i met michael a few weeks ago, coded his zeiss 25 and went to an iraq pj slide show at his place in brooklyn. very nice guy, very impressive work. he has a tough job, to say the least
i met michael a few weeks ago, coded his zeiss 25 and went to an iraq pj slide show at his place in brooklyn. very nice guy, very impressive work. he has a tough job, to say the least
His review was pretty tough, I hope the powers that be are reading it because he makes some excellent points.
1)complains about using filters and says it costs $500/year. Why per year? Does he destroy them. If he does, what would he do to the lens without filters?
2)to reset the ISO by accident from 320 to 2500 he would have had to bang the camera into himself and hit the set button, then he would have had to inadvertently hit the down button 3 times then either the play button, set button or shutter. I've never had the ISO reset on me and I carry the camera bouncing along my side a lot.
3)WB problems were solved by firmware update
4)slow wide angle lenses....boy when I just bought a D300 I felt spoiled by the wonderful M8 lens choices.
5)exposure problems on A? I don't seem to have big issues here.
The whole review is just sour grapes. Leica gave him a camera to use and if he thought there was a problem using a M8 for his work, he didn't have to buy a M8 later.
All the points he make,except perhaps the mode buttons, were well known by the spring of 2007. He got to use a demo for a few months and yet he buys a M8 anyway and complains it doesn't fit his use?
His photos with noise show under exposure. In regards to general colour balance, it also looks like he was shooting with uncoded lenses. The AWB was probably his older firmware, but it was well known that there was a problem with the AWB when he was demoing the M8 in the spring of 2007.
Power up 3 secs? 0.7.
Kelvin shift in WB? He claims it takes hours to correct -offer the guy a workshop.
Camera sluggish? RTFM.Set it to DNG only.
The write error looks more like a faulty SD card. Not surprising it could not be repaired by Leica.
If you need a Jpeg camera, well, the M8 is not brilliant.
It seems to me he and the camera simply did not get on.
Personally I thought he made some excellent points and I hope Leica will listen . Having used a Nikon D3 and a Canon 5d ..both cameras have superior AWB,exposure accuracy and high ISO performance to the M8. This has only a minor impact on anything I would shoot but if you wanted right out of the camera publication ready files..then its a problem. This is most apparent in night shots with mixed light ..so for a photojournalist in a war zone..quite common. As he stated most photojournalists want a 28mm FOV..this is wide enough to include context yet has only minor distortion. I use my 21asph the most and even wide open it renders only limited bokeh when used on a M8(1.33). Nikon had a 28 1.4 and Canon a 24 1.4 as shown this cleans up a cluttered background while still providing a sense of place. The 35 1.4 summilux does a great job of this but on an M8 its not wide enough. The you have the standard list of quality control issues starting with the design itself,the production standards and the after sales service....none up to the professional Canon or Nikons. None of the above were issues with film M s . With that said..he might not get the image at all with a big, noisy dslr. Unfortunately he paints the kettle so black ..that most people won t look for the bright spots.
There does seem to be a fair amount of sour grapes. But two points come through loud and clear for me, even if I'm not a PJ in a war zone. Namely, lack of shutter speed display in the viewfinder on manual, and inaccurate frame lines. Both weaknesses seem contrary to what I grok as the essence of Leica accuracy and engineering, and both cause even a casual shooter like me problems on almost every shoot.
I have learned to live with them and ultimately, I still love my M8. But if there were ever an M9 and it contained fixes for those two issues alone, it would be enough to make me trade up to the new body.
I'm a happy M8 user, but the review sounds about right to me in the combat situations that he describes. The issues that he reports, high ISO performance, slow start-up, shallow buffer, and hassles with IR with non-Leica lenses, are all well documented and make this a poor choice of camera (and lens) in this application. Lets not kid ourselves. This is a horses for courses issue. His experience with returning the Leica is reasonably common (I have two bodies; both have been in for major service; one has made the trip twice). No real surprises here.
I continue to use mine every day in a less demanding environment where there is a different trade-off between more advanced electronics and environmental sealing vs. more distinctive lens quality. The solution to the reliability issue is to keep a backup close at hand.
I don't think it is sour grapes, he pains to point out that he wants to like the camera since he is a long time M user. But side by side with his canon's and older M's the issues he raises are pretty solid.
I think the main point is here is a working photojournalist and conflict photographer, the kind of shooter that is Leica's home team, and he points out that the M8 and the M7 don't measure up in reliability or usability terms in comparison to either their forbearers or the current crop of dslr's.
I don't agree with everything he says in terms of IQ, but on all the other points it is hard to dispute, stuff we have heard before. My only wish is that Leica do something very different for them and evolve this camera quickly like any other manufacturer would do, incorporate the lessons learned. I have no problems with the price issue, you pay to play and if this is what you want to use, the money issue is not the primary issue. An M8-II with a host of improvements, eg: lower noise, faster electronics, recessed buttons, scroll wheel ev comp, more secure release/on/off, no bottom plate removal, accurate framelines, viewfinder shutter speeds, etc etc would be an improvement even at the existing 10mp resolution.
