It’s the lenses! Don’t upgrade that body just yet!

ITS THE LENSES! – Don’t upgrade your camera just yet! By Steve Huff

 

It seems that every month or so there is some new and advanced camera being released and in some cases new models get replaced within a few months. Cameras like the Panasonic GF2 had a short 4 month life. I guess Panasonic knew it was a stinker when no one was buying it. They now have the tiny GF3 which I tried out for a day or two. Didn’t like it as much as the Oly E-P3. I still prefer the original GF1 which IMO had a better body style and layout. S0 much for advancing a camera model line. Sometimes these cameras can get TOO small which makes them uncomfortable to hold.

One thing I have indeed noticed is that every now and then a new camera that is replacing a well liked model can actually be a downgrade. This is why I did not review the Panasonic GF2. It was smaller, harder to handle, the control knobs were taken away and the camera used the same sensor. It became toy like. I DID shoot with it but did not care for it at all. I guess you can say I now reviewed it, and hey, it was a negative review, lol. Same for the GF3, though the 3 did take good quality photos, and I liked it better than the “2” the body is just too toy like for serious enthusiasts. Well, for this one at least.

The original GF1 was a breakthrough camera in the mirrorless market. Why Panny didn’t expand on that and create a GF2 with the same controls, better sensor, better video, and EVF is beyond me. It would have sold like mad!

The bottom line here is that if you are settled on a system…wether that system is Leica, Micro 4/3, Nikon, Canon or even Sigma or Sony, the one thing you should be spending your upgrade money on is LENSES. This is no secret as i bet 79.2% of  you know this already 🙂 Sure we ALL want the latest and greatest but sometimes it is better to wait and skip a new model or two and spend that extra money we have that is burning a hole in our pocket on glass. Good glass is always a good buy. The lenses are the heart of ANY camera system, not the body!

A new camera will NOT make you a better photographer but some lenses can help you achieve the look you want in your photos which gives you more creative freedom.

For example, I know someone who still owns an Olympus E-P1, the first digital PEN that came out a couple of years ago. This person has bought and collected most of the great lenses like the Panasonic 20 1.7 and the new Olympus 12mm f/2. When comparing images taken with their E-P1 and the new E-P3, the image quality is about the same. Sure the new E-P3 has much faster AF and newer whiz bang features but for good old fashioned picture taking the little E-P1 is still capable of great results.

Because this person spent his money on cool new lenses for the little PEN instead of spending it on the E-P2 and E-P3 he had a much more versatile system. A fisheye, a fast lens, a great macro, a nice 75-300 and the new 12mm. Someone with limited funds like myself would spend the money on new bodies and miss out on many of the lenses. Looking at his fisheye shots made me want the fisheye, but nope! I was out of cash because I send it all on new bodies (well, I do so so I can review them too). Hmmmmm.

The same goes for the Leica M8. The M8 is still a fantastic photographic tool even though the M9 is the newer model. The M9 is full frame, and does a bit better at high ISO but the M8 has a certain look to the files that can not even be replicated with the M9! I actually feel like the M8 has a more film like image. It is “harder” where the M9 is more “smooth”. Throw something like a Zeiss 50 Sonnar on the M8 and you will get that magical classic look.

To many, the smart thing to do would be to keep an M8 and instead of spending the cash on an M9, spend it on a good Leica lens or two. This way, when you do upgrade your camera to something that is much better you will have the glass to get the most out of it.

I have been asked many times if a Leica M8 and 50 Summilux would be better than a Leica M9 and Voigtlander 50mm. A used M8 can be had for $2400 and a 50 Lux retails for $3700 or so. $6100. An M9 is $7000 so that is already more than the M8 with the best Leica lens in production today. So what is the better choice? I’d say the M8 and 50 Summilux as BEAUTIFUL results can be had with this combo. The M9 and Voigtlander will give you good results as well but buying good Leica glass is an INVESTMENT and buying bodies is NOT.

For those with an original E-P1 body, my suggestion would be to keep that body until a totally kick ass PEN comes out with a built in EVF instead of selling your E-P1 for $200 and spending $800 on the E-P3. Take that money and buy something like the 12mm f/2 or Panasonic 25 1.4. You will still get the benefit of the great glass with your current camera. If you absolutely want the faster AF or higher res video then go for it but I feel like there is nothing that can be done on an E-P3 that can’t be done on an E-P1 image quality wise.

Same goes for owners of the GF-1. It is still a GREAT little camera, one of the best Micro 4/3 STILL today! For years now the madness of new camera gear has kept us all wanting the best. The latest. The greatest. I am as guilty as anyone but I have always known that today’s camera bodies are all pretty damn good. The glass, that is where it’s at.

BUT just because I say buy glass and skip body upgrades does not mean you should not splurge on the body you want. Hell, if you have the cash go for it and buy the lenses while you are at it! On the flip side there are many of us who just have to own the latest because it is fun, it is cool and it is like a drug, lol. Cameras like the upcoming Sony NEX-7 have gotten me to plunk down my money but why is that? My real reason is the new Zeiss 24 1. lens that is being released right after the NEX-7. That lens will be welded to the body as it will give me a 35mm equivalent with a fast aperture. SO sometimes, a new body is in order but most of the time a new lens can transform your old body into something pretty exciting.

Another reason for buying a new body may be that you want to shoot film (which I admit, I have been getting the itch to JUST shoot film for 6 months) and if that is the case, Ken Hansen ([email protected]) has some film bodies available – MPs, M7, M6, M3… but make sure you have a good lens 1st as this is the HEART of any camera system, film or digital. By good lens I mean a lens that YOU enjoy and like the rendering of. That could be a $200 50 f/2 or a snazzy new Summilux.

How many of you reading this have been wanting a new lens for your body? Let us know what you shoot with and what lenses you like in the comments box below!

Steve

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84 Comments

  1. Good information here. Camera bodies are sexier than lenses so they have more advertisements for them. It plays on our need to have the latest and greatest gadgets.

  2. I have my first camera the nikon j1 and just got my first new lens!, the 30-110. I had no idea what I was doing twos months ago and got the camera on a whim and now I’m getting hooked. I got a good tripod and head and a couple lens filters, because I thought that would be better first than more lenses, but now I’m going to get the 10 or 18.5.

  3. Lenses….so true. Great images are all about the lighting and composition. Sure they look even better blown up in real life, but that not where most images end up. Fast primes with shallow DOF give a perspective that is beautiful just because it’s something the eye doesn’t normally see with an autofocus lens and brain to fill the gaps.

    So still happy with my old OM system Zuiko lenses, MMF2 adapter, and E-PL1. To match my favourite 90mm F2 macro, I figure I’m hanging out for a m4/3 45mm f1 macro. Still dreaming on……by the time my lens is ready, I’ll be up for an OM-D EM4.

