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Archive 2016 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?
  
 
Gary Clennan
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


I like your game plan. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.... M240 will be a great benefit in lower light when compared to the M9. I would recommend you consider starting with a Zeiss ZM lens - mostly all of which are superb. I would keep things simple and maybe start with a 35. My first choice would be a ZM35C (f/2.8) which is very compact and perfect all around lens, just not super fast. Looks like you may shoot a bit in lower light so maybe the ZM35/2 would be better for your needs. Slap that on your M240 and try it out - I have a feeling you are going to really like it.


Oct 16, 2016 at 02:38 AM
Dtwin
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


I have been shooting Leica for about 6 or 7 years now and like the OP I come from the Nikon system. I also have the Sony RX1r as a walking-around/night time camera.

To be honest, when friends are interested in getting a Leica rangefinder I find it hard to recommend. It does take a lot of dedication to master because it can be a really, really, frustrating experience for the first while and a lot of people get discourage by their low percentage of in-focus shots. Not to mention the cost of the system.

That being said, I don't know why people are convinced that Leica is THE camera to have for street shooting. So many street togs stop down and zone focus so they can quickly shoot without worrying about focus. If that's what you're going to do, you might as well get a something less expensive and easier to use.

Anyway, if you have your heart set on it, a used M240 is a good place to start if you want the safety net of liveview, which you probably will since rangefinders are easily knocked out of alignment and Leica takes weeks to months to turn around a camera sent in for calibration. The M240 has banding issues at high ISO, so personally I only rate it at a stop better in low light than the M9, which to me has a better look to the files.

For lenses, Zeiss is a good place to start, and are pretty available on the used market. There's a lot of options from Voigtlander that are less expensive but image quality wise are noticeably inferior to their Zeiss and Leica counterparts.

Honestly, I think you'd be best served by a X100t. You get the rangefinder-like experience, but with autofocus and excellent low light performance. You probably won't have to sell much Nikon gear to fund it either. A step up would be the RX1, which has much better image quality but isn't as fun to use as the X100 and has slower autofocus.



Oct 16, 2016 at 05:00 AM
rico
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


I also fail to understand these RF motivations—and I'm an RF shooter! At least on film, RF bodies tend to be small versus SLR, often avoid battery dependency, and there are no illusions about pixel-peeping. Modern technology offers AF, image stabilization, ultra-high ISO, EVF, miniaturization: all of which devalue RF advantages. RF is a throwback I cherish, but it doesn't make much sense when compared to my D500 or A7ii.


Oct 16, 2016 at 09:08 AM
thr1961
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


To clarify, at this point I am interested in exploring rf shooting but have zero experience. I am basing my interest on lots of reading and some (sorry) focused thinking about how I shoot. I am leaning towards the 240 and one lens to see if it is for me -- as noted, you can't know until you put in some time with the approach.

Spending $4k or so on used gear seems like a crazy test, but my logic is that I can give it a year and probably lose less than $1000 if I sell. I would essentially be renting for a year for $80 a month.

I hope this helps.



Oct 16, 2016 at 02:19 PM
pandaghost
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


I'm going to chime in on the pro-RF camp here.

I recently moved to digital RF in the form of the Leica M9... after years of contemplating and research. I have also gone the film RF route as suggested for years as well, and prior to getting the M9, I've had the A7R. And having said that, I don't regret the decision one bit.

Here's my stream of consciousness:

+ M9 is definitively the better built camera, the more rigid, and arguably just about as bulky/heavy as an A7R with a metal case, which you absolutely NEED because the A7R with its insane shutter can cause your shots to blur out if your shutter speed is between 1/60 - 1/125. This is a well-documented issue. On A7R, I have to shoot at 1/80 or faster. 1/125 minimum with an 85mm or longer lens. On M9, I can shoot as low as 1/30 - 1/45 handheld... with the same 85mm lens.

