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Thread: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

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    M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    As everyone knows, digital camera bodies are subject to huge depreciation, and the cost of upgrading cameras every couple of years (if not sooner) can wind up costing thousands of dollars. While the M9 is expensive, if it works as advertised, and is not replaced by a new model for several years, it actually may be cheaper to own than going through the usual Nikon or Canon DSLR upgrades (as I have done several times now). Of course, one can choose not to upgrade one's Nikon, Canon, etc., but that often hard to resist when some major new improvements come along.

    I, for one, would love to jump off the upgrade bandwagon for a while, and am wondering if the M9 presents that opportunity more, than say, cameras from the major DSLR manufacturers. It makes sense to me that Leica wanted to introduce a full frame M camera, so the upgrade from the M8 made sense. But now that they have the full frame M9, I wonder how soon they would feel the need to replace it with a more advanced camera. It seems counter intuitive that a lack of innovation and change would be an appealing trait in a camera, but the thought of not being tempted to upgrade for several years is attractive.

    Peter

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    Re: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    Sorry don't really get it. Top End Nikon and Canon are more or less on a 2/3 year cycle. I'm pretty sure we will see a M10 in three years probably with many wanted upgrades. As long as leica is still around. The M10 will than have perhaps 28Mp, and go up to clean ISO 6400 ? I don't know but the M9 won't be the last step.

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    Re: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    People will find things to complain about, and only so much can be cured with firmware fixes. Canon is supposed to announce something on 29sep, most are thinking a new 1D. While Leica doesn't chase Canikon like Canikon does, they do have to "chase themselves" and also convince the unwashed masses that it is worth the price of admission. On the lower end they can only do that by a certain amount of innovation combined with their design aesthetic (X1).

    When Canikon bodies are doing clean iso 12800, Leica will need the M10 to do clean iso 6400. At some point the niche becomes unattractive when the opportunity cost is too compelling on the other side of the fence. Unless Leica is generating a whole new generation of rangefinder users, they'll have to figure out other paths.

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    Re: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    Look at it this way. I shot maybe 36,000 pictures with my M8. If that had of been film it would have cost me, at an average of $30/roll with process and scanning, about $30,000. Subtract the cost of the camera and you still have $25,000 left over (okay I bought a second one used for $2,600 plus an upgrade so that would be about $21,150). I can use the grip and batteries and cards on my M9 and I figure I have at least five years with that body. My M8u will remain as a backup and my other will sell. Just go out and take pictures and the cost will take care of itself. If you don't actually use it then yes, it's an overpriced luxury.

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    Re: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    Quote Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
    It seems counter intuitive that a lack of innovation and change would be an appealing trait in a camera, but the thought of not being tempted to upgrade for several years is attractive.
    Maybe the "temptation" angle is more important than the "innovation" angle here.

    It's true that the M9 probably will go through fewer technology upgrades than Nikon or Canon simply because it contains less technology to begin with.

    For example, the next top-end Nikon or Canon probably will have faster AF and more zones in its multi-zone meter. With a Leica you won't be tempted by similar upgrades, because it doesn't have those features in the first place! (And if you cared about them, you probably wouldn't be considering an M9 .)

    On the other hand, where the M9 is already bumping its head on the limits of technology, you might feel the need to upgrade if those limits are limiting your work. For example, based on the few sample files floating around, it appears that the M9's high-ISO performance already falls somewhat short of state-of-the-art. The gap is probably going to widen with succeeding Nikon/Canon generations, and eventually it will get large enough that Leica will be shamed into upgrading its camera to get competitive again.

    But should that tempt you to upgrade? Only if you shoot a lot at high ISOs and if you're dissatisfied with the results you're getting. If you only shoot boxers outdoors in sunny Cuba, and you like the M9's results for that, it might be the last camera you need to buy.

    If you still feel the urge to upgrade even when the "upgrade" is irrelevant to you, though, then that's not an innovation problem; that's a temptation-resistance problem.

    Pardon the blatant plug, but I wrote something along these lines on my blog a while back, with reference to pixel count.

    The gist: I really like my Epson R-D 1. Measured by pictures-I-like-as-a-percentage-of-total, it's the best camera I've ever owned. But I find myself using it less now, because I feel guilty and inferior about its measly 6-megapixel image size.

    Intellectually, I realize it's stupid to feel that way: in the very limited world of how I use my personal photos, six megapixels are more than enough. Emotionally, though, I feel (to borrow a crude Jeremy Clarksonism) like a man in a public restroom who glances over toward the next urinal and notices that he's standing next to a racehorse. Even though my own equipment gets the job done just fine, I'm uncomfortable about the comparison.

