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Archive 2016 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?
  
 
thr1961
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


I was surprised that there was not already a thread on this, but perhaps I missed it...

Owner of a Nikon D750, Nikon 24-70 2.8, 80-200 2.8, and a 50mm 1.8 prime. The past year, I spend almost exclusively walking around with the prime, leaving the 100 pounds of glass at home. My interest with this body is street shooting and architecture.

I am now considering either adding a RF (or RF-capable) body and prime lens, or if the argument is to in fact "go Leica" sell the Nikon gear to fund it. I am hoping for some help here after finding the drama around Leica vs Sony vs Fuiji to be overwhelming. I do not want video. I want FF if possible. I do not need hundreds of controls and do not need "live view" (although i am not crazy enough to go with no review at all despite the Leica in said category!)

As of now, I find the M (type 262) intriguing since it has no video. But the price...

I read that Fuiji is all that Leica is and more (Ken Rockwell), but again...

I have a friend with 2 Leicas who said if he was to do it again, he would go Sony.

All thoughts, suggestions, and comments welcome. Thank you.



Oct 11, 2016 at 12:36 AM
banpreso
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


why do you want to shoot rangefinder? if size is the reason then you should look into sony full frame (a7 series or rx1). if you like to try the rangefinder experience i suggest you rent first. you can also look into non leica rangefinder film cameras to lower the price point. from your post it doesn't seem like you are dead set on leica. renting for a weekend may just scratch the itch.

i personally find rangefinder style shooting don't work for me. the focus patch is too small and it limits my composition. i can't get good framing as i like to keep vertical lines (like buildings) straight up and down which is difficult to do with rangefinder camera.




Oct 11, 2016 at 12:57 AM
genji
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


banpreso's advice to rent a Leica is sound, though I'm also wondering whether your friend with the two Leicas would allow you to borrow one for a couple of days. I used a Leica M2 exclusively for a few years a long time ago and enjoyed both the experience and the results. But, before buying a digital Leica and an M-mount lens, you'd want to be really sure that rangefinder style shooting suits you.

As an alternative to borrowing or renting a Leica, I'd suggest that you pick up a secondhand Sony A7 body, a Type II Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM (Leica Thread Mount) lens, and a decent quality LTM->E-mount adapter. The Canon LTM 50/1.4 is frequently referred to as "the Japanese Summilux" and, because so many were manufactured, you should be able to find an excellent copy for around USD200.

It's not a Leica but this combination is relatively inexpensive, it aligns closely with your interests, is unobtrusive, easy to focus, and will give you a feel for shooting with a small manual-focus system.



Oct 11, 2016 at 03:07 AM
uhoh7
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


Get a M9 with a new sensor and don't look back. You will love it. These come up for sale pretty often.

About 2200 USD for the body and there are many affordable lenses which work great on it.

M240s are coming down to 3500ish and will do better in low light, though a tad heavier. They take an EVF also. But for daylight low ISO shooting the M9 can produce incredibly clean images with great colors and WB straight out of the camera.. It's images respond very well to LR tweaks, much better than Sony RAWs, but you edit less than with a 240 or A7.

I also shoot A7 Kolari modified. The M9 basically kills it in both handling and output. The M9 is also a far tougher camera. Plus people think it's a film camera and are more relaxed around a M than a Sony.

People who think RF is an outdated way to focus don't use one much. The M9 focus is faster and more accurate in all light than the Sony's EVF and peaking or Mag. I say that after 50k shots+ with both systems.


DSC06189 by unoh7, on Flickr

You probably know about this place:
http://www.rangefinderforum.com



Oct 11, 2016 at 04:25 AM
Jack Thompson
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


I would definitely try to get your hands on a few cameras that fit the bill, see how you like the ergonomics and image quality, that will ultimately give a great sense of things. Rangefinders and rangefinder focusing is not for everyone and just because some love doesn't at all mean you will.

I feel like, objectively, it is true that Leica rangefinders offers up a whole experience that you really can't get anywhere else, and those that fall in love with that experience are willing to let go of the things rangefinders don't do well in exchange, which I totally get. We all do this with our cameras of choice.

