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RichC, here is a concept sketch I made a while back for an M9.

 

It retains the current gestalt of the M series, while adding some improvements to make it more useable in it's digital form.

 

 

'AE-L' lock button

 

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

 

Very stiff indents on the power/shooting mode lever located beneath the shutter release

 

Multi-point (512/1005?) RGB matrix metering, transparently integrated in to the system.

 

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

 

Live view

 

LCD projected framelines. No more parallax problems. They would also provide proper markings for any focal length, and deliver extremely high framing accuracy. The framelines could even be illuminated for working in the dark. They shouldn't look very different than what we currently have.

 

Full frame or APS-H

 

20MP with pixel binning technology, which cuts resolution to 10MP, but gives 10-12 stops of range. Fujifilm uses this sort of technology in their EXR sensors.

 

5 fps max

 

Heavy duty weather sealing against dust and moisture.

 

Optional heavy duty power pack.

Edited by thrid

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RichC, here is a concept sketch I made a while back for an M9...

It retains the current gestalt of the M series, while adding some improvements to make it more useable in it's digital form.

 

My manners were questioned earlier in this thread, so now I'm gonna pitch in and say that I think it's only common courtesy to say stuff like "while adding what in my view are improvements..." and so on.

 

Most of the things on your list are not improvements at all. In my humble opinion.

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Nice

 

Don't forget a vertical grip, vertical grips are a must for fast paced vertical stuff,

 

Maybe there could be a second SD slot in the grip.. after all most shooters would want 2x32gig so they don't have to take a break in the middle of a wedding shoot.

 

Definately add a micro fire wire port so there are some options on the side. though I have never actually used it, I do feel constrained knowing there is only USB.

 

I suspect that most modern shooters use advanced strobe systems, so maybe take a hint from mamia and include wireless flash.

 

Though the exposure comp in the 8.2 actually works pretty well as it is.

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Almost every 'improvement' to the M8/9 suggested on this forum simply incorporates mainly unecessary features already found on every other camera out there and take away from the act of taking photographs.

 

Leica simply cannot go down this 'me too' route with the digital M.

 

Jeff

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My manners were questioned earlier in this thread, so now I'm gonna pitch in and say that I think it's only common courtesy to say stuff like "while adding what in my view are improvements..." and so on.

 

Most of the things on your list are not improvements at all. In my humble opinion.

 

How are they not improvements?

 

The most radical change are the two buttons on the back. The lack of an AE-lock button has been a complaint from a lot of shooters since the M7. The current AE lock setup works perfectly if you are taking one shot at a time, but for anyone working quickly in fast moving situations it is a major PIA.

 

Other than those two buttons, it's appearance is exactly the same as the M8.x.

All other changes are either transparent or improvements on already existing features.

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Almost every 'improvement' to the M8/9 suggested on this forum simply incorporates mainly unecessary features already found on every other camera out there and take away from the act of taking photographs.

 

Leica simply cannot go down this 'me too' route with the digital M.

 

Jeff

 

If you are shooting with a fill flash, is having an easy and direct method to vary the flash/ambient ratio an unnecessary feature?

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Thrid, I have to ask why have you added all of the extra buttons? There already is an exposure lock on the shutter release, and couldn't the scroll-wheel or a pair of the arrow buttons be used for ISO setting rather than yet more buttons? I quite like the idea of the battery pack though, although it may make getting at the SD card more awkward.

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I erred in the OP by using the word "jewelry," which, though probably the best word, is inflammatory; perhaps I should have said "engineering." That is, some people like the camera (or the car or the watch) for what it is, as an object, as opposed making images, driving efficiently or telling precise time.

 

Hmm - well, I don't have a Rolex, but I do have an M8 and a (humble) Porsche. The black M8 isn't scratched, but it isn't black any longer, it's wearing off from use. I've done 34,000 miles in the Porsche in 18 months. I don't object to the 'jewellery' slur, what you are alluding to is part of the attraction. I earn my living using apple computers as well, at least partly because I find them attractive.

 

I like the 'engineering' and the 'jewellery' features of both - very much - but what I really like about the M8 is taking pictures with it, and what I really like about the car is driving it.

 

As long as companies produce equipment which is attractive and functional, then those companies will keep on making profits - just as Porsche have been doing since the boxster appeared, and just as leica will do if the S2 is functional (it's certainly attractive).

 

Catastrophe occurs when such niche companies lower their sights and try and compete with the mass consumer companies. Which is why (depressing though it may seem to many of us) Leica were right to give up on the R10 (at least for now).

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Guest stnami

.........Steve they are yet to figure out what to do with the camera .

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The M series has never really been a camera you pulled out of the box and started to shoot without difficulty and awkward moments. It does take a lot of practice and skill to be able to handle one fast.

 

Indeed, you've well-stated one of the M's charms, at least to me. It takes practice.

