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thrid

M8 Iraq field test - ouch...

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I found it on a German forum.

Everything the man says is true. But exaggerated. I have used M8 professionally for a year and a half now, and it turns out now to be the only camera I use, If I care about how the shot is shot.

The example of comparison with 5D ( the man with wheel tire) is just a wrong example.

The only reason 5D image looks better (and it does) is lens vignetting....

And so on.

I have no doubts (after many doubts, mostly because of this site) that the M8 is a best camera for what I need, of those many I have ever had...

It could be better ( I hope for an M9 to be better),,, but just in some details.

 

 

 

M

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Very interesting report. I certainly wouldn't dispute anything in it. What firmware version have you been using? My experience (not war reportage, of course) is that FW v. 1201 makes a big difference when it comes to auto white balance/color balance. Since updating to .1201, in fact, I have had great success with color balance, whereas in early times, one shot was yellow, the next greenish/blue, etc.

 

Only other suggestion regarding the SD card slot is to check out the new $210 product discussed on this site in the past couple of weeks which allows you to change cards without removing the baseplate.

 

One other question: how have your M8's held up against dust--I would think you'd be cleaning your sensor very frequently.

 

Thanks for sharing.

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Not sure if this has already been posted.

 

Leica M8 Field Test, Iraq

 

 

A field review by Michael Kamber.

 

Here is his site.

 

Michael Kamber Photojournalist

 

 

I hope Leica reads this.

 

 

OK.

 

This man has b@lls!

 

Not for trashing our beloved M8 but for putting his life at risk to get images from war zones.

Me, I am a chicken. I tried shooting war zones (in former YU) and realized it's not mu cup of tea...

 

I feel much better shooting Zenfolio | FOTOGRAFIJA | Leica M8: Panama, winter 2008.

 

In these conditions, there is no better tool for me than M8...

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Difficult to dispute most of the points made. For the kind of work he does, Kamber is perfectly entitled to be disappointed with the M8 as a working tool. Leica may not appear to care much but they would be wise to remember how many M cameras have been sold over the years to weekend shooters who are seduced by the camera as being the choice of the well known photojournalists of the time.

 

Perhaps ironically, I rather like the blurry night shots Kamber made using the M8. They have a slightly surreal quality that may be lost were they more technically proficient.

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He is irritated by several incredible design flaws of the camera (he is 100% right here) and due to image performance problems (I think the last firmware and RAW allow you to avoid these "bugs"... but, if you really need JPGs... bad luck).

 

The sefl-timer, non-recessed buttons, direct exposure control etc. are evident problems of design, and I wonder how these mistakes weren't detected during the test stage of the development of the camera...

 

He is also right pointing to the low-light shortcomings of the camera... Many times I find the files unusable... it is not only noise... sharpness and contrast evaporate when you increase the ISO and the scene is dark...

 

The main conclusion is "The M8 introduces numerous uncertainties into the photography equation. For a working photojournalist in a combat situation, I would judge the Leica M8 to be unusable". This is mostly true and decisive for a war photographer...

 

I am a chicken as well.

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But Michael, how about spending another $2000 + for the "quality" shutter and "quality" LCD glass? You made the mistake of actually trying to use your M8 instead of accessorizing and idolizing it !! ..... no sympathy.......wrong forum

..

ps. you forgot to mention how bad the .jpgs look...oops....we only shoot "raw" here, shame on me

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I found it on a German forum.

Everything the man says is true. But exaggerated. I have used M8 professionally for a year and a half now, and it turns out now to be the only camera I use, If I care about how the shot is shot.

 

Do you mind if I ask what sort of work you shoot as a professional?

 

The example of comparison with 5D ( the man with wheel tire) is just a wrong example.

The only reason 5D image looks better (and it does) is lens vignetting....

And so on.

 

How is it a wrong example? A 24mm on the 5D will produce a more shallow DOF, than a 21 on the M8.

 

I have no doubts (after many doubts, mostly because of this site) that the M8 is a best camera for what I need, of those many I have ever had...

It could be better ( I hope for an M9 to be better),,, but just in some details.

M

 

I hope that the M9 is a huge improvement over the M8, so I can run out and finally buy a digital M.

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How is it a wrong example? A 24mm on the 5D will produce a more shallow DOF, than a 21 on the M8.

 

Wrong lens, he should have used the contents of a bomb proof humidor

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I would never make the M8 my primary digital camera, but i do use the heck out of it. I have bashed the crap out of it on this forum and others, but it does continue to really work where an SLR is just not going to be very practical.

 

I would have continued to bash it a bit here and there and claim that Leica is clueless and does not care if it were not for one thing:

 

I personally saw a pretty important person from Leica reading this forum today and they do quite often, multiple times a day. The person said they can not respond and given the situation that it *is* a company, I can understand why.

