You can notice a significant increase in the overall weight of the Leica Summarit-M 90mm f/2.5 mounted on a Leica M9 body. Think of adding this lens to the Leica M9 (585g) body: the total weight of the whole camera becomes nearly 945g. It is indeed very close to a DSLR body such as the Canon 650D (575g) mounted with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 (398g). The Leica M9 with the Summarit-M 90mm is obviously smaller in size but much more solid in both look and feel.
Handholding: Handholding a camera should not be a hard learning curve. Most DSLRs has a proper grip and one does not feel hard to grasp the body firm and rest your fingers on the right position of the shutter to ensure a smooth release. With a background of using DSLRs, switching to using a rangefinder is a different experience. I agree with Gütter Osterloh, in his book Leica M: Advanced Photo School, says, “A photographer has to be willing to pursue things.” (p. 293) Learning to hold a rangefinder camera like the Leica M is definitely a challenge. Some consider using the Tim Isaac’s Thumbs Up accessories on the Leica M camera body to help grasp firmly the camera. However, it does not help much to grasp well the camera mounted with heavier lenses such as the Summarit-M 90mm f/2.5. You notice it is not as tiny as other Summarit-M siblings such as 35 mm and 50 mm. Under this circumstance, I would suggest using the handgrip called Handgrip M (Part No: 14486 for the Leica M9, Leica M-E or Leica M9P). I do not think this handgrip is compatible to the latest Leica M (240) as it is slightly bigger than its predecessors.
Attaching this handgrip will obviously kill the minimalist outlook of the Leica, but this is the ultimate solution. In some aspects, I think it works better than the Thumbs Up.
The LCD screen and the viewfinder: Taking photos from the viewfinder of most DSLRs has one major issue: every time when you finish taking, your camera rear LCD screen smeared. Unless you don’t care much about it or you seldom review the photos you have taken. The grease from your nose is getting messy on the screen even when you clean frequently. The viewfinder of the Leica M9 and the latest Leica M is placed on the left and so the screen is free from being smeared. But the biggest issue is that the Leica M camera’s viewfinder does not change when a different lens is mounted on it. Its coverage remains the same although it is bright and sharp from the closest to the infinity. The lens is indicated by the luminous frame lines visible in the viewfinder and automatically adjusts by the 6-bit coding at the rear of the lens (if you select this option in the camera menu). There are three pairs of frames. The 90mm lens light frame is paired with 28mm. The 28mm one is at the outer and the 90mm is at the inner.
Rangefinding or manual focusing takes place in the center of the viewfinder. Some may find focusing the Leica Summarit-M 90mm f/2.5 a bit hard. My understanding is that if you can focus precisely with other M lenses, you won’t find exceptionally difficult for this lens. But you have to bear in mind that the hood blocks a small bottom right corner of the 90mm frame. Perhaps it is a flaw but it does not really matter.
Besides what you need to worry is the shallow depth of field on a telephoto lens if the aperture is large. The shutter speed and movement of the camera also affect whether the subject is in focus. It will be desirable if you use a higher ISO/high shutter speed. Don’t mount the camera on a tripod as the Leica M cameras have been designed for being light-weight, mobile and versatile.
Action: A lens is useless if you only discuss it on paper or store it in your dry box. After customising it with the Leica M9, the next move is to put the lens to the real world test. Stay tuned for my coming photos.