Photography Bluff – The Next Leica M (Type-XXX)

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Welcome to my latest blog of Photography Bluff.

It is Christmas time and it’s the best time to wish for something, something that you really want! Well, yes of course my family and health ALWAYS come first but as a photographer, there’s always room to wish for something better than the tool that I am using at the moment.

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Having said that, this year I acquired one of the best 35mm prime lenses ever, at least to me, the Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm 1.4 (you can see my review HERE) that I’ve almost used it exclusively throughout the entire year. That accompanied by my favourite 50mm lens, the Leica Summilux 50mm ASPH (review HERE) really completes my Leica set up. The occasional supporting cast is my old fashion Leitz 135mm Tele-Elmar (review HERE) is just a joy to use. All of them mated well with my beloved Leica M-P (Type 240)

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To me, lenses always come first. A good glass will last a life time, so is a good mechanical camera like the film M3, M2, M4, M5 or the M6. But in today’s digital world, cameras with a digital sensor just simply can’t do the same. Not that they won’t last but it will eventually wear out and be discarded. Yet, Leica digital M cameras seem to last well compare to others. There are still tons of photographers using M8 and M9. Even though they do not have the latest sensor or high ISO performance, you continue to be impressed by the quality photos coming out from them. It’s all because of the legendary M optics.

EVF

Better EVF for the next M? Yes Please!

Before I make a wish for the next M, here let met explain why Leica lenses. Yes, they are extraordinarily expensive, but not much more than the latest Zeiss manual lenses, which are many times bigger and heavier! Leica rangefinder lenses are small with supreme optical design and correction. It means it’s design to shoot at highest quality at any given aperture. This is always why M8 and M9 users still produce stunning images because photographers can shoot wide open with relatively low ISO in low light. The latest M Type 262, which is a stripped down M Type 240, is equally excellent with a stop better ISO performance. But just be frank, 60-70 percent of my shots are shot in base ISO unless I require faster shutter or wider depth of field. It means top end ISO setting was a rare occurrence. So I never bother too much about all those latest announcement on ISO 50000000000. To me, they are for creeps who love to peep.

Leica SL is a monster. But it's no M ;)

Leica SL is a monster. But it’s no M 😉

Anyway,  with all due respect, higher ISO performance will no doubt open up new territories and possibilities. I won’t say no to it of course. This is one of my wishes for the next M. While the latest M cameras have a top native ISO of 3200 and a push 6400, I would like to see it double if not triple. With cleaner noise at lower settings and increased dynamic range. I would love to see the base ISO upto 800 have at least 13 stops of dynamic range. That will give me a more natural tone for the type of work I do.

The Q is amazing!

The Q is amazing!

Banding is still a problem with higher ISO settings, even with the latest sensor on the Leica Q and SL. This needs to be addressed in the next update. While I could fix it with Nik Software’s Define 2, I  don’t want to use software correction too much, it just wastes my valuable production time.

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Then it’s the operation. Here’s a big list of things I hope the next M will improve upon.

  1. Faster and more fluid operation – At the moment, the M is a little, sluggish. It’s ok if I shoot it like a film camera, which I do, with review turned off. I don’t chimp photos as I shoot but there are cases when I do to check focus with long lenses. The M takes too long to write to the memory card. The review is also a few seconds too late. Almost all modern cameras now have instant image review and I mean you can see it and zoom into details as soon as the image is taken. M can’t do that. It’s not the end of the world but it’s slow for a modern digital camera.
  2. Faster continuous mode – if Leica can’t offer a faster mechanical shutter, they should consider electronic shutter that offers super fast continuous mode. Not that I am a machine-gun shooter but there are occasions, like confetti at weddings, I want to have a few more than usual to get that right moment.
  3. LVF and EVF operation – Ok, it’s handy, especially for long lens or super fast ultra narrow depth of field. Its implementation is weird and not consistent. On its own, the LVF is ok on the camera but when you attach the EVF to the camera, everything just crumbles. It’s usable but it’s very sluggish. There’s no automatic switch over sensor or power save to conserve battery. It’s just on. Then when the camera is in sleep mode, waking up with the LVF or EVF takes way too long. It’s like waiting for a train to arrive during busy hours.
  4. While the back screen is now upto industrial standard, the M’s EVF is simply outdated. I use it ALL THE TIME and it works but who wouldn’t want a larger and more detail EVF? I would like to see the latest SL EVF makes it to the next M accessory. It may be pricey but it will be worth it. I know the M is all about the traditional rangefinder so I have little doubt that Leica would retain it despite many wish for a hybrid OVF like he Fujifilm X-Pro or X100 series system.
  5. Lighter – not that I am complaining but the M240 is heavier than the M9, and fatter for that matter. I want it to slim down back to the M9 size and weight.
  6. Battery –  well, I have three batteries at the moment and they get through my regular wedding without a problem but if it can have a 50% improvement then I will be smiling.
  7. Software reliability – the occasional crashes
  8. Even bigger buffer – for better reliability

That’s pretty much it, for now. But to be frank, I have enjoyed my M-P (Type 240) so much that i am not nagging at all. But the above are a list of things that I think it will make the next M an even more complete camera. Oh you may ask why I didn’t ask for a higher resolution sensor? Yes, I am happy with 24mp. I don’t need more. But if you ask me about the sensor, apart from the ISO performance, I would like to see a better sensor from CMOSIS. Everyone knows that Sony now produces the best full frame sensors in the world now. Even Nikon and Canon are slowly adapting Sony’s chips. Will Leica follow suit? I don’t know but if they do, it may not be a bad thing. However, given Leica’s latest cameras like the Q and SL, they are definitely moving the right direction in terms of performance. So I will have to wait and see. Please let me know what you want on the next M in the comment below 🙂

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! I will look forward the new year as there are lots of new projects from me!! Stay tuned!

 

Thank you for reading my blog and please support my work and this site by buying stuff from Amazon via the link at the bottom (only if you need to buy stuff of course). 

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