#705. Monday Post (26 March 2018) The M9 dream four months on

By Adam Bonn | Monday Post

Mar 26

Regular readers of DS may recollect my pseudo M9 review from a few months back, and if you can’t, then feel free to click here and you’ll find the article.


It’s been four months now, and I thought that you might like to know how the M9 and I are getting on?


The flavour of my M9 review was that I’d finally obtained a camera that I’d wanted for quite a while, and under the adage never meet your heroes I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with such an old design of camera nigh on 10 years after it was first launched.


I ended the article with the line


Meeting my hero? Well – he’s an OK guy. I’m not in his intimate circle, I haven’t seen him get mad, and maybe he does yell at his staff when his latte isn’t just right. It’s too soon to tell. But we’ve been hanging out together and as long as I do things his way, he seems happy enough to have me around.


Well four months is plenty of time to get acquainted, finish the honeymoon and settle into the daily routine of married life.


I originally paired my M9P with a 50mm Summicron, and I’ve since been able to big that pairing up with two ‘new’ lens additions. The 35mm F2.4 and the 90mm F2.5 Summarits.


So that’s an M and 35/50/90. Probably one of two de facto trinity choices you can make for the rangefinder only Ms (the other being 28/35 or 50/75)


Before we get onto my thoughts on the gear, I think I should start off by my sharing a Leica experience that’s only vaguely connected to the camera.


I so very nearly called this post Digital Leica on a Budget because basically my outlay has been about what a single M10 costs (only I’ve got an M9, three 6-bit coded lenses, a case and spare battery), equally you can quite easily spend that sort of money on the Sony and some top end lenses, or even the Fuji and some lenses.


Of course if you go the Sony/Fuji route you’ll be getting new gear and faster glass, and more ISO, DR and all that important stuff.


But the fact remains… Person A spends £x on a rig and experiences happiness and person B spends exactly the same on a different rig, and also experiences happiness.


I would personally file this under about the same thing is happening, people buy cameras that they want


How wrong I am!


You see it turns out when you own a Leica, people’s opinion on how you spend your money is something to be shared with you and it’s seldom supportive.


So, I won’t dare suggest I’m doing this on a budget. In fact let me hold both hands up and completely confess that I’m obviously an idiot, spending as much money as you all have on a system, but not a system as technically adroit and versatile as you astute people have selected for yourselves. The happiness and joy you must feel completely trumps mine. I salute you. With Sarcasm.


You see folks, it turns out a Leica conjures up a lot of emotion from others, and not that much of it is good.


But, let’s not get sucked into camera politics. I certainly haven’t. I don’t buy cameras to belong to a tribe or a clan I buy them because I want to use them to take pictures.


The pictures I want to make with my M are basically reportage and documentary in nature.


If I wanted to go aperture large and DOF shallow the whole time, I can’t think of a camera that I’d like to use less than a (rangefinder only) M.


I like shallow DOF, but that’s what my Fujis can be used for, with EVFs, and focus peaking and even AF and face detect.


No, the Leica rig I’ve ended with up with is basically what it says on the cliche tin, small, compact and FF and used for capturing scenes, not snippets of scenes.


The die hard Leica folk would be ambivalent at best with my Summarit lens choices, and the non-Leica folk just struggle to understand why I bought any of it in the first place.


Living on outlier island, population: just me, or so it seems…


And you know what? I really like living there  🙂


Once I’d started to gel with the M I knew it would only be a matter of time until I wanted more lens options.


Originally I thought that I’d end up with a 35mm Summicron to accompany the 50. But to be honest I just ended up getting bogged down in the myriad of 35 ‘cron variants and how they were all judged on things like ‘bokeh’ and what the supplied lens hood was like. They also weren’t cheap.


As often seems to happen in life, a nearly new 35 F2.4 Summarit became available at just the time I was giving up on finding a ‘cron that I was prepared to pay for and I decided that I’d much rather save some £100s than have an extra 1/2 stop.


The 90 I was in no hurry for, but an ex-demo 90 F2.5 Summarit came along, technically brand new with the full warranty and for Fuji glass money, so I decided that a 90 ‘rit was probably the smarter choice, being lighter and slightly more forgiving with finding focus.


If you’re detecting an undercurrent of pleasure in my tale of GAS, then you’re spot on. I’m very happy with my choices.


Ironically the pick of the bunch is probably the 90. It draws like the 50 ‘cron, is very sharp and the build quality and tactile stuff is also on par with my 50. The irony? It’s not a FL that I’ll use a great deal of the time.


