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Using a Sony A7II With Leica Glass | Can It Produce That Famous Leica Magic?

By Jay Cassario on May 7th 2015

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In 2004, American psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote a book called the Paradox Of Choice. Part of Schwartz’s thesis was based on what he called voluntary simplicity. Its core idea is that we have too many choices, too many decisions, too little time to do what is really important. I personally can’t think of a better choice of words to describe the problem that many of us as photographers are faced with today. We live in a very interesting and exciting time as photographers, with more choices than ever when it comes to gear. Not only by what is being currently offered by the big name manufacturers that have been around for a while, but new contenders in the technology race offering more than capable options for both the amateur and professional photographer.

Mirrorless options by Fuji, Olympus, and Sony have pretty much crashed the Nikon and Canon party that had been going on for way too long. It’s been exciting to watch, but at the same time, it’s become a little overwhelming. There seems to be a new camera model released by someone every few months, each with only slight improvements over the one it replaced.

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Sony A7II + Leica M 50mm Summilux ASPH @ F/1.4

Over the past couple of years, with improvements in not only sensor size, but lens options, image quality, auto-focus, and EVF, mirrorless options have made it clear that the DSLR is not the only option for the working professional anymore. What was once viewed as the mark of a professional has quickly become the mark of a traveling tourist. Photographers looking for a professional option have now realized that there are lighter and smaller digital bodies that offer newer technology with just as good, if not better, image quality.

To complicate things even more, the ability to use 3rd party lenses on these mirrorless bodies with the use of adapters has quickly become a popular choice. A number of different adapters on the market have made it possible to use pretty much any manufacturer’s lenses on any mirrorless bodies. One popular combination that I want to particularly focus on is the use of Leica lenses on Sony bodies.

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Sony A7II + Leica M 50mm Summilux ASPH @ F/1.4

Why Sony & Leica?

The emergence of mirrorless cameras has also brought attention to the Leica rangefinder system that was once viewed by the working professional as a luxury camera system. With the ability to use 3rd party lenses now on the smaller mirrorless bodies, Leica lenses have become a popular choice. Arguably the best lenses on the market, Leica M lenses are known for having superior optical performance as well as a special kind of image-recording quality that is often compared with the three-dimensional rendition of a larger format.

With Sony being the only full-frame option on the market, many photographers looked at the A7 series as a great option for Leica glass. Being that the Leica M rangefinders generally run over $5k new, the price tag of the Sony being under $2k was a very inviting option for those looking to add Leica glass to their shooting arsenal without breaking the bank.

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Leica M9 + Leica M 50mm Summilux ASPH @ F/1.4

Prior to the Sony A7 series mirrorless bodies, which sport full frame sensors, Leica M lenses were really only an option to those who could afford the high cost of the Leica M system. Using them on a smaller sensor mirrorless body wouldn’t be taking full advantage of the optics. Leica lenses are designed or “coded” to work hand in hand with Leica M rangefinder bodies, correcting issues such as vignetting and ultimately creating a relationship between each lens and the camera firmware. This relationship between Leica lenses and the M camera bodies has led many to question whether or not you can obtain the same optical performance and image quality on a Sony A7 series body.

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Leica M9 + 50mm Summilux ASPH @ f/1.4

Obviously, the images from a Leica M body are going to look different from those produced by a Sony A7 series body; the sensors are very different, especially with the Leica M9. But, is there something special that is ultimately lost when shooting Leica glass on Sony bodies? That is a question I saw all over the message boards and photography sites, and it’s one that I was personally interested in ever since Sony announced their latest model the A7II with its image stabilization.

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Leica M9 + Leica M 35mm Summicron @ F/2

Having invested in the Leica M system close to a year ago, I will admit that I had my doubts. Prior to buying my M9 and a couple Leica M lenses, I had read about the so called Leica “Magic” or “Mystique,” and the unique look that the images had. The best way for me to explain it is to quote a scene from the movie Point Break, when Bodhi described the 50-year storm. “Its real. It’s absolutely real.” Could the much cheaper Sony mirrorless A7 series come close? Well, here’s what I found after a couple months of real world testing and comparing the two systems head to head.

