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M8 Iraq field test - ouch...

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This is a PJ who works in war zones and in pre-digital days used film Ms in preference to SLRs. He tries the M8 and finds it less reliable and ergonomically worse than the film Ms, and problematic in available light thanks to the absence of fast wide lenses and/or excellent high-ISO performance.

 

Except for the PJ and war zone bit, I feel the same. I like the pictures my M8 makes for me, and the fact that unlike a DSLR it fits in my briefcase. But if my life was going to depend on a camera I'd leave the M8 at home.

 

If I was going to Irak in a war zone I might eventually check out the high iso quality of a camera in advance. What he writes about 640 ISO unusable is wrong IMO.

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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.

 

Interesting opinion. Besides the fact of missing fast wide angle I wonder what the M8 would be any worse compared to the oh-soo great film Leica Ms?

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{snip}

My point is that it doesn't take very many stories like this before it may become a real problem for Leica, especially among Leica's traditional market of photo-journalists.....

 

 

I hear this a lot but I think that this horse bolted from the barn a long time ago (photo-journo's) ... a very long time ago in fact. Leica's fate lies elsewhere.

 

I do agree about the changes being relatively minor. Heck, it wouldn't be a huge leap for Leica to offer this as part of the LCD screen/shutter upgrade - add a recessed button panel & stronger detent on the on/off switch. Make it standard in the next model iteration.

 

I'm not holding my breath for it though.

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Interesting opinion. Besides the fact of missing fast wide angle I wonder what the M8 would be any worse compared to the oh-soo great film Leica Ms?

 

Well for one thing, the film Ms (except M7) with their mechanical shutters and no electronics to speak of, are very dependable in the field, and do not require any IR filters. Also, the framing accuracy is better with the film Ms and the shutter is quieter.

 

Cheers,

 

Jiri

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This is a PJ who works in war zones and in pre-digital days used film Ms in preference to SLRs. He tries the M8 and finds it less reliable and ergonomically worse than the film Ms, and problematic in available light thanks to the absence of fast wide lenses and/or excellent high-ISO performance.

 

Except for the PJ and war zone bit, I feel the same. I like the pictures my M8 makes for me, and the fact that unlike a DSLR it fits in my briefcase. But if my life was going to depend on a camera I'd leave the M8 at home.

 

I think - not very kind of me - that he first fell for the freebie that was provided/loaned to him.

 

Then he purchased one (himself?), which was the right moment to consider if the camera was suitable. He should have said no. I love my M8, but suitable for a war zone

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Guest stnami
I hear this a lot but I think that this horse bolted from the barn a long time ago (photo-journo's) ... a very long time ago in fact. Leica's fate lies elsewhere.
... the canon and nikons are too fast and too strong.

Anyway in a war zone nobody really cares what you shoot with, big or small........... as long as you don't pull the trigger

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What I'm surprised by, since he went to the desert, a place I'm intimately familiar with, living in Las Vegas, is that there's no mention in the review of a need for lower ISO settings ISO 50 or even 25 is something I long for quite frequently here when shooting during the daytime, as I basically can't shoot anything with my lenses wide open without running into overexposure problems. I guess that could be solved by shutter speeds of 16,000/th or 32,000/th of a second, but we're all still waiting for that shutter, aren't we?

 

As for his experience with the buttons getting hit and resetting ISO or other settings: as has been said by others here, he has to be exaggerating that particular problem greatly, since it takes a combination of buttons being hit to achieve that task. (Although I can see how one might find the camera asking whether or not to delete one or all photos with only slight accidental button manipulation)

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Wasn't Don McCullen saved by his Nikon F which took a bullet? Where is there a chart of the bulletproof performance of the various pro cameras?

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Also, I'm not sure how a seasoned professional seems to never have taken a single shot with the new tool he was going to take into a war zone without taking a couple of snaps of his cats (which would likely be in low light) or something before going there. I'm a reporter, and I wouldn't go to an important interview with the newest Lamy pen without having tried to see if there's ink it or whether it even writes at all. That seems to be a bit of what's happened here.

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Wasn't Don McCullen saved by his Nikon F which took a bullet?

 

Indeed he was. The camera used to be on display at the national photographic museum in Bradford before it turned itself into a multi-media kiddie play area.

 

Very sobering to see the damage a bullet did to a camera and think what it could have done to a man.

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I found it an interesting read...gaining a glimpse of the challenges photographers face in 'the front line' as well as what functionality and demands they have on equipment.

While for the majority of M8 owners some of the weaknesses may seem insignificant in day to day amateur use, I can easily believe that these weaknesses can become amplified when shooting and working in such conditions.

One point I think he puts over well is the already well documented weakness of the current M8 lens line up.

Namely the lack of fast wides, the example he used to demonstrate this was quite strong IMO.

OTOH there was a feeling that the writer did have an axe to grind, for whatever reason. Maybe is was just disappointment, maybe something else , I don't know but whatever, the takeaway for me was that the M8 does not meet requirements for this type of work and that there are other systems out there that do meet the need better, at least for him.

 

I for one however,would be careful to dismiss his report as not well prepared, or he should have known better etc...without having faced those same challenges or demands that he has..lets face it 99% of us have never been, and never will have to deliver images from a war zone to pay the bills.

 

cheers

 

andy

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I can't see much problem with anything he has written to be honest. It may be a little overblown but then without having 'walked in his shoes', so to speak, its hard to say.

 

What I do know is that the M8 has some serious failings and many simply annoying faults. I have spent the last few weeks going back and forth trying to decide whether to keep my kit or sell it all and go the DSLR route. In the end (for now) I have decided I would miss it and the incredible lenses too much. Having made that decision though I have realised just how many weaknesses the M8 had and, in many cases, still has.

