Leica M9-P - First Impression Review - Digital Photography School

Leica M9-P – First Impression Review

Over the last 9 days I’ve had the chance to use and review Leica’s newest camera – the Leica M9-P. In the following video (filmed after I’d been using it for 4-5 days) I share my first impressions of the camera – one that polarises many due to its expense and stripped back feature set. I also show some of the images that I’ve taken with it (they start at about the 10 minute mark if you want to skip to that).

Leica M9-P Review

Apologies for the focus issues in the video – I shot it on my Panasonic GF1 and the continuous focussing mode is… not great.

Note: you can see a few of the images that I show in this video here.

Get a Price on the Leica M9-P at B and H Photo.

Summary
Reviewer
Darren Rowse
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Leica M9-P
Author Rating
3

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Nicholas John Hughes

    I will be getting this camera….even if you gave it a bad review……

    Now, i have to say….you are the best camera reviewer i have ever seen. SUPREME

    i book marked this page.

  • Jacob

    There are a few things I dislike about the digital Ms. First, the lack of an external flash contact. If you want to use the Thumbs Up attached to the hot shoe you have no flash option. On film Leicas the rear X contact allowed the thumb to rest against the flash contact cover for added grip security. The menu buttons along the left side of the LCD are prone to accidental activation because they protrude from the camera back and are easily triggered if the camera is turned on and worn around the neck and makes contact with some article of clothing or hardware. I have an M8.2 and there are host of other problems that plague it, but what I wrote above applies to the M9s as well as the M8s.

  • JJ

    Gonna have to upgrade my M8 to an M9-P but the M8 is sooooo good too! Maybe I will keep both and sell a kidney.

  • http://n/a djcrispy

    I definitely tried out this camera when researching for my next DSLR. Problem is that for >2x the money, at the end of the day, the IQ isn’t clearly better. Given an excellent Canon lens (f1.2) and the Mark II/III, there’s more going on behind the LCD (ie brain/hands of the photog) than what’s in front of it to determine the ultimate product. Just like in guitars and almost any equipment, a person with talent can produce excellent work with ‘average’ equipment, while a hack (I’m a guitar hack) will never get quality out of even the top-of-the-line equipment. It’s not entirely clear, either, that this Leica camera represents the top of the line. Only the cost is top.

    Plus, when you consider the technical problems that have come up with data handling by the Leica, it should make you pause before dropping the equivalent of a toyota camry on your camera.

    One example:

    http://leicarumors.com/2011/08/05/more-on-the-leica-m9-sd-memory-card-issue.aspx/

  • Ken Wang

    I am a life long Leica rangefinder camera man, my M4 bought in 1974 is still working great, and my M6 bought in 1995 is going strong. I purchased a M9 in 2010, and with all my old Leica M lenses (28mm Elmarit 2.8, 35mm Summicron 2.0, 50mm Summicron 2.0, 75mm Summicron 2.0, and 90mm Elmarit 2.8), I am having a blast taking pictures, and with a HD monitor, the images capture life at those moments.

    With Leica M equipment, you just have to get use to the manual focus, shutter speed and aperture, I still use a Gossen light meter to measure the light on my subjects. You have to collect Leica M equipment over time, otherwise, it will be a drain on your finances, unless you are wealthy.

    Issues with the M9 are that you need back up batteries for the camera, it is loaded with electronics, so it is going to fail sooner or later, so I am saving up for another M9 or M10 (rumor by May, 2012) for back up when I am on a trip.

  • Scott

    I don’t have the cash for one, but I wouldn’t mind having a cool rangefinder to do some retro-style shooting. My first camera was a Kodak Retina IIIC (look it up). Compared to the Retina, the M9 is like science fiction ;-) The parallax is only really an issue at close range, and once you get used to the focusing of a rangefinder you can get really fast! The major benefits to me of such a camera would be that it is so compact, unobtrusive, and perhaps most of all that it does tend to make you more thoughtful as you mentioned. I have a 5D Mark III and I often shoot in manual mode. I really miss manual focus at times, but AF cameras are not really made for manual focus. The focusing aids on rangefinders and old-style MF SLRs are a joy to use. Good review – I was a bit distracted by the video focusing between you and the bookshelf, but otherwise, well done ;-)

  • Choo Chiaw Ting

    excellent photos..really really nice bokeh, is because of the skillset or lens or camera???

