“Leica M9.5” – The Small But Excellent Panasonic GF1 by David Babsky

From Steve: I’ve been busy all week testing out the Pentax K5 with the 40mm 1.9 Limited lens but this week has been all about Guest Articles! So let’s keep it moving along with another from David Babsky, who if you remember wrote THIS controversial article a while back. What do you think of his new article? Feel free to comment and enjoy! You can also comment in the forums HERE.

“Leica M9.5” – The Small But Excellent Panasonic GF1 by David Babsky

Invited to the UK launch of the Panasonic AG-AF101 micro-four-thirds video camcorder (also known as the AG-AF100 in the USA) I thought I’d take a Four-Thirds-to-Micro-Four-Thirds lens adapter with me. This was so that I could use the Leica Digilux-3 lenses I had in my cupboard on this new camcorder. For good measure, I thought I’d take a Canon-to-micro-4/3 and a Leica-to-m4/3 adaptor, too, so that I could try Canon and Leica lenses on this new video camera.

To check out the Leica Digilux-3 lenses on a micro-4/3 stills camera before trying them on the camcorder, I hunted for a suitable camera: Olympus Pen? No; weird shape and slow autofocus. Panasonic micro-4/3 single-lens-reflex? No; too bulky. Panasonic GF1? ..Looks good, and with a reputation for very fast focus and excellent image quality ..and I’ve been using Pannys for a while, so I know where the buttons are and what they do.

Micro-four-thirds, of course, uses the same size sensor as the original ‘Four Thirds’ (Olympus, Panasonic and Leica) standard used in, for example, the ‘Leica’ Digilux-3 (which was really a Panasonic L1 by another name). It’s a sensor about a *quarter* the size of the Leica M9’s full-35mm-frame sensor, so it sees the view through only the central region of any full-frame lens. A normal 50mm lens becomes, effectively, a 100mm lens when used on a 4/3 – or micro-4/3 – sensor, but it keeps the same aperture settings. Although the Four Thirds (and micro-4/3) sensor is roughly a quarter the physical size of the Leica M9’s full-frame sensor, they currently have *two-thirds* the resolution of the M9, with – presently – 12 megapixels, compared with the M9’s 18 megapixels. So using just the central highest-resolution region of high resolution Leica prime (non-zoom) lenses, the 12 megapixel micro-4/3 GF1 may be able to out-resolve, or give ‘better’ results than, the 10 megapixel Leica M8 and M8.2 sensors, at least at low ISO settings – although any flaws in the central region of any lens will also be magnified by two. The m-4/3 sensor may give more digital “noise” at higher ISO settings than the Leicas, because each actual pixel ‘photo-site’ is smaller, and so captures less light at a given moment than the bigger sensors in the Leicas. So the ‘signal-to-noise’ ratio of the Leicas’ larger Kodak sensors may be more impressive than results with the smaller sensors in m-4/3 cameras. Panny 12 megapixel pictures can’t, for example, deliver as much enlargement as the 18 megapixel pics of the M9 before fuzzy or unsightly ‘pixellation’ sets in.

The little micro-4/3 camera in the middle (the GF1, or ‘Leica M9.5’) and its one lens replaces the big 4/3 Leica Digilux-3 on on the left, and *almost* replaces the big Leica M9 on the right – and all those other lenses!

The various m-4/3 lens adaptors have no glass inside: they’re just “extension tubes” to hold non-micro-4/3 lenses further from the sensor than the proper ‘designed-for-m-4/3’ lenses, so that lenses built for larger cameras with a greater lens-to-sensor ‘flange-back’ distance will focus correctly onto the m-4/3 chip. Panasonic’s own adaptor includes nine contacts to transmit power and info between Four-Thirds lenses and m-4/3 camera bodies so that the lenses’ electrical circuits (should) work properly. But as there’s no stabilisation, auto-focus or auto-aperture in Leica-M lenses, the Leica-M-to-m4/3 adaptor is just a metal tube with a precision mount on each end.

What a revelation! I’d bought a small second-hand Minolta CLE film camera to mount my Leica lenses on, as the M9 is just too heavy and too bulky to be a proper pocket camera ..for me, anyway. (Why is it BIGGER than the original Leica M3 of 1954?) ..But the Panny GF1 Leica-lens-plus-teeny-body combination is *exactly* what I’d been looking for! Leica has a partnership with Panasonic going back many years (the Leica Digilux cameras were Pannys in different livery, and the Leica V-Lux 20 is just the Panny TZ10 (its UK name) with a red dot on it). Leica should now grab the Panny GF1 – on its way to being phased out as the new GF2 is on its way – and should re-brand it as the Leica ‘M9.5’ (with a black dot on it, just like the M8.2) ..and that, I think, would be the perfect pocket camera, just as Oskar Barnack intended!

Delicious patterns, textures and colours of Christmas fare: straight-out-of-camera jpegs from the GF1 (click for larger). Why no similar comparison shots taken with the M9..? Because the 56-year-old rangefinder mechanism of the current M9 can’t focus close enough to take these shots. The GF1, er ‘M9.5’, offers manual and auto focus – with anti-shake image stabilisation – for close-ups and small apertures at high or low ISO. The first image was shot at ISO 3200 ..not bad for a small sensor, eh? (The M9 won’t go above ISO 2500, without dialing-in some under-exposure.) (F) was shot at ISO 1600. All these were taken with the default Panasonic 14-45mm ‘kit’ lens.

All the Leica lenses I’ve tried fit the GF1 – especially the wonderful Dual Range f/2 50mm which is unusable beyond 4 metres on the M9 (..or 2 metres on the M8 and M8.2..) because its focusing cam bangs against the digital M cameras’ metering cell! Doh! The exotic long-rear-end Russar 20mm doesn’t fit on the GF1, because its back end protrudes too far, but the less protrusive Voigtländer 21mm (and the Voigtländer 15mm and 12mm) will fit perfectly, and give brilliantly sharp shots!

These wide lenses don’t need extra external viewfinders on the GF1 – unlike using them on a Leica M – because What You See Is What You Get; the ‘live view’ screen on the back of the GF1 (..let’s call it the ‘Leica 9.5’ from now on..) shows exactly what each lens sees ..and a small clip-on electronic viewfinder is available if you can’t – or don’t want to – focus at arm’s length.

Focusing with older Lumix/Leica 4/3 lenses, which don’t auto-focus on the GF1 – or with any Lumix lens set to Manual Focus – will automatically give a magnified view on the camera’s focusing screen to help get the focus spot-on: connection pins in the 4/3-to-m4/3 adaptor tell the camera that focus is being manually adjusted. This doesn’t happen automatically with other lenses on a ‘dumb’ adaptor, like Leica, Canon or 35mm-film Olympus, as there are no connector pins on these adaptors to tell the camera what’s happening inside the lens. But by pushing IN on the over/under-exposure adjustment wheel on the back of the camera, focus-magnification’s turned on with ALL ‘dumb’ lenses!

The M9’s redeeming feature is that it beats the GF1 in richness and depth of colour, in both day and at dusk, which the GF1 just can’t match – yet! Last one at ISO 2000.

As focal lengths effectively double when used with 4/3 sensors – compared with full-35mm-frame sensors – the Leica f/2.8 14-50mm wide-aperture zoom from the old Digilux-3 becomes an f/2.8 28-90mm zoom on the GF1 (as it did on the old Digilux itself), and Panasonic’s Leica-branded f/3.5 14-150mm Digilux-3 lens behaves as a 28-300mm super-zoom. But those older 4/3 Digilux lenses are big and bulky compared with the newer miniature f/3.5 14-45mm and f/4 14-140mm lenses designed especially for the GF1 ..er, ‘Leica M9.5’ *micro*-four-thirds system. The Digilux-3 wide-aperture f/2.8 14-50mm would seem to have the edge over the new smaller-aperture f/4 14-45mm, but not so, because in-built stabilisation in the old lens doesn’t work when used on the ‘9.5’, but stabilisation in the new miniature lenses *does*, giving an extra two stops’ worth of non-shake shooting!

Fitting Leica’s f/2.5 75mm Summarit-M on the ‘9.5’ camera gives a small and pocketable f/2.5 140mm that’s a fraction of the size of the M9-plus-Leica’s-own f/2.8 135mm ..which needs a crane to hoist and hold it!

A Leica 24mm lens behaves like a 48mm, of course ..but using the Cosina-made Voigtländer *12mm* on the ‘9.5’ gives pretty much the same view as a 24mm on an M9. (The Panasonic 8mm – and 7-14mm zoom – will approximate to a similar view as Leica’s super-wide-angle ‘Tri-Elmar’ 16-21mm zoom at its widest setting, so all wide-angle boxes are ticked if you splash out on an 8mm.)

The Voigtländer 21mm gives – oddly – a far wider view than Panasonic’s own 20mm f/1.7 autofocus m-4/3 ‘pancake’ lens when used on the GF1; they should both be a 40mm equivalent, but I prefer the Cosina-Voigtländer for its wider angle of view and incredible sharpness – when correctly focused! (The small Panasonic lenses auto-focus of course, but Leica-M-fit lenses – obviously – can’t. You can manually focus with the Panny m4/3 lenses; but you can choose an aperture (in ‘A’ or ‘Manual’ mode) by turning a dial on the camera.)

Black-&-white results at 1600 ISO on the ‘9.5’ are nicely ‘grainy’ like venerable ISO 400 Tri-X film ..but needing only a quarter of the light which Tri-X needs! This GF1 is just *great* for hi-ISO black-&-white. Low-light colour shots, though, aren’t anywhere near as vibrant (..even though ‘Vibrant’ is selectable in its menus..) compared with pictures the M9 delivers at night (or the little Panasonic LX2 used to give).

I’d previously thought “why put a Leica full-frame lens on a tiny Four Thirds sensor? ..there’s less resolution, and you lose the wide-angle facility”.

But having tried it, I see advantages:

[a] the body – and body-&-lens combination – is FAR smaller and lighter than using a Leica M.

[b] the body-&-lens combination may, in some circumstances, out-perform the Leica M8.

[c] although you can’t use a Digilux zoom on a Leica M, you can use it on the ‘M9.5’. Same goes for defunct Leica R lenses.

[d] focal length doubles, so a Leica f/2.8 90mm becomes a very compact f/2.8 180mm, giving longer “reach” – and plenty of aperture – with a small lens.

[e] no ‘cyan corners’ using a Voigtländer 12mm on the ‘M9.5’: it’s a usable 24mm instead.

Which is which? iPhone 4, 5 megapixels, 2.3MB, ISO 125, 3.9mm, f/2.8, 1/15th.

