I was sitting in my car on the Autostrade to Rome, pretending nothing had happened. 37 months after the Leica M9 disappeared into the closet, the Leica M9 returned.
First 179,000 actuations on my two Leica M9 cameras and then a few years without any action, then I called my Leica M9 back into action. What should have been a few days turned into a few weeks and then suddenly more than a month.
Yes it is manual focus, as it always was. I could try to explain the simplicity, but their eyes dartswith the jealousy of the illiterate.
Years with automatic focus, and many other automatic buttons to help control a number of photographic problems that never existed, have created monsters of cameras operated by a generation of photographers, dealing with the subject of photography as if it was incomprehensible.
That is what people appreciate about their smartphones, the simplicity of it all. What manufacturers of small digital cameras could learn from that is that people like simplicity. Yet the rule is that the smaller a digital camera becomes, the more complex the menu also becomes.
With the Leica M9 it’s easy to see how simple it is. An island of solitude, unsponsored, free.
“You're not a camera,” I whisper to it when I look through its viewfinder. “You are a Leica. Possibilities of emotion and adventure.”
I was soon to realize that it has all I need, even with it’s much slower pace and the less detailed preview screen on the back.
The screen is raw and lacks a lot of the finer details. Darker tones appear as pitch black often, but you quickly get used to it. I see enough on the preview screen to be able to judge that the exposure is right or if it needs adjustment.
I took it the simple way. I had to. After all, my trusted Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 was also in the factory in Wetzlar for a much needed checkup (for the second time in a few years I had banged it so hard against something that the filter thread needed to get replaced. I couldn’t screw on an ND filter, that’s how bent the front tube of the lens was).
I didn’t use a lot of lenses. The initial return to the Leica M9 was with the purpose to just have a camera with me so I wouldn’t feel all-naked.
I feel accomplished that I can use a 7-year-old digital camera and get it to work. Hardly any noticeable difference if it was this or a brand-new model.
But let’s not fool ourselves. I’m not suggesting we all go back and buy a Leica M9. As soon as the Leica M10 hits the shelves some time after January 2017, we’ll want that one. Every fiber in us will work overtime on finding arguments why it is necessary to have.
Hopefully the most prominent features of the Leica M 241 will be that there aren’t any features.
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I feel the return to the Leica M9 didn’t make it more difficult to make photographs. It has a steadiness about it, a toughness without the show.You should think a new improved Leica M 240 with faster buffer and higher number of megapixels would make things better, but I don’t find that to be necessary to obtain the quality.
On the other hand, the reason to get the latest and greatest model should be to improve the photographs.
I’ve said it before and I will repeat it, ever more convinced about the truth of it. The Leica M9 will be a classic Leica digital rangefinder in the history of Leica digital cameras. It was the first full-frame digital Leica M and it had most things right. Much like the Leica M6 film camera that marked a revival of Leica and was a best-seller (that’s why it is so easy to find a Leica M6 second-hand today. There are a lot of them around).
Some times the camera says "Battery Low" even the battery is fully charged. This may happen when you just removed a drained battery and inserted a new one. Simply turn off the camer, take out the battery and insert it again, turn the camera on again and it will have registred there is a new battery.
On May 31, 2016, LeicaRumors.com described that Leica is recalling and replacing certain Leica M8 and Leica M9 batteries that shows a false, 100% charge level no matter what the actual charge level of the battery may be.
I had forgotten that the Leica M9’s buttons are easily activated, getting pressed and activated during walking. It reminded me that the new backside of the Leica M 240 is well designed, and likely the M 241 will be teaching us a complete new lesson on how the back of a digital camera should look. Look at the Leica Q and the Leica SL and it won’t take much imagination to envision the future back of a Leica M.
One of the great things about revisiting older digital cameras is the surprise of how fast the smaller file sizes move in a digital workflow. The computers chew them up and process them as fast as children eat strawberries on a hot summer day.
Even that you get used to and I stopped noticing it. Not until I loaded a card with pictures from the Leica M 240 did I realize how fast it is to work with Leica M9 files. Importing and building 1:1 previews (as I always do) it took considerable longer with the Leica M 240 files.
