Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the New York launch of the M9, Leica’s first full-frame digital camera. Some said it couldn’t be done without ending up with blurred edges, but the APS-H M8 had whetted the appetite and full
Leica aficionados were both surprised and delighted when the M9 arrived and they took to it immediately. It cost $5,500 at launch and it is a testament to the quality of this camera’s output that you will now pay half as much for a used model even after all these years. Indeed, some fans of the CCD sensor say that the M9 is the best Leica digital ever made, preferring it to the later models with their CMOS sensors.
Not to forget the little X1
In celebrating the M9 we shouldn’t forget that there was another camera launched at the same time, a camera that is very close to the hearts of many Macfilos readers. The little X1 with its 12MP crop sensor is one of the purest designs we’ve seen from Leica. It perfectly encapsulates the essence of the Barnack Leica and, like the M9, is still around and still has avid fans. In its way, the X1 (and the subsequent X2) are classics in the same mould as the M9.
One of the reasons Leica cameras tend to hold their value more than others is the responsible product cycle established by Wetzlar. We are now on only the third iteration of the full-frame digital, the M10 family which was launched in January 2017.
The M9 lasted three years (longer in the case of the M-E and Monochrom) before the M240 was launch in September 2012. Assuming the M10 continues to 2021 or 2022 we have an average product replacement cycle of four years.
This is an arrangement that helps the consumer by underpinning used values. It’s in direct contrast to much of the rest of the industry where product cycles last barely half as long. Sony, in particular, is an annual upgrader — something which does nothing for residuals.