GF1, 12 megapixels, 12.9MB RAW, 5.6MB jpeg, ISO 200, 24mm, +1 stop exposure, f/1.4, 1/80th

M9, 18 megapixels, 36.4MB RAW, ISO 200, 50mm, +1 stop exposure, f/1.4, 1/60th

The short focal length of the iPhone, and its f/2.8 aperture, means that the whole picture’s sharp. The GF1, with a Leica f/1.4 24mm, gives less depth-of-field; the M9 and f/1.4 50mm gives even less d-o-f to isolate Steve the painter from the background. (There’s a 15x difference in price – and in file size! – between the iPhone and the M9 pics ..is there a 15x difference, though, in *visible* “image quality”?)

I’ve, at last, found a generally ‘easy-to-use’ small, compact “all-rounder” to almost match the big, heavy Leica M9. Leica’s chairman Alfred Schopf should encourage a deal with Panasonic *right now!* to offer the GF1 as a mini ‘Leica M9.5’ because it takes Leica lenses – think how much more glass they’d sell! – it gives great results, they already rebrand Pannys as Leicas, and (some of) the world wants a pocketable Leica which takes interchangeable lenses – unlike the silly fixed-lens X1. (Or else put a Leica-M bayonet on the X1 ..though that leads us into the land of “one-and-a-half-times” focal lengths, with a 50mm becoming a 75mm instead of 100mm, and the X1’s focusing just isn’t as fast as the ‘M9.5’.) The Leica ‘M9.5’ would be a compact Leica “for the rest of us”.

The GF1, er ‘Leica M9.5’, is – obviously – the digital version of the Leica CL (the “Compact Leica”): it takes M lenses, gives great quality (RAW and jpeg), doubles the range of existing M lenses – so a 135mm becomes a 270mm ..a focal length unheard of on a Leica *rangefinder* camera – and it’s just the smallest, sweetest Leica ever made. Call it the “mini-M” if you like. And make an 8mm M lens to go with it. Make the call, Herr Schopf!

David Babsky was, many years ago, Technical Editor of the UK’s best-selling ‘Practical Photography’ magazine. Years later he bought, and ran, his own 3-screen cinema. Now he teaches photography, mainly in Greece and Thailand.

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  1. Honestly, I’ve never seen the point of comparing one camera to another…. why not take a camera, use it, point out what you like and what you don’t like, then provide valid rationale and reasons to support your comments?

    Most importantly, tell me about the USER EXPERIENCE. Afterall, in the end, it’s the indian, not the arrow.
    I own vintage Polaroids, Canon DSLRs, iPhones and Leicas. The Canon gear pays my bills. The Leica gear fills my heart while keeping me motivated and in love with making photos.

    Given the comments in Mr. Babsky’s previous article on Leica M and the silly attempt to compare cameras presented here, I’d respectfully suggest he put down his pen, pick up his favorite camera and go back to making photos.

  2. Thanks so much for all the good testing ,info on the different cameras ,i have GF1 and many thanks for the tip about how to get the magnify tool in MF with Dumb lenses. Great job I get my X100 Monday . wahoo neil

  3. What’s really missing in all of this is the 100% viewfinder. I just don’t like holding the camera out in front.

  4. Santa’s come early in the ~6 household, it seems as though his sled has just parked down by our local sorting office facility. There’s talk amongst the reindeer of some kind of titanium package from a little town in Germany. Hmm… wonder what it could be :-/


  5. But hey, an M9 looks great in the hands of Audrey Tattou in the Chanel Add!


    And on that everybody can agree, I guess.

    For the rest, the best camera is the camera you actually own. Mine is a old battered Nikon F5 (if i’m in a masochistic mood and my chiropracter isn’t on holiday). When I just want to take pictures, I grab my GF1 with a kittlens and get the hell on with it. When I want something special, I install a Novoflex and use my old Nikon glass (some of it more then 30 years old like a legendary 80-200 f4.5) on it and yes that works also.

    And to the lads at Panasonic……….GF3 = GF1 + GH2 sensor, capiche, and lose the GF2 before december 2011, touch screens have no business in photography since I like a clear and not a smeared view on reality! O yeah, and make an adaptation of the Oly 35-100 F2.0 for Pana, with Mega OIS, NOW!

    Greatings, Ed Kuipers

    • I’d like to have a buit-in EVF too please in the GF3. And in body IS would be great too.

      The touchscreen on the G2 and GH2 are pretty cool though. I say keep the touchscreen but give me back my dials! 🙂

  6. A Leica is still a Leica no mater what, but is nice to know that 1/5 price of a leica can do images quality nearly close with a huge advantage of size.
    I have owned this camera for almost a year now and I still love it.
    More images with GF1 at my blog
    Regards Steve![img]http://www.tiberiubanica.com/BLOG/index.php?showimage=65[/img]

  7. One thing I’d say is that for someone who’s serioulsy interested in getting into the ”Leica world” in a near future could grab nice and well priced lense(s) occasionnally (a deal that pops up and you know you can’t let pass), using that kind of camera with an adaptor ’til the ”big day” comes (could be the day I buy an M10, for example…).
    Apart from that, the way I see it is I’m probably gonna buy a Micro4/3 and shoot with it while I keep on tossing money little by little into that specially assigned ”Project M10-11 bank account” I just openend a few months ago. 🙂

  8. I owned an M8 for two years and sold it (along with a couple of voightlander lenses) before the camera’s value really plummeted. I replaced it with a GF1. I tend to shoot with the panasonic 20mm.

    Responding to David’s question about the difference between the GF1 and M9 shots of the painter:

    I see chromatic aberration on the GF1 shot (shirt edge). Could possibly be caused by motion, but the GF1 shot is soft. The M9 is tack sharp at point of focus. I don’t see any chromatic aberration. It is quite obvious that between the two shots above, the M9 is vastly superior. But ultimately it is not a fair comparison as we are looking at jpgs v. raw (digital post processing is a factor not being discussed) and importantly — the GF1 excels if used with lenses manufactured specifically for the camera. GF1 plus even leica glass, I’m afraid can’t compare to the richness/sharpness of the GF1 plus the pany 20mm, for example. Furthermore, the ‘softness’ of a GF1/leica glass combo is not comparable to the classic leica look or the digital leica look.

    All this to say though, the reason I dumped my most loved M8 was really simple: it performed quite poorly in low light conditions (I couldn’t use anything over 640 iso unless converted to BW) and I couldn’t justify having that much cash sunk into a digital camera that would, if not for the red dot, be obsolete in a matter of months. I do miss the beautiful craftsmanship and ergonomics of a true rangefinder, but given my budget, my decision allows me to swap cameras out as digital technology improves each year.

    • .
      Well, very many thanks, T. Your eyes – or your monitor – must be better than mine, as I don’t see the “..chromatic aberration on the GF1 shot (shirt edge)”.

      I’m glad that you say “..The M9 is tack sharp at point of focus..” because that wasn’t even a Leica lens: it was a f/1.2 50mm Konica Hexanon from 2001, just one click down from wide open at f1.4. The GF1 had a brand new super-duper Leica f/1.4 24mm on it, wide open.

      So the “soft” pic was shot with the super Leica lens, and the “..vastly superior..” M9 pic was shot with a much, much cheaper not-quite-so-well-corrected Konica lens.

      The difference(s) then seem to be, perhaps, just a matter of megapixels: 12-ish in the GF1, and 18-ish in the M9. And, as you say, maybe “..it is not a fair comparison as we are looking at jpgs v. raw..” ..as I provided Steve with a GF1 jpeg and an M9 raw – which he converted to jpeg for display here. (And we haven’t even mentioned “in-camera sharpening”, etc!)

      And maybe my manual focusing of the 24mm on the GF1 wasn’t quite so accurate ..though, on second thoughts, yes it was; you can – or I can – see sharp stubble on Steve the painter’s chin!

      So, all in all, the GF1 with a -v-e-r-y- expensive lens on it has given a softer picture than a very expensive M9 with a cheap’n’cheerful wide-aperture lens on it.

      All down to the number of pixels, I think! But at a normal viewing distance, and without “pixel peeping”, I can’t really see anything to choose between them, except for the shallower depth-of-field (..softer background and foreground shoulder..) of the M9 shot – due to the longer focal-length of the 50mm lens, compared with the shorter 24mm lens.

      Many thanks for taking the time and trouble to respond. Now I’m off to play in the snow again.. Happy Christmas, and bye!

  9. Comparing an M9 to a M43 is senseless. I own both a Rangefinder with Leica lens (Epson R-D1 with Summicron C40) and a micro 43 camera (Olympus EP2 with different lenses, both native and adapted). They give very different results. Not necessarily better or worse, simply *very* different. If I have to shot kids running around, I let the Epson at home and use the EP2 in auto mode – it gives wonderfully balanced pictures. But If I want to take a more pondered picture – a portrait, a landscape shot, a building – the Epson, in terms of image quality and beauty – can’t be beaten.

  10. Dear Stefan,

    thanks for taking the time to write to me through Steve. Firstly I want to say that there’s no apologies necessary, if anything I should be the one to say sorry as I did indeed misunderstand your post. I’m assuming you’re German, if so things can quite often get lost in translation between the Germans and the Brits (I speak from experience ;-). I do agree with you that the M9, whilst being my favorite digital camera, isn’t that good to the point whereby it’s automatically immune to criticism. I love the camera and can’t ever really see myself leaving it but for the most part I’m a film guy so the MP, M6, M7 is where my heart lies. The truth of the matter though is that the RF concept is flawed by today’s standards…yes, flawed but gloriously so.

    Thanks for taking the time to explain yourself and once again I apologize for going on the defensive, I think it was just a case of me being a wee bit trigger happy with my response.


    • Dear -6,

      this is very kind of you as well, but no apologies necessary. I MYSELF felt bad having seen what my comment has created. And even though you had not been the addressee, it made me think how stupid my comment was anyway. The next morning, I probably had laughed about it, but at that evening I felt pissed, because after your interesting comment, “someone” dared to simply state that the M9 were not such a great camera. No problem in general, but I felt annoyed, because I hate when people provide their subjective view as if it were a universal truth. However, as I said, my comment did not contribute anything to this now really interesting discussion. So, I decided for myself that I will not provide my “anger” into the blog any more – good learning curve… Time for Christmas, I guess. I wish you all a merry x-mas and all the best for 2011, please keep up the interesting discussions. Personally, I am looking forward to my own x-mas gift: A Rolleiflex 2.8F bought from Sherry Krauter!
      @Steve, thank for forwarding my message to -6.
      @-6, yes, cannot deny my German heritage… “Liebe Grüsse” to you and your family!
      @Elaine, thanks for helping me out.