Some older comments

  • Scott

    June 22, 2012 07:14 pm

    I don't have the cash for one, but I wouldn't mind having a cool rangefinder to do some retro-style shooting. My first camera was a Kodak Retina IIIC (look it up). Compared to the Retina, the M9 is like science fiction ;-) The parallax is only really an issue at close range, and once you get used to the focusing of a rangefinder you can get really fast! The major benefits to me of such a camera would be that it is so compact, unobtrusive, and perhaps most of all that it does tend to make you more thoughtful as you mentioned. I have a 5D Mark III and I often shoot in manual mode. I really miss manual focus at times, but AF cameras are not really made for manual focus. The focusing aids on rangefinders and old-style MF SLRs are a joy to use. Good review - I was a bit distracted by the video focusing between you and the bookshelf, but otherwise, well done ;-)

  • Ken Wang

    April 13, 2012 04:31 pm

    I am a life long Leica rangefinder camera man, my M4 bought in 1974 is still working great, and my M6 bought in 1995 is going strong. I purchased a M9 in 2010, and with all my old Leica M lenses (28mm Elmarit 2.8, 35mm Summicron 2.0, 50mm Summicron 2.0, 75mm Summicron 2.0, and 90mm Elmarit 2.8), I am having a blast taking pictures, and with a HD monitor, the images capture life at those moments.

    With Leica M equipment, you just have to get use to the manual focus, shutter speed and aperture, I still use a Gossen light meter to measure the light on my subjects. You have to collect Leica M equipment over time, otherwise, it will be a drain on your finances, unless you are wealthy.

    Issues with the M9 are that you need back up batteries for the camera, it is loaded with electronics, so it is going to fail sooner or later, so I am saving up for another M9 or M10 (rumor by May, 2012) for back up when I am on a trip.

  • djcrispy

    April 1, 2012 05:06 am

    I definitely tried out this camera when researching for my next DSLR. Problem is that for >2x the money, at the end of the day, the IQ isn't clearly better. Given an excellent Canon lens (f1.2) and the Mark II/III, there's more going on behind the LCD (ie brain/hands of the photog) than what's in front of it to determine the ultimate product. Just like in guitars and almost any equipment, a person with talent can produce excellent work with 'average' equipment, while a hack (I'm a guitar hack) will never get quality out of even the top-of-the-line equipment. It's not entirely clear, either, that this Leica camera represents the top of the line. Only the cost is top.

    Plus, when you consider the technical problems that have come up with data handling by the Leica, it should make you pause before dropping the equivalent of a toyota camry on your camera.

    One example:

    http://leicarumors.com/2011/08/05/more-on-the-leica-m9-sd-memory-card-issue.aspx/

  • JJ

    March 29, 2012 11:36 pm

    Gonna have to upgrade my M8 to an M9-P but the M8 is sooooo good too! Maybe I will keep both and sell a kidney.

  • Jacob

    March 13, 2012 12:41 pm

    There are a few things I dislike about the digital Ms. First, the lack of an external flash contact. If you want to use the Thumbs Up attached to the hot shoe you have no flash option. On film Leicas the rear X contact allowed the thumb to rest against the flash contact cover for added grip security. The menu buttons along the left side of the LCD are prone to accidental activation because they protrude from the camera back and are easily triggered if the camera is turned on and worn around the neck and makes contact with some article of clothing or hardware. I have an M8.2 and there are host of other problems that plague it, but what I wrote above applies to the M9s as well as the M8s.

  • Nicholas John Hughes

    January 26, 2012 06:01 am

    I will be getting this camera....even if you gave it a bad review......

    Now, i have to say....you are the best camera reviewer i have ever seen. SUPREME

    i book marked this page.

  • Robert T Wilson

    December 31, 2011 08:02 am

    Nice write up and video

  • m.INSIXIANGMY

    December 29, 2011 07:50 am

    Great, honest review.

    I got a chance to tryout the M9 and feel in love with it. It brought back a lot of what made photography fun for me. Bare bones, and back to basics. I agree with your comment. I take a heck of a lot less photos but I am loving more of what I am taking. It has slowed me down for the better and I'm loving the size, weight, and access i'm getting that my DSLR couldn't get.

