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Is M8 a mongrel?


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I was recently explaining to my brother, a non-photographer, how; today, many manufactured instruments are the sum of many parts and many manufacturers. I told him how the Leica M8 uses a sensor from Kodak, and electronics from, among others, Panasonic.

 

Without any malice, he said "So it's a bit of a mongrel, then?". He has a point. Of course there is nothing wrong with such an arrangement; it keeps costs down - except in the case of Leica!

 

In the days of film, Leica, and others, could reckon on at least a ten-year life-span for a pro camera body. Today it is more likely to be three years. Leica must either reduce the price of its products or produce something that will have value for a decade or more.

 

This may not be as bad as it appears. If Leica produce a full-frame M-series body that provides the user with the bullet-proof non-destructive Leica quality of-old coupled with the current best-in-class image quality (i.e. great low-light performance) they will attract many who appreciate the light-weight high-quality-results for which Leica is renowned. I say this because, even though technology will evolve, the state-of-the-art is already good enough! Good enough for a double-page spread in a newspaper or magazine, art gallery wall .... anything!

 

Add ergonomics and (gasp / horror) autofocus, and it would be a winner!

 

The medium (film or digital) does not matter: what does matter is performance. Nobody WANTS to carry around a bulky, heavy SLR. They do so only because there is currently no alternative. A full-frame Leica M with (a choice of) autofocus, combined with an effective advertising campaign (think Magnum Photo Agency) will be a killer combnition.

 

Happy to test,

 

Mike.

 

Mike.

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The M8 doesn't have any electronics from Panasonic.

 

Not sure what your point is. Lots of people want to carry round dSLRs. It's what the magazines tell them to buy, and it makes them feel like a "pro".

 

Most people who take photographs don't understand rangefinders. Full stop.

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I was recently explaining to my brother, a non-photographer, how; today, many manufactured instruments are the sum of many parts and many manufacturers. I told him how the Leica M8 uses a sensor from Kodak, and electronics from, among others, Panasonic.

 

Without any malice, he said "So it's a bit of a mongrel, then?". He has a point. Of course there is nothing wrong with such an arrangement; it keeps costs down - except in the case of Leica!

 

In the days of film, Leica, and others, could reckon on at least a ten-year life-span for a pro camera body. Today it is more likely to be three years. Leica must either reduce the price of its products or produce something that will have value for a decade or more.

 

This may not be as bad as it appears. If Leica produce a full-frame M-series body that provides the user with the bullet-proof non-destructive Leica quality of-old coupled with the current best-in-class image quality (i.e. great low-light performance) they will attract many who appreciate the light-weight high-quality-results for which Leica is renowned. I say this because, even though technology will evolve, the state-of-the-art is already good enough! Good enough for a double-page spread in a newspaper or magazine, art gallery wall .... anything!

 

Add ergonomics and (gasp / horror) autofocus, and it would be a winner!

 

The medium (film or digital) does not matter: what does matter is performance. Nobody WANTS to carry around a bulky, heavy SLR. They do so only because there is currently no alternative. A full-frame Leica M with (a choice of) autofocus, combined with an effective advertising campaign (think Magnum Photo Agency) will be a killer combnition.

 

Happy to test,

 

Mike.

 

Mike.

 

Who could ever want something like that!

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In the days of film, Leica, and others, could reckon on at least a ten-year life-span for a pro camera body. Today it is more likely to be three years. Leica must either reduce the price of its products or produce something that will have value for a decade or more.

 

This may not be as bad as it appears. If Leica produce a full-frame M-series body that provides the user with the bullet-proof non-destructive Leica quality of-old coupled with the current best-in-class image quality (i.e. great low-light performance) they will attract many who appreciate the light-weight high-quality-results for which Leica is renowned. I say this because, even though technology will evolve, the state-of-the-art is already good enough! Good enough for a double-page spread in a newspaper or magazine, art gallery wall .... anything!