The (newer design) 35 Summarit shows some cost reduction compared to the other two, the focus and aperture rings don’t feel as nice, but hey-ho you at least get the leather pouch and the hood in the box (compared to the older Summarits which come with a non-leather pouch and the hood is an optional extra). Frankly I’d rather a nicer aperture ring than a real leather pouch, but I’ve no complaints with the IQ and the aperture ring isn’t bad per se (a bit better than a Fuji XF35 F1.4 in fact) just not as nice as my M 50 and 90 lenses.


So, should we see some pictures with my cheap (sic) yet overpriced Leica tat?


The previous article was populated entirely with 50 ‘cron shots, so that seems a good place to pick up from.


50mm Summicron


Even on FF, 50mm and F2 is never going to obliterate the background… The busy background also means busy bokeh. But that said the subject is isolated well enough, and the image has a decent amount of ‘bite’ to it.


As legendary as the 50 ‘cron is (and it is) – it’s not a lens entirely devoid of annoyance and issue.


The annoyance is that there is no supplied lens hood, the modern version of this lens features a telescopic hood that slides out and clicks into place. Personally I don’t feel this is a well implemented solution, and as I slide it back and forth I kinda feel like a male Jewish teenager wondering what could of been.


Annoyances aside, the issue with the 50 ‘cron is the propensity for flare.


Catch the right light in the wrong way, and there’s more flares than the 70s, Disco Stu says recolect your pre-digital high school photography teacher’s advice about having the sun behind you and my modern day advice is be careful with contre-jou style shots.


Above: A bit of flare can help an image.


Above: A bit to much flare loses it’s flair.


But overall I like the 50. Very much. It’s a solid performer and I enjoy shooting with it.


This was parked up in a local garage. In Portugal. The let me come on in and photograph it.


After two months of only having the 50mm I got the 35 and 90. So let’s start off with the 35.


35mm F2.4 Summarit


And I have to say that I’m enjoying the 35mm far more than I thought I would, and I also have to say I’m not 100% sure why…. I also own the Fuji XF23 F1.4 (35mm equivalent on APSC), and that’s a killer lens, but I’m somehow more pleased with using a true 35mm. There’s something just a little different to the look… I suspect it’s the reduction in field curvature on the longer optic.


Wide open. Yeah… yeah if I’d spent another £1500-2000 on the F1.4 one then the background could be some more blurry. Meh.


Like I said all those words ago… I didn’t want an M to do the whole shallow DOF thing… I like shallow DOF. Very much. But sometimes pictures work better when there’s some background and context. Honest. Plus with a smaller aperture that whole zone focusing thing really gets easier  🙂


As ever with an M9 (more so an M8, a little less so an M240) you’ll need to watch the ISO. Sometimes shots have to be clean, other times you can get away with a bit of noise. I took all three lenses to London that day, I’m not sure I even mounted the other two.



Not only has the 35mm surprised me by how much I’m enjoying the FL, the M9 has surprised me with how much I’m enjoying black and white photography.


When it comes to the 35mm, I’ve stopped caring how clicky the aperture ring is or isn’t, and instead I’ve just been enjoying taking pictures with it. I think that’s a good sign.


So that just leaves the 90mm.


90mm F2.5 Summarit


As I wrote earlier, in a strange way the 90 ‘rit is almost the star of the show. The cheapest of the three M lenses I own, yet it gives away nothing to the 50 ‘cron in terms of IQ, doesn’t flare like the ‘cron nor (because it’s an £80 optional extra) is the hood a bit naff. The tactile feely stuff is nicer than the 35 ‘rit and overall there’s nothing I can really find to criticise about it. Oh hang on… it’s a 90, it’s that FL that you seldom need outside of portraiture.


A freezing cold England. A freshly unboxed new lens. I found a swan. Decent subject isolation, and a nice transition to the OOF areas. My only complaint was how cold my fingers got that day.


At a max aperture of F2.5, you’re not going to enjoy Sony or Canon 85mm or even Fuji 56mm levels of subject isolation. But I don’t feel that’s a show stopper and for the days it is, I have a Fuji XF56 F1.2 anyway.


Back home in Portugal and the cat became the model. She looks thrilled about it doesn’t she?


After the swan and cat cliche-gate, I present random Portuguese horse (or Pony maybe? I dunno!) as a 90mm shot.


Stopping the 90 down a bit and being quite far away makes for a different usage case than up close and wide open.




So there we have it, Leica on a budget erm I mean I promise to flagellate myself daily for such puerile acquisitions from such a fake deity.


