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Sep 082010
 

Making The Move…

Nikon DSLR To The Leica M9…My Experience.

By Scott Graham

Hi. My name is Scotty Graham, and I am a Cameraholic. I started sipping cameras when I was 10. My Grandmother gave me my first camera. It was, what she thought, a harmless camera, the Pentax K1000. My use of the Pentax lead to heavier use and more dangerous cameras. I used to hide a camera in my locker at school, and sneak out between classes to take photos. I have spent a life savings on cameras ever since. I never got help. My addiction kept growing, and led me into the heavy Nikons, and got worse when the digital age hit in the late nineties. Although I never robbed a 7-11 to buy the newest Nikon that came out or a new lens, I was tempted. After experimenting with every Nikon on the market, nothing could give me the high I wanted… nothing until the Leica M9.

STOP. Am I sick or am I like you? Do you have a similar story? Let me start over…

My name is Scotty Graham, and I am a High School Photography Teacher at the Jakarta International School. I also own Last Flight Out Photography, which leads photography tours in South East Asia.

I bought the M9 in Singapore two months ago. It came at a price. I had to sell ALL of my Nikon stuff. As you know, the Leica is not cheap, and for a teacher like me, it was a major investment! I wish I could afford both systems, but I had to make a choice, and that choice was the M9.

The decision to move to the M9 did not come easily. I was happy shooting with my Nikon. It was not always a good relationship, though. I travel a lot. Let me repeat, A LOT. I am an expat living in Jakarta, Indonesia and to escape the traffic in this city, I go everywhere I can when I can. The first thing I pack before a trip is my camera gear…and I bring everything. With my Nikons, that amounted to a great deal of stuff to lug around. Besides looking like a total camera geek on the streets, it was heavy. Sitting down in a restaurant to eat was never easy because I never knew where to put my camera gear. I would come back to the hotel after a day of shooting tired as hell and with a sore back from carrying my camera bag. I got to my breaking point, and often found myself leaving my Nikon in the hotel room because I didn’t want to carry it. A change was needed.

One day, a friend of mine sent me a link to a review of the Leica M9. It was Ken Rockwell’s site. I had heard of Leica before in my film days, but had never owned one. After reading Ken’s review, he had me intrigued. I scoured the Internet for more information, and of course, Steve Huff’s site fell into my lap. One night, I stayed up late reading EVERYTHING on Steve’s old site (this was before he started his new site). I then emailed him, and asked him, “Steve, do you have any regrets selling your Nikon D700 for the Leica M9?” He replied with an emphatic, “No regrets, Scotty”. The seed was set. I joined a couple of Leica forums, asked many questions, and got lots of answers. I read every review available on the M9. I watched Chris Weeks’ videos on street shooting with the M9. I read (present and past tense) Steve’s site daily. Finally, I came to a decision. I made the move.

I am sure there are other readers of this great blog that are in the same position as I was a few months ago…that is, a DSLR user thinking of trading-in for the Leica M9. All of the reviews I read came from long time Leica users already familiar with shooting a range finder. I wanted to know what a newbie to Leica and Range Finder cameras felt about shooting an RF camera and more specifically, the M9. I wanted to know how they felt about giving up their SLR for the RF. I was told countless times to not give up my DSLR. I was told, “Don’t give up your Nikon as the Leica is good for some things, but can’t do other things that you take for granted with your Nikon”. Again, keeping my DSLR gear was not an option for me. I am not rich, and the Leica is a rich man’s camera. I had to sacrifice my gear to shoot with a Leica.

Following in Steve’s footsteps, this article is my “real world” review of the M9 from the perspective of a long-time DSLR user, and someone new to Leica and the Range Finder camera. I want to thank Steve for letting me share this review with you.

Am I happy with the switch? Read on…

WHAT LENS TO BUY?

When I bought the M9 in Singapore, I didn’t have a lens. In fact, the camera sat in my bedroom for two weeks without a lens. You can imagine what that was like for an addict like me. I had limited funds left after plucking down almost 8 grand for the M9 (more expensive out here than at B&H). With a friend here in Jakarta (that I met in one of the Leica Forums), I made a trade for two lenses. I traded some Nikon equipment for his Voightlander 50mm f1.1 Nokton and his Leica 18mm Super Elmar. At this point, these are the only two lenses I own, and both ROCK!! In the future, I will buy more lenses…I have the disease, so it is inevitable…

I know this is a tough decision for most of you out there…what lenses to buy? Steve has written several articles on this site with recommendations, and I would read them…he gives great advice. In my case, what was in the trade was in the trade, I had little choice. I shoot lots of wide angle, so the 18mm worked out well for me. The 50mm ended up being a great all around lens, and I would take a 50mm over the 35mm for a “one lens” kit if I were forced to only have one lens. I found on my recent trip to Italy, these two lenses were enough…but sometimes, the 18mm was too wide, and the 50mm wasn’t long enough. In the future, I would like to add a 28mm and perhaps the 135mm (which Ashwin wrote a fantastic review of on this site) to give me four lenses to meet just about every focal length one would need on a trip. I want the 50mm Lux, but I’ll tell you the truth…the Voightlander is an EXCELLENT lens and FAST at f1.1. I have virtually no complaints with that lens. It is solidly built too. I accidentally dropped the lens when I was walking up some concrete steps (it fell out of my case that I had on my belt). To my horror, I watched it bounce down three steps until a guy behind me picked it up. Besides a couple of scratches and a broken UV filter, the lens still works perfectly. Unreal. One tough lens.

MY IMPRESSIONS OF THE M9

When I finally got my two lenses, I went in my back yard to shoot my daughters (that sounded bad…I meant “take photos” of my daughters). These are the very first shots taken with my new Leica M9.

Size of the M9

First off, the camera is heavier than I thought it would be. It is a beautiful piece of machinery solidly built. Nothing feels cheap on this camera. It fits in my hands so nicely and is a pleasure to hold. Having said that, it is not a light camera to carry around. It is not much smaller than my old Nikon D700, but the incredible Leica glass is tiny compared to the monster Nikon lenses. If you were to compare the Nikon 14-24mm to my 18mm Super Elmar, it would be like a little puppy sitting next to a Great Dane. This is where the weight is saved in carrying the Leica (the lenses), not really with the body (still smaller than most Pro DSLRs).

Focusing

I had trouble with focusing at first. I still have trouble from time to time. I was so used to the rocket fast auto focus on my Nikon D3, it took some time to adjust to manually focusing the Leica. I am getting much faster with practice, but I am still not up to speed with it. My wife and kids get frustrated with me when taking their photo as I take much more time while they hold their smiles and poses. You won’t hear about this from long time Leica users, and it is something you need to be aware of when you switch over to the range finder…it takes practice to focus well. Sometimes (not often) I can’t see the virtual image in the focus zone to match with the real image…not sure what causes this, but it is frustrating when it happens. What I really like about the Leica, however, is that I have total control over the camera, and that is a good thing. I can’t think of how many times my Nikon got it wrong with focusing. I am in control of the Leica. If it is out of focus, I can only blame myself, and not the camera. Once you get those images lined up in the viewfinder, the photo is tack sharp where you want it to be. I am starting to prefer focusing the Leica to my auto focus on the Nikon, but it has taken LOTS of practice.

Composition

The viewfinder is beautiful… so bright and it is easy to see what is coming into your picture…the reason many PJ’s love the RF. The frame lines are clear. However, with the Voightlander 50mm, the frame lines were fairly accurate, but I realized after awhile that I was actually capturing slightly outside of the frame lines. Once I knew this, it was easy to compose. Composition is not a problem. It is not as accurate as a DSLR looking through the lens, but I have no problems composing. When I have the 18mm attached, I have to use a separate viewfinder. I first focus in the main viewfinder, and then look through the other viewfinder to compose. That was tricky at first. Sometimes I would forget I had the 18mm attached, and would frame in the 50mm frame lines, and then look at my monitor and be shocked to see a wide-angle image. Oops.

I now prefer the viewfinder of the M9 to that of my Nikon. It is really nice to keep one eye open and to see people move into the frame. It is also nice to not have that temporary blackout when the shutter is pushed. The viewfinder for my 18mm is extremely accurate. I thought it would take more practice to frame with the RF, but if you have been taking photos for a long time, composition comes naturally with the RF.

Image Quality

WOW! That is all I can say. The files are gorgeous from this camera. With over 18 million pixels, you end up with a file that is plenty big to print, and they take abuse from Photoshop and Lightroom adjustments so well. I thought the files from the D3, D700, D300 were good. The Leica files just feel better. I often look at my files in Lightroom, and think, “no adjustments needed here”…the native files are that good. I have a large format printer (the 44 inch EPSON 9880), and have made a couple of large prints (one print is 2 meters wide), and the prints are gorgeous!

The image quality is one of the main reasons I bought the M9, and I was not disappointed. Of course, the Leica glass plays a big part in the equation. I am not saying I didn’t get beautiful prints from my Nikon, and my Nikon glass, I did. However, the image quality from the M9, a camera a fraction the size of the D3 coupled with a 70-200mm lens, can’t be beat by anything out there today (in my opinion).

Here are two examples of photos (my wife, Tika) that are straight from the camera with no adjustments…nice, heh?

I made some very simple adjustments to the second photo in LR to the second image to produce this:

I really didn’t understand the “Leica Look” I kept hearing about, but now I get it. There really is a different look to the images that come out of the Leica. I still can’t explain it, but it is there.

HDR

A controversial topic, I know. Some people hate it, some love it… I am not here for that debate. I happen to like it (at times) when done properly. With my Nikon, it was easy to set up auto bracketing and fire away. How does the M9 work for HDR? Although the M9 is not nearly as fast as the Nikon (it only fires at 2 frames per second), it is very easy to set up auto bracketing, and the M9 will take up to 7 shots. What I liked about it was that once the auto bracketing is set, you just press the shutter button once, and the camera does the rest. I found myself hand holding many of my HDR shots that I would never be able to hand hold with the Nikon. Since there is no mirror in the Leica, I was able to hand hold the camera at slow shutter speeds up to an eighth of a second with no visible camera shake in the files. In all of the churches I visited in Italy, tripods were not allowed. I boosted the ISO to 1600, and hand held 5-shots with the last two shots at pretty darn slow shutter speeds. The resulting photos after blending in Photomatix and touched up in Photoshop are pretty darn good…I think better than what I could get with my Nikon. The M9 is a great HDR camera!

