My two favorite Digital Cameras ever, and why.

My two favorite Digital Cameras ever!

By Steve Huff

A question: Isn’t photography meant to be enjoyable and fun? These days I see so many frustrated photographers shooting, chimping, (previewing their images immediately after taking them) and then they grumble and complain because the image is out of focus, or their exposure was off, or there was motion blur caused by them using a 300mm lens at F8 and 1/60th of a second. They complain and stress about their lens not being good enough or their camera not meeting their needs.

In these “days of digital” things change so fast that if you blink an eye you may miss a new camera introduction. I used to be one of those guys who would stress and buy a new camera every month or two, selling and losing money on every one of them. I was always out looking for the next best thing. The latest and greatest. I would buy big Pro DSLR’s when I would rarely shoot as a pro. I would spend huge amounts of money on a camera with a few lenses only to realize later on that this whole DSLR thing was not “my thing”. Thousands of dollars later I was ready to give up as I was just never really happy when I was out shooting for one reason or another. These days I am pretty content with the cameras I own. My Leica M cameras and my Olympus E-PL1 have given me more enjoyment than any other cameras I have shot with. EVER.

With that said, there are so many great cameras out there these days that it is hard to find a stinker camera when you are shopping in the over $400 price bracket. Getting back to the “having fun” aspect of photography, I believe that in order to truly enjoy this hobby that one must shoot with a camera they REALLY enjoy using. I have shot with so many cameras over the years but the ones that have stuck with me the longest have been my Leica M’s and the Olympus E-PL1 and E-P2 , which I am finding to be the best bang for the buck cameras I have used.

Olympus E-Pl1 in Grainy B&W Mode

My First Leica M, the beginning of the end.

One day during a model shoot I had, I ran into a guy who brought along a teeny hip bag. I asked where his camera was and he said “It’s right here”. He pulled out a beautiful Leica M7 in chrome. Wow. “Can I hold it” instantly blurted out of my dropped jaw, and let me tell you, when I grabbed a hold of this solid hunk of camera I was amazed. The feel, well, it was like a holding a master crafted piece of heaven. I always heard of Leica and never even thought of owning one due to the prices of their cameras. But when I looked through the viewfinder and manually focused using the Leica 50 Summicron lens I was hooked. That was it. Game over.

I went home and decided to sell whatever huge DSLR I had at the time and job #1was to talk with my beautiful wife about it, and convince her that this Leica was for me. That talk with the wife may have went something like this:

Me: “Wow, I shot with the most AMAZING camera today”
My Wife: “Don’t even think about it, you just bought THAT ONE”
Me: “I never said I wanted to buy a new camera, I am just telling you about it”
Wife: What about it?”
Me: “If I owned that camera I would never need anything else.”
Wife: “I KNEW IT!!!……”

To make a long story short, I convinced her that I needed that M7 and before long I had my DSLR sold and I bought a kit from B&H which included the M7 and 50 Summicron lens. At the time it was $4500 for the set and that hurt. I asked myself on many occasions if I was nuts for spending so much on a film camera and one prime lens. After I confirmed with friends and family that I was indeed crazy, I waited for the package with excitement and when it arrived it felt like I was 6 years old all over again and it was Christmas morning.

When I started shooting film after years with digital I said to myself “Uh Oh! I hope I made the right choice! FILM?” but after shooting my first few rolls of Tri-X I was hooked. Also, the rangefinder experience changed my whole outlook on photography. Gone were the worries of which zoom to buy, gone were the impersonal telephoto portraits and gone was the bulk and weight.

Shooting with a rangefinder camera is a unique experience though some may not like it at first. I think it took me a good month before I was fully convinced on it and today there is NO going back to a DSLR for my main camera. Sure, DSLR’s are great but I see them more as a tool for sports, wildlife, macro or action. My son loves his DSLR but he likes to go to airports and shoot planes so he uses a telephoto zoom. A rangefinder would not work for him. Me, I just shoot life…whatever is in front of me, and for that, a rangefinder is PERFECT!

I will shoot a rangefinder until my vision goes and I can not manually focus my lenses. I am 41 so I should have a few years left in me 🙂 Today I shoot a Leica MP, a Leica M9 and and Olympus M4/3 camera I have never been more thrilled or happy while shooting.

Anyway, this article is not to teach you about rangefinders but it is to share my passion with you about why the Leica M9 and Olympus E-PL1 are my favorite digital cameras EVER. Let me start with the Leica M9.

Rangefinders. They are small. Sort of.

One reason why I enjoy shooting so much these days is due  to shooting with a rangefinder camera. Hold a Leica M, A Zeiss Ikon or a Voigtlander Bessa and you will probably say “I want one”. Especially a Leica. They are just the perfect feeling camera with a blend of old school design, bulletproof construction, and a beauty that is more than skin deep. Much smaller than a prosumer or pro DSLR but built even better. Also, due to the amazing glass they have the ability to really capture the emotion and feeling in the moment. Holding a nice rangefinder 35mm camera is a feeling you will really get a thrill from. Using the camera will probably push you over the edge and will make you REALLY lust for one.

Leica M9 and 50 Noctilux 0.95

Those M Lenses…

On a rangefinder you can shoot a 50 1.4 lens at 1/15s (or slower) and get a clear shot due to ZERO vibration inside the body. Also, most rangefinders are all manual and that is a GOOD thing. In the long run shooting manual will make you a better photographer! This is 100% true. Shoot a Leica M camera and one lens for 6 months and when you are done you will have mastered the camera, the focus and be pretty speedy in using it.

When I shoot a Leica M I am happy and content. I no longer want to sell my camera to buy another, and one of the many reasons is the legendary lenses that are available to you when you shoot with a Leica M mount camera. An M9 with a 50 Summilux ASPH has some serious MOJO happening. Hell, an M9 with almost ANY Leica lens has some serious MOJO! Here is a shot with an M9 and 35.

The lenses are incredible but if you find yourself buying an M9 let me just state this: To get the most amount of MOJO out of your new M9, buy a FAST lens! Wether it is a Leica 24, 35 or 50 lux or even a Voigtlander or Zeiss (Zeiss 50 Sonnar is super) you will really see the special qualities while shooting these lenses. IMO the two best lenses for the M9 are the new 35 Summilux ASPH and the 50 Summilux ASPH. Both are loaded with MAGIC.

I enjoy the RF Viewfinder

I happen to be one of those that LOVE using the rangefinder viewfinder. With the frame lines you can easily frame your subject and see what is just outside of your frames. This is something that you CAN NOT do with a DSLR. Sure, with a DSLR it is a what you see is what you get scenario but with a rangefinder you get to see outside the frame. This can be a huge plus for some shots where you wait for the perfect moment before pushing down that shutter button. This is what I did for the photo below. I waited until the man just entered the frame, and I was able to see him walking right into it by using the M9 with a 50mm lens.

The M9 is my favorite digital camera EVER. Not everyone will enjoy it or understand its charms, but for me it has brought me more enjoyment and yes, I have gotten my moneys worth out of it 🙂 I find it the best digital camera for day OR night and with a fast lens it’s tough to beat the look and quality it can give you.

Another camera I have been having tons-O-fun with is the Olympus E-PL1. I was not so sure at first when this little guy was announced but I have to say that it has NEVER disappointed me. For the money, this guy is hard to beat. Buy the camera with the Oly 17 or Panasonic 201.7 and you will have  a small and light combo capable of some “larger than life” results.

The E-PL1 is the bang for the buck champion as of this writing. It has the size, the feel, the quality, and the HD 720P video that puts some HD camcorders to shame. The E-PL1 exposure has always been spot on, the images are sharp right out of the camera, the colors are astounding and the JPEGS rock. When I am not shooting an M, this is the camera I shoot and I am always happy with the results.

So I am happy to say that I love my digital combo of a Leica M9 and the Oly E-PL1. Could I get the same results with a DSLR? Well, for the most part YES but for me, I want a camera that is smaller and more compact and these two fit the bill without any sacrifice in the quality dept. The M8 and M8.2 are also faves of mine, even today.

The bottom line is that if photography is a hobby for you then owning a camera system that you thoroughly enjoy using will make it much more enjoyable. Wether that camera is a big pro DSLR like a Nikon D3s or a small compact like a Canon S90, if you enjoy the experience then you will be much happier and your photos will also show it 🙂

Have fun and get out there and shoot!

Steve

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112 Comments

  1. As a novice photographer, I tried out a Canon DSLR for a couple of years but found that it was bulky and I often left it behind. Doing some research I stumbled upon your website and dedided to take the plunge and purchase an Olympus EP3 along with the the 12mm lens ( the Panasonic pancake lens is on my wish list) and I love it! I’m learning what manual mode is all about, and this camera feels perfect in my hands – it also has a really cool retro look. I’m looking forward to really getting to know it and having a long relationship. Thanks so much for the great reviews – ones that can be read and appreciated by less experienced photographers too, they really helped me to narrow down the choices and find a camera I’m goingto be happy wioth for a long time to come.