    What I'm trying to assimilate is that the R-D 1 isn't the problem; it's my brain that's the problem. Likewise, if you buy an M9 and like the results, the appearance of a higher-spec camera later won't make those results any worse. You just need to get out of the habit of glancing over at the racehorse...

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    Re: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    Unfortunately, people seem to still be using high ISO as a barometer for all new cameras, and, like MFDB and the A900, the M9 has a sharp cut color filter, giving it great detail and color separation at low ISO, but at the cost of high ISO. For a guy like me, who rarely needs over ISO 1600, the 5 Dii, 50D, and 7D have gone in the wrong direction.

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    Re: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    I think we are nearing the threshold of 35mm size sensors and the only way to improve is to offer more color depth and less noise at higher ISO.

    I think even Canon/Nikon are realizing this. Look at the Canon 7D as a testament - they had to enlarge the sensor as the 50D was a step back in many ways from the 40D when it comes to image quality. I believe that Leica probaly won't offer more than 25mp on the next M iteration as there is only so much you can fit on a 35mm size sensor and retain IQ. I see more companies increasing from 8-16 bit color depth to possible 24 and 32 bit in the future. That's the only real way to significantly improve IQ. I think most are satisfied with the M8 look (10MP) and M9 (18MP) will improve upon that in many ways.
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    Re: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    Yes, but remember there are other technologies that are being used to improve high ISO performance. Sony has their Exmor R sensors which are back illuminated. This means that the layer arrangement of the sensor is different from common sensors.

    Normal sensor

    microlenses
    -------------
    electronics
    -------------
    photoreceptors

    Exmor R type Sensors

    microlenses
    -------------
    photoreceptors
    -------------
    electronics

    In a normal sensor, pixels need to be larger because photons have to travel through a layer of electronics before hitting the receptor. Fewer photons = less signal, more amplification = more noise.

    In Exmor R type sensors, the receptors are directly in line with the microlenses and the electronics are behind them not interfering with photons. More photons can get through even if the pixel wells are smaller. more photons = more signal. if everything else is the same, the signal to noise (SNR) is improved and cleaner high ISO is achieved. Lower the amount of amplification needed and the improvement becomes greater.
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    Re: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    Peter,

    I tend to think more like you. There IS a point where each photographer can simply stop.

    I recently did this with Medium Format Digital. As Hasselblad introduced the 50 meg H3D-III, and now the H3D-III/60 meg ... I reassessed my actual needs rather than imagined ones, or those touted by marketing hype . Did I really need more than the 39 meg H3D-III that I already owned? The answer was simply ... no. So, for the time being, I'm off that merry-go-round.

    I'm a very long time M user. I've never thought of the M in terms of innovation. A film camera with a top shutter of 1/1000? A sync speed of 1/50th? That's 1954 all over again. Didn't stop me from using film Ms continuously despite the incredible technical innovations of SLRs that came and went from my gear vault.

    Will the M9 be my personal M stopping point? How would I know? Haven't even touched the camera yet. When I get mine, I'll exercise patience. It takes time to unlock the secrets of any new camera. Everyone is so sure it will be the best thing yet. We'll see about that. The M8 has a look ... just like the crop frame, low meg, ISO challenged Leica DMR has a "look". All to often advancements may provide a gain in one area, and lose in another.

    I've yet to witness a high ISO camera that didn't come with a stiff IQ penalty. Some may be fine with that. I'm not. I'd rather it be more middle of the road. Until there is a significant technological break though in sensor design, a good ISO 1000 and decent 1600 will do for me. IF the M9 can be made to do that, then I'll be off the M merry-go-round for awhile. I'd rather pump any cash into lenses ... and hope Leica spends their R&D dollars where no one has a prayer of being their equal ... in optical innovation and perfection.

    If they do have to go higher ISO, make it a special model with everything geared toward that objective ... a Nocti-M that starts at ISO 500 as it's base. Different camera for different usage ... with higher ISO IQ as the priority. Some may scoff at that notion, but who knows what is possible if you think outside of the box. For me, that would be a perfect reason to secure a 2nd digital M.

    -Marc

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    Re: M9 less subject to obsolescence?

    I'm not sure if it's a reflection of getting older or the maturity of FF DSLR and now DRF cameras, but I am definitely feeling that the compelling reasons for changing/upgrading cameras are getting harder and harder to find every year. The M9 leap is an easy one because FF was a nagging irritation with the M8 but with my full frame Nikons (D700 & D3x) I'm hard pushed to think of anything truly significant at this point that would make me want to consider a potential upgrade any time soon. I'm sure that's true with other systems too.

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