Guest post: Why I Am Leaving Leica for Micro Four Thirds


Today's guest post is by J Shin:

This is the morning of Christmas, 2012, and I am facing a moral crisis.

For years, I have not made a major photo equipment purchase. My partner and I have a deal where my income needs to meet a certain benchmark before I can purchase another one. I have been able to make “minor” purchases under $200, and have been playing with an Olympus E-PM1, bought refurbished at $170, and a $20 Photodiox adapter for my Leica R lenses. I just got a used Panasonic 14/2.5, for $160, with which I have been very happy. So happy, in fact, that, now that I did meet my benchmark (yes!), and am free to buy any one major equipment I want, I am contemplating getting the well-reviewed Olympus 75/1.8 lens, to fill a gap in my Leica lens line up, and to take advantage of this new-fangled thing they call “autofocus”, which I am just beginning to appreciate, thanks to my failing eye sight. It was either that or the NEX-VG900, a $3,300 full-frame madness.

Then, at 6 am Christmas morning, I wake up from a groggy dream, and innocently reach for my laptop to check the e-mails. There, like a misguided Christmas present from hell, is a notification from eBay.

A Summilux-R 1.4/35. For $2,600.

This is a lens I have coveted even before I bought my very first Leica, the R3MOT, with a Summicron-R 2/50. It is the very object I was preparing to buy when my partner put a clamp on my procurement process 4 years ago. It was going for about $1,200 then.

Now you are lucky to see it at $3,000. A “bargain” condition piece is occasionally available for about $2,500, with questionable optical flaws.

Here is a very MINT piece for $2,600.

I can afford it.

And then the soul-searching begins. This isn’t just about the one piece of equipment I am allowed to buy, but a question of what, exactly, I would rather spend my money on from here on, the entire future of my camera-buying career. Do I stay with the long-defunct, hyperinflated R system, or do I jump ship for a new system? Say, Micro Four Thirds?

I have also been looking at the Summilux-R 1.4/80, whose price has stayed at around $1,800 for years. If Leica is ever to produce a non-rangefinder mirrorless full-frame interchangeable-lens camera with an electronic viewfinder, the mythical beast I have been waiting for ever since they discontinued the R line; or if Sony or Fuji or someone is to produce the first non-camcorder full-frame mirrorless; or if I am to toss in the towel and get an EOS; or, better yet, get a Nikon or a Sony and drop a lot of money on Leitax... Under any of these circumstances, the Summilux-R 1.4/80 is surely preferable to the Olympus 75/1.8.

The moral crisis is this: I am no longer so sure! Me! The Leica apologist, who has held on to manual focus, manual metering, and sometimes manual film winding, no longer believe that either of the Summilux is a no-brainer!

$2,600! At that price, it is going to be sold before we are done opening the presents!

Why am I not clicking on the Buy It Now button before anyone else in the house wakes up?

Suddenly, I find myself believing that I am ready to leave the faith.

And here is the final offer from the ancestral spirits of the Leica faith. The Summilux-R 1.4/35, in mint condition, for $2,600.

I take it, and I stay a faithful. I turn it down, and I am excommunicated FOREVER. Well, until I could afford to come back, which amounts to the same thing.

[Expletive here.]

What happened?

It all began, of course, when Leica’s “R solution” turned out or was revised to consist of an EVF on an M. How much does an M cost, now? $7,000? There is no way I can afford that, and, even if I could, there is no way I would ever leave the house with it, or roam the streets of our town with it, never mind streets of any city or country where there might be anything interesting to photograph. Insurance I can afford. Bodily harm, I’m not so hot about. Leaving the house with $2,000 worth of battered-up R stuff makes me nervous enough that I can’t use the bathroom freely, unless there is a coathook that is strong enough to withstand the weight of a small car, and is located where a passer-by cannot reach it. I’m scared to leave my office at night with $100 to deposit, for earth’s sake.

$12,000 worth of M stuff? No way.

For that matter, could I go for a 6D or a D600? $3,800 for a new full-frame camera and a 85/1.4? $3,000 if I get a Sigma lens instead?

That’s going to be about the price of the full-frame NEX, if it ever comes out, isn’t it? That’s what they want for the NEX-VG900, after all.

But, there is a reason why I only carry the R3 when traveling. The R8 stays home, unless we are going to a “safe” environment, like a friend’s kid’s birthday; even then, I do not put it down anywhere.

I’m a sissy.

And there is this bit that I see a lot on the Internet: “The best camera is the one that you have with you.” If I cannot see myself toting it around, it’s not worth buying it.

The E-PM1, I don’t tote around everywhere, but I have been toting it around a lot. In the two months I have had it, I have shot five hundred frames, about a third of them usable, more than I have shot on the R8 over the last three years.

Because I had it with me.

There was a time when used Leica R lenses were sold at a price on par with a new Canon or Nikon. Granted, the R lenses were 20-odd years older, but they still performed, and compared well to the new lenses. This has changed. The Summilux-R 1.4/35, at absolute cheapest, goes for $2,400. This is a lens that can squeeze out 2000 lw/ih in the center when wide open, but only for a few millimeters in the center, and delivers corner resolution of only 500-1000 lw/ih, depending on where exactly you measure it. Contrast that to the Nikon and the Canon versions, which can, at $1,600, approach 1500 lw/ih in the center, and the new, fabulous Sigma version, which, at $900, approaches 2000 lw/ih in the center and 1500 lw/ih in the corner. Wide open. (These and other figures are based on’s MTF50 measurements; Leica R figures are derived from Leica’s MTF graphs. Other sites’ measurements tend to be higher, but paints the same relative picture.)


Even the much-maligned Olympus 17/1.8, at $500, gets about 1400 lw/ih in the center and 1100 lw/ih in the corner. Not too shabby. And it is absolutely tiny compared to the full-frame cousins. The Panasonic 20/1.7, at $350, gets 1650/1200 center/corner lw/ih, and the Olympus 75/1.8, at $900, gets 1750/1250 center/corner lw/ih.

(By the way, with Olympus in-body image stabilization, you use up to 2 stops slower shutter. Even with wide-angle lenses, which usually don’t come with optical image stabilization. So, with an f/1.8 lens, you get the exposure value of an f/0.9 lens and, thanks to the crop factor, the depth of field of an f/3.6 lens. To me, it’s the perfect combination. Depth of field at this aperture increases the perception of sharpness and contrast, while sacrificing little of the bo-keh; bo-keh, after all, is NOT determined by depth of field, contrary to a common misperception.)

I am only comparing measurements at maximum aperture because that’s what I need it for. If you intend to use it stopped-down, the Micro Four Thirds lenses fall further behind, not because the Micro Four Thirds lenses are inferior, but because their lower-resolution sensors have natural limit to the resolutions one can measure. (This is a subject for another day.) In fact, many of these cross-platform measurements are fraught with problems, because they are often done on very different bodies with very different characteristics. Furthermore, resolution isn’t everything; Leica lenses are unmatched for their bo-keh, color rendition, and overall contrast and clarity. These characteristics are functions of how the lens handles low-resolution and/or out-of-focus features, and are difficult to measure objectively; for some reason, German engineers are quite adept at things that cannot be measured objectively, something that has aggravated Japanese engineers for many decades.

I am also leaving out the current range of Leica M or S lenses. Their amazing performances are proof that unimaginable image quality, objectively or subjectively measured, can be achieved with current human technology, should one be willing to spare no expense.

Still, you get the point. One could argue that one gets what one pays for, but there comes a point of diminishing marginal return on expenditure. Leica lenses, current and old, have come to represent exponential expenditure for the limits of performance. Micro Four Thirds represents more than good enough performance for reasonable expenditure.

