Poll: Should Leica bring back the CCD sensor?

Inspiration, Q&A, Teaching point

CCD Poll - Prosophos

As most of you know, I’ve been very vocal about my preference for CCD vs. CMOS sensors…

…but it looks like the Leica M9/M-E and Monochrom are the end-of-the-line models for 36 x 24mm CCD sensor technology.

Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to conduct a poll about this, here on Prosophos.com.

Essentially, I’d like to know whether YOU would like to see Leica bring back a new CCD sensor in a future M camera, optimized with whatever current technology exists.

Please vote and voice your opinion, but remember this is just for fun.

—Peter.

18 thoughts on “Poll: Should Leica bring back the CCD sensor?

  1. As long as the M-E is being produced and the sensors are in stock in case you need replacement I’m fine. I love the CCD sensor and see many people having problems with the new cmos sensor in the M(240) so I always smile when thinking about CCD vs CMOS because I definitely made the right decision for me. I don’t think that future (new) models will have another CCD sensor but I hope the M-E will stay in production for some time.

    1. Hi Marc, I too believe that there won’t be any future CCD M models (unless Leica is paying attention to this poll ;)), though I hope I’m wrong about that. Or, perhaps innovations in CMOS technology will narrow the gap further… here’s to hoping.

  2. Like Marc and many others, I too am partial to the CCD when the rest of the image change within a particular camera is done correctly. Keep in mind a CCD without well written firmware can loose some of it’s perceived image characteristics if things like proper firmware implementation isn’t optimal. CMOS sensors have their place and certainly provide many advantages, all of which have been described in depth previously.

    With that said, at low ISO, I still prefer the look of a great majority of M9 images vs. the CMSO based M240, even when WB and color characteristics are adjusted properly. It’s not that every M9 image is subjectively superior, its not, but there are many more times that I experience a certain visceral response to a M9 image as opposed to the M240. Its not something that can be measured.

    Sort of a similar characteristic one finds with listening to certain analogue LP recordings vs. modern CD’s. The CD player is quieter, more efficient, can do more things in accessing music selections etc., but the same very high quality recording played back on both mediums, isn’t the same to many. The LP, with all it’s imperfections and anomalies, some of which contribute to the sound, is often perceived as more nature, having more depth and elicits a greater visceral response. I guess the same argument can be made by film vs. digital. IN any case there is a place for both CCD and CMOS and it would be a dream of mine for Leica to continue to explore the use of both in their high end digital rangefinders.

    Dave (D&A)

  3. I have the M9 and M. The M9 files have a “crispness”, that I cannot duplicate on the M using any kind of post processing. But IMO that crispness is a CCD-thing not an M9 thing. I see the same look from a Phase-One file. I do find the comparison frustrating, because when I mix M, M9 and Canon files shot for the same project, I can clearly see the difference. What makes this system viable for me as a working tool are the optics; nothing else comes close. For most of my commercial shooting the other benefits of CMOS, lower noise, no moire issues, access to live-view, and occasional video, outweigh “the look” of the M9 image-file.

    1. “The M9 files have a “crispness”, that I cannot duplicate on the M using any kind of post processing.”

      Chris, I agree 100% with your statement. That is the difference I see and value in my M9 vs. the CaNikoLeica(M240) alternatives. I agree with you, however, that for commercial purposes it generally doesn’t matter — because most clients won’t notice it… heck, most photographers don’t notice it (although, surprisingly, the results of my poll thus far are suggesting I may be wrong about that).

      —Peter.

  4. I’m not sure what we’ll see. but the Kodak sensor operation, with whom Leica revolutionized DRF photography, has actually survived. It is now Truesense Imaging, Inc. Their web site advertises several apparently innovative CCD options in 35 mm format. A 16 mp sensor with very long dynamic rage capability and even an innovative color filter array that is 2x’s as light sensitive as a conventional Bayer pattern. There is also a 28.8 mp sensor with similarly extended capabilities keeping in mind the much smaller photosites. Both are full frame 35 mm. They’d still need a specialized set of microlenses for the chip, something they’ve already done successfully before. But, in any event, the CMOS decision is not for lack of CCD options.

    Depending, however, or how near Panasonic are to a commercially viable chip, the next jump forward might be the organic CMOS sensor with it’s huge dynamic range and extended effective light incidence angle (60 degrees instead of 40, which might solve the edge issues of short backfocus distances without special micro lenses). There are actually images supposedly taken with such a sensor on line, so maybe that’s not too far away. Whatever they do, I’d like to see them continue to make stills only range finder cameras, since to me, that’s what a Leica is.

  5. I’m very new to the whole “technical” side of camera’s (I just like using them) and until following Peter’s site didn’t even know the difference! But now I do and for that alone I’m happy knowing I have a choice.

    For me though based on more and more M9 vs M240, D800E, RX1, etc sensors, the M9 is the most unique and has the most micro contrast…..

    Hope they keep making the ME into next year so I can buy one ……:-) !!

  6. Hate to be a Party crasher here. But to me, I dont see the difference. A beautiful picture is a beautiful picture. My only quarrel is that the extra feature on the M doesnt justify the extra cash, May as well get the M9 or ME and spare the rest to buy a Good DSLR for hardcore work, such as SPORTS, Fashion Catwalk etc. And still you have spare cash in hand!

    All I am saying, so long they are producing the M9 equivelant, than I dont think I will ever buy the M240

  7. I make a living with my documentary wedding photography and I’ve been using the M9 – and it’s brother, the M9P – for three years. I’ve heard people saying they’ve pushed their M9’s to the limit, but I literally had to squeeze every photon out of it. Working 100% without flash I covered receptions in near-dark situations where people were dancing. Sometimes I shot at 2500 ISO on 1/8th of a second on 1.2 and it still was too dark. You can imagine I was thrilled with the extra two stops I gained with the M240. As I am with the better and quieter shutter. And – God forbid – sometimes even with liveview, combined with an EVF. Sometimes it is so dark that focusing on moving people is very hard with the rangefinder and for that I use the EVF. It works perfectly and with very fast lenses, I’m sure I’m spot on.

    Yes, the files are different. On high ISO technically a lot better. On low ISO, the M9 has something magical, which the M240 might lack. However, a very big part of your final image is the result of the lens you use. My 50 cron has a very distinct signature which delivers the ‘Leica Look’ that I love. And it does it on the M240 as well. To me, there is no way back. I generally shoot more in the ‘dark’ than in situations where most people would like to shoot and if you need to deliver, because you need to eat, the M240 gives me a lot more flexibility than the M9.

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