    It's the right tool for my style of photography. I now own my own M9, 35/2, and 50/2 Zeiss. I could not be a happy camper. Sadly its price range does put it out of the hands of many who would LOVE to make beautiful photos with it.

  • Chris

    October 23, 2011 08:17 am

    Most of the 'frustrations' mentioned in this review are not specific to Leica-M9-P but to Leica M cameras in general.

    If you get over this and enjoy the type of photography this camera is good at you will love this camera, in fact there is a serious risk of getting addicted :-)

    It's not for everyone, but if you enjoy being in total control of your images you can't go past a Leica M. They are incredibly beautiful, timeless and capture gorgeous images.

    PS: I don't work for Leica.

  • Greeno

    October 10, 2011 03:16 am

    Alzurin:

    I suspect if the 'colour' cast of all the images you took did not have proper 'colour' then it's likely you also did not have the white balance set properly. I own an M9-P and have never had any aberrations in this area when I bothered to properly attend to color temperature first. I suppose it's also possible the body you borrowed was in need of repair, but this seems unlikely.

    "...Compared to a film rangefinder, it offers no improvements to operation..." It's a Leica M, it needs no improvement to operation. I also shoot a Leica MP, which is the analog equivalent to the M9-P and it too is operationally elegant.

    Your slow frame rate shooting DNG is more than likely a result of a cheap card. You'll need to use a little higher grade quality. That said, you're concerned with 'frame rate' with an M9-P? Really? It sounds as though this just isn't the camera for you. It's like me buying an Aston Martin and complaining it doesn't get the mileage of a Smart Car.

    "... After this, comes a long list of limitations that are beaten by cameras in the $1000 range. No video..." Yeah, I think you're looking for a different camera. What you want isn't want Leica offers. Attributing to the M9-P, however, some shortcoming in terms of quality and performance misses the point of the camera entirely.

    "... The digital arena is now an even playing field..." I'm sorry, with all due respect, you just don't know what you're talking about.

    As to 'vanity' and 'status needs,' yes, there are those who purchase Leica for those reasons, but to proclaim that anyone who purchases an M9 or M9-P is invited to "waste [their] cash" I think only reveals more your venom (for whatever reasons) than the camera's shortcomings.

    Leica is built around a culture of deliberate photography, exacting build quality, superior optics (no optics are 'perfect,' but Leica's are near, if not at the tip of the spear), and longevity of use.

    You can get a few decent cameras "in the $1000 range (I own several)," but you can't get a superior one for that, and you'll never be able to.

  • alzurzin

    October 9, 2011 02:49 pm

    I was able to borrow an M9p for a week.

    I found only 2 advantages: it is portable (like my other rangefinder); you can use almost all Leica lenses.

    Compared to a film rangefinder, it offers no improvements to operation, and in fact has a big detriment: shooting on DNG (ie raw), the camera needed 4 to 5 seconds to process each image, before another image could be shot. The internal buffer is supposed to enable shooting without delay, but after 3 quick shots the camera froze. Very annoying.

    Another oddity is the colour cast of all images I took. I can say NO image had proper colour, and colours for each image seemed to vary with different lighting. Such inconsistency means photography is by guesswork, and inordinate post is required.

    After this, comes a long list of limitations that are beaten by cameras in the $1000 range. No video. No live view. No fast fps. Cannot accept the latest memory cards. etc.

    After this comes an honest comparison of images between brands. The digital arena is now an even playing field. Comparing to the new Panasonic GH2, to Nikon D3, to Canon 5, Sony A, etc, this Leica produces no appreciable increase in image quality.

    For $10,000 I expect perfect optics, perfect operation, and an image quality that is clearly far beyond competitors. Leica's optics continue to be superb. But the camera and IQ are big disappointments: this M9 does not measure up to Leica film standards. If you need a Leica to feed your vanity and status needs, by all means go waste your cash. But if you need a camera as a tool, this is not it.

  • Greeno

    September 12, 2011 12:50 pm

    Well, my ship has come in -- picked up my all-black M-9P today from Samy's Camera here in Los Angeles. They got ONE black body in and my contact there said he'd squirrel it away for me for a couple hours. I hustled over and secreted it away.

