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Leica M9 in 2024


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Good day everyone! I would like to share my thoughts after revisiting the ill fated first FF digital M from Leica.

First of all this is my 3rd M9 - first being a corroded original sensor, second an ID15/16 sensor, and now original sensor with replaced filter glass (in Beijing).

I sold the first one because I'm not ready to take the risk sending it over for filter glass replacement, and it always give me a sense of hit or miss with the colors (pairing with 35/2 cron asph). But I like it enough to try out a new sensor M9 - I can immediately tell the rendering is different, colors looks a little more saturated and modern rather than slightly rustic output, and often put out excessive blue tint to shadows areas and especially annoying when the human eyes rendered slightly blue on the white areas.

I went through M-P240 and then Q2 and I end up missing the M9 colors, that's where the 3rd one comes in, and the price is right. It has all the quirks owners complained during the early days - banding in shadows, vertical line in very underexposed areas, SD card lock message. But boy the colors! For the very first time I was blown away by the rendering. The DNG often need no more than slight EV adjustment white balance fine tuning. It has clarity as well as just the right contrast that even leaving the image slightly darker works just as well, and that's what I believed to have given the classic M9 look where many of the user posted images were slightly darker or simply SOOC.

A few more thoughts:

1) I've read about SD card lock error and I did discover insert and pressing the card down all the way (don't press hard!) seems to cure the problem. If done right, pressing the card (when ejecting) won't give the click noise. Haven't hear anyone talk about it but the error rarely happen ever since, if anything, I habitually switch on and check after inserting the card, it'll give out the error within few seconds if not done right.

2) I feel like I can shoot this M9 with JPEG only (save for low light ISO640 DNG push method), colors seem more natural than what I remembered from the previous two copies, exposure is much more predictable too, it's just as reliable as shooting with the newer M models. The first M9 had some funky color response like magenta shift to the reds, and when I push the DNG where the colors will eventually become cartoonish, for lack of better words. 

3) The experience of shooting with this M9 reminds me so much about the good old days. I used to shoot with an old Canon digital compact camera and leaving everything on auto and never feel the need to edit them.

Here are few sample shots, with my one and only M lens I have now - Thypoch 28mm. Only very little editing done to them, colors untouched straight from DNG.

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So...What's my verdict? If you can find one original sensor with replaced filter glass it's imho the best way to still enjoy the M9 CCD goodness. Do check everything as the workmanship for replacing the glass varies a lot, according to various owners in China sharing their experiences. So far I haven't seen convincing outputs from M9 replaced by Kolari, the color rendering seems different.

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Thanks for sharing your experience. I acquired an M9 with replaced "ID15" sensor last week for the very same reasons.

Regarding the differences you noticed between the output of your samples: Did they have different firmware versions?

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4 hours ago, 3D-Kraft.com said:

Thanks for sharing your experience. I acquired an M9 with replaced "ID15" sensor last week for the very same reasons.

Regarding the differences you noticed between the output of your samples: Did they have different firmware versions?

I didn't check the firmware on all three but I read that the ID15/16 does have a special firmware that's not available to public, which is understandable as the new sensor will need new calibration for the colors. At the same time, I've also read new comers share their thoughts on M9 with original sensor where upgrade/downgrade the firmware didn't affect the output.

Do you find discrepancy between the jpeg and DNG, or the "embedded" vs adobe default profile on your M9? I vaguely remembered the new sensor version will give rather different color rendition when switching it to embedded, and I think same goes to my very first one with original sensor.

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The most detailed information I found so far (inluding some corrective statements from Leica) in this article: https://petapixel.com/2020/09/12/leica-m9-sensor-corrosion-due-to-dumb-design-decision-report-claims/

A new firmware dedicated to the ID15/ID16 sensors was not mentioned, but this does not mean, that there was no change.

I am not using Lightroom - instead I use Adobe Camera Raw (as part of Photoshop). Of course there are differences between the OOC-JPEGs and the way, how the DNGs are developed. There may be also differences, if you use your lenses coded or uncoded. But I definitely would not go with "JPEG only". In that case you loose too much information and the options for postprocessing are much more limited.

I can tell you more, after I have been using the ID15 M9 for a while...

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1 hour ago, 3D-Kraft.com said:

The most detailed information I found so far (inluding some corrective statements from Leica) in this article: https://petapixel.com/2020/09/12/leica-m9-sensor-corrosion-due-to-dumb-design-decision-report-claims/

A new firmware dedicated to the ID15/ID16 sensors was not mentioned, but this does not mean, that there was no change.

I am not using Lightroom - instead I use Adobe Camera Raw (as part of Photoshop). Of course there are differences between the OOC-JPEGs and the way, how the DNGs are developed. There may be also differences, if you use your lenses coded or uncoded. But I definitely would not go with "JPEG only". In that case you loose too much information and the options for postprocessing are much more limited.

I can tell you more, after I have been using the ID15 M9 for a while...