I don’t think the colors of the Leica M9 are better or worse than the Leica M 240. But I feel they have been established as pleasant colors. In photography, as in life, we seem to question the new and find comfort in the old.
It’s with the Leica M9 as with film. The old ways are always the best ways so I don’t have to ask anybody if the colors are nice. People will automatically appreciate the recognizable look of Leica M9 colors.
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I’ve never had my shutter replaced or encountered any problems with it. I think Leica Camera AG initially said in their specifications for the Leica M9 that the shutter was guaranteed 100,000 actuations.
Here’s how to find the number of shutter actuations on the Leica M9:
B) There is also a software, M9 INFO for Mac what you can download and drop a DNG file into and it will tell you the file number. You can find the software here as a zip-file that will download. There is a description of the software on this page (but it's rather easy - you drop a file into the software and it gives you the iamge number).
Another good deal is usually the ones who bought the camera but never got to use it. While it is a little sad they never got to realize what a great thing they had, your purpose is not to revitalize their lust for the camera but help them get rid of this precious instrument they found in the bottom of their closet and now want to sell.
Most viewfinders on Leica M9 will be nice and clean. It's only when cameras gets 20+ years old you have to worry about bluish or yellowish viewfinders.
You might want a camera that looks as new as possible. You could also go for a camera that has been used a lot and has lots of brass and patina showing. It's one of those things that I find funny: When people see a brassed camera (used heavily and paint is missing so the brass shows), they think it is beautiful. But at the same time they protect their own camera against the smallest scratches. I know one guy who bought a very heavy used camea, and it was truly beautiful. But it takes a taste for finer things to appreciate it.
Realize you are buying a used camera. One that shows lots of use also tells that it worked well for a long time; and it may even have been at Leica in Wetzlar lots of times for adjutments and repairs. A camera thatdoesn't show any signs of use doesn't have the same track record.
Sensor replacement is of course one of the things you want to check. It's not a problem if the camera hasn't gotten the sensor replaced. It might not need it, or if it does later, it is something Leica Camera AG will do under the warranty. Only problem with having a sensor replaced is that it takes time as the camera has to go to Wetzlar in Germany.
Both my Leica M9 cameras had their sensors replaced in April 2015, long before Leica Camera AG went out and officially mentioned that the Leica M9 sensors could suffer from corrosion of the coating on the sensor. They knew, and they dealt with it.
I never saw the corrosion coming, and I never noticed. Actually, till this day I haven’t seen a single picture from anyone’s camera where I see sensor corrosion.
In September 2015 the product manager issued an official statement about the sensors. No reason for that really. Leica Camera AG always takes care of faults, like a Lannister always pays his debts.
Some times customers will entertain the world of social media with drama in an attempt to put pressure on a company to replace things for free. A 10 minutes flight delay must be replaced with a whole new holiday; a dusty sensor must cause a camera manufacturer to fire half their staff and sack their CEO. You know the drill.
The drama was uncalled for. Leica was already replacing them. The deeper reason for the quiet replacements was not an attempt to avoid dealing with the problem, but a concern that was much deeper. How to ensure that there would be enough sensors available to deal with the faulty ones. The answer eventually was to develop a new one.
Test of the Leica M9 replacement sensor
vs. the old Leica M9 sensor
Leica Camera AG made a new CCD sensor for the Leica M9. The difference between the original one and the new one is almost nonexistent. Sean Reid of reidreviews.com (subscription site of reviews) performed a test of the old original Leica M9 sensor and the replacement sensor Leica Camera AG is now using (since December 2015, I presume).
In essence it is the protective glass in front of the sensor (on which the faulty coating was sitting) they replaced. Sean Reid compares the two through a 8 page test (with plenty of test examples).
Leica M9 digital sensor noise. Not in all pictures, but when it appeared, it was always in the sides like this, with the center without noise.
In February 2016 I encountered a new sensor problem I hadn't seen before. First I thought it was my SD-cards that had been unused for too long. I formatted them in camera and with the SD Format software.
But as both SD-cards produced this strange noise in one Leica M9 and not the other Leica M9, the problem obviously had to be isolated to the camra and not the cards.
Leica replaced the sensor and the problem was solved.
