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Old 22nd April 2012   #1
H. Mark Weidman
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Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

I have a question for Leica M users. Many years ago I shot Leica M film cameras but eventually sold them off, including four beautiful lenses. I recently came back into the Leica fold, with a new M9P and four lenses. The angle of coverage of three of the lenses does not line up accurately with the frame lines in the viewfinder. All three lenses (28, 50, 90) cover a significantly larger area than that indicated in the viewfinder. I sent the camera and all four lenses into Leica USA and they purportedly fixed this issue. The gear came back and the same exact problem exists. Go to the URL below to see photos that clearly illustrates this problem. Can any of you tell me if this is "normal", or, should the viewfinder framing lines, line up precisely with what the lenses actually "see".

Leica M9-P Viewfinder Tests

Thanks for your input on this.

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Old 22nd April 2012   #2
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

Looks pretty normal to me.
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Old 22nd April 2012   #3
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

not only will the lines not exactly match what the sensor records, but also, the alignment of the frames with the image will change with subject distance. With the M9 and the M8 upgrade, Leica re-set the frames to be most accurate with a single subject distance (I forget the distance) similar to the old film camera frameline alignments. Reports have been good for the new framelines
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Old 22nd April 2012   #4
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

Yes it is normal, viewfinder lines have never matched exactly the image the lens see's, on any M Leica, ever. And neither can Leica adjust anything to make them more accurate. When you send the camera and lenses to Leica for adjustment all they do is separately adjust each part, lens and body, to its own benchmark standards, and not adjust one to the other such as a lens is adjusted to work on a specific camera body.

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Old 22nd April 2012   #5
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

The 75mm framelines are perfect with an 85mm lens, and the 90mm framelines are perfect with a 105mm lens.

The framelines assume the 'worst possible case" and are optimized for closest focus. Once you are past 5feet or so, the framelines cover smaller area than the lens.
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Old 22nd April 2012   #6
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

Thanks for all the valuable input, I appreciate it. Think about it, I sent that same online web gallery to Leica service in New Jersey, and then sent large color prints of the images indicating what I perceived to be a discrepancy. No one at Leica service ever informed me this was "normal" but rather implied they had made repairs and adjustments. I will say, when I shot with M4's and M5's years ago, I am fairly certain the viewfinder frame lines were much closer to the lens coverage than this new M9P camera.

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Old 22nd April 2012   #7
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

As long as your capturing a little more than you think (not less) you can always crop. If you need 100% accuracy I am afraid you will need to shoot an SLR.
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Old 23rd April 2012   #8
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

Thanks again for the comments. I also just read through a long line of posts on another forum related to this topic. Some report that the M9P viewfinder frame lines are only accurate when the subject distance is either one or three meters; that beyond that distance they are not accurate, and that this is a function (flaw?) of all rangefinder systems.
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Old 23rd April 2012   #9
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

It is not a flaw, the FOV of a lens changes during focusing together with the focal length, at the minimum focusing distance the FOV is minumum and increases when focusing towards infinity.
This is the reason why the framelines of the M9, if designed to be accurate at, say, 1 m, when the lens is focused at farther distance will capture a portion of the scene smaller than the lens.
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Old 23rd April 2012   #10
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

This is precisely why I won't be buying an M9 but live in hope for the M10.
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Old 23rd April 2012   #11
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

And yet people still buy DSLR's with less than a 100% field of view?

You could say a Leica M9 has more than a 100% field of view, but you just need to use it and gain experience with the framelines rather than sitting on the sidelines waiting for a perfect solution to appear from the clouds. Anybody who knows their lenses and framelines ends up with a good intuition about what is inside or outside of the frame. It hasn't changed in nearly sixty years so I wonder what it is in todays demographics that puts a block on it?

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Old 23rd April 2012   #12
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Originally Posted by 250swb View Post
And yet people still buy DSLR's with less than a 100% field of view?

You could say a Leica M9 has more than a 100% field of view, but you just need to use it and gain experience with the framelines rather than sitting on the sidelines waiting for a perfect solution to appear from the clouds. Anybody who knows their lenses and framelines ends up with a good intuition about what is inside or outside of the frame.
Thanks for the advice, but I need a tad more than "intuition about what is inside or outside of the frame". If you don't mind I'll sit on the sidelines for now in the hope that Leica will eventually deliver the means to frame as accurately as in the image below.