What I didn’t like about the Leica was that often I would forget to turn off the auto bracketing. Then, when I only wanted one exposure, the camera would suddenly take 5 exposures. I would have to wait for the camera to take the five exposures, then wait for the exposures to record onto the SD card, then turn off the auto bracketing and re-take the photo I was intending to take originally. Often, I missed the shot because of this. I have learned my lesson though, and not remember to turn the auto bracketing off.

Here are some HDR shots …all hand held.

Leica M9 for Street Shooting

I might hit a nerve with some here on this. The Leica is known as the King of Street Shooting. I agree and disagree… at least from my perspective. Yes, you can be less intrusive with the Leica, and it is not so scary looking as a massive DSLR with a long lens pointing at someone, and most people don’t take you as a professional carrying what they think is some old clunky camera…this is where I agree that the Leica is King of the Streets. I will admit that I am a mere plebe with the Leica. My focusing skills are not that good yet, and I don’t have a lens longer than a 50mm. I find it difficult to shoot people in the streets. Contrary to what most Leica shooters say, I get noticed by people with my Leica where I was seldom noticed with my Nikon…I was seldom noticed with my Nikon because I was usually a fair distance away with my large zoom lens. Zoom lenses are really handy for street shooting. With my Nikon, I could hide across the street and get a totally candid shot by zooming in without the person even knowing he/she was being photographed. Since I need to be close to the subject with a 50mm, it is more difficult to get a candid shot. The person/people I am trying to shoot are well aware I am taking their photo. One occasion while in Italy, I was trying to take a photo of an artist painting a portrait of a girl on the street (great textured background), and noticed him flipping me the bird as I was focusing… so much for a candid shot. On another occasion, I was trying to take a photo of a group of old men sitting on a bench talking and smoking cigars at dusk. I would have gotten the shot with my long lens and Nikon, but with the Leica, I had to move close to the men. They noticed me, and one of them waved me away. For street shooting, I miss my Nikon. Sorry. Don’t beat me up, Chris Weeks…I do have tremendous respect for good street shooters (like Chris), and have more respect now knowing how difficult it is to get good street shots. Having said this, I am getting more practice as I use the Leica more, and I have gotten a couple of decent street shots.

By the way, I agree with Steve Huff…Nik’s Silver Effex Pro absolutely rocks for black and white conversions. All my black n white photos are converted using Nik. The Leica also has a built-in black n white for jpgs only. I really like the vintage black n white, and it is one that is difficult to duplicate with Nik. I would use it more if the conversion could be made with the DNG files rather than the jpgs.

Battery, Base Plate, On/Off Switch, High ISO, and Monitor

I wanted to mention these things as they are mentioned in virtually every review I read on the M9. I disagree with many of the reviews I have read about the battery. It doesn’t last as long as my Nikon’s battery, but it has never been an issue with me. I bought an extra battery, so I always have a fully charged battery with me. The battery easily lasts a full day of shooting. I have yet to drain the battery , and often when in Italy, I was shooting from 5:00 am till late at night

Reviewers have also criticized Leica for having to remove the base plate to get to the battery and SD card. A non-issue for me…really, no problem.

The On/Off switch could be better. It is too easy to move, and can easily accidentally be switched on. Not a huge problem, but given the quality build of the camera, I am surprised Leica didn’t build a better on/off switch.

I have yet to shoot above ISO 1600, so the conceived high ISO problem with the M9 is not an issue with me. My Nikon D3 could go to ridiculous ISO levels with little noise. It really is THE camera for high ISO shooting. For my style of shooting, I rarely need an ISO above 1600. With my Nikon, I would occasionally use a high ISO for sports and for the rare stage performance I would shoot. I find the Leica to be the best travel camera available. Rarely during travel would a high ISO be needed. Having said that, I did experiment with high ISO, and the critics are correct, the Leica does not handle high ISO as well as the latest DSLR’s. However, it is not a deal breaker for me. After all, how often when you used film would you use the ridiculous ISO’s offered now by the DSLR’s…c’mon….get real.

Finally, the monitor… clearly the M9’s weakest link. To put it plainly, it sucks…especially for a seven (eight) thousand dollar camera. I like to use the monitor to check if I nailed the focus. All my photos look fuzzy in the monitor, and then when I would look at them in Lightroom after downloading, they were sharp. My brain has adjusted, however. I can now tell from the monitor which photos are sharp and which are out of focus. I also use the monitor to check for composition. For this purpose, the monitor is fine. I do miss my monitor on my Nikon. Again, not a deal broker. It sucks, but I absolutely love this camera, so I don’t let it bother me.

AM I HAPPY I MADE THE MOVE?

I am now an Ex-DSLR shooter. Other than my underwater camera, I no longer own a DSLR. Do I have any regrets? In short, NO REGRETS. I made the right decision for ME and for my style of shooting. There were times I missed having a zoom lens. In retrospect, however, I think of the shots I wanted with the zoom, and they were very few. I have learned to just not “see” those shots anymore. Instead, I concentrate on the shots I can get with the prime lens I am using. It does make me “see” differently. People told me my style would change when shooting with the Leica, and I agree to a point. You have heard this before…the Leica brings back the fun in photography. You have to think with every shot you take. You must think about your aperture, shutter speed, exposure, focus and composition. There is nothing automatic, and I like that. I am in control of my camera, not the other way around.

Chase Jarvis says, “The best camera is the one you have with you”. I take my Leica with me everywhere. Rarely am I without a camera. Not true with my Nikon…it was just too damn big to carry around with me. I am happiest with the Leica when I am packing for a trip, and when I am out walking around. I can’t tell you how nice it is to walk around with the camera around my neck with a small lens attached, and carrying one other lens in a small case on my belt. Gone are the days of lugging 20 pounds of camera equipment on my back. I bought a Gitzo 1541T tripod with a Really Right Stuff ball head that probably weighs less than my old ball head alone on my old tripod. The Leica is just a pleasure to walk around a city or hike up a mountain. It truly is the perfect travel camera, and is why I have no regrets, and don’t miss my Nikon.

My wife hates the Leica. She can’t use it, and that is somewhat a problem. It is not the type of camera you can hand to a stranger in the street and ask to take a group photo with you in it. I don’t have a single photo of myself from my last trip as Tika couldn’t use my Leica. Oh well. In the future, I guess I will just have to set the camera on a tripod, put on the timer, and jump into the shot.

Is the M9 right for you? Depends on what you shoot. If you are a wedding photographer, I would stick with the DSLR as your main camera, and carry the M9 as a second camera. You could shoot a wedding with a Leica, but it would be a challenge. The modern DSLR is clearly the most flexible tool out there for photography…if you rely on “getting the shot” for a living, the Leica is not your best choice of camera. If you shoot sports or you are a wildlife photographer, the Leica is not for you unless you want it as a second camera. If you don’t want to think, and let the camera do everything for you, the Leica is not for you. If you are a scientist or flower fanatic, and want extreme close-up shots of bees, frogs and spiders, stay away from the Leica. If you are a traveler, fine art photographer, photojournalist, landscape photographer, architectural photographer, street photographer (with practice) I would dump your heavy DSLR stuff now, and invest in a Leica…you won’t be disappointed nor will your clients. If you can afford it, keep your DSLR and have a Leica to complement your equipment. I am willing to bet, however, that after time, you will use the SLR less and less, and choose to grab the Leica instead.

My name is Scotty Graham. I am a recovering cameraholic. This may be my last camera until the M10…ha ha…once a cameraholic, always a cameraholic.

Thanks again to Steve and his website!! You da man, Steve!! (Thanks Scott! Awesome article/write up on the M9!! – Steve)

Scotty’s Photo Blog…www.scottygraham.blogspot.com

Scotty’s Website (badly needs updating)…www.scottygraham.com

Scotty’s Pbase Galleries…www.pbase.com/scottygraham

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  140 Responses to “Making the move – Nikon DSLR to the Leica M9 by Scott Graham”

  1. Hi!

    inspiring article for me. Thank you.
    I’ve got a quite lovely Canon set (5D MKIII; 14mm; 85mm;100-400; 100mm macro; EF-65mm 5X Macro) All are prime lenses (maybe except the last macro). And taking all the gear into account, I’d probably be at a listprice of 13’000 USD (including my 4 600 EX-RT flashes).

    The Leica is pricey. Not only the body….the lenses are insanely expensive.

    Nonetheless, I’m already infected and the switch is inevitable. Selling all my gear would at best give me the cash return for the Leica body. And that’s quite scary – especially considering a few topics where the Leica does not (want to) play with the DSLRs. (i.e. creating night-sky time lapse shots….repeatedly shooting automatically).

    The biggest argument for me is portability, high quality, able to work with external flashes. The night sky time lapse stuff would be awesome….something I’d miss for sure.

    Can you please elaborate how you post-processed “image 7” to make it look like a painting? Looks really nice!

    Thank you and best,

    JEff

  2. Selamat Pagi Scotty, Apa kabar ? Baik, Baik ! Scotty photo dan M9 bagus banyak. I have read this article after I read the first one. Likewise It is great and the pictures are nice too ! I would be tempted by a Leica because of the quality glass, the form factor, retro understated look and compactness. However I’d be frightened to buy a digital Leica. My take is that the camera w/o lens price is rather steep considering that electronic imaging technology progresses extremely fast thus to me making the camera itself a consumable whilst the glass isn’t. Have you had a try at the Sony A7 series of cameras ? These are light and compact and can be operated in manual with or without autofocus. Of course these are not rangefinders and Sony glass is not in the league of Leica’s although the 55mm 1.8 is rather good even if we could do with 1.2 or 1.4… I am interested in your comments. PS: I lived in Balikpapan during my teens hence I have kept up with basic bahasa ;-)

  3. The review was tainted by those dreadful photos – the post processing has ruined any nuance the Leica might have. You might as well shoot with a D90 and save yourself a ton of cash if you’re going to destroy the photos with all that heavy handed post processing.

