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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

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Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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Old 07-08-2018   #1
Bill Pierce
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Thank you

Hereís a question I canít answer, one which I really donít know the answer but truly wish I did. Is a digital Leica, the M240 or M10, a worthwhile camera? Iím not talking about whether itís affordable or worth the money. Iím asking how it stacks up against other digital cameras.

Obviously, different cameras have different features that appeal to different photographers because of what they want to do with their photography. But the Leica does fall into a growing group of relatively small cameras that are easy to keep with you and quick to go to work. At the same time, it is unique in that it and several Fuji cameras are currently the only cameras with bright line finders. The Leica finder has the advantage in brightness and parallax compensation. The Fuji X Pros have the advantage in variable frame magnification and the ability to switch to a TTL finder which gives them an additional advantage in both focusing and framing certain lenses. Oh - and the Leica has another unique feature; it only has manual focus.

Critics often point out the limitations of a camera design whose basics are still in place after almost 100 years. Supporters decry the needless complexity of endless menus and unnecessary features of other small cameras. I donít know who is right. When Zeiss, Nikon, Canon, Kodak and others dropped out of the rangefinder business and SLRs got bigger and added motors and zooms, the Leica had little competition as a go anywhere camera. It was a very good camera, but it also didnít have any competition. Itís got a lot of competition now.

Here is my question. Do you have or do you want a digital Leica? And most important and a real help in clarifying my thoughts - why. Thank you for your help.
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Old 07-08-2018   #2
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Maybe some day it would be nice to have a digital M Leica.
But, since my long used and loved M6, nearly everything in the camera market has changed.
In my opinion the digital M Leicas are not relative small. They are thicker than the film Ms
which were bigger than the screwmounts...

So my small and fullframe alternative is a Sony A7. With a smaller sensor it is a Fuji X-E.

I think that optical viewfinders become more and more obsolet. Personally I am very familiar with EVFs meanwhile.
So for me the question of Leica is even what the Leica is - like a good whisky or a nice car...
You wonīt begin to argue about practical aspects when the day comes you want it.

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Old 07-08-2018   #3
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The short answer is get a loaner, a lens of your favorite focal length and try it yourself.
You will know after 1 hr latest if it is for you or not.

It's about your vision and the camera allows you to capture it. And it goes out of the way during the process.
If you can handle an M3 and take a look into the short manual of a digital M, you'll be able to handle it.

Try that with the latest from any of the big players...

It's not about you maxing out all capabilities and features the latest and greatest camera on the market has to offer ... it is about maxing out your creative abilities.
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Old 07-08-2018   #4
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I have am M262. For me, the bright line optical viewfinder and rangefinder manual focus are the main attractions. Manual focus is so easy with a rangefinder that I can't understand why people put up with the complexities of autofocus. I've tried the mirrorless types with EVF's and even the best of them create a visual and temporal disconnect with the live scene that I find very annoying. Optical finder DSLRs are great, but too bulky for me to carry around on a constant basis. That doesn't leave many digital alternatives besides the Leica M and the late, lamented Epson R-D1.
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Old 07-08-2018   #5
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I loved shooting Ektachrome EPP-100, loved the vibrance and saturation of the colors, and I used it in school, so I'm sure there's a certain nostalgia thrown in there as well. About 8 years ago I picked up a used Leica M8.2 and found the colors reminded me of the Ektachrome which is now no longer available. But the crop factor really bothered me.

So I saved up to get one of the last CCD cameras Leica made, the Leica M-E, and I find the colors are as beautiful on it, as they were on my M8.2, and they do remind me of the old Ektachrome.

I've got a few Full Frame DSLR's that have CMOS sensors, so I figure they render similar to the latest Leica Digitals, M240, M10. And they were less expensive than the current Leica's, do much better in low light, and are "customizable" for many different shooting situations, where I find the Leica digitals lacking.

Just personal taste I believe.

Hope that helps.