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Old 23rd April 2012   #13
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

by it's very nature, the typical rangefinder is never going to give you an accurate view; nothing new here, this was not a design intent. An electronic viewfinder and it's advantage is what is appealing about the nex-7 and the Fuji pro, still keeping the compactness of a rangefinder body.
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Old 23rd April 2012   #14
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

I'm not sure why some get so bent out of shape due to accuracy of framing. There is rarely a case where I need 100% accurate framing. Shoot a little wider and don't worry about a thing. Do a 30sec crop later - easy.
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Old 23rd April 2012   #15
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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It hasn't changed in nearly sixty years so I wonder what it is in todays demographics that puts a block on it?
Sixty years of inaccurate framing is a positive?
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Old 24th April 2012   #16
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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I'm not sure why some get so bent out of shape due to accuracy of framing. There is rarely a case where I need 100% accurate framing. Shoot a little wider and don't worry about a thing. Do a 30sec crop later - easy.
Thanks, but I'm not into 'point shoot and fix it later'.
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Old 24th April 2012   #17
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Thanks for the advice, but I need a tad more than "intuition about what is inside or outside of the frame". If you don't mind I'll sit on the sidelines for now in the hope that Leica will eventually deliver the means to frame as accurately as in the image below.
Keith, I love the picture but is that really an appropriate example? Assuming it was take with a Hassy digital, most likely, the camera was tripod bound and the subject very stationary, it is always possible to check how that shot turned out in terms of composition and focus and redo it if something is lacking.

You could do that with an M9 as well.
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Old 24th April 2012   #18
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

The M9 has an LCD display on it. When I need very accurate framing of a static scene, I view the image on the back of the screen, make a correction, and reshoot. The buliding was not running off somewhere.

Rangefinder cameras were typically not used for architectural photography. "In the Day", view cameras were used. SLR manufacturers offered perspective control lenses for this type of work. These days, perspective control adapters exist for "cropped" sensors.

Leica M9, 1938 Zeiss Sonnar "T" 5cm F1.5 at F4:



Leica M8 with C-Sonnar 50mm F1.5, wide-open:



This is the type of shot that I have an easier time getting with a Rangefinder camera compared with my mirrorless EP2 or any of the SLR's. Viewing outside of the frame is a benefit in this situation.
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Old 24th April 2012   #19
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Keith, I love the picture but is that really an appropriate example? Assuming it was take with a Hassy digital, most likely, the camera was tripod bound and the subject very stationary, it is always possible to check how that shot turned out in terms of composition and focus and redo it if something is lacking.

You could do that with an M9 as well.
Sure, I could compose, shoot, re-compose, shoot, re-compose, shoot...but it sucks the joy out of making images.
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Old 24th April 2012   #20
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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The M9 has an LCD display on it. When I need very accurate framing of a static scene, I view the image on the back of the screen, make a correction, and reshoot. The buliding was not running off somewhere.

Rangefinder cameras were typically not used for architectural photography.
Folks, I'm not expecting the current Leica rangefinders to meet my needs, if they did I'd be using them now. Having said that I am hoping that the M10 will have the means to check for critical framing and focusing pre-capture.

Believe me, I'm not alone.
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Old 24th April 2012   #21
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Sure, I could compose, shoot, re-compose, shoot, re-compose, shoot...but it sucks the joy out of making images.
I feel that way about all cameras. Too much hassle.
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Old 24th April 2012   #22
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

There are many types of cameras. No camera does everything perfectly. For architectural shots, I used a Nikon F2Sb with E-Screen and 35/2.8 PC-Nikkor. If I wanted to concentrate on that type of photography again, I'd will go for a full-frame Nikon, E-Screen (gridlines), and Perspective Control lens.

For the type of photography that I enjoy most, Rangefinder Cameras have suited me for over 40 years. But they are not the only cameras that I use. Select the tool that is best for the job.
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Old 24th April 2012   #23
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Thanks, but I'm not into 'point shoot and fix it later'.

