I used to be a Leica photographer, loved my M8, X1 and still love my D-Lux 5. The image quality of the Leica DNG files is brilliant and the way to shoot with a rangefinder is fantastic. It slows down the whole photography process and you concentrate more on the composition of the pictures than shooting images like a machine gun.
But I got some eye problems, while shooting all day long with the rangefinder. So I started looking for another street camera and ended up with the Fujis. First I got the x100 and not long after the xPro1. I sold my Leicas and the Fuji journey began.
On my 6 week roadtrip through the US I just had my x100 and xPro1 with me. I had so much fun shooting - the cameras are light and great to travel with. The only problem I had and still have was the RAW file processing. I mentioned this in my latest blog post. I got a bit frustrated about the editing process with the Fuji files.
Last week I was passing by my Leica dealer in Munich. I told him that I switched to Fuji - but wasn't very happy with the RAW file management and miss the workflow I had with the M. Surprisingly he offered me to test the new Leica M 240!
Steve Huff, Eric Kim and others are thrilled with the new Leica and so I was curious how the new M is. Last year my Leica dealer and I were talking about the upcoming M - and he wasn't very optimistic about the new CMOS sensor, video tool etc.
I hadn't had too much time to test the camera in detail. Just 30 minutes - but that was enough to get a first impression! I must say, the new M is the best digital camera Leica has ever done! It is a pleasure to have in my hands and the IQ is superb! Here are my pro & cons:
+ superb IQ
+ white balance
+ superb color rendering
+ sound of the shutter release
+ improved ISO
+ Live View - it works well
- heavier than the M9
The Leica M is fantastic to shoot with... Most of all I was impressed about the automatic white balance and the color rendering. The colors look 1:1 !
I had my xPro1 with me - and was curious how much different the files would look to the M. I did some test shots with ISO 200 in Aperture Mode but forgot that the automatic time settings are different with the cameras - so I cannot do an exactly 1:1 review.
Here are 3 pictures I shot with the Leica M240 and 35mm Summicron. These are DNG files right away out of the camera - the weather was grey in grey. Please forgive for the picture selection - but there was nothing interesting around to capture :)
Pictures taken with the xPro1 & 18mm lens
My opinion is, that the xPro1 is doing a very good job but the M is a bit better.
The question now is, would I go back to Leica?
Well, a though question - I still love the Leica feeling, the way to take pictures and the Leica look of the M - but after shooting for one hour with the rangefinder, my eye problem were back.
But, even if I wouldn't have the issues with my eye, I am not sure if I would purchase the new M. With a 35 mm lens the M costs around 8000€ - 9000€. That is a lot of money!
There was a customer at the Leica store who was asking me if the new M is worth it?
If you have the money and you love shooting with Leica YES! Instead purchasing the new M getting a used M9 or M-E - NO! The M9 is not as good as the xPro1! You get the much better package & deal with the Fujis!
I will stick with Fuji! They make a brilliant job! Using the xpro1, x100 etc. is fun, it is light, fantastic lenses and the IQ is awesome and I don't have any eye problems!
...so, what about the RAW workflow?
Last week I decided to give another try - to work just with the jpegs and change a bit my settings. But it seems that the RAW file issue is now solved! Today Adobe released the new version of Lightroom. It includes now a correction to the demosaic algorithms for Fujifilm cameras with the X-Trans sensor. YEAH - problem solved! I just downloaded the new version and I am thrilled! The files look awesome... I can get now the look I want and cant wait to start my editing process. My pictures are getting back their soul and that feels damn good!
So, back to old habits?
No - I am looking forward to I stick with Fuji - for two reasons: First of all they make fantastic cameras and lenses and secondly they hear what customers say! They improved the X100 after getting feedback from Pro photographers and customers and worked together with Adobe to solve the RAW Processing problem. I just purchased the new x100S and I'm very curious to find out about the faster AF and improvements!
Is Fuji the new Leica?
In my opinion, NO - Leica will always be Leica. These are 2 different camera systems and brands... Owning a Leica is much more than owning a camera or a tool to take pictures with. You'll get a hand crafted camera with soul. It is a lifestyle and everyone who ever owned a Leica knows what I try to say.