Why people still using Leica digital M?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by benjamin_kim|2, May 5, 2016.

  1. There are still a lot of argument about the price, body quality, poor optic, meaningless, and etc.
    Price would be the best topic I guess. but many people and photographers still using Leica tho.
    Can anyone explain about why people still using Leica digital M even both lenses and bodies are very expansive?
    + Does Leica Mono really provide different tone, quality, and performance compare to normal Leica versions?
  2. SCL


    If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it! Many photographers have built up a fine collection of outstanding Leica lenses, and Leica has upgraded several specifically to have enhanced performance on the digital sensors. So why waste the glass? And, yes, their glass is outstanding, and other high end manufacturers are increasingly producing lenses for the Leica mount. If you take a look on the Leica Forum http://www.l-camera-forum.com/ you can see for yourself the attraction. If I had the money (since I already have the glass) I'd go for a Leica M too.
    • Mine didn't fall apart yet.
    • Getting rid of them ain't cheap; it could mean throwing something like $4K out of the window.
    Honestly: I made the majority of my digital camera choices back in the 1980s. Buying a Pentax Super A in 85 is reliable for ending with Pentax & Samsung SLRs now and falling for Leica M a bit later probably caused me to get my kit together during the last 12 years.
    I don't consider the lenses necessarily very expensive. - My 135mm cost me less than $100. Some folks love their Noctiluxes; I'm content with nailing focus with my 50mm 'cron once in a while and see no need to lust after the 0.95 lens. The Konica Hexanon 35mm f2 takes pictures too, Zeiss 21mm f2.8 felt like a fair deal during sale out, CV 15mm was cheap. Unlike SLR stuff from the 1960s & 70s Leica M lenses play well with the contemporary digital bodies. - Yes we can adapt a screw mount Takumar on a Pentax DSLR but hey, how much fun is it to use it, compared to a modern F / DA / WTF lens? - Do you enjoy focusing manually on your Pentax? - I don't. - That being said: there are enough old M & LTM lenses to hunt down and enjoy floating around and their pricing is still acceptable.
    According to the reviews I read the Monochroms have a low light advantage over their color counterparts, which makes the huge difference between "somewhat usable" and "keep it bagged & simply forget it!" in my life. I don't dare to comment on tone & quality, all I know: I am happy to have a camera that shoots monochrome images that I like & missed, which I can share with others without having to get my domestic color management right.
    Disclaimer: I am a stubborn old fart doing his hobby. - I am somewhat aware of Leica M's limitations and have other cameras too but still: The Ms seem fun to me. I don't advertise them as perfect tools of the professional trade; thats what the Leica SL is intended to become and other brands are fishing that pond too.
  3. Recently, I read an exchange on Leica User Group in which a contributor to Alamy asserted that he was using Fujifilm X-pro1 cameras and lenses but only getting about half his submissions accepted by Alamy. Then he purchased a used Leica M9 and all his submissions with the Leica are getting successfully thru Alamy QA. But he did not show any Leica pictures with the comments to illustrate his point. Another commentator reported that in their early days that an Alamy staffer told him that camera brand was used as a criterion applied to picture submissions. And, as I recall, in their cameras to use guidelines, Alamy says not to submit Coolpix generated images. On a personal note about Fugi X-Pro1 and 2, I have used both with Fuji 23 f1.4 and 56 f1.2 for images sent to Alamy and all passed QA, For example, I submitted a batch of Fuji made images at 11:00 pm and next day by 2:00 pm I got an email saying they had passed QA.
  4. Lenses, lenses, lenses! I have four lenses from the mid-1960's which operate as smoothly as the day they came home, tight and zero backlash. Optics have changed in the last 50 years, partly due to emphasis on contrast over resolution. But the old guys are still usable, at least on a Leica M body and a few others (Sony A7 not included).
    Rangefinder cameras are an acquired taste. Focusing is very accurate for lenses 50 mm and shorter. Framelines for various lenses are illuminated and well inside the outer boundaries of the viewfinder. That makes it easy to follow action because you can see it happening before it's in the frame. You can preview the field of view for all the compatible lenses with the flick of a finger. No guessing which lens to take out of the bag. Finally M cameras are small, quiet and discrete. That's why they're so popular for street photography, for those who can afford them.
    The downside is rangefinders are limited to lenses between 28 mm and 135 mm. You can go below that limit using an auxiliary viewfinder (the rangefinder still works), but 135 is the tops without a reflex housing. No zoom lenses either, or auto-focus. Leica made a couple of multi-focal length lenses, but they had three defined settings, and could not be used between those click stops. An M9 has a .68x viewfinder to accommodate a 28 mm lens at its widest. This reduces the effectiveness of the rangefinder to the point it is difficult to use a 90 mm lens without stopping down considerably.
    The digital M's are also very sharp, in part because they do not have an anti-aliasing filter. Until recently they had CCD sensors which produce almost film-like colors.
    I used Leicas exclusively for nearly 40 years, so the M9, purchased used in 2014, was like a second set of eyes for me. The results were fantastic, but I've been spoiled by a wider range of lenses, with a full view regardless of focal length, and accurate manual or auto focus.
