Leica M9 vs Leica M6 – Part 1

Why not? This site is all about passion, fun and THE PHOTOS! How about some Leica M9 and M6 comparisons? In other words, film and digital side by side. I am not out to test resolution but it is more about the “look” of film when compared to digital. We always hear how film has a special look, and I agree that is does but I never did a side by side comparison. Now that we have the full frame M9 I thought it would be fun to do!

So lets get started. Today I had my 1st roll of film from the M6 processed and scanned, a roll of Kodak Portra 160 NC. I did a few side by side comparisons between the LeicaM9 and M6, nothing super scientific but I did shoot the same scene with the same lens at the same aperture and ISO. I have another roll with more comparisons that I am hoping to have scanned at high res by a lab tomorrow.

The following M6 shots were scanned by a local drug store at low res so remember that while comparing them. Drug store scans are usually pretty bad so I imagine these would have been even better if scanned by a lab.

These are straight scans, no PP. The M9 images are the OOC JPEGS, just to make it fair. For those intersted, the film cost me $4, the scans/negatives cost me $6, so film is not cheap! Even if you scan your own film look to spend about $6-$7 per roll just for buying the film and then the processing and that is for a C-41 film.

Here are the comparisons. Which do you prefer? I am not comparing sharpness here but instead the “look” of the film vs digital. To my eyes the color of both the M9 and the film is off (again, no PP to any of these) a little bit but the film shots seem to have more “glow” where the M9 shots seem a little more “flat”.

As I noted the color is off on both of these. I blame the M9 AWB and the cheap drug store scans for this. I am hoping to have comparison #2 up tomorrow but it will be with M9 images processed from RAW and hopefully M6 scans from a pro lab in higher resolution (and better color).

Here are few more M6 shots from my first roll with some slight PP for color…all Portra 160 NC.

We were eating at a Cajun restaurant when I saw this blues man playing his heart out. I shot this at F2 and 1/8th second with the M6 and 50 cron.

My M6 has been untouched since it was made in 1994 but the RF is SPOT ON with focus. I grabbed this shot of my son and his step brother with the 50.

Another quick grab. He looked, then smiled and I snapped.

My wife Mina and her Dad Bob.

I wanted to see how low I could go. Even with Portra 160 I was able to get this at 1/8s with the M6. It was night and my wife was standing near a fire pit. The Leica is a great low light tool, even with low speed film.

Something as simple as work boots can make for an interesting photo when shot at F2 🙂

I converted this one to B&W using Silver Efex Pro

With some PP these scans look pretty good and IMO, the film shots seem to have a bit more “soul” and “feeling”. I can not wait to shoot more and also start scanning my own. Fun, fun, fun! Yes, I LOVE the M6!

BTW, some have asked me where I found the M6. It was in Phoenix at Collectible Cameras and you can check their used Leica stock or any of their stock at their website HERE. You can call them at 602-944-2112 and if you do, ask for Bill! Be sure to tell them I SENT YOU!

Check back tomorrow for more!

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69 thoughts on “Leica M9 vs Leica M6 – Part 1

  1. Hi I just like to add my Relief and (Sorry D lovers I still amazed at how low light Pumpers I love shooting Photo pass Rock concert Theatre Art Instillations available light I experimented with a poor mans m9 a Lumix G1 with a late 70’s 1.7 MF Vivatar with Pentax to M 4/3 adapter.(Lens local thrift shoppe and second hand HK adapter off Clist for 35. CDN!!!
    I pumped the ISO for 800-1600 aimed at a Cdn University and actually captured starlight over a English style tile roof Moonglow Some frames zoomed into a roof belowframeline and I still captured stars glowing in Black sky.
    So should be obtaining my M6 shorty repaired light circuit below cost. No where near 2000. USD!
    Really thrilled to know that M6 has a warmer look over D M9 but for me a bit of a film snob but I noticed better colour on leaves back wall had more depth getal and has a classic film look similar to French class art films sorry but this is MY honest preference.
    I agree BW home DEV can be done at 3 cents perframe you can also obtain free scanners of Clist and looking thru local thrift shopes and the great curbside finds church yard sales word of mouth.
    Any one on a budget with a passion for images be it film or D with a combination of Hybrid with scanners well no time like the present.
    thanks to steve for his Super site and all the best and Hippy shooting folks.
    Leica Nikon LTM MF RF Pentax etc…what ever works anyway anyhow…Film D fun
    Peace N Love 2 1 and ALL
    Paul
    Circle

