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stunsworth

Another view on the M8

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Well, as much as I like my M8, I have to acknowledge the power switch is the most annoying shortfall for me. It does in fact slip over to undesired positions quite easily but aside from that, I’m a strong advocate.

Regards,

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Online review here...

 

Complete Digital Photography » Leica M8 Digital Rangefinder

 

Contains gems like this when discussing the size of Leica lenses compared to those for an SLR...

 

"...because smaller lenses are generally easier to engineer, Leica lenses have a reputation for extremely good quality."

 

It'll either amuse or have you frothing over your cornflakes.

 

Smaller lenses are easier to engineer... Ya, guess all point and shoot cams have perfect optics then?

 

-Dana

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What can you say about a reviewer who works in the word "sneaky" twice to describe we who shoot with the Leica M8? A man with an agenda for sure. And I shoot live theatre "events" with the M8 and get better quality than with my D-200 and auto focus:

 

Luis Valdez: Mummified Deer

 

Mike

Mike Adams at San Jose State University

 

Sneaky... No, Mr. Reviewer Shrub, that's what a Sigma DP-1 would be, or a camera phone perhaps.

 

Subtle or unobtrusive might be a better choice of words.

 

"And I shoot live theatre "events" with the M8 and get better quality than with my D-200 and auto focus" Hmmmm... I dunno. You can't walk around at a theatre very much, I'd think that a small, quiet SLR with a fast zoom or even a fast lens high quality point and shoot might be better. If I were taking an RF to a shoot at a theatre I'd probably most like the Contax G2 with the continually variable zoom.

 

Old Yashica SLR (which died during this shoot):

 

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Suggested reading:

 

The Thin Skin of Apple Fans - New York Times

 

Sandy

 

I'd rather have a thin skin than use c__p-ware.

 

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What's stupid about it? It's simply the focal length of the lens over the diameter of the aperture. If you bring Pi in to calculate the area of the hole it makes perfect sense. It seems strange that someone shooting a rangefinder like the M8, where you have to set the aperture manually, would find f stops stupid.

 

I know I should have consulted my own scribblings before posting something less intelligent than usual.

 

Anyway I still have my dunce hat on

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If I were taking an RF to a shoot at a theatre I'd probably most like the Contax G2 with the continually variable zoom.

 

Ahhh, you mean the 35-70mm f3.5-5.6?

Now there's a nice lens for theatre work!

And it has a continuous auto focus-mode!

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This f scale is stupid anyway who could of thought of something like that

 

The same person who thought up the points scoring system for lawn tennis

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I'd rather have a thin skin than use c__p-ware.

 

/applications/core/interface/imageproxy/imageproxy.php?img=http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/library/xpvistasigntwo.jpg&key=cf2248ab17c8f8514829b09f7b0501af917051bb6234523628384fcf37457499">

 

What's old is new again

.

 

There used to be a computer shop near where I live that had the slogan:

 

"WE REMOVE XP

 

WE INSTALL 2000"

 

Bob.

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Whoops! Sorry about the mistakes in the reciprocal exposure parameters. Those got past me and the two working photographers who edited the review. Unfortunately, in a 6,000-thousand word review, it's hard to catch everything when editing. Still, it's a bad mistake, and I'm sorry it made it in.

 

As for the summary statement about there not being auto exposure, I stand by that, however for clarity I plainly should have said there's "no full auto exposure." However, given that I devoted quite a number of words to a discussion of the workings of Aperture priority and manual mode, I don't see how a confusing summary statement obviates my point or serves to undermine the coverage that I gave to these features.

 

As for my experience with the camera, I spent three months shooting with it. Because I knew that a rangefinder is a very different way of shooting, one that really requires the development of a feel for the camera, I also lent the camera to three professional photographers, one who owns several M6's, and the other who is an experienced non-Leica rangefinder shooter. They concurred with all of my complaints, and added a few more.

 

Because of my metering troubles, I began to wonder if my camera was broken. Shortly after he returned the M8 to me, one of the photographers who tested it was offered a loaner M8 from Leica. He shot with it for several weeks and had the same overexposure experience. So, I decided to count my overexposure experience (and bad white balance experience, by the way) as valid.

