Leica M9 New Firmware Predictions…

I have my crystal ball here and have gazed into it. What I saw was the future of the M9 and its new firmware! Well, not really but a little known fact about me is that I once worked as a Phone Psychic in the 1-900 Psychic phone craze days back when I was 20 or so. That was pretty interesting. I also have been predicting the sex of babies for 25 years and have only been wrong ONCE, and that was with my own son. I must have predicted 200+ babies in my lifetime, all correct. NO JOKE!

Anyway, today it came to me….the new M9 firmware should be right around the corner and here is what I think will be improved. Now, keep in mind this is just for fun but my Crystal Ball has never been wrong!

SD Card Format Times – I have seen the future. The ball showed me that formatting an SD card in the M9 will be fast. Instead of the 20-30 seconds it now takes, I am seeing that reduced to 2-3 seconds.

Faster Image Preview – As I gazed at the M9 in my Crystal Ball I saw image previews coming in fast. No more slow distorted mess. The previews snapped in and zooming was quick. This looked good so lets see if it becomes reality.

Improved High ISO – It was funny. When I gazed into the ball there was barely any noise. High ISO was better, so was mid ISO’s. Hmmmm, very interesting.

PREVIEW….This was slightly foggy, so I could be mistaken but the LCD preview on the M9 in the crystal ball seemed crisper than on my M9. Previewing images looked…sharper…more detailed.

The Red Was Faded – Not sure why but the color red was faded near the edges of the ball just before it all vanished and clouded up with something else that popped up…

A calendar! It was turned to the month of March. Not sure of the significance but maybe this is when the firmware will finally be released. Who knows? Not me.

Anyway, hope you have found my predictions interesting. Let’s wait and see what happens.


  1. @ xtoph: I am shocked to read your stories about airport security encounters. The wet swaps…man… really? I can understand your frustration.
    I will be travelling alot between USA and UK/Germany soon since the christmas day bombing attempt occured. It will be interesting to see how I fare now. Motion picture film stock is entirely shipped to locations by Fuji or Kodak itself at marginal extra cost, but I thought I will grab my old Four-Designs-converted Polaroid 100B Pathfinder after ten years of not really using it, and start shot MF again. An actor I worked with used a Littman conversion, and that made me reminisce. So let’s see how airport personnel reacts to seeing that sort of gear… plus all the silver-wrapped packfilm boxes ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for the shutter sound hint, but that isn’t an issue as during silent set, I would actually work on cam-ops, so shooting with a future M9 would rather be during the endless breaks and changes… which is when the candid events we all love to remember after wrap do occur.

    I would definitely be interested in a gallery showing your red edge issues, and I think many other people would, too. But it’s a lot of work to put this together, so I would never ask you to do this. However, if you were to, please feel free to notify me. That would be very kind.

    Best wishes,

  2. @xtoph, Max, Steve & benjy,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to reply with such an extent. Despite my late reply (due to work), I would like to say how much I appreciate your efforts to describe and analyse a problem that is quite something for a product with that brand name and price tag.

    As discussed, I spent some time with my preferred ” purveyor of photographic tools” (ah, England ๐Ÿ™‚ ). The M9 is a very nice camera, the view/rangefinder is comparable to solid designs from the 1960s, nothing to shout about but compared to the grotesque on-screen-menus on today’s digicams, I can see why so many young people who grew up with this crap dream of owning a digital rangefinder. I wonder why no other company capitalises on this with a less price-intensive product? After all, rangefinder designs were never really stallwarts of high-end upmarket products since SLRs came along.

    I had quite a frank discussion re. the red-edging and other issues (particularly power). The phenomenon is known, I was told, but it’s not 100% clear that the next firmware update is going to fix it, if indeed it can be fixed. Apparantly, the conditions upon which it occurs are pretty all over the place. This is very much in line with what you have all posted here based on your varied experiences. It seems this is making it complicated to write a software patch that does not cause other processing issues in the wake of an attempt to fix it. For my demands of a professional tool, this is not really acceptable. If the Leica were a prosumer-marketed and priced product, okay, but not as it stands.

    I thought I would order a M9 body and the upcoming 35 summilux (thanks, xtoph, for the hint that high ISO is better in the field than in the pixelpeeper reviews!!). I had a presentation of the all-new entry-level Cooke Panchro cine-lenses recently that come in at around $7k, and I must say I would wish the Leica lenses would reflect their $3-5k tag a little bit better in terms of haptics.

    With no firm firmware news (pun intended), and a new 35 summilux design t.b.a., I decided that I am in no hurry to spend my money. I can easily wait until Leica is fixing its technology which it is – after all – still learning to master after the technology transfer from Panasonic… BTW, why is everyone only talking about Panasonic gaining optical expertise from Leica – despite the fact that Panasonic has already decades of expertice in optical designs for videography – but no one talks about the massive electronics transfer from Panasonic into Solms, which now makes the X1 and M9 possible in the first place… weird bias?!

    So I will wait how the M9 and the new 35 ‘lux shapes up. In light of the asking price and post-M8, I think this is a healthy decision. I totally agree with Max in that respect.

    Many thanks again for helping me make up my decision, guys.

  3. Greetings all. If you’re talking about wish lists, about the only thing I would like to see on my M9 is an auto setting on the monitor brightness. This would be very easy to do using the sensor that dims the LED light meter display.

    As for the red edges, it seems worse when photographing grey subjects. I tried it with a Voigtlander 21 and it was terrible. Completely unusable. I now have an uncoded Elmarit asph 21 and that still shows slightly red but only against grey subjects.

    I would also like to add that I find these discussions most amusing. Do people really care if a camera takes a whole 20 seconds to format a card? Are they really bothered that they can only buffer 7 shots at once? I never shot at that speed with my M3.

    Sometimes I feel sorry for Leica with the customers it has. I think the camera is totally awesome and I expect to enjoy many happy years using it. Now stop writing and go out and take some pictures!

  4. @ michael l:
    about film: glad to hear you’ve been able to get your film through airports. i often use high iso and/or push, so i can’t put the film though xray machines (especially not 3~5 times in one airport, as is frequently expected in some terminals). the worst experience was of course from american ‘security’, who used some kind of wet swab on the film leader. unfortunately they dripped extra solution down the leader and into the canister, ruining half of my supply of film for a month-long trip (which is of course a lot). so after that, and with the hassle of just having to pull it out every checkpoint, i basically consider film impractical to the point of un-usability at this point for work involving travel. fortunately i find digital to offer on-balance better solutions for most travel situations anyway.

    the red edge: you can find some discussion of it with various samples on the lfi forums. one example: i understand why you’d want to get the executive summary version. my own experience is mostly with the 28 summicron (the issue doesn’t seem to affect lenses 50mm and longer; also, the very newest wide lenses, ie 24/1.4, don’t appear as significantly affected.) what happens is that the left edge and especially corners of the frame show a magenta tint, as if the camera is over-correcting for cyan drift just on that side. the tint appears to always be there, but is not always particularly noticeable. it is much worse against an even, neutral bg such as sky, cloud, snow, white wall, or even pavement. the effect is exacerbated by any kind of processing, including the vignetting reduction carried out in camera, especially at high iso. (contrary to what you may have heard, i’ve found the higher iso’s in the camera to be otherwise eminently usable in most cases–only about a stop behind my 5d2.) it can also be exacerbated by certain unusual lighting–highly diffuse light, or nasty discontinuous spectrum lighting (streetlights, etc). when i emailed a leica customer service representative in germany, he replied that they were aware of the problem and expecting to release a firmware update in the next ~4 weeks with improved lens profiles to correct the it. if you think this is the sort of issue that would really bug the heck out of you, and if you want to use wide lenses at all, then the safest course would be to wait a few weeks and see what the firmware delivers. but… for myself, i don’t regret the purchase. this is a camera that basically exceeds the film m cameras in most ways, which is exactly what i wanted. (btw, make sure you test the shutter sound, if you’re using it on set it isn’t as quiet as the cloth shutters used to be.) i will certainly be very happy if the new firmware makes this particular issue a moot point.

    maybe i will get around to throwing up a page with a half dozen samples of the red edge issue, if there’s any interest.

