Need some gear help.


I have never asked this of the readership, but there’s a first time for everything.  And I feel a little lost.

I will be going on holiday this summer and need to make a decision about what gear to bring along.

Historically, I’ve been a one-camera-one-lens kind of photographer, and I intend to keep it that way.

Most likely, I will bring my M9 and 35mm Summilux.


I’m a little restless… itching for a change… so I’m looking elsewhere.  Ideally I want a portable and capable camera.  Something silent would be a huge bonus but is not mandatory.

Current options:

  1. Leica Q
  2. Sony RX1R2
  3. Sony A9
  4. Nikon D810.  It’s not silent or as portable as the others, but it’s a great camera.
  5. Stay with my M9 + 35 ‘lux.

What do you think?





35 thoughts on “Need some gear help.

  1. I’m positive none of those will be as fun as the M9/35 Lux.

    That being said there is something to be said about the Q/RX1 that is extremely nice for travel. I’ve owned the original RX1r and absolutely loved it for that reason. Personally I would lean towards one of the fixed lens options as they are different enough from the M9 and very small – the only thing would be 28 vs 35. The plus side being it’s easy to hand to people and ask for photos, it’s hard to give a brief lesson with a rangefinder to a stranger for group shots (if you need it). The Sony is also completely silent with its leaf shutter.

    What I’m trying to get across is that I don’t see the Q or RX1r encroaching on your mojo with the M’s. The others being more “system” cameras, if that makes any sense.

    1. Thanks Jordan, I suspect you’re right about nothing else being as fun as the M9/35.

      As you point out, however, having an AF camera would come in handy (others taking photos of our family, etc.), and this has been part of my thought process.

      By the way, our mutual friend Mark thinks I should go with the Q…

      1. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the Q, or in the RX1r II…I think it solely comes down to focal length choice. I haven’t quite figured out 28mm yet, but I have seen some really amazing images from the Q. For me it would be the Sony just because of the 35mm lens.

  2. Peter, on both of my recent trips to europe i took the m9p and both the 35 lux and the 75 summicron, keeping one in my pocket. It was light, flexible, providing freedom and obviously quality. Though i have the sl now, i wouldnt change a thing. Course i dont have the luxury of all that other gear, but to my mind that would necessitate being obsessed with gear. (No criticism intended).

  3. Hi Peter. I’m a new subscriber to your blog. Really enjoy your photos. I found your blog recently while looking for information on some RZ67 lenses. We have similar preferences for gear (M9, RZ and a few others).

    Have you considered a Fuji X100F or X-Pro2? For a fixed lens camera, the X100F would certainly meet your preferences re silent operation with its outstanding leaf shutter lens. Several of my friends and regular print exchange participants have been using the X100 models for many years so I’ve seen a lot of outstanding images/prints made with it. I have an original X-100 and the X-Pro1 which I like very much. By most accounts the new 24mp X100F and X-Pro2 are very good. I especially like the new compact XF WR f2 lenses on the X-Pro.

    Gary Benson

    1. Hi Gary – and welcome!

      Nice taste in gear you have 😉

      I actually have considered the X100F (and have researched the X-Pro2) but for some reason it hasn’t made my short list. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to exclude it.

  4. Hi Peter, I have ended up being a “two camera, two lens” person: an M9&50 and an A7II&35. The lens pairings may vary of course, according to one’s “eye” and style. My M9 gets most of the use, while the A7II (which costs less than a second M lens) is there for all of its modernity: AF, wifi, higher ISO capability etc., for times when the M9’s limitations make it difficult to use. Others will walk anoher path, but this Is mine. Perhaps this reflects the old saying: “one dates a camera, but marries a lens”. I do thank you for your quirky, understated and immensely enjoyable blog. Thank you most sincerely for that. Charl.

