Why I quit the Leica M bodies for the Sony A7R by Didier Godme

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Why I quit the Leica M bodies for the Sony A7R

By Didier Godme – His Flickr is HERE, his blog is HERE

I started being more serious about photography when buying my first Canon DSLR (20D) a few years back and then upgraded to the 5DMII. After 3 years of good use, my neck started feeling bad (especially with the 35 f1.4) so in 2011, my wife convinced me to cut my arm in order to be able to afford the M9-P…

I am not the type of guy who always buys the latest stuff, but since I’ve had 2 important failures in less than 2 years on the M9-P (wrong exposure + sensor dead), I decided to go for the Sony A7R. By chance it came out just when I had the 2nd failure and Leica lend me another M9-P during the 4-6 months repair time (no joke…). As a consequence, I had the opportunity to benchmark both. The goal of this article is not to say that M bodies are crap in terms of quality because it’s certainly not the case and not everybody had the same (bad) experience as I did.

My idea is simply to list all the great advantages from the Sony A7r over the M9-P which led me to stop using Leica M bodies.

– Weight: 465 vs 600 gr. OK, we’re talking peanuts here, but you can feel it straight away.

– Size: My dream has always been to get the smallest and lightest possible full frame camera. My M9-P was the first answer to that but Sony is now clearly the winner on both even if the difference is small.

– Ergonomic: I had to buy the grip for the M9-P to be able to have a strong control of it. The Sony is just perfect the way it came out from the factory.

– Iso: No need to go in depth on this one…M9 is already 4 years old and technology made loads of progress since then.

Sony A7r with Zeiss 55

sony-a7r-with-zeiss-5

Leica M9P with 50 Summilux

leica-m9p-with-summilux-5

Sony A7r with Zeiss 35 2.8

sony-a7r-with-zeiss-41

Leica M9P with 35 Summilux at 2.8

leica-m9p-with-summilux-1

Sony A7r with Zeiss 35 at 2.8

sony-a7r-with-zeiss-2

Leica M9P with 35 Summilux at 2.8

leica-m9p-with-summilux-2

– Viewfinder: Although I really love the rangefinder type of viewfinder because it’s huge, clear and you can see what’s happening out of the frame, I always scratch my glasses because of the metal on the M9-P. It’s a detail, but now with the Sony A7R, I will not have to change glasses every year or think about wearing lenses each time I want to shoot.

– Framing: When using rangefinders, there is always a little shift between what was in the framelines and what you get. With the Sony A7R, what you see is what you get.

– Screen: There is no possible benchmark between the one from the M9-P and the Sony A7R. The one from the M9-P was already outdated when it came out and the Sony represents the last generation so the advantage is obvious. It’s not on this point I want to argue but on the tillable screen. It’s a simple option but it allows to increase framing possibilities tremendously and get more original pictures.

– Manual Focus: I’ve been using rangefinders for 5 years now (M7-M9-P) and have no trouble focusing manually on rangefinders. When I first read about focus peaking I had no idea what it was (I know…it’s a shame!) but Steve Huff wrote in his review that it was quite easy to focus manually with Leica M lenses on this body (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2013/11/29/the-sony-a7-and-a7r-camera-review-by-steve-huff/). I tested it in the store where I bought it and was convinced in less than 30sec. In opposition to the rangefinder system where you need to use the center of the frame to focus, with focus peaking you can focus everywhere in the frame. The big advantage is that you don’t have to focus and then frame but can do both at the same time.

Sony A7r and Zeiss 35 

sony-a7r-with-zeiss-3

Leica M9P with 35 Summilux

leica-m9p-with-summilux-3

– Auto Focus: As I said, I am used to manual focus and like to control it. My wife however is not really keen on manual focusing and doesn’t take many pictures because of this. When purchasing the A7R I decided to go as well for the Zeiss 35 F2,8 so that she can use it and shot our baby. She (and I) just love this lens and now can use it on the camera. Just impossible on Leica M bodies…

– Speed: Leica M9-P goes up to 1/4000 sec while the A7R up to 1/8000 sec. Again, a small difference, but quite useful when shooting at 1.4F in daylight!

– Image Quality: Although the CCD sensor from the M9 is quite famous and my people LOVE it, I did some comparisons and find the Sony way more detailed. I also prefer the way colors come out.

– Sensor cleaning: Automatic sensor cleaning on the A7R, not on the M9.

All these reasons convinced me to go 100% for the Sony A7R. I am now waiting to get my M9-P back from repair to sell it straight away. The only thing I am going to miss from my old buddy is its legendary design…

To close the loop, standard warranty on my A7R is 4 YEARS!

Thumbs UP Sony!!!

Didier G.

Sony with Leica Summilux

Sony A7R with Zeiss 35 F2.8 iso 6400 2

Sony with 35 Zeiss

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314 Comments

  1. a few years on and I wonder what folks think of the sony advancement both in bodies and lens range in comparison to leica?
    funnily enough i came about the opposite way. i had never owned a Leica previously and often longed to try one out. however as a professional photographer i had been brought up on canon and nikon, nailing focus was a must and i couldn’t risk a manual focus lens especially at weddings where there is no second chance. when sony brought out the A7r i immediately bought one and a metabones adapter for the eos lenses i had. auto focus was poor compared to the canon dslrs. however what kept me with sony was the combination of the live view, focus assistant and peaking along with the fantastic focus zoom. now i could use all those old manual lenses like my old zuikos, focus accurately and with high resolution. sony had a great lens in the 55/1.8 and had a roadmap which soon brought a good enough selection to please most. having had the A7r for 5 years i never had a problem with it at all. never.
    now I have stopped photographing weddings and got a bit bored with the sony, still excellent for copy work and landscapes but for environmental portraits, which is my new focus, i hate it. the shutter is a loud clunk and the hands never mold to the body. therefore i thought I’d try a Leica, i got a used M-E and a new zeiss distagon zm 35 1.4 lens. looked on paper like a combination ideal for the type of photography i now do. however i had a shock at the poor lcd, i couldn’t make out much, the limited menu functionality and most importantly the rangefinder focussing. i had many shots oof. mainly front focusing. the shots that did come out were nice in tones and pop. i was disappointed, i set about doing a test with charts etc and it was front focusing. it could be the lens? of course. but i couldn’t be bothered knowing that the focus could stray even after fixing it. the zeiss looks ok on the A7r. if leica had live view with focus zooming it would be better. undoubtedly the leica feels nice in the hand and looks cool. it also takes lovely photographs. but for me the doubt in rangefinder focussing is a the problem. previously i have used medium format rfs Mamiya 7 and fujifilm. so i had experience in focussing those kind of cameras.

    the new M10 looks like it’s moving in the right direction but for £6k it’s extortion personified.

    • The good believe, can move big mountains! Good images are made by the individual photographers, and any camera is just a tool! Leica is not a camera system, Leica is a religion!

  2. Keep the great information coming over…All of this communication is duly & truly very helpful…Thanks!…Peter HM…

  3. Change of subject-thank you….

    Thoughts on trading:Voigtlander Bessa r3m w/lenses….Sony A7r w/lenses….all to buy the Leica SL/& lens……

  4. Great article. I own neither. I’m still deciding. But I know what I want. The number of pictures I have missed because I don’t have a quality compact that I can carry everywhere! . Grrr. I want FF and miniture with a sharp bright lens.

    • I guess SONY can live with that, because SONY is eating meanwhile Leica’s breakfast, lunch and dinner! LOL

  5. A few years ago, a photographer had posted a “shootout” between a Leica vs Phase One medium format. The apparent “Leica” was actually a $200 point and shoot and the medium format was actually the Phase One… Curiously, all the Leicafiles were raving at how good the “Leica” (cheap $200 point and shoot) was in comparison to the Phase One! Anyways, the point of the story is that you’ll continue to like what you like. I may be a little that way myself when it comes to watches, but I’d never argue that my Rolex keeps better time than a Timex because it actually doesn’t. I did try a Leica M type 240 recently (only for a day), but I was not convinced that it was as good as others said it was… at least, not to my eyes. That being said though, it did feel like it was a substantial piece of gear.

    Nowadays, I shoot with a Hasselblad H5D-40 and just recently purchased a Sony A7r with the 55mm f/1.8 for backup and travel. As I also have a pile of old Hassy manual focus lenses, what better way to get some use out of them with affordable adapters and have fun?

    I still shoot film and owned a Leica M7 until recently… gave it up for the Mamiya 7II. Granted the bokeh isn’t as good with the standard 80mm, but HOLY CRAP… talk about sharpness!

  6. I have been using the M240 for 10 months and have bought the a7R.

    As soon as the adaptor arrives I will do a side-by-side comparison, however I only own the most up to date Leica M lenses, as at present I do not own the Sony dedicated lenses.

    Once I have something to offer up I will post some results up.

    I have set up a Flickr account under: LeicaM240vSonya7R

  7. I have used Leica film cameras for 2 years exclusively now. M3 and M6. Sold a Nikon D3s, D700, and a whole closet of the best Nikon Glass in the world. Kept a 135/2 and a Nikon F2 with a few more lenses I admit. Ok a Hasselblad too.

    50% of my work is street photography for which the Leica has no equal. It’s design and usability are perfect for it and I don’t miss shots.

    The bottom line is the Leicas are created and designed to catch “the defining moment”. The Sony, and the rest of them are not. They are great at other things though – and they will find many loving homes.

    A

    • Sorry, but street photography is much less of 50% of the whole photography world. Today, there’re enough other excellent cameras on the market, equal and much better, for your street photography! Leica is expensive, but this is more or less all of it! What still Counts more, is the photographer behind the camera, and not the red dot!

      • It’s interesting reading this debate which simply started from an honest opinion and a personal view. Having the most expensive camera doesn’t guarantee the the best photographs or mean that you are more serious about your photography. There was one earlier comment that likened a camera to a musical instrument and I can agree with this. You have to choose the instrument that suits your work and the way you work. I bought a Leica to slow me down, make me think, by manually controlling everything I had to consider everything. For me it works. I curse it in low light but hey, 90% of the time it’s brilliant and because of the size it travels everywhere with me. Having a camera YOU like and fills YOU full of enthusiasm to get out there and take photographs is surely what this is all about.

        PS. Steve, love the site. A constant source of interesting, amusing and varied content. Nice one.