That is pretty funny. It must be sooo much work for you to do a little croppimg! As mentioned, you would have been on a tripod anyway and would only need one or two extra shots to compose critically. In a fast food type of society people have a problem these days if anything takes a bit of effort...
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Old 24th April 2012   #24
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

I happen to like using the edges of the frame as a compositional element while previewing, if i can, and while shooting. An old tradition stated more prominently by those who left the film frame margins on their prints. not everyone's cup of tea, of course
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Old 24th April 2012   #25
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Having said that I am hoping that the M10 will have the means to check for critical framing and focusing pre-capture.

Believe me, I'm not alone.
I sincerely hope they don't mess with the optical-mechanical rangefinder - it is the very essence of the system. The great lenses come as a bonus.

There are plenty of other systems out there if you need 100% precise framing.
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Old 24th April 2012   #26
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Sixty years of inaccurate framing is a positive?
Sixty years of common sense is a positive though. Visualise the scene you want to record and compose with regards to any crop needed later. Seeing in your minds eye the photograph you want to create was common practice when you could only imagine what your exposure and development would produce from the negative. It was only a simple step to do the same with composition. Perhaps it is a skill that is dying out with the insistence on immediate results? And I'm not saying an architectural shot shouldn't be accurately framed/cropped, but for the rest of life's work with a rangefinder I like the happy accidents that can happen at the edge of a busy frame, they can keep things fresh and dynamic rather than rigidly formal.

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Old 24th April 2012   #27
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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I sincerely hope they don't mess with the optical-mechanical rangefinder - it is the very essence of the system. The great lenses come as a bonus.
I don't believe they will. The means to determine critical framing and focus pre-capture is more likely to be additional to the rangefinder.
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Old 24th April 2012   #28
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Seeing in your minds eye the photograph you want to create was common practice when you could only imagine what your exposure and development would produce from the negative. It was only a simple step to do the same with composition. Perhaps it is a skill that is dying out with the insistence on immediate results?
Exactly what I've been doing for the last forty plus years as a painter and photographer.

Try shooting and supplying transparencies to clients without pre-visualisation skills, believe me you won't get very far.

Strike "immediacy" and replace with insight and accuracy.
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Old 24th April 2012   #29
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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... when I shot with M4's and M5's years ago, I am fairly certain the viewfinder frame lines were much closer to the lens coverage than this new M9P camera.
I've compared the frameline coverage with 35, 50, 90 and 135 mm lenses between my M9 and M4-2. The M9 framelines are ever so slightly tighter compared to the M4-2 ... You'd never notice it unless you were looking for it.

Really, I think you're reacting having come from using an SLR for a long time. SLRs (particularly those with 100% coverage viewfinders) and electronic TTL cameras have much more accurate framing indication than any Leica M has always had. That's part of the charm of the M, as well as part of its disadvantage to an SLR. With an M, you have to know what a lens is seeing and consider the framelines as merely a guide. With an SLR or electronic TTL, you see what the lens is seeing.

As others have said, use whichever tool is appropriate to your purposes. I have SLR, electronic TTL and rangefinder cameras for this reason. No one camera is perfect for everything.
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Old 24th April 2012   #30
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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As others have said, use whichever tool is appropriate to your purposes. I have SLR, electronic TTL and rangefinder cameras for this reason. No one camera is perfect for everything.
Why the restriction, the M10 could be so much more than merely a rangefinder camera. The addition of an EVF or high res screen and Liveview would open up so many more possibilities.

But hey, I'll admit that this is perhaps a step too far for the purists here.
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Old 24th April 2012   #31
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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In a fast food type of society people have a problem these days if anything takes a bit of effort...
...hmm, that sounds exactly like the 'good enough' or the 'point, shoot and fix later' society.

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Old 24th April 2012   #32
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

'Point, shoot, fix later' extends pretty well everywhere, so unless you do away entirely with post processing (colour adjustment, saturation, dodging, burning, etc) of any sort its not an avenue that will reap rewards as a podium to stand on.