+ A7R's menu and interface is insane, and the fundamental functions that you actually NEED to shoot anything just... aren't there! Take for instance Auto ISO. There is no way to set minimum shutter. That's a massive oversight. Apps are slow to launch (not much better on A7Rii, since I have tried the same apps on my friend's camera), and overall not really worth the hassle since you can just take the shots as is and post-process them later. With A7R, to achieve the right shots, I need to at least set my shutter speed. On M9, most of the time, I feel that the auto settings are reasonably optimized enough that I can just pull the camera up to my eyes, focus, and shoot. Done.

+ Rangefinder patch is far more accurate than focus peaking, or even EVF magnifier. Reason is that the RF patch is an analog device. With my glasses on, I have close to perfect eyesight, so the M9 viewfinder ends up being of higher resolution than the A7R's EVF. So I no longer need to use focus peaking to detect edges, or zoom in to make sure I'm focusing right. I just snap away. On A7R, EVF magnifier is the most accurate, but at the same time, it's also the most inconvenient. You can't focus and then compose. You have to compose first, then focus, which is much slower for lenses with thinner DOF.

+ M9's output is just much better than A7R. It's so good that I rarely do any adjustment now. Used to be that I'd spend hours adjusting the A7R's files individually. A7R still has much better high ISO performance and dynamic range, of course. -100 Highlight on A7R actually isn't enough in most cases, whereas M9 will show clipping at -35. A7R can do -2Ev whereas M9 is limited to -0.5Ev on good days. A7R pretty much clips Lightroom's sliders, whereas M9 doesn't even make use of 1/3 of the range. But... that also means I spend more time applying gradients and radials and spots just to achieve the look I want. On the other hand, M9 for some reason has already achieved the low DR look that I want. One or two clicks and it's done. I have actually done the same things so often that I now have presets that are applied at import time, and then after that, the most I'd do is tweak WB by a little, whereas with A7R, more extensive tweaks are necessary. It's a pain.

+ M9's light meters... exposure, white balance, etc... are much more accurate than A7R. Sometimes the A7R makes me wonder if it's metering at all.

+ RF lenses are much better on M9 compared to A7R. Wide open or otherwise. 50mm and below. I don't think I have noticed much of a difference with lenses longer than 50mm, but with lenses wider than or at 50mm, I have seen so much of a difference that I'd say... if you shoot RF lenses at focal lengths up to 50mm, you should do yourself a favor and get a digital RF already. There is just no comparison.

+ M9's color output (this is different from DR and ISO performance, surely?) is much closer to what my eyes see. Every single time. It's like perfection. A7R's output is way off, even after calibration and individual adjustments of color channels, it's still way off. Red turns a bit orange-yellow with A7R, and sometimes yellow blends into orange, while green bleeds into yellow. Purple and magenta have a red-ish hint to them, and they are very pervasive in night shots. A7R does tend to purple fringe a lot easier than M9 for some reason. M9 is closer to film output to me.

+ M9 lasts longer on a battery charge than A7R. I can go about 2 days without needing a recharge with M9. I need to recharge my A7R at the end of the day... no doubt because the sensor is constantly feeding data to live view either in the LCD or EVF whenever the camera is on.

+ M9 turns on faster than A7R by a significant amount. A7R sometimes takes up to 20 - 30 seconds to be ready if it was turned off with an app still running last time (the camera will attempt to reload the app). The "decisive moment" thing people keep mentioning is real.

+ M9 with RF viewfinder allows me to see much more than just what my lens is seeing, and furthermore, I can open my other eye and see even more of the outside. In contrast, the A7R is a peepshow. I am aware of things that are about to go into my frame with the M9, whereas with the A7R, I can only see what's in the frame, or about to leave the frame. Even with no AF tracking, it's actually easier to follow the subject matter with M9 than it is with A7R, simply because you can anticipate where your subject will end up next beyond the frame.

And those are the main pro's, the con's are...