  8. Les Photos du leica M9P sont pour moi bien plus belles sur ces exemples, le rendu couleur du sony est “plat” ici

  9. I prefer the photos from the A7R. The photos from the Leica seems to me to look washed out. This doesn’t mean that all of you that prefer the Leica photos are wrong. It just means that everyone sees things differently.
    I believe that 95% of the people taking pictures out there (and I am included in the 95%) are presently using cameras that have capabilities that far exceed the photographic capabilities of the user. I have had other hobbies where I found myself obsessing over the tools rather than using the tools. It’s like the woodworker who has $20,000 worth of tools and makes a few bird houses.

  10. While it may win the IQ war, the Sony’s shutter is louder than any DSLR I have ever heard. This makes it useless for many of the things you would want to use a unobtrusive camera for.

    Comparing rangefinders to SLRs to mirrorless is a bit silly when you consider the applications for each are drastically different. This of course assumes you actually put them to good use.

    • Originally, the LEICA M8 RF had an focal plan shutter with an “noisy” 1/8000s. After complains from the hard core users, Leice decided to change the “loud” shutter down to 1/4000s only now! Personally, it disturbs me not a bit, and I bet, that Sony will be very able to correct this very minor problem very soon.

  11. I have an M9 and in the last 3 weeks an A7R which was purchased to eliminate the need for the M240 but my experience is that the A7R as good as it is just doesn’t provide the across the frame IQ I was looking for.
    Also looking at most of the images from the A7R they are good but not great like I had come to expect from the Leica.
    So it’s trade in time for my beloved 3 year old 75,000 activation M9.

    Thanks for the article but for me it’s the other way around 🙂

    • ROSS, you should explain a little more about it, why the old LEICA M9 sensor from KODAK should be better, as the 36MP sensor from the SONY A7R?

    • A good friend of mine, owning now a SONY A7, made a good statement!

      As an example: On the SONY A7 would be the name LEICA M9 engraved, and on the LEICA M9, the name SONY A7! Then a complete re-evaluation of the arguments would take place: The “SONY” would be outdated and too old, too heavy and too big, far too expensive for € 1500, the sensor, and the processor outdated, the image resolution insufficient, no LiveView functions, a limited connection for foreign- and zoom lenses, too unwieldy, without a hand grip, no high resolution folding display, no Wifi, no wireless camera controls, image transfer or remote camera release etc. etc. etc.

      “Buy yourself something decent!” This would be the well-intentioned advice to the heavily loaded deplorable “SONY-Fan” as well!

  12. Nice change of discussion Rainer, taking shots at Leica’s customers now that you have nothing left to say about the brand.
    And so the truth reveals itself. It’s all about envy. Quite sad really.

    Now that the truth has been revealed, I’m out of this one.

    Later
    Huss

  13. I know its hard to believe, or even an advantage for the Leica-users, to have now an elegant chance to mount their M-glasses on a modern and better, and more compact clever camera body! Oh, have I mentioned the price?

      • I don’t think so… think about it from a business perspective. The Leica M is backordered, and has been for over a year now. While the Sony, brand spankin new, is in stock everywhere and already is in the classifieds for several hundred $$ under list.
        In fact, someone is trying to sell an A7r for several days now on this site for $300 less than list.

        it doesn’t matter if the Sony is better. And the results from this post, as well as others show that is not the case using Leica glass. All that matters for the parent company is if the product is profitable. Leica is making money selling cameras. Sony is not. It’s imaging division has lost money quarter after quarter, with it losing $24 million the last quarter.

        http://www.engadget.com/2013/10/31/sony-earnings-q2-2013/

        So, it is hard to see how Leica has a stomach ache.

        • Well, to be honest, the volume on the Leica M 240 is 1/100th of the Sony. They do not make very many let alone ship that many to the US. At one point it was 5 a month compared to Sony’s 1000 per month. As of now, the M is available everywhere with many dealers having multiple as most wait lists have exhausted. So you really cannot compare the volume of cameras as Leica makes very little when compared to other brands. Also, there are new M 240s selling for $6400 out there…

          • Thing is I am not comparing volumes of cameras, but the profitability of the company. It doesn’t really matter if you sell 1000 times as much if you are not making a profit doing that.
            Leica’s volume may be 1/100 that of Sony’s, but they are making a profit. Sony (the imaging division making cameras) is not.

            Maybe that one Jony Ive Leica that recently sold at auction for $1.2 million boosted their bottom line!
            😉

            p.s. B&H and Adorama show the M is back ordered, as is my local dealer Samys, and I can only find 2 on Amazon – from a dealer that the last few feedbacks show they may have problems delivering merchandise.

          • Well, Leica is a niche, and not a competitor to the big ones. Fact is, that Leica products have for photo dealers the best profit, more as with all other camera brands. Leica enthusiast’s like to pay for the red dot prestige 4x more, to keep-up with Johnston’s! Fine with me, but not with me!

          • Huss, its not the manufacturer, its the people thinking that have spend that much money for an historical prestige camera, which are really not up-date anymore. O.K. with me, there are also
            people still playing with electric trains.

          • Wait! I resemble that! I too have (scale model) electric trains. Be nice.
            Or I’ll start prattling on about my (long mothballed) 4×5 and 8×10 Sinar P2s….
            Ok. Maybe not here.

  14. That’s great Rainer! Tests, reviews and point of views – those are subjective. But 2 photos taken with 2 bodies and same lens in same settings speak for themselves despite the author. Don’t you think?

    • There are not 100% possible, neither with lenses, nor with camera bodies. The better the quality controls, the better are the products. Unfortunately, this can only be reached with more costs! Most stuff today is mass production. Therefore, testing just one example,, cannot speak for the whole line! My 2 Cents!

  15. Didier

    It takes guts to publish an article with everybody chiming in. The M is not the M9, but your decision is made and enjoy the Sony. I am curious how you got a 4 far warranty? Maybe it’s 4 years in your country. I maybe missed it, but what country did you buy the a7r in?

  16. It’s all really useless. It doesn’t matter which camera you use or if it’s a few hundred grams lighter. I sometimes wonder what is happening. Half the world is in an economic crisis and we’re just posting about the weight of cameras and showing comparison photos of… what actually? Just everyday snapshots that can be made with nearly any camera. So they’re a bit sharper. No big deal. It’s not really earthshaking, is it? Sorry for this posting, but cameras, their technology, size, weight, auto-this and auto-that, etc etc. is just going too far. Of course, everyone is entitled to do whatever they want and upgrade to the latest and the greatest, but I just can’t handle it anymore. I’m not posting this to offend anyone, btw. It’s just all too much.

  17. Hi Jack,

    All my C/Y lenses work great with A7R including the 21f2.8, 28f.2.8, 45f2.8, 50f1.4, 85f2.8, 85f1.4, 135f2.8, 500f8, 28-85f3.3-4, 35-70f3.4, 80-200f.4 and 100-300f4.5-5.6. You can also add the 1.4X Mutur III if needed. All the Zeiss lenses are capable to reveal the sensor resolution. I use a very basis adaptor costed me about $30.

  18. Fascinating thread! I have the M240 and A7r, with a range of M glass. I was looking for the A7r as a companion, and was really hoping that most of the M lenses would gel. The results are that I am seeing is that the M240 across the frame IQ is better in most cases, than with the A7r. Few exceptions are the 50 Cron Rigid DR, 50 Nocti f/1.0 and 75 Lux.

    The heading is misleading, as having the M240, and having shot with A7r for over 3 weeks, I prefer the M240 with M glass. Simplicity and it works! If I still had the M9, then the A7/A7r would be a much different decision process, as the A7r has many features lacking with the M9. And again the Monochrom is in another class.

    I will be keeping the A7r, but most likely destined to be used with a select few lenses.

  19. After using my A7R for about a week with Contax C/Y lenses, I turned back to my M240 today and enjoyed the different RF experience once again. For me, it always comes to one important factor of using the Leica … it’s fun and more enjoyable than using the A7R. Anyway, just my personal preference.

    • I feel the same way. The rangefinder is such a pleasant tool to use, when set up properly, that it is difficult to switch to autofocus or focus peaking. When it is calibrated it is a joy to experience how precisely you can set the focus point. D!RK

    • Hey Simon,

      My main focus on photography is landscape. I will soon buy an A7R and have a handful of c/y lenses (c/y Zeiss 35-70 and 25 2.8) that I adapt to canon eos. I am aware of a novoflex to nex adapter. What adapter are you using, and do you have any problems with vignetting? Also, did you feel that these older lenses were were able to perform well on the A7R’s big sensor? Thanks so much.

      Best,

  20. I am not a Leica buff, but for me its very interestíng to read, that the new comparable “cheap” SONY’s are stepping now into the noble holy spirit of the Leica clans.

  21. I was so looking forward to this thread! I am also so glad it was created. Thank you, Mr. Godme. What I am not very impressed with is the comments. Criticisms should never be frowned upon and I can’t stand websites where detractors are scorned upon but I have a very simple, logical defense of Mr. Godme. Yes, with out-of-camera white balance settings, I believe that the Leica is more neutral and inviting. But who cares? Just use an Expodisc or some other custom white balance tool and the Sony A7R will reign supreme. Sorry guys but I stand behind the original post. It is his choice and his preference.

  22. I don’t get it, autofocus would be nice at times (like when your wife needs to take a picture and she does not know how to focus), but other than that the pictures using the M9 seemed better to me in terms of contrast and color and I could not tell the difference in sharpness once they were blown up.

    I have an MM and M9 and have grown to love those cameras and I don’t see how the A7 is such a evolutionary upgrade so as to warrant tossing those aside. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a camera that is light years ahead of the Leicas and that I would enjoy just as much but I don’t see it in the review.

    But who gives a crap what I think, at the end of the day it’s about what makes you happy and beyond the technical there is a visceral affinity for these Leicas that the Sony cannot touch, even if they are quirky, slow to buffer, etc. It’s the reason I had Harley Davidsons for years, they may not be the most technologically advanced, but man are they sweet bikes.

  23. Cannot say that any of the pictures convinced, neither Leica nor Sony, unfortunately! Thereby the article lost out…

  24. Kudos to Sony for being so brave in bringing the A7 and A7R to market. These are wonderful artistic tools that expand significantly what people can do at a reasonable cost.

  25. My old Leica film bodies still work, require some overhaul every 20 years, but remain repairable. Every Leica from the M4 onward was outdated at the time of purchase, but not obsolete. The lenses are adaptable to current bodies. The M bodies keep their value, the M lenses even increase in value.