  4. I just recently had one of them “epiphany” things…

    I have been an amateur photog for many years and like many others, regularly did the “I gotta have this new camera” thing. But about four months ago I made an amazing “discovery” while looking through some digipics from my first digicam to my current one. I found that images from my 6MP Nikon D100 looked just as good on screen as images from my 16MP D7000. For that matter, so did pictures from my little Canon SD 700. Now, saying “just as good” does not mean they looked the same but neither does Velvia/Provia look the same. My discovery was that FOR SCREEN USE – which is now pretty much the only way I view pictures (though I do shoot some Velvia/Leica M6 occasionally) – 6 MP or 16 MP of resolution made no difference in detail or any other aspect of the photo.

    Sure, one can crop more with more MP but if I needed to crop more than just slightly, I took the wrong pic in the first place so intense cropping has never been important to me. So basically I discovered that, as has been noted on several sites, there was no advantage TO ME of having a camera with ever-greater amounts of MP.

    So, I did what others have done. I quit using my D7000/lenses and switched to an EP3/lenses. The entire EP3 kit weighs less than my D7000/one lens weighed and now I carry the camera all the time instead of not. The realization that more MP does not do anything that I need/can see also makes me less into the “gotta have the newer camera” thing since there is no difference in the results on the screen. So I have no interest in an OMD, a Nex7, an Xpro, whatever. I have downloaded raw files from the Nex7 for example and again – I see nothing on screen that indicates the pic was shot with “more” resolution. There’s just no visible difference beyond 6MP for a full screen, original or slightly cropped image from a camera.

    Sure, if you are going to look at every image at 100% for pixel peeping, there’s a difference – though less than I would have thought. But there is no purpose in that for me – I don’t take a picture with a 50mm equivalent lens and then “blow” it up to simulate that I took the pic with a 300mm lens or whatever.

    Of course, one could argue that with something like the new Nikon D800 with 32MP of resolution, you might ONLY need the camera and two lenses – something really wide and a good 50mm for everything else. You could crop so intensely that your 50 could be just about any length! But then again, the D800/two lenses weighs considerably more than the EP and some lenses and that “big camera” look is now so outdated as to be embarrassing! 🙂

  5. As a film B&W photographer I want a digital camera for portability, fun, versatility and optimal IQ.

    Being fed up with the lack of an affordable, small and fast standard prime lens in the Nex system, I looked at the M43 Oly camera’s.

    The Oly jpeg output is excellent. Not totally unimportant and sometimes I forget that with digital that you buy in a way the camera and the film in one package.

    So in line with this article I went for the lens I wanted, the Pana 20/1.7 The 25 has for me a less desirable angle of view for a standard lens, although I am sure I would love its rendering.

    Looking at the future there are many more interesting lenses for M43, the 12, 45, 25 to name some.

    For the body I went for an Epl1 with kit lens for EUR 230,- new. I really like the output of the Epl1 and I can still always get another body and sell the Epl1 + kitl ens. But the 20/1.7 is a keeper that will go to the next body.

    Very sensible article, thanks mr. Huff.

  6. I have the lumix G1 and while I salivate over the latest and greatest bodies, I’ve invested in lenses. I have the Panny 20mm 1.7 and oly 45mm 1.8

  7. Thanks for the great article Steve.

    I have to say I’m a sucker for the latest greatest gear I can afford. But in this case delays in the release of the next gen Nikon bodies (D700 follow on) prompted me to invest in new glass instead. So I’ve kept my well used but still much loved D300s.

    Knowing that my next body will be a FF DSLR I’ve purchased my holy trinity of Nikorr lenses. The 16-35 F4, VR, 24-70 2.8, and the 70-200 2.8 VRII. They are big, they are heavy, and they are absolutely fantastic! They really have surpassed my greatest expectations.

    I knew they would be faster and clearer, but after using them in both casual and professional capacities for the last six months, I don’t know how I ever lived without them. Too me they just feel right, work right, and deliver an image quaility that my other lenses just generally can’t compete with.

    So in my mind your article really is spot on. Until there is a treamendous improvement from one body to the next, spending money on better glass is IMHO the better investment.

  8. Really Steve!
    We have to change our old-time’s “interchangeable-lens camera (ILC)” concept by interchangeable-camera lens (ICL).

  9. Hey Steve,
    Love your site and the real world reviews. I still have my E-P1 and kit lens and I get great shots with it. I have the good fortune of living in Israel so we get great light and blue skies and I have no trouble in snapping my kids up to all kinds of monkey-business. I took your tip and set the AF to single and one spot and then it focuses way faster. In the evenings I use the Olympus flash that I got free in a promotion to do fill-in work and again the results are great.
    I have been debating about upgrading to the E-P3 though. However, having read this article, I might save my cash. I know my wife will be happy. Maybe I’ll get some lenses instead. Do you think it would be worth getting the new 14-42 II R kit lens? It’s supposed to focus faster and silently for video. Will this also apply to my older model E-P1? And I just saw on eBay that there’s a company out of Hong Kong that’s similar to SLR Magic. They’re called Michael Lens and they are selling a 35mm F1.7 movie lens for only $48. I’m just wondering how good can it be for that kind of money.
    Anyway, thanks again Steve.

  10. Absolutely agree with you about lenses vs. bodies.

    I’d really love it if you could review the Panasonic G3. Have an E-PL2, but would
    really prefer a body with built-in viewfinder, if they could just get the color right.

  11. Steve — I have to disagree with you on one point — the auto focus on the E-PL1 (and other pre E-P3 PENs) is just so d##n lame, I’ve missed countless shots, even after carefully pre-focusing. The E-P3 would solve that problem for me, and coupled with a bit better low-light capability, may even let me shoot sports action. I’m definitely considering the EP3 for the focus capability alone, though my hesitation is on spending $900 to fix a focus problem Oly should have gotten correct from the start!

  12. Gary Tyson says:
    September 22, 2011 at 1:35 am
    Totally agree…lenses are the centretpoint….I’m trying to get hold of a Zeiss 50 1.5 Sonnar to go with my M9 kit, seems is sold out everywhere in the world….none here in Hong Kong, none on Ebay, none anywhere that I can find, so if anyone is selling one, please let me know! Cheers.

    Hey Gary, i ordered a new Zeiss Sonnar 50mm here in Australia about 2 months ago, and i was told iam first on the list of this retailer. still there didnt arrive any stock. i would like to know whats the current problem is, maybe there are still problems caused by the earthquake in japan.

  13. I’m a Nikon Shooter from Fm and old Glass and the D700 with the expensive glass also. I also have a GF1 with their lenses, and a great Rolleiflex + Mamiya 7. Love them all.

    The new fashion is the Fuki x100, it will be my last Digital until at least 10 years. I will sell the GF1 system unless m4/3 bring something great, and may be i will upgrade my D700 , just becasue i need video for my kids, We have tons of pictures and only Iphone videos, in the last 5 years.

    Greg

  14. I love Leica lenses, I have: 24 Summilux, 35 Summilux, 35 Summicron, 50 Summilux, 50 Noctilux, 90 Summicron, 90 Elmarit, & a 135 Tele-Elmar. I use them with my M9 and Olympus Cameras.