  2. Hi Steve,

    Just as I have expected, I shoot film with my M4 and M6, the pictures never disappoint. With my M9, I am very happy with the results too, but I miss the winder.

  3. Hi Steve,

    I recently purchased a used Leica M6 and when I was putting on my Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 lens, I didn’t hear that loud audible click that I’ve heard on some videos of M6 I’ve seen. Instead, it was a rather very soft click. Do you think this is a camera quality issue or would you consider this normal? Thanks.

  4. “I have both cameras, the M9 is sooo practical for quick shots and assignments that barely pay for the fuel to get there and back”

    *Facepalm* If you can’t pay for fuel, let alone afford two Leicas I think there is a problem for the publication you work for…

    This is why us professional photographers use workhorse DSLRs like the D3 and a 17-35 2.8. You can afford the body and high quality glass for the price of the M9 body alone. Besides, if you work for a good publication, the equipment is provided. Not to take away your rangefinder dreams, I’m just stating common sense…

  5. I have both cameras, the M9 is sooo practical for quick shots and assignments that barely pay for the fuel to get there and back, BUT the M6 wins hands down. To achieve something similar, you need to tweak the devil out of a DNG file with LR3, adding grain, fine tuning WB and what not. Forget in-camera JPG with the M9, it is a step up from the M8 but still horrid. Uncompressed raw only.
    Whenever – sadly rarely – I get a roll with straight medium size scan back from the lab, I am startled by the airy, 3D quality of film images. The M9 has a place, but pray: just keep shooting film whenever we can, shall we!
    Great comparison, thanks, I’ve been meaning to do it myself but keep putting it off.

  6. Whoever thinks the m9 looks similar needs to get their monitor calibrated or their eyes checked!

    The film shots are far, far better than the m9 here.The actual subject stands out a lot more and has a more three dimensional look to it. The colours are also a lot more pleasing and natural with the M6.

    To be honest these m9 shots are pretty disappointing. They look like they were taken with a cheap phone camera.

  7. I’m glad I have my M6 with 35mm Summicron – Because the day is going to come really soon when people wake up and realise film (all film) is far superior to digital in every way and these great older cameras will be a lot harder to pick up. Don’t get me wrong digital has its place – and that is in convenience and if you are taking pictures for the convenience you might need to question why you’re taking pictures? I have a 5DM2 as well btw (for studio). But my Leica M6 is for life and film provides a look digital simply will never be able to reproduce.

  8. Hi steve,

    I’m eduardo, a student based out of phoenix. I’m studying photography at Arizona State University. I am a fan of the site and your videos on youtube. Recently, I have been very much interested in leicas. I have never owned one nor have i ever held one, well besides a m9 at SPE national conference in atlanta, that was for a short time. Iv been looking to invest in a m6, I miss film. I usually shoot with my canon s95, which I love, but its jus too instantanious. I used that camera most of the time when I was out in rio de janeiro this past june/july. I enjoyed how small it was and the situations I was capturing. Id like your opinion on whether its wise to invest in a m6, and all its requirement (film prices,scanner, scan softwear) considering the current times and digital age.I have a canon 7d that id like to sell for that. Id love a m9-p, but its not in my price range yet. Thanks! Hope to hear from you soon

