Ok, second post about my experiences with the Leica M9. As seems to be the case with all high-resolution digital cameras (and the Leica M9 can surely be counted among them, if not for it’s 18 MPix then of course for the lack of an anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor), it is very demanding of the lenses you use. For example, the Voigtländer Color Skopar 35 mm f/2.5 that I used with great success on the Leica MP (down to the resolution a Kodak Ektar provides) seems somehow limited in resolution on the M9’s sensor. Granted, this is pixel-peeping, but when you get down into the files at 100%, the details turn pointilist. For example, leaves on a tree in a landscape scene look like small brushstrokes of an arbitrary form. And mind you, we’re not yet at a level here to see JPEG artifacts. This effect is visible in the RAW files as well and interestingly it is evenly distributed over the image area.
But there was a more serious gap in my M lens lineup: I had no 50 mm lens I could use on the M9. The Voigtländer Heliar 50 mm f/3.5 that I have would resolve enough detail, but it has the problem of being a retractable lens. The M9 user manual allows NO retractable lenses apart from the two current Elmars (that don’t protrude (much) into the camera body when pushed back) and I know I would someday forget this if I mounted it in the extended position. Finally I’m a bit suspicious about the long-term parallelity of lens and sensor in such a lens.
Even in Germany, at the source, so to speak, Leica M lenses are in hot demand recently, and scarce. So I was lucky to find a Summicron M 50 mm f/2.0 in used, but impeccable condition at Meister Camera in Hamburg yesterday.
I chose it over the Summarit for the creamy bo’keh. The Summarit has corner-intense diffusion circles that swirl around the image center. Interesting, but after a while it’s only a distracting gimmick. On the other hand, out-of-focus areas depicted by the 50 mm Summicron are so creamy, Clapton would be tempted to reunite his band. 😉
The Summicron’s resolution is certainly up to the demands of the M9’s sensor, but you’ll have to nail the focus. Yesterday, I did a lot of snapshots of my daughter that looked interesting on the camera’s rear display. A lot of them had to be relegated to lesser use after I examied them on the computer. I’m speaking of portraits or medium distance scenes at f/2.0 or f/2.8. Here’s one that turned out to sharp on her eyelashes.
So, a new lens always teaches you something new. Even if you’ve had it before.