    Perhaps even before Sony has worked to the end of its “roadmap” for FE-lenses, Voigtländer may sell an affordable digital rangefinder with M-mount. Leica M will remain, eventually with third-party adapters, bodies, lenses and independent repairmen. Even after Sony has abandoned still cameras or E-mount to go for holography, to only sell music and movies or whatever.

    Digital M bodies only partially preserve the rangefinder experience. The bodies are too thick, the LCD and the menus distract. They are just another bunch of digital device that will become obsolete and unrepairable within a few years which makes the price even harder to accept, compared to the film era.

    The A7 is even less, but the misery won’t last long (until you through it away) and is cheaper to purchase.

  26. What ever that leica m9p is, those images looks good, but I’m sure it cost way more than my sony a7. Picked one up for $1650 with kit lens. Can’t beat that price but I rather have the look of the m9p which I know I can’t afford.

  27. My two cents

    I purchased the M8 and a few wonderful Leica lenses and for many years I was quite happy. My only frustration came from either my own inability to Getty Leica kit to do what I desired or from not having a full frame sensor. A year ago I picked up the very capable OM-D EM5 and a few lenses mostly looking to be able to more easily capture my three year old’s antics and carry a small kit for travel. The M8 remained my expressive tool. My desire for a full frame camera remained. And yes, by then the M9 had been released, but as a hobbyist I simply couldn’t justify the expense.
    About 6 weeks back I placed a pre-order for the A7R thinking, at last a small FF camera that I can mount my Leica lenses on. But early feedback led me to cancel the A7R and after more research and reading I opted for the A7. After two weeks of shooting, roughly 500 shots with a 50 Summilux, 35/20 IV Summicron, 75/1.4 Lux and a Canon 50/1.2 LTM adapted lens, I am very much taken with the A7. I am capturing richly textured, nuanced and detail laden photos with little to no CA, smearing or other artifact. And I am enjoying my hobby again in a way that I haven’t since in a few years. I would love to have the M240 or as a second camera the M9, and I remain passionate about Leica and it’s future. But for the next few years I’ll be slapping my Leica glass onto the A7 and enjoying myself immensely.

    To Didier, thank you for writing this article and catalyzing this conversation. The passion of the people who follow Steve is tremendous and the discussion you set off both entertaining as well as educational.
    Bon chance et a bientot

  28. Hello I’m Luke.
    I own a leica m9p and I also have the new fuji x-e2, then I think no one can make a comparison between leica and others, leica either love or hate.
    It would be like comparing a Ferrari with a more extreme Lamborghini ok most futuristic technology, but the charm Ferrari is unique as it is the charm Leica is unique. Anyway if you are in a hurry to take take Sony, Fuji Canon, Nikon, but if first shots with his eyes and then with the camera then choose Leica.
    P.S. But I think Fuji x-e2 with Leica lenses is superior to any Sony.

  29. I think one of the points Didier made is particularly important and being ignored in this thread (unless I skipped through it too quickly): his wife doesn’t like manual focus – and, with the a7, they’ll have both. I’m a devoted RF user, but am considering this body for exactly that reason. It can be a high ISO second body for me, and a great point and shoot for my wife.

  30. ” Which makes me wonder, besides IQ, what advantages does an extra 5K or more get you, other than the aesthetic and tactile experience of communing with ghosts of a bygone era?”

    When you shoot with a Leica M series camera, you have access to seemingly hundreds of Leica lenses manufactured over the last 60 years, all that work seamlessly and perfectly with your camera. All of which are excellent. And some are ‘cheap’! I have some excellent Summicrons from the 1950s which cost about $500.
    Sony has two lenses. And if you look at the photos that Didier has posted, they both vignette very heavily.
    Yes, you can use adapters to mount other lenses on the Sony, but the mixed reports (fantastic! Works great! vs Terrible! Avoid!) makes one ponder..

    But ultimately none of that matters. What matters is having a camera that you want to pick up, take with you and enjoy using. It doesn’t matter what that camera is, as long as you find one that satisfies those requirements.

    Best regards
    Huss

  31. “The rangefinder system has never held any attraction for me, mainly because I use autofocus whenever I can. However it is clear that the rangefinder system is for some the perfect system. As I understand it demand for Leicas outstrips supply, and Leica appears to have very healthy margins. Why then I wonder is nobody else trying to tap into that market? Why doesn’t Sony or somebody else produce a rangefinder? Why does it seem to be Leica or nothing for those who want a rangefinder?”

    The most logical mfg to make it would be Zeiss (Cosina) and they already make the Zeiss Ikon film rangefinder, which is their rival to the Leica M7. It uses the Leica M mount lenses. I really wish they would introduce a digital version.

  32. David.

    My M-E, 9 months old, has been out for 4 months waiting for a new sensor. You got lucky in as much as Leica had a spare on hand when yours failed. With mine (and obviously Didier’s), Leica is out of stock and apparently it is taking a long time for new stock to arrive. This also explains why it is so difficult to buy a new M-E in the US – there are none in stock because they are only made when there are sensors available.

    Best regards
    Huss

  33. Didier should’ve mislabelled the pics and see if the “the leica pics are so much better” would’ve still said the same. In many cases it looks like they already know they are better before they open the article.

    Hey, the Leica pics may be better or not, but if Didier uses his own money and enjoys his new camera better tan another ones, more ower to him.

  34. Within the last few days I received a new Sony A7R (with the Sony Zeiss 35mm Sonnar lens) and a new Leica M240 (which replaces my M9). After using them both for a few days, here are my brief conclusions. The M240 is a huge step up from the M9 in terms of image quality and capability, and like the M9 is easy and straightforward to use. The A7R is a very nice camera indeed, and is quite compact and small (smaller than the M240, in fact). The 35mm Zeiss lens is really good, but like the A7R body is nowhere near Lecia kit in terms of build quality. Leica cameras and lenses are expensive, and for some users on the basis of cost alone the Sony A7R will win despite many other factors. My prediction is that most experienced Leica M users will choose to stay with the Leica system despite the A7R offering, and that some will choose an A7R body as a back-up. Few are likely to abandon the Leica M rangefinder system for a Sony electronic system that currently has only two prime lenses in its lineup. Using Leica glass on the Sony A7R is an option, but why bother when you have a Leica rangefinder-coupled body (leaving aside obvious technical problems with Sony’s sensor handling the high angles of incidence characteristic of lenses located so close to the focal plane — something Leica has clearly mastered, and that Sony apparently has not). To me the A7R feels like a menu-happy electronic gadget, and its manual is nothing short of terrible. The electronic viewfinder and focus peaking features on the A7R are excellent, and better than those on the M240. Most M240 users will be using the rangefinder to focus 95% of the time anyway, however, unless they are using non-rangefinder-coupled lenses such as Leica R glass. I will probably keep my Sony A7R as a back-up camera, and for situations where I do not want to risk damaging my M240 (e.g., winter bike riding, very bad weather, mountain climbing, etc.). Otherwise, and according to my own personal preferences (which understandably may not coincide with those of many others), the M240 and Leica lenses will be my go-to system. People who don’t get the Leica M rangefinder concept, or who never got the concept while they used a Leica M camera, will probably love the Sony A7R.

  35. I am still surprised about some things:
    1) how many people rate weight of a camera over user interface; why is a Canon 5D to heavy to carry for a grown up man today? And now we talk about 640 vs 800g? I sometimes carry my daughter with 11kg on the shoulder and a DSLR around the neck..and I am not a body builder; Are 500g so much more important than viewfinder size, fast phase-AF, huge selection of fast lenses, good hold (and balance between lens and body), ergonomic buttons etc?
    2) that so many people prefer EVF (at least people on this site); besides the emotional point that I feel disconnected with an EVF we have a time delay, we cant see the real light and color; and no-it doesn’t show us what we get because if we got what we see through the EVF is much lower resolution, much less DR and much worse color than what we get on the sensor.

    so M and OVF outdated? no way. maybe if you look in spec sheet or read in the internet, but when I use the cams I feel different

    PS:I really like EVF for those small cameras where an EVF is still better than a very tiny OVF or no VF.

    • 1) If you read carefully, I said that with the 5DMII 2my neck started feeling bad (especially with the 35 f1.4). If you compare in terms of total weight a 5dMII (810gr) with 35L (580gr) vs a A7R (465gr) with summilux (320gr) = 605gr difference, not mentioning the size.
      2) EVF have evolved and come close to optical. It still less good as an optical but sufficient in my opinion to make the move.
      3) I never said optical viefinders were outdated, please have a look again at the article because it seems you read it too quickly.

  36. Didier…

    Everybody makes a different journey through photo-gear….
    The M-9P is 4 years old, so what, you were just unlucky to have more than average repair issues.
    Leica M, M9, Sony A7(R), RX1, Fuji they are all fine camera’s and able to make good shoots and follow the the Photgrapher in his/her development/needs.

    In plain words: Sony made anice entrance with the A7

    And the ‘Leica-folks’ will always find arguments to say that the M9/M240 renders better, more 3D-Pop etc, and sometimes it’s true.
    But at a price point of 2000 Euro vs 6500 of the M240 Leica cannot (and I do Hope) will not ignore that there is a very workable alternative. More and more hands-on test proof that an A7 with a 35mm Cron or Zeiss 35mm will do fine.

    And one day Sony will come with a A8 and so on. Sony would have be in to much debate if they had introduced an A7 with a real rangefinder (Maybe Nikon wil do that), no they choose the future with an outstanding EVF that out performs the Leica (Olympus) EVF of the 240

    I like Leica, big fan of this brand ! but the area of lightweight/full frame/high quality photography isn’t anymore exclusive for Leica, Sony made their first move, Fuji will follow soon and who else ?

    Didier enjoy your new gear !

    • Hans, Nikon will not develop and produce a true rangefinder digital camera; they don’t have the lenses for it. Their dslr’s are always developed with backward lens compatibility in mind. The F mount might look obsolete (and small), but it allows access to a huge number of lenses available everywhere in the world. With rangefinder flange to sensor distance they would have to start from zero; an unacceptably huge investment.

  37. All these great photographers here, and no one noticed that a Magnum photographer left a comment about his experience with the RX1 several hours ago :D??? (See comment #15!)

    • Seems like a lot of Leica fanboys commenting on images they see on flikr being better than Sony without regard to the post processing. Laughable. that and not having actually used both cameras and commenting (Leica owners). Don’t bother worrying about which is better. You are probably still on the year long wait list for the 240 which is already out of date. Hold tight to those M cameras as they will be collectible like a baseball card in a few decades perhaps.

