Leica M9 at 1000 ISO

There is no doubt that the M9 is MUCH better at higher ISO's than the M8. I discovered how good it can be yesterday. On my way home from the Cotswold trip I passed a heritage railway station who were having a "Diesel Weekend" How people can get enthusiastic about these ugly, smelly monsters eludes me, but I stopped to take some pictures anyway.

The light was appalling & I wanted to use fast shutter speeds and small-ish apertures so I set the M9 to 1000 ISO.
When I returned home I processed them via the new Lightroom 3 Beta 2 and was very impressed.

This is a comparison shot - the shot on the left is the unaltered camera jpg and the one on the right is via Lightroom.

Leica M9 1000 ISO

The image is a blowup from this:-

I'm particularly impressed with the luminance control in Lightroom as it "smooths" very nicely without destroying sharpness.
These images are done to my taste and others may process differently but I think its impressive and 1000 ISO is not something I will shy away from in the future on the M9.

Leica M9 1000 ISO

Incidentally, I tried to replicate this in Photoshop CS4 with Adobe Camera Raw 5.6 and couldn't get near it. I either got noisy/sharp or clean/blotchy.

These two below were processed in Photoshop.

Leica M9 1000 ISO

Leica M9 1000 ISO


Obakesan has just sent me a comment:-
"just downloaded and examined the channels. LR does indeed neaten it up, but the camera JPG is pretty dam good.
maybe I should look at an M9 instead of a 5D and a E-P2"

which did remind me that I had meant to make the point he did about the original jpg being far better than I was expecting. I have largely ignored the high ISO performance of the M9. I took a few shots at 2500 ISO, saw that they were pretty awful and left it at that. I had assumed (wrongly) that settings such as 1000 ISO would be equally bad, but they are not. Combined with a fast lens the digital Leica can be seen as emulating its film ancestors as an unobtrusive, discrete low light camera. Just don't stick a vintage 135mm on it. All discretion will disappear!

Thinking about it further I will put together some test shots at high ISO's to see just what is possible.