I couldn’t have the M9 as my only camera. I (no doubt like you) have need of the performance and features of a far more modern camera.


I still shoot my Fujis, at first the Leica was all new and exciting, I couldn’t put it down. But now the honeymoon is over I find myself deciding on what camera I want to use that day.


It’s certainly not Leica day everyday.


But that I want days off of the merry-go-round rhetoric I sprouted way back in the first M9 post still holds very true.


You see with the M9, it’s really just you and what you do at the time of capture. There’s no real driver aids to help you get focus and exposure, certainly nothing like a WYSIWYG EVF or even a live histogram. The LCD is low res and chimping with it is a monkey’s game. The fabled zone focusing marks on the lenses are at best aimed at film users, and not really a way to ensure critical focus at anything under mid to high aperture numbers.


The ISO might not be as bad as they say… but it isn’t great either. If I remember correctly, DxO claims about 8 stops of DR at base. With the M9 you’ll need to use your nous to operate within a narrow range, with little in the way of assistance from the camera and compared to modern offerings little scope for recovery afterwards.


The art of photography becomes all about what you do at the point of capture. It doesn’t even record the aperture value you used. You live in the moment of setting up the shot, then afterwards you either take profit from the fruits of your labour or you find you’ve a bad apple.


But after a while, you start to develop your Leica technique. Muscle memory pre-focuses the lens, because it turns out that you often shoot things that are (say) 3 meters away. You start to know what SS works best in which types of lighting.


The camera demands you forge a connection with it, or else you’ll simply become despondent with it.


This missive is in no way shape or form is designed to flip the Leica nay-sayers.


You’ll know if you want one or not.


And if you do… well seeing as we now live in a world of £2000 Fujis and £3000+ Sonys, you might find that compared to the current crop of highstreet brands, a yesteryear red dot camera isn’t quite the colossal capital expenditure that it once was.


Of course, as I’m sure will get fed back to me in the inevitable comments, it’s an apples and oranges comparison.


A secondhand M9 is not a brand new Sony A7r2 (even if they cost about the same), an ex-demo 90mm Summarit is not a brand new Fuji XF56 (even if they cost about the same)


But equally a £1 is a £1 is a £1. If you want to spend your pounds on apples, rather than oranges. Then I suggest you do so.


I did and for certain days, and certain situations I can’t remember a time when I enjoyed myself this much.


But full disclosure…. I’ve a paid gig tomorrow, and it’s not the M9 that’ll be accompanying me…. aw screw it, there’s room in the bag, I might take it along, you never know.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Oh dear – you sound rather hyper-sensitive at the moment. Are you quite sure you want to invite an avalanche of opinions, before you are fully recovered? 🙂

    Adam, at last count I think I still have 5 cams and I an trying desperately to save up for a 6th one. Not because of GAS, so much as history, in the case of two of them. But I have no excuses to offer for the other three, and I use them all – whenever I feel like it.

    I glean that you had a very real reason for the M9. There! That’s all that’s necessary. When the critics come after you, just ask them to show your THEIR photos – and if they aren’t as good as yours, you can have a field day, turning the tables on them, and tearing their stuff apart. As Lily Tomlin’s “Ernestine” says to “Mr Jedgar Hoover” in her “Bell Telephone Company” show – “turnabout is fair play!”

    When you try to justify yourself, people just think you have a guilty conscience!

    So just ignore the chatter and enjoy your M9.

    I must admit, you threw me a little when you suggested you were living on an island. I thought for a moment you must have gone back to Britain. I was glad to see it was only a misunderstanding on my part, and you are still in Portugal. 🙂

    You mentioned an issue with lens hoods. Can’t remember the name of the company, but there is a company out there somewhere producing lens hoods for practically every lens in the world.

    I am sure you have done everything possible to procure a lens hood for the 50mm Summicron. Are these URLs any help?

    And finally – just so you know I looked at all the photos- my gold platypus award for your Monday posting goes to the “bit of flare” helping the image – no. #2, I think.

    • Adam Bonn says:

      Thank Jean Pierre,

      I’m not that sensitive about it! To be honest the surprise has been people who know me in real life, not strangers (or even friends) from the internet.