      • Jon, electronic, digital cameras are inherently disposable instruments, engineered with obsolescence so as to be replaced every couple of years and so they will not be collectibles or usable in the future whereas film cameras will be used as long as somebody manufactures sensitized materials for it. Nothing still beats a strip of film for archival concerns! Try to find a floppy disk reader! In 200 years your 35mm. strip of film can still hold information. Same for books etc. Try to find Mommsen’s history of the Romans as an e-book!

  38. Then how you can explain about the Flickr test result that I linked above? I honestly feel your comments are somewhat speculative.

  39. Brave to admit that you quit on a Leica for the new Sony 😉 There are a lot of Leica Fanboys here. While i would consider myself to be part of that group i can see why you made that move. Most of the things you mentioned are true and your new camera will be a good companion. Other than that some of your Leica images look like there was something wrong with the processing. White balance seems to be off and the colors dont look pleasing (which might be due to that WB issue). I love my M9 for its rendering and colors. I would say that colors are definetly a plus for the Leica under normal circumstances. With your results i would have sold my M9 as well 😉

    Anyhow, the sony must be a wonderful camera. Enjoy it.

  40. Thanks for all the good comments and congratulations. It’s a very sensitive topic which brings a lot of controversy because Leica is a very emotional brand (I loved it…). This is my personal point of view and I am now happy with this camera. Let’s just hope it won’t break down within the next few years otherwise I’ll have to write another similar review with the potential future competitor!!! ; )
    Enjoy shooting, whatever the tool!

    • hello didier, since you have the a7, you can reply to the comment 60? I would like to buy it but I want to have more information as possible before you spend. thanks in advance.

    • Comment 60 became 64, and so I report here the question:

      “Ho una domanda per coloro che possiedono il a7 Sony e steve.

      è possibile con le riprese a7 in Raw e ridurre il deputato 24-16?
      (come ha fatto il nex 7 … credo …)

      Chiedo questo perché presumo che un sensore 16 MP a7 dovrebbe comportarsi come la Nikon D4 o DF che sembrano essere il migliore ad alti ISO.”

  41. Strange trend.
    The ones that says Leica images in this thread are better, are usually Leica owners.
    Those outside that reality distortion bubbles likes the Sony ones better.
    IMHO this is all that is there to say.

    • Steve, who owns this site, and owns both, mentioned that the colour is better from the Leica.

      Check it out under comment #8.

      My issue with Leica is not the quality of the output, but that they (the digital rangefinders) break.

  42. I have a question for those who own the Sony a7 and steve.

    is possible with the a7 shoot in Raw and reduce the MP from 24 to 16?
    (as did the nex 7 … I think …)

    I ask this because I assume that a 16 MP sensor to a7 should behave like the Nikon D4 or DF which seem to be the best at high iso.

  43. The rangefinder system has never held any attraction for me, mainly because I use autofocus whenever I can. However it is clear that the rangefinder system is for some the perfect system. As I understand it demand for Leicas outstrips supply, and Leica appears to have very healthy margins. Why then I wonder is nobody else trying to tap into that market? Why doesn’t Sony or somebody else produce a rangefinder? Why does it seem to be Leica or nothing for those who want a rangefinder?

  44. Sony lenses look sharper, but Leica less vignetting and way better color for my taste 🙂 Leica lenses makes it look more natural in these shots.

  45. Great post which certainly created a lot of debate. My take on this is the comments about the colour signatures of the 2 cameras which is something I hear a lot. Colour to me is such a personal choice and when shot in RAW just using the sliders in LR5 achieves exactly the result you desire….simples 🙂

  46. Take a look at picture number 3, the picture of a lady wich taken with Sony A7r with Zeiss 35 2.8 and take a look at picture number 8 taken with Sony A7r and Zeiss 35..noticed that Sony A7r have less consistency in color..

    they both have a good lens with different result (although i prefer leica over zeiss)…and whats behind the lens “also” makes them have different result…

    for me, this level of camera need to have a more natural color result…and still, leica has it better…

  47. Nothing will compare to using the traditional rangefinder focusing of the M Leicas… focus peeking, magnified images in the viewfinder etc. and add to that that you have to focus (On the sony’s and others) with the lens open, then stop down to the taking apertures, and you have several steps to do before a click! I used the M4 and M3 and they are magnificent but if I were to go digital, it would have to be the M9, M or a successor camera! I am currently using the NEX7 with a Sumicron 35 and an Elmarit 24 and the images are extremely sharp, but it is not my M4! The article does not convince, but if the author prefers that camera, kudos to him! I am also looking at the A7 for ergonomics reasons. If the seven where a little better in this regard, it would suffice. We do not need larger sensors, we need cameras with better ergonomics. And oh yes… I cannot afford the M9, M. See my photo of “Ernie” on my site and its comment! Healthy shooting to all. I enjoy Steve’s blog!

  48. Except that with the three Leica bodies you get 12-15k back in the used market, whereas selling a 3 year old Sony cameras will fetch you maybe 1k (in total for the three). So the financial loss on camera bodies will likely be comparable.

  49. Interesting comments here. I had the M8.2 & now the M9 & they have both let me down with sensor issues! They repaired the M9 in New York once & it came back with marks on the viewfinder… Now my sensor is stained with a bunch of little blotch marks that I cannot clean? I now have the A7 with the lame kits lens & plan to send my M9 to Germany. I live in Canada so this is gonna cost me big! I’m looking fwd to trying my Zeiss & Leica lens once I locate an adaptor.

  50. It’s funny because eventhough you have compared old Leica with new Sony, Leica’s pics are so much better.

    I know that feeling when you buy yourself a new toy and try really hard to persuade yourself that it’s so much better than the old one. You went one step further and are trying to convince everyone around you and it’s so not working.

  51. I got both the M240 and A7R. I can say that the A7R is not very good for the RF lenses as said above. I use it with my Contax C/Y lenses which produce really good results. The offset micro-lens/gapless technology is used to compensate for SLR lenses for short flange distance in full frame mirrorless camera but not sufficient for RF lenses. In any case, both are very good camera and can produce great results.

  52. For me A7 is more a complicated computer. And it works that way. Leica M is more on the intuative approach as a pure camera with simple work flow, from shooting until post processing. While we have to struggle with sophistiated menu on Sony, then the .ARW need a specific converter and duplicated work with another software then. .DNG and Lightroom on Leica rocks. But at the end of the day, I accept Sony A7 as it’s more affordable.

  53. Great Didier you have found a camera you are happy to pick up and shoot with. That’s the most important point out your post imo.

  54. The charm of Leica is that it is old school. It has shutter speeds and f stops. But you have to calibrate the rangefinder with new lenses. If someone would take a Minolta XE 7 and just put a good sensor in one I would buy it in a minute. No more knobs, no more buttons, just exactly as it is. I hate computers-I LOVE cameras.

  55. I did some extensive test with a Leica M9P, a Leica M and the Sony A7R with a Leica 35mm Summicron 2.0 ASPH, a Leica Summilux 50mm, and a Zeiss Biogon 21mm 2.8. I came to the conclusion that the Sony A7R is not suited for these lenses. While the center is detailed and crisp it very quickly degrades towards the sides. The 21mm and 35 lead to very poor results. The 50mm is great in the center but very weak towards the edges. The Sony is not a camera that brings the Leica lenses to life. The sensor is not optimized for them and personally I would not recommend the Sony to anybody who wants to use legacy lenses on it. At least not when you want maximum output. This may be different when you use a Sony/Zeiss lens that was designed for this sensor and it may be different for the Sony A7 which I have not yet tested. D!RK

    • totally concur with your conclusions. It is dead simple. if one starts fresh wanting a compact full-framer, a new Sony 7a is the one to go for with its expanding optimised zeiss glasses. should one be blessed with a haul of legacy rangefinder lenses from leica, zeiss or voigtlander, get a used M9 for not much more.

      • Absolutely. Zeiss 35 is a really nice lens designed for this camera. Third party lenses from what I have seen can be hit and miss.

        • I absolutely agree with you. I tried my 35mm asph lux with the Ar7and it was horrible. Returned it the next day. Yes this camera is very capable with the right lenses. But very hit and miss as you say with leica glass. I had high hopes but alas a no go for me. I am not looking for a new glass system, so sticking with my M9.

    • I have tested the 35lux fle with the A7R and there was strong vignetting and color shift/cast present which cleared up by f5.6. So I went with the A7 and the results were stunning and would highly recommend for 35mm focal length.

      • Stephen that is exactly what I saw but with version I lux. Is it really that different with the A7? I actually saw some infinity issues also. I could deal with some issues starting at 28mm, but 35mm no way.

      • Fair enough but what’s the point having a Summilux if you’re going to shoot it at 5.6?
        The whole point of Leica glass is the speed and minimal vignetting wide open.

    • but from what I understand even Leica themselves can fix issues with their own lenses on their own bodies. That’s why they are coded so that in-camera computer processing takes place to correct vignetting, colour casts and distortions.

      Turn those of and we’re looking at a similar situation to Sony.

      Obvious caveat is that it varies by lens/body etc.

      • That is not true. I used the 35 on the M9 and M240 without lens detection and correction and the output is great. I assume that the difference comes from the microlenses on the sensor itself. Sony did not opt for that feature because their strategy may be to show superior image quality only when combined with Sony glass. That keeps the sensor cost a bit down and will make a lot of people buy into new glass, which is key when you develop a new lens line. D!RK

        • Then how you can explain about the Flickr test result that I linked above? I honestly feel your comments are somewhat speculative.

          • Wait a few days. I have to finish the blog entry. I cant explain the Flickr results. I can explain that under the same conditions, using the same lens with identical setting i get soft edges and sides on the A7r and not on the M9 and M240. I used short shutter times and I took all photos around my neighborhood three times, each with a different body and the same lens. Of course my comments are speculative, or i would just call them my conclusions, because I don’t know what Sony did with their cameras. I can only tell what I am seeing when I use it in real world but controlled conditions. I am not making a case for Leica. I wish the Sony would work with my lenses but I am not getting satisfying results and. T loo s like that others are experiencing similar results. D!RK

          • Hi Dirk, Maybe the difference between your test and the test on Flickr is due to the lens adapter. I saw a report that some NEX adapter is not large enough for the FF. Also, we may have to consider the most lens adapters are not precisely made, even the expensive one, according to Roger at LensRentals.

          • Then Sony needs to release one that matches their claims of legacy compatibility. This could indeed be the case.