  11. Thanks to all, and for ~6’s clear-headed views.

    I take a variety of pics, as you can see; some – like those onions, up above – which I just couldn’t shoot with a camera which won’t focus close (..unless I stand well back and use a longer lens, but then I may get wobble or blur).

    Some shots are cool and calm, like those nightscapes or vistas above (..yup, the M9’s great for those, because it shows plenty of colour, even in low light ..which I’ve found that the GF1 is less able to do in low light).

    And some are just quick, friendly grabbed shots, like Steve the painter (also above).

    And I like to keep a camera *in my pocket*.

    So, one last time – can anyone help me? ..What – apart from the difference in depth-of-field, and a slight difference in framing – is there that distinguishes the middle (GF1+Leica lens) shot, from the bottom (M9) one? What’s the problem (..I don’t see any..) with using a Leica 24mm on the GF1? ..it looks perfectly OK to me. In what way is the lens “inappropriate” or “unmatched” to the camera? In what way is the middle shot somehow “inferior” to the one beneath it?

    You can say that both shots are rubbish, of course! ..and that the broken light fitting (at the right) should be cropped out. But I’m talking about some intrinsic difference – if any – between them. Steve’s face looks, to me, a little more florid in the 3rd pic, but the M9 seems to pick up a bit of extra red no matter what lens is on it (..though I’m rather red/green colour-blind, and often can’t see extra hints of red in one picture compared to another).

    So what, exactly, is so awful about (a) using a Leica lens on a non-Leica (GF1) camera [will my soul burn in hell, or am I destroying the “magic” somehow?] and (b) what’s so awful about using a smaller sensor (the, er, “brilliant” X1 has a smaller sensor than the M9) compared with the large-Kodak-chip-plus-slow-Jenoptic-circuitry of the bigger, heavier, no-close-focus M9?

    I’m not looking for a reply saying “if you don’t know now, then you’ll never know!” or “you’re obviously incompetent!” ..I’m just looking for a clear step-by-step explanation of what I’m obviously unable to see for myself! You know; along the lines of “..the M9 has a demonstrably greater dynamic range, and copes better in all light levels with a wide range of brightness from deep shadow to bright highlights, so all your non-M9 pictures will lack vibrancy and clarity..” or “..putting Leica designed – or assembled – Hoya glass on a small Panasonic sensor brings down the wrath of witches and demons from planet Wetzlar and will curse us all..”

    I seem to remember that Leica never gave instructions that their lenses were to be used only with Kodak film, and never with Agfa or Ilford or EFKE or Fuji ..and I’ve never been told, or read, that there’s some kind of basic incompatibility between Leica lenses and other people’s sensors – other than Kodak, I mean. (..And I’ve been to the Leica factory, and talked with their lens designers, and the people who devise the recipes for their particular types of strongly refractive glass ..in fact I’ve a hunk of -e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y- heavy Leica-formulated glass right beside me here as I write this).

    So what is the issue here?

    Very many thanks,


    • David,

      I can only speak for myself here but my feeling was not that one CAN’T use Leica glass on cameras like the Panasonics, after all they make adapters for them don’t they, my feeling was that I didn’t see the point especially if it were for the purpose of somehow magically creating an M9.5. My opinion is that this procedure will never give you anything resembling a Leica file. I used the analogy of the monkey;
      If you put a suit on a monkey, you don’t end up with a college professor, you’re merely left with a monkey with a suit on.

      HOWEVERRRRRRRR! this is all a mute point because it’s subjective. You put these lenses on your GF1 and get what is to your eye great results that as far as your concerned look like Leica files. End of story.


      • “..this procedure will never give you anything resembling a Leica file..”

        ..No, no; of course not ! It never occurred to me that people might think that putting a Leica lens on a GF1 would give a *Leica* file ..but what it provides (..using a Leica f/1.4 24mm, say..) is a nice wide aperture for fading the background into a blur; better portability and *pocketability*; light weight (..what DO they put in that M9 ..a lead shutter?..) and no fiddling with external finders.

        I wasn’t even considering ‘monkey-to-professor’, but more like ‘better-dressed-monkey’.

        But still no-one’s said in what especial way pic 3 of Steve the painter is somehow ‘better’ or more inscrutably ineffable than pic 2. If I hadn’t labelled pic 2 as a GF1 and pic 3 as an M9, then who – and how? – would anyone distinguish which is the “better” one – apart from looking at the EXIF data?

        THAT’s what I’m trying to fathom. Does anyone see anything superb and supreme in pic 3, compared with the mundanity of pic 2?

        Let’s try an analogy: if you put Roll-Royce seats in, or Rolls-Royce springs on, a Skoda, you’ve still got a Skoda – but you may have a more comfortable ride on the way to wherever you’re going (compared with riding in a plain factory-fresh Skoda).

        Would anyone looking at the smile on your face – after that smoother, better-sprung ride – know which car you’d arrived in?

        I’m not hoping to turn a monkey into a professor ..I’m asking, when you receive an envelope, can you tell if it’s been sealed by a monkey or a professor?

        What is the difference (..if there is any..) between those two pics which shrieks – or even whispers – ‘Leica M9’? ..Anything? And if there is no visible difference, then who cares, and why, whether a Portuguese-built German-designed camera with a big American sensor was used for one of them, and a Japanese built-&-designed camera and a smaller Japanese sensor was used for the other? Who could possibly care, if there’s no appreciable visible difference?

        That’s what I’m asking..

        • Haha.. “Better-Dressed-Monkey” I like it. I cannot argue with what you’re saying because for the most part..it’s true. Even though it’s slightly misleading, I also like the title of your article because it has clearly inspired perhaps the most highly debated thread yet.


          • .
            Thanks for the comments. But it’s time now for this “better-dressed-monkey” to start wrapping presents and go out to play in the snow – here in the UK there’s been wonderful snow for the last few days! – though we’ve also got to drive to the osteopath, slithering and sliding along the Great West Road..

            I’ll leave you with a picture postcard view from outside the window, and wish everyone very Festive Holidays, and maybe see you in the New Year!

            ..And many thanks to Steve for hosting this article, and all the several stimulating opinions and differing views to be found here! ..Cheers! ..and I hope you have a Very Happy New Year!

            ..oh, and weirdly, our phone’s just started having a fit; displays everything upside down and left-for-right (must’ve had a call from Australia) ..shot with a Better-Dressed-Monkey, for close up and auto-focus (no third hand free for manual focusing!)

            Best wishes, and Happy Holidays!

        • I liked the third one because it has shallow DOF, to blur out the background distractions, the subject (the painter) is the standout in the image.
          That’s all.

  12. Yawn….um…I was out shooting whilst this little snit fit was happening. LOL!

  13. Calling it the M9.5 implies that it is superior to the M9, something that I strongly disagree with. Having said that, I just got a GH2 and I absolutely love it with my M and R lens, pity it does not have in body stabilization.

  14. Ha thanks David, it was shot on the X1 and possibly there was a small amount if cropping, i dont recall. I generally don’t need it.

    (£1400 for one lens… People spend way more than that for one lens (especially Leica).)

    • “..People spend way more than that for one lens..”

      Good point! “Advantage, DJDLV”.

    • Thanks, DJDLV, for the XI defense! I, too, continue to pridefully use this fine little Leica, and love your Autumn, Swiss Bridge shot…now a favorite.
      Good to see the interesting discussing back on the rails. There is too much keyboard courage on some internet forums these day. A bit of banter is OK, but when it dissolves further…


      • I would love to see what Leica has in store for a firmware update. I’m sure the AF will improve, but what else? It’s a lovely camera.

  15. I love the debates here… Keep it up guys!!!

    I’ve got to say, using quality glass on any body can only be a good thing. The lens makes the image. ( sharpness, dof, angle of view, brightness Etc ). The body, in the simplest terms, is just a dark box to capture the light.

    It just makes sense to utilise expensive glass you own on any whatever body you can.

    Besides who makes the sensor in a M9? It’s not Leica, so the “Leica look” surely comes from the lens. Could it be possible to achieve the sought after “Leica look” with a Leica lens on another brands sensor… It’s an interesting debate.

    One last defence of the silly X1. I’m not a rich man, quite the opposite. I’m a working class, struggling artist and father. £1000 is a lot of money to me. I was looking to upgrade my DLux 4 which was my favourite compact ever. I used it everyday and rarely used my SLR kit and five lenses. However the IQ and dof was always slightly inferior.

    I wanted a compact with SLR quality. After looking at the Sigma (I didn’t like it one but) I decided it was a straight choice between GF1 with 20mm (IMO a tiny camera with the big zoom lens loses it’s meaning) or the X1. I didn’t need it to have an interchangeable lens cos I’ve got them on my Nikon (12mm to 200mm so that’s covered). So if I bought a GF1 it would always only ever have that lens fixed on it.

    I scraped together the cash and chose the X1 as it is far smaller and much better quality. It has a slightly wider lens, bigger sensor and better low light capability. It’s exactly what I need, a day to day shooter, pocket sized with professional image quality (ask Getty). I’m glad it has a fixed lens, regrettably I could never afford to buy into a host of Leica glass if it didn’t. So for my money I get a free 35mm f2.8 real Leica lens designed specifically for the sensor. No compramises like using old Leica glass on micro 4/3rds.

    It’s not silly in any way, it’s quality, build and results. Plus imo you do get a pride of ownership you just don’t get with a mass produced commercial camera.

    I’m not gonna rest David till you admit the X1 is the greatest thing since sliced bread lol :-).

    Keep up the good work, your like a bad guy wrestler people love to hate 🙂

    • In case you’re interested, Kodak make the sensor and the ‘Leica look’ that you refer to is due to a couple of things. Yes the glass has a big part in it but a lot of it is the algorithms used to process the image. Most Asian camera manufacturers calibrate their cameras to produce colour that pops….jumps off of the screen like Disneyland because that’s what appeals to the masses. From day one Leica have opted for a more filmic/classic-photo approach to the way they render their image. It tends to be more muted. Interestingly enough another manufacturer who has the same ideology is Ricoh. I only know this because I too asked a friend at Leica what was the difference between a Lumix LX5 and a D-Lux 5 other than the body shape and price. What I wrote above is how he explained it to me.

      So this is why I believe that simply putting Leica glass on another digital camera will not give you that look. However, it’s all subjective.


    • Dear DJ,

      That’s what I like to hear: *passion* for what you do and what you use!

      So, obviously, for you the X1 is exactly what you want – makes you feel good when you use it, and you take real delight in it! I’m so pleased for you!