  4. Oh my goodness, these are some of the loveliest shots I’ve seen on this site and, considering the outstanding level of imaging featured by the numerous contributors herein, that is truly saying something.

    Good show!

  5. Good it works for you, but Leica is definitely not a choice for me. For one thing, no AF is an absolute no-no. In future the full frame mirrorless compact camera with interchangeable lens will become more and more popular and Leica will face new competitors as it will be not be the only choice for portable full frame camera.

    The 2nd pic of your daughter looks out of focus. And honestly I don’t see the so-called Leica look. Just looks like reduced clarity and increased saturation, and a bit split toning in Lighroom, to be totally honest.

  6. Hey Scotty,
    Am arriving in Jakarta 1015am this Good Friday morning and staying at the Borobodur Hotel till sunday. Am wanting to go out shooting with my M9 today..have you any suggestions of a good location for street photography or anything of interest? Thanks
    Ron

  7. […] an article for Steve’s site soon after I bought my M9 14 months ago (you can see that article HERE). Here is a “follow-up” to that article after taking nearly 15,000 photos with this […]

  8. I cannot take your opinion seriously when I see such overprocessed, amateurish photos.. Why use such a fine camera and optics only to destroy the result with crude and tacky processing?
    Have you tried just taking photos?

  9. Scotty:
    I had to reply to this article. First and foremost …You have a beautiful family and patient too. Secondly you take drop dead gorgeous shots with that camera. However I think you could do so with any camera you use.
    The HDR shots look like paintings, The most beautiful I have ever seen and I have seen a lot. You are truly a lucky fella and a great artist. I found this blog on the Lecia forum. Good luck and I hope to see you update article this someday.

    PS, I am a cameraholic too but certainly can’t afford that M9…WOW!!

  10. […] Here is the link to what I wrote….I got a lot of shit for my HDR photos, but to each his own…. Making the move – Nikon DSLR to the Leica M9 by Scott Graham | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS __________________ Scotty Graham Website | […]

  11. Hey Scotty, well written and interesting article. Im sure its a bit biased to the Leica, but so what eh? Its a personal opinion not a math text book!

    To the weirdos posting here (you know who you are!)
    Whats with all the HDR bashing?
    Some don’t like blue cheese, Toyota’s, etc. Why do people get so worked up about HDR? Some weird sense of photography purity??
    No photo is ‘terrible’, just terrible in your opinion – im sure i have loads of work people don’t like, just as some of my work that im not so keen on some people love.
    HDR is a tool, like any post processing, or even like a camera or a lens, to create an image. And don’t kid yourself that its just a digital thing – people have been dodging and burning forever.
    Scottys work is a matter of taste sure, but so was Michelangelos, or mine, or anyone elses – why is this so hard to grasp?
    I would just love to see people a bit more respectful of each other, no need for the shouty-shouty comments; why bother posting if its just to say “Oh I really hate your photos, im so much better, blah blah blah”. God help you if this is how you go about your daily lives……

    Scotty, where can i get your email as i plan to be in your neck of the woods soon and it would be great to grab a beer and go shooting. Well, probably the other way around! :)

  12. FM2D(gital) would be more preferable for its (FM2) superior focusing clarity to that of M9.

  13. Dear Scotty! WOW! Your article on the M9!! I wanted this camera since December 2009. As soon as I read the first review I began drooling immediately. I dreamed about it. Then, by last summer, this obsession to have an M9 had progressed into full-blown frothing at the mouth. My poor wife. I used every psychology known to husbands to scheme to get it (including reverse psychology, forward psychology, up psychology, down psychology) and finally five weeks ago we made the plunge to get the Leica M9. Like you I have it wherever I go. I agree with you and Ken Rockwell completely. It’s worth it.

    I liked Ken Rockwell’s site so much that last night I donated the five bucks he asked for and have exchanged a few emails with him. Why don’t you allow me to do the same for you? If you had a donation box I could click to PayPal, you’d have a donation from me. Why? Because brother, you deserve it! You have a wonderful writing style and those photos of your wife and family are some of the best color shots I’ve seen. We’re black and white darkroom people, my wife and I. It takes some awfully good color shooting to get us excited. Scotty? Your photos excite us. It’s like you are painting with color, very viewable, enjoyable to look at.

    Email me if you set up a donation clickable box to PayPal you and I will be your first donor!!

    Your admirers in Canada
    Neil and Helga B.

    P.S. I have not regretted getting the black stretch neoprene case (with short front) which Leica offers for the M9; Leica calls it a second skin. I got mine used from B&H for $39 (instead of $59) and feel my camera investment is being better protected when I’m not shooting. Easy to put it on the camera, fast and easy to get it off. I suggest it to you.

  14. wow kota tua jakarta

  15. Not worth the read, another Leica love affair article written about someone who doesn’t deserve what they can afford. This guy thinks that telephotos produce interesting street photographs and does hdr…lol

  16. I came back to your writeup to read it and the comments again. Thanks for the honest user’s report. I am a Nikon user but having gone from a staffer at a weekly back to a previous career due to an impending layoff with the downturn in the newspaper industry, I am shooting with “just” a couple of D2h bodies. I love my D2h’s for their handling and speed and am trying something a little different than others who frequent (myself included) Steve H’s site to give myself a low-light shooting potential that I do not feel I have at present.
    Since I am not shooting daily for publication, I am on keeping my 12-24mm f4, 18-200mm f3.5-5.6, and 80-200mm f2.8 lenses and have sold a great 300mm f2.8 (way too heavy), 18-35mm f3.5-4.5, Tokina 24-200mm f3.5-5.6, and my SB-800 flash. I use the 12-24mm and 18-200mm for travel but they come up short when I want some really lovely OOF background or need something fast for night. I have settled on the addition of a 35mm f1.8 AF-S DX G Nikkor that will give my D2h a “normal” lens. I am also looking at something to provide a little better sharpness than my zooms provide. The lens is due to arrive tomorrow and I can hardly wait. The lens/camera combination I think will work for what I want to do. I have tried rangefinders (nothing like the Leica other than loading film in a pair of M7’s when I assisting a fashion photog on shoots) with old Yashica fixed lens rangefinders in the Electro35 GS. It has taken a while to get used to the viewfinder but I do enjoy dragging out that camera and shooting my favorite film, Tri-X.
    Anyway, great article and maybe I will let folks know how my experiment with a D2h and “normal” lens works out for me on the street.

  17. Hi Scott, greets from Jakarta!

    If you mentioned life savings to trade for camera, you must have gut then. Personally I would turn down my gadget lust and make a feasibility on it. I never earn any cents from my photos and based on that I strictly control my expense on the gears. Well it’s a very personal choice.

    I stick on DSLR all the advantages it has. Going to the street with over two grand gears uninsured makes me a little bit nervous.

    Congrats Scott! I like your pics anyway.

  18. Nice article, I only disagree on one thing – Street photography is not done with a long tele. Getting close is one of those things street photography is about. I usually shoot street with a M6 + Summicron 35 or 50mm and it works perfectly.
    I really admire your switch – nice to read your thoughts about it and what made you do it.
    One day… I’ll sell my Canon stuff and switch to M9… ;)

  19. Great article Scott…, although I am only have Leica X1, but someday I must get M9.
    And I live in Jakarta, too. I look for the camera in JPC that i think it near Jakarta International School.

  20. Hi Scott,
    I always want to learn how to shoot with range finder. I have tried and focusing is the one that put me off from time to time. I know, when doing street photography, we should just pre focus and shoot, but sometimes especially when I am close to the subject, it’s not easy to do it as dof could be narrower.

    One quick question .. how do you focus on an off center subject using a range finder?
    Do you focus and recompose? Or ..?

    Thanks!

  21. Jim, not an easy one at all. First and foremost, wait until after Photokina that starts next week. Just in case!

    Assuming no M10 at Photokina, I would say you don’t have too much to lose with an M9. Why? Well, from an M perspective there is nothing really revolutionary to add to the M9. By this I mean it is now full frame so what else can they do? All the new M10 (if they ever make one) will have is possibly more megapixels, better high iso performance, sapphire screen, faster processing. Do anything else (auto focus, video) and it ceases to be a M. Therefore I would say the M9 will hold it’s value much more than the M8 and even with the M 8 there is still some good value.

    You can always sell and get back into Nikon which if you want the D3 will be cheap as the D4 will be out by then.

    I have the d700 with a few lenses but shoot almost exclusively with my m7 and 50 lux. I have a nikon coolscan 5000 that scans the negs superbly. This keeps me happy.

    Hope that helps.

  22. Hi Scotty

    Great pictures, lovely family, great camera. you have it all…

    Maybe you should do a bit of research about pre-focusing the Leica when street shooting. It changes everything.

    I think DSLR are specialised tools to use with large teles or strange lenses. For the normal usage, rangefinders are better. And I can’t think of a single important pic I like that has been taken with a tele.

    Street shooting means wide angle and close.

  23. Well, after reading all this comments, I have the same problem when I was reading comments on the DPreview Nikon forums. I own a D3X and a M9. They are both extremely great quality camera’s. Personally I like the M9 the most. This is because of my own style that I liked the most. Why ? Well simply, I am in total control and I decide over everything. But I can make great pictures with both cameras. But Leica fits me just the best for my type of shooting. I don’t think the brand of your camera can make such a big difference. Just learn how to use each brand for it’s best results and learn which one fits you the best. Both brands have great quality camera’s and lenses. If you can’t make a good shot with any of these two brands there’s maybe a another personal problem :-)

  24. Hello,
    Great pictures. Happy you found so much joy with the Leica. I guess that, at some point, we all need a big change to bring the fun back with photography. I also consider weight and size an important issue now. Not sure comparing the 18 mm Super Elmar on a M9 to a 14-24 on the Nikon a fair comparison however. You can also walk around with a prime Nikon 20 mm that is lighter than the Elmar. I sort of realized that, for me, leaving the big zooms behind and going with prime lenses was a real treat.

