I’ll be honest, I love to look at camera gear so when the chance to see the new Leica M9-M in Malaysia presented itself, I leapt at it.
Thanks to Paul who let me tag along to the latest unveiling at the Leica shop in Avenue K. It was mostly an invite only event. A lot of rich and powerful people were there and like any events with lots of rich and powerful people there was food and wine along with a lot of showing of camera bling bling. Needless to say I wish I was a grifter so I sucker them all but I disgress, the camera is the main topic.
Actually, they were unveiling 2 cameras! The Leica M9 Hermes edition and the Leica M9-M camera both at the sametime, oddly it wasn’t going sale yet. It was just an unveiling for people to looks and hopefully, reach deep into their pockets and place pre-order.
So what’s so special about the Hermes edition? It was basically a Leica M9 that comes in a nice box, has a very nice lens, and a special vulcanite and wiz bang! Here is the making of video
So now you know why they’ve justified the price tag of USD25,000 (no that’s not a typo).
But anyway, getting back to the Leica M9-M, what about this? what’s so special about it? Well, it’s basically, Leica M9 that only shoot’s black and white but because of this and thanks to some engineering feat, it can be pushed up to ISO 10,000 (my D700 can only go up to ISO6400 as one of the regular settings but then it’s more than 3 years old). Some interesting tidbits as we were hovering around it as it sat inside it’s glass casing for all to see, they mentioned that this camera was designed to match everything Henri Cartier-Bresson would have wanted in a Leica camera (well I don’t know about that since he died more than 6 years ago and had stopped shooting photography long before then). But what would he have though of this camera? They believe so strongly that he would have loved this camera so much they even gave it the project name Henri as I was told by one of the Leica staff.
As luck would have it, I was the first one who managed to get a feel and hands-on experience after someone had accidentally spilled some wine on the glass casing and some of it was starting to seep into it so cleaning was in order and while they were doing that, I was handed the pleasure of holding it and shooting it. I noticed the shots seems to show jagged edges when you zoomed in close enough (actually, not that much) so I supposed the sensor doesn’t have anti-aliasing filter like the D800 and Xpro-1.
The camera has literally no distinctive marking to indicate a Leica but anyone who has read about camera should more a less be able to tell that it’s a mile away. Aside from that, body wise, the handling is the same but I think it’s my imagination but the body felt lighter than a regular Leica M9 even when using the same lens.
So what is my opinion? Does it justify it’s price tag? Does it mean it is the pinnacle of a black and white camera? Hard to tell without extensive testing and the fact that the unit I was holding now was actually heading off to China the next day. The serial number on it was “007” (heh, you really need to be Bond to own one, matches the style). Anyway, if you love black and white and have a great liking to perfection (along with heaps of cash) then yes, otherwise look else where or even the Leica MP which I had a chance to hold and try as well while I was there. Felt much nicer than the Leica M7, more heft.