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Jeff Day

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

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1: The rather contraptive rangefinder camera design has been far surpassed long ago for accuracy and versatility. This is a fact, not an argument, that the marketplace has strongly voted in favor since the 1970's.

What the marketplace has done is the marketplace's concern but as far as accuracy is concerned a rangefinder is more accurate than any other system as it has a much longer base for triangulation (assuming everything is properly adjusted). Also it focusses on what you want it to focus on. The viewfinder is brighter than anything else out there, and last but not least you can see outside the framelines - which does not work with a DSLR or EVIL. So yes it is a weird contraption but it has not been surpassed long ago for accuracy. Versatilty is a different matter, it is not blindingly fast and it does not do macro very well (if at all).

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Btw. a good friend of mine is a professional shooting celebrity portraits of Hollywood A-listers. He uses a Canon 1Ds Mark I. I always make fun of him and have him try out new models, but he keeps procrastinating and says that his camera works just fine, and guess what, nobody ever complained.

 

That pretty much sums up the current crop of FF DSLR cameras at the moment. They are all simply 'good enough' and you are hard pushed to find deficiencies in prints up to 13x19 and above. For most of us that probably accounts for 100% of our printed work.

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I recall that when I got my first digital SLR, a Nikon D1, I was pretty impressed with the quality--enough that I very nearly stopped shooting film altogether. Then, along came the D2, and when I saw images from the it suddenly the D1 didn't look so good. The D2X came out, and I was no longer satisfied with the D2. When Canon brought out the 5D, I did a test drive and found the image quality far exceeded what I was getting with my Nikons, so I completely changed systems. Now, the 5D MkII has an image quality vastly better than the 5D, particularly at higher ISO settings, so that's what I currently use for my DSLRs. This is not just a case of wanting the latest model out. I use cameras to make my living, so I am compelled to use the tools that do the best job.

 

I expect this trend to continue. I'm not sure what the life span will be, but I am confident it will be limited. I do not see getting to a point where I'll say I'm not interested in looking at any new equipment because what I now have is "good enough." One can never know that until one sees the comparison between old and new. Maybe we don't need actual pixel improvement, or better high ISO performance than we can get now with the latest DSLRs, or even with our beloved M8s, but sooner or later some aspect of imaging will show enough improvement that we'll put down our outdated cameras and pick up the new ones. For example, there is considerable room for improvement in the area of dynamic range and when someone brings out a digital camera that matches or exceeds film DR, it will make a significant difference in the appearance of the old images versus the new ones. Considering that we are still in the infancy of the digital era, I don't think any of us can really say, "this is good enough."

Edited by fotografr

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"Good enough" is a tricky & contentious definition I admit.

 

My point was that the print results from any of the current full frame cameras will look essentially identical in print (13x19 and lower) after post processing. That even extends to my D3x. However, I fully agree with you that the advances in the newest cameras makes CAPTURE better and I certainly agree with you that things like DR, noise, extra resolution etc etc get better with every new camera. I'm just not convinced that the final results get demonstrably better every time, although the work and flexibility in producing it does become easier and the options for crop, less degradation in post processing, reduced need for blending etc etc do help.

 

I probably shouldn't go down this rat hole but I'm beginning to feel like I'm at the same level now that I was at with film dslr's where the compelling needs to upgrade were features vs final image quality.

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I probably shouldn't go down this rat hole but I'm beginning to feel like I'm at the same level now that I was at with film dslr's where the compelling needs to upgrade were features vs final image quality.

 

I understand completely where you're coming from on this. I've never been much into features, per se, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to Leica rangefinders in the first place. I value simplicity. The only thing that makes me jump on the upgrade train these days is a noticeable improvement in image quality. I thought my "old" Sony Trinitron TV was completely acceptable until I saw a very good LCD Sony with HD. Now, my old Sony looks fuzzy. Funny how that works.

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I agree with Graham and others, that many new models these days are mainly 'feature' driven, rather than by any huge leaps in image quality. The M8 has all of the features that I need, and almost all that I could want. My DSLR on the other hand, has myriads of features that I don't need, or even want. But there are others who do need or want those features, and so by including those, the manufacturer has made a larger proportion of it's customers happy. Any feature that one does not want, one can simply choose not to use. On my M8, I don't ever use 'C' mode, but I know that others may use this a lot. On my DSLR, I have never used 'live-view', and probably never will, but I do use the 'Artificial horizon' and am very happy that it was included. (To the extent that I have programmed this for the 'function' button.)