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Old 07-08-2018   #6
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If I already had the glass...
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Old 07-08-2018   #7
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Seemingly, Lightroom has gotten the Xtrans sensor sorted out. I see clarity in my shots from my X-E3 that rival the ones from my M9. I had thoughts of a M10 or even a used M (240) but now I'm perfectly content with my Fuji assortment. Yes, cost difference is an issue, but were things to continue with the problems with the Fuji sensor I would have gone with the newer Leica offerings. Not now. I don't find a need for full frame either, most likely 'cause I'm not that good.
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Old 07-08-2018   #8
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I use D800s and Fuji 16MP X-Trans cams.
A good friend of mine acquired an M10 about 6 months ago. From what I've seen on the 5K iMac screen, the imager in the M10 is very, very good....at least D800 good, if not better.
That cannot be said, IMO, about the M9 and M240.
In terms of the imager, Leica no longer lags behind the DSLRs.
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Old 07-08-2018   #9
Michael Markey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
Here is my question. Do you have or do you want a digital Leica? And most important and a real help in clarifying my thoughts - why. Thank you for your help.
Not any more.
I still use my three film bodies when I can but more often my M glass sits on Sony bodies.
More flexible for my needs and I find the peak focussing faster than RF focussing.
For my day to day stuff (broadly sports) manual focus isn`t the best option anyway which is a further disincentive to sinking money into a camera design which doesn`t meet my needs.
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Old 07-08-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icebear View Post
The short answer is get a loaner, a lens of your favorite focal length and try it yourself.
You will know after 1 hr latest if it is for you or not.

It's about your vision and the camera allows you to capture it. And it goes out of the way during the process.
If you can handle an M3 and take a look into the short manual of a digital M, you'll be able to handle it.

Try that with the latest from any of the big players...

It's not about you maxing out all capabilities and features the latest and greatest camera on the market has to offer ... it is about maxing out your creative abilities.
I agree with Klaus that a loaner would be useful, although your question feels rhetorical in the sense of initiating a good discussion.

As one who has tried many different cameras, I can say for sure that I have always felt most inspired to press the shutter by what I see in the Leica rangefinder window than from finders in other cameras. The Sony RX1R II (a great camera) comes to mind because using it recently, I found the EVF distracted from the moment and what was in out in front of me. Hard to explain but that's how I felt. I've never been a fan of SLR cameras either, because of the sense I was looking in to rather than through the camera.

Again, as Klaus says above "it's about your vision and the camera allows you to capture it" I feel this way. Getting my MM back after 9 months at Leica, I felt the immediacy of seeing and shooting my first outing with it and realized I'd missed that!

The Fuji X Pro 2 also works well with it's hybrid window, features (like AF) ; the design and feel of the X Pro 2 is really nice, and for me a nice compliment to the Leica. The image quality from the digital Leica M cameras is more than satisfactory for my purposes and what I am able bring out in post process.

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Old 07-08-2018   #11
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The M9-P seems so much like my M2 that the habits of 30-40 years allow intuitive use still. There are few mode problems and the size of this full frame camera, with a compact f2.8 or even f5.6 lens is great for every day use. I can use lenses from 1932 to 2018. The Monochrom is special and the menus and handling are almost identical. And I haven't risked a new system and a whole slew of new lenses, possibly to move on yet again.
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Old 07-09-2018   #12
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I have sold off most of my Nikon equipment in order to purchase an M 262 (not mentioned in your OP but presumably included in your M 240 reference). There were several reasons or justifications or excuses for this turn of events.

I suspect nostalgia played a part. Back when I first became a photographer in the army, in Germany, in the 1950s, because the army said I was, I soon replaced the government-furnished 4x5 Pressman and Rolleiflex with an M3 furnished by me. Publications weren't supposed to like any pictures taken with the 35mm format, but I never told them and they never asked.


Recently, having ridden the microstock bandwagon for many years and seeing the incredible dilution and diminished sales in that segment, I decided that I was getting too old to try to derive any more retirement income from that dead horse. So what was left for me? Well, to just shoot personal stuff and have fun. When that decision was reached, the only camera that came to mind was an M and the 262 seemed to be made for me, except the price, which seemed almost within reach. It was. And even a 50/2.4 Elmarit. (I thus avoided taping a foil pinhole over the lens flange.)