The reason I stated why I can shoot it jpeg only cause the sooc dng looked just so good to begin with, though I still shoot dng as it's such a small file in today's standard. I find the embedded profile to be quite close to the dng except skin tones where it will add quite some magenta to it. I'll have to shoot more jpeg to see how the skin tone fair. I suspect lots of user posted pictures dated back in ~2012 (in other forums) many seems to shoot jpeg back then, maybe because light room and photoshop isn't as accessible as they're are today.

1 hour ago, justj said:

I opt for an M-E since its components are newer and thus less prone to malfunction. It really is a great camera.

M-E is rare at where I live (Singapore-Malaysia), I wouldn't mind one if I see one up for sale!

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vor 3 Stunden schrieb justj:

I opt for an M-E since its components are newer and thus less prone to malfunction. It really is a great camera.

As far as I see the facts, the M-E production ended long before 2015. The corrosion-free modded sensors (ID15 and ID16) were produced after 2014, so I would assume, that the M-E sensors are also still prone to corrosion if not replaced meanwhile.

vor 1 Stunde schrieb Casey Jefferson:

maybe because light room and photoshop isn't as accessible as they're are today.

Did'nt the M9 come with a Lightroom license included?

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1 hour ago, 3D-Kraft.com said:

As far as I see the facts, the M-E production ended long before 2015. The corrosion-free modded sensors (ID15 and ID16) were produced after 2014, so I would assume, that the M-E sensors are also still prone to corrosion if not replaced meanwhile.

 

Not just the sensor, I mean electronic components in general. 

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I guess this is why people still dip into this murky water. No adjustment applied except +0.3EV. The tonality is just mind blowing, I've never been able to achieve this with editing, let alone sooc!

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The jpg colour I got from M-E is exactly the same as raw file, even though there are no camera matching profiles in Lightroom.  I don't know why LR has no M9 camera profiles like they did with Sony cameras.

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I purchased an M9 in 2020 (with an ID15/16 sensor) and later, thinking I needed more fanciness and better low light ability, added an M11. After shooting the 2 together for 1.5 years or so, I realized I was reaching for the M9 more and sold the M11. While I don't always find the colours accurate, I do find them very pleasing, but I think what I love about the M9 look is actually the reduced dynamic range and the contrast curve "out of the box". Like you I leave the files largely untouched, save for slight EV and white balance tweaks. They are often close to perfect, and I would probably be very happy with the JPGs.

I hope mine lasts forever. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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I have 3 M9s and love them, however, late last year one of them started to struggle re-cocking the shgutter when in the cold so I found a 4th (well M9-P actually) because I don't want to be without my 3 body setup.

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The M9-P.

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I sold mine last month.
Almost mint condition M9-P (it was an M9 but I upgraded it to P with the a la carte offer years ago)
Almost 40,000 shutter actuations 
Newest 15 replacement sensor
I simply grew tired of the limited functionality.
Will I regret it?
Maybe, maybe not.
Mark

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Posted (edited)

I used to only shoot jpg only on the M9 for about 3 years straight because the files require little editing. Most of the time the color comes out just right (or it can go completely off) and just recently I have switched to DNG only because my workflow has changed. Nevertheless, I feel the M9 is the only camera I have used so far that you can get away without any editing because the CCD color is simply magical. Attached is one of the older shots in jpg and love the vibrant color. 

 

 

 

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Edited by M6bigletter
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vor 12 Stunden schrieb Topsy:

...because I don't want to be without my 3 body setup.

I could understand two (so having one as backup or in case you want to save the time required for changing a lens) - but three???

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vor 12 Stunden schrieb tappan:

I simply grew tired of the limited functionality.

I came from the other side (Sony A1) - tired from that perfection and unlimited options for almost any photo / video situation.

I keep both. When I need a camera, that simply and reliably delivers, I use the A1. When I want to enjoy the photographic experience and like to be surprised with the results, I take the M9...

vor 12 Stunden schrieb tappan:

Will I regret it?

I bet, you will someday. Fortunately, the chance to get another one will be quite good.

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, 3D-Kraft.com said:

I could understand two (so having one as backup or in case you want to save the time required for changing a lens) - but three???

I hate changing lenses in the field on digital cameras so I have 21, 35 & 75 ready to go. I rarely use the 28 & 50 but the're there just in case.

Edited by Topsy
Correct typo's
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vor 9 Stunden schrieb M6bigletter:

Attached is one of the older shots in jpg and love the vibrant color. 

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If you love it, that's perfectly fine. To me it looks like a good example for the overemphasis of orange tones by the M9.

If you permit, I would take that example and show an interpretation how I would process it.

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2 hours ago, 3D-Kraft.com said:

If you love it, that's perfectly fine. To me it looks like a good example for the overemphasis of orange tones by the M9.

If you permit, I would take that example and show an interpretation how I would process it.

On my M9 it doesn't do it as far as I can tell, below is sooc dng with plenty of orange subjects, looked pretty natural to me. If you also look at the 2nd and 3rd picture in my initial post, especially the 3rd one, it basically looked the same in person, very strong light from the vending machine, but it still retain color shades and gradations very well. But if that's too much for your taste then I guess it's all subjective. 😆

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