  9. It took me a few seconds to improve the digital shots using color balance and selective contrast with curves to improve them dramatically. The film shots have less detail on the highlights although have more depth. The digital shots keep detail in the highlights and they can achieve this three dimensional look by adjusting curves, local contrast, highlights and color balance.For an expert user this can be achieved in less than 5 minutes. Whoever is not familiar with the digital work flow will find film better. I use both film and digital. Saying the film is better than digital is a myth and it applies to the opposite. When shooting under low light conditions there is no contest, digital gives better color rendition and amazing detail. People tend to have an emotional attachment to film. I like to shoot digital and make the best out of it. Shooting film can be very frustrating as it ends up being converted into digital files and there is no way to match the colors scanning slide film.
    Shooting RAW gives so much control and creative possibilities.

  10. I have been using Ilford XP-2 in my M6 and M7 scanned on a Nikon 5000 ED. Beautiful black and white images that retain highlight detail and don’t need any sharpening or crazy software updates every year. There is no real argument, film is better. Read Ken Rockwells article film vs digital. And shooting film is a whole other experience. I had an M8 sold it after a few months. Hated it. Spent most of my time looking at the menus instead of shooting.

  11. hello everybody,
    this is for me the best comment :’All of this is quite moot, though. Digital has its convenience, film has its charm. We live very comfortable and fortunate lives if we are able to choose between a M9 and a M6!”!!!
    i dont have enought money for any of those things…but i am having a lot of fun with D90 and nikon fm2 f90 and f75 !! i scann the negs with epson photo v350 and i am very pleased with the results (it gives 20megas files of very hight quality i found) Leica is for me a dream, maybe one day in the future..
    thanks
    philippe phipop

  12. I arrived at this comparison because a) I have and love a M9 and b) I’m considering getting a M6 TTL. As others have noted, the film images have a certain depth that the digitals lack, although the film images look a little more exposed. Dirk Steffen (menos) has recently been doing some amazing film scans with his Nikon D700 and 60mm macro lens. They are far better than his Epson flatbed film scanner results, which might make the DSLR route the ticket for low volume / high quality film scanning.

    I am also interested to see how a bit of Lightroom can dress up a M9 file, compared with a drugstore scan. After a while, comparisons are difficult because a drugstore scan always has some processing, and when we scan our own film, we always have to apply processing to get the best out of it. Perhaps the most comparable results would come from applying the same Lightroom processes to both a hires film scan, and a M9 DNG.

    Regarding the costs of film: my formula for determining the cost of film is to work out how much a single roll costs to buy, develop and scan. For colour negative, most people would take it to a drugstore or local minilab. In Australia, slide film is very expensive to both buy and have developed and mounted, which adds another level of expense. For black and white film, many hardcore shooters choose to buy reels of bulk film, load their own cassettes, buy chems in bulk and develop in anything from a lighttight bag to a Jobo machine. Developing ones own black and white is apparently a very cheap exercise when done right.

    All of this is quite moot, though. Digital has its convenience, film has its charm. We live very comfortable and fortunate lives if we are able to choose between a M9 and a M6!

  13. Hi Steve,

    Great comparison and you’ve just made me feel so much better (in a way). I’ve been shooting with an M6 for a few months, and toying with the idea of whether an M9 would make a difference.

    I feel better because now I can see that getting an M9 will not imrprove things much. On the other hand, I can’t blame my poor shots on anyone (or thing) but myself 🙁

  14. Did you ever get round to writing part 2?

    Or did you sell the m6 for the mp and move on to other stuff?
    Shame as I wanted to see how they compared when you shot RAW in the M9 and tweaked them a bit.

    I was interested to see the comparison but felt it wasn’t really that useful. Firstly, the film scans are unusually good for cheapies but I’m guessing that they’ve been ‘cheered up’ considerably by the lab machine. And secondly, shooting out of camera jpg’s has seriously disadvantaged the M9.

    I would never shoot out of camera jpgs with any serious digital because there is just so much information lost in the process of converting to jpg. If you’re wondering why the M9 images look flat it’s because the jpg compression has thrown out so many pixels.

