Easy ransition from Leica M?

Discussion in 'Sony' started by Alexandros Demetriades, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. Alexandros Demetriades

    Alexandros Demetriades Rookie

    Sep 7, 2013
    Hi all I am a professional photographer, mostly documentary and journalistic. Most of my work is with the Leica M series. However my M9 was getting old and I decided to sell it for something better. I am between the new M (240) and the RX1. I have used the new Leica which is better than my old M 9 but do not have access to the RX1 where I live. I have read all the reviews and know about the quality of the Rx1. What I'm concerned about is the 'feel' of transitioning to Rx1 from Leica M, besides the obvious lack of viefinder, only manual focus etc...if anyone else has done this and would like to share.

    Also I have checked everywhere to see the focus distance markers on the back of the LCD when using the manual focus. I have only seen one where the markers go from 0.3,0.5,1,3,inf is this correct? What if u want to set to 5 m? from the image I saw the scale does allow you to clearly refine this or is there a dedicated number on the focus distance measurement that I did not see?

    Thx for any help you can offer.

    Alexandros Demetriades - Photographer
  2. bartjeej

    bartjeej Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Afraid I can't help you, but that's some very very nice photography you've got on your site! Gives a great feel for the locations :thumbup:
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I'm not a Leica shooter, but I've used zone focus techniques with a LOT of cameras. I can't talk about the "feel" relative to an M9, but I can confirm that the distance scale is rudimentary at best. In fairness, not many electronic distance scales are a lot better, and many that also provide an electronic DOF scale are radically conservative. I didn't even realize the RX1 HAD a distance scale until I asked the question repeatedly and someone finally confirmed that it did, but its not very detailed and only shows WHILE you're turning the focus ring. So there's no way to check whether you may have moved the focus distance off of your target distance without turning the ring and..... changing the distance from what might well have been your target distance.... It also doesn't remember your focus distance if you turn the camera off and then back on - it resets to infinity and then you have to move it back to where you want it. For zone focus, its the best Sony I've used, because the Nex and RX100 and (IIRC) the A series DSLT cameras don't have any sort of distance scale at all. I tend to use something between 1-3 meters as a typical focus point for zone focus and I can find 1.5 or 2 meters on the scale reasonably well. But I don't use the RX1 primarily as a street camera because other options just work better for me. I personally love the camera for roughly anything else that I can do with a medium-wide focal length and I do some street shooting with it when it's what I've got in hand and an opportunity presents itself. But when I'm going out for a day of street photography, its not my first choice.

    I hope this helps, if only a little and only on one specific part of your question...

  4. biglouis

    biglouis Veteran

    Aug 4, 2013

    I echo the person above, very compelling photography!

    You are correct about the distance scale, I've double checked with my RX1 and can confirm it is the fixed scale you have seen.

    Until last year my professional kit was a Leica M8 and a variety of lenses. Like you I felt after 4.5 years my M8 had done sterling service but needed to be replaced. In any case most of my work during the last two years has been MF film, so I sold my entire Leica DRF system.

    It is only since the middle of this year when I finished a lengthy film project that I cast around for a serious digital camera. In fact, I am still looking - I may well go back to a Nikon system but in the meantime I was intrigued by the RX1 and happened to be in the right place at the right time to get a used with one at a significant discount and with a shop-backed guarantee.

    Looking at your photography, I suspect you will do much better to stick with Leica if absolute control over manual focus is required. I think you would find the focus system of the RX1 or similar too slow by comparison.

    I mainly use my RX1 for landscape - which is my interest where quite frankly I rarely use it at more than iso100 and less than f8!

    However, last weekend I did use it as my only camera at my nephew's wedding where for the first time in a long time I was doing the kind of candid photojournalism I see in your work. In fact, I set the camera to f4, aperture priority and iso 4000, with face-detect on and just concentrated on the framing. I got startlingly good results - easily as good or even better than if I had done the same with my M8.

    It also reminded me of working with the M8 because the small size meant that my subjects did not feel threatened at all, which is a major advantage (as you know) of working with rangefinder cameras versus big bulky DSLRs. Incidentally, I mainly used the clip on EVF, which despite what everyone says about EVFs is spectacular. Why anyone wants to work with an optical viewfinder when you can actually see the impact of EV compensation and a live histogram is beyond me.

    One negative aspect is that the AF is slow. I got some great keepers and also missed focus on about the same number. Mind you, that is what happens when working with an all manual system like a M9 and manual lenses.

    Both the lens and the sensor in the RX1 are excellent. The lens is easily as good as a 35/2 ASPH and the sensor is arguably the best on the market today, easily as good or better than the 5dMkIII and of course identical to the sensor in the A99.

    If, like me, you are mainly using 35mm as your focal length and you are willing to use AF then I think you would be very happy with the RX1, or the new RX1R. But you would have to be willing to work with the cleverness of the technology (AF, face detection, EVF) and not work around it.

    Hope my opinion is of use.

    If you look at my Flickr stream you'll see examples of how I have used the RX1.

  5. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Hall of Famer

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Don't do much of your type of work and Ray can comment better -- but I had my first experience with the Fuji X-E1 last night and was very impressed with manual focus feel, and the distance scale which I ended up using to focus during some video tests because the focus aids don't work while recording video. The distance scale seemed very good to me but I haven't your experience.