      (Unlike with my Fujis) I delete all the exif when I post a Leica image on line, and let it stand alone

      The issue with an aftermarket hood is that it’ll screw on to the filter thread, which I can live without, but I appreciate the links

      When it comes to schoolboy wealth politics, my personal experience is that the conversation usually goes along the lines of “geez Adam, how much did you spend on that camera?” An awful lot less than that convertible BMW you own mate. (I don’t own a car anymore, it’s amazing what that does to the camera budget)

      I am enjoying the M9, I enjoy the “I made that” feeling of creating images with it (I’ve just spent all afternoon earning money shooting with AF and face detection at F1.2 which isn’t the same feeling) and the images themselves have a charm and a colour profile that’s sufficiently different to my modern all singing all dancing cameras to justify the enjoyment of using it

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    “… a Leica conjures up a lot of emotion from others, and not that much of it is good.”
    Sheer jealousy … (I suppose..)

    ( Buying a used Leica is, i guess, like lending money at zero interest to someone you really trust – in case you are prepared to resell it…)

    The cat?
    I’d say she looks mildly sceptical? 😉
    But, at least, she won’t be jealous.

    Flare … :
    That’s when TTL viewfinder simplifies.

    “The camera demands you forge a connection with it, or else you’ll simply become despondent with it.”

    Reminds me of my experience of my Superikonta III (Tessar 3.5/75) in my youth, a quick to use folding 6×6 range finder.

    ( In my film days, if I hadn’t been interested in close-ups, I might have bought a used M3 instead of an SLR.)

    • Adam Bonn says:

      It might be some form of jealously… but not at what I’ve spent, more that I’m prepared to own something that they want, can afford but can’t justify to themselves

      Either that or they can’t comprehend that I don’t like the same sports team as them!!

      I agree, I suspect I’ve bought the m9 at the right point in the depreciation cycle and I made I got one with the new sensor!

      The inability of the M to close focus occasionally catches me out, but it’s not a deal breaker.

      I suspect I woke the cat up, that’s her WTF do you want face!

    • jean pierre {pete} guaron says:

      [Shrieks of laughter!] Hi Kristian – glad you ‘fessed to your love affair with your SuperIkonta – when I was young and poorer, I had two of them – also two Voigtlander Bessa II’s. Mine were all 6×9, though. And most of what I shoot now ends up in that format, still to this day – – just occasional lapses.

  • The anonymous admirer says:

    Kudos, Adam,

    I tried about 20 years ago to get into range finders (Minolta CLE that was …) and found it difficult to focus after >15 years of SLR experience. Getting the shot of the moving men in the tube – great job!

    Enjoy your wonderful toy !

    • Adam Bonn says:

      Thanks very much,

      I tend to use focus traps if I can.

      Rangefinding is a pretty unique experience, little to recomment it in cold hard factural terms, but in warm fuzzies it can be very rewarding

    • jean pierre {pete} guaron says:

      Ouch – I used rangefinder cams for years – never had issues with focusing. What I guess they aren’t as good for as most modern DSLRs or mirror cams is locking the focus onto a moving subject.

      Adam I did have another thought overnight. Some people (like you) buy a Leica because you want to shoot with it, and have fun with it. Other people – and I do know some! – seem to think that buying a Leica proves they are (a) great photographers (b) better than you are and (c) unlike everyone else, stinking rich.

      Unfortunately the second batch gives the first batch a share of their bad image. You seem to have copped a bit of flack (Aussie expression) for buying one, which is quite silly. Nobody so far has rushed up to me and told me I’m an idiot, wasting all that money on two Otus’s. Nobody does it to people who own a ‘blad. It’s nonsense, like most of the bilge “critics” come up with. (Just as long as you stay out of the second group – LMAO 🙂 )

      • Adam Bonn says:

        Thanks Jean Pierre,

        I once read a comment on a forum, the topic was something like ‘what do you think when you see someone with a Leica’

        And one of the responses was something like

        Someone with more money than sense, who thinks they’re better than me

        I think the truth might be something closer to,

        What does a Leica owner think when they see someone with no Leica?

        Nothing at all. It’s not important to them one way or the other.

        It’s the flack from my friends that has surpised me! It’s not been nasty… but slightly repetitive!

        And you’re quite right.

        Two people walk into a cafe.

        Person A places a Leica M on the table, a stainless steel rolex adorns their wrist.

        Person B gets out their hassy X1D, and checks the time on their Patek Philippe

        When person A goes to the toilet, someone on the adjacent table leans across to person B and says

        ‘your friend must be so rich to have a Leica and a Rolex’

        Sometimes I think some brands just have so much cachet, that people can’t see beyond the label.

        I can’t help but notice other people’s reactions, but I’m not governed by them

        • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

          Ha ha ha – was the guy on the next table aware of the fact it was a Hasselblad (not a Leica) – with a Zeiss Planar lens – that was the first camera on the moon? – with Lance Armstrong etc?