[REWIND: Why I Chose The Leica M9]

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Leica M9 + Leica M 50mm Summilux ASPH @ F/1.4

The Testing

I currently own the Leica M9, a camera I chose to purchase after shooting the newer M240 for a couple months. To keep this short and not get into all the technical differences, both are full frame digital cameras, the M9 sporting an 18MP CCD sensor made by Kodak and the M240 a 24MP CMOS sensor. I chose the M9 because I felt that it had more of a unique look to its images, a look very similar to that of Medium Format film cameras. There are many Leica shooters that have stuck with the M9 like myself, and others that love the newer M240, which also offers Live View, an EVF, and video capabilities.

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RAW FILES: Leica M9 (LEFT) / Leica M240 (MIDDLE) / Sony A7II (RIGHT)

Since not everyone feels the same way as I do, I borrowed an M240 from Leica for the testing, and used both bodies with the very popular Leica M 35mm Summicron F/2 and the 50mm Summilux F/1.4 ASPH lenses. I also borrowed a Sony A7S and the newer A7II along with the Voigtlander Close Focus Adapter which many Sony shooters seem to love. I chose these two because they seemed to be the two most popular of the Sony line-up, the two I was most interested in testing, and testing any more than four cameras would be a nightmare.

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Sony A7II (LEFT) / Leica M9 (RIGHT) RAW FILES

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Sony A7II + Leica M 35mm Summicron @ f/2

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Leica M9 + Leica M 35mm Summicron @ f/2

The Outcome

Can the Sony A7II give you the same quality results as the M9 or M240 with Leica glass? The simple answer, yes it can. Obviously from the shots that I got in the Vegas desert, you can see the quality is there. I couldn’t have been happier with how it performed and how the images came out. I have never once looked at those images and thought that the Leica body could have done a better job. If anything, the Live View of the A7II helped me control the flare from the Leica M 50mm Summilux, and I was able to very carefully use it in an artistic way. Yes, the M240 has Live View, but it’s nowhere near as good as it is on the Sony. What I did notice from that shoot was that the images weren’t quite as tack sharp as what I was used to seeing with my Leica M9.

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Leica M9 + Leica M 50mm Summilux ASPH @ F/1.4

If you have never shot a Leica and aren’t interested in shooting with a rangefinder camera, you can stop reading now. If you are interested in the more complex answer to the question above, the Leica body and lens combo does have a slight advantage in image quality, very slight. You lose a little bit of that unique 3D look. When comparing images side by side, at identical settings, the Sony images look a tad bit flat where you can see more subject separation and 3D look with the Leica images. I’m talking slight, but it’s there. I’ve been shooting both systems for the past few months now and the Sony continues to produce beautiful images with Leica glass, but I always see that slight difference in images quality when I go back to the Leica M9.

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Sony A7II + Leica M 50mm Summilux ASPH @ F/1.4

The Catch

There is an asterix to that slight advantage though. That my friends, is the fact that the Leica bodies lose that “Magic” when shooting conditions aren’t ideal, and that is where the Sony shines. This is where it gets tricky, and where I will wrap this article up. The Leica M9 can produce beautiful stunning images with a unique and 3D look that Sony can only come close to producing, BUT the M9 can’t shoot above ISO800 without getting extremely noisy. Overall, the M9 is a very limited camera, especially for a wedding photographer like myself. The Leica M9 is a completely different camera, and is made to be simple. It has no Live View or a lot of the other new technology of the A7II, like the extremely impressive image stabilization.

