OK. I’ll start with this: No, this is not an April Fools Day joke. I did buy an M9. I’ve been thinking about it for, oh, since 9/9/09, the day they were released. I finally got around to doing it. You can find any number of reviews on the M9, waxing poetically about how grand, great, and wonderful it is. Who knows, I may say that too, but I’m not a Leicaphile. I would have bought a different one if anyone had made a rangefinder, but that’s not the case. I can wish all day, but that won’t change things.
So, here are my immediate impressions after about 100 shots with the M9, most of them today. This is not to be construed as a review, only my first impressions. As I use it more and more, I should get more detailed impressions.
1. Sharpness – Holy cow! Very nice. Very! Very, nice! No anti-aliasing filter, Summicron lens, and 18 MP make it a stunner. Click on the photo above for a more detailed look. Mind you, the full file is 18 MB, this export is 2.
2. Automatic White Balance – Sucks! My S90 does a better job, but at least the M9 uses DNG. I will not be shooting JPG with this just because of the WB.
3. Rear viewing screen, as compared to my D300 – Disgraceful – Plastic! Really? No sapphire screen. Just plastic. Doesn’t matter to me so much because I don’t chimp all that much AND the number of pixels and the color rendition is pretty poor. Good for viewing a histogram, not for judging anything else.
4. Weight and size as compared to M6. A little heftier, but it fits my hand better.
5. Noise. A bit louder than I’m used to, especially the cocking of the shutter, though it was interesting that I didn’t miss the cocking lever. I guess its’ because I switch back and forth between film and digital so it’s no big deal. The shutter mode, Soft & Discreet is fantastic, though. Just a shutter click when you take the picture, and a re-cocking of the shutter when you release the button. Very stealthy.
6. Menus – Love ’em. Very simplified. Single level. No fluff.
7. Battery – Dang it takes a long time to charge, about 3 hours. So far, my best guess is that I will be able to take about 400 – 800 shots, depending on chimping. My best guess, about 700 as I’ve turned off the automatic preview.
8. DNG – Kudos to Leica for choosing DNG instead of some proprietary stuff. I normally shoot JPG, but the White Balance issue will cause me to shoot DNG … for now. I imagine that 99% of the photos that I take with this camera will be converted to B&W, so color is not an issue.