    I used film for years and have enjoyed dozens of cameras. I have had amazing results from pro scans from film and I still have an old Leica enlarger and from time to time I run a film through an old R4 and print them up myself.

    But after a series of disappointing digital experiences I finally got an M9 a few weeks back. Finally, I have an M again. And I have to say I love the DNG format and think Leica were spot on choosing this standard. Having got to grips with Adobe Lightroom I am loving the digital experience.

    I have spent hours in the past battling with film scanners,dust and scratches, labs who have damaged my work and think that a replacement film is fair compensation for ruining a priceless image. And I have spent many paranoid weeks in hot tropicall countries guarding stacks of fuji velvia and provia.

    I will dabble in film once in a while but I can never go back. Since all film I shoot must be digitised it is just too much trouble and expense.

    thanks for all your interesting articles
    keep up the good work

    gus

  15. The constant for me in your shots Steve is that in the film version depth can be sensed.I can hazard a guess at the distance between your wife and the background in nearly all the film shots but not in the digital versions.I dont know if this can be cured”if you want it to be”in photoshop or not but the naturalness of spacial information when using film is ,I believe ,its secret.

  16. this is not a comparison between an M6 V M9. It’s digital V film with leica glass. Take an M3 with any leica glass and compare same glass with M9. Keep the focus on the inferior digital ccd in the M9 to a fresh batch of film. A true comparison to the M9 is an M camera with outdated film. There you have it. And once again, it’s a matter of subjectivity to the naked eye. Measure results with science, the values will be quite different. Science versus Art. Both work together, yet act differently. The end.

  17. Those M9 shots are not very good :), in comparison …

    But IMHO, one needs a Nikon Coolscan 9000 to get the best of 35mm. Since one has a Leica, might as well get one of the best scanners. Not the same for medium format, which is a lot easier to scan.

  18. I vote for the M6. To be more objective, you might consider some format of presenting the photos in a single-blind manner – no labels. How about some Velvia slide?

  19. Excellent article by the esteemed Erwin Puts comparing shots from the M9 v film here:- http://www.imx.nl/photo/Film/page169/page169.html

    Guess which one won hands down? 😀 As somebody commented on this thread it doesn’t matter whether you are using a Leica or not and a cheap Nikon FE or similar is fine. I bought my wife an unused, boxed Nikon F65 for £15 on eBay and the shots it produces are equal to a Pro F5 for less than a round of drinks or a main course at a restaurant.

  20. Great work once again. I’ve been waiting so long for my M9 order to be delivered down under that I bought an M6 the other day to keep me shooting. I too was getting scans done and after being sick of dodgy scans I bought a cheap one go around $500 AUd. Gives you much more pp options with exposure etc. Anyone bought film off eBay? Just curious if it’s a good way to get stock?

  21. Ha ha, some more purchase, Steve ! Willing to deal with digital in a way or another always lead into buying again and again ! And knowing you, I guess you will not buy low-end stuff ;o) !

  22. Thanks! I hope to have part 2 up tonight. I hit a snag with processing the last batch and having them scanned at high res. The pro shop said it would take 3 business days and I am leaving tomorrow to head back home so I am buying a scanner today to scan some this evening. Check back!

    Steve

  23. Personally I prefer the film results, it has more soul than the digital version. BTW congratulation with your “new” M6 classic! Love to read your next chapter Steve 😉

  24. Steve,

    I challenge you to put some comparison photos up unlabeled and have people guess which photo is digital and which is film. The results would be interesting.

  25. I’m an M6-user (the M6 “Panda”) so I’m biased but I prefer the scanned images above. But, I’m sure you (You, as in “You, Steve”) can tweak the M9 raw images so they look even better than the M6. A raw digital image is like a b&W negative, it’s not even close to the finnished image from a dedicated user.

  26. Congratulations on finding the M6! I think you will ultimately prefer it to the M7.

    I too see some differences between the Film and digital images. Though the results you have so far are really close. From these images I agree with the other posts that the film images have more “depth” and the digital images seem a bit flat. But it really is too soon to tell.