The " sacrifice" was totally worth it for me. I'm as creative as an old guy can be. I feel I have control over the images. With manual focus I can place it where I think it should be. I don't agonize over what lens to use. The rig is so light I take it everywhere. People seem less intimidated by the M. Nobody pays any attention.


Sorry to be so wordy.
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Old 07-09-2018   #13
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"Here is my question. Do you have or do you want a digital Leica? And most important and a real help in clarifying my thoughts - why. Thank you for your help."

History was my minor in college and tradition has always been important to me. I'm fascinated by the foundations and roots of cultures and institutions and how we got to the place we are today--as well as where the evolution of these foundations are likely to lead us in the future. By that token, I have a great deal of respect for icons. The 35mm Leica rangefinder camera, by any definition, is an icon and the digital Leica is an evolution of that icon. For that reason alone, I would want to own a digital Leica.

But there are practical barriers to my romantic notions. Cost is certainly a factor, for both the camera and the optics. But other factors also come into play. Having owned a meager few film Leicas in the past, I know for a fact that any decent AF system in existence is superior to my ability to focus a rangefinder with either speed or accuracy. I can't see paying a premium for frustration in this regard. Then there is also the question of reliability. While others might disagree, I see a considerable number of posts of these forums concerning newer Leicas needing repairs and the long waits for warranty work to be done. I don't see the volume of reports for other brands like I do for Leicas. Again, I wouldn't want to deal with this type of frustration. And finally, I would not be comfortable carrying and displaying a multi-thousand dollar camera. It's simply not acceptable to me.

In conclusion I would answer, "Yes, I want a digital Leica." But for reasons of tradition, nostalgia, history. Those aren't good enough reasons, in my opinion.
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Old 07-09-2018   #14
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The 240 is a great camera as an M mount RF ... as a mount for other lenses using the optional EVF and an adapter it's too slow to be practical in my opinion and a Sony would be a better option.
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Old 07-09-2018   #15
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I resisted the M8, 9, 240 ...but when I tried the M10 I was convinced and bought it.
One year later I'm very satisfied. Why? Because I can use it as I was doing (and still do) with my M7. A small camera and one lens is what I need. Sometimes, after a few months a change the lens.
Simplicity is a key factor for me.
Image quality? I do not care much about, I believe most of today's cameras can give absolutely good images. I'm not a pixel peeper.
Of course I'm a pure amateur and this makes things easier

robert
PS: the main disadvantages are price and long time for technical service in case of problems...I think we all know this!
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Old 07-09-2018   #16
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Yes, I have a digital Leica - the very first one. I bought an M8 when they first came out and it still works just fine. I wanted a digital for color when I needed it while carrying film M cameras. It still produces files that are as sharp or sharper than the Canon EOS digitals I use for work. It's certainly not the ideal camera - crop sensor, quirky color without an IR filter, and much noiser than an M6. That said, it has been a good camera and, after a decade, still produces files I can use. But I'm not sure I would buy a new digital Leica if the M8 dies; the costs have risen so much that I really can't justify it.
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Old 07-09-2018   #17
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Fuji is cropper with its own lenses. Is it better camera? I have seen them, I have hold them, I don't need them. I don't need magnifier, it is nothing new and I have it in Live View at my 2008 made DSLR. I don't need super TTL gismo, I do it with single on camera TTL flash and sometimes add optical slaves.

Sony FF mirrorless, they are kind of Toyotish and not so good with some nothing special for Leica lenses.

The rest of mirrorless is cute bunch of croppers without OVF.
But I have two digital P&S and they are just as good.

Do I want more menus, buttons and switches, wheels and for less - no, it is not better camera, but worse.
For me Leica is better camera, it has less useless menus, less wheels, buttons and switches. And I could use lenses on it just as on film rangefinder. By real rangefinder, not a fake. And it renders just as I like.

