The Much Anticipated Leica Anouncement: “9/9/09”

Leica M9Today Leica has announced the M9 rangefinder digital camera body. This has been a much anticipated release, with many Leica users—pro and enthusiast—waiting to see what this 9/9/09 announcement encompasses. As of now, the official announcement has yet to come to light—this will occur later today, but dealers are apparently allowed to leak the information starting at 9:00 a.m. on the 9th. A couple jumped the gun, and hence we learned the price and specs a few hours ahead of schedule.

The Leica M9 is a full-frame-sensor replacement for the cropped-sensor predecessor, the m8/m8.2. It has an 18 mega pixel CCD sensor with 24x36mm coverage — same as 35mm film. The M9 will be available in black or silver, as in previous models. Lowest advertised price is to be $6,995 U.S. and comes with a two year warranty.

The Leica M8 had its problems, but filled a special niche that was once the bastion of the film rangefinder. The problems were eventually addressed (mostly), and a “new and improved” model was released last year in the M8.2. Leica enthusiasts have been clamoring for a full-frame digital version of the renowned Leica range finder, and in fact there were many photographers shooting Leica film cameras who hesitated in buying the M8 because of the reduced imaging surface size, as well as functioning issues. I think that most enthusiasts who wanted to shoot digitally with their Leica kit eventually accepted the cropped-sensor offering of the M8, but that didn’t stop the pining for the anticipated M9.

I’m a huge fan of Leica optics and I love the “M” line of range finder cameras, but I don’t have a Leica kit. I have considered adding it to my kit many times, but the price as well as the cropped sensor format of the M8 have always given me pause. I truly feel that the Leica M series is the ultimate “street photography” kit. Legendary photographer, Henri Cartier-Brasson, used a Leica rangefinder (mostly with a 50mm lens) for his street photography, as have many who came after. The Leica M cameras (M3 - M7) have also frequently been used by journalists working in all parts of the world, recording war and hardship and joy. But the digital Leica M8 had numerous problems that caused many professionals to reconsider, or abandon, the idea of using Leica digital cameras for serious work. Let’s hope that Leica has learned from past experience and will supply an M9 worthy of the Leica red dot.

It’s expected that the official announcement will also include the rumored X1, as well as updated information regarding the S-2. I’m very curious about the X1. The Leica S-2 was officially announced last summer and is due to ship in October.

Leica X1Follow-up: Leica did, in fact, reveal the X1 today as well. While not cheap (what Leica product is?) at $2,000, it does look like a very nice compact. It’s due to ship in December and I’m anxious to see how it performs. But for less than half the price, and offering interchangeable lenses in the micro four thirds mount, I may be more drawn to the new Panasonic GF-1.

*M9 & X1 images ©Leica Camera AG

Posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 in Gear • (0) Comments


Leave a Comment:

Name (required):

Email (required; hidden from view):

URL (your website; optional):

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

◊ Please enter the text you see in the image below (to reduce spam).

left pointing arrow