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M8 Iraq field test - ouch...

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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.

 

I agree. This hits the nail on the head. Especially in terms of his review's tone and angle.

 

I appreciated his candid and, frankly, very level assessment of the M8 for use during genuinely tough, life-threatening reportage.

 

I'm glad he posted what he did about the camera and in a very detailed, factual way.

 

The M8's "minor flaws" become magnified when you cannot afford to spend any time worrying about the camera. E.g., when worrying about the camera otherwise distracts you--and you shouldn't be distracted by the camera in the first place.

 

Later!

Will

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Well that's pretty conclusive. I guess I'll have to quit my dream to become a photo-journalist and stick with weekend photography.

 

Darn! If only I'd bought me a D200 instead.

 

LouisB

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Let's face it, I think the guy is pretty right in his review..I found myself nodding most of the time when reading the article: all those camera glitches he experienced while using the M8 are glitches that all of us M8 owners know pretty well, don't we?

 

Not entirely. While a lot of it was very familiar, I doubt there are very many of us running around wearing flak jackets which cause our settings to change when the buttons bump against them. I've personally never experienced that one, nor do I intend to.

 

I think some of the other problems were related to early issues that have since been resolved by new circuit boards (transistors) and updated firmware.

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Perhaps an interesting question to ask is, having read the review how many M8 users would consider selling their M8 if they hadn't considered selling it before?

 

I think I'll hang on to mine.

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If he has been using Leica for 23 years (and the bulk of those years shooting M's manually I'm sure), why is he using the M8 on aperture priority auto exposure and complaining about how the meter over exposes? Especially when shooting indoors -- why is he gambling with his exposures?

 

Shoot manual exposure, shoot RAW.

 

I'd suggest a Luigi half case to avoid buttons being depressed inadvertantly.

 

I agree with him on limited fast wide lens selection. And I agree with him on bottom plate issue hindering fast card removal. And most other points he makes.

 

I haven't covered combat/conflict since 2002, but if the M8 were out then, it would have been hanging around my neck (along with my Canon 1D bodies, of course

)

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Having owned the 1D Mk II and the 5D there are many occasions I can recall having bumped the switches and effecting change from my default settings. Not to mention the times I put the 70-200 up to my eye to grab a shot to discover the AF switch had been bumped to MF. So gaffer tape is not new nor is the problem of something moving.

 

I can identify with some of the issues he discovered but I can also pinpoint many that have been fixed by filters and the various firmware updates over the same period.

 

Perhaps it's not the best camera to be taken into war ravaged situations, perhaps it has some issues with lack of good high ISO performance, yes there are no fast wides available from leica at the moment, yes it's a PIA to get the memory card out and change the battery. But, and this is the big but for me, I just love the simplicity of operation, the quality of the images and the breathtaking uniqueness of each and every lens I mount on it. It suits me just fine for my lifestyle TYVM.

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Guest Roel

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

 

Yeah, first they ask almost 5000 euro for a very disappointing camera, than they come up with an upgrade program for 'the life time camera', which is now nothing more than a new shutter and a piece of glass, and the next step will be a M9 of how many euro? Me, I am a professional photographer too, and I worked more than twenty years with the M system. M3, m4, m6. But the M8? Leica should be ashamed of itself. The M8 is indeed far, far behind Canon and Nikon, and should not have been placed on the market. One needs not to be in war situations to endorse most of the conclusions of the Iraq test. The camera is slow, inaccurate, bad in ISO higher than 640, uncertain in color balance/ also with 1.201, and so on. Now that the upgrade program is off, Leica should in fact compensate their loyal customers. -Roel.

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... the startup time of the M8 is not 3 seconds, it is 0.7 second ...

He's misreading the camera. We had a number of people on the forum asking about the same thing: He's waiting till the top LCD shows the number of exposures left. It's not obvious that the camera is ready to go almost immediately; that requires information passed on from one user to another, like here on the forum. If there were more M8 PJ's, they would be sharing these tidbits and the 'problem' wouldn't exist. Not necessarily bad design from Leica, but also not immediately obvious that the camera performs better than that.

 

 

... I have just followed Jaap' suggestion and he is absolutely right: when shooting in DNG only the blinkering is much less and in 2-3 seconds the image is written on the card.

the problem of the long 15 seconds blinkering appears only when shooting DNG+JPG...

Again, same thing: leicanet is complaining about speed of write, but then finds out that the camera takes longer to write JPG than to write DNG. No-one's fault, just the fact that this is new information for him. That's what the forum is about. That's the kind of thing that would be shared among M8 users in combat if there were more of them.

 

... It is also obvious that a M8 does not have a sofisticated metering system as the modern SLR cameras...

