From NAS To DRF

A celebratory drink, unsharpened (left) and sharpened, no shadow noise at 360 ISO

A celebratory drink, unsharpened (left) and sharpened, no shadow noise at 360 ISO


Updates have been few and far apart on this site, but this is going to change. The day before yesterday, I traded in all my Nikon gear for a Leica M9 body. I had been thinking a long time about getting that digital rangefinder camera. In my gear acquisition history (It’s a veritable saga, I tell you! Repeated raids on my wallet combined with never-dying hope for the next great piece of gear that’s going to advance my photographic prowess. So I thought.) is an Epson RD-1 that I never should have sold. I still think back fondly and remember the quality of the 8 MPix files that I got from a Summicron 50 mm f/2.0 (stupidly also sold) on that body.
Yeah well, seller’s remorse … Selling all that Nikon gear was a sacrifice that had to be made. I will especially miss the F6, the 70 – 200 VR II zoom and the 50 and 25mm Zeiss ZF lenses with their wonderful bo’keh. But then, equivalents remain with the new setup and the Canon gear that I wrote about here.
So, what’s in it for you, dear reader? I wont bother you with the 999-th “test” of the Leica M9, this has been done to death. But I will from time to time post about my subjective impressions from working with the camera, the “feel in hand” so to speak. And I’ll show you picture examples that shine a light on the capabilities and pitfalls of this digital rangefinder.
Dresden tourist, with the Summarit 75mm

Dresden tourist, with the Summarit 75mm


First of all, it is a Leica, a close embodiment of the gestalt of the street camera. If you want to do street photography and reportage straight and in the style of the great of photographic history or if you want to modify in the admittedly questionable way like I did in the example above, it will provide.
At a deeryard, with the Voigtländer Nokton 35 mm f/1.2

At a deeryard, with the Voigtländer Nokton 35 mm f/1.2


One more impression from the first two days of using it: Characteristics of the M lenses you have will be exaggerated in comparison to them projecting their image on film. So, both my Leica Summarit 75mm f/2.5 and my Voigtländer Heliar 50mm f/3.5 appear sharper. Film, even SPUR DRX, didn’t bring them to their resolution limits. And, as is evident in the picture above, my Nokton 35mm f/1.2 appears softer at open aperture with a more pronounced falloff into that swirly bo’keh that I like so much.

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3 Responses to “From NAS To DRF”

  1. Guy Platt Says:

    Good for you. I also took the plunge and bought an M9 recently. I did however hang on to my RD-1s. I love the 6 megapixel files I get out of it .. actually I mostly shoot B&W jpg + RAW and very rarely do anything to the jog’s.

    Color from the M9 is just so much better though.

  2. chammann Says:

    Yeah, the color surprised me as well, especially since the screen on the back seems to show a flat gradation “curve” version of the DNG. Once profiles are being applied by the RAW converter (and I think the included Lightroom 3 does quite a good job for that), the color comes out, the shadows elevate and get detailed without burning out highlights.
    On an unrelated matter, how do you manage the battery? Today I went from 60% to flat and refusing to take more pictures in the space of all of three takes. Perhaps it needs to be conditioned first, recharging it now.

  3. Kodachrome™ for a New Age | Mostly Black & White Says:

    […] it can forego an anti-alias filter that most conventional sensors have, exceptions being the digital Leica M-s, the Nikon D800E and the Ricoh GR. This improves resolution, helps with local contrast and avoids […]

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