    1. Thanks Charl!

      I can see how your set-up would work nicely, and how the two systems would complement each other. For travel however, I have to keep it strictly one camera and lens… it’s a self-imposed limitation to be sure, but I’m not budging 🙂

  5. The M9 + 35 ‘lux would be my first choice by a large margin. Unless you need AF and a leaf shutter, the Q is not that much smaller/portable than an M9 with a 28 ‘cron. I’d buy a 28 ‘cron instead if you need that focal length. I tried the RX1 – great lens but not so fun to shoot with. For the price of an A9 + lens one could buy a nice lens for the M like the WATE or a wide angle ‘lux, which IMHO is much better money spent. And since you already have an M9 and a D810 does it make sense at all to buy an A9? I personally get very quickly uncomfortable the more options I have. I have found that selling gear often feels so much more liberating than buying new gear. And lastly, regarding the D810: as good as it is, for travel it just doesn’t feel right.

    1. I know you’re right about the D810 and travel, but it just goes to show you how befuddled I have become with this decision.

      I have a feeling that I’m looking for a change for change’s sake…. which is not wise.

      At the same time, I am aware how a change in gear, process, etc., can sometimes provide enough of a push outside the comfort zone to spark creativity.

  6. What Henry said above Peter! You know the M9/35Lux. For family photos by others, I setup the camera how I want it. (Focused/aperture/ISO) and have unfamiliar photographer stand exactly where I am. The Q would be nice if it was a 35mm lens. The only thing I might consider is borrow a longer lens to go with the 35lux. I travel exactly like Henry mentioned above. In fact I’m at the in-laws as my wife’s mother passed last week and I made a lot of photos of the family over the weekend with the M9/35lux/75cron.

    1. Always nice to hear from an old friend… I hope you are well Duane and I’m sorry to learn of your mother-in-law’s passing. In the context of such matters I feel a little foolish airing out my “First World” problems.

      With respect to your 35/75 suggestion, I did this on our last family trip last summer, and I ended up using the 35 ‘lux 95% of the time!

  7. Re one camera, one lens….
    If you haven’t see this video by Todd Gipstein, a National Geographic photographer, I think you will enjoy it. It was produced from X100 images, but it really could be any single camera/lens.

    1. That was pleasant to watch Gary… thank you for the link.

      I totally understand where Todd is coming from… in fact on this blog there is a long-standing inside joke that most of my photos are “within 200 feet of my house”. I even created a category to keep track of those images:

      Re: one camera and one lens, I wrote about my experience back in 2013, for Steve Huff: . As I mention to Duane (see comments above), I tried deviating from this a year ago by bringing two lenses but basically only used one of them while I needlessly carried the other for the duration of the trip!

      1. Thanks for these links Peter. I have only begun to explore and appreciate your photos and blog posts.
        You are much better than me about keeping it simple re one camera and lens.
        Re your initial post here about being restless and perhaps interested in a change on this holiday from the M9 and 35 Lux…I have sometimes felt that a change of gear, especially of the lens used, does open up new ways of seeing the world photographically. That happened for me on a recent trip to Arizona. I rarely shoot with wide and ultra wide angle lenses, but on this trip I chose to use a Sony Zeiss 16-35 lens on a recently acquired Sony A7R2 for the better part of a 10 day trip. I came back to Alaska with a new appreciation for this photographic perspective on the world, one which I had neglected for many years. Similar wide angle lenses I have for other camera systems may now get more use than they have in the past.


  8. I would go for the Q, really nice, and if you were concerned about damage and security from travelling a second hand Dlux 5 would be a cheap option (has a ccd sensor)

  9. Only one true silent camera on that list and it’s the sony a9. Unsure if you have played with it yet but I think its the start of something good. It’s amazing shooting with a camera that never blacks out while shooting and makes absolutely no sound. You can easily shoot on the street with it and then pack a 70-200mm f2.8 and go and shoot sports. I know many don’t like mirrorless cameras but in my opinion its the future and will continue to get better.

    As you know, I also own the Leica M10 and even though it’s the sexiest camera I own, it is really hard to beat Sony a9 with Zeiss loxia f2 on it.

    I’ll be interested to see what you do!

