My camera of the year for 2013: Leica M9.

Q&A, Teaching point

Leica M9

The Leica M9.

Yes, it’s still that good, nearly four years after its introduction.

(that’s an eternity for digital cameras)

And yes, that’s just my opinion, hence the word “My” in the title.

As of this date, 99% of the images on this site have been made using this iconic camera.

I’ve been tempted by the Nikon D800, the Sony RX1, and the Leica M Monochrom (I haven’t been tempted by the Leica M240), but I keep reaching for the Leica M9.


If you haven’t already done so, please consider signing my open letter to Leica.

Prosophos Open Letter to Leica


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22 thoughts on “My camera of the year for 2013: Leica M9.

  1. Couldn’t agree more with you Peter. I’m traveling this week with work and enjoy always having my M-E with me. I spent part of a day with Don “The Streetshooter” in Philadelphia last week and Auto ISO/Shutter Speed was discussed. I’ve never really tried the quick type of street shooting as I’m not that comfortable getting up close and personal but presetting a fixed focal length with a stopped down aperture to get a large enough FOV is SOP in that type of shooting. But the camera better know how to quickly adjust ISO and or Shutter speed to meet the different shooting conditions. Auto ISO/minimum Shutter speed piece of cake on the M-E with really no shutter lag. Manual white balance, just a couple button pushes on the SET button, two up clicks on the arrow pad and another push on the SET button and you’ve got your manual white balance set. But what still impresses me every day with this kit as compared to most all other digital cameras out there is its simplicity yet how incredibly “sophisticated” the images it creates for “me”.

    I could go on but will enjoy my popcorn and show while I lurk on a couple of the forums where everyone is still waiting on getting their new M, whether back from lug repair or one showing up at any dealer to buy.

  2. …so who’s the “sh*t disturber?”


    Congrats on the new/old addition to the Prosophos family…may it serve you well on the road to many happy memories.

    (And may it last longer than that rigid ‘Cron!)


    1. Mark is of course referring to the inside knowledge he has… that I picked up a used M9 as a back-up body today.

      I was VERY tempted to pick up a Sony RX1 or Nikon D800 (I wasn’t tempted to get the M240) because their sensors are phenomenal. But the whole package – sensor, “Zen” of shooting, versatility, and size – for me is represented best by the M9/M-E.

      Thanks Mark!

  3. I have yet to spring for the M9 or ME. I’ve been concerned about the shrunken view and shutter lag as compared to the M3 and M6 .85; however, people whose images and opinions I respect seem to be having no trouble with either. It has occurred to me that as a wearer of eyeglasses, the shrunken view through the M9 would be an advantage. Reading your rating — YOUR rating, having seen your work and read what you’ve written on the subject — I’m on the verge of converting every piece of camera equipment I own to a used M9 or a new ME. Every piece except the M3 and M6, that is. My 5D’s shutter just failed to the tune of $370 after only 18,000 cycles. My M6 has not failed once since I bought it in 1998, though I don’t know how many cycles. Thank you for your rating, Peter. Coming from you, it means a lot.

    1. Well Jon, I want to stress that it’s just my opinion, but it’s how I genuinely feel.

      Whatever you decide, I wish you well… and let me know if I can help you in any way.

      My title “…camera of the year for 2013…” was a tongue-in-cheek jab at the consumerist mentality out there, as it applies to photography.

      1. “tongue-in-cheek jab at the consumerist mentality out there, as it applies to photography”

        Now I am guilty of that mentality, though for me it’s a bit of a journey of discovering as well, so I am more a gear person out of curiosity…than having the latest and greatest. If I wanted the latest and greatest I’d have bought the D800E or M240. Never say never but can’t see that happening.

        I learn’t my lesson the other day by selling my M6, then getting a role of film back and thinking……you idiot ;-)….so within 2-3 weeks I’m looking to buy old outdated technology!!

        MM for me and a rangefinder film camera to use the lenses and Portra film for colour. M9 would be nice though ……:-)!!!

        1. Re: gear acquisitions as “a bit of a journey of discovering”

          That’s a valid point Andrew, and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that I’ve repeatedly engaged in that. In fact, that aspect of gear change is very important to the learning process.

          I shouldn’t paint with such broad strokes – thanks for reminding me.

