Leaving your Leica M9 switched on all day

Posted on by Mike Evans

While out with photo-journalist Don Morley last week I learned something interesting about power management on the M8, M9 and Monochrome. Don, who carries around two M9s and has also had extensive experience with the M8, reckons that leaving the camera switched on is the way to better power management, longer battery life and, along the way, makes the cameras quicker to use when needed.

How can this be? Don says that the biggest drain on the battery is the huge power surge when switching on the electrics. Disable power saving, leave the camera switched on and you not only have a more responsive tool, you will enjoy a longer battery life. This is a very contrarian view but it makes a sort of sense. I haven't checked with Leica but to me the idea is attractive. How long do we spend waiting for cameras to spring into life and how many shots have we lost because the M was sleeping when the decisive moment came?

 Could the bug be the Achilles' heel of power management?

Could the bug be the Achilles' heel of power management?

I will certainly give this a try (spare battery in bag, of course)  and report back on my findings. In my case, the experiment will take place on the Monochrom because, unlike Don, I sold my M9. However, it is essentially the same camera and the results will be equally valid for the M8 and M9.

Don rightly wonders if this tip applies to the M240 and other modern digital cameras. Possibly not, I suspect, because later cameras have much more going on in the electrical department. The M240, for instance, has live view and you would certainly not wish to leave this active when not needed. And the new M has electronic framelines instead of the traditional optical arrangement on earlier Ms. I doubt the framelines consume much power but I wouldn't be too sure. The M240 does have a very substantial battery with a near 1,000-shot capability, so this is something I will need to check. Since I seldom run out of battery on a day's shoot, Don's idea could have merit, particularly in increasing responsiveness and improving ever-ready capabilities.

One word of warning. Constantly I have problems with those pretty shutter release buttons when it comes to power drain. If the camera is inadvertently left switched on and placed in a bag, the shutter button will constantly wake the camera and, if you are not careful, force it to take a string of photographs of the inside of your Billingham. Not a good idea. Not only does it run down the battery rapidly and pointlessly, it adds to the shutter actuations count which is an important aspect when selling a digital Leica.

Let the experiment begin.