The London based photographer and blogger Jiri Rezac shares his thoughts about his new Leica M9 and he draws the right comparsion: if you shot with Leica the first time it is like wearing a Rolex after you’ve grown up with a Casio.

The good folks at LFI Magazine in Germany have made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: the loan of their Leica M9 full-frame digital rangefinder camera plus the use of three of their finest lenses – the 21/2.8 Elmarit-M, the 35/1.4 Summilux-M and the 90/2.0 APO-Summicron-M ASPH. In total it is about 20000 US$ worth of kit which they have entrusted me with.

Whilst I am getting familiar with this camera, the differences to my trusted Canon EOS kit could not be greater: the Leica is manual focus, centre-average metering only, with a simple but slightly cumbersome settings menu on the back, a small buffer for shooting series of images, and a maximum burst rate of 2 frames/second. But it is – if you compare it to watches – like wearing a Rolex after you’ve grown up with a Casio.

In a single word, the optical quality of the Leica lenses is superior. Period. I don’t have the time or the space to go into elaborate comparisons, highlight examples of its image quality in tiny image crops enlarged to 100% or otherwise list the Leica’s many fine qualities – there are other places for that (such as DP Review, Luminous Landscape, Ken Rockwell, Digital Journalist and many others.

Instead, I feel compelled to talk a little bit about how this camera feels, how it makes you respond to everyday scenes on the street, and how the images look. Given its classic Leica rangefinder design, the all-metal camera is both lighter and smaller than its SLR cousins. The manual focusing system does not lend itself to point-and-shoot actions, which means you generally have to think more about your focus, exposure and composition before pressing the shutter. In short, it is not a camera for beginners, but it makes you take different pictures (especially if you’re used to shooting with SLRs).

read more on: Jiri’s Panoptikum: The Leica Files I.

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