      For me, it’s rather like a Rollei 35 or a Minox 35; they’re (were ..but still available astonishingly cheaply 2nd-hand) ..neat, compact, give terrific results ..but, er, after a while I wanted a different point of view from the fixed 40mm view of the little Rollei, or the 35mm of the teeny ‘drawbridge’ pocket Minox. I wanted something which could get “closer” ..something you could put, say, a 90mm lens on, and something which would isolate things from their background by giving (optionally) shallower ‘depth-of-field’.

      Your X1 has a built-in flash – which the Rollei & Minox *don’t* have (..but I don’t use flash, so it’s not a “selling point” for me..) and I know that its results can be marvellous, wonderful, delicious, stupendous and scrumptious!

      But it’s that one, fixed lens for £1400 which – for me! ..and it’s only MY opinion, and there’s no reason why my opinion should carry any greater weight than yours! – makes it (only in *my* opinion) “silly”.

      “..the greatest thing since sliced bread..” ..we-ell, that would have to be, er, “Blade Runner”.

      So I’m glad for your passion, and you pictures look great (..though surely that “Autumn, Swiss Bridge” wasn’t taken with the X1, unless it’s been cropped a bit?..) and I wish you even more pleasure and continuing delight with it!

  16. 6 ( David) please please please stay with us ! i love this website but is fullof Red dotters ! and there are diferent tools up there that we need how to use it and sometimes are just better for us !!


  17. i love my GF1 but i will like the Gf2 to became a rangefinder, i need a finder sometimes, a real finder on the corner like a leica, i’m also missing the focus , manual override of my nikon lenses, and i believe in the systme, we will have more and more lenses from diferente brands and high ISO will be better in the early years,

    Is just a very fun camera, light in weighr easy to cary and cheap, you can;t go out in any city in south america with a 10.000 u$S camera, is just not safe.


    PS At least on my Gf1 i need to underexpose 1/2 or 3/4 Ev or my whites will clip , if this general problem or is just my camera?

  18. Jonathan…
    i have just recently started shooting my 50mm Summicron on my little nex 5 and i am LOVING IT!!!!! Fun, Quick, and nice!!!! i think next i will get a 35…Leica or Zeiss??? Not sure which one…do you have a link to some of your photos with the 35 cron?

      • Thanks Jonathan! i love this sweet photo… i sent you a message through the Flicker comments but then it asked me to create an account so i am not sure if you’ll get the message…i especially love the M8 B&Ws…i remember reading somewhere about turning the lens around for macro…was that here? Was that your post?

  19. Steve you asked – Im thinking there is a confusion of terms between “guest articles” and “rants”. I normally frequent this blog for quality stuff, not for soapbox postulating.


  20. Thanks for all the comments, but please help me out here:

    As I asked in comment no. 22, above: “..What do *you* see as the difference(s) between the GF1 shot and the M9 shot of Steve the painter?..”

    Nobody has yet explained ..so could someone help me, please?

    Many thanks..!

  21. please dont call it an M9. you sound silly, esp when they update the M9 to a M9.2 down the road, then you’ll sound like a fool.

  22. Personally, I found the article interesting as my wife (very kindly) has bought me a Panasonic GF1 for Xmas this year.

    But David, having read the first article you submitted, I do feel that what would have been a nice article this time round was slightly screwed up by your agenda. This article was as much about attacking the M9 (as you did previously) as it was about highlighting the pros of the GF1.

    I liked the idea of the article (the GF1 as a kinda digital Leica CL), but you do tend to lay into the M9 at every opportunity. Which is just begging for trouble on this site there are many Leica users who love their M9s (including the site owner).

    Which is why you submit these articles here, yes? 🙂 I mean, you know you’re going to ruffle some feathers. If you submitted your articles to a website for Panasonic camera users, you’d no doubt be patted on the back. Here, at this site, you know what the comments are going to be.

    So why not stick to just writing about the pros of a camera (the GF1 in this case) and leave the M9 bashing out?

    Ps. The GF1 is my first ‘real’ camera (only owned point and shoots previously), so I would welcome reading more articles (from anyone) about the GF1, or articles about how newbies to photography (like me) should approach taking photos, learning the craft, etc.

    • But Clickclick, the M9 SHOULD BE BASHED. Lets be practical and truthful here. The M concept is one that many of us love but if we really want to get into the idiosyncrasies of this camera, it’s a monumental pain in the a**! If it’s not back focusing, it’s front focusing. If it’s not mounting the lens properly (the case with one of my MP’s), the frame lines in the VF aren’t assuming the correct position. I remember intentionally letting go of my M8 from a height of less than half a foot onto carpet at a radio station once, thinking that ‘it’s an M, these things have been through battle fields with Cappa, have survived 60 years of abuse with Bresson, surely it won’t mind being dropped onto carpet’. WRONG!! off it went to Sölms and I was lucky that I have friends there otherwise I would be waiting like everyone else for weeks possibly months to get it back.

      I love the Brand, I love the friends I have there, I love the red dot, I LOVE the glass and I don’t really need any other system all truth be told, I can survive and be happy for the rest of my life with Leica. However, their customer service sucks! It doesn’t suck for me because I’m connected but call it like it is, for everyone else, dealer friends of mine included it just plain sucks. It’s really expensive for what it is, it’s an elitist system because if it’s great photograph making you’re into, there are tools that are cheaper and better, that is a fact. No on ever looked at a great photograph and said “wow, what an amazing photograph those lovers kissing outside of the Hotel de Ville could’ve been if only it were taken with a Leica”. Then there’s the availability of standard lenses like the 50 Summilux, YOU JUST CAN’T EVEN GET ‘EM! That’s ridiculous. The list goes on.

      I think that people can and should attack cameras if their attacks are backed-up by personal experience and passion because ultimately it’s for the consumer to decide whether that person’s point of view is valid or not. I think it makes for interesting and productive discussion. Look at the post count on this thread alone, it’s over a hundred now which has got to be one of the highest ever on this site. that tells me that David Babsky’s post got peoples attention and got people talking passionately (a bit too passionately in my case ) and eventually…constructively.

      • Well, certainly you are correct in saying that David’s articles provoke a response. 🙂 Steve’s site certainly garners more attention as a result of David’s posts…. Hmmm…. could this be sly marketing from Steve Huff? 😀

        I guess you are right – why ‘not’ bash a camera if it has faults. I just get the impression that David Babsky is on a mission against the Leica M9. Not that that bothers me too much, all said, I don’t own any Leica gear and I can’t see myself affording any anytime soon. But hey, fingers crossed. From a design perspective alone I would love to get my hands a Leica camera.

        LOL @ your story of dropping one onto a carpeted floor. You are brave, I’ll give you that. 🙂 This could develop into the Steve Huff Real World Carpet Test – Leica, Sony, Nikon etc, all dropped onto a floor and then reviewed afterwards.

        Get to it Mr Huff.

  23. I love this site! Reading an article when I have free time really put a smile on my face =D This post was very informative but that was it. Because I have my own taste and style so there’s no harm done. David also has his own style and that’s how he dig it =D kudos for him! I really love his sharing of how the GF1 can be someone’s Leica and if I disagree I simply just ignore the whole thought. No harm intended IMO. So let’s all be friends?? Yeah?? =D

  24. The M4/3 cameras are nothing like the Leica M, which is obviously why Leica have no re-branded it. Just because it can adapt a Leica M lens doesn’t mean it’s even remotely close to being like a Leica. The size also doesn’t imply it either. Those that are used to shooting with a ‘rangefinder’ will understand the differences very clearly.

    • ….(adding to my comment above). The process of ‘shooting’ is what separates the cameras, making them as different as an SLR to a Rangefinder. For those that shoot stationary subjects/objects and have the time, either will do the job, but for those that need accurate results in fast situations in a compact form, the rangefinder still has it’s major advantages, making it clearly unique and different from the M4/3 cameras.

      The ONLY noteworthy atribute they have in common is size. How people can get so beat up and upset over this topic is really silly. They’re only cameras. Use them, enjoy them and spend more time learning how to improve your photography instead of how to decide which camera is best. These are tools, and a means to an end – a photograph. Lets not forget that.

      • Thanks Kristian. You’ve just eloquently demonstrated why the X1 is a silly camera. It’s not a rangefinder (that makes it a p&s, as it’s not an slr either), it’s got a fixed lens, it’s absurdly expensive for what it offers, build quality is debatable, and it’s got amazing IQ.


        • Yeah I actually believe the IQ from the X1 surpasses that in the M9, but yes it’s shortcomings greatly out-weight it’s IQ, which is where the new Fuji X100 comes in 😉

  25. The article itself is fine. It’s just one user’s experience although there’s nothing new. The problem is the misleading title. I guess the author unfortunately wanted to grab some attention with the phrase “Leica 9.5”, but for something to be a Leica 9.5, it has to be an upgrade from Leica 9. Now I am not a believer in the Leica hype, but the GF1 certainly cannot compare with a M8 or M9, not to mention surpassing them. It’s a totally different animal.

  26. Too much fighting above. It is just a camera and you can use whatever lens you want with it.

    That being said, I wouldn’t purchase a GF1 to use with leica lenses. The 2x crop really is killer. Also, if I wanted a 2x crop for reach, I would get a PEN as it has built in stabilization and you will need that as the lenses will be very long.

    I looked into this at length, before deciding to get a Sony NEX. The nex is not a rangefinder, but for shooting static scenes with Leica glass, it is excellent. It also has unrivaled video quality. To those who say you can’t put leica glass on a non-rangefinder, after putting my 35 cron ASPH on the NEX, it is really hard to take it off. I can focus almost instantly, and have pictures with such depth and color that the NEX lenses do not give. Anyway, believe what you want, but NEX + Leica glass = Quality + FUN.

  27. Hi David,

    Boy did you hit some…

    I Have a GF1 + a 20/1.7 and a M9 with some lenses, and a Nokton 1.1 Voigt …yes I bougt
    an M adapter for my GF1…

    I like the 9.5 idea from a “use as much of the damned stuff I bought for so many euro’s”, I don’t care for a purist discussion wheter a Panny is quality enough to enter the Holy Shrine of Leica.

    The GF1 is a very natural companion for one who has a M9, and with the Adapter you can get more fun out of it…

    What is going on in 4/3rd land is pretty interesting… If I look at many of my GF1 shot, B&W or Colour, than many times it’s more than good enough with de 20/1.7.
    I worked with the 14-140…and sometimes I Think…what more do ya need?
    On Luminous Landscap they put on the home page many times shots with the 14-140 and G2/GF1… all outstanding.

    The M9 is still superior in Image IQ, but that’s ne part of the fun, the other is just working with this tool en enjoy it.

    With the coming GH2 from Panasonic new technology will come.
    The GF2 is going away from the GF1 …. so that one will never acompany my M9.

