Dec 122013
 

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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

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Leica M9P with 50 Summilux

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Sony A7r with Zeiss 35 2.8

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Leica M9P with 35 Summilux at 2.8

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Sony A7r with Zeiss 35 at 2.8

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Leica M9P with 35 Summilux at 2.8

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- 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 35 Summilux at ISO 6400

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Sony A7r and Zeiss 35 

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Leica M9P with 35 Summilux

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- 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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Feb 112012
 

 

TGIF! It’s Friday night and I am home in my quiet house relaxing with my old dog Scrubby. He is snoozing away on the floor next to my chair and the house is dark. I just watched TV for the past hours so I figured I would sit down and look over some snaps I shot today with the M9P, which is a camera I seem to never tire of. I may shelf it for a month or two but I always come back to it and am always enamored by its beauty, form and output. Yep, I love my M9 even after almost three years since its debut.

So what did I do today? I did not go out for photos. In fact, it was a boring old day for me here in sunny AZ. The weather was great at almost 80 degrees and sunny but I simply had nothing to do, and nothing to shoot! My fiancé is in Chicago, my best friend was working, my son was with his Mother and there was basically nothing to do after my work on the site was done today.

So after updating the site this morning I wandered around my backyard, and snapped away with my beautiful Chrome M9-P (see my updated gear page). In the image above you can see the HUGE SLR Magic lens attached and I have been shooting with this lens every chance I get..just waiting for something to go wrong..I mean, this is NOT a Leica lens. It is a lens from SLR Magic! It CAN’T be good, right? Well, that is what many think anyway.

The fact is that this is a GREAT lens. If it didn’t have the barrel distortion it would be every bit as good as the Leica Noctilux ASPH f/0.95 in it’s IQ. Still, the distortion is easily fixed but it never gets PERFECT like the Nocti. At $7k cheaper though, it is to be expected and besides, who shoots architecture with a lens like this anyway?

The fact remains though that this is a lens I never thought I would see anyone else make. It IS the FASTEST 35mm lens in production today even though it is not available until September, and  that in itself is quite the feat. Andrew from SLR Magic said the day after I posted the pricing info and his shops street address in Hong Kong he had a few visitors the next morning who saw the lens on this site. They all wanted to buy one then and there and one guy wanted TWO. Andrew found one thing interesting. All of these guys already had the Noctilux ASPH! Pretty interesting!

With their low production volume I seriously think they will sell every one they can make, even at the $4288 price tag. Also some have e-mailed me asking this question and no, I am not getting paid money to talk about this lens or write about it. SLR Magic is not even a site sponsor anymore though I keep up their little ad box on the right because I believe in what they are doing, and after meeting Andrew, I know they are passionate and really care about what they are doing. These words are just my real experience with this lens, and if there are any negative things that pop up you can be sure I will write about them. With that said, here are a few more shots from the lens with the M9P. Just snaps, nothing serious. They do show the character of the lens though.

One from the SLR Magic at T/2 – converted to B&W with some PP – click for larger. Sharpness is NOT an issue with this lens at any aperture I have tested it with. 

Another at T/2 – This is usually a bokeh torture test!

How about T/5.6 (I wish this lens was rated in F stops instead of T stops)  - click it for 100% crop!

The image below is interesting because the room was actually fairly dark. There was no window light, it was indoors and shot wide open. I was curious to see how sharp it would be, and this was 1/60th of a second. You can not get this look with a Voigtlander 1.1, or even a Lux ASPH 1.4 as the Bokeh would be totally different as would the rendering. This is the equivalent of f/0.92 and it comes into play when you have no light. :)

Soon I will be doing some side by side comparisons with this lens and others, so stay tuned for that. BUT they will be added to the review HERE. 

Other things coming up..

This weekend: Crazy Comparison: Nikon V1 vs Panasonic GX1

Really not so crazy I guess but I am curious myself so I may post this one over the weekend. Full size files, crops, color, noise…JUST for FUN and because I have both cameras here. I have the X zoom for the GX1 on loan along with the camera so should be interesting. Zoom against Zoom :)

I will also be getting my own NEX-7 in the next week or two (I hope) so I’ll be shooting more with that, and trying out the SLR Magic lens with it as well. Photo and Video.

I also have more guest articles and user reports on the way, so check back daily! BTW, I checked my stats today and this website has had over 21,000,000 views in less than 2 1/2 years and 2 million of those was in January alone! WOW!! THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO VISIT HERE EVERY DAY!!! I truly appreciate each and every one of you!

I have a feeling things will get nuts around here in April when all of these new cameras start shipping and even more news leaks out. Gonna be a crazy year for us all!

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