    For Olympus, I have Pany 20mm F1.7, Pany 8mm F3.5, Olympus 12mm F2.0 & Olympus 45mm F1.8.

    I’m addicted to quality lenses.

    I have Canon, Nikon, and Hasselblad equipment too. Go figure 🙂

  15. Hi Steve,

    Great site and love your work. Your site has been a source of inspiration and resource for me in the last couple of months.

    I have a little story on how I came to the camera that I am carrying now. Initially, I have had my heart set on the canon 5D with the 50mm f1.2. Was eyeing it for sometime. The problem is you see I am no professional more of hobbyist/amateur with great interest in street photography. I had decided to make my purchase so I thought.

    My friend introduced me to your site and after reading through your complete site (new and old) I was suddenly swayed towards something smaller. It was through your reviews that I have finally decided on the camera I should buy. Please note that my previous start up camera was a canon g10.

    So after scouring through your site I came up with a game plan. Seeing that indeed you are a lover of most things Leica I too wanted an M and I don’t particularly care which M lol. But as it turns out, I cannot afford one (not even close….lol). But lo and behold, there are such things as adaptors….

    So this is what I am carrying now

    Olympus EP3
    Lenses thus far are (apart from the kit lens) pany 20mm f1.7 and was fortunate enough to acquire the pany Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4. I love both jof them to bits. See I am a bit like you and love gadgetry hahahaha. I am hoping to get the Oly 45mm 1.8 when they decide to launch the damn thing.

    But here is where the game plan begins….

    I do plan to purchase one or two Leica glass (as and when I can afford them). And build up the the collection from there until such time I can purchase an M. This will be the ultimate gift to myself. I know this will take years but I think it will be very worth it in the end.

    Coming back to the Oly….I am glad I did not purchase a dslr and I find the camera utterly amazing. Love how the thing snaps at you when the shutter shuts and opens. I don’t think I will change anytime soon. This one is here to stay.

    Thanks again for a great site and keep up the good work.

    From Malaysia

    • Hi Luke!

      I, too, took a similar route. Last year I bought an E-P2 and a couple of lenses. Absolutely loved the camera but wanted better lenses. I found a used Summicron 35mm ASPH on the net and ordered an adapter to use it on the E-P2. Early in the week I was to pick up the adapter I got an unexpected inflow of cash:-) Even more unexpected last year, the camera shop had an M9 extra in stock:-) With som quick, and financially irrational, thinking I purchased the M9 instead of the adapter:-)

      I returned home with M9 and 35/2 and never looked back. Later I traded the E-P2 and two lenses for a 90/2.8. Added a used 50/1.4 and some old lenses that are fromthe 30s even. Cash from evey bonus, sale of something, etc. has since gone to lens purchases.

      To conclude, I would urge you to try old and cheap Leica lenses. With a UV/Haze filter most of the haze can be managed. Keep them after you get the M9 and enjoy a great new variation to your photography. I have old 9cm/f4 lenses that are great, alternative portrait lenses and the results are truly enjoyable all the way through print and onto the wall:-)

      Anyway, collect lenses and save for M-camera:-)

      Good light!

  16. Oly e-30 12-60, 70-300
    Oly e-p3 17, 20

    Want the m45, m12
    And one of the x-300 micro4/3 lenses for motorcycle racing events. Just can’t decide which!

  17. There is another strategy; buy ‘older cameras’ cheap, just to get the lens you want. Last year I got the G1 with the 14-45 kit. This year spring I got the PL1 with 17′ pancake kit, and just this month got the GF2 with the 14′ pancake, for 99% of the price of the lenses alone. Basically, the bodies were free! And now I can use all on my Pen 1.

  18. A recent addition for me is a new Nikkor 50 1.2 manual focus that I’m using on my Nex-5. The focus peaking has really transformed that camera in terms of manual focus. The 50 1.2 is a very sweet lens, and it’s cool that you can still buy it new (doubly nice for me, since I almost always buy used lenses). The build quality is stunning compared to current Nikon AF lenses — definitely old school. $669 for the gray market version @ B&H. Definitely worth checking out if you want a fast 50 for Nex or m4/3.

  19. Boy, it seems most everyone did something similar to me. I too went on a lens binge instead of buying the latest and greatest camera (I did not buy the M9, instead, kept my M8 going and even bought a second one on Ebay as a backup). One thing I did regret is back around 1997 or so, I sold off a dual range summicron and 90mm Summicron to finance a medium format lens I ended up not using too much. I did hold on to my 35mm Summicron V4 and 28mm Elmarit. I was all into medium format until the M8 came out, and since then, it has been the only camera I use (well, 90% of the time. A Fuji GSW 690 with Velvia scanned is hard to beat!) . My problem was I only had 2 lenses and had to rebuild my Leica lens collection. Fortunately for me, the M8 problems (My M8 has none as does my second one) kept a lid on used Leica M lens prices for a few years until the M9 came out. Every spare chunk of change I had went to lenses only. My original collection was the 35mm Summicron V4 and 28mm Elmarit V3. Today, I have the following: 15mm Super Wide Heliar, 28mm Elmarit, 35mm Summicron, 35mm f1.2 Nokton, 40mm f1.4 Nokton, 50mm Summicron (current version), 50mm f1.0 Noctilux (late version), 50mm Summitar (Steve Huff’s review convinced me to get this one – and for $150!!!!), Industar 61 LD, 50mm Jupiter 3, 50mm Jupiter 8, 50mm Helios Contax mount, 90mm Tele Elmarit (compact model), 135mm Elmarit with goggles, 280mm Telyt, 2 Visoflex 2’s, one Visoflex 3 with finder, and an LEica M bellows for macro.

    A new M9 would have put a serious dent in what I purchased above. Except for the Voigtlander 15mm and 35mm Nokton, everything I purchased was on Ebay and at significant savings (50mm Summicron mint current version – $649, 50mm Summitar $150 MINT, 50mm Noctilux f1.0 Mint $4,600, 90mm Tele Elmarit $240 mint, 135 Elmarit $300, 280mm Telyt, $325. Total for Leica used : $6,216.

    WOW!!!! THAT IS UNDER THE COST OF AN M9 AND WAY UNDER AN M9P!!!!!!

    Now if I add the Voigtlander stuff it comes out to $7596.

    HOLY COW! THAT IS STLL CHEAPER THAN AN M9P!!!!

    The Russian lenses I can add an extra $150.

    $7,746.

    MAN!!! STILL CHEAPER THAN AN M9P ($7,999.00 AAAGGGHHH!!! OUCH!!!).

    You get my point. Most importantly, my photos have reaped the benefits massively! I get to select exactly the right lens for the “look’ I want. A new M9 could never have done that for me!

    In fact, even though I have many more lenses, it was because of this (real world use and evaluation I was able to narrow down what works best for me most of the time. My all around kit I use 90% of the time is the M8 with grip, 15mm Super Wide Heliar, 35mm f1.2 Nokton (I like this better than my V4 Summicron, believe it or not) and 50mm F1.0 Noctilux. Thats it!

