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Looking to get an M9, think it would suit me?
Old 09-13-2018   #1
andrew00
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Looking to get an M9, think it would suit me?

Hey,

I'm looking to get an M9 and am looking for advice on whether it'd suit me.

My two fav photographers are probably William Eggleston and Daido Moriyama.

Both capture fragments of life, and both produce images that feel like memories. WE's images have a vibrancy to them, even when the subject is mundane, like memories that burn bright. DM's are the opposite, memories you can't really remember, already fading.

It's almost like WE is the day time and DM is the night time, two opposing sides of a whole.

I currently have a Ricoh Gr that I use for my 'DM' pics, and I'm happy with that.

I'm looking for a camera that I can use for the day, my Eggleston camera if you will. (Obviously I know I'm not him lol)

I generally don't like most digital cameras, the images might technically be good but lack the vibrancy I love about WE. I would shoot film but, honestly, I don't really enjoy doing so, it's the faff!

This brings me to the M9.

On paper, it seems like the best compromise I'm going to get to satisfy my needs.

It's not tiny and light, but it's not big and heavy, so I can carry it around all day.

It's CCD isn't perfect but it does produce a colour magic that seems to be lost with CMOS sensors.

Its image quality is enough that, if I print, I'd be happy with good size images.

It's just about affordable (M10, for example, is not)

I also want to feel connected to the pictures I take. I've tried the Fujis etc and they're great cameras but I didn't feel anything, they might as well have been my phone.

I was wondering what you guys thought. I know I'm not going to get exactly what I'd want. But I think the M9 can give me what I need. Looking for your input.
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Old 09-13-2018   #2
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I'm not finding M9 sensor to be significantly awsome in color rendering. It is different sometimes how it renders portraits, but on WE style photography I don't see it. It lacks dinamic range and sort of same limitation as slide film scans. M9 sensor gives some very fine depth of image details on low ISO. I think this is where it is special from film.
M240 would do the same for WE style. Sigma Meril would do WE style better, IMO. It is still photography camera, but colors and else are special.

Do you have lens to match M9? To reveal M9 potential you need good lens. Or you could get cheap LTM and rave about retro rendering (all kind off defects, which don't make image any better, but worse).
The only lenses I'm fully satisfied with on M9 sensor were and are Lieca made. Modern ones.
So, it is not only Leica camera, but lens. Not very economical way to feel like WE.
He does it on film and he prints it analog, if I'm not mistaken. Prints made this way are art.
With color film you could get away with more economical lens. I have film and digital M.
I can't see big difference between Color Skopar and Summarit-M 35 on color film scans.
Last time I watched documentary with WE, he was using LTM Viogtlander lens.
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Old 09-13-2018   #3
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"Absolutely not"? The best reason to buy an M9 is simply because you want an M9.

William Eggleston got vibrant colors because he had a good sense of lighting. Leica M9 can deliver brilliant color, but it can also deliver crap color: This is really more dependent on your skill as a photographer.

Daido Moriyama has stated that the camera doesn't matter! The last I heard, he was using a Nikon Coolpix of some sort.
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Old 09-13-2018   #4
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Andrew,

This is coming from a Monochrom owner who bought his new about 5-6 years ago. The MM and M9 are kinda primitive cameras even though they are digital. If you try to shoot fast you will be frustrated by the slow processor and the slow buffer. On one hand the M9 and MM are as close to being like a film camera, no frills, and slower than other digitals.

Because of the lack of features is why I love my MM.

I have a friend who states, "Sometimes it is the size of the pixels, verses how many." I think the 18MP is enough to print big and does offer an advantage and a certain look, but know that a M240 or M246 is a much more advanced camera and being CMOS has more dynamic range, more shadow detail, smoother roll-off in the highlights. better high ISO performance, has a more speedy processor, a better display, a faster buffer...

I do think the MM and M9 has its unique rendering because of the CCD sensor. In B&W on my Monochrom the histogram has great strength in the mids, and to me a M246 has more shadow detail and retains the highlights better, but the mids are kinda scooped. If you print big in B&W the mids are the voice that makes my prints look like medium and even like large format.

In the M9 the colors are more saturated than in a CMOS camera.