That's going to be hard for Leica to fix. Pity they have to paint a whole blade white, because that effectively means the metering pattern is different as you go to wider angles, becoming more averaging and less center-weighted. Still, Kamber is someone who is used to film M's, where you had to think to expose properly. But times change. Used to be everyone had to think; now everyone else is using dSLRs, so an M8 user really does need to know his camera to know whether he's going to have to think. When they're shooting bullets at you, you're better off not having to think longer than the other PJ's are doing.

 

 

... And we all know that the M8 is not as rugged and weathersealed as a Canon1D or a Nikon D3 or D300....

I absolutely disagree. There have been no wholesale reports of M8s failing due to sand or moisture.

 

 

Kamber is a photojournalist for whom the M8 didn't live up to his expectations. You can't fault him for saying so. The current firmware has solved many of the problems, but it wasn't out when he had the cameras. Despite the problems, he liked the camera enough to buy one on his own, so the review clearly isn't sour grapes.

 

He used to have to change film by removing the bottom plate--but at that time, the Leica Ms were the quickest-changing cameras available. Times have changed. Now the military confiscates your data card instead of your film, and unfortunately the M8 is the slowest camera to switch out cards. Yes, there's a reason for that, viz finding a protected place to place the card in a camera which is already so full of guts that it had to grow a few millimeters in every dimension; nonetheless, the design doesn't fit Kamber's way of working.

 

The only thing he says that upsets me is that Leica's quality control isn't as good as it was. A lot of people on the forum have said the same. That may or may not be true, because we didn't have user groups such as this in the days of the M4 or M6, so we really don't know how good Leica's quality control was in those days. But sadly, it is true that the PERCEPTION of Leica's QC is lower today than it used to be.

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None of what he wrote is new. The M8 is not weathersealed, it takes forever to power up, JPEGS are not up to snuff and the camera will run out of buffer if you are blasting away. While it's low light color performance beats 35mm film B+W is another story. This rules it out for a lot of work that the film M could have tackled with ease although to be fair I can use the M8 for color work that would have required an MF film camera. So it falls short in it's traditional application area but it does do a few tricks the film M's could not (although they are tricks quite useless to the M's reportage mission).

 

I could add a few more areas where it does not quite clear the bar set by the film M's. But there is still a vast variety of environments where the M8 is preferable to a DSLR if you prefer an RF.

 

I thought a few times about dumping the M8 for a more versatile DSLR until I picked the DSLR up. As I won't be climbing Everest or heading for Iraq or the Amazon rain forest anytime soon I think I'll hold on to my M8 and 35/1.4 and leave the DSLR for macro, TS and tele applications.

 

It's to bad Leica couldn't have produced the digital equivalent of an M3 with it's first digital M but still the M8 is close enough that I would not trade it for a DSLR for those situations where it can deliver without problems. That includes most of what I do.

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Yeah, first they ask almost 5000 euro for a very disappointing camera

 

Speak for yourself. I've loved mine and haven't picked up my 5D since I bought the M8 28 months and 15,000 frames ago.

 

Ironically the only problem I've had with accidentally resetting settings was with the 5D where I somehow managed (from memory) to activate the delayed timer. It took me about 10 minutes to work out how to reset the shutter as I'd left the manual at home.

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Guest Roel
Speak for yourself. I've loved mine and haven't picked up my 5D since I bought the M8 28 months and 15,000 frames ago.

 

Wel, is the ISO allright than? Is the camera not slow? Are the frame lines accurate?And so on. Better to enervate the arguments in the Iraq test, than your meaningless sentence. Roel.

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Roel--

Steve recounted his personal experience, just as Kamber did.

 

And you for some reason decide to repeat a number of well-known M8 quirks.

 

There's no reason to argue on that level.

 

Kamber says the M8 didn't live up to his expectations, and we grant him that. Steve says the M8 works fine for his purposes, and we grant him that.

 

There's no "You're wrong" or "I'm right" in a case like this.

 

You're free to agree with either or neither of them. Calm down.

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Roel--

Steve recounted his personal experience, just as Kamber did.

 

And you for some reason decide to repeat a number of well-known M8 quirks.

 

There's no reason to argue on that level.

 

Kamber says the M8 didn't live up to his expectations, and we grant him that. Steve says the M8 works fine for his purposes, and we grant him that.

 

There's no "You're wrong" or "I'm right" in a case like this.

 

You're free to agree with either or neither of them. Calm down.

 

I agree. Does Roel actually OWN an M8? The M8 is a compromise camera, as are ALL cameras. It is an RF with that platforms' strengths and weaknesses. Framelines for a rangefinder are by definition inaccurate as you have a fixed viewfinder image attempting to approximate an EFOV at ANY distance. For my purposes ISO up to ISO640 is perfectly fine. I would hope Leica actually listens to the original article and changes it ways. I love my M8 but would not buy another one, despite the fact that I have had absolutely no trouble. And like the other contributor, I have not picked up my SLR since owning the M8- the images are simply better *for what I use a RF camera for*.