 

But as to sensor resolution and image quality, both are very similar, even though the DSLR is 'full frame'. The one great technical advantage over the DSLR that my M8 has, is the Leica lens range. And this is worth more to me than any new 'feature' that I can think of. In my opinion, the race for megapixel sensors has reached the limits of many manufacturers lenses already, and we are unlikely to see any huge gains in image quality for quite some time in that respect. (Unless some new technology comes along and levels the playing field again.)

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...and we are unlikely to see any huge gains in image quality for quite some time in that respect.

 

Hmmm. How many times have I heard that in the last 10 years? If true, the S2 is doomed to flop.

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If true, the S2 is doomed to flop.
This thread has nothing whatsoever to do with the S2. The S2 is a completely different ballgame than the Mx where x = 8 or larger. Useless comparison.

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Hi Ken,

 

....

 

I suspect, Ken, that RF camera finders may not be right for *you* (and many others). But that experience doesn't generalize to all of us.

 

Missed it again, Sean. That's ok.

 

With four rangefinder bodies (M7, M8s, M8.2) and having shot a great deal of material for several books, art catalogs, and even magazine covers and features with M bodies I think you oopsed with the " *you* ", Sean.

 

I can't seem to make any critical point at this site without many people taking it emotionally and personally, even a point that supports the M. The slightest suggestion that an M8 is anything other than heavenly perfection draws criticism here.

 

I think it's best for me to just let it go. There's simply nothing whatsoever to be gained from debates here...or anywhere else on the Internet.

Edited by ken_tanaka

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This thread has nothing whatsoever to do with the S2. The S2 is a completely different ballgame than the Mx where x = 8 or larger. Useless comparison.

 

Thanks for the enlightenment, Stephen, but if you read the full exchanges you might find that the reference was appropriate. In fact, no comparison was being made at all. My statement was in response to this sentence: "In my opinion, the race for megapixel sensors has reached the limits of many manufacturers lenses already, and we are unlikely to see any huge gains in image quality for quite some time in that respect."

Edited by fotografr

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Hi Brent, I still am confused with your comment, which I think I understood correctly.

 

I can see that there is no need for more megapix on the M8 or M9 for that matter. So for the (close to) FF cameras more megapix is a dead end.

 

But a S2 having a lot more megapixels than the M8 is completely obvious as it is aimed at the BIG print and glossy magazine market. The S2 is moderate in mpix for the MF market which is a good choice actually.

 

Maybe I am being particularly dense this evening, if so my apologies, but I still do not see why the S2 and the M8 should be compared.

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I think that Phase One have got the right approach - produce backs with MP's that reach for the stratosphere and then have technology like the Sensor+ approach where they scale back for even better quality. There - that's neither M or S content

 

Give me an M that can render all of the goodness of my Leica glass and I'll be happy. I guess the theory says that the resolution isn't far off - quantitatively. Everything else is qualitative and what the manufacturers will use to keep our wallets pried open.

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My apologies if my comments have caused any disquiet, but perhaps I should have made clear that I was referring to sensors used in '35mm' equivalent, or smaller, cameras. However, I (,mistakenly perhaps,) took that as understood in the context of this thread in this sub-forum.

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As with far two many questions this one has variables. What exactly does the question mean by lifespan? Production run time? Viable usage period? Point at which the camera is worn out beyond economic repair?

 

I have M8, 1DS, 5D and 5D2 cameras - all still appear to work, deliver (salable) results, etc.

 

One point not raised as yet is the ability of users to actually realise the potential of the latest camera in real world situations. The 5D2 can deliver stunning results but to wring out technical perfection in these results is IMHO undoubtedly harder than from the 5D and to do so means using extremely good lenses and working very carefully to ensure that all factors which impinge on the final image are controlled as tightly as possible. The S2 will require a high degree of care in use too. Not all users either require such cameras (for their type of photography) or, dare I say it, are capable of utilising their full potential in any case. So assigning an arbitrary 2 year 'lifespan' to new models seems like a somewhat bizarre idea to me.

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Missed it again, Sean. That's ok.

 

With four rangefinder bodies (M7, M8s, M8.2) and having shot a great deal of material for several books, art catalogs, and even magazine covers and features with M bodies I think you oopsed with the " *you* ", Sean.

 

I can't seem to make any critical point at this site without many people taking it emotionally and personally, even a point that supports the M. The slightest suggestion that an M8 is anything other than heavenly perfection draws criticism here.

 

I think it's best for me to just let it go. There's simply nothing whatsoever to be gained from debates here...or anywhere else on the Internet.

 

I haven't seen the emotion, etc. that you refer to and I'm not sure what you mean by "missed it again". But I think all this really boils down to is that the advantages of the viewfinder/rangefinder way of seeing/composing/focusing are very important to some us (including me) and not to others (seemingly including you).

