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Tom_W

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The idea that Canikon's have no problems is an urban myth. A professional acquaintance uses a D2x for studio work. It seems to break about every three months and makes the trip for repairs. Admittedly Nikon gets it back to him within a week

The list of DSLR users with problems on ALL the forums grows exponentially every day. Yes, I'm lucky in that I've never had a digital failure (knock loudly on wood), but then I've never had a problem that required a technician, other than regular service, on a film camera in over forty years of shooting.

Because my department at work uses a lot of Nikon cameras and also had some M8s I asked our photoequipment manager for the actual figures. We have 72 Nikon bodies and they go from the current models back to four years old. We had four M8 bodies for 9 weeks this year. For the past 12 months the 72 Nikons had 14 squawks. For the 9 weeks we had the m8s the four cameras had 9 squawks. The nine squawks were on three M8s, one M8 had no squawk. One had 4 one had 3 and one had 2. A squawk is a return of the camera to the department that results in a repair. I know that two of the M8 just quit working. So this does not seem very good for the M8. If i addin my personal 5 month old M8 which had no problems it still does not sound very good.

Dan

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I do suspect that the M8 needs to be carefully used. I have had two bodies, one for a year and one for 9 months and no 'sqawks'.

 

I really am quite happy with them and they are simply a joy to use. I suppose I like manual focusing and manual focusing the lenses on my 5D is not a joy. I've got some nice Canon L lenses but they are not crafted like my Leica lenses and they are not designed to be manually focused. They may be better made than Canon's normal lenses but they dont approach the quality of my Leicas.

 

I want to 'make' my photographs and having the DSLR autofocus takes some of that 'making' away.

 

Jeff

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Alan, we all make a lot of bad shots, but the way you describe it makes the process of getting a good one sound to be total chance and a random occurrence.

 

One of the most important things when shooting say street photography IMHO is anticipation of what's happening or about to happen. That doesn't mean every shot will work, there are too many variables, but it helps.

 

I can anticipate what "may" happen as well as the next person. And I think I am a pretty good street shooter. For whatever that is worth. And I can do that type of shooting with any camera. So can most pros. What's the big deal in that? If you overlook or miss a shot, who will know or care? But that is not what I am talking about. I'm talking about production photography, not find and seek photography.

 

It isn't a random occurence, it is planned and directed. It is common to shoot hundreds of frames to get things "right."

 

In lifestyle photography and lots of other fields where one is trying to get "natural" looking poses, action, and interaction, you set up the shot, direct the subjects and then shoot a lot of images working the action until it hopefully leads to an "excellent" shot. (Many will be "good.") Often it is a collaborative effort between the photographer, models, and art director. You are constantly directing and anticipating action, but some shots will be better than others.

 

I've seen National Geographic photographers "work" their subjects in a similar way. Whether they direct the subjects or not, they'll shoot hundreds or thousands of images per day. With their hard work, skill, and some luck a few images from days or weeks of effort might make it into the magazine. And it has been that way for a long long time. Even the very best shooters cannot know when is the "best" time to press that button and just wait for that time. It is a processes.

 

A fast camera with a large buffer is always a plus. Nothing like seeing that perfect pose and pressing the button and... ___________. In Avedon's case, his assistants could change 8x10 sheets almost as fast as he could shoot them.

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My 1DS-series and 5D show a considerable slice of surroundings beyond the 1.3x-crop of my M8

I see, you are so nostalgic for the M8 that you trim your full-frame shots down to 18x27. Do you have framelines engraved on your matte screen?

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Please tell me how you know it is "exactly the right time." Does that mean all of your pictures are perfect and you never shoot any that you don't like?

 

I usually don't know, and nor does a motordrive, but I have a hope of bringing in some more judgment and anticipation myself than a machine going click-click-click. No - most of my pictures suck. But the number of deletables would multiply if I habitually used the continuous mode. - And I tried to avoid the "decisive moment" cliche in my post.

And your style of production shooting is not what I was talking about, that takes different skills, that I suspect most of us lack.

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Gary Winongrand was known to go to a party and shoot 30 rolls of film. This was BEFORE he had a motordrive for his M.

 

Even with access to 11fps (or a manual wind rf for that matter) I tend to shoot carefully, deliberately and as much and as fast (or even sometimes as little if a delicate situation) as I need to whether it be with my M's, my Nikons, or my medium format cameras.

 

The M8 is a great camera. It's just not that reliable, and if somebody can't afford two systems and needs to shoot commercially I'm sure the Leica would be the first to go. I think the original poster was departing with some sadness, which is why he posted. Not to rub it in that the M8 is a bad camera; just sad that it isn't reliable for his purposes and he'll miss it nonetheless. I know I would. I came to that realization myself preparing for these upcoming trips for UNICEF. I needed a rugged machine that meters well, gets the wide shot, the long shot, the close up and so. And when the art director wants to see the image via the camera back there's no hemming and hawing "it'll look right in Photoshop, trust me." (M8 thumbnails suck).

