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Interesting blog posting: Leica M8 Pro and Con: Pro

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I just found an interesting blog entry at "The Online Photographer" by Mike Johnston:

 

http://theonlinephotographer.blogspot.com/2007/04/leica-m8-pro-and-con-pro_6765.html

 

Including an interesting description of Leica's attitude to digital:

 

1994—We don't need no stinkin' digital.

1998—Please don't take away my film. Will they still make film? Somebody please tell me they're going to keep making film.

2002—Hey, this digital stuff ain't so bad.

2006—We don't need no stinkin' film.

 

Have fun!

 

Andreas

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Thanks Andreas. Mike Johnston has long been one my favorite photography writers.

 

One paragraph from his little essay:

 

<< The main felicity of an M camera is the way it rides shotgun, always there, always on the alert, always ready to go. The M8 is not really different, so long as you have charge in the battery and space on the card. Whereas most cameras want to make it possible to do more and more until you can do an infinite number of things, an M camera doesn't let you do a lot. It pares away what isn't really needed and just leaves what is. The M8's designers respected this principle. >>

 

Thanks again.

 

Jeff

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Take a look at the second of Mike Johnston's two articles. In his mind, for his applications, the cons win. He has said elsewhere that he sees more in a SLR way than in a deep-focus rangefinder way. And he criticizes the M8 quite fairly on grounds of LCD quality and speed of operation. He doesn't seem the least bit concerned about IR issues or filters, but finds the faces a bit on the pink side (maybe he didn't use any filter).

 

scott

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Guest sirvine

Sort of a pointless review--he focuses on the LCD and the cost. Those are two things I barely thought about since I bought the camera. I barely ever chimp, and in fact I would like it if there were a histogram-only mode on the screen.

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The second part is very hard for Leica and the M8 camera. To sum-up, Johnston comes to think that Leica has failed (too few, too late):

 

The Online Photographer: Leica M8 Pro and Con: Con

 

"Digital photography is slowly being accepted by photographers for some applications, and we at Leica AG believe that by the year 2025, even many consumers will have digital cameras in their houses."

—Then-Chairman of Leica AG, Hanns-Peter Cohn, February 2002

 

I was very alarmed by Cohn and Coenen's statements in that period (2000-2004). Then, I thought Leica was condemned to death. The Leica M8 saved Leica. Now they have an encouraging future and they will improve and growth. I am sure about that.

 

Johnton is right in many of his comments on the M8 camera. Then, he has a personal criteria for evaluation, as we all have.

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Sort of a pointless review--he focuses on the LCD and the cost. Those are two things I barely thought about since I bought the camera. I barely ever chimp, and in fact I would like it if there were a histogram-only mode on the screen.

 

I thought the shots at the LCD were sort of irrelevant -- maybe it saves power, maybe they only buy from German suppliers -- who knows? The comments on operating speed were right on target, and his conclusion that this is $5000 that he doesn't have and won't go looking for right away is a valid personal statement. After all, the guy's making a living off his website, and that "wonderfully concentrates the mind." In fact it concentrated his mind to the point where he only got 90 exposures in a working week of trial time.

 

Carl Weese comes to a similar conclusion. He recently replaced his E-1 with the new Pentax K10, because it comes with nice primes, has a 10 MPx Kodak imager, and suits his shooting style. He didn't see how the M8 would beat that at more than twice the price. But he didn't make as much of a fuss over it as Mike Johnston has.

 

scott

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Does the Pentax K10D wear a CCD Kodak? I think it is the same Sony CCD found on the Nikon's and Sony Alpha's cameras.

 

Anyway, Leica has stated that the first goal for the M8 was to exploit as much as possible the quality of Leica M lenses. The M8 is a digital device designed for image quality. And it is image quality the most important point for me. I would have been happier with a lever for cocking the shutter, or with a direct control of ISO, but those are minor points (for me).

 

In passing, I would like to point to the fact that the bottom plate in Leica Ms was designed and preserved for a better flattering of film (and I like Leica preserved this detachable bottom plate).

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Does the Pentax K10D wear a CCD Kodak? I think it is the same Sony CCD found on the Nikon's and Sony Alpha's cameras.