  2. Hi Steve!!! Great site by the way, stumbled upon it a few weeks ago… I would just like to know why you opted for the e-pl1 over the e-p1 because i recently purchased an e-p1. The feel/controls were just much better and wouldn’t expect the e-pl1 to have a better picture quality as it shares the same sensor as the e-p1/p2. Or so i’ve heard… Thanks

  3. Hey Mo, when I tested the 1.1 Nokton I did not have any back focus or focus issues AT ALL. I have now spoken with several who did though so you are not alone.

  4. Francis,

    Sorry to hijack this thread for a second.
    I also own Nokton 50mm 1.1 that always give me back focus(or focus shifted) at f1.1-f1.4. It’s kind annoying cuz I can not utilyze the lens at its wide open. Do you have the same issue ?

    Thanks

  5. You have great taste. Nothing better than a rangefinder — film or digital. But the M9 with you lens is very dear — guess about $10K. I’m poor so I stay with my M6, but did get a X1 which has some issues and limitations but produces great pictures.

  6. @Armanius: I was brought up with film. My first camera (as far as I can remember) was a Werra 1. I came home from a holiday all anxious to develop the film. That turned out hadn’t transported and therefore wasn’t exposed. Duhhh…

    I tried to load my first digital camera (a Contax Tvs) with film. Didin’t work either.

    Anyway, all this talk about smaller cameras that make you UNNOTICEABLE makes me laugh.

    You’d have to travel to an extremely underdeveloped region (and some people do) not to be recognized as a “photographer” whilst carrying a “camera” like piece of apparatus; whatever you do with it and in whatever way you carry or “lug” it. It’s of course all in the mind and in the way you approach and handle people and situations.

    For all I care, carry/lug a Linhof or Horseman, tripod and all, into a village square or Times Square or Piccadilly Circus, and watch ánd photograph (remote control?) what happens.

    For b&w (Tri-X or maybe HP5) film, I’ve decided to rely on what I trust and like: Nikon FM2n with 2.0/35 and 2.0/85 Nikkors. Digital will remain Nikon D700 with 35, 50 and 85mm Zeiss, and Olympus E-P2 with 1.7/20 Lumix. And I will continue acting like a dork.

    Have fun!

  7. @Michiel – Acting like a dork! Love it! Being a total film noob, I was having a hard time loading film onto my Zeiss Ikon last weekend while at a friend’s house. 30 minutes later, I finally gave up. I’m sure they thought I was a dork using a film camera that I couldn’t even load! Irony of it all is that I went home a couple of hours later, and decided to give it a try again. Loaded it on my first try in 5 seconds. Figures …

  8. @Serge: D700 noisy shutter? Nonsense. I never found it to be obtrusive. It’s not a small camera, but it can do things (yes, with a good prime) no Leica could ever do. The weight is not a problem for a reasonably fit person, the size dould be in some situations.

    Hail the D700 for street photography! And let’s all stop rationalizing our own decisions. I’m getting rid of my M5.

  9. I guess if I had to choose which cameras I liked best right now, I’d choose the Leica D-Lux 4, the M6 & M8.2, if I was shooting street, art, portraits and stuff like that. I’d pick the Nikon D90 for dog pictures. I find it hard to narrow it down any more than this. In fact, I have other cameras I own, and others I’d love to get, (such as the M9, Ep-2, or EPL-1, Nikon D700 or Canon 5D Mark II with various lenses.) I love using a variety of equipment, but I understand the need for simplification. I love that Fuji that Steve is playing with, Rollefiflex TLR with a 2.8 Xenotar lens, anything Hassie and the Plaubel Makina mentioned above.

    If ilm and film labs would be around forever, I’d choose the M6 as ny only camera, and the M8.2 as my only digital camera, even if I do happen to use the D-SLR more for dog pictures.

    Ahh choices. I love what people use for equipment and why. for instance, the Plaubel that Vilsonius has an attachment to is interesting. I would love to try one of those.

  10. Thanks for the great article. It’s really inspired me to slow down and enjoy shooting and really try to create a shot through great composition and planning instead of firing off a hundred shots on my DSLR because I can.

  11. Serge: D700 with a prime. The problem lies not in the body, it’s the enormous fit for all purposes and all situations but quite heavy “lugging around” zoom… 🙂

    If you act like a dork (fiddling around with menu’s, never seeming to make up your mind whether to actually shoot the pic, puzzled expression, etc etc), noone will think you’re a professional photographer. That’s my modus of operandi.

  12. Steve, I enjoyed reading your article. I’m also looking for more enjoyment with my camera but sometimes the size of my D3 will hold me back because people immediately conclude you are or must be a professional photographer and therefor they refuse their portrait to be taken. Although this doesn’t happen all the time, it’s also the weight and the lousy shutter that bother me. I tested the M9 for several hours and I liked it, but the price tag is too heavy for my budget. I also wanted it to be more on the same level as a DSLR (quality LCD screen, usable ISO up to 3200/6400, etc.). I keep on dreaming and in the meantime I’m trying to enjoy my current equipment.

  13. I’ve read an interesting remark about (lens) sharpness somewhere. I could have been here too, then I apologize.

    The remark was ‘it’s not about how sharp it is, it’s about how it is sharp’… 🙂

  14. Steve and Will,

    Sharpness (and unsharpness) are really interesting issues to discuss/mull about, preferably on the basis of some (random) examples from the D I gallery. In my view it’s what you do with both, and whether it makes the image more interesting. Good subject for a Steve-led discussion!

    To be totally honest, for the last six months or so my interest in photography has been revived in no small way and I’ve learnt a lot about digital photography which I didn’t know before (I used my D200 as a p&s), thanks to the unnoticeable one, and the sites (this one in particular) he steered me to.

    I’ve been looking at pictures and images like I never did before. To me an image must always be interesting, intriguing, puzzling. I don’t look for “nice”, “beautiful” or “ugly”.

    So we’re getting back to making images… wih a jam jar if necessary… 🙂

  15. Thanks Steve and everyone else with your suggestions on digital workflow. It’s still all a bit new and confusing, but hopefully I’ll find what works for me down the road when I’ve used the X1 some more.

    Mads

  16. Steve, your reply to Michiel regarding sharpness is a very interesting point, my own feeling is that this is one of the most misunderstood areas of photography, during both the capture and post processing stage.

    Like most people I have based my “keepers” on their sharpness in the past rather than looking (seeing) beyond this, it took me some time to understand what makes an image pleasing to look at but what I do know is that the sharpness of the images is way down on the list.

    for me sharpness is contrast.

    Maybe when you have time you might consider writing an article on the subject of sharpness

  17. Hi Elaine, if I had to pick either the X1 or the M8.2 I’d go with the M8.2, no two ways about it, the X1 is a nice camera but to be fair it doesn’t offer me much over the E-LP1 for the type of work I use it for, to this end the M8.2 offers me far greater flexibility and over all image quality, had I purchased the E-LP1 first I may not have got an X1, don’t underestimate the E-LP1 based on it’s price, in manual focus mode it’s a super fast ultra discreet street shooter 🙂

  18. @Richard – Have fun with that X1, I think you will really like it. It’s main draw is the IQ and the small but very nice looking body. Let me know how you like it.

    @Zoran – A 50 on an E-P1 will be a 100 equivalent and I am not sure that there are any 100mm VF’s out there though I may be wrong.

    @Eric – Lucky guy! The latest Nikon lenses rock. The new 24 looks especially nice.

    @Mads – I would shoot RAW with the X1 but then again I would try shooting JPEG for a while to see how it goes. With the E-PL1 I only shoot JPEG. Fro what I remember the X1 JPEGS were good but RAW was better. If using lightroom it may be wise to have a preset for your X1 files. I used ACR with the X1 and found it was quick and easy to tweak each pic. But also the Auto levels or Auto color can work wonders as well.

    @ Michiel – Thanks!

    @Vilsonius – Thanks for the words of wisdom, and that review is coming REAL soon.

    @Lucy – No worries at all and thank you for coming back! I really appreciate everyone who comes here and spends time reading what I write. Thanks for your thoughts.

    @Michiel, To me sharpness is one of the least important features of a photo. But for many others, they think Sharpness is the most important. When a camera and lens is sharp that is a good thing but a sharp image does not always make a great photo.

