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wilfredo

Doing the Math

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This probably won't interest the professional who shoots a lot of film and is burdened by the expense, and would embrace the convenience of a digital M. I have a Leica M7 and with all the M8 hype I've gotten to thinking about how cool it would be to own a digital M camera.

 

When I think of spending upwards of $4,300.00 (U.S.) I am not so excited any more (this is just for the camera without the additional expense of a lens wider than the 35mm Summicron I currently own). When I think of selling my M7 and getting at best $2000.00 for it, again I am not so excited (my M7 is less than a year old and I paid $3300.00 for it). In effect the new M8 would cost me $5,600.00. Not a good deal for someone who simply loves photography but does not make a living from it. So in effect I would spend $5600.00 to replace my still new M7 with a new M8. $5,600.00 to replace my M7!!!! If I continue to shoot say 24 rolls of film a year (I do have another camera and it is a digital) using my current Leica gear, in effect I'll be saving thousands of dollars over the next 5 years.

 

Wilfredo+

Benitez-Rivera Photography

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Wilfredo,

 

I have an M4, and M6-classic, and a D2.

 

Over the past 2 yrs and 8 months, I have used film on 3 occasions, twice when I needed ISO 1600 (that need will be alleviated with the M8) and once just recently to test my newly acquired 24mm f2.8 asph lens (it's fine).

 

I can't imagine giving up the M's. That would be like selling a Bugatti, except that the M's are readily available used.

 

However, I have embraced digital workflow and find the instant verification process IMMENSELY valuable when shooting.

 

I miss film, but the films I liked the most have been gone a LONG time: Panatomic-X and now Pan-Tech. I also miss the Dupont variable contract papers -- gone a REALLY LONG time. The Dupont papers -- astonishing -- have been gone for 30 years, may they rest in peace.

 

So, film and papers are not really what they used to be.

 

As far as b/w is concerned, I don't think anything matches a silver print, but with appropriate workflow, a digital print behind glass is basically indistinguishable. Check out the quad rip from harrington.com

 

As far as archival properties are concerned, only b/w negs and prints (properly archived) have true long-term lifetimes, but proper digital data archiving can allow one to remake a print in the future. When we started digital printing, I was unhappy with telling a client that a print would last 10 years. What good does it do to leave a phone number if the photog gets hits by a truck and an important print degrades? However, I can live with a (forecasted) 100-year lifetime for a b/w digital print on matte paper, mounted properly, and behind glass. That's cool by me.

 

There is a difference between film and digital, but Leica lenses make digital very beautiful. Perhaps, rather than buy the M8, buy a used Digilux-2 or other current Leica digital and see how you like them.

 

Getting into digital isn't just the cost of the camera. The following razor blades are required:

1. computer software, like Photoshop CS2

2. lots of storage, like external hard disks

3. significant and essential backup procedures to protect the digital negative (of course, you could have damaged an original negative and lost everything with film, too)

4. a different kind of time (no darkroom, including setup and cleanup, but some digital processing workflow)

5. other accessories, like extra batteries, memory cards, portable harddisks, cases, and the like.

 

To the good, I can generate a lot of copies of the same print now by starting the printer and going to dinner. I don't have to pull them all thru the developer etc. One can feel Very Smug while sipping wine with friends, knowing that prints are appearing at the printer -- all by themselves (sort of).

 

In terms of Risk Management -- film and papers are disappearing ALL the time. Just this year I pulled some ISO 1600 color slide film out of the freezer and used it -- only to discover that I CANNOT replace it. SO, one might expect to HAVE to be able to do digital photography in part or completely, in the future. You might want to prepare for this eventuality.

 

Regards,

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If it is not in business use, then;

 

um..um...um..people also ignore there is a substantial cost difference between losing a lump sum out of your account now, compared to a trickle of smaller costs over a period of years that sums to equal that first lump sum. Maybe we all need a copy of net present value tables. Really, when you consider net present value at current interest rates film gets even cheaper.

 

The tough call is justifying purchase of any M with a couple of lenses, to say a Canon Nikon Olympus whatever consumer camera and hoiking or mothballing it every six months when you upgrade to the latest silverware.

 

Ahh but for the price of latest 1DS2 or whatever it is called I can get an MP and a couple of Aspers...and given how I aint got no editors deadline and film is so cheap...

