Long term review: the Leica M9-P | Ming Thein

So am I happy with the M9-P?

For the most part, yes. The image quality, within its optimal range, is stunning – as good as the output of any 35mm/ FX camera I’ve seen to date (the D800E may be a different story when it arrives). It isn’t that great at high ISO, but you can usually get a workable and pleasing image in all but the darkest condition. My earlier On Assignment post about shooting the Thaipusam festival was a surprise to me – it performed far better than I expected, but it wasn’t easy to achieve those results because of the limitations of a rangefinder with moving subjects. It’s relatively small, portable and easy to use; it doesn’t get in the way or require separate carrying solutions or bags. Most of the time I just go out of the house with the camera slung over one shoulder, suspended by a single lug since it’s easier to access and much more comfortable to shoot without a strap digging into the web between your index and third fingers. It is deceptively heavy, though, especially with the Noctilux 0.95; I think that rig weighs more than my D700 and 85/1.4. It also desperately needs a grip to hold securely, because there’s nowhere on the back of the camera for your thumb to find secure purchase. (The film Ms didn’t have this problem because you usually braced your thumb on the winder crank to be ready for the next shot anyway.) I’ve used ThumbsUp grips on all of my digital Ms and find them to be indispensable – they make a huge difference to the handling properties of the camera. This should be a built in ergonomic feature of future Ms, not an expensive aftermarket accessory. While we’re on ergonomics, did I mention that it’s far too easy for you to put your finger into one of the rangefinder windows? I find it immensely annoying when somebody does that after they request to have a look at your camera; you can’t see a damn thing or focus easily if there’s a fingerprint obscuring every window. I keep mine scrupulously clean and take care not to stick my fingers in. Having said that, I guess it’s a limitation of the RF design; a recessed window would be difficult to clean, and one that sticks out would probably get chipped or scratched more easily……..

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