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D Carter

Who is buying the M8?

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The M8 is my first M-system and I have no regrets. I was looking sideways at rangefinder camera's and slowly this camera sold itself ... as an amateur I feel very lucky indeed to own suc a fine piece of equipment. Next to the exquisite quality I like the inconspicuousness of the thing. Nobody sees you taking a picture, so nobody is scared away by huge lenses and hangrip equiped SLRs.

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My first M and first range finder. Came from d/SLR, medium format and large format world.

 

M8 + 50lux is better than my 5D + 85L II, But the 85L keeps me from leaving Canon.

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Buying the M8 was impulsive. I went to a store, asked for the D-Lux 3 and the vendor replied "nope, not delivered yet - but I have an M8 here if you want to take a look".

 

That bastard sure knew how to upsell

 

You are not kidding!

 

I still shoot Nikon DSLR's and I remember thinking that the pro Nikon glass & D1, D1X, D2X's were expensive when I bought them. The big glass like my 200-400VR was a wallet shocker at the time ....

 

and then there was the M .... since I've had it I started with Zeiss & CV lenses, migrated to adding just a couple of prime Leica glass: summicrons, followed rapidly by WATE & MATE, oh and the APO-Telyt, and now the Nocti that I pick up next week ... not to mention the 2nd M8.

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I think Ken Tanaka's post is pretty much on the money - and his advice to try a cheaper option to decide about rangefinders is good - but will probably be ignored. My first serious camera (in the 50's) was a rangefinder, and I always envied those around me that could afford a Leica. So I was among those for the past few years who were rooting for Leica to develop the M8.

 

Frankly, my 5D and 10D along with a reasonable pile of lenses meet all of my photography needs, and I am surrounded by enough professional shooters in my family and friends that I can shoot Canon 1 series and all the top lenses, as well as Nikons, whenever I want. But I am retired and have more money than brains, so ponying up the bucks for the M8 was better than a fishing boat, and started out as a walk down memory lane. Now that I have it, I have to invent reasons to shoot the Canon - the M8 is my first choice almost every day. Is it better than the Canon? I don't think so (lotta noise at high ISO, terrible WB, and the AF is particularly poor

...) but it is different, the results are different, and the experience of shooting it is, somehow, delicious.

 

My advice - figure out your reasons for wanting it, and then buy it!

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I had an Aries rangefinder something-or-other when I was in my teens (sometime in the 60's), but the M8 was my first Leica anything. Instant connection. So much so that I sort of slipped backwards a bit and now have an M6 as well. Haven't had so much fun with photography in years.

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I purchased the M8, my first ever Leica camera, last year. I did so because I borrowed an M7 somewhere around October of 2006 and saw the spectacular pictures that were possible with great lenses. I wanted the ability to take pictures in "available light" and these lenses allowed just that. I started out with the Noctilux and the 28mm Summicron; one for available light and one for daytime street type photography. When I realized that I also needed longer focal lengths for the pictures I wanted , I purchased additional lenses, some new and some used. My satisfaction with the pictures I can take with the M8 is what has me addicted to using it almost exclusively despite owning a DSLR.

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I have used Leicas since the 1930-s. Then I went digital but kept missing my old M5 - which I thought was too much trouble to use. Have been looking forward to a digital M for over half a decade and got mine a year ago next week. And I am happy with it.

 

Rangefinders were not a problem, I could never get used to my son's big SLR-s. And autofocus - with it's own mind - kept turning me off. Now I know it is all my fault if images are unsharp.

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Nobody knows the answer to that question, either. But, let me try to cut past the fog to the core issues.

 

1. Everything in the Leica brand carries a super-premium cost. The brand has worked hard for decades to develop an allure that would maintain this pricing. Hermes, the luxury womens' vanity brand and previous majority owner, really honed the Leica snob factor to a fine edge. Under Hermes the M camera became a piece of jewelry.

 

2. Around here you'll find an abundance of "it's worth every penny" opinions. As an M system owner and frequent user my opinion is that the M8, at face performance and versatility value, is perhaps worth one third to one half of its value in the competitive digital camera marketplace. Oh, yes, I know that I'll be bashed for this opinion and I won't encourage inflammation by bolstering it with evidence.

