New Leica Model Special Edition M9-P “Masterpiece”. By David Babsky

New Leica Model Special Edition M9-P “Masterpiece”.

By David Babsky

Hi Steve,

Got my invitation to the latest “Leica Event” in Germany: to celebrate 10 years of the ‘Meister Camera’ store in Berlin, and the release of a 50-piece limited edition of the M9-P in matt black, wrapped in steel-grey leather, with a 28mm aspheric Summicron marked “Meisterstück” (Masterpiece).

But I’m so happy with the fifty-seven year old Russian Zorki 1d I’ve just bought, with its similar aged (1955) Industar-22 copy of the old collapsible Leitz 50mm f3.5. Small, quiet(ish), super sharp, perfect shutter, perfect lens. Just shot a jewellery exhibition with it, and can’t think of a more appropriate camera to use: it’s a jewel!

Yours,

David.

55 Comments

  1. Whatever it is, The M’s are now no longer aimed at PRO photogs or ones that are represented fine art photographers. Strictly for the rich weekend amateurs, rich doctors, finance or Dubai/Russian/Chinese money or internet only upload 100 ‘street’ keeper photos a day photographers (ironic,when its takes Alex Webb 20 years to produce 40 good ones).

    Irony is that most of the actual photographers who are still producing books in the fine art documentary / street / urban that do use Leica are use M6 film cameras, or M7/MPs etc.

    Live view, ha, in an M, seriously. Go buy an old M, stick and roll in it an learn about PHOTOGRAPHY and not TECHNOLOGY.

  2. As for LTM camera’s I have always preferred the Zorki’s a bit more than others like Leica, especially the Z3 and Z4 models (since they have superb finders). And on my Zorki’s and Fed’s I make use of Leica lenses

    But for testing lenses and other stuff I have an ancient M8.2 🙂

  3. I like that gray, I think it’s pretty sharp myself.
    I think Poppop nailed it when he said Leica needs to move the remaining M9 bodies. It’s pretty genius actually. Make a slight cosmetic(cheap) change, call it a ‘limited edition’ or ‘special edition’ and collectors jump on it.
    Well played Leica, well played.

    • “..Leica needs to move the remaining M9 bodies..”

      I don’t think there’s a very large stock of “remaining M9 bodies” as there’s often been a bit of a wait for them. But say there’s a stock of 2000 bodies, this is going to make a very -s-m-a-l-l- dent in that stock, because this is, remember, a ‘limited edition’ ..of only 50 cameras.

      I think there’ll be a demand for the lenses, as they’ll have “Meisterstück” engraved on them. (This is intended as a pun on, or reference to, ‘Meister Camera’ ..the Leica shop in Berlin.)

      P.S: Last time I took my M9 for re-calibration, I asked them to put a black M8.2 sticker on the front instead of the garish red Leica dot. (And, of course, I’d long ago painted out that garish white M9 logo with a black felt-tip pen.) So mine is pretty much un-identifiable. Like this latest “M9-P” it has nothing on the front which shrieks “Leica!” ..and, of course, you can buy third-party leather kits and cover your own in whatever material and colour you’d like. Or have Leica do it for you, under their “à la carte” service. “..Ostrich skin? ..Certainly, Sir”. Or buy a tin of hammer-tone paint. Or ask Leica to engrave your own signature on your camera. (Note that “personalised” Leicas with their owner’s signature on them often sell for LESS than normal, straight Leicas ..unless it’s Queen Elizabeth’s signature, or Dwight Eisenhower’s, or HCB’s, or Ernst Leitz’s.)

  4. Oh, and a question for David Babsky:

    Is the gray leather intended to “age” gradually? Will it wear out more easily as compared to M9-P’s standard material?

    • “..Is the gray leather intended to “age” gradually?..”

      I have no idea, Pan. I haven’t seen one (except on that invitation sheet, above), I haven’t handled one, I don’t have any idea at all. Why not see what it says on Leica’s website ..or phone them up and ask them!

    • Just for you, Pan, I went and asked at the Leica Store in Munich ..but they didn’t know either, as they hadn’t yet got one ..they think they’ll arrive on Monday 16th.

      So, sorry; and as they say in Muenchen: “keine Ahnung!”

      • P.S: While in the Munich Store I found a beautiful little 1952 35mm f3.5 Summaron to fit on the Zorki ..complete with mint-condition tailored Bakelite case. The salesman was ecstatic, and showed me – on a giant Apple Cinema Display – a shot he’d taken with it and an M8 of the other salesman (..who hated it, as it showed every single pore and spot on his face!..) ..an utter bargain at €235.