And, for my purposes, 1600 lw/ih is probably a reasonable center resolution anyway. I hardly ever print anything larger than 8”x12”, and 1600 lw/ih still gives me 200 dpi, more than necessary for a decent print. By comparison, Apple’s Retina displays are 220+ dpi on laptops and 320 dpi on phones, and “art books” are usually printed at 200 dpi. “Circle of confusion” used to determine depth of field on 35mm film is 0.03 mm, which translates to 800 lw/ih, or 100 dpi. Anything above that, I won’t notice, unless I take off my contacts and stand very close to the image. Our bedroom walls, in fact, are lined with macro shots with miniscule depth of field that nevertheless appear sharply in focus from near to the far. If I were to pixel-peep one of these shots, I will find that almost all of the image is, in fact, out of focus, but, even looking up close, that is not apparent in the print. (By the way, these were printed from slides, which could get 50 lp/mm, or 2400 lw/ih, which is slightly below the resolution of Micro Four Thirds sensors, although the Bayer filter does lower the perceived resolution of the sensor by about 1/3.)

But, wait, you might say, why are we comparing the top-of-the-line film system from the antiquities with the middle-of-the-line interchangeable digital system of today? Shouldn’t we be singing the praises of the current top-of-the-line?

Of course. D800, 5D, a99, the new M, these are all fantastic cameras that can achieve image quality far surpassing anything from the film camera era. If money is no object, then there is no doubt what is better and what is worse, and the Micro Four Thirds system is definitely not on the top of the heap there. But, again, where is the point of diminishing marginal return on expenditure?

That point is when the image starts being “good enough.”

I will bluntly say, the lenses for the classic SLR and rangefinder cameras offered by Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Rollei, Pentax, Contax, and the like rarely came close to Leica M or R quality. There was a time when you could pick up a Yashica and a Leica, shoot a few rolls of film, and place them side-by-side, and the winner was readily apparent. Yes, readily.

No more. All the cameras and lenses now simply exceed the capacity of a semi-trained human eye to tell the difference. Have you stared and stared at the comparison shots between the X1 and the X100 to see if you could really decide which one was better, only to realize that the real difference was in the point of focus, or the JPEG algorithm, or exposure, or some such? Sure, the Leica images have more contrast, but who’s going to be able to tell that you ratcheted up the contrast in Lightroom? Sharpened it and de-noised it? Corrected the distortion? If you have to run the images through a computer to tell the difference, there is no real difference that matters.

Even if we consider the one black mark against most Micro Four Thirds bodies: dark noise. You don’t have to magnify the image that much to see it. It’s there. It is annoying. It gets worse the moment you try to lighten up the image. Surely, 10 bits of dynamic range cannot possibly be good enough?!

Actually, though, I have almost always shot slides, and, with slides, you get used to the fact that either the image is right or it isn’t. Unlike with negatives, there is not much latitude to play with if the shadow is too blue or the face is too dark. It is right, or it isn’t. From this point of view, 12MP, 10-bit images are either good enough when they come out of the camera, as they often are, or they aren’t. Lighten it up a stop. Correct the color balance. That’s about it. Also, with film, you expect to see a little grain at ISO 400; it is part of the look. Because of this, for me, the point of diminishing return still starts right above the $170 I paid for the E-PM1.

Also consider the fact that these digital bodies will last 10 years if one is lucky. My R3 is almost 35 years old. I paid about $250 for it in 1991, and you can pick up a very good copy for about $150 now. Apart from having lost 1/1000 and M sync, which I never use, it’s still clicking away without problem. It is the only body I trust sub-freezing, and $200 will bring it back to perfection. What you are paying for when buying a new digital body, then, is what you would have spent on film. Back when everyone shot slides, a roll cost about $10 per roll to purchase and process, or about 25 cents per frame. With digital cameras, people seem to shoot about four times what they would have shot on film, so a $2,000 body is worth about 32,000 frames. If you shoot less than that over 10 years, or about 9 shots a day, you wasted your money. For an $8,000 body, that is 12,800 frames over 10 years, or 35 shots every day for 10 years. Not impossible, but not very feasible for an amateur with a day job and a family, unless you are the kind of person who only takes 50-shot panoramas, or 20-shot sequences at sports events, etc., which, of course, people tend not to do with an M. Or maybe you just don’t know how to set things up to get that one right shot, like someone trained with view cameras quickly learn to do.

Pros, of course, have very different needs, and very different calculus of expense vs. cost.

Not being a pro, my needs are simple, I realize, and my needs can be met with a cute little bargain camera with teeny lenses that deliver surprisingly good results.

Surprising, that is, only because I am used to lugging around a small cannon to get a decent shot. My Apo-Telyt-R 2.8/280, which I love dearly, is so heavy that I have never been able to hand-hold it steady enough to take advantage of its legendary 100 lp/mm resolution. Eat your heart out, that’s 4800 lw/ih. Even cropped on a Micro Four Thirds body, that is 2700 lw/ih. That’s what we call “pushing the limits of performance”, 1984-style.

But, if I can’t hold it still, I can’t take good pictures with it, diffraction-limited or not. I can barely handle the tripod I need to use it with, and tripods are not very useful when taking shots of skittish animals. I have an elaborate body frame to keep it steady, but, some days, I cannot even get the lens cap off of it with one hand.

So, for the first time in my life, I’m quite seriously considering a zoom lens. Yes, the unmentionable Panasonic 100-300/4-5.6.

Whopping 1350 lw/ih for only $500. Who could ask for anything more? Not me.

This entry was posted in LR Guest Posts. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Derek

    Ok, anybody can justify anything in this world nowadays. So, accept it and move on pal. Do whatever you please, and thanks for sharing many may still think it is the camera which takes the picture

  • Ronan

    Get a OM-D EM-5 + 3 prime lenses from Olympus.

    Sell all your Leica stuff, enjoy the extra cash (take the missus out or something).

    • J Shin

      > Sell all your Leica stuff…

      I’ve decided to keep the R3MOT and the few R lenses that I started with and still love. I admit it’s partly because they won’t sell for very much, relative to their value to me. 🙂

      • alfredo_tomato

        Keeping them is a good idea. I attach me legacy glass from time to time when I’m in the mood to go manual. One lens stays attached to my extension tubes.

  • Thanks for the honesty.

  • Daryl

    Very well stated J. There are many things to like about the M4/3 system, small size…like the Leica, great image quality… the Leica. I was looking at the Olympus OM-D and the salesman’s photo book, he had dug out his Pen F lenses and adapted them to the new camera. What beautiful images, the lenses delivered beautiful contrast and sharpness when combined with the sensor of the OM-D. The choice of equipment today has taken a quantum leap forward compared to just a few years ago. Good luck with you new system,but I am not so sure you won’t re-Leica sometime later.

  • Renato S.

    By the improvements on the X100s, I would wait until the successor of the X-PRO1 or X-E1 and go all in on Fuji X-cameras! The optics are great, the X-Trans sensor have the best APS-C performance, the Fuji commitment with this line up is quite remarkable and they even have official Leica adapters!

  • george

    There is some truth to those ramblings. The reality though is, how much quality do you need? I am using M lenses that I bought 15-20 years ago and they still out-perform & outlast my Canon gear (my 24-105 lasted 4 years to worn out). The Leica APO and asph lenses are still hands down better than almost anything else. Also, having no anti-aliasing filter in the camera body is a big deal for sharpness & detail (portrait work, this is not relevant).

    Talk about investment, I can sell any one of my Leica lenses for more than it cost to purchase some time ago. Why, because quality and durability have value. Molded optics in plastic and resin bodies will not last decades like metal bodies which hold ground and polished optics.

    Remember, having fun is also important ! Buy what you need to get your vision realized !

