I, for one, have to admit that one of the best reasons for buying a Leica Camera is the idea of pairing it with a Leica lens. And, after tinkering with the idea of selling all my other photography gears to buy a Leica M9, I know for a fact that I won’t able to buy a Leica lens (for now). And I would also have to settle for just one third-party lens (for now). Then the long debated question exists, “If I would have a Leica M9, what one lens would I use?”
It’s actually a toss up between a Carl Zeiss and a Voigtlander – a 50mm F2 Carl Zeiss against a 35mm F1.2 Voigtlander. After comparing the two lenses, I ended up buying the Voigtlander for two reasons. It is 35mm, and it is F1.2
You’ve seen my previous photowalk test with my M9; those shots were mostly taken with F11 to F16, and the long exposure which plays with different ISO settings against different aperture on bulb mode at around 12-15 secs. So now, I think that I should test my lens on its maximum aperture of F1.2.
Using F1.2 with a Manual Focus for the first time was quite hard, but once you know where to turn the focusing ring to achieve the perfect focus, then you are all-set to go. Then it becomes fun.
Shot in a clear day light with a distance of around 1.5-2 meters from the subject
Shot in the afternoon with a focusing distance set to infinity
Shot in the afternoon with a distance of around 4-5 meters from the subject
Shot in the afternoon with a distance of around 5 meters from a moving subject
Shot in the afternoon with a distance of around 0.8 meters from the subject
The Voigtlander 35mm F1.2 is one super fast lens. It’s just pretty amazing how sharp the subject comes out. F1.2 is heaven like, even after 100% zoom. And how it plays with a shallow depth of field? Well, it is BOKEHLICIOUS.
M9 does well on long exposures. ISO used was mainly ISO 80, but I tried some photos with ISO 400 and the noises were still acceptable.
The only thing I hate about this was the amount of time the M9 takes to “reduce the noise” during the processing of the photo. Since these were “long” exposures, around 16 secs for most of my night shots, the photo processing also took a “long” time.
Based on that night’s experience, the “photo processing” slash “reducing the noise” took the same amount of time as the exposure time. If I would expose my image for 16 secs, the M9 also takes the same amount of time to process that image. In my standard, and me being a patient man, that is TOO LONG. I don’t know if it’s about the type of SD card I’m using or because some of the images were in DNG files. But still, compared to most modern SLRs, that was like a snail’s pace.
But once again, after that; lo and behold, the images were sharp even at 100% crop. The noises were very minimal and the colors were alive and vivid. Yes, patience is a virtue.
So last friday, I did a test shoot (photowalk) using my Leica M9. It was my first time to use a rangefinder, a first time to use manual focusing, a first time to use an M.
It was difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s definitely worth it.
The images captured using M9 (even at F1.2) can also be achieved with most SLRs. The ISO was good, but not that great considering its worth. The LCD, compared to high end DSLR, left a lot to be desired . The aperture priority was such a tricky thing to control.
But what makes it more enjoyable than the common SLR is the way you use it. How you get back in control of everything. How fast can you make a shot (since it’s not auto-focusing). And how it seems like no one is noticing you taking pictures of them. I may sound like Kai (Wong), but trading my SLR for an M9 was a fucking good choice.
A car can get you from one point to another. But if you have a choice between a Peugeot and a Ferrari, don’t tell me that you won’t take the prancing horse.