  56. I prefer the skin tone rendering on the Leica, but I’d be curious to see a similar comparison including Nikon and Canon full frame cameras.

  57. A good read and I agree with most of your opinions.

    I have both the M9-P and A7R and when it comes to the rendering I prefer the M9-P, sure the A7R ticks a lot of the boxes the M9-P doesn’t.

    The A7R for me provides an excellent backup and is no slouch when it comes to image detail.

    I find it is what inspires me creatively that I enjoy using the most and I find the M9 still is the one.

    Great to read your article and I would keep your M9-P when it returns as your backup 🙂

  58. Great article! Definitely will irritate some forum trolls. I think that ultimately if someone can afford the M240+50 summilux package, that’s great news. But for $11k, it’s out of reach for too many people. The A7+55 1.8 set is significantly cheaper and almost indiscernible from the M package, both in image quality and in size/portability. If there were no labels above, I’m sure most folks wouldn’t be able to identify the source camera. But the sony comes in at $8.5k cheaper, which is truly a lot of money. There are very few tests out there comparatively showcasing the abilities of the 50 lux vs it’s competitors (likely because it’s so expensive), but from an internet blog-sized image perspective, these lenses will probably look identical (see above). Colour differences are probably due to white balance settings on the respective cameras, and in these post-film days, can me modified in post processing. My take home from this, anyone can now own full frame leica M image quality with similar portability for a fraction of the price. Rejoice!

  59. It’s funny, for as long as I have been following this site (and digital camera technology websites in general), people have been debating the quality of the Leica M9. I am now the proud owner of the new Sony A7R, but it is not replacing my M9. I have had my M9 for almost three years now, and consider it to be a legacy camera – one to hold on to forever – and one still capable of incredible image quality. Certainly the M9 has extreme limitations in low light or high ISO, but for most of the photography I do the M9’s image quality is unrivaled. In fact, in the outdoor lighting I usually shoot landscape photos under – I will time & again choose the M9 photo over the much higher resolved D800 image of the same subject matter. Every time.
    I am personally really excited about my new A7R (and can’t wait until I can shoot raw and process in Aperture) … but my two cents opinion for anyone who owns an M9. Hold onto it. It was never a perfect camera, but in the areas the camera excels – it is near perfection, and without peer. I think it speaks volumes about the M9 that people would even ponder its’ 5-year old technology against the brand new Sony.

  60. i bought a sony a7r to compliment my M9 The sony has a good vibe with old glass I’m starting to get great results with it and for some things its more useful than the m9 which i will use the m9 till it breaks cause i won’t be able to afford to fix it out of warranty Im not liking allot of the shots I’m seeing with the sony online
    I seem to be getting much better results than what I’m seeing online and I’m wondering if its the older glass
    i.e. old 50 summicron 75 lux older 35 summicron at f6 and above I’m getting colour fringing and smearing ?
    from f1.4 to f4 its fine? maybe in a software update it will improve

  61. And I have just sold the Sony A7r. I have a Leica M and they are two different things. So I can easily write an article stating the opposite but at the end of the day, who gives a toss. For those who love their Sony, enjoy and those who wish to be on slow lane of photography of the M then enjoy that too.

  62. Very straight forward, Didier, but absolutely correct, in every way. Sorry Leica, but at present the M is really outdated. This doen’t mean that people can’t go on loving the Ms, nor that they wouldn’t be able to still take wonderful pictures. Of course they do. But I love my A7r even more than I ever loved and admired Leica, because, out of an underdog position, it’s the one camera for me that has everything I ever wanted and gives me the possibility to shoot traditionally (MF) in a modern way.

  63. Didier, you’re brave. Your review will boost the A7R sales 200%.
    What I’m surprised is the Sony lens. They’re not bad at all.

    • I thought leica M’s computationally compensate for vignetting before outputting RAW, so it gives the impression that the leica images have less vignetting out of camera.

      • Ho ho! Leica’s are cameras, Sony’s are computers. No computing involved in Leica’s, as everyone who is remotely connected to photography knows. And it shows in the images.

  64. You may have quit using the Leica Rangefinder body for any number of reasons: ergonomics, video, $$’s or even just “I don’t like this anymore, I want a change”. BUT, to my eye it can’t be because of a better image. I see a much better richest and life-like quality image coming from the Leica combination. I have Leica’s best equipment and I am looking at a Sony RX1r instead of the Leica X2 as a pocket camera…so I am open minded about brands…the Leica images in your article look better to me.

    Could this be a case where money really does buy better quality…not just a CEO’s fatter wallet?

  65. Here’s another humble opinion on the Leica vs Sony A7r topic. I’m not a hater so please don’t attack me for expressing my views.

    In the old film days you could buy a nice camera and keep it forever, and it would still deliver pictures as good as anything that came along even many years later. But modern cameras are more and more like computers – they are primarily electronic devices that become obsolete in just a few years. Say you decided to buy a new camera every 3 years to keep up with the latest technology. With a Leica, you’d spend about $21,000 every 9 years (just for the bodies alone). With a Sony A7r, about $7,500.

    Regardless of which one you choose, the newer camera will probably be much better than the older one because of the advances in sensors, shutters, viewfinders, autofocus, noise reduction and processing. In other words, the pictures from the newer camera will outclass the older one regardless of cost. Just like, for example, the middle-of-the-road Intel i5 processor in my current laptop is far superior to the top-of-the-line Quad Core processor in my desktop, which is a few years older. That’s what electronics engineers do. Even though your old device works fine, the new ones are SO much better, so you feel forced to buy them.

    I think it is all about the lenses. No doubt Leica has some fine lenses, which are also quite a bit more expensive even than Sony’s Zeiss offerings. So if you already own a bunch of Leica lenses, maybe it’s worth it to keep spending princely sums on new camera bodies year after year. But also keep in mind that you can use those same Leica lenses on the Sony A7r, as well as almost any other lenses you might have lying around. And would the same Leica lenses on the Leica camera always be THAT much better?

    I realize this is a sort of cold and analytical way of looking at this situation – doesn’t take into account the feelings and passions that arise from using a Leica (by the way I have never used one) – just a sort of business analysis. I’m not filthy rich so I’ve had to make my money go as far as possible.

    Maybe I don’t know what I’ve been missing, but I have had a couple of Sony cameras and found that they take great pictures and are fun to use. And they are just tools like any camera; to me the results matter more than which tool I use. I do appreciate fine tools and don’t mind spending a little more to get something I really like – but the limits of my pocketbook have forced me to do this analysis. Maybe it would be possible to start building Leicas in Asia and make them cheaper – would that make them inferior to the German version?

    • Correction. “Portuguese” version. A bit like cheap shoes. Not as cheap as Chinese shoes, but cheaper than English or Italian made shoes.

      • Correction! 🙂 Portuguese shoes are the most expensive shoes in Europe (when sold under Italian and French brands). The biggest brands are doing it not only because the labour (in Portugal) cost is lower but the quality is higher. Source: All over the news a few days ago.

        • You’ve enlightened me Miguel! Still, my made in Portugal English style brogues, 200 eur, feel decidedly “cheaper” than my 600 eur Church’s or Brugnoli’s… But they’re very very good for the money!

        • Hmmm. My Italian branded shoes say “Made in Italy”. I always notice stuff like that. And one of the (many) reasons I dumped my Nikon’s (after decades of loyalty) was many of their latest lenses and bodies are made in Thailand and China. And priced NOT accordingly. Canon still produces the majority of their gear in Japan. As does Hasselblad. ;-)~
          I must just be sentimental.

          • I said, … when sold under Italian/French brands. Not all of them of course. 🙂

            ” … And shoes made in Portugal are the second-most expensive in the world, after Italian ones. In terms of export revenues, Portugal’s footwear industry jumps to 11th worldwide, but it’s still behind Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and France in Europe. It will take much more than fancy footwear for Portugal’s exports to offset the drag on growth from domestic demand.”

            Just an article I found after 1 minute googling it.
            http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-06/fancy-footwear-and-austerity-won-t-save-portugal.html

    • Inferior to German/Portuguese version you mean? I think 75% of a body of a leica camera is made in Portugal and then (the rest 25%) assembled in germany. No sure but …

    • Jim. Great analysis. But like an Asian sourced Gucci bag or Patek Philippe watch you’ve defeated the cache issue. So in otherwords no red dot no “Leica”. It’s all perception and marketing. And a tiny bit of provable IQ.
      I own every brand mentioned here but only use cameras that seem appropriate to the use. That said except for commissioned jobs I find I use the iPhone 5S the most. By far. The little Oly EM1 next.
      Why? Because like the first rule of gun fighting I’ve got it with me. And secondly the connectivity it represents. That’s why the camera makers are all struggling with declining sales. Connectivity.

    • Hi Jim,

      I respectfully disagree with your argument about old film camera’s vs. modern camera’s. The first digital camera I purchased, roughly 11 years ago or so, was the Nikon 5700. I still have it for some reason, largely because it precedes the vibrant used camera market on ebay and my GAS tendencies. But anyway, you know what? It still takes pictures. From time to time I look back at the photo’s I took with the camera, now enshrined on some cheap paper prints, and you know what? The pictures still look good. Yeah, I probably would have done a better job with a more modern camera, but the equipment still does what its supposed to do, which is take pictures.

      I think we’ve reached a point where a Leica M, Canon Mark ?? or most camera’s for that matter should be able to stand for a good 10 years. The same satisfying quality you get today, will be there for years to come as long as it continues to power up. We just feel we need to have the latest and greatest.

      Nothing wrong with old equipment, analog or digital.

      • Hi JH, ready
        That would probably be true if it were a Nikon or Canon. Forums are awash with people needing new sensors for their Leica. The same isn’t true for Nikon or Canon and they outsell Leica by 1000s to 1. Some spares for the M8 are already unobtainable. The same will be the case for the M9 all too soon. I’ve been lucky with my M8 and M9, they haven’t suffered any catastrophic failures. That’s the thing, I say I’ve been lucky not to have had an issue with my Leicas, whereas I’d say that people that have serious issues with their Canon or Nikon are unlucky. Leica reliability is legendarily poor and when they go wrong you can be waiting months for a fix and the fix will often cost as much as a mid range DSLR. There was an argument for spending a fortune on an M3, it was last 100 years or more and any part that cannot be sourced can be made by a guy with a magnifying glass and small file. They same can’t be done with electronics. I’ve been waiting for Nikon or Canon to make digital rangefinder or an DSLR like an FM or A1. The Sony doesn’t quite cut it for me because the mount seems too small and Sony products are nearly always ridiculously complex to operate. I’m thinking maybe I should rent a DF and see how that feels. I can’t justify a new M240 and I don’t care what anyone says about all that German engineering, there’s a lot of that in a Volkswagen too and I can buy one for the same price as an M240 and a 35 Lux.