  19. Steve,

    Could I comment (no, I probably couldn’t… 🙁 ) on the issue of “sharpness” that you raise in the opening lines of your article and which (as in “lack of sharpness”) appears to relate to the use of dslr’s that need to be “lugged around”, as opposed to other cameras (Leica’s?) that can just be carried (around). Come to think, “schlepping” might be the appropriate derogatory term.

    I’ve seen quite a lot of “not really sharp” images in the Daily Inspiration gallery which I, in my innocence, attribute mainly to the obsessive use of full opening on whatever lens and in whatever situation.

    That doesn’t mean the image can’t have it’s attraction, it’s just that sometimes I don’t understand why it’s “unsharp”. Maybe because the shot would be boring if it wére sharp.

    For (some) intriguing, fiercely unsharp images, go to http://www.nonphotography.com , a photographer that resolutely refuses to disclose what gear she uses (for all I know it could be a used jam jar), and whose images are always interesting and sometimes even very good…. IMHO.

  20. @Mads – when I first started using Lightroom, I found myself spending way too much time too, even though LR is much simpler than Photoshop (which I have temporarily given up on). In LR, like others have already said, you can use presets. Or you can create your own presets. You can also batch edit. The feature I use the most is to simply copy and paste settings from a photo to another. After doing the copy paste, a simple adjustment with exposure and contrast typically does the job. In case you haven’t used LR3 beta 2, I highly recommend that over LR2. I think the beta is coming to an end soon though.

  21. Hi Steve.
    I was in such a bad mood yesterday, hence my threat to not come to the site any more, which must have had you quaking in your boots!!
    Actually i think you misunderstood me, i didn’t explain properly my thought which was that it seems that you react more strongly to the negative than the overwhelmingly positive remarks. I wasn’t sayng that you should respond to any remarks, of course that’s up to you, rather that your strong reactions to the neg rather than the positive indicates that you care too much about that even though your so talented ect. My daughter is like that and it drives me crazy! And as i said i had a bad day.
    Cheers
    Lucy

  22. On the lightroom settings query I have to say that I read an article by a photographer who shoots with a M8.2 in New York (I forget his name but his advice I remember very clearly. He shoots for a living so just bear that in mind.

    He says he spends no more than 3 – 5 min per image in lightroom/Photoshop. He says of he has to spend longer than that, he has taken a poor picture and will delete it rather. He said that when he takes a good photo with good light, composition, exposure he hardly needs to touch it in post production. He said that these software packages try to make a poor picture average but will never make it great. A great picture is one that is taken at the time and frankly is lessened by too much fiddling.

    Perhaps we should be asking ourselves, if we are spending too much time in front of the computer, is it because we are not thinking enough before we release the shutter?

  23. …and in oder to return to normal, I am also highly interested to see the GF670 (Voigtlander Bessa III in Europe) review, since I chose to purchase a used Plaubel Makina instead of this camera a few months ago (mainly due to the Nikkor 80mm f2.8 lens!). The Sony NEX 5 seems also to be a very interesting camera (I think a Leica lens adaptor has already been announced), maybe it should be a good “replacement” to my M8 (the NEX 5 with the M6 and a few Leica lenses maybe would be a great package!!!!), it could also return some money back to my hurt bank account 😉

  24. Well, it seems that this meaningless heat is coming to an end (at last!). The choice of which camera to use is highly subjective and people’s tastes are different, otherwise we would all use the same camera. I personally wouldn’t change my Plaubel Makina 67 for the world, does it mean that it is the best camera ? No, it is just the best camera for me. I also love taking pictures with a Leica M6 that has suffered so many falls it looks like it’s ready to fall apart (still works flawlesly though). I enjoy the M6 more than my M7, and M8, so does it mean that its a better camera? Yes, but for my personal taste that is. I also recently revived my Nikon D300 with a 35mm prime that has been gathering dust for months, it seems that every now and then I enjoy the convenience of automation a DSLR has to offer. As time goes by, tastes and preferences change, the fact that at this moment I consider my Plaubel to be my little gem, does not mean that this should be my first choice forever! It is very likely that a new camera will appear in the future that will appeal to my taste and style and I could change my mind. So, nothing is permanent, if Steve considers the M9 to be the best camera ever, if the M10 or the M11 suits him better, should he stick with the M9 just because it was his favorite camera at 2010? I dont think so, people change opinions and tastes (I know I do), its natural, so I think as many have stated just use the camera that suits you better and enjoy photography !!

  25. Mads,

    I have the same experience as you with LR. Sometimes it’s maddeningly confusing. I find that if the basic RAW files (I hardly use Jpeg anymore; I usually don’t like to rely on the in-camera shenanigans of either the D700 or the E-P2, though I probably could) are good and consistent, the “automatic” adjustment in LR is pretty helpful. You can then fine tune individual files, should the need arise, though that’s also the point where things start to be confusing. There is a facility in LR where you can duplicate and/or store the treatment of an individual file, though I haven’t found or used it yet.

    Richard (“THE UNNOTICEABLE ONE” waiting for his X-1…) should know.

    Steve, I realise I may have used up my credibility on this blog with my SNIDE remarks, but wouldn’t a basic LR faq be helpful for a lot of us absolute beginners?

    Btw, I appreciated your reply to my comment!

  26. Ah, I think for this it helps to have some presets in your LightRoom library. Check out the Adobe website – there are plenty of presets that you can download which work basically like actions in photoshop and let you automatically apply a “filter” on the photographs without you needing to spend too much time on each picture.

  27. Thanks Konstantin, I’m aware of this and so far have been shooting both JPEG and DNG. But what to do to keep workflow simple and not speding hours tweaking pictures? How to get a nice output from a fairly basic workflow, this for me would be killer. 🙂

    Hopefully Steve has some pointers for us. 🙂

    Mads

  28. @Mads (I know I am not Steve but I’ve been asking myself that question for a long time too) – I’ve found that it helps me if I set the camera to shoot both JPG and RAW – in most cases, I can use the JPG for display immediately (I usually choose high saturation on my Leica M8) and I can then play with the raw files. That’s the advantage of raw over jpg – you can tweak things in LightRoom.

  29. Hi Steve,
    Just to chime in and say I love your website and to hear YOUR opinions. 🙂 Photography and gear is subjective, so it makes very good sense that you write about the gear you love and more importantly show your passion for photography. This is what makes your site so unique, and why we all come back again and again. 🙂 Keep up the GREAT work and thank you so much for doing it.

    I have a question (I think it slipped past you in another tread – I know you have been really busy moving, so I completly understand):
    I recently got the Leica X1 and love it! 🙂 This is my first digital cam coming from SLR film gear (Nikon FE2 and Nikkor AIS primes), so the whole digital thing is quite new to me. Using LightRoom is still very new and a bit confusing, so what would your suggestions to keep workflow simple/basic, so all time is NOT spend behind the computer, but more time out shooting. Would you suggest just shooting JPEGs from the X1 playing around with the in cam adjustments or if shooting RAW (DNG), how do I keep the adjustments in LR fairly basic?

    Hope this makes sense?

    Thanks and looking forward to hearing YOUR opinion 😉
    Mads

  30. I look forward to the Fuji review but would love some more lens reviews. Maybe ill write a Nikon review for you one of these days 😛 in two months ill have access to the entire nikon pro line from 24 tilt shift to super telephoto exotics, god im excited just to touch them all.

  31. Hi Steve,

    re VF, yes, I was referring to the E-P1. Sorry for the confusion. It was already quite late when I wrote the article. Have confused myself when I read it after it was already posted. Thanks a lot.

  32. Heated discussions!

    Fascinating that you rarely see such fierceness and errmm… ‘passion’ about photographs and photo-techniques. That’s what it’s all about right? No not really. To a large extend it remains a ‘boy’n toys’ thing (no offence to women obviously!) as this article and all responses clearly show.

    Most of us suffer from one form of gear neurosis or the other. And over time we all think we get better in argumenting that’s not really true. First’n foremost to ourselves and to partners and/or friends second. Funny things is, the few people that I know that only take pictures (… how shortsighted) don’t spend any time on photography sites whatsover. How do they do that?!? 🙂

    I’ve managed to silence my evil little voice – for now – buy getting rid of my Canon DSLR with lenses and bought the X1. The last 4 years I’ve spend lugging around the SLR one day and a small Panny LX3 (D-Lux 4) the other. Loved the SLR for its speed and IQ but hated the bulk and always felt uncomfortable with the intrusiveness when taking the monster out of its cave and pointing it to people. You can almost read the ‘there is a photographer’ feeling off peoples’ faces. Even more when the mirror started slapping…
    I love the little Panny for it’s portability, unpretentious appearance and discreet silence. People tend not to take notice/take it serious when taking pictures in typical P&S style with an LCD finder. I had it on me MUCH more than the SLR and the # of keepers from this P&S is at least double of the SLR. But at the end of the day I was disappointed by the IQ in all but perfect conditions and the RAW files falling apart when they need a little more than a nudge in Post.