          Why I used that example is because I found myself trapped by a couple of Leica buffoons, travelling together. Between them, they had 5 (or was it 6?) Leicas draped all over them, so EVERYONE could see the red dot. They asked me what I was shooting with, and just sniffed, when they saw the D810. And they never even bothered to ask what the lenses were.

          BTW – I don’t wear a watch, either – hate the things, draped around my wrist! I’m utterly useless at playing that “show pony” stuff. I believe devoutly in the principle that nobody’s better than anyone else – and some are a damned sight worse!

          • Adam Bonn says:

            I own a plain stainless steel Rolex, amongst several other ‘lesser’ brands

            Mrs Adam doesn’t always like that I have a Rolex.

            One time we were going somewhere (I forget) where’d she’d specifically told me not to wear it.

            Glancing at my wrist, she exploded with fury, launching into her schoolboy level wealth politic crap about showing off, and pretending to be better off than I am etc etc

            Funny thing was… I wasn’t wearing the rolex

            If someone who knows I have a rolex and has seen it up close, can’t actually differentiate between it and a different watch, then I fail to see how anyone buying one for the status symbol is getting what they want! (Maybe in gold?)

            Assuming there’s been other times where she’s encouraged me to wear it!

            My M has no red dot, and the part that says leica is black taped and the files it produces from LR are stripped of all manufacture exif.

            My rolex, my leica, they really are pleasures for me and me alone.

            I bet somewhere, someone’s parked their koenigsegg next to an entry level Ferrari and someone’s asked the driver – nice car you have, but I bet you wish you could’ve got the Ferrari?

            If you’re ever in the situation you described again, see if you can surreptitiously unzip the fly of the leica show off. All day people will be staring down at what he (?) thinks is his camera, with a sense of pride.. until the fateful moment

            “Yes that is a Leica you’re looking at”

            No mate, your dick’s hanging out.

  • PaulB says:


    Welcome to the M9 Club!

    The M9 is a camera that grows on you. The more you use it the more it grows.

    To paraphrase the people that are avid Jeep fans, just say to anyone that questions your choice; “It’s a Leica thing, you wouldn’t understand.”

    Leica users, like Jeep drivers, are different. We see different, think different, photograph different.

    I have been using rangefinders (starting with a Kodak Retina IIIC) for 20+ years, and I keep coming back. I currently have 3 systems, M43, an M9, and a Sony A7II, with lenses for each; not to mention film based cameras. I have had 2 variations of both the M43 and Sonys, but the M9 remains, because it provides a different experience and rendering.

    Visit Thorsten Overgaard’s website and look at his images. His images with the M9 and 50 APO Summicron are different than any other camera and lens combination he uses. The portrait of the Priest really shows this difference to me.

    I suggest that you choose the M9 and use it exclusively when you are photographing for yourself. Spend time with it and let it grow into your subconscious.

    You have more than enough lenses. Just use them. Better yet, pick one and use it exclusively for a day, week, or month, so you really learn how it sees.

    The Honeymoon may be over, but the romance is just beginning.

    • Adam Bonn says:

      Thanks Paul,

      I’m already a bit familiar with Overgaard’s work.

      I only had the 50 for the first two months of M ownership so I’ve a passable understanding of that lens. In the two months that I’ve had the 35/90 – the 35 has been the FL of choice most of the time. I just need to get into the 90

      I’m not really looking to add any more lens.

      I like your final line 🙂

  • NMc says:

    I re-read your first article and I think that there is a similarity between your description for using the camera and how fishermen describe fishing. Being in the right place, timing, knowing the location, understanding the weather as well as the gear being an extension of your body through practice.

    It is possible to spend a lot more than you have on fishing gear, and that excludes the cost of a seaworthy hole in the water that you need to constantly throw money at.

    Next time someone questions your camera spend, just tell them you are too poor to be an angler, so this is saving you money.

    Regards Noel

    • Adam Bonn says:

      Thanks very much Noel,

      That’s a great analogy. It’s also possible (very easy in fact) to spend more than I have on Leica on a wristwatch or on a holiday, on trim, ICE and wheel options on your new car.

      I’ve mainly copped flack from people that know me in real life, which has been my surprise!

      Without putting a hex on it… the thing with a secondhand M9 is that it’s unlikely to change a great deal in value, so not only have I spent less, my money’s possible a little safer than it is in a new car, etc.