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Old 24th April 2012   #33
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

I've used a Nikon F2 series camera since about 1978, still my preferred film SLR. The Nikon F series provides 100% coverage of the negative. When I printed the image, I noticed my framing was off on the print. I checked the negative- framed perfectly. Seems the negative carrier had a built-in Crop Factor. Slides- same story, the projected image was cropped.

So I filed down the negative carrier and on my favorite slides: modified the carrier in a glass mount.

I hate LOSING part of the image that I was expecting. Having margin in the image- usually a good thing.

Digital images. Found out my original Kodak DCS200 was throwing away a 12pixel border on the sensor. They were used for color interpolation, I had a Monochrome camera. So I wrote my own RAW processor to keep the extra pixels.

You could always make a custom frame mask for the camera. It's just a little piece of metal with holes in it. Optimize the frames for distance shots. Or use a lens with a focal length that exactly matches the framelines. Like a Nikkor 85 (75 frame) and 105 (90 frame). Worked out for me, I use the Nikkors on the M9.
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Old 24th April 2012   #34
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Why the restriction, the M10 could be so much more than merely a rangefinder camera. The addition of an EVF or high res screen and Liveview would open up so many more possibilities.
What restriction are you referring to?

And "merely a rangefinder camera" doesn't compute. It's a type of camera. There are many types of cameras, many with far more features and capabilities.

If you want something like that, with different capabilities, buy that. No one is saying that you must buy or even want a Leica M.

I hope the M10 is still a Leica M, as defined by what a Leica M has always been.
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Old 24th April 2012   #35
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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No one is saying that you must buy or even want a Leica M.
?

I didn't think for a moment think they were.

You might not like it but the M10 could well be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century with a CMOS sensor, Liveview and high res screen. If it has those capabilities I may well buy.
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Old 24th April 2012   #36
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

Why wait for the M10 when you could buy one of many other manufacturers right now who already have all those features? You also won't have to be bothered with inaccurate framelines either....
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Old 24th April 2012   #37
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

All you need to do is file down the framelines. Use the outer border of the framelines for distance shots, inner border for close-ups.

Does make me wonder why Leica did not use variable framelines as did the Konica S2 and Zeiss Ikon finder on the high-end Polaroids, my Model 180 being one of them. The framelines change size as you focus to compensate for both parallax and changing field of view. The mechanism is fairly simple. We're talking 1960s solution that does not draw battery power. A simple mechanical solution exists.

Last edited by Brian S; 24th April 2012 at 15:48.
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Old 24th April 2012   #38
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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?

I didn't think for a moment think they were.

You might not like it but the M10 could well be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century with a CMOS sensor, Liveview and high res screen. If it has those capabilities I may well buy.
I have Live View on the GXR. Works great.
I almost never look at the display on the M.
Different cameras. I Use them differently.
Why is this such an issue?
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Old 24th April 2012   #39
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

Brian:

egad! i have one of those polaroid 180's I'll have to check out the rangefinder framelines...and i used to file down my enlarger negative carriers to get full frame + a bit of border for all my formats
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Old 24th April 2012   #40
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

Interesting thread!

Rarely do I find my subjects precisely matching a 36 mm by 24 mm frame. I almost always crop my shots to suit the subject and the composition. Why work within the restriction of the camera's proportions?

Once you start thinking outside the conventional size, cropping becomes a way of life and exact framing irrelevant. Personally I'm glad that the M9 gives me a bit more to play with than the framelines show. (Of course, for precise architectural or copy work you do need precision - but then a Leica wouldn't be my first choice as a tool.)

Just my 0.02C.

Bill
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Old 25th April 2012   #41
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

Folks, I'm not advocating that Leica remove the existing capability to frame inaccurately but rather hope they add critical framing capability in the M10.
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Old 25th April 2012   #42
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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I have Live View on the GXR. Works great.
I almost never look at the display on the M.
Different cameras. I Use them differently.
Why is this such an issue?
No need to feel threatened, you won't have to buy the M10.
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Old 25th April 2012   #43
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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(Of course, for precise architectural or copy work you do need precision - but then a Leica wouldn't be my first choice as a tool.)
Agreed, I wouldn't dream of using an M9 for this work.