    The Fuji's have good performance even with the smaller sensor and you have interchangeable lenses if that's at all of interest to you. Again, Ray is very experienced with all the cameras and should comment but I'm slowly getting sucked into the Fuji's, lol.
  6. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    I've had a M9 for about three years. But I don't have a RX1, although I've played with one for about 30 minutes at a Sony Store, and several other times for lesser amounts of time each time I come across a RX1. The shooting experience is vastly different primarily (as you have already noted) because of the viewfinder, or lack thereof, and the MF vs. AF.. To me, the RX1 seems to be more effective as an AF camera. I'm not a zone focus guru like Ray, and for manual focus purpose, I find the Leica M's rangefinder easier to focus than the focus peaking on the RX1.

    There are other considerations as well such as the size and ergonomics. The M9 is not very ergonomic at all even with a Thumbs Up. I found the RX1 (in spite of its diminutive size) more user friendly. The menu of options in the RX1 will look like a copy of "War and Peace" compared to the M9's!!

    Another very important consideration is whether or not you are a 35mm kinda guy. And can you live with a fixed lens if the RX1 is your only camera? I love 35mm (my favorite focal length), but I also have the 50 Lux, and can't imagine not having a Leica camera to use the 50 with!

    I know a few Leica M users who LOVE their RX1. But they all seem to have the RX1 as an additional camera as opposed to a replacement camera.

    Enjoy whatever you end up getting. Let us know what you decide on and hope to see lots of photos with the new camera!!
  7. Alexandros Demetriades

    Alexandros Demetriades Rookie

    Sep 7, 2013
    Thx for all the replies and advice...I'll let u guys know what I've decided!
  8. retow

    retow All-Pro

    Jul 24, 2010
    Looking at your site and style of shooting, I`d say MF and mainly ZF or blazingly fast AF is needed. The AF question can be answered quickly: among the compact cameras only the Nikon N1 offers fast enough AF for street shooting. For MF and ZF shooting of moderately wide to moderately long lenses, nothing beats a RF imho. As far as the VF is concerned, do you prefer to look at a lcd screen (EVF) or through a window (OVF). Although the RX1`s EVF has a fast refresh rate, it ain`t a M9 or X100(s) OVF. The RX1`s advantage is its superb sensor, buffer (i.e. file write time is not an issue), silent shutter, live view, basic flash on board, weight (not so much size as the external EVF makes it somewhat less handy).
  9. Alexandros Demetriades

    Alexandros Demetriades Rookie

    Sep 7, 2013
    Thx for the response...If I go the RX way I will probably like to have the option to use it in manual mode more than AF. I may use the AF but from what I read it's not there yet in terms of speed ...anyway I have read that the fly by wire focusing for example requires a few rotations of the focus ring to go from say 0.3 to infinity...is this true? How easy is it to turn and say go from 2m to 5m focusing? This is a deal breaker for me since if I cant read the scales on the lens (ala Leica) I need the confidence that I can go to from 1 or 2m to 5m with relative ease - with one sweep of my wrist left and right...

    I do prefer the OVF but I would be more than willing to try the EVF if this worked out for me...maybe I'm being to optimistic and the product is not fully mature for my needs yet...I just hate spending money on Leica that comes up with half baked goods every time....but right now it could very well be my only option!
  10. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
  11. retow

    retow All-Pro

    Jul 24, 2010
    0.3 to infinity is about one full turn. In MF, the distance scale shows 0.3, 0.5, 1, 3, infinity (meters). So going from 2m to 5m just based on the scale is a challenge. However, the RX1 has a very useful focus peaking which highlights the in-focus areas. With some practice, manual focusing with the peaking aide is pretty fast. Though with a wide to standard focal length like the 35mm, MF with the RF is still slightly faster imo. A used RX1 can be had for about USD 2000 these days. A bargain, compared to a Leica lens.
  12. Alexandros Demetriades

    Alexandros Demetriades Rookie

    Sep 7, 2013
    Thx so much things are clearing up...is there any drag on the focus ring...so if you are a tad overeager does it over miss it by a lot or is the focus ring progressive in its scaling of the focal length? Thx
  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    No, the focus ring is very nicely damped and is the most natural feeling "by wire" ring I've used. And getting from its reset point of infinity into the 1-3 meter range is a trivial movement - not a problem at all. But locating 5 meters is not something you can count on given the VERY short throw from 3 meters to infinity with no markings between. But, as noted, having the focus peaking on gives a pretty good visual indication of your DOF and in focus "zone" - the only downside being that it only works in magnified mode - not with the full frame showing...

  14. Alexandros Demetriades

    Alexandros Demetriades Rookie

    Sep 7, 2013
    Thx for clearing this up....I'm getting a better feel for it!
  15. Muizen

    Muizen Regular

    Mar 25, 2013
    Mechelen, Belgium
    Harry Briels
    I had a Leica M9 with Summilux lenses 35 and 50mm, for three years and loved using it.
    However due to an eye problem manual focusing with the range finder became a problem.
    I had more and more shots that where not sharp. I then considered buying the new Leica 240.
    One day I handled the RX1 in a photo shop and was amazed by the so much better image quality (against the M9), the ease of focusing fast and to the point, its Leica style built quality and last but not least its small size and low weight.
    I purchased the RX1 and never regretted this decision.
    I also bought the fine Sony EVF which I now consider as an essential addition to the RX1, which has been on the camera since then.
    I feel that the 35 mm excellent Carl Zeiss lens is no limitation at all.
    Due to the high resolution cropping is very well possible.
    I consider my RX1 as my best digital camera ever.
    It is with me most of the time due to its great portability.