Also I would also say to maximize a M9 that the glass is important. Don't forget that cost.

I would say that rendering wise a M9 would be highly suitable, but a M9 is not a full featured speedy camera. Realize it is almost as basic as a film camera.

Know that my other digital camera is a Leica SL. In many ways the M10 is a SL made into the smaller M-body as far as the technology. Both have the processor that was developed first in the Leica S. I have a friend who owns both the M10 and SL and pretty much he agrees they are very much the same camera in many ways. He perfers the SL BTW.

So when I shoot my MM it is a bit of a rude throwback as far as speed, and I immediately remember how slow, basic and primitive my MM is. You have to know that I still shoot film also so in my case I don't mind. The most important thing to me are the files and the images. Even though my SL is the more advanced camera, I think my best images and prints are made from my MM. It seems that less required post processing, and this is best seen/discovered in large prints. Understand that I only print B&W and I use Piezography.

I only shoot color for my gal's blog. She like a bit of underexposure and the Leica colors. Check out here a lot of fashion shots in NYC using a SL and 50 Lux-SL (not a small rig). Most of my stuff is right out of the camera with no post.

www.AccidentalIcon.com

She has over 540K followers, earlier this year won a "Shorty Award" in the fashion catagory, and pretty much is A-listed.

Cal
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Old 09-13-2018   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew00 View Post
Hey,

I generally don't like most digital cameras, the images might technically be good but lack the vibrancy I love about WE. I would shoot film but, honestly, I don't really enjoy doing so, it's the faff!

I also want to feel connected to the pictures I take. I've tried the Fuji's etc and they're great cameras but I didn't feel anything, they might as well have been my phone.

I was wondering what you guys thought. I know I'm not going to get exactly what I'd want. But I think the M9 can give me what I need. Looking for your input.
I understand your feelings and what I am about to say is NOT an attempt to dismiss you. Frankly, if you don't like digital photography (see underlined sections above), then you don't like digital photography - a big bulky Leica digital camera isn't going improve the situation. Buy a M2 and be done with digital.
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Old 09-13-2018   #6
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I will agree with KoFe that Leica glass is a good idea.

Also his remark about careful exposure is spot on. The CCD sensor is not so forgiving, but in the right hands...

I seldom shoot above 800 ISO on my MM.

Now that I'm thinking about it the CCD sensor is less forgiving than a CMOS sensor.

The dynamic range of the CCD is less than than that of a CMOS sensor.

Cal
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Old 09-13-2018   #7
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I love my M9. Its entirely emotional.

I couldn't recommend or not recommend the M9 to anyone else. As mentioned a couple times above, the quality of the output from the M9 is entirely dependent on the photographer. I have some real nice images from my M9, and a couple orders of magnitude more duds from same camera.

A practical question: Do you have experience/history with Leica M type cameras? Film or digital? For most of us, this is one reason for using a digital M -- it feels like the film versions we're all familiar with. Do you have any M-mount lenses to use on the M9? I am of the opinion that there are non-Leica lenses that will provide excellent results, just like Leica lenses. Recently discussed here at RFF is the Zeiss Biogon 35/2 would be an example. Still, you will want/need a good lens.
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Old 09-13-2018   #8
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I also love the images from my M9. I have tried out an M240 for 6 months or so, but while it is functionally more complete than the M9, I had no conenction with irt as I seem to have with my M9. The M9 has "class and elegance" in my eyes.
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Old 09-13-2018   #9
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For me, there is something special going on with the M9. The combination of the CCD sensor and the way the camera handles really lets me concentrate on my subjects and not worry about much else.

The .DNG files are absolute stunning "digital negatives" that behave like a perfect mix of 'chromes and C46 negatives.

I usually keep my M9-P to -3 on the exposure dial (or slightly underexpose on manual) and man, with the right lenses (the Zeiss C Biogon 35/2.8 is utterly amazing, for instance), just about anything is possible.

Oh, and always glad to encounter another Eggleston fan!


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Old 09-13-2018   #10
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I really like the M9, but admit that the "adapt anything" bug on the CMOS cameras has bitten me. I use lots of different lenses on it, but keep drifting back to the C/V 35/1.2 v/1. Just something about it . . .





