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jasoniburn

Observations of a newbie

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A little history to bring you up to speed. I have been a Canon man for the past 20 years with 1D Mkiii and a 5Dmkii and a whole bunch of L glass.

I've always been inquisitive about Leica so three months ago bought a M9P and three lenses. The Elmarit 28mm, Summarit 50mm and an older Elmarit 90mm.

I realise that they are down the "cheaper" end of the scale (if there is such a thing) but I thought that it was a good starter setup.

 

I'd like to offer my observations and would be interested in any advice or opinions. 

Positive

Image quality. Fantastic. Depth of colours and contrast is amazing. I recently went to Silverstone for a Classic car event and used the Canon 5D Mkii on Saturday and the M9P on Sunday. Apart from the reach (for the race track) as a walk around camera I was much happier with the Leica than the Canon. 

Focusing. I was warned about the transition from automatic on the canon to manual on the Leica but it wasn't a huge issue. I don't miss. After an initial period of hunting and doubting my technique I found that I was hitting 99% of the time. I find myself taking more time over composition after setting initial focus. Delighted. Zone focusing also appears not to be a problem and setting the camera with an appropriate aperture, wandering and not worrying about focus/dof hasn't been an issue (though not used very much).

Battery life hasn't been a problem. 

 

Challenges (not negatives)

Bokeh. I have been a little disappointed with the "quality" of the bokeh. Is this because the fastest lens I have is my 2.4. I seam to get a smoother bokeh at similar apertures on my canon. 

Metering. This has been my biggest disappointment. I know how it works but even scenes that are back lit by just a 1/4 of the image i.e. 3/4 subject and 1/4 sky are underexposed. I know the technique of pavement or "shadow" metering and half setting the shutter but this is a little long winded and irritating. Is this my technique or a general problem with the cameras way of metering? (I use spot generally on my Canon and know that my M9 is a centre weighted).

Lens choice. I have been to Italy, France and around Norway and basically have left the 28mm on. I have experimented with the 50mm and 90mm but my legs have been my zoom and I haven't really missed this aspect. Is this usual for the camera. Do you have a favourite lens that you work with for the majority of the time? With my Canon I found myself changing lenses often but I suppose I've been enjoying the experience of learning my new camera. 

 

I am delighted with the camera and have enjoyed taking photos again.  Looking forward to the next few months.

 

 

 

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Really pleased you are enjoying the experience . A lot of your points are subjective and 100 people will give you 100 different answers on lens choice.

On metering you have it. You have to help the centre weighted metering with judging a balanced setting and holding whilst you recompose. You will soon do it as second nature and it will take little time. Alternatively, if the light is fairly constant find the correct combination and set it manually, but you will need to ignore the arrows in the viewfinder. Practice and familiarity with the camera is your friend. Enjoy - so much more satisfying than auto everything!

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4 hours ago, jasoniburn said:

Lens choice. I have been to Italy, France and around Norway and basically have left the 28mm on. I have experimented with the 50mm and 90mm but my legs have been my zoom and I haven't really missed this aspect. Is this usual for the camera. Do you have a favourite lens that you work with for the majority of the time?

I like the combination of a 28mm and a 90mm. The Summaron and Tele-Elmarit(fat) are small and easily pocketable.

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I'm not bokeh expert, but then I look at RF era masters prints, somehow whole bokeh is irrelevant. I prefer f5.6-f11 with RF.

On Canon side I wish 5D MKII would have kept 5DC AF functionality, but it doesn't works well with 50L.

Which I consider as most pleasing lens for rendering, including f1.2....

 

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I have an ME with 50mm and 35mm Summicron (f2) and a 5D2 with 35f1.4. They are both so different in attitude. My Canon is a clicker and the Leica a settle and think before you shoot. 

