Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reply Email about Leica M Digital Cameras

This is a reply email I sent to Sevensevennine website concerning the Leica M9 and the M8.2 digital camera.


I just bought a used M8.2 with a 35mm Summicron. I was on the list for a M9, but being that it was a long wait, and I’ve never tried a rangefinder digital Leica before, I thought I’d try the M8.2 before plunking down 7K. (I’ve also never owned a Leica film camera before, and I actually thought about getting a used M6 or M7 instead, but because I am mostly into digital now, I chose the M8.2). Did I make the right choice? Well, I compromised on sensor size. I wish it was full frame. I was actually thinking of getting the D700 body instead to keep up with my Nikon gear, but I wanted something much smaller, with high quality, and silent for street shooting, and general portraits, (in the style of HCB).

There’s a lot of quirkiness in the Leica digital. It’s aggravating at times due to being spoiled by D-SLRs and point & shoot digital cameras. I do notice a difference in sharpness and film like qualities though. The M8.2 produces files that are film-like. I am not a techno-geek, but I can’t explain the difference. It’s very haunting sometimes. I do notice more noise in my Nikon, but I’m sure as I raise the ISO past 1250 on the Leica, there’s a lot of noise and the nikon would be better, especially with the newer D700 body.

Anyway, I’m still up in the air about this whole rangefinder thing. I love the bright viewfinder, but hate the slow file writing. I prefer the menus on the Nikon, but that could be because I know the system more. I do think there is a difference between how the files look coming out of each camera. The Leica is crisper. It almost reminds me of slide film.

Is it worth that much money though? Uhm, I don’t think so, in retrospect. It’s not full frame, and it was more expensive than the D700 body, and that’s me buying a Leica used, albeit in mint condition.

I’m sure the files are even better on the M9. I just wish that Leica would lower prices and refine their line a bit. Make a body like a CL but digital? I don’t know. Something cheaper. The X1 would have been perfect if you could change a lens on it and use it manually.

With all that said, I’m still liking the Leica very much. It’s a different way of shooting, simplified, but with more thinking, like the old film days."


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  2. Hi Zen, I just found your formidable blog via Steve Huff's post of this morning. I am in a similar situation as you, a long time Nikon D100 user, and a previous owner of M4, CL and M6 , I am now delighted to have found a used M8 in impeccable condition.

    The cons described in your post do not deter me. I don't mind that it takes a while to store the images; I believe a Leica user is not in a hurry. The one draw back is the sensor size. I also wish it were full frame. My two lenses, 25mm and 35mm are way too expensive as the become a 35mm and 50mm on the M8 respectively.

    I'll stay tuned to this blog.

    Best, Roberto

  3. Hi Roberto,

    YEah, the writing to the card is the least of my worries. I'm new to Leica, so I write as I experience the camera. I wish it was full frame too, but I still think the files come out pretty darn good. It's just a different way of shooting.