 

You're probably right. DPReview wasn't sure, but thought it looked like a Sony variant. It's APS-C size (1.5x) , not 4/3 (2x) or Leica size (1.3x). Based on the tiny web shots that I have seen it makes good color.

 

scott

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Mike's a friend of mine and a good guy but I think he missed the boat in some aspects of this review. There are cons to the M8, for sure, but he missed some key ones and emphasized some that I think are minor. I've offered to write a short counter-point article for his site, if he wants.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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All depends on your point of view and your needs. All of the points that various commentators make about the Canon Xti or 5D versus the M8 could be made about those same cameras and the Canon 1Ds II. There is not any quantum leap in image quality between the Canon sub- $1,000. cams and the top of the line Canon's going for 6x the price (if you use the same lenses). So why would anyone pay the additional money?

 

There are some things unique that Leica has brought to the party. The principle one being it's an M rangefinder, for some that's a drawback for others the most important plus. I had been using Canon 1 series digital, but never really liked working with them. I loved some of the L glass (35/1.4, 135/2, 90TSE) but really hated the ergonomics of the body/viewfinder. But Canon was the practical choice in terms of digital IQ for $. I had intended on trading my 1Ds for a 5D soley because of the smaller form factor, then the M8 hit the market. I hadn't owned a Leica for years but as soon as I picked the M8 up I was sold. Once I compared the images from my new M8 to my 1Ds, all the Canon stuff got sold (maybe Mikes Canon XTi's IQ was better then my 1Ds and L glass but I doubt it). For me the M8 was an easy choice. If it suits your way of working there really is nothing else like it on the market.

 

So much of what is important in a camera is your subjective connection to the cameras ergonmics and viewfinder, it is an area that is not quantifiable. There are a lot of digital cameras that produce quality on a par or better then the M8 some at a competitive price and some costing much, much more. You get the system that is the best match to your style of working and budgetary constraints. I'd be willing to bet that if someone gave Mike an M8 and a few primes that in a few months it would be his most used camera. But even if that would not be the case, for me at least the M8 is the best compromise currently available in an imperfect world.

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And he criticizes the M8 quite fairly on grounds of LCD quality and speed of operation. He doesn't seem the least bit concerned about IR issues or filters, but finds the faces a bit on the pink side (maybe he didn't use any filter).

 

I don't agree about the LCD - it's absolutely fine for the task - but Johnston's other criticisms about speed and 'almost-there' build quality are pretty fair. I also share the view that the M8 colour has a tendency towards red skin tones - even with IR filters and a proper colour managed workflow in place.

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I agree with Sol. The LCD criticism seems a bit overblown - I don't know any serious photographer who uses that tiny little screen (on any camera) for anything other than quick approximations of framing and focus and evaluating a histogram. And the off-axis concerns seem more pedantic than real - how hard is it to hold the camera more or less straight in front of one's eyes?

 

Leicas have always cost considerably more than most other cameras. $5K remains an awful lot of money for a lot of us - enough, unfortunately, to keep many out of the game. But Canon and Nikon set the price point for their high-end professional digital cameras long before Leica arrived on the scene. And those who think it's too much, that $5K crosses some mythical threshold of too much, ought to take another look at Mark Norton's remarkable thread illuminating what one gets for that dough; and the extraordinary engineering challenges that Leica had to work through.

 

I was riding my K1200RS (a motorcycle) across a mountain pass last weekend, running at a pretty crisp pace. Since this was an area I got tagged a couple years ago with a reckless driving citation (more than 20mph over the limit), I always pay attention to what's going on around me. Sure enough, as I began the descent my mirrors showed a red Vette gaining on me. That's unusual, as cars rarely carry that kind of corner speed on that mountain. My first thought was that it was an unmarked cruiser. But as it got closer I saw that it wasn't a Vette at all - it was a blood red Ferrari. It was gorgeous. Wondrous in its capabilities. Remarkable in its potential. But it also was a vehicle that I'll clearly never be able to afford.

 

Given that, I wonder - were someone to loan me one for a week - could I ever truly evaluate its merits?