It simply comes down to what is most important to you as a photographer. For street photographers, the Leica M9 is all you will ever need. For a portrait or wedding photographer, its limitations most likely will outweigh its amazing image quality in good light. I use my cameras as tools, and the M9 along with Leica glass gives me images like no other digital system I have shot when lighting conditions are good. I have other tools for when it gets a little darker and the ISO needs to be bumped up.

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Leica M9 + Voigtlander 50mm @ F/1.5

Conclusion

I bought the Sony A7II to use as the perfect combo with my M9. I now have the capability to use my Leica glass on a body and sensor that gives me pretty close imagery to that of my Leica body, in any shooting conditions and with image stabilization. Overall, the Sony A7II is the better camera and is capable of doing a lot more. Can it give the same unique “Leica Magic” as the M9 when lighting conditions are good? It comes pretty darn close, but I personally don’t think that it does.

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Leica M9 + 50mm Summilux ASPH @ f/1.4

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100% CROP

Now that I own both, the question has been asked several times of which I would keep if I had to sell one or the other. The ability to create unique looking images that have a very distinct sharpness to them and 3D look like that of medium format film is the most important thing to me. Since I have other camera bodies like my Nikon and Canon DSLRs for all different shooting conditions, I would keep the M9. The M9 offers a completely different shooting experience being that it’s a rangefinder, an experience that I love.

If you have a Sony and want the best possible glass, Leica is where it’s at. As I stated in the opening paragraph, there are so many choices out there right now and Zeiss glass is another excellent choice at a cheaper price. We live in a time where deciding on what to shoot can distract us from what is ultimately important, and that’s shooting. Pick a system that you like and go with it, forget about the rest and be a photographer.

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Leica M9 + 50mm Summilux ASPH @ f/1.4

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Leica M9 + 50mm Summilux ASPH @ f/1.4

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Leica M9 + 50mm Summilux ASPH @ f/1.4

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Sony A7II + Leica M 50mm Summilux ASPH @ F/1.4

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Sony A7II + Voigtlander 15mm F/4.5 III

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Sony A7II + Voigtlander 15mm F/4.5 III

About

Jay Cassario is a fulltime photographer from South Jersey, and owner of the wedding, engagement, and portrait photography studio Twisted Oaks.

WEBSITE: Jay Cassario
Personal Facebook: Jay Cassario
Business Facebook: Twisted Oaks Studio
Google Plus: Jay’s Google +
Twitter: @JayCassario

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Nick Itthi

    Hi Jay, this is a great article.  I really impressed with your explanation and beautiful photo. Now, I also own the Sony A7II and I would to use the Leica M lens with Sony A7II body. Could you please recommend about the lens adapter?

    Thank you so much in advance.

    Nick.

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  2. Denis Malciu

    Jay you should have open sony raw files with Image Data Converter, not with ACR or Lightroom.

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  3. Charlie Webster

    This article is misleading and should be updated, sorry. Not to say you don’t have some very nice images. However the only way to approach any Leica M body’s level of performance with any flavor A7 is with the Kolari thin-filter mod. Even then many M/LTM lenses are not as good across the frame. That’s not to say you can’t take a pretty picture.

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  4. Andy & Amii Kauth

    Beautiful images here, Jay. Esp. love the flare in the 3rd and 3rd to last images. So rad!

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  5. Vince Shih

    Hi J., I have one summilux-M 35/1.4 ASPH and I also plan to buy one A7ii. However, I was heard that there is something red shifting or color casting issues for the combination of Leica lenses and Sony A7 series. May I have your comments on the combination of 35/1.4 ASPH and A7ii?
    BTW, do you think the A7Rii definitely solved all tech issues already?

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  6. Steven Kornreich

    J,
    Sounds like I have very little to gain in upgrading to the M240 then, like yourself I pretty much live at base ISO and only shoot in favorable lighting conditions. I for sure don’t want to give up any IQ and it sounds like that’s exactly what I will be giving up going to the M even though I have seen some great images taken with the M, I am sure a lot of it is do to good post work. I always thought when loading M9 DNG’s into LR right off the bat most of the time they looked great.
    Thanks for your help and advice.