The handing of the Leica M9 sensor issue reveals an interesting mindset at Leica Camera AG that may put few things into perspective.
They’re perfectionists, and that is both a good and a bad thing.
If you look over the history of Leica Camera AG, they have always aimed for the most perfect. For example, in the old days – that’s 1981 - at the factory in Canada, legendary lens designer Dr. Mandler as CEO and chief lens designer, decided to get computer-aided lens design of lenses.
The first computers at ELCAN in Canada.
The first system wasn't expensive or complicated, it was a 2D system by Holguin & Associates. As you can imagine, it involved a lot of work to get it implemented, but the Midland factory in Canada had 8 computer working stations. When the Germans in Solms eventually went into computing, they went with a more expensive type of computer for design of lenses, the Medusa CAD system, with just a couple of working stations.
The aim was sky high, as it apparently always is with anything Leica Camera AG deals with, and the result was optimized lens design. A computer could figure out calculations in minutes that would else take months to do with pen and paper. The computer at Leica in Canada, became the standard, and other companies rented time to do their optical calculations on it. In the long and painful process of getting the best equipment to work the best, they later upgraded to a 3D system, which is still used by Leica in Wetzlar today (CoCreate).
They raised the bar and as they have done in many fields, I might add.
Elcan's MTF Computer EROS IV optical transfer analyzer.
Leica Camera AG also made their own glass laboratory in 1949 to research and develop special types of glass with properties they could see would benefit their lens designs. It became a state of the art laboratory that did things nobody else had ever thought of. Rocket science in the field of handling light.
And perhaps as a symptom of the dark side of perfection, that very same glass laboratory was closed in the 1980’s when the cradle was empty.
That was when the Leitz family had to sell. The camera part of Leica was separated from the rest of the Leica group, and moved to a very unattractive facility in Solms a 10 minutes drive from Wetzlar.
The unattractive Leica Camera AG factory the company was relocated to in the 1980's. At least it pales in comparison with the Leica Campus in Wetzlar, the factory returned to in 2015.
The glass laboratory, the crown jewel of optical craftsmanship and ultimate symbol that only the best is good enough for Leica, was terminated early in the struggle for overall survival.
What’s left of the glass laboratory today is the patents and knowledge about glass. Some of the glass types used in the modern lenses such as the Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 can only be made by two glass factories in the world and have their heritage back from that very glass laboratory. That’s how critical – or hysterical if you wish – the requirements still are.
Another example of how Leica Camera AG just can’t find acceptable what others might think is good enough, is the central shutter in the Leica S lenses. Understand this: When Leica Camera AG decided to develop the Leica S system, they risked the whole business. That’s how heavy the investment was.
Yet, in the midst of the development of this system, they decided that the central shutters used by Hasselblad and virtually every other medium format camera producer just wasn’t good enough for Leica!
Hence, they put some bright heads onto making their own central shutter, which according to my estimates delayed the Leica S lenses with CS (central shutter) two years. A daring decision to improve a central shutter when the whole company is at stake.
If it is true, it shows that Leica would rather die than make a less than perfect central shutter. And engineer Stefan Uwe Best and others did in fact make the finest central shutter the world has ever seen.
To me, this aim for almost unreal ridiculous perfection (which is often aiming for ultimate simplicity by overcoming steep technical barriers), also explains why it will never be possible to be Leica Camera AG to make cheap cameras for everybody.
Wouldn’t it be great if every child in the world could afford a Leica?
It certainly would. But what would happen would be this: Leica Camera AG would produce thousand lenses a day in affordable quality, ready for shipping. But then, when the produced lenses would get to the quality control department, the requirement for 100% perfection and extreme narrow tolerances would make it impossible to ship more than a few of the products anyways. The rest would stay in a trash pile behind the factory.
It’s simply not in the DNA of Leica to make something affordable.
It's not as simple as that. It's not just the final quality control. The requirement for perfection actually starts way before the quality control. It starts already in the design and development of new products. As lens designer Peter Karbe reveals inthe interview about the 50mm APO, narrowing it down to the simplest construction has always been a goal for Leica. Each element must be perfect.
