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Elusive M9 with AF?

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Hi EOIN,

 

Just wanted to let you and others in this forum know that I completely agree with what hou write.

 

Peter

 

The thing that attracted me to the M was it's simplicity. Take the lenses, small, light (if you don't have a chrome fetish), purely mechanical and outstanding optical qualities, unique looks and fingerprints from various designs throughout the development history. The body, simple and straight forward, RF patch for focus, frame lines for focal lengths, Semi auto exposure or manual exposure, simple metering, relatively light and small. A digital sensor that IMO is as good as any film emulsion I'd care to use and gives results in line with the limits and stresses low medium or high ISO film's give.

 

Placing that package in the hand I have a tactile experience when I set the aperture stop, decide the shutter speed, frame the subject and focus. I've brought my senses together the moment I've tripped the shutter. A quick review of the LCD can dispel any doubt if needed. Wonderful experience for me, it's brought back the self satisfaction in my photography and a feeling that I'm in control.

 

I get home, struggle to remove the Luigi case, take off the base plate, take out the card and download the DNG's into Aperture and now the ultimate control lies in my hand. I have the power to alter any facet of the image should I wish, but by in large it's just a crop and print.

 

The more I use the camera, the more I feel comfortable, I'm not against any technological advancements, but I do have a dislike of advancements that replace me. I don't want to feel secondary as I press the shutter, This is my hobby and I want to be as involving as possible.

 

Sure there are things I'd like changed, but they are only minor to the overall enjoyment. Some of the suggestions here and elsewhere seem valid, perhaps more so to other users than me, full frame, better high ISO, more dynamic range, focus assist, LCD frames, diopter adjustment in the VF, selectable VF magnification, better battery life, ease of removal of CF and battery and so on. All worthy in their own right.

 

In general I'm happy, happy to have an M8, happy it's digital, happy I've settled with the crop factor and a range of lenses to meet my needs and all focus correctly, happy the AWB is reliable, happy with reliability in general and above all happy with the output.

The last thing I need now is to start wishing for something better, that immediately places a different perspective on my view and mind set. Thanks but no thanks, I'm quite happy to see what the future brings.

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Harold and Peter,

 

I think the point that a lot of us are trying to make is that the current rangefinder, sadly, has proved to be inadequate for longer lenses, even for the 1.3 sensor. It is very easy to prove this for say a 75/f1.4. According to my DOF calculator, the DOF for the M8 at 7.5 meters is 10cm at f1.4. Focus the lens at an object 7.5 meters away. Now move the camera back 10 cm. Can you see any change in the image convergence - I bet 90+ out of 100 people cannot. The rangefinder will be even more lacking, as and when the next generation sensor comes along, when it is quite likely the pixels may be even more tightly packed than the current one.

 

Now Leica could try and improve the tolerances on the RF, extend the RF base line and make their lenses more accurately. However, I suspect there are not huge improvements to be had. That is why many of us are thinking about ways we could keep a manual RF system but have some way that this can work better for the longer/large aperture lenses. The RF is perfectly fine for 35mm f1.4 and in reasonable light for 50 f1.4 (but I want to use the 50 at f1.4 in poor light). Many of us older guys struggle with much beyond that.

 

You only have to look at the many threads with RF issues and lens back-focus to realise there is a fundamental problem, unless we are prepared to limit ourselves to the shorter lenses - maybe we are. I know I am not using my longer lenses very much at all now, almost to the extent where I may sell my 135/f4 and 90/2.8 and stick to the 75/2.5 as my longest lens.

 

Wilson

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But if Leica is going to survive it had better produce what the average photographer needs, not what the purist wants.

 

So when exactly was that period in history when Leica committed to producing cameras for the average photographer..."Average" as in the fat middle part of the bell curve?

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Eoin & Peter:

 

I agree 100% with everything Eoin wrote here too. I enjoy the M8 for it's aesthetics, the fact that it seldom comes between me and the images (for better or worse), plus I get images that require virtually no post processing at all.

 

I'm very happy with the simplicity of the camera and the fact that I can shoot AE or manual and enjoy the tactile manual feedback of the M lenses and the excellent image results.

 

Sure I'd like a couple of tweeks such as easy ISO selection via the LCD/buttons and even better dynamic range but generally I wouldn't want the ergonomics to change significantly and I'd rather have simplicity & reliability vs new features any day. I'm not sure that there's anywhere to put an ISO dial on top btw.

 

As an amateur, the Leica experience is more important to me than all the automation and extra features. I still shoot with a film M sometimes but the digital M is definitely the camera of choice.

 

I also shoot with a full Nikon outfit - it's far more flexible and to be honest, the results are superb too. However, it isn't the tool of choice when I want to travel light or be unobtrusive.

 

Leica M AF? Not for me but I would concede that having a focus indicator capability would be helpful with longer lenses. I use this on my D3 with Zeiss MF lenses and it's a great tool.