 

Also if my D3 does go down I can have it turned around in less than a week. And get a rental or loaner in the mean time. If nothing else, Leica need to step up in the service dept.

 

But I will have my M8 along with me - I'll have a bit of extra time to wander the streets of Santo Domingo and the M8 is perfect for that. No way will I haul around a D3 for the day unless I'm getting paid for it.

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I usually don't know, and nor does a motordrive, but I have a hope of bringing in some more judgment and anticipation myself than a machine going click-click-click. No - most of my pictures suck. But the number of deletables would multiply if I habitually used the continuous mode.

 

I agree with you and I rarely shoot in continuous mode with any camera. And I'm sure that an M8 is responsive enough for most photographers in most situations. I'm not really talking specific cameras here but an approach. I just don't think that many photographers are trying to get it in one perfect shot that they somehow anticipated.

 

For many pros it is more like being ready for a situation and shooting as many images as necessary to get the most out of it and cover all of the possiblitites thoroughly. That is why they'll choose a camera that is quick, versatile, responsive, and with a large buffer that clears quickly.

 

For example, here's a link to one page of the work of a friend of mine:

 

JON FEINGERSH PHOTOGRAPHY

 

When Jon produces a sophisticated stock shoot like this in another country, it is very expensive. He'll try to get as many useful shots out of every minute of shooting as he can. This is more typical of the way many professionals think of using cameras than how you and some others may realize. It isn't machine gunning randomly, but it is getting an extensive variety of poses, framing, expression, and interaction.

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Because my department at work uses a lot of Nikon cameras and also had some M8s I asked our photoequipment manager for the actual figures. We have 72 Nikon bodies and they go from the current models back to four years old. We had four M8 bodies for 9 weeks this year. For the past 12 months the 72 Nikons had 14 squawks. For the 9 weeks we had the m8s the four cameras had 9 squawks. The nine squawks were on three M8s, one M8 had no squawk. One had 4 one had 3 and one had 2. A squawk is a return of the camera to the department that results in a repair. I know that two of the M8 just quit working. So this does not seem very good for the M8. If i addin my personal 5 month old M8 which had no problems it still does not sound very good.

Dan

Yes it sounds serious. And yet it does not compute...

It certainly means that Nicons 4 years old and younger DO fail which is also normal, as they are electromechanical complex devices.

On the other hand Leicas that are 10x less complex, shouldn't have had all these failures.

But certainly, 14 incidents for the dSLRs is also not the best record either.

For both cameras how was the handling in general? People follow instructions, or do they tend to get the M8s under heavy rainshowers

?

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Having said that, I feel that putting the camera in machine-gun mode and hoping for the best to capture a special moment in my experience is counterproductive. Looking and shooting at exactly the right time is sure to get more expressive photographs. That is difficult with a (D)SLR due to shutter lag and restricted viewfinder, and easy on a rangefinder camera.

 

not everyone uses a DSLR in machine gun mode (most DLSRs have no such modes i think).

 

Over the years, I have found that the difference between 12 ms second shutter lag, 45ms, 75ms or even 110ms can be overcome by a intimate knowledge and familiarity with the camera to the extent you know exactly when to press the shutter to get the moment you want.

 

2 of the best documentary photographers today (imho of course) are James Nacthwey and Sebastiao Salgado, and both uses SLRs predominantly (one of them digital). Ability to take "expressive" photographs is certainly not the domain of rangefinders only.

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2 of the best documentary photographers today (imho of course) are James Nacthwey and Sebastiao Salgado, and both uses SLRs predominantly (one of them digital). Ability to take "expressive" photographs is certainly not the domain of rangefinders only.

 

Not that I actually believe it makes one whit of difference, but just to get things straight: although Salgado is using a Pentax 645 quite a bit these days, it is my understanding that much of his most famous work was shot with Leicas. I have in front of me his marvelous book "Africa," which I believe was shot with Leica.

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From memory Salgado used to shoot with M6 and R6.2 cameras. Again from memory which he used depended on the focal length of the lens he wanted to use - i.e. he used different focal lengths on each camera.

 

I'm more than happy to be corrected on this.

 

Oh, and after seing some of his prints he also used a very, very, good printer.

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Salgado used an R6.2 for most of Workers. Eugene Richards also uses R6 in addition to M's. M's are great but not for everything. I think that is the bottom line.

 

I also read a piece in the NYTimes this morning about the photographer Juergen Teller. He uses a Contax G2 with on camera flash exclusively for his ad campaigns for Marc Jacobs etc. The gear is not really important in the bigger picture. It's about creating a style and putting yourself out there. The camera is just a facilitator. Of course a dead camera facilitates nothing.....

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Yes it sounds serious. And yet it does not compute...

It certainly means that Nicons 4 years old and younger DO fail which is also normal, as they are electromechanical complex devices.

On the other hand Leicas that are 10x less complex, shouldn't have had all these failures.