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Guest Roel
Roel--

Steve recounted his personal experience, just as Kamber did.

 

And you for some reason decide to repeat a number of well-known M8 quirks.

 

There's no reason to argue on that level.

 

Kamber says the M8 didn't live up to his expectations, and we grant him that. Steve says the M8 works fine for his purposes, and we grant him that.

 

There's no "You're wrong" or "I'm right" in a case like this.

 

 

Yes, there is. Namely that a camera of the price of the M8 should not have the lacks it has. That is not a subjective point of view. For 5000 euro any firm must deliver a reliable and modern camera. Not one that is far, far behind others on the market, specially concerning things like ISO and other fundamental parts. Or would you say that professional photographers do better not buy a Leica? Well, in fact they don't already. Some of them I know who bought it, changed it pretty soon for a Canon or Nikon. ISO's above 640 are very normal in photojournalism, you know. The differences between the marks are too big. Tha't's objective. And a shame for Leica. Roel.

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Guest Roel
I agree. Does Roel actually OWN an M8?

 

And yes, I own two M8 camera's. I know what I'm talking about. Many of the arguments in the Iraq test I recognize. Inaccurate, unreliable, hopeless ISO above 640. In this profession for example one cannot have that the battery must be removed and placed back again, because the camera stopped taking pictures during a scene. And so on. I worked twenty years with M. It was all fantastic. Therefore I bought the M8. I wished I did not. At least not for that money. Really, Leica is to blame. Roel.

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Roal, the image quality from my M8 is better than that from my 5D - and that was using both Leica and Canon lenses on the 5D.

 

Framelines can only be accurate over a narrow range of distance - whether that's an M3, M6 or M8.

 

Sorry to hear that the M8 didn't work out for you, but you ought to accept that it has worked out well for others.

 

_All_ the items covered in the review have been done to death over the last 18 months. If they are a deal breaker for some them that's a pity. Personally I haven't regretted buying my M8 for a second. You are not obliged to agree.

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Not wishing to pour oil on the fire, but I seem to recall from about 1975 that some of my friends were saying that Nikon & Olympus SLR's were much more reliable than Leica R3 (I think it was R3) but that Leica glass was in a different league. Professional PJ's were not using Leica anymore due to poor quality of the 'electronics'.

 

I was not into photography much in those days so I cannot comment much more than that, except that based on this perception when I bought the M8 I was expecting it to be less than perfect form the electronics point of view. This is not an unreasonable prediction for a 1000 FTE company.

 

However, the expectation proved to be incorrect as it has not failed on me once. A few days ago I thought it had crashed based on the info from this forum (another pre-conception) & it was just that the battery died on me as I hadn't checked the charge level for the past 2-3 card changes. So this was operator error.

 

It basically works as I would like it to. Shutter release is instantaneous & I think I might switch of the preview as I do not use it anymore. In that case battery life is extended even further. In many situations also switching on/off is not neccesary as the standby (auto) power-off is just as efficient.

 

If you don't like the M8 that's fine with me - I like it a lot. And ... the reputation of the glass is just as true as it was over 30 years ago. That is why I bought it and it delivers the goods (for me).

 

So would I use it if I was a profesional PJ? Maybe, I don't know.

 

Is it a professional competetive camera? Yes!!

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I agree. Does Roel actually OWN an M8?

 

And yes, I own two M8 camera's. I know what I'm talking about. Many of the arguments in the Iraq test I recognize. Inaccurate, unreliable, hopeless ISO above 640. In this profession for example one cannot have that the battery must be removed and placed back again, because the camera stopped taking pictures during a scene. And so on. I worked twenty years with M. It was all fantastic. Therefore I bought the M8. I wished I did not. At least not for that money. Really, Leica is to blame. Roel.

 

Roel,

 

All your posts in this forum are rants. Your arguments against the M8 are nothing new, for starters. Just duplications of other rants.

 

What do you plan to gain by that?

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Guest Roel
Roal, the image quality from my M8 is better than that from my 5D - and that was using both Leica and Canon lenses on the 5D.

 

Framelines can only be accurate over a narrow range of distance - whether that's an M3, M6 or M8.

 

The framelines of the m 3, 4, and 6 were much better than of the M8. For the rest it is with a lot of Leica buyers the same as with a lot of Apple users. One can compare them to worshippers. Instead of that one should demand from Leica better stuff. We are talking about fundamental camera parts. The only advantage of the M is nowadays its size. How different that was with the old M's. And that for 5000 euro.

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