- M9 does go out of alignment sometimes during travels. This is not important if you shoot f/2 or smaller, but if you do f/1.4 or greater, you should keep a hex screwdriver of the right size on you at all time, so that you can adjust RF calibration on the spot. This frustrated me at first, but I've gotten used to it, so now it takes about 10-15 minutes to calibrate (just calibrate for closest focusing distance, or about 1m away), and the camera is good to go. Mine is accurate enough that I can nail focus at 85mm f/1.5 every single time. That's thinner DOF than 50mm f/0.95. With A7R, you don't have to worry about this.

- 1/4000th shutter speed limitation means anything brighter than f/1.4 is a no go in the morning. Even f/1.4 would blow things out in some cases, and due to limited DR, you can't easily recover those shots, so... in the morning, you're limited to shooting f/2.0 or below (hey, guess why Leica's Summicron lenses are so popular?). In contrast, A7R with 1/8000 shutter means you can even shoot f/0.95 in the morning. Well, I'm exaggerating, but f/1.1 and f/1.2 should be good to go.

- As stated, High ISO performance sucks. ISO 800 is the highest I'm willing to go before things turn into mush. I'm guessing the signal amplifier in the M9 only goes up to 800, and then everything else after that is pulled in software. I've actually taken ISO 800 and pulled things up in post and achieved similar results. On the other hand, A7R is comfortable up to ISO 3200. and is actually better at ISO 6400 than M9 is at ISO 1250. So A7R has a 2-stop ISO advantage and 1-stop shutter speed advantage over M9.

- As above, I've noticed that I do get at least 1 stop better highlight recovery and 2 stops better shadow recovery with A7R in all cases. That's huge DR advantage. If you find yourself shooting in extreme conditions with super harsh highlights and super dark shadows, I think any A7 camera will be better in those cases. M9 is simply unusable in those cases, unless you have a flash unit or reflector handy.

- A7R can be used with non-RF lenses, whereas with M9, you have to get those lenses mechanically converted. There aren't a lot of people in the world who can do such mechanical conversions. Plus precision is key here.

- AF is definitely better for one-handed operations, and when you need to take a shot of yourself with the camera on a tripod. Sure, you can zone-focus and stop the lens down as well, but then you can't take a very interesting self-portrait.

- A7R can be used wirelessly with a phone as the viewfinder. This is useful in cases where you want to mount the camera on a drone or on a tripod. M9 is stuck in your hands. So you can achieve more interesting compositions with a camera like the A7R, I think, while the M9 is a traditional you-have-to-do-everything camera.

- My A7R is covered in Aki-Asahi leather, so no branding is visible. It's completely black, and with RF lenses, it's super small and discrete. People actually see my M9 more than they see my A7R despite both being roughly the same size. So there's no such thing as "people are less afraid of my M9 on the streets" IMO. Both cameras work equally well for street photos, and for different reasons. With A7R, I use my phone as the viewfinder and the camera is pointed to... well, wherever. I feel like a pervert, but I have captured scenes with the A7R that are impossible to capture with M9.

- A7R can be charged via USB. M9 can't. This is the biggest advantage to the A7R IMO.

- M9 needs the battery sufficiently charged (>50%) to clean the sensor. On A7R, you can just clean away.

- M9 has the more delicate sensor than A7R, as I have had a friend sending his M9 in for a replacement due to a piece of dust stuck in the shutter causing a scratch on the sensor, and subsequently caused it to crack. I have done insane things to my A7R and the sensor is pristine despite it being exposed more so than M9's sensor. This is not to mention the corrosion issue. I haven't had anything happen to my M9 sensor yet, but I'm crossing my fingers.

I see merits in owning both. But personally, despite the flaws, I love the M9 more. It is indeed closer to pure photography. DR limitations can be circumvented for the most part if you set the camera to the right settings, and you'd have to go very very very dim in light for the M9 to be completely unusable. For the most part, I think what you need is fast glass on the M9 to be able to use it in poorer lighting condition (I guess this is why the Noctilux is so lusted after?).

If you still want to try digital RF after all that, I think you should consider the M9 + Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2.