    Enter the X1. Near LX3 portability and discreteness with DSLR IQ albeit in a limited configuration. I’ve convinced myself that I really don’t need anything else than a 35mm and AF speed is overrated (it’s not worse than the LX3 I’m used too so no probs expected here).

    I’m expecting delivery in a week or two. Can’t wait !! Now let’s see how long I can keep the little monsters’ big mouth shut… 😀

  33. Ashwin, yes…Canon! Lets keep our eyes open 🙂

    Charles, ha ha, good to hear. Enjoy that 20!

    Elaine, thanks! WIll do!

    Tedolph, I have tried many Leica lenses on the E cameras, one of the cool things about these new breeds!

    Bruno, thanks man! I have yet to try the new Panny but love the E-P2.

    Zoran, thanks! A VF for your 50? Are you referring to a VF for your E-P1?

    Max, yes…it has to remain civil and fun. Which I think it will. Thanks!

    Michiel – Ha ha, THANKS!

    Stephen B – The LX2 is awesome, even today. Enjoy it!

  34. Hey Max! Can’t wait for your Contax 645 article! The Zeiss 80 f2 is simply amazing…It’s sad that it’s been discontinued, but plenty of used ones around. =) Pls post it soon!

    Guys, Chase Jarvis had mentioned this before: “the best camera is the one that’s ALWAYS with you!” Stop arguing about whether DSLR or Leica is better. If you can lug around a D700 + 70-100 f2.8 with you everyday, that’s great! To me, Steve, and many pple who comes to this site, an M9 is still the one that we PREFER.

  35. For those that want to know: The M7 one was taken with a 50mm Summilux (ASPH) on Fuji Neopan Acros 100 (pushed to 200) and developed in Ilfotec LC 29 for 8 min and 10 seconds at 20 degrees.

  36. I agree with Nick. Sorry! Will. @will. I don’t agree with Bastiaan. He sounds like the proverbial sour Dutchman.

    Steve, with a little self reflection you might understand where the “church” comment came from. Maybe cutting back on the capitals will help.

    Anyways, this is neither here nor there. I welcome all (“ALL”) your reviews, and I feel free to comment on all of them, in the nicest possible (“POSSIBLE!!”) way.

    Keep up the good work!

  37. By the way, I will soon be finishing an article about one of the greatest “serious” cameras ever produced (no longer unfortunately), for those who want to shoot and not argue about silly stuff: the mighty Contax 645.

  38. Harald got this argument closed down nicely. Nothing much to add really. Nevertheless, controversies are the life and blood of any business based on readership and it’s okay to disagree and have a good time, as long as things remain civil.

  39. Thanks for the great article, Steve. It is just about the topic I always have on my mind when thinking about all the equipment I have and the new things which I also think – I must have them. And it never stops. However, like you, I’ve got few things which I use most and these are M9 and Olympus E-P1. And that is more than enough. I do test many lenses and am enjoying in trying different ones.
    Since I am on daily basis on this site, I have no interest in buying Photo magazines as all what is important is covered with your articles and in the related comments.
    The RF viewfinder is something which I did not use yet. I would appreciate if you can let me know where the RF viewfinders can be bought for my Leica 50 mm lens. I have just purchased a Novoflex adapter MFT/LEM and cannot stand waiting to test it with my Leica lenses.

  40. Your pictures are amazing. I am honestly thinking about buying a micro four-thrids camera but I’m not sure which one to buy. I was thinking about Panasonic G2 or Olympus EP2. Great site, great camera and fantastic pictures.

  41. Steve, you are missing most of the fun. Try puting that Leica glass on the E-pl1. Set focus to Manual, Exposure to aperture priority and you have a digital Leica CL!

  42. Steve, Please say whatever you feel on whatever piece of equipment you’d like or I’m gonna throw my M8.2 off a cliff. LOL! Seriously, you can say whatever you want. It’s your site! I’ve yet to read anything from you that didn’t make the website a better place to visit. I enjoy reading your articles and reviews. Those that don’t, can go listen to Howard Stern, or do something else. The web is a big place.

  43. I first held a Leica in the late 60’s, not sure which M it was. I was interested and asked a sales clerk if I could see the camera. He pulled out a red velvet cloth and place it on top of the glass case. Then he placed the Leica onto the velvet. I picked it up, and for me, I had never felt a camera that just seemed to fit so well. I shot with a p&s in Vietnam, but when I came back home I bought a Nikon Nikkormat. So I have been shooting for 50 years now and just decided that my DSLR was getting a little bit heavy. I didn’t even know about the m 4/3 format, and I found out about it here on this site. I had thought about the X1, but just a little much for my income now that I am retired. I have shot for a paper, weddings, magazines and events, and the DSLR served me well. Magazines used to use my work, and some still do, but they have hired people who will work for less than what they used to pay. So, if I can’t sell my work like I used to I wanted to at least have fun. And I am having so much fun with my GF1, that I am out shooting most days in and around Charlotte.

    Steve I had to read that part about what you and your wife talked about when you made your move to getting a Leica, to my wife. She just laughs at me when I say, “The only thing I need….” I just received my 20mm and I can’t wait to take it out and try it.

  44. Hey Lucy, Thanks for the comments. I try my best to respond to all posts, lately (mainly the last 2-3 weeks) I have been crazy busy with moving. Today is my first day in 2-3 weeks where I have a few hours straight to work on the site. Of course I will respond to posts where I am attacked for no reason. Should I ignore them? It’s tough sometimes as on some days I get 100’s of comments as I keep my old articles open for comment. For example, every few days I will get comments on the X1 review, or my K7 review or a processing article. I try to respond to all but sometimes I miss some. Anyway, I would hate to see you go 🙂

    Steve

  45. Hi Steve. I like your article a lot. I like most of your articles What i don’t like is the way you seem to respond mainly to the negative posts. Many people i have read over the last year saying wonderful things about your work and articles, really writing thoughtful things as in the above. But you just respond to the negative. I think i may stop coming here soon.

  46. @Steve Huff – Do you still have the EP2? Did you upload the new firmware that supposedly improved the AF speed? I am wondering how the EP2 and EPL1 compare nowadays as far as AF speed is concerned. In the interest of full disclosure, I use the EP2. Sort of. It’s gathering a lot of dust since I got the M.

  47. If this is a church can I take tax free donations 🙂 Seriously guys, what is up with the “Church” comments?!?! I enjoy ALL cameras, I just enjoy the Leica M and other small digitals more than others. That makes this a “church of Leica”??? If I were to buy a DSLR right now it would be the Pentax K7. I loved that camera. Nice size, tremendous build and great lenses. But I have said it a gazillion times, there really are no “bad” cameras out today. All are capable of taking great quality photos. Just pick the one that speaks to YOU.

    I guess I am no longer allowed to talk about what I like on my own site without owners of other systems coming in and starting trouble. Crazy huh? That is probably why other sites similar to mine do not allow comments OR they moderate them BEFORE they are posted. I welcome it as long as it doesn’t get nasty, so keep it friendly and upbeat guys. Thanks

    Steve

  48. He Will….

    Don’t become here the Man from la Mancha….

    Everything is valid what you say…but not in this church.

  49. Steve, can´t wait for your Fuji review. I had a 645GS for a while and really enjoyed using it. It took some wicked pictures. I regret selling it now.

  50. Hmmm, Steve, did I read right that there’s a canon comig that you’ll really love? you tease 😉

    Seriously, though, I agree with the comments above that each camera system has its place. I love my 5DII (just shot it extensively along the Oregon Coast this week-end) as well as my M9, Konica Hexar, AF, MP, and GRDIII. Each camera has its purpose and place. I find that the M9 suits my style best, but this may not hold true for everyone.

    I do agree that in the SLR world, the Canon 5DII and D700 offer most advanced photographers most everything they could want. Of course, the D700 could throw in a few more megapixels, while the 5DII could have a better AF system and faster FPS shooting, but it’s all a bit overblown. Both are great, and IQ is close to the M9…having both cameras (5DII, M8, M9), I will tell you that the M8 and M9 have sharper per-pixel rendering, probably due to the 5DII’s anti-aliasing filter. The way to correct that is to send your 5DII to MaxMax to be hotrodded, but that will mess up ISO performance in low light…

  51. Thanks Steve for providing this wonderful personal and private insight into your world of photography … everyday. This website is fun and inspiration to me. I like to read your and your friends articles, because I share the same degree of excitement for taking photographs and the curiosity for new “stylish” and practical gear. Please, let yourself not influence by certain visitors to this website who want to start childish battles about what “heavy” means to them and the like. And please do not review tools, just because others think you should review them in order to provide us with a more “balanced” view. This is not a website for me about balanced, objective views – this is a website for the fun of photography and this means that I love to read what YOU have to say to whatever gear you think is worthwile to have a look at. There are many other websites around for these “other” people to look at and to discuss whether their Canon 550 is the greatest camera in the world or not. I couldn’t care less. I read many photography websites, but this one, because it is different: It is written with personal enthusiasm – please keep it up. It is very relaxing and comforting to read your “stuff”, Mr. Huff!

