This morning Leica announced 3 new cameras, the M9, X1 and S2, personally I was most interested in the M9, and headed down to Samy's to check it out this morning.
Click to read about the M9, find a link to the announcement WebCast and see my starting collecting of M9 frames.
The day started with the highly promoted webcast from NYC, it was supposed to be on at 6am here in California, eventually it got started by 6:15 I recorded the webcast, but it it got pulled down from Vimeo because I was lacking rights to it, I hope Leica post it.
Im not that terrible interested in how the camera looks, its like any other M camera, if you are concerned about the looks, honestly this is probably not a camera for you.
Leica rep Eby at Samy's today. No really, he is normally not THAT red in the face, there is a bright Leica sign right over his face.
Click here for a full size version of this image. load at your own risk, this is roughly 8 meg JPG.
You are right, that a crazy image to post, but that is the best I have so far, its not bad though, I have shot a lot of images in this store over the years with new toys. Mostly Im happy with the graduations, and also notice the reflections in the glass to the left of Eby. Nice..!
The webcast was OK but did not answer a lot of questions for me. the PDF had mentioned "rain and dust", however when I asked Eby at Samy's today he said that there is not more weather sealing in the M9 than the M8. OK, don't take it out in pouring rain deliberately then.
Still, I am excited, this is what the M8 "should have been" it is a "straight" M camera with a full-frame 24x36mm digital 18megapix sensor. YEAH. still like the M8 it have no anti-alias filter and is crazy sharp.
Misunderstand me wrong now. the M8 was great, and Leica HAD to get onboard with a digital rangefinder at the time, I am glad they came out with it and I love my M8, yet Im looking forward to receiving my M9. To me the biggest advantage is being able to shoot a M6 and M9 side by side and get the identical FOV from both cameras with the same lens, from now on, 35mm will look the same on the digital as on the film M camera.
Lens Coding - on the new M9, there is the option to select the lens from a menu, no need to actually code the lens. Some users feel this is the coolest thing since sliced bread, however, personally I find this slow, its possible to code the M lenses with a sharpie in about a minute. All the new Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses ship with a groove where the code should be so there really is not excuse for not coding the lens.
PIXELS. I read in one of the first reviews, that part of the solution for the rangefinder lenses on this big chip, was to space the edge and corner pixels wider than the center... this is puzzling me big time. the way I read it, that would mean more distance between the individual pixel at the edges, how do that get turned into a regular file with pixels at the same distance.? Not that I care, as clearly it works, but I wonder how.
Whats with the black cover options.? I ordered the grey M9, but am disappointed it comes with the M8 sandpaper rather than the wonderful vulcanite surface on my 8.2, strangely Leica have chosen to ship the grey-paint version with one skin and the black with another skin. so Im ending up purchasing a different skin and having Steve install it for me. guess, eventually there will be a M9.2 with same skin for both colors, sapphire glass and another improved rangefinder.?
UVIR filters are no longer required, Leica included the IR filter in the microlens design on the sensor. interestingly they also say you can leave the filter on the lenses and swap the lenses from M8 to M9, I will have to try that before I believe it does not affect the colors even a little. This would be useful in that I and probably many others plan on keeping the M8 for now.
ISO performance. Ahh yeah that is a issue, is it not. the shots I have seen say maybe 1 stop better than the M8, but I'm not entirely sure, maybe it's 1/2 stop better...
But there are more to that story, when printing a 13x19 inch glossy print, the M9 deliver 267dpi vs M8 at 172dpi...! That is 100 dots more per inch, this is going to significantly change the appearance of noise in a 13x19inch print. So IF the M9 have identical ISO performance to the M8 it is a significant upgrade in my prints.
Finally there is a different advantage. my 35 LUX can be used as a 35mm 1.4 on the M9, Leica do not make a 28lux, so if I wanted to shoot with a effective focal lenght of 35mm on the M8 I would have to use a 28 cron at 2.0 that's a stop less. Being able to shoot the 35LUX is a significant advantage and gave me a stop improvement in noise right there.
Andy Piper pointed out:
Shooting my 21 @ f/2.8 instead of a 15mm @ f/4.5 means the M9 gives me an instant 2-stop improvement in "ISO" performance over the M8, on top of whatever real improvement is there in the pixels.
BTW.. Leica also do not make a 35mm Noctilux, which would be required for shooting 1.0 at 50mm efov on the M8, suddenly all the guys who happen to have a noct sitting around can use it again as a more normal lens than the 75noct they got on the M8. a 75noct is harder to hold still than a 50noct after hours. (Many will know that I have been "demanding" "Leica need to make a 35 noct and a 28 lux" for the last 3 years)
Some will point to the 21 and 24 luxes, but these two top lenses have two drawbacks in my book, first they are huge, (and I mean that in the most polite way) second they together cost way more than a M9.
I believe that the M9, will deliver on avarage a full stop of more useful lenses from the original leica lens order, simply because the faster lenses always were in the ranges we use the most. In that regard the M9 will be a advantage to most shooters. (again don't misunderstand me, there is something very sexy about a 21mm 1.4 lens)
Bottom line - if there had been no improvements at all technically speaking. Full Frame IS a huge deal, and should be enough to make anyone stop and take a very close look at the M9
Probably the best review is on ReidReviews.com.
Jono Slack one of my favorite photographers got to play with a pre-production M9 already in June.
Chris Weeks have been both shooting a M9 this summer and also made a very very interesting video about street photography with a lot of references to the M9. This really is a MUST SEE.
Thorsten Overgård in Denmark have uploaded a page about the M9 Click to read.
Michael Reidman have posted a in the M9 field review on luminous landscape.
Click here to check out the Leica M9 micro site.
Click for the DPreview preview.
Seriously though - Phill, I just got a official warning for "my behavior in the forums" - warning me about linking to my blog in my signature on DPreview... and here I am posting links to DPreview... Love you to Phill.