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M9 concept sketch

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I would be all for a manually wound camera - works on the R-D1 - and punctuates your thought processes. Of course a motor wind would be useful sometimes so that's another clip on module to add to the base of the camera.

 

If the space freed by using manual wind could take us back to the thickness of the M6/M7 so much the better.

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Mark - brilliant you have responded.

 

You are the camera surgeon supreme !

 

In your view do you think this change would be a huge burden to the engineers ?

 

It would be amazing to be able to click and then wind on - I can literally feel and see myself doing it.

 

Just a point here - how confused will onlookers be when they find out it is digital, not film !

 

And perhaps a good security issue when any potential baddie discounts you as a target when he sees the wind on.

 

I do agree also about the slowing down thought process. I can remember using a bolt action .303 rifle. Shoot, think, eject empty, push the bolt forward/ reload.....

 

Guy

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you forgot the PC SYNC TERMINAL

and for what it's worth, i prefer the back to basics idea, i don't need anything too fancy in the form of exposure locks.

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Why not exposure compensation like the R8/R9. Works very well when you look through the viewfinder and has just one point that goes up or down. This one has two points so you have to look which one your finger is at.

 

Extended battery is a neat feature. And a great concept for memory, wireless transmits, etc. as well.

 

The exposure dial "sticking out" might be another Leica failure. In the Minilux, R8, M8 and other cameras Leica put buttons that could be turned when the camera is (not) used. Which is why they made the R9 with a lock.

 

But a very interesting design

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Here is a more traditional approach to a M9 that retains the step on the top plate.

 

 

'AE-L' lock button

 

'-/+' button for adjusting exposure compensation and ASA (hold down 'set' button and -/+ adjusts asa)

 

Much stiffer indents on the power/shooting mode lever located beneath the shutter release

 

1024 Point RGB matrix metering, most likely integrated in to the RF unit.

 

Auto-ASA exposure mode. Camera adjusts asa so the shutter speed does not fall below a user set speed.

 

Live view

 

18MP - 21MP. Preference for dynamic range over resolution.

 

5 fps max

 

Heavy duty weather sealing against dust and moisture.

 

Optional heavy duty power pack (uses 2 x M8 style batteries for a total of 3)

 

 

Feli

 

feli2@earthlink.net

ELAN FOTOS

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I would be all for a manually wound camera - works on the R-D1 - and punctuates your thought processes. Of course a motor wind would be useful sometimes so that's another clip on module to add to the base of the camera.

 

If the space freed by using manual wind could take us back to the thickness of the M6/M7 so much the better.

 

That's a good point and something I also considered. Manual advance and something like a Leica Motor-M or Leicavit/Rapidwinder. I missed the manual advance, when I was using my friends M8.

 

But I'm not sure if prospective new buyers would go for that. A lot of people may deem a minimum of 3-5 fps as a basic requirement and may not be as nostalgic as the rest of us. And we all know that any motor that Leica would to sell is not going to be cheap...

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So long as those buttons on the back are recessed...i'm all for this design.

 

They would be quite flat and protected by a guard around their edge, so in a sense they are recessed. Very difficult to accidentally depress.

 

And now that you mention it I would add a little guard around the other menu buttons. Many people have complained that it is very easy to accidentally press them or have settings change by something brushing up against them.

 

Feli

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Jamie, could you please explain how that would work with no-AV / totally Manual lenses like we now have on the M?

 

Sure...

 

Right now the main things that affect your focus adjustment are the rangefinder, the lens itself, the mount, and the sensor alignment in the camera.

 

For the RF, the near-adjust and infinity rangefinder adjust are--in absolute terms--very difficult to tweak with no feedback on the camera whatsoever; you need to adjust and shoot and adjust and shoot or adjust and use a specialized test-bench and then shoot

A bit ridiculous.

 

Given that you can't adjust your lenses, I'll leave that alone

 

Next, the current lens mount is next to impossible to check without a trip to Solms, but that's where I could actually foresee a series of microadjustments (electro-mechanical) making a whole lot of sense.

 

Lastly, the sensor itself can be out of alignment or out of tolerance. There must be some easy way to do a self test on that from within the camera body.

 

Anything mechanical or mechanical/electronic that would let you diagnose or fine tune any one of those variables (barring shimming lenses!) without a trip to Solms or New Jersey would help Leica cut down on service calls or at least diagnose them more thoroughly and correctly.

 

Yes, it would take some computational smarts, but it's not inconceivable. You shouldn't have to rely on luck to adjust your infinity focus on the RF, for example. The mechanism is decades old and surely could be improved.