      More than a camera in itself, I set out to buy a camera that was a fixed point in time and design. A camera that I would enjoy using. I am enjoying it, very much, so money well spent I think (so far)

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    ROTFLMHAO 🙂 – loved your comment on the zip, Adam – that’s like the line “if you have difficulty tolerating someone, just try to visualise what they’d look like with no clothes on!”

    Seriously, though – one of the all time great attractions of – and reasons for choosing – a Leica is that they are light weight – easy to carry – convenient – excellent for street photography, because they aren’t obtrusive – ditto for photo journalism. I love my gear, but there’s no way I can use any of those descriptions for any part of it – except perhaps the Canon PowerShot.

    And go through that list – tag the descriptions that don’t apply, to anyone who displays their Leica as an offensive weapon. Who is “in yer face” with it. Who thinks it proves he has a bigger dick or whatever, like so many inadequate people try to do, all the time. NONE of which has ANYTHING to do with taking photographs.

    • Adam Bonn says:


      The trouble with all the brands whose cachet gets too big for the product, is that it’s easy to forget that the product had to be good in the first place.

      That others are buying the kudos shouldn’t detract from those buying the function

      Of course these days many cameras offer us that discrete little package

      But the M is FF, and not that FF matters that much these days in terms of resolution and ISO etc

      It does matter (IMO YMMV) a bit for the glass.

      Sure the Fuji, the M43 cameras are just as small and descrete

      But for classic looking reportage images, the slightly more compression we get from true 28/35/50mm lenses provides a more traditional looking image than we get from 14/17.5/25 and 18/23/35 lenses on M43 and APSC

      I’m not talking equivalence, sure 18/2 on APSC looks like 28/2.8 in FF. But an 18mm can never draw just like a 28mm FF lens, as the native levels of field curvature and perspective distortion are quite different between optics in those size ranges. (The inverse is true if one needs the impression of a lot of reach)

      The Sony A7 may share a similar size to an M, but the decent lenses don’t.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        That’s way over my head, since I’ve never had any of those cameras. The message I am getting is that the Leica outperforms the other cams of similar physical size. If that’s a correct interpretation, it doesn’t surprise in the slightest – one of the sons in the family that owns one of my camera stores is addicted to Leica, and produces astounding shots. His Leica only shoots B&W and he’s addicted to that, too. Of course it helps, that he is a member of a camera store family, works in the store, and the store is one of the local Leica boutiques. I don’t mean that unkindly – it gives him access to far better information and knowledge than I can ever get hold of, when I want to buy gear. I’ve seen plenty of his shots – and they’re enough to make ANYONE jealous.

        And I am saying that, bearing in mind Ansel Adams’ comment that “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!” 🙂 The guy’s a great photographer, and the gear he has delivers for him.

        • Adam Bonn says:

          Well the Sony A7 range out perform the Leicas, but not in such an unobtrusive shape

          Adams is of course 100% correct, but we shouldn’t under estimate the importance of owning a camera that makes us want to go and shoot with it. You have to engage that 12”

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            ” … the importance of owning a camera that makes us want to go and shoot with it. You have to engage that 12”.”



            ( And it can well be different cameras for different occasions. A do-it-all might not be that engaging.)

            • Adam Bonn says:

              Thanks Kristian,

              I try to take profit from my woolly emotional attachment to various cameras that I have 🙂

              Apparently some professional sports players have lucky underwear, so I’ll hold my head up high!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    A late entry, for you, Adrian. You may have seen this article already, but in case you haven’t, I strongly recommend reading it. It’s a punch in the eye, for the bigots out there.


    One thing digital has done, which is “bad”, is to practically kill off photographers’ understanding and appreciation of tonal range. All too often, it is masked by colour – and stripped of colour, the photos is just boring – and flat – and lifeless. Ansel Adams would have had a hysterical fit of rage, at some of the stuff I’ve seen over the past 10-20 years.

    An article like this is a breath of fresh air. Understanding and appreciating the message can only give a lift to some peoples’ colour shots.

    • Adam Bonn says:

      Do you mean Adam? 🙂

      That’s a nice little write up, thanks for sharing.

      I always have the Fujis set to monochrome, that way the EVF shows me only tones, and I can decide on whether it’s to be in colour or not later.

      The irony with the Monochrom Leicas of course is that the optical VF shows only the true life colours of the world, the shooter doesn’t get to see the black and white until they’re home at the computer (unless they use live view, but then possibly they didn’t get the right camera for them)

      Back in the film days is was all about the black and white, my college didn’t have a colour processing facility and at uni you had to hand the colour film over to the staff for processing and when you got it back the uni darkroom only let you make BW prints from it. It was also easier to make a home dark room for BW images

      I’ve shot more images in mono since getting the M, I like the BW conversions. But whereas my general preference is for colour, I personally don’t think there’s any hard and fast rule about one being better than the other, horses for courses as they say.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Yes – sorry – I’m terrible with names.

