Gift Guide: Leica M9 Digital Rangefinder Camera
The Leica brand has represented the ne plus ultra of photographic excellence for nearly a century, and continues to burnish its impeccable rep with its new M9 ($7,000). As beautiful a piece of gadgetry as any we've come across, the M9 is somewhat of an oddity in the digital realm: it's a rangefinder camera (meaning you don't see through the lens to focus), is essentially all manually controlled (including focus) and is the smallest camera around to pack a full 35mm CCD image sensor. That giant sensor also explains why the M9 can capture positively massive (and gorgeous) 18.5-megapixel images -- which, at about 36-megabytes (MBs) a snap, also means you might want to look into a new hard drive before you get snap happy. Nicely, the M9 can also accommodate any existing M-series lenses dating back to 1950s, a further enticement for any film Leica enthusiasts who are still sitting on the digital bench. Any devout shutterbug would kill or die to have one (and considering its $7,000 price tag, it'll surely cross some minds), though casual shooters who aren't comfortable messing with ISO, aperture and shutterspeed settings should likely opt for a DSLR with more automatic controls.