How many X-Pro 1 users would rave about thier camera comparing to M8 users? And why OP compares only M240/M10 with his cameras?
Then I was giving choice for which camera to get, I could afford Fuji and Sony, but took the last availible as new M-E. I'm happy with it like a dog.
Using it for street, documentary and portraiture. And it does it just as I want it to be. As simple as possible, just like with film.
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Old 07-09-2018   #18
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I hesitated a lot before I bought a M8 so that I could use my M lenses on a digital camera. I wanted the rangefinder experience to continue with the beautiful ltm and M lenses. I then bought a Leica M9 and I kept on using these two cameras as a set. I like the resulting images, but I still find the film based images more beautiful. I needed (again) to have Leica replace the M9 sensor last July, and I received an M240 as a loaner from Leica. As Keith has said above, this camera has no faults. It is maybe too chunky, but it functions very well. There is no real advantage to get the M10 other than the camera being slimmer than the M10.

In my case, using a digital M requires less time and money than using my M3 or M6 and then having to worry about film, developing, and scanning. I bought my M8 and M9 used, so there was no major drop in value felt.
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Old 07-09-2018   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
Here’s a question I can’t answer, one which I really don’t know the answer but truly wish I did. Is a digital Leica, the M240 or M10, a worthwhile camera? I’m not talking about whether it’s affordable or worth the money. I’m asking how it stacks up against other digital cameras.

Oh - and the Leica has another unique feature; it only has manual focus.
I've stated my criteria for how I purchase a digital camera on other posts: 1. Must be full frame 2. Must have high value propostion with great price/perfomance 3. Sensor must score high -- 90 at minimum on DXOmark 4. Should be reasonably small (but not a huge factor).

Or -- the highest quality sensor at the lowest cost. Burst speed, video, etc are ancillary nice-ities but a distant second to the sensor, which you're stuck with. Leica and Canon are lagging behind Sony and Nikon -- at least according to DXO. Canon insists on using their own sensors. I don't know what the deal with Leica is, since they are forced to outsource their sensors.

The M10 rates an 86 iirc on DXO -- this is in the range of higher quality crop sensors, behind Nikon (Sony, Tower Jazz sensors) and Sony in bit depth, dynamic range, and high ISO performance. The D850 rates 100. The D600 rates a 94. A D600 costs around $600-700 used and has a still very relevant/current/all you need 24MP resolution. For "who they are" and "what they charge" Leica should be class leader in sensors. At or near the very top of the full frames -- not languishing with specs of crop sensor cameras. They should have the best sensors available in every digital camera they make -- and the fact is, they don't.

So, no. They're not worth it. Unless, perhaps, you have lots of great Leica glass and want a digital Leica body on which to slap that glass on.

They are like a great, stylish sport cars with an underpowered engine. All show and no go.

Leica excels at making fantastic glass, for which they charge a premium and were fantastic mechanical engineers. They have not transitioned to computers/electronics competitively. As for all their lenses being manual -- that's not a feature. That's a lack of a very useful feature. I can always shut off AF an manual focus. I can't AF on a manual lens. Fact is, under most conditions, auto focus is faster and more accurate.
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Old 07-09-2018   #20
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As to Nick's comment on autofocus - I wouldn't be without it when shooting soccer or football. That's what my Canon DSLRs are for. But the rangefinder focus, properly adjusted, is more likely to be accurate than autofocus. Leicas, as Bill well knows, are also excellent when used with the lens set at hyperlocal distance. When that's done, the Ms are quicker than an autofocus camera.
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Old 07-09-2018   #21
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"Hereís a question I canít answer, one which I really donít know the answer but truly wish I did. Is a digital Leica, the M240 or M10, a worthwhile camera?"

In terms of dynamic range and sensitivity the M10 compares well to current DSLRs. The M-Monochrome's sensitivity outperforms all current cameras with 24 X 36 mm cameras. The M-240's performance is lower. But this alone would not stop me from buying a M240 instead of a DSLR - especially if I owned M and, or LTM lenses.

