On September 09 2009, Leica announced the long-anticipated full-frame M9, the first digital M-series rangefinder to offer a full-frame sensor. The new M9 comes with a 18 Megapixels Kodak CCD, developed specially for Leica, which offers an equivalent ISO sensitivity of 160-2500 and optimised to exploit the particular qualities of the Leica M lens system. According to Leica, this M9 is the world's smallest full-frame system camera available in the market today. When compared to a DSLR, the exit pupil of a typical M-series lens is very close to the imaging surface, which can lead to unacceptable vignetting, especially with wideangle lenses. The M9 sensor solves the problem by employing further advanced and meticulously-designed micro lenses with a low refractive index. The micro lenses at the sensor edges are laterally displaced towards the image centre to match the characteristics of M lenses precisely. This optimised micro lens design captures and concentrates even the most oblique rays on the sensor, and reliably prevents image brightness fall-off at the edges and corners of the image. As a result, all existing Leica M lenses maintain their full performance when used for digital photography.
The M9 comes with a 2.5 inches LCD screen with 230,000 pixels, and TTL (through the lens) metering from a grey and white pattern printed onto the shutter blades. Like the M8 and M8.2, the M9's CCD sensor does not feature a built-in anti-aliasing filter, but according to Leica, the new camera does not need to be used with an accessory screw-in filter. The M9 is currently selling at around $6,295. Here is the review summary by TechRadar, giving the camera a rating of 3 out of 5:
"Leica describes the M9 as an investment for life, and in its build quality it's easy to understand its confidence. For existing M-mount users it's the next logical progression from either analogue M-series bodies or the M8/M8.2, and in terms of its resolution it's unrivalled for such a small camera. Combined with high-quality optics - generally a given with Leica - it really can produce remarkable images. Photos have excellent detail, sharpness extending well into the corners and edges of the frame and beautiful out-of-focus characteristics. It really can produce images that are comparable in quality to those from a professional DSLR - but at a cost. Just because it can produce excellent images, it doesn't mean it always does, with the auto white balance performance heading a small list of grievances.
We liked: A large and clear viewfinder, combined with a rock solid build and attention to detail. The simplicity of its operation makes it an enjoyable camera to use, while the sensor is capable of resolving plenty of details.
We disliked: A small and low-resolution LCD, together with a few handling issues and often erroneous auto white balance performance mean that the Leica M9 isn't quite the dream digital camera many would imagine it to be.
Leica M8 and M8.2 owners should know that although the pixel pitch has remained the same with the new M9 model, Leica claims to have improved noise performance. There's also a thicker UV/IR filter built-in and an extra processor, as well as the more obvious difference of their being no crop factor for lenses. A difference of around £2,000 separates the two models, which is significant. Although it doesn't have any immediate rivals as such, the availability of M-mount adapters for compact system models (and the Ricoh GXR series) does at least provide a few viable, and far cheaper, alternatives for those with a few M-series lenses. Coupled with the fact that the M9 is already beginning to show its age it, it's difficult to see Leica winning too many new customers. But then this isn't a camera necessarily designed to compete with others, rather an update to a long-revered series of beautifully crafted cameras with photo image quality very much as the priority. The Leica M9 is a beautifully-crafted camera, capable of excellent image quality. Although its price puts it out of the reach of many, the lucky few are unlikely to feel disappointed with the results of which it's capable."
Photo Album: Leica 18 Megapixels M9
Leica M9 Sample Photos on Flickr
Leica M9 Camera Reviews Roundup
|Imaging Resource - Feb 21 2012|
"Shooting with the Leica M9-P was a great experience. It was not always easy to get a focused shot, nor to set exposure properly the first time. Modern autofocus and metering technology has spoiled us somewhat. But it's a great reminder of how film photography used to be, one you can also simulate by turning off your digital SLR's autofocus system and switch..." More »
|CNET UK - Oct 18 2011|
"Everything about the Leica M9 and M9-P screams quality, from the camera build to the leather cases for the lenses and, most importantly, the images they produce. The native file format is Adobe DMG, which come out at a whopping 18MB, full of stunning detail. Colours are consistently brighter and more vivid than just about any camera we have used -- eve..." More »
|MichaelLetchford - Dec 29 2010|
"I think, without a shadow of doubt, that this lens is a genuine winner. Although my work is almost exclusively monochrome these days, this lens has a habit of reminding you that colour has it's own intrinsic photographic value and it can seduce the eye with its own subtle rendering of scenes where colour is a major pictorial element of the overall image. It..." More »
|CanonRumors - Sep 27 2010|
"The colours are natural and beautiful. The dynamic range seems to be fantastic, even in tough scenes, there was lots of detail in the shadows and highlights. Most of you know I don't care much about ISO performance, I'll take the grain. This camera does not produce clean ISO 1600 shots, they're good enough for me though. You sacrifice ISO performance for sh..." More »
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