UPDATED! A Boy and His Dog…can you spot the M9 shot?

I’m in NYC and in my room so I decided to update this with which image is from the M9….It is indeed #4!

Hey guys! Just a last minute post before I head to bed as  tomorrow I wake up at 4Am to catch a flight to NYC for Fridays meet. Im in a mood to do some street shooting in New York so cant wait to get settled in the room. Today I took some quick snaps of my son and his new puppy and one of the images was  taken with a Leica M9 and 35 Summilux while the other three were shot with the Panasonic G2 and 20 1.7 lens.

This should be easy to figure out but just wanted to see if anyone can spot the Leica M9 shot here so here is a just for fun poll. Which one was shot with the M9?

It is my belief that at web resolution, just about ANY digital camera will do when it comes to providing pleasing images so this is not meant to be a test of which camera is better, just a test to see if anyone can spot the “Leica Look”. I did convert these to B&W, and they were all shot JPEG. So, lets have some fun! Next update will be from NYC…


[polldaddy poll=3920797]


  1. @ Leif … what are you talking about ??!! “even unsharp is sharp” and “now you have seen the light” ?? No – now you have seen your stupidity … the Leica is Number 4 (as Steve has already mentioned) and his “sides” are … um … quivering in laughter ???

  2. Goes for number 3 – look at the arms. U got that strange feeling even unsharp is sharp.
    Leica since 1972 and still cant find any better and now i have seen the light… M9
    Thks for your sides Steve and
    have a nice day

  3. I don’t even have a Leica M, but can still tell #4 is the one. I am so ready to get my m9! Just need to save my lunch money for a whole year.

  4. No idea which is the Leica picture, but it’s a great dog!!
    (Full disclosure: I have 2 black pugs, so there may be some bias)

  5. Laaba (see an earlier comment above) is the only one to have adopted a scientific approach and was, it turns out, correct. At last a coherent and convincing explanation of the Leica effect. Well done that man.

    • Wow – incredible that out of all the anonymous people who responded – and all of those who responded correctly – you and you alone are able to anoint the one whose response was correct due to a “scientific approach” … may all the OTHER people who responded correctly learn from you, and your worship of the science of another man … we could all learn something from this “scientific approach” I think !!

      • Well my friend… Science is everywhere and everything… The colors of the sunset can be explained by the equation of Maxwell one should just not forget to appreciate them for what they are: pure beauty. Being trained and working in science I draw conclusions on hard evidences. Nevertheless all those pics are nice and sharp, the 4th has more tonality therefore looks less plasticky… Those who hit it right are those who enjoy the dog (and Steve’s son), this is what it’s all about, freezing the moment…A camera is an optical system where you adjust the focus, the aperture and the sensitivity of the medium ( more recently the white balance). THis is the experience you get with a leica… is it worth the money? Is there a real particular look to it? Who cares as loong as you like the experience…More power if nice pics come out of it.

  6. I am the first one who voted 4 in the night of wed-Thur, only one other chap had voted and it was for no2. 4 because the FF let you shoot with a longer focal so you get shallower DOF and the 4th image is where you see that the dog and the face are very close together and you still see that separation. No1 is a similar picture with the face much more in focus than on 4. One chap metioned double edges and that is to me the Leica look, that defect with fuzzy edges, this makes what is next to it pop out (like 3d). Look at the ear of the dog against the face on pic 1 and compare to the same in pic 4… The edges are not that delimited on pic 4 they are a tad fuzzy but next to the fuzz, it is all clear. Not a pro but I think the leica look is from a defect in the image.

    • Sorry my theory does not work it is the difference in DOF that makes the ears edges look fuzzy whereas more of the ear is in focus in pic 1. Makes you lose the 3d… When I come back home I will try with my Summicron at different appertures to see if you lose the look as you close the aperture.

  7. Number 4, the distand from lens to focal point and then the shallow DoF is a give away, other than that PP work could make them all look the same at this size

  8. Hi Steve, My vote was on 2, so I got it wrong, arrghh. Congrats to the Pug, great dogs with lots and lots of “personality”. My 11 year old daughter has one. In analogy to the M9, a big dog in a small body.

  9. Glad to know I got that right. Can’t say I was 100% sure though. Decided on the basis of sharpness and black rendition. Leica seems to do something with blacks I find. When I shoot with my 50 lux and M7 I get the blacks I want. With other cameras I find to get the look I want I have to use the Black slider in LR3 but this darkens everything else too, especially the shadows. It might be the dynamic range of film, I am not sure but what I like is properly exposed highlights and nice dark blacks. This to me is the Leica look.

