Q&A Wednesday, week 1

Hello once again! I must get 20-30 questions a day in to my inbox and yes, I do try to answer them all. I get all kinds of questions on cameras, lenses, processing, dealers..you name it. But keep in mind, I am not a guru or expert on all things photographic so my answers are just my opinions. With all of the great questions I get to read every day I decided to put up a weekly Q&A session post! Every Wednesday I will scan my inbox for questions and post some of them here with my answers. This way, if anyone else had the same question they can see the answer! If you have a question, feel free to use the contact button at the top of any page!

Q: Steve, how would you compare the leica d-lux 4 and the panasonic lumix GF1..which one would you say is better in photo quality and recording videos…thanks

A: GF1 all the way but it’s a bigger, louder, and heavier camera. Some will say the D-Lux 4 images are nicer at low ISO but not really. With the 20 1.7, the GF1 rocks and the video capability is much better.

Q: HI! I am patiently waiting for a Leica M9. 🙁 I will be purchasing the Summicron 35mm per your recommendation as an all around lens. I enjoy taking pictures of people. I take photos of couples, individuals and groups. Also of my pets. The only other would be landscape. Is the 35mm going to cut it or should I get the 50mm Summicron. My friend asked me to shoot her son’s wedding. Not sure I can pull that off with w manual camrea. Do you use a tripod or monopod with your M9. I will be purchasing the camera through your webiste once availalbe so you get the credit. Thank you!!!!!!!

A: In my opinion a 35 and 50 are a great set for full frame. I use a 35 all of the time for landscape, groups, and even portraits. The 50 summicron is now my 50 of choice for the long haul as I love everything about it. The size, image quality, and rendering. Not too modern, not too classic and just fast enough. One lens though…hmmm that is tough as I use the 35 and 50 quite a bit. I would start with the 35 and then later add the 50. IMO, those two classic  focal lengths can cover almost anything. Good luck!

Q: 1. Are the shots in your Leica M9 review processed, especially for the nice vignetting, or is that the camera that does that? If they were processed, what settings did you use (Camera Raw?).

A: The images you see there are a mix and it states which ones are processed and which ones were not. I think there is a page of processed images and even a page with out of camera JPEGS. 99% of my processing is done from within the RAW converter meaning I adjust exposure if needed, contrast if needed, black level, white balance, etc. If you see vignetting in any of my images, that was most likely added.

2. I recently got a 7D and am struggling to get good shots out of it, but starting to think it’s my technique. The way you write about the Leica, I’m starting to wonder if it would really allow me to take better shots (against the old adage ‘it’s the guy, not the tools’:). I also read your comparison, and the Leica is indeed sharper. What are your thoughts on this? Would an amateur get better results out of a Leica every time?

A: I have had a 7D here for the past 30 days and I also struggled getting good shots out of it. Is it because I am so used to shooting a rangefinder? Maybe. Is it because I am spoiled by the M9 file quality? Probably. Is it because I was shooting with two somewhat stinker lenses? Most likely. As for getting better results from an M9, no a new camera will not make ANYONE a better photographer. There are people shooting $15 cameras that kick me around the block but that is OK. I enjoy my Leica M more than any camera I have ever shot with. I also like the little Olympus E-P2 quite a bit. I guess it is due to the size, fun factor and quality of these cameras. A Leica M9 may improve your technique by slowing you down and making you think more. I feel that a Leica M and one lens is a great way to get better at photography over time but do not expect a transformation in your skills.

3. The Leica is a 7K camera kit-only (I think). Which lens would be a good starter’s lens in your opinion? Just wondering about the total investment, lens+camera.

A: I have shot with them all and I like the 35 Summarit or Summicron and the 50 Summicron as a first lens. Honestly, just pick a focal length you like, a speed you like and something that fits within your budget. All Leica lenses are superb. They do not make any stinkers.

Q: Hi steve.. i just want to know what camera is best to shoot in high hd videos for sports games like basketball,soccer etc or even parties…is it the panasonic gf1, leica d-lux 4,ricoh gxr..or if you know any small compact camera that can do what i just described please let me know…thanks.

A: Well, I can not  say what is the “best” camera for your needs, but can say that the Panasonic GF1 has the easiest to use video mode I have seen to date.  The video quality is great. Also, the Olympus E-P2 is my current video favorite, even over the Canon 7D. The ease of use and ability to adjust shutter speed and aperture is so cool. But for you, I would guess a GF1 with a longer lens for those sports games. Good luck!

Q: Hi. I am looking for advice on a camera purchase. I just sold all my camera equipment (Canon 5d MkII). Tired of carrying it and scared that I am going to get hit upside my head on the street one day because of it. I have enough money for an M9 and a used Summilux 1.4, but am wondering if I should consider the M8. I just hate paying for something that I know will lose value so fast. What is your opinion? The M8 is such a good deal now…

A: Yes, the Leica M8 can be found at $2000 or so used these days. A pretty big difference from the $7000 of an M9. If I were YOU, I would grab a used M8 and lens (and IR filter) and shoot it for a while. If you love it and know that you want a rangefinder camera for the long run the order an M9. You could then sell the M8 at a minimal, or maybe even no loss. With a three month wait for M9’s these days you could spend that time shooting the excellent M8 and figure out if its for you.

Q: I am considering a mighty upgrade to an M9 from an old Olympus 24×36 reflex I have together with a small Canon digital camera. BUT prior buying the M9 I am wondering about the following:

1. Is the M9 weather sealed ? I am always very careful with my gear but for me the action must always take priority over the gear which should follow thus I feel weathersealing is important for active people wishing to take pictures in any type of situations.

A: No, the M9 is not weather sealed. I have had mine in the rain and snow with no issues but I wouldn’t let it get soaked.

2. Will Leica offer the sapphire LCD window ? Any idea when it may be on offer ?

I have no idea but some say they will, some say they will not. Time will tell. They are too busy now trying to fill the orders for the M9.

3. Can the M9 firmware be upgraded easily or does it means shipping the camera back to Leica ?

It’s an easy task. Just download the firmware to an SD card, put it in the camera and turn it on. It updates automatically.

Thanks again for such a good real world review which is basically what I am always looking for vs the pure techno geek stuff.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Great feature…. For those like me asking you about m9 bd m8.2…Right now both cams new, if you shoot 35mm the
    M9 kit with the summarit Costs you 300 less than the 8.2 since you have to buy a cron f2 or elmarit F2.8 which are much More expensive in small sizes. And when you change for FF, you Will still need a 50 or 35. Which is close to 28. As of today M8 or m9 are better deals than an interim m8.2.

Comments are closed.