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The road to Leica M


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And it's been a long and winding one (with oblique allusion to the Beatles). It started with film and a Pentax SV with separate meter and screw mount lenses - and boy were they sharp. Then Nikon, Olympus and Pentax again, all film. I went back to art college in the late 90s to do photography and digital imaging, during which time I debated between investing in a Bronica medium format camera or Photoshop. Photoshop won and the rest is history. I love the look of film, but have no desire to spend hours and boxes of expensive fibre paper chasing the perfect print. So on to Nikon, Kodak (14nx), Fujifilm, Panasonic, Sony. I've been through full frame, APSc, Micro 4/3. And then, at last to Leica.

I'm a cheapskate - and not well off - so I've done Leica on a budget (in Leica terms!). I got my M262 at less than any of the others on eBay at the time, and in pretty good nick. Looking now, they are few and far between and more than I paid, so I count myself lucky. I did well with lenses too: I have two Leica: the Summicron 50/f2 v3 and a 1950s Elmar 90/f4, and two Voigtlander: the Heliar 40/2.8 and the 21/f4 Color Skopar - all pre owned and in very good condition. I dream of an M11 one day, but being realistic I will probably be dead before they come down in price enough for me to afford one. I briefly flirted with the Q2 - in fact it was my introduction to Leica - but 28mm is probably my least favourite focal length, along with 35mm, and I prefer the colour from the 262 (the Q2 tended towards a colder, more magenta bias, so needed changing in Lightroom) so I sold it and paid off a chunk of my massive Leica debt. 

Of all the formats and systems I've owned, the Leica M system brings me the most joy, feels most like me. I'm still learning the rangefinder system, still reacquainting myself with stripped down, basic centre weighted metering. But I love the look and feel of the system, the weight and heft in the hand, the unique look to the images (yes, they do look different to images from other camera systems - to my eye at least). I enjoy the contrast between the two ancient Leica lenses, with their less precise rendering and dreamy depth, and the sharpness and more contemporary look of the Voigtlanders. The 21/f4 Color Skopar was a bit of a pain to begin with, with the magenta cast at the edges of the frame, but it was cheaper than the f3.5, and I find if I select the 21/2.8 11134 profile in camera, then the 21/f4 Color Skopar profile in Lightroom, I have only a minimal amount of magenta cast to deal with.

So here I am. I'm loving the 262 more and more: it reminds me very much of my early film days, yet with the flexibility and convenience of digital. My Fujifilm system seems to be spending more and more time in the drawer, coming out only as a workhorse for stock photography. It's a lovely system, but somehow I enjoy the Leica system so much more: it lends itself to creativity, to a more artistic approach. Having said that, I've uploaded some images from the 262 to Adobe Stock. With Lightroom super resolution, I can still crop if/when I want or need and still get a good quality file. 

 

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Edited by FlickM
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You should be happy with the 262. You will likely be pretty dissapointed by the m11 because it's colour rendering is basically very close to sony. try the light lens lab 35mm f2(basically the replica of the Leica summicron 35mm f2 v1)

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23 minutes ago, Herman Zhang said:

You should be happy with the 262. You will likely be pretty dissapointed by the m11 because it's colour rendering is basically very close to sony. try the light lens lab 35mm f2(basically the replica of the Leica summicron 35mm f2 v1)

Hi Hermann, I did wonder about the colour rendering on the M11. I love the colour from the 262. What do you think of the M10r, that was another one that caught my interest because of the extra resolution - though I seem to be managing fine with the 262, and can always use Lightroom super resolution if i need to crop 

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7 hours ago, FlickM said:

Hi Hermann, I did wonder about the colour rendering on the M11. I love the colour from the 262. What do you think of the M10r, that was another one that caught my interest because of the extra resolution - though I seem to be managing fine with the 262, and can always use Lightroom super resolution if i need to crop 

In my opinion, I think that the extra resolution is actually unnecesarry. I personally will never crop, and if you use older lenses on the newer M bodies, the resolution and optical quality of the lenses might not be able to keep up with the 40MP sensor of the M10r, making it seem 'blurrier' or unsharp compared to a camera with a lower MP count. Also, a lens will not be able to be 'perfectly in focus', there will always be a circle of confusion(exept that it will be very small, so small that it is 'almost in focus). For the film days, you can get acceptably out of focus without really noticing it because of how big the film grains were compared to the digital pixels (and the film grains were probably bigger than the circle of confusion when it is perfectly in focus), but for the digital age (escpecially with cameras with very high megapixel counts), the level of acceptance for misfocusing is very low(that's why we use autofocus for a modern dslr and mirrorless). The optical rangefinder is no longer accurate enough to put the lens perfectly in focus , and you will likely get your focus off. I am very happy with my M 240(which is basically the same as your 262 but with live view, in silver and heavier). The only thing I am not quite happy about it is the startup speed (which can often take seconds, making me miss the 'decisive moment').

Your 262 should have similar or the same colours as my 240, as they used the same (or at least similar) sensors.

 

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On 5/5/2024 at 4:33 PM, FlickM said:

......

So here I am. I'm loving the 262 more and more:

...