These days it is often M9 plus Silver EFX Pro2.
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Old 09-13-2018   #11
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It is nice to be in agreement with Cal. But I have to be slightly different on BW view.
If I would be after finest and tunable BW I would pay extra for MM. But I think, no, I see, what DM's BW is not about AA's sixteen shadows of grey zone play.

Russian photographer, who is known here as GR, is DM follower. Not only he made photography in this vision and look, but he went to Japan and he took simple film camera(s) with him.

Some of his previous work here:
https://youtu.be/JUtkYYqCGGY
And here is his Osaka photos (bad video quality):
https://youtu.be/56LgLBnETnQ

He owned M4, but decided to be not a slave to his camera.

If OP is into night MD, M9 is not going to make it without BG flash.
IMO, if to be seating on two chairs (ME and DM) then GRII is cost effective option.
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Old 09-13-2018   #12
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I would argue that William Eggleston style photography is best done with a compact, rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. You want something that makes framing and exposure/seeing the lighting as easy as pie.

My recommendation is for a Fuji X-E3 with the 35/2.
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Old 09-14-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calzone View Post
I will agree with KoFe that Leica glass is a good idea.

Also his remark about careful exposure is spot on. The CCD sensor is not so forgiving, but in the right hands...

I seldom shoot above 800 ISO on my MM.

Now that I'm thinking about it the CCD sensor is less forgiving than a CMOS sensor.

The dynamic range of the CCD is less than than that of a CMOS sensor.

Cal
CCD sensor assembly photo-diode array is inferior to CMOS when it comes to S/N and dynamic range. Thus is a data-driven conclusion.

A CCD sensor assembly's IR filter properties, micro-lens and color-filter array characteristics and cover-glass thickness also affect perceived image quality. These things do matter and more expensive materials and manufacturing processes will make a difference.

Unfortunately, when a sensor is over exposed due to shutter time and, or aperture, CCD photo-diodes leak much higher levels of excess electrical charge to nearby photo-sites compared to CMOS. Fortunately this is never an issue when highlight region detail is lost because ISO was unintentionally set too high.

Perceived image quality, especially color aesthetics depends on many variables. With a properly exposed raw file it's hard for me to understand how data from a CMOS sensor is fundamentally inferior to a CCD sensor data.

However the M9's default parameters for in-camera JPEG rendering engine for could be superior to those for Leica's CMOS cameras. I would not bet on this. It's hard to believe Leica would not make sure rendering engine for CMOS bodies doesn't have the same engineering excellence as the CCD bodies.
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Old 09-14-2018   #14
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I have an M9 and have no plans of replacing it any time soon as its meets all my needs very nicely. That being said I think some people have a somewhat romanticized view about it and its CCD sensors. Some feel its files have a unique look to them others don't. Personally I think it comes down to each person's needs and expectations. For someone who mainly shoots at lower ISOs for color and whose monochrome needs are limited to ISO 1600 and lower the M9 is a good option. Now if one needs to use higher ISOs, then one of the newer CMOS bodies may be a better choice.
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Old 09-14-2018   #15
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Andrew: The M9 is a great camera. I had one and ended up selling it. I later had an M9 Monochrom (a great, great camera), which ended up stuck at Leica forever for sensor replacement, so I traded out of it. That'd be my major concern for buying any M9 or M9 Monochrom: Does it have the new replacement sensor? If "yes," go for it. If "no," I'd definitely pass. Good luck in your search ...
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Old 09-14-2018   #16
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I still have my M9 and use it a lot and like it a lot, but would I buy one now I don't think so if I already had all the lenses maybe. Even a secondhand M9 is still a lot of money £2000ish for a the body and £800 to £1500 for a 35mm or 50mm summicron, I would have a look at Sony, d810 or maybe Canon 5d and you could still buy a couple of lenses and maybe a fuji x100 or similar.
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Old 09-14-2018   #17
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I own an M9, and while it is great, the difference to other digital cameras I used (Leica SL, X1, X2, M8, T) is not that great. The M8 may have been my favorite, actually.