I have shot with an M3, M9, Fuji X100S, XPro 1, XT-1, A7, A7R and A7RII, having been pretty rooted in Canon full frame DSLRs before that.

What I love about the M9? The body is solid and beautiful, even though it is digital, still feels like a part of the Leica heritage. Access to the whole range of Leica M glass from different eras with different looks, plus Zeiss ZM, Voigtlander, etc, etc. Small and compact.

What I don't like? The dynamic range and higher ISO performance of the M9 is way behind the times, way behind what you may have gotten used to with the D750 and this really limits the shooting envelope to get the most out of the files.

For me, this point translated into not really being able to transition well into shooting in fading light while traveling or shooting on the street. For the price you pay for an M9, I just couldn't accept this limitation. Plus, for as tough as Leica rangefinders feel, the rangefinder system can go out of whack with some normal bumps from travel, which totally sucks, and if you have questions about that you won't have to look far for folks who found their system chronically going out of calibration, so much so that they bailed on Leica rangefinders all together. I was at a Leica dealer in Chicago a few weeks ago (Tamarkin Camera) and who walked in behind me? A guy who's M240 rangefinder needed recalibration.

What I can say about the Fuji X cameras like X100's, the X Pro 1/2 and the XT-1/2 is that they succeed coupling very traditional, film like ergonomics with modern sensors, and glass that renders with a classic beauty. The fuji rendering is one that is not inferior to Leica, just different. Contrasty, super sharp, vibrant, yet natural colors, beautiful skin tones...all things you find people saying who love the way Leica lenses render.

Having fast, compact (compared to a dslr) glass that autofocuses is part of the equation that pushes many over the edge towards Fuji. I would do some tests with the XT-2 and XPro 2 against an Leica M9, especially ones where exposure latitude at high ISO are factors. My sense is that you will be surprised at how the smaller Fuji sensors fare.

Because I needed a great landscape camera in addition to a compact travel, street camera, I went with the A7RII, and it gives me the opportunity to travel with one small prime when I want to, or a few small primes if I want to, tailored to whatever my needs/fancies are at moment, and still feel very fast and light. Little, high performance autofocus lenses? Check. The Zeiss 25 f2, Sony Ziess 35 2.8 and 55 1.8 are totally compact, and very high performance.

If I want to get outside the box, with the Tech Art Pro adapter, I can go with alternative lenses and get autofocus too.

I scratch the Leica itch with a lovely and pretty damned light 50 summicron R (E55) with autofocus, I can walk around with the fast and brilliant Leica M mount Zeiss 35 Distagon 1.4 (with autofocus) that moves from day to night brilliantly, and I can shoot wide and manual with the stunning Zeiss Loxia 21 2.8, which is TINY compared to its SLR counterparts. All on a stabilized camera body with great high ISO capability, fantastic high dynamic range, and 42 megapixels.

Does the A7RII have the romance and emotional appeal as an M9? To me, no at all, not by a long shot. But for its versatility and awesome image quality, and size, romance was something I was willing to give up.

Frankly, if I didn't have to deal with wanting a kick ass landscape camera, I'd probably get an XT-2 or an XPro 2. If money was tight, I'd get an XT-1. And if I was really wedded to the rangefinder piece and Leica? I'd do some research and find out how far out a new M camera is, and if it was within the limits of my patience to wait, I would and snatch up a 240 when people start to sell them to get into the latest/greatest.




Oct 11, 2016 at 07:35 PM
thr1961
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


Thanks for all the answers thus far.

I am intrigued by the Fuji X100T as it costs about twice the amount of RENTING a Leica M240 and lens for 6 days!

Support for higher ISO is important to me as I tend to favor shooting at dusk or using light and shadow. The M9 worries me more than a little in that regard.

The M240 plus a single prime is possible, but the more I read about the weight and the need to recalibrate, the more I am drawn to an alternative. I am curious as to how the X100T sounds based on my requirements?



Oct 11, 2016 at 10:24 PM
Jack Thompson
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


If you really like 35, you are in there. They make a 28mm lens converter, and maybe one other, but I've not seen how well they play together.