    Leica monochrome cameras are sharpest of all, with the greatest dynamic range and sensitivity. There's no Bayer filter to cause color aliasing.
    Leica M9 + Zeiss ZM335/2.8
  5. For many people the price of Leica equipment isn't a problem. That's what they want, so that's what they buy.
  6. A rangefinder camera is a specific tool. It’s great for some things (documentary) and terrible for other photo applications (sports, wildlife…). Wide angle to normal focal length lenses are the rangefinder’s strength.
    When we talk rangefinders the discussion centers around Leica simply because Leica occupies 95% of the thought and user space. Yes, they are expensive. No, they don’t take photos that are technically better than a $400 Canon Rebel.
    Most people think the lenses are the reason to use a Leica rangefinder. That is a side benefit. In the mid-1980’s I purchased my first Leica, an M2, paired with a new 35mm Summicron. Those first 11×14’s I made in the darkroom stunned me with their contrast and corner-to-corner sharpness compared to the images from my Nikkor 35/2. There’s lot of great glass out there. I also use Voightlander and Zeiss lenses. I’m currently using a Zeiss 35/2.8 Biogon-C. It’s technically the best 35 I’ve used, even compared to my Leica 35/2 ASPH. Leica lenses are built to last forever. The Zeiss and Voightlanders may not be as well built, but they can be just as good optically and cost a LOT less.
    Rangefinder photography at its core is about seeing though the rangefinder’s viewfinder window.
    Famed National Geographic photographer William Albert Allard said it best in his book “The Photographic Essay.”
    “With an SLR, you are looking at your subject through the optic; you are literally seeing what the picture is going to look like. You have a device that will show you your depth of field, the area that will or will not be in critical focus. This is particularly true for me, because I’m often shooting at the maximum aperture of the lens, the aperture you actually view through. This helps you see how areas of color are affected. It can tell you if that blue has a hard edge, or if it’s somewhat soft and blended into something else.”
    “When you look through a rangefinder, though, everything is sharp. The rangefinder window is by and large a focusing and framing device that lets you pick a part of the subject you want to be in critical focus. The only real way you can tell how the rest of the picture is going to look is by experience, or maybe a quick look at the depth-of-field scale on the lens itself. I think the rangefinder frees you up in a certain way. You are probably going to work a little looser in a structural sense, because everything is clean, clear and sharp. When I look through an SLR, I think I’m a little bit more aware of compositional elements, of the structure of the image. With a rangefinder camera, I’m seeing certain spatial relationships.”​
    My first M2 and 35 Summicron was the only camera I used for a project in a documentary photo class in college. Seeing though the rangefinder window freed me in the way Allard describes. Leica M’s have been cameras I’ve enjoyed using ever since. For the kind of photography I enjoy they are a wonderful tool.
  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Probably the same reason that many folks still use a pistol designed in 1911, both work extremely well in expert hands.
  8. Jim, your answer about the type of viewing and RF focussing is the main reason people buy digital Leicas, in addition to robustness (digital may not be there yet, though, which is true for many opther camera makes). They are basic classical operating cameras as well, which pleases many. Then, as the others have also stated, the lenses are exceptional, overall. But you seem to contradict yourself in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs (Canon Rebel similarity in the second, blowing Nikon optic out of the water in the 3rd).
    I have purchased top used Leica lenses for 300$ (near mint 135mm f4 Tele-Elmar), 400$ (mint 280mm f4.8 Telyt for Visoflex M) and 600$ (50mm collapsible more recent Elmar-M f2.8, nearly new). And V-C lenses or Hexanon-M lenses are quite reasonable in price (200$ up) so owning a Leica digital may not break the bank. Especially if you prefer using a viewfinder type camera rather than an SLR (DSLR) type.
  9. I guess if I were 60 yrs younger and had the loot I'd go for the Leica system but now I couldn't focus a Leica with these old eyes and hands, so I'm hoping a Leica Q is in my future...Hint Hint..
  10. Leica lenses are intended to be used wide open, which means you can render backgrounds out of focus with relative ease, while the subject is sharp. This lends a 3-D effect which, together with excellent color and contrast, results in the legendary Leica "pop." This was taken with an M9, probably using a Summicron 50 at f/2. The diaphragm has 11 blades, and the bokeh is usually pretty smooth.
    The corner sharpness is another attribute of Leica lenses, which is not a strong point with DSLR wide angle lenses due to the compromises necessary to give clearance for the mirror. The photos in this album were taken on a shake-down run with my new-used M9.
    The small size of the Leica and lenses and quiet operation work well with children (and street photography) because the camera doesn't draw unwanted attention.
    Leica M9 + Summicron 50 @ f2 (probably)
    The mantle of image quality has largely passed to modern mirrorless cameras, the Sony A7Rii in particular. Lenses for these cameras are similar in design and intent to those of Leica, with the advantage of close and accurate manual focusing, no arbitrary restrictions on focal length, auto focus (if needed) and zoom.
  11. The OP sounds very much like (and maybe/probably is) this same dude. Must be a slow day somewhere in the far east....