  20. I have just purchased an M8 Panda in excellent condition. After following your great photo site I decided that this is the right entry level for me. I am starting out with a 50mm Zeiss and I’m really liking the results. My intention is to now purchase a few choice Leica lenses, with the help of your reviews, then later on I can choose to move to an M9 or M10. I have applied the same method of gear acquisition for years. I just sold my D700 which I really enjoyed but the time was right to sell it before its replacement is on the market, it may not hold it’s value much longer. I have always kept my Nikkor glass, which are mostly fast primes that I use on my Nikon F2as, it’s loaded with Tri-x right now. I’ll get another DSLR body when I get the urge.
    Steve I hope you find the time to get out shoot some film and show us the results, and if not continue the great work.

  21. I absolutely agree, after getting my 50 ‘lux ASPH. All my other lenses just pale in comparison. Although I will still keep them for variety, but I realise now that I couldn’t care for the bodies, it’s just a box to bring out the lens with. Although I must say, I contradict myself if the M9 is brought in. That’s just a combo made in heaven.

  22. Right on the money, Steve!
    I would probably save more money if I am not addicted to reading your RSS on my phone day and night 😉 Truth is I really enjoy your blog!

    I’ve been saving up and waiting for M10 but just decided to invest in lenses 2 weeks ago as price is rising indeed. I was glad to see this post! As a side note, I can’t believe the weight difference between the 35 cron ASPH and version IV. Also bought a used X1 to leverage the small size and real Leica lens. So for now, it’s M6, GF1 with adaptor, and the x1. Let’s see if Leica M10 rumor is true taking some cues from the x100. I guess time is our best friend. Maybe Zeiss Ikon will step up for an M body or if Fuji is equipt to make an interchangeable lens XM body.

    Thanks again for your awesome site![img]http://www.asonephotography.com/public/croft_SRV.jpg[/img]

  23. there is something magic about a great lens, one that renders images just the way you like it. I don’t think it matters which brand (provided it achieves what you want). That said, having a lens that can shoot wide open and render beautifully when you need it i.e. at dusk one day when you are walking home and stumble on a beautiful car and you are shooting with Portra 160, you need that aperture to be big and wide and suck in as much of the dying light that is slipping away by the second…

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6116466311/in/photostream

  24. I don’t own a DSLR, just a “super zoom” bridge camera that I was bought as a gift last year.
    I picked up a second hand EPL-1 earlier this year with kit lens, and then got the OLY 25mm 2.8 to go with it.
    Really like the look of the new EPL-3, but it all comes down to cost, and I like the look of the new OLY 45mm 1.8 even more. I plan on getting the new lens and as said above will stick with the EPL-1 until it stops working.
    Buying brand new camera bodies would be great if I could afford it, but I can’t, so I’ll continue to learn with what I’ve got and invest in more lenses as time goes on.

  25. I think the important thing is that the photographic tool you’re using should limit you as little as possible.
    So the IQ is the #1 priority. This means a good combination of sensor, lens, and processor. Yes, the processor can influence the final output of the image, as it processes the RAW file’s noise signature.

    Speed is also very important. Shutter speed, AF speed, buffer speed, processor speed and write speed on the card. When all of the components are fast enough, you can capture a photo that otherwise you would miss. Any photo is better than no photo at all.

    See the composition. In order to compose a photo as best as possible, the viewfinder and/or the LCD are your portholes to the frame. The better they are, the better you can see the focus point, over-exposure, under-exposure, bokeh quality, etc. No matter if it’s an EVF, OVF or LCD – as long as they are good enough to let you see the composition correctly, with enough light and resolution.

    Long Battery life. If you’re out in the filed or on a trip, you might miss lots of photo opportunities if your battery dies. He who has more juice, gets the shot at the end of a long field day.

    Comfortable size, weight and button layout.
    The camera has to be user-friendly and easy to carry with you. If it’s too large, or too heavy – you might just leave it at home only because of the uncomfortable-ness it causes you to carry it around.

    Take all of that together, and you have a great photographic tool.

  26. Totally agree…lenses are the centretpoint….I’m trying to get hold of a Zeiss 50 1.5 Sonnar to go with my M9 kit, seems is sold out everywhere in the world….none here in Hong Kong, none on Ebay, none anywhere that I can find, so if anyone is selling one, please let me know! Cheers. G

    • I share your woe Gary, I’ve been looking for a used one for a while now myself and no joy. Fffordes had one a few weeks back but that had gone before they had a chance to remove the listing from their website.

  27. I think what this article is saying is that over the last couple of years the camera bodies have reach a level of maturity and pricing where we can buy and afford a camera that satisfies our individual needs.

    I see less and less technical discussions on technical forums and more picture sharing than ever before on such sites. Canon user are, today, pretty satisfied with their options since after the 5D I/II (I mean for all DSLR levels since then). Leica users since M8 and M9. Nikon probably in the las 2-4 years. M43 is reaching the same level as far as I can tell.

    Canon now upgrade their lenses more frequently than their EOS bodies. I am certain others will start doing the same – if they aren’t already.

    After I, by luck of draw, could afford and bumped into an M9 last year I have not cinsidered another body from any manufacturer. I have, however, bought many lenses. Some from the 30s, 50s, 60s, 90s, and up to today. (I refer to the decades, not focal lengths:-).

    Point being that the market and hype keep slowing down and we discuss the art and emotions of photography more often and in greater ratio than ever in the past decade. More and more of us feel we have arrived at our preferred system and are happy and enjoying them without thinking about the next body purchase.

    To further strengthen the point of Steve’ article we see more ILC systems from more camera manufacturers. Nikon is the latest. Canon will join, soon. As far as I know Leica (M and S), Olympus, Sony (A and NEX), and now Nikon all have dual ILC systems. That means that they allow/need their customers to focus on lenses as body upgrades lose importance.

    It is based on commercial considerations, but hopefully a great shift in focus for photography. Finally, we gearheads can have an emotional conversation with our real artist photographer friends again:-)

    It is all about the picture, and finally how you want to direct the light has become as important as how you capture it:-)

    Good light to everyone!!

  28. Whilst it is true that a new camera “won’t make you a better photographer”, a new lens won’t either. You mentioned that some lenses could give you “more creative freedom” which is absolutely true – but could be equally as true of getting a new camera – you may find that having AF for the first time or the ability to take 8 frames per second, or going to a rangefinder for the first time all enhance your creativity and the variety of shots you can take as much as a new lens would. The main advantage of a different lens over a different body is the other point you mentioned which is that is should not depreciate by as much.

  29. Still got my E-P1 that I bough two years ago, still enjoying it with the great little 20/1.7 I also bought two years ago and plan on keeping until I die. My only reason to buy another MFT body would be that my E-P1 dies — and that new body might just be a refurbished E-P1 again. It makes such great JPEGs if you get the settings right that I even stopped bothering shooting RAW.