The X100 bodies, especially the S and T are sweet! If a 240 was possible, I'd take a look at the X-PRO2 and the 23 f2 and the 23 1.4 if you like the 35mm focal length. That way if you ever wanted to add a lens here or there, its up to you and you're not locked in to a fixed lens, and you get the benefit of their new tech, which is pretty rad.



Oct 11, 2016 at 10:59 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


Jack Thompson wrote:
If you really like 35, you are in there. They make a 28mm lens converter, and maybe one other, but I've not seen how well they play together.


Yes, there are two auxiliary lenses; WCL-X100 wide conversion, with 28mm equiv. AOV, and TCL-X100 normal conversion, with 50mm equiv. I have used both on a pair of X100S during intimate ceremonies, where the X100-series leaf shutters are great. They're both fairly neutral in terms of their effects on IQ. The WCL 28mm is quite small and doesn't affect handling in a big way, but the TCL is relatively large, and makes the camera a bit nose-heavy. OTOH, it works fine.





Oct 12, 2016 at 12:02 AM
uhoh7
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


X100T is a great faux RF, and a very nice camera.

What does it have in common with a full frame Leica M?

Not a thing

That's good and bad depending on the aspect and your preference.

But you can't go wrong with the Fuji, that's why it's so popular

On the other hand, many have bought "the real thing" and did not take to it. It took me several months to really get used to and use the M9 RF decently, but from the start the images had me hooked. Now I get a headache if I use the A7 EVF alot


Barton by unoh7, on Flickr


DSC08945 by unoh7, on Flickr


DSC06958 by unoh7, on Flickr

I have dragged that camera basically everywhere I go, backcountry, skiing, etc. If weight is a serious issue, which it certainly can be, I take small lenses and less of them



Oct 13, 2016 at 03:12 AM
Mike Tuomey
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


as sexy and cool as leica M is, and no camera is more so imho, manual OVF rangefinders can have a frustratingly long learning curve. you have to shoot a lot, and not intermittently, if you're going to be fluid using one. so, the decision process becomes paradoxic: to know whether you like RFs enough to buy one you have to shoot one more than a little, and to shoot one more than a little you have to own one. argh.

logic aside, spending time on the streets with just one M body and a 35 (or 50) could go on forever in my book.





Oct 13, 2016 at 04:51 PM
 

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retrofocus
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


I am using both, rangefinder and mirrorless (also still DSLR to some part, but this is not the question here). I am still using film rangefinder Leica M series cameras and have no experience with digital Ms. But here some pros and cons of each system from my experience.

RANGEFINDER M CAMERAS
+ very easy to work with, not complicate, focus on most important functions only
+ Excellent rangefinder focus: faster to focus MF lenses than with any other focus peaking or magnification systems of my A7R
+ Bright viewfinder, frame lines are advantageous to see outside the field of view
+ No compatibility issues with M glass as compared to Sony mirrorless
+ less conspicuous (especially with taped Leica dot and name)

- In general the price tag of digital Leica M cameras (even older used ones IMO)
- Digital M cameras don't use the best CMOS sensors on the market currently
- Built quality of newer digital M cameras is not the same compared to the earlier film ones like M6, M7.


SONY FF MIRRORLESS
+ Good functionality, many electronic features (most you won't even use)
+ Compatible with all kind of different lens brands with suitable adapters
+ Light and less bulky (the original A7 series is best in this regard)
+ Apps and WiFi if this is important
+ Original A7 series camera can be bought for a good price tag now
+ Excellent sensor technology

- Issues with ultra-wide RF lenses due to thicker sensor glass cover
- A bit more post-processing needed with Sony RAW files (contrast/colors)
- Still overpriced A7R II camera for what it delivers
- Focus peaking is useless with faster lens apertures
- Bit cumbersome focus magnification in the original A7 series
- Shutter noise is a debit for less conspicuous street photography (A7 cameras with mechanical shutter)

Regarding Fuji, it eliminates itself if you prefer a FF sensor. If you are willing to cope with a smaller APS-C sensor (other than the latest and new medium format stuff), Fuji is a good option.