 

Every Nikon, Canon, and Sigma lens engineer I've ever spoken to has stated that lenses that are shorter, and narrower are easier to design. This is one of the great advantages of a rangefinder system and, yes, also an advantage on a point-and-shoot camera. As such, many point-and-shoot cameras have excellent optics. Similarly, many lenses engineered specifically for cropped sensor SLRs have excellent optics at a substantially lower-price than their full-framed brethren. Obviously, as with any good lens, Leica lenses are also very good because of their build quality and manufacturing standards. (And I'm saying that despite the fact that the first and only Leica lens I've ever bought had a manufacturing defect that required that it be exchanged.)

 

For image quality, I printed 8 x 10" comparison shots of several test images. I shot alongside a Canon 5D and, just for grins, a Canon PowerShot G9. Obviously, price-wise, this is unfair to both the 5D and the G9, since the M8 costs substantially more than either. Unfortunately, I didn't have a Nikon D3 or Canon 1DS Mark III around for testing. These prints were then showed to a jury who were asked to pick the best, and comment on each print. The M8 consistently scored poorly on noise levels (especially against the 5D, not so much against the G9) exposure and white balance. The jury was composed of photographers and lay people.

 

Again, I apologize for the technical errors. Writing a review this long in one's spare time (sorry, but you can't make a living off of a small photography site) is sometimes a sloppier process than it should be. However, I stand by my opinions and feel that I employed a process that served to hedge against my personal biases.

 

We are all entitled to our opinions, of course, and personally I'm envious that you all have found a camera that you find to be flawless. I love my 5D, but there are things about it that drive me NUTS (lack of external auto bracketing, limited to three-step bracket, the fact that at the time I bought it, the lower-end Nikon D-200 had more features, etc.). However, if you are going to critique my review, (technical glitches aside, as I've already covered those) then I would ask you to critique it on its own terms. In the very first paragraph I state that the review is being written for the SLR user who has $5000-7000 to spend on a camera and is wondering what the M8 is all about. So before you trash the review for having the perspective of an SLR shooter, pay attention to the fact that it says, outright, that it's specifically from an SLR perspective and targeted at people who have an SLR shooting practice. I believe that the experiences that I documented are going to be relevant to that audience. If that isn't you, then maybe you need to be reading a different review.

 

And finally, for those who are complaining about how I don't know rangefinder shooting from an aperture in the ground, take note of the last few paragraphs where I state very clearly that rangefinder shooting is something that all photographers should try. I then go on to explain some ways that you can integrate some of what you'll learn from rangefinder shooting into your SLR work. While I state that I don't feel the M8 is the best place to start if you're interested in rangefinder shooting, I give great praise to the process.

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We are all entitled to our opinions, of course, and personally I'm envious that you all have found a camera that you find to be flawless.

 

However, if you are going to critique my review, (technical glitches aside, as I've already covered those) then I would ask you to critique it on its own terms. In the very first paragraph I state that the review is being written for the SLR user who has $5000-7000 to spend on a camera and is wondering what the M8 is all about. So before you trash the review for having the perspective of an SLR shooter, pay attention to the fact that it says, outright, that it's specifically from an SLR perspective and targeted at people who have an SLR shooting practice.

 

Ben,

 

I don't think anyone here would say for one moment that the M8 is flawless. Don't be so condescending.

 

As for the rest I stand by my own remarks and that you shouldn't really be comparing the M8 to a Canon or Nikon. M8 users haven't generally bought it in preference to one of those systems. If you want a digital rangefinder what else apart from the M8 is there?

 

edit - I think it's fair to say that the vast majority of M users also own SLR systems and appreciate the benefits and limitations of each.

 

Yes it has attracted new users as well and hopefully future models will address some of the more valid issues which you raised. But as a first attempt from Leica it isn't a bad one by all - other - accounts.

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{Snipped}Because of my metering troubles, I began to wonder if my camera was broken. Shortly after he returned the M8 to me, one of the photographers who tested it was offered a loaner M8 from Leica. He shot with it for several weeks and had the same overexposure experience. So, I decided to count my overexposure experience (and bad white balance experience, by the way) as valid.{snipped}.