        This particular horse escaped from the paddock, a few years back. After 50 years of B&W/analogue photography (with a few rolls of colour film chucked in – but processed by third parties), I was fascinated by the idea of doing all my post processing on the computer and using a table top printer. I even have a scanner to bring forward old negatives or slides.

        So these days, my focus is almost exclusively on colour. I break down periodically when I take an available light shot, by artificial light, and there are too many irreconcilable colours in the lighting. It has nothing to do with which is the better medium, otherwise – it’s just that I always wanted to do my own colour processing and now I can.

        I never really liked the colour labs’ ideas of how to process & print from colour film. A few times, I took a particular shot to a commercial lab that specialised in doing prints for commercial photographers – the only accurate description I could give at this point in time, as to the price, is “OUCH!” They were “better” – but sadly, not “good”. What I see produced these days, using digital, is astounding in comparison with anything I ever saw during the analogue era. Even the question of noise is rather dull – I’ve just been looking at some 64 inch wide prints, and at any sensible viewing distance, the “noise” was invisible.

        • Adam Bonn says:

          I think the whole ‘Black and White Vs Colour’ is a bit over exaggerated TBH

          It’s like a guitar, some songs sound better on an acoustic, others on an electric, a great many in both. It’s usually the musician that makes the song sound good or not!

          Back in the film days most of us had more control over the BW process, but with digital we can pick and chose.

          PERSONALLY speaking, I think BW has a bit more latitude for the photographer, SLIGHTLY blown highlights or blocked shadows are a little less visually jarring than in colour, and when we present a BW photo we’re immediately asking the viewer to suspect the disbelief – unless the viewer happens to be completely devoid of the ability to see colour (or a dog), then we’re telling the viewer, “hey this isn’t going to look real to you, so appraise it as you see it”

          POSSIBLY the biggest gift of digital, is that we can completely own the end-to-end capture to print process with little more than a camera, and computer and a printer. A zillion megapixels and predictive AF are all very well and good, but the ability to control the whole thing is the big score IMO

          • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

            You hooked me with your last paragraph, Adam. IMHO (sorry – I’m a Leo – that should read “IMO”) digital is wonderful, and for every single one of the reasons you list in that paragraph. I have mentioned before that I spent half a century in B&W, because I didn’t like the colours in the films that were available, and only a lunatic would have set up his own colour lab for home processing in those days. Now I can shoot however I want to – and as a reaction to all those years, I generally shoot in colour, with digital.

            There are other reasons for B&W now – here’s one this group might not have thought of, since none of us appears to have bought one of Sigma’s cams, fired with a Foveon sensor. Not yet, anyway, although I am thinking of doing it.

            From an in depth article on the hd Quattro:
            “Although the Foveon sensor struggles in low light, producing artifacts that don’t affect other cameras, all that goes away in black and white, leaving gorgeous detail.”

            I’ve come across a lot of articles about loss of detail in digital, in the highlights and the shadows – how MF handles the detail in the highlights better – why we shouldn’t or (more recently) should use HDR to resolve those issues. You’re left with the impression that the shadows are a lost cause, unless you DO expose for them and waste the highlights (except in HDR, of course). But HDR doesn’t work for moving subjects.

            And all the time, the Foveon was covering both – provided you shoot in B&W.

            • Adam Bonn says:

              IMHO = In My Humble Opinion 🙂

              I’ve looked semi seriously at the Foveon before now. But I don’t need to get into any more systems

              IMHO somewhere along the line, digital made photography stop being about photography and more about things like sharpness and DR.

              I’m not belittling these things, but cameras aren’t F1 cars, you can score a podium without rinsing every last drop of performance out of them.

              But digital gives us reasonable scope to do whatever we please, and that dependa on what we want, which we should decide for ourslves

              My M9 has probably 4 stops less DR (maybe even more) than my Fuji yet I can still enjoy using it.

              Unless it’s really dark, or something is moving!

        • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

          Yep, I got that – my wife is heavily into what I refer to as “initialese”, and although I struggle with the idea of people trying to converse without ever once mentioning what on earth they are talking about, I have absorbed a few of these expressions. That’s why I deleted the “H”.