  10. After being an slr shooter for most of my life, the first thing I noticed about shooting an M was the restrictive close focusing distance. Most lens only focus down to 0.7 meters which is pretty far for wide angle lens. Its a limitation not frequently discussed; it can be overcome because normally you are not closer to a subject than three feet, but it is definitely noticeable if you come from a manual focus SLR background.

    #3 is tempting to choose, but the out of focus characteristic and depth of field combined with the perspective is the dead give away for me with #4… That and the fact that 1-3 look “over sharp” to me which might seem counter intuitive when comparinga u4/3 to a M9 full frame. Maybe its in camera processing???

  11. I was going to pick #3 as well because it had a unique look than other 3. But then this prerty much tells me that I dont know anything about Leica images even though i have 3 M-cameras and 4 Leica lens.
    But then again, i only shoot with films now and have not touched my M8 for a year. That’s my execuse.

  12. If i had looked at them larger I would have gotten it, I didint realise that was possible, the DOF is what gives away there, the full frame just handles that differently. Next time you get a full frame slr to review, thats when the test would be interesting. 5dM2 with 35 1.4 L vs M9 with 35 1.4 both shot wide open or the new nikon 35 1.4 (when it becomes available) and a d700.

  13. I agree with the point, they are not materially different other than the out of focus areas.
    Is it easier to tell the difference if they were in Colour?

  14. Whoohoo!!! For me the dead give away was the perspective in conjunction with the shallow depth of field. You just have to rememeber that Leica M’s cannot focus that close as that Panny….

  15. Love, love, love pugs!! I have one too…they are wonderful! Now, back to the question at hand…I’m going with the last one…the bokeh has that Leica look and it just has that “Leica glow”!

  16. Definitely NOT #3. I have a GH1, 40/1.7 and it renders very similarly.
    It’s either #2 or #4. I’m leaning towards 4.

  17. I guess I’m one of the few that thinks that it’s #1. It was between 1 and 4 for me, but 1 was a little sharper on the in-focus area and had a more pleasing bokeh so that is what I went with. However, I agree with Adam, color would have been much easier (but what fun is that?).

    • Actually I’ve been looking at them again – and I now think it’s number three………

      Bah, I think I may do my own test!!! Hahahaha…..

  18. I like that vote. Blows away some of the Leica myth … I vote for #4 for two reasons:
    a) it was my first guess
    b) assuming your son is at the same position as with #1 and recognizing the about equal size of son/dog in the picture, the wider background hints for a slightly more wide angle – 35mm

  19. I know it’s difficult to compare micro detail as image 2 doesn’t include the shoulder to compare fabric detail. I still don’t see more fine detail in image 4 compared to 1 and 3 but the fur in 2 seems sharper. Having said that, isn’t image 2 a bit too close considering 35mm with a closest distance of 0.7m?

  20. Well, the out of focus pumpkins in the window looks harsh to me in image 1, and the skin tones are blown out.
    Image 2 shows good detail in the fur, the skin tones are maintained, the out of focus areas look silky smooth. Notice the thumbs and cheek.
    Image 3 has blown highlights and the highlights of the white box thing to the left is eating into the black detail. The top left of the fence is showing double edges out of focus.
    Image 4 has the white doorhandle out of focus which is showing double edges, and is blown out.
    I’d say image 2 is leica, though I’m only looking at the pictures on my old iPod.

  21. I think its number 4 because it’s the only where you can see the difference between the shirt tone and the dog fur tone, on the other photos they are the same…
    And it cannot be the number 2 because no rangefinder focuses so close.

    I would like to see another photo int the mix… one taken with the leica lens and B&W film.

  22. Number 4 got the most votes but was still only the choice of 36% of people. Unless the difference is much clearer in a print then on a monitor that doesn’t look like a big endorsement for a distinctive Leica look.

  23. Well, I voted for #4, but on second thought why would any of us give a fuck ?
    Steve should not let us know … so that our stupid fetish foolishness slaps us in the face !!

  24. Well, I voted for #4, but on the second look I’d say it’s #3.

    Come on, Steve, when will you let us know? 😉

  25. The votes are distributed quite even amoung the four photos. Assuming the votes end up distributed evenly amoung the four photos when the poll closes, it would mean that to 75% of the people who voted, the G2 photos have that “Leica Glow”!

