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Jeff Day

Does a digital M have a useable life span of more than two years?

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This is a pretty funny, and damn silly, thread.

 

Rangefinder cameras became "obsolete" forty years ago. Now some guy asks if his "digital" rangefinder will become obsolete within two years?

 

Emotional wailing aside there is zero practical reason to use a rangefinder camera today; they're ALL obsolete, even the theoretical M9, M10, ...M99. We use them because we enjoy using them, limited as they are. Anyone worried being up-to-date has no business using a rangefinder camera at all.

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It will be a long time before most photographers would be able to place demands on their camera that are not easily exceeded by the lowly Nikon D40. Two years is, bluntly, a meaningless concept for useful product life.

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On one hand I have had a Canon G2 like Stefan since 2002 that is still in use (but not by me). It is in excellent working order. If I had to I am sure I could take reasonable pictures with it.

 

But since 2002 some things have changed. It has a few hot pixels now. Not all current software is able to read the old Canon CR2 RAW files anymore. The RAW quality is not too hot to start with. My current monitors actually exceed the 4MP image resolution. Large printing has become more accessible yet not really attractive for those smallish images. And my own requirements have changed too as I witness technology advance e.g. shoot with less light, more dynamic range, longer battery life etc. And another thing is certain, if it ever does break it is gone.

 

So while this G2 was heaven sent when it came out, it is still ok, but I am not going to just watch technology pass me by on the way to photographic nirvana. I want to be part of it, and if that means I have to upgrade every 2 years so be it. I have to upgrade something or other every few years anyway just to stay compatible with the rest of the world.

 

You know that Leica is going to be more expensive than others when you get into it. My view is that in the case of digital this includes upgrades, too. Film users may find this hard to digest. But they have been spoilt long enough. Yes the M8/9 may live forever, or die abruptly, but the digital world around it moves on regardless and will, slowly, render it obsolete.

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Greetings fellow Leica-philes. I just read Erwin Puts new article about the S2 where he made the comment, "The dynamics in the world of digital capture are such that a camera hardly has a useable life span of more than two years."

I have stayed with my MP and film while waiting for a digital camera that I thought would be a more permanent solution for my needs. I thought the rumored full frame M9 might be that camera. And yet, I wonder as I read Erwin Puts article if there will be any digital Leica that will be anything more than a temporary solution. I am not a pro that makes my living from photography, but rather I enjoy photography as a hobby, and as a supplement to magazine articles I write.

I don't mind investing in a Leica like the MP as it has a very long useful life, but if it is true that an expensive digital Leica is outdated every two years, can it be a viable alternative for someone like myself - a non-pro - when the cost of staying with a current platform begins to be extremely expensive?

I would be interested in your thoughts.

Here's the link to Puts article: Leica S2: its significance

 

No, a digital M camera does not have a usable lifespan of about two years so long as one can resist the implied obsolescence hamster wheel. A camera is usable for as long as it is usable. I could shoot much of my professional work right now with a seven year old Canon 1Ds.

 

And...the advantages of a viewfinder/rangefinder camera are as salient now as they ever were. Not only is the rangefinder camera itself far from being obsolete but some of us (myself included) find it essential for our work. For much of my work, every other kind of camera is somewhat problematic because of the way it presents the subject to me via the finder.

 

Cheers,

Edited by sean_reid

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This is a pretty funny, and damn silly, thread.

 

Rangefinder cameras became "obsolete" forty years ago. Now some guy asks if his "digital" rangefinder will become obsolete within two years?

 

Emotional wailing aside there is zero practical reason to use a rangefinder camera today; they're ALL obsolete, even the theoretical M9, M10, ...M99. We use them because we enjoy using them, limited as they are. Anyone worried being up-to-date has no business using a rangefinder camera at all.

 

I don't agree Ken. There are important reasons to use an RF camera today if one is making *visual* use of that viewfinder/rangefinder.

 

Cheers,

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If Leica gets the M9 right, I'll probably want to keep that camera forever. And I'll keep my M8 as long as it is repairable. The same is true for my M4.

 

Except for its lack of built in meter, the M4 is a perfect film camera. The M8, on the other hand, is a transitional camera. Its not full frame. The resolution is a bit low. It is loud. It is noisy. It needs filters. The frame lines are poor for normal use. Yes, the M8.2 fixed a few problems but all of these factors limit the camera's desirable life. Its like the M5 - another close but not perfect camera. The M5 made the M body transition to behind the lens metering, which was a big deal for Leica in 1972. But it was big. It hung funny and the meter, at least in the early ones, was not accurate. Still, the M5 was a decent camera. It just wasn't as perfect as the M4. And people traded their M5s for M6s as soon as this perfect new Leica came along.