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  7. Steven Kornreich

    J.
    Is another takeaway from your article is that the M240 really has very little to offer in your humble opinion.
    I own a M9 and currently renting a M240 to see if I like it and I also own the Sony A7r for landscapes, use it on a tripod.
    I was thinking about selling my M9 and picking up a used M240 for under $4500 USD, yet now I am wondering.
    Basically costing me about 2500.00 to upgrade to the M240 after selling my M9.
    What’s attractive to me about the M240 is no AA filter and a better DR then the M9 yet giving up on the “CCD” look that I also love.

    There seems to be a lot of used Leica stuff on the market now which also makes me wonder. With the new Leica Q maybe at some point Leica will come out with a Q type camera with a M mount.

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    • J. Cassario

      Steven, I shot with the M240 for almost 2 months and my business partner owns one that I use from time to time for fun. To be honest, Image quality is most important to me, the extra bells and whistles on the M240 dont mean much to me if the images that I see come out of it aren’t quite as up to par as what I like seeing from my M9. The CCD sensor of the M9 is unique and has a sharpness to the images that the M240 cannot match. This is something that any Leica shooter that has shot both can attest to. The Live View is very limiting to me, and I didnt use it enough for me to give up image quality for. Focus peaking I dont use, and the extra weight and bigger body left me wanting my lighter and smaller M9. Yes, it has better ISO and DR, but I use the M9 as a tool, a tool I use specifically in good light. In good light, the M9’s sensor which also doesn’t have a AA filter, is better for the look I am going for and is all around more impressive to me. I am going to keep my M9 and the 3 lenses I have and add the newer model M that should come out soon replacing the 240. If the sensor is the same as in the Q, it will make everyone that owns an M240 want to give it away. Trust me, the sensor in the Q is pretty impressive, on par with what is in the D750.

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  8. Xinlong Lim

    Love this article and also reading the nice comments/sharing of experience.

    Focus peaking on the Sony is a fun to play and comes in handy.

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  9. Tyler Jackobs

    What a great thoughtful post – very well written =) There’s a romance with certain cameras and lenses – Leica being one of them. Just as emotion transfers to music, doesn’t that same apply with photography? I think that “romance” or “active appreciation” with your gear can, alone, yield admirable results.

    I personally have an appreciation for Canon & Nikon products – even if they’re “MBS” or Made by Sony chips on the inside. I like Fender & Gibson guitars. Baldwin & Yamaha pianos. Matchbox & Hot Wheels.

    I also think that the amazing results shown on your post are the results of a gifted photographer paired with quality glass.

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  10. Marshall Barth

    Excellent article and especially love that last line, “Pick a system that you like and go with it, forget about the rest and be a photographer.” So many cameras, so many lenses, research them, decided and then use them to the max !!! :{)))

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  11. Pentafoto Tm

    Hi, nice writing and interesting pictures. But I have to say, man, since when is aggressive vignetting the way to go for pimping the photographs ?

    The vignetting in your shots is so distracting, it just rips the space from your pictures and only leaves the center to be looked at. A photo is so much more than a subject dead center with a pretty background around him.

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  12. David Terk

    Have you tried any Loxia glass? The lenses are quite nice.

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  13. Bryan Campbell

    Thank you for writing this article. I enjoy your images and reading about your experience with both systems.

    I started using a Leica about 6 years ago and fell in love with the rangefinder experience and the “Leica look” that I sold all of my Canon gear to help fund additional lenses. The rangefinder connected with me in a way that a DSLR simply can not.

    Anyway, I am picking up my Sony A7II tomorrow and plan on shooting most of the day and night with my Leica lenses. I’m particularly excited to use the 50mm Summilux ASPH as it is one of the more challenging lenses to use on my Leicas. Focusing and recomposing is difficult and the DoF is so shallow at 50mm there is little room for missing the focus. This brings me to my question… On your A7II photos using the 50mm Summilux ASPH did you use focus peaking or did you just manual focus the old fashioned way? I’m hoping I can nail the focusing easier especially when the subject isn’t dead center of the frame.