    • “Also, having no anti-aliasing filter in the camera body is a big deal for sharpness & detail”

      Why do you think AA filters were invented? Just to p*ss the customers off and increase the cost of production? An AA filter is a necessary part of the system if you’re expecting to look at images at the resolution written on the box. Removal of an AA filter doesn’t help improve resolution any more than removing the exhaust pipes help a car go faster.

      AA filters have earned a bad rep every now and then in situations where they’ve been too strong in the first place. Otherwise they actually help.

      “Molded optics in plastic and resin bodies will not last decades like metal bodies which hold ground and polished optics.”

      Who cares… these are tools to take photos with… believe it or not.

      • CHD

        Geno – I would say that 99% of my shots with my M8 are never effected by aliasing….so for me the AA filter is unnecessary. Of the 6 DSLR’s I’ve owned I would say the AA filter was too strong on most of them…so what’s the point.

        • “99% of my shots with my M8 are never effected by aliasing”

          The AA filter is applied to the sensor colour mosaic to reduce colour artifacts… in other words, these AA filters are not there to remove jaggies (aliasing in the sense you mentioned).

          Also there’s no need for an AA filter if the optical aberrations (especially monochromatic ones) are strong enough… which is the case with most lenses towards the corners (especially the wide ones like you get for rangefinders). There’s also no need for an AA filter if you’re around or beyond the diffraction limited aperture of the system.

          “Of the 6 DSLR’s I’ve owned I would say the AA filter was too strong on most of them…so what’s the point.”

          Are you on Nikon? In one of my Canon DSLRs, I had the AA filter removed and it didn’t help improve the sharpness… the images did appear sharper upon close inspection because of the demosaicing artifacts that came as a result but there really wasn’t a real improvement of detail… only very digital looking images.

          • true

            Funny how couple of years later, most will prefer their dslr (or mirrorless) to be without AA filter. Look D810 / D800 vs D800E or 5Ds vs 5DsR .. E-M1 being very competent against GX8

      • Derel Swanson

        When you compare the images the Magnum photographers made with their Leicas 50 years ago, that were severely limited compared to today’s latest micro 4/3’ds craze, you will know that it ain’t about the camera.

  • camerageek

    So you are leaving using Leica for what can at best be called a system that is an insult to the photographic process made only for filthy common peasants and deluded fauxtographers? Good riddance.


      You have nothing in common with any great photographers.

      • camerageek

        No only with the Masters of Photography. Kneel knave when typing in the presence of the elite.

        • SURE FAUST

          Google my names son. We own the streets.

          • camerageek

            LMAO!!!! Some tagger yawn. A budget Bansky in the house! LMAO. If I need tips about spray cans I’ll ask you LMAO

          • o.b.1ne

            Pretty sweet tags Sure Faust. As for camera ‘geek’, the name says it all.

          • camerageek

            Tagging is vandalism. Oh and my name denotes that I am among the Photographic Elite, not some slovenly peasant nor criminal with a spray can

          • I just googled camera geek, and it came up with camera geek TV, if you’re the one that’s running the cheesy photography channel you seriously can’t talk about other artists.

            And if you know anything about street art, you would know the good writers from the bad ones.

          • camerageek

            It isn’t art it’s Vandalism, get it straight

          • and that’s what the melbourne city council first said about banksy among many other street artists, even removing banksy’s works around melbourne. but then when he got recognized, the melbourne city council decided to protect his street art by putting plexi glass in front of it.

            I guess it’s only art when you get into galleries. pfffft. you will never understand street art.

          • camerageek

            Nope, I will never understand Vandalism and the belief that scumbags have the right to spray paint on Private Property. Yay Vandalism!

          • wow, you are a geek.

            first you call sure faust a ‘budget banksy’ now you’re saying spraying paint is not art…. wow, you are an idiot. you know banksy primarily uses stencils? and guess how he gets those stencils up. lol please link me to your work so we can see your eliteness ahahaha

          • camerageek

            Just read Vogue and see my work or go to the Guggenheim. Bansky is a fraud he’s no artist, just a vandal that got some hipster sponsor.

          • geek geek geek.

          • camerageek

            filthy peasant filthy peasant filthy peasant!

          • Derel Swanson

            People who shoot for Vogue or are in the Guggenheim do not speak like you. You are a clown.

          • camerageek

            Nope that ain’t me

        • disoculated

          Seeing how googling your names says that one of the two artists is dead?

          • Richard B.

            Sure is dead. But this is graffiti so Sure will never die, writers often write the names of their fallen comrades along their own throughout their careers. NYC’s JAone does something similar with Sane. It’s a way to tribute a friend.

            That said, there is no way a guy like Faust is going to waste his time arguing with some nut on a rumour website. I don’t even think he’s into photography. So we got an imposter on our hands.

  • The rantings of a Gear Acquisition Whore. Enjoy the toy camera with and even more laughable sensor. MmmMMM! ISO Noise above 100 FTW.


      You’re retarded bye. Leica makes some great cameras. So do a lot of other people. Those concerned with either rarely make good art. Nice instagram photo of your clam chowder though, very modern.

      • Instagram + m4/3 is the new hotness.

        • E

          Instragram is McDonalds in photography.

    • Ben

      You’re dissing the high-ISO performance of the E-M5 relative to the M series? Now that’s funny.

      • SleeperSmith

        Rofl. Ignore that complete utter idiot.…./Cameras/Compare-Camera-Sensors/Compare-cameras-side-by-side/(appareil1)/793%7C0/(brand)/Olympus/(appareil2)/640%7C0/(brand2)/Leica

        That says it all really.

  • Nate
  • vince

    I’m with J Shin. Had all my life wanted to own a Leica M-series, no doubt they’re the best. But their prices have spiraled up a lot faster than my savings. Got to be realistic and live within my means.

  • I carry my M9 and 50 Lux Asph with me to work in a bag every day. Sometimes I stay out for a few beers and get the booze train home. Sometimes I get a little paranoid that I’ve got £7k worth of gear on me but then I just think. It’s insured. Cameras are made for using. Paranoia shouldn’t limit your purchasing.


      This is true. Your paranoia sounds far more limiting than any gear choices you’re considering. Relax, be smart and enjoy this world.

      • Hardey Leone

        I agree.

  • fangio

    You seem very confused. You should start by the end result : the prints you make. Then you choose the potential quality of your “digital negative” : it is given by the sensor size. Then you find the max aperture you need for the look you want or light you have. Then you makes compromise size, haptics, weight, price.
    If you don’t look at your prints, you will choose blindly.

  • Federico Montemurro

    We have to celebrate the options that we have today. There’s no an unique true gear. Buy with your heart and enjoy photography.

  • I’ve had the 280 Apo Telyt, and the 70-180 Apo as well. Stunningly great lenses. And yet, with film they can’t come close to what I’m getting with my Nikon gear and a D800. I just couldn’t justify sticking with film when for my job, I had to worry about color accuracy and low-light high ISO performance. Plus the cost of Leica gear, and their reluctance to go AF or digital. In the end, my best photos are done with my current Nikons and Canons at work.

  • Chan Juitun

    When I switched from Canon 5DII to M9, I was thrilled by the sparks that Leica lens brought into life. For a fraction of the cost of a Leica M lens, I acquired the OM-D with three primes. The images are good or great but you will never see those charming portraits like Leica M does. Surely the Leica file might not be as clean as the OM-D ‘s for high ISO photos when you peek at 100% image. But when you just look at the entire photo, the one from Leica always shines.

    • Delphititan

      Really…really…? I have used a lot of different cameras and lenses over the years starting in the 70’s. The image that shines will do so because of the competence of the photographer, not the camera or lenses. If you are so certain about your assertion, please point me to reliable studies and/or tests including the image files demonstrating your point. Data…please give me hard, reliable data. That’s all I ask.

