Keep or Sell my Leica M9 Monochrom? By Dan Bar

Keep or Sell my Leica M9 Monochrom?

By Dan Bar

I use Leica M cameras for many years now. I used the M6, M8 , M9 , 240 246, M10

I loved them all and still do.

All M cameras are great tools with their limitation of course, but before diving into each camera and by that I don’t intend to detail the camera details as there are tones of articles on the internet, but to write about my feelings for each camera,

The M6 is no doubt one of the best film camera ever made , small , beautifully built but needs a change of film every 36 shots and since i do not develop myself I wasted too much time on the process,I also did not like the fact that I could not see my photos and since i am not such a good photographer i need the rear screen to correct my errors.

The M8 was the start of a new era for Leica with a lot of problems , Terrible ISO and screen , UV problems and very slow, i liked the black and white results though. I also new i wanted a full frame camera.

The M9 was and still is a beautiful camera, a CCD sensor with the nicest colors ever, Kodak simply did a great job, the ISO is not something to be proud of ( 800 ), the shutter is loud, the screen is simply bad but the out come – WOW , i love this camera. 

And then it was Leica M9M’s time.

No red dot ( love it) , pure black and white, just like film, ISO much better ( 6000 ), The shutter still noisy, the rear screen terrible but when you get home and look at the photos boy o boy there is no similar camera.

All M cameras need calibration, in my opinion once a year which is no doubt a hassle but i don’t mind.

Later on O sold my M9 ( so stupid) and bought the 240.  A very good camera, a bit too big for my taste, I did not like the video which I never used, not even once . The rear screen is much better the shutter is quitter and I missed the Monochrom so I sold it and got the 246.

The 246 is a great camera, still too big but everything else is very very good, I kept it for a while and sold it for the M10 which is a whole different story.

The rear screen is a new story, the shutter is quite, the Sensor CMOS is great pretty much like the M9’s sensor , they reduced the camera size, the VF is bigger and better. In short a beautiful camera.

SO WHY do I miss the M9? I must be crazy!

So which camera do I love the most?  The M9 Monochrom ( oh yes I bought it again) and this time it stays forever!

Bottom line: the M9M is the ultimate black and white digital\film camera. This is our jewish new year so HAPPY NEW YEAR to all who agree \ disagree with me!

Danny

61 Comments

  1. Love your photography your B&W are great!
    1. Sell your leica
    2. Get everyone here to crowd fund a Hasselblad 1dxii
    3. Monochrome sensor conversion.
    Wham bam its Dan the monochrome man!

  2. I’m probably not as smart as you guys… I simply can’t understand why some of you call this or that Leica camera the ‘best camera in the world’ or any variation on that phrase, while several of their models have severe technical issues. Sensor corrosion? That is just fancy word for ‘bad camera’ in my book! Leica may have a good reputation dating back to analoque times, but I simply hear about too many negative user experiences when it comes to digital and after sales services.

    A friend of mine’s got an entry level Leica camera (you know, the ones they develop together with Lumix). Shortly after warranty expired, it simply stopped working. No drop, no leaking battery or whatever. It simply did not work anymore, all of a sudden. He brought it to the shop. He had to pay €60 beforehand just for the ‘intake’. Then he finally got message: malfunction of sensor group and lens group. Total repair cost €620. I told him: they are never going to repair this camera. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never opened up the camera. This fee is simply the price of a new camera, without taxes and mark up. You’ll get a new camera. And that’s exactly what happened. Luckily, he got the ‘mark II’ rather than his ‘old model’ for €620.
    Leica is simply a consumer product in a throw away society, like any other brand.
    In Belgium, Leica warranty is 3 years, while Lumix is 5 years. If he had bought the Lumix version, it would have been replaced without cost…

    • Thank you. Leica M cameras are SOMETHING ELSE unlike all other cameras in the market, It simply feels like film cameras . Yes they had sensor corrosion problems which they replaced free of charge, Problems happen everywhere
      You are talking about warranty and payments etc, and not about outcome, feeling, and that is ok
      The Leica camera is not for you and that is fine. I am very happy with their service they have always been more than fair to me. So thank you my friend and enjoy whatever you use