    Still got my M8, but I admit I was thinking about the NEX-7 with all its great new futuristic features. Then I saw some sample pictures, and was glad I didn’t make a deposit for it already. Mushy, smeary, no definition in the pictures. The M8’s sensor at base ISO delivers so much more pleasing results, even though the sensor is five years old now — it’s still one of the best that were ever made and still capable of delivering OUTSTANDING results, especially paired with the Zeiss lenses I own.

    Also, I am using a little Contax T rangefinder from the eighties. Thanks to its stellar Carl Zeiss 38mm f/2.8 Sonnar lens, loaded with some nice slide film this produces excellent results, and also is a fun camera to use.

    So yeah, it definitely IS about the lenses, but it is ALSO about the camera — as I (and you) said, the M8 can deliver stunning results. For me, personally, there is no need to invest in a newer camera body if I have a couple of cameras that are all very much capable at taking great pictures if combined with good lenses. All I wish for is some spare cash to buy that nice glass that’s waiting just around the corner … 🙂

  30. Thanks to you Steve, I’m shooting with a Pentax K-5 with:
    43mm F1.9 ltd
    77mm F1.8 ltd (my favorite)
    and a 18-135 for shooting my daughter’s horse riding competition.

    The limited are excellent!

  31. Couldn’t agree more Steve… Here’s what i am holding on to and have no plans to upgrade anytime soon.

    – M8.2 – Used with 3 Summarit lenses except the 35mm, Elmarit 28mm 2.8 and Voigtlander 50 1.1
    – EP2 ( 2 Bodies ) Used with 50+ Konica AE/EE and Minolta Rokkor and Auto Rokkor MF lenses
    – EPL2 w/Flash Used with 50+ Konica AE/EE and Minolta Rokkor and Auto Rokkor MF lenses
    – Fuji X100
    – Nikon D200 2 Bodies Used w/24-70mm 2.8, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 80-400mm 4.5-5.6, 60mm 2.8 Macro older version, 80-200mm 2.8 AFS
    – Nikon D90 Used w/24-70mm 2.8, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 80-400mm 4.5-5.6, 60mm 2.8 Macro older version, 80-200mm 2.8 AFS
    – Leica DLux 4
    – Leica Digilux 3 Used with Leica/Pana Summilux 25mm 1.4
    – Leica Digilux 2
    – Panasonic L1 2 Bodies Used with 2 Leica R lenses 90mm and 135mm 2.8, 14-50mm 2.8 kit
    – Panasonic LC1
    – Panasonic GF1 Used with 20mm 1.7 and 45mm 2.8 Macro

    Next purchase will be the Panasonic 25mm 1.4 for m43 bodies and just because i love my EP2’s/EPL2 with Konica and Minolta combinations i might get the EP3 for the built in flash. I have also considered the NEX7 but doubt that i will pull the trigger on this one, will wait for your review as i have no experience with Sony cameras.

    Now, will i ever trade or upgrade to an M9/10? Simple answer for me is NO! I love my M8.2 so much that i am considering if anything at all get another one, this is one hell of a camera as others have also stated, just something about it. Of everything i own my favorite’s are my EP2’s/EPL2 with Konica and Minolta lens combination followed by the M8.2 and Summarit lenses…

    My collection of Konica and Minolta MF lenses are truly my pride and joy! I just love the build quality and the look i get from them mounted on my Oly’s… Minolta Auto Rokkor 55mm F2, in B&W Wow!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ki0001/

    • Kelvin, that is one super collection you have there. Congrats! More and more through the noise of combinations I am getting the feeling that the M8.2 with a 28 or 35mm is one of the best combination around (for digital).

  32. Agreed – I was looking at an EP-3 and wondering if I could stretch the budget far enough to buy the 20mm Panasonic with it, instead I followed Steve’s link and bought an EPL1 for $349 from BH with the kit zoom, and was able to add the Panasonic 20mm lens and an adaptor to use my existing Fourth Thirds Lenses that came with the E500, particularly the 35mm Macro which is great for flowers. And an eBay Nikon adapter to use my old E series 50mm f1.8 (great fun for portraits) – all for only a little more than the EP3 with a basic kit lens. I couldn’t be happier, and if I really need to then I can pounce on an EP3 when it’s old news.

  33. Back in the film days, the camera really was first and foremost a light-tight box, and differences between them tended to be minimal and could often be ignored. Film was your sensor, and the real differentiator was the lens. In the digital age this is no longer true. First, the body is your film; it will limit your output. Second, digital bodies are far less mature in design, and usability factors vary widely–easily enough to make the difference between getting or not getting the shot.

    I think it is absurd to compare an m8+ 50 to an m9+50; you’re comparing a standard lens setup to a telephoto. The telephoto is inherently more limiting, and that’s before you factor in problems like ir color contamination. Save for a new lens, and you gain one more new lens; upgrade your body, and /all/ your lenses potentially improve. Besides, i only need a couple of lenses anyway, and i already have them. So of course, i will consider a body upgrade. If it did nothing but improve response time or dynamic range, it would make me a better phottographer.

    • improved dynamic range is all it takes to make you a better photographer Chris ?

      so by that token, anyone doing any sort of blending in post, or even using an in camera HDR bracketing type setting must therefore be good photographers ???

    • Sometimes as well a new body doesn’t improve all your lens but rather leaves you with holes, often expensive to fill.

      When I had a M8 I was really happy with the VC15mm as a nice 21mm equiv. Great images and it was a mere $549

      Moved to the M9 and suddenly I didn’t have my favorite wide focal length anymore. 15mm was much too wide to be useful and my 25mm Zeiss wasn’t wide enough.

      I looked at the various Leica 21’s and they had some nice ones but all very, very expensive, even the ZM18 was over twice what my VC15 was and again wasn’t the ideal FOV for me, nor did I have a finder for it as I did my 21.

      I did like my 50 being a 50 again, but its not as if switching bodies makes every lens better and more useful, especially when you’ve grown to enjoy how they perform on a certain body

      • @jeff–yes, improved dynamic range (among other factors) makes me a better photographer; i can capture things i want to capture which i would miss otherwise. no, ‘by that token’ blending doesn’t make someone a good photographer. do you *really* think that is a logical step?

        as for your example with the cv15, congratulations, you have discovered just about the one extant lens which doesn’t work all that well on an m9. but, as with any other lens, you can still use it with your m9 and crop to get exactly the same results as you would with an m8, minus the ir color contamination. and if you want to use an 18mm and crop to 21mm fov, you’ll have more pixels and better overall quality than you would have had originally with the 15 on the m8. meanwhile, with almost every other lens choice, and especially with the fl options most in demand for rf cameras, the ff camera opens up more and cheaper possibilities for a given fl than the m8 gives. so, yes, the m9 will at worst let you crop to get what you used to get from an m8, and in almost all cases will give you a considerably better result.

    • If the telephoto is more limiting than standard lens does it means that the most universal and less limiting should be 24mm or even 16mm (or 8mm) fish-eye? And does it mean you’ll be more limited in portrait shooting with 90mm (or 135mm) than with 24mm (or 35mm)?