  25. I for one really appreciate the article and the time you put into it. I think you stated your position well that you are a rookie. I think some of the people are being overcritical. Also, you have a lot of different types of photography and art you enjoy, and you are seeing how the M9 fits into that (i.e. HDR). Don’t sweat the critics. I’m hoping to own one of these (or M10 !!) one of these days so I’ll take all the information I can get. Thank you Scotty.

  26. I was hoping the Leica world would be immune to the HDR idiocy currently ruining photography.

    The images in this post are terrible and prove some people have too much money to spend on gear and not enough artistic ability.

    I rank these images with the ones DPReview took with the M9.

    Steve……. clean up the quality of the work on this site.

  27. Well, I do love the Leica, the old film cameras that is and the new 9 looks nice. Awesome cameras/tools for certain jobs, but they cannot capture/do this,
    http://robmckayphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/male-swainsonshawk-flight-talons-wings.jpg
    And come on, for that kind of $DOH it better do everything ;)

  28. WOW nice shot! i love those black and white photos.

  29. What a get find…..poking around on newer reviews of the M9 and stumbled here. Like most of you, I too have a stable of Nikon equipment (D3, 200mm f2.0, etc, etc.) but the M9 seems to have a usability factor that my heavy Nikon equipment denies. I travel a lot, and it’s always difficult to jam the D3 and two lenses into my backpack, and forget any of the big stuff. In fact, I broke the strap of my backpack while standing in a jetway recently with all of the weight. I’ve found a black M9 in Florida and sitting here debating whether to pull the trigger.

  30. The HDR photos do not look good; colors are unnaturally strong and the tones are strangely compressed. What’s worse is the softening effect, which certainly adds more dazzling effect.

    HDR is a great technique, just don’t overcook the images like this.

    • Heavier over processing, weaker expression. people’s attention get diverged by the unnecessary garnish, less will pay attention to the contend. Visiual impact is important but it does hinder the communication between the photo and its “reader”.sometimes

  31. The amount of discussion this type of articles always provoke keeps amazing me…

    They also seem to share a lot of common phrases like “I don’t care about”, “I don’t need..” “for my type of shooting” etc…

    “The IQ is stunning at low and midrange ISOs” (always the needed addition). Yes, it is. But compared to cameras like a D700 / 5D2 with good primes and taking the price into the equation (as in 1/3rd ?) it’s a lot less impressive in my view.

    The images – while I really like some of them – do not reflect the qualities of the M9 but more the endless possibilities of (heavy) digital processing imo.

    • Richard…I agree. Comparisons of the DSLR and the M9 have always sparked heated debates. We photographers become very loyal to our cameras like no other product out there (with exception to the Mac vs PC debate). If bad things are said about your particular camera, it is almost like a personal insult. Although I am very happy with the M9, and don’t yet regret my purchase, I do find myself searching for justification of my purchase at times. I can’t tell you how hard it was to give up my D700. I really love that camera!! I think anyone out there would be hard pressed to see the differences in the files (other than MP count) between the Nikon D700 with a good prime vs. the M9. The files from the Leica are fantastic, but like you said, is it really worth 3 times the price? However, carrying the Leica and two small lenses around the streets of India is pure heaven compared to carrying the D700 and two or three large lenses…that is the main reason I made the switch…

      As for the HDR images…..in retrospect, I wish I had never even mentioned HDR in the article. I knew by looking at the images previous guest writers had posted, that my images would most likely receive negative comments as they are different from anything ever posted on this site. They did have an impact on the readers here, and got people to talk about Photoshop, HDR, and post production work…that is a good thing. I recently watched a video about Ansel Adam’s “Moon Rise”. He showed the original photograph next to his final print. The two were drastically different. He had manipulated the photograph to what he envisioned the photograph to be….using “HEAVY” dodging and burning in the darkroom. He was criticized a great deal for that, but his Moon Rise shot was his best selling photograph ever.

      In today’s world of photography, you cannot compete if you don’t have some skill in Photoshop. Taking the photo in the camera correctly is only half the battle, the other half comes in the darkroom (the computer), and we all have our own style in the darkroom. What’s the point in copying some one else’s stuff, and making my photos just like every other Leica shooter? There will only be one Cartier Bennson, one Ansel Adams….I am Scotty Graham and you are Richard…I hope we have our own unique style that some people will hate, and yet others will love.

      • Graham – thank you for this straight and honest answer. Much appreciated!

        Only a few months ago I ditched my Canon SLR gear with lenses including a Zeiss Prime etc. and bought a Leica X1 to replace it all. For the very same reason. I got fed up with lugging that heavy brick around and it spend most of its time gathering dust at home as a result.

        My prime goal was the best possible IQ – especially at higher ISOs – in a small, light and unobtrusive package. Hence the X1. And I love it to bits. The files it produces can be breathtaking and are very resilient in post. The handling, feel and looks are great. But it also comes at a price. It IS limited with the fixed 35 lens, slowish AF and its quirks at places. Not to forget the Leica price tag. BTW it also ignites many heated discussions around the web. A ‘real’ Leica in that sense and not unlike the Ms, but in a different way.

        While I love the X1, I do miss my SLR on occasions. A fixed 35 does get you around but different focal lengths or even – dare I say it – a good zoom can be very nice and get you shots I do miss now. The AF is fine most of the time but the fast and easy focus from an SLR – manual or auto – is far superior. And the viewfinder from an SLR vs. LCD or add-on OVF thingy… well… let’s not even go there… :-) Certainly you don’t NEED all this but that is something else. It is part of the compromise and I try to be honest about it, at least to myself.

        But there is one little feature that makes the X1 by far the best camera I’ve owned. I simply love to shoot with it, hold it in my hands, turn the dials… even just having it with me. Limitations, quirks’n all. Maybe even because of them. This isn’t anything rational and has nothing to do with ‘speeds’n feeds’ and all that.

        My guess is that this is an important – maybe even underestimated or undervalued(?) – aspect of M ownership too. I played around with an M8.2 at my Leica dealer yesterday. Different, weird, superb feel, the little lenses, the way the dials and rings click & feel, stunning engineering, awkward viewfinder, insane prices etc. I love it. Gosh I want to have one of these at some point.
        This feeling alone renders everything else into the background or insignificance. No common sense in sight!… Amazing… :-)

        Richard.

      • Scotty, you expressed this beautifully. I feel the same way!

  32. A huge debate about HDRs. Personally, I think that taking picture is not necessarily ended by pressing the shutter release. It is ended when you achieve that specific look of the picture that you aim, no matter if it is by photoshop, in-camera editing, etc. I cannot understand people who think that their JPEGs are not edited…they are – by the camera processor. And then why should the cameras’ processing be real photography and photoshoping of RAW files not?

  33. Ah, the Pentax K1000. Probably the evil-est gateway camera of them all!

  34. Scott!
    Thanks for share your impressions and wonderful first experience!.
    I confess I had moved from Nikon to Leica many years ago (no digital era). And also I changed a lot fo stuff for one M6 and 3 lens. I never regret!!.
    Now I often use M6, MP and also M8 but I am going to jump till the M9 next month maybe!!
    Thanks again for your words!
    Alfonso (from Spain, back 3 days ago from China)
    [img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/alfondc/4952892763/[/img]

  35. Hi Scotty,

    Great article, I read parts of it on your website but I like this much more comprehensive presentation. Irrespective of camera choices or preferences I think it is a good thought provoking article that makes an honestly interesting read.
    I am a total fan of both your HDR shots and you post processing so I can never get enough new material on that score! Keep up the very good work.

  36. To be totally honest the HDR images in color I would no longer cosider to be photographs they are in my opinion Neon Paintings. Several of the B&W HDR images are overdone as well, I just don’t get it. I love the compositions, subject matter, great photographs anyone would be proud of that just got consumed by over processing.

  37. I think HDR should be used sparingly, otherwise it looks a bit odd. Now, if you are going for that painterly look, then it can be considered like art. If you are trying to get realistic looking files, they look a bit overdone to me. it’s kind of off-putting to look at.

    HDR when applied sparingly can make a picture look wonderful. My favorite shot here is of the children in black and white. I adore that photo, even if you did apply HDR. It’s just so awesome to look at.

    I thank you for the article too. It was honest about your feelings on both Nikon and Leica. I have the same feelings but am petrified to jump to the M9 right now. So, the M6 fills the bill for that simplicity in photography. I’m irritated with my D90 in a lot of ways. I think the metering isn’t as good as my D70 or even D80. Supposedly it’s better, but I find it’s fooled a lot. Perhaps it’s due to my older lens, the 50mm f/1.8 lens? I don’t know. The M8.2 was also frustrating. I think Leica is slowly getting there with the M9, but isn’t quite there yet. Funny how I got every shot with the M6. No issues there. Every camera is good and bad, I think. Even though I don’t want the M6 to be the right fit, though it apparently is. It feels wonderful in the hands and I’m quicker with the focusing. I don’t know why that is. I would prefer to shoot digital as it’s easier for me cost-wise and using Photoshop, but I’m getting frustrated with each camera’s quirks. one of these days, Canon, Nikon or Leica will come out with a perfectly small rangefinder camera with AF, ability to shoot in low light, and not so expensive I have to forgo owning a car to get it. LOL!

    • Elaine…thanks for the comment. I totally agree…once you start manipulating an image in Photoshop, Lightroom, Photomatix, or what have you, the image (in my opinion and obviously other’s too) the image ceases to be a photograph, and turns into “Art”. I love the freedom that comes from opening an image from my Leica, and turning it into a piece of Art. Not everyone will appreciate that piece of art just like some will never like Monet, Renoir, Picasso…you get the idea. We all have our style, and I happen to like vibrant colors and a painterly, illustrative look to my “art”….of course, not all my photos are processed…I just wanted to illustrate in the article that the M9 is a terrific tool for HDR photographers if that is your thing….

