Feeds
90%
Leica M9

Leica M9 rangefinder camera

The money shot

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Review For anyone in the business of photography Leica has always been synonymous with photographic excellence and Magnum-style photojournalism. With its M-series, the German manufacturer has, since 1954, produced one of the most iconic and better performing 35mm systems, mastering unparalleled image quality in such inconspicuous and elegant bodies.

Leica M9

No frills, full-frame finesse: Leica's M9

In 2006 Leica began attempts to bring this classic model into the digital era, but its first revamp, the M8, had serious flaws, since remedied, and its sensor had a 1.33 crop factor. Yet with the M9 it appears Leica has found a true heir to the greatness of its M cameras. Surpassing all expectations, Leica has succeeded in mounting a full frame, 18Mp sensor into the tiny ‘M’ series body. The staggering body-only price of £5,000 reflects this achievement.

In an era of breathtaking technological innovation, automation and sheer sophistication, the M9 is something of a quiet revolution. Devoid of any feature other than the bare essentials needed to deliver exceptional image quality, the M9 is simply the smallest, lightest 35mm-equivalent full-frame cameras around. The key advantage of this camera is that it is not a reflex but a rangefinder. In an SLR the image is viewed directly "through the lens" thanks to a mirror system. This is necessarily bulky and the clatter of the moving mirror mechanism is noisy too.

A rangefinder focusing mechanism is based on the principle of geometrical triangulation. By overlapping two images of the same subject with the aid of a calibrated wheel, the photographer can achieve the correct focus. In practise, you simply turn the lens until the two images of the target subject become one in the viewfinder. Eliminating the mirror also reduces the distance between the lens and the shutter plane. The result is a smaller and lighter camera with quieter shutter release, reduced vibrations and better optical performance.

If it wasn’t for the rear display the M9 could at first glance easily be mistaken for a film camera. The body has a classic, almost retro look made of magnesium alloy and brass. From the moment you hold it in your hand the all-tough metal case gives you the sense of its superior built quality and durability. Despite a lack of a grip the curved sides make it really comfortable to hold while the old-fashioned raised shutter release and shutter release speed dial have natural ergonomics.

Leica M9

Rangefinder focusing still allows for Interchangeable lenses

The design is simple and functional. At the front of the top plate we find the three windows necessary for the rangefinder focusing system: the distance meter-viewing window, which provides the bright secondary image superimposed in the small metering square in the centre of the frame; the illumination window, which supplies ambient light for the bright-line frames indicating the viewing area of each separate lens and the viewfinder window, which provides the main image.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.