  52. I can’t wait for these reviews, Steve. I just picked up a Nikon D90, having sold my Nikon D80 as I hated the surfing AF! I love Nikon, but I agree, the Canon 5DMark II is a beautiful camera. I’m having fun with the Leica D-Lux 4, but I already see the IQ not being nearly as nice as the M8.2 or D90. It wouldn’t be, but it’s still an awesome camera to play with. I’m having so much fun with it. Each camera has its own personality and you either grow to love it or dismiss it. There isn’t one perfect camera. I like the features on different cameras, but not all of the features on them. I agree with Francis somewhat about the dials. I just love using mechanical dials. I love the retro look of some of these cameras too.

    The Leica D-Lux 4 will make a great carry all camera, but it won’t replace the D-SLR or M8.2. The Leica lenses are just too good on the M8.2. Even the Nikon has some lovely glass. Why then did I get the Leica D-Lux 4? Because like the Canon G9 and Canon SD800, it did a little of everything pretty well, and its small size is a joy to bring everywhere. Now, my neck says “please carry around the M6, M8.2 or point & shoot cameras.” But, there are times when I need the D-SLR. I adore D-SLR, but that’s me. I’m a Nikon Gal! Do I carry it around all of the time. No. Will I give up D-SLR? No.

    Also, Do I love my iPhone photos? yes! They are smaller files, but man, those cool applications really make me love playing around in photography. Do I love film? Yes! I had a blast shooting with the M6. I bought a bunch of film that’s being discontinued, and it may take me quite some time to use it, but that M6 is a joy to carry around. I can’t explain it. You either love the feel or hate it. Now, the M8.2 is a bit heavier to carry around, and without the Thumbs Up grip on it, my hand would be cramping. But the files it produces make my jaw drop. I can’t even imagine what the M9 would be like.

    I guess my point is that there are so many lovely cameras out there, and the fact that everyone in here has their personal choices of D-SLR or RF, P&S or Film cameras, makes this a fun place to visit. I like the diversity of cameras. This is the only site that delves more into the 4/3, P&S, Leica, RF systems, than the D-SLR systems. I love that about this site. There are no other websites that do this with an artsy flair. Steve started something here that is just lovely. I get excited about all of the photos that everyone contributes and their knowledge. This is a wonderful community.

    Will: I have a question for you. Now that you have the X1, which do you shoot more? The M8.2 or the X1? I’m curious what you think about the two cameras, and if you had to choose one over the other, which would it be? I know someone who has the M8 and the X1, and also the M9 now. He LOVES shooting with the X1 due to AF. So, can you talk a little about the two cameras?

    Steve, I can’t wait for the reviews on the V-Lux and Fuji cameras.

  53. Hey Pete, that record would go to the Leica X1 review which is at 173 comments so far 🙂 But yea, this one is generating some interesting discussion!

    Steve

  54. Hi Will and Michiel, I’m happy everybody is having there own preferences to shoot photos with.
    If it is about convincing readers in stead of giving an opinion, try to find a job in advertising.
    As long as you’re having fun taking pictures and get the best out of your skills.

  55. @Michiel – Black or silver is indeed a question of epical proportions! 🙂 I’ve been a huge fan of the black M’s. But after getting a steel grey M9 (couldn’t find a black one), grey is growing on me. Now I am favoring silver. Or maybe I’m actually favoring grey. I thought about picking up a silver M6. But then, that’s not really grey. So I’d have to find the titanium one so that it looks more like the steel grey. But titanium ones are more expensive, and not as readily available. But there are plenty of black M6’s in the market. But not as many as silver ones (or maybe they are called chrome and not silver). So you see, colors are a question of epical (although not Biblical) proportions. Or at least mind boggling. 😉

  56. Hey Will, maybe you should relax a bit? Getting a little heated here for no reason. You say I am a “Leica Fanboy” but I have been using Leicas for MANY years all the while being able to shoot and use whatever else I wanted to try out. If being a fanboy means using a camera I REALLY enjoy over any other then so be it!

    I’ve owned the M7, MP, M8, M8.2 and M9. No deviation really. I do have to say that the only Canon I have ever shot with and liked was the 5D and 5DII. But that is MY personal opinion and maybe there will be one soon that I really enjoy (as a matter of fact, I will predict that there will be a Canon coming soon that I will REALLY enjoy). Now, that does not mean that I think other Canons are crap, quite the opposite! It’s all about PERSONAL preference when shooting and while mine my be Leica and Oly M4/3, yours may be Canon. Whatever works for each individual is the best solution.

    I will be getting the following cameras for review soon:

    Samsung NX10
    Leica V-Lux 20
    Sony Nex 3 and Nex 5
    Fuji GF670 MF film RF
    and also some new lenses from Leica, Nikon and Olympus

    I have already seen results from ALL of these and honestly, they all look wonderful! I believe almost ANY camera today with a 4/3 sensor or larger will give you results that ANYONE could be happy with, even me. I shoot Leica for the “user experience” and the quality of the files which I feel is superb but mainly due to the Leica lenses.

    In any case, get out and shoot and have fun! I know I do 🙂 Thanks for the comments.

  57. LOL…did not visit for a while, been busy kitesurfing… And wham…a controversy…LOL…

    WILL: I agree with you… a small SLR with the equivalent of a 35mm or 50mm and you got your own rangefinder style street photo kit especialy with a Manual Prime . RF vs SLR? Been done before.

    I sold my SLR (will get another one eventually) and bought a 8.2 (brand new with 3 primes ZM 21f2.8, Cron 35 and Nokto 50 f1.1 (specialty lense for fun shots, not everyday). So basically I have a kit I can carry around and shoot from real wide to Normal. This kit cost me (3000K + 2300 +1300 +1054). so 7654$ for a whole kit. You know what, it’s about a dime more than a Nikon or Canon Kit with fast lenses. The Canon 24 f1.4 is not a cheap lense man. What will be my next SLR? The one with external controls… Cannot stand menus anymore, Gimme controls like on my Contax G2 and I’M in. I think Pentax has it right now but I would prefer Canon to have it. Anyways… You guys are all right and no an RF is not a must have and an SLR is faster and easier. I think the next step will be a point and shoot with large sensor, fast lense from Real wide to normal (With an adaptor for doubling) a bit like the D-lux4. Get that with a fast EVF comme le Olympus and you get the best possible kit. Anyways this is all fun, Steve has his opinions and he is right, You have yours and they are brilliant. When I wanted to use my Rebel Xt as a street photo kit I needed to buy an extra 4-5K$ worth of glass to endup having to change the body soon after (it was 6 year old).

  58. @ Will
    Steve is as much entitled to his opinion as you are to yours. Period.
    Only difference is this website is called STEVE HUFF PHOTO. So whatever he wants to write he can. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. I am pretty sure if this would be WILL’S PHOTO website you would write whatever you’d like.
    And if Steve or anybody else would not agree with your opinion or at least be interested in your opinion, he/they wouldn’t bother to read it.
    I’m pretty sure, though, most would refrain from condescending remarks like “your articles make me laugh.”

    I am by no means trying to defend Steve. I think he can do that for himself just fine. That includes any need to justify his purchases to his wife or to himself.
    To be clear, I absolutely doubt that anybody in his/her right mind would start a website open to the public just for the sake of justifying purchases to themselves.
    (Will, that is by far the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard!)

    I’m visiting this site frequently because i find it interesting what Steve or others have to say. That doesn’t mean I am agreeing with everything said here.
    (don’t get me started about film – I’m sure some here can attest to that)
    Trust me, as long as there’s interesting stuff for me to find on this website, I will come and visit. Should the day arrive when this site loses its interest to me, I won’t bother reading and will quietly move on.

    There is one thing I won’t be doing, though. That is acting like a fucking moron and starting a pissing match about the value and credibility of (any)one’s opinion.
    One can argue about facts but opinions … you either like them or you don’t. It is most certainly time well wasted to argue about somebody else and his/her personal preferences for whatever.
    Nuff said.