 

I'm only going to address the metering, as someone who also owns and shoots Canon equipment in addition to other Leica M film equipment.

 

The M8 doesn't have a matrix meter a la Canon; it's much closer to a strongly center-weighted spot, with the RF patch being the most sensitive. It's similar to shooting an M6 with slide film (not negative film where you have many stops of latitude).

 

If you point it at something dark in the center, and set it on A mode, it will often "overexpose" but in reality all it's doing is its job: it's making the dark thing grey.

 

FWIW, I find all my Canons (5d, 1d2, 1ds2) to underexpose by at least a half stop in matrix mode, about 80 percent of the time. Since people like to preserve highlights in digital, that maybe isn't a bad thing, but it's not perfect either by a long shot.

 

Hence turning off all that junk and shooting M on all of them is the way I shoot

I have no-one and nothing to blame but myself for exposure errors.

 

Again, FWIW, the meter's sensitivity means you really must know exposure (and how a meter really works) to use an M8 properly--particularly at higher ISOs where noise will creep into underexposed shots (it won't much at ISOs lower than 640). Properly done, fully exposed shots up to ISO 1250 are just fine. I just saw some 20 x 30 ISO 1250 M8 prints last week for a display booth that were truly wonderful in tonality and detail. My 5d could have fared no better at all.

 

(PS--the white balance thing is fixed now too, though who uses AWB for serious work?)

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This is a getting so tiring, the Canon G9, give us some credit for some photographic intelligence! I have a G9 and suffice to say it is what it is and to even include it 'obviates' the credibility of the reviewer along with his sloppy technical points of said review - excuse are just that excuses, albeit not one of us is perfect.

 

The constant ramble about noise especially compared to the 5D is also somewhat of a red herring - as far as I can tell the M8 does not produce that over processed plastic look of some other OEM camera distributors. What nonsense when I read that some how the G9 produces less noise then the M8 - what is that, this must be a very special G9, I plan on returning mine tomorrow I think I got a bad unit IT IS NOISY in the extreme. I don't care about some quote jury of photographers and lay people as though that adds some credibility to all this nonsense.

 

I shoot an awful lot with the M8 and overexposure is not something I have noticed, but having shot with an M6 and M7 I took the time to learn how this meter sees light and from there took some time to understand how to point it to get the results I want. It does take some brain power for heaven sake. What the meter is not is centered weighted, spot, or matrix metering.

 

We are also back to the price discussion - I for one am tired of that debate so don't plan on going down that road yet again. What I find somewhat disingenuous is the comment about buying a D40 with a manual focus lens as some how equal or was that better than M8, yeah sure. As Mr. Long points out to each his own, plastic digital is just fine if that is what you like.

 

Best Regards. Terry.

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The M8, like all of the M's, has an excellent meter but you have to learn how to use it. Yes, if you point the camera at shadows, the photo will be overexposed. If you point the camera at a highlight, the photo will be underexposed. I usually meter off the floor or grass - something that is about a zone 5 - press the shutter half way to set it and then compose the photo. This becomes automatic if you do it enough. You don't even have to think about it. I have Canons - the 1DMII and the 5D - and I prefer the photos from the M8 90% of the time. I now use the Canons for macro and telephoto work only. I prefer rangefinders over SLRs, though, so that might be part of the reason for my preference; but, the edges of my wide-angle Leica shots are sharp with no fringing or chromatic aberrations. I can't say that about the Canons even with their expensive L lenses.

 

Tina

Tina Manley- powered by SmugMug

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While I don't agree with the review's conclusions, the point about the lenses sounds correct to me. I don't state that opinion too adamantly since I don't know much about optical engineering, but it was always my impression that shorter lens to film/sensor distance really is an advantage. The whole lens shrinks, and the smaller pieces of glass are easier to manufacture well.

 

This argument has its limits. For example, on small P&S cameras, optical quality drops because the smaller apertures (in absolute size, not relative to focal length) start causing diffraction at the wavelengths of the visible spectrum. But the M lenses are far from being diffraction limited at all but the smallest apertures.