My conclusions are based on Bill Claff's data. Claff's results are objective as they are computed from statistical analysis of unrendered raw-file data. This data is not normalized to differences in sensor area, but this is not important for the cameras I chose to compare below.

Dynamic Range vs ISO. Note, while Claff's term photographic dynamic range is always lower than the engineering definition of dynamic range, the difference is a constant.

The M10 is iso-invariant to within 1/3 stop. This indicates ISO electronic amplification adds practically no noise to sensor output at the native (base) ISO setting. In other words, photon noise dominates perceived image quality until ISO settings are extremely high.

Input-referred read noise indicates the relative nose level of the sensor assembly when no light is present. It does not include noise sources from the ADC or order electronic circuits. Again, the M10 does very well.

Perceived image quality is affected by other factors. Besides lens rendering, sensor cover glass thickness, IR-filter characteristics, color-filter array properties and micro-lens assembly design play important roles.

The M10 is worthwhile by any criteria I can imagine. The M240 is a cost-effective option for this who own M and, or LTM lenses. The M-Monochrome stands alone. A monochrome version of the M10 would significantly outperform any other 24 X 34mm camera on the market today.
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Old 07-09-2018   #22
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Here is my question. Do you have or do you want a digital Leica? And most important and a real help in clarifying my thoughts - why. Thank you for your help.
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Hello Bill, briefly: Do I want a digital Leica? Yes, M rangefinder type. Why? M’s have been my constant companions for over 30 years. 1) Quick, you can be blazing fast with a Leica M – I have only missed shots when I have not been prepared. 2) Compact, 2 bodies and a few lenses take up little space. I use something else if I need to use long lenses etc. Years ago when it was announced that Leica was making a digital M, I looked at my M2, and thought: Just do that. It looks like they more or less have.

Also, Bill, thanks for posing the question, but may I be a bit cheeky and say, we know that you know all this. You were among the photographer/writers who were an influence on me as a young photographer.

Just for fun, may I quote (from the last century): “The rangefinder camera will always
 surpass the single-lens reflex as an all-around available-light camera... For one
 thing, the viewing through a simple optical viewfinder will always be brighter and contrastier than a
 view that has passed through a lens and a viewing
 screen. ...Since good
 seeing is a vital factor for good picture-taking, ...Beyond this, the
 rangefinder consistently provides more accurate focusing...with wide-angle and normal lenses used at high apertures that allow for
 little or no focusing error. The reasons are complex, but it is a no-contest situation: these normal and near-normal lenses are the workhorses of available-light photography”. Bill Pierce, Leica Manual, 15th edition, 1973
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Old 07-09-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bike Tourist View Post
I have sold off most of my Nikon equipment in order to purchase an M 262 (not mentioned in your OP but presumably included in your M 240 reference). There were several reasons or justifications or excuses for this turn of events.

I suspect nostalgia played a part. Back when I first became a photographer in the army, in Germany, in the 1950s, because the army said I was, I soon replaced the government-furnished 4x5 Pressman and Rolleiflex with an M3 furnished by me. Publications weren't supposed to like any pictures taken with the 35mm format, but I never told them and they never asked.


Recently, having ridden the microstock bandwagon for many years and seeing the incredible dilution and diminished sales in that segment, I decided that I was getting too old to try to derive any more retirement income from that dead horse. So what was left for me? Well, to just shoot personal stuff and have fun. When that decision was reached, the only camera that came to mind was an M and the 262 seemed to be made for me, except the price, which seemed almost within reach. It was. And even a 50/2.4 Elmarit. (I thus avoided taping a foil pinhole over the lens flange.)


The " sacrifice" was totally worth it for me. I'm as creative as an old guy can be. I feel I have control over the images. With manual focus I can place it where I think it should be. I don't agonize over what lens to use. The rig is so light I take it everywhere. People seem less intimidated by the M. Nobody pays any attention.


Sorry to be so wordy.
Great story!
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Old 07-09-2018   #24
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I have the same boring answer to "why" as many others here.