    • Hi,

      If you talk about the sensor and the digital performance, « color » Leica are not exceptional. It’s all about the rangefinder shooting expérience. If you really enjoy it, you are hooked to Leica.
      The Monochrom’s are another story : if you really enjoy B&W photography they provide subtile tonalities that are unique. The M9M and the M246 have each one it’s own signature that’s why some still prefer the M9M even if the M246 is technically superior (buffer, iso, relative reliability…etc.)
      There is no such thing like « The world’s best camera », just cameras that suits to you’re shooting style, that brings satisfaction all over the process or not. I’ve got some Sony’s (A7, A7RII, A7RIII) and even the fact that they are technically superior to lot of cameras in the market, they didn’t suite to my shooting style.
      The true problem of Leica is the price: clearly, their camera are overpriced and they market some of them as luxury goods, not creative tools (special éditions…etc.).

      Sorry for my rudimentary english,

      Best regard

      Nazim

  3. I have an M9 with some corrosion. It never bothers me. If I have to print a HQ image I´m going to remove dust spots anyway. In fact the corrosion is the reason why I´ll never have to sell the camera. Most people wouldn´t buy it anyway.

  4. I cannot get myself to selling Leicas, I own a M9 which got the sensor replaced 2 years ago – thanks to a great photo shop where the owner warned me that within a short time I would have to pay to get it replaced (yes real shops are still great, talking to people helps!). I still love it and will probably never sell it although I have left it in the corner for the last year only using my SL. My cameras become part of my family, you get an emotional connection to them, and this is the point where I can’t let them go Also with digital bodies, their value goes down so quickly, I count on others who have a different opinian than me of course to sell so that I can buy cheaper sometime after the release as second hand

    • I understand and agree with you, the SL is a fantastic camera but does not excite me, the M9 on the other hand is a direct continuity of the film legendary M cameras

  5. I have to disagree with you when you say you’re not such a good photographer. I always like your pictures, and this is the best set yet. The second one, with the lady in front of the poster is great.
    Your dark shadows are your taste, and it’s your art. I think it works very well with your style of photos.

  6. Sooner or later the M9 Monochrom will suffer from sensor corrosion if the sensor has not been replaced in the past.
    Therefore i have bought a M8.2 for crispy BW images.

  7. Last photo, piano on stream, half of a person shaded by doorway are my favorite.

    I get that for you
    “M9M is the ultimate black and white digital\film camera”
    M9M still has a digital harshness brittlness.

    The most natural organic looking digital black and white digital is
    Sigma SD9 (2002) Sigma SD10 (2004).
    I have had both.

    M9M digital monocrome look is easily matched by compact pocketable Sigma DP1 (2008) DP2 (2009)
    I have had both.

  8. In 2013 I wrote a post here at Steve about my new MM and the Zeiss Hologon 16mm/8
    https://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2013/11/21/shooting-the-legend-zeiss-hologon-16mmf8-with-leica-m-monochrom-by-dierk-topp/
    I loved the MM!

    BUT: a few weeks ago I noticed the typical strange spots on the pictures, that I knew from the M9.
    I had the same problem with my M9 some time before and was happy, when I sold it with the third sensor.

    I am very surprised, that no one is mentioning the severe sensor problems of the CCD Leica.

    I sent it to Leica and got the expected diagnosis: sensor corrosion!
    The price for a repair/new sensor will be more that 1.500 €, as the camera is more than 5 years old. They charge us customers for their construction/production problem!!

    The price for a used MM with new sensor is now about 3.000€, that means, my MM is now worthless and when I invest in the new sensor the rest value for me is 1.500 € – I payed 6.700 € for it in 2013 !!!
    The alternative is an upgrade, the offer from Leica for example a MM 246 for about 4.000€ on top of my MM body

    These digital Leica Ms are my only cameras in decades with serious technical problems and, to by honest, I would not buy any Leica again –
    BUT: I have 9 great M-mount lenses an one R-mount, from Noctilux to Zeiss 16mm Hologon, what do I do with these lenses without any body???