      • SURE FAUST

        Art is rarely about data though isn’t it? I primarily shoot with an E-M5. It’s a great camera for sure, but it’s definitely different than a rangefinder. Leica glass tends to have a certain look to it (similar things could be said about Zeiss and Zuiko glass). It’s not inherently better of course, just different. While you are 100% correct that the competence of the photographer is everything – part of that competency is choosing the tools that will help one achieve the desired aesthetic, whatever it may be.

        • Delphititan

          That is why I asked for your image file comparisons supporting your assertions. Image files are also “data.” Let’s have a look at the image comparisons that led you to the conclusions you have asserted in your first post. When you post a link to the image file comparisons, we can then look at the images from each camera/lens combos you are speaking of and make the “artistic” assessment for ourselves.

          Fair enough? Thank you in advance for showing us the images you are referring to that demonstrate your assertions. I look forward to seeing what you are trying to show us.

          • Gabriele Del Torchio

            SURE FAUST is clearly not the person that posted the original comment… you have to at least read the words if you wish to discuss… but anyway.

            You can look at any picture made by any photographer in history and see the effects the chosen lens has. Different focal lengths are the most obvious difference (a 35mm will look far different than a 90mm). But that’s not all, a Nikon 35mm will look different from a Leica 35mm. A canon will look different from both again.

            Why? Different optical designs. You can see the optical designs for all of the above at each manufacturer’s website, often along with MTF charts if you really care about the numbers. Suggesting that all the lenses look the same is ludicrous.

            Again, none are inherently better (as SURE FAUST clearly stated) but they ARE different. A competent photographer is aware of these differences and will choose the lens that fits best for what they wish to do. The new Oly 75mm F1.8 for example provides extreme sharpness if that’s what I was looking for. Some however dislike the colour signiture of Zuiko glass and would rather go for a Canon 150mm 2.8. They look different yet both provide the exact same field of view.

            These different options are a good thing. I don’t understand why you seem to want to distort reality.

            PS: When YOU decide to make a statement (eg. lenses don’t matter) the burden is on YOU to provide proof. That is how an academic discourse works. Do your own work.

          • Delphititan

            Thank you for the correction on my reply to the wrong author.

            As for some of your other comments, Who suggested that “all lenses look the same?” Where is the text of that assertion?

            And where did I “distort reality?” I love options. That seems to be the gist of the author’s article.

            My comment about the importance of photographer competence in comparison with the relative quality of a camera lens was not intended to imply that lens quality has “no” relevance. My point is that with the improvements in lens design over the years the relevance is diminished to a point such that it is easier to buy high quality lenses for a lot less money in today’s market. Here is an example of how that relevance has changed over time:

            I am not saying that Iphones should be the camera of choice for fashion photography. (Although I am almost certain that based on your other multiple leaps of wild conjecture, that is what you will run with if you happen to reply to my comments.) The article merely emphasizes the importance of other elements and tools used to produce images for the fashion and other industries that require image capture and creation.

            What I am saying is that the comment I first replied to specifically stated “But when you just look at the entire photo, the one from Leica always shines.” And…”The images are good or great (referring to the E-M5 and three primes) but you will never see those charming portraits like Leica M does.” That is just silliness.

            And moving on to your burden of proof “academic discourse” comment…It is perfectly reasonable to ask the person making an assertion to provide reliable data to support such an assertion. In academic discourse it is not the responsibility of the reader of an opinion to disprove an assertion. It is the responsibility of the person making the original statement to support the statement with factual data demonstrating the proof of their assertions.

          • Derel Swanson

            You’re a robot who really needs to stop blabbing and actually “see” images rather than just look at them.

          • Delphititan

            You haven’t ever actually done an objective or subjective side by side test/comparison of Leica brand gear with other gear have you Derel? C’mon…you truly have no substance to support your claims now do you? I am asserting that your beliefs are based on emotion and not empirical study. Please Derel…show me the evidence. If you don’t have the evidence, just make it known that it’s your “feelings” in play here and not the scientific model.

          • Derel Swanson

            Not really fair at all. Everyone’s computer screens are different.

      • Derel Swanson

        It’s not just the competence of the photographer. It’s that as well as using great equipment that will elevate the already amazing picture of an amazing photographer, to the “next level”. Leica lenses coupled with Leica bodies will do exactly that, given the photographer already knows how to make “amazing’ images.

        • Delphititan

          O.K. I’ll bite. I am ready to “see” your image/lens/camera comparison samples demonstrating your assertions. Please post a link or links to your data…you know the samples captured by the “amazing” photographer with the various lens/camera combinations showing the improvements provided by the “amazing” gear over the lessor gear.

          • robert

            Lol….too bad you aren’t going to get anything solid out of your requests, it’s just smoke and mirrors..and you must be too stupid to “see” the “Leica look”….

  • Great read. Still, even the OM-D doesn’t feel like the Leica. It’s about much more than just convenience and optics.

  • Ben

    Nikon, m4/3, Leica….. used to obsess about it. Just had our baby, the 16×20 print of him on my office wall from the OM-D/25 f1.4 at ISO combo beats my best M9 shots, lp/mm, shadow noise, sensor size non-withstanding. It’s the content that counts. And I would not have gotten that with the D800 and 85 mm monster (too big) or the M9/Lux combo (too slow)

  • Mikael Siirilä

    There should be a medication for GAS.

  • Fotodiox Lens Adpater?

  • iedei

    you said: “Leaving the house with $2,000 worth of battered-up R stuff makes me nervous enough that I can’t use the bathroom freely, unless there is a coathook that is strong enough to withstand the weight of a small car, and is located where a passer-by cannot reach it. I’m scared to leave my office at night with $100 to deposit, for earth’s sake.”

    the amount of paranoia you have is WEIRD. I would work on that, before you think too much more about camera gear! I live in Brooklyn and walk around with my Leica gear everywhere……living is far more interesting than fearing.

    • Jim

      geez dude, some people you pass are wearing $10k watches, relaax

  • Les

    I always find it fascinating when people decide to completely change systems. It’s almost as if they believe that whatever creative photographic problems they have will be resolved by changing the font and spelling on the front of their camera.

    It’s never that simple, is it?
    I think that you need to see the difference between camera collecting (which is what you’re doing with an R3), and photography.

    The author of this article needs a point and shoot camera. Nothing wrong with that, and no reason to get rid of an unrelated camera collection. It may as well be a comic book collection.

    • Albert

      Have you even read the article? His argument is more on economic and security side. He never mentioned that his previous system limits his creative capability.

  • joseph

    Pages and pages of verbiage and no photos, so I couldn’t care less about what you think.

  • Earlybird2908

    I’m with you. I sold my Leica M9 and all my wonderful Leica lenses (got more for them than I paid thanks to the worldwide shortage (one guy even flew from Norway to London to collect one lens!) because unfortunately as you get older the eyes can’t quite focus as fast and the fingers aren’t so nimble. I invested in an Olympus OM-D E5-M and have lots of great lenses (I’m a lensoholic) and I haven’t missed the Leica once! The images I have taken are fantastic for my purposes and I have no regrets.

  • Gary Todoroff

    J Shin — I spent five years with FourThirds format when Olympus made the E-330, a flat-topped, optical-finder-on-the-left camera that handled a lot like a Leica M. Alas, Olympus joined the lemmings and went back to the hump in the middle body, that ubiquitous DSL design, apparently just in case bodies need to be retrofitted for film. You might enjoy my Leica-lenses-on-Olympus blog from back then, the “Lympa Log”

  • Nobody Special

    I wouldn’t worry too much about jumping systems. Just keep one or two of your favorite lenses, and get rid of the rest. More than ever, it’s the sensor that brings even average optics into a better realm of quality that film doesn’t lend itself to – sharpness. By a system that meets your needs, it’s that simple. I’d go to an APS sized system before 4/3rds – just my preference.