      Like you said, there is no perfect camera out there…yet. I do find the M9 to be as close to perfect as you can get as a travel camera…but for other uses, there are much better tools out there.

  38. HDR: I think it’s really a matter of taste: Love it or hate it. I like the shot of the Italian village very much, however, the question is whether the shot would have worked without adding HDR and the answer is probably yes.
    Personally, HDR distracts me very much with it’s (often) candy like colours and it reduces clarity and sharpness of the image. I still favour the simple and plain b&w images in the article over all the heavily processed ones. But again, it’s a matter of taste.
    JH

    • Actually, JH, that Italian village shot was perfect for HDR…The back of the village was in a shadow, and if I exposed for it, the sky would have been blown out, and if I exposed for the sky, you would not have seen parts of the village. Perfect scenario for an HDR. I will agree with you, however, that there are instances where taking 5 exposures of a scene is not needed…then, right, what’s the point?

      • OK, fair point. So at the end it’s a question of perfect exposure (which is indeed very hard to master) and, if you use HDR, whether you like extreme candy like colours or not.
        Would be very interesting to see what people could get out of that particular image with subtle use of HDR (no re-colouring) or even no HDR but ‘standard’ post-processing.

  39. I thoroughly enjoyed the article and the responses. I was wondering whether it was going to be a 5 minute argument or the full half hour. Definitely the full half hour. But hey, Scotty, what makes you think you are recovering? Blowing the budget doesn’t take away the cameralust, you just have to learn to abstain. Every morning you say to yourself………I won’t buy another piece of gear today. One day at a time. I have switched to the RF for every day use but I love wildlife and especially bird photography. And I’m not going to give up my Canon dSLR for my macro work. Its horses for courses. And yes, I know I am lucky to be able to afford to keep both. I have occasionally had the disappearing second image problem on my M9 and I find just a small amount of pressure on the shutter release brings it back; no idea why but it works for me. Nothing is perfect. I struggle to focus my nocti close up and wide open, even when the images look 100% coincident and that annoys me on such an expensive piece of kit. I don’t think my eyesight is that bad. But my favourite lens is becoming the 24mm f1.4. Blows me away. I don’t like changing subject behaviour and used to shoot candids paparazzi syle but the Leica with a 50mm forces me in closer and often I can sense discomfort so I just don’t shoot. Its a journey – and yup that’s a cliche too – but it is. The more you get out the better you get. And one last thing – I love the images (except maybe the HDRs!!). I’ll be in Jakarta Wednesday and Thursday next week on business – no camera – I’ll look out for you.

  40. Michiel,

    I agree. I like to communicate with the people I take photos of…especially here in Indonesia where I speak the language. People certainly open up, and are much more willing to have their photo taken once you communicate with them. Having said that, most candid moments are lost once the person knows they are being photographed….out here, Indonesians usually “strike a pose” once they know you are taking their photo, and it is usually with a peace sign or some silly smile that looks so out of place. I am getting better though, and can sense a scene where I can catch candid moments. I find when people are involved with something, they rarely notice me taking their photo. My shot of the “street painter” is an example…he was so involved with his conversation, he didn’t even notice me standing 3 feet away firing away….Also, the title photo of this article….the one of the guy eating soup and the lady with one shoe…the guy eating soup didn’t even notice me…the lady noticed me, and immediately turned away. In the end, I prefer the lady looking away…it adds to the essence of the photograph, but it was not her natural state when I first saw the scene…it was her reaction to my camera. I just found it easier to take people shots on the street with my Nikon…I got many more candid shots.

    As for my non-photoshopped images….other than the five HDR shots I posted, the others have very limited “tweaks” in Lightroom (usually white balance and exposure) or were converted to black n white using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro. I would use the black n white option in camera more often if they were DNG files instead of Jpgs.

    The comments about my HDR really got me to thinking….Have HDR Photographers become blind? Seriously, I really didn’t think I way over processed those five HDR images, but maybe I have become blind…I certainly don’t want to give people head aches looking at my images. My HDR shot of the Italian village on the coast is one of my best selling prints, so I was a bit taken back when one commenter said it was “Terrible. Terrible. Terrible.” Was it really that bad? Why are so many people buying that image from me if it is that terrible? At a recent exhibition I had, the only photos that were sold were the HDR’s and underwater photos…The psychology is really intriguing to me…and it is the photographer that is most critical. Would make a great TED talk…

    • Could it be that many buyers of the print are maybe non-photographers? I think many photographers, myself included, maybe see way too much heavy HDR these days but to “fresh” eyes it looks so different and enticing? I don’t know? :)

    • I think your Italian village shot is striking, and it’s a beautiful scene. To my eye, the processing is very obvious, but that’s not a criticism. I think it’s easy to get so used to looking at processed images, that maybe we do become blind to it.

      I don’t do HDR myself, but I’ve nothing against it, some photos are just about impossible without it, due to limitation in the range of film or sensor. In a way, shooting HDR is just making up for that fact that cameras cannot capture the dynamic range our eyes can. It’s just a different type of image manipulation to the kind many of the rest of us do – shoot in black and white, which is far more of a distortion of reality than HDR.

      I say that as someone who mostly shoots BW film.

    • Why do people buy more of your HDRs than other photos? Basically, people like “pretty pictures”. It’s about as simple as that. Remember, tons of people buy saccharine little scenes by a certain Thomas Kinkade. He’s gotten mega-rich from it, but he’s not exactly a respected artist(e).

      On the other hand, the average serious photographer is probably more into photographic history and cares about the authenticity of the photograph and technique (whatever that might mean in the digital world — a whole ‘nother discussion), and thus doesn’t always care for the effects of HDR. Thus, accolades from the masses regarding HDR, but some down-the-nose comments from photographers.

      I went though an HDR phase a few years ago myself (because it was there), but quickly lost interest in it. Unless one is very careful, the images come out “over the top”, with weird glows/halos and an odd sort of “hairy” look about them. Unfortunately (for me, if not for you), many of your photos show those qualities, and that is what people are complaining about. It’s as if the effect overrides the image itself. I am also surprised that you say there are only 5 HDRs in your article. I could swear there are many more than that. Even some of your B&Ws seem pretty crispy, by my lights.

      Regardless of our different tastes in images, I think you wrote a very good and fair article regarding the digital rangefinder experience. I’m glad you’re having fun with it, and especially glad to hear you are making sales. That’s one thing I’m definitely not doing :-).

  41. @DF on Nikon sensors.

    Ken Rockwell: “The D3s is mid-model freshening of the two-year-old Nikon D3.

    The D3s is the same camera as the D3, with a few new features thrown in to give it a little more catalog life. No big deal, Nikon has been doing this since the 1980s; adding an -s to a model while adding a couple of new things, like the N4004s, F4s, N8008s, N90s and most recently the D300s.

    Nikon’s pro DSLRs are on a four-year product cycle, so the D3s freshening is right on target, with a Nikon D4 expected in two more years, in summer 2011.

    The Nikon D3, and now the D3s, is an absolutely killer camera for shooting sports and action in any light.

    It is my first choice for shooting anything that moves.”

    I like the D700. Maybe I’d want the D3s, but it’s big…….

    • I agree that the D700’s size is more usable for many people. I’m simply pointing out the fact that it does not have the same sensor and IQ as the D3s. This is relatively common knowledge, but, if you’re using Ken Rockwell as a major source of information, I can see how you could have been misled.

      If size is a concern, then both the M9 and Sony A900 provide better IQ than the D700 below ISO 800 or so, FWIW. There is no “best” camera out there. I do agree, though, that the D700 is one of the best cameras out there for higher ISO.

  42. Max. Interesting point about the influence of the glass on the style of image. My Voigtlander 28mm Ultron is great for black and White (and slide) but with c-41 the images are too cartoonish for me. My summilux however gives me the ‘real’ look in colour (slide or c-41) and black and White. They don’t write that on the tin!

  43. Scotty,
    I went form a D700 to D3x to M9, and no looking back.
    I have a 4 lens kit, 28 Elmarit,35,50, and 75mm summarits. Yeah I know all the “entry” level leica lenses but I love them all and they are so tiny compared to all of my Nikon Lenses.

    Your images are outstanding btw…

  44. Very nice photos! I like the HDR photos, very cool!

  45. I’ve been shooting for years with Canon DSLR and was about to switch to Leica but got side tracked on an experiment of using M mount glass on the recently released NEX-5. I noticed that Steve (and others) are trying the same experiment. A very inexpensive way to get into RF type photography without the Leica expense. And all the lenses are still usable if I eventually do get a Leica body.

    Haven’t really gotten very far with my evaluation except to say that this is a tiny setup that is fun to use and carry around all day. A great travel companion!

    • Me too! I’m amazed how easy to focus the NEX is with M lenses at waistlevel. I would love for Steve to do an M9 to NEX-5 head to head with M lenses.

      • DF…..I’m liking this set up more and more all the time. Manual focus takes some getting use to, but the transition is not difficult. The enlarged views provided by the NEX are very useful for this task. So far the results appear to be superior to the stock lenses.

  46. Scotty, thanks for the interesting article. I too am one that went from the D3 to the D700 to the M9. Bad back, what can I say. Took the fun out of traveling- much more enjoyable now with the M9 and three or four lenses. I do still use my Nikon D700/300 for sports, wildlife and events (especially where flashes are needed), where I can usually set my gear down and am not on the move all day.

    What I find interesting is in the eight months I have had the M9, I almost always have it nearby, and I find more subconscious reasons to use it over the Nikon.

    Lastly, in response to your comment:

    “Sometimes (not often) I can’t see the virtual image in the focus zone to match with the real image…not sure what causes this, but it is frustrating when it happens”

    Probably have your finger covering the right rangefinder window. When you do so, the second focus square disappears. Took me a while to figure that one out.

