Opinion // Should I Buy a Leica Digi?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by allan_schoening, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. Hello everyone - I was thinking of splurging this holiday and buying a Leica digital. Probably used from KEH. My favorite cameras are my Leica CL and Mamiya RZ
    How do the files stack up with a Canon mrk III (current camera)?
    Thank you for your advise and opinions
  2. SCL


    Which one....there are different models with different characteristics. You might want to do a little research on them as well as the variety of lenses available. Once you've narrowed down the choices, many of us are in a better position to offer insight.
  3. I sold all my Leica M and R equipment in 2013 and used the money to pay for part of my wife's new Volvo XC70. I looked at the Leica digital offerings, M9/M240 and thought maybe I needed one. Instead I bought a Sony A6000 with a 35mm 1.8 Sony lens. Soon I'll probably add a Zeiss 16-70mm zoom lens. The A6000 is small like a Leica rangefinder and gets great results. I used Leica M cameras and lenses from 1967 to 2013 and enjoyed them but it was time for me to move on. I showed the A6000 to a guy at the Leica Gallery in SF and suddenly I was looking at his nose hairs as he was sneering at my Leica substitute. Too bad, I get great results. I think Leica makes great cameras, even their digital offerings.
  4. Assume that was a Canon 5D mark III. You would be looking for the same kind of image quality; therefore an M.
    I use an M9 for fun and an old EOS400D for work with overlap, so maybe you should post this on the EOS forum as well.
    I find a few differences with colour balance, which I need to be very specific, at which I am crap, but Photoshop handles all these files seamlessly once I get out of the raw.
    I use the 90 made for the CL very happily with the M9; that's now my preferred 90, mostly because of weight and size, no real focusing issues, although I try to push the focus back slightly for full aperture shots; assume the 28 for CL would also be OK. Obviously the 40 would have framing issues.
  5. It's not appropriate to compare a DSLR with a Leica M digital camera. The image quality of a digital M is as good as it gets, and the lenses are superb. However using a rangefinder is an acquired taste. In one sense it is a burst of freedom, from the constraints of a fixed framework in the viewfinder. You can see action before it enters the image area. Everything is in focus (even if it's not). In the other sense you are bound to an extremely limited range of lenses, 28mm to 90 mm, and an arcane method of focusing - a superimposed image rangefinder. The digital M9 has an extremely low magnification, 0.68x, which makes focusing more difficult and takes the 135 mm lens off the table.
    The lenses are the best part of Leica compared to a DSLR. They are sharp at any aperture, from corner to corner, like they are meant to be used wide open. The Leica is especially well-suited for wide angle photography, even though the range is limited unless you resort to an auxiliary viewfinder. It is tempting to use the limited DOF and excellent bokeh to isolate the subject, especially for people shots and closeups. (Some people, my kids for example, see that as "out of focus," even tough the subject is sharp.)
    The compact size, simple layout and relatively quiet operation make it ideal for travel and street photography. When I inherited an M3 to go with my much-used M2, I was anxious to see how I would like it compared to my (also well-used) Nikon D3 kit. The size and extreme sharpness were a hit, but the expense and inconvenience of film spoiled the moment. It prompted me to buy an used M9P, which proved to be a rewarding experience, but not quite up to the job I needed professionally (no zooms or long lenses). My inaugural M9 experience is recorded in this folder. I shot most of the scenes in both film and digital, proving to be my last film endeavor.
    As time went on, I became more interested in the Sony A7, also a full-frame camera which could use both Leica and Nikon lenses. The A7 is also amenable to auto-focus and zoom lenses, denied to the Leica M. This interest simmered until the A7ii was released. The greatly improved ergonomics and built-in image stabilization which works with any lens proved irresistable. Focusing is extremely precise, even for legacy manual lenses of any focal length. I haven't looked back since, on either Nikon nor Leica. The A7Rii was the same experience all over again, on steroids. The totally silent shutter is perfect for discrete photography, and the extra resolution is a welcome supplement.
  6. I think there is a clean M9 for sale here at about 1/2 its original cost. That is a cost effective way to enter Leica digi (full frame) and have a quality that is likely similar to your 5DMkIII (but i do not own the latter so cannot validate that assumption). The CL 90 would work quite well, a 40 Summicron would probably need a VC 40mm finder (which I think exists).
  7. Canon EOS 1 D mrk III (*2007)? - According to Dxomark you 'll need an M(240) to beat it: http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Leica-M-Typ-240-versus-Canon-EOS-1Ds-Mark-III-versus-Leica-M9___844_436_640
    lensrentals.com considered the old Monochrom on par with EOS 5D Mrk II in low light.
    I never used Canon, so I can't help much. If you manage some patience with your splurging plans, till next summer you can hope for a nice pricedrop of the by then "obsolete" M(240) bodies, but a few used obes are already floating around as it seems.
  8. Some months ago I was forced to abandon film because having it processed here had become far too difficult. I sold my M6 and bought a Sony A7. I had stayed on with the M6 despite having an Olympus digital SLR because (1) it gave me "full frame" control over depth of field and (2) I could hand hold it at slow shutter speeds, unlike the DSLR. I find the A7 a close to perfect replacement. At first I used it with the M mount lenses I had, now I use it with manual Nikkors. Going by absolute measures, the images from a digital M may be better than those from the A7: but last week I got a quite decent 12" x 18" print, which is the largest I now need to go. Others are sure to have needs different from mine: and, quite possibly, far higher standards. My goal is merely acceptable quality. I could afford the A7 while even the ME was beyond reach.
  9. M9 is a very nice camera but the frame lines in the finder on the M are much more accurate. At least be
    aware of that if you go for a less costly used M9 or the M-E. It's something you can get used to but it's not