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you forgot the PC SYNC TERMINAL

and for what it's worth, i prefer the back to basics idea, i don't need anything too fancy in the form of exposure locks.

 

+1 to this: I truly loathe the fact there's no PC SYNCH terminal on the camera. Sheesh. That would also be a buying decision for me next time.

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That's not too far out as it is similar to an idea I proposed in a recent article about a potential "OV1" camera. Whether the system uses mechanical masks or LED outlines the challenge is, apparently, that current contrast detection AF can't tell if a lens is front or back-focused. I believe Mark Norton raised that point recently and I was reminded of it also by another person who works with technology.

 

Well that's what engineers are for... solving problems. At worst they use the current cam to check direction. New lenses with electronic couplings and AF would not need cams except to work with legacy bodies. R and other lenses could be used with focus confirmation lights or via live view or a clip on EVF.

 

I haven't seen the G-1 and I am not saying that a similar EVF would be better than a good SLR. But a lot of people say they like it and I find I can work with the EVF on my old Konica/Minolta A2. And I find myself using the LCD on my p&s camera more than I expected despite the fact that I purposely bought one that has an optical viewfinder. Keep in mind that the EVF is simply an option to expand the rangefinder system. Sort of like a modern Visoflex. And once the camera has the technology to support it, I am sure the EVFs will improve in the future.

 

Even an average quality EVF would have advantages when you need to accurately flag your lens from flare, see the results of a polarizer or a graduated filter. And of course there are lots of other applications such as macro and long lens work that would benefit too. And a lot of precision photography is quite deliberate, so even if the EVF makes one work more slowly, it could be useful. You'd still have a optical viewfinder/rangefinder for rapid work.

 

Just today, I was shooting the celebration for the inaugural in DC and wished I had a detachable tethered EVF, or at least an articulated LCD and live view, so I wouldn't have to shoot blindly for some of the above my head crowd shots.

 

Shortly after Canon came out with the 5DII, I spoke with the Canon regional rep and asked him if they wold be making an EVF for it. I couldn't see how the HD video mode would be useful without one. He told me that Canon didn't have one in the works but other companies would surely be making an accessory EVF for it. So if Leica at least puts live view in the camera along with an HDMI output, the potential will exist. And I do think the R and M lines could merge. Will Leica really have the resources to make three separate lines of state of the art and price competitive systems? Let the S2 be their reflex system.

 

This is simply a forward looking approach. I don't see any point in going ahead with the same mechanical rangefinder and cam technology that will just more clearly show its limitations as resolution increases. I would be very surprised if Leica did anything like I suggest.

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I'm sorry guys, but I really don't understand this desire for an EVF. Unless you are looking through a very high quality unit on a broadcast video camera, they are low-res, pixelated affairs that sometimes even lag if you move the camera too quickly. Even a HD-resolution viewfinder like on a RED is not as good as an optical viewfinder.

 

Using an EVF would also totally change the camera. It would no longer be an M-type camera in any sense of the word. The opto-mechanical RF is what makes the M series unique and really is the heart and soul of what it is. If you take that out it's no longer an M, but basically a hybrid point and shoot / DSLR like a Digilux or V-Lux.

 

I think the best we can do is live view.

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This is simply a forward looking approach. I don't see any point in going ahead with the same mechanical rangefinder and cam technology that will just more clearly show its limitations as resolution increases. I would be very surprised if Leica did anything like I suggest.

 

Sounds like you would be better served with a Digilux, V-Lux or Panasonic G1, instead of a Leica M.

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Using an EVF would also totally change the camera. It would no longer be an M-type camera in any sense of the word. The opto-mechanical RF is what makes the M series unique and really is the heart and soul of what it is. If you take that out it's no longer an M, but basically a hybrid point and shoot / DSLR like a Digilux or V-Lux.

 

I think the best we can do is live view.

 

I am not sure if you are commenting on my post or something else. There is no reason to remove the optical viewfinder. The camera can accept an additional removable EVF. And these EVFs can be improved over the years as the technology advances.

 

I don't believe that cameras have hearts and souls. They are simply tools that either do the job you require or do not. I don't think the mechanical rangefinder is keeping up with the sensor resolution and the overall design limits the versatility and accuracy of the camera more than is necessary. The camera design is very dated from the point of view of versatility.

 

That may be OK if you will use the M camera within its limits and also have another more versatile SLR system. But I contend that it is these limitations of versatility are also limiting the adoption of the camera. And many of these limitations can be removed by adding live view and a clip on EVF that works in ADDITION to the optical rangefinder.