    Danny, I understand, that you had the MM 246 and sold it? why??
    I love my MM pictures, but your pictures are very dark on my (calibrated) screen?
    good luck
    dierk

    • Dierk get a used M240. They are bullet proof and in ways better than the M10 (much longer battery life, has the perspective level in Live View that Leica now only offers on the M10P). My M9(ME) was a disaster…
      M240 in excellent condition is now about $2500. Or do the decent thing and get an M5 – the best Leica ever made! 😉

      • thanks for the advice, Huss

        two days ago I accepted the upgrade offer from Leica and will get a M246 soon.
        The M240 is no alternative, I have the Sony A7RII with the much more modern back lit sensor with great low ISO performance and 42 MPix – and I can use all kinds of lenses from Sony, Zeiss, Leica or Hasselbald and even large format on it!

        And for great B/W I have an infrared converted Sony A7R.

        But I love the pure B&W pictures of the MM and want and hope, that I will go out again and shoot with the MM246 and my wonderful Lenses – and hope, that the camera will last longer than a few years!

        And when I want the best analog B&W look I use my Hasselbads 🙂
        dierk

      • I got the MM 246 two days ago and did first tests with it, most with red filter – and start to like it :-))
        the electronic finder makes the big difference for me, I now can use my wide angle lenses Tri-Elmar, Zeiss and Voigtlander down to 12mm and see what I get, no longer guessing, what may be or not be on the picture!

  9. Shouldn’t the images one makes be more important than the camera used?

    Anyway, as long as you’re not a professional needing a back-up camera, two should suffice. One digital, one analog. Take your pick.

    • I always thought that the camera was not the most important thing in this game until I started shooting with the M cameras, The feeling, the shape, the results, I tried my friend’s sonny, it simply wasn’t the same

  10. I’m probably the first here – I hate manual focus – sure if I had to use MF for whatever reason then I’ll do it – as on my MF and vintage cameras I used to have – but would I prefer AF every time ? Yes – hence I think the Contax G2 was much better than the Leica M 35mm cameras – a shame there’s no Digital.
    MF of course is needed at times – landscapes – for depth of field and critical Focus especially with landscapes and such –
    But the Leica M is about manual focus and many love that feature
    Why didn’t you just stick with the M9? It’s solid all round camera with results you love.

    As for the photos – a bit too too dark and moody for my tastes – more black than black and white.

    • I can chime in here. A Leica is about the heritage. The Feel of the camera. The unique way it is used, the way you frame, the way you focus, and yes the IQ is fantastic from cameras like the M9M, M10, M9, etc. They have their drawbacks, such as no real macro, no real telephoto and manual focus only (talking of the M line) but that is what makes it so unique. It keeps things simple, and therefor allows us to focus more on the image creation. I know I take my best images with a Leica (M or SL) with a nice fast prime and no Sony can even get close to the experience. The Leica color is also unique, and I love the signature of the SL over any M. That’s me though, my tastes. A Leica is expensive but deals can be found, and yes, for me and others it is well worth it as it brings back the joy in photography for some of us. That’s all that matters to me ; )

      • Thank you Steve, I don’t have your English but I do share your feelings.
        As for the SL, I tried it too, I have a problem with the digital VF I get headaches using it unlike the Optical M cameras

  11. The heavy mud of the blacks would work six million times better if you didn’t over sharpen them, just my $14.88.

  12. I don’t miss my M9, a camera when I purchased it was a lifetime camera, superb imaging that punched above it’s 18mb. I could certainly love it again if it wasn’t for the difficulty of having every lens focus accurately with a camera that is rangefinder only. My m240 has rangefinder, live view and evf, I use each of the three methods and together I can handle critical focusing situations more accurately. Leica lenses are so good that missed focus results in good to great images but when focus is hit the images are uniquely beautiful. Thanks for a great write up, the M9 will always be one of classics and it single handedly put Leica back in the photography business when it was left for dead along with so many others as digital disrupted the photography business.

  13. The M9 is a perfect second camera when your not rushed and in need of anything but natural light there is still probably no better for colour at low iso, and you do read a lot regretting selling it. Just keep it I am going to.

  14. Keep the M9 if it still has a good sensor. I have m240, Vario, and M4-p, M3, M5. Hardly use M5. Will never likely purchase another Leica. Save $$ for a fancy smartphone with killer camera(s).

    Very Nice pictures, as usual. Congrats.
    Shana Tova

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.