R9 with attached motorwinder
and the Apo-Summicron-R 90/2.0 ASPH
At Photokina 2002 Leica introduced the successor to its R8 SLR flagship camera, the R9. At first glance it is very difficult to distinguish it from its predecessor. Shape and size are identical to the R8, as well as the placement of most controls. The enhancements have to be sought in the details:
- The camera's weight, a longstanding
complaint of many prospective R8 buyers, has been reduced by
100 gr (total 790 gr). The top is made of magnesium, the interior
of aluminium, and the bottom plate is made of strengthened polycarbonate
(with aluminium tripod mount).
- Flash capabilities have been
greatly enhanced by the introduction of high-speed flash synchronization
(up to 1/8000 sec) with compatible SCA3502 flash guns such as
the Metz Mecablitz 54 MZ-3. However, as with the R8, there is
no zone-metering (matrix) with flash (average-metering only).
This remains a weakness compared to the major other top-of-the-line
- A small LCD panel is added on
the camera top, displaying the frame counter.
- The backside LCD panel has been
altered: it now has backlighting and displays camera settings
such as ISO value, battery condition, EV corrections, and light
- A safety button has been added
to the main control wheel on the camera's top. Many users complained
that it was too easy to inadvertently change the light metering
settings on the R8.
- The zone-metering (matrix) can
be adjusted in tenth's of a diaphragm, but the six existing zones
- An inkling for detail can be
found in the enlargement of the rubber strip above the camera's
strap attachments, in order to avoid scratching the camera body.
That was a weak spot on the R8.
The camera is only available in black and grey (anthracite) finish, not in silver-white. Leica catalog number 10091 (black) and 10090 (anthracite). Price: about 2700 euro.
Note that the R8 motorwinder and motordrive, as well as other accessories, are fully compatible
with the R9.
A brochure is available here.
My own experience with both the R8 and R9 cameras indicates that these are true masterpieces. The R9 adds small, but useful, improvements to the R8. Together with the Canon Eos 1V and Nikon F6, the Leica R9 is the last high-end film-based SLR camera ever made.
Leica introduced the Apo-Summicron-R 90mm f/2.0 ASPH, a superb successor to the older Summicron-R 90/2.0, at Photokina 2000. The lens bears resemblance to its M sibling (identical optical design). It has five lenses in five groups.
Already wide-open image quality
is outstanding, with a very flat field. Stopping down one f-stop
does only improve image quality slightly. Vignetting can be eliminated
by stopping down to f/4.0.
A useful feature is the click-stop
position on the built-in lens hood which prevents the hood from
moving when fully extended.
The lens weighs 520 gr. Filter size E60. Leica catalog number 11350.
This Schneider-developed successor
lens to the Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5
was introduced in November 2001. It is 1/2 stop faster compared
to the earlier Zeiss-developed lens, and also more compact and
lighter. Like its predecessor it has a built-in filter turret
(NDx1 neutral density filter, KB12 blue color correction, yellow
green filter, orange filter). The length remains constant thanks
to the internal focusing mechanism.
The lens has 13 elements in 10
groups. It builds upon the already high quality of its predecessor.The
highest optical performance is obtained thanks to the use of
aspherical lens elements and low dispersion glass. Other optical
characteristics include very low distortion, very low vignetting
for an extreme wide angle lens, and low curvature of field.
As a result of the extremely
large angle of view (110°) and the characteristic perspective
rendition, the new Leica Super-Elmarit-R is particularly well
suited for landscape and architectural photography, as well as
for reproducing any wide angle close focusing situation. The
very short close focusing distances of only 18 cm also provides
for realistic portrayal of small models. It weighs 710 gr. Designed
and made by Schneider in Germany. Its Leica catalog number is
An in-depth test report can be
This new wide-angle vario is
the first lens of such type designed by Leica. The lens has 9
elements in 8 groups. Low dispersion glass has been used. This
lens redefines the standard for wide-angle zoom lenses.
It has an angle of view between
63 and 92°. Closest focusing distance of 50 cm. Weight is
500 gr. Designed and made in Solms. Introduced at PMA February
2002. Its Leica catalog number is 11274.
An in-depth test report can be