 

Like I said, I'll keep my M8 because it will be a good backup camera and it makes great IR photos... and it takes great photos. But I want a perfect Leica. So lets hope they get the M9 right. If they do, I'll keep it as long as it works.

 

Did I mention that weather sealing would be nice? Oh well, maybe the M10 will be the perfect Leica.

 

Tom

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Me and my M8 will be getting old together. I don't need another camera and should the M8 die I'll give it a decent burial then look for another camera onto which I can mount my collection of lenses. Old things that still function can be enjoyed. I recently reworked an old Kodak Brownie No 2C to use Vericolour 120 film which was scanned for digital use. It captures images as it did when it was new and the images are unique. The M8 will be doing the same for a long time, I hope.

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Don't really think the M8 will expire after 2 years, I have several old digitals around here which still works, including a D1 getting close to 8-9 years of age I guess.

 

The D1 never inspired me, lots of people know I did not like it, but it worked. however that camera was practically useless as soon as the resolution bar was raised.

 

This is the difference to the M8, once we pushed into 8-10 megapix, it is now possible to print a beautiful A3 size print perfectly acceptable to anyone. very few users will ever need more resolution, or sharpness etc.

 

We are not likely to stand looking at a M8 13x19 print, then shake our heads and say "this is just not close to sharp enough" - not now and not in 10 years.

 

And judging from the old D1, well chances are the M8 will still be working in roughly 10 years.

 

The D1 (and the old Fujix for that matter) is a obsolete camera which simply is a waste of time to bring on a shoot because the prints are not satisfying in any manner, forget trying to print a D1 past 8x10 actually 4x6 is probably more appropriate.. Tom probably have more experience printing true transition cameras like the D1 than I have.

 

I want more dynamic range, full-frame so I can use the full area of the lenses I have paid for. and less noise would be nice... But I can not imagine the M8 not continuing as a meaningful rangefinder camera. And I am convinced eventually I will see some young people happily shooting with one after getting it cheaply on ebay.

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since todays sensors are unmatture compared to film, the evolution of sensors will be relativelyt fast. This means that newer sensors will perform better than old ones.

 

This does however not happend at the same pace as Nikon/Canon pumps out new models, the try to figure out how often the marked can comsume new models in order to maximize their profit.

 

But it means that a digital camera will have shorter lifespans than their analog equivalent, simply because after some years the succesor will have a sensor that performs so much better. This is not going to happend with the M8 to M9 shift because sensors haven't improved that much, but maybe in 5-10 years the new sensors will perform so much better that you will not believe that you once were happy with the M8

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since todays sensors are unmatture compared to film, the evolution of sensors will be relativelyt fast. This means that newer sensors will perform better than old ones.

This is simply incorrect. We have just been discussing a well-worked out scientific article here that shows :

a. that sensors outperform film by a factor 3 to 5

b. that quantum physics prove that current-day sensors are either at or very close to the theoretical limits for noise and dynamic range.

c. that current day sensors are at or beyond the theoretical diffraction limit of lenses.

The conclusion being that the only way to get significantly better performance is to use larger sensors and thus larger cameras, and faster lenses and thus larger lenses.

 

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/downloadable_2/Physical_Limits.pdf

 

 

Technology today is approaching or even at the limits of resolution, film speed, and image size

imposed by the laws of physics for cameras in the 35mm format or smaller. Further significant

improvements in speed or resolution will require the use of larger sensors and cameras.

Edited by jaapv
Link added

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...quantum physics prove that current-day sensors are either at or very close to the theoretical limits for noise and dynamic range...

Sony claims a signal-to-noise ratio improvement of +8dB for their new 'Exmor R' sensor. Could this have an impact on dynamic range? Just curious.

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As I understand the article I linked to in post 50 it has to do with the number of photon strikes per pixel. If you look at the cross section of an Exmor back-illuminated sensor the first thing that one notices is that they removed the circuitry that obstructed the pixel surface, thus increasing the size of the photosites. That may well increase the S/N ratio compared to a classic CMos sensor, reducing the need for on-sensor noise reduction. A CCD sensor does not have this problem, so I would imagine that the native S/N ratio of an Exmor sensor would be in the same range as a CCD sensor with the same pixel pitch and that could well be 10% better than a CMos sensor.

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This is simply incorrect. We have just been discussing a well-worked out scientific article here that shows :

a. that sensors outperform film by a factor 3 to 5

b. that quantum physics prove that current-day sensors are either at or very close to the theoretical limits for noise and dynamic range.

c. that current day sensors are at or beyond the theoretical diffraction limit of lenses.