    In addition to trying the Ektar film give Ilford Delta 100 B&W a try, and compare large high quality prints (use fiber paper for the B&W film). Doing comparisons in B&W will eliminate the seduction of color and let you see the details of the images. Right now you are at the mercy of what ever scans you get and the monitors low resolution.

    Paul

  27. Jeff

    A 6X7 film camera is in another league from a Canon 5D just from the shear size of the negative alone, but it is not so much about winning a comparison test. In my experience, medium format cameras handle extremely differently than 35 mm or FF digital cameras. It is a much bigger negative with much larger and heavier equipment meaning you really have to take into consideration low shutter speeds if you want to even approach the quality that is possible in a 6X7 camera. It has other advantages such as a low number of frames per roll of film. This means you can control is each shot on the roll of film (you only get about 9 shots per roll of 120) and develop accordingly vs. have to shoot 36 or 24 frames and generalizing. To sum it up, TWO very different beasts.

  28. Thanks for the comments guys. The film shots are indeed sharp but came from drug store like that. They could hve sharpened them, I do not know.

    The m9 images here have had no PP at all, so no sharpening.

  29. Steve, I wanted to make another comment leading into a question. It seems that the models face in the first few photos seems less sharp in the photos taken with the M9 compared to the M6 film image, at least to my eyes. Does it seem that way to you too? Why would that be? As I mentioned previously, I’m thinking of buying a used 6×7 medium format film camera, but still may consider a Canon 5D digital instead.. I would like to see a comparison between a FF digital and medium format film. I suspect medium format film would win.

  30. I love film, and will always love film. Many people seemed to have forgotten the fact that every image captured in our past was done using film. It is a beautiful medium with quality that that can stand up to any digital format both in resolution and dynamic range.

    Scanning negatives is no fun and can be costly, but there are downsides to digital too. By the way why do you have to scan every negative anyway? It is not necessary to scan a negative to make prints! Scan the ones you want to share in a digital format and buy a binder with film holders to store the rest. Film is extremely stable, and easier to manage than a hard disk with 100,000 shots.

    Traveling with film can be tough, but we have been doing it for years! Of course you can’t check your shots in the field, but if you stick with one film and shoot it regularly than you know exactly what it is going to do, always. You don’t have to worry about a million and one digital settings, so you can focus on composition and metering which are way more important than how many mega pixels you have!

    Steve if you like porta 160NC you should shoot some E-6 slide film like regular old Ektachrome which does not saturate color like velvia. If you have never shot slide film, you are in for a real treat because once you see the color and beauty of transparencies the M9 will become even less attractive at an unapproachable $7,000.

    P.S. if you shoot black in white, you can EASILY develop the film in your house, bathroom, or kitchen sink. There is really nothing to it.

  31. for me, the differences between film cameras and digital at this point are less and less about image quality. (film wins in some situations–contra jour, and bw in harsh daylight, and probably difficult color environments with skin tones; digital wins in others–low light to be sure, medium speed resolution. but all in all, they’re both good.) the main differences are about the cameras. i love the thin film m bodies, they’re the perfect size; i love the shutter sound and shutter release on the older film m bodies; i don’t love the upper speed limit. and i really am frustrated that the new mp has the shutter dial running opposite that of the m9. does no one else get dyslexic moving back and forth from one to the other?

    but even though i love and perhaps even prefer shooting film on balance, it is too expensive for me, and too much of a hassle when traveling, and also it is reassuring to be able to check shots in the field and know when you have what you need and what you thought you got, and then to be able to back it up quickly and easily even in the field so you don’t lose your shots to some stupid happenstance… digital is marvelous. we’re not quite to digital nirvana yet–need to lose the color shifts/fringing, improve low-light iso, and a few more small things first–but we can just about see nirvana from here. hopefully leica will survive long enough to be there, ’cause i really don’t see any other company giving us what we want.