It’s not that Leica Camera AG is always perfect. I’ve seen Leica cameras where the screws were missing due(s) to what appears to be extremely sloppy quality control. But what is much more likely a symptom of a “perfect organization” that everybody gets so frantic with not making a single error that the fear for making them makes the hands tremble.
It may work for many other companies to make lenses or cameras of good quality, but it’s not the way Leica Camera AG is thinking. They always had this almost ridiculous idea that a Leica was something entirely superior and special.
Somehow that is what made it that special. It wouldn’t be a Leica if it weren’t the most perfect you could buy.
Long history to get to the point I wanted to make: It is not possible for an organization as Leica Camera AG to deliberately oversee an error with (possible) corrosion in the protective coating of the sensor and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Others might have hired a team of marketing people and lawyers to create a workaround so it wasn’t really something covered. After all, most people would agree that a digital camera that is 3-4 years old is history.
But in the case if Leica I am sure a handful of people had to dedicate lot of time to investigate the problem, the possible sources and solutions to it.
The good news is that even you send in your seven years old digital camera, they will fix it free of charge.
A walk-through of the Leica M9 body. What are the different Leica M9 buttons and symbols for?
Inside light meter
The three small eyes in the bottom of the inside bayonet read the reflection of light that hits the white and two grey stripes on the shutter curtain through the lens.
Together, the three eyes see an oval of exposure in the center of the frame, about 1/3 of the entire frame. It's an improvement of the first TTL (Through The Lens) light metering introduced on the Leica M6, where it was simply one white dot in the middle and one eye.
Outside light reader
The small eye in the corner above the red Leica logo is something that was added for the digital Leica cameras. It's a light reader.
The only function it has is to measure the outside light and record it so that it is possible later to compare against what the inside lightmeter recorded.
In Lightroom, the aperture is then calculated/guessed based on the difference between the two readings.
This is the way to do it with the Leica M9 as there is no coupling between the lens and the camera.
When the aperture is guessed completely wrong in Lightroom, it's usually because this eye was in sun or shadow, and then subject you photographed was in the opposite.
Single or Continuous
The C by the shutter release is for Continuous and the S is for Single shooring.
The OFF is for camera off. If you leave the camera on for example Continuous and have set the Power Offto 2 minutes in the MENU, the camera turn off by itself after two minutes without use (no use of battery when it is off). The camera is turned no again by a light touch of the shutter release.
My camera is generally always in Continuous. I only turn it OFF when I travel with it in a bag where the shutter release might be activated by the sides of the bag.
The symbol all the way to the left by the shutter release is the self timer. When you select that, the camera fires 2 or 12 seconds after you press the shutter release.
The 2 or 12 seconds is a choice you set in the MENU of the camera. Mine is set to 10 seconds.
A red light next to the viewfinder on front of the camera turns on when the camera releases, in the case you are in front of the camera and would like to know when the picture has been taken.
The white line on the camera body indicates what the shutter wheel is set to. It is not the mark (as in the old days) of where the film plane is.
The red A stands for Aperture Priority but is actually more Auto in my opinion. In that mode, the camera will show the shutter time in the viewfinder (calculated at whichever aperture you have set the lens at).
When you turn away from A, you are in fully manual mode and can choose shutter speed manually from 1/4000 second to 8 seconds.
B stands for Bulb mode which is where the shutter stays open for as long as you hold down the shutter release.
The square piece of plastic by the lens strap is to protect the painted body from scratches from the metal ring/strap.
The chrome ring in top of the bayonet inside is pressed in when the focus ring is turned on a lens. This is how the Leica M measures the distance to the subject and match the two images.
This arm on the front of the Leica M9 can be moved from left, centre to right. If you look through the viewfinder at the same time, you will see that the framelines inside the viewfinder changes. This is meant as a way to preview which lens you should put on the camera to get the framing you want.
It's one of those things hardly anybody uses but many seem to think must be on a Leica M. So even the Leica M 240 omitted this, you will see it coming and going in Leica M models as a piece of nostalgia.
I do love the look of it - but do not miss it when it's not there.
The framelines inside the viewfinder shows where the edge of the frame is. They are also sometimes referred to as brightlines as they are bright. The window in the center of the camera provides the light to light up the framelines.