The conclusion being that the only way to get significantly better performance is to use larger sensors and thus larger cameras, and faster lenses and thus larger lenses.

 

Quote:

Technology today is approaching or even at the limits of resolution, film speed, and image size

imposed by the laws of physics for cameras in the 35mm format or smaller. Further significant

improvements in speed or resolution will require the use of larger sensors and cameras.

 

 

 

http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/downloadable_2/Physical_Limits.pdf

 

 

Interesting article indeed, but it does not rule out performance improvement overall, only with regards to resolution and film speed. I still claim that we in the future will have cameras that will be perceived to perform better because of technology improvements.

 

That's the interesting thing with science, when you think they hit the roof, they find interesting ways to bend it

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This is a pretty funny, and damn silly, thread........

 

I disagree.

 

For a start it is self-evident that the rangefinder camera, as a design concept, is not obsolete and furthermore many RF Leicas from the 1930’s are still working and can still be serviced. RF cameras may be a small part of the total market but it would require a new and certainly contentious re-definition of the word obsolete to justify its use in this context.

 

It seems to me that several of the posts in this thread are failing to make sufficiently clear the distinction between the “life” of a digital camera model in the product range of a supplier and the “life” of any particular camera in the hands of a customer.

 

To take just my own case I have one of the very first M8 cameras to be sold to the public. It is now approaching three years old and other than going back to Solms when all such cameras were re-called it has never given me the slightest trouble. I anticipate that it will continue to work for some years.

 

This is quite different however to the position of Leica. If, as seems likely, technology in the digital camera sector has advanced significantly since the M8 was designed, which is at least 4 years ago, to enable Leica to put an “improved “ camera into their range then that is precisely what they must do. Viewed this way the life of a digital camera is 3 plus or minus 1 years – as others have, correctly in my view, pointed out.

 

Some have argued that the technological advances are not sufficient to justify a new model. I can’t usefully comment as only Leica and presumably Kodak know what is currently possible. What we do know is that Leica have never hidden the fact that they hope eventually to sell a FF M camera and that those who have used FF digital cameras seem universally to argue that they are a noticeable improvement over any smaller format.

Edited by Peter Branch

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Well, most technology development has a curve that starts steeply and the gradually runs into diminishing returns. This article certainly suggests we have reached that stage.

There is an added factor. There is a biological limit as well; our eye has physical limits, beyond which any further improvement is senseless.

We'll see what the future will bring. I feel that any spectacular breakthroughs in this field must come from radically different technology than solid-state sensors and glass optics.

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It seems to me that several of the posts in this thread are failing to make sufficiently clear the distinction between the “life” of a digital camera model in the product range of a supplier and the “life” of any particular camera in the hands of a customer.

 

I agree. For example, some friends have a Canon G3 P&S that they see no reason to upgrade. It is long 'obsolete' from Canon's point of view. It has only 4 mp, but does exactly what they want - which is to produce images to email to family and friends, and to produce small prints.

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Well, most technology development has a curve that starts steeply and the gradually runs into diminishing returns. This article certainly suggests we have reached that stage.

There is an added factor. There is a biological limit as well; our eye has physical limits, beyond which any further improvement is senseless.

We'll see what the future will bring. I feel that any spectacular breakthroughs in this field must come from radically different technology than solid-state sensors and glass optics.

 

My guess is that we will se the improvments in sensor technology and signal processing. The whole semiconductor industry are looking for solutions to the barriers the current technology puts as constraints on further development. Improvents in the industry in general are likely to benefit the sensor industry as well. But as with all science, you'll never know what's around the next corner.

 

I am not saying that we will experience major leaps in sensor development, but that the sensors we have to day is not at the end of the line in sensor development in general, even if there is no gain by increasing resolution.

 

"The future ain't what it used to be,"

Edited by adli

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The interesting thing is that to all intents and purposes, sensors of for instance the top end Canons and Nikons are more than "good enough" by a large margin. That means imo that more and more emphasis will be on the camera bodies instead of on the sensor specifications. An area where Leica is better positioned to compete.

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The interesting thing is that to all intents and purposes, sensors of for instance the top end Canons and Nikons are more than "good enough" by a large margin. That means imo that more and more emphasis will be on the camera bodies instead of on the sensor specifications. An area where Leica is better positioned to compete.

 

What is "good enough" is often through history defined by the available technology.

 

When it comes to camera bodies and add on features, I have only one wish:

Keep it simple!

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