A lot of photographers just do not get the Leica M. I would say its certainly not a camera for the majority, but if you like small compact full frame cameras, want an optical viewfinder and the ability to see wider then the lens, then the Leica M has no competition.
Some would say buy a Fuji X100, or XPro, you get the optical view finder and the DX cropped format is not that different to 35mm full frame, but if you look through the viewfinder of a Leica M and compare it a Fuji with an optical viewfinder, its simply night and day and there is no comparison.
Thus for photographers that want full frame, small high quality glass and a unsurpassed optical viewfinder; then Leica is our only option. For those that say Sony then yes I admit image quality may be even slightly higher, but to get those results the glass is huge and heavy in comparison to Leica M glass. Yes you can shoot M glass on the Sony’s but you lose resolution in the corners. Even the Leica SL cannot match the Leica M when using M glass which presents unique problems for digital camera but gives major advantages of size and weight.
I love and prefer optical viewfinders, and being a motorcyclist have wanted a small high quality camera for some time and the Leica M seemed to fit the bill. At the time I was looking the M9 was the current version and the first full frame digital Leica M. It was a lot of money to invest into a camera that for the majority of photographers is not suitable and I was not sure it would suit me.
I decided to keep a lookout for a second hand M8, while not full frame it would give me a good feel for the rangefinder experience. As I have blogged before the M8 had a rough ride with a number of issue, but at base ISO it could produce fantastic results.
My first purchase was not the camera but actually a Leica M 24mm Elmar lens, it came up for sale in mint condition, boxed and with the 8-bit coding needed by digital M’s. If I decided that an M was not for me I would be able to resell the lens at a profit and if I went MicroFourThirds the lens with an adapter would make a stunning quality standard lens.
Finally an M8 came up for sale, not only that the dealer sent me some new filters to ‘cure’ the infrared contamination for free, and the previous owner had paid to have the camera sent back to Leica in Germany to have the M8.2 upgrades installed, so I got a good value Leica M.
I generally use my Leica as a street shooting tool, but also as a general use compact, but also occasionally a studio camera and for landscapes when I want to travel light.
They make surprisingly good portrait and studio cameras when your after a more natural and relaxed look, especially if your photographing less experienced models.
In my time with the M8 I have now taken ten thousand photographs with it and have undertook many projects which I hope to turn into books.
I now have my first full frame Leica on order the new M10 but i’ll continue to use my old M8 and remember the many hours of pleasure it has given me, a Leica becomes an extension of your soul and helps you record the feelings and emotions of what is happening around you.