        Absolutely tiny, lightweight, perfect and spotless – I’ve been shooting with it all afternoon! So I’m glad you pushed me into the Munich Leica Store, Pan ..I’ve a wonderful bargain lens to go with the bargain Zorki!

  5. Fon’t really get the sarcasm of many replies here.

    Yes, old technology, but proven.

    And the lens? Isn’t the 28mm Summicron one of the nicer ones?

    It’s an expensive lens with beautiful characteristics.

    Anyone? But only serious replies please.

  6. Well, as most of the comments so far have been about Leica (..or Porsche..) and none about shooting a jewellery exhibition with an old Zorki, I thought I’d pretend to be someone else, and ask a few questions about it..

    Someone Else: How d’you find the Zorki?
    ME: Well, it’s a copy of the old Leica II, so it takes screw-thread interchangeable lenses, and you load the film from the bottom.

    SE: What film did you use?
    ME: I bought a couple of boxes of ‘Lomography’ ISO 800 print film at the ‘Deutsches Museum’ gift shop in Munich ..it seems to be repackaged Kodak 800, three rolls in a box for €10 ..that’s about €3.30 a roll, or $4.40 US, or £2.70 in UK money.

    SE: Is there a light meter in the Zorki?
    ME: No, but in decent weather I know that I’d shoot ISO 100 at 1/125th and f5.6 outdoors. So with ISO 800 that’d be 1/500th (top speed of the Zorki) at f8. Indoors it looked about three stops less light, so I just set things back to 1/100th (no 1/125th on the Zorki) and between f4 and f5.6.

    SE: Did they come out OK?
    ME: See pic above.

    SE: But you couldn’t shoot close-ups, surely?
    ME: No, but I’ve got a Canon close-up attachment for screw-fit Leicas at home, and a Leica close-up attachment for collapsible lenses (screw on, or bayonet on, the CU attachment, then clip the UN-extended collapsible lens to the attachment. A bit like using a Dual-Range Leica lens. They give about 1:6.5 size shots (..you can shoot from just over a foot away, instead of about three feet).

    SE: Where d’you get the film processed?
    ME: In Munich, at a photo shop which still does 1 hr processing; in the UK at all those branches of Jessops which still do 1 hour, or maybe 1 day, processing. I got processing and scanning onto CD. In Jessops (UK) it costs about £6 per roll of 36. That’s about 17pence a shot.

    SE: Is that colour? What about black and white?
    ME: I develop and scan b&w myself. Just buy a bottle of D76, or Ilford developer, and a bottle of fixer. Or do it yourself with instant coffee, soda and fixer! http://tinyurl.com/cvdonh9 ..Otherwise b&w often takes about three days if you send it away to be processed.

    SE: I still don’t see what’s so special about a Zorki..
    ME: It’s quaint, it’s cheap, its standard lens comes ‘coated’ – unlike Leica lenses of the time – so it’s very contrasty and flare-resistant and gives extremely sharp, bright images. You can also screw any Leica lens or Canon screw-fit, or Voigt screw-fit lens into it, so it’ll shoot from 12mm wide to 200mm long with the right lens. All in all, it’s cheap, versatile, simple, nostalgic, but gives really great results.

    SE: How could you be sure it’d focus OK?
    ME: I tried it in the shop, and it seemed to focus OK at 1 metre and infinity. I shot a test roll with XP2 black-&-white, and every shot was perfect. I tried the shutter speeds in the shop, and 1/25th and B (like most Russian cloth shutters of that ilk) were a bit ‘sticky’ on the 2nd curtain and didn’t quite close properly. So I added a few drops of fine sewing-machine oil to the runners and turning parts, wound it and shot it 30 or 40 times, and it was good as new. If the speeds hadn’t worked OK I’d have simply returned it to the shop.

    SE: And now?
    ME: I’m so pleased with it that I’ve just gone and bought another 4 boxes of that ‘Lomography’ ISO 800 film!

  7. The above, the release of the fancy Pelican case for the S system and the Hasselblad adaptor for that same system, unfortunately, sums Leica up – promising the earth and delivering very little indeed.
    Photokina will be the 3rd anniversary of the announcement of the S system and its “promise” of a wide selection of lenses. So far, we have seen nothing of the “promised” 24mm wide angle, 30mm perspective control, 30-90mm zoom, or 100mm and 350mm primes and are left with a system full of glaring gaps in the range of focal lengths available.
    Much as it must provide good profit and cash generation for the expensive R&D required in the digital world, it is extremely frustrating and disheartening for one who has spent almost £45k of his hard-earned cash on the S system to see yet more fancy derivatives of the M9 being paraded – I wonder when we’ll see the “Hermes S2” being announced..!!

