Leica M9 Review – The Conclusion

The Stunning M9 and 50mm Summicron

Before I got the Leica I had a one question that I was hoping the M9 would be able to answer: was it possible to get a camera system that was portable, flexible and would provide the kind of image quality that I had enjoyed with the Canon 5D and Zeiss combination?

The bottom line is that, with the M9, the answer is an emphatic yes. It has it’s flaws and in terms of flexibility and features it cannot match up to most point and shoot cameras never mind high-end DSLR’s. But also by giving you less it gives so much more.

More than any camera since I owned an M6 many years ago, the M9 has reconnected me with photography again. It makes you stop and think about framing, composition, light, exposure, focus, depth of field. Yes with any camera you have to think about these things but with the M9 it is no point and shoot. Something that a lot of DSLR’s seemed to have turned into with their different modes and automatic settings. I often see lot’s of people wandering around with an expensive Nikons or Canons weighed around their necks and wonder if they have ever been out of auto mode before and really used their camera properly.

The M9 has also made me stop examining the LCD so much and reviewing what I have just taken. I now get the shot and invariably move on looking for the next thing to photograph. All the things I used to do before cameras turned into computers. The simplicity of it all is empowering.

Simple to use freeing you to take photographs

Don’t get me wrong in the right situations the 5D has it’s place. It’s low light capabilities are superb for example and you can capture truly stunning images especially with the Zeiss Lenses. If you shoot a lot in low, low light and live view or video is your thing then the M9 is clearly not for you.

But I think that the 5D as with most modern DSLR’s make the process of taking photographs just that: a process. As I have said before it is highly sophisticated computer that is easy to get lost in when taking photographs. There are so many variables that it is easy to get confused with which is the right one for you and the image you want to create.

On the other hand I pick up the M9 switch it on, check the battery and away I go.I don’t have to wade through page after page of settings to ensure that I haven’t left it on a setting I didn’t want to. There are no custom functions to review which always left me confused.

To me the M9 hands back the photographic control back to the photographer and produces images of stunning detail, colour and balance.

As I stated previously I usually do most of my photography when I travel which is invariably with the wife and three children. Lugging the 5D around was becoming a burden to the point where I contemplated on many occasions not actually taking the 5D it and the assorted lenses away with me.

Now I have a 2 lens system (M9 with 35mm Summarit and 50mm Summicron) that fits very easily into a small Domke F-803 bag. There is so much room left over that that I can also get my X1 or X100 in there plus chargers, cards cables AND my iPad and it is all still significantly smaller and lighter than the Billingham filled with Canon gear.
I know that I am not compromising in quality and whilst the Zeiss lenses are hard to beat I just love the way the Leica lenses render an image with such depth and colour.



A Picture Taken Recently when at Windermere

A screenshot from my Mac showing 100% of part of the Windermere photograph – click for full size

I have read about a lot of people moving from Nikon and Canon DSLR’s to the M9 and at first thought that they must be deranged. Deranged or not I can happily say that I am joining them in that journey and loving every minute of it.


5 responses to “Leica M9 Review – The Conclusion

  1. I have always wanted one but a $16,000 price tag for the M9+50mm lens put me off. The m4/3 camera the olympus PEN E-LP1 was more in my price range and for $550 I was able to get both the 14-42mm lens and the 40-150mm lens. I might have looked at more expensive ILCs but I was up for a new SLR. And With plans to spend about $3000 on my new DSLR kit I couldn’t go much farther than the E-LP1.

    Leica cameras tend to have a rather high title mark up, however a completely solid german made system sure backs it up. Also leica lenses have a history of being higher quality than Zeiss

    • Thanks for commenting. I agree the Leica is eye wateringly expensive. The other way I have looked at it is the fact that over the past 5 years I have had 2 or three DSLR’s trying to keep pace with the changes in technology. The Leica will last me a long time and still give great image quality through M9-P and M10 versions.
      The M6 I used to have was over 20 years old when I sold it and still going strong.
      Never tried the Olympus but by reputation it is a cracking camera and when fund so allow you could play with some Leica lenses on it until funds allow for an M9 or similar??

      • That last line didn’t make much sence but yes I can put Leica lenses on the PEN and it does have a dedicated line of optics. It is a cheap camera in build be comparison, and also very automated and computerized two things I don’t care for. I bought it for four reasons. 1. Interchangle Lens Flexability 2. Small in size with big sensor 3. Inexpensive two lens kit cost $550. 4. Good following.

        Leica would be maybe ten years saving. I give Leica there props, but I still want an SLR especially for my skyle of photography where through the lens is key. M9 is an enthusiests camera that will last a long time.

        You can find some of my art at tobiasmann.com

  2. buying a new Leica M9 w/35 f:2.0 , it has given me a whole new feeling towards my life’s passion which has always been photography.
    Our studio owns complete systems of both Nikon & Canon (I shoot Nikon) wonderful tools that continue deliver .
    However the M9 is a special friend which will force you to think & see & feel – like the others don’t – try one for a week & you’ll see & feel what I am saying.
    BTW : no need to acquire three or more lenses , one favorite will do .
    quote : Henry Cartier Breson , all you ever need is a Leica & a 35mm lens.

    • Thank you very much for the comment. The M9 and 2 lenses I have are not going anywhere. As you rightly say they do reconnect you to the art of photography.

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