    I saw the results from a Canon 35/1.4L and it reminded me of my favorite Leica R lens, my first and second generation 35/2 Summicrons. Yes, the later Canon reminded me of my decades old Leica fav’s, and that’s okay by me because I like the ‘look’ and with digital, either can look even better – though I still like transparencies – there are others besides Leica now-a-days that can bring tons of satisfaction and quality.

    With post processing, there is a lot of ‘tinkering’ that can be done – that’s not my thing – but there are lenses other than Leica that digital has opened to bring fine results. Sometimes ‘sweating the Leica details’ can drive you nuts, and when any gear makes you that way, put it all down, back away, and go for a walk w/o it and gain some ‘perspective’, it can help. Oh yes, the money can be saved for a trip that takes you into a new subject matter.

  • I’m intrigued, but not surprised, by the fact that many people are assuming I am male and that my partner is female. If you don’t think women can be this nerdy about toys, check out Karen Nakamura’s site:

    If you are interested in purchasing classic cameras, this is an indispensable guide, along with Stephen Gandy’s site:

  • george

    So many arguments on image quality. I use Canon and Leica, events are usually the Canon and are a large percentage of my income, the images are sharp and just want the customer wants. For art reproduction and architecture I use Leica, and those customers are very impressed with the sharpness and accurate color on high gloss images without noise or loss of detail at 100+ % enlargements which are not to be matched by the other system. I have tried the OM-D and am impressed with the image quality considering the cost and size of the camera. Not a Leica, but still, it produces nice images.

    Good photographers can produce works of art with a i-phone !

  • Giorgio

    don’t worry mister J.
    you can’t be excommunicated as you never entered the Leica World. Ok, Leica-R WAS a fine camera, not better than others ( Nikon F, Pentax Spotmatic…) and HAD some very impressive lenses, perhaps the best ones, I’ve to admit it. But the only way to enter the Leica world is to try a Leica M, only that IS really the Leica world… You like it? You’re in… you don’t like it? You’re out. But you can try…Sell all your leica-r gears and buy a used LeicaM4 or a LeicaM6 if you neeed a lightmeter. ( what is a lightmeter for??? Exact exposure is almost never what your lightmeter tells) and buy a used Summilux 35mm, far better than a R Summilux. Yes, only one lens for that moment, you don’t need more to realize what is a rangefinder vue. Give your paranoia an end, go out and shoot and stop to fiddle about lw/ih, all that boring stuff has almost noting to do with Leica World or even with Photography. And quality is everytime relative… have you ever tried a Linhof 5×10 with Schneider lenses? Now Linhof, Hasselblad, Mamiya Rb67 and 645, the 35mm reflex world (I’ve used them all for job), the 35mm rangefinder world, the micro 4/3 world…and others… every camera brings you to a different approach to photography. And all that has almost nothing to do with quality, but much more about the way you see. Leica M9 is not the best quality camera and at higher Iso you can realize it clearly, but is a different camera (and Leica M are the best lenses for a full frame 35mm) … but with a Leica you know exactly where you put the focus and what will be the deapth of field and how you expose, with other cameras…autofocus, matrix… you will never know it. Like Kodak used to say… you press the shutter, we will do the rest.

    • vitas ambrazas


      • E

        I had the same reaction :D. I want to highlight this: “every camera brings you to a different approach to photography. And all that has almost nothing to do with quality, but much more about the way you see” +100

        • Giorgio

          Thank you Vitas for your +100… i think we have similiar way of thinking about photography. I’ve also “worked ” my photos in my darkroom, for more than 30 years, what a joy! Sometimes I try again, but in Rome it’s getting not so easy… films like Tri-x or Agfapan , chemicals like Rodinal, papers like Portriga (only to tell a few) are death. Only 4 or 5 shops are still selling something “traditional”. I better don’t tell about the prices! My trash was a good companion, full of tests and prints that were not perfect as I wished, now it’s not so easy for me to throw away a 30x40cm piece of paper if I realize there’s some mistake. I I’ve also tried only to develope the films, and then… whoop in my scanner. Sometimes I like what I get, but it’s not the same magic!!
          Photography is getting every day more virtual…not a film, a file. We discuss about quality, lw/ih… we partecipate to virtual contests, expositions, forums. Cameras, lenses, paragons, side by side fights. All only virtual, almost never prints. Traditional photography is death? No, it survives. Ansel Adams is death but it’s still possible to print his negatives. Perhaps not so perfect as he did, but still fine prints. Yes photographers are death, there will be no another Ansel Adams, no more Capa or Cartier-Bresson. Straight or street photography? who cares really about? It’s almost impossible now to become popular and emerge from the mud of the net. Every second tons of “new” photos are uploaded into the web. Fine ones, horribles ones, no distinction. Sometimes I look pictures taken by friends when they get back from their trips..and aks them.. “why did you press the shutter button?” “Oh it’s for free, you can take with a 16Giga card how many pictures you like!” … And I think… maybe one day or another he will get an horrible crash, loose all his pictures, it will be not a big damage for the humanity.

  • L-Freak

    Your article explains very well why it made perfect sense for Leica to drop the R system. There simply is no real reason any more to shoot with a Leica R.

    With the M System it’s a completely different situation, since rangefinder photography is a completely different approach and there are still plenty of enthusiasts out there enjoying this difference.
    I shoot both with a Canon DSLR and an M (and a Sony RX 100 at times). Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses, each gave me wonderfull results and I wouldn’t want to miss any of them.
    There is one point I missed in your article. Although you’re an amateur photographer (like me) you talk a lot about image quality and return on invest. You didn’t mention the fun at all. For a hobby photographer in my opinion this should be the most important – if not the only – argument. For me sometimes the process of photographing – slowing down, observing, composing, focusing, enjoying the tactile feeling of the manual lens and the shutter, listening to the shutter buzz, … – is more important than the actual result.
    I played around with mounting M lenses to Sony NEX and Ricoh GXR cameras. Quality is fine and they are nice and compact. But it just doesn’t feel like rangefinder photography. I wish you a lot of fun with your M4/3. Keeping your R system is a good decision, you may want to return in a few months …

    • vitas ambrazas

      Right on the money!

  • Mrmut

    Thanks for a nice article, alto I feel a stronger conclusion is due 🙂

    Some time ago I had to make the similar decision myself. While Leica hardware are engineering masterpeaces they are also extremely expensive, which defeats the purpose of using them as tools.

    I personally didn’t go for M4/3, but instead for usual Olympus 43 system, more specifically E-450. My most used lens is really good ZD 25mm, tho I also have an assortment of other lens of which the fish-eye is my favorite (for family shots, ets).

    I also use large Olympus E-1 SLR, but for most assignmets e-450 is more than enough, and loss or breakdown of equipment is almost irrelevant, due to low price to replace it.

    It is the rule of diminishing returns – good equipment requires ever more better setups and conditions where it can be used to full potential, all of which are rarely available (just a small bit of camera shake will drastically lower resolution of any lens).

  • Jan

    Dear Mr Shin,

    Don’t buy anything before reading/seeing the performance of the leica glass on the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 go to and check!

    And certainly don’t sell your Leica lenses.



