Leica M9 – Best Leica M Mount Lenses (For Me!)

With my new (to me) Leica M9 black body arriving soon my head is already starting to wander with regards to lenses on my to buy list.

To recap from my last post (here) I bought the Leica M9 body to let me shoot Voigtlander lenses on a full frame sensor body. I want to have a smaller camera to use for documentary style wedding photography. The D800 is great but is hardly discrete. So my brain is already excited at the thought of all the Leica M lenses I can now use. That said I have started to think what lenses I would buy next.

The Leica M mount lenses I own so far are:

> Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4

> Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm f4

Leica M mount lenses on my to buy list:

I understand many Leica purists would never put a non-Leica lenses on a Leica body but until I have a fatter wallet I am more than happy with the results some of the Voigtlander lenses give.  I have my eye on the following 2 lenses in no particular order:

> Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 Asph II (Steve Huff review here – http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2011/12/02/voigtlander-nokton-35-1-2-aspherical-ii-lens-review-on-the-leica-m9/

Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 asph

> Voigtlander 28mm f2 Ultron (Ken Rockwell review – http://www.kenrockwell.com/voigtlander/28mm-f2.htm)

Voigtlander 28mm f2 Ultron

>UPDATED* Carl Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 (Steve Huff review – http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2009/12/14/zeiss-zm-50-planar-lens-review/#comment-254065)

Zeiss Planar 50 f2 ZM

Why these lenses you may ask?  The Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 is said to be sharper than my Voigtlander 40mm wide open and I would buy it for it’s shallow DOF low light abilities. I love my Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s on my Nikon D800 so a f1.2 lens on the Leica M9 just seems to make sense to me.

UPDATE* I recently read Steve’s review (above) on the Zeiss Planar 50mm f2. Oh my!!! That ticks all my boxes and more! Added to list and now quite possibly at the top! I already own an M42 Zeiss Planar that I have used on my D800 and it i crazy sharp at f1.8, plus the colours are far nicer than the Nikon glass.

I will be using the Leica M9 for wedding photography aswell my model photography. In the UK wedding photography will normally include some low light photography even during the daytime due to our changeable weather. As a Leica M9 wedding photographer I am well aware that the M9 cannot compete with my Nikon D800 at high ISO. By using fast lenses (ie. wide aperture like f1.2, f1.4, f2) I can try to shoot at or below ISO 800 on the Leica body to avoid excessive noise on the images.

It terms of focal length 35mm on my Nikon D800 can be too tight in small spaces such as a cramped room full of people at a wedding reception. I think my 21mm f4 will be a little wide but more so will too slow for the dim indoor lighting faced at many wedding venues. The Voigtlander 28mm f2 Ultron provides the perfect focal length and speed to accompany my current 40mm f1.4 lens. As the Voigtlander 28mm f2 is also cheaper than it’s 35mm cousin I may buy this lens quite soon ready for the next wedding.

I am not really interested in focal lengths greater than 50mm on the Leica M9 as I can use the Nikon D800 for longer distances. The Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s is a beast of a lens so lets me get my discrete wedding photography photos from a safe distance. Up close most people would run a mile due to it’s size but that is where the Leica M9 comes in, for discrete documentary style wedding photography up close.

For info on all Voigtlander lenses see here – http://www.voigtlander.com/cms/voigtlaender/voigtlaender_cms.nsf/id/pa_fdih7j7h5j.html

Leica M9 wedding photography samples coming soon! See here for my wedding photography style – http://www.matthewosbornephotography.co.uk/Wedding-Photographer.html

UPDATE – September 2013* I now have all the above lenses.  By far my favourite is the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii. Sharp with a shallow DOF and easy to nail focus at f1.2

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

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Leica M9 & Voigtlander Classic 40mm f1.4