Having said that I have another dream of an M with critical framing capability. Perhaps with the introduction of the M10 my dream will come true.

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Old 25th April 2012   #44
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Folks, I'm not advocating that Leica remove the existing capability to frame inaccurately but rather hope they add critical framing capability in the M10.
I believe your wish will come true Keith.

The M10 will retain the traditional rangefinder focusing because it would be corporate suicide not to.

However, it will be a CMOS sensor, therefore will also allow LCD Live View. Presumably, it will be a better resolution LCD or live view would be useless.

I see the framing aspects of M cameras as neither a flaw or a charm. It is a given with a mechanical rangefinder camera. Other attempts to alter this type of rangefinder shooting experience have not fared well ... like the Contax G cameras.

The concept of "a Leica M purist" stems from being a significantly different relationship with the subject compared to other cameras like a SLR. Whether all Leica M users get this relationship, or use it to its greatest benefit, is a different matter altogether.

In essence, it is all about an intuitive view of content over what the image may look like. Not only is the framing approximate, you have no direct feedback as to what effect the focal length has on the subject, or what effect the selected aperture will have on DOF. Intuitive experience is the only guide, if a guide is even needed for this type of photography.

I use a rangefinder for this specific reason, and can say with certainty the unfettered relationship with the subject, and world I may be shooting in, provides an undistracted result where a forced focus on content and emotional immediacy trumps draftsman accuracy.

Sometimes I get lucky with a DSLR, and retain that rangefinder type relationship despite all the feedback as to what the image will look like. With a M camera the ONLY feedback is what the image is about, so the content relationship is assured ... and has been since I began using one all these many years ago. My work across the board suffers "content separation anxiety" when the M isn't an integral part of my tool kit. The M helps keep me grounded in what my images are about, and strongly influences all my work with other cameras in that regard. Others may not need that, but I have learned that I do.

All the best,

-Marc
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Old 25th April 2012   #45
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

Marc, we are in agreement.

Despite my deliberately mischievous demeanour I do understand the qualities that people admire about the M concept. I would value a solution that not only retains the concept but expands upon it.

Best

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Old 25th April 2012   #46
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Marc, we are in agreement.

Despite my deliberately mischievous demeanour I do understand the qualities that people admire about the M concept. I would value a solution that not only retains the concept but expands upon it.

Best

Keith
As I said, I believe you will get what you seek in the M10.

-Marc
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Old 25th April 2012   #47
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

to the op: I also would say its is normal.
if it is a trust for you: the "modern" x100 (which I like quite a bit) is even worse/less accurate when using the OVF. And I still much prefer the OVF in 99% of the times over the more accurate (regarding framing) EVF.

I also would like to mention that different Leica 50mm lenses have different "real" focal length. The Summarit for example is a bit shorter than the Summilux. And there is some variation even between the same lenses (I believe you can find info on the lens about the effective focal length).

I think it is just one of the few compromises we have to accept so far when using an optical rangefinder.
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Old 25th April 2012   #48
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

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Originally Posted by Brian S View Post
Does make me wonder why Leica did not use variable framelines as did the Konica S2 and Zeiss Ikon finder on the high-end Polaroids, my Model 180 being one of them. The framelines change size as you focus to compensate for both parallax and changing field of view. The mechanism is fairly simple. We're talking 1960s solution that does not draw battery power. A simple mechanical solution exists.

Both the cameras you quote are P&S (ie., no interchangeable lenses) cameras. Fairly straightforward to implement that mechanism.

Not possible in an M camera.
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Old 25th April 2012   #49
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

All you need is a two piece mask with a cam to change the spacing of the framelines with distance. The mechanism required for parallax correction already provides distance information. The mechanism for bringing up the correct framelines could set the cam for relative motion. You would want a "wide/tele" setting for cameras with multiple framelines visible at one time. Would be easiest on an M2/M3.
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Old 25th April 2012   #50
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Re: Leica M9-P Viewfinder framing lines

If it is that simple, I do not see why an M9 can not be modified to do just that.

OTOH, if the M10 were to have live view, it would be much easier to have it electronically, I would think.
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