Leica M9 - cleaned sensor.

The M9 has just returned from Calumet Birmingham with an (almost) pristine sensor. They seem to have missed a couple of spots and two pieces of dust landed on the sensor after attaching the lens. However its vastly better and in terms of editing pictures this will be a great improvement.
Just to give you an idea of how bad it was, here's a small detail from a blue sky.

The whole sensor was like this so you can get some idea of how long it was taking to clean images up.

It was getting to the stage where I was reluctant to use narrow apertures which made it worse, I was also reluctant to include blue skies, knowing it would take for ever to remove the spots. This was obviously not a satisfactory situation. 

Both the M8 & M9 are particularly bad for dust. Why they should be so bad, its difficult to understand. I've had more problems with full-frame sensors certainly. The D3 and D3X were both awful. As were the Canon 1DS MK II, 5D and 5DMKII. I've had far less problems with APS-C sensors despite using them under the same conditions as the full-frame ones. On m4/3 dust spots are almost non-existent. I've got a few on the Olympus E-P2 but they are only visible at f16.

I realise that I'm using these cameras outdoors, often in windy conditions, and changing lenses in often less than ideal conditions, so its not surprising that spots do appear. However the sheer scale of the spot profusion on the M9 was pretty alarming.

However, I now have a situation where they have been almost totally removed and the question is what to do next. Do I stick with one lens, cutting down on the probability of the spots reappearing, or do I carry on as before, changing lenses and having the sensor regularly cleaned? 

It may sound very restrictive just using one lens, but as observed in the piece /soundimageplus/2010/08/leica-m9-zeiss-50mm-f2-planar.html its actually less of a handicap than might be imagined. Particularly when the lens is the Zeiss ZM 50mm f2 Planar. I've already identified this lens as the sharpest I've ever used. I used it yesterday after picking up the camera to see how it looked after cleaning. 

The following are some images shot with it.

Leica M9 Zeiss 50m f2 Planar

Above image was stitched together in Photoshop from 6 images. The original was 162MB and breathtakingly sharp.

Leica M9 Zeiss 50m f2 Planar

Above image was cropped into the Panoramic format.

Leica M9 Zeiss 50m f2 Planar

Above image cropped from left and top.

Leica M9 Zeiss 50m f2 Planar

Above image a 30% crop from the original.

Leica M9 Zeiss 50m f2 Planar

Above image, again a 30% crop.

So a variety of images from one lens. 

In terms of my own way of working I don't miss having a selection of lenses. Changing lenses has never been a pleasure for me. I've deliberately gone out with just a standard lens on many occasions and these have usually been my favourite excursions. I really do enjoy the simplicity. 

However there's always this feeling that I may miss that one great picture because I don't have right lens with me. But then when does that stop? We don't always leave home with everything from a 9mm fisheye to a 1000mm super telephoto. Do we? Even a 28-300 superzoom is a compromise. What if its too short or not wide enough? Its a constant debate, that I'm sure is familiar to those who earn their living from photography. Do we use what we want or what we think we should? 

Fortunately I use the Leica exclusively for stock photography, a situation where the decisions are all mine, so I can use it in any way that I want. I'm confident that I can still come up with pictures that are both satisfactory to me and have commercial potential, using just this standard lens. It will certainly be a more pleasurable experience and a pleasant change from the pressure of commercial work, which tends to involve packing everything "just in case".

So my inclination is to stick with the one lens plan for a while. If it does prove frustrating and limiting then I'll think again. Its an attractive option to me at the moment, I'll find out if it stays that way.

Words - D
Images -D & A