Leica M9.

2020, Inspiration, Leica M9(P)/M-E (CCD Lives!)

11 years after its introduction, the Leica M9 continues to stand out.

In this video, we see it hold its own against the Hasselblad X1D, which has a larger and more modern sensor.

Imagine what would have been possible if CCD technology had continued developing?

My Open Letter to Leica ultimately fell on deaf ears (Leica never acknowledged  it, and quite a few individuals in the Leica community openly ridiculed it).  For those of you who signed it, time has proven you were on to something.  As for the rest, you can still sign it, if you’ve had a change of heart 🙂

We, the fans of the M9 sensor, may not have gotten what we wanted, but years later the camera that was introduced in 9/9/2009 continues to prove to the world why it’s so special.



28 thoughts on “Leica M9.

  1. I signed, if I recall correctly.

    Your point on where we would be had Leica continued to develop its cameras with the CCD sensor is well taken. Instead we have the 40MM M10-M and M-10-R sensors. It seems these two cameras are being adopted by people who think more resolution means better images. Indeed, seeing the work being produced with those those cameras, with few exceptions, drove me to look at what I did some years ago with the iPhone and Hipstamatic software and the Ricoh GRDx cameras, whose sensors are the size on one’s pinky nail. I’ve posted that on my Instagram <@mitchalland>, not a platform that I particularly care for.

    1. Yes, you did sign Mitch, thank you.

      The M10 line of cameras are very nice, but the M10-R sensor does not excite me either. I think the look it produces is similar to what you get with Canon-Nikon-Sony. Still, I love rangefinder shooting so much, and Leica really does the simplicity thing so well, that I would still pick up an M10-R over anything else… if I was in the market.
      But I’m not. These days, I’ve been sticking with film and an M film body.

      1. Yes, the rangefinder experience is very special indeed.

        BTW I think my want for making photos is creeping back in. Just getting a feeling again. When asked by my daughters, “What would you like for Christmas?”…..it was a Crumpler messenger bag.

        Now I need to decide what to put in it?! Alas, it won’t be an M10 or M10R.

          1. A Leica is being considered. Down to three options. None of them new.

            I have a perfectly good Nikon Z6 in my cupboard. But that’s the problem. I’m just not inclined to use it, especially for street photography.

            It’s strange how that all works, from a psychological perspective.

  2. Hey Peter,

    Long time reader Dalal here.

    Have you considered getting the M9 again? Personally Im tempted to have it back again even though I have the M10.

    All the Best,

    1. Hi Dalal,

      I’ve thought about it. A lot. If Leica sold new ones (and backed them up with a warranty), I would.

      As for used, it’s getting more difficult to find mint copies with replaced sensors. For the few ones that exist, the sellers know their value and charge prices that I’m not comfortable paying, given the out-of-warranty status of the cameras.

      Isn’t it amazing that a digital camera released in 2009 with a sensor designed years before that continues to be in demand? Amazing, but not surprising, at least to me.

        1. I tried to write to them a few months back. Twice. Never got a response.

          EDIT: I should clarify that, given this was during the pandemic, I can’t say my little email was a priority for them. Totally understandable.

          1. Peter, give it a try again, communication was weak during the beginning of the pandemic. my friend Adam Lerner just purchased an M9P and will have it shipped to Leica NJ from Wetzlar. the right contact would be Paul.Kunz at leica-camera.com

            1. Thanks Marc. As you can probably tell, I actually am tempted again, but I’m not going to give in. I’ve been enjoying the freedom that my M2 gives me. Sure, it’s not as convenient and it’s not instantaneous, but I don’t have to worry about it falling apart in a few years either. I’m sticking with it.

              1. I can totally understand you, man. the M2 is amazing. I have been shooting my film mp mostly these days. with portra or lomo800. bought some trix now because local labs are closed now due to lockdown.

  3. The M9 still produces the best undefinable ‘something’ in IQ that no other digital camera can match. As a camera, it is ultimately satisfying.

      1. The problem is as I see it, the masses seem obsessed with low light performance which we know CCD can’t achieved when compared with CMOS. However how many of us go out shooting in the dark? Sure the occasional photo but nothing too significant. Put a 24 mp CCD sensor in the current M10 body and I would be a very happy man. Sure, live-view can be handy, but hardly a vital ingredient of a rangefinder…..

        1. So true Steve re low light performance. Next to resolution, it would be the most commented-on feature in modern cameras.

          The one thing Leice do above and beyond any other company (and charge a premium for) is talking about “the experience.” And that is largely what it is ALL about for any of us.

          1. I agree Andy. Like most of us (I’m 55 and photography has been my passion since I was 15), I grew up with film. My only ever concern when using film was that whoever developed it, did a good job. The actual art of photography was simplicity itself. Just like the M9 now. Modern cameras are at the end of the day, wildly over complicated and I just get frustrated with them. And only the M9 gives that CCD colour and look that I’ve come to love so much.

  4. The M9 remains one of my favourite, perhaps even the favourite, cameras of all time. It has shot in dark Japanese temples, at weddings of family and friends, national level athletes in training and competition, empty shelves in a pandemic-time supermarket, and so much more. The colours and clarity are like nothing I’ve seen from any other camera, with the narrow exception of the Ricoh GXR-M module. Just picked up a Zeiss Distagon 35/1.4 ZM, and it’s a dream all over again.

  5. Happy New Year Peter. I like your photos a lot. I was just going back through the archives a bit and I really love the colors you were getting out of you M9. Even more-so than the latest film shots. It is a shame Leica didn’t continue a niche CCD body. I’m still shooting my original Monochrom but the sensor is really corroding and I feel really disheartened about how they handled the problem. I don’t want a discount on a new body, I want a recall. Anyway I am rambling now…. Happy shooting and all the best!

    1. Can’t disagree about the colours from the M9… best digital colours I’ve ever come across.

      As for the recent film shots, you have to take the colours with a grain of salt. Most of them have been taken in incandescent or poor light (where the M9 did even worse).

      And finally, re: Leica continuing with a niche CCD body, that’s what my Open Letter practically begged them to do. They had other plans.


      1. Thanks Peter. I did sign your open letter, I’ve been reading your blog for years. I also used to argue on the L-camera blog about ccd vs cmos. I find it really interesting that a lot of people just can’t see the difference, or claim its easy to match in post…it’s not.
        I have been shooting a 645z now for a number of years, and I don’t really like the colors from this Sony sensor either. I’m tempted to get an older 645D body with that Kodak ccd chip. Although it does get a bit tiring with the constant search for the perfect camera.

        I forgot to say earlier, as a newish dad I really appreciate all of your family shots. You can really tell you are a great dad just by looking into your kids eyes. Cheers!

        1. Awww, Mike, what a nice thing to say, thank you so very much. Congratulations on being a new-ish dad!

          BTW, I know you signed the letter. My comment was intended for those who didn’t know all the history and drama, LOL.

          The sensor in that 645D was sooo nice — very reminiscent of the M9’s. Too bad the ergonomics of the 645D killed it for me (write speed to the SD card was so slow that shooting a medium format film camera would be faster). But for a studio or landscape photographer, it might not be so bad.

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