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MikeMyers

M8.2 - keep an open mind

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A year and a half ago was another of my "return to Leica" attempts, a few weeks before I headed off to India along with my "better" cameras.  That word "better" is slipping, as many of my non-specialized photos could have been taken with my M8.2.  Maybe on my next trip to India, I'll leave everything behind, and travel only with the Leica.

I didn't think of the idea "first", but I read how one person had set his "Image Review" setting to "off".  I got curious, and tried it.  No issues.  If I really need to see something I just took, I still can, but now it's just like shooting film.

Back in October 2018 I hadn't yet "learned" to stick to either 160 or 320 ISO, and back then I tried not to crop, as I would lose too much image quality.  I was surprised to see that I had shot the attached photo at ISO 1250, as DNG of course.  I wanted to play around with it last night, first in Lightroom, and then in Nik Collection.  I had seen this long line of bicycles for rent in Miami Beach, and wanted to get an interesting view.  Tilting the image got the handlebars lined up, cropping it got to show enough of what I was after, and when I was all done, I was pleasantly surprised that the digital noise was no big deal.  I need to remember that for the future, as ISO 1250 is back on my "acceptable" list.

You guys say it better than I, but shooting with a rangefinder camera brings up a whole new (old?) way of seeing the world.  My Nikon D750 seems rather boring in comparison, my Canon G7X Pro Mk II has only the small size as an advantage, and my Fuji X100f - I guess that comes closest to using my M8.2, but I get a stronger feeling of "satisfaction" when I use the Leica, because I was more involved in creating it.

 

(When I first got the camera, I wasn't so thrilled with it - I was used to shooting in 'jpg', and I wasn't satisfied with my Leica photos.  Over the following years, I learned enough about 'raw' to switch, and with that change, my Leica just flat out "woke up".  My lenses date back to the 1970's, I'm not concerned that my Leica sees things that other cameras can't, and little bu little, I'm learning new things about the M8 that I wasn't aware of - such as the "exposure lock" that I didn't even know existed in the camera.  I'm still using Lightroom, but I could make the switch to DarkTable and Nik Collection, and do even better.

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Yes that’s true, the M8 gives astounding pictures with 10Mb only. The interesting thing is that this recognition often came later on, for instance when the M9 was out people started to admire the M8 on this forum.

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Any chance that others made the same mistake I did?  I was (of course) shooting in 'jpg', just as I did with my other cameras.  They did a better job of churning out good images.  Eventually I read that the "jpg conversion on the M8 was not very good", and if I wanted good images, I needed to shoot in raw and convert on my computer.  It took a long time before I realized that.  

Within a month or two of my buying the M8.2, the M9 was released.  I wasn't too thrilled, and asked how much more it would cost me to send the M8.2 back, and get the new camera.  Fortunately, the cost sounded astronomical, and by then I didn't see that much good about the M8.2, why spend a lot more just for bigger mediocre images.

I think everything would have been different, if Leica simply left off the 'jpg' option completely.  People might have grumbled, until they saw the quality of the images.  

 

I no longer think of my M8.2 as a ten year old camera.  I'm beginning to see it as my "best" camera (depending on what kind of photos I want to take).  If I was forced to give away all my cameras, and only keep one, I'd keep the Leica.

...........and if B&H offered to trade me an M10 for my M8.2, even up, I don't think I'd accept.  All of them are just "tools", and from that point of view, I think the M8.2 is the best tool for me.  I've taken photos like the one I'll copy here, using all my cameras.  Somehow, I prefer the results from my Leica to all the others.  It's hard to describe "why", but it's easy to see in a full-screen view on my computer.

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One of the M8/M8.2's party tricks that's not widely known is the ability to retrieve massive amounts of detail out of the shadows in raw (more than any other camera I've used).  The trick is to keep ISO low or there will plenty of noise and to pull the shadows up in post-processing.  This translates to being able to shoot at higher shutter speeds in low light conditions to counter camera shake and have usable pictures; they won't look much on the M8's LCD but will emerge during post.

Pete.

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1 hour ago, farnz said:

One of the M8/M8.2's party tricks that's not widely known is the ability to retrieve massive amounts of detail out of the shadows in raw (more than any other camera I've used).  The trick is to keep ISO low or there will plenty of noise and to pull the shadows up in post-processing.  This translates to being able to shoot at higher shutter speeds in low light conditions to counter camera shake and have usable pictures; they won't look much on the M8's LCD but will emerge during post.

Pete.

Thank you for explaining something I was puzzled about.  In the sunset photo I just posted, I thought the building at the right was just "black".  When playing around with the sliders during processing, I noticed I could bring up all the details.  Even the buildings in downtown Miami could have the details shown in the photo.  To me, having everything "black" is what I envisioned as I took the photo, and was working with it, but I couldn't resist showing some of the details in the side of the building.  