    Presently, it sits in my darkroom safe, still unopened, as I am having to tend to annoying responsibilities before I can turn my full attention to it. Talk about delaying gratification!

    Not meaning to gloat, but couldn't help but share my enthusiasm with those who I know can appreciate the significance of finally being able to get my hands on one of these State-side. Think I'll set it and my black MP side-by-side and just stare at them for a couple hours.

  • conor

    September 9, 2011 08:58 am

    I like where you're coming from Greeno.
    ... and I enjoyed your honest review very much Darren.

    This whole "I can get the same results or better with my kit which is cheaper" is a facile one really, although I guess it's good to talk!
    For me it is about the experience of taking photographs and of using my gear... but most importantly about learning and improving.
    When I had my DSLR (7D) I found I was mostly putting it on auto (or aperture priority) + continuous shooting and just pointing it and holding down the shutter button... then I sift through the results later to see if I had anything good... and sometimes I had, but I felt it was always by luck rather than judgement.

    When I got the M9 (not P) it forced me to slow down, to think more about framing, aperture and what I wanted the shot to look like, to plan it... and then to shoot it.
    Yes, as someone pointed out earlier, I could have taken this approach with the DSLR... but the point, for me, is that I didn't... because all the whizz-bang stuff was there I was using it... and not really learning anything... and certainly not improving.

    That's not to say it's the M9 is the right camera for everyone... but for me, it is.
    Well, most of the time... sometime in the future I'll probably look for another solution for macro, which is not a strong point of the M9 (or rangefinders in particular).
    For now though I'm loving that I'm improving and that I'm actually thinking about what I'm doing when I have a camera in my hands... and more often I am very pleased with the results.

    I don't personally think that better lens or best lens comparisons are that useful since the subject is such a subjective one... but what I will say about the 3 Leica M-series lenses I own is that they are extremely well made and that I personally love their qualities (sharpness, colour etc) and the results I get with them.

    Also worth noting if you fancy shooting film now and again is that you can pick up a second-hand film Leica M-series body (I recently picked up a used but operationally perfect M6 for €590) and use the lenses you bought for your M9 straight out of the bag/case.

  • Joe

    August 31, 2011 07:09 am

    I like the old school look and the photos you posted on flickr wow. Its an amazing camera with a back to the basics approach. But NO auto focus and the price of the camera and its lenses, clearly it's for hardcore Leica funs.

  • Daniel

    August 28, 2011 12:05 pm

    Argeed Greeno -- and well said. I have a Leica 8.2 and will soon be upgrading to a M-9P ... Like you I've shot with a number of excellent film and digital cameras ... but what some call a "short coming" with the Leica digital M series, has brought me back to my love of photography ... that is being "in touch" with the process ... manual focus, and often fully manual mode. As for the comments that say you can't "see" the Leica lens magic in the photos presented ... remember, you are limited by the limitations of you Mac (or for the less fortunate PC).

    See the images printed in a high resolution .. and you will see the magic.

    Sometimes, one just wants to own the very best .. and for the 35mm format, Leica delivers....

  • Greeno

    August 25, 2011 01:28 am

    Jose Jimenez -- there are many types who gear up and geek out on Leica, and a portion of them are those types you disparage. But the far greater segment of the Leica populace are those who appreciate the tool, appreciate the rugged construction and simplicity of the gear, the quality craftsmanship that lends itself to longevity, and that cultural zeitgeist that makes you want to use it. As they say, "The best camera is the one you want to shoot with."

    So, yes, there are poseurs and pretenders, and one cannot deny the romantic appeal of the Leica with its Kennedy-like mystique and je ne c'est quoi, but most simply want the best piece of equipment that is the easiest to use and promises the greatest longevity. I've shot with everything (Nikon, Canon, Contax 645, Hassie,...), and the most satisfying results have always come from my MP.

  • Marilyn Armstrong

    August 22, 2011 09:58 am

    Once upon a time, when me and the world were young, I owned a Leica M3 (I think that was its designation) and 3 lenses. Rangefinder. No built in light meter. THE BEST OPTICS ever. I mean EVER. I have no idea why I sold that camera and I am still kicking myself 40 years later. I think I wanted a built in meter or something stupid like that. Leica optics were then and I believe still are, unbeatable. I can't imagine ever being able to spend that kind of money on anything that isn't an absolutely necessity, but if I could ... well ... I would.