Oct 13, 2016 at 06:56 PM
Gary Clennan
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


Have you considered the Leica Q? Great street camera IMO. With my personal needs, I still come back to the M240. I love the RF for street and also the option to change lenses. It would be great if you could somehow try a Leica RF for a whole day on the streets. It is certainly not a camera for everyone. You may also want to look into the Ricoh GR as well....


Oct 13, 2016 at 08:06 PM
shujert
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


Mike Tuomey wrote:
as sexy and cool as leica M is, and no camera is more so imho, manual OVF rangefinders can have a frustratingly long learning curve. you have to shoot a lot, and not intermittently, if you're going to be fluid using one. so, the decision process becomes paradoxic: to know whether you like RFs enough to buy one you have to shoot one more than a little, and to shoot one more than a little you have to own one. argh.

logic aside, spending time on the streets with just one M body and a 35 (or 50) could go
...Show more

Completely agree with Mike. If you want a Leica M for the uncomplicated, yet higher-effort experience of shooting with a rangefinder, you really have to spend a good bit of time with it to get past the steep initial learning curve. Renting one really won't provide any answers for you, it's just not enough time to give it a fair shake.

I've done the Leica thing, gotten frustrated, left, came back, left, only to come back again because the experience of shooting a RF is the most engaging and pure form of photography I've come across so far. Sure, I miss some shots, but when i do, it's user error. There's nothing more frustating to me than to have my tool miss focus for me, which happened often while using any of the multitude of Fuji or Sony cameras I've owned. I can confidently say my keeper rate is no less with a Leica than with any other mirrorless camera I've tried.



Oct 13, 2016 at 09:06 PM
uhoh7
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


The last posts really say it all

I got the M9 just a month after I bought my A7 in late 2013, due to the sony problem with wide M lenses.

I was totally in shock with focus and framing on first use and for some time. I thought, well, this is anti-diluvian, but the results are so good I'll just put up with it.

It grew on me.

Once you are in tune with your RF, shooting can be done really fast. So easy on the eyes, too.



Oct 13, 2016 at 09:07 PM
Xavier Rival
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


Interesting, I went through a similar path a few months ago.
Had Canon DSLRs (FF) as my main system, was using primes more and more and was looking for compactness.

I kept the Canon system, and added an M9, with three compact lenses. I am quite happy with the system so far.
Pros:
+ very compact, quite light, especially if taking not too many, small primes to go with it (it also makes it possible to pack in very small bags, so makes travelling a lot more fun).
+ very straightforward operation, allowing to focus on the essential things.
+ not conspicuous (I did underestimate that one, but am impressed by the difference it makes).
+ convenient workflow (DNG, SD cards that go directly into the laptop, etc).
Cons:
- sensor clearly way behind in noise and dynamic range.
- electronic quirks (crashes, sensor delamination issue ---though covered by Leica free of charge!).
- not very impressive battery life.



Oct 13, 2016 at 09:42 PM
MAubrey
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


If you really want to practice with RF, you could also get a cheap fixed lens film RF, run a solid 15-20 roles of film through it, and get that film developed for the same price as renting an M-E for a week.


Oct 13, 2016 at 09:47 PM
Sam_W
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


As I've mentioned in another thread/post, Leica is more in the market for selling an experience, than photographic equipment; it just happens that said experience is achieved through their cameras/lenses.

So if photography is more of a passion or hobby that provides you with an (emotional) expression of how you view the world or capture fleeting moments, then there's nothing like a Leica. There's an experience there that's generations old, going back to probably your great grandparents' photographic experiences. It's a lineage in artistic self-expression, if you will. (Probably why the Monochrom sells so well. And the M without a screen. And the... etc.)

That being said, you have a choice to make: take up what feels like a legacy, and have a part of you feel like you're always behind technologically and kind of "refugee from the wrong time", or be in the tech rat race, waiting for the next greatest thing with the greatest MTF curves and contrast and most pixels and fastest AF (that latches on, but not quite where you meant for it to...).

It's a tough choice, even when money isn't an issue, because after a number of years, both options cost just as much: you can get a Leica fully-manual lens that'll last you 15-30 years and costs more than a kidney, or you can go through a bunch of plastic-y autofocus glass that breaks down or is simply outdated every 3-5 years.