 

But know that they are working their asses off and have AWESOME new stuff headed our way.

 

By the way, William Albert Allard is still toting his around, David Alan Harvey still pulls one from his bag...and so do I.

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Thrid,

I do reportage, stories and portraits.

Shallower, but not so much (must have used different aperture)...maybe.

In choosing from a 5D image and the one that M8 produce, and I like to work wide open for shallow dof, I would mostly prefer M8s kind of image- but in the case shown, 5D looks better (on screen).

The image is made mostly by lens. Leica can offer many, and the camera part- the M8 imager is made beautifully to compliment those. Even at higher ISO (but not too high-640).

 

About the buffer- Canon 1Ds2 has half the buffer capabilities of m8 in practice, 5D about the same.

About the exposure compensation- one has to learn to measure the light with M8 in a way that is not dependable of AF system....like AF Slrs-at least for me...

And- it is most certainly more robust than 5D he uses.

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... A 24mm on the 5D will produce a more shallow DOF, than a 21 on the M8. ...

Correct.

 

With the M8's 4/3 crop factor, the 21 mm wide open at f/2.8 effectively becomes the equivalent of a 28 mm lens at f/3.7 in terms of depth of field.

 

 

Of course, a number of the problems Kamber mentions have been corrected with firmware 1.201. AWB finally works and unexplained gross over- or underexposure seems to have been eliminated. Even the noise banding at high ISOs has been reduced. Problems with the camera hanging up seem also to have disappeared. If he hasn't tried the new firmware, he should.

 

Nonetheless, he has formed opinions with three samples of M8, so it may be hard to get him to try the current product, considering his initial experience.

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This is one of the best reviews of the M8 that I have read. I am closing on 15K frames with my M8 and the more I use it the more it gets out of the way. . . but all of Kamber's points are well considered, based on hard use, and should be taken to heart by the engineers working on the next generation DRF. In particular the empty feeling one gets after pressing the shutter and getting. . . nothing. . . and having to scramble to pull the battery, reinsert it, and switch on the camera. It should go "bang" every time.

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The only reason 5D image looks better (and it does) is lens vignetting....

That's not the only reason. Look again, especially at the greenish man in the M8 photo. Which photo is more film-like, more three-dimensional? The 5D photo, obviously. The 5D is a highly-usable camera -- the result of constant improvements over several generations of cameras.

 

But know that they are working their asses off and have AWESOME new stuff headed our way.

This makes me very hopeful. Kamber's review shows how first-generation the M8 is. There is still much room for improvement.

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I can't disagree with the criticisms he makes in this well argued review, even though he might not be using the latest firmware. What are niggles for most of us become major issues when the camera is under pressure. Still, at least he doesn't criticise about desert sand getting into the shutter release and affecting the release feel - it's pre-installed at the factory.

 

I think the whole Hermes period was a disaster, perpetuated in the silly web-site life-style thing today. Add in the lack of money available at the time and the likely harrumphing from the LHSA if they dared to be different and it's easy to see how the M8 disappoints the demanding user. Worse, it looks like the M8 is all we'll have (lower cost entry version aside, maybe) while Leica tries to establish a DSLR niche of some sort. If the M8 is ever to move forwards, they have to dump the perpetual upgrade program to free themselves of the constraints it imposes.

 

The Nikon D3 has spoilt the M8 for me and when I do want to use a rangefinder, I'm enjoying using the R-D1 again. It's so quiet.

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To put a different spin on the importance of ergonomics and reliability, just consider that for a war zone photographer like Kamber it could be the difference between life and death whether the camera fires or not. Getting distracted in the middle of a melee to reset the camera or second guess whether you got a usable shot or not, is a very quick way to end up going home in a body bag.

 

I realize that this seems a bit dramatic but it's true.

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This makes me very hopeful. Kamber's review shows how first-generation the M8 is. There is still much room for improvement.

 

I'm hoping that the M8 turns out the be the M4-2 of digital bodies and Solms gets it right with the M9. I have been critical of the M8, but only because I really want to see Leica get this right.

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Still - I wonder. With all due respect, he is a good un in a tough job,but there are a few things - I'm sure a professional like this one does not take hours to correct a simple Kelvin shift, the startup time of the M8 is not 3 seconds, it is 0.7 second (whether that is still too slow is a point of discussion), the write failure he shows looks like an SD card error, not a camera error, so it seems not surprising Leica were not able to repair it, and it does not tally with reports like these, from the same area from equally impeccable sources:

 

Camera Corner The Leica M8 on Assignment by Bruno Stevens - The Digital Journalist (September 2007)

 

Extreme Field Test: Leica M8 in Iraq - - PopPhotoMay 2007

 

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