      • @ alexander–yes, a telephoto lens (50mm) on an m8 is inherently more limiting than a standard lens (50mm) on an m9. standard lenses are versatile–you can use them for a variety of purposes, which is one reason they were standard. telephotos are limited to use as telephotos. and, obviously, you can always crop the m9 down to give the same result as the same lens on the m8. this isn’t rocket science. or particularly subjective.

    • The M9 definitely improves response time and dynamic range when compared to the M8. More importantly, the M9 does not lock up when you shoot too quickly with a low battery. There was nothing worse than shooting 5 or so frames of a whale breaching or an eagle snagging a salmon and have to pull the battery to restart the M8. But the extra dynamic range gives the M9 a softer look. And it is still not enough DR. Case in point, I can not shoot surf breaking on lava flows without loosing the highlights or having the lava go completely black. Another stop of DR would be nice to have.

      The M8 was a good but limited tool. If you shoot slow with good glass, it can give outstanding results. I loved shooting the M8 with a 35 Summicron. It produced exactly the result I was after – wonderful color, great tonal transitions and just the right amount of sharpness. Now I’m getting similar results with a 50 Summicron on My M9.

      The M9 is a better camera. It is not perfect, but no camera is. I got 5 good years out of my M8 and hope to get 10 out of my M9. A M10 would have to be one hell of a camera to make me want to trade up.

      • i agree with you. the m8 was an interesting proof-of-concept (digital leica m). many people did great work with theirs. the m9 is the realization of the concept (a true digital equivalent to the m7). for me, that is basically enough. but it doesn’t mean that i wouldn’t jump at the chance to get a laundry list of improvements. more or less in order: 1) eliminate the magenta stripe down the left edge. 2) improve shutter lag to match m6. 3) improve reliability and durability, including basic weather seals. 4) instant on. 5) even better dynamic range. 6) even better high iso performance. 7) quieter shutter. 8) reduce propensity to blooming around blown image regions. 9) clear buffer with alacrity to permit shooting whenever you need to take a shot. 10) lcd you can confirm shot focus on. …sure, i could go on, but do i really have to? sooner or later there will be a new model. it had damn well better be a better camera than the m9. and unless they completely screw up–eliminate the rangefinder for instance, or even put in those nasty red framelines from the titan–yes, i will be buying one. and i fully expect to make more and better photos on it than i already am making with the m9.

        by the way, if ‘extra dynamic range’ results in a softer look to you, that is easily fixed by two clicks on contrast, or more subtly by a curves adjustment. if that doesn’t fix it, the difference isn’t down to dynamic range.

        • I spend my days shooting and printing museum and gallery quality art reproductions. My tool of choice is a 4×5 Toyo with a BetterLight Super 6k scanback. The BetterLight has a 13 stop dynamic range. Even when using cross polarization (polarizing filters over the lights and the lens), I get more dynamic range than I need to accurately place highlights and shadows. Custom profiles combined with using the eyedropper tool on the AMB patches of a Kodak Q13 gray scale give me the dynamic range necessary for a good print.
          I don’t mean to come off as a butt head but I am adjusting DR all day long to get the results I want. And it is always better to have too much than too little – at least when working in raw.
          There are all kinds of ways of measuring DR but if you can evenly light a Q13 gray scale (being extremely careful to protect your lens from flare) and your capture measures 245 in the white patch, 100-128 in the middle gray patch (M) and 30 in the black patch (B), your file will print perfectly. This amounts to 9+ stops of dynamic range. Using this as a base, the M8 runs 7 stops and the M9 runs 8 stops. In other words, you either get great shadow detail with blown highlights or good highlights with no shadow detail.
          Both cameras are better than slide film but not quite as good as a portrait negative film (using studio strobes or fill flash) or well exposed and developed B&W film. But they are good. However, they can be improved upon. Most MF backs will get you to the +9 range. And Kodak makes the sensor used in the M8 and M9. They also make the sensor used in the BetterLight so future cameras may yield more DR.
          I know this stuff is geeky but if you are interested, I have a downloadable PDF on my website that explains (among other things) how to use the Q13 to make good prints. The link is:
          http://www.kauaisprintmaker.com/how-to-print-the-perfect-giclee.php

          • Very generous guidebook you’ve made there–thanks for the link. Like you say, dynamic range is often a limiting factor, and its always better to have more of it. I think we’re in complete agreement.

  34. That’s just what I do for last years. I get lenses for the very first Panasonic G1 and still waiting for the Panasonic body I could buy as the second one. I skip all the G2, G3, GF1, GF2, GF3 because G2 is much like G1, GHs are too expensive and other cameras I’ve mentioned are much less comfortable for me. So I’m waiting for GF Pro with the viewfinder and all that buttons and wheels that G1 has …and with new processor and sensor.
    By now I’ve bought zero Panasonic or Olympus lenses because it’s out of my budget generally and I don’t need autofocus. I think about Panasonic f:1.4, but I don’t know when I can get enough money to try.
    I get used lenses. My favorite by now is Summicron-R 50mm. Also I have some soviet and japan lenses for M42 (and M39) and the best are Yashinon, Tair-11, Volna-9, Jupiter-3 (the copy of Zeiss Sonar f:1.5 5cm), Pentax Super Takumar f:1.4, and I think some day I’ll write about those lenses. Some of those I’ve used while shooting film, too.
    I must say that a lens with its very own character gives a new possbilities and allows to fix the atmospere and feelings of the moment in the way I see it. So does Summicron and other of my favorite lenses.

  35. Thanks Steve, I love cameras (maybe even more than you). Although I never have any money to spent on new gear. I’m aware that this article is about investing in lenses instead of bodies but I would just like to thank you for all the great reviews of cameras I can only dream of.

  36. Exactly!

    That’s why I’m sticking to the real 4/3 system as the lenses are the best AF ones you can get for a DSLR. However now I’m ready to spend some money on an Leica M9P in chrome and some lenses to start with (Summarit to start as there aren’t so many available). However the 50mm Lux ASPH is on my top priority list.

    B

  37. I have just upgraded (although some people might argue that I did the opposite) from my GF1 to a G3. While I loved the GF1, its lack of a viewfinder (and the uselessness of Panasonic’s accessory EVF) made it frequently difficult to use with manual focus lenses, and with any lenses at all in bright sunlight. I now feel that I’m getting much more out of my lens collection – and there are some lenses, particularly in the tele range, that I really couldn’t use before that I’m now enjoying.

  38. Selling my M8 was hard. I replaced it with the M9 but i probably wouldn’t make that choice again as the M8 was just so nice..I should have spent the extra money on lenses..M8 + 24 and 35 lux.

