Monday, October 5, 2009

Leica M9, big camera in a small package

A Leica M camera in life is a lot bigger than its physical presence, and an M9 justify this saying in ways it never did. Depend on whose making the calculation, some said a DSLR of 6 million pixels comparable to the 135mm film DSLR, some said you need 10 million pixels DSLR to do that. Few would argue that at 18 mega pixels, full frame 24X36mm sensor, will meet or surpass the medium format in film day. Small format, big picture finally came realized?
Whatever it is, few would doubt at 18 million pixels, full frame sensor, a Leica M9 is anything less than those legendary M predecessor. Picture quality? yes (on most counts)! Historical signicance? May be not. Those M made the history were in a time Leica hardly has any serious competitor, today, Leica usually trails. It might introduce a camera to saty at top, briefly, before atop by usually another Japanese camera, from camera makers whose product development path a lot faster than Leica. Or from another league, the medium format digital backs with price decline quickly to be a threat to Leica.
But why should we bother on historic making? A Leica is a Leica, people loves Leica not because it is a Leica; people loves Leica because Leica being itself, and makes people likes it. Hardly any other camera in history has such consistency in looks, phylosophy and craftmanship as Leica, and coax so many love from wide range of users. I have already owned a M8, love it, and it is not a perfect camera, but then I never ask for a perfect camera. An M8 in specification sheet seemed far behind Leica M9, but I would not hesitate to use M8 today, and certainly would not hesitate to use an M9.
And how good M9 is? Very goog, very very good, for what it is. A small camera, straight forward, it makes you shoot picture, rather than confused between hundred other custom features the camera ccan offer. Pixel to pixel, the M9 is easily as good as the other cameras I also use, such as Canon EOS 1Ds III or Nikon D3X, but is it better? May be not, but may be not worse either. M9 is a diferent camera, as those M camera in the history, they are just different.

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