        Just like a lot of people out there I want a back to basics camera. Great digital FF image quality, good manual operation, autofocus, good manual focus and aperture/shutter priority and no unnecessary anything.

        One day someone will make one of those and I will sell all my other digital cameras and buy it.

  66. Comparing a rangefinder with a non rangefinder is like comparing apples and oranges: I think it’s nonsense. Having said that, one may prefer apples and another one oranges.

    • It doesn’t mean this comparison is meaningless. OVF vs EVF, everyone has different opinion, so we should simply ignore that when we compare those 2 cameras.

    • people always use this line but what are we comparing? a lot of the time people are commenting on the pictures and when it’s on the page (either digital or physically), so cares whether it was taken TTL or through a rangefinder?

      • I would assume that you have made photographs with a rangefinder focusing camera before? If not then maybe it would be worth your while to give it a try to see if there is anything to all of these claims rangefinder photographers are making?

        • I have and I don’t really have a preference for or against it. Personally, I prefer split-image focusing (which I last used in the mid/late-90s) and so very eager to see whether Fuji can introduce that function into the X-E1 too.

          At the end of the day, although I too agree you must enjoy the camera you are using, the resultant image is all that counts unless you enjoy taking photos and never looking at them again.

          Read my review of the a7R hosted on this very website and you will see I write one paragraph on the positives and about 7 on the negatives of the camera. Why then do I still rate the a7R highly? Because that one positive (Image quality) is more than enough to compensate over issues of handling, battery, EVF and so on.

          • That’s too simplistic Raymond….”all that counts is the final image”….Photography is a hobby for many of us…you have to enjoy the ergonomics first to ensure you pick the camera up enough and thus enjoy creating the image….

  67. 3d missing from the Sony must be the lens. If only he had done the shots with the same lens! Maybe Steve can recreate some 3D shots for us? what do you say Steve?

  68. How you can even compare Leica M9-P to Sony?! Clearly there is a color smudge on every picture…?
    I wouldn’t even dare to compare. Maybe in the future but now I will stick to mu Leica.

  69. The only reason for someone not to like the A7 or the A7r is the Sony logo on it. Let’s face it. Sony makes great cameras. It is Minolta after all. And Sony is the only company that would risk to make new things without knowing it gonna sales or not. Walkman, Play Station and now the RX1 and A7. Of cause they had some fail attempt with was a disaster such as the Aibo, that egg shaped music playing thing and much more. But at least they tried and continue to innovate.

  70. On a serious note, Sony have a winner here, Leica M lenses – any lenses, Full frame, superb build quality and as a camera far ahead of the Leica bodies. The only let down is the Sony name and lack of native lenses, if only Sony has resurrected Konica and called this the Konica Hexar 🙂

    • as much as that would have been music to the ears of konica fans, we knew that would never be the case when sony dropped the minolta marque and unified the camera business under the sony brand.

  71. I’ve never understood the appeal of owning a Leica but, then again, I’ve never understood the appeal of owning any luxury item. Why buy a Mercedes when my Honda does the exact same job for less money. I’m not trying to impress anyone.

  72. The bottom line, from my vantage point, is I’m happy because you’re happy. I would have to say, however, that what is written here does not persuade me to want to swap my M Monochrom body for a Sony. I would also say, with some bias, that the Leica M body/lens combo provides a one-two knockout punch that few other camera packages can deliver. But, that’s just my opinion.

  73. Great Post Didier. Thank you for yor comments about the M9 and the A7R. I think you are right in about everything.
    Cheers.

  74. The Leica has a CCD sensor which has a very different rendering than a CMOS sensor.
    I actually prefer the M9 files, but like Didier I had too many problems with my M9 and had to ditch it.
    I do find a lot of older cameras with CCD sensor have very beautiful files still – one reason I still use the Leica Digilux 2!!!

    • Partially agreed. I would have clearly seen the difference if the comparison was M8 vs A7R. Actually, what I’m surprised with this comparison is how small the difference between M9 CCD and CMOS are. I now can believe the current CMOS is already better than M9 CCD. Older CCD is a different animal, maybe.

  75. Interesting write up and thank you for publishing it. I am in the same boat as the author. I own a Leica MM and though I LOVE it I am considering transitioning to the A7. I love my Leica, I really really do, but I can sell the MM, buy an A7 body, and a crap load of classic lenses to go with it. Plus, I can finally use the lenses I own a little easier that don’t have frame lines on the Leica, like my 40mm Nokton.

    I don’t know. I have to put more thought into it.

    • Please tell me what I’m missing here. Have you made any photographs using your Nokton 40mm on the Sony A7 yet? Is this the only M lens you have to shoot on the MM?

      Just curious as to why that one lens would be such a deciding factor.

  76. If anything the photos in this article shows that the Leica is better in every instance. Which quite frankly, I am surprised.

    Also, the photos seem to be playing to the strengths of the Sony, and yet the Leica still tops it. In as much as that the Leica lenses were stopped down to match the Sony’s max aperture, which is less.

    I understand your frustration at having your camera break. My M-E also is broken!
    How did you get Leica to give you a loaner? I am still waiting on the return of mine, and the only reason I am not upset is that I am shooting with my other cameras. I wanted the Sony A7/r to be a replacement, but in my observations this has not been the case with the Leica lenses that I own.

    Best regards
    Huss

    • except White Balance I don’t see much difference between both type of images..
      Leica lended me another M9-P but now that I have the A7 I am more using it in order to get used to it.

      • I mean this respectfully. You keep mentioning white balance but what that controls, in part, is colour rendition via temperature.
        Could you explain why the white balance is better on the Leica? Why did you not set it correctly on the Sony? Or is that the best it does?
        Otherwise it is hard to accept your conclusion that the Sony is ‘better’ when you in essence admit that the colour is off by posting comparative images and then defer to poor results as a white balance issue.

        I actually find the auto white balance on my M-E awful. I either shoot with presets that i have created (in the manner one shoots film with filters) or I take the brief moment to set it manually with a WB card. Then one sees the real colour that the camera produces without WB issues.

  77. This should have Steve’s “crazy comparison” sticker on it. Comparing a rangefinder to a non-rangefinder is like comparing a DSLR to a cellphone. Apples and oranges.

    Looking or not looking through the lens makes all the difference. Seeing outside the image frame, seeing everything in focus, having no distractions… you know the usual pointers. And so far Leica M8-M240 are the only digital rangefinders. Not much to compare to is there?

    Just my 5c. Now I will crawl back to my darkroom and sniff that Rodinal…

    • True, compairing and outdated and flawed concept (the rangefinder) limiting photographers to a limited range of primes and endless battles with paralax and lensbarrels in view, not to mention macro 🙂 (I owned a rangefinder 6 x 9, analog but that does not matter right), to a 21th century approach is like compairing apples to cow droppings. Leica makes great camera’s and even better lenses, but I wished they would drop the rangefinder (btw, the Fuji X1 pro also has a rangefinder and is digital as I thought, but that is backed up by an EVF) now that would be the approach to drag Leica into the 21 century as well. I hoped that would have been the Mini M, and M with an EVF and no rangefinder…..but well Sony has smelled the coffee…..A7R is the real Mini M if Zeiss can back it up with full set of lenses.

      Greets, Ed.

      • X pro1 is not a rangefinder. It does look like a RF camera, but technically, it is just a mirrorless camera that has fixed optical viewfinder.

        • True. The ONLY digital RF is a Leica M or older Epson RD-1. The X-Pro 1 is not even close to being a rangefinder because it does not have a rangefinder but a normal EVF and optical hybrid.

  78. I agree with all the points made, however, just judging the images, on the basis of overall rendering, would cause me to choose the Leica images in every example. The Sony ones certainly aren’t bad, but I just prefer the look, bokeh and color of the M shots

  79. The Leica M9P wins hands down. I am a student photography. Ralph Gibson gave a lecture at our academy this Tuesday. He got his first Leica in 1969 and never bought another camera. He told us that this was the best decision of his life. That and doing yoga every morning :-). A camera is like a musical instrument. You have to practice every day to play it. In my opinion, Sony – company that has invented the term „Cybershot” – represents nothing Leica stands for. Not photographic, not ideological. Putting a Leica lens on a body made by robots… I just don’t understand why people create these Frankensteins.

    • I’d put Leica glass on my old Oly. It’s fun trying different lenses on my camera. Anyway, I was always sympathetic with the Frankenstein monster.

      BTW, some of us don’t have the eyesight for manual focus.

    • That’s the highest form of snobbery I have heard so far..

      “.. photography student..” = I am better at this than you
      “.. XX says..” = so it apply to everyone, if you deviate you are wrong
      “.. cybershot – represents nothing Leica stands for” – pure snobbery (and also you not knowing what Leica stands for)

      In my opinion, Sony now with their a7 and RX1 range IS what Leica stood for years ago before they got obsessed (or more likely, run away success) with branding over making small, good quality tools.

      You just describe to me how you are a sheep with no thoughts of your own. Follow, repeat, follow, repeat… and so on, get out there, live a little. Try a Cybershot (god forbid!) you may like it if you are willing to put your prejudices down for a second.

      • Where are their lenses? Sony made lenses? Not some third party company Sony is paying to help them but where are Sony’s lenses for this camera?

        Let’s see if Sony can really follow through with a “complete” system before we all go off saying Sony is the new Leica.

        Until Sony has a complete system that covers the whole range of lens selections at the focal lengths Leica manufactures then, maybe then, we can talk about the next Leica.

        • While I am not a Leica user, I totally agree. They will need to develop a sufficient set of high-quality, native lenses that are balanced with the system before it can be considered great.

      • Sorry that my post does not come across well. By saying that I’m studying photography is not saying that I’m better than anyone else. The reason for my post is that I regret that a brand like Leica is getting bashed here. I’ve purchased an M because of this blog. It is now a dump the Leica buy a Sony place. Of course I want to do a good word for Leica. I bought one and it is a logical response. Love to all.

        • I don’t bash the brand, I just explain the reasons why I changed!
          I had a lot of pleasure with the M9-P, it was just time for me to change and I found something which provides me the same joy!