  39. I dumped all of my Nikon glass and my M8 to fund a M9. I wanted to keep my M8 as a back up camera but after crunching numbers, it had to go. Now, looking back, Steve is right. The M8 produces crisper files. They just look different than the M9 files.
    However, with a M9 and a 35 Summicron type 4, 50 Summicron type 3, and a 90 Elmarit M, I have a dream kit. I’m getting the Leica glow, especially from the Summicrons. And I am a very happy camper.
    The only changes and additions I plan to make is to trade my heavy 135 Elmarit (which spends most of its life in a drawer) for a lighter 135 TeleElmar and add a 21 – probably the Super Elmar. No rush though. The 135 and 21 are special purpose lenses and see little use. In fact, if Leica comes out with a 50 Summicron ASPH in the future, I’d go for that lens first.

  40. Haha, Steve just wanted to let us know, that there will be a M10 next year without saying that directly… 🙂 Mh, so I will keep my beautiful M9-P and buy the M11. 🙂 Rolf. Will you be at photokina in Cologne next year?

  41. I have a Canon 5DMkII and have no need to buy another body – except a M9 if it will be affordable some day. The Canon is just a DSLR, but my glasses have personality: I really got hooked on manual lenses like Leica-R Elmarit 2.8/28, Summicron R 35 (will sell it and looking for a Zeiss 2/35) and Summilux R 50. But my old Pentacon Six-lenses like Biometar 2.8/80 and Flektogon 4/50 are also very pretty.

  42. Have had my M9 and Noctilux f / 0.95 for calibration – woouu, what a difference it made. So it is the preferred right now, along with a 35mm Summicron and a 75mm Summicron coming.

    Besides it, I use Canon 5D and 85mm f/1.2 II, along with Zeiss 100mm f/2.0

    • You are my idol LOL. I have a 5D2 and 85L II and it pulls such amazing photos it makes me feel like I am cheating.

      Eventually I’d love to have the M9+ 50 0.95 combo.

  43. Couldn’t agree with your post more, Steve. I have a GF1 and have some really sweet glass for it. I personally like this MFT offering more than any of the Olympus offerings…but to each his own. Oly is finally coming up with some REALLY interesting glass though with the new 12mm and 45mm lenses. Now you’re talking. Pany has some great glass too and I own a lot of it. I will be picking up the Oly 12mm next. I agree with everything you stated about the GF series…don’t know…but maybe they will get it right with the GF7 I am hoping it is a mini Nex-7 with an improved MFT sensor with a fuller dynamic range!!!! I can dream.
    I still think the MFT is the best mini “system” because it is the right size and there is a really great lens offering now and its getting better. Most of the MFT lenses are small, too and with some faster f-stopped, autofocusing, primes available, lately… As a complete small system I think it is the best for the money. When I need to get better quality…I head for my full-frame DSLR…you head for your Leica M-9.
    There are a lot of great choices out there these days though and it is only getting better.
    Pretty exciting days!

  44. First, I enjoy your site, Steve. For me, I bought a Nikon D2H when they first hit the streets in 2003. I used it professionally while shooting as a staff photographer for a small weekly. When I left the weekly with the downturn in the newspaper industry in 2008, I purchased a second, Nikon-refurbished D2H for backup as I had to leave a D2Hs that belonged to the paper. My original D2H now has over 160,000 clicks and is going strong. The second body has just over 50,000 clicks and still looks brand new. I have lusted for a D3 but don’t care to spend the money and have invested in software (CS5, Nik Dfine noise reduction, Nik Silver Efex) and in lenses. My current stable includes a Tokina 80-200mm f2.8, Tokina 12-24 f4 (one of the sharpest lenses ever IMO), Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5-5.6, Nikkor 85mm f1.8, & Nikkor 35mm f1.8. I have no plans to buy another body (unless it is a rangefinder film body such as the new Zeiss Ikon with either Zeiss or Leica glass) as my needs have changed since leaving the industry.

  45. I just got a M9 and would love to have ANY Leica lens on it, but alas, NO ONE has anything in stock. How can a company with nothing to sell make any money?

    I’m done ranting now. I have to go back and look at my camera sitting in it’s box. ;^ )

    • I feel your pain! However, I’ve nabbed some good Leica glass since I made the switch to Leica late last year. The secret — if you can call it that — is to frequently check the inventory of places such as B&H. I check B&H several times each day. Tuesday-Thursday early-afternoon or very late evening seems to be the time when a lens will suddenly show up as In Stock. If you have the money, click fearlessly! Over the past year I’ve gotten the 28 f2, 50 f2, 50 f.95 and 75 f2. I also bought a lightly used 90 f2. All the most recent models. The hunt for Leica glass is part of the fun for me. Have fun.

        • As an experiment, on a vacation this past summer I shot ONLY with the Noctilux for the entire week. After that week, I can say without doubt that the Noct is a perfect everyday lens. I just bought the new Voigtlaender 35 1.2 V2 lens and I plan on playing around with that for the next few weeks. I’m interested to see how well it stacks up against the Noct. Again, tracking down the 35 1.2 v2 was part of the fun of all this.

  46. I’m currently using a compact, the Panasonic Lumix FZ45, a camera my uncle got me as a present for my 18th birthday last year. It does offer pretty good results (for a beginner), but it’s starting to get a bit limited… and I fell in love with my uncle’s Leica M8, can’t think of any other camera (well, the M9, of course), ever since I tried it. I don’t want a DSLR now, I want a rangefinder…

    Would absolutely love to have an M9 with the 50mm Summilux ASPH (as an all-around lens), and the 28mm Summicron as a good wide angle for shooting architecture (I’m an architecture student). Of course, way out of my budget. They still don’t charge for dreaming, right? I think I’d stick with that combination for many, many years.

  47. C’mon Steve, investing in lenses = yes. how can you compare M8+50lux against M9+voigtlander? it’s giving different results – in image quality, focal lenght. the only thing I agree – M8+50lux is investment in lens. I prefer old M6 + dedicated scanner like old Minolta 5400 Elite over M8. M8 is useless for real work/assigment due to sensor. so my opinion is definitely M9+voigtlander or zeiss. I can recommend voigtlander 50/1.1+old (III or IV) summicron as good choice for budget. Investing in M8 is in my opinion mistake, the value of this camera is falling down and in lowlight it’s terrible tool.

    • I disagree, the M8 is an EXCELLENT camera and with a Zeiss 50 is pretty damn close to the Lux with a warmer rendering. With an M10 on the way next year….just saying’!

      • Give me an M8 and 35 lux any day vs. M9 and Voigtlander 50mm F1.1.
        Used M8 with new 35 lux = $7500 .. Used M9 and VC F1.1 $7300.
        BTW M8 prices are stable and have not decreased in Early sping.. maybe even increased.

        • Totally agree Brian. In the UK dealers prices for used M8’s have not really changed in the last 18 months or so. I sold my first M8 for what I paid for it 9 months later, bought another one 6 months later after missing it for again exactly the same price and guess what? Dealers are still asking exactly the same price of around £1695.00 or MORE for a nice one today.