  • vitas ambrazas

    I’m kinda missing enjoyment part of photography in this article. Another thing- sharpness is overrated. You sound more of a scientist than photographer. People take great with through away cameras. How about a pinhole cameras and that scientific count of resolution?! To me contest is what matter in the picture. However, I should say that for family events phone cameras are good enough these days. For pleasure of photography, for slowing slowing down, cameras are only tools and is the matter which one fits your needs better, or which one feels right. So, if m43 is what makes you happy, enjoy using it! As for me, I dropped dSLR and went back to film and I’m perfectly happy with manual focus, developing film and waiting to see what’s there… etc. If you afraid getting out of home with your camera, stay home, but there is still no guarantee that your camera is safe there 🙂

  • the old pro

    Your problem is not photo equipment – rather being pussy whipped

    • Just_The_Facts_Maam

      No doubt, old pro, but in his whipped state he successfully peels back the layers of decision-making in a way that are genuinely helpful to many of us non-pro semi-enthusiasts who want to get a reasonably good image to share for friends and family. After all, in the end, our heirs will be dumping 99.99% of our cherished carousels, prints and negatives into black plastic bags and leaving them on the street for the garbage man. And as for the jpegs, tiffs, avis and movs and gawd-knows-all-what-else, it’s all destined for the del key.

  • unlightening

    Why live in fear of what gear you are using? Chances of someone who is low enough of a human being to actually want to harm you for your Leica is so marginal because none of these types of people even know what you have.

    How many of you with leica’s have actually been mugged vs someone with a 1Ds or D3 – people know what those are. Most people dont know what a Leica is. Let alone the dirtbags of society.

    Whatever camera you have, shoot it and just enjoy. Thinking about things like this are moot in life.

  • Just buy OM-D EM-5. The OM-D has excellent auto-focus and image quality.
    Look at the excellent Voigtlander F/0.95 lens, Panasonic 25mm F/1.4 and Panasonic 20mm F/1.7.

    Don’t sell your Leica lens for a while. Try them on this new m4/3 body.

  • Konstantin

    Thanks for the interesting reflections, J!

    I do, however, think that your mathematics does not make much sense.You say “For an $8,000 body, that is 12,800 frames over 10 years, or 35 shots every day for 10 years.”

    35 shots every day for 10 years is equal to 35x356x10 which is124,600 frames (and not 12,800). Which, if using film and calculating 25 cents per frame, equals $31,150.

    I think the rest of the math in your article might also need to be reviewed.

    My own simplistic calculations for the justification of my owning my M9 are as follows: I paid 5000 euros for it 2 years ago (second-hand when it was still quite new). In those 2 years, I’ve shot 40,000 frames.That means that each frame costs me 12.5 euro cents. Of course the camera itself can be still sold for 3000 euros today which really brings my cost per frame at 5 euro cents before printing. And my M9 still shoots flawlessly.

    Hope this helps in your new evaluation (which still works pretty well in favour of ANY digital camera when compared to the old film cameras).

    Cheers, KM

    • J Shin

      Oops. That should have been 128,000 frames, or $8000 / 0.25 x 4.

      40,000 frames over two years is about 55 frames per day. For you, I’d say the M9 was definitely worth it. There is no way I can do that. 🙂

  • J Shin

    Thank you, everyone, for your feedback, your advice, and even the chastisements, some of which I know I deserve. I’ve only replied to a small number of comments, but please know that I have read and appreciated every comment, and followed every link you suggested. It’s been a heartening experience, as always.

    I do find it intriguing, although not surprising, that people assumed I was a man (and that my parter was therefore a woman). If you do not believe that a woman can be this nerdy about gear, check out Karen Nakamura’s reviews of classic cameras:

    This is a great guide for anyone interested in classic cameras, as is Stephen Gandy’s:

    If you believe all nerdy photographers are straight, I wouldn’t know where to begin. 🙂

    I also wanted to add a quick note about my lens resolution (and therefore contrast) obsession. For reasons that are too complicated to explain here, lens resolution matters in the perceived sharpness of the final viewed image. Given two images with the same final resolution, the image that started with a higher-resolution raw image will look sharper, clearer, and more 3-D. My point in the article is that there is a point after which this is of diminishing significance, but those MTF numbers will show up on your image, and there is an art and a science to how to squeeze that out of each lens.

    Obsessing about lw/ih numbers is therefore akin to how people who use the Zone System with film obsess about tone curves and film-developer-time combinations, experimenting with various combinations day after day after day, ending up with more test shots than anything else. I’m sure many of you have spent a lot of time getting the color temperature and color space right for your work flow, fiddling with MacBeth charts and Q-60 and white balance caps, and making unnatural number of test prints. This may seem excessively nerdy and unnecessary to some, but there is a great deal of joy in getting that one image that has the elusive technical quality you have been trying to perfect, whether that is tonality or sharpness or color accuracy or whatever. Pursuing one of these is not any better than pursuing any of these others.

    So, best wishes to all of us in our search for our individual esoteric joy in photography. 🙂

    • giorgio

      So sorry for my Mister J, ad good morning Miss J. !
      I can’t still belive that someone is still thinking Leicaflex, half Leica and half Minolta R3 and the horrible bulky R8 monster belong to the Leica world. Only Leica rangefinders give you a different approach to photography, the quality of lenses is relativ less important and the leica reflex are not better than ohers reflex, I admit that Leica lenses are perhaps better. I can’t understand your obsession about lw/ih numbers. Science and math, tests done in a chamber, are one thing, shooting in the real world is just another thing. Just only handholding the camera can distroy lot of sharpness when you are shooting. I’ve almost same toughts about Zone system and lightmeters… the right exposure is that one you prefer, does not matter if Zone Systems and lightmeter are telling your’re underexposing the darks and/or burning the highlights. Only many years of shooting experience can help you and if you begin to fiddle about Zone System and lightmeter you can often loose the right moment. As to the overall quality, it’s every time relative… if you never tried some bulky 8X10 or 4X5 inch cameras with slides or negative b/w, you just can’t realize how relative is 35mm full frame quality… and how fare sometime deapth of field and focus can be from what you exactly wish. Oh I know there are lot of people playing with tilt and shift via Photoshop! BRRRR!!! Still everyone can spend the life fiddling and pursuing what he/she needs (if of course he/she knows what he/she likes and is doing) and a “technical perfect” picture can by miles away from a beautiful one.

      • J Shin

        > a “technical perfect” picture can by miles away from a beautiful one.

        Absolutely true. No argument from me there.

        So, the trick with “technical photography” is determining the technical dimensions that maximize the visual quality you seek, whether it is beauty, meaning, or impact. I value resolution and contrast, because I always prefer a sharp and detailed portrait, for instance, with every strand of hair and pore and wrinkle captured, compared to a “creamy” one, or one with a better facial expression, or one with more meaningful mood, etc. Kind of a hyperrealism, rather than romanticism.

        >Only Leica rangefinders give you a different approach to photography

        I would say that every camera has quirks that encourage a different approach. This has to do with lens design philosophy as well as body design philosophy. Sometimes it is a matter of compatibility with one’s physical ability.

        For me, the virtue of Leica design philosophy is not so much that they force you to see things one way, but they “get out of the way”, capturing the world as we want to see it. There is never a situation with the R lenses where I think “I’m not sure if the lens can handle this.” There is a pleasing balance between contrast and resolution, and evenness of performance, that work in more situations than not. The viewfinder information in the Rs is quiet and unobtrusive, merely suggesting and reminding, rather than dictating. The controls are intuitive and accessible.

        And, in the end, when it comes down to it, one can find ways to make a camera see things the way one sees things. The way I use the E-PM1 is not very different from how I used any of the cameras I have used, including view cameras, a TLR, and a few rangefinders. And, I will always be a slide person, no matter what sensor I end up with, preferring to postprocess as little as possible, composing and exposing for color “Zones”, and often giving myself only one shot, maybe three with bracketing and/or recomposing. I played with a friend’s Nikon DSLR once, and I found a way to use it the very same way. I have taken some outdoor portraits with the 2.8/280 that were taken and look like what I’ve done with rangefinder cameras.