In later versions, Leica M 240 and onward, the framelines are lit up by LED and this window is not to be found on the camera anymore.
The rangefinder on the Leica M is the cooperation between the viewfinder (to the right) and the small rangefinder eye (to the left of the logo) in the picture above.
The rangefinder works very closely, and with exceptional mechanical precision, with the large viewfinder window to the right in the picture above.
When the focusing ring on the lens is turned, the chrome metal wheel inside the camera is pressed, and that chrome metal wheel moves a prism that mirrors what the small rangefinder eye sees.
It is the reflection of that small rangefinder eye that you see in the middle of the large rangefinder window. When it lays on top and matches the rest of the image, the image is in focus.
It's 100% mechanical and one of the few wonders of this world that still impress people.
Here is a drawing - seen from the inside/back of the camera that shows how the mechanism works:
Above: The back of the lens pushes the chrome wheel that moves the rangefinder eye (to the right) so the subject is mirrored into the viewfinder (to the left). The result is that the two images of the subject match: You have achieved focus!
On the edge of the Leica M9's bayonet you see a small red see-through eye. It reads the 6-bit code of the lens if it has one. All Leica M lenses since 2003 have 6-bit code, and older lenses can be modified by the factory in Wetzlar (they engrave it).
The 6-bit code tells the camera which focal length is mounted on the camera. In some cases, it can trigger a software adjustment of the lens performance.
The main advantage, in my opinion, is that you can see in the image file which lens you used.
If the lens doesn't have a 6-bit code, you can go into the MENU of the Leica M9 and set the lens model manually. You will often forget to change it when you change lens; and then it's just as confusing having the wrong one as if there was none.
Considering that all Leica M cameras since Leica M8 and all future Leica M cameras use the 6-bit code it's worth the trouble to get all one’s older lenses engraved with the 6-bit code.
Bayonet lock and red dot
There is a bayonet un-lock button on the Leica 9 that is pressed to release the lens.
When you put on a lens, the red dot on the lens has to be on top of the bayonet lock, then when you turn the lens clockwise it locks.
You can see the lock (with a small red dot) on the bayonet here.
The front ring on a Leica lens is the aperture adjustment. Each number is a "stop" and most lenses have a click in between the numbers that is a "half stop".
The focus ring has meters in white and feet in orange (sometimes red).
Depth of Field
The lines and numbers closest to the body shows the depth of field at different aperture stops. Note that for the infinity symbol (the 8 lying down), the actual infinity distance is in the middle of the 8. So if you wanted to set the lens to f/16 and make sure you got the most in focus, you would put the center of the 8 above the line of 16.
Some Leica lenses have a focus tab that fits a finger so you can easily slide the lens' focus.
Bigger and longer lenses usually don't have the focus tab; most likely because it would be too heavy to adjust with a finger and/or because it would be in the way.
I find that I get used to a lens with or without it. After a while you don't think about it.
If you look into the lens you can easily see the aperture blades. This is another way (other than the shutter and the ISO speed) to control the exposure.
Aperture means "to open" and each stop reduces the light to half. Most apertures can reduce the light intake from 100% to 1.6% with the aperture.
The more open, the less light you can work with, and the narrower the focus is. Leica traditionally are low light cameras with lenses that are optimized to be used wide open and still produce contrast and accurate colors.
The more closed it is, the more the foreground and background will be sharp, and you will of course need more light to get the correct exposure. The more you close it, the less important the quality of the lens design is.
To insert or take out the SD-card in a Leica M9 you take off the metal bottom plate first.
Be careful to turn the SD-card the right way so you don't jam the contacts in the camera. It should slide in very easy when done right, and a gentle press locks it in position. A similar gentle press down unlocks it when you want to take it out.
The Leica M9 has a small port for USB hidden behind a plastic cover. The sole purpose is if you want to use a cable to download images from the camera to the computer. It serves no other purpose or function.
In later model Leica M 240 and so on there is no USB port anymore.
There's a little lamp in the down right corner of the back that you don't notice until it lights up, bright red.
When it is on, the camera buffer is working on starting up the camera (when you turn it on), or busy storing digital data to the SD card when you just took one or more pictures.