    Bottom line is I find the DSLR and Rangefinder complement each other very well.

  47. Well written real world review of the M9…
    I have no chance in hell to own a M9 in my lifetime…just have to live vicariously through these reviews…:)

  48. Scott,

    Great write-up. I think you captured the fascination and excitement of Leica photography, and all the unquantifiable ‘magic’ associated with Leica cameras. The Nokton looks a formidable lens, it does manage to produce some rather unique images, and you have included some beautifully composed images in your article.

    I echo some of the comments in this thread – the range of opinion is great – and to add my two cents, I think SLRs and Rangefinders do different things, and thus lead to different types of photographs. For one, you mentioned sports photography, Nikon’s AF lets you capture images, a rangefinder might otherwise miss; Furthermore, the rangefinders’ lack of long lenses in comparison was always a limiting factor. In my case for food photography, I feel that an SLR is more convenient for close-ups, in which the minimum focus distance is much closer than rangefinders.

    I haven’t given up my D700 completely for that reason, I would like to, but it does do things a Leica cannot.

    As an aside, I find myself shooting more and more with the M6 than I do with the M8, not really sure why, I think it is down to a combination of better ergonomics (M6 is smaller, quieter, smoother and the mechanical ‘feel’ is quite addictive) and the organic look of film (I’m convinced film produces smoother tones, wider dynamic range).

    As much as I am a fan of bokeh, I shoot more and more at f8 than I do wide open. I’m a cameraholic as well, but I feel that once you settle with a camera that you’re comfortable with, it’s time to think about making a photograph, rather than marvel at what the gear is capable of. But that’s something photogs wrestle with everyday, I’m sure.

    Anyway, I am too an avid follower of Steve’s excellent site, articles err toward the inspirational side which I think reflects the passion that photographers have for the medium. Keep up the great work, and the lively debate all….

    • Film is prettier, its all that needs to be said. I get to shoot a 4×5 soon, someoneee is excited , we gonna load it with some FP4

      • Yeah Eric!! Just got myself a Graflex Pacemaker and loaded up on FP4, Acros and TMAX400..developed my first sheet two days ago and…oh boy..nice to see those 4×5 negatives come out. The amount of detail is frightening!

  49. Great article Scotty! I tire of all the moaners that visit here I really do, crikey live and let live. Mention an RF camera or the Leica brand and they come out in droves with their Stockholm Syndrome just because they have “always” bought Nikon or Canon, sheesh you people get a real life! A camera, whatever brand or age, is just a light tight box and nothing more or less, get over it. LOL

    I’ll be honest though, can’t say I like the HDR stuff at all as it’s a wee bit overdone for my trad tastes but each to their own and all that. Hope to read more from you in the future.

  50. Just got home from work… it is a rainy night in Jakarta…was surprised to see that Steve had published my article, and really enjoyed reading your comments. I do have some comments to share…

    (1) In NO WAY am I bashing DSLR’s….I have been a Nikon user for more than 20 years, and loved every Nikon I ever owned. The weight just got too much for me, and bottom line, that’s the main reason I considered the Leica. The optics and image quality was also a draw, but as Michiel has said, you can always throw a Zeis prime on a Nikon and get the superior optics.

    (2) I miss my Nikon for two things…(a) sports. I don’t shoot a great deal of sports, but I do enjoy it, and the Leica is pretty much useless for sports (b) Low light. The Nikon D3 or D700 rules in this department hands down.

    (3) Street shooting. I knew I would hit a nerve with some of you here, and really debated mentioning it in the article, but I wanted to give my honest opinion as a recent DSLR shooter. Although I am getting better, I still prefer shooting people with my DSLR and a long lens. After years and years of shooting with the 70-200mm, it is a hard habit to break…it is a challenge to walk around with only the 50mm, but I love the challenge, and I am getting better…and will try the things you have suggested in the comments here (thanks!)…we can always learn new tricks…it is what makes photography so much fun.

    (4) My images. Ha!! There is nothing like an HDR image to spark a good debate!! What is it about HDR that has this effect on photographers? I find the debate really interesting, and I see both sides of the argument. There are those HDR and Photoshop haters out there, and really, I think that is perfectly fine!! I am sure Ansel Adams sparked similar debates about his darkroom methods as his prints were different from anything in his day. HDR and images that have been worked over in the digital darkroom are certainly different from anything in the recent past. Take it or leave it, but I love it…I love the painterly look, the saturated colors, and the mood….it is a way to turn a photograph into digital art…I wanted to demonstrate that using the Leica to capture an HDR image is every bit as effective as my Nikon was. HDR and using Photoshop is controversial amongst many, but I find it is one way to differentiate from the norm. I’ll let you in on a secret too….HDR prints sell REALLY well…the non-photographers (most of the world) LOVE them. 90% of the prints I sell are HDR…the other 10% are my underwater images. People love unique images, and I try to take (and create) unique photographs, and HDR and Photoshop has become part of my signature….but I take photos of what interests me and what makes me happy…you can’t please everyone…

    (5) Thanks again to Steve and all of you that have commented. I love this blog….what a party it would be if we could all meet in person….what awesome readers Steve has….!!

    Cheers!! Scotty

    • Hi Scotty! Thnx for the considered reply. I’m not too much of a fan of HDR, I share that with some other posters, and would be interested to see what you can do with the M9 (or Nikon) without the digital hocus pocus, which could have emerged from any camera.

      Your views on street shooting lay bare an interesting issue: do we shoot from a (safe) distance, as unobserved and anonymous as possible, or do we shoot close up, participating.

      I do the latter. I started to hate having to conceal my camera (small ones as well; E-P2 and Leica M5) and having to sneak away from the scene of the stolen shot, usually feeling the eyes of the people I just photographed drilling holes in my back.

      I’d rather communicate and take the shot.

    • We must have been cut from the same cloth. I am also trying to break away from shooting with the 70-200 Nikkor and get comfortable with the 75mm Summarit. I really don’t want people to change their behavior if the see a camera. Hope you’ll post your experiences with street shooting with the 50mm

    • I don’t think you meant to bash D-SLRs either, but that’s just me. I feel the same way, and you pointed out some things that I’ve felt when going from Nikon to a M8.2 camera. The M6 to me is a better fit. I get wonderful pictures from it. The M8.2 is harder to obtain perfect files. I’ve never used a M9, but hopefully Leica will improve upon it, and come out with a M10 in a few years. Meanwhile I’ll shoot with the M6, Nikon D90, and D-Lux 4. Once in a while I use an old Fuji GA 645 as well. Digital is my favorite for instant gratification, and photoshopping instead of traditional darkroom. Film is my favorite for its overall look. The M9 was the camera I would have loved to own, but I’m afraid to get one. Spending that kind of cash, and worrying about the sensor failing or other issues makes me quite nervous. It’s still on my wish list once Leica improves quality though.

  51. Hey Scot,
    Nicely written article. It was of particular interest to me as I’m finding myself in sort of a same situation. I just bought a used M8 (not even an M9 :) and after two weeks I made the decision of selling off my 2 nikon bodies and 13 lenses to go with them [4 items already sold]. Reason is because they have been gathering dust in the closet for way too long than they deserve. I love the Nikons but I just didn’t use them that often anymore.
    Chances are that in the future I might buy another Nikon DSLR or even one of their 4/3rds should they ever go in that direction, who knows [I suffer from the same camera-itis as you do I guess]. But for now I decided to concentrate on using both my GF1 and M8. Combine that with my Dlux4 and you have a great, light and easy to carry kit that can go just about anywhere.

  52. Scotty, that was a great and fun article to read, and I enjoyed it very much. Time and again it’s just great to see the enthusiasm about rangefinders spread on and on.
    The pictures of your daughters early in the article are lovely – great work (both the pictures and daughters :-))! And I also liked your shot of the colosseum very much.
    I’ll now have a look at your blog and website!
    Regards, Felix

  53. great article!
    for street – no need for zoom. just walk up closer. “if the picture isn’t good enough you weren’t close enough” – I think I am paraphrasing Robert Capa.
    for the wife – you can preset the focus and then hand her the camera. that’s what I do! or I tell her not to mind. if she just shoots more than 10 frames at various distances one or more will be good enough. for my anyway!

    alexander
    http://www.ruas.com

  54. I have to make one comment here, ok, its a little bit off topic but hey. Why do we like shooting wide open so much? I think it is because this is how we see the world normally. When we look at another person across the street/table/train we focus on them and the rest (foreground and background) is out of focus. This gets back to the ‘human distance’ discussed on a previous post. Shooting at f8 might give more depth and put more in focus but this is not how it looks in reality. Part of the reason we take a photograph is because we like what we see. Shooting at f8 creates a picture different (in terms of focus/bokeh) than the scene the drove us to take the picture in the first place.

    The advantage of f8 though is that you can choose what to look at in the photograph as it is all in focus much like at the time the picture was taken, you could look at the foreground, then the background and focus on what you want to. A wide open photograph takes that ability away and you must look only at what the photographer focused on at the time of the photograph. Ok, this is getting a bit complicated now but my point is, shooting wide open is the same as the view you get when you take a glance at something and this is how we live mostly, in glances.

    • Interesting view Stephen. I often find myself looking at situations (and still participating) and marveling at the 3d quality the/my human eye provides. That’s the quality I attempt to reproduce in my photography.

  55. From one cameraholic to another. I too am on the same path. I got back to photography a few months ago. Nikon D300S traded for the Leica X1 – great camera just a bit lacking in terms of full control. My cameraholic problem had me wanting an M9 badly….but 7 grand is 7 grand…. The disease had me seriously looking at my Nikon D3S and the entire current pro lens (14-24, 24-70, 70-200, 200-400) to see if I wanted to take the plunge.

    My local camera dealer (Camera West in Walnut Creek, CA) took in a mint M8. I sat there for about an hour with the M8 in hand. The D3S in the car and the X1 with a Sony NEX in the small bag I took into the store.