 

3. As others have noted well, above, the highest initial value of the M8 was to owners of previous M cameras and, most importantly, an inventory of wonderful M lenses. The only viable digital life raft for those lenses was a "digital M". So if you've $10,000-$20,000 in M-system lenses and finder gadgetry suddenly a $5,000-$5,500 digital camera body doesn't sound so bad.

 

4. Part of the allure of the M8 to newcomers is that it's different. It's not an slr. It's not a point-and-shoot. Everything old eventually becomes new again. Well-heeled (or firmly indebted) young men (yes, I know of only two women who own an M8) with no recollection of the short age of rangefinder photography think it's "cool". Why not?

 

5. If you're looking for an investment, rather than an expense, look elsewhere.

 

Bottom line: There is no rational justification for buying into the M8 as a newcomer. The technical price/performance value of the M8 is abysmal. It won't take a "better" picture, won't make you a "better" photographer, and it probably won't make you any money. So put away the spreadsheets and the HP 12-C calculator.

 

The M8 is something you buy (a) because you've loved rangefinder style photography in the past and want to extend that experience into the digital medium, or (

because you've been intrigued by people who qualify for (a) and are willing to blow big cash to see what the fuss is all about.

 

May I suggest considering getting a (relatively) inexpensive used film rangefinder camera and lens first to try out the rangefinder style of photography. There's at least a 50-50 chance that you'll hate it.

 

Hope this is helpful...I wasted too much of my morning writing it.

 

Enjoy your photography in whatever form and format you choose to pursue it.

 

I see this quite differently from Mr. Tanaka. First of all, the M cameras never became "pieces of jewelry" for many serious photographers. It's certainly true that Leica marketed itself heavily as a luxury product but I think some mistake the marketing for the cameras themselves. The M cameras have always been highly functional. The luxury status built up around them, it was never their reason for being as they are. There are, unfortunately, a lot of truisms and cliches built up about M cameras.

 

I do indeed make stronger pictures with the M8 (and the R-D1) than I do with many other cameras and that comes from the way I see the subject through the finder, how the camera feels and operates in my hands and, finally, from the way it and certain lenses draw pictures. That doesn't mean that an M8 will make one a good photographer but rather that some photographers may do their best work with the M8. Tools *do* matter and they always have. I have several very accomplished photographer friends and acquaintances who have used Leica M cameras throughout their careers for very deliberate reasons. Of course, one could also, find that he or she does best using a Holga.

 

In the hands of photographers for whom their strengths are well matched, rangefinder cameras can indeed have a profound effect on the way one sees and works. Yes, I mean to say "profound". The way that they present the subject to the eye is deeply generous and rich. But they're not for everyone and they will always be far more important to some photographers than to others. The difference lies, in part, in how one sees and constructs pictures before the camera is ever lifted to his or her eye.

 

There are quite a few women using the M8. They just don't tend to talk on forums as much as men. But they're out there, I know, because they e-mail me.

 

The M8 does, in a technical sense, make a much better file than many other cameras. There is indeed something very special about the file quality that comes from this camera. But then people will naturally have different ideas about what "good" file quality is, relative to the kinds of pictures they like to make. For some photographers, the Ricoh GR at ISO 800, for example, makes the "best" files.

 

All things considered, the M8 is, for my purposes, the best digital camera I've ever used. And the price of the M8 body is very much middle of the road for high end small format digital bodies. I spent much more on my 1Ds. The lenses, however, are indeed quite expensive.

 

I agree with Ken's suggestion to consider starting with a film rangefinder camera and I have been making the same recommendation for several years now. Its a less expensive way to see how well one gets on with a rangefinder camera.

 

As to the original question, my sense is that both the R-D1 and M8 have sold both to existing RF photographers as well as to a number of photographers who had never before used RF cameras. I get e-mail from a lot of photographers who are completely new to RF photography. I myself have, very much by choice, been using RF cameras for decades.

 

Will the M8 help photographer X to become a better photographer? It might or might not and so much depends on the sensibilities, strengths, style, etc. of that individual photographer. The same can be said for a number of cameras.

 

Another perspective to add into the mix.

 

Cheers,

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Nobody knows the answer to that question, either. But, let me try to cut past the fog to the core issues.

 

Enjoy your photography in whatever form and format you choose to pursue it.