    But….. My best guess for 2011/12 will be the FullFRame Voigtlander R3-D1 from mr Kobayashi of Cosina, that will sell for 22-2500 dollar….
    Quality vs Leica….. sure but also 5400 euro vs maybe 2500…I have a R3a too….. not a Tiger Tank like the M9/M7 but still pretty damn good…. for 650 euro….

    Now that one….. The Full Frame Voigtlander R3-D1 will defintly shake up Range Finder discussion in Photography..

  28. @ Jeremy: +1! Love the “anything remotely in focus” bit.

    @ Cidereye: while we’re on status things (which is what this is all about), Omega is a middle class brand. Rolex Submariner would have been a better example 🙂 . And I’ve heard Louis Vuitton bags and accessories go rather well with Leicas (a white M8…) 😉

  29. Here’s my penny’s worth. I have read both of David Babsky’s articles on Steve’s site and found them equally unfulfilling to the point of banal. That is my take. Yours may be different. It is Steve’s site and he can have whomever he likes on it (even if, like so many others, I don’t quite get why our Dave should have been given an encore). One thing that is for certain is that Dave stirs up plenty of debate (albeit often producing more heat than light). I guess if I can draw a positive it is that there really should be no taboos and there should be no holy cows either. By that I mean that if one is brave enough to opine that there is a world outside of Leica, or that the M9 is not the son of God, or that (heaven forbid) it is the photographer and not the camera that largely determines the output, one is branded a near heretic. I think it is that which I struggle against. In truth what I battle most with is the “us and them” view of much of the Leica community. Anyone daring not to embrace the Leica world is viewed with hostility and negativity whereas anyone within the Leica community is “one of us” and deserving of applause and praise (for they have literally “seen the light”). It is this near religious fervour that I find so unnerving as demonstrated by the slavish and servile genuflecting at all Leica M photographers submitting photographs on this site. It seems that if one uses an M lens and gets anything remotely in focus which contains bokeh around it we herald the photographer as some early 21st century genius.

    I do tend to agree with -6 (sorry I cannot find his fancy little “squiggle” on my keyboard) that things quickly get venomous and unnecessarily personal. I have no idea why. This is a hobby for goodness sake. Nobody dies. We are not having a debate about stoning adulterers here (though with the invective on the site it feels that way). I do think though that, while people can be unacceptably rude (behind, as -6 so accurately points out, the veil of anonymity) we still should have the right of free speech. I do hope -6 stays on because he has valuable things to say (and is, like Steve, not anonymous) but I think that, as such a public figure, he might be seeing things as personally aimed at him when they might not be. I won’t and cannot speak for him but I suspect that he is so used to being a victim (invariably unfairly) of “tall poppy syndrome” that he is seeing attacks on him, the individual, that are not there. There are exceptions to this and these, like any personal attack on anyone else on this site, are unacceptable.

    Let’s all hope for a happy, healthy and creative 2011. -6, stay with us because we like and value you and, Steve, thanks so much for giving us this wonderful forum.

    • That’s what I (Disclaimer – My personal view! LOL) feel myself Jeremy, nice common sense summary of how things could & indeed should be. So one persons viewpoint differs to another persons. And? So what, big deal, get over it. There’s certainly no need for personal attacks as you state.

      I used to help run one of the largest (at that time) computer help forums on the www some years ago and I soon found that despite my best intentions of trying to keep it a nice safe haven to visit there were always those who no matter what you said to them would come on with their vitriolic posts and attack, flame & insult almost everyone. Being nice didn’t work towards them despite our very best endeavours, we banned their sorry a$$es time after time and that was the only way of stopping that nice place being ruined. Maybe Steve should/could take that strong approach, but hey that’s not for me to suggest or imply – that’s his call and I wouldn’t even dream of telling him how to run *his* site. Sadly so often it is the only answer if some of the natives refuse to play nice.

      I agree with what you say about “some” Leica devotees, they should get out more and actually take photos. I personally use Leica, Contax, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus cameras – they all have their merits and as you say it ain’t the camera that makes the picture and as ever YMMV and it’s different strokes for different folks just as some people drive … dare I say it …. Porsche, some Ford, Fiat, Citroen, Mazda etc, etc, etc ….

      Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if *we all* used Leicas, drove Porsches, wore Omega Seamasters and wore Chanel perfume. Live and let live- Peace & Love to all. 🙂

      • anonymity causes more problems on the internet then anything else, but some people would just say those things to the persons face as well, there are after all douche bags in this world.

        And as much as this article was trying to do, there was definitely a bad taste by the time I was done reading it, maybe that’s because of the previous article he wrote, maybe its not, either way there’s something about it.

        • Jeremy, I’m sorry but I disagree with the whole idea that people were being venomous to ~6 here. Actually, if you read above, ~6 starts off by insulting the people in this site by saying “blinkered masses”, making it a personal attack on the intelligence of people in this group for using 4/3 scameras with Leica glass, that it was “pointless”. No one was rude even after that was said. ~6 was dredging up past remarks from other posts and bringing them up here in this article, stating that using a 4/3 system with Leica glass is pointless; something that many in this group would certainly disagree, and find insulting. Then later on ~6 reacts to a few statements that had nothing to do with him.(Projecting much?)

          Leicagator was poking fun at Thomas, and Retow was actually agreeing with ~6. So, ~6 responded with calling the responders (who weren’t even responding to him with) ” invertebrate”, was an act of self-absorbion, and actually he needs to apologize to both Leicagator and Retow! They weren’t talking about ~6!

          But, yes, ~6 does have good knowledge of the Leica system, but I do think he most definitely did the “pot stirring” here, and that his response was even more unwarranted & venomous when he assumed that the responses of retow and leicagator were about him.

          Wrong is wrong.
          But, we can end it here and start over, because I believe everyone has something good to say in this group, even though it may seem “pointless” to some, others appreciate talk about 4/3 and Leica glass being used together.

          • But Elaine, this is a perfect example of what I’m talking about, YOU TAKE THINGS WAY TOO SERIOUSLY! Blinkered masses, how is that insulting when it is true? David Babsky offers strong, negative opinions on the Leica M9 and everyone gets their knickers in a twist because God forbid anyone says anything negative about the holy grail of photography. Come on Elaine, we’re all blinkered to some degree, me with my obsession with Leica’s and those people who think that the Ricoh can’t be good because the concept is alien to them, they don’t understand it so it must be sh*te.

            And as for pot stirring, this thread now has over a hundred posts and so yes, I stirred the proverbial pot but it has got us all talking about something passionately as opposed to stroking each others ego’s telling each other how Bresson-like their image of a teacup is.

            Again, it’s when people start getting personal with me, citing things that are unrelated to photography that it gets out of hand and sure enough, if I ever make the mistake of revealing my profession or my relationship with Leica or my photographic collection, there follows some snide, jealous remark implying how undeserving I am.

            Let people have a difference of opinion and let people criticize different cameras and let there be retort to that criticism. Just stop taking it so seriously.


          • But no one got personal with you here, ~6.

            I guess I interpreted David’s article more of a love for his Panny, more than I read as a hatred for Leica M9. Oh well.

            I say, let’s start again here and now. I value your opinion as I do others. I love the art of photography and the gear.

    • I really appreciate Steve’s great reviews, but the impolite comments that come up here (especially with the non-Leica articles) make me cringe. I belong to some non-photographic forums, and comments made with these tones simply would not be tolerated.

      I really appreciated your words, Jeremy. Very well said.

  30. @ David Babsky: p.s.: I liked the article David; informative, well written, and you venture your opinions (which one may agree or disagree with) in a civilized manner. Don’t get upset by some of the more venomous comments.


  31. Hi, David..

    I see that the iPhone shot is more speckled, has slightly less sharpness, and has greater depth-of-field than the M9. What do *you* see as the difference(s) between the GF1 shot and the M9 shot of Steve the painter?

    “..that blue sky landscape picture .. why would you use ISO 2000? .. Why destroy the IQ with high ISO on a day like this?..” ..I was in a moving car; I wanted a high shutter speed for no blur; I’d just shot a close-up with a very small aperture, so needed high ISO for no blur, and I reckoned that the existing high ISO 2000 would do OK to freeze this ‘grab’ shot whilst moving.

    As long as there’s *plenty* of light, then high ISO with the M9 doesn’t seem to really ruin things – in my opinion – but where there’s less light – in the upper dark sky, for example – there’s plenty of splodgy speckle. That’s if you’re peering hard. As a snapshot, and viewed from a sensible distance – as I do, rather than hunting for faults close up – I find it quite satisfactory.

    If a person’s worried by visible brush-strokes in paintings, then speckled noise in photos may be annoying. This wasn’t intended as a masterpiece, or as a perfect landscape, it’s just a picture taken quickly as the opportunity appeared. I liked the composition, so I shot it ..I’m not that bothered by the almost-invisible splotchy pixels.

    • Thanks for your reply.

      As for those two shots: I agree with you, iPhone shot is much more speckled and the DOF is a given, it’s a phone after all. I see that M9 shot is MUCH sharper and of course much cleaner and color is also truer I’d say. That, for me, means better IQ when it comes to these two shots.
      And the landscape: See, I knew there was something behind this shot! 🙂 So that explains the high ISO. And you’re right again – when you enlarge the picture, you can see speckles in the dark sky. I have no experience shooting landscape from a moving car let alone shooting with M9 but I’d guess I’d go maybe for 1/500s instead of 1/2000, that could’ve been fast enough. But as I said now I’m speaking theoretically having no experience like this.
      But what really pleased me as a photographer – this is a very selfish thing to say – that I recognized the time of the day this was shot. I only then downloaded the photo and I saw it was taken @ 11am, right? 😉

      And I’m not actually bothered by splotchy pixels in this case, it’s just when I shoot landscape it’s often from a tripod and lowest ISO to get the cleanest shot possible. So that’s why high ISO surprised me not knowing the circumstances the photo was taken at.

      Thanks for the article. I kind of agree that it contains more information than opinion.
      I’ll just have to try both cameras to get an idea what is going on…

      • Hi, David:

        ..from the EXIF file: “Date and time of original data generation: 2010:01:26 11:08:49” ..and I suppose I must have reset it to New Zealand time (that’s where this was shot) otherwise it’d have been pitch black (at 11 o’clock UK time down there!)

        Of course “..what really pleased me as a photographer .. I recognized the time of the day this was shot..” ..well observed! Good for you! Yes, you can see from the shadows beneath the clouds (upper left) that this must have been shot around midday.