Don't do M240. I have had 2 friends... who went with M240, only to regret it later and get the M9 again. The 1st dude actually warned the 2nd dude, too.

I have handled the friend's M240 as well, and I concur with his findings. It's a nicer camera than the M9 overall, but the CMOS sensor just doesn't have the same output (it's like a lesser A7 camera in output, if I have to put it that way?), the ISO advantage is actually not that much higher (it goes to ISO 1600 without issues, but then things take a nose dive), and the menu and button layout is much worse. The EVF was also worse than the A7. Hell, it was worse than Fuji's EVF. It's like Leica was trying to make an A7 camera, but couldn't quite get close. It was better than A7 with RF lenses, but you're still getting something that's much less than the A7.

I think unoh7's setup is the ideal: M9 + Kolari mod A7. Best of both worlds. A7 being a much better M240 if you need that, and M9 being the best digital RF camera.



Oct 16, 2016 at 06:26 PM
Xavier Rival
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


thr1961 wrote:
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.


There are other choices of course, but if you are looking into a 35mm lens, and want compact and under $1k, I think the Zeiss 35/2.8 C-biogon is really an excellent choice. It is sharp, contrasty, ultra small and light, well built, and you could probably get it used for a very good price (for what it is worth, I paid mine 600€ used ---even though it had been used only once, and the previous owner found he preferred to have a Leica style tab, which makes almost no difference in my experience).



Oct 16, 2016 at 08:18 PM
ocean2059
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


uhoh7 wrote:
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
...Show more

I read all the replies and I totally agree with Charlie - just get the M9. I understand the OP is thinking about a M240 but I still think that M9 is a better choice - a more 'pure' rangefinder experience plus the sensor output of M9 is very special! As for lenses, I would recommend a compact Leica 35/2 ASPH as a first lens.



Oct 16, 2016 at 11:01 PM
rscheffler
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


thr1961 wrote:
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.

Xavier Rival wrote:
There are other choices of course, but if you are looking into a 35mm lens, and want compact and under $1k, I think the Zeiss 35/2.8 C-biogon is really an excellent choice. It is sharp, contrasty, ultra small and light, well built, and you could probably get it used for a very good price (for what it is worth, I paid mine 600€ used ---even though it had been used only once, and the previous owner found he preferred to have a Leica style tab, which makes almost no difference in my experience).


If it's a sub $1K 35mm lens, I'd recommend the Voigtlander 35/1.7 (new M-mount version). Buy it from Europe and save about $200 on the black version. I've owned the ZM 35/2.8C, CV 35/1.2 II and used the ZM 35/2... The 35/2.8 is small, but IMO the 35/1.7 is technically a better lens. Some of the older Voigtlander designs were maybe not so great, but some of their latest easily compete with anything from Zeiss or Leica (and I'm a Leica fanboy). The 35/1.7 is one of these. The 35/1.2 is a good lens, but much larger and heavier (will block more of the viewfinder) with somewhat gentler, less technical rendering. The ZM 35/2 is kind of softi/low contrast wide open but very high technical quality by f/4. IMO the CV 35/1.7 is better at or near wide open

The only downside of the 35/1.7 IMO is its ergonomics. No tab, which I find really useful on the Leica lenses (very easy to know by feel what the focusing distance is).



Oct 17, 2016 at 05:49 AM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



uhoh7
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


ocean2059 wrote:
I read all the replies and I totally agree with Charlie - just get the M9. I understand the OP is thinking about a M240 but I still think that M9 is a better choice - a more 'pure' rangefinder experience plus the sensor output of M9 is very special! As for lenses, I would recommend a compact Leica 35/2 ASPH as a first lens.


I see the ASPH well under 2K now, and I agree, it's tiny size and strong performance at F/2 are compelling, though for some reason the lens is controversial. As others have mentioned, the ZM35/2.8 is great also for around 600USD, and for 300 you can get a CV 35/2.5, which the M9 likes fine, or the CV 35/1.4 for another hundred which is fast (though with distortion).