 

There Ken, I did a slight editing job on your story

 

Mae West "When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better"

Robert "When I'm a editor, I'm very, very good, but as a smartass, I'm better"

 

I was lamenting to my (alway's Nikon's latest version) friend about the cost of the Leica being hard to stomach. Recently I added to him that it really isn't that much considering the expense he will incur with the D3 intro. The shorter product cycle on Nikon products could easily add up faster than Leica ownership.

 

take care, Robert

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Gosh,

I started all of this photo jazz with a manual focus camera. A Box brownie then a "TLR" then an "SLR". I got lazy with the F3HP with metering and then the N90 with autofocus.

For many years interest in automation took the place of results. Anyway, my hockey player son no longer has me pinned to the bench shooting players on the ice, so I shoot for my original reasons; that was a return to the results.

So, more leisurely, and with nobody to please but myself, I have put away all of the Canon and Nikon kit, other then the close-up and telephoto rig,

Anyway, for the thoughtful. purposeful image, the M8 suits me.

I wish all of the wide glass were half the price, but heck, I like f/1.4 or better.

Think of all of the chemicals I am saving! (rationalization reality check!)

The M8 fits well with a tripod and with a thoughtful setup for each image.

Sort of like a miniature view camera with frozen swings and tilts. I find that I am back to making pictures rather than pushing buttons.

Next time I buy a dslr, and I might just buy a D3, I will use it on the "A" setting.

-bob

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Nobody knows the answer to that question, either. But, let me try to cut past the fog to the core issues

 

4. Part of the allure of the M8 to newcomers is that it's different. It's not an slr. It's not a point-and-shoot. Everything old eventually becomes new again. Well-heeled (or firmly indebted) young men (yes, I know of only two women who own an M8) with no recollection of the short age of rangefinder photography think it's "cool". Why not?

 

Bottom line: There is no rational justification for buying into the M8 as a newcomer. The technical price/performance value of the M8 is abysmal. It won't take a "better" picture, won't make you a "better" photographer, and it probably won't make you any money. So put away the spreadsheets and the HP 12-C calculator.

 

The M8 is something you buy (a) because you've loved rangefinder style photography in the past and want to extend that experience into the digital medium, or (

because you've been intrigued by people who qualify for (a) and are willing to blow big cash to see what the fuss is all about.

 

Enjoy your photography in whatever form and format you choose to pursue it.

 

Sorry but I disagree with all the bits of your post that I have left up above.

 

I bought a Leica Digilux2 when it first came out. I bought it for the wonderful fast lens and controls that took me back to the way I learned photography (not pushing lots of buttons). I have also had a number of other point and shoot cameras. I know myself well enough to know what I will carry and what I won't. So, please point me in the direction with a point and shoot that has good IQ. There really aren't any anymore. My D2 sensor died and much as I love the camera it was time to figure out what to do.

 

I have never used a rangefinder before this, and I am not intrigued by people who "qualify" (which personally I find sort of offensive). I am simply an amateur photographer who didn't intend to spend so much money on a camera, couldn't get what I wanted in a point and shoot and won't carry a large camera and a bag full of large lenses (see my 5D thread).

 

If Leica took the Digilux2 ripped out the guts and re - released it with current technology to get good higher ISO performance, I would be first in line.

 

And by the way, I am a woman....who owns some Hermes products that are not all about vanity - they do have a knack for high quality.

 

terry

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OK, my camera history.

 

Kodak 110 Instamatic (I have no idea what happened to it)

Canon QL-17 GIII (still have it; fantastic camera and lens)

Konica TC (traded for the T4)

Konica T4 (sold it to buy the Nikon)

Nikon F3 (still have it; fantastic camera; three primes, 28, 50, 135mm)

Olympus XA (still have it; fantastic camera)

Polaroid SX-70 (still have it; fantastic camera, film is a BITCH to find anymore!)

Canon S100 Digital Elph (still have it; OK camera)

Canon SD500 Digital Elph (gave it to mom)

Leica D-Lux 3 (still have it; fantastic camera)

Leica M8 (still have it; fantastic camera, didn't buy it, it was a gift)

 

I wanted an M8 because it's the only digital camera (and lenses) that actually feels and works like a REAL CAMERA. Yes, I know: I'm old.

 

Yes, I have a vagina.

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Well first a camera is not an investment it's a capital expense even if you are an amatuer and only you can know whether the return on your outlay is worth it.

