Ronny Lam

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The Leica M9, as a Pro-hobbyist Photographer

Marco Arment recently tried the Leica M9, a camera with a lot of positive rumors. A friend of mine is very happy with it, but not as an average point-and-shoot. For that he has an iPhone. Jumping to Marco’s conclusions I recognize them instantly:

Our Leica rental experiment is nearly over now, but my conclusions were clear after the first day:

  • The Leica M9 is disappointing, especially for $6,500, and clearly not a good fit for our purposes.

Indeed, a very good landscape camera.

  • The Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH is a shockingly good lens. If it were a Canon EF-mount lens, I’d be very tempted to buy it even at its $3,200 price.

I would not, there are some evenly good alternatives in the Canon range for a lot less money.

  • I’m back into high-quality photography now, and for all of its faults, I’ve definitely been creatively inspired by this Leica experiment.

That’s always a good thing and I agree very much. Every time I lend professional gear it motivates me in my own work, with my own semi-professional stuff.

  • I need a 35mm f/2 prime.

I use only prime lenses, they are so much better then those zooms. But if I were Marco I would go for the 35/1.4L. Still a lot cheaper than $3,200, but a lot more sensitive than the f2. Ken Rockwell concludes about it:

There’s a reason Canon has never bothered with a -II version of this 35mm lens: it’s so good, there isn’t any room for improvement. I’m sure Canon will come up with a -II version at twice the price and made of a lot more plastic with virtually identical optical performance one of these days in the interest of cost reduction (for them), but for today, this 35/1.4 is one of the biggest deals in the entire Canon catalog.