    I am getting a G2.

  26. Hmm… Isn’t Panny using Leica lens for their cams anyway?

    Or, at least Panny has closely studied Leica lens design from their partnership in LX series and “copy” them in their own lenses? Hehehe…. Peace…

    My pick is between 3 and 4. Pic 1 and 2 quite difficult to be Leica’s.

    Anyway, it is hard to tell, maybe in such a bright light condition. I like Ashwin’s pic better, easier to tell. Maybe should try the pics in available light condition? This is where Leica lens design outshine others IMHO.

    Just my 1.4 cents…

  27. The Leica glow poll fun has started! I am going to stick my neck out and say #3. Why? I just like the tones and the crispness of it. Of course, I could be wrong…that Panny 20mm is pretty good.

  28. While the the shallow depth of field of #s 2 or 4 point to those, I’ll go for a glow many responders have similarly felt in #3.

  29. It’s gotta be number 4! I’m saying that because of the very shallow DOF, I have the Panny 20mm 1.7 and I don’t think I can achive that DOF from that distance.

  30. I’m stumped. Maybe 4 because of the depth of field from a short distance…?

    So much for the Leica look.

    I do think there is a Leica look by the way, but its really more of a Rangefinder look than anything else, and more about reportage style shooting.

  31. Steve,
    I dont know if you are interested but I would love to see you but the LEICA V-LUX 2 to the test,
    is this a possibility?

  32. Hi Steve,

    #2 feels right to me. Highlights aren’t blocked out. Micro and macro contrast is good for a shoot where the lens is wide open….. or maybe it’s just the shot I prefer.

    Cheers from sunny Sydney,


    • G’day Jason – I’m from Sydney as well!

      How cracking was the weather yesterday (14th)???

      Been a miserable Spring though.

  33. #3 all the way, the detail in the hair and eyes of your son tell it for sure,

    but looking at the polls shows that panny is definitely doing a good job since the results cover the range of pictures.

    This is awesome by the way, and you should do another one with several cameras, even some dslr’s

  34. I’m torn. 3 or 4??? Just proves if you’ve got at least half descent kit, it’s the photographer that gets results not the camera.

  35. Too easy – the forth picture which has the tell-tail Leica bokeh. By the way, is it true that it was Dr Hans Weiner Bokeh who invented blurry backgrounds and sold the ‘bokeh’ idea to Ernst Leitz in 1923 for the equivalent of $25,000 – a fortune in those days….? Before 1923 all pictures were pin sharp as the widest lens opening at that time was… f64 🙂
    (Source: Wikepodia, page 15889).

      • Well, you are only half right: the Japanese appropriated the word and made it their own, but it definitely comes from the German name Bokeh (meaning originally, ‘boat builder’ in German a common name in that country). Ernst Leitz, in fact didn’t want the name Bokeh to be know at all and tried to keep the acquisition of the blurry background idea a secret from his wife Fanny Leitz. However, Fanny eventually heard about the exorbitant sum her husband had paid for the bokeh and immediately demanded a divorce from Ernst. The divorce was extremely expensive and to pay for it, Ernst decided to triple the price of his cameras. To his surprise, his cameras sold even better than before. And so, the tradition of high priced Leica cameras has survived to this day… 🙂

          • Yes – it is from a book I found in my local library; a very old book in German with the title: ‘Das Geheime Leben von Fanny und Ernst’ – The Secret Life of Fanny and Ernst… :-B

  36. I say No. 4 – but it really could be any one image, it’s that tight a call. I doubt you would feel let down by any of them if they proved to be M9 output. Only truly notice the difference between lenses when the light goes down or used wide-open.

    Almost anything at f8 can look good. Kudos to Panny for making the task so difficult – nothing here ‘leaps out’ as Leica. In fact, if I found out it was a hoax and they were ALL Panasonic images, I’d not be amazed … it’s that close!

  37. Steve,
    Just send us a larger version to see you in the puppy’s eyes !
    Have fun in NYC,, unfortunately the weather forecast is not good for friday.

  38. I guess everyone in the US is sleeping… ?

    I’m gonna stick my neck out and guess on #3… There’s a different “glow” to it.. Or is it just that it is a little bit over exposed?

    Anywho, the 20mm 1.7 from Panny is a great little lens and on my GF1 it has given me some veery nice creamy pics 🙂

    I looove the dog Steve!! Is it a French bulldog?

    Have fun in NYC! Wish I was there!

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