 

Developing a digital rangefinder based on the digital unfriendly M mount for a small market is an expensive exercise with limited rewards which is why there is no Nikon or Canon digital rangefinder. It's not because they couldn't make one it's they don't see sufficient return on investment for the effort. So expect to pay a premium not just because it's Leica or because of some Hermes syndrome but because there are no economies of scale to spread the development costs over. Custom products made for small markets cost a lot - if you are looking for a more cost effective solution look for something with a user base measured in the millions or 100's of thousands not 20 or 30 thousand.

 

I started with Leica M in the 70's -when I started shooting color and doing commercial work I moved to medium format rangefinder (Plaubel) and SLR (Hasselblad). When the Canon 1Ds brought the quality of digital up to a level that I found adequate I switched to Canon 1 DSLR's and when the M8 came out I was very happy to have the ergonomics of my old M4 and the image quality of my medium format cameras.

 

I would concur with Sean it's the best camera I've used up until now for my purposes and I do prefer the files by a wide margin to what I got from my Canon. Not because there is a big difference in quality they are more or less equivalent but I find they offer much more flexibility in post. But be careful if you have not used rangefinders before they are not most peoples cup of tea. Comparing it's price to an $8,000 1Ds III or $2400 5D really tells you nothing about it's usefulness or value to you. If it works for you it's well worth the expense if it doesn't it's an expensive waste of money.

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The M8 was probably my 5th M-model camera (used an M3, a couple M4-Ps and an M6 from the time I was studying photojournalism in the late 1980s to the birth of the M8.

 

The M-model cameras used to be very popular with many photojournalists. I used to work with a guy who would shoot basketball games with his Nikon F3s, but would always have an M4-P with a winder and a wide angle lens hanging around his neck -- just in case something was happening right in front of him.

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OK, my camera history.

 

Kodak 110 Instamatic (I have no idea what happened to it)

Canon QL-17 GIII (still have it; fantastic camera and lens)

Konica TC (traded for the T4)

Konica T4 (sold it to buy the Nikon)

Nikon F3 (still have it; fantastic camera; three primes, 28, 50, 135mm)

Olympus XA (still have it; fantastic camera)

Polaroid SX-70 (still have it; fantastic camera, film is a BITCH to find anymore!)

Canon S100 Digital Elph (still have it; OK camera)

Canon SD500 Digital Elph (gave it to mom)

Leica D-Lux 3 (still have it; fantastic camera)

Leica M8 (still have it; fantastic camera, didn't buy it, it was a gift)

 

I wanted an M8 because it's the only digital camera (and lenses) that actually feels and works like a REAL CAMERA. Yes, I know: I'm old.

 

Yes, I have a vagina.

 

I missed the last line of your post the first time reading it through. Now, I am just laughing!!!!

 

So, I was trying to figure out if I was going to be OK with manual focus so I went and bought a refurbished Canonet QL-17 GIII from Steve Gandy at Cameraquest. I had it all of two days and half a roll of film when I worked out a trade with Leica my D2 + $$$ for an M8.

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OK, my camera history.

 

Kodak 110 Instamatic (I have no idea what happened to it)

Canon QL-17 GIII (still have it; fantastic camera and lens)

Konica TC (traded for the T4)

Konica T4 (sold it to buy the Nikon)

Nikon F3 (still have it; fantastic camera; three primes, 28, 50, 135mm)

Olympus XA (still have it; fantastic camera)

Polaroid SX-70 (still have it; fantastic camera, film is a BITCH to find anymore!)

Canon S100 Digital Elph (still have it; OK camera)

Canon SD500 Digital Elph (gave it to mom)

Leica D-Lux 3 (still have it; fantastic camera)

Leica M8 (still have it; fantastic camera, didn't buy it, it was a gift)

 

I wanted an M8 because it's the only digital camera (and lenses) that actually feels and works like a REAL CAMERA. Yes, I know: I'm old.

 

Yes, I have a vagina.

 

Great post!!

And I don't.

 

Historical camera listings .......... we need a separate forum

 

gr.S

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...How many are being bought by first time M (or rangefinder) photographers?

 

Ok, count me in as a first time user as I wait for my M8 to cross the pond. I just receive my new 28-cron last week and I hope to have my 50-lux in late December.

Regards,

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My first M + 9 new M lens.i love the size,build quality,hand feel,and the classic, elegance shape.i am amateur n the more i use it the more i like it .

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