          1. No broad brush strokes Peter. all good. I agree with you and that highlighting about consumerism. It’s very real and it’s get boring fairly quickly imo. Always interesting to keep an eye on what’s happening though in small doses I find now.

            I struggle owning three lenses for one camera let along 3 cameras…and more lenses!!!

    2. I’m in the same boat…I’ve been eyeing the M9/M-E/M240 for awhile. I rented the M9 a couple of years ago and liked the camera, but I’m sure it’s me when I say that even after using a Whibal card, the color still seemed a little different to me. Keep in mind that I have the M3 and M7. Film has looked good to my eyes (especially skin tones) and when it’s scanned, there isn’t much to do to tweak it.

      Back on subject, I wear glasses. The M3 has a viewfinder of 0.92x, my M7 is 0.58x. The M7 comes out when I wear glasses and shoot 50mm as I like the space around the framelines. I’ve tried using the magnifier with glasses when I want to critically focus with the 50, but for me it’s not my favorite experience unless using the 90 (better with contacts, but at that point I switch to the M3). If I wear contacts, I still like the 50, but sometimes I break out the 35. Anything longer, I will use either the M3 or attach the 1.4x magnifier. Doesn’t matter so much with the 0.58x and wider lenses as any slight focus error will be covered by depth of field and am more concerned about framing. But for longer length lenses, I prefer the M3. And as you know, it’s difficult to know what you’re getting when you use a 135mm lens on the 0.58x viewfinder as there are no framelines.

      One more thing as an aside, my local camera repair man has been working on Leicas for decades. He swears the M3 is the best, nost reliable body Leica ever made, even over the MP. With his experience, I’ll take his word for it!

      At the end of the day, I still want a digital M of some sort. But if I stick with what I have, my wallet will stay heavier!

  4. Agreed. I’m as much of a gear hound as the next person, but when it comes down to getting to work, my M9 is a total extension of my mind’s eye.

    1. I thought I was going to get lambasted for this post (and it may yet happen), but I’m pleasantly surprised by how many of you feel the same. Thanks Len… I like your description of the M9 as “a total extension of my mind’s eye”.

      1. I can understand your wariness about posting! Gear talk can get uglier than people talking about rival sports teams! Back when I shot SLR’s I made the mistake of sharing my thoughts about the ‘original’ Canon 5D having much better image quality than it’s replacements. The intensity of the ‘death stares’ was palpable!

  5. Peter and all. I’m shocked and surprised. Just this evening on another well known site, one Leica user in paerticular was re-emphasising multiple times to someone contemplating picking up a Leica M-E, that why bother picking up old outdates technology that’s basically obsolete. A few echoed his sediments. So to you Peter and Dwane, realize that so called camera of the year (2013) is basically ready for the heap bin.

    (Oh, just a a disclaimer in order to be fair and objective, my M9/M-E, is the first and most often reached for camera of all my availabLe systems :))

  6. I love my M9-P too. Such a joy.

    I am tempted to see get my own hands on the M240 and see how it compares for my needs (in particular low light). I may not be willing to live with the tradeoff but a boy can dream 🙂

  7. I fully agree qith the camera of the year statement, Peter. Seeing the output of the M9 still makes me smile everytime and I also like the simplicity of the controls.
    One reason to contemplate a M 240 might be to get some use of my much neglected R lenses. I would appreciate any thoughts on that, Peter, et al.
    Kind regards

  8. Your post has multiple layers Peter, at least for me that is.I try to live by the saying ‘want what you have and don’t want what you don’t have’. Having said that, the M9/ME is still on my wish list….haha! I am very content with the even more ‘ancient’ M8…! Anton Corbijn has signed the the back of the base plate of my M8, so I guess the M8 & Vincent will never part :-). I have a new website, I you have the time to check it out, please do:

    Al the best Peter!


  9. Not sure this is going to be seen as I couldn’t find the thread with those preferring the CCD based M9 vs the CMOS M240. Leica Rumors just posted a possible update to the M-E body which may incorporate some of the M240 body features. If so, this is a alternative pathway to still using a CCD based Lecia rangefinder It may not be strictly a M240 body with a CCD but maybe heading in that direction. We can only hope.

    Here is the link:

    Dave (D&A)

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