    Cameraholism took hold. I traded the X1 and Sony (to help lessen the blow to my wallet) and bought the M8 w/ 75mm Summarit f/2.5.

    My same dealer is about to get their M9’s and pieces of the D3S is being looked at seriously.
    However, like you, I do street photography. I know taking an image from a long distance might be considered being a paparazzi… but I was able to capture those images of people being themselves without them having to react to a camera pointed their way….. that why the 75mm was chosen (comes out to be about 100mm with the 1.33 crop factor of the M8).

    I do some sports and wildlife photos and the zoom and long reach of the DSLR Nikkors is something I can’t yet bring myself to give up. Also the ISO issue is a factor…. I recently went aboard the USS Hornet (retired aircraft carrier). Being able to bump up the ISO saved me and allowed to me to grab images with just the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ mainly f/5.6.

    So Scotty….thanks for sharing. You are not alone with being a cameraholic.
    Your story has me thinking again about what pieces of the D3S am I willing to give up for the M9.

    • @SteveSFO. Any chance of a link to those pictures on the aircraft carrier? Sound pretty interesting!

  56. Scott,

    You touched on an interesting point…the accuracy of the frame lines. Having noticed that my 50mm would often capture more than the frame lines indicate, I went to the Leica manual. To my surprise, they actually discuss this in the M9 manual.

    The frame lines are optimized for the mid-range focusing. This means when you focus at .7meters the image captured will be slightly smaller than the frame lines. When you focus at infinity the image capture will be slightly larger than the frame lines. Is it a weird phenomenon? Absolutely. I have never tested it on a D700 or a 5D, but I imagine all prime lenses do this to some degree. Either the viewfinder is cropped or the screen shows more.

    As someone who has shot an M6 for years before shooting an M9, I am amazed I never noticed this. But when you consider the amount of time between pushing the shutter on a film camera and seeing the image…its easy to imagine forgetting the exact composition.

    To David’s point, the composition with a 28mm lens on an M9 is tough. With a .58 magnifier it is comfortable, but the .68 of the M9 means the frame lines are smashed up against the side of the viewfinder. Especially when shooting buildings this can require taking a few shots. Its a draw back for sure, but would I rather lug around an SLR? Forget it. If I had to carry something that big I would rather take a Hasselblad. Notice that Steve McCurry is now using a Hasselblad instead of his Nikons. He comments that the Hasselblad is just a hair bigger than the Nikon, but it takes a much different image. All personal preferences.

  57. I like the article and I certainly agree that every camera has its place and purpose. Much as I enjoy my second hand M6, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that it has its limitation. It’ll never be able to do macros like my Canon 40D coupled to a Canon 100mm USM macro lens. Neither will my kids be able to play with it the way they are playing my my Olympus EPL-1.

    Here’s a Quote I like a lot:

    “If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura.” — Nobuyoshi Araki

  58. The HDR shots look terrible. Terrible. Terrible. I just don’t get the point. Surely there are situations that call for increased dynamic range but using it where its not necessary gets just horrible results. HDR can improve an image… but why use it as a “technicolor on steroids” special effect?

    • I agree, HDR sucks period (even when used sparingly IMHO), but you’ve taken these to the extreme. You need to give the M9 to me, is my point I guess.

    • Just looked at your portfolio on Flickr, Mikael, and now your comment makes more sense to me. I just don’t get the point. White skies and parking lots?…good luck with that.

      • I’m surprised by the reaction to Scotty’s images, it’s really smacks of snobbishness, it seems like if someone takes a dull as dirt picture in B&W of a park bench, people rave about it, but if Scotty makes high impact images using HDR, then it’s terrible.

        If we are honest, B&W corrupts ‘reality’ far more than HDR, which enhances, or boosts colors, rather than removing them entirely like B&W.

        I’ve spent a fair amount of time looking at more images from Scotty, at his Pbase page (http://www.pbase.com/scottygraham), and I think most are pretty damn awesome, frankly I think his stuff is some of the best I’ve seen on this site, I’d be happy to have any of his images in my portfolio.

  59. Hi Scott,

    Very good photos .

    Thanks for sharing with us.

  60. Thanks for the informative and interesting article, I too own Nikon and Leica equipment. For fast action and events I normally use the D3S because of its class leading speed and high ISO capabilities, D3X and Sigma SD14 mostly for products shots in studio. M9 is my street camera and I use it mostly for my own leisure. While M9 has fantastic and unique picture quality, there are many areas that Nikon and other DSLR excel. For instance, M9 will have a lot of difficulties capturing the actions at an air show. I don’t think I can live without one or the other. I have recently added Sigma DP2S to complement the M9 for street photography, Foveon sensor is truly amazing in producing 3d film like images.

  61. Good article, interesting to read. One point of contention for me is when you say you like HDR when done properly and then show us all these massively over the top cartoony hdr shots. I’m not saying they are bad, but that isn’t what I consider hdr done ‘properly’. Done properly to me means not fantastical, just used enough to provide more range in tough situations. Again, your hdr shots are fine, I’m not picking on them, but they are very heAvily processed, to the point where some look like drawings.

    Thank you for the well conssidered article. Safe travels!

    • For my street photography I shoot almost everything ‘from the hip’ – after a lot of practice you can compose fairly accurately that way (accurately enough let’s say) without the people noticing you. I use a 28 cron or 35 lux – on the M8 the 24 elm was my favorite but I find it too wide on the M9. Another thing I discovered is that when you ask people with a smile if you can take their picture, that they rarely say ‘no’.
      Thanks for your good review.
      —————-
      Frans

  62. Scott – Enjoyed your article – wish I could have found it before I dove into the rangefinder. A couple of points.

    1. If you can’t see the two images, you are probably covering the rangefinder window on the right.

    2. To let others take your picture – simply have them stand where you want the photo and you focus on them, give yourself a little DOF with f/4-5.6 and it will look great.

    Congrats on your m9, I am still enjoying my m8

  63. Great article! I agree with nearly everything you said. Unfortunately I don’t think I will be letting go of my DSLR (5dmk2). I definitely use my M6 to death compared to my Canon. My wife thinks I’m crazy for loving film more that digital and for using the M6. I would love to get myself a digital M8/M9 someday but even when the day comes, I don’t think I will let for of a DSLR because both has a place and time to be used. Anyhow enjoy your time with your M9! You are so right about one thing, I carry my M6 everywhere where else my Canon stays locked in the dry box. Have fun shooting Scott :)

  64. This is great. I’m glad I’m not the only one out the going through the pains of switching. I just finished selling my Nikon gear for Leica as well but I went about it in a different way. I ended up getting a used M6, summicron 35, and summilux 50. I’m gonna go for a 90 and then maybe make the jump back to digital with a used M9 or M10 when I can afford to.

    • Yeah, the key is “afford”. Even used the digital M cameras are expensive. I’m hoping Leica improves on the quality control of the sensors in the M9 camera, changes the LCD back to sapphire glass, and other improvements like accurate frame lines. Maybe they can improve the ISO shooting in low light too. There is definitely room for improvement considering the price one pays for this camera. The digital M is a wonderful concept. I just don’t think it’s quite there yet in quality of product.

  65. I held a Leica once, and it felt like it was made for my hands, but I couldn’t afford one. That was in the early 70’s. I had a boss who shot Nikon and told me that I could use his 200mm lens if I bought that brand. So, I shot Nikon for about 40+ years. After reading some of Steve’s articles, I looked hard at the X1, but from this and other sites went with the GF1. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my Nikon gear. I loved that Nikon and used it to shoot for two weekly newspapers, the Christian Science Monitor, Cat Fancy, Our State magazine, Blue Ridge magazine, Country Extra and others. Well after shooting with the small, and lighter camera, I sold off all of my Nikon lens and gave my youngest son my old D200.

    A DSLR is a wonderful camera and for a lot of things I would really feel that it was the tool that you needed. The GF1 has brought fun back into my photography. But a camera is really a tool. You use the best tool for the type of shooting you do. And, it is fun to realize that I am not the only one who is this crazy about photography.

    • I think it’s once we get older, having used the heavier gear, it becomes kind of a pain to carry around when you want to shoot just for fun. It feels like a job. Plus, our backs are gtting more fragile. ;)

    • Nice read Charles, and as you so rightly said a camera is just a tool, end of. Too much nonsense is put on brand A or B, film or digital. It’s all about getting out there and taking pictures. Interested in your comments on your GF1 too, just sold my M8 as Leica film is my personal kick so looking for a small digi camera along the lines of that or the Oly E-PL1 so must have a peek at a Panasonic before I make my mind up,

  66. I went for the M8 since the LCD monitor is the same as the M9.
    I will buy the next M10 if it gets a bigger 3 inch screen with better resolution and also a weather sealed housing. Yes, it rains a lot where I live…

    Meanwhile I’ll by another Leica.. A used M6 to play with.

  67. @ Ken,

    Film is not slumming it. Great shots.

    I agree with life time investment with lenses. That is where it is, whether you are shooting digital or film.

  68. I think you’re missing a bit on the street shooting thing. Something that’s important is to know your DOF scales. You shouldn’t NEED to focus if you have sufficient light. Set the aperture to something with a reasonable DOF (this is easier on a 35 than a 50 as wide angles naturally have a decent DOF).

    Example… on my 35mm at f/8, everything from 8 feet to infinity is in focus. So as long as your subject is 8 feet away, you can frame and shoot. No focusing required.

    This is key. Don’t put the camera up there and futz with it for 5 seconds racking the focus back and forth, as it’s not necessary.

    Obviously at night it’s tougher to shoot at f/8… but during the day it’s easy. Especially if you’re going to convert to black and white as you can shoot at ISO 320 or 640 easy, as the grain and noise is no problem.