 

Jeff

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Interesting read; Mike Johnson's blog (in my very humble opinion) is all about Mike Johnson' s opinion and things (not always photographic) so what we read is really how he felt and reacted to the M8 and frankly who really cares. Mike after all is a very confident fellow and I think good writer.

 

Yes, he is right on many point, and wrong on many other, but again this particular camera has inspired a lot of a love it or hate it crowd, but in the end we all know it is a great camera. This is not a reviewers camera - K10D, D80, D200, etc are I believe just that - built to get good reviews.

 

I had to remind myself how GOOD the M8 is by taking-out (the last two outings) my chrome M4 and film. After spending $6.99 on roll of XP2 (don't have a darkroom) and $13.00 on processing and then relying on a Nikon CoolScan 5000 as the imager of choice I decided that that will be more a novelty than a best practice. I still get to use some of the 1972 lenses I have on the M8 - and they are as good as the day I bought them.

 

PS. I never use the LCD - is it really that bad? As for speed of the M8 (I have a K10D because of the primes) it is certainly the fastest Leica M I have ever used (can't put a rapid winder on the M4).

 

Best to all. Terry.

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Guest guy_mancuso

Have not read the article yet but on the LCD on the M8 it is really one of the few camera's that you can actually see in daylight, i had many issues with all my Canons in daylight and had much better sucess with the DMR and now the m8. BTW sometimes on location with lighting i am extremely dependent on the LCD to tell me what my lights are doing and what they are not doing. So for me I do put a high price tag on the LCD when working . Just need to watch yourself and understand it is not perfect but i actuallty like the M8 LCD very much . Not sure what Mike had to say about it but the zoom feature is a god send when checking your lighting

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I had to remind myself how GOOD the M8 is by taking-out (the last two outings) my chrome M4 and film. After spending $6.99 on roll of XP2 (don't have a darkroom) and $13.00 on processing and then relying on a Nikon CoolScan 5000 as the imager of choice I decided that that will be more a novelty than a best practice. I still get to use some of the 1972 lenses I have on the M8 - and they are as good as the day I bought them.

 

It is certainly the fastest Leica M I have ever used (can't put a rapid winder on the M4).

 

My son, 7, won a box camera in some contest and wants to learn how you take pictures with FILM. So we got out two rolls of HP5-400, shot one inside with his new Brownie, and one outside with my sticky-shutter M2 and the CV15 (the result is pretty close to fixed-focus), and I just dropped them both off to go to the lab and come back with both contact sheets and el-cheapo scans onto CD. But that is quite enough. I will start explaining digital to him once we get through examining little images through the loupe and reviewing the CD. I don't even have a film tank left to demonstrate the rest with.

 

scott

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Mike's a friend of mine and a good guy but I think he missed the boat in some aspects of this review. There are cons to the M8, for sure, but he missed some key ones and emphasized some that I think are minor. I've offered to write a short counter-point article for his site, if he wants.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

This would be very interesting.

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There is a lot Leica bashing on the web, I generally pass this by... don't even read it, but Mike's opinion is a valueable one for me at least, he is one of the few web based Photo-Guru's I actually trust, I read the review (I don't own an M8 myself) and thought "yeah, right on the spot" his arguments were mine when I decided to purchase the 5d instead of the M8

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I thought he went over the top on the LCD thing. Does anyone use an LCD for critical viewing? Certainly all I use it for is checking the histogram or occasionally showing someone a shot.

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As I look over the article, and especially the chorus of approval in the comments to the second article "a naked emperor after all... finally it can be said!", I smell a rat. He shot 90 exposures in about a week, one of them interesting, and then writes about 60 column inches, 20 of them on two technical issues, and 40 on image, status, religion and other cultural attitudes. Colin Jago summarized it by saying that in fact the good things about the M8 are much better than Mike realizes and the bad things are much worse. But that's not what bothers me about the article. It worked up so much attitude that one commenter finally nailed it -- reverse snobbery -- and got a thoughtful reaction from Mike Johnston that acknowledged the truth of the observation.

 

So let's go out and take pictures. And continue the tradition of this forum of fixing by ourselves the issues that Leica can't seem to step up to.

 

scott

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