But certainly, 14 incidents for the dSLRs is also not the best record either.

For both cameras how was the handling in general? People follow instructions, or do they tend to get the M8s under heavy rainshowers

?

These are all pretty technical people and I don't think anyone is using anything in the rain or doing any real screwing up with the cameras though there could be exceptions. I guess from this sample that the simpler M8 should be more reliable but it is not. Lots of simple things fail if they are not well made or designed. If we extend the M8 data and calculate on 72 M8s for 52 weeks that would come to 934 squawks or 66 times the problems of the Nikons. I don't know that it is fair to calculate this way because the m8 sample is so small at 4 and I think not. Also these are not top of the line Nikons but I would say middle of the line. I don't know there models that well.

Dan

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Dan, so what percentage of Leicas and Nikons fail within the first say the first 3 months? I'm not saying that Nikon isn't more reliable than Leica, but I'd like to know the actual percentages so that we can get a fair comparison.

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I think the “simpler" part of the M8 is really in its controls and ergonomics, not the electronics. In that aspect it's just as complicated as any DSLR--the parts of the camera which Leica has perfected over the last 50-odd years are working as well as they always have. It's the electronics which have given the M8 troubles, not the “simple" parts of the camera which we've all come to know and love. Well, at least I've come to know and love...

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Dan, so what percentage of Leicas and Nikons fail within the first say the first 3 months? I'm not saying that Nikon isn't more reliable than Leica, but I'd like to know the actual percentages so that we can get a fair comparison.

 

Assuming that all of the Nikon cameras had failed in the first 9 weeks (which is impossible since some of the cameras are older) , that would come out as such:

 

Nikon:

 

14/(72x9)= .021 weekly failure rate per camera.

 

M8:

 

9/(4x9) = .25 weekly failure rate per camera.

 

Thus the Nikons had more than a 10 to one reliability advantage over the Leicas in the worst case Nikon scenario.

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I think the “simpler" part of the M8 is really in its controls and ergonomics, not the electronics. In that aspect it's just as complicated as any DSLR--the parts of the camera which Leica has perfected over the last 50-odd years are working as well as they always have. It's the electronics which have given the M8 troubles, not the “simple" parts of the camera which we've all come to know and love. Well, at least I've come to know and love...

 

How do you know that? Maybe some of these repairs were for rangefinder or lens focusing adjustments or other simple mechanical issues.

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Tom, good bye and best.

 

If professionals ( or others ) think that the M8 is unreliable for them to use it to make their

living...go buy another make that is reliable enough for you in your job.ut the M8

 

B*****ng and moaning and the M8 reliability is getting boring. If enough people think

that the M8 is not worth the cost, then economic reality would force Leica to either take drastic action or fold up.

 

I am not a pro, neither an artist, but using the M8 gives me joy. So does Nikon. If I got

frustrated with any one of them..I would dump it.

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How do you know that? Maybe some of these repairs were for rangefinder or lens focusing adjustments or other simple mechanical issues.

 

That's true. I guess I was just speaking the M8s "just failing", in the context of the poster who said that the M8 is 10x less complex than the Nikons. For all we know the others which were brought in did have rangefinder adjustments, etc.

 

Also, for all we know, some of these cameras were returned to the equipment manager to be checked out because of a camera lock-up that could have been repaired by pulling the battery and restarting the camera--and maybe was, but the camera was sent in to be fully checked out.

 

Additionally, if these cameras were from the first batch produced that could alter the failure rate. Anecdotally at least, early models seemed to drop like flies (unfortunately for all concerned), but reports of this happening, while still occuring, seem to be less frequent at least here on the forum.

 

Ultimately this is all just armchair statistical analysis and speculation.

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Dan, so what percentage of Leicas and Nikons fail within the first say the first 3 months? I'm not saying that Nikon isn't more reliable than Leica, but I'd like to know the actual percentages so that we can get a fair comparison.

I will see if I can get more detail on what happened and when. For the other posters these four M8s were purchased new in January so they were probably not old cameras. A squawk would be anything that required a repair so rangefinder adjustment and all would be part of that but I do not think that the department expected to do such things on new cameras very often or they never had to do them on Nikons. Since most of our work is pictures of clouds and other things in the distance I don't think focusing is very much a problem unless it won't focus on infinity. I know that the office just felt that these cameras were no way close to Nikons that we are usually using and I came in one day and they were gone. The assistant manager of the department who is a friend said they were way too much trouble and they disposed of them. So that was all in 9 weeks. I like my M8 and had no trouble with it but if it breaks I can go in and check out any Nikon I want. I use my M8 for work but I always take a department camera now because I have read too much on the forum about problems. I know Fursan thinks there is too much complaining but I have the opposite feeling that mostly people like the camera and want to protect it from bad reputation. I know that Bill from Boston told me in a post that the M8 was a rock when I asked about the shutter but I think maybe not at this point. This is just one persons idea.

Dan

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