        And, thanks to customization menus and better lens design, more bodies than not these days can be used “the Leica way”, whichever way that is for you.

        I’m attaching some photos, since someone complained about their lack, one with Leica Elmarit 2.8/28 on Provia 100F, one with Panasonic 2.5/14. Disqus seems to desaturate the color a bit.

        • J Shin

          Adobe RGB somehow snuck in. Here is the sRGB version.

          • J Shin

            Never mind me. I’m just experimenting with different file formats to see if there is any way this will look like the way it does before I post it. So far, I’ve been posting 320×427.

            This one is 960*1280. I uploaded TIFF-16, TIFF-8, and JPEG-8, but only one survived. Color’s still desaturated. Resolution still a bit fuzzier, but more tolerable with larger image. I’ll write to DISQUS about it.

          • J Shin

            This is 320×427 TIFF. Same color problem. (Ooops. Looks like Adobe RGB again.)

          • J Shin

            According to DISQUS, file formats supported are JPEG, non-animated GIF, and PNG, with file size limit of 2 MB. Here is a 480×640 PNG, 1.4 MB. Still a bit desaturated.

          • J Shin

            50% crop. Not too bad for hand-held 1/15. (Those bubbles are inside paper.)

          • J Shin

            Just for fun, 100% crops from 75/1.8 portraits. I rarely get this kind of spot-on focus with manual focus. First one with fluorescent light at f/1.8 and 1/30 (!), default settings. Second one with bounced flash at f/4 1/250, exposure +1.00. You can see E-PM1’s infamous shade color problem. (DISQUS swapped the photo order after uploading.)

          • giorgio

            Green eye: to diry and noisy (hairs veryverrvery muddy) to tell somewath about sharpness and detail, perhaps Iso to high. “Japan” eye, very soft and unsharp picture, but has some fashion.

          • Giorgio

            In the web I’ve seen almost everytime only Jpegs, I’m sure that not all photosoftwares can handle tiff-16 and I don’t know if monitors even are able to show them correctly, anyway they are to heavy for the web. Well I’ve tried to shoot in similiar conditions. Sorry a different cup, fennel infusion, not tea, marble table. Olympus omd-em5, Panasonic 14mm f.2,5, handheld 1/8 sec. f.3,5 ibis, natural, contrast 0 sharpening -1 settting on camera, …
            Seems quite sharper as your cup is, it’s possible at 100% to see every minimal coat from the tiny white rope of the teabag. Perhaps it’s Disqus fault pehaps not. If you wish I can send you the original jpeg, unprocessed, directly how it comes out from the camera.

          • J Shin

            I believe you. 🙂 Proves that you have steadier hands than I do, and that E-M5 has superior IBIS. So, going back to my original article, do I need an E-M5? A few weeks ago, I would have thought so. Not any more.

          • Giorgio

            I agree, yes, a good debate is that for. Not to disguise if Leica is better or not than others. In my more than 30 years of professional photographer life I shoot for different purposes with different cameras, and it always had been difficult to have for each film format (4×5′, 6×7 cm, 4,5x&cm, 35mm) all the best gears and lenses, to expensive! So I’ve always tried to squeeze every little drop of quality I was able to squeeze from my cameras, lenses, lights. As photography meens to write with light it’s the most important think for a fine picture, much more important than a camera or a lens. That’s why I’m always happy to speak about circumstances. I realize perfectly that having the best gears and lenses is assuring, You know it can’t be a fault of gears, you can eliminate a possible cause of mistake. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes not. Anyway having the best gears, specially if you are a doubtful person can be assuring. But there are other difficulties. I meen… as i take a film out of a traditional analog camera I than develope it and print it almost the same way, does not matter if it came from a Nikon, a Pentax or some other camera, and the resulting pictures from a same format film were ‘almost’ the same. In the digital era I think it’s different. The camera IS also the film (although you can postprocess it in different ways). It’s a kind of ‘all in one’, and quality is rising everywhere rapidly. Some years ago was a Nikon 2,5M digital reflex called professional and was not cheap at all. With the first and today old Nikon F I can shoot exactly the same fine pictures as with the top of level todays Nikon film camera. But with a today 500€ telephone I can get better quality than with the first Nikon professional digital cameras. And I can also phone, send mails, play and much more (that’s why I don’t like and don’t have a mobile phone).Today I think quality is for me a kind of all in one. Leica m9 did not impress me, Leica monochrome is fantastic. Don’t like bulky Nikon or Canon full frames at all. Olympus omd em5 fits me well. It’s a fine compromise or better said a compromise I like. I think the Ibis and the sensor are quite better than E-PM1. Less noise, more resolution…. But lenses are still sometimes a problem. I’ve the Panasonic 20mm and the 14mm. Both are prone to fringing and to distortion. As far as you take the jpegs out from the camera all is almost fine, but if you begin to work with raw there’s no in camera correction as you certain know. Only apo lenses gives perhaps not fringing. I ‘ve tried lot of legacy lenses. Nikon, Takumar Pentax, Olympus, Russian). I like the colours they give, a kind of old fashion, and like the sharpness. The old 50mm f1,4 smc takumar is really a fine lens. With the one or an old nikkor 105mm f2,5 I can shoot handholding at very low shutter speeds, Ibis helps well. Only manual focus and I can focus were I wish, not were the camera wishes. But with wideangles it’s not so fine… a 24mm f2,8 Nikon turns in m4/3 to a very normal 48mm. My beloved Lia did with her Panasonic G3 and an Olympus 50mm f1,8 some extraordinary fine portraits. But as I told you I don’t like to speak about technic. Only a fine light, happy circumstances, your ability to squeeze the quality out your gears can give you fine pictures… if you have fine istinct, taste and culture. 🙂

        • giorgio

          Oh Miss J…
          I understood you quite well don’t worry, that’s why I spoked about 4X5 inch cameras… I try to explay. The 150mm is the normal lens for this kind of view cameras. What does it meens? It meens that if you take a picture you will have (almost) the same angle of view as taken with a 50mm of a 35mm full frame camera… but the details will be (almost) the same as taken by a 150 mm tele lens on a 35mm camera! How many 150mm lens pictures from a 35mm frame or from a 4/3 frame you need to stitch side by side together if you will have the same field as the 150mm lens one shoot picture taken with a 4×5′ camera? That where lies the problem. Today digital camaras and lenses, in a not much different than yesterdays 35 cameras and lenses, try always to increase sharpness and contrast to push more details in a little area. But doing that they loose tones…4×5′ has tones, softness and extreme details all together in the same picture. Maybe only that can be called hyperrealism, so trying to push at the limit contrast and resolution you will get only irrealism. And pushing resolution you get bigger files… but are 24MP of a todays camera enough? Surely not… and a 80MP resolution digital back still covers only a 53.7 x 40.3 mm area! Yes, now the quality begins to be similiar to that one of a 4×5′ viewcamera…. but how about the price?… And what shall you do with all this quality? I mean really how many really fine art prints did you print from your pictures… that’s why I’m thinking photography is getting every day more virtual… files in your Pc, files in the net, that only a monitor that’s miles away from perfection will show to our eyes. We read tests and paragon cameras and lenses, really a nonsense. An example: in Dpreview site you can do side by side paragons between saying a Olympus omd em5 and a top level full frame Nikon or Canon… and Oly seems often to be better. Is it really true? Or is it only an oversharpening or some other postprocessing that makes Oly pictures look better? You posted two pictures, one with Leica Elmarit 2.8/28 on Provia 100F, one with Panasonic 2.5/14. If you did not wrote it, was I able to guess it? surely not. And can I say the Elmarit one has a fine quality, much better than the Panasonic 2.5/14.. or just the opposite? Surely not. I’ can’t even exactly understand what you try to show or demonstrate with those two pictures. The only thing I can say about is that the one with the wooden chairs in the square is fun… but it’s an horrible cut-off, and all climbs inside the picture and looks distorted. Darks are closed and highlights clipping, high light falloff and poor resolution at the corners, and perhaps other problems, (a to little picture for exstimating)… but i realize the street is empty, no one was walking by, so there was non possibility to harm or be harmed by someone, you probably had all the needed time to shoot it much better. If you wrote it was done with a poor compact camera, pointing with the LCD screen, I’d said it can go, but as you write it came from an Elmarit seeing in a viewfinder, I say it’s a bad quality picture from a fun subject. And the cup picture is awful, no matter if with Adobe RGB or sRGB. Perhaps it was only a test but nothing, not the cup, not the teabag, nothing else, looks really sharp and in focus in this picture

          • J Shin

            > but it’s an horrible cut-off, and all climbs inside the picture and looks distorted.