  59. @Will I must have missed the lines Steve stating that he never ever will use different equipment and that the M9 is the holy grail?! Off cause he will change his mind, what would be wrong with that? And I don’t think he has to justify anything on his site. Anyway, still interested in seeing some shots from your recent exhibition.

  60. Hi Bastiaan, not sure why you think I have an ego to tickle but it’s your opinion and I’m happy for you to tickle my ego, however I was merely pointing out that a DSLR isn’t an M8/M9’s big fat useless cousin, to be fair I could quite easily write a pretty convincing article on why a Canon G10 is oh so much better than an M9, of couse if I were to convince myself that this were true then my article would also be that much more convincing to the reader.

    As I’ve said before I’m not bashing Leica, I own an M8.2 and an X1 and there both great but I wouldn’t take an M8 over a Canon 550D + 24mm prime, I can shoot street with the Canon much faster than I can with an M8/M9 but that’s just me and I make no claim that this would be the way for everyone.

  61. I was putting up reasonable arguments and questions; not preconceived and fixed opinions. There is a difference.

  62. So guys, why do you still want reviews to compare cameras and technical reviews if you already know the anwser, to tickle your own ego?

  63. Good Will posting… 🙂

    I’ve never fathomed what the difference in getting noticed as a “PHOTOGRAPHER!!!” is in raising a Leica M to your eye or a dslr, both with relatively modest primes. No difference there; you either get noticed or you don’t.

    Black or silver body/lens??? Now there’s a question of almost biblical proportions.

    Click or clunk ‘n click? Depends on ambient noise I guess.

    When I just had the D700 I took it on a Saturday walk in Amsterdam, ended up in a quiet pub and took a few pics of people in the pub with the D700/85 Planar. Clunk ‘n click. None of the subjects noticed, noone objected,

    So there… 😀

  64. I used to be that guy with a tripod, camera, bag, and lenses.

    Now I grab either the M8 or M6 TTL with a 35mm Cron and go out the door. It has been so liberating.

    Thanks for the insight Steve. I hope you have been having fun with your MP.

  65. Yes to all (?) of the above but then again, this site is sort of influential in that it brings (some) people to ditch stuff and buy other stuff.

    I personally would welcome essays and reviews that compare similar offerings form different manufacturers, not just Leica and Olympus. I found Will’s comments on the IQ of Leica’s and dslr’s quite challenging and would like to hear more about it.

    While all of us know it’s about the image, and the image only, we still remain fiercely interested in the instrument side of it all…

    And remember, there are more images out there that you should not capture (at best, buy a postcard) than that you should… 🙂

  66. Such a great article Steve! Love the first paragraph its sooo true! And the conversation with wife is killer, haven’t we all been in those shoes? After reading your articles/reviews for number of times i decided to treat myself with Leica, so i’m in the process of obtaining the DigiLux 2, can’t wait to hold it in my hands and feel that Leica love that people are obsessed with. Keep up the good work and greetings from EU!

  67. I dont care if I use a camera from my phone, if I love the picture, its a winner.

    Rememer this is Steve’s site and we are guests here. Let’s not abuse, change, analize or magnatize his approach to his craft. This is what happens when you have a bunch of over analytical over-achievers all trying to satisfy their egos. Calm down boys and take your meds. Seems to me there’s more than one way to skin this cat!

    I quote from Armanius: “The best camera for someone is whichever camera that someone enjoys using. Peace” ….

  68. Wow. I missed a lot.LOL! I like D-SLRs. I love Nikon, and I have a D90. It’s smaller than the D700, which I also love, but don’t own. I use the D90 for dog photography. I like the AF on it as well. I don’t know that if I went traveling that I’d bring it with me though. Honestly, if I went to Italy, i’d either bring a Leica film camera and a small point & shoot camera, OR a Leica M8.2 and a small point & shoot. I adore the Leica D-Lux 4 although I still don’t know the camera as well as the Canon G9 or even the Canon SD800. One thing I’ve noticed is that for the size, you give up on quality in the files. Compromise. But, you carry the small camera around because it’s so light. That’s enjoyable. The Leica M8.2 produces lovely files. With a 35mm lens on it, it may weigh about the same as a D90, but it’s a bit smaller in width and height. The compromise is that it doesn’t shoot with a zoom lens, and it’s all manual. I don’t think any camera is perfect. As I get older, I’m sick of carrying bulky gear around. My neck hurts! But, I love the NIkon for dog photography. So, day trips and travel, a small point & shoot, maybe even a EP-2 or EPL-1, and a M8.2. For taking pictures of action and whatnot, a D-SLR. Everyone has their favorite cameras. At least Steve decided on his two cameras. I wish I could narrow it down like that.

    Dave, that article was perfect! That was me, and still is. But, I never bought a junky camera. I just can’t decide on the “perfect one” camera. LOL!

  69. Whoa!!!! Just got in from furniture shopping and saw the slew of comments. This wasnt meant to cause a debate on cameras! The main thing is to ENJOY WHAT YOU SHOOT WITH! if you enjoy your Canon G11, then shoot it and have fun! If you own a Nikon D3 then SHOOT IT and have fun!

    I was just stating that my fave cameras are the M9 and E-Pl1. One expensive, one not so expensive but both give me fantastic results and a great user experience.

    BTW, to Murray…yea, the M9 has only been out since September. Before that my fave camera was the M8 and M8.2 which lasted 3 years. I had a brief stint with the D700 (which is awesome BTW) and just fell for the size, form factor and I of the M8 and then the M9.

    Also, to Eric…of course I have heard of cropping, ha ha. Not the same at all as seeing outside of the frame lines when shooting is useful for catching certain moments. You know what is coming so you know when to push the shutter.

    Thanks for all of the discussion though, it’s fun.

    More reviews coming SOON and they will be VERY thorough. I am hoping to review the new Panny M4/3 cams, the new SONY EVIL cams, and of course some new Leica stuff. Im finishing up with my move and am 90% done with unpacking and furniture shopping so everything will be back to normal this week!

    Thanks!
    Steve

  70. It’s a bit scary that cameras which you say “have stuck with me the longest” are all models that have been out less than a year!! A point your wife has no doubt made…

  71. Will, your example about the VF is actually a fact. You can’t see outside the frame with a SLR while you can with a RF. Harder to do so with a 28mm. But still doable, especially if someone is using a .58 VF (which I don’t care for). You may not put as much value in that ability as Steve does, which would of course be a difference in opinions between you and him. I personally don’t find that to be a big deal. But I do like an always big and bright VF on a RF, even when it’s fairly dark. But again, that’s just my preference. 😉

  72. @ Will

    Cropping is not nearly the same as a viewfinder with a 50mm or 90mm lens. When you crop you remove things you dont like from the image, creating a more pleasing composition or as my prof would say “it isint simple enough, take that s**t out”. With a viewfinder you can prepare yourself for things about to enter your image which is nice for street photography while with a slr you just have to be real quick on the trigger.

    Cant we all just get a long as well ? common now, im 18 and I know better………

  73. armanius, opinions are one thing but steve goes a little further, take for example his comments regarding the RF viewfinder and framelines “With the frame lines you can easily frame your subject and see what is just outside of your frames” try doing that with a 28mm lens, even with a 35mm lens you don’t see much outside the framelines, ok so maybe you can’t do that with a DSLR but has steve heard of cropping ? it’s a little like framing but after the fact.

  74. Hi Steve,

    Just wanted to share my story with you. I shot for many years with a Canon F1N that my dad gave me. Eventually joining the digital club with a Canon G2 which lead to a Canon 20D which lead to a (used) Canon 5D + 35L. Loved the images out of that combo, but the focus was so hit and miss. Recently bought a used D700 + AFD 35 f/2. Loved that camera, but too heavy to lug around – even with the small 35mm. Well, I’ve sold the D700 and 5D (luckily for even money) and I’m now waiting for a used M8 which has gone to Leica for a sensor fix (current owner is getting it repaired for free). The kit will include the 28 Elmarit ASPH. Feels like I’ve come full circle – just no more negatives to store in shoeboxes.

  75. The touch screen on the G2 is pretty cool for video recording. Love the focus point control on the demo Pany released a while ago.

  76. Steve Huff needs to review the other M4/3 cameras, Panasonic DMC-G2 and the Panasonic DMC-GH1, before he makes up his mind on which cameras are his favorites. They have articulated LCD monitors and built-in EVFs.

  77. Will, it’s one thing to state your disagreement. I’m all about discourse. But it’s another thing to speculate as to Steve’s intent or motives on expressing his opinions in his articles (and website). He’s written numerous times that these are his opinions. No one has to take his opinions as gospel. We all have our preferences. Let’s enjoy them. 🙂

  78. armanius, is it not right to question peoples claims ? isn’t that why there is a comments option for steves articles ?

