I was recently given an M9 to play with. If you don’t know this camera it’s a Leica rangefinder camera that is modeled on the analogue M series. It’s a spectacular camera – small and compact – which produces simply stunning results. Hand built in Germany with the latest digital technology, it offers a retro Magnum feel and devastatingly good results.
It takes time shooting without autofocus, AE modes and of with no SLR through the lens view, but once you get started shooting from the hip, it unlocked a playful creativity in me. The results however were no kids matter.
I showed similars to Jenni (my most wonderful in-house critic) taken with my beloved Nikon D800 and and she chose the Leica again and again. “Its got a different feel, its sharper, the colours are better”.
It was probably not enough to make the Nippon engineers in Japan reconsider their career choices and I was able to recreate similar effects in post production, but I had to admit this dinky, rock solid camera had me in its grip.
There is a new Leica on the way — and it seems to be catching the feature creep bug with live view, bigger sensor and other add on’s that will make it bigger, better and slightly more chubby too. It will be called “M” (like Bond’s technical mentor) and while its fun to see it stripped of its extra digits, there will be plenty more after the $ signs.
The M9 was a wonderful experience for me — but like all the great things in life it could not last forever. At R60 000 for the camera and R40 000 for the lens (very good prices too, I am told) I took it back to Cameraland in Cape Town before I did anything silly.
I am going to need to find new ways to make myself feel like a digitally upgraded retro shooter. The first of these is the acquisition of a new 50mm 1,4 G lens from Nikon. I have shot off a few shots and it was a bokhea bonzella ….
So until next time…