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Wilf, have you seen how shitty digital images have started looking lately? Startling clarity and all that but ... Great for David Attenborough but who wants a print of a grasshoppers leg hair to hang on the wall.

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Wilfredo, Bill,

 

I fully concur with Bill's views, however my approach is a mixed one: I shoot on film (Tri-X, HP5, Delta 400, whatever I can find around here which is not so easy some times...), and scan them with a Nikon 8000 ED & SilverFast software, work on the images with CS2 and print B&W with Quadtone RIP and color with ImagePrint 6, all on cotton fiber papers. The resuts are good enough, B&W specially behind glass, but you still need the scanner and lots of storage for your finished images. Of course, you can still process the B&W also in the usual wet lab and the plus of having the original negatives to trust over time (if well protected...).

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I can fully understand where Bill is coming from. As I said, I do have a digital camera and I really enjoy the convenience it represents. I might add that hardly any photographer can distinguish my silver gelatins from my giclée prints behind glass. If cost were not a factor, I would get a Leica M8 probably within a year of its introduction, but for me right now, it is a factor.

 

When I need the use of an SLR digital I use my Canon 20D. At some point I'll upgrade to a Canon 5D and thankfully won't need to purchase additional glass. Making that upgrade is a no brainer. With the Leica M8 I would still have to purchase extra glass due to the crop factor $$$$$$. So I guess I'll be stocking up on film for now. B&H photo has some pretty good prices. Maybe by the time I'll be ready to go for the M8, the M9 will be on the market :-)

 

Cheers,

Wilfredo+

Benitez-Rivera Photography

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Wifredo -- I think that whatever you do about getting more or better digital cameras in the coming months and years, selling an M7 would be most unwise. While you keep it, you keep the option of selling it sometime in the future. It's unlikely -- I think -- that the prices of s/h M7's etc will collapse. Selling and then buying back later if one changes one's mind is generally very expensive. And the digital will only get better and cheaper as time passes. The only rational thing to do is to hang on to your money and keep using the equipiment you have for as long as possible!

 

This is what I keep telling myself, anyway. I share your view of the attractions of an M8, however....

 

It seems to me you're very wise to hold off, buy a few rolls of film, wait for the half-price used M8s and the new M9s and all the rest..

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Good for you then. Shoot more film.

 

This probably won't interest the professional who shoots a lot of film and is burdened by the expense, and would embrace the convenience of a digital M. I have a Leica M7 and with all the M8 hype I've gotten to thinking about how cool it would be to own a digital M camera.

 

When I think of spending upwards of $4,300.00 (U.S.) I am not so excited any more (this is just for the camera without the additional expense of a lens wider than the 35mm Summicron I currently own). When I think of selling my M7 and getting at best $2000.00 for it, again I am not so excited (my M7 is less than a year old and I paid $3300.00 for it). In effect the new M8 would cost me $5,600.00. Not a good deal for someone who simply loves photography but does not make a living from it. So in effect I would spend $5600.00 to replace my still new M7 with a new M8. $5,600.00 to replace my M7!!!! If I continue to shoot say 24 rolls of film a year (I do have another camera and it is a digital) using my current Leica gear, in effect I'll be saving thousands of dollars over the next 5 years.

 

Wilfredo+

Benitez-Rivera Photography

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Wilfredo,

 

Firstly I'd stop worrying too much about resale values of your gear. The prices you mention are roughly the same as in the UK for new/used. If you buy new you should expect to lose money, just as with a car or anything else. Longer term, Leica do generally increase in value, but more importantly they last so the investment is worth it. OK it doesn't help if you want to change your gear now.

 

I have been following the news of the M8 with interest. I only have one digital camera, mostly I still use my film gear. I like to convenience of digital but mostly I value the control and immediacy I now have via scanned images/photoshop/inkjet printing.

 

So far I've been reluctant to spend £££'s on a digital camera, mainly because of the rapid pace of change and that I haven't yet seen a digital camera that I'd be happy replacing my film cameras with. The M8 could be it, but I'd have to try one first.

 

However, after some consideration and the advice of a fellow member of this forum, for now at least I'm going to stick with film. I rarely need immediate images and I have a digicam for that anyway. I like using film, I like my cameras, I have the best of both worlds in a way with a film source image and a digital scan.