 

Add ergonomics and (gasp / horror) autofocus, and it would be a winner!

 

The medium (film or digital) does not matter: what does matter is performance. Nobody WANTS to carry around a bulky, heavy SLR. They do so only because there is currently no alternative. A full-frame Leica M with (a choice of) autofocus, combined with an effective advertising campaign (think Magnum Photo Agency) will be a killer combnition.

 

I haven't picked up my two Nikon D300s in a couple of months except to shoot a few pics for eBay. But soccer season is coming up and that's what those two are for. I almost dread sitting back down with the cameras, cross checking the settings, making sure I clone the settings from the Body A to Body B, double checking the 500 page manual, and then making the test shots. A ton of those settings are in that Nikon menu system precisely because of all the "stuff" that the D300 is capable of.

 

Meanwhile, most of what I've been shooting those same months has been with the M8. A handful of lenses in the bag, an incident meter for "those occasions", check the SD cards and the batteries, and I'm good to go.

 

And I continue to be amazed at how little fiddle-farting around I do in PP with the M8's images. I have my Noise Ninja profiles made up for JPEG and DNG, and I'll be setting up some for TIFFs that come out of C1.

 

So what is the advantage of all this market-pandering junque that you want to add onto the M8? What exactly IS your point?

 

Wait for the new R body. Leave the M alone...Please.

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Without any malice, he said "So it's a bit of a mongrel, then?". He has a point. Of course there is nothing wrong with such an arrangement; it keeps costs down - except in the case of Leica!

Isn't anything that is made up of a group of systems (electrical, mechanical, electronic) a bit of a mongrel? Take the average car. No one car company makes everything in house. So I guess the term "mongrel" doesn't concern me too much. In the case of Leica I know that they make the mechanical bits and they make the lenses. I'm happy with that.

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I was recently explaining to my brother, a non-photographer, how; today, many manufactured instruments are the sum of many parts and many manufacturers. I told him how the Leica M8 uses a sensor from Kodak, and electronics from, among others, Panasonic.

 

Without any malice, he said "So it's a bit of a mongrel, then?". He has a point. Of course there is nothing wrong with such an arrangement; it keeps costs down - except in the case of Leica!

 

In the days of film, Leica, and others, could reckon on at least a ten-year life-span for a pro camera body. Today it is more likely to be three years. Leica must either reduce the price of its products or produce something that will have value for a decade or more.

 

This may not be as bad as it appears. If Leica produce a full-frame M-series body that provides the user with the bullet-proof non-destructive Leica quality of-old coupled with the current best-in-class image quality (i.e. great low-light performance) they will attract many who appreciate the light-weight high-quality-results for which Leica is renowned. I say this because, even though technology will evolve, the state-of-the-art is already good enough! Good enough for a double-page spread in a newspaper or magazine, art gallery wall .... anything!

 

Add ergonomics and (gasp / horror) autofocus, and it would be a winner!

 

The medium (film or digital) does not matter: what does matter is performance. Nobody WANTS to carry around a bulky, heavy SLR. They do so only because there is currently no alternative. A full-frame Leica M with (a choice of) autofocus, combined with an effective advertising campaign (think Magnum Photo Agency) will be a killer combnition.

 

Happy to test,

 

Mike.

 

Mike.

 

What a load.

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I have been reading all these forums for several months. Mike has it right. Leica has an absolute cash cow in their hands. As technology advances it does not get larger. Look at LCD TVs- They continue to get smaller every year. Iphones and ipods get smaller. They already have something people want- the size of the M8 and superior glass. If they add a full sensor and fix the other items that are most important with their current customers of the M they will make most everyone happy. Nothing is perfect in a 24 second world. Yes I said 24 second. They should be able to use all the lenses currently available and add auto focus lenses too. Can you imagine how many new professionals would be willing to buy a camera that is smaller with better glass. Hands down they would carve a path for a new generation of Leica M's. Also they need to put full page ads in the professional magazines about the new M9 and let the professional and non professionals go to a designated website that will have tons of questions for all of us to answer to help design the new M9. Let the public speak. We are the ones that buy. Listen and design accordingly.

