Cats years are reckoned to be nine of ours. Dogs, seven.
There’s agreement on that, but not much on camera longevity, especially if it’s a Leica. I’m not sure I don’t think that’s a bit disingenuous.
Got it yet? Yes, I succumbed a year ago. I bought an almost brand new M9 and do you know what? Used properly, it’s brilliant. A keeper.
Maybe I should qualify that a bit. It’s brilliant below ISO 800, providing you mollycoddle it and nothing breaks, or goes out of alignment. If you can manage that, it will take some of the most satisfying photographs you could possibly imagine.
At 18 mp, it’s pretty competitive with the 24 mp that has become today’s standard. The colour rendering from its sensor remains the envy of many and as long as there’s an M mount around, Leica’s manual lenses will never age, or go out of some kind of perverse fashion.
All in, it’s a pretty compelling option for those who no longer have a mortgage and whose kids are long out of school, university and the house. Buying new is insane, especially as there’s so much second hand kit around, so why not.
Somewhere in the depths of my camera cupboard, I have an M4, which came as a job-lot with a 35 Summicron, 50 Elmar and a Canadian-built 135 Elmarit and its huge and ugly, supplementary viewfinder.
I tried to get on with the M4, but was way too impatient and much more interested in DSLRs. So, into the aforementioned cupboard it all went, languishing until Sony launched the wonderful NEX. I bought a C3, cut my teeth with that and an M adaptor and was waiting for the first delivery of NEX-7s as the store opened.
With that, I learned patience and how to take better pictures, focussing manually and waiting for the right time, light and often, the circumstance(s) that can make or break a photograph.
Subconsciously, I knew then I wanted a digital Leica. The crop sensor M8 didn’t impress me and I was so busy with the NEX-7 that I initially missed the M9. Only when the arrival of the M10 and then the M caught my attention once more, did I look at the M9 properly and then it was all downhill.
In the interim, the 50 Elmar had been replaced by a 50 slightly battered, but optically fab Summilux. That was subsequently joined by a 25mm Zeiss Biogon, also my introduction to DearSusan, via Pascal’s review, but that is a completely different tale.
As a three lens outfit, I doubt anyone could ask for better. I rarely use the 135, it’s all too much lens/viewfinder, but nonetheless, still takes wonderful, sharp pictures and has delivered some fine long-distance landscape shots over the years.
I don’t travel with the M9 though. I’m not entirely convinced about its ability to withstand the rough and tumble of international air/train/car travel. Plus. living where I do, maintenance is ridiculously expensive as most adjustments and repairs of any significance require a round trip to the mothership – from Cape Town that’s a minimum £100 courier cost in each direction. Insurance is extra. And, who knows what Leica will charge to twiddle their knobs?
So, I carry nurse the camera and a couple of lenses in neoprene mitts in the car, along with a spare battery. It seems to get plenty of use and I really enjoy pretty much everything about it.
It needs hardly be said that I’m I glad I bought it. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
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#1015. Leica Elmarit-R 90/2.8 on Hasselblad X1D: too gentle for its own good?
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