          “Bad Investment” ??? – FREE photography more like! LOL 🙂

        • Brian, Steve compared M8+50lux and M9+voigtlander. your set is more universal, as 50 on crop is about 67mm.
          so my reply is – for Steve comparision (M8+50lux vs M9+50voigt) you can invest in lens or buy camera to real work. M9 is real tool to replace typical fullframe like Canon 5dmk2 or Nikon D700. M8 is not. the line is where the light for M8 sensor ends. forgiving and forgetting the crop.

      • Totally agree with you Steve and why I will not sell my current M8 and get an M9 despite GAS so often tempting me. Far too much hype surrounds newer cameras as your *refreshing* article highlights extremely well. Why I still use my M2 & Nikon F2 EVERY single week and in use they are far superior to ANY modern camera available so why should I ditch my M8? LOL

        So much rubbish has been spoken about the M8 and I’d wager 95% of it comes from people who’ve never even held one never mind actually used one or had problems with early models. So long as the crop factor & use of UV/IR filters is not a problem then this camera is and will remain a highly relevant tool to photogs that understand what they want and how to use it.

        Leica have still never produced a finer camera than the original M3 (no matter how many think the M9 is the top dog) which almost 60 years later still proves what Steve is saying is 101% true – – Yep, It’s the GLASS 🙂

        • “Leica have still never produced a finer camera than the original M3 … which almost 60 years later still proves what Steve is saying is 101% true.”

          not to pick on you specifically, but i’ve seen variations on this comment several times–not surprising since it is the basis of steve huff’s article, that newer models of m4/3 cameras aren’t actually improvements–and i am sorry but i have to point out that it is completely illogical. assuming you and steve are correct, and the oldest camera models are in fact the best of their respective systems, then that would at most go to prove that the camera *does* matter. if the older models are preferable, then they are better; if the newer models offer less control or less reliability or are otherwise poorer, then the older model will be a better camera, and help the photographer to get better results, than the newer model.

          otoh, some of us can think of some older model cameras which were real stinkers, and which were dramatically improved by subsequent iterations. buying one of those improved bodies, especially in the digital age, would be a smarter move than getting yet another lens.

          oh, and a close look at an mp would probably show that it’s a better camera than the m3, if only because it doesn’t limit you to 50mm and longer glass. heck, i chose an m6ttl over an m3 because the vf is much more useful.

      • comparing M8 vs M9 on assigment like events, weddings etc. work – the first is bad choice. but – I understand that for someone that already invested in M8 camera the mantra says ‘it’s good’. no offense.
        between M8 and M9 there is a big step in technology – full frame, different sensor, highier usable ISO – I mean camera to work not to own. I pick M8 for one wedding having already M9. the answer is not. for my work these two bodies are out of compare when working ie in dark reception light.
        as for the value I meant – there is M10 around the corner, M9 value will fall a little bit, M8 fall a little more. it’s life. there will be 3rd generation of digital M, so the value of the first will fall. how many M8 owners will be selling M8 to buy M10, because they skip M9 waiting for something more in M10 model? c’mon guys, get real. M8 will be good deal when M10 will fall into market. not now.
        as for Voigtlander 50/1.1 – I have two in hands. the first – in January was pretty terrible. kind of frontfocus problems and not sharp as expected. the 2nd one – taken on 3 weddings – was pretty good. I’m very suprised by image quality and bokeh of Nokton 35/1.2mk2.

      • Steve – if M8 is excellent camera, why you have choosen M9 as your tool? ie during Seal’s tour? the difference is if we need to buy work tool or we just invest is passion of photography. you are right – investing money into lenses is the way to go. but I’m still on my opinion – M8 won’t work at desired image level in conditions I need it to work. maybe that’s why my opinion is different 🙂
        M8 (used) is here for 2640 USD including 23%VAT. pretty nice deal.

  48. Every so often I think about a new camera upgrade from my GF1, but I always end up asking what more I could get from an upgrade? Answer, not that much. I always bought a lower than top of the line film camera from Nikon, since 1960’s, that way I could afford better glass. One more thing about hanging onto the GF1, I keep finding out how to do more with it than I knew. I shoot with it almost every day and even after all this time, I still find more things about it that I like and didn’t know that it could do. I can also afford better glass due to what they charge compared to my old Nikon Glass.

  49. Ah, Steve,

    Wise, sensible words…..investing in a new camera is like investing in a new computer. Only wearth the trouble if you have at least 1/2 performance improvement. So for me to invest in a new camera it has to give me 6000 pixels (I measure my pixelcount not in megapixels but in longest length since that determines how large my photos will be printable)…….and Pana or Oly should be able to do that in 3 to 4 years……until then its the GX680 from Fuji if things have to be BIG and the GF1 if A4 till A3 will do…..

    Greetings, Ed

  50. Currently i am having my eyes fixed on the Olympus 45/1.8 for my E-PL1, although at times i am lusting for a EOS-7D, but that is a bit too expensive so i’ll settle for the glass to fit the Pana 20/1.7, the Oly 14-42 and the adapted Canon FD 28/2.8 and 50/1.4 i am using on the E-PL1.

  51. I’m currently using M9 & Noctilux F1. I really would love to get the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 version II. I heard many good comment on NEX focus peaking when attached a manual focus lens. So, I wish to get a NEX 7 & Nokton.

    Steve, it will be great if you can review Nokton 35mm f1.2 II with 35 Summilux.

  52. Hi there. I totally agree. I have been building a good set of Nikon glass for the last 4 years. I bought my DSLR 3 years ago and I suspect it will last another 1 or two, as the quality is still quite good and then I save a lot for lenses. The same with my Mamiya 645 AF body and its amazing pieces of glass!

  53. My most used hardware Nikon D3s + Zeiss 100mm F2 Makro Planar (or alternatively Nikkor 85mm F1,4 G)

    Using 85 to 100mm large aperture lens give me pics which are not postcard looking but concentrate on the essential

  54. I’m all about the lenses. Get a good body and it will last you for a long time. I took this philosophy when I got my Canon 50D (my 24-70 f/2.8L is a workhorse for photo shoots) and I’m sticking to the “only upgrade when the 5DMKIII comes out” thing. Same with the GF1. I keep hearing rumors of a “GF-Pro” which will be a true successor to the GF1 but until then, lenses all the way. The Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 for that camera is fantastic as is the 45mm f/2.8 Macro and the 20mm f/1.7. My Leica M6 has gotten some lens love too with the 35mm Summilux pre-ASPH and more recently a Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar. Those two will serve me well for a long time to come. However, in the end, since May, my constant companion has been the Fujifilm X100. Fixed lens. No way to upgrade. But…it has everything I need in one sweet package. I have a ton of film cameras but other than the Leica, I really haven’t bought any lenses. And I’m realizing I haven’t bought a zoom lens in years…I think the last one I bought was the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L. Huh…

    In the end, like you said, it’s all in the lens. I’ve had friends complain to me about how “old” their camera is, but when I make them take off that kit lens for the first time and I slap on a 50mm f/1.4 on there, they are almost always amazed and say it’s like they got an upgraded camera. 🙂

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