Enjoy it. The 262 (and M240 family) is a great camera 🙂

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2 hours ago, Herman Zhang said:

In my opinion, I think that the extra resolution is actually unnecesarry. I personally will never crop, and if you use older lenses on the newer M bodies, the resolution and optical quality of the lenses might not be able to keep up with the 40MP sensor of the M10r, making it seem 'blurrier' or unsharp compared to a camera with a lower MP count. Also, a lens will not be able to be 'perfectly in focus', there will always be a circle of confusion(exept that it will be very small, so small that it is 'almost in focus). For the film days, you can get acceptably out of focus without really noticing it because of how big the film grains were compared to the digital pixels (and the film grains were probably bigger than the circle of confusion when it is perfectly in focus), but for the digital age (escpecially with cameras with very high megapixel counts), the level of acceptance for misfocusing is very low(that's why we use autofocus for a modern dslr and mirrorless). The optical rangefinder is no longer accurate enough to put the lens perfectly in focus , and you will likely get your focus off. I am very happy with my M 240(which is basically the same as your 262 but with live view, in silver and heavier). The only thing I am not quite happy about it is the startup speed (which can often take seconds, making me miss the 'decisive moment').

Your 262 should have similar or the same colours as my 240, as they used the same (or at least similar) sensors.

 

Thanks or this - good to know. KI've discovered the latitude for focusing errors is less even on my 40MP Fuji. As for cropping, I prefer to get it right in camera, but sometimes it's necessary (even Cartier Bresson cropped sometimes, though he claimed not to). I was wanting the resolution for selling large fine art prints, but when i think about it, I got large prints from my 14MP Kodak in the past, and they looked fantastic.

Thanks again for this, Herman, it's very useful info

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3 hours ago, Herman Zhang said:

if you use older lenses on the newer M bodies, the resolution and optical quality of the lenses might not be able to keep up with the 40MP sensor of the M10r,

Discussed regularly on this forum, the opposite is true. The better the sensor, the better the lens renders.

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2 hours ago, Al Brown said:

Absolutely this! I'm a bit of a geek, but at the end of the day, it's how a system feels that is important. People are returning more and more to hands on cameras like Leica and Fuji: it's the feeling of craftsmanship, of playing a more interactive role in your final image, that you just don't get with the likes of Sony (not that I'm knocking Sony, they give some fantastic results). I think we're seeing a reaction similar to that of Arts and Crafts movement in the 19th century

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2 minutes ago, jaapv said:

Discussed regularly on this forum, the opposite is true. The better the sensor, the better the lens renders.

Thank you. Gosh this is all so interesting

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, FlickM said:

I'm loving it. 

I understand why 🙂

And be sure you'd love the M10-R as well. It's another great camera. I have both, the higher resolution is not a problem. If you are confortable with the rangefinder and get sharp photo's with your M262, you'll get sharp ones with the M10-R, even with old lenses...at least, it's my experience. 

Edited by Lelmer
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Just now, Lelmer said:

I understand why 🙂

And be sure you'd love the M10-R as well. It's another great camera. I have both, the higher resolution is not a problem. If you are confortable with the rangefinder and get sharp photo's with your M262, be sure you'll get sharp ones with the M10-R, even with old lenses.   

Thank you, that's reassuring. Though I can't afford another camera body right now - but it's something to think about in future

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3 hours ago, Herman Zhang said:

optical quality of the lenses might not be able to keep up with the 40MP sensor of the M10r

There is no such thing as a lens not being able to keep up with sensor megapixels.

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1 hour ago, Al Brown said:

There is no such thing as a lens not being able to keep up with sensor megapixels.

Absolutely. Quite the opposite, in fact, as Jaap alludes to in post #9. It's a shame there is so much uninformed nonsense being offered-up on the www.

Philip.

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Welcome to the club. I love my 240 and it is the camera that is driving me to leave the house and go out and shoot. I've got a few other nice cameras and none of them have the same effect. I'm sure I'd love an M10 or M11 but they'd only give me a similar shooting experience at the end of the day. 

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47 minutes ago, GlennS said:

Welcome to the club. I love my 240 and it is the camera that is driving me to leave the house and go out and shoot. 

Thank you and exactly that! 

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6 hours ago, FlickM said:

Thanks or this - good to know. KI've discovered the latitude for focusing errors is less even on my 40MP Fuji. As for cropping, I prefer to get it right in camera, but sometimes it's necessary (even Cartier Bresson cropped sometimes, though he claimed not to). I was wanting the resolution for selling large fine art prints, but when i think about it, I got large prints from my 14MP Kodak in the past, and they looked fantastic.

Thanks again for this, Herman, it's very useful info

Bresson does sometimes crop (At least for his photo where the person jumps over the puddle), but a lot of the time, when you crop, you will ruin the beautiful vignette. Even if you really want need to crop, 24MP is totally enough. (For a 4x6 inch print you woulnd only require 2 MP for a 300dpi print). If you are planing to send it on the internet, apps will usually compress it anyways. 

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1 minute ago, Herman Zhang said:

Bresson does sometimes crop (At least for his photo where the person jumps over the puddle), but a lot of the time, when you crop, you will ruin the beautiful vignette. Even if you really want need to crop, 24MP is totally enough. (For a 4x6 inch print you woulnd only require 2 MP for a 300dpi print). If you are planing to send it on the internet, apps will usually compress it anyways. 

I was referring to prints. And yes compression. The compression in Facebook is horrendous, for example. 

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26 minutes ago, Herman Zhang said:

Bresson does sometimes crop (At least for his photo where the person jumps over the puddle), but a lot of the time, when you crop, you will ruin the beautiful vignette. Even if you really want need to crop, 24MP is totally enough. (For a 4x6 inch print you woulnd only require 2 MP for a 300dpi print). If you are planing to send it on the internet, apps will usually compress it anyways. 

But also you don’t always want the original dimensions of an image. And with stock photos they must comply with minimum file sizes, so sometimes you need those extra MP. 

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