 

What does "oopsed" mean?

 

Like so many things in photography there's no one best finder nor is there even really a hierarchy among finders (other than the one each one of us develops individually). I think it all starts with the photographer asking, in essence, "What do my eyes and mind need from this finder? What do I most need to see and how do I need to see that?" Since our answers to those questions will vary from person to person, there can be no one best finder.

 

I'm very glad that DRFs exist for those of us who really make use of what this kind of finder offers us. I'd be lost without them.

 

Discussions on the web can be quite productive, I think. It depends on how they evolve.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

Edited by sean_reid

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+1.

We just had this discussion, sometimes heated on another forum as someone explained that he was able to shoot some pictures with his M and not with his Canon.

 

It took sometimes to convince DSLR fanatics who were so sure than you can do anything with their favorite tool that this may not be true for every photograph.

 

Maybe that why the marketplace has allowed rangefinder to survive for all this years alongside the SLRs

 

P.S: and unless you are a die-hard "reaganomics/Milton Friedman" believer, one could thing that the recent economic events have shown that the "marketplace is always right" proposition is just a mantra. Because if it were for just the marketplace only, all banks would be bankrupt... And I did not notice all these free-entreprise heralds working there refusing to be saved by taxpayers money because of their convictions

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P.S: and unless you are a die-hard "reaganomics/Milton Friedman" believer, one could thing that the recent economic events have shown that the "marketplace is always right" proposition is just a mantra. Because if it were for just the marketplace only, all banks would be bankrupt... And I did not notice all these free-entreprise heralds working there refusing to be saved by taxpayers money because of their convictions

 

Hi Pascal,

 

When I think about purchase popularity I always remind myself that Hannah Montana's music sells much better than Billie Holiday's. And yet...

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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I just bought my first Leica, an M8, in June, so I sincerely hope so!

 

I have decided to sell my SLR's and use an M8 because I sincerely enjoy taking photos with it and find my concentration on photography increases as a result.

Having sold my DSLR's and countless lenses, manual, zeiss etc..., not to mention Hi ISO performance to fund the M8, I have decided to take a different path that is based on the photographic experience and the results more than a perceived advantage that any new function can give me. So far I am very, very happy with my choice.

I'm just a normal guy with a young family. The Leica M8, with £500 cashback cost me £1999 new. I know this is meant to be cheap, but it nearly bankrupted me! I can't afford Leica lenses, so I use second hand Voigtlander ones instead. For me it's about using a rangefinder primarily, and this was my only way in to something that had a warranty to back up my investment.

It is interesting that the M8 is nearly 3 years old. So for some people here it has already had a usable life of more than 2 years. For me, regardless of the M8.2 and an M9 in September, it is my brand new camera and is only 2 months old, so my 2, 5 or whatever years will take me to 2011, or even 2014.

I remember when I got really attached to my Sigma DP1 (which I've had for a year), the knowledge that it was *only* 4mp (in resolution terms at least) was in many ways a release, I felt that I had in some ways jumped off the technology bandwagon and gone somewhere sideways, where I was already misunderstood by the DSLR crowd, but people were consistently very impressed with my images.

These cameras make great images today. So I trust they will continue to do so for many years.

 

G

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Hi Brent, I still am confused with your comment, which I think I understood correctly.

 

I can see that there is no need for more megapix on the M8 or M9 for that matter. So for the (close to) FF cameras more megapix is a dead end.

 

But a S2 having a lot more megapixels than the M8 is completely obvious as it is aimed at the BIG print and glossy magazine market. The S2 is moderate in mpix for the MF market which is a good choice actually.

 

Maybe I am being particularly dense this evening, if so my apologies, but I still do not see why the S2 and the M8 should be compared.

 

Hi Stephan,

 

Many people (not just Nicole) have expressed the opinion that sensor resolution has already reached the point where it exceeds the resolving power of existing lenses. I don't know whether that is true or not, but my response was to Nicole's statement that "the race for megapixels has reached the limits of many lens manufacturers already." This isn't a statement about 35mm and smaller sensors, it is a statement about the resolving power of current lenses. I was, therefore, simply surmising that if this is true, the megapixel count of the S2 will be wasted and the camera doomed. Nowhere did I imply that I was comparing the S2 to the M8. This is ONLY about lenses and their resolving power. Regardless of the size of the sensor, whether in the M8, M9 or S2, if the lenses currently available can't resolve that much detail then what is the point of bringing out cameras with higher megapixel counts?

 

Regards,

Edited by fotografr

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