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    • J. Cassario

      Bryan, I think you will love the A7II with the 50Lux. I don’t use the focus peaking, I haven’t been able to get used to using, although I’ve tried. I do however love the zoom assist, where you can move the focus box pretty quickly anywhere in the entire frame, click any of the custom buttons you set up as the zoom, and it zooms in at 100%. Then you can see exactly what you have in focus and I nail it every time. Feel free to reach out to me with any setup questions.

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  14. Matthew Saville

    This is why I kinda giggle when Canon shooters mock Nikon shooters for not having as good of bokeh as their L glass does. Nobody does it like Leica… ;-)

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  15. Ben Webb

    I have shot Canon my entire life and just bought the Sony a6000 and am now purchasing the a7ll I have always wanted to purchase the Leica M9 but just could not justify the cost for the type of photos I take, (mostly sports). I think the comparison Jay Cassario did was Great. Maybe someday i will invest in some Leica glass.

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  16. Rob Harris

    Nice comparisons. While not a Leica, I enjoy my Fuji 100T for the velvety (it that a word?) look of the photos. They just seem to pop a little more than my Nikon D7100. But the Fuji also has an ISO limit (3200) compared to my Nikon. But something about shooting the 100T is just fun. That can’t be quantified.

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  17. Ed Rhodes

    great article, and great shots!

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  18. Richard Bremer

    Great comparisson! I really do like to repeat your closing line though: Pick a system that you like and go with it, forget about the rest and be a photographer. I love gear, have GAS, and I regret way too often not actually picking up the camera and going out to shoot. It doesn’t matter what camera you use, being a photographer and shooting great images is what it is all about.

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    • J. Cassario

      Thanks for reading Richard, and I was hoping that the ending would stand out to everyone that read it. I get paid to test gear and I personally own a ton, more than I should to be honest, but I always stress that I would be happy picking up one camera and one lens to do a shoot. A lot of us getting carried away with stressing out about the gear we use and if it is good enough, which is why I loved the idea of Pye shooting cheaper gear and getting great results for a few articles. I know photographers who have the most expensive medium format digital bodies that cost upward of $40k and their work is subpar. I know photographers who still shoot with the popular Nikon D700 and Canon 5D MarkII, old technology to most of our standards, but they are killing it. Pick a camera system and go with it and get out and shoot. Upgrading your gear wont make you a better photographer, shooting more and more is what will. Thanks again for reading and especially commenting Richard, much appreciated!

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  19. yoga guntur sampurno

    Hi Jay… Nice article… From your article, seems like you choose A7 II rather than A7s, would you mind to state your reason? I am interested to invest in one of those two cameras, but still do not decide yet.

    Warm regard,
    Yoga

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    • J. Cassario

      Yoga, I shot with the A7S for over a month, and I never fell in love with it, unlike the A7II. I wasn’t a fan of the A7S grip, it was uncomfortable to hold and shoot with, and I could see the loss of resolution from the 12mp sensor. It makes sense that it is an awesome camera for shooting video, but for stills, if I ever had to crop in (something I try not to do that often) you could start to see the difference and lack of resolution. I have a ton of sample images and used it on a couple weddings in low light to really push the high ISO capabilities, and while it did good, I still wasn’t overly impressed. The A7II on the other hand has a much better grip and its more comfortable to hold and shoot with. The image stabilization is a game changer for me, I can shoot my 50mm lens at 1/20 sec and get tack sharp images, something that I can barely do at 1/100th sec on any other body due to a shaky hand. Plus, the A7II is cheaper, making it even more of an inviting decision.

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  20. Paul Nguyen

    I can’t help but feel that most people who advocate LEICA are simply giving in to confirmation bias. If you’ve just dropped tens of thousands of dollars on something, of course you’d want it to be good.

