Q&A: Peter asks about new Leica M vs. M9P/ME, and lenses.

Inspiration, Leica 35mm Summarit f/2.5, Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE f/1.4, Q&A

Leica M and M-E - Prosophos.

Hi Peter,

I wonder if you would want to give me your personal opinion about my next photographic step.

I adore the way you placed life’s little moments in the picture. As a physician too I already know how fragile life can be and that we have to live it by enjoying or at least inhaling every little good moment. Your photos are wonderful.

I mostly make pictures of people who I care about and when I am abroad for meetings or holidays. I am a hobbyist but invest in my eye and technique. As an interventional cardiologist I also developed an eye for quality materials and technique and therefore I recently decided to go for my childhood dream camera, an M…no snob-ism involved.

Initially I used a second hand M9P for a day to see if I would like it, and I did. The colors and clarity are stunning. I came from a Nikon D700 with 24,35,50,85 primes. I kept the D700 and a 50 mm since sometimes I will likely need AF or high ISO capabilities and its not a bad camera at all. However the M has something special. It forces me more to make a perfect composition and exposure and the results seems very nice.

I always said I would keep my budget within certain constrains so now I would like your opinion on how to spend my money best:

  • new M + 35 summarit, 50 summilux, 90 elmarit / summicron preASPH

  • ME or M9P + 35 summilux 35, 50 summilux, 90 elmarit / summicron preASPH

I do not need video or live view but I am a bit worried about the M9P/ME high ISO capabilities and its re-activeness. The new M also will be more responsive and more silent.

Did you experience the high ISO quality or responsiveness of the M9 as a creatively limiting factor? I tend to use the lowest ISO setting I can and do not do a lot inside but as you do, sometimes I do. However I would like to have wide aperture lenses usable at full aperture or slightly stopped down. That way I guess I will rarely need higher than ISO 800 and I guess than image quality is still OK. I still have the Nikon D700 when really low light performance counts but I expect me to not have it with me anymore…
I tend to go for the extremely expensive summilux 35 more then a more expensive camera (new M). Do you like its character and can you comment on the difference with the rendering of the summarit 35?

Also did you have any troubles with skintones on the M9? What is your workflow there? Do you set your white balance ad hoc or later?

Many thanks


Hello Peter,

So many questions!  I’ll be concise, but hopefully comprehensive, in my responses.

In a nutshell, given you already have a D700, I would recommend:

  • M-E or M9(P) with EITHER 35 or 50 Summilux*.

(*i.e. one lens.  I wouldn’t bother with any other for now.  And really, it will free you.)

I should also inform you that I am biased towards CCD sensor-based cameras, even though the new “M” will have many features, the “older” technology wins out for me at base ISO (at least until I’ve seen evidence to the contrary).

Your question about the 35 Summilux vs. 35 Summarit:   Both are capable, but the 35 Summilux is the optically “superior” lens (sharpness, micro-contrast, etc), however it tends to “paint” with bold strokes which is desirable for some subject matter but may be too harsh for others.  The 35 Summarit, on the other hand, is a little more classic/delicate in its rendering with a smoother bokeh.   It’s a lovely little lens.  You may view examples from both the 35 Summarit and 35 Summilux on my site:



Ultimately, which you prefer is really a matter of personal taste, but if you opt for an M9 (vs. the new M), you really should purchase a Summilux lens for low light work.  Also, the Summilux (50 or 35) lenses are something special and need to be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

As for your question regarding whether the low ISO constraints of the M9 limit creativity, I’ll let my images speak for themselves.  I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, but as a practical answer.

Finally, I shoot in DNG (RAW) format and am able to make minor colour adjustments easily during post-processing, so I do not have any issues with “skin tones”.

I hope this helps, and I thank you for your very kind comments regarding my work.  Despite my answer above, I really do think the new M will be a terrific camera, so I believe you can’t go wrong either way.



Q&A: Bishop asks about shooting portraits with a 35mm lens.

Leica 35mm Summarit f/2.5, Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE f/1.4, Q&A, Teaching point

“I am new to following your site…via your guest blog entry on Steve Hufff’s site and I wanted to say I enjoy your work very much.  The tones, the processing when in color and your subject matter are a joy.  I look forward to seeing more of your posts in the future.

A quick question for you though.  I noticed many of your portraits are shot with a 35mm lens.  I am wondering if you are cropping your resulting image?  I ask because your portraits are closer than what I am achieving with a 50mm without being in the face of my own children.  Not that I am a purist and don’t crop images but I try not too.  Appreciate your comments on this as you are able.

I should also add that I enjoy how you capture your children in the midst of their activities…not an easy thing to do I am sure but what a great result.

Thanks and I look forward to more of your work.  

Best regards — Bishop”

Hi Bishop,

Thank you so much for writing, and for the kind words!

In answer to your question, I don’t often crop when using a 35mm lens*, because if I did, I would lose the more interesting perspective I get with this FOV, vs. the 50mm. It’s true that one needs to be more careful with distortion when photographing people with a 35mm lens (and to some extent distortion is always there), but with practice you learn to minimize it and/or take advantage of it.

It took me some time to learn how to do this, because I was always a “50mm photographer”, but the rewards have been worth it.  Of course, I still shoot with a 50mm lens!

I hope I’ve been able to help, and thanks again for writing,



*In those of my 35mm images where people appear “closer” than what you’re able to achieve with your 50mm lens, Bishop, I have obviously cropped the image.  Having said that, I’m normally photographing people as close as possible.

My “Photographing your family…” article featured on Steve Huff Photo.com!

Favourite, Inspiration, Konica Hexanon 60mm f/1.2, Leica 35mm Summarit f/2.5, Leica 35mm Summilux ASPH FLE f/1.4, Leica 50mm Summilux ASPH f/1.4, Nikon, Nikon (Nikkor) NOCT 58mm f/1.2, Portrait, Print

My “Photographing your family with the BEST photo equipment” article was featured today on SteveHuffPhoto.com!

I’m once again honoured and would like to thank Steve for his ongoing support of my work!

If you want to see the article, as posted on Steve’s site, please click here.

For convenience, I’m re-posting the images below.

Thanks for reading,


(please click on the images below to view them LARGE)