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POLL: Can we consider the Leica M9 a “mirrorless” camera?


I am almost ready to launch a completely dedicated mirrorless website. My question to you is: Is the digital Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9Leica M9 camera a mirrorless camera? I know the M series doesn’t have an Electronic Viewfinder and no LiveView. But it is also true that it doesn’t have a mirror. I would normally answer “No” simply because nobody ever labeled the M9 as a mirrorless camera. But I believe that sooner or later the Leica M system will have a camera with Live-view and Electronic Viewfinder. That’s why I don’t know if we should “adpot” the M9 and the M system in our new website…

What lens would you buy?

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  • The question itself is a bit silly because the M9 does not have a physical mirror to begin with.

  • Blaze

    No mirror = Mirrorless.

    End of discussion.

  • The rangefinder mechanism does in fact feature mirrors and prisms, and so I think the M9 is not a mirrorless camera.

    The complicated nature of the rangefinder, in addition to the Leica badge, makes the M9 a very expensive camera.

  • NoName

    How silly can you get with these questions and categorizations… when is a camera with no mirror not mirrorless…

  • Bob

    Actually, Leica itself already used the term “Mirrorless” in answer to the question if they were interested in the M43 format.
    The answer was no, because they already had a mirroless called the M9. (Obviously a bit of a joke.)

    Of course for this site the M9 does not make much sense since it’s a niche camera that too many people have an opinion about. M43, NEX, etc., cameras are very different from an M9 and not just in price.

  • Stephen B

    From what I have seen, a lot of M9 owners take photos of themselves using a mirror and then post these on the web. On this basis I would say the M9 is not mirrorless.

    • admin

      That was a good one Stephen! :)

  • Javi V.

    As obvious as it gets. It’s mirror-less but not EVIL

  • Semantics!

  • S Lee

    What about the Digilux 2? That has no mirror, got EVF, and a manual zoom.

  • I’m sure the Leica people will not thank you for categorising their prized M9 along with the E-PL1.

  • Sysyphus

    Well it’s mirror-less, but why would you ever use an electronic viewfinder in a rangefinder camera? You’re looking through that litle widow top right. So it’s also not TTL so I can’t really see what it has in common with the latest range of miniature SLRs.

  • While M9 has mirrors and pentaprism the intended use of the camera is in very much same vein’s as an EVIL, a portable hiqh quality camera with small profile body+lens,
    hence its very well suited to be featured in a mirrorless website

  • central squared

    Kind of an odd question. Based on other polls like this here, this should be phrased: “Should cover digital rangefinders?” Only a few exist, M8, M8.2, M9, and the epson R-D1.

  • lunic

    As written in the article, IF the M System adapt single-lens direct-view structure by LCD screen and use some kind of passive system for auto focusing, then we can call it ‘M-mount mirrorless system’.

    Hell, but can you find anything kinds of that in today’s M9? No. Today’s M system is just a rangefinder system and M digitals are just digital-backed M systems. As terms, the word ‘Mirrorless’ is most frequently used on web today but you need to take the history of these camera into considerations. Terms like ‘Digital Single Lens’, ‘Single Lens Direct-view’, ‘Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens’ are still used to depict that what we call ‘Mirrorless’, and M9 cannot be suited to those words. Mirrorless cameras are not just cameras without mirror box of SLR cameras.

  • Peter Leyssens

    Obviously, the M9 is not a mirrorless camera. It has, in fact, more mirrors than an SLR: 2 for the rangefinder to work. Because the poll questions asks if the camera is mirrorless, the answer is no.

    The M9 is a very good example of what can be done with a vision, though: it’s much smaller than anybody thought possible for a full frame camera and the results are spectacular. Also, it resists the featuritis of most cameras. Can you imagine a sweep panorama on one of these ? We need more photographers’ cameras like these.

  • Esteban

    You shouldn’t focus on a technical element like a mirror. You should focus on cameras that agree to these two questions:
    – is it small
    – does it make really good pictures.

    With that focus, the M9 should be definitely part of your new site.

  • yoshitoshi

    As the owner of both, I can’t consider the M9 in the same category cause they still function very differently. I dont see anything wrong with including it with your new site though. To be fair you should create sub-classes as well. Rangefinder, EVF, etc.

  • DemonDuck

    uhhhh… let’s see, it doesn’t have a mirror — hummmm.. is it a mirror-less camera …. hummm

    boy that’s a tough question — can I come back to that question later…..

  • The M9 belongs to the already well defined group of cameras that use a rangefinder system to evaluate distance to the subject and focus. Coincidentally, it is currently the only digital rangefinder system. No reason to include it in the “mirror-less” group that represents a much more recent generation of digital cameras, with a completely different market.