    That said, I do question whether anybody who shoots with a LEICA can even tell the difference between two images, shot at the same time, in the same conditions, but with different cameras, e.g. one LEICA and one Canon/Nikon.

    To be honest, I highly doubt it. I get why LEICA is expensive, it’s not too different from why a BMW or Merc is more expensive than a Toyota, you get better construction, perhaps a better shooting experience – but to argue that a LEICA gets you better image quality or even noticeably different images is as ridiculous as saying that you can get from A to B faster in a Merc than you can with a Toyota.

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    • J. Cassario

      There is a lot that goes into the price of a Leica body, and I admit, it is high, but there is a lot more to it than just image quality. But, there is a difference, and trust me, I can telll the difference between 2 images if you were to put them next to each other. There are noticeable differences, and I tried to show it in the sample images I used in this article. There is no doubt more subject separation, color differences even in the RAW files. While it may not be noticeable to someone to everyone, it is noticeable, and I’ve received a lot of emails stating that they can see the difference. Like I said in the article though, its slight, and simply use the gear that you have. A client isn’t going to be able to tell the difference.

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    • Paul Nguyen

      Yeah, but how much of that is an actual difference though? It’s not an issue isolated to photography, for a long time, audiophiles tried to tell you that you could hear the difference when they used some magical, expensive speaker cables or that their spanking new amplifier had some perceivable difference. I think it’s the same with LEICA.

      Being able to see the difference isn’t the same as being able to spot it in an A/B blind trial – it’s like how I’m sure those audiophiles genuinely thought they could hear a difference as well – it comes down to confirmation bias – when you want to see a difference, you will see a difference.

      Even when you say things such as subject separation, there’s no scientific/physical reason why that’s the case if you’re using the same lens at the same aperture and the sensor size is the same. Anyway, I think it would be a really interesting study if you could post something like this – https://www.slrlounge.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Jay_Cassario_Sony_Leica_Comparison_2.jpg – but without the caption and see who can pick which one is the LEICA.

      That said, I think we agree on the last point though, it’s important to just shoot and there are heaps of other things that are more important than IQ, I’m all for shooting LEICA because of the experience, the build quality and the more mechanical feel.

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    • Keith Starkey

      It’s probably not about Leica making a better image, but, rather about Leica’s own unique hand print on its imiages, as an artist leaves in a painting.

      It would be unreasonable to deny that a Leica body and lens has a unique look, one of which some favor more than the camera/lens of other manufacturers. But it would be equally unreasonable to consider the Leica image better than the best of a Nikon or Canon. It’s personal preference when all is said and done.

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    • Duy-Khang Hoang

      @J. Cassario
      Just wanted to point out a few things. Firstly, the Leica M9 has no anti-aliasing filter, so it will produce a sharper image using the same lens by default (trade-off is more moire and potentially more false details). Secondly, what you describe as being better subject separation may be a combination of a few things, some of which may or may not be possible to emulate with the Sony A7ii. Per-pixel level sharpness from the lack of AA filter helps the Leica give the impression of enhanced micro-contrast, you can partly get around this on the Sony by using good sharpening technique (AA-less cameras don’t respond to sharpening in post as much as one with an AA filter). Secondly, the colour filter array used by Leica is different to the Sony, you can get around this by profiling both cameras so that you can get the Sony to render almost the same colours as the Leica (must shoot RAW though). Thirdly, different curves and other picture profiles used in the cameras will produce a different result, this is related to profiling and you can get them to look very similar. Once the above are taken into account, it will become very difficult to tell the difference between the two. I don’t mean to write this to suggest that there is no value in the Leica, just to merely point out that beyond the lens doing all the heavy lifting, the sensor does very little (especially between Leica and Sony with very thin optical filter stacks), it is the processing that happens afterwards that determines the final look, be it the internal JPEG engine or the RAW development workflow. So for those that can’t or won’t shoot the Leica, but do want the Leica look using Leica lenses on their Sony’s, there is a way if you have the will.

