This is our last new year’s day in this house. You all know the view. Today we went over to the remaining apartment we have on HK Island and now I can show you the difference in views. It is not pretty. Rural HK spreads out. Urban HK reaches up. I also wanted to test my M9 to see if there were any signs of the sensor corrosion issue that is plaguing Leica’s brand. A brand that sells mediocre digital cameras at a super-premium can not afford this sort of damage. Leica in HK is being more inept than most, telling us several weeks ago that they had no instructions from H.O. on how to deal with the issue. Solms is at least more proactive. And I decided to pit the M9 against my trusty X100s, a camera costing a fraction of the M9. Here are some images from the shoot. First up the Fuji X100s. From the balcony of our apartment.The M9 next – shot from just above street level – no sign of a sensor problem that I can see.Now from street level – M9 again – the signs of incessant renovation that bedevil HK. You can see the green netting behind on the wall where work is being carried out. Owners can not maintain the outside so everything is dealt with by a management company. Here in Tai Koo Shing that means Swires and generally they do a very good job.A few modern buildings are creeping in as the property hotspots on the Island become too expensive. New “affordable” areas extend the catchment area. Office blocks and hotels are appearing fast and that pushes up local property prices. (Hooray!). Our small apartment – about 1,200SF – would cost you close to US$2.7M today. It is madness. HK has a history of boom and bust property cycles but the latest boom has supposedly been about to become a bust for several years and it has not happened. HK wealth is largely built on buying property low and selling (or renting out) high. I can hear Michael Miles asking now: Take the money or open the box? This is in my view the best of the frames – the M9 at its best. That is one of the Star Cruise ships leaving HK, probably a gambling cruise as it seemed to be called Genting. In the bottom right hand corner you can see old decommissioned fire boat The Alexander Grantham (bright red). The spaghetti routes you see carry high volumes of traffic day and night. With the windows closed we hear nothing. But open them and there is a constant drone. Thank goodness I only have to survive two weeks here.Another Fuji shot. Not bad but lacks a bit of punch. I could pump that up in processing. The M9 certainly shows no sign currently of the sensor problem. I am very happy with it. I still rate it as a better camera than the M240, which I bought last year. Expensive mistake. I should have tried the X-T1 today as well. The M9 was armed with a 35mm F1.4 ASPH lens and the total combo new would cost about US$12.5k. The Fuji has a fixed 35mm equivalent lens. Total cost maybe US$1k.
Is the difference worth the money. Probably not to a hack like me. I think the X-T1 gets me much closer to the M9 – better lenses I suspect rather than better sensor. The Fuji did however win hands down in one important aspect. Sensor dust. The M9 frames needed extensive cleaning in Lightroom. The Fuji with a fixed lens had beautifully clean frames. The digital Leicas attract dust and grime like no other camera I have known. Worse than the Canons and much worse than the Fuji X-T1.
As to views – well TKS can’t compare with Sai Kung. We bought and kept the apartment so Mrs. Ha will have somewhere easy to live in and look after when I die. She could not have maintained the house alone. Now it will function as our HK home when we visit. Not the most exciting start to 2015 but it is a stepping stone to what we hope will be a more peaceful and healthier life in Britain. We shall see.