The Leica M9, Lee Filters & The LCD


Quite often I am emailed questions about various articles I publish. Some are related to marketing or SEO, but some are also gear and technique specific. One of my goals has always been honesty and directness with my answers. However, it has also been to share the answers publicly so I can educate other photographers at the same time. With that said, he are some recent questions and answers.

Question: I notice you seem to have Lee Foundation Kit for the larger 100mm x 150mm lee filters (as opposed to the RF75) for your Leica M9. I do not relish the prospect of buying into an entirely new filter system for obvious reasons, but I had though that the larger system was unlikely to work out for me. From holding up the larger filter holder in front of my M8 (my adaptor rings are 67 and 77 – I need a 49mm for my 28mm lens) it looks as though an awful lot (almost all) of the viewfinder will be blocked out once the filter is in place. I was interested to see that you seem to have persevered with the large filters and would be interested to hear how you work around this. I assume you compose and focus and then put on the adaptor ring/holder and filter and then guess the position of the line of the grad?

Answer: You’re exactly right. I too didn’t want to go out and purchase a new filter system. The Lee Foundation Kit works so well on my Nikon D700 and its lenses that I wanted to figure out a way to use the same system on my Leica M9. So here was my thought process. One of the things that I absolutely love about the Leica M9, is how I am forced to slow down and think more. So why not take that same principle and put it behind the filter kit? So I set up my camera, focus and get the exposure. I then put the step up rings and filter kit on the lens. If I have to adjust, I don’t remove the step up rings, just the filter holder. I would much rather take that extra time than to spend the additional cost on an entirely new system that can only be used on the rangefinder.

Question: Do you find the LCD screen of the M9 up to the job of giving a reasonable indication as to whether the filter is in the right position?

Answer: The Leica M9’s LCD is a funny thing. The color and sharpness do not do the camera justice, and for good reason. Leica spent more time designing and creating camera that produces quality results. They did not, however, spend the time to incorporate a quality LCD. That is why many M9 shooters keep the histogram showing when reviewing the photographs. That is the best way to determine if your exposure was where you need it to be. When it comes down to framing, I find the LCD is very accurate.


If you already own a Lee Foundation Kit and want to use it on your Leica M9 or other rangefinder, my suggestion would be to pick up the necessary step-up rings for $10 total rather than spending another $200 or more on a new filter system. Give that a try and see what works for you. You might find that you do not like how it works and will make the switch.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Like you I also have D700 & M9 but do not own any filters except for a few UV filters. I’m making plans in making the M9 exclusive. Would you still recommend in the bigger Lee filter system or the R75 system.

    1. If you’re starting fresh with a Lee system I’d go with the one designed specifically for rangefinders.

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