As the year wind down to a close, here is one guy’s confession about the year of 2013 in cameras.
David: When I bought the Leica M9 sometime in August of 2012, I thought I’m done with cameras – this would be the ultimate rangefinder camera that will carry me for many more years, a culmination of my years of rangefinder experience with the venerable Leica M6 (and for a short while, the meter-less Leica M3), the pinnacle of photographic experience never reached since regrettably selling both my film Leicas thanks to the lure of digital photography. And even though in my history of photography since 2002 I have used quite a few digital cameras, the window finder way of seeing and shooting, along with the habit of using cameras only in manual exposure mode, remain with me even till today.
The M9 was supposed to set that straight – to restore parity to my photography with my own favoured and preferred way of seeing and shooting. And it did – over 15,000 exposures later. It’s much more than that in reality – my Lightroom crashed a few months ago and I didn’t backup the catalog, so I’m still rebuilding the catalog from past work, but even halfway through the rebuilding process, M9 exposures alone are more than 15,000…..
With the M9, I travelled to Japan and even had my own exhibition in 2012, and was also exhibited at the Leica Singapore gallery in a joint exhibition in 2013.
So even though I flirted with a succession of cameras since I bought the M9 – namely a Ricoh GXR, the Ricoh GR and briefly with the Olympus OMD E-M5, none came close to replacing the M9 as my main go-to camera, though I must say the Ricoh GR was a thoroughly enjoyable camera and excelled on the streets.
OK, here’s the confession: In November of 2013, I broke down and got the Sony A7 with 28-70 kit zoom, despite my reservations about the Sony brand, intrigued by the possibilities of mounting my Leica and Voigtlander rangefinder lenses on it as a second body. I’ve never been a person who likes to change lenses, and always preferred shooting with 2 bodies. The Sony A7 was an interesting proposition. I had not put my name anywhere nor placed any deposit but when I called MS Color in the initial frenzy of the launch – there was one set available. Someone had decided to let go of his reservation.
I had never owned a Sony camera personally, nor bought anything from MS Color in over 12 years. That day, both records were broken. And one month later, the M9 has hardly come out of the bag.
There will be a full review of this full frame tiny wonder at this site for sure, (and hopefully we can get our hands on the 36 megapixel A7R too for evaluation) but right now, I’ll say this – if I didn’t have any Leica, the A7 would be my main camera, such is the ease of adapting lenses, particularly Leica lenses to it. Yes I know there are still corner smearing and colour cast issues with wide and ultra wide angle lenses, but my widest M mount lens, my most used 35mm Summarit had no major problems with it, and to me, that’s enough. Curiously though, because of the fact I love shooting with 2 bodies, I have been using the excellent Cosina Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 ASPH version 2 lens on the A7 and I’ve gotten so used to the 50mm field of view that I miss the 35mm much less now.
The Sony A7 is the Leica M240 that I couldn’t afford (not new, anyway. My M9 was a second hand unit too) – 24 megapixels capable of ISO up to 51200 and more, high resolution EVF with excellent peaking modes for manual focusing, off centre focus magnification placement, weather sealing, small, lightweight and more importantly, allows me to use my M mount lenses. In those respects, it is more than the M240, and a perfect complement to my M9. Not to mention the great wireless options on the A7 – the picture below was uploaded directly from the camera (at the time of writing, this image was shot about a hour ago) to Flickr by connecting to a wireless hotspot:
To be honest, I still focus faster with the rangefinder patch of the M9 compared to peaking and I do find the images of the M9 at base and low ISOs superior still due to the lack of the AA filter, but the A7 opens up new avenues (or re-open old ones to be precise) in the area of high ISO shooting, something I was used to with Japanese DSLRs all these years.
I’m done with cameras with these two. I think.