Switching to C1 from LR made a bigger difference (for me) than between the models. Or, differently put, C1 to LR made a bigger difference than CCD-CMOS.

The only cameras I saw an substantial differences of certain parameters were the Leica Monochrom (sharpeness, tonality, etc.) and the old Kodak 645 Pro Back (MF - now there are some colors, and those Mamiya lenses...).
Not to say the M9 cannot do good colors, it IS a great camera. Now the ONE advantage the M9 has going for is the lenses...no doubt.

PS - I just had a better look at some of Eggleston`s work. I would think that you will struggle with any digital camera to achieve that look (even with film - skills come over camera of choice, anyways)
After years of using M6 and M8 side-by side in the same situations...a look like Portra 400 or slide film only comes out of film cameras.
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Old 09-14-2018   #18
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The M9 is still a very capable camera but comes with tons of limitations you have to take into consideration. Depending on you previous workflow it might be a steep learning curve. Especially if you're not used to a rangefinder and generally shooting at lower ISOs.

Once you've understood its limitations and commit to the mindset however its a brilliant tool. But if you're pushing it the M9 quickly bites back.

I was on a hunt looking for a digital camera that produced similar results to the smooth colour tonality film can give you. I tried the Canon 5D Classic, Fujifilm X100, Sigma Merril DP1, Fujifilm S5 Pro and the M8. Most of which lived up to expectations but fell on the finish line in the end.

Forfeit to its limitations and you will certainly be rewarded.
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Old 09-14-2018   #19
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How is your eye sight? I have found that my M8 which has the same viewfinder is inadequate in this department due to the exceedingly low magnification (introduced to cope with 28mm wide angle lenses) compared with my old M3 or even my old M4P. As a result while I love the idea of using my M8 I seldom do, at least for street photography, as I just cannot focus quickly enough and even if I take my time will too often miss focus when shooting wide open. Even though I have added an eyepiece magnifier and a diopter adjustment. It is fine for shooting static subjects though and never fails to attract comment from bystanders. Oddly it is usually young women who comment on the camera (I suspect because "old" cameras are very hipster cool today.)

As for its image quality it is usually pretty good out of the camera though there is one deficiency here too. The CCD gives poor dynamic range by comparison with later sensors. That can limit the utility of the camera for natural light shooting - which used to be regarded as the Leica M's forte. But if you are used to shooting slide film it may not worry you.
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Old 09-14-2018   #20
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Having worked with M9, M-P 240, and M-D 262 cameras extensively, I would not choose an M9 for any reason today. The M9 always felt sluggish and laggardly to me, and I disliked the native color output it created in JPEG format to the extent that I always turned off JPEGs entirely. Never mind the potential for sensor problems with the M9 sensors, the camera just left me ambivalent.

The typ 240 cameras proved to be much better performing on responsiveness and image quality and, once a firmware update or two had come out, their in-camera JPEG files proved to be quite good when you found the settings that worked for you, even though I continue to be primarily a raw file user. The typ 262 series cameras (I use the M-D now) really improved the viewfinder and the camera calibration profile for the raw files even beyond the typ 240 and are now "as good as I need/want" in all respects.

Some folks do see something they like in the M9 files despite that I don't... It's a matter of personal taste, I guess. The only CCD camera that to my eye produces a significantly desirable output that I choose over later CMOS cameras in the range is the Olympus E-1, and I think the difference there is that the E-1 with its 5Mpixel CCD sensor uses a very very different antialiasing filter compared to the later E-5 and Micro-FourThirds cameras with their higher pixel density and much lighter antialiasing filter. The fact of CCD vs CMOS seems to be insignificant with respect to rendering/performance qualities, at least within the range of ISO settings achievable by the older camera.
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Old 09-15-2018   #21
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I have a feeling that some perceived differences come from the more accurate colors and white balance of modern CMOS cameras. The "special" rendering of the M9 often vanishes when a grey/white card is used. To be fair, films rarely were particularly accurate neither, in therein may have been lain part of their charm.