        • P.S: That’s what gives me pleasure: “reading” a photograph ..seeing the time of day, working out what aperture or shutter speed was used, looking to see how high the camera was from the ground (..gives a hint as to whether taken by an adult or a child..), looking at the weather and the light, looking to see if the picture’s been “dodged” or “burned” (with old-style film, or with new-style digital adjustment) ..or if it’s exactly how the photographer saw it at the moment it was taken.

          That’s what gives ME pleasure from a photograph: not looking to see how pin-sharp it is (or isn’t), or if there’s grain or speckle ..I look for the arrangement of things in the photo, the textures and contrasts, light and shade, depth-of-field, point of view, echoes within it of other shapes and textures elsewhere in it (..a kind of ‘resonance’..) and mood: joy, humour, expansiveness, uncertainty, bravery, strength, cowardice, kindness, fragility ..I don’t give a cent what make the lens is – nor what make the camera is – nor the age of the photographer, or what colour their hair is, or if they prefer ice-cream or gherkins ..what matters to me is the *content* of the photo.

  32. I don’t own GF-1 nor do I have M8 (not yet, that is…), cannot make any comparison, so just two rather technical comments:

    David, as for your question regarding Steve the painter – even at this web resolution – you really don’t see the BIG difference in IQ between photos taken with iPhone and M9? Seriously?

    And just out of curiosity as this could have some deep reason that I don’t see: that blue sky landscape picture – it looks like it could’ve been taken at around noon at sunny day – why would you use ISO 2000? You’d probably get a decent shutter speed even with larger aperture if desired. Why destroy the IQ with high ISO on a day like this? Just curious.

    • To shoot landscape, I’d imagine that David would have likely stopped down the lens to get more DOF. And maybe it was getting darker?

  33. Whoops – it seems to have happened again! What I *thought* I was doing was providing some information and factual material about the Panasonic GF1 camera, plus an occasional personal opinion. Factual material: quarter-size sensor gives *double* the focal length; simple glass-free adaptors don’t degrade the image when Leica lenses are used; lower pixel-count than M9, but higher than M8; provides close-up capability unavailable with M8 and M9; provides RAW & jpeg files; gives full view through any attached lens on rear screen (and in optional viewfinder) unlike Leica rangefinders; smaller & lighter, more “pocketable”, than M8 or M9 but still using M-fit lenses; not as good as larger M9 sensor, especially for low light shots .. and I gave some M9 dusk and night-time examples.

    My *opinions* were that Leica could rebrand this as a pocket Leica (..as they do with other Panasonics, turning them into the V-Lux 2, V-Lux 20 and D-Lux 5..); GF1 black-&-white results at ISO 1600 compare favourably with ISO 400 Tri-X film; I think that the expensive fixed-lens X1 is a “silly” camera.

    What I thought I was providing was information and enthusiasm for a small, versatile pocket camera.

    Why not re-read this article, to see how much of it is just simple *information*?

    At the end of it – for information and comparison – are three pictures taken with ..an iPhone; a GF1 & Leica f/1.4 24mm; an M9 and an f/1.4 50mm lens.

    Why has this large amount of information – plus a teeny bit of opinion – produced such affront and controversy?

    Does no-one have *constructive* or informative comments, such as “using wide-aperture Leica-fit lenses on small-sensor micro-4/3 cameras is the only way to get really shallow depth-of-field with those cameras” or “Panasonic’s 8mm lens is a curved fisheye, but the ‘rectilinear’ 7-14mm zoom gives straight-line wide-angle shots” or “lenses designed to give however-many line pairs on a 35mm sensor may give considerably less resolution when the image from just their central region is used to fill the frame, and may appear *half* as sharp as on an M9” – or some such?

    Steve thinks the Ricoh’s great. I think this versatile Panny’s great. Some think the M8’s great because you can take infra-red shots with it. I think the M9’s great for dusk and night-time.

    What’s caused all the upset? ..Oh, and thanks DJ for the compliments about the photographs!

    • Too many people spending too much time fooling around on the internet instead of taking pictures.

      I like your posts because you are willing to stir the pot a bit. Leicas are nice cameras, but luxury-goods priced, often technically second-rate (e.g. slow AF in X1), and rather antiquarian in their conception. The GF1 is a splendid camera. Instead of “rebranding” the GF1 as a Leica, Leica has instead released a set of AF lenses for the GF1, which is an even better solution because we get some high-quality new glass for the GF1 instead of a stupid red dot. I would much rather spend $500 for the GF1 and $1000 for a real Leica lens to go with it than spend $1500 for a rebranded GF1 body alone.

      I can’t believe all you guys are still talking about using adaptors and manual-focus lenses instead of trying out the Panasonic/Leica lenses for M4/3. How about that 25/2 Summicron Steve?

        • And, on the Olympus, you could shoot it at f/1.4 with image stabilization! Now that might be a lot of fun in low light. $900 for the lens and $500 (or less) for a Panasonic/Oly body would get you somewhere interesting for less than an X1.

          The idea of releasing Leica lenses through Panasonic allows Panasonic to do what it does best, which is to keep up with the ever-changing universe of buttons and features of digital camera bodies. Leica can release a top-end M camera every four years or so, at a premium price, and in the meantime sell premium glass for M4/3 and perhaps some future mirrorless APS-C shared format. That would be so cool.

          (Too bad no edit function in this forum.)

        • Thanks, NL.

          I believe – unless there’s been a more recent one – that the Leica f/1.4 25mm is for the Four-thirds format, not specifically the *micro*-four-thirds format. Makes no matter: it still fits on the GF1 ..but WITH an adaptor, to change the rear mount to a smaller size, and to hold the lens further from the imaging chip (the original Four-thirds cameras had a swinging mirror inside, so there needed to be more room behind the lens than needed by the newer mirror-less *micro*-4/3 bodies.

          So even if “..I can’t believe all you guys are still talking about using adaptors..” they are necessary for using Leica Four-thirds lenses with a GF1.

          • Right, it says “four thirds” not “micro four thirds.” Let’s hope they come out with an M4/3 version!

            The 45mm ASPH is apparently for “micro four thirds.”

    • David, I liked your article. It showed your love for the Panny and what it can do. That’s what I got out of the article. I may not agree with everything in it, but I appreciate you sharing your experience with the Panny camera. You were trying to show people that you didn’t have to spend a lot of money on a M9 to get nice pictures. And yes, the Panny with and without Leica lenses produces nice pictures. And there are those that use these 4/3 cameras with Leica glass and adapters who get beautiful results. I like using these cameras with Leica glass. They produce beautiful pictures. I also use the brand lenses, which also produce beautiful pictures. It’s the photographer taking the picture, so of course my pictures are always beautiful. Wink Wink.

      If the cameras weren’t meant to use other glass as well as their own brand, the manufacturers wouldn’t mention that capability. There would also be NO adapters for them. The reviewers wouldn’t mention that capability either, but they do. Thom Hogan mentions the Sony NEX 5 as the poor man’s Leica, and he is a respected reviewer writing numerous books.He said that the files were nice coming out of the camera, but that when using the Sony with Leica glass the battery would be strained, so bring extras. He stated that the files come out nice. He didn’t say better than a M9, but it’s an alternative to spending that kind of cash on the Leica gear, cash that some people don’t have or won’t part with for a digital camera body. And yes, he didn’t like the Sony due to its menus and the kit lenses, though he said the files were very nice. Thom also mentioned that sony will improve with the newer lenses coming out. Thom’s reason for not recommending the Sony? He doesn’t like menus, He likes dials. He also didn’t like the big zoom lens. He owns a Panny also, so he’s invested in that. But again, different strokes for different folks.

      Thanks, Dave for sending Steve the article. I appreciated it, even if I don’t agree with everything in it.

    • David,

      People read… Doesn’t mean they understand what they read… I read your article and found it informative, many of which i already knew. Would be useful for newbies… No need for anyone to get upset here.

  34. Interesting how criticizing Leica can make an interesting thread derail completely, including all the usual misunderstandings about what criticism/insult was aimed at who. Someone should make a movie about it (7D? D3s?), and include a church, some believers and some heretics.

  35. Just like you said. And just like before some people will never learn and will post ugly comments instead of being polite and living the right life. 🙂

    ~6 please stay here with us – your opinion is important for most of us, it’d be a pity if you left…

    And for those few crazy commentators – Steve can always ban them, right? 😉

    • David, thanks for your very creative post. I think you’re quite possibly in the wrong business, you should try song writing ;-). Speaking frankly, I Have to say that I don’t feel that Steve should really be banning anyone and certainly not on my accord. Of course it’s his website and only he can and will decide what’s cool and what isn’t. But I LOVE when there are differences of opinion and love it even more when people post controversial pieces like the one that David Babsky posted to start this thread. It makes people think, it gets us out of our habitual ways of taking pictures. Honestly, I didn’t agree with anything David said in his original posts but I absolutely recognized that whatever he was professing worked for HIM. Not only did he state his claims, but he also gave very good explanations as to why he worked and subsequently felt this way. So in the end one can absolutely respect someone like this because thats the way he works and he gets results to back it up!

      It is precisely these kind of people that I find interesting the most because we have a total difference of opinion and he forces me to question my methods and what I feel is important because guess what, I might just learn something.

      For example, a few weeks back I bought the new Nikon D7000. It was such a difficult camera to get a hold of at the time and whilst I’m not the biggest fan of Nikon DSLR’s (LOVE and still use their film cameras, F3 and more recently the best film SLR in existence..the F6), I think that the new glass that they’ve been releasing over this past year is exceptional. I’m a glass whore and therefore a worshiper of Leica glass but even I will confess that upon seeing the results from my 24mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4 (v.2) 35mm f/1.4 and the new 50mm f/1.4 (although this one is the least impressive of the bunch) I think that some of this glass is certainly as good and in some cases surpasses that of their Leica counterparts.

      So I bought the camera really to test the glass and I immediately dismissed it as being over-saturated with buttons and whizzbangs, jpegs that used excessive amounts of NR and pretty average movie modes. It was therefore relegated to the cupboard waiting to be ebay’d. Well yesterday Apple released a new version of their RAW converter which now supports the D7000. I was able to go back and look at some files I’d snapped (I mostly prefer to use RAW + Jpeg when framing) and I now realize that I was too hasty…it’s a great camera with stunning IQ if used properly…I was just biased at the time and consequently wrong!

      What I’m trying to say is that people’s minds change and their opinions along with it. I do it all the time, today I feel great about this camera and tomorrow I think it’s garbage so to speak.
      What’s even more interesting is the amount of traffic David Babsky’s article has generated. Dare I say that perhaps because of the controversial nature of the post, it really got people fired-up. It certainly made me want to contest him but in a positive way because again, it’s that kind of photographer that intrigues me.