  5. Michael,

    As Steve noted, the issues is probably a minor one that can easily be corrected and obviously not one that affects everyone. I have the WATE and 28/35 Summicrons and never had a problem with my M9. I hate to see someone else having issues because, as I have said above, this is an expensive camera and the wides are very expensive as well. This certainly should not deter you from making the purchase, as the M9, in my book, is one of the very best digitals one can buy and there is just nothing else like it in terms of quality, simplicity and usability I would say that before you plunk down a few extra thousands on a WATE or 21, 24, 28 35, try them first to make sure they work fine.

  6. Hey Michael,

    Thanks for the comments. My two cents on the red edge issue is that it only happens on wide angle lenses, and in particular, those that are not coded. Now, other say they have the issues with a few Leica lenses, coded or not. The only wide angle i have used on my M9 has been the 24 Summilux and the WATE (which is pretty wide). I also tested the Zeiss 25. The Zeiss had the issue but was not coded so the M9 did not correct for it. When set up as a 28 Elmarit in the M9 menu it went away.

    The WATE and 24 Lux…I saw no visible to the naked eye red edge in any of my images.

    Some say the problem is there with the Leica 18, but I can not comment because I never tried the lens. I think some mentioned the 21 Elmarit as well.

    Basically, the only time I have seen this issue was with the Zeiss uncoded 25. Never say it with the 35 Lux, 35 cron, 35 summarit, etc. Anyway, the new firmware should be out soon.

  7. @xtoph: So far, I have never encountered security or xray issues or travel woes when moving cine, photo or other gear around in regular check-in (i.e. not using industry-shipping services). Even Polaroid 667 3000 ISO packfilm made it through 6 screenings on one trip LA-London-several African airports and back. Sorry to hear you had trouble ๐Ÿ™ .

  8. @Chris, Max and xtoph:
    Inspired by Steve’s real life reviews, I intended to make arrangements to buy an M9 at Richard Caplan’s store this Thursday. This will be my first serious digital camera, as I just couldn’t take the digicam technology flying around over the past decade serious and found it too expensive for what it is (am doing cinematography, so what I regard as a well-built lens or optical excellence is a bit different/warped to DSLR gear).
    This is the first time I hear about a “red corners/left edge” issue with the M9. For me, Leica nearly jumped the shark with the M8 and how they thought customers and products can be dealt with. I thought they learned from that with the M9?! Could anyone of you give a brief hint on where to find knowledgeable info on this issue? I don’t have the time to wade through hundreds of semi-informed online forums where Leica shills and Leica haters clash over non-sense. Your help is much appreciated. In fact, a Leica purchase depends on it ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I do photography (medium & large) with coupled rangefinders for years, so that alone isn’t a sales point for me. I want authentic imaging quality out of the box for nothing but personal photography on Set, with colleagues or friends, and in good colour. I would convert to B&W if I choose, but not make me feel all “artiste”, or to hide bad colour palettes, image deficiencies or M8/M9 sensor/processing behaviour.
    Your help is appreciated.

  9. @max–yes, i agree, problems such as the red edge issue should not have slipped through to the release of the camera. however, i can’t afford your m3–i will easily save the difference between what we paid for hardware on film and developing in less than a year, plus it has become near-impossible to travel internationally with film these days, plus i am getting low light results far beyond anything possible with film and 50 year old lenses… so yes, in spite of the headaches and the should-have-beens, i do love progress.
    not that there’s anything wrong with film–i still use it when i can, and enjoy doing so. i just can’t hardly afford it anymore. for people who don’t shoot as much, and who don’t have to deal with security xrays and other travel woes, film is lovely.

