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LEICA M9
Firmware 1.116

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Leica M9

LEICA M9 (20.9oz/593g with battery and card, but no lens, cap or strap) with a LEICA SUMMILUX 50mm f/1.4 from 1964. enlarge.

 

March 2010    LEICA M9 Review    LEICA Reviews    LEICA Lens Reviews

Neu: this firware is now obsolete. Find the latest here.

 

Firmware 1.116

adorama

 
B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

Ritz Camera

I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can't vouch for ads below.

 

This is the first firmware update for the LEICA M9. When introduced in September, 2009, firmware 1.002 was all that was available.

As of March 2010, firmware 1.116 is available for complimentary download.

What's fixed.   How to do it.   Download.

Once downloaded, all I did was format the card in my M9, pop the card into my Mac, and drag the .upd file to the card. (The Mac automatically turned the ZIP into the UPD file.)

I popped the card in the M9, turned it on, waited the three seconds as cautioned in the instructions, and only then, selected and clicked Ja (yes), and it took 115 seconds to install. That's better than the 180 seconds claimed. (I have my M9 set to German menus for better image quality. The menus are so well thought out that its easy to use, even though I don't speak any German.)

I turned the M9 off and then back on as instructed, and all is fine. If you know Germans, you know to follow the instructions and not to waver.

Now that I'm running v 1.116, here's how it works:

It now greatly improves the zoom-in redraw time. It's still not as good as a Canon S90 playing the same files from the same card, but it is a zillion times better than before. No big deal; Leica shooters are participants, not spectators, so they never look at pictures on camera LCDs anyway.

Auto WB is still stinky, and there is still no way to tweak it or alter any green/magenta trim.

For color, I'm trying 5,800K in Tageslicht mit mittelhoch Farbsättigung (in English, this is shooting in daylight with WB set to 5,800K and medium-high saturation).

Colors are still nowhere near as nice as what I get from Canon or Nikon, but I seem to be the only one complaining. Everyone else loves the unique look of the M9.

Karte formatieren (card formatting) is a zillion times faster, too. The M9 now formats right away without waiting.

After only an hour, I've found the first flaw. Not to worry, I have a talent that lets me crash just about anything other than a Mac. While piddling around playing and zooming images, I've gotten the M9 to go back to sleep while I was using it.

With firmware 1.116, the LEICA M9 is smart enough to know that playback isn't shooting. Playback, zoom, scrolling and swapping images is not shooting, so no matter how actively you're looking at images, the M9 now goes to sleep after the time period you've set in Autom. Absch. (auto power-off).

In other words, the playback screen will go blank without warning, no matter how actively you're jerking around the M9, and it's asleep. Pressing PLAY won't revive it; you have to tap the shutter button to wake it back up, wait a moment, and then press PLAY again. When I wake it back up, it's at the last frame, not where I was looking last.

It knows what you're doing. Firmware 1.116 is like having parents that care: if you're watching too much TV, it gets turned off. Remember, the LEICA is for shooting, not piddling. It's amazing how much time we waste and how many shots we miss while glued to the TV, uh, LCD.

It still takes a few seconds to process each image before writing to the card. It takes 23 seconds to shoot, process and write a full buffer of 7 shots at 2 FPS. In other words, there's almost 20 seconds of blinking LED after you've shot. The LEICA is for the careful shooter, not the indiscriminate.

The great news is that even though it's still easy to clog the buffer with indiscriminate shooting, I haven't gotten the LEICA M9 to crash with firmware 1.116, as I often did with firmware 1.002 when shooting too fast.

Better still is that playback works well while the M9 is processing and writing to the card. In firmware 1.002, playback was retarded while the M9 was thinking, now, playback works while chewing on a buffer full of images.

As the images are being processed and written, you can zoom all the way into the images that have been processed. Attempting to zoom into images not yet processed will be displayed in a mezzo resolution, somewhere between the big square and the final image.

Also fixed is that the v 1.002 firmware would crash the M9 if you turned off the power in the middle of a long exposure. The M9 wouldn't turn back on unless you pulled and replaced the battery. That problem is now fixed; if you turn off the M9 in the middle of an exposure, it turns off and dumps the incomplete image.

Also improved is that zoomed images at anything other than maximum zoom are now optimally sharpened.

For the first time, SD cards are now formatted as LEICA M9, and not blindly as NO NAME.

 

In Summary

Overall, everything is better or the same. Nothing is worse.

Things work faster and more smoothly, and I haven't been able to crash anything yet. In firmware 1.002, it was easy to hang things up while shooting hard.

 

LEICA M9 Review     more LEICA Reviews    LEICA Lens Reviews

 

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Thanks for reading!

Ken

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