    If you can pull the camera up and snap a shot in a second, or even sometimes shoot WITHOUT composing, it’s a lot less obvious that you’re concentrating on a shot. This is easy with the Leica… it’s tougher on the SLRs as they don’t tend to have a DOF scale on the camera any more and you have to memorize your hyperfocal distance charts :-)

    • Oh please… have a good look at the latest Zeiss offerings in ZF and ZE mounts. You might learn something :-)

      • Michiel, I like those lenses but they are not always the best for every application. Color wise, they sometimes tend to be a little over-saturated and cartoonish, while for black & white work, a little too contrasty. Obviously, it is always a matter of taste and the application, but overall Leica glass is more balanced and I am a lover of older lenses for those reasons.

        • Max, I was referring to “as they don’t tend to have a dof scale”. I appreciate your point. It’s a matter of taste.

    • I always had the impression that shooting Leica lenses wide open was the aim of paying so much money. Sad that one has to play around with hyperfocal in order to have focus pictures. At f8, most lenses shine (?). That is surely a limitation of using Leica for street photography. This being said, my impression is that the “legend” of the Leica being the ultimate streetphotography camera comes from the fact that when Cartier-Bresson was using it, there was no real alternatives as most other photographers were using big twin lenses Rolleiflex.

      The precision and speed of the autofocus on the GF1 makes it a real interesting camera for street (probably far from the Leica IQ but you can use it wide open). Samsung just released the NX100 with an APS-C sensor (14 MP) that should be quite interesting for street. Imagine when the big guns release their mirrorless system…

  69. Well I did the same thing except I could not afford the Leica. I got a used Nikon FM3a and a Voigtlander 40/2 pancake. I feel like I have it all, at least I will when I take delivery of the Voigtlander 90/3.5 mini. I know I am must be missing something not having a Leica (I have owned an M6 in the past). Oh and the other big difference is of course I am stilling slumming it with film, but I like the limitation of that, too.[img]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3391/3230330566_ff44ae7810.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2258/3842667635_8cf8820daa.jpg[/img]

    Yours truly
    [img]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3257/3144674465_643f427d41.jpg[/img]

  70. Steve,
    Great idea to give Scott the opportunity to share his experience! As Nikon afficionado (starting with an F3 and 2.0 (later 1.4/) 85 in ’83) I put down my Nikon D2xs Nov 6, 2009 when i got my M9… Image quality & total size of equipment convinced me, too. I can share easily Scotts experience, mine is similar…

    My travel set (landscape, impressions) is 2.8/28 ASPH, 2/75 Cron and Zeiss ZM 4/18 for the case of cases…

    Just two hints:

    Spending tons of money for the M9 (see Thom Hogan’s “Tip of the iceberg”) I would stay with Leica glass for the main lenses. Voigtländer is great in terms of quality/Euro, Zeiss ZM is superb, no doubt but Leica lenses are a lifetime investment, especially the new designs 50 Lux, 75 Cron and 2.8/28 ASPH with great quality on the M9 (and no 6bit encoding hassle)

    The picture quality b/w JPEGS sepia out of the camera imo is remarkable: the DNGs in Lr 3 are most of the time so good, that as of now no or really little PP seems imo most of the time sufficient to get the special looks…

    M9 and Leica glass are remarkable as Scott and Steve say for approbiate topics.

    Nonetheless for many topics (sport, wedding, action, macro, lowlow light, tele beyond 90 mm —focusing gets difficult at an age where you can afford Leica M9 + glasses) a DSLR like the D3 or Canon D1xxx will be necessary for the time being…

  71. Scott, Great article and great photos. I also have Nikons, which I held onto after getting my M9. Choosing which Leica lens to buy next is a constant struggle. Would you please translate a couple of terms? ‘PJ’ and ‘HDR”? Yeah, I’m still learning. And regarding the HDR shots, which exact post-production tool did you use to get that ‘effect’? Photoshop, Lightroom, Photomatix? THAT is the look that I want to achieve. Thanks for the article and thanks to Steve for hosting you.

    • John…thanks!

      “PJ” is photo journalist, and HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. I use Light Room, Photoshop and Photomatix. Be careful getting into HDR…just read the comments here, and you’ll understand why…ha ha….

  72. Scott,

    An interesting and honest article. I like it. With the group shots that you want a stranger or Tika to take, what I would recommend is to set the camera up yourself (hand held) focusing on say Tika, then put the aperture on about 5.6 and get the person to stand where you are standing and go over to Tika. The Leica is tricky to shoot but with everything set up, even a novice can compose the shot and click it. I have got a number of nice shots like that with my M7.

    Also, on the street shooting, don’t focus each time, pre focus to about 10 feet, then walk around and shoot when you are about 10 feet away. With the lens a bit stopped down you will get the subject in focus most of the time. With street, I find getting focus is not always that important, it is more getting the moment, ok, with film this is easier because the shots are not as detailed as digital anyway.

    I like your article though, I am not a HDR fan really but thought your shots were pretty cool, almost like a drawing. Nice!

  73. Well that didn’t work, obviously. Check out my FB page; Michiel Faro. The IQ of the D700 is unsurpassed in digital land, Zeiss glass and mf add to that.

    I don’t object to anyone buying into the Leica experience; I’ve been tempted myself. I just don’t like the DSLR bashing that usually accompanies it. Spare me your mental torment :-)

    • The D700 is a great camera, but it isn’t even the best Nikon DSLR in lowlight or good light (D3s and D3x.) The M9 certainly competes with the D3x in some ways.

    • Michiel…Nikon sucks and Leica rules! :)
      Just kidding buddy..don’t get all revved up. Had the D700 and it was a great camera but the problem is that I never took it anywhere. Can’t stand carrying that log around. I sold it for…AN FM3A…YEAH! After that, ended up getting an F6 which still sees more action than the D700 ever did. Nice write up from Scott here and there is talent behind the images…problem is that I just can’t stand looking at over-processed digital images anymore. They literally give me a headache :) ANY of these would look great with minimal intervention but hey, to each his own, as always, and that’s a beautiful thing. Peace!

      • Hi Max, I’ve revved down :-) I agree with you about the headache-inducing qualities here but as you say, to each his own, and I don’t see a Leica trademark there.

        “Revved up” by the discussions here about portability I’ve made it a rule (since selling the E-P2; great camera) to take the D700/Zeiss prime with me everyday in a Domke Ruggedwear bag. It’s perfectly doable.

        I love my FM2, but the hassle of film (sorry guys…. :-( ) restricts that to once a month or so.

        Peace!

      • Is the F6 bigger or maller than the D700? Probably about the same? What about weight? I’ve always loved the F series of Nikon cameras.

        Max is right in some respects about the digital image, and it being over processed. I love film for the 3D look, but hate it for having to deal with developing and scanning. I think it’s always a trade-off. Digital has a certain look, that people who use film don’t like as much. But, I tell you what, I jumped for joy when I got my 1st digital camera. It was some 2MP thingy, but I didn’t have to run out and get it developed and printed. I like controlling my own file. On the other hand, that file can go poof, and look rather flat.

        There’s good and bad for both. If the camera manufacturers can make a very small, do everything camera with a huge sensor, and fast zoom lens, and have the files look like medium format, then that would be the perfect camera. LOL!

  74. Great article Scott, thanks for writing! I am at the very beginning of a similar journey towards the M9. I will keep my DSLR system, but I certainly believe the M9 will replace that mostly. Articles like these inspire me to keep saving (not a cheap camera for a student like myself), so thanks!

  75. D700. Manual focusing. f2.0/35 Zeiss. Close (40 cms?).[img]http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019802137#!/photo.php?pid=1518766&fbid=1527825908485&id=1019802137[/img]

  76. well to be honest, I disagree in a lot of points with you. I have both equipments, the d700 and the m9 and the reason is simple: With the m9 a lot of things can’t be covered.
    I always get amazed that nobody takes into account how impresice the viewfinder and the lens marks on the M9 are. Try for example to shot in the near area (1m-2m) through say a glass. You think the object behind the glass is behind the glass but when you see the result it will be moved away. I also think the viewfinder in the m9 and m8 is more imprecise than on the analogue models.
    So if you really think out your composition and want everything in one place a dslr works much better.
    Regarding the lenses I think the leica just is meant to be used with a 35 or 50 and sometimes a 90. I have a 28 and having only the possibilty to only focus at 0,7 m makes it difficult to make interesting wideangle compositions where you want to get nearer and play a lot with fore- and background(again here also the imprecision of the vf comes into play). Sometimes it works, but sometimes not with the 28 but mostly I end up making pictures in a 35 style being all the objects smaller and so less interesting in my opinion.
    Seeing your pictures (which lots of them I like very much, by the way) I see you wont’t have problems with that, but what is true that most of them are cropped. That’s the main postprocessing you need to do…always
    The weight between the d700 and m9 is similar and yes the lenses are heavier on the nikon side but to compare the 18mm with the 14-24 I find not the correct comparison. Compare the 18 mm of leica with the 18 of nikon or the 20. Then you will see that the lens bulkiness is similar.
    And concerning your street shooting style let me quote you:
    ” Zoom lenses are really handy for street shooting. With my Nikon, I could hide across the street and get a totally candid shot by zooming in without the person even knowing he/she was being photographed.”
    This is not street shooting per se, this is paparazzi, voyeur shooting :-)
    But I think you are going the right direction going near and being in the scene, living the moment instead of seeing it across the street. And sooner or later you will also find out to get unnoticed with the leica, because this works better than with a d700 and a 14-24.
    Nice review and good camera migration.

  77. Well. So this is another “bash the DSLR, praise Leica” post?

    I’d rather comment on the pics, regardless of the camera they were made with. At first glance, and I wil have a second, more thorough, look, you appear to need quite a lot of “PP” to get the image you envisaged?

    • I tire of the “bash the DSLR, praise Leica” posts too, but I don’t think this is one of them. Scotty has as much criticism for the Leica as he does the Nikon. He questions the Leica’a suitability for street shots, weddings, and also some aspects of it’s build.

      • Maybe. The heading of his contribution appears pretty clear though. So the M9 is not suitable for street shots? That’s certainly a novel view! :-)

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