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Thread: This may be heresy, but here goes...

  1. #1
    MannyGS
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    This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Here's my question: what is it about the M8/8.2/9 that is so special compared to other camera bodies with comparable sensor sizes?

    Why I'm asking: from what I've read in so many forums, it's the Leica lenses that are unique and makes Leica stand out from the rest.

    My conclusion: Leica bodies do not add as much, if that much, to the quality of Leica shots.

    So by extension: wouldn't the way to go be to buy Leica lenses but use them on other non-M equal-quality camera bodies?

    Such as: m4/3 bodies with Leica lenses.

    This would mean: one can buy more Leica lenses, or one can actually afford to buy a Leica lens.

    On the downside: more demand for Leica lenses, driving up their prices, making them unaffordable once again ;-(

    FWIW, I've had an M8, Leica lenses, and a m4/3 body with Leica lenses.

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    My take is it's a combination of a) the sensor, and b) the lenses made for M-mount (not just Leitz lenses). The sensor doesn't have an AA filter, and has a pretty low pixel density, so picks up mega-detail and mega-quality for its relatively few mega-pixels, IMO.

    I don't necessarily buy into the Leitz-magic thing, and both Leitz lenses I've owned I sold in order to try other brands (admittedly my Leitz lenses were not modern, top of the line). However, my M-mount lenses have impressed me very much (Zeiss/VC/KM).

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Of course it isn't heresy - leica isn't a religion, and lots of others make grand lenses and bodies.

    However, using leica lenses on m4/3 entails a 2x crop, so that your 35 f1.4 becomes a 70 f1.4 - of course, some may like that, but it's not really what it was designed for.

    If someone else were to bring out a full frame body with adapters for M lenses, then that would be a different matter.

    As far as the M bodies are concerned - there are at least 4 defining factors-
    1. the rangefinder thing; it is something lots of us appreciate (it's certainly a different experience from using a m4/3 or NEX body),
    2. Leica bodies have no AA filter,
    3. there are microlenses angled to deal with the issues of angle of incidence
    4. it's full frame.

    I'm sure others can think of others. I'm also sure that some would think of all of these factors as disadvantages!

    Of course, you might not find any of these things important, but they are distinctive features of the M9 body that you can't find on anything else.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    I would have to say from my experience with the M8 that there's a real synergy between what are some of the very best lenses in the world and the camera bodies Leica makes. As Jono has said, there are very real reasons for it. As for magic, I believe in it. Leica has a distinctive look.

    As for using the lenses on other camera bodies, I think that's pretty cool too. It's just not the same as Leica on Leica.

    It's not the only great combination but it is a very real combination. You do however, have to enjoy the rangefinder thing. It's a big part of it.

    Tim

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    For me, it is all about the RF experience. I am not convinced that Leica offers competitive image quality per $$ compared to other options.

    I can only hope that one day Nikon will make digital, FF RF with reasonable price.

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that Leica bodies don't make a difference, because they do, but I don't subscribe to the Leica "magic" necessarily. What they provide is a very distinct image type which I believe to be a combination of the lenses and the CCD sensor. The images are of excellent quality (with a MF-like look IMO but on a smaller level) but of course that's not the only way to get a nice image. I agree that certain looks are more indicative of a particular lens but again if I put the same lenses on my NEX or G1 it won't look exactly like the M9 image... It just doesn't work that way. That being said I prefer the Zeiss look over the Leica look in most instances but of course that's a subjective preference.

    Now I splurged on my M9 because it was a tool that works for me where I felt the DSLR doesn't and the rangefinder concept is a bit of a different monster than DSLR. Truth be told I can get great image quality with a DSLR for a lot less $$$ but Leica is the only game in town for rangefinders. I would hope Zeiss would make a FF Digital Ikon with a Sony sensor but I'm not holding my breath...
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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    Now I splurged on my M9 because it was a tool that works for me where I felt the DSLR doesn't and the rangefinder concept is a bit of a different monster than DSLR. Truth be told I can get great image quality with a DSLR for a lot less $$$ but Leica is the only game in town for rangefinders. I would hope Zeiss would make a FF Digital Ikon with a Sony sensor but I'm not holding my breath...
    I quite agree - some competition would be good, but I think the obvious fact that there isn't any rather cancels out the Original Poster's thesis.

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    Subscriber Member weinschela's Avatar
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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    The only magic I know of resides between the ears of really good photographers. Their sensors are superior.

