets me dial them in manually.

Rob F I am glad you made your comment as it forced me to sit down, think and clarify in my own mind what made me post the previous comment about the M8M9. So, I should explain.

I still own an M8 and have to say that I have been somewhat disappointed in it almost from the day I purchased it (though in some respects I enjoyed it and still enjoy it, though within limits) . I am not saying its a bad camera and neither I am sure, is the M9 bad. What I am saying is that neither live up to my expectations born from 20 years shooting Leica M film cameras, in certain key respects. And I should add if YOU like your M8/M9 that's fine - the last thing on earth I would want to do is take away any of your enjoyment. But let me explain what my objections and criticisms are for me (not for you or anyone else and you are free to differ). I should also concede that both are capable of wonderful images IF you get everything right. And I found that to be a big "if" in certain situations.

Leica M film cameras were renowned as "available light cameras" principally due to the ability to hold them steady at slow shutter speeds with little shutter shock unlike SLR shutters. The Leica digital Ms however, let this reputation down in a number of ways. First the CCD sensor is very limited in its ability to shoot in low light and was on the day it was released behind the pack in this respect even then. A digital camera should be even better as an "available light camera" than any film camera given the high ISO performance now usually associated with them. The M8 can do not a whole lot better than match my old Leica M4P when it was shooting ISO 400 film. So this is a bit of a disappointment given what we expect from digitals. Moreso when one considers the M8 CCD sensor's very poor dynamic range, with resulting blown highlights all over the place without ultra careful framing and metering in many outdoor situations (where once more film M8s excelled) I would have to say it lets the team down there too.

This is made worse somewhat by its clunky shutter (no I LITERALLY mean clunky due to the sound made) which sounds like a bear trap closing (OK maybe that's a bit hyperbolic). But the shutter does to my way of thinking impart more shock than the old, rather sedate and most certainly quiet, cloth shutters of film Ms. This further reduces its "available light" credentials.

Finally not everyone may agree here but honest to God, that pokey little 0.68x magnification viewfinder SUCKS NOODLES. It is crud for a Leica and almost takes me back to using an LTM camera. It's especially a problem for me as my eyes are no longer 20/20. OK there are ways around that, but all of them are kluged together - honestly, screwing in supplementary lenses just to be able to see a viewfinder clearly - this is the 21st century so why not a built-in (as in you don't have to pay extra for it) variable diopter like just about every other camera on the planet. And if your eyesight changes as eye sight always does, well, just buy another (what?) $200 diopter lens from Mr Leica. Great work Mr. Leica. The M10 has gone back to a bigger magnification finder AT LAST and so has improved but not entirely solved this situation. Even the M240s I have tried out are better somehow than the M8/M9 finders though it has the same magnification as them. Not sure why it is, but it just is. BTW the lower magnification of these viewfinders also makes it harder to focus longer lenses as it effectively shortens the rangefinder's apparent baseline length and making the rangefinder inherently less accurate. So, if like me, you enjoy shooting a 90mm f2 lens wide open you are pretty much screwed. Though you can stick it on your Sony where it works great...........

The shutter factor mentioned above also affects the camera's "haptics" - its handle-ability and the "feel" you get from handling it. A person spends a lot of money on luxury european sedan because it feels nice to use. That is principally why people spend big on such things. (OK some do it for status but honestly if the European car had all the charm of being nothing more than a badge engineered Hyundai straight from the production line or was full of quirks that made using it unpleasant to use, even those status seekers would cry foul.) Same for luxury cameras.

I just think as many do that Leica's first (and second) foray into digital Ms (partly) failed in that regard too (partly - because they still look pretty and this is something which helps me enjoy the experience in that respect at least). They are not terrible cameras by any means and certainly are capable of very nice images. They are just not as good as you are entitled to expect given that you paid probably twice or even three times what you would have paid over the cost of a competitor's camera which in fact might even be functionally better . It is not enough for a Leica camera to just take pictures it has to have something extra if Leica wants to get you to pay all that lovely dosh to them.

Oh and by the way when I first got my Leica M8 I thought "these images are so nice straight from the camera that I can forego much post processing". I was right for about a couple of months then found I could no longer get sharp images or any usable images - turns out that despite treating the damn thing like a baby kitten, my rangefinder had randomly drifted (as they do, especially I believe on the M8) and I had to spend yet another $150 on recalibrating it.) Really? Nice surprise Mr Leica! Now its a camera that cannot focus- never even once had that with my M3 or M4P. Sorry - I do not wish to be over critical or melodramatic but the best I can give Leica for their CCD cameras based on my own experience is a low to middling pass.

But still I stuck with Leica's M8 - for me it was kind of being in a bad marital relationship - too good to leave, too bad to stay. :^)

On the bright side, the M240s seem to have it about right in most respects (OK not crazy about the plugin top mounted EVFs but you can't have everything). So far as I can tell we are finally .......finally, some 10 years on, getting a series of Leica M cameras that seem at last to be truly worthy of the name.
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