    • Well, that’s why there’s a Hasselblad adaptor for the S2, Bob. Leica can’t produce the lenses, but you can choose a ‘Blad lens instead.

  8. Leica does this with every camera, nothing new here, just like the last “Hermes” edition.
    Maybe the lens is a new design?

  9. Leica makes great lenses, no doubt about that. But if they don’t have a good system to support these lenses, it becomes useless down the road. Yes and for sure, M9 is an excellent camera with so many bugs to fix. But too many special editions make special edition no longer special. Let’s see what happens next.
    Hmmm, may be a “Steve Huff special edition”…… ;-P (I would get that if they have)

  10. Come on Leica what are you doing? Where is our M10 with better iso, better dyrnamic range, and live view capabilities, and more quiet shutter?

  11. This is a beautiful camera. I use that lens on my M6 and it is wonderful. These “Special Editions” are just that, special. And, if I had the funds I would own one! Why Not??

    • cause…… there’s really nothing special about their special editions. it wont be long before Leica has a special edition of a special edition. A more special camera within a special edition. They can call it the maters of the masters and the best of the best.

  12. Cars are available in hundreds of colors and options yet nobody complains. Why not cameras? The M9 is still the smallest full frame 35mm digital camera in the world and still produces incredible images. Can it be improved? Sure, but so can everything. I love my M9-P and wouldn’t trade it for anything less.

    • If there was a “special” car version for each and every car dealer, with a minor cosmetic change such as grey leather, and a jacked up price to match I’m sure people would. I know I’m sure not paying extra money for a (insert local dealer name here) model.

      When Honda comes out with the Titanium model Accord which is a normal Accord but in an exclusive color for $200K we’ll see what people say

      When Toyota comes out with the Hermes Camry, which is an otherwise normal Camry but with special leather and fancy box and charges $260,000 for what is otherwise a $30,000 car, we’ll see what people say

      • Have you priced car options lately? I’m not talking about an Accord – that’s not a good comparison to a Leica. How about a Porsche? Color matched seatbelts? $1000. Leather trim on B pillar? $1000. Custom paint color? $5500. Door handle painted black? $550. LED light in door pocket? $370. Kinda makes the $1000 difference between the M9 and M9-P seem trivial.

        • Mmm. Good Porsche analogy, Brad.

          I think Leica – or Andreas Kaufmann and co. – don’t quite understand where they should be headed, or what they should be offering, instead of these endlessly rehashed M4/M6/M7-with-a-digital-sensor versions.

          Remember the “special edition” M9 Titanium (described here by Steve: http://tinyurl.com/7ra6vgx )..? ..Created by Walter de’Silva, the man who designs VolksWagens, for heaven’s sake. (Oh, and Seats (..the Spanish cars..) and Audis and Alfas.)

          Doesn’t Leica understand that their cameras should not be designed by the (relatively unknown) man who draws VolksWagens, but should be designed by the world-renowned Porsche Design team? ..Obviously not. (But Yashica understood this in the seventies, when they contracted F A Porsche to re-design their Contax.)

          Leica’s marketing chief Steffen Keil tells me that Leica positions itself as the Apple of the camera world ..that’s why they have those Leica Stores in (fairly) expensive “uptown” areas (but not in quite the right places, Steffen ..they’re hidden round corners, or off the main drag where the mighty pedestrian traffic with deep wallets goes).

          But those Leica Stores are deserted, except when they have one of their ‘Special Events’. Unfortunately, Leica is edging closer to the Microsoft of the camera world ..slowly heading into irrelevance.

          Leicas first appeared in 1924 (..looking rather like that little Zorki I’m holding, up there..) and then had a radical redesign 30 years later, when the larger, heavier M3 debuted. But the M3 (and the 1955 Zorki) had a far better rangefinder than the current M9 ..the M3 had an almost-lifesize finder, and the Zorki rangefinder IS life-size ..and the still earlier 1950s Leica III had a 1.5x magnified rangefinder ..which was even easier to focus! The current M9 has a pitiful 0.7 diminished (opposite-of-magnified) rangefinder, making it less easy to focus than that life-size Zorki finder!

          Will Photokina offer an M10 with a magnified finder? ..a finder which adjusts its magnification depending on which lens is attached, in the way that the old M3 changed its viewfinder framelines (58 years ago!) depending on which lens was attached?

          What has Leica done in the last 58 years, apart from put a Kodak digital sensor inside, in place of six feet (2 metres) of Kodak film? ..It’s made better lenses. But has it made better cameras?

          • Leica has managed to keep the rangefinder and the culture that comes with it alive through the digital revolution. In the age of cheap sino-japanese gadgetry and mindless massproduction that is certainly an achievement.