  32. Film clearly looks better, hard to say how doing some basic pp would change that though, theres a lot of data in a raw file that can be used.

  33. Hey Steve, I’ve just checked out the shop website you mentioned. Amazing ! It’s like an Alibaba cavern ! And when I see the prices for used film M bodies, it confirms David S. post regarding their remaining value over the years. I’m so happy I could find my M2 !
    Have fun.

  34. For most of these shots, I definitely adore the look of the film. Not necessarily because it’s from a Leica but because the film. 98% of the time, it’s the lens and the film, which is why you have a Leica! Unfortunately, I’m stuck with the cheapish 50/1.8D. I really would like to spend some on an AI-s or a Ziess just because! haha

    I recently bought a used Nikon FE in near-mint condition for $129 on eBay and it’s already *feeling* better than digital. I feel like some precise sniper in the Army! I haven’t gotten my first roll developed yet because I’m conserving this stuff! I got 10 rolls of FujiFilm Superia X-Tra 400 with the camera and I’m only on my 8th exposure! Film is really teaching me to conserve! lol

  35. All the M6 shots look better than the M9 ones period! But seriously, anybody that thought digital was a superior medium compared to film was kidding themselves. Convenient yes, superior uh nope.

    As per another recommendation on here I concur that Kodak Ektar is a superb C41 film to use on the M, just got a few rolls back I shot with my Contax G1 and they are awesome and knock any shot colour wise taken with an M8 or M9 out of the ball park but didn’t we all know that? The only hard and time consuming part about film is getting satisfactory scans and getting the colour balance right on a computer. Process film in the way it’s always meant to be in the darkroom and it’s perfect BW & perfect colour straight from the camera.

    Now, show me *any* digital camera that currently exists that can do that straight from the camera, any price – there is not one!

  36. Wow Steve – nice post. I’ve been thinking that I’d sell my M6 to offset the cost of a M8/9 … maybe not just yet.

  37. Oh My Gosh, how did you ever get great results with no autofocus, image stabilization, AE bracketing, noise reduction, HDR post processing? I have been on the fence for so long regarding digital vs. film especially in B&W maybe the answer is really simple, back to film?

  38. Okay Steve, I’m JEALOUS! Green with envy! But in a good way…
    I’m running 120 film through an old TLR right now… film is FUN. I’ll be happily following your adventures with your new M6 and awaiting your first film scanner review 😉

    In your examples here, the M6 is excelling. There is a wonderful quality of depth to the film shots that the M9 just isn’t achieving. It’s close, very close, but there’s a difference, even with low-res scans. I will say, since exploring the film world more myself, I see the same thing in real B&W film vs. digital B&W… and when you scan them yourself at high res, you’ll really see the difference.

    So happy for you! Hope you’re enjoying your trip!

  39. Steve,

    Overall, I think the film shots look better. The M9 seem off and flat by comparison and I personally like the skin tones with Portra much better. The subject seems to pop out more in the film ones and even a slight overexposure looks fine. Overall film wins this one, in my book. Considering that grocery store scans are not great, this is pretty enlightening.

  40. Thanks Steve for the great comparison! Disregarding the slight over exposure and color, I believe the film images just have more of a “three dimensional” look to them. I’ve been considering buying a medium format film camera to get the same look. The “in focus” subjects just seem to pop out of their background more on film. And the grain of film just has that “classic” traditional look that ooze’s timeless quality.