  10. re:red corners/left edge:

    Amazing what we put up with for a total of $10K++ (M9 + 28 or 35mm Summicron Asph) ๐Ÿ™‚ My M3 is 51 years old, I paid $1,200 with three great lenses and yet it doesn’t give me any trouble at all. Got to love progress…we’re all waiting for Leica to bless us with an updated firmware to fix a problem that, for that kind of money, should absolutely not be there in the first place. Oh well…

  11. Red corners, that’s what we wait for. Would be also good, if M9 could talk the same language with its dedicated flash, like S2 can do! TTL-HSS.

  12. re: battery life
    i have my m9 set up to not go to sleep, because i want it to be ready whenever i need to take a shot. the battery runs down pretty fast that way (couple of hours, whether you take photos or not). i suspect for people who are willing to switch the camera off after every shot, battery life isn’t a big issue. it would be nice if i could just leave the switch permanently taped to ‘on’, like i do with my canon cameras–they can sit for days, take hundreds of shots, and still be ready the instant i hit the shutter, no matter when. fortunately the m9 batteries are small, at least, so i can easily carry a couple in one pocket.

    re: red corners/left edge:
    i encounter the problem frequently on my 28 ‘cron, which is an everyday lens for me; lots of folks out there are encountering serious red edge issues even with a 35 cron. i would say that i am glad to hear that you don’t encounter any of those problems, except that if it really does vary that much, then my hopes for a firmware fix are significantly lowered. still, crossing my fingers and waiting on that one.

  13. Lot of that makes sense, you are probably not too far off.
    Nevertheless, I hope they finally will also allow to set a higher minimum speed on Auto-ISO. 1/125th is too slow in some occasions. cheers.

  14. My single biggest problem is, unlike some DSLRs my batteries last forever on them even when kept on, however, on my M9 they run out like a thrirty stallion…. I hear some crystal balls are like dreams, you wake up and leave out a detail or two, any hoping for that? :p

  15. I hear from a reputable dealer that the new batch of M9’s arriving this week in US have a newer version of software installed…we shall soon see.

  16. Hi Steve, 2-3 seconds reduction in the previous formatting of the SD card will be nice, hopefully the new firmware will make the writing speed and buffer faster too.

  17. Hey Chris, I don’t talk about the red edge issue (though I did in my Zeiss 25 Review) because for me it is not an issue. I do not shoot wider than 35 so I never see it. The only time I did was with the Zeiss but when set up as a 28 elmarit all was good. Also, the WATE I had here did not exhibit any red edge, and if it did then it was not visible.

    I did see some red fading in the ball though ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. i’m sure steve and lots of others have already heard some of the rumors and news regarding firmware, but just in case there are people reading this site who don’t spend a lot of time digging around elsewhere on forums etc… and not to spoil your crystal ball fun and all…

    several of us have been assured in the past week by responsible leica representatives in germany that leica is hard at work on the lens profiles, especially for wide lenses, and expect to deliver a firmware update that fixes the red corner/left edge problem many m9 users are encountering “in 3-4 weeks”. something, i note, steve doesn’t talk much about, though there are a lot of bw conversions on the site…

    anyway, i am more skeptical about some of the other items, but here’s hoping all that and more can be delivered with a simple, free firmware update.

  19. but wait! Steve please look back into that crystal ball! there must new firmware for the M8/8.2 coming to, right? dial-a-lens perhaps? auto-exposure-bracketing? don’t you see something coming? anything?

  20. Not too sure I buy the improvement in high ISO (unless itโ€™s very modest). The lack of a serious anti-alias filter limits the ISO capability of the cameraโ€”simple physics.

    Take care,


  21. Here’s to hoping that your predictions for the M9 are as close on to your baby predictions! Any birdies whispering in the ears, or storks for that matter? hahah…

    I agree that all of the proposed “updates” that you describe would be helpful. I suspect many others there would like to see more SD card compatability as well. For me, the biggest gets would be better ISO performance at ISO 800-2500, particularly 1250-2500, as well as faster previews and crisper LCD previews….

    Format time improvements would be nice as well…

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