There are alot of people who think the OOC RAW output of the M9 is the best "kodachrome" in the digital age .

The sensor is guaranteed no matter the age or owner, but I would get one that has the latest sensor. Again, you see them often. At ISO 160 there is no stronger color Leica camera. Over 800 it gets pretty old school, but still you can use various tactics to use the M9 in low light.

The best tactic in that regard is the CV 35/1.2

The M240 vs M9 debate is still going strong, but a few things are not in question: the 240 has EVF capability and better high ISO, the M9 is at least a grand cheaper. Yes the old sensors are vulnerable to humidity (though mine is fine), however you can circumvent that whole issue easily.



Oct 17, 2016 at 04:06 PM
Mike Tuomey
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


uhoh7 wrote:
.... At ISO 160 there is no stronger color Leica camera. Over 800 it gets pretty old school, but still you can use various tactics to use the M9 in low light.

The best tactic in that regard is the CV 35/1.2


Best tactic in that regard is the M-Monochrom. Usable to 8000+ with beautiful "flat" contrast DNGs. Probably the only M9 variant worth the trip for me. Should never have sold mine, unlike the M9 which I let go without regret.

Lotta love for the M9 up above - and it is still a great RF rig, but the M240 and its variants realistically address a lot of the M9's troubles, and at current used pricing is not a lot more money than the M9. I'd rather have an M240 with a VC lens than an M9 with a Cron ASPH, but that's me of course.




Oct 17, 2016 at 05:30 PM
rscheffler
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


uhoh7 wrote:
.... At ISO 160 there is no stronger color Leica camera. Over 800 it gets pretty old school, but still you can use various tactics to use the M9 in low light.

The best tactic in that regard is the CV 35/1.2

Mike Tuomey wrote:
Best tactic in that regard is the M-Monochrom. Usable to 8000+ with beautiful "flat" contrast DNGs. Probably the only M9 variant worth the trip for me. Should never have sold mine, unlike the M9 which I let go without regret.

Lotta love for the M9 up above - and it is still a great RF rig, but the M240 and its variants realistically address a lot of the M9's troubles, and at current used pricing is not a lot more money than the M9. I'd rather have an M240 with a VC lens than an M9 with a Cron ASPH,
...Show more

+1 for the M240 over the M9. I still have my M9, used from 2010 until 2014, when I got the M240 and essentially never looked back.

That's not to imply M9 image quality is considerably different or inferior. In respect to resolution/sharpness of images, there is very little difference to note. The M240's sensor is somewhat better at higher ISOs and does offer wider dynamic range more competitive with contemporary mirrorless/DSLR options than the M9's CCD.

But image quality was not the reason for my decision to move to the M240. It was the shooting experience and expanded capabilities. Ignoring the debate about CCD vs. CMOS and the look of their respective files, the M9 behaves like a camera of the early 2000s (it's essentially an M8 with a FF sensor - the M8 being from 2006... given the lead time to develop it, it's not unlikely its electronics originate from the early 2000s). The M240 benefits from Leica's accelerated in-house digital capabilities (M8/M9 electronics were subcontracted) and is functionally more reflective of a 2010s era digital camera. It's more responsive and electronically stable with fewer quirks and much lower likelihood of lock-ups (though they still happen).

For my needs, the M240 is a more comprehensive photographic solution than previous RF options. While its live view and EVF is not state of the art and frequently ridiculed, it still serves the useful purpose of precise composition (when desired), particularly with UWA lenses, thus negating the need to carry auxiliary optical viewfinders (some of which cost much more than the 240's EVF). It also allows focus confirmation if/when RF focus might be considered unreliable, as well as adapting virtually all non-RF system lenses. While not a perfect (or even ideal) solution for this, it essentially does the same duty as a mirrorless donor camera intended to be used with adapted lenses with the benefit of optimum technical performance with rangefinder lenses.

Meanwhile it remains a great RF camera.