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nikitrocks,

 

Don't agree entirely with that. for starters I'm not really interested in a camera designed by huge numbers of internet users... seriously, have you ever read what people come up with on the internet.

 

There is a huge number of great cameras DSLR's with all kinds of helpful tools, auto everything. there is nothing wrong with all of these features, as a matter of fact they are very helpful for many types of photography, all in all good stuff. I have seen wedding shooters who would be in trouble without auto-focus and auto exposure for that matter. (with all respect to the many outstanding wedding photographers who definitely master their tools)

 

The M8 is a well designed extension of the photographic method started with the first M and embraced by photographers since then.. we are all aware that these cameras are not loved by all, for starters, these cameras simply do not function well for all types of photography, but that is not a reason to redesign the camera to become a main-stream camera, that would be taking it out of the niche where it functions so well.

 

Just my 2 cents.

 

.

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Can you imagine how many new professionals would be willing to buy a camera that is smaller with better glass. Hands down they would carve a path for a new generation of Leica M's. Also they need to put full page ads in the professional magazines about the new M9 and let the professional and non professionals go to a designated website that will have tons of questions for all of us to answer to help design the new M9. Let the public speak. We are the ones that buy. Listen and design accordingly.

 

I don't think you understand the M. The appeal is that it doesn't appeal to very many photographers. You can't mess with that. The fewer in the club the better.

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Thanks for your response. I understand what you are saying and agree. I did not mean let all internet users figure it out. I might have wrote my response incorrectly. I think it would be a great idea to let current users of the M and professional photographers in the industry help Leica by giving suggestions and then let Leica decide what they can use or discard. I just think it is a special camera with awesome potential to become even better than it is today. Ultimately that would give more market share. It will never be mainstream but that is what makes it special.

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Thanks for your response. I understand what you are saying and agree. I did not mean let all internet users figure it out. I might have wrote my response incorrectly. I think it would be a great idea to let current users of the M and professional photographers in the industry help Leica by giving suggestions and then let Leica decide what they can use or discard. I just think it is a special camera with awesome potential to become even better than it is today. Ultimately that would give more market share. It will never be mainstream but that is what makes it special.

 

Are you suggesting that it would be a good idea for Leica to consider changing what some people consider to be intrinsic aspects of the camera merely to provide a more versatile tool that could appeal to more photographers and possibly increase the company's revenue? Do you think it would be possible to add some features without compromising any intrinsic Leica M quality? Specifically, what features are you suggesting?

 

Do you think there is any way this could be possible without affecting what makes a Leica a Leica? Do you fully understand and value all of the Leica traditions and how important they are to a lot of people in many countries throughout the world?

 

Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?

 

Please explain your ideas in more detail.

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Hi Mike,

 

I understand the point that you are making - for some or other reason it has been misunderstood by some people. Imagine what the cost of the M8 would be if Leica had designed, built and manufactured every single item in the M8 themselves. The costs would be absolutely prohibitive - the company would have been out of business a long time ago.

 

In the old days when everything was mechanical, it was easy to make everything in house. However, times change, new technology comes along with different manufacturing methods. You can not make a sensor on a lathe and milling machine.

 

This does affect product life. You can not expect Kodak to still be producing the M8 sensor in 20 years from now. So, gone are the days of the former M camera's virtually endless lifetimes. Digital is an ever changing and upgrading area of business. The same will apply to Leica.

 

In terms of switching to autofocus - this would mean that you have to replace all your lenses to get full compatibility of the new system. While this may make sense on paper for the company to do, I think a great deal of users will drop the system totally and go the Canikontaxolyp (still love this term :)) route. The ability to use decades old lenses is one of the big plus points of the M system.

 

Andreas

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