Leica Adds Fully The Rangefinder In The Digital Age

After a M8 mid-tone, Leica offers finally a telemetry device full size and starts to dream.

There’s something on the side of the Germany, and particularly to Solms, where sits the factory of the Leica brand. Also the X1dont we already spoke, the German manufacturer announced indeed a new box of his legendary M series: the M9. After a M8 says jokingly of the fact, among other things, a sensor APS – C, infrared filters problems and a certain limit in low light, the M9 will be widely reviewed and corrected version. With, as a clincher, the presence of a sensor 24 x 36 mm – full size-to take advantage of the origin of the optical lenses. Or how the happy owners of these optics will finally be able to repurpose fully their wide angles.

Small technical recall

In an SLR, aiming is done through the same lens. The image appears blurred until the update is not performed. Printing of the film / sensor is at the moment when the mirror rises, this time where we see nothing. With a rangefinder camera, aiming is carried out through a remote viewfinder that poster, not a blurred image, but two slightly offset images. And that’s when these two images merge to form one that the update is made. In short, it’s any use, another way of photographing.

The benefits of the reflexsont simplicity, lower manufacturing cost, some technological superiorities as very fast auto focus, etc. Are those of the telemetriques the discretion (devices are smaller), the way to aim (very immersive), the report on the subject (people have less fear of the telemetriquesque of the big SLR) and Leica, the incredible quality of the optics whose quality has no equal as their price, vertiginous.

The rangefinder in the digital age

Rangefinder cameras are essentially the territory of photographers at the former and little markdowns are ventured in this area in the era of digital sensors. Few brands means two: Epson, first on the spot with its RD – 1 and its revision, the RD – 1 x, and Leica with its M8. But none of these devices had sensor 24 x 36, what makes of M9 the first real replacing the venerable Leica M, Voiglander and other. Suffice to say that the news is of importance and could put the German brand to the taste of the day. Among professionals and wealthy lovers…

Rustic look

For number of neophytes, this Leica M9 will be ‘ugly’ or ‘dated ‘. For number of pros, it will appear as “discreet” and “legendary” look Brand fans and detractors strenuous as Apple is in his field, Leica rarely indifferent. The M9 resumes the canons of beauty of his ancestors. If subjectively, the discreet appearance of the device seems attractive, can only regret the absence of a grip facilitating the grip. Too trying to sacrifice to a 70-year-old look, Leica seems to forget that ergonomics evolved a bit. Without condemning the device – format has been a worry to Henri Cartier-Bressonpour making the mythical clichés – this shows a certain conservatism, not necessarily very positive.

The back cover has, compared to the M8, unevolved. It is both a compliment will prevent holders of M8 to have to re-learn anything, but is also a critic. Indeed, the screen of the M9, device to 5,500 euros, is the same as customs M8, namely a screen of 6.4 cm in diagonal of 230 000 points, while the display of a camera like the Panasonic TZ7, which is now about 350 euros, 460 000 points. Unless 460 000 points screens consume a lot more energy than their little brothers, it’s a shame of this settle for so little.

18 Mpix and ISO on the rise

As on the M8, the sensor of the M9 is a CCD sensor from Kodak laboratories. Its resolution 18 Mpix (10.3 Mpix on the M8) to TU SLR cameras full competition format. For those who haven’t heard, if the public compact Kodak are rather average, its sensors for professionals are however very good and equip numerous digital backs.

According to a2zcamerablog, the ISO range benefits from the switch to a sensor 24 x 36 and the rise in ISO, always limited to 2,500, should be done with less digital noise. 2 500 ISO is a modest value in terms of what can offer – up to 25 600 on the 5 d Mark IIet the D700 – competition, but be aware that at these levels, the images are often unusable, ISO 6 400 remaining high limit (and again, only Nikon) for not having too degraded images. We’ll see when testing how behaves the M9 in dark circles, knowing that the device remains favoured by optics often much more bright and precise than those of SLRs.

No anti-aliasing applied, black and white mode

Even the RAW format is not a true raw format: while it is much richer than the Jpeg, it is no less a digital translation of a non-digital item (the amount of light, its variations and its spectrum). Canon and Nikon applied an anti-aliasing filter to their RAW file in order to refine the image quality. This has its good points, but in fact diminishes the quality of some of the details. Leica, which users appreciated the film grain, happened to this technology and files should provide greater precision of image.

As for the integrated Jpeg development, we expect to firm up the black-and-white mode to see if the German brand has correctly ableto approach the record of some films.

The price of the Made In Germany

5 500 body only euros. This does not comment. How to justify such a price without going through the pro/anti-Leica? Primo brand enjoys an aura of prestige; like Apple, it can afford to make more margin thanks to its brand image. Second, the M9 is entirely designed and built in Germany (although a few components from Asia): the cost of German labor is one of the highest in the world, that impacted as much more the price of the device. Thirdly, the M9 is voluntarily a device, without research (theoretically) compromise quality/price/equipment. Photographers will judge according to their practice: those in the studio will prefer to pay a D3 for the same price (or sell a kidney to afford the new S2 of Leica) and photojournalists and other travelling photographers being most likely to be attracted to a device more compact, lighter and “closer” of the subject. See you in October/November for the test of this exceptional device