          • Mikael, Canon’s 5DMkII and MkIII – for instance – are, indeed “cheap” when compared with an M9 ..and they do so very much more for half, or two thirds, the price!

            Huge array of great lenses, very high ISO compared with the M9’s pitiful best ISO 2500, spot-metering, what-you-see-is-what-you-get viewfinder, ability to focus lenses longer than 135mm, autofocus, on-screen preview and INSTANT post-view, ‘Full-HD’ professional video at film and TV frame rates, etc, etc.

            I doubt that their “massproduction” is “mindless” ..I’d think that a very great deal of thought, engineering precision and quality control go into making Canon’s and Nikon’s and Olympus’ and Fujifilm’s and Ricoh’s and, of course, Leica’s partner Panasonic’s “..cheap sino-japanese gadgetry”.

      • Porsche is always coming out with special editions at jacked up prices. So do the other exclusive automakers. Leica is their equivalent. Even the rebranded Panasonics have an automotive equivalent, the Aston Martin Cygnet, a Toyota/Scion IQ with an Aston grille. I’ll be sad when Leica sells a Cygnet equivalent, something like a Casio point-and-shoot with a snakeskin wrap and no red dot, to avoid ostentation.

        • Rereading that message, it is a bit messed up. The Panasonic/Leicas are nothing like the monstrous Cygnet. Leica still has some standards.

  13. Comrades!

    There will be no new Leica M, because the users wants all the same features as Canon, Nikon etc offers.

    So, the Leica M9 is sold until the new Leica xXx replacement comes on the market and it is not a rangefinder camera. So, the Leica M9 is sold until the new Leica xXx replacement comes on the market and it is not a rangefinder camera, but to remind functionally almost Fuji…

    • lmao
      Video and Live view can be had with rangefinder focusing. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. So long as the interchangable lens cameras that Leica produce in the future have rangefinder focusing (Optical or heave-forbid, electronic) and feature the m-mount then they will be Leica M cameras

  14. Leica=no new camera since 2009. The X2 and M9-P are “botoxed” versions of the X1 and M9 respectively. The M-Monochrome a micro niche of the RF market niche play. Difficult to grow top line with no new offerings. And who remembers 2011 when they announced to go for a 1% worldwide market share within the next few years from the current 0.15%. September 2012 will be very interesting.

    • Do not think Leica is going for top line only. Margin is probably more important…and with those prices a little bit should be left at the end…
      Anyways…this is just insane…

    • No new camera since 2009? The M6 was produced from 1984 to 2002 with just one more-than-cosmetic upgrade in 1998. Thats almost two decades. M9 is great for another 10 years.

      • Mikael, I think you’re missing the point..

        It was OK to keep making the M6 almost unchanged from ’84 to ’02, because the camera body did pretty much all that anyone would ever need.

        For a different LOOK to pictures, one could change lenses, and one could change FILM. The camera body would, and will, work OK with any kind of film: low ISO, high ISO, black-&-white, infra-red, transparency (reversal) film, negative film, high contrast, low contrast ..anything. You changed the FILM, not the camera.

        But with digital cameras ..you can’t change the sensor chip (unless it’s a Ricoh GXR).

        So to get higher ISO, better resolution, more pixels, different image characteristics, etc, one now has to change the camera (..about $4000..) instead of just changing the film (..about $5).

        The M6 was not only great for 20 years, but plenty of people still use them today, in 2012, and can continue to use one as long as film is made.

        But the “..M9 is great for another 10 years..”? ..Hardly anyone will still be using an M9 in ten years time.

        • I get it. However, the camera’s ability to make great images does not degrade over time (unless its damaged) and the definition of a great image certainly does not change over time. So why would and M9 not make a great camera in 10 years?

          I use an M8.2 (M6 for film) and print to A3+ sizes. The M8.2 is already old but it makes great prints and has worked for years flawlessly. Looking at a print (M8.2 + Summilux 50mm) I cannot see anything technical to improve on.

          Its the market and the business and the gadget-culture that demands new models in a fast pace, not photography.

  15. Ha, for a split second when I saw the title of this article, I thought you’d bought one of these leicas, I was so intrigued I choked on my coffee a little bit lol

  16. C’mon Leica. We all love you but how many more versions of the M9 are we going to get? You are flogging a dead horse. Please, give us a M10.

    • What do you want from a M10 ?
      Actually I’m longing for an updated Digilux 2.
      The old one is a superb camera, maybe the best digital Leica so far.
      A solid compagnon for travel and photojournalism.
      The M-series is a masterpiece too, no doubt, but the Digilux 2 has
      this outstanding field of depth.

    • I don’t believe there will be any M10 in 2012. They keep it for the centenary of the first Leitz camera every built in 1913.

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