Enjoy the change as they say Vive le difference 

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I had never used a camera that metered like the M9 until I got one; before then, it was all matrix metering. The trick is to think of it as 'centre wide spot' metering. You aim the RF patch at what you want exposed correctly, half press, then recompose to shoot. When I shot Canon, I would focus then recompose. With the M9, I meter, focus and recompose, or focus, then meter and recompose. Sometimes I don't have to recompose because I know from experience that the scene will be properly exposed. It's just a matter of figuring it out over a period of experimentation, then grooving the skill in with repetition and mindfulness.

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26 minutes ago, Archiver said:

 The trick is to think of it as 'centre wide spot' metering. You aim the RF patch at what you want exposed correctly, half press, then recompose to shoot. 

Yes, but better yet, just expose manually. 

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Having used the M9 for almost 8 years now I find the cw metering to be often surprisingly spot on. In difficult light situations you need to help it a bit by thinking like a lightmeter, or indeed take multiple readings. It's still a great camera to use!

 

    

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What do you mean by "manually"?
 

On 8/15/2019 at 1:46 PM, AceVentura1986 said:

Yes, but better yet, just expose manually. 

 

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, Bart D said:

What do you mean by "manually"?
 

 

Exposing, doing the 1/2 press and recomposing is done when the shutter dial is set to A. If done this way, every time you want to photograph that particular given scene at that time you will have to repeat that process. This is very cumbersome and slow.

Instead, meter for the brightest part that you want to properly expose and then just set the correct shutter speed manually by moving the shutter speed dial. Keep your eye in the finder and just rotate the shutter dial until the proper exposure is reached. That way, the camera is already preset to the correct shutter speed for any subsequent photos of that scene. 

It may seem harder, but it really isn’t. Learn to read the ambient light for a generally correct shutter speed in a given scene and then dial in the setting. Usually, the difference between the brightest and darkest areas of a scene are 4-6 stops only. That seems like a lot, but really isn’t. If the difference is, say, five stops, and the  shutter speed is dialed in right in the middle of this range, then you’ll only have to move the shutter dial four clicks up or four clicks down in speed (each click is 1/2 a stop). His is pretty easily accomplished once you become used to it. 

From the M3 thru the M6, no film Leica ever had auto-shutter speed until the M7 so everyone who used such cameras ALWAYS had to meter manually. This was a bit difficult for me to realize but once I got it I found it’s actually easier. I now shoot my Canon cameras in full manual as well. Shooting Leica actually made me a much better photographer because I the process forced me to make decisions on my own instead of relying on the camera’s autosettings as I had previously done with my Canons. 

Edited by AceVentura1986

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Posted (edited)

Saw this post by chance even I am not a M9 user - I use M3, M6, and M7 (the latest is a IIIc which I still need to test) film cameras instead but no digital Leica. But I made a similar transition in the past coming from Canon and adding M-series gear. I mostly agree with the OP's points. Compared to Canon glass, you will often be disappointed by Leica M-glass bokeh in comparison assuming doughnut-like bokeh is not your thing. A few M lenses are exemptions though - my CV 35/1.2 II delivers beautiful bokeh patterns.

Regarding internal reflective camera metering, I don't know how it is with digital M series cameras, but on my film M-cameras I often overexpose about 1/2 of a stop to avoid underexposure.  

Regarding lenses, I am also more on the wide side to 50 mm but rarely beyond this at longer focal length. This is a very personal choice and how you "see". Since I started photography many decades ago, I have always preferred wider focal length than longer ones. My most often FL with my M-gear is 35 mm followed by 28 mm and 50 mm. 

 

Edited by Martin B

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Thanks for your clarification.

So, you still use the light meter. That's what was not clear for me.
It also didn't occur to me that you would take more than 1 photo from a scene. In that case, I agree. Easier to use Manual.
Since I obviously rarely do this, the difference between AE-lock on the reference part of the scene and Manual was definitely unclear.
So, for me it is certainly easier to use AE-lock and the result should be the same.

 

21 hours ago, AceVentura1986 said:

Exposing, doing the 1/2 press and recomposing is done when the shutter dial is set to A. If done this way, every time you want to photograph that particular given scene at that time you will have to repeat that process. This is very cumbersome and slow.

