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A visit to the Leica digital "mother ship"

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Dan--I honestly think both cameras are more unforgiving compared with their more-well-known Japanese counterparts. There is less latitude for messing up (though lots of room for experiment and surprises).

 

But when you nail the exposure and processing, they both produce stunning results.

 

The main differences--to me--is that the color processing of DMR files is easier. It doesn't have the same choices in filtering and so on. That doesn't make it better, but it is arguably an easier camera to work with at first; at least it was for me. And processing the DMR gave me a lot of clues about how the M8 should work too: there is a real family resemblance there.

 

So it took me longer to find the colour sweet spots with the M8 than it did with the DMR, and there's more work to be done with the M8 I think in terms of profiling.

 

I know Conrad will kill me for saying this (just kidding everyone!), but at weddings, anyway, the M8 seems to have better higher ISO capability by about a stop, IMO.

 

Once you're used to them though, well, it takes me about the same amount of time to prep a print from a Canon, a DMR or the M8.

 

For BW, as Jack and others have pointed out, the (unfiltered) M8 has an advantage.

 

I agree with many things Jamie stated above.

 

On the whole, straight out of the box the DMR image is unbeatable. It is certainly easier and more straight forward to process with top of the line quality results without much fussing around. The DMR file is really well attuned to C1, Flex and now even ACR. It is unsupported by Aperture, not that it's a big loss.

 

I am not sure that the M8 has a stop advange over the DMR in low light at higher ISOs especially with firmware version 1.3. I, and many others, could swear this thing sees in the dark, thus revealing details my eyes did not catch. Now with C1 v.4 Beta the increase in shadow detail recovery is phenomenal and I've been able to use pre-dawn images that were too dark with v.3.7.7.

 

My observations are that it may require more post-processing work to achieve comparable results with the M8, but like Jamie said, once your work flow is established it should not be much of an issue.

 

The bottom line for me is that the DMR has a true 16 bit A/D conversion with no compression, while the M8 uses a complex algorithm to compress its files. I think that's the key to M8 images falling short of DMR "film like" quality, again, STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BOX. That said, with a bit of work the M8 files can be made to look spectacular.

 

I hope this is helpful.

 

Cheers,

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the M8 uses a complex algorithm to compress its files.

Actually the algorithm isn’t complex at all; it is trivially simple really. It is so simple that even calling it an algorithm would be misleading. But it does the job.

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Guest guy_mancuso

Conrad from all I have read there is no real true 16 bit camera out there even in MF they are 14 bit converted to 16 bit.

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Conrad from all I have read there is no real true 16 bit camera out there even in MF they are 14 bit converted to 16 bit.

The DMR produces 16 bit files, and unlike some other raw file formats, all of these 16 bits are actually used. That doesn’t mean that the least significant bits really convey useful information; most likely it is all random noise. That may also be the reason why Leica reduced the sample size to 14 bits when designing the M8.

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Guest guy_mancuso

Michael i have a feeling there is marketing hype going around on true 16 bit but i am not the engineeer type so not going to argue what I don't truly know

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Conrad from all I have read there is no real true 16 bit camera out there even in MF they are 14 bit converted to 16 bit.

 

Guy - Leica's specs are clear on this one, the DMR is really 16 bit, no hype.

 

Cheers,

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{snipped}I am not sure that the M8 has a stop advange over the DMR in low light at higher ISOs especially with firmware version 1.3. I, and many others, could swear this thing sees in the dark, thus revealing details my eyes did not catch. Now with C1 v.4 Beta the increase in shadow detail recovery is phenomenal and I've been able to use pre-dawn images that were too dark with v.3.7.7.

{snipped}

 

Conrad--Thanks for this tip!

 

I haven't tried the DMR files with C1 v4, and certainly you're right about the high ISO improvement with the latest DMR firmware, so it will be interesting to see how they work together!

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Having started this thread, let me reiterate and expand on the first point I tried to make—

much as I love the DMR and believe its files are more "film-like", I prefer to use the M8 for the majority of my small format photography, simply because of its much smaller size and lower weight, image quality aside. In other words, I would probably use the M8 more than the DMR even if the DMR's files were even better than they are simply because of size/weight/bulk considerations.

 

On the other hand, the M8 is no match for the DMR if Macro or telephoto shooting is what I want/need to do.