  • Jay Gloab

    Seems to me that by doing a website dedicated to mirrorless cameras you’re missing the point. The point of these cameras is not that they’re “mirrorless”; the same is true of (virtually?) all point-and-shoot cameras. To me the most significant features of these cameras is their interchangeable lenses and their compactness. Some might include live view here as well. I favor the acronym “ILC” for “Interchangeable Lens Compact [camera]”. I use “Compact” here relative to the DSLR cousins, i.e. the MFT cameras are smaller than the Four Thirds DSLRs, the Samsung NEX is smaller than the Samsung NX10, and the Sony NEX is smaller than the Sony A-series DSLRs.

  • robotslave

    I disagree strongly with the notion that the M8/9 and EP1/EP2/GF1 represent “completely different markets”, unless that distinction is being made on price alone, with no consideration at all of the cameras themselves.

    If the M8/9 body were affordable, say merely three times as expensive as the GF1, then I’m not sure µ4:3 would have taken off at all. There was a longstanding opportunity there for anyone who cared to put out a product with the spec, “something like a Leica, but for people who don’t have yachts or full-time photography jobs”.

    So yes, with the same form factor, a not-tiny sensor, and interchangeable lenses, the M8/9 is the same kind of camera as the EP2/GF1, and using different words for the category doesn’t change that.

    Also, though I realize this is total camera-nerd heresy, I don’t think it matters very much what happens inside the hole you look through to frame your pictures, if you’re the sort who likes to look through a hole to do that.

    With all this said, I beg you to leave Leica out of the new site.

    It’s not that I don’t want to hear Leica news– it’s just that on any camera site, comment threads degrade noticeably whenever Leica equipment is brought up. And really, how often is there Leica news, anyway? We can get that from every other site, on those rare days when there’s a Leica press release to republish.

  • El Aura

    People are missing the real question:
    – The admin wants to create a new website centered around cameras like the m43, NEX and NX cameras. His working title for this is ‘mirrorless’ at the moment.
    – The real question thus is what kind of cameras this new website should cover? Should for example the M9 be included?

    The question is not whether the M9 is mirrorless. The question is how this new class of cameras (and thus the website) should be defined. Possible definitions are:
    1) In the broadest sense it could be defined as large sensor compacts (which would include cameras like the DP1/2), or
    2) interchangeable lens compacts, which could include the GXR
    3) interchangeable lens compacts with a large-ish sensor (eg, larger than 1/1.6″)
    4) interchangeable lens compacts with a large-ish sensor and some kind of LV (Liveview)

    All four categories would share the characteristic of being mirrorless (via the ‘compact’ definition). All but definition 4) would include the M9. I think at the core the definition is: “Compact and good and versatile photographic capabilities”, the second part can be defined as to include at least lens choices or a large-ish sensor, or it could be defined as to include both. Additionally it could be defined as including some kind of electronic viewfinder (be it a display or a real viewfinder) for precise framing and focussing.

  • Miroslav

    @El Aura
    Put simply, a website covering cameras with sensors larger than 1″ that are not DSLRs.

  • Erik

    If you want a site for EVIL cameras (electronic viewing (either eye-level or rear screen) interchangeable lens) and not rangefinders, then you shouldn’t call it “mirrorless”.

  • Charles

    Yeah, it’s mirror-less, but that doesn’t mean you have to put it on the site. Combined with that fact it’s designed for film (and now the special sensors with micro lenses) it is much smaller than digital SLRs and the lenses are smaller too. On the other hand it’s a rangefinder which is a different beast from both SLRs and EVIL cameras. I don’t really care if you cover it or not. Anyone who is going to spend that type of money on a camera should know if they want it or not, and two they’ll probably be visiting Leica sites.

  • I’d include the Leica M series for the following reason.
    The availability of adapters to use the M series lenses is one of the few good
    reasons to by a M4/3 camera in the first place.
    Leica’s relationship with Panasonic may result in improvements in all M4/3
    Leica’s recent emphasis on image processing may also yield benefits – check the visual image differences in the LX3 vrs DLux 4.

  • dunk

    I’m under the impression that ‘Mirrorless’ refers to a camera without a reflex mirror or pellicle mirror and which thus requires retrofocus lenses by virtue of the relatively large lens mount to image plane distance. However, rangefinder cameras also have a mirror system which is normally very much more complex than that used in any SLR camera … so there is an argument for stating that the M9 is not a mirrorless camera.

    Given current trends it seems unlikely that Leica can allow the grass to grow under their feet by ignoring advances made with EVF mirrorless cameras. If Leica could design a FF EVF camera with an electronic viewfinder with the brightness and clarity of their rangefinder cameras then the cost would probably be considerably less than eg an M9.

    Maybe we will find out at Photokina if Leica has been quietly developing an EVF camera. I hope they have … then this forum can legitimately welcome an all Leica EVF camera into a sub forum.

    Meantime, IMO the M9 and its M8/M8.2 predecessors should not be classified as mirrorless because their rangefinders rely on Leica M mirror design technology dating back over 50 years.

    Best wishes


  • Lumix

    Don’t know where to ask this, but would it be possible to make the link to not pop up in a new window? A new tab would be fine, but now it always opens up a new browser window and I have to CTRL-click to have it open properly,


    • admin

      Yes, I can do that!

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