      Now I’m not saying that people should be down right offensive here but I do think that people should say what they mean as long as it’s CONSTRUCTIVE! To me THAT is the key because a bunch of people j**ing-off by simply agreeing with one another is boring and not in the least bit challenging. I also think that it’s important for people to have a sense of humour. I’ve often referred to Voigtlander glass as sh*telander but that’s because I’m a snob and often engage in precisely that kind of banter with my photographer friends. Do I really think that Voigtlander glass is sh*te…perhaps but in my heart I know that it’s capable and just because I use Leica glass instead, this will not make my pictures any better. The point is that it’s unlikely I’ll ever become a pro photographer and as for being the next Richard Avedon….Not in this life. So I don’t take myself, my idiosyncrasies or my photography that seriously because it’s supposed to be fun! It’s stops being fun when people who do take themselves and their work way too seriously then start getting personal with their attacks which are for the most part cowardly because of the veil of anonymity the Internet provides.

      I love glass and gear and I hoard it like a bag person but none of it makes me a better photographer. I make good pictures when I’m inspired by the moment, by people and by creating memories…not by gear.

      To quote Steve, this site provides ‘Real Word Reviews’. He speaks his mind and tells it as he sees it. More importantly unlike other site admins, he encourages people to disagree with him and even showcases articles that flat out disagree with his philosophy. I think that’s GREAT and THAT is what makes me read stevehuffphoto.com


      • That’s an interesting point you make about the D7000/RAW files/Converter. Well *any* camera I guess and what method one uses to extract RAW files. I know when I used a Leica M8 I found when I converted the DNG files to TIFF/JPEG using ACR & PS they looked so dull (to my eyes) as opposed to using Capture One where the files were always extremely larger in size (still don’t quite understand that one??) and looked so much more vibrant.

        With Nikon NEF files I know in the past when I owned a D70s/D200 I always found they looked so much better when converted using Nikon Capture NX 2 and the detail contained seemed just so much more. Just bought myself an old DX2 so I must get around to trying out NX 2 again, maybe not the best interface on a prog but it did seem to work well for NEF files and of course these days you can now use Nik plug-ins with it. On a separate note, nice to see you decided to stick around.

          • I find the same thing cidereye. If I don’t use Capture NX on my NEF files they don’t look as vibrant or clear. I use Lightroom extensively now and it always does the processing differently. Until I decided to try the Color Checker Passport. Whoa a big difference. I don’t even use Capture NX now. Very accurate and consistent color.

          • @ Mike

            That’s interesting what you say about Passport Checker. I know in photographic terms gear wise I may have gone backwards, had all the latest stuff … an M8 etc, etc, and now gone back to a Nikon D2X for all my digital requirements apart from a Panny GF1 for portability but frankly the rich files I get from the D2X are more than good enough for *me*.

            I recently attended a seminar by the makers of Passport Checker on basically colour I guess, RGB explained and all that. I went away like some new disciple swearing I would conform and add colour checking devices to every PC & printer I use (I do understand the NEED for monitor calibration and how essential it is) but despite all that I’ve buckled against the advice given and convinced myself that sRGB space is frankly all I need for my colour digital use. I know from my own workflow that so many prints done in RGB look so flat, whether printed at home or by my lab. sRGB gives me vibrant prints on the other hand despite it’s so called limited colour space. So, in your opinion what does Passport Checker give to you in your workflow when working with colour files? Many thanks in advance. 🙂

          • I certainly understand where you are coming from cidereye. If your workflow is doing it for you and you are happy with the results why switch?
            For me to make a landscape or something more artistic, I’ll sometimes just use NX. When I’m doing a series of similar shots (studio, portraits, group photos ect.) or wildlife, I want them more color critical. Nothing like trying to get the color matched up from one to the other.
            Give you an example. I was doing a wildlife shoot of some Bison last year. Set the white balance and just started shooting. Had about 300 photos that looked okay in NX but when I put them side by side there was inconsistencies.
            This year I was working with some Bald Eagles. White balanced everything. Had taken my test shot with the color checker and fired away.
            Opened everything up in lightroom and made my profile with the color checker, synced the files and presto, I had about 400 shots that looked the same. I just had to go and pick out my favorites make minor adjustments and was finished in under an hour. All the sky was the same blue. Vibrant blue at that. The previous years job was much longer. Much longer. And the color was bang on here. I could spend my time on fine tuning the ones I liked.
            For me NX is still great for small projects with minimal files. But more substantial stuff, my lightroom workflow and color checker is a must.
            Hope that helps. I hope I made sense as it’s late and will probably realize I left out something important. LOL
            Oh and when I shoot with my GF-1, the files look just the same as my D300. That camera is probably one of the best I’ve owned. I still shake my head at the results from it. Amazing.

          • Thanks for your thoughts Mike, that’s a very good point you made at the end I’d not considered re: GF1 pics looking the same as those shot with other cameras, now that really makes sense to me and for that feature alone it sounds like Colour Checker is well worth getting. I’ve never liked Lightroom but have played about a bit with v3 and it at last looks like they’ve got it right so must start getting used to using that a bit more.

      • @~6: thanks for the processing explanation. I always thought it wasn’t just the lens design, although that certainly plays a part as well.

        And you’re right about the new Nikon glass. I gradually changed over from Zeiss glass (2.0/35, 1.4/50, 1.4/85) to the new Nikkor primes (1.4/24, 1.4/35, 1.4/50, 1.4/85) for my D700.

        They’re not cheap (except for the 50), they’re neither light nor small (except for the 50) but they offer fast, silent and accurate AF and exceptional image quality (except for the 50, which is just very good), particularly at big apertures. They’re going to last me a long time!



  36. Hello Steve,

    I have to agree with Andrew Hunt’s assessment earlier. This article contains no new perspective or wisdom. At all.

    I am all up for discussing someone else’s views on things and reading their thoughts as long as the content isn’t something already discussed to the point of boredom.

    Yes, the micro 4/3 cameras are nice. Especially the smaller bodies have many fans around the world. Check.

    Great results can be achieved with any type of glass that you can mount on them. Check.

    What glass you use is your personal preference. Check.

    Same goes for any camera body. Check.

    I can only speak for myself but if I feel like reading pointless discussion threads there are enough photo forums out there that offer this kind of entertainment.

  37. No viewfinder.
    No rangefinder focussing.
    Worse shutter lag.
    Arm’s length LCD focussing.
    2x crop.
    (based on my experience with owning M8, oly ep-1, and briefly an M9.)

  38. Sorry David. I have used a GF1 and it isn’t a 9.5 IMO. Not even a 9. Or an 8. The M9 has its quirks. But on any given day (or night), I get much much much better IQ from the M9 + M lens than a GF1 + M lens. IMO, the GF1 is a great camera (even though I kept the EP2 and returned the GF1) and has its own strengths. But the Steve the Painter comparison is looking solely at a Yugo and Porsche’s side mirrors and asking whether or not a Porsche is worth 10x the price of a Yugo. Just my opinion.

    • Oopst. Just read all the comments. Didn’t mean to plagiarize Retow’s analogy regarding Porsche’s! 🙂

    • Actually, the Steve the Painter shots show, IMO, that even at web resolution the M9 is clearly superior, or at least, noticeably different. The iPhone is fine with me if you can get good results out of it, but in this instance I prefer the M9 shot.

  39. I could post images taken with a sinar 4×5 and HP5+, and compare those to my Nokia 3mp phone, and at web resolution at 72 dpi you wouldnt be able to tell the difference.

    Its never so simple.

  40. OK guys…lets all take a deep breath…relax and calm down. This site is here to supply good information, different points of views, and interesting photo experiences 🙂 No need to get upset, angry, or even ruffled.

    It seems David has once again created some controversy but sometimes this is good. We all have our preferences with gear…Me, I think the M9 is the most amazing camera made today. Period. Beautifully made, feels good to shoot, superb quality at almost any ISO (my opinion) and the files are out of this world with the right lens. The GF1 is also fantastic but at the end of the day the M9 will surpass it in color, detail, richness and ISO noise.

    As for the GF1, I also love that camera but others have come along since that I feel are better. Right now I am still digging the Ricoh GXR (thanks to the recommendation from 6) and of course the M9 and even the Sony NEX system.

    This article is here to show others one mans point of view. Some will share his ideas, others will not, but to sit here and get angry about it does no good. I will continue to post articles that I feel are interesting and informative but let’s try to be nice.

  41. I actually respectfully disagree with the comment the M4/3’s cameras should only be used with lenses from their “system”. One of the great things about M4/3’s is that you can easily (with adapter) use many different lenses including lots of nice old lenses from Cannon, Minolta, etc. with manual focus. I do agree that using Leica (or even CV or Zeiss) lenses on a M4/3’s camera is nowhere near the same shooting experience as using a Leica (or any rangefinder for that matter), but using legacy manual focus lenses on M4/3’s can and does provide very satisfy results and shooting experiences.

    In my experience owning a Panasonic G1 M4/3’s camera. I started with the system lenses (kit + the 20MM pancake) and then started using Canon legacy lenses (28 2.8 & 50 1.4) purchased both from KEH for less than $50… I LOVE shooting with the manual focus lenses and most people that see my shots like those the most. Anyway, I like shooting with them so much that I bought a Leica M8 and a Zeiss 35 2.8. The M4/3 opened up the whole world of rangefinders for me because of the legacy lenses. IMO, a M4/3 can not replicate or replace a Leica (or Rangefinder) but I do think some of the ethos of the system and style of shooting does translate between the two systems. Also, the M4/3’s cameras are very capable (as any camera is) in the right hands.



    • Yeah, I do too, but many disagree. It’s like I said, different strokes. That’s what makes this place so interesting. I like reading about the different gear people use, and how they use it. David seems very happy with his set-up, which would make other people cringe or somewhere in between. I guess that’s why they make so many choices out there. LOL!

  42. Addressed to Steve. Brother, why is it that simple dialogue cannot take place on this forum without someone getting either defensive, high and mighty or just plain jealous? You take the time to post a somewhat controversial article which, whilst I may not agree with it, is pretty well written if not opinionated, I take the time to write a response which is equally opinionated however well thought out with experience, passion and integrity. Then it’s met either with a cowardly insult such as,

    leicagator says:
    December 17, 2010 at 3:11 pm
    “LOL, within the meaning of -6 a great example of a post without heart and without brain…”

    I try and do whatever I can to help a friend who’s work I admire, by submitting posts that may be of benefit to your readers and therefore by default your blog. Yet all that seems to invariobly happen is that people end up retorting with hate and jealousy for whatever reason. As great as the Internet is the huge problem that remains is that it enables people to hide behind anonymity and therefore reveal the true ugly sides of their nature because they know there can be no serious ramifications. I guarantee you that the invertebrate above who accused me of having no heart or brains wouldn’t dare say that to my face over a cup of coffee mainly because judging by his/her lack of command over the English language, they’d be incapable of doing so.