  10. In truth, I think you’re being “playful” here, as the 9/35 combo is so much a part of you, it’d be like leaving one of the kids at home…. but OK, I’ll play along. Not Q, 28 has never fit your eye like a 35. Not the 810, it’s too big and taking it with you everywhere would be problematic. Neither of the Sony’s as they are too computery (if that’s a word) and just not the haptic/tactile experience you love so much with your cherished Leica, even if it seemed to make rational sense, emotionally???

    Since I’m now down to one camera, I’d take the X Pro2 graphite and (35 equiv) 23 f/2 for several reasons: first, it’s gorgeous, it’s quiet, it has a reasonable size/weight body, very light compact lens, very close focusing lens, hybrid viewfinder allowing optical rangefinderish use, and EVF in difficult circumstances, sealed body & lens if caught in showers, and all those lovely (especially classic chrome and acros) film simulations saving me time and energy post processing copious vacation images, plus it’s good in low light with near film camera haptics, AF, and easy to put into program auto to hand to somebody.

    PS, Fuji if you’re reading this, please send the check to….. 😉

  11. Bring your M9 and the 35mm. Add a Leica film camera and one more lens, such as an 85 or a macro in a 50-100mm length. You’ll have both, and the macro, which I always like to travel with.

  12. Peter, I love these kinds of questions. I guess I’m a bit of a geek. 😉 So you now prefer the 35 over the 50?

    Gary, thanks for posting the video. I enjoyed it, although I would have liked to watch and listen to the photographer. I should probably check out his other stuff.

    I tend to see the 50 as some kind of ‘universal’ lens, although a universal lens has a multitude of compromises. It’s not wide enough to create drama in confined spaces, and it’s not long enough to do extreme close-ups. Still, I love the 50. Maybe it’s purely psychological? I know that the 35 is also considered a ‘universal’ lens. So too the 40.

    But you are not going on a photography trip. You are going on a trip and you want to document it, and enjoy doing so in a meaningful way. So your philosophy of carrying only one focal length is smart. The M9 is certainly much more efficient than the D810 – I see RFs as general purpose cameras, and SLRs as specific purpose (though I use neither). The M9 is also more beautiful – and not just superficially. Design isn’t only superficial, and neither is beauty.

    From what I have seen, the Q is sharper than the RX1r II. But the Sony makes the M9 look big. The Fuji X100 is also a sweet camera, particularly the more recent versions.

    I think it’s a good idea to try new equipment from time to time. You could try something like an NEX-6 (or A6000 etc.). It has an okay EVF if you need it. Imagine putting a pancake MS Optical lens on that. Even with a lens adapter, you’d have a camera that can fit in a jacket pocket very easily. It’s not that special a camera, though, is it? The Pen F is special but maybe not quite what you’re looking for.

  13. Bottom line its a holiday, you want to simply enjoy it and not get bogged down with a camera learning curve, you will miss or not quite nail an important shot. (get the D810). On the other hand you love cameras, and not to play and experiment with one on holiday, learning the ropes will be a missing element for you. No need for guilt, your family expect and I suspect enjoy it. So get the get the A9 and glimpse the future.

  14. Hi Peter, I have the M9 and 35 cron – a beautiful combination. But I treated myself to the Q a year ago, to have a light, quick and easy camera always at reach. I took both cameras to Italy several months ago. The Q is sensational and its manual focus if brilliant too. I love it for the macro capability and the extra wide angle. But if I were to choose one camera for anything special, including a holiday to somewhere magical, and especially for portraits, it would still be the M9 + 35mm. It’s simply an unbeatable combination – especially as you love the CCD image quality!

  15. Hey Peter

    I would go with the fantastic Ricoh GR and Leica M9. The GR is so tiny and weighs so little that you will barely notice it. It also has the 28mm focal length, autofocus and wifi you desire with the Leica q.