 

But back to the original topic, I have reason to fear that Leica has made a terrible strategic blunder by throwing so much of its resources towards development of a completely new, and reportedly extremely costly, system that may take years to gain any traction...if it ever does.

 

As some here may know, I've been using Olympus' new E-P1, often with my M mount lenses, for the past few weeks. Yes, it has some shortcomings but honestly it's been a blast. In fact, becoming adept with an E-P1 is not at all dissimilar to getting the hang of an M. As I use the E-P1 I can't help wishing that Leica had chosen to develop such a versatile, relatively inexpensive, M-lens-friendly body. I really believe it would have been a smash hit and would have generated much-needed cash for other developments. Perhaps more significantly it would have provided a wonderful, much more affordable introduction to Leica photography for young people. The E-P1 is a perfect "bridge" concept between p&s, slr, and rangefinders.

 

But alas that's not happened. Like most others here I wish Leica well and want them to continue. I hope that their other lines of business are able to sustain them. But even if they never make another M I am grateful for what they've already done and will continue to enjoy my M7 and M8s hopefully for many, many years to come.

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...hi guys, long time no see,

what makes the picture is the photographer, not the camera.

blah, blah, blah...

click, click, click...

 

 

 

 

 

 

by the way, none of yous make any sense, I'm gonna get cousin Vinny and a couple o' baseball bats and take care o' business.

don't make me, now.

 

 

 

.

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I would surmise 'useful on some occasions'. I really do not see the utility of rapid EV & ISO access. Use A if the scene is simple, use manual if it is more complicated. Thinking about EV & ISO is just another dimension (complication) to take your attention away from the primary process.

 

The ISO is now part of the primary process, no different that setting exposure and shutter speed -- it's simply a third adjustable dimension, not really possible with film, that can be very useful. It's not an elaboration of film possibilities, so much as film cameras are somewhat crippled in terms of ISO, since the film fixed the ISO.

 

Jono Slack:

 

Nice to hear from you. You are right: both the jewelry and the shooting aspects are pleasant, and it's nice to hear somebody say so. I personally drive a Mercedes CLS and a Lexus hybrid SUV, as well as shoot an M7 and an M8, and I'm fully aware of the jewelry aspects of these things, and enjoy them. What has bothered me in the past is the wide denial on this forum of any such aspect to Leicas -- that is, the claim that they are simply chosen because they are the most functional camera, which I think is nonsense. In any case, I've argued that Leica needs to keep people who see the M series as jewelry, but those people are not ultimately enough (which is why Hermes, which specializes in selling jewelry, got out.) I think Leica needs to broaden its appeal; and that a second Leica, or even a non-Leica, that was optimized for M lenses, with a fully modern computerized body, would help sell M lenses and that would support everybody with an Mx habit.

 

I'd suggest to you, though, that the problem with the S2 won't be function as much as markets. A number of MF companies already seem to be on the edge, or going under, and adding another MF camera, and a very expensive one, under current market conditions, seems to me to be risky, to say the least. I've used the word "doomed" and I'll stick to it. I freely admit I may be wrong. There may be enough high end amateurs who will buy the camera (and I have to say it -- largely for the jewelry aspect) to support it, but frankly, I don't think Leica's reputation as a builder of high-end digital cameras, nor its reputation for technical support, will attract many professionals. Again, before anybody pisses on my parade again, I admit I could very well be wrong. I also admit that there are expert camera users who really need an S2; but I think those people are few.

 

I find it passing strange that Leica had one market essentially locked up (the compact, high-end, high IQ street-shooting market) and did not work to broaden it. If they'd put the R&D that they put into the S2, into a new M, maybe one would already be out. But it's not, and I promise you, a lot of serious M users are looking with great interest at the Oly E-P1 and the Panasonic G1. Some of them have posted in this thread. If you have a 90mm Lux or a 135 amongst your M glass, borrow an E-P1 with an adapter for a bit, and try it. It'll be a revelation.

 

There have been rumors monged on this very forum that Leica may have an M announcement in September. I certainly hope so, because I desperately want the company to survive, and a new M might also help move more M glass even before the camera is released.

 

Again, nice to see you here.

 

JC

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Hmmm, Ironically, I used the money I made while shooting Paris riots in 1968 with MPs and M2s to buy the GMT master that still is on my wrist as I write this. And I returned to film Ms to shoot images for a book I finished last year that was a 60-year history of, umm, err, Porsche. (I didn't use the royalties to buy one of those.) My M8 travels with me as a research tool.

 

White cameras may be jewelry. But Porsche, Rolex, and even Chevrolet and Ford, Fossil and Casio make "limited edition pieces," as well as work horses. I know the point of many posts is to provoke response but as I opened this one, I felt a winner coming on. I'm just not sure I understand what the point was. Although it did, umm, err, provoke a response.

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Can I ask a real-world question? How long does it take you to change ISO with your non-M8 cameras? It takes me under 2 seconds to change the M8's - set/320/640/set. Four-six button clicks - no control dial.