 

If I were to start doing weddings etc regularly again then I would have a re-think. An M8 would be a great camera for weddings.

 

But, lovely though it would be, I can't really justify spending £3K + the lenses on a camera which won't actually offer me anything I don't have at present. If I had the spare cash in the bank I'd probably treat myself, but the car needs a service, I need to refit my kitchen and I'd like a holiday soon!!

 

You already have some nice digital gear, so your Leica M7 offers you a different creative path to take. In fact I'm seriously considering adding an M film body to my lllf and R3 now.

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"I enjoyed a visit to your website :-) Nice photography!"

 

=

 

Wilfredo,

 

Many thanks indeed for your kind comments!

 

Regards,

 

Horacio

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Ditto to everything that has been said on this string.

 

I'll always keep at least one film body (right now a Bessa R2M). THE primary reason I'm jumping on the M8 train is the appaling quality of available color photofinishing in my region.

 

At least with the M8, I have more elements under my control. Yes, I'm placing my images at risk if Leica can't get the firmware right, but I'd much rather take a leap of faith with Solms than some eager but inexperienced 19-year old running the Fuji machine down the street who has absolutely no idea how precious a negative is.

 

-g

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I got my copy of B&W Magazine in the post yesterday and I saw the prices at PhotoVillage in New York for the new Leica digital line-up. The price for the M8 is $4,795!

This is worse than I anticipated by $400.00. I have to admit I am disappointed with the Leica pricing, it would be insane for me at this time to pursue an M8. My M7 is virtually brand new, so I will continue putting milleage on this baby :-)

 

One of the reasons why I made the move to Leica is because of my committment to do serious and artful photography. I'm a big fan of HCB and I love things classic. Although the M7 is a modern camera - even in the age of digital photography - it is an M camera, and the last of it's analogue breed. I do embrace the new digital technology but being a member of the AARP, I still love the old stuff. In my arsenal I also have three working Nikkormats FTN's, and Nikkor lenses which I purchased at next to nothing prices on E-Bay compared to Leica. I got these cameras after having sold all my Nikon gear to make the move to Leica. These are solid cameras and the optics are very good, not Leica, but still very good. I also have a Kowa SET R2 which I purchased on E-bay, still in good working and cosmetic condition with two lenses. This was the first 35mm SLR I ever owned back in 1972. So the nostaligic in me holds on to the old stuff, and thankfully, I can still produce wonderful images with this no longer state of the art equipment.

 

It's nice to think things through on this forum. I appreciate all the commentary here.

 

Cheers,

Benitez-Rivera Photography

 

PS Here's my favorite M7 shot to date. © Wilfredo Benitez

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Wilfredo,

 

You know you can fit Leica R glass to your Canon digital body? You can also find some excellent R bargains on e bay.

 

Nice shot by the way!

 

Regards,

James

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I think your reasoning is sound.

 

I'm getting a M8. Ordered it almost a year ago. It will not come at the expense of my M7.

 

I do shoot commercially ... sort of ... I use a M for weddings along with other cameras.

 

But film cost aren't an issue. I'm after just a few good shots with the M7 and B&W film.

 

The M8 will be a contender to knock off one of my Canon DSLRs for color candid work.

 

I want more of the rangefinder style in my over-all body of wedding work, the way it was when I used all film.

 

IMO, film shots cannot be evaluated on a computer screen. That's for pixel peepers. It's prints that count, and film delivers even if it's scanned film printed on an Inkjet let alone analog prints.

 

I've pretty much mastered PhotoShop, and have digital cameras all the way up to a 33 meg Aptus 75 on a Mamiya AFDII using Zeiss glass, and a 39 meg Hasselblad H2D.

 

Despite that, for me film is film, and has a unique depth and feel not there in digital no matter how it's captured, processed, printed, or by who.

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An alternate view: My spouse and I have been shooting chromes for over 40 years. I believe that good glass-mounted chromes, projected with a quality projector / lens clearly has an edge over digital photos projected using the better of today's equipment. To paraphrase Marc, there is a degree of three-dimensional quality and "snap" that digital seems to lack.

 

George (The Old Fud)

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Guest darkstar2004
If you are happy with your M7 and filmbased photography you don´t need a M8.

 

My thoughts exactly. I have no interest in the M8 - I am sticking with my MP.

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