I still maintain a DSLR system because there are things it does better or more easily than RF (or mirrorless) that warrant keeping it. Yet, due to the M240's broader capabilities, I feel less need/desire to look at adding a third, mirrorless system, meanwhile benefit from the advantages of RF already expressed by others here. Its broader capabilities mean I frequently only take it instead of, or alongside my DSLRs. There's no longer as much debate about which of the two might be a better solution for the gray middle zone of overlapping capabilities, than when I used the M9. Therefore I'm less likely to bring both systems.

As someone else implied, if your end-use is for the web or average sized prints, pretty much any camera will deliver. If this is all I cared about, then I probably wouldn't shoot Leica. I do care about achieving fairly high technical results from my equipment, which IMO, Leica can deliver (as well as the Zeiss and Voigtlander RF lenses recommended by others), but I also care about the image creation process. While I do it professionally to pay the bills, it was originally (and still is) for enjoyment. If it's not fun, I probably won't care about it, therefore, what's the point? (Professionally, the point is generating revenue, even if the gig is no fun.) What I'm getting at is I can't separate end results from the user experience - RF provides for me a better user experience than most other currently available systems and technologies while also delivering the technical results I expect (I don't expect perfection - please don't fall into the trap of expecting Leica to be perfect).

As you've already concluded, you'll need a lot more time than a few days' rental to determine whether or not you'll find the RF approach agreeable, during which time you should keep your DSLR gear. You may find you like both and will have reasons to keep both as complementary systems. Buying used is a logical solution that allows the time needed to make such an informed decision. Yes, to really know if you'll like RF, you'll need to invest considerable time (and money), which of course presents some risk. IMO, it's worthwhile because you won't know otherwise and there are no other systems available that truly replicate the RF experience, despite what some might claim.



Oct 17, 2016 at 09:55 PM
thr1961
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


While I respect the M9 views, I am still fairly certain that the 240 is a better choice for me.

In re-reading the thread, I took another look at the Leica Q and must admit I am intrigued. I know it is not a rf but there is something compelling about the concept. Thoughts?

I just returned from 4 days in Nicaragua and only used my iPhone. I am certain I want to be able to travel lightly and be able to compose images that strike me. Slowing down with the rf approach is one option; the Q a different path; and the Fuji X100t a third. I am getting closer but still unsure....



Oct 18, 2016 at 01:38 AM
Mike Tuomey
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


thr1961 wrote:
.... In re-reading the thread, I took another look at the Leica Q and must admit I am intrigued. I know it is not a rf but there is something compelling about the concept. Thoughts?

I just returned from 4 days in Nicaragua and only used my iPhone. I am certain I want to be able to travel lightly and be able to compose images that strike me. Slowing down with the rf approach is one option; the Q a different path; and the Fuji X100t a third. I am getting closer but still unsure....


if i were good with just 28mm, the Q would be my everywhere cam. no doubt. if you were good with an iPhone's FL, the Q should be in your sights, whether RF or not.

the Q is reason enough to make 28mm my main FL. or should be. what a great little image maker. wish it weren't $4k.


Edited on Oct 18, 2016 at 11:52 AM · View previous versions



Oct 18, 2016 at 02:08 AM
ken.vs.ryu
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


q is not rf.

get a 35 summicron or the mamiya 6 in the b&s forum.



Oct 18, 2016 at 02:12 AM
Dtwin
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


thr1961 wrote:
In re-reading the thread, I took another look at the Leica Q and must admit I am intrigued. I know it is not a rf but there is something compelling about the concept. Thoughts?


I have the Q as well, it's a brilliant camera (that my wife keeps stealing!). It focuses really quickly, is better in low light than the M240 and is nearly silent when shooting. The EVF is really, really good but still an EVF and will never be as nice as an optical viewfinder, in my opinion.The lens is also superb and it has the best manual focus experience out of any of the fixed lens cameras out there.



Oct 18, 2016 at 02:42 PM
uhoh7
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · Opinions on adding/moving to RF?


Pretty good YT on M9 vs M240 real world:




Oct 23, 2016 at 04:34 PM
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