        • Andy, I too am a photography student. I met Lee Friedlander in 1975. He uses a Leica M. Something. I couldn’t afford that, so stooped and saved to get me (14 years later; I had to make do with a Yashica TL Electro in the meantime) a Nikon FM2n. I’ve felt disadvantaged ever since meeting Lee, and I will never catch up. It shows in my photography.

    • someone do live in a choosen world of divine photography of Leica 🙂

      I use whatever feels good in my hand, works with my brain and reaction also give a good enough rints up to 10 R to please my self and family

      from Nikon FM, Canonet Canon A70, Panasonic GF2 , Ricoh GR1V – GRD IV, Leica M4-P/M5/M6 and various old lenses … all take good photos

      yet its about the process and the happiness the bring

      last night I saw mr Th Ov himself to see 30 people of Leica lover praising Leica
      looking at > 50 most exotic leica lenses and > 30 Leica M bodies

      even when 1 leica user bring another camera (GR)
      they become mockery and some high end collector said .. wow that is your new phone ? its only good for taking narcistic photos (GR)

      Leica make good lenses and nice camera
      but the world is still out there spinning with each people’s taste

      just my 2 cents seeing so many leica user feel so paranoid and annoyed about the Sony A7-A7R …
      you love Leica — thats good
      someone else choose Sony or other brands … thats good alse

      William Jusuf

  80. In my opinion, this is not a comparison, and therefor not ‘unfair’. Didier just explained his decision. Some of these arguments are undeniable and as Didier weighed them, where important to him. Read the header: ‘Why I quit the Leica M….’ He doesn’t want to convince anyone of us.

    So, why don’t wie let him enjoy his new tool and let him do his thing? After two repairs, I would have thought similarly.

    Thanks Didier for your thoughts and examples.

    I’m not convinced 🙂

    Dirk

  81. Hard to disagree with your analysis, so far as it goes, but it leaves out one consideration that is important for some: availability of lenses. Regrettably the Leica lenses require specific post processing to get rid of corner shading, coloration or smudging. This varies with aperture which is, of course, not recorded.

    Using DSLR lenses would be feasible, but they are bulky.

    Leica has limitations, but for compactness it is hard to beat, at the expense of AF.

  82. Point well taken, but to compare a now-discontinued Leica body with the latest Sony release may not be a fair comparison. A comparison with the Leica M (Type 240) with its EVF would have been a fairer exercise, and perhaps would have kept you in the Leica camp. Just maybe.

    Having said that, I do think that Leica has it’s eyes on comments like yours. Not that they ever want to play Sony’s game (after all, Leica is a luxury brand), but rather that Leica seems to be aiming to a different type of photographer while not straying too far away from the larger market (as evidenced by video in the latest Leica M). In the end, cameras reflect the photographer and his or her photographic needs, as well as a photographer’s style. But chasing the latest “technological edge” these days could also prove to be a “fool’s errand,” as by next year I guarantee you, better camera bodies will be arriving at the market.

    In your technical-description article we didn’t see anything about the type of photographer you want to be or why the latest technology is so critical for you to become that photographer. That would have led to a stronger argument.

    • Hello Eric, as I said at the beginning, I am not the type of guy who buys the latest stuff so my photography is not at all influenced by this. The M9-P was my ultimate tool of choice and I bought it 2 years after the release of the M9 so already quite outdated in terms of technology. I really enjoyed shooting Leica but I cannot stand having a tool which I cannot trust. I told Leica to lend me the last model in order keep me as a customer during the repair but they could not unfortunately so I simply switched brand.
      I shoot mainly travel photography. Have a look on my blog!

  83. I like this opening tag which I assume is referring to all Leica M bodies as I am familiar with several.

    I like that everyone has their opinions of works for them. What works for you does not work for me etc. That being said I have been using Leica’s for about 4 years. Leica IIIf, M3, M7 and M9 along with other rangefinder cameras like Zeiss Ikon, Bessa, Fuji GF 670 and an old Agfa Isoletta medium format with a horrible viewfinder. I also shoot a Hassy 501c and a new Rollei 2.8. Each has its own role in my shooting life.

    What I found with rangefinders was the enjoyment of shooting them. Have to say I LOVE shooting the M3 most of all. But as quality is concerned the Agfa I feel is the best. Now people can argue the lens, the technology, the film etc. but what looks best to me is what matters (you can also fit the camera in your back pocket). I have used manual controls for about 95%of what I shoot. I learned the basic settings were much easier on a manual (knobs) camera. The perfect outing for me say to a Zoo would be my three camera rig. I would carry the an M3, the Nikon DF and the Rollei and if I had an A7r i would carry it on a spider holster. But that is my choice today, tomorrow I may want to go light and carry the old Agfa.

    I am looking at the A7r for the same reasons, but unwilling to part with my M9 at the moment. I too tested the A7r then did the unheard of and picked up a Nikon DF. Without going into detail I bought the DF because it felt great in my hand and filled a gap in my camera line. I gave my canon to a buddy and needed a fast auto focus camera for shooting my kids birthdays, family events etc. where my wife wants “Snapshots” in color. Given the choice I will shoot black and white film. I am still amazed that I can get the Nikon lenses so cheap being used to buying Leica glass (not comparing quality just price). I kept asking where the expensive 50 mm was.

    I will probably still get the A7r. The A7r was easy to focus and images looked great. I did loose some shadow detail but was easy to pull that out in Lightroom. I like printing 17″x22″ and feel this would make a great landscape camera.

    Shoot what you enjoy, what feels right and what images look best for you. If you do not enjoy shooting it, it will be a beautiful piece of art on the shelf. Just ask my Hassy.

    Thank you for the time to post this article. The beautiful thing is that we all continue to move our craft forward trying to attain the best possible photo for our body of work that we feel best interprets our view of the world.

    Thanks,

  84. This article would have been a lot more satisfying for me had he taken a third shot of each example with the A7R and the 50 Lux. Difficult to accomplish I understand given that the human subjects would of had to wait around for the lens swap but worthwhile I think 🙂

  85. I was finally ready to go the Leica M digital route (I shoot MF film) and then they announced the A7R, so I’ve held off. I was convinced that the M9 was the way to go based on hundreds (thousands, maybe) of hours spent looking at real world results on blogs, 500px, 1X, and Flickr. I consistently preferred the look that the M9 was producing. With what I’m seeing so far, I still (I excluded the Monochrom, because I will continue to shoot Tri-X with my Hassy!) like the M9 best. But is it because the calibre of shooter who gravitates toward the M9 or maybe artists haven’t fully realized the potential of the A7R? I’m also thinking the simpler M9 will be an easier switch for me, since my 500CM has one button – the shutter release! With used M9 prices on free fall, I’m thinking I’ll wait a couple more months and get the camera I’ve really wanted. But also watching to see if I start to see the results from the A7R I’m looking for because I’m not tied into any camera until I plunk down the cash.

    • colour? change the settings… the difference comes from a computer scientist idea of colour rendition when he programmed the software algorithm of the camera – that’s his opinion. Sony, Fuji, Leica, Canon, Nikon have their own versions.

    • Oh man, these kind of posts about the color of a certain camera system almost always make me cry. Sensor, in camera processing, post processing on a computer, white balance, your monitor and the lens are all variables. Just use the camera software or the software on your computer to create the colors you like and choose the camera and lenses that you like best.

    • I disagree. Spending $7k is not needed to have taste in photography. While I agree the OOC color from the M9 is better and more pleasing, the A7r does quite well here but either camera can be used by a passionate photographer.

        • Can one not use an expensive camera to take photos of their family, even if they are snapshots ?

          When your kid is doing something cute in the park and you’ve got your camera do you refuse to take the picture, saying “sorry Sweetie….Dady’s camera is expensive and is only for taking serious, artistic images. Ask Mommy to take your picture with her iPhone”

          Thats just silly, people are free to use a $7k camera for snapshots just as much as they can use an iPhone for landcape shooting. Maybe its not practical in some peoples books, but photography is supposed to be a fun hobby, not an exercise in practicality and logic

          • I agree but it there also exists a significant proportion of ‘amateur photographers’ out there who do nothing more than take photos of their dogs, kids and family and pretending to themselves they are more pro or their photos are more beautiful if only they spend $$$ more on better or newer equipment.

            There is this whole craze over ‘fast glass’ and spending inane amounts for it in lieu of refining composition ability – things become easier and lazy when you can throw anything you don’t want to see out of focus.

            An iPhone, or probably more apt a $500 point and shoot, will be perfectly adequate for the vast majority of people taking family pot shots than a high end ILC and fast glass.

            On a similar note, what is interesting is that I have recently discovered a series of videos by a team called DIgitalRev from Hong Kong and their “pro photographer, crap camera” series. They invite well renowned current photographers to onto the show, but the interesting thing is that the camera each these professionals carry the majority of time for their own personal ‘holiday snaps’ use are not a high end dSLRs, are not even a high end mirrorless cameras but a good old point and shoot.

          • “sorry Sweetie….Dady’s camera is expensive and is only for taking serious, artistic images. Ask Mommy to take your picture with her iPhone” Ha, ha, I totally agree. Just use the camera you have. Mobile phone, pocket camera or expensive full frame. Who cares.

    • Why would Steve “have to agree”? Eeryone’s entitled to his or her own opinion., and Steve has shown himself very, very enthusiastic about the A7. If the A7 would proudly bear the name “Konica”, or “Minolta”, would you change your mind about its artful possibilities?

    • There was a time when cameras were wooden boxes and nobody cared about brand names. There are also people who can create fantastic work with a polaroid or a simple consumer camera. The Sony is a fantastic alternative for a lot of people and gives many people the right tool in the hands to realise their photographic vision. I’ve shot Leica too and I have to say it is just a camera and it still does not make great pictures by itself.

      • Totally agree, however I think you’ve to have pleasure with the tool you’re using and I had a lot with the Leica. I did not think I could find this feeling with another one but I did.

    • Sorry but you must be kidding. Although I would like to own a LEICA M, the prejudice present in most of the photo enthusiasts towards SONY cameras, it’s the main reason SONY isn’t number one. One should choose a camera (beside IQ) by an emotional attachment point of view. The tool it’s important! The way you feel towards the object (camera) makes you eager for new images. Gives you inspiration. Makes you use it more and more. Cameras in general are very good at the moment but if you choose IQ, … you go to dxomark and then go for a D800e or a A7r.

