Over the weekend I took out the Leica M9 with a newly acquired, but old, Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM lens mounted, the Sony RX1r and the Ricoh GR with 21mm wide-angle adaptor. The intent was to see if I could detect big differences in performance. Clearly, there is a big difference in specifications here, different lenses, different focal lengths, different sensors, different prices and on and on. In a sterile environment there are plenty of obvious performance differences to be pointed out, but I never work in an environment like that. Instead, I enjoy spending most of my time documenting the streets and a lot of that is at night.
After coming getting back home and looking through the photos I realized that what I set out to do wasn’t very relevant. Each of these cameras has its strength and weaknesses, but what I enjoyed most was the way each of these cameras behaved. The little Ricoh constantly blows me away with its output compared to its size. The Sony RX1r is a resolution monster and precise instrument of photography while the M9 forces you into becoming a more active participant in creating the photograph.
One thing to mention is that if you enjoy shooting and sharing with little or no post-processing work you will see bigger differences (color, noise, exposure, distortion…). I tend to find the color balance of the M9 off and sometimes feel limited with the low ISO ceiling. The Ricoh GR, especially with the 21mm wide-angle adaptor, needs some distortion control and the images are not very punchy right out of the camera. The Sony is by far the best of the bunch if you do not want to spend any time in post.
I would have been happy to set out that night with any three of these cameras which only reinforced the age old saying that the best camera is the one you have with you.