I ran one of my photography tuition and lighting workshops today with model Leia who kindly helped me out. The guy coming for my photography workshop brought his Leica M9 and kindly let me try it with my favourite Voigtlander Classic 40mm f1.4 lens. The full frame CCD 18MP Kodak sensor in the Leica didn’t disappoint. The colours alone blew me away! The build quality feels fantastic and it weighs a ton! More so, I finally see the results of the Voigtlander Classic (Nokton) 40mm f1.4 lens and all it’s bokeh beauty on full frame! My first real camera was a Panansonic Lumix G1 which is were I first met and fell in love with the Voigtlander 40mm look. That was a m43 sensor (x2 crop) so it equated to 80mm on a 35mm camera. I then bought the Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm rangefinder film camera just for that lens.

m9

I have wanted a small form digital camera to work alongside my Nikon D800 DSLR for my model photography and wedding photography for a few months so I can mount my Voigtlander lenses. I looked at the Fuji X-Pro1 but from reading reviews settled on a buying a Sony NEX-6.

The Sony NEX-6 arrived last week and just looks like a plastic flimsy toy. I’m sure it can take nice photographs but it just gave me no confidence. I am used to solid build film cameras like the Voiglander Bessa R3A rangefinder and Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. Safe to say I wont be using it.

So.. After the photography workshop I hit the internet and starting my Leica M9 research. Several hours later I saw a bid ending on eBay for a black Leica M9 body.

The rest was history!

Leica m9

I never thought I would see this day but I think I can now safely say I am a ‘proper’ photographer. The Leica M9 suits me down to the ground as I shoot manual focus lenses on the Nikon D800 anyway and I love older lenses made of metal and glass. It will work very well along side similar well build cameras and share lenses with my Voigtlander Bessa R3A.

I will sleep with a smile tonight. 🙂

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk

For those interested in joining me for photography tuition or a workshop in my studio in Coventry, UK, you can see more details here – http://www.matthewosbornephotography.co.uk/Photography-Tuition.html

I cannot wait for my next wedding photography shoot. The wedding couple are in for a real treat! I’m not sure who will be more excited about their big day, them or me!

Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f1.4: Review & Model Photography

My latest purchase has arrived. The Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm rangefinder film camera with it’s Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens.

First thoughts:
Voigtlander Bessa R3A – It is tiny compared to Mamiya RZ67 ProII! Very solid and feels well made. Simple layout/controls with a modern looking LCD viewfinder that I was not expecting. I am more accustom to focusing through lens cameras than rangefinders so I was a little worried whether I would be able to do my shallow DOF model photography at f1.4 accurately. For those that have not tried a rangefinder camera the main differences are you cannot see the DOF you are shooting and if your subject is off centre you have to focus in the centre square first by overlaying the two images and then recompose and try not to move the camera plane of focus.

Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens – I’ve used a copy of this lens in the past on a Panasonic Lumix G1 when I first started out with my photography. (See post and examples here). I was gutted when I could not bring it with me to Nikon. I had great memories of using this lens so was super excited when it came as standard on the Bessa. As my last post suggests it was literally like being reunited with an old friend. The lens is compact, oozes quality and good workmanship and looks great. I knew this lens gave a unique look to photographs particularly due to the ‘lively’ bokeh so I was very keen to get it back.

Here are some samples of photos scanned so far from the first roll of 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 film put through the camera self developed in a brew of Xtol and Rodinal. I used it on two model photography shoots to give the models something different and hopefully special for their model portfolios.

Models; Harriett (in hat) & Emily.

Voigtlander Classic 40mm F1.4
Voigtlander 40mm f1.4
Unmistakeable..

Photos taken in France; Matilda; Paulina
Voigtlander Bessa R3A Portrait
Rangefinder Film Portrait

Voigtlander Bessa R3A - Model Photography

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Portrait

Models; Josie, Emily

Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Portrait

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Portrait

I will add to the post as I scan more images so feel free to check back in a week or two.

In addition to model photography I plan to use it for wedding photography. I literally cannot wait for my next couples big day who have opted for a full day of black and white wedding photography. This and in particular black and white film photography is my big passion so I will be in my element. 🙂

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk