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Another view on the M8

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Guest stnami

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But as a first attempt from Leica it isn't a bad one by all - other - accounts.
......... a bit like the P76
The Leyland P76 was a large car produced by Leyland Australia, the Australian subsidiary of British Leyland. It was intended to provide the company with a genuine rival to large local models like the Ford Falcon, the Holden Kingswood, and the Chrysler Valiant.

Prior to P76, Leyland Australia and its antecedant BMC had not fielded a direct competitor in this market sector, which dominated the Australian car market. P76 was intended to provide that competitor.

Previously, BMC and British Leyland had tried to compete in this market segment with a variety of cars- the 1958 Morris Marshall (a rebadged Austin A95); the 1962 Austin Freeway and Wolseley 24/80 (the Freeway was an Austin A60 with Riley 4/72 tail lights and a unique full width grille and a 2.4 litre 6 cylinder version of the 1622 cc B series engine and the Wolseley was a 6 cylinder version of the Wolseley 16/60); and the 1971 Austin"X6" Tasman and Kimberley (a facelifted Austin 1800 with the 6 cylinder 2.2 litre E series engine.

Each of these cars was a compromise, and the motoring public ignored these cars as challengers to the dominant local models. Nonetheless, the Freeway, 24/80 and the X6s each developed a loyal following.

Launched in 1973, it was nicknamed the 'cheese wedge', on account of its shape, with a large boot (trunk), able to easily hold a 44 gallon drum. Although station wagon and 'Force 7' coupé versions were designed, these never went into mass production.

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Ben,

 

You keep pointing out the "the position of this piece was to give SLR shooters an idea of what they were going to encounter". I don't see how this could influence the rational results of the review. A rangefinder is a different tool for a different job. The rangefinder is an expensive type of camera because of its speciality. Consider the Leaf digital backs or the Hasselblads. In my opinion it is not possible to compare prices and features or lack of them between these types of cameras. I own a Sinar P2 technical camera. I never compared it with my Nikon D2x or D3 for automatic features or portability or noise. Apples and pears.

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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'm sure you're aware of this, but an f-stop is the ratio between the focal length and the diameter of the aperture. It may seem convoluted, but it's really very logical.

 

Larry

 

I wouldn't say the f-scale is stupid, and I wouldn't say it's illogical. (Because it's not either of those things.) But it is technical, mathematical and largely impenetrable unless you too are technical and mathematical, which not all artists are. If the scale was marked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – with "1" corresponding to f1.0 – wouldn't that be a lot simpler and clearer?

 

Okay, I realise this is anathema and stands no more chance than Esperanto. But I do sometimes think that the f-scale falls into the category of that kind of specialist, insider knowledge that's often more used to keep the uninitiated baffled and in their lowly place than for any practical application. Personally, I like those cameras with little "cloudy" and "sunny" symbols – now that I can get my head around...

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Ben, first of all my compliments that you entered into this snakepit to reply.

There are a few things that should be adressed in your review to make it valid, however.

 

You noticed a parallax error in your viewfinder. This is something that is well known with rangefinders. For geometrical reasons it is necessary to look straight into the viewfinder and keep the camera parallel to your face. Otherwise you will see exactly the phenomen you are describing. It is not camera error, but user error.

 

Your remark about lens quality vs size was unlucky. Whilst it held true for wideangles in the days that retrofocus design was still in its infancy, it is incorrect now. Nowadays even rangfinder wideangles are retrofocus because of the greater possiblities of error correction.

The small size forced upon rangefinder lenses because of viewfinder intrusion makes the design more difficult, rather than easier. Some compromises can be found in the Leica lineup. For instance the 135 has the strange aperture of 3.4, because a 2.8 would be to large or of lower quality. The recently discontinued Summilux 75 is a shorther focal length than its twin the Summilux-R 80, for the same reason, etc.

 

I find it slightly embarrasing that Jamie and Tina have to explain the basics of exposure, as applied to centreweighed to you.

 

Regarding noise, all M8 users know by now that there is a sure-fire way to avoid noise, at least up to and including ISO 640 (imo 1250 too, but that is open to debate) and that is perfect exposure. Be off by a sliver, and yes, you will see noise.

And there is of course the question that it may be preferable to have noise reduction applied by the user afterwards, instead of by the camera. Make no mistake, the lack of noise on Canon and other DSLRs is not by accident, it is by agressive noise-reducing software both on the sensor (in case of CMos chips) and in the camera.

 

Then there is the question of the subjective quality of the results. I don't doubt that your panel made the choices you describe. That is offset by the fact that many M8 users as you find them here, and there are many experienced and high-level professionals as well as advanced amateurs amongst them, seem to prefer the M8 output to their high-end DSLR systems. That raises a question about the expertise used in the making the images shown to your panel.

 

Having said that, there is no question that there is a vast difference in the use of a fully automated camera as opposed to a basic high-quality tool like a (digital) rangefinder. In that sense your review does potential buyers the service of pointing out that it is not a camera for everybody.

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Terrycioni - I don't understand how your opinion of the M8's noise is any more credible than the jury that I convened.

 

Mr Long,

 

No harm intended, but I can imagine that the pictures you provided printed to your Photographic Jury of professionals was just as poorly exposed as the pictures you had posted in your review of the M8 on your website.

 

Obviously user error or should I say lack of user skill / knowledge is to blame here, not the M8.

 

Was the jury material from "in camera Jpeg" or RAW?

 

If done right 1250 iso on the M8 is darn close to similar iso on the "mighty" 5D noise wise.

 

The M8 in all it's simplicity demands more skill from it's user than a regular SLR.

 

And the price? I think the M8 is right out cheap compared to a MP or M7. Yes it is more expensive, but Canons high-end D-SLR went up 3X the cost of their High-end film SLR's back in the days.

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Good point, if anything, the M8 came out somewhat less expensive than we were expecting. Before it was launched, I compared a Nikon D2x to F5/F6, applied that to an M7 came out with a higher figure than the M8 turned out.

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......... a bit like the P76

 

I'm not sure that the unlamented British Leyland Corporation is quite the right example in the field of high or even average quality products.

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Guest stnami
I'm not sure that the unlamented British Leyland Corporation is quite the right example in the field of high or even average quality products.
...not enough snob value brownie points for you:D

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I bought a new Mini 1100 once. After 20.000 km's and just out of warranty the engine died. When we took it apart it turned out that it was fitted with four different pistons: flat, hollow, two differnet cammed ones. The tappet followers turned out to be from a 1938 Morris..... When we sold it back to the garage a year later one of the wheels fell off on when they drove it into the showroom....

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Ben,

 

being a journalist myself (I´m the economics editor with a daily newpaper) I do know how difficult it is to get all facts and numbers right anytime. Everyone of us does make mistakes even though we try everything to prevent them. This is why I do not find it is fair that some guys here got excited about some mistakes which you made in another text which is not related to your M8 review. Mistakes like the wrong f-stops are clearly typos. They should not happen but they do happen. Every journalist including myself makes very painful and embarrasing experiences in this domain from time to time. This is nothing which damages the credibility of the author, from my point of view.

 

Having said this, I still do have to complain about your review. I think you treat the M8 a little unfair in some respect.

 

- Your troubles with the meter are really a problem of the user, not of the camera. You have to know how to handle the meter. Then is works very reliable. It would be fair to put it this way in the review.

 

- The problems regarding IR oversensitivity and the white balance are two different kind of stories. The IR thing is a design flaw. The AWB of the M8 did not work properly until Firmware 1.201 was released a few weeks ago. According to my on experience as a M8 user and to plenty of posts here in the forum the AWB now works very reliable. It would be fair to mention this in the report. Your comment "There’s no excuse for white balance this bad on any camera" is outdated since FW 1.201." I can understand that you cannot do ongoing tests with a camera. But a sentence like "M8 users report that the AWB problems have been solved with a new firmware which was not released while I did the tests" would be appropriat. Of course it´s ridiculous that Leica needed more than one year to deliver a good AWB, but that´s a different stoy.

 

- I can´t understand your complains about parallax. This criticism seem to be misguided, from my point of view. The viewfinder pf the M8 does correct for parralax. Just look through the rangefinder, move the focus ring of the lens from infinity to 0,7 meter fast and concentrate on the frame-lines. You´ll notice how the framelines shift.

The real problem with the M8 is that the framelines seem to be less accurate than the frameline for film Ms. This is a problem mentioned very often here by staunch M8 users. (Noboby complains about parallax).

 

- Although some other people obviously do hav the same problems regarding the mode switch I cannot really understand your complains regarding the switch either. You state that "there wasn’t a day that I took the camera shooting that I didn’t miss shots because I’d accidentally bumped the switch." Well, that really astonishes me. I never ever missed a shot due to the switch.

 

- The crop from the shot done at ASA 640 really looks horrible. Is it a 100% crop? Was is exposed properly? I can´t believe that. For me it rather looks like a shot done with ASA 2500 or like a 300% crop. another explanation ist that the shot was heavily pushed aferwards? Did you shoot in JPG or DNG? My own experience regarding higher ASA settings is that ASA 640 works pretty good but 1250 and 2500 are almost un-usable.

 

All in all I think the M8 fares way to bad in your review. It isn´t a perfect camera, for sure. But a lot of your critizism which is directed to the camera is either due to user error (metering), not up to date (white balance) or not shared by most of the acutal M8 users (parallax, terrible noise at ASA 640). The funny thing is that some of the real weaknesses of the M8 were not mentioned in your report, especially the poor quality of the JPG mode.

 

Yours

Olaf

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Design flaw or laws of physics, Olaf? (And communication/marketing error?)

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Design flaw or laws of physics, Olaf? (And communication/marketing error?)

Both, in a sense.

 

From my point of view it´s a design flaw which is probably due to laws of physics. How Leica dealt with the matter when they released the M8 was what we call "Größer anzunehmender Unfali" in German (maximum credible accident) with regard to communication/ and marketing. Let´s see if Leica can conquer those laws of physics sometime. I think Kaufmann did not mention this question by accident in my Q& A with him.

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... the position of this piece was to give SLR shooters an idea of what they were going to encounter.

 

This suggests a rather low opinion of the technical skills of a typical SLR user and on this point I'd agree. However the review as originally presented was sloppy and from this it's easy to infer that the reviewer's technical skills match those of the presumed typical SLR user.

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I guess brain power only goes so far.

 

Q.E.D.

 

As you have chose to answer personally... The M8 is far from perfect, but that can easily be said of your review as well.

 

At least I have not dumped

any of your books a few of which are on my bookshelf... for the time being.

 

Best Regards. Terry.

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Q.E.D.

 

As you have chose to answer personally... The M8 is far from perfect, but that can easily be said of your review as well.

 

At least I have not dumped

any of your books a few of which are on my bookshelf... for the time being.

 

Best Regards. Terry.

come on Terry, this is not very constructive. Ben responds to our criticism. Insulting him leads nowhere.

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come on Terry, this is not very constructive. Ben responds to our criticism. Insulting him leads nowhere.

 

Yes, this entire thread has been constructive. Give me a break. As for your comment I was replying to Mr. Long not you.

 

No where, I repeat no where did I insult him, although if you read closely he certainly took the opportunity to insult me.

 

Mr. Long was hardly constructive (destructive is more like it) in his review of the M8 which is why this thread is here. You might try lecturing some one else and hopefully after you get the facts straight.

 

Best Regards. Terry.

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Ben,

 

being a journalist myself (I´m the economics editor with a daily newpaper) I do know how difficult it is to get all facts and numbers right anytime. Everyone of us does make mistakes even though we try everything to prevent them. This is why I do not find it is fair that some guys here got excited about some mistakes which you made in another text which is not related to your M8 review. Mistakes like the wrong f-stops are clearly typos. They should not happen but they do happen. Every journalist including myself makes very painful and embarrasing experiences in this domain from time to time. This is nothing which damages the credibility of the author, from my point of view.

 

Olaf

 

I agree on many of the points you make further down, but as the poster of the original author's exposure misstatements, I respectfully stand by my original post.

 

Sure, anyone can make mistakes, but your facts and numbers statement implies the errors involved some obscure concept. One can confuse highly technical aspects in photography, but surely exposure is as fundamental to every form of photography as it gets. Exposure is second nature to a professional photographer, and mistakes such as those in the mentioned article would be like putting a left shoe on the right foot. And if you did, how many times in a row would you attempt to do it?

 

Poor editing and sloppy attention to details is no excuse for repeatedly, and in different forms (i.e. f-stops, shutter speeds), confusing differences of 1/4 and 1/2 (or double and quadruple) variations in exposure. These are not mere typos or errant keystrokes, and calling them typos is being generous to an extreme.

 

If it seems I am taking it too personally, perhaps I am. Photography has been my full-time vocation for nearly four decades, and I take it seriously. Those who buy books or read articles online to learn about photography (or expand what knowledge they have), deserve more accurate information.

 

The online book excerpt I quoted from dates back a couple of years and is still online (don't know if the book is still being sold). No corrections have ever been made to those misstatements to the best of my knowledge.

 

I am not trying to pillory Ben Long, nor do I hold any malice toward him, I'm only stating that he has been less than accurate on the subject of photography in the past, and his assessment of the M8 should be accepted or rejected with that in mind. His statements about the camera may sell copies or produce online hits, but they certainly don't have enough accurate information to make any judgements from.

 

One final note; the term fanboy is often used for Leica apologists and gets thrown around frequently. I am neither. I have used Leica cameras (up to, and including the M8) for decades, but also used film SLR's and digital cameras that include several pro SLR versions from various manufacturers. These digital cameras are all brought into use when the subject requires it. The M8 has flaws, we all know that and have discussed it to no end here. I make no apologies for the M8, any more than I do for Nikon, Rollei, Hasselblad, Sinar, etc. I use them all and am not a fanboy for any of them. They are just tools for creating images.

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