            > And the cup picture is awful

            Fair enough. Given that these are some of my favorites anyway, perhaps I am hopeless, and it doesn’t matter what equipment I use. 🙂

            The chair shot was at a busy mall with a cranky and cold child in tow, and the cup shot was at 1/15 sec with my increasingly unsteady hands. And the files I posted were sharper and more vibrant/tonal than they appear on DISQUS. (Try posting your own here and you’ll see.) But, if you do not like them, and I like them a lot, the circumstances don’t really matter, does it; some of the things you don’t like about the photos are exactly what I like about them. We just have very different aesthetics in the first place. I agree there is nothing like looking at a 6×9 slide or a 8×10 BW, but if I treasure distortion and cut-off compositions, and love the way slide film clips highlights and shadows, and you despise all these, we are pursuing different kind of photography.

          • giorgio

            So OK for the chair if you like it like that way, it’s subiectiv, light falloff and poor resolution at the corners are objectiv. The cup, again if you like to see it that way, OK. Impossible to see in this picture were the table ends and were the floor begins. So if you speak about sharpness, 3-D and other technical arguments, and you show us those picture, I can’t really follow you. fAnd if that ones are some of your favorites I wonder how are the others. I like and prefer always to speak and read about the circumstances, not about technic, there’s much more fun. I’m always thinking that a beautiful picture is a kind of little miracle that happy circumstances made possible. I wonder about DISQUS, never posted so I try maybe I can afford it maybe not. Circumstances. Early morning, existing light, I was sitting on my armchiar, my older son was leaving home for the school. I starr at the flowers that my lovely Lia planted… Wow they are nice, but difficult to take a picture in such a dim light. I take an old pentax 50mm on my omd em5 and try it. Difficult to focus. Nothing special.

          • Giorgio

            No, it’s not gone, perhaps there’s some trick for uploading a picture, I think I need a register at Disqus, boring, anyway it’s irrilevant.

          • J Shin

            >I like and prefer always to speak and read about the circumstances, not about technic, there’s much more fun.

            I would agree with that, too. 🙂

  • James

    I totally sympathise. I went from an M6 to a D700, then a 5Dmkii (for the video features needed for film-making) and now switching completely to a Sony NEX-6, after buying a 5N for a ‘walkaround’. The 5N shocked me how good the IQ is, and I use adapted C/Y Zeiss lenses and Sony lenses on it. It has nearly everything I loved about the M6 (including great MF through the EVF with peaking) but is far smaller and lighter, with greater resolution, convenience, far better ISO performance which is switchable, and it does go with me everywhere, in a small bag in my work rucksack. Total no-brainer and I can even put Leica glass on if I ever earn an unfeasable amount. Select Sony e-mount lenses are very good indeed, and the Zeiss’ even better. Only sticking with my old Zeiss C/Ys for now in case the FF NEX is a must-have. Very happy photographer here. The only thing I could ask for is a FF version with even better ISO and video features, and more great fast lenses.

  • First world problems…..

  • JME

    I would rather go 0 to 60 in a
    Porsche . .than a Mustang . . However everyone (including me) is becoming much more aware of the micro 4/3’s – just can’t imagine what the next Photokina produces . Happy shooting.

  • ProtoWhalePig

    I routinely walk around with my stuff. It’s just stuff, after all, and it does me no good if it’s at home. I keep it (original 5D and some primes) in a beat up old bag that doesn’t scream cameras!

    Also, I walk around with a Pentax 67 that could stun a rhino if I swung it hard enough, then take a pic of the rhino right afterward. In fact, there’d probably be less vibration than the mirror slap generates.

  • Judge

    This write up was long winded, scattered and undecided rubbish… Can’t wait to read you next simple to the point statement wishing you didn’t jump ship… Good riddance sissy boy while others just put a piece of black tape on the camera to hide the red dot.

  • Judge

    This write up was long winded, scattered and undecided rubbish… Can’t wait to read you next simple to the point statement wishing you didn’t jump ship… Good riddance sissy boy while others just put a piece of black tape on the camera to hide the red dot.

  • Some leave, some join.

    I had Nikon D200, D300 and D7000.
    I have the Canon 5D MK3 and all the best L glass.
    I have both Fuji’s and all of their glass.
    I have adapters for the Fuji and shoot Zeiss glass.

    I just bought a 1957 double-stroke M3 and Summicron 50mm F/2 in minty condition for $750.

    The grass is never greener…

  • Some leave, some join.

    I had Nikon D200, D300 and D7000.
    I have the Canon 5D MK3 and all the best L glass.
    I have both Fuji’s and all of their glass.
    I have adapters for the Fuji and shoot Zeiss glass.

    I just bought a 1957 double-stroke M3 and Summicron 50mm F/2 in minty condition for $750.

    The grass is never greener…

  • Very nice piece, Just two reactions: 1) Please, please get an OM-D or the new E-PM1 or PL5 (with the new sensor). They have dramatically ramped up what M43 is capable of resolution-wise. 2) #1 should remind you, M43 is still new and the technology advances haven’t even begun to flatten out. OM-D sensor is now better than a lot of mid-range DSLRs and comparable to last-generation full frame (5D MII). Just wait and see where it stands in 2-3 years. M43 is going to make life very difficult not only for Leica but for crop sensor DSLRs. Unless you’re shooting landscapes or needing to print 4 by 5 feet and you need the D800, M43 is a pretty compelling alternative right now..

  • Thinkinginpictures

    Old blog post but I enjoyed this read. I have the EP5 and a few Oly lenses. Simply a pleasure to use. What do I do with the thousands I’ve spent in full frame gear and Zeiss lenses laying around? I still use them, but I find the incremental increases in resolution to be far beyond my perceived needs. This future is interesting- that’s why I shoot micro four thirds. If I want the big stuff, well there is still large format film for that- destroys any Leica any day of the week. But, how often do you need it?

  • Derel Swanson

    I put tape over my M9 logos and have a ball, as free as can be… Alot of people, when comparing Leicas, compare the camera bodies, when what they need to be comparing are the lenses… We all know who wins, hands down, in the lens department. Leica lenses will probably never be beaten.

  • JohnnyO

    Yikes…I couldn’t get past the first paragraph wherein you submitted your free will to your ‘partner’ whatever that is….any partner I have will live with me the way I am…and how I spend my money or move on….it’s MY life….and as a man…as a human and my birthright to get what I want…when I want it…anything less would be…against nature….please…buy what you want and embrace life! We are all human and free so man or woman…single, married or otherwise…don’t allow yourself to be tread upon….

  • Hardey Leone

    Get therapy before you buy any more gear. Best money you will ever spend.

  • Back to top