Instead, meter for the brightest part that you want to properly expose and then just set the correct shutter speed manually by moving the shutter speed dial. Keep your eye in the finder and just rotate the shutter dial until the proper exposure is reached. That way, the camera is already preset to the correct shutter speed for any subsequent photos of that scene. 

It may seem harder, but it really isn’t. Learn to read the ambient light for a generally correct shutter speed in a given scene and then dial in the setting. Usually, the difference between the brightest and darkest areas of a scene are 4-6 stops only. That seems like a lot, but really isn’t. If the difference is, say, five stops, and the  shutter speed is dialed in right in the middle of this range, then you’ll only have to move the shutter dial four clicks up or four clicks down in speed (each click is 1/2 a stop). His is pretty easily accomplished once you become used to it. 

From the M3 thru the M6, no film Leica ever had auto-shutter speed until the M7 so everyone who used such cameras ALWAYS had to meter manually. This was a bit difficult for me to realize but once I got it I found it’s actually easier. I now shoot my Canon cameras in full manual as well. Shooting Leica actually made me a much better photographer because I the process forced me to make decisions on my own instead of relying on the camera’s autosettings as I had previously done with my Canons. 

 

 

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I also added Leica M to my set of photographic equipment some 15 years ago, in addition to my Canon DSLRs (and SLRs before that). The metering and manual exposure control of the M actually resembles that of my Canon FTb from 1975, both being heavily center-weighted. So the M6TTL I started with in 2005 immediately felt familiar, particularly when I had also used a rangefinder camera in the early 70's.

On the M9 I use AE lock to occasionally compensate for highlights, but in challenging light situations I switch to manual as described above. Particularly in cases where I prefer a slight underexposure (that can be fixed in post) over a too slow shutter speed, manual is very practical.

Different Leica lenses render differently, particularly when it comes to microcontrast, bokeh and edge sharpness. E.g. the non-APO Summicron 50 has a beautiful bokeh, while the Summicron 35 ASPH has an amazing microcontrast, but less pleasing bokeh. You will find a lot of information about Leica glass on this and other Leica forums.

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Posted (edited)

I just wanted to comment that it was a pleasure to read about your initial experiences. I fully recognize them. And I feel confident that your M relation will grow rapidly from here 😉

PS: that stuff about your lenses being ˆdown the cheaper end of the scaleˆ... cut that crap and just enjoy those beautiful/charming optics!

Edited by Stein K S

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On 8/1/2019 at 12:27 PM, jasoniburn said:

I have been to Italy, France and around Norway and basically have left the 28mm on. I have experimented with the 50mm and 90mm but my legs have been my zoom

From your destinations, I'm going to guess that you are taking a good percentage of landscape photos as opposed to "street" or portraits. Based on this - possibly wrong - assumption, using legs as zoom in this case seems a strange. Changing lenses is quick and easy, I'm sure you'll find the experience more enjoyable if you use the lens required to get the photograph you really want.

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25 minutes ago, Ko.Fe. said:

I would never call those three lenses as cheaper...

Well, they are cheaper than Summilux and Summicrons, Noctis. But not cheap.

Cheaper does not mean bad.

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Posted (edited)

In my opinion... and even if not knowing the OPs version of the 28 Elmarit (the other two is more predictable...), I think his startup kit is just great. And with no limitations worth mentioning... and with no need to be ¨humble¨ about 👍

PS: a comment to the 28... the older, the better or...? 😉

 

Regards,

Edited by Stein K S

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22 hours ago, ianman said:

From your destinations, I'm going to guess that you are taking a good percentage of landscape photos as opposed to "street" or portraits. Based on this - possibly wrong - assumption, using legs as zoom in this case seems a strange. Changing lenses is quick and easy, I'm sure you'll find the experience more enjoyable if you use the lens required to get the photograph you really want.

Mainly street and buildings/cars etc. We have those in Norway too 🙂

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