  41. Very interessting Steve,
    I was thinking to buy an M6 or M7 to complete my M8 (M9 in 10 days) when i travel in countries where i do not have electricity (Ladakh for example) to charge batteries.
    The thing that buzzer me is this scanning problem with films…
    I would like to scan by myself but it looks very diificult and it takes very long time to obtain a good result.
    You say at the end of your article that you probably gonna scan by yourself.
    Have you an idea of the scan you gonna use?
    Best regards.
    Jerome

  42. Hello Steve
    I can see you are enjoying your trip and your M6. I was expecting people to say the M6 pics look better than the M9. Well , i know ,most people believe so and that is why in my opinion this it what they see.
    I looked at your comparison pics a few times and to my old eyes they both seemd very nice,
    If there was no writting telling us which was taken with the M9/M6 i woul’nt be able to tell the difference. I am sure experts could see the difference between these two cameras, but if it takes an experts eye than i am happy with the digital results
    Enjoy your trip
    Danny

  43. Both looked very good to me. The film looked a little over exposed in the highlights but with M6s I find the metering can be a bit tricky sometimes, might see different results with a hand held meter. I think cameras are individuals though and one must learn each one’s character and then it shines. I sometimes meter first and then shoot manual with my M7 and often prefer the exposure I get that way.

  44. the pictures made with film are overexposed more. In the shadows I prefere the film, the shots in the sun were better with the m9.

  45. The film looks great. Much better than the M9 in my eyes. I wonder if the Summitar is doing the M9 justice? If you shoot b&w and process yourself then it would be very interesting to see how your workflow develops.

  46. The film. It has more depth. But if you are going to shoot (and scan yourself) for extended periods I completely understand the pain / quality / convenience threshold.

  47. Get some Kodak Ektar 100, though be warned it is best in sunlight, and for things other than people. I like my local Costco for film processing.

  48. I love your real world reviews. They make so much sense. Don’t be surprise if you find yourself thinking of a long term project, and wondering how you could truly do it justice without the M6. If you’re thinking of long term storage, film is the way to go. Digital is still risky. With film you get a TIFF and an original. One of them will survive a hard drive crash or a house fire.

    If you were going to do the rather pointless comparison of ‘what’s sharper’ ‘what’s better’ then the only way to do that would be to make prints, and look at them from standard viewing distances. Digital is just not the same, so comparisons are never accurate. Digital is super sharp on the monitor, but rarely as crisp as a print, where as film has depth digital can rarely touch… It’s always a toss up! And let me add a FUN toss up. I. LOVE. MY. D700. I LOOOOOOVE MY Hasselblad. In the end 4×5 (and larger) trumps all. My Speed Graphic (With it’s rather pedestrian 135mm Wollensack Optar ƒ4.7) will give any Leica lens a run for it’s money. Begging ultimate sharpness out of 35mm is sort of wacky if you ask me. If you want a better picture get a bigger imaging surface, end of story.

  49. As much as I love film it is not fair to say that a drug store scan is unprocessed. There is usually quite a lot of digital post processing added by those minilabs. Some of the glow that we are seeing in the film shots could actually be just unsharp mask.

  50. Some great shots, particularly the blues guitarist. What was remarkable is how similar the shots looked — it just proves it really is all about the glass.

    As for the cost and convenience of film, keep in mind that the M9 costs $7000, and the M6 will cost you $1000 if you shop around. That $6000 difference buys a LOT of film and processing — roughly 500 rolls’ worth, or 18,000 exposures. By the time you shoot 18,000 frames on an M6, Leica will have introduced the M13 or M14.

    Moreover, the M6’s value will remain stable after inflation for as long as film is around. The M9 will depreciate sharply and steadily — witness the falling price of M8’s now. Digital cameras are essentially disposable — the Nikon D1 that cost $5000 years ago is now worth $75. There is no obsolescence with film cameras — a Leica M3 is every bit as perfect as it was the day it was made.

    As for the convenience factor, keep in mind that digital involves a lot of post-processing and “workflow”. It all comes down to whether you like working with your hands or on a computer.

    This is not to say that one medium is better than the other — it’s not. There are tradeoffs and pitfalls to both. But there’s definitely a place in anyone’s repertoire for shooting on film.

  51. Oh I should add that the ‘noise/grain’ from the analog is less invasive than the digital – but I’d suspect the digital would make better large prints.

  52. Great comparison! The film does look better to my untrained eyes. Nice to see the unprocessed results – it’s a close call for sure.

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