    I love your site Brother but it’s people like the one’s mentioned that stop me enjoying it. I’ll save communication with you for phone calls, wedding vow renewals and tour-bus stories from now on. It’s too time consuming to post here and actually affects my love for photography.



    • Retow is just saying that a great photographer can use any means to make a great photograph, but that it doesn’t mean the camera, in this case, the Panny, is better than the M9. The Panny is apparently the inferior tool in comparison to the M9? Am I wrong here?
      Retow, a little help.

    • Hey ~6, please don’t let some of the more “self worshipping” egotistical types put you off posting here. I for one have really enjoyed your thoughts and appreciated you expressing some of the depths of your personal vast photographic experience. And as a Brit you will know what we say under such circumstances – “Don’t let the blighter’s get you down.” Carry on just saying it how it is!

    • Please see my comment above. Did not see your “interpretation” of the mail that was not even directed towards you. I only got harsh, because I was annoyed by Thomas’ presented unfounded bias. Everyone who posts here with decency and adequate behaviour should be answered in that way. Please keep on posting -6. You have something to say and it is always interesting. And merry xmas to you and your family. P.S. If you really want to have a refreshing talk, contact Sherry Kräuter one day. You will enjoy her …

  43. A great driver can get from A to B with a mid sized boring sedan of let’s say Asian make almost as fast as a lousy driver with a Porsche or other super sports car. Nothing we didn’t know before. However, this does not make the inferior tool the better one.

  44. Dave, I can’t agree more with your article. I configure my GF1 to shooting needs of the day & its a companion to my film RFs. For street, I match a CV 35mm external VF to the 20mm f1.7, set centre AF-focusing & I’m shooting Contax G1 style, all the while framing thru the VF without looking at the LCD. You should try it

  45. Thanks Thomas but I don’t want to get carried away here. I LOVE MY M9! I think it’s literally Gods gift to photography. However, that’s just me, my opinion which doesn’t mean sh*t to anyone other than me. But I also love all the other cameras I have, I love gear in general and I don’t let the fact that I’m a “Leicanut” interfere with the fact that as you said, there are many great cameras out there that yes….in certain terms outperform Leica’s! I have been messing around for the past couple of days with the 7D and three lenses; the 50 f/1.4, the 28f/1.8 & the 85f/1.8. The point of it was a) to use this brilliant photographic tool that I’m lucky enough to have (my kids had their end of year performances so I wanted to video them) and b) to keep it really compact and light. So I didn’t opt to use any of the plethora of ‘L’ series glass at my disposal or any zooms. Let me tell you that after seeing the results that came from the camera and the ease of acquiring said results, it left me scratching my head as to why I even bother with anything else. Then of course I remembered…. I’m a Leica man through and through and I’ll probably stay that way until the day I die 🙂


  46. Steve,

    Much as I admire and enjoy your site and its/your fresh candor, I do think that with the onus of popularity comes responsibility on editorial grounds if nothing else. This article, and others by the same author, shed no light or knowledge, just encite open criticism. Whether that is deserved or not I find immaterial. There comes a point where opinion is no longer measured or balanced, and I believe our illustrious friend here has crossed it.

    Just my opinion. It’s your site and you must go as you see fit, but as a reader this does stand out as unusual.



  47. ~6 is right, many people do talk with their hearts. That really includes Leicanuts. They just can’t get over the fact that there are many cameras which currently outperform digital Leicas by leaps and bounds.

    There’s nothing wrong with comparing an M9 with any new digital camera since the M9 just ain’t that good.

          • If that’s the case then I apologize sincerely. I did however, ask he/she to explain what they meant for that very reason..it was very poorly written…… I’m still waiting for a response.

            But the fact remains Elaine that most of what I said is based on my experience. People think that just because one is fortunate to be able to actually own most of the items that are discussed here, or just because one is in the public eye that we somehow don’t deserve it, that we must’ve conned our way to success or stolen everything we have. What people don’t know is that I was once homeless, sleeping in subways. So nobody gave me anything, I worked my ass off for everything I have.

            As I said, whenever I post it’s done with the general consumer in mind. I don’t think that everyone can just go out and buy whatever they want so I try and think about specific areas like;

            1.Value for Money
            2. Availability
            3. Ease of use
            4 Reliability
            5. Longevity etc.

            If you ask Steve, he will tell you that I have no ‘airs and graces’, I’m a very amiable and approachable person to talk to and I ALWAYS think about the other person, quite often putting them before myself. But you just can’t win with some people. I share my experience with all the gear I have which is quite expansive due to me being a collector of photographic equipment and an overall lover of the art. I have Leica’s that people haven’t even seen before or didn’t even know existed. I have glass that should be in a museum but I don’t just collect them and stare at them gloatingly, I use them. I buy pretty much anything interesting that comes out even if I end up selling it. So I am not biased towards any one make just because it’s cost me an arm and a leg. I try and use my good fortune to provide a unique perspective that I think can benefit others.
            I think that all of this information is of use to people who come here because like Steve, I’ll tell it like it is with passion and real life experience. I do it for the consumer who perhaps isn’t as fortunate as I, yet it’s only a matter of time before my posts are met with jealousy and small-mindedness.

            All in all it really comes down to it being my own fault, I should know better…you would think. For that reason I think I’ll stick to reading Steve’s constructive and well written reviews and the Daily Inspirations of other like-minded photographers. That way I can keep my blood pressure at a healthy level.


          • Yeah, I guess I’ve been a bit of a pisser in my responses too, but I also think a lot is read in these responses that could be interpreted wrong. Let’s just start over and try again. I think everyone in here has something good to say at one time or another. We all have bad days.

        • Elaine is right, I have been annoyed to read Thomas’ reply on your mail. For me, his post was neither written with the “heart” nor with “brain”. In particular, he presented totally biased assumptions without even explaining a bit.
          Otherwise, I share your view -6; I have the Leica M8 and M9 and would not want to use other cams for my Leica glass, not because I would not like the results, but because the use of a rangefinder camera is a special experience for me that consists of Leica or Zeiss Ikon rangefinder camera plus Leica or Zeiss lenses… But that is just me.

  48. I also have a M9+Planar 50/2, a GF1+Pancake 20/1.7+Voigtlander M adapter ans the results with the Zeiss are terrific !
    Of course this is not an elightenment, but quality wise, this combo can give outstanding IQ for a sub 500€ camera.
    Nobody said that the GF1 was better than a M8 or 9 + a M lens, but you won’t regret every penny you spend buying it !

    Don’t forget : it’s the photographer who takes the photo, not the camera… A lot of Leica fanboys seem to forget this point…

  49. Dave, if you are happy with your choice of tools, then use them. But don’t expect that everybody cries out “Great, what an enlightenment!” From my point of view, each Olympus Pen is a much better camera than any Panasonic micro4/3 thing (an important point is ergonomics, another is color reproduction.) But none of them should be used with Leica or M-mount lenses. I know what I’m talking about, and I have to say, no micro4/3 camera can live up to the potential of Leica glass or any M-mount lenses. Micro4/3 cameras must be used with their dedicated lenses, and Leica/M-mount lenses need an appropriate body. The Olympus Pen Pancake on an Olympus Pen body, for example, yields fantastic results. With Leica glass, the results are by no means better (which does not mean that Leica glass is bad, but it means, that there’s a misfit of lens and body.) Using Leica glass, say, on a Leica M8, yields stellar results in the universe of crystal clear excellence.

    • Agreed. Comparing Panasonic or Olympus M4/3 cameras with Leica’s is just pointless. I wrote here a couple of weeks ago saying practically the same thing which was ‘those people who think that by putting Leica glass on m4/3 camera, Sony NEX or anything else for that matter were simply deceiving themselves’. It’s like putting a suite on a monkey…all you end up with is a monkey with a suit on!

      In other words it doesn’t give you a Leica file or a budget Leica. Those words were met with such scorn (predictably) but such is the nature of the blinkered masses. Those aforementioned cameras should be used with the intended manufacturers lenses or at least lenses of the same system.

      I don’t really see the logic of the article above and I certainly don’t agree with what little I do understand. However, I love the fact the he/she wrote it and that Steve posted it as I’m all for inflammatory points of view because I think they’re healthy and if not taken too seriously, they promote constructive debate. However constructive debate happens quite rarely here because 70% of people talk/write with their hearts and not with their brains which are by de facto…biased!

      There is often way too much back-slapping among the literati on forums and apart from not achieving anything other than massaging each others ego’s, it gets old and boring….fast.


      • Not everyone may like what 6 says, but honestly, he knows what he is talking about. Putting a Leica lens on a Panny or Oly body does not make said camera a Leica. Shooting a Leica is a whole different experience from composing the shot, to focusing with the RF, to snapping the shutter. Totally different. The file quality of a well focused shot from an M9 is still about the best I have seen from any 35mm equiv digital camera.

        I have shot the NEX-5 and the Oly M4/3 cameras with Leica glass and decided it wasn’t for me because you just do not get the same results as when you use that glass on an M8 or M9.

        I enjoy shooting the E-P2 with the Panasonic 20 or Oly 17 more than I do Leica glass. But that is just me. Others will differ and that is the beauty of this hobby. There seems to be something for everyone.

        The adapters are fun and good results can be achieved, but I myself have shot with LOTS of gear and while I am happy there are adapters to shoot Leica M with m4/3 and the NEX system, if given a choice, I would shoot that glass with a real Leica any day of the week.

        Just sayin!

        • That’s when you have the M9 available, of course 😉 I have a bunch of Leica lenses, but only a M6 to use them with. I think the lenses should deliver nice results on a 4/3 camera, and I like the simple user interface for setting the aperture.

  50. Nice article!

    I still don’t agree with the “silly X1” comment, your missing the point entirely with that camera. It’s not for you, I get it, but it’s a wicked piece of kit and probably the best quality digital compact out there 🙂

    Nice images here too. Well done!!!

    • “..Nice images here too. Well done!!!..” ..Well, thank you DJ ..that’s very kind of you!

  51. I always thought the GF1 would re-appear rebranded as a Leica. The whole design and concept seemed to be a perfect new, digital CL. Of course maybe it was a little too good… a GF1 or M8.2 sir? Only a few thousand £/$ difference!
    And now the new GF2 is not an upgrade, but a new different camera, I think the GF1 will become a much sought after camera. And maybe yet a Leica?

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