Ken Rockwell reviews the Leica M9

November 24, 2009

The LEICA M9 is the smallest, lightest, highest-quality digital camera ever created by the hand of Man.

This may be the most laudatory review (of anything) I've ever read; Ken loves this camera and has me again considering its purchase. As some of you know, I was thinking very seriously about getting this piece of kit and had my eye on it long before it was released. Save its cost, everything about it speaks to me. However, a few weeks ago I decided against buying it, for two main reasons: 1) it's $7,000 for the body alone, and I have no compatible lenses; and 2) I'm quite happy with the Canon 5D Mark II, together with the Ricoh GR Digital III (which replaced my Leica D-Lux 4, which replaced my Ricoh GR Digital II, which replaced…).

If I thought the M9 could replace the Canon (and I could sell the 5DM2 (plus lenses) and put that money towards the M9) I probably would do it in a heartbeat, but I just don't think that's possible, at least not with my current shooting style. That said, I love the idea of being able to have such an amazingly capable camera strapped to me at all times, something Ken mentions repeatedly in his review:

The M9 and a lens weigh so little that it can be thrown over a shoulder and taken everywhere, all day and all night. You never want to take it off and leave it back in the car or the hotel while you take a break.

This sort of thing is so inexpressibly appealing to me, and while the GR Digital III is a fantastic (portable) camera (seriously, I can't recommend it highly enough), it isn't a Leica. Nothing is. So, while the M9 obviously could replace the Ricoh, I just don't think I can justify having both the 5DM2 and the M9 right now, and I blame Ken's gushing review for making me even consider it (again).

Relatedly, anyone in Silicon Valley care to let me borrow their M9 for a day or two? Actually, scratch that, because I'm pretty sure me putting it through its paces means an automatic buy. Gah!

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