 

Similarly, for larger format situations, Hasselblad CFV, 22 or 39 MF backs deliver extraordinary resolution, dynamic range, low noise, but either one of the Leicas—M8 or DMR— is much more likely to get the shot, unless your subject is somehow anchored.

 

So I guess I find direct head to head comparisons of the DMR and M8 somewhat inappropriate, because considerations of portability, quickness of use, unobtrusiveness, etc. are not trivial matters. Ergo, saying that one likes the DMR more than the M8 or vice versa, "other things being equal," is a contradiction in terms... other things are simply not equal, ever. Full stop.

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I agree with you, Ed ... let's compare apples to apples, my dog tells me he smelt the M9 already. LOL

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The one clear joy brought about by this thread for me is the re-discovery of many of my favourite images by Gary Voth. A must-see!

 

Gary Voth Photography: Home

 

Cheers,

 

Wow... thanks for that nice comment Conrad!

 

I'm brand new to the M8 but once I get the lens kit worked out and the color issues behind me perhaps I will be able to post some new work from the Leica...

 

All the best,

 

Gary

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I agree with you, Ed ... let's compare apples to apples, my dog tells me he smelt the M9 already. LOL

 

There's something fishy about that....

 

Anyway, Ed, of course things are the same. When I haul two (or three) bodies to a wedding and shoot the same subjects under the same lighting (different but similar lenses, yes) it's a pretty easy way to compare how the files all work, to tell the truth--leaving aside all questions of portability, etc...

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Wow... thanks for that nice comment Conrad!

 

I'm brand new to the M8 but once I get the lens kit worked out and the color issues behind me perhaps I will be able to post some new work from the Leica...

 

All the best,

 

Gary

 

Conrad beat me to it too, Gary--welcome aboard! I've always thought your work was great as well (going back to the old RG (and C1?) site); can't wait to see what you do with an M8.

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Wow... thanks for that nice comment Conrad!

 

I'm brand new to the M8 but once I get the lens kit worked out and the color issues behind me perhaps I will be able to post some new work from the Leica...

 

All the best,

 

Gary

 

I'm looking forward to that.... great website and images....welcome

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Count me in with the kudos for Gary Voth. i had not seen his work previously and found it very very fine.

 

Congrats Gary

 

Woody Spedden

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I also had not seen Gary Voth's web site before...wonderful shots, Gary.

 

I am not clear, however, as to which camera(s) Gary used. It would be great to know, if not shot by shot, at least in general.

 

. . . .

 

Just went back up a couple of pages in the thread, and I guess most of Gary's work on his site is with a FF Canon. Please correct me if that is incorrect.

 

Whatever he uses, he's terrific.

 

I am also reminded of the time many years ago, when a close friend of mine, Bill Mullen, who was a NY art director at Wells Rich Green, showed me an album of photos from his wedding reception that had been given to him by his friend and colleague, Elliot Erwitt, who took them with a half-frame camera (I think it was called the Pen FT). Anyway, Erwitt's shots were simply amazing, and I am sure that would have been the case no matter what camera he had used.

 

We all love to talk about gear, and I am no exception, but when we look at great work we realize that in the end, whatever tools are used, the composition and the moment are what matter most.

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I'm brand new to the M8 but once I get the lens kit worked out and the color issues behind me perhaps I will be able to post some new work from the Leica...

 

This is what Gary had to say on the matter of equipment...

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I also had not seen Gary Voth's web site before...wonderful shots, Gary.

 

I am not clear, however, as to which camera(s) Gary used. It would be great to know, if not shot by shot, at least in general.

 

Thanks everyone (blush)...

 

Most of the work in the Gallery section of my site was shot on film (35mm, some MF): a mix of "classic" work from my newspaper days, and newer work. The work in the Spotlight section of my site is mostly digital.

 

On film, I shot mostly Canon and Leica M 35mm, and some Hasselblad. Since converting to digital, it's been mostly Canon: first 10D and 20D bodies, some 1-series, more recently the wonderful 5D (sorry Guy!).

 

While travelling in India a couple years ago my Canon kit was stolen and I purchased a Nikon D70 in New Dehli to salvage my trip. The images were great, and made me appreciate how good the Nikon kit is when you don't need high ISOs.

 

I'll be keeping my DSLRs, but I'm looking forward to working with the M8 for the things it's good at...

 

Best,

 

Gary

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Guest guy_mancuso

BTW Gary nice to have you here in the Leica world, missed you from the Rob days.

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