Guide to Leica

Extensive coverage of the Leica M9 and its lenses + S2 coverage also!

This Guide captures experience and know-how of value even for experienced Leica shooters, ranging from usability and ergonomics to lens performance/comparisons/recommendations to practical working techniques to focus accuracy to diffraction.

Wondering if a particular “M” lens is for you? Given the cost of M lenses, guidance in advance is key. This Guide will help you avoid an expensive “miss”!

M-system topics

This guide costs about 1/3 of 1% of a basic “M” system. Read it before investing in an M system; you might be thrilled or discouraged, depending on your needs, goals, and shooting style (and eyesight!). If you already own an M system, this Guide will give you tremendous insight into using it to its fullest.

  • Full review of the Leica M9 rangefinder camera body with extensive discussion of shooting considerations and field usage.
  • Rangefinder composition issues .
  • Focus accuracy, rangefinder adjustments and limitations, suggested technique, focusing aids, focus shift.
  • Off-center color shift including explanation of ray angle design , how to correct.
  • Moiré and sensor noise characteristics.
  • Discussion and comparison and high-res examples of nearly every Leica M and Zeiss ZM lens for M mount.
  • Using Zeiss ZM lenses with the M9 including ergonomics and optical performance, focusing and color and vignetting correction.
  • Lens selection in depth, supported by extensive examples and field notes.
  • Copious example images for different lenses in different situations with commentary on strengths and weaknesses.
  • Infrared response.

S2-system topics

This guide costs about 1/10 of 1% of an S2 system, yet it provides priceless insights into the S2 system performance, especially autofocus. Every professional contemplating an S2 system should read this Guide first.

  • Full review of the Leica S2 body with extensive discussion of shooting considerations and field evaluations of images.
  • Extensive discussion and examples of endemic autofocus and backfocus issues.
  • Detailed examples and discussion of aberration characteristics of the outstanding lenses
  • High ISO performance examples
  • Shootouts between the S3 and Nikon DX3

Lloyd Chambers (author, “diglloyd”)

Lloyd is a researcher and writer on photographic technique and technology, as well as Mac performance for photographers. His online publications include Making Sharp Images, Advanced Photography and Guide to Zeiss ZF/ZE Lenses. Lloyd writes for Photo Technique magazine and maintains an active blog, MacPerformanceGuide.com, and an extensive selection of photography and related articles.

Lloyd, your Leica information is the only way that has satisfied me for critical material on the Leica digital cameras and the lenses that work with them, with your unbiassed lens and camera evaluations— I have read everything you have ever written about them! Everyone who has or thinks of getting a Leica M, will find your guide indispensable.

The positives and negatives of each lens without playing favorites are extremely valuable to me, as well as the revealing comments about the Leica M9. For more that 2 years, I have based all of my Leica purchases on your reviews, and the results with my equipment are totally in accord with your findings. I have learned a great deal including just how difficult it is to focus a F.95 lens without a magnification aid! — Arnold Crane, portrait photographer

After reading your M9 review extensively and getting your advice I plunged into the Leica world. — Mario A

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