I have now spent more than half a year without a digital camera other than my iPhone. For this summer I find myself wanting to photograph again, there are weddings, 80th birthdays and road-trips a head, so I have been internet-shopping. Quite a number of exciting cameras have arrived. The digital Leica M iterations are a delight to work with, easy to use in manual, and relatively small. They are however very solid, and you get tired of them after walking around with them for a day. They are also very expensive unless you buy used, in which case I am back to the M8 I had before, M9s are still very expensive used seeing as they are the current model.
After seriously looking around for cameras that allow eye-level photography and are smaller than the Leica-M I am left with three cameras: Sony NEX7, which is class-leading in image quality at low ISO, 24 megapixel, interchangeable lens goodness in a small, really small package. In the micro four-thirds (MFT) class there is the very appealing Olympus OM-D. It is modelled on the old, film OM cameras, and going by the reviews one usable cameras out there. Finally there is the Fujifilm's X100 windowfinder camera, its like a Leica M only with a hybrid digital/opticalfinder and autofocus. Have a look at these excellent size comparisons: Front view, Top view.
Lens-wise there is only one good NEX lens: the Zeiss 24mm f/1.8, but it is getting such good reviews that it is a really appealing possibility. However, the NEX lenses (the Zeiss especially) are quite large for the miniscule body, so much so that when you attach them the camera isn't really pocketable any more. MFT has a number of nice lenses, including thinner, so called pancake lenses. Most of them get quite weak reviews though, especially the pancake-versions. There are two purpose-built Voigtländer MFT-lenses with huge apertures (which is good), but then they are huge, heavy lenses (bad), and the sharpness leaves something to be desired (worse). A good thing with NEX or MFT is that being interchangeable lens cameras with very short registers, they can take practically any lens ever made with an adapter. It is therefore tempting to get one of them to use with a Leica-M-mount adapter, which again turns out to make them quite a bit larger. On the other hand the Fujifilm X100 is not an interchangeable lens camera, but it does have a wonderful, sharp little f/2 lens with a 35mm effective field of view. However, everyone says manual focus on the X100 is horrendous so I would be forced to use automatic focus, which on the other hand is rumored to be quite good. The only way to know how usable and portable they really are is to test and compare the cameras in person before I possibly buy one. So, it is off to the camera shops for me.