  16. Hi Peter. In the past 4 years, I have transitioned over to 90% Leica/10% Canon. As much as I hate to admit it, as a do-all, do everything one-body camera, the A9 is a world beater. Hate the Sony interface but reality bites sometimes 😉

  17. There is something to be said about new equipment and the surge in creativity that it may spawn – provided that it is the right equipment at the right time.

    I have a similar quandary – heading on vacation, trying to decide what equipment to bring. My Leica MM is having its sensor replaced and won’t be back for at least “24 weeks”. My M9P was just returned with the new sensor – and yet the joy it once sparked has been tempered by its finicky nature and my distrust that this 3rd sensor is really “the one”. I’m considering selling it, along with an old MP, for an M10, but it is doubtful that I can get one prior to leaving. The Q is interesting, but I’m not sure if it is $4k better than the 28mm lense in my iPhone 7+. My D800E may be the “winner”, but the bulk…

    Perhaps, in my case, the cameras are fine – the issue may be that photography does not provide the sense of joy/creativity that it once did. Writers block for the photographer, perhaps?

    Keep taking the pics Peter, you have a good eye.

  18. I’m very grateful for all of the comments… which are very helpful.

    At this point, I’m running out of time to make any major changes, so it looks like it will be the M9.

  19. Sony RX1RII. Not sure how many people posting here have actually owned this camera to have used it long enough to have an opinion, or are just repeating negative internet wisdom, but if you normally like the M9 + 35 combo, and want to try something different, you should try the Sony. I have carried both sets with me for extended periods ,just to do a comparison. You would enjoy the same experiment yourself, I am guessing. In the end I don’t know which you would prefer, but you may not find the Leica combo to be the clear winner once you have processed the photos, even if you do end up preferring the Leica handling. Which of those two things is more important is a personal decision. An interesting and fun experiment; was for me anyway.

  20. Hi Peter,

    It’s not too late!!! Go get a Q. Its the one!

    I’ve owned or currently own most of the cameras you are currently shooting – except the Nikon gear.
    Let me put a strong word in for the Q.

    Super super carryable and really light for its awesomeness – no miniature but light for what it does and at the end of the day while you may be willing – I believe you are Full frame guy.
    1a. you will wear it all day and forget you are wearing it.
    28mm – and easy pre-crop to 35mm/50mm yes you lose some to do it – yeah so 🙂
    Super fast and super accurate AF.
    Electronic shutter option which is completely COMPLETELY silent.
    Fantastic Manual focus mode – yes its an EVF but what an amazing EVF – and you wanted a change anyway.
    Fixed Lens.
    6a. Cinematic amazing – you will use all day in the coffeebar you always shoot in.
    Fixed Lens – let me say it again – so there is no other glass you can even be tempted to bring.
    (This is for you special Peter). You get to use a non CCD digital Leica and at a minimum secretly re-evaluate it and see if you can use one with joy.
    Easy resale market for these. They are easy to buy but they are also easy to sell.
    A user interface you can relate to are used to.
    Excellent application of wifi and remote control as well

    Read Craig Mods review on it and also Ming Thein’s review. Excellent pieces of work.

    Leica Q.

    Tarry G

    1. LOL Tarry, you make we want to buy 5 of them!

      It’s too late for me right now to make a switch before the trip, but I will tell you I was soooooooo tempted to get the Q.


  21. Hi Peter,
    When my wife and I visited France, I found approximately 95% of my images were taken using the M mount Zeiss 25mm F2.8, followed by the LTM mount Pentax Special – L SMC 43mm f1.9, and the M mount Zeiss 50mm F2.0. Whilst in Greece, I again gravitated to the M mount Zeiss 25mm F2.8. Hope this helps, and doesn’t muddy the waters of choice.

  22. have been missing for a while…so what did you do in the end? Im guessing M9.

    My belated advice….choose one and rent it for a week or two. Itll confirm that you don’t really want to change from the M9 :-)! Ive do this now with lenses and cameras and just reinforces for me that having the alternative never really satisfies you. I’d prefer to take my $20 Yashica J and some film. Does get a bit tough with only 4 shutter speeds though :-(!

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