Enlarge, adjust, navigate
The wheel by the thumb on the back has several functions.
The icon printed on it is an enlargement glass and a plus and minus. When looking at a preview on the screen, turning the wheel right zooms into the picture, turning left zooms out.
When you are in the MENU of the camera, the arrows up and down, left and right, can be used to navigate the menu. The wheel can also be used to scroll up and down the menu.
You can set up the camera MENU so that the wheel also works as exposure adjustment.
The bottom plate is securely closed with the sturdy metal lock. You grab the ring with a nail and then turn counter-clockwise to open it.
It's a traditional way to open and close a Leica since a long time ago when there was real film under the bottom plate.
Inside lock mechanism
When you look at the bottom of the Leica M9 you see this shape that looks like the shape of a film cassette.
It's not for decoration. When you look at the brass bottom plate, you see that's the space for the lock mechanism.
The little piece of chrome sticking out of the side in the bottom goes into the bottom plate so that it stays there when the bottom plate is locked.
Bottom plate contact
Sometimes you will see the error message "Bottom cover removed" and you have to find whether you forgot to put it on, or it's not properly mounted.
The way the Leica M9 knows is that the small piece of extruded metal on the bottom plate doesn't press down the small contact next to the battery (the little black one; the big white is for releasing the battery).
The camera would work perfectly fine without the bottom plate, except Leica made this contact that prevents it from working without it. Should you find yourself on a mountain top and you have lost the bottom plate, you'll have to find a way to keep this small contact depressed to keep using the camera. A piece of chewing gum or something similar will suffice.
A hole in the bottom
The hole you see in the bottom is to make space for the tripod mount that sits on the bottom plate (to the right in this picture).
In the later Leica M 240 the tripod mount sits on the actual camera body and there is a hole through the bottom plate instead (more stability as the camera and not just the bottom plate is attached to the tripod).
The tripod socket is on the bottom of the camera, centered in the middle.
Note that I removed the protective plastic of the bottom plate, as well as the sticker that tell all the EC rules the camera complies with. Prettier that way I think.
Serial number and flash shoe
The serial number of a Leica M is engraved on the hot shoe. (On lenses the serial number is usually engraved in white, visible from the front, or sometimes on the side of the lens barrel).
The hot shoe, or flash shoe, is made so it corresponds with Leica and Metz flashes. It of course works with all flashes, but the Metz and Leica flashes get information from the camera’s lightmeter during exposure. It's a continuous debate if a Leica M needs a hot shoe or not as so few would use a flash with it. But at least it holds the serial number and - I guess - works as a decoration that reminds us of the old days.
By the way, it was Leica that invented the hot shoe back when it was used for mounting the first rangefinder, and later a viewfinder, to the camera.
The lenses often have a number on them. Lens shades and other accessories may also have a number. It is not a serial number but solely records which model it is. Sometimes similar looking lenses may be different model (numbers), indicating slight or major changes of the mechanical or optical design.
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Aperture = The f/ stop on the camera that regulates how much light passes through the lens. On a f/1.4 lens the lens is "fully open" at f/1.4. At f/2.0 the aperture inside the lens make the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/1.4 passes through. For each f/-stop (4.0 - 5.6 - 8.0 - 11 - 16) you halve the light. The aperture of the lens is basically the focal length divided with the f/-stop = size of the hole (50mm divided with f/2.0 = the hole is 25 mm). ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
ASPH = stands for "aspheric design".
Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius
of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by
grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design
however restricts the number of optical corrections that can
be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible.
ASPH lenses, however, involve usually 1 element that does
*not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements
can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic,
or 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element
is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical")
shape. This design allows Leica to introduce corrections
into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically,
the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation)
due to increased correction of the image, in a package not
significantly bigger than the spherical version. Most Leica ASPH lenses from Leica has 1 or 2 aspherical elements.
Normal speric lens (grinded)
ASPH (note the shape of the glass as result of pressing rather than grinding)
Sphere: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira "ball".
