The iconic cameras of the decade
This camera was Introduced in June of 2011, with its vintage looks and metal construction, it quickly became desirable. The files had such unique tonality and the lenses a nice rendering, these factors made me invest in the Leica system at the time.
I had an M9 (almost two years) until it started to render weird horizontal lines in some photos. I sent it out for repair but after a few months in the hands of Leica, I decided to upgrade to the Leica M240, months passed and the thing was that I always missed my M9, even with the newer and faster M240 in my hands.
Fast forward to 2019 and found myself looking in the Leica Store in SoHo. There is a super clean-in-box M9-P Silver with a 1yr warranty. It had to be in camera bag.
From the Leica advertising about this camera:
“The functions of the Leica M are consistently constructed for extreme durability and a long working life. The highest quality materials, intricate manufacturing processes and meticulous manual assembly at Leica Camera’s facility in Germany guarantee functional reliability for years to come.”
This “reliability” is something that is somewhat foiled to a point, since these cameras suffered a problem with a corroded sensor, meaning that some cameras developed small halo dots in all of your photos. Not all cameras were affected but Leica decided that you could send your M9, M9P or MM and they would fix it free of charge, the sad part is the offer ended in 2018 and now that service costs around $1600 USD (check here). So, not sure what to think of the “in Germany guarantee functional reliability for years to come.” Maybe the camera has reached EOL?
Leica M9-P Corrosion not visible in these type of photos
Leica cameras have always been pricey and even though some lose their value, some gain more value. An example is an M3, those film cameras still go for about $1000 even today after 60 years after their production date and for comparison, a Digital Leica M8 that was sold brand new in 2006 for about $5500 now is around $1200 in 2019.
I do not know any other digital camera that can hold its value after more than a decade the way a Leica does, not to say these cameras are better… they are just different and some people prefer that classic feel like a vintage car, so there is a demand for them, even today.
Let me try to discourage you from buying a Leica M9 camera with the following:
- The camera can lock-up if shooting continuously with some cards, this can lose some frames if they are in the buffer (but is not common with new firmware)
- The only way to unfreeze a lock-up is by removing the battery (mine freezes about 3 times a year)
- Not the best camera at high ISO levels, max is 2500
- The meter can be tricked by a single bright spotlight, so know how your meter works
- Widest frame line in the standard viewfinder is 28mm and telephoto is 135mm
- Full manual focusing
- Difficult to nail precise focus with 90mm and longer lenses
- Pricier than other 35mm camera systems
- Rangefinder composing can lead to fine cropping images in post
- Rangefinder focus patch can be easily blocked with your index finger by accident
- Image review is very slow and LCD is very outdated
- Access to battery and memory card is slow via bottom plate
- Repairs can take a few months
- Slow Focusing can limit sports photography
- Expensive Batteries
Most people know these drawbacks and still love their Leicas. But some hate them and rather use something else. Where will yours be?
So what are the positives?
The cult following of these M8/M9/M9-P cameras can also be because of their CCD sensor, there’s a color richness and tone that is difficult to describe but feels like a medium format camera or transparency film, especially with the new aspherical lenses.
- No anti-aliasing filter means sharper images than similar cameras of their age
- Rangefinder focusing is extremely reliable as long as your camera is aligned properly
- With practice, you can focus as fast as any other camera
- 18mp is typically enough for professional work
- Spare parts are still available to repair the camera
- Simplicity and ease of use
- ISO dial with the rocker wheel
- Quick EV comp with button and wheel
- Small and portable
- Full Manual Control
- Manual focus lets you “Zone Focus”
- Non Threatening towards your subject
- Fantastic Lenses available
- Great system for reportage
And the most important to me, is that I enjoy the process of making images using this camera, more than a traditional SLR or other mirrorless.
I had a Luigi leather case for my M9 but sold it after upgrading, if you want a more comfortable grip on your camera and a nice case, see here with some of my favorite choices and other must haves.
- Luigi Leather Grip (visit here)
- Crossbody Camera Strap by ErickPHOTO Buy it Here
- Glass Screen Protector https://amzn.to/2LP8RoI
- Extra Battery https://amzn.to/32YjYkq
- USB Charger https://amzn.to/2LQ8Noy
- Thumbs Up https://amzn.to/2SRHQBt
- Ona Bag https://amzn.to/2yvbfIh
- Soft Release https://amzn.to/313tyAL
- Leica VF 1.4x Loupe https://amzn.to/2GAvB7K
- Filtered Dust Blower https://amzn.to/2SRsLjq
- Sandisk SD Card PRO https://amzn.to/2YzjwcY
- Swivel Portable Flash https://amzn.to/2LN4Vol
- Upgraded Neck Strap by Leica https://amzn.to/2SVpb7V
I highly recommend a shoulder strap to carry the camera over the shoulder instead on your neck, the weight is less especially when using the Summilux 50 or heavier lenses.
Leica M9 generation cameras. Eligible models includes the Leica M9, M9-P, M-E (Typ 220) and first generation M Monochrom. Regularly priced at $550, they are now offering a full CLA overhaul service for $350, a 36% discount. The promotion is good through September 20, 2019.
Included in the full CLA:
- Replacement of body covering
- Internal cleaning and lubrication
- Sensor cleaning
- Adjustment of shutter
- Adjustment of rangefinder
- Adjustment of light meter
- Replacement of small parts
- 1 Year Leica Warranty
- At Any Leica Store in the USA only
CCD Corrosion Not Covered under CLA only
Do note, that while this CLA is a comprehensive service, the M9 Summer Repair Special does not include sensor replacement for corroded CCD sensors
If you liked this blog and these photos, don’t forget that there is much more! check my other work on social media and all of the other Leica related posts in this blog.