 

Yes, on some cameras it can be done with your eye to the viewfinder - usually with your elbows above your shoulders in Indian-contortionist pose in order to simultaneously hold the right buttons while spinning the correct wheel. Which is usually slower, IMHE, than just taking the camera away from your eye and twiddling the right controls using the top or back LCD - just as with the M8.

 

NOTE that I'm not arguing against the convenience and usefulness of ISO-change-on-the-fly - just that I don't see where other cameras offer a real-world advantage the vast majority of the time.

 

Bottom line: If you are changing the ISO, you are interrupting your shooting with any camera. If you really want fast ISO changes without fiddling with anything at all, you set auto-ISO with appropriate limits and click away at your preferred aperture/shutter-speed, letting the ISO float. M8, 5D, D700 - all the same.

 

Pretty much the same thing for E/V compensation - I've found no button EV compensation method on any camera that is faster for a single grab shot than meter/recompose. Shooting a whole series in light that needs the same EV compensation, then yes, the M8 could do with either a lock, or better access to EV setting (the lock being faster, IMHO). Or even just a "backlight" button - which the Canon AE-1 had in 1978.

 

If you want my "creds" in shooting fast action in changing backlit, frontlit, sidelight, fading dusk light with the M8 and its oh-so-crippled ISO and EV controls, check out the still pix in the gallery at the bottom of this page: Rocky Mountain Independent RMI Archive Dragon Boat: Culinary, cultural and competitive | News, commentary and discussion about Denver and the Rocky Mountain region.

 

(You can skip the video, especially if you've already seen it - although it also contains a fair amount of tricky-light M8 shots)

 

It's not like I'm using the M8 to shoot pets in the back yard.

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The M series has never really been a camera you pulled out of the box and started to shoot without difficulty and awkward moments. It does take a lot of practice and skill to be able to handle one fast.

 

I've been shooting M bodies for about 12 years, almost on a daily basis. I am very fast, but it took a LOT of practice to get there.

 

I remember the first afternoon with my Leica (M6ttl). Focusing was slow, awkward and most shots were out of focus. I was overwhelmed by having to juggle exposure, focus and framing all at once and I quickly had second thoughts, especially in light of how much money the camera had cost (even 2nd hand).

 

But I stuck with it and continued to practice.

 

As we all know the Leica is not a camera you can use successfully, with your brain turned off. It's not a point and shoot by any means of the imagination. In addition to looking for the shot you are constantly watching the light and adjusting the camera settings on the fly as you move around. You have to understand exposure and know the nature of your film or sensor. It becomes second nature after a while and like Dr. Strangelove, your hands almost develop a mind of their own.

 

I looked at her website and it says that she started to shoot seriously in 2003 with a DSLR. In all likely hood this means that she never used a manual camera for any amount time (aside from her Polaroid at age 9), so of course something like an M8 would be totally awkward for her to use. I get the same reaction when I hand one of my analog Leicas or Nikons to my friends.

 

I'm not saying she's a hack or anything like that, but having been around a while and seen both sides of the coin I'm not surprised to hear her reaction.

 

My experience is likewise. It takes a lot of hard work going back to a purely manual camera.

 

Automation took away my edge in judging exposure and distance awareness.

 

Not saying that SLRs are bad but the M8 has been good re-training of basic skills.

 

And you are also right about those who grew up with a great deal of automation. Going almost totally manual is awkward at best.

 

I remember someone suggested that Leica came out with a basic rangefinder that would served as a starter camera. Fixed lens, limited range of shutter speeds, etc. Might be better for Leica in the long term.

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Thrid, I have to ask why have you added all of the extra buttons? There already is an exposure lock on the shutter release, and couldn't the scroll-wheel or a pair of the arrow buttons be used for ISO setting rather than yet more buttons? I quite like the idea of the battery pack though, although it may make getting at the SD card more awkward.

 

Nicole, I agree with you. There is not need at all for those new +/- buttons because the arrow buttons in the scroll wheel are unused in shooting mode. One pair could be used for ISO, the other for EV (which is more important in my view). Besides, the more buttons you have, the more they headache of weather-proofing the camera.

 

I don't believe we can have a FF camera with the battery pack in its current position because it intrudes into the lens throat. Also, the width of the M8 battery pack is more than the thickness of the camera, so unless the M9 is going to be thicker than the M8, such a battery pack as thrid describes could not hold two M8 battery packs. If anything, I'd like to see the M9 thinner than the M8.

Edited by marknorton

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[ ... ] If anything, I'd like to see the M9 thinner than the M8.

 

I agree totally. The M8 is at the extreme limit of what is acceptable, and a return to the classical envelope (M3 to M6 to MP) should be a high priority. Fortunately, electronics continue to shrink.

 

As long as we have that damn monitor smack in the back, the distance from bayonet flange to monitor cover can't shrink. But the 'grip depth' of the body should be shrunk.

 

The old man from the Age of the IIIf

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