  • Herb Benkel

    August 21, 2011 06:43 pm

    The Leica M as far as I am concerned is the "fastest point and shoot in the world". When you use an M camera you must accept is limitations and learn to use it's strengths. You used your 35mm f2.0 lens properly for the images of your children....but....on the street in good light the key is to "zone focus" by using the depth of field scale on the prime lens you are using. At f16 the lens is in focus from less than a meter to infinity. Therefore set the focus before hand and all you need to do is lift the camera to your eye and fire. No waiting for auto focus to lock in!!! Generally I go out and get a meter reading for bright sunlight and shadows.... Usually f16 for sun, f8 for shadow and as I walk and scan for images. I have become adept at resetting the focal ring to take advantage of the changes in the light (staying in zone focus) so... I can just lift the camera frame and shoot. This all becomes automatic after a short while.
    In poor light, at maximum aperture you need to focus. The key is that instead if the camera guessing what you want... YOU get to make the choices. The focusing system on the lens is so bright and fast that there is NO problem getting the image... With a little practice!!
    There is something special about the Leica glass that is amazing. Others make glass, Leica makes it special!!
    Some think that not having zoom is a handicap but its one of the creative pluses of the rangefinder cameras. You learn to CREATIVELY frame in the single focal length, most often with wide angle... adding context to your images. That was part of what made the images of your children so wonderful.
    Leica M's are truly fantastic cameras but they are not for the faint of heart.... They require commitment and a learning curve. The upside is that with intimacy you can make extraordinary images.

  • David

    August 16, 2011 09:11 pm

    Hi Darren
    I thought your review was honest, unbiased and practical.
    I own a digital M, but they are overpriced, under specked and unreliable.
    They are rapidly becoming the Faberge Eggs of Orthodontists and Hedge Fund managers.
    In reality there are many other cameras out there of all formats which will give you images as good if you use lenses that are well designed and wide aperture.
    But there is something special about holding and using an M which is undefinable but really unjustifiable.
    When I bought my first Leica M2 or 3 I cannot remember the selling point was that they focus very accurately especially in low light compared to an SLR, well that was then and this is now and the reverse is true.
    I think it is sad that the prices are so high because everyone should experience using an M even if it is just to get it out of their system.
    I would not buy another one on principle that $8000-$10,000 and no dioptre correction, appalling LCD disastrous High ISO and unreliability.
    The world has moved on and there is some incredible equipment out there, yes flawed (X100) but not as flawed as the M9 and at a lot less money.
    Would I sell my M - no way having payed with an arm and a leg it is and will be used until it dies on those days I want to feel nostalgic on the other days I want to make images for me or for money I will use more reliable and flexible alternatives.

  • larry tok

    August 15, 2011 03:39 am

    i had a nikon d700, it had loads of features etc, i loved it. but I now use the m9 with a 21mm elmarit + 35mm summilux. i love it even more than ever. When i held a dslr, i always had problems bringing it out to shoot as it was too big and heavy.

    i m now looking for my next lens, which is the 50mm asph summilux.. i love my m9 and some people fail to realise that sometimes more is less. and less is more. people who use leica, dont look for features, they look for the feel to it.

    <3 Leica

  • gp

    August 14, 2011 10:16 pm

    I kinda like the focusing issue you have with the video. It somehow give an extra dimension or life to the otherwise sterile feel of the video of a person talking.

    Thanks for the video. Before this, I simply find it doesn't make sense to spend that kind of money for a camera like this but now, I have a glimpse of it, and that it starts to make sense now.

  • Greg Simpson

    August 13, 2011 09:39 am

    thanks for this review - like some of those above, the M series line have been cameras I've had my eye on for a while. I almost bought an M8 a couple of years ago and was tempted by the M9.... but each time I put it off. Watching this made me realize that if I'm going to go Leica I just have to bite the bullet and go Leica.

    Ringing up my local Leica dealer today and placing my order of an M9-P! Thanks for the nudge.

    By the Way: good to hear another Aussie accent!