Banding = Noise in digital images. Horizontal lines in a horizontal pictures (if the camera is in portrait mode/vertical, the lines will be obviously be vertical). It's simply noise; the result of uncontrolled algorithms working overtime with an image the sensor really can't see because it's very dark. (If your image have vertical lines in it, it is more likely that the sensor needs remapping).
Bokeh = The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens: It's a matter of taste and usually photographers discuss a 'nice' or 'pleasant' bokeh (the out-of-focus area is always unsharp why the quality discussed is if one likes the way it renders or not by a particular lens). ORIGIN from Japanese 'bo-ke' which mean 'fuzzines' or 'blur.'.
C = Continuous shooting. When the ring by the Shutter Release on top of the camera is moved from OFF to C, the Leica M takes series of images as long as the shutter release is pressed down.
CCD sensor (as used in the Leica M9 and Leica MM).
= Charge-Coupled Device. Historically considered better quality sensors than later technology of CMOS. The question is if improvement of CMOS technology have made CMOS sensors just as good, or better, than CCD.The Leica M9 uses CCD sensor, and at the time of it's launch in 2006, medium format cameras also used CCD sensors (for quality) whereas many dSLR cameras used CMOS (for speed and ecomomy).
CMOS sensor (as used in Leica Q, Leica M 240, Leica X, Leica D-Lux, etc)
= (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) chips use transistors at each pixel to move the charge through traditional wires. This offers flexibility because each pixel is treated individually. Traditional manufacturing processes are used to make CMOS. It's the same as creating microchips. Because they're easier to produce, CMOS sensors are cheaper than CCD sensors. CMOS allow Live View and use less energy than CCD.
DNG = Digital Negative, an open standard developed by Adobe. It is a single file that contains the raw image data from the sensor of the camera as well as date, time, GPS, focal length, settings, etc.
The alternative is a RAW file + XLM file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XML contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken.
A Camera Raw profile (that is specific for that camera) in the computer helps the software program, for example Adobe Lightroom, to translate the RAW data into the image.
DOF scale ont the Leica Q lens
DOF = Depth of Field. This is how much of the image will be in focus. The measurement on top of the Leica Q lens shows lines for each f-stop that indicates from which distance to which distance the image will be sharp. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance (which can be used to do selective focus; making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catches the viewers eye).
EVF = Electronic ViewFinder.
Exposure Bracketing = The possibility to set the camera to automatically record a series of images where the exposure is above and below what the camera measures. The idea is that at least one of the images will be correctly exposed.
A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle
Focal length = On the Leica Q it is 28mm and originally referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens. Nobody uses that measurement, except those who construct lenses! For users of lenses, focal length refers to how wide the lens sees. The viewing angle, which is often given in for example 90° viewing angle for a 21mm lens, 74° viewing angle for a 28mm lens, 6° viewing angle for a 400mm lens, etc.
Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120° to 200° angle of view, but focus only in the center.
Full Frame (FF) = The size of the sensor is 24 x 36mm which is the format Oskar Barnack and Leica Camera AG invented with the first Leica that was introduced in 1925. Many other formats invented since, such as APS, APS-C and all usually refer to Full Frame ratio, by which it means what size they have compared to Full Frame.
Full Frame is "king of photography"
The 24 x 36mm Full Frame format is so "king of photography" that it has continued to be the ideal for all cameras. Besides this, there exists Large Format cameras such as 4x5" (100 x 125 mm) and Medium Format 6x6 (60 x 60mm amongst other sizes in that area).
Hue = A color or shade depending on the dominant wavelength of red, green or blue. The word Hue comes from Swedish hy which is "skin complexion". It is independent of intensity, so often (in computer editing programs for example), Hue is an adjustment along Saturation which is (intensity of color as compared to white).
ISO = Light sensitivity of the camera sensor is given in ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It's a standard that was used in film and is now used in all digital cameras also. The base ISO for the Leica Q sensor is 100 ISO which means that this is what the sensor "sees". All other levels are computer algorithms calculating the effect as if the sensor could "see" more (hence noise at higher ISO levels).
ISO goes in steps of doubling: When the ISO is raised from 100 ISO to 200 ISO, the camera only need half the amount of light to make a picture. For each step in ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc the light sensitivity is doubled for the sensor (and the camera sensor only need half the light of the previous ISO to record the same image).