    Need to get a handle on terms like "expansive" and "clap".....LOL...
  12. My question, as opposed to the OP, is why isn't everybody using Leicas? :)
  13. Gleat lefelence Gleg!!!
    "A guy told me (...), too expansive, meaningless, not well known anymore, poor optical quality, and etc."
    A guy! Not well known anymore! Pool quality! Mean ingless!
    I think the troll is gorged.
  14. The pool of Leica-haters seems to have diminished, with the exception of the OP. A few years ago and this thread would have raged for days. Now that faction has diverted its attention to mirrorless cameras in general, and Sony in particular.
    A Leica M is a tool ideally suited to some jobs, but not others. I would be somewhat embarrassed over the cost, except that's not what I paid. There's so much used equipment at reasonable prices, the real cost may work in the opposite direction. In the time it took for college tuition to increase 100 fold, Leica prices have gone up by a factor of 10, and used prices by even less.
  15. It took me years to accept the fact that I could be using a Leica digital camera, and since then, I am using each week my M8 and M9 cameras. The Leica and the Zeiss lenses are awesome lenses. Of course, I could have opted to use these lenses on another brand digital camera, but O have stayed with Leica. This summer I will meet with the Leica CEO in Wetzlar!
  16. "Why people still using Leica digital M?"
    Because I enjoy using it...for me...that simple.
  17. To use some of the best lenses made over the last 80 years in the fashion intended- RF coupled and full-frame.
  18. Hi Benjamin, I want to apologize for the rudeness in my last message here.
    And, your entries look a bit too ingenious - with a little research on Google or in the archives here you could have figured it out in one hour - and what surprises me is that there is no noticeable appreciation from your side to people who dedicate forty-plus lines to your vastly complex inquiries.
    It felt to me like you are stumbling into a candy store to ask the owner about his odontological philosophy, then walking out of the door not even saying goodbye.
    Anyways, welcome to us mostly old RFarts which are happy to have anything to respond to!
    Come back, enjoy and get a hang on this tools or not.
    Otherwise, there's always a horseback riding forum which would happily help you to understand why they sometimes don't use cars.
  19. My question, as opposed to the OP, is why isn't everybody using Leicas? :)
    Good question. RF cameras are very general-purpose tools. They don't suit niches like sport or wildlife, but that's the price you pay for having a general purpose, compact, high quality system. Thanks to live-view they are suitable for macro, these days. I admit to preferring a tilting LCD to a fixed one, however. That is the only flaw I can see in the Leicas.
  20. It depends...Sports:
  21. ...and wild life:
  22. A tilting LCD is very useful for closeups, especially close to the ground. Closeups aren't typically in the Leica M repertoire ;) I made ample use of a tilting LCD yesterday in the Botanic Gardens, to the benefit of my aging knees and back, but with a Sony A7.
    Leica made a major advance for sports photography when they added a quick-wind lever in 1954 (two-stroke, later reduced to one). Twenty years later, they replaced the rewind knob with a crank. We had it tough, sitting under the basket or on the scrimmage line, watching the play and anticipating the peak of action. Given enough light, we could use the super lens - 135 mm, but 35 mm was more common for basketball. Now we take hundreds of shots, hoping one or two will embrace that magic moment. In any case, only one or two will make the sports page, and sports pages haven't changed much since Speed Graphics ruled.
    Nice shot, Knut.
  23. Benjamin, not sure if you ever had any intention of reading the replies here, but I know why I use Leica M digital and film cameras. It's the glass, simplicity of using the camera it self, and the fact that Leica cameras like the M240 and newer are more reliable than you may think & pair pretty much seamlessly with my M6TTL built in 2001 and my M3 built in 1956.

    But incase that is not enough for you, read this, especially the part about the motorcycle crash:
  24. rowlett

    rowlett Moderator

    Price is never the best topic, and neither are the questions of why or how people can afford this or that.

    For me, I love the cameras that I use, not based on price, but based on..... something else I can't put my finger on at the moment.
  25. For me, I love the cameras that I use, not based on price, but based on..... something else I can't put my finger on at the moment.​
    I think it is called a shutter button...:)
  26. Hang on...this thread is still alive & kickin'!!!
    Forgot my "wild life" entry re-do, gateway was lost lately...
  27. Woah.....who knows what'll come from that, LOL....
  28. Organic easter eggs. They were easy to paint and made for a fine tortilla.
  29. Rabbits, pah! Why do they always breed... like rabbits.
    I have noticed Leica film body prices are weakening a little as film users decline, but any Leica lens has really increased in price since I sold my Leica stuff in 2009. Needless to say I wish I still had it all.
  30. Yep, I purchased a 35mm f2 Summicron ASPH in the late 90's for an M6 outfit, new, for $1,495.

    Wound up selling my outfit and 10 years later, when I got back into the M system, picked up another 35mm f2 ASPH, this
    time used, for over $2K, and new prices just went up again, along with the discounts going away on May 10.

    The M262 I purchased new for $5,195 two months ago, is now $5,395.
  31. It's an electronic gadget for sale and some people want that and others do not.

Share This Page