  • TomHawkins

    August 13, 2011 07:59 am

    Thanks for the review Darren. However, I think I will stick with Nikon. The D3X is just a bit more in price and has a lot more to offer me. I already have all the pro glass for the Nikon system, as well as a good number of the Speedlights. Other than that, the Leica is a great camera.

  • domagoj

    August 12, 2011 06:21 am

    I like how for the first eight and a half minutes this review explains what the camera lacks compared to an entry level dSLR. Every discussion of a rangefinder compared with a dSLR starts like that. :)

    I haven't had a chance to use a digital Leica, but I'm a big fan of rangefinder cameras. And not because the big masters used them. I feel that looking through the viewfinder (as opposed to looking through the wide-open lens) makes me more connected to the scene and what I'm doing. Also, seeing what's out of the photo I'm going to take helps for anticipation of, hmmm, do I dare say it, decisive moment - you get to see how the photo comes together. Also, small size of the body and the lens make the camera less coming in the way and the point in itself, but I get to focus on the photo I'm about to take. Of course, no sports, birds, coins, etc. can be shot with a rangefinder, but for the reportage/documentary photos I believe these cameras are great. And, not unimportant, the experience of shooting a rangefinder is much more satisfying, to me at least, than with the dSLR with that mirror thumping and clanking. But, to each his own...

    Focusing is awkward at first, but after a while you get very quick with it. No getting into focus, than out and than back in. You move the lever and it's spot on! Btw, for shooting moving children you should try with the zone focusing - only possible way with the rangefinder, or any other manual focus camera, for that matter.

    Yeah, one last thing you didn't mention in your review is that the framelines are just an approximation and that the photo will be different to what you saw in the viewfinder. And I still love rangefinders :)

  • Hector

    August 12, 2011 04:15 am

    Your review of the M9 made for great watching. In the "good old days" of photography I used an M3 and I loved it. IMO, the lack of features is not a problem but rather a benefit. Perhaps many of the missing "features" are merely gimmicks. Leica has been and apparently still is about making great images without all the fancy doodads. You make an very excellent point when you mention that the Leica is a little slower to use than other cameras. For me that is a huge benefit. Rather than simply clicking away randomly the Leica forces us to take more thoughtful pictures.

    The Leica focusing mechanism does take time to get used to but I like it. New DSLRs are hard to focus when using manual focus, which is required more than one might think. Too bad they don't have a split screen circle or some other way to focus precisely.

    Admittedly the price is high and if I could afford it I would buy one in a minute. They are awesome cameras and the images are wonderful.

    Thanks for the great review.
    Hector

  • Kris Bjornstad

    August 12, 2011 03:06 am

    How come there isn't a company who can match the Leica for even a couple grand? I could actually lust over something at that price. But I can't even IMAGINE buying something for eight grand!

  • Rich Maher

    August 12, 2011 02:20 am

    What, no red dot? How will the pretentious snobs who own this overpriced toy be able to show it off at "Show and Tell" at the country club? Perhaps they can purchase one from Leica for $8000. There's one born every minute.

  • Jerry

    August 10, 2011 04:48 pm

    Very nice review, Darren. I believe and enjoy the "less is more" axiom for the most part, and use a simple Lumix GF1 for my street photography. I was very curious about experiencing the quality first-hand of the M9 but the cost is just ridiculous. So I rented.

    I got the M9 (not P) and a 50mm 2.4 lens for 3 days. I also wear glasses and it took me about a day to get used to the manual focusing with my them but after that, it was a joy to use. As you mentioned, the simplicity forces you to be much more considerate of your settings and composition. I also took less photos, but interestingly enough, I felt this camera was making me a better photographer, slowly but surely.

    Also as you mentioned, the LCD is somewhat useless but for a quick review. I found that when using this camera for an extended period of time, I knew when I got the shot. And the photos really are amazing.

    I also found that for the most part, there was little to no color adjustment necessary. Great natural color, terrific detail and plenty of head room when processing to bring out some shadow detail or repair some clipped highlights. Very cool.

    I absolutely loved my experience with the M9 but it definitely has its strengths and weaknesses. I shoot street photography and this camera is the ultimate tool to that end. I've already started saving up, and perhaps I shall be the proud owner of an M13, or possibly the M14. Thanks again for a great review.

  • Fergus

    August 10, 2011 08:50 am

    ... Not 'professional'.