 

Of course this would not explain why Leica R glass is especially good as I have heard it claimed to be. But I have no personal experience with R glass, so I'll leave that point of the debate to others.

 

David

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For those of you with a 'cron in the $3,000 or greater price range, you may wish to try this experiment: Go to your local appliance store with your 'cron, and ask them to show you their most expensive washer. Then, take out your cron, and hold it next to the washer; my bet is, the washer won't cost much more.

 

There is definitely something weird with the pricing of Leicas. Certainly, it justified somewhere in the manufacturing process, but it's depressing to see a highly complex machine, with assemblies, moving parts, electronics, and section drawings that would make lots of mechanical engineers cry, that is worth about as much as a quarter-pound (max?) of ground glass and alloy.

 

For me, it's worth every penny.

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For those of you with a 'cron in the $3,000 or greater price range, you may wish to try this experiment: Go to your local appliance store with your 'cron, and ask them to show you their most expensive washer. Then, take out your cron, and hold it next to the washer; my bet is, the washer won't cost much more.

 

There is definitely something weird with the pricing of Leicas. Certainly, it justified somewhere in the manufacturing process, but it's depressing to see a highly complex machine, with assemblies, moving parts, electronics, and section drawings that would make lots of mechanical engineers cry, that is worth about as much as a quarter-pound (max?) of ground glass and alloy.

 

For me, it's worth every penny.

 

A washing machine is not as much fun on vacation requires a much larger neck strap.

 

Mr Long probably had no idea that reviews of Leica's can go over about as well as cartoons of religious profits if you don't have your details right.

 

Regarding comparing the M8 to a Canon G9...I LOVE my G9 but it's rubbish at ISO 800 or better...I mean totally useless.

 

Right now the M8 is the best digital rangefinder ever made and a load of fun also.

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A washing machine is not as much fun on vacation requires a much larger neck strap.

 

Mr Long probably had no idea that reviews of Leica's can go over about as well as cartoons of religious profits if you don't have your details right.

 

Regarding comparing the M8 to a Canon G9...I LOVE my G9 but it's rubbish at ISO 800 or better...I mean totally useless.

 

Right now the M8 is the best digital rangefinder ever made and a load of fun also.

 

Hah! Agreed!

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Dan- I had a feeling that posting this review was a little like running cartoons of Mohammed, but I figured it was worth the risk.

 

I agree with you about the G9, and would go even further to say that over 400 it's rubbish. I wish they'd just left 800 and 1600 off the dial.

 

As for the light meter issues, I appreciate the feedback from you guys. Again, my point with the article was to give current SLR shooters an idea of what they're going to encounter.

 

Earlygallery- you're tagging ME for being condescending after the things that have been posted about me in this thread? That's pretty funny...

 

Dalippe - You're right, there's a point of diminishing returns on the advantage of a small lens. In addition to the diffraction arguments you mention, you're also typically using a smaller sensor, which is more noise sensitive, due to the poor signal to noise ratio of the smaller photosites.

 

Terrycioni - I don't understand how your opinion of the M8's noise is any more credible than the jury that I convened. If you're satisfied with the noise, that's fine. I will agree, though, that very often, too much emphasis is placed on noise. Unfortunately, the market for reviews has come to expect these comparisons, and while one can put out arguments to try to change this, it's still a question that people want to know. And, most people expect a camera at a particular price point to deliver similar noise response to other cameras at that price point. Granted, the G9 is not at that price point, and neither is the 5D. But again, few cameras are.

 

And speaking of condescending, in an inspired fit of diplomacy, Terricioni goes on to say I lack "brain power" for expecting the M8 meter to work like an SLR meter. Again, as was stated IN THE BEGINNING OF THE REVIEW, the position of this piece was to give SLR shooters an idea of what they were going to encounter. Also, Terricioni, I never said that buying a D40 was equivalent to buying an M8. I said it was an affordable way to begin to experience some of the benefits and technique of rangefinder shooting. I guess brain power only goes so far.

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