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Harold and Peter,

 

I think the point that a lot of us are trying to make is that the current rangefinder, sadly, has proved to be inadequate for longer lenses, even for the 1.3 sensor. It is very easy to prove this for say a 75/f1.4. According to my DOF calculator, the DOF for the M8 at 7.5 meters is 10cm at f1.4. Focus the lens at an object 7.5 meters away. Now move the camera back 10 cm. Can you see any change in the image convergence - I bet 90+ out of 100 people cannot. The rangefinder will be even more lacking, as and when the next generation sensor comes along, when it is quite likely the pixels may be even more tightly packed than the current one.

 

Now Leica could try and improve the tolerances on the RF, extend the RF base line and make their lenses more accurately. However, I suspect there are not huge improvements to be had. That is why many of us are thinking about ways we could keep a manual RF system but have some way that this can work better for the longer/large aperture lenses. The RF is perfectly fine for 35mm f1.4 and in reasonable light for 50 f1.4 (but I want to use the 50 at f1.4 in poor light). Many of us older guys struggle with much beyond that.

 

You only have to look at the many threads with RF issues and lens back-focus to realise there is a fundamental problem, unless we are prepared to limit ourselves to the shorter lenses - maybe we are. I know I am not using my longer lenses very much at all now, almost to the extent where I may sell my 135/f4 and 90/2.8 and stick to the 75/2.5 as my longest lens.

 

Wilson

 

Wilson, with the greatest respect to the points you've outlined above, is it not more a problem with the .58 viewfinder as opposed to say a .85 viewfinder when using focal lengths of 75 to 135mm?.

 

With regard to tolerances of the Rangefinder, I would seriously question the accuracy of the calibration of the RF leaving the factory, from day one I was always concerned about the difficulty in viewing a perfectly converged image in the VF, I always felt something was not quite aligned exactly. On a service visit to Solms I asked for this to be checked and the camera was returned with such an obvious miss alignment that I resorted to adjusting the vertical convergence myself.

 

All I can say is since this DIY tweak was done and adjusting the cam roller myself I no longer have any issues with focus from 28mm through to 90mm even at f:/2. I have analysed the way the front to back depth of focus falls with the 90 which tended to be 2/3 front and 1/3 back if I focused from near to far and 1/3 front 2/3 back if I focused from far to near. So now when I use this lens I always focus beyond the subject and then bring the focus back to the subject with perfect results.

 

However I have experienced front/back focus with lenses new out of the box, these were purchases made in the last 12 months and upon return to Solms the issues were resolved. Purchases of older 2nd hand lenses pre M8 launch always seemed to focus correctly. You can draw your own conclusion on that, It would suggest to me the issue is/was recent. Perhaps a slip in manufacturing lens tolerances highlighted by the digital sensor.

 

I don't really know how much of the problems can be equated to user error, I'd like to think not much but I only have my own experience to draw upon. I've noticed myself struggling with my eyesight over the past few years, finally requiring glasses. When I started to use the M8 I got a diopter and the 1.25x magnifier. I discovered after a long time I had better results when using my eyeglasses than using the correct diopter. I tend not to even use the 1.25x now, I seem to be able to focus without it. But it has been a long hard road analysing mistakes and trying to re-learn methods long forgotten in reliance of AF systems. I have nothing against AF except for the weight and bulk they bring to a system. They worked very well on my Canon system and very quick to use accurately. But in the end I moved away from Canon, it's bulk, weight and automation somehow clouded the basic joy of photography for me.

 

I'm not suggesting Leica has a perfect system that can't be improved upon, everything can be made better. But I would like to hold on to the simplistic essence of the M system or at least be able to retain use of the manual lenses and not be bamboozled later in life with buttons, switches and menus.

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Eoin,

 

I think it was Mark Norton (apologies if it was someone else) who did a very nice analysis of the maths/physics of the rangefinder and came to the conclusion that at about 10 meters, anything much better than 20 to 30 cm accuracy was just not possible with the tolerances in the various linkages machined to the best standards and of course, that is on a brand new camera with no wear. 30cm at 10m is just not good enough for longer lenses on the M8, let alone its successor, when lots of us are printing to A2 or even larger. I have taken to focus bracketing with the 90 and 135.

 

Like you, I would hate to lose MF but I do want to have something more accurate than the current set-up, for any future RF. Surely there is something better than tilting half-silvered mirrors that would take up no more and hopefully, less room. This is 19th century technology developed for iron-clad battleships. Navies found that optical rangefinding was insufficiently accurate during WW2.

 

Wilson

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Of course they could always go the other way, a la Contax/Kyocera and move the plane of focus...

 

Of course then you would end up with a much fatter body...

 

Regards,

 

Bill

 

 

I had the Contax back in 90's and it worked pretty good although the speed of focus was fairly slow.

 

Yes, the body was really thick!

 

cheers

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