  • Dave Powell

    August 10, 2011 07:51 am

    Fergus - A lot of people think that but...

    The M9, or M9-R, as it is sometimes known doesn't stand for 'regular' but rather 'Rowse'

    The 'P' - doesn't standard for perfection but rather 'Powell'

    Darren - It's clear we are both are using the wrong ones, we should switch before we cause any more trouble.

  • Fergus

    August 9, 2011 09:49 pm

    The 'P' stands for 'perfection'.

  • hkb11001

    August 9, 2011 09:45 pm

    Very interesting, but much of my thoughts are along the same line as Jose's. The subjective quality of the photos is nothing to dismiss, but I'd love to see a comparison of shots from a full-frame Canon and Nikon DSLR with their best lens of the same focal length......

  • Scott

    August 9, 2011 06:08 pm

    Enjoyed you M9P review.
    I have just shot my first pictures with the Fuji X100, using the fixed lens at f2. I was astonished. Could you compare the two cameras?

  • victor

    August 9, 2011 04:07 pm

    Hmmm, "why would anyone spend that kind of money on a camera." To paraphrase bob bayden's post above.

    Consider; Imogen Cunningham, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, Helmut Newton, Ernst Haas, Catherine Leroy, Claire Yaffa, Thomas Höpker, and so many others. I think from the late 1870s - 2011, you'll find our greatest photographers who swear by the Leica.

    Even Leica's digital Point and shoot camera the V-Lux 20 is unique in it's photographic abilities. I have both this camera and it's equivalent Panasonic - the photos don't even compare.

  • Darren Rowse

    August 9, 2011 02:33 pm

    thanks Dave for that comment - love your work and approach to shooting. I too thoroughly recommend Shoot Tokyo as a photo blog full of Leica M9 (and Fujifilm x100) shots.

  • Jim

    August 9, 2011 11:59 am

    The images that Dave Shoots, can be seen on his daily blog 'Shoot Tokyo" and they are a terrific example of what you can expect from a Leica. Of Course it is Dave 'eye' and the City of Tokyo that makes them special.

  • Dave

    August 9, 2011 11:08 am

    Leica M9 is my daily weapon of choice. I shifted to Leica at the end of last year and it has transformed my photography. I know many other photographers that have made this transition and had similar experiences. I had the same reaction as many people here initially 'who would spend this kind of money on a camera'...now I just wish I didn't wait so long to move. I am simply amazed with the images I am able to generate with it. I would strongly recommend an M9 to anyone who has the means.

    I also shoot the FujiFilmx100. It is an excellent companion to the M9 and I find myself shooting both as it is nice to have something that I can shoot closely with. I know a lot of people make comparisons to an M9 but the cameras are on completely different levels. I love my x100 as it has a lot of range finder type features and feel.

  • The Biblioholic

    August 9, 2011 11:04 am

    Great review, thanks! I question the "P" for professional however. I don't think these cameras, with or without the P, are so much professional as luxury status symbol toys for the rich.

  • Shane Goldberg

    August 9, 2011 10:52 am

    Nice work Darren, I really liked your review. Was great to see some of the pics you took with the photo too. I think if you have the money to buy or even rent it looks like a GREAT camera.

  • Bob Bayden

    August 9, 2011 09:49 am

    I can't believe anyone would spend that kind of money on any kind of camera. $30,000+ on a kit of lenses is crazy stuff. I know pros who make a living from their photography who've not spent that kind of coin on their gear.

    Hate seeing cameras released like this. I'm more than happy with my Canon IXUS. It lives in my pocket 24/7 and stays unashamedly on Auto mode and produces quite adequate results thank you very much.

  • Jayden Lewis

    August 9, 2011 09:44 am

    OK - you've just tipped me over the edge. I've been looking at M9s for 12 months now every time I go into Teds or Michaels in Melbourne's CBD but wasn't sure if it'd suit my style of photography.

    Seeing this and your review images on Flickr and I'm convinced and am going to head into the city today and pick one up.

  • Darren Rowse

    August 9, 2011 09:40 am

    Jose Jimenez - ouch! I put it down to my skill as a photographer then. As I say - I'm still getting used to using the camera - that shot was taken early in the week when I was really struggling with it. Points taken though.

  • Darren Rowse

    August 9, 2011 09:38 am

    I hear you David :-)

  • Darren Rowse

    August 9, 2011 09:37 am

    Gregory - I kind of understand it. People invest a lot of money (as well as time and energy) into researching and buying their camera gear and as a result sometimes feel quite passionately about it and claims that something else is better. As a result there can be a lot of passion and heat in the debates around gear. Add to that a high price tag and its an easy target to bash I guess!

  • Darren Rowse

    August 9, 2011 09:35 am

    Liberty - I have the X100 on my wishlist of cameras to test. We've been in touch with Fujifilm but there's quite a long wait to get a review unit but we'll keep trying.

    In terms of quality - I am not an engineer so not completely sure but I guess it's a combination of factoring including the full frame sensor but also the amazing quality of Leica lenses. Their lenses are amazing quality - even their cheaper ones (like the one I'm using) produce amazing results.

  • Darren Rowse

    August 9, 2011 09:33 am

    Issa - yes its certainly smaller than other full frame cameras - good point. Wanted to mention that in the video but it's always hard to remember all the details in a 15 minute review - will include that in the full written review.

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com

    August 9, 2011 08:07 am

    Looks like a nifty camera.

  • Issa

    August 9, 2011 07:50 am

    I think you miss the point from the Leica range finder, this is not meant to be a main stream camera it is all about the quality of the image.You also must admit that this is the smallest full frame camera in the market.

  • Liberty

    August 9, 2011 05:40 am

    Thank you for such an intelligent and balanced review.

    I wonder how the M9/P compares to the Fuji X100? And just what it is that makes the M9/P images so incredible?

    I'm a Pentax enthusiast (old family defect LOL). I really appreciate what you said about getting back to basics and slowing down to put more consideration into your shots. Such a nice message for this Monday morning.

    Thank you again!

  • Gregory tran

    August 9, 2011 05:17 am

    Why do people hate on things they have never even tried?

  • Tashique Alam

    August 9, 2011 05:01 am

    the lack of face recognition and live view is not much of a loss. i never use them in my own camera. but the low continuous drive speed and the mechanism of manual focus is a big let down. as for the price, well justified if you are into the technical details. for a start its a full frame sensor that has been specially optimized to utilize the leica lens systems (you can google for more details). and as for the lens, one of the best lenses at the moment. all in all, not my cup of tea. nothing beats a brilliant composition in a photograph even if it is taken with a mediocre lens, than an expensive lens system that takes ages to focus and misses the moment.

  • David

    August 9, 2011 02:58 am

    I am so glad this camera is as expensive as it is. Any less and I would have been tempted beyond control.

  • Jose Jimenez

    August 9, 2011 02:51 am

    I really don't see the appeal. From the pictures you've posted, viewed full-size, unless due to operator error, even at 80 ISO there appears to be significant noise, terrible bokeh and lack of sharpness. The one of the boy squatting has almost doughnut-shaped out of focus areas such as you might see had this been shot with a mirror lens. Not critiquing your photo skills but can honestly say I've seen much better photo quality from any number of garden-variety Nikon/Canon/Pentax DSLR's. Seems to me Leica has cornered the market on attracting the kind of people who have more money than common sense and wear their cameras like a fashion accessory, not make use of it as a photography tool. The same kind of people who post on forums listing every single camera body, lens, filter and accessory they own; as if the sheer size and scope of their equipment provides a foregone conclusion as to the quality of their photos.

  • Frederic M

    August 9, 2011 02:34 am

    Great review ! I am sure that it is an amazing camera but it really made for really rich people.

  • alfanick

    August 9, 2011 02:26 am

    Thank you for video - I saw it yesterday. I want M9/P now! :)

  • Darren Williams

    August 9, 2011 01:55 am

    From looking at photos taken by the m9 on flickr, it does seem to take magical pictures. If i had the money i'd definitely buy it, but the only things that would battle my instinct to have 1 of the most legendary cameras produced is what i'm getting for my money paid. I don't mind the lack of live view, nor even the full manual modes and exposure i would have to be using, but for that price point, they should of given it an awesome high res LCD screen, and legendary ISO image quality. I don't see why the iso should be so bad when it's a full frame sensor. Those are definitely my only gripes with buying one if i had the money for it right now.

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