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As for the tone in the article, I think that's what being in the first line of spectatorism, without ability to DO anything about things, make you. And he put himself there, so peace with that.

 

That said, he has some valid points that implies the M8 was made for doctors rather than pro shooters who haven't got time to play around with fun details and RAW. And also the interesting point that Leica was on the forefront in the past, but then in latter years turned into a museum. I feel that is turning these years, but digital age is a high learning curve as we have been able to see in the Digilux, Digilux 1, etc.

 

The M8 is a good beginning, yes. So is/was the DMR. But not the final camera.

 

Leica has some clear advantages in size, lens quality, soundless, dedication to photography rather than gadgets and such - and I would use those and would NOT use the liabilities of the camera, such as ISO above 600 and auto white balance. As you wouldn't use a Leica if you need a 400 mm AF lens.

 

The photo of his Leica gear is great, by the way.

 

Except from buffer, slow AF and ISO, the Digilux 2 is a perfect camera.

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Well for one thing, the film Ms (except M7) with their mechanical shutters and no electronics to speak of, are very dependable in the field, and do not require any IR filters. Also, the framing accuracy is better with the film Ms and the shutter is quieter.

 

Cheers,

 

Jiri

 

I agree on those.

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Having used the hell out of my M8 for the last year, I sympathize with this review. To me, his argument seems to be that he'd like a digital M that is as reliable and as well designed as the pre-electronic M's. It's pretty hard to argue that, with the M8, Leica hasn't accomplished that.

 

It's also pretty unfair to say:

 

1) that he's inexperienced and doesn't know what he's talking about

2) that the Leica isn't a pretty bad value proposition compared to the available *SLR's*

3) that he knew what he was getting into and shouldn't have picked the M8 (ironically counter-arguing that many of his problems are, in fact, well known)

 

I hate it when people start bashing Leica users as fanatics, but this thread reeks of blind loyalty. Most of us have, at some point, posted about the camera's flaws. Multiply that by the pressure of shooting in a war zone and the flaws are no longer just an inconvenience. Imagine if Robert Capa had used an M8 to shoot "Death of a loyalist soldier", but the camera was busy writing to buffer.

 

I'm not saying that the M8 isn't capable of taking fantastic photographs, just that it would be much, much better if Leica was pressured to take to heart critics such as Mr. Kamber. We would all benefit.

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I have been reading this thread for several days now. Simply appalled at how easily many try to dismiss the shortcomings of the camera. You equate being critical (pointing out flaws) with heresy.

 

That's not my reading of what anyone has posted here, although there are a lot of us who get really tired of having to repeat what I am now going to repeat yet again.

 

There is no such thing as a perfect camera. In fact, I know of nothing on this planet that is perfect. Therefore, either you learn to make allowances for imperfections or you drive yourself (and others) crazy. We are well aware of the problems with the M8. We are also well aware of the strengths. Everything considered, many of us--including professionals like myself--choose to use the M8 over other systems. It works for us and produces results we like. So when someone comes along and makes a generalization that the camera is crap and no professional should use it, or that it never should have been marketed in the first place, we are going to take issue with those assessments.

 

Others are entitled to disagree, in which case they should just avoid the M8 and get something that has imperfections they think they can live with. But when anyone comes to this forum and starts ranting that the M8 is no good for anyone else, they're going to get some arguments.

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Seems to me the problem with the raised buttons is the kind of thing Leica Goodies would be likely to solve--some kind of foam or rubber stick-on pad with holes cut in it. Inelegant but inexpensive and functional.

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Others are entitled to disagree, in which case they should just avoid the M8 and get something that has imperfections they think they can live with .

 

You prove my point

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It's seldom these days that I get really angry reading this forum anymore - mostly I just feel an exasperated ennui at the same old crocks rolled-out time after time to justify the camera they bought - but when I read the utter pompous rubbish from armchair critics in this thread whose most dangerous photo-situation was choking on a fur-ball while snapping the wife's cat sleeping on their chintz sofa...well! Get real people!

 

Take a look at this guy's photos before you tell him how to use an M camera! Take a look at the troops that are lying blinded and deafened by the mine that has just blown apart their comrade. Or the twisted bleeding bodies from car bombs. For goodness sake, this photographer of exceptional courage and brilliance does NOT need some half-@ssed amateur who snaps the occasional office-party telling him how he should use his equipment.

 

The review was honest and thorough. The man's love for the M-system is obvious. That is why he persisted with a camera that was simply not up to the job, when the test came. And frankly I'm tired of hearing the same line from the apologists for a year now: "the latest firmware has more or less fixed these problems..." etc etc.

 

I'm really glad to have read the review right now and got myself a reality check - with a malfunction in my RD1s's rangefinder mechanism I was back on the path of justifying the expense of an M8: trade-in the Epson, maybe sell one of the 90s, then sell the M6 or the M7... It takes an objective review like this to pull me back from the brink.

 

Let's face it - really - the camera is actually not that good. I'm angry about that. I have all these lenses now, and I love the M look-and-feel, and the ergonomics of my film cameras. I'm angry that my Epson doesn't have my M7's rangefinder, or that Nikon haven't released a digital RF.

 

I'm angry that Leica have no higher ambition than making a bijou luxury camera - whether I'd ever take mine into a war-zone or not - rather than the robust and functional machine they should have been aiming for.

 

Let's hope they haven't forgotten that ambition - and that they don't read this forum with people tut-tutting this brave and talented photographer for taking an 'inappropriate' camera into dangerous territory.

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You prove my point

 

 

If that's how you want to read it, be my guest. I doubt there are many others who would agree with your logic.

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