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    • J. Cassario

      Paul, I don’t disagree with you, and trust me, IQ isn’t the only reason I shoot the M9. I shoot the M9 for multiple reasons, but the biggest one, I simply enjoy shooting with. The point I made in the article about the Vegas desert shoot pretty much agrees with your statement, I shot the entire shoot on the Sony, and I dont think I can look at the images I say that I would be able to tell if I had shot them with the Leica. I think that there is a slight lack of sharpness, but I could be wrong, I used what I had and Im happy with the results. That is all that matters. Anyone that hasn’t shot with a Leica extensively most likely couldnt tell the difference between 2 images, but I honestly think that if you take someone who has shot with a Leica body for years and put them to the test, they could tell the difference. I could be wrong, who knows. I tried my best to answer a very popular question and tried my best to back up my personal thoughts on the subject. Good conversation though, I don’t disagree with anything you have said. Thanks for reading :)

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    • J. Cassario

      DUY-KHANG,

      I agree with all those points, 100%, I tried to make that obvious in my article. I was comparing 2 different bodies with the same Leica lenses. I pointed out that the sensors are different, the color profiles are different, and while I forgot to mention the lack of AA filter, I tried to sum it all up into the statement that they are completely different beasts. I simply wanted to answer the question of can the Sony A7 series give you the same image quality as the Leica bodies can when using Leica glass. That is the question I have been asked many many times. Obviously there are things you can do in post to make the two look more similar, I simply wanted to show the RAW comparisons.

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    • Duy-Khang Hoang

      @J. Casssario
      Thanks for responding. Apologies if my post sounded like I was trying to point out a flaw in your article or comments, that was not my intent. I just wanted to add a bit more detail to hopefully try to understand the differences you are seeing and how to go about minimizing them. You refer to the sharpness and pop of the Leica as being akin to Medium format, and that makes some sense, since the Leica and almost all MF digital do not have the low pass filter (don’t know of any but there might be so can’t say for sure)). Looking at the photos it is obvious that the Leica M9 has a warmer rendition than the Sony A7ii or Leica M240. I should correct my earlier statement mentioning that the sensor has very little impact to the final image, in the case of wide angle rangefinder lenses at least, there is an advantage in the corners for the Leica cameras due to the micro-lens design (at least on the M240, I’m not 100% sure regarding the M9 but I assume it would also beat out the Sony there).

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    • Ralph Hightower

      But Toyota makes a Lexus, Infinity, or whatever. I can’t keep track of what Toyota, Datsun, and the others make.

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  21. Keith Starkey

    Buttery. That’s the only word I can think of for the M9: buttery without being soft.
    The A7II is like butter, but not quite buttery!
    Great article. Thanks very much.

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  22. JD Land

    Great write-up Jay! You always make me check for used M9 bodies after I read your articles though haha

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    • J. Cassario

      The good thing is, you can get a good used one for around $3200-$3500 now. Thanks for reading the article, glad you enjoyed it!

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  23. Easton Reynolds

    Great breakdown brother! I need a Leica in my life.

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    • J. Cassario

      Thanks Easton! It’s definitely a unique camera that I don’t think I will ever sell.

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    • Ralph Hightower

      With apologies to Janis Joplin:
      Oh Lord, won’t you buy me Leica.
      My friends all shoot Canon (or Nikon)
      I must make amends.

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  24. Andrew Donnan

    I’ve been on this same journey for the past two years. You can use an M9 in a wedding scenario, but when the light gets dark be prepared to get creative. Max the ISO at 800 and push two stops in post. M9 has epic color right out of the box, but the low-light limitation, sensor laminate issue and horrible battery life ultimately led me to sell off my M9’s. The M240 is all around more capable – and I still find the rangefinder patch to be easier to focus than EVF on the a7ii. Was it worth the price, no. is it pretty – yes. Anywho, I love the a7ii as much as the Leica, mostly for its versatility in any situation / lens combination.