There is no reason not to do this except for the fact that Leica is too loyal to the old market that tries to maintain value in old equipment-this is basically what is killing them now. The value is in the lenses, and the body itself now has less value. The upgrade plan is not a good idea, they should focus (imo) on getting an improved body out the door quickly and let the resale market find it's own equilibrium.
Anyway this is an old saw.
When I think of Leica this is what I see. As it was, it should be once more.
All valid points in my book. I don't think Mr Kamber wrote this in order to get up the noses of wealthy M8 owners. He wrote it because I'm sure a lot of his colleagues have questioned him about the usability of the M8 in high stress situations such as war zones.
I recently purchased a D3 because in so many ways the M8 just wasn't hacking it - poor low iso, crappy start up (missing lots of shots), poor framing, overall unreliability - even though I much prefer the form and function (and image quality) of the M. Hopefully Leica will actually listen to some pro users and make changes for the next body, integrating modern advances (hmm, like a separate external iso control and shutter speed indication in viewfinder) while staying (mostly) true to the M form.
Alas the M8 stays mostly on the shelf now, though it will come to Europe with me for a month long vacation this summer where it will hopefully work the whole way through. I'll have an M7 along for backup.
I have not and never intend to be anywhere near a war.However if by some devilish bad luck I had to put myself in danger to take a photograph it would be absurd if after risking ones life the camera was not good enough to take the picture.The experiences of this man must focus the attention on the usability and reliability of the camera to the nth degree.The film cameras passed all tests with flying colours,durable,simple cameras.It seems that leica have failed to over-engineer their digital M8 and have left it as a kind of cheap russian copy.Good enough for you or me but not a professional camera anymore,at least not in the way that its predecessors fame has baptized it with.Im sure hes being accurate,I hope leica can produce the digital legend to compare with its past even if it costs a great deal more.Its important that this camera is the best as it does ,despite itself ,produce the best photographs.
I feel I should add that Im a little angry as Ive been saving for some time to buy an M8,if this review is accurate then it is not an M8 Ill be buying but the best scanner I can afford instead,dont shoot me!
Last edited by nei1; 10th June 2008 at 11:04. Reason: afterthought
Nothing he wrote is really news. If I needed a JPEG camera and weathersealing the M8 would not be even considered. The problem the M8 has is the film M's. Despite looking very similar it is a different camera and while it is closer to an M then any DSLR it's not the same experience handling or ruggedness wise so you can't assume that if you used an MP or M7 that the M8 will be it's digital twin.
While it doesn't quite clear the bar the film M's set it does do a few tricks the film M's can't. I was confined to ISO 100 35mm slide film. I moved to MF to be able to shoot color negative at ISO 640. The M8 does better then my MF RF with Fuji 800 shot at 640 in a much smaller package with faster lenses. So the M8 does bring somethings to the party the film M's do not.
Photography has always been about choosing your compromises equipment wise.
Leica was not succesfull to transform all the things that made the M-Cameras best for reportage and available light into the digital age.
M8 is a toy, not a tool.
thing is, the camera could have been so much more useable for Kamber had a few mechanical details been more appropriate, none of which are really pushing the envelope of design compared to what many other much cheaper digital cameras have achieved. In particular, the framing, on/off switch, card retrieval, button sensitivity, shutter speed display, etc.
YMMV, of course
TEBnewyork,youre right of course but Id started to have doubts since the upgrade path started,this should be a free option on a new camera(shutter),its as if theyare trying to milk the public.The over-engineering I mentioned wont mean that Ill be taking the camera to war but it would have given it a long and trouble free life,I like to keep my cameras.I think what Ill do is indeed buy that scanner and wait to see how the M9 turns out,if its full frame then thats the framing sorted and all decent digital cameras should be waterproofed.It also seems to me that all digital sensors are affected a lot by heat generated by the camera and maybe the new sensor will be better able to deal with that. All the best,Neil.
The article this thread refers to will, I'm sure, be noticed at Leica and I think it's acutely focused criticism will stir them. My hope is that Leica's complacency with various aspects of M8 design, manufacture, quality control, and marketing have been shaken out of the company; time will tell. However, the price for earlier complacency is the Iraq article and similar criticisms which are damaging to the company now. Within in it's own narrow frame of reference I found the article to be mostly fair, but for those committed workers within Leica trying to raise their standards I'm sure it will feel like a slap.
The M8 is most definitely not a toy, in the same way a BMW M3 is not a toy- you wouldn't want to use it to carry troops into battle, but it's very good at what it does.
Honestly, what is it about the M8 that turns otherwise reasonable people into hyperbole machines?
I was being a wise ***. I'm not sure there is any one real reason why Leica generates so much hyperbole (which seems to go both pro and con). I am pretty sure though, that it isn't likely to ever stop.
Yeah, after all this is The Internets.
That said, the guy in the article has lots of good points about the M8 as a war correspondent's tool and I'd get behind his suggested changes. A more robust and rough-and-tumble Leica DRF would be a wonderful thing indeed.
Maggie,what I think it must be like is buying a mercedes and finding that it breaks down like any other car.
Thats what makes it real.