Next time I try this photo (it's right outside my window, so I can photograph it ever day if I wish) I want to try the exposure-lock "trick".  I never knew the camera even had exposure lock until I started reading the manual again on a whim.  Since there is (only) one spot in the image where the exposure is metered, that should make this tool more useful than on my other cameras with metering spots all over the image. 

If you know lots of other "party tricks", can you please write something about them, or if you've done so long ago, suggest where I can find the information?  This "website" is so huge, I've been looking all over for useful information.

 

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56 minutes ago, MikeMyers said:

Since there is (only) one spot in the image where the exposure is metered

Remember that it's quite a large 'spot' you're metering because the M8.2 only has centre-weighted metering.  If you want to meter off a smaller spot you'd need to use a spot meter and accordingly manually set the aperture and shutter speed on the M8. 

Not a party trick perhaps but don't let your battery get too low.  The M8's not like other cameras and you can't ride the battery charge bars to the end.  If you let it go down beyond two lit bars then the chances of the camera locking up during a shot are much increased.  I normally put in a fresh battery when the first bar disappears.

Pete.

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3 hours ago, farnz said:

Remember that it's quite a large 'spot' you're metering because the M8.2 only has centre-weighted metering.  If you want to meter off a smaller spot you'd need to use a spot meter and accordingly manually set the aperture and shutter speed on the M8. 

Not a party trick perhaps but don't let your battery get too low.  The M8's not like other cameras and you can't ride the battery charge bars to the end.  If you let it go down beyond two lit bars then the chances of the camera locking up during a shot are much increased.  I normally put in a fresh battery when the first bar disappears.

Pete.

Thanks again Pete - I actually did get out my old, old, old, Sekonic "Studio Deluxe III L-398A" exposure meter, but I've long since forgotten how to use it.  Fortunately I have the manual with it, so in an hour or so, I should be all set.

No, I wasn't aware of that battery concern - I did have the camera "lock up" when the battery died as I was shooting seagulls, but a fresh battery brought it back to life.  Is there any reason not to put in a fresh battery every day I go out to look for photos?  I'll remember what you said - and keep a spare battery in my pocket.  I've got four batteries now.  Are these batteries likely to get hard to find anytime soon?  If so, I'll get some more.

 

Photo below is from my second attempt to photograph seagulls, this morning....

Not sure what he or she is telling me...  probably that I should get lost!

Edited by MikeMyers

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A major problem can occur when the battery runs out while the camera is re-cocking the shutter because it inputs an invalid state to the M8's control chip and the camera dies with the shutter part-cocked.  Restarting the M8 may not fix it because the shutter is still half cocked and producing the invalid input state.  Then it's off to camera hospital.

I put a fresh battery in at the start of each day I take it shoting and when I get back any batteries I've used go straight into the charger.  I don't think they're getting rare yet because the M8 and the M9 and all their 'spin-off' models use the same battery.

Pete.

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OUCH!!!!!!    I guess for me, it was beginner's luck.  You have now burnt this into my brain - I will pay much more attention from now on.  

Any lists of similar tips in the forum, that I ought to go and read ASAP ?

Has anyone compiled all of these into some kind of list we can print out?

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While I'm asking, is there any reason not to leave a battery permanently in my charger, and when I grab the camera, I also grab the battery I know is full?  Can these batteries get overcharged, or damaged from being left in the charger for a long time?

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After a bit of searching I found that the M8 FAQ thread has been moved to the Leica Wiki (there's a Wiki tab at the top of each page) so here's a weblink to the M8 FAQ page.  There are lots of useful tips and info there.

With respect to leaving the M8's batteries on charge there shouldn't be a problem.  But ... the M8's batteries are Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) cells that are known to catch fire or explode if heavily overcharged - a Lithium fire burns so hot that the Fire Service usually leaves it to burn itself out.  There is always a charging control circuit in Li-Ion chargers that tells the charger when the battery is fully charged and to turn off the charging current as a safety feature.  However if you have a charger that is not intended for your battery or has been built by an unscrupulous or incompetent company then the charging cut-off feature might not be effective.  If you're using the OEM Leica charger that ships with the M8 then there should be no problem providing it's not damaged.

The volatility and aggressive nature of Lithium fires is why most airlines won't carry more than a small number of Li-Ion batteries and why the postal service won't take them either so it's worthwhile being aware although it's rarely a problem if proper care is taken while charging Li-Ion batteries.  Personally I take my M8 batteries out of the charger when the charger indicates that they're fully charged.

Pete.

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Yes, the smaller (and nicer) Leica charger, not the huge one that I think was originally sent out.

To be safe, I'll charge, then disconnect the charger.

Thanks for the link!!

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