I enjoyed and became proficient with film RF cameras (namely Leica M) and I wanted to be able to shoot digitally (as well as film). The digital Leica M cameras were obvious...

I have an M9 and M240 now. Love them both along with my film M bodies. I occaisonally go out with one of each (film and digital) and the switch between them is so seamless I actually sometimes forget which camera is in hand. That's not really an exaggeration. Its whenever I have to make a mental note/recollection of ISO that I most notice the camera in hand. BTW, I love the ability to change ISO on the digital at any time. That is one of the main differences between film and digital in terms of image acquisition. Oh, and the "A" setting is a main difference too. I'm getting lazy and letting the aperture priority make decisions for me
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Old 07-09-2018   #25
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Old 07-10-2018   #26
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Great story!
Thanks, Sam. When you're old your stories get longer!
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Old 07-10-2018   #27
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Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
"Hereís a question I canít answer, one which I really donít know the answer but truly wish I did. Is a digital Leica, the M240 or M10, a worthwhile camera?"

In terms of dynamic range and sensitivity the M10 compares well to current DSLRs. The M-Monochrome's sensitivity outperforms all current cameras with 24 X 36 mm cameras. The M-240's performance is lower. But this alone would not stop me from buying a M240 instead of a DSLR - especially if I owned M and, or LTM lenses.

My conclusions are based on Bill Claff's data. Claff's results are objective as they are computed from statistical analysis of unrendered raw-file data. This data is not normalized to differences in sensor area, but this is not important for the cameras I chose to compare below.

Dynamic Range vs ISO. Note, while Claff's term photographic dynamic range is always lower than the engineering definition of dynamic range, the difference is a constant.

The M10 is iso-invariant to within 1/3 stop. This indicates ISO electronic amplification adds practically no noise to sensor output at the native (base) ISO setting. In other words, photon noise dominates perceived image quality until ISO settings are extremely high.

Input-referred read noise indicates the relative nose level of the sensor assembly when no light is present. It does not include noise sources from the ADC or order electronic circuits. Again, the M10 does very well.

Perceived image quality is affected by other factors. Besides lens rendering, sensor cover glass thickness, IR-filter characteristics, color-filter array properties and micro-lens assembly design play important roles.

The M10 is worthwhile by any criteria I can imagine. The M240 is a cost-effective option for this who own M and, or LTM lenses. The M-Monochrome stands alone. A monochrome version of the M10 would significantly outperform any other 24 X 34mm camera on the market today.

Thanks for the links to Claff's work. Where does he get all this data? Does he use a RAW file from all those cameras on his list? If he's using actual files from these cameras, then you might want to look at the Fuji X-Pro2. Its data makes it look like a really great deal, given its price compared to Leica.
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Old 07-10-2018   #28
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...

Here is my question. Do you have or do you want a digital Leica? And most important and a real help in clarifying my thoughts - why. Thank you for your help.
Had a Leica M8 at one time and a number of other film Leicas. But I have found out I'm not that prolific with rangefinders or small format film.

Nowadays I'm a firm advocate of the Sony A7 and its brethren. Although I only have one original A7 model camera and never even held any of the bigger or faster brothers, I can relate to the design philosophy and ergonomics. If only it were made of metal...


Some say there's a menu in the Sony A7. Some say the lens mount is loose or that the sensor suffers from reflections. I cannot confirm any of this.

All I know is that shooting it in manual mode with Canon FD glass makes me feel like a certain tame racing driver

The days of Leica, rangefinders and small format film have passed for me.
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Old 07-11-2018   #29
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Quote:
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Thanks for the links to Claff's work. Where does he get all this data? Does he use a RAW file from all those cameras on his list? If he's using actual files from these cameras, then you might want to look at the Fuji X-Pro2. Its data makes it look like a really great deal, given its price compared to Leica.
Claff gets data from volunteers. On his web site he writes, "Data is measured from raw files taken to my specifications and contributed by people from around the world.". Claff also computes results from data available at DxOMark. He believes the user generated data is "more reliable".

