My continuing Leica M9 adventure

Photo by Caleb Pike

So far I have an absolute ball taking photos with my new Leica M9. It has gone everywhere with me and the results I have got have really pleased me so far. It’s really hard work compared to an SLR. Getting focus spot on and the framing right is hard. Exposure too is really tricky. But that is what makes it so rewarding when they do work…

Lens wise I have mostly just used my Voigtlander 50mm F1.1 and 35mm F1.4…The 35mm pretty much lives on the camera.

Below are some of my photos so far that I have taken with it….I definitely love black and white, hence I have tweaked almost all to black and white.

Go to my FLICKR page to see them all properly!

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.


  1. Very Nice! So do these just live on the computer? Or have you been printing any of these? Printing great B&W is still more challenging than color. Even with new printers with several gray value inks. Just curious.

  2. Hi Philip, I´m very impressed with your photos specially the Leica ones. I love the tonal quality of the B/W, they´re very filmy-like. Do you use a special procedure when tweaking them to black and white? Best Regards from Chile, South America

  3. I just ordered a Leica M9 and i will be using it to supplement my M6 TTL, MP (and M3 too).

    While i prefer to shoot film (35mm and medium format) for assignments & my personal work, the M9 will come in handy for low light work or where i need ultra-fast turnaround.

    Price is steep ($7500 landed) and the finder is not as good as the M film cameras but the image quality is superior to the kung-fu digital gear (within reason) and it’s so much more compact. I can carry two Leicas and four lenses for the same weight [and size] as a pro size film or digital body with a pro level zoom lens.

    That alone is worth the investment for me though it will not replace slide film [currently blasting my way through my remaining Kodachrome cache] and Tri-X.

    If it doesn’t work out after a couple of months, i can always sell it and get my money back (and some).

    Now… i wait for delivery (December)

  4. I’ve always wondered, Is the image quality/shooting experience/glass you get from a Leica really worth so much money?

    Or ist it just about getting a certain style that only works when all these things come together?

    I like shooting rangefinders, but since I can’t/wouldn’t(?) spend so much money on a camera I got a Yashica Electro35 for 20€ that does pretty much the same thing.

    1. Yes. M mount glass is worth it. There is SOOOOOOOOO much great glass, something like over 100 years worth, I think, available for M mount cameras.

      The glass really is worth is for how great it makes your photos look– Just look at the way it handles light. It elevates photos from great to brilliant often, in my opinion.

      As for the shooting experience– Rangefinders are really awesome cameras. The electro 35 will take photos like a rangefinder, but it won’t feel nearly as sturdy, as good in the hand, as a leica or a Voigtlander M mount Bessa or a Zeiss M Mount Ikon. Those are all amazingly well designed cameras and the glass looks beautiful on them. It’s the difference between a very low end, cheap, plasticky DSLR and a high end, sturdy, well built, easy to focus, easy to handle, intuitive DSLR.

      But there are cheaper options that will get you a great picture.

      The Bessas, for example, go for just a few hundred on ebay. That Nokton 1.1 that Bloom uses is 900– but that’s still a whole hell of a lot cheaper than if you bought all Leica– and it’s a very similar and highly enjoyable experience. Hell, you could even go with the voigt 35mm classic and it would only be around 500. So you could get this all, for shooting 35mm, for under a thousand on ebay. Not bad.

      Or if you want to go digital, find an epson R-D1 and a voigtlander Nokton lens and you’ll get some great photos and have a helluva time shooting them– Equally if not more fun than the Leica counterparts.

  5. like ’em!
    Really great results and can tell from your tweets/posts that you’re in love with that camera.

    Now stop getting such cool gear, making me jealous!

  6. wonderful photographs Philip.
    I have a friend with an M9 and I must say it is quite a stunning piece of camera. Both in terms of IQ and in terms of build and simplicity.
    I certainly can’t afford one so I’m waiting for the Fuji X100 to release next year. Not the same thing at all but about as close to a retro simple picture taking machine as I can probabl afford.

  7. Fantastic work Philip! If I didn’t know you took those, I would guess they were true vintage images. I’m curious though, how much of that look is a result of the camera? Is there some “magic” that the M9 is doing processing wise to achieve that creamy image? Would a 50mm 5D image look drastically different?

    Whatever the result, I think you sell yourself short with regard to still photography – you know your lighting and how you got such focused shots like that with a rangefinder is superb – excellent work!

  8. Philip,
    I had the Leica m8 which I sold a while back to invest in other items. One thing is to be patient in your learning the camera. Over time it becomes an extension of your eye.
    One thing though. When you fire a shot, make sure to “squeeze a hold” the shutter button, much like a firearm. You will gain almost 2 stops in shutter speed (being you have no mirror).

    Also, find your favorite lens and stick with that for awhile (most leica shooters love the 35mm). This way you will learn to trust the camera and react instead of fumbling for which lens to use, framelines and such…

    Look into the zeiss M mount lenses for Leica. I urge that you might like them and save a few bucks!

    I spent 4 days in Jamaica with my M8 with 2 lenses. THe 35/2 cron and the zeiss 25. I used the 35mm for about 90% of the 1500 images I took there.
    flicker link to some of the images I got there

    You will soon learn not to leave your house (or flat) without your leica. Damn I miss mine….

      1. LOL, thats the thing about that camera from a shooting stand point. With a dlsr, you aim that sucker at somebody they tend to freeze up, all concerned with the big camera aimed at them. When people see a Leica M aimed at them, they just go about their business or don’t even notice it. But when confronted by another shooter, in your mind you’re saying, “yes, it’s a Leica”….

  9. Great photography Phil, you should class yourself as a pro photographer. Great leica photos, as someone else asked are you shooting directly in black & white?
    The 5D is certainly making me learn photography, though i’m much better at and prefer filming, the fact I can now offer a photography service as well if needed is a bonus.

  10. Phil, with your renewed interest in black and white imagery and your talent for video, it is surely only a matter of time before your inner Fellini surfaces and we see some kick-ass B&W videos.

  11. Damn, Phil … you’ve inspired me to save up for an M9. The Leica camera and glass produce some of the creamiest, sharpest, most artistic images I’ve ever seen.

    So I did the math … if I get an M9, with a basic set of new Leica M lenses (21, 35, 50, 70, 90) — it’s only about $30,000. LOL.

    I actually may be able to afford that later this year, and if I can, I still honestly think it would be well worth it. Since it will be classic, timeless camera that will produce beautiful images for the rest of my life.

    Thanks mate — you are inspiring and have the coolest blog in the DSLR world 🙂

  12. What Phillip meant to say is, these cameras are great and in a class of their own when the holder gets it right not the other way around. It’s then that the world realizes, digital hasn’t replaced anything but offers convenience at a price i for one will never pay, my Mamiya RZ or Fuji GW690II (MF) vrs any top range DSLR (5D) not a chance and my rangefinders are 15 years old.

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