The CCD vs CMOS debate is a bit like the fat-pixel theory, and often a case of biases and seeing what we want to see. Speaking off "fat pixels":

If I were out to replicate a look as I have seen in the images by said photographer, I would probably pick an older CCD digital MF back. Not that ticks the other boxes (easily portable, though I have carried a Mamiya with a Pro Back around...the M9 is certainly friendlier in that respect), but the rendering of the lenses and larger sensor go quite a way. Have a look at P30 images. Now the thing to remember - these backs were usually in the hands of skilled people.

More than a certain camera, good photographic skills, the "eye" for composition/motives, use of light, and post-processing skills are required (duh, of course). The line between a "look" and "over-processed" is very fine.

Film was and is cool because weird colors, blown highlights (slides), etc were all OK and even looked good.
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Old 09-15-2018   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew00 View Post
I currently have a Ricoh Gr that I use for my 'DM' pics, and I'm happy with that.

I'm looking for a camera that I can use for the day, my Eggleston camera if you will. (Obviously I know I'm not him lol)
I would wait a few weeks if Ricoh comes with a New GRIII, most probably with a 24MP sensor which would give you around 15MP resolution in the 35mm (WE) crop mode.

Btw, for Eggelston style colours I shoot Kodak Ektar 100 pushed by 2 stops with my Contax T3. In the past I used my GRII with RawPhotoProcessor(RPP) for this look. But I must admit, I'm also a believer of CCD, it looks different and I don't mind the technical reasons behind. especially the M8, for me the digital cameras which comes closest to the look of film ever. Have to add, and I can't believe what I say , the Sony A7S first version is also worth a look.

However, imho both WE and MD's look are more based on their post processing/printing, be it the wonderful dyetransfer prints of WE or the marvelous analoge prints from MD, he, or whoever does the post for him, is obviously quit good with SFX too, even I have to admit I'm more a fan of his "older" work on film, although this relies more on the content than the used medium or camera I guess.

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Old 09-16-2018   #23
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Sorry it's not the camera that gives Eggelston his "look"!
WE worked mainly with Kodachrome film.
There is no equal or close "app" that can duplicate those colors.
David Alan Harvey, Alex Webb, McCurry, etc.
all built their reputations and portfolios with Kodachrome..
WE has a great sense of color, that being one of his foundations..
If one studies his images, it's not simply color but his actual statements.
I've seen videos of WE using other cameras besides Leica, a Pentax M series..
DAH uses many cameras and when we met using a Nikon DSLR.
If you really want a Leica digital, go for newer than M9.
They are expensive to the point I would never consider.
I've used M8, M9 and Mono (TY all my buddies) and saw nothing special..
Film has a certain look, Velvia (really improved Kodachrome) is available..
Processing expensive and not available on nearest corner.
Even so a LOT OF FILM till one comes up with Leica cost.
Leica seem to require adjustments on regular basis (I own 3).
I firmly believe that a RFDR is not accurate enough for a sensor..
Use of digital sure made me see that!
My Leica M3 is 51 yrs in pro service..
Film a whole other story with a Leica and older lenses !
Daido uses whatever! He sure prints a lot!
I use mostly "toy" digital for nearly all my color!
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Old 09-16-2018   #24
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To the OP have you considered an M-E?

Whether it is an M 9 or an M-E make sure it has a replaced sensor.
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Old 09-16-2018   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airfrogusmc View Post
To the OP have you considered an M-E?

Whether it is an M 9 or an M-E make sure it has a replaced sensor.
Best replaced in 2016 or later. Leica developed new CCD sensors from around 09/2015 that did not corrode.

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Old 09-16-2018   #26
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The only disadvantage of M-E is painted letters on the back.
If camera is in use regularly and on the neck strap they worn out quick.
Thick half-case should solve this problem.
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Old 09-19-2018   #27
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The M-9 by Leica standards and the industry is old!
Go compare images on a few sites and compare if worth the cost,
of any Leica digital..
Pal's Mono went for sensor renewal/repair and it was away more than 9 months!
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Old 11-19-2018   #28
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The Eggleston strength you feel comes from his printing which is an old and very expensive method that gives colors neither digital or C41 will.
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Old 11-19-2018   #29
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I fail to see the point the role a M9 plays in the OP pursuit of photography. I also fail to see why someone admiring Eggleston should use the same equipments as he did...

If you want a Leica then grab a Leica. Enjoyment doesn't need much excuse.
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Old 11-20-2018   #30
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Like many others I have the M9 with ancient (1930's) and modern (2017) glass in front of it and I don't think the word I would use about it is "need" but "like" and "enjoy" come into it. And the output from most cameras depends on how you set them up and how you tweak the file afterwards.

So I reckon that if you buy an outfit based on the M9 then you should have modern glass (meaning expensive) and really it should be Leica glass. If you want the other popular makes of glass then a lot cheaper cameras will take them; thinking CZ and CV as I type that...

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Old 11-20-2018   #31
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I thought about an M9 at the end of last year but ended up spending a bit more on a good used M262. The big concern I'd have with putting my money in an M9 at this point in time is potential sensor issues, particularly now that Leica have closed their free repair programme.
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Old 12-13-2018   #32
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The key consideration for M9 today is either already having the updated sensor or buying at price that reflects need for sensor replacement (which can also take weeks/months).
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Old 12-13-2018   #33
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I have the M9-P in silver. Fell in love with it. Currently in for free sensor replacement - or maybe just remapping the sensor for a dead pixel. But I think it has the rot. Got the MM back from free sensor replacent in two weeks. Both cameras are wonderful and connect me continuously with my whole experience since getting an M2 at 17. My M2 is also old technology, 60 years old this year, but effectively the recently released MA. I can live with the M9 a while yet. There’s more to these things than the specs. As said above, you want it. Might as well get it.
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Old 12-13-2018   #34
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If you don't like digital cameras, get a film camera, a good lens, and a lot of film, for the same cost as a working Leica digital.
In the end it is an itch you will scratch.

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Old 12-13-2018   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
Currently in for free sensor replacement - or maybe just remapping the sensor for a dead pixel. But I think it has the rot. G
Is Leica, still doing free warranty sensor replacement??

Joe
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Old 12-13-2018   #36
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I have the M9, and also a Fuji X100, and a Fuji X20. For digital street photography, I most often use one of the Fuji cameras, because they are smaller than the M9 and are dead quiet, so therefore less intrusive. Their zoom lenses make instant focal length adjustment possible without changing lenses. And they have optical viewfinders. The Fuji X100 is the most Leica-Like to shoot with. It's just like shooting with my M2 and 35mm Summicron!

As others have said, if you want an M9, buy one; but I can think of better cameras for the job, at a much lower price.
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Old 12-13-2018   #37
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Is Leica, still doing free warranty sensor replacement??

Joe
Joe, only if the camera warranty is under 5 years. I just had my MM sensor replaced under warranty in July (I sent it to Wetzlar).

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Old 12-14-2018   #38
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My M9 sensor was replaced in 2014 with the older sensor, two years after purchase. Because of that, I am still covered for a new sensor with my 6 year old camera, if it had developed the sensor rot.
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Old 12-26-2018   #39
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Interesting that you use the GR as your Daido camera and are looking for an Egglestone camera, as the GR can take superlative colour images as long as you shoot raw and process accordingly. I'm quite the fan of these photographers as well, and agree with your perspective of them looking like types of memories.

Daido has used a slew of cameras over the years, including SLR's, the GR series, the digital GR series, a Nikon Coolpix zoom, and very recently the Sony RX0, according to a post in Tokyo Camera Style's Instagram page.

The M9 is still my favourite camera after almost nine years, and I do love the colours it produces. The sensor was designed by Kodak, and the word is that they attempted to replicate the look of Kodachrome. How close they came, I don't know, but I love the colours.

I think you'd be able to take Egglestone type images with the M9 and a fast 35. If you can't afford/find an older 35mm Summilux or Summicron, look for a Voigtlander Nokton 35/1.4. The Zeiss 35's have a very contrasty and modern look that the Egglestone photos don't really have.

As someone mentioned above, the Fuji X100 is a very decent camera and suits the Egglestone style, although you'd have to play with the colours in Lightroom a bit to make it the way you want. It's been years since I bought mine, and I'm still trying to get a 'look' that I'm completely happy with. You can get an original X100 very cheaply these days.
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