  79. Interesting comments here…obviously some strong feelings are being bandied about….

    I am with Armanius in my assessment. Everyone is allowed to have their favorites, and it’s Steve’s site. He is entitled to his opinion. I happen to use DSLR outfits, as well as the Leica M system. Both have their merits and detractions. I happen to strongly agree with Steve regarding the M9…and I haven’t tried the EPL-1, though the GF-1 and I didn’t get along. This is a forum where opinions may be voiced, so it’s good to see passionate voices out there. Just be careful not to turn that passion into anger….we area all entitled to our opinions, and they are all legitimate…

  80. I am perplexed as to why some people are harping at Steve for what he deems HIS favorites. So what if Steve may favour Leicas (or not)? For one thing, Steve constantly states in his articles that these are his opinions. He doesn’t say that he’s engaging in objective testing of gear like measuring MTF or whatever that is. If you are a SLR lover and you prefer SLRs over a RF, then enjoy the SLR. Really. No one is saying that you can’t like your SLR. But why come to a website where the focus of the site is about RFs and then become all indignant when someone writes that he or she prefers RFs over SLRs??? It’s like going to a vegetarian restaurant and getting upset that the chef favors vegetables over good ol’ beef! Just enjoy your camera no matter what someone says or write. The best camera for someone is whichever camera that someone enjoys using. Peace.

  81. Great article Steve. At the end of the day it’s all about taking shots and having fun. I have a DSLR which I love but yeah, a lump to have on me all the time.
    But now I have joined the Leica fold, mainly due to this website and passing a shop window the other day with a Leica CL set in the window. The price was soooo low and the camera in nearly immaculate condition, I’m still laughing to myself now at my luck…. Happy days!

    [img]http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs603.snc3/31786_404502598749_722753749_4205975_1679264_n.jpg[/img]

  82. Hi Hans van den Broek, maybe ease off the sugary snacks before posting next time, steve, I didn’t mean to tape a nerve, just point out that even a cheap Canon 550D + 24mm f2.8 prime can out perform an M8 + 28mm f2.8 and I should know because I own both, I also own a 5DMKII + 35L and it blows my M8.2 out of the water, I had an M9 for a little under a month and large prints from the 5DMKII blow what I was getting from the M9 + 35 f1.4 Lux, that’s not just my opinion it was also the opinion of 30+ people who purchased my prints during a recent exhibition I had, print from the M8/M9 look too digital when printed and not only my own but many others I’ve seen.

    also weight wise the M9 is only a few hundred grams lighter than the 5DMKII and the 550D is lighter than an M8, maybe the Leica M is a camera for the frail and weak, maybe it’s the camera of choice for the shy photographer

    Now I’m not bashing the Leica M9 or M8, I like using my M8.2, it’s fun and different but for me and many many photographers it doesn’t offer what even a low-end DSLR can

  83. David, that is absolutely brilliant! That reinforces my conviction that most “good” or “desirable” cameras should not only come with a kit zoom or whatever, but with psychoanalysis vouchers as well.

    Anyways, could we appear to be logical and sensible about this and try to break up this subject in to litle pieces?

    Rf vs slr

    Dig vs analogue

    Zoom vs prime

    Leica vs other rf’s

    Leica vs the world…

    Btw, a debate raging on some forum some time ago was “that street photographer must have used a Leica M!!!” . No he didn’t, it was an OM-1 or -2… 🙂

  84. I just got my FM2N in and feel a little bit the same way compared to my D90 and the D300 i sometimes use, just feels right but at the same time when I need to capture a moment I will reach for the trusted digital.

  85. Well Steve, it’s all in the mind I guess. “Objective” arguments (not that they are that relevant) would center around portability on one side and peering through an rf or a pentaprism on the other. There’s a place and a time for both of the latter in the sort of street/spontaneous situation photography that I favour, and I myself have no issue wth the portability of the D700, albeit with a prime and not a zoom. In the short time I’ve had the M5 I’ve learned to appreciate the portability of the FM2 all over again. That really is a gem of a camera. With a 40mm Ultron it might be the perfect film camera :-). The shutter sound of an slr vs an rf is not a problem in most situations that I encounter, although indoors it might. An E-P2, E-PL1 or X1 would come in handy there.

    To take away any doubts about Leica favouritism on your part, why not review the Zeiss Ikon rf and compare it to an MP, M7, M6?

  86. Hi Will and others…

    Stop trying to give some comment…Halleluja is the only answer here…
    Everything else than a leica or leica lens is a blasfemy in this church…

    Nikon D3, Canon 5D, 7D, 550, D90, Sony Axxx…. they are all great camera’s and technology.
    There is no battle between DSLR and RangeFInders or FunnyFinders like the overpriced EP-whatevers. It’s only technology to use for making a……Picture….no more no less.

    So if you like a Cluncky, 5 kg DSLR with a 2.0 300mm of 2,5kg…..just buy it
    If you want (and your wife too) buy a M9 for 5400 Euro….just buy it
    I have a friend, carrying all over any place his Linhoff Technica with 3 ancient Lenses, many 4×5″ plates, wooden 3-pod…..never hear him about this Leica superior traveling kit, when I say man that’s heavy…he look at me…and say…making Pictures is all about the heart……where’s yours man..

    So I know it’s all about money….. I use my Nikon F from 1963 with the 85/1.8 A series from time to time…at that time 1963 I was 11, at 21 I couldn’t buy it …and believe me I scan in Epson V700 (550 euro)….and what to say…..what more do you need….?

    So will If Steve wants to explain why he get rid of all his DSLR and buy M7, MP, M8, M( without an divorce….let him…
    Looking at his start some 2/3 years ago……he changed to a Leica-Marketing outlet….and you know..they (leica)will never come back on wrong projection….stick to the choice.

    Leica RF (no more Konica, Epson and 10 Zeiss Ikons per year) is a market of 12000-15000 camera’s a year…that’s the world of Leica…
    Nikon (they had a great RF in the 50ties), Canon (yep They too) can easely step into the RF market.
    Canon recently sell the 40th Million EOS !!!…so if they step into the RF market…the marketsize will grow mayby….50% to 18000….. too small for Canon…. looks like they make a deal..Caonon won’t enter Leica’s market and Leica won’t enter the DSLR market (lets say the Leica R10)

    So here we are..a niche, niche niche player…leica…with an 19th century design, inside some (not all) todays technology (like Harley Davidson) a strong believers-market (And in some way …right they are)….

    And in the end…the love you take…is equal to…the love you maken (beatles 1969)..

    It’s all about the picture…

    ps for Steve, don’t feel bad …There’s nothing wrong in writing with the heart about technology, that’s what I like…not the battlle

    Photography is about what’s in common in the Heart…i.e The Picture….
    Not about the technology….

  87. Michiel, I am not bashing DSLR’s! I love many DSLRS (Pentax K7, Nikon D700, Canon 5D) but for ME I never would use them or take them with me on a day to day basis due to size of body and lens. No DSLR bashing going on here at all.

    Steve

  88. Thanks guys…

    Will, I said a PRO DSLR is huge and heavy. Cameras like a D3s, 1ds, etc and even a D700. They are great cameras (as I always state) but this was an article about MY fave cameras, not yours. I am not a fan of large or heavy nor am I a fan of the smaller DSLR’s (I have tried them all). The Canon 550 and a Canon 28 can not match an M8 let alone an M9. I did side by sides with a 5DII and 35 L against an M8 and 28 Elmarit. The M8/28 won by a large margin. You can see this in my 5DII review from over a year ago.

    I also wrote an article on DSLR vs RANGEFINDER. It’s on the site.

    Thanks for the comments though. I stand by ny “huge and heavy” statement because any DSLR, with a good lens will be larger and bulkier than a Leica M or Oly E-PL1, which I also prefer to a DSLR.

    I can own any camera I want but these are the two I choose to own. I get to try new cameras on a weekly basis, but these are the two I chose to buy. No need for justification 🙂

    Thanks!

  89. Will wrote:
    “my feeling is that “some” of these articles you post appear as nothing more than you trying to justify your current camera setup.”

    In honesty I must say this has crossed my mind a few times too.

    That said, only some 2 hours ago I’ve traded in my Canon DSLR + fast zoom, threw in an old Contax T2 and bought a Leica X1. 🙂

  90. Oh, I forgot my Nikon FM2 with 24mm, 35mm, 85mm, 105mm and 200mm Nikkors… Now there’s a very professional and sturdy, reasonably lightweight and unobtrusive slr for you!

    Wonderful camera with all the benefits of being able to peer through a pentaprism and actually SEE the subject as the camera sees it… 🙂

  91. Hi Steven, your pictures have been an inspiration to me. I love reading your reviews. And I find it amazing just how I am becoming like you! I love photography since ages ago. But I don’t do stuff like macro, model shootings, landscapes and other SLR-people stuff. But I do love taking pictures of people and travels, especially capturing the moments.

