What was fabulous about the film M Leicas was that they could work even if they had no batteries. You might lose the light meter but you could still take pictures. The biggest problem with digital cameras is that will only work with a battery. If your battery is flat, there is nothing you can do.
Because of this fact, many people carry a spare battery with them only it’s a pain, always remembering to take it with you and knowing where to put it. It could easily get lost or damaged. The solution, at least for the Leica M9 is actually quite simple.
The optional grip that replaces the bottom plate on the M9 could easily be modified to take a slightly smaller battery. This means that you will always have another battery (albeit with reduced capacity) so you never need to miss that shot.
Lets look a bit closer at the logistics. The outer diameter of the grip is 23mm. Assuming that the thickness of the metal and rubber is no more than 2mm allows an internal diameter of about 19mm. By reducing the M9 battery in width it is possible to make it fit inside the grip handle.
The battery only needs to be reduced in width, the grip is easily tall enough to take a battery the same height. The top of the grip handle could have a screwed thread to gain access to the emergency battery within. A spring (not unlike the one under the battery in the camera body) would push the battery out when the cap is removed.
The emergency battery would still fit and lock in the camera body with no modification necessary to the camera. The one slight issue is the battery charger. The emergency battery would still fit in and charge but would not lock in place. This could be solved by using a plastic frame which would hold the battery in the charger, both easy and cheap to make.
I calculate that the emergency battery would have about 50% of the capacity of the original giving a further 150 or so shots. In other words, a very useful ‘second chance’.
If you didn’t need (or want) to carry an emergency battery in the grip, the empty space could be used for any number of items. Perhaps a small sensor cleaning kit or simply a lens cloth. Even a small survival kit could be carried within. The possibilities are endless!
The only issues I can see is a slight increase in weight. The original battery weighs about 50 grams so I estimate the emergency battery would weigh about 25 grams. Not much extra weight really. The battery charger may have to be modified for the reduced capacity of the emergency battery but maybe not. In any case it would be a simple enough feat for Leica.
I for one would welcome an emergency battery that I could carry at all times in the camera grip. Please comment and if there is enough interest maybe Leica could be persuaded to create it. I did write to them about it and although they were very impressed with the idea are simply too busy to deal with it. Maybe this is something a third party could manufacture. If someone does take up this idea please remember where you saw it first and share your good fortune. We are a non profit making company, please help us to change our status!