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Sounds like you would be better served with a Digilux, V-Lux or Panasonic G1, instead of a Leica M.

 

Those cameras do not offer the features and image quality that I am after.

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Ok - A contrary viewpoint from someone who doesn't think the 'M' design a sacred masterpiece. This M9 speculation, whilst no doubt providing some fun, makes an ergonomically anachronistic design even worse for me by placing three buttons [AE lock, exposure compensation etc.] in the very place that my thumb spends a lot of time both carrying, and holding my M8 when shooting. Also, Nikon photographers don't clammer for a mechanical shutter rewind because, I suggest, Nikon cameras are easy to hold and carry because of their comfortable moulded grip, and because the shutter release button has moved forward [literally] from the poor 1950s design placement on top of the camera.

 

Whilst I'm not a fan of the 'M' shell and some of 'M's' legacy baggage, I have thought for a long time that digital and rangefinder type focusing has enormous untapped potential; but not in the traditional 'M' shell form. I think it's redesign is long overdue but suspect Leica would consider such thinking as unspeakable heresy.

 

So no doubt the next 'M' will continue the old, tired viewfinder solution for changing lenses; unscrew the diopter correction lens [don't drop it for heaven's sake], screw in the expensive magnifier [also purchased separately to the camera and expensive of course], and remember to screw the diopter correction lens back on the magnifier. Does anyone seriously think that's a good contemporary design solution? I'd love to see a built in zoom magnifier with diopter correction for the viewfinder, and I'd say good riddance to the intrusion of the wretched 'twinned' spare frameline in the viewfinder window.

 

More chip real-estate is not a priority for me, but losing some 'M' design anachronisms would be a big step forward. With the breakthrough of on-chip micro-lenses rangefinder type cameras can have significant size, weight, and lens-design advantages for digital workers, but unfortunately our choice is either Leica or Leica. For me, an "M' alternative would be most welcome, it might even shake out some of Leica's dead-wood thinking about design and service.

 

Give me a few moments to take cover please ................

 

.............. Chris

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Chris obviously you're entitled to your opinion, but I think we both know that the odds of Leica breaking with the traditional M mold are pretty slim.

 

Just look at this thread. For every one person who is open to adding the two buttons for AE-L and EV, there is another who thinks it's sacrilege.

 

This is a though nut to crack and I some how I have the feeling that Leica will always err on the conservative side. Unfortunately that doens't mean they will always turn out the best design. I'm still baffled that the S2 doesn't have two buttons for AE-L and focus lock, which makes even less sense, because they started with a clean sheet...

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.... we both know that the odds of Leica breaking with the traditional M mold are pretty slim....

 

We do indeed, mores' the pity. But it would be great if there was a choice to compete with the 50s retro legacy design attributes of the 'M'.

 

........ For every one person who is open to adding the two buttons for AE-L and EV, there is another who thinks it's sacrilege....

 

Well you could add them I suppose, but preferably not in the natural resting place of my thumb. I'm lucky in already having AE-L on my camera; it's otherwise called Manual Exposure.

 

I commend you for starting this fun thread.

 

............... Chris

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Chris, I agree with all you say.

 

Leica were stung badly of course when they dared to be different with the M5 and I expect there's still the same reticence to changing things too much, a bit like Porsche with the 911. An iconic product can at once command brand loyalty yet be an Achilles Heel when it comes to change and moving on.

 

The only sacred cow for me is the M bayonet and the magic 27.8mm number. Beyond that, I welcome any attempt to make use of my M glass which is a much more significant investment than the bodies. That's why I welcome the G1, it's not perfect but at the price, it's a great camera, and highlights the diminishing returns of spending more.

 

Leica's core expertise is designing and making lenses, a mysterious process of grinding, polishing, centring and coating lens elements to impossibly fine tolerances to produce some of the best lenses in the world. By contrast, the business of making (digital) cameras must seem a necessary evil just to sell the lenses. I daresay Leica make more money (both turnover and profit) from their lenses than they do from their cameras - the added value is more and there are many fewer warranty issues.

 

For the next generation M, I think Leica will have to provide a version with the traditional M design and all its strengths and weaknesses but if the M market is to expand, they need to re-think that design and come up with a new way to use M glass - a second model to sit alongside the "M9 Classic" - and then make it in China to keep the cost down. It will probably have the LHSA choking on their special edition Summiluxes but Leica needs to expand its market from niche player in order to survive and a warmed-over 50+ year old design won't do it for them.

 

All in my not-so-humble opinion, of course.

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