JPEG = A standard for picture format made in the 1990's by Joint Photographic Experts Group). Mostly referred to as JPG as in L1003455.JPG which would be the name for a JPG file from the camera.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - normally f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In the Leica Q the lens is a Summilux even it is a f/1.7 and not f/1.4.
Leica = A compound word derived from " (Lei)tz" and "(ca)mera". Apparently they were originally going to use "LECA", but another camera company already used a similar name in France, so they inserted the 'i' to prevent any confusion.
Lens hood = A tube or ring attached to the front of a camera lens to prevent unwanted light from reaching the lens and sensor. ORIGIN Old English hod; related to Dutch hoed, German Hut 'hat,' also to hat.
LTM = Leica Thread-Mount, also known as M39, the 39mm screw mount that the first Leica lenses had to be mounted onto the camra. It was developed by Oskar Barnack in the 1930's at Leica to provide a system that would allow for the exchange of lenses on their new film cameras. The idea was that other camea manufacturers would use the same mount. It was replaced with the Leica M boyonet that cameras from Leica M3 (1954) and forward uses. All older Leica lenses with the 39mm LTM can be used on new Leica M cameras with a LTM to M adapter.
MACRO = Macro lens. The word macro comes from Greek makros ‘long, large.’ There exist a Leica macro kit for the Leica M9 (a Leica 90mm f/4.0 lens with macro adapter/googles and angle viewfinder).
Meßsucher (rangefinder or distance finder) = Mess = range, sucher = finder. It is always correctly written with the "ß". There are technically not three "s", rather the "ß" and one "s" because it is a word constructed by the combining of two precise words.
ND = Neutral Density filters are grey filters that functions as 'sunglasses' for lenses. They simply block the light so that a lens can work at for example f/1.7 in sunshine. A 3-stop ND filter is recommend for the Leica Q.
ND (Neutral Density) filters to put in front of lenses to reduce the amount of light that comes in. They don't have any other effect than that and doesn't change contrast, color or anything.
S = Single image. When the ring by the shutter release on top of the Leica Q is moved from OFF to S, the Leica Q takes one photo at the time (Single). The other possibility is Continuous (see above).
SDC = Software Distortion Correction. A correction of lens distortion (not straight lines) applied in the camera and which is part of the DNG file. In Lightroom the SDC of the camrea file can applied automatically based on the lens profile you set in the camera (or the camera reads from the 6-bit code). Sean Reid reviews have written a good article on what SDC is and does in "Software Distortion Correction".
SLR = Abbreviation for Single-Lens Reflex; the lens that forms the image on the film/sensor also provides the image in the viewfinder via a mirror. The Leica Q has no traditional viewfinder and no mirror. the image seen in the EVF is what the sensor sees.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In Leica terminology a Summilux is always a f/1.4 lens and a Summicron is a f/2.0 lens. In the Leica Q the lens is f/1.7 but is called a Summilux because it is closer to f/1.4 than f/2.0.
Viewfinder = a device on a camera showing the field of view of the lens.
1) A built-in viewfinder in a camera that simply show the frame you get when you look through the viewfinder.
2) A rangefinder viewfinder which is also used to focus the lens. In Leica M cameras two pictures has to meet and lay 'on top of each other' for the picture to be in focus.
3) An external viewfinder, usually on top of the camera in the flash shoe, so as to show the field of view of lenses wider than what the built-in viewfinder can show (15mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm etc viewfinders exist)
4) Very simple "aiming-devices" on top of a camera that is simply a metal frame without any optics. Just a frame, as for example very old cameras (the original Leica), or when using cameras in diving where you can't look through the camera.
5) A Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) that shows what the sensor sees "live".
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator.
Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.
I am in constant orbit teaching
Leica and photography workshops.
Most people prefer to explore a
new place when doing my workshop.
30% of my students are women.
35% of my students dotwo or more workshops.
95% are Leica users.
Age range is from 15 to 87 years
with the majority in the 30-55 range.
Skill level ranges from two weeks
to a lifetime of experience.
97% use a digital camera.
100% of my workshop graduates photograph more after a workshop.