Claff does use actual un-rendered data from raw files. This means any, automatic data filtering or other manipulations done in-camera before the final raw file is stored will affect the results. Some brands do modify the raw data at very high camera ISO settings. Fortunately, raw-data filtering can be revealed using double Fourier transform analysis.

My primary camera happens to be an X-Pro 2. In my experience, the dual conversion-gain sensor design actually makes a difference. I am very pleased with its performance. However, Bill Pierce only wanted to know about the Leica Ms. I included the Nikon 850 as this is one of the best current DSLRs.
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Old 07-11-2018   #30
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Hereís a question I canít answer, one which I really donít know the answer but truly wish I did. Is a digital Leica, the M240 or M10, a worthwhile camera? Iím not talking about whether itís affordable or worth the money. Iím asking how it stacks up against other digital cameras.
Are they capable of making great photos? Of course. Are they the best in class from a pixel peeping perspective? No. For me, Leica cameras are special if you like to manually focus with a mechanical rangefinder and like a smallish FF camera (with small lenses). If this does not matter to you, then there could be better options. In regards to money, I would rather spend the same cash on a Fuji GFX. Of course this is different, but it would fit what I want to do better. I`ve moved on from Leica, but I will always understand why some use them... it is the only game in town in some ways.
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Old 07-12-2018   #31
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Dear Bill,
We use a lot of different things but mostly I've used D3 and X100(s/f).

More and more I use the X100F (I am a petite woman of a certain age and I no longer can carry two big Nikon bodies all day). However! You will not like the optical finder in low light on the Fuji. The Leica is much better. My husband's and my last Leicas were M6 and, if the finder is similar, it is much superior in poor light.



Cordialmente,
Mme. O
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Old 07-12-2018   #32
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Doesn't matter how I judge any camera.

Eventually, it always comes down to the glass I put on it.

The ability to shoot my M glass full frame would always win out in the end.
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Old 07-12-2018   #33
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I still have my M240 and after some time with it I have come to the conclusion that the digital M is a camera in search of a more sophisticated metering system.

The M series essentially still use the same metering system that the analog cameras did. Except negative film was an excellent insurance policy against exposure errors. As we all know film fails gracefully, while digital executes a full face plant, especially when it comes to overexposure.

The current M meter is dumb and easily fooled. Most people take a test shot, look at the histogram and make an adjustment before shooting again. That's fine if you are shooting at a leisurely pace or your subject is a still life, but its insufficient for complex or rapidly changing lighting situations.

Leica should rework the rangefinder unit and figure out how they can get a matrix meter to read off the prism block or something along those lines.

Owning the 240 has been an exercise in frustration. On one had it is a digital M and the results can be spectacular. Even the fat 240 body feels like you are shooting with an M camera. But the metering system is mediocre at best and Leica really needs to find another solution.

PS: I have shot with a light meter and manual film bodies for about 30 years, so it's not that I don't understand how to use my tools
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Old 07-12-2018   #34
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Harry -

Would you suggest using a handheld incident meter in some situations with a digital M?
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Old 07-13-2018   #35
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Quote:
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Harry -

Would you suggest using a handheld incident meter in some situations with a digital M?
Hey Bill. I tried it and it works fairly well. You will still get blown highlights if the brightest areas exceed what the sensor is capable of capturing above 18% gray, where as a more sophisticated meter would probably attempt to compensate for that.

Something like the highlight metering mode found in the D750 would be perfect for a digital M camera
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Old 07-14-2018   #36
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Even though the M240 auto-bracketing feature is has limited fleibility, in many situations auto-bracketing aperture is useful. With raw files you would make three exposures with 1/2 stop differences. In some situations one-stop brackets could be appropriate.

In post-production you keep the image with the best exposure and delete the other two.

Now the meter estimate is just a guide to get you close.
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Old 07-14-2018   #37
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Hey Bill. I tried it and it works fairly well. You will still get blown highlights if the brightest areas exceed what the sensor is capable of capturing above 18% gray, where as a more sophisticated meter would probably attempt to compensate for that.