Ditto for camera bodies. You buy an M for the experience and getting reasonably-sized prints some day for that photo book to hand to the grandkids. Or you get latest and greatest and a fast computer to process the gigantic files. You still only get a few hundred KB of data into a Facebook-sized photo.



Oct 14, 2016 at 03:43 AM
uhoh7
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


Sam_W wrote:
As I've mentioned in another thread/post, Leica is more in the market for selling an experience, than photographic equipment; it just happens that said experience is achieved through their cameras/lenses.

So if photography is more of a passion or hobby that provides you with an (emotional) expression of how you view the world or capture fleeting moments, then there's nothing like a Leica. There's an experience there that's generations old, going back to probably your great grandparents' photographic experiences. It's a lineage in artistic self-expression, if you will. (Probably why the Monochrom sells so well. And the M without a screen.
...Show more

I think this is a common view, but essentially a stereotype. I'm not sure what Leica is trying to do exactly, but your prime lens choices from 18 to 135mm are basically second to none. Today. Right now. OK, yes you can find a few Otus lenses and other primes which approach or exceed the standard set by Leica for the 35mm frame. The ones that do beat the M lenses are almost all much bigger and heavier.

Yes, the bodies are much more simple to use and do not have some DSLR options, or shoot good video. However if you just want to pick up a camera and shoot what is in front of you, they again are second to none. You are no longer trying to put a moon lander down. You are taking a picture. That's way more than just a legacy thing. It's a VERY natural way to shoot.

There is no zoom (wate excepted), no autofocus. That's a huge negative for many people, understandably.

As to cost, unless you need new things, it's basically just the same as high end Canikon gear, or Sony lenses/bodies. Used Leica lens prices are lower than ever. You can get a 28 Cron for 2k now. Arguably the best 28 in the world. And many great lenses for alot less than that. The ZM lenses can all be found for around 600USD, excepting the 15 and the 85/2, and the new 35/1.4. CV are cheaper yet. Many excellent older lenses. Each with a certain flavor.

As to the megapixels, they rarely mean a thing. The glass is more important. Sure there are exceptions and certain situations where 42 mp is real nice. Cropping. If you don't crop, it's moot, unless you are printing huge on state of the art printers. Otherwise 18 or 24 is plenty.

The Leica RF digital M cameras are a specific photographic tool. You have motorbikes designed to do all sorts of different things. If you like backcountry single track alot of them are not going to work well

But some work fantastic


Spanish Horse by unoh7, M9 and 90 Summarit.

Rather than have one motorbike which is mediocre at everything, many chose to have to have several, each with a purpose.



Oct 14, 2016 at 05:24 AM
ken.vs.ryu
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


MAubrey wrote:
If you really want to practice with RF, you could also get a cheap fixed lens film RF, run a solid 15-20 roles of film through it, and get that film developed for the same price as renting an M-E for a week.


do this.

http://photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00CiHG



Oct 14, 2016 at 12:18 PM
thr1961
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


This has evolved into a really fascinating conversation and has definitely pushed me into thinking about how I shoot and what I want to get out of this next phase of my photography.

Based on this, I do suspect I will find meaning in shooting with a RF system, and I do not see it in any way replacing my D750. I do imagine I might shed a lens, and oddly find myself wanting to lose the 24-70 and keep the much older 80-200. There is something about the glass in this older model that I simply love.

In terms of a lighter, street-worthy option, it is clear that renting a Leica is just not an option as it is a process of time and not just a weekend. That said, it seems that if I buy a used M9 0r M240, I could likely try it out for a longer period of time and then sell it with a loss far less than the cost of a rental.

At this point, while the simplicity of the M9 (and lower cost) is a draw, I am definitely a shooter who loves dusk and low light. The improved high ISO of the 240 feels like a worthwhile reach for me in terms of cost. Thus, I turn to glass, and am thinking 28, 35 or 50, and only buying a single lens given the cost and this being a "test."

So for now, thoughts on my current analysis (buy and then possibly sell), the choice of a 240 and then suggestions as to a lens (used) that will be well under $1,000.

Thanks again to all.



Oct 16, 2016 at 12:53 AM
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