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    • J. Cassario

      Andrew, all valid points. The M240 is definitely better in low light and offers a few newer features, but I wasnt a fan of it after shooting with it for a couple months. I preferred the M9 images and lighter body. I love the A7II and it is an awesome camera, especially with Leica glass as I stated, but there is something special about the M9 that makes it my favorite camera that I own, and offers a unique image quality when lighting is good.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      I’ve never experienced this “horrible battery life issue” that people talk about. I’ve been shooting the M8 and then the M9-P for a long time now. I’ve shot full day festivals (usually average about 15 bands) and have never needed more than two batteries.

      My advice is to turn off the image review and you’ll get substantially better battery life.

      Like Jay I also used a 240 for a period of time and much preferred the images and controls of the M9. I’m glad the CMOS Monochrom is out because when those start shipping and prices drop a CCD Mono is next on my list.

      I’m not worried about the sensor issue as it’s being covered.

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    • J. Cassario

      J. Dennis, I agree, I’ve never had a problem with battery life either, and while it may not last me through an entire 12 hour wedding when shooting it non-stop, neither can the Sony batteries. I have spare batteries for every camera I own, the M9 is no different. The battery starts to run low, I swap it out, not a real deal breaker for me even if it was worse than what it is.
      I am in the same boat, looking forward to the price drop of the CCD Mono. As far as the sensor issue goes, I havent had a problem, and like you said, Leica handled it extremely well. Have a sensor problem? We’ll replace it free of charge.
      Thanks for reading the article, I appreciate it!

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    • Andrew Donnan

      We live in a humid climate, so three M9’s I owned all had unremovable spots on them. Granted this just looked like dust spots on the image and only showed up after f/5.6. I am thankful Leica replaced sensors for free and let me upgrade to the M240. Heck, I owned nine batteries for the M9 and had review image turned off.

      Undoubtedly the M9 has its own unique look. I’d recommend buying these color profiles for the m9. It helps tone it down – when needed.
      http://www.colorfidelity.com/leica.htm
      (no affiliation)

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    • J. Cassario

      Andrew, thats great that Leica let you upgrade to the M240, how do you like it compared to the M9? I really struggled to like it and like I explained in the article, I ended up going back to the M9, but I know a ton of photographers who love their 240. I will definitely check out the color profile, although I love the look of the images I get and process with the M9. Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it.

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  25. Paddy McDougall

    Thanks for well written and researched article however, when you said that the magic £5k camera became noisy above ISO 800 I really had to pause for thought. The magic spell had been broken. It’s a deal breaker even if I had the money.

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    • J. Cassario

      It’s a deal breaker for a lot of photographers, its a lot like shooting film, it’s a much slower process and completely different experience. I honestly rarely use it outside of its native ISO 160, and since Im a wedding photographer that works great for me, portraits for the bride and groom are always outdoors during daylight hours. Same with engagement shoots for the most part. When the sun goes down I have other tools for the job. It’s a tool, but it’s definitely not an all around do everything kind of camera, it’s not meant to be that.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      I use my M9-P for concert photography. Not just casual concert photography, but real paid work used in magazines and on websites. I shoot up to ISO 1250 with no problem and typically push the exposure in Lightroom.

      I also use my M9-P for low-light events frequently. Again, never had much of an issue.

      Fast lenses and a keen eye for good light is all it takes to make the M9 shine.

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  26. Thomas Horton

    For us mortals who will never be able to afford a Leica, this Sony A7II sounds like a good choice. :)

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    • J. Cassario

      Thomas, it is definitely a good choice, I am loving my A7II, and while the Leica glass does work awesome with it, I’m looking forward to seeing what the new Zeiss Batis lenses that have a native E-Mount will have to offer.

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