With the release of the Leica M9, there seems to be quite a few new users to Leica and rangefinder cameras. I have been getting e-mails for the past three months with questions related to the camera and the RF way of photography.
Here is a quick Q&A I came up with that I hope answers some of your questions! (BTW, these are actual questions I have gotten over the past couple of months, but some have been re-phrased) Enjoy!!!
Q: Is the Leica M9 weather sealed?
A: No, it is not. So do not get it soaked! I have had mine in light rain with no issues.
Q: When I accidentaly pressed the shutter with the lens cap on the camera freezes.
A: Well, its not really frozen but it is taking a 34 second exposure. This is a simple fix. If you do this (and I have done it a few times) simply turn the shutter speed dial to 1/4000s. The camera will close the shutter and you will be ready to go.
Q: Do I need an external Viewfinder for a 24mm lens?
A: Well, this is a yes and no answer. Technically if you want to frame accurately you will need an external VF. BUT, if you use the entire VF of the M9 and add a little space around it with your mind you can get shots without one. When I shot with the Zeiss 25 I did not use an external VF at all. I would only use an external if I went wider than 24.
Q: If I buy an M9 now, an M9.2 or M10 will be released in 6 months!
A: Ummm, no it wont. Leica will take that long to fill backorders on the M9! If and when a M9.2 comes out (and who knows?) it wont be for a while and this also does not mean your M9 will all of the sudden self destruct. When the M10 arrives (should be 3 years) your M9 will still be taking great images and it will probably look like a bargain next to what the M10 will cost. Plus, what if you died next week. Life is too short to constantly worry about the next best thing.
Q: Will the M8 battery work in the M9?
A: Yep! Same battery but Leica changed the appearance of it on the newer stock.
Q: When will Leica release new firmware for the M9?
A: I have no idea, but I am sure they will continually release new FW just as they did with the M8.
Q: Do you ever have any issues with your M9?
A: Nope, and I shoot it DAILY. I had some write issues the first week but it was my SD card.
Q: Should I shoot RAW or JPEG with the M9?
A: RAW RAW RAW! Seriously, the true potential will not come through unless you do.
Q: If I order an M9 now will I get it before the end of the year?
Q: Should I get Grey or Black?
A: Whichever one gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling when you look at it. This is a question only you can answer 🙂
Q: What lens should I buy for my first lens?
A: Again, all personal preference. If it were ME I would start with a 35. Notice I say that but the only lens I own at the time of this posting is a 50 Noctilux.
Q: Hi Mr. Steve, can you send me a lens to try?
A: Sorry, no can do.
Q: Why don’t you review the M9?
A: I did! It’s here at my old site. Or you can google “Leica M9 Review” and I am number 4 or 5 on the list.
Q: So tell me, which is better? The M8 or M9?
A: The M8 is a super camera but has some shortcomings. The M9 has improved upon the M8 in many ways, but it does sort of give you a different “look”. I feel the M9 is a better camera but the M8 is no slouch. Both are favorites or mine.
Q: Does Leica make a macro lens for the M9?
A: Well, yes and no. There is a lens they call a macro HERE but its not much of a macro. Leica M’s are not really made for macro or telephoto work. A DSLR would be the choice for those situations. Or even a D-Lux 4. It has a great macro mode. Better yet, a Panasonic LX-3 for under $400 would team up well with an M9 and supply you with great macro as its the same cameras as the D-Lux 4.
Q: How do you focus an M9 if you can not see through the lens? I am confused!!
A: The M9 is a rangefinder camera. This means you look through the viewfinder and you will see “framelines”. The lines that show up depend upon the lens you attach. When you look through the VF you will also see a patch in the middle of the frame. When you turn the mechanical focus on your lens you will see the patch split. Just line up that patch and you are in focus. It’s odd the first time yo use it but it is very easy to learn.
Q: Will the M9 take better pictures than my _____________?
A: That all depends. The M9 will not transform anyone into a master photographer but it can actually be a learning tool. I feel shooting with a rangefinder slows you down. You take your time finding shots and composing shots (well, most of the time) and as a result, over time, your images can improve. I also personally believe the M9 and a good lens will supply you with the best digital quality file available today in 35mm photography. The Nikon D3x may beat it but that camera is a beast for casual shooting.
Q: How did you get an M9 so fast? Did Leica give you one for all of these reviews you have been pumping out?
A: I ordered my M9 in July. I paid for my M9 with my own money. I get no freebies. Damn!
Q: OK Steve, can you tell me why this thing is $7000? I can buy a decent used car for that.
A: I can not really tell you exactly why the M9 is $7000 but keep in mind that Leica is a small company. Tiny when compared to Canon or Nikon. They do not do the volume of the big guns. Also, the M9 is hand assembled, and the parts are of high quality. The camera is built to last. There is a great thread at the Leica User Forum that shows the guts of a Leica M8. I think Leica prices the camera to where they need it to be to make enough profit to continue on and to go to research and development for future models and improvements. Unfortunately, the cost is high.
Q: Are you rich? How did you buy an M9?
A: I am not even close to being rich. I am not even close to being close. I had to make sacrifices to be able to buy the M9. MANY Leica M9 shooters are in the same boat as me. We are not all loaded with cash. Sure some out there are blessed with a fat wallet but I know of quite a few who had to sell other gear, or other items to be able to buy the M9. The cool part is that they all love the camera.
and finally, my personal favorite e-mail question:
Q: Steve. I love your site and your work. Would you be so kind as to send me your M9 so I can test it for my website at www.XXXXXXX.com? I can not get one from Leica. Thank you for your consideration.
A: Sure, what is the address? Ha ha..just kidding.