Jump to content

Possible Leica Newbie Questions re M9

South Bird

Recommended Posts

Advertisement (gone after registration)

The M9 looks very interesting. I am a longtime SLR--DSLR user and am considering the M9. The size, relative simplicity of the menus, soft quiet shutter and image quality are all very attractive features. There is also an intangible quality to the brand going back to my experiences in the early 70's when Leica was an out of reach dream camera for me.


I obviously lack the technical expertise of most readers of this forum and thus felt this may be a good place to get this information though I realize it may not be the level of dialogue you expect here. If that is the case, ignore this thread. With that said I do have a couple of questions:


1. To what degree and in what ways is will there be an improvement in image quality, look or feel in comparison to a camera like the 5D Mark 2 with L glass?


2. What is the impact on the photographs from a practical standpoint of the lack of the AA filter on the Leica M?


3. What other factors have the experienced Leica users have noted in transitioning from dlsr to the Leica rangefinder system?


Thank you.

Link to post
Share on other sites



1. From my one-month experience with a 5D2, the main difference I saw was that the Canon RAW images seemed a bit rigid when it came to adjusting saturation or subtle color balance. I think Leica's CCDs have more intense and pure color filters than Canon's CMOS (which is one reason why the Leica is noisier) but that results in richer color with more scope for adjustment.


I also noticed that when sharpened, Canon's noise tended to show a "weave" or grid texture, like burlap. The Leica noise tends to be more random in pattern, like film grains.


I generally had no issue with the Canon lenses (even the much-maligned 20 f/2.8 except at the corners). I'll let other users talk about lens differences, if any.


2. Depends a lot on subject matter. Things that are prone to moire are more likely to show it. Tight repetitive patterns like shingled roofs, woven cloth. I've noticed with something like running water, where there are hundreds of tiny hot sun reflections, that they sometime pick up colored specks at the edges, where the border falls on a red or blue pixel but not the adjoining green pixel, and thus gets "read" as colored light rather than white light. Something similar (in reverse tonality) is going on in the M9 detail below, where the black iron fencing is picking up some colored edges because it is not blurred out by an AA filter and is catching hints of the underlying RGBG Bayer color pattern.


3. Size, size, size and size. Most Leica lenses would fit INSIDE the corresponding Canon prime lenses, with room to spare (see comparison of 35 f/1.4s below). Plus, the Leica is designed for manual operation - crisp split-image focusing; aperture rings on the lenses rather than a control wheel on the camera; one auto-exposure mode, that can be turned off with a simple turn of the shutter dial to a discrete speed setting.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There have been a number of threads on the subject of colour aliasing. It is not really a matter of the sensor per se but more the way the various raw converters handle the sharp contrast transitions of filterless sensor and extremely sharp lens. ACR is hopeless, C1 very good. I am convinced this is behind the purple fringing, often mistaken for CA or blooming, too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

On the subject of rf vs SLR, it is a matter of the way in which one takes the photograph. With an SLR one records the image seen on the screen, with an RF one observes reality through the viewfinder and one steals a moment. Which style suits best only you yourself can decide. Buying an RF for the image quality alone and using it with an SLR mindset is an unwise investment.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi folks,


I hope South Bird won't mind my adding my own question but as I currently shoot with an EOS 5D MkII and a selection of "L" glass and am beginning to see the Leica light :) it seemed better not to start a new thread.


My question revolves around lenses. I've enjoyed reading Leica M-Lenses - Their Soul and Secrets (PDF file) but I'm still a bit confused about the naming conventions. Noctilux and Summilux fit nicely with wide apertures but what's the rationale behind the other names, if any. I know that names are no substitute for reading the datasheets and checking out the MTF graphs but if anyone has a link to the history of the naming conventions I'd be interested.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Unlike Zeiss, where the names were generally associated with specific kinds of optical designs (Planar - double-gauss, Biogon = true wideangle, Distagon = retrofocus wideangle, Sonnar = telephoto, Hologon = extreme WA fixed-aperture), Leica's names are, since the 1960's, mostly just tied to maximum aperture. Other than that, they are made-up marketing words (like "Exxon"). Leica's first lens designer was Max Berek, thus the first 50 f/3.5 was Elmax (for Ernst Leitz Max). Hektor was the name of Max Berek's dog.


Recent/current lenses: "Nocti" = f/1 or thereabouts (f.95, f/1.2) - "Summilux" = f/1.4 - "Summicron" = f/2.0 - "Elmarit" = f/2.8 - "Elmar" = f/3.5-4.0 (except for one 50mm f/2.8 "Elmar") - "Summarit" = "bargain" f/2.5 lens line


"Telyt" = telephoto/long lens - "APO" is prefix for apochromtically-corrected lenses - "ASPH" is suffix for lenses with at least one ASPHerical lens surface - "Super-" is prefix for "wider than 21mm" - e.g 18mm Super-Elmar-M f/3.8, 15mm Super-Elmarit-R f/2.8)


Older lenses: "Super-Angulon" = wideangle designed for Leica by Schneider (21M, 21R, 28 P/C - it's a Schneider trademark still used for their view-camera wideangles) - "Summaron" = 28/35 slower than f/2 (pre-Elmarit, generally pre-1965 or so) - "Summarit" = old 50 f/1.5, pre-Summilux - "Summarex" (King of the Summit) = 85 f/1.5 (pre-Summilux) - "Summar" and "Summitar" = 50 f/2 pre-1954. Really old - Hektor and Elmax


At one point the "Summ...." lenses were "better, new" designs, thus the "Summit" of the lens line. Then Summ just became the "theme" for f/1.4 and f/2 lenses.


At one point, "Summicron" did mean f/2 AND DoubleGauss design together, but when the 90 f/2 was redesigned in 1980, it was not double-gauss, but Leica kept the name anyway, so now it simply means f/2.0. Currently the 50mm f/2 is the only Summicron that is still a double-gauss.

Edited by adan
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...