    The files are excellent on both cameras, with color a bit more saturated with the M, with color that looks to
    me like slide film. The M also has better high ISO performance, which is probably better than the original
    5D. I've never used a 5D Mark III.
  10. According to Dxomark you 'll need an M(240) to beat it​
    Technically! But but subjectively, many would far prefer the M9 (CCD sensor) to either of the others (CMOS sensors). So go with your eyes.
    As for recommendations, I can't offer one. Try the M9 and see how you go.
  11. Why not get a used digital back for your RZ? The crop factor will be an issue but the quality is not. Cost will be the same or less than a Leica M9 body & leneses.
  12. I just splurged myself - three weeks ago I got a low mileage M8. Must be around 8 years old now. Haven't had a second's regret :)

    If you have the 40 mm Summicron for your CL, you should consider having it modified to bring up the 35 mm frame lines instead of 50. I haven't got that far yet with my 40, but just pull the frame preview lever out towards my left while shooting.
  13. In all honesty, if you want great lenses then you want Leica. But for that, you don't necessarily need Leica bod. Granted, Leica lenses work the best with Leica bodies, but there are digital alternatives (e.g. Sony, Fujifilm) that can take Leica lenses and they often offer much more in terms of camera capabilities.
  14. If you are after a Leica Rangefinder that can match the current Canon wait for the next model M with a newer generation
    CMOS sensor. The current sensor is 3 years old, does not match the high-ISO performance of the new Nikon and Canon.
    The Model 262 uses the same sensor of the 3 year old M240. Leica has introduced new generation CMOs sensors in the Q
    Type 116 and "SL", but the M series has not received an upgrade. I would expect one within a year.

    I enjoy using my digital Leica's, I've had the M8 for 6 years, M9 for almost 5, and the M Monochrom for 3. I've had my Nikon Df for 2 years. At lower ISO, the images from the M8 and M9 have a crispness that is unique. The M Monochrom can match the Df at ISO 5000.

    I would suggest you pick up a lightly used M8 (~$1250) or an M9 (~$3000) to try out. You could resell for about what you pay for it. It's not going to match the latest Canon for high-ISO, High pixel count. It is going to get as close to your Leica CL as any digital camera ever made.

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