    Having said that, the Leica sensor and Leica lenses do provide a very fine tool for photographers who want that kind of tool and can take advantage of it.
    Alan

    Selection of work: http://weinschela.zenfolio.com

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    I quite agree - some competition would be good, but I think the obvious fact that there isn't any rather cancels out the Original Poster's thesis.
    Agreed. If the M9 doesn't do it for him then maybe he should get out of 35mm type systems altogether and move to MF. IMO only the 1Ds, D3x, and A850/900 are comparable. The M9 has a bit more image richness and character to it though to my eyes. I've only spent time shooting the 1Ds because my cousin has that but there's nothing inconspicuous about it. I've had many people walk to me or look at me weirdly thinking I was shooting film with the M9 and thus saw me less of a presence. That was one of the things I was after. Someone even told me I should use the "real" camera and not film... He was referring to the G1 across my should. I laughed on the inside thinking the lens alone one my M9 could buy 2 G1 kits when they were new...
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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    Agreed. If the M9 doesn't do it for him then maybe he should get out of 35mm type systems altogether and move to MF. IMO only the 1Ds, D3x, and A850/900 are comparable. The M9 has a bit more image richness and character to it though to my eyes. I've only spent time shooting the 1Ds because my cousin has that but there's nothing inconspicuous about it. I've had many people walk to me or look at me weirdly thinking I was shooting film with the M9 and thus saw me less of a presence. That was one of the things I was after. Someone even told me I should use the "real" camera and not film... He was referring to the G1 across my should. I laughed on the inside thinking the lens alone one my M9 could buy 2 G1 kits when they were new...
    Ah - of course, the other thing I didn't mention - shooting an M9 gets either no response, or a positive one - shooting with a big SLR doesn't!

    I like the files from the A900 - but I think of them as roughly equivalent to those from the M9 - I guess that's what an AA filter does for you!

    and weinschela is right - the magic is from the photographer (in my case I wish! )

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Agree with that too... The photographer is the most important element. Some of my best images came from a little P&S, a old lowly 6 MP Canon DSLR, and Micro 4/3 cameras. I actually have prints and a picture book I made from Germany with my G1 that my "Full Frame or Bust" cousin approves of. Most were shot with the lowly kit lens, 20mm, and 45 Macro.
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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    The leica fanboys talk about 'leica glow' and sharpness but for me shooting an M8 is about the rangefinder experience, and for exactly the same reasons I chose to use a canonet, yashica and finally leica M over film SLRs, they're small, unobtrusive, beautiful and suit my shooting style. I'm also a designer and the iconic leica M has always been an object of desire for me, perfectly combining form, function and aesthetics, others are attracted to the luxury brand status but I like the fact that it's as close to an analog camera as you can get in a digital form.

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    OH NOES here we go again.
    If you handle and shoot a camera/lens/workflow system and it works for the job or for you or perhaps VERY well then it is a magic combination.
    Besides, nothing quite goes in a tweed jacket pocket as a Leica RF with a 35 or 50 cron.
    -bob

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by MannyGS View Post
    Here's my question: what is it about the M8/8.2/9 that is so special compared to other camera bodies with comparable sensor sizes?...
    The sizzling glow of a credit card in radioactive meltdown along with the months of ramen noodles the buyer of Leica gear must endure afterwards lends a certain extra something to Leica photographs unachievable any other way.

    ]'-)


    It's a camera. A darn good one, with excellent lenses. The rest is in the mind of the photographer.

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by MannyGS View Post
    Here's my question: what is it about the M8/8.2/9 that is so special compared to other camera bodies with comparable sensor sizes?
    The reason I recently chose to try the Leica digital rangefinder is the form factor of the camera itself, the size and shape, the ability to carry around all the time, use of manual focus lens, and being more comfortable shooting in crowds or on the street.

    Like you, I had used some Leica lenses on a m4/3 body (GF1) and enjoyed the experience. That lead me down the path to the M8.2 and now the M9.

    Expensive? Yes.

    Worth the expense? Yes.

    Enjoying the experience and happy that I have the opportunity to explore the rangefinder.

    Miles to go before I sleep . . . . .

    . . . . . Time and Patience.

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by seakayaker View Post
    The reason I recently chose to try the Leica digital rangefinder is the form factor of the camera itself, the size and shape, the ability to carry around all the time, use of manual focus lens, and being more comfortable shooting in crowds or on the street.
    ...
    Expensive? Yes.
    Worth the expense? Yes.
    ...
    Oh yeah. :-)

    I do miss my Leica Ms ... they were always the best at "becoming invisible in my hands" of any camera I owned.

    If I weren't so happy with the E-5 and my current lens kit, I'd likely be in the mode of selling everything ... :-)

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    Oh yeah. :-)

    I do miss my Leica Ms ... they were always the best at "becoming invisible in my hands" of any camera I owned.