    I had a Sony DSLR and I found myself sticking a 30mm f1.4 lens all the time. To me, that lens had me going on! I love what it could give me. Other DSLR folks could not really dig that. They prefer to have their 70200f2.8 always at hand. And of course, the word Sony was not getting me any friends.

    But now, after I read your reviews, I think I have found a camera thats well suited to myself (and my budget). I bought an EP2 with a 17mm lens. And when I went off to Beijing for a vacation, people thought I was a nutcase for leaving my DSLR kit and bringing just a teeny camera with just 1 fixed focal lens.

    But in the end, the EP2 got me superb pictures. And most of all, I was never more trigger happy. I could shoot from my hip. I brought the camera everywhere I go (unlike DSLR).

    Anyway, you inspired me. And I think, right now, with the ‘rangefinder-like’ sized camera like EP2, I’m really getting the FEEL of photography.

  92. I’m not so sure about the dslr bashing either. I’ve now got a D700 (that’s a really amazing dslr body; but it’s neither small nor light) with Zeiss Distagon 35mm, Makro-Planar 50mm and Planar 85mm and they give amazing results. Also an E-P2 with the equally amazing Lumix 1.7/20mm and EVF, and now an M5 with a Nokton 1.1/50mm.

    I took both the M5 with Nokton and Tri-X and the E-P2 out yesterday in rainy Amsterdam to practise some street photography, exposure guessing and zone focusing, and never got round to taking out the E-P2. Now I’ve got to find time to get the Tri-X developed and scanned…

    I’m actually pretty sure I could have done the same exercise with the D700 and the Distagon or the Makro-Planar. It’s a bit heavier and maybe a bit more obtrusive, but it’s still the pictures you take that really count. As long as the equipment gives you pleasure in using it and the pics are allright…

  93. I’m glad you found the perfect set of stuff that’s give you pleasure. I’m currently moving to this process, trying to find the perfect balance between the material and the way you’re using it. But it’s a true work on you to take distance from the “competence chase”, wanting always the best lenses, the best camera and the “can’t leave without” accessories, best software and hardware, plugins etc…

    I know want my shots to show more emotions than just the ability to get technically good images, which is more difficult than we can think. I’m gonna try to get more spontaneous, imperfect, dirty but with the added value that we could call sense.

    I won’t go “back” to film right know (who knows, I still have a Nikon F80 ready be woken up), I bought a cool manual focus (!) pancake Voigtlander 40mm F2 for Nikon, and I probably get a D5000 or so to get a compact yet excellent quality package to shoot wherever I go. My D300 weights definitely too much to be carried around.

    Have a nice day!

  94. Hi Steve,

    I completely agree with your comments, I have the M8.2 with 28/50/90 – non of which are Asp but still produce outstanding images as the slightly smaller (1.3 factor) sensor uses the central sweet spot.

    I cut my teeth on Leica’s when working as a Photojournalist so appreciate the size, ease of use, image and build quality – small and easy to carry with all 3 lenses.

    I also use the Panasonic GF1 with 20/14-45/45-200 – this is the Panasonic equivalent of the Oly EP series and has basically the same sensor so the results are brilliant and with the 20mm it is small enough to carry in a coat pocket.

    Like Steve, I got rid of the large/heavy DSLR’s and now have two kits that I enjoy using and use more than I did the DSLR’s.

    Good one Steve and thanks for a superb site.

  95. I have never owned a DSLR, and I never lusted after one (although I briefly shot a film SLR a couple years ago). I began my pro-level camera “career” with the Panasonic FZ30, which was a superzoom with DSLR feeling in a rather compact body. I already got hooked by the ease-of-use and possibility of manual interference with that one. When my son was born, I went for the E-P1 + 20/1.7 ’cause I needed (wanted) a fast, high-quality combo but didn’t want a bulky SLR that would scare away my subjects. Indeed, this combo has proven to be the most versatile and most unobtrusive so far. But having been infected with “Leica lust” partly due to your website, I have now also gotten an M8, coupled with a beautifully performing Zeiss Biogon 2/35. And even though this combo is considerably larger, heavier, more obtrusive and more difficult to handle (at least in the beginning) than the E-P1 + 20/1.7, I enjoy shooting a rangefinder so much that I can’t think of shooting anything else (except for my E-P1, of course) ever again. The simplicity of a rangefinder just makes photography so much more fun.
    So what I was going to say is that I can absolutely second what you say about the M’s and the PEN’s. They are both my favourite cameras (too), and I enjoy shooting them (and looking at the superb pictures they give me) really much. For me, I don’t think there’s anything else – at least not in the near future 🙂

  96. Hey Will, I have an M9 with 24mm F2.8, 28mm F2.8 and 50mm F2. I also have a D3 with 24mm F1.4 and 50mm F1.4. I love both of them, I can get a lot of shots with the D3 that I can’t get with the M9. I understand both Leicaphile and DSLR lovers points of views.

    For me, the M9 makes me think more, it makes me enjoy photography. My D3 is rather large and clunky but I love the feel of it too, the speed, the high ISO performance. They both have their strong points.

    IMO, it doesn’t matter if you are shooting with a 5D, D3, M9, MP, EP1, S90 or iPhone. Whatever makes you go out there to create photos/art and capture moments, that is the best camera to have!

  97. Hi Steve, why do you always describe a DSLR as “huge” or “heavy” ? my Canon 550D + 24 f2.8 is lighter and almost as small as my M8.2 + 28 f2.8, the image quality from the Canon setup is just as good and it performs better at higher iso’s, plus the Canon cost less than the leica 28mm lens ( a lot less ), so in reality the only thing which is “huge or “heavy” in my world is an M8/M9 and their also “slow”, they also lack options like adding a zoom lens, you need a second camera for this in the form of an E-PL1, now I’m sure you’ll take my comments as bashing the Leica M but didn’t you just bash the DSLR world ?, my feeling is that “some” of these articles you post appear as nothing more than you trying to justify your current camera setup.

    Why not write an article on the advantages of shooting with an M setup over a DSLR one, that would be an interesting one.

  98. another very interesting point of view
    your blog made me bought a small e-pl1 instead of a big dslr
    at first I was sceptical and I was ready to return the camera even before opening the box but now I am convinced
    I received the oly 17mm last friday and my pen will be my every day camera
    my canon rebel xs will be reserved for tele or action photography

  99. Hi Steve, from the first line of this article, I was already nodding 🙂 I hear this frustration as well from others very often esp. after they see some of the pictures I have taken with my M8 – they all say how great my photos are and what a great camera I must have. And this reminded me of something I heard/read (can’t remember where) as a comparison between Leica-shooting and DSLR-shooting: these days people seem to attribute the great photo not to the skills of the photographer but to the technology/tool. And this may be true but (was it that I read this metaphor here?) one shouldn’t comment Monet on his brushes, right? And of course it is a combination of the two but when I take a picture with my Leica M8 I feel that I am making the picture, not the camera – because I am the one who controls the focus, the aperture, the shutter and everything else. With a DSLR, in the best case, one can control some of these elements but by the time one sets all things to manual, then the contact with the subject is gone because of the big chunk of a brink between the subject and the photographer.
    Will be sending you some more photos tomorrow, 1st June – my 3 photos for june 😉
    Konstantin

  100. Great post! I totally agree that the relative simplicity, plus the smaller size and weight, of the ‘alternative’ cameras are really compelling for a lot of situations. I have only been shooting seriously for 4 years now, and have amassed a kit of 3 NIkon SLR bodies (1 film, 2 digital) and a bunch of superb lenses. However, about a year ago it dawned on me that I do not always want to lug this stuff around, nor am I always in the mood to have a ‘supercomputer’ between me and my photo subject.

    So, then I picked-up a Voigtlander R3A, which I really enjoy although I have not fully gotten the hang of the rangefinder framing and manual focusing, yet. It clearly takes practice. I do love the results I get and it’s fun trying-out different films. I have been traveling a lot and the R3A came along on many trips.

    Just recently I got an Olympus E-P2 and have a feeling it will effectively replace my smaller DSLR, and become my main around-town and travel camera. One cool thing is that with an adapter, I can use my Voigtlander glass on it, and any future M-mount lenses I might acquire.

    I am still deeply enamored with my D3 and big glass for high-speed, long-reach, and/or low-light situations. But, it is fantastic to have options, that each provide a unique experience!

    I’d love to try an M9 one day, but that could be seriously damaging to the bank account. I’m going to try to focus more on shooting and less on gear acquisition! Until the next bug bites, at least.

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