      I’ve always used Nikon cameras but when I heard about the A7, I decided to sell (almost) all my lenses and go for a A7 (not R) that I’ll use with the nikon 50mm 1.4D and nikon 24mm 2.8. Then next year I’ll buy a Zeiss 24-70mm when it comes out.

      I had a D700 and (still have) a D200 but after buying a nex5 when they first came out I got a lot more keepers and took the camera 90% of the time with me against 10% with the nikon’s.

      A7 is almost a perfect camera (like M Reichmann said in his review *), “perfection is for the gods”, referring to a Japanese saying. It has articulated LCD, small size, less intrusive and has the best sensor in the world.

      Of course, if you think taste in photography is showing off a Leica camera, I’m sorry but you’re wrong.

      Regarding the prejudice against SONY cameras, maybe one day SONY realizes that and buys NIKON using their brand for photographic equipment.

      * http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/a7r_m_lens_report.shtml

        • Why can’t people solve their own prejudices? This snobbery is idiotic and serves no one any purpose.

          If it wasn’t for this snobbery we may have had this camera a lot sooner than now, we may have had more support from third parties, we may have an even better version of this camera already but alas, Sony has only just released a version 1 FF mirrorless camera, Zeiss will support it at its own pace and no third parties other than Rokinon are vocal in their support.

          Shame on people and their own insecurities. I welcome change and I applaud Sony on their initiatives. I was a Canon guy for a long time, now I am a Fuji, Sony, Nikon, Zeiss guy (being all the equipment I own and use) and a Olympus guy (being all the recommendations I give to family, friends and the other half). It doesn’t matter what you use as long as you enjoy it and you don’t need to spend 7 + 5k to do that.

  86. I think the article is interesting. I personally prefer the M9 files but it sounds to me that this is really an article about frustration, frustration with consecutive M9 problems. To be honest, I kind of understand his reaction. He just wants a camera that works. For him the M9 was not that camera. Fortunately for me, it is (no problems, touch wood). If the M9 had not failed him twice, he would not be holding or writing about the Sony. Probably just a bad luck thing.

    • Exactly Stephen. But oh, you forgot the scratched glasses (the left lens only I hope); that I thought was the argument that swung his decision.

      Fortunately, the standard -1 calibrated Nikon viewfinders perfectly match (after some fiddling with the diopter adjustment) my aging eyes, so my glasses stay in the car or at home… 😉

      Cheers,

      Michiel

    • Furstration was indeed what made me want to change. I LOVED Leica, but as soon as a I could not trust it anymore I simply tried the closest thing to it. I’ve always wanted to have a light and compact FF. Sony did better than Leica and after a few days of trial I was simply convinced. Hope my M9-P will serve happy customer in a few months when back from repair and sold!

      • I understand completely. You have to bond with your camera. Two failures is enough to place a seed of doubt in your mind. That takes the fun out of it.

        I think you made a good choice.

        I enjoyed your photos.

      • 4-6 months for sensor replacement? I just don’t understand. My M9 sensor developed a dead pixel – I sent it in a few months ago (and it was 4 years old) and got it back within a week: no charge.

        I’ve never particularly liked the camera (see my rant from a couple of years ago, still here on Steve’s site somewhere) – silly framing, primitive light metering, very slow rear screen playback, poor focusing with long lenses, needed to have focus re-calibrated twice, etc – but (..in my experience, anyway..) Leica’s repair service has been great ..and fast! (Though I did stand over them and kept re-testing it the last time it went for re-calibration, and I wouldn’t accept it until it was absolutely spot-on.)

        Perhaps they’re running low on stocks of the M9 sensor – though that can’t be right, since the M-E is still available new – so I can’t understand why you’d have to wait for 4-6 months! Incredibubble.

        As for getting your glasses scratched – which happened to me with my father-in-law’s (now mine) M3 – I just fitted a rubber washer around the eyepiece, and have had no further trouble. (I believe you can buy thin self-adhesive foam rubber, too, to fix the same problem.)

        But at least you had the use of another one while yours was being forgotten about ..I mean “repaired”!

        Incidentally, you say:

        “Speed: Leica M9-P goes up to 1/4000 sec while the A7R up to 1/8000 sec. Again, a small difference, but quite useful when shooting at 1.4F in daylight!”

        I find a neutral density filter’s useful wide-open in bright light. The one advantage that the dinosaur-like M9 has over any SLR is that the view in the finder is unaffected – it doesn’t alter when using a filter on the lens.

        Sorry you were disappointed – 4-6 months!!? – but glad you’re now happy.

        – David.

        • I am also having similar issues of Leica taking 6 months to replace the faulty sensor on my M9-P. In fact, this is the 3rd repair work. First was a dirty sensor. Second was a red streak on captured image which required mapping. Third was the sensor replacement.

          Spent most of my warranty in Germany. Finally decided to give Sony A7r a try. So far, results have been pleasant.

  87. This just makes my craving for the A7 worse … Right now, I’m having a hard time deciding between it and the OM-D E-M5 (yes, 5, not 1). I’m already invested in MFT, but I’d love to use my legacy lenses on a full frame body. I might just go for the A7 and build an all manual lens kit around it …

    • Ones a mature system. The Oly. And the Sony is once again a work in progress. These systems are very subjective in use. Borrow or rent each then decide.
      You’d do no less if it was a business decision. And in many ways it is.

  88. Comparing an older Leica to the newest Sony is a bit unfair. The R7(R) will create fine images. The limitation seems to be with lens. No wider the 35mm from the RF fair. I also looks if size will create unbalanced combo if you were to use fast wide lens. I think it is a fine camera for thoughts who must have the max MP. It is a camera with faults, as do all cameras. It just that Sony is not fast with lens roll out and their choices are not always the best. Take the 35mm F2.8 Sonnar. Why not just offer the F2.0 from their RX1. Maybe the people from Olympus can help them out.
    Good luck, if the camera becomes the “Camera of all time” I have time until lens will follow to buy the R9R.

    • Not unfair at all. For the price of an M-E (AKA M9) you can buy BOTH an A7 & an A7R. So while it is older tech *Leica is still selling it* so it is only right to compare it to current competing offerings. Yes, the A7R has issues with *some* wide angle RF lenses. It handles others (like the WATE and CV 21mm f/1.8) just fine. The A7 comes much closer but lacks the built-in adjustments that the M cameras will do on native Leica glass.

      Personally with the better grip I think it makes handling large lenses (like fast WA RF lenses) easier than the Leica bodies.

  89. Interesting but not very persuasive. I actually prefer the M9 rendering. Moreover, you are comparing a 4 year old camera to a brand new one, whereas the correct comparison would be with an M 240 or the Monochrom. The Monochrom far exceeds the Sony as an artistic tool. And the M240 is a significant improvement over the M9. Glad you like your equipment and hope you continue to enjoy it.

    • I compared what I believed was my ultimate camera. Unfortunately it was not because in my opinion a camera should not fail. I could not test against the M240 because I only tried it a few minutes but most of my points also apply to it (at least for me…).

      • I recently purchased the Sony A7r with the 55mm lens, it is a good system, I have been shooting with Leica rangefinder cameras for the past 40 years with M4, M6 and now with M9 and M9P, with 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm Leica glass. The IQ from the Sony A7r with the 55mm lens is better than the M9 with the 50 cron, but the sensor in the M9 is 4 years old, not a fair comparison. The build of the Leica is superb, while the Sony is built with less refinement. I will keep shooting with my Sony and Leicas, because they are both good for taking great pictures.

        • I also recently purchased the Sony a7r with the Zeiss Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 and I love it. Over the years I have been shooting with Leica cameras and lenses exclusively. After seeing the results from the a7r, I immediately sold all my Leica gear, including my trusted M9 (which unfortunately broke two times last year). I have to admit (and this hurts a little) that the Sony autofocus is way faster and more convenient than the range finder system. Maybe it’s just me getting older and a little slow, I don’t know. I have more keepers with the Sony than I ever had with any Leica camera. Love it, love it, love it. Bought my copy of the camera and the Zeiss lens in Hong Kong when I was there. Very cheap compared to a Leica ha, ha! Almost felt like stealing. Great camera.

      • The Leica M9 rendering is not better at all. In camera processing and different lenses is what you see. I prefer 36mp too 😉

    • I don’t see how the Monochrom exceeds the Sony as an artistic tool. What can the MM do that the Sony can’t? If you mean that being limited to B/W is more artistic, that is purely emotional and has nothing to do with actual photos.

      • The MM has tonal range and clarity of render that equals and sometimes surpasses digital Medium Format.
        The Sony (and any camera with Bayer filters including the M9 and the new M) cannot achieve anything close.

        • I had the Leica MM and sold …

          When we strip the sentimental ballast around the Leica legend so I can fully enjoy
          my new sony A7R ..

          I do not mean the Leica MM is a bad camera, just did not work for kostrukni stance .. and service too is not ideal!

          It’s hard mossazna brick (reportedly tank) but it is very easy to rozbyt … Not a very good aunt to travel! (my style of travel)

          I’m glad I sold it … I do not regret!

      • Do you own and shoot with an MM? If not, how can you you say anything about it? An MM with almost any Leica lens i s pretty hard to beat.

          • I think anyone who wants a Sony should have it and enjoy it. I simply see no need for a Sony user to go out of his way to say silly, pointless and incorrect things about Leica, Why is Leica relevant to a non Leica user’s state of mind or enjoyment of his camera? What compels the need to say negatives about any other camera? Just enjoy what works for you.

    • Ahh….no Jack the comparison to the Leica M9 is a perfect one. Many people who can afford an A7R can also afford a used M9….the same is not necessarily true of the Leica M.

      I gree with pretty much all the points in the article except for the one on ergonomics. Although I sold my M8 several years ago…I loved the way that camera felt in my hand; it was the perfect size. I recently tried an A7 at the Sony store and was surprised to see how small it is…it’s smaller than I thought (not what she said:)

      Although I love the feature set of the A7 for me personally it’s just too small in my hands to the point of almost being awkward. Personally the perfect size of camera is more in the XPro-1/Leica M dimensions…

      • I totally agree. While many people prefer the smallest camera bodies, I prefer a small (but not too small), well balanced body, like the X-Pro 1. I chose the X-Pro 1 over the X-E1 in part because of its size – the X-E series is too small for me, but others would argue otherwise.

        I held the Sony A7r the other day in a camera store, and it felt awkward in my hands. Despite the excellent sensors, I have never liked the design or feel of any Sony MILCs.

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