    If I weren't so happy with the E-5 and my current lens kit, I'd likely be in the mode of selling everything ... :-)
    . . . . . I looked at the E-5 and the lens due to your's and other reviews and comments of the E-5 system. Always enjoy your photography, comments and a view of your blog from time to time. Certainly could have gotten the body and a couple of top end lens for the price of the M9 so it was tempting.

    The lure of using the rangefinder with manual lens while I still have my eyesight was another consideration. I will be 60 this year and have been noticing some changes that have been occurring . . . . .

    To many cameras . . . . . to many lenses . . . . . never enough time.

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by seakayaker View Post
    The reason I recently chose to try the Leica digital rangefinder is the form factor of the camera itself, the size and shape, the ability to carry around all the time, use of manual focus lens, and being more comfortable shooting in crowds or on the street.

    Like you, I had used some Leica lenses on a m4/3 body (GF1) and enjoyed the experience. That lead me down the path to the M8.2 and now the M9.

    Expensive? Yes.

    Worth the expense? Yes.

    Enjoying the experience and happy that I have the opportunity to explore the rangefinder.

    Miles to go before I sleep . . . . .

    . . . . . Time and Patience.
    The body curiously is about the same size as a stack of 350 20 dollar bills, which is about enough to buy one
    -bob

  19. #19
    d2mini
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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    For me, the magic is a full frame, high megapixel sensor in a small package with a viewfinder and interchangeable lenses.

    If anyone else like Nikon for instance came out with their own version of this for half the price, i'd jump ship in a heartbeat. But I don't see that happening any time soon. So leica it is.

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Simply put-
    If you want to shoot wide and fast, which for many is the point of Leica... m4/3 with Leica lenses is a non-starter.
    blog
    steve

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    I had u43, have NEX and M9. Jono said almost all I would say.

    Problem with u43 and NEX is... wide angle. Simply 35mm 1.4 acts as 50mm (and f/2 in terms of DOF on NEX). There is also chromatic aberration, that does not exist on M9.

    Attaching it to u43 gives 70mm (and f/2.8 in terms of DOF).

    Wider fast M lenses cause often problems on crop sensors at edges area (soft, red corners, etc).

    Whate else?

    The same lens at NEX vs M9 - much more details from 2nd. The higher ISO the bigger difference. In all tests NEX controls noise better. I also see that after opening RAW in LR. But in reality - when I develop RAWs - I have better results from M9, more details (of course after downsizing).

    Additionally you can shoot with longer shutter speed with M and focus faster, especially against NEX who misses EVF (but only in center of the frame, what can be important with fast lens from close distance).

    I think one day - FF EVIL will appear. Without customized microlenses - it should give you a lot of what M9 gives - for focals 50mm and longer.

    Many people see magic in photographs taken at f/0.95 or f/1.4. As you see - you won't get that magic at cropped sensor, as you won't get that DOF.

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    I have had an M8 for a few months and can only say that in that time, whether I am shooting Leica glass or Voigtlander glass the images I take seem to need less post processing than other images I have taken with DSLRs. And they turn out very nice indeed. Of course this suggests that there is something about the camera design, the sensor or the in camera image processing that contributes to this. It is not just the lenses although they may be the dominant feature. We know what some of that is - for example the Leica produces unusually sharp images direct from the camera due to the lack of moire filter. We also know that the M9 turns in better images in poor lighting conditions than the M8 due to its sensor size and better dynamic range - clearly the camera does add something. I cannot say that an M8 is better overall than a latest top end DSLR like the Nikon D700 as they have many "bells and whistles" lacking in the Leica. But the experience of shooting a basic camera is one that many people enjoy.

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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Peterm1_Leica View Post
    I have had an M8 for a few months and can only say that in that time, whether I am shooting Leica glass or Voigtlander glass the images I tae seem to need less post processing than other images I have taken with DSLRs. And they turn out very nice indeed. I cannot say that an M8 is better overall than a latest top end DSLR like the Nikon D700 as they have many "bells and whistles" lacking in the Leica. But the experience of shooting a basic camera is one that many people enjoy.
    Try shooting almost anything without an AA filter and you will find a similiar experience concerning IQ. Handling and glass, however, as a different kettle of fish.
    -bob

  24. #24
    Senior Member JohnW's Avatar
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    Re: This may be heresy, but here goes...

    I think it's more than the glass. I use my M9 with two Voigtlander lenses, and I definitely prefer its files over those from my 5DII and L lenses. I don't know the technical jargon to articulate the difference, but to my eye there's greater acuity or clarity or delicacy to the Leica files. By contrast the Canon files seem "heavy." Pretty subjective, I know, but the difference is very apparent to me.

    John

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