          Adam, for most (not all) of my more serious photography, I shoot with a D810 FF & Zeiss glass (mostly). But for sheer fun, I run around the district brandishing my Canon PowerShot, and if you know what you’re doing, it takes superb photos. They only enlarge up to about A4, but that’s fine – it’s quite large enough for the shots I take with it. And I also love using my HF D7200. I’m quite sure a Hasselblad could do things none of this junk can – but I couldn’t care less, because I am having fun with my photography, doing what I want.

          Only yesterday I printed a couple of shots despite the fact they aren’t as sharp as I might have wished – that wasn’t my concern though, what I was after was “the shot”, and I got it, and that’s all that matters. Even though I’ve long since lost my only copy of it, I can still remember the first photo I ever took, and that was with a second hand Kodak box Brownie (6×9). I’ve ALWAYS fooled around with different cams, just to see what I can do with them – which is the reason for the PowerShot, and for the interest in the Foveon sensors. Till recently I had a roll film camera made before World War 1, that shot 6 postcard sized negatives. I’ve had a 4×5 (inches) Linhof Studio camera. At least half a dozen roll film cams shooting 120 film in various formats.

          But it’s not about that, for me. It’s about what photos I can produce – what pictures I can create. And I love digital because it’s enabling – for the first time, I can do my own colour processing. Back in the 1960s, the only decent colour filme IMO 🙂 was Eastman colour negative roll film, made for the pros. To get it processed and printed, I had to pay a professional lab – not just the local colour labs. I remember paying about 20 pounds each, for a couple of serious enlargements – and that was a hell of a lot, in those days – but it was impossible to specify what you wanted, how you wanted the colours – for that, you have to be in control of process, no matter what sort of mess you make of it. Because that’s the ONLY way it can be YOUR expression.

          • Adam Bonn says:

            There’s many cameras that I’d love to have experience of, but for one reason or another have passed me by.

            My film days may only stretch back til the very late 80s, but digital is ultimately better in just about every way from an end to end ownership point of view

            I know film has many fans (but not so many that film stocks aren’t being discontinued en masse and yes, film can make a different look and a different mood, but as you say, digital gives us all the opportunity to control our photography, and that’s brilliant IMO 🙂

  • David Murray says:

    There is no ” cheap yet overpriced Leica tat.” My M set-up, bought after receiving a legacy in 2007, comprises a pair of M3 bodies (1955 & 1960), 35mm F2.8 Summaron ‘spectacles’ , 50mm F2.8 Elmar, 90mm F2.8 Elmarit and 135mm f4.5 Hektor. The results are amazing, far better than Canon FD stuff. I’ve sold my pix around the world, mostly environmental stuff. Nothing has packed up, even the selenium powered MC meter still agrees with my battery powered Gossen Multisix. CLA? Not needed. People are coming back to film – I never left it. Soon, top film cameras like the Leica M and the Leicaflexes will all be snapped up, digital jobs will be going in the landfills.

    • Adam Bonn says:

      I’m not convinced that film and digital Leicas occupy the same space in terms of longevity

      Nor am I convinced that the entire photographer community is about to ditch digital

      But you sound very happy and that you’re enjoying the way you work very much.

      That’s a superb state of affairs, kudos to you

  • M says:

    Great piece.

    I formerly shot with the 50 Summicron on an M9M and cannot say it was a favorite. At ƒ/2, busy bokeh and a little too much glow as well; focus shift from about ƒ/4 to 5.6. The 50 Summilux was better in all regards, especially the extra stop on an M9.

    Your 35 Summarit is really an unsung hero in the Leica lineup. Superior to the 35 ASPH by every metric except size and the loss of 1/2 a stop (both easy .

    • Adam Bonn says:

      Thank you very much.

      It’s the glow with the 50 cron that most irks me (and the stupid lens hood). The bokeh can be a bit busy, but I also shoot with a Fuji and their bokeh can be busy too.

      I did originally want the 50lux, but I just can’t afford it. (Well I could but then I wouldn’t own the trio I do now!)

      I’m pleasantly surprised (to the point of delight) with both my ‘rits (35 & 90), the 35 2.4 makes a lovely image and although an exta 1/2 stop wouldn’t hurt on an M9, I personally wouldn’t reach for a 35mm to throw the bg out of focus, so I’m not worried about that. The 35 does feel like a cheaper build though. By contrast the 90 2.5 feels just as well made as the 50cron and (again) I’m more than happy with the IQ

      But I couldn’t agree with you more about the 35, I’m surpised by how much I’ve been using it, it’s almost permanently on the camera lately and works very well with zone focuaing

      Thanks again

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