Something like the highlight metering mode found in the D750 would be perfect for a digital M camera
When we were shooting for the ďcolorful news weekly,Ē we shot a lot of color transparency film under somewhat hectic conditions. With an incident meter, it was possible to come up with a film speed rating (usually about 1/3 or 1/2 stop under the ISO rating) that pretty much preserved highlight detail. Of course, you were metering the light falling on the meter and that had to be representative of the light falling on the main subject. To over simplify the situation, it worked better than reflected, through-the-lens readings - a lot better in fast breaking situations where you certainly couldnít bracket your exposures. Perhaps that meter has a place in digital photography.

The ability to render overexposed highlights as detailess will forever link transparency film and digital photography. Even now I use a handheld incident meter shooting digital in the studio. I think Iíll start experimenting with it in the field. Thereís going to be one problem. Most of the zoom lenses for still use arenít marked in T-stops and their transmission wide open can often be considerably less than the maximum f/stop would indicate. Thank goodness I mostly use primes. I honestly donít know if an incident meter could be an important tool in the field for digital photography, but Iíll play around for awhile and get back to you.
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Old 07-14-2018   #38
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I haven't read every post in the thread so sorry if this is redundant. I had an M8.2 for awhile and shot a year long project in B&W with it. I liked it enough but the threat that it might need service from Leica ,which would be expensive and likely take a long time, bugged me. As a working photographer I like to have at least 2 identical bodies in case one goes down. In the Fuji system I can afford that, plus 10 lenses. I can't afford 2 leica bodies and 4 modern lenses, plus I don't want to carry around $15,000+ value in equipment. As time goes by, I'm much less concerned about sharpeness, bokeh, and form factors. Getting interesting contents in front of any camera makes for results.
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Old 07-14-2018   #39
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I haven't read every post in the thread so sorry if this is redundant. I had an M8.2 for awhile and shot a year long project in B&W with it. I liked it enough but the threat that it might need service from Leica ,which would be expensive and likely take a long time, bugged me. As a working photographer I like to have at least 2 identical bodies in case one goes down. In the Fuji system I can afford that, plus 10 lenses. I can't afford 2 leica bodies and 4 modern lenses, plus I don't want to carry around $15,000+ value in equipment. As time goes by, I'm much less concerned about sharpeness, bokeh, and form factors. Getting interesting contents in front of any camera makes for results.
No question that the Leica is one of many good camera choices. In the film days it was the dependable workhorse for many photographers - and as affordable as any other similar camera. And then came the autographed editions and the colored leathers. The Leica became both a good camera and a conspicuous consumption item. That seems to be holding true for the current digital Leicas. But, is it a better camera than the Fujis that also have bright line finders. No, itís a DIFFERENT camera. For example, itís bright line finder is brighter and more usable in dim light than the X Proís. But itís lack of an EVF means it canít handle long lenses or macro work as well as the Fujis. Oh - and itís manual focus which is both a good and a bad thing depending on what you are doing.

The Fuji is more versatile. With the M10, Leitz seems to realize that the simplicity of a still camera that has limits but can still handle what most photographers do most of the time is actually an important advantage. But, you can also set up the Fuji so that you rarely dive into its menu or Q screen. In the end, they are tools which produce images of very similar quality, but, potentially, in very different ways. In other words, they are just different tools and a carpenter uses many tools. Itís just that a saw doesnít cost $7500 and uses blades that cost a third of that.
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Old 07-14-2018   #40
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I bought an M8 in 2007 and enjoyed it. It still works. I now occasionally use the Leica T and TL2 - both underrated cameras. Their user interface is terrific.
But if I really want to get the shot and have the focus be spot on, I grab the Panasonic G9 - a great camera with excellent PanaLeica lenses.
When I am no hurry and in excellent light, I will use the Sigma Quattro SD H over anything from Leica.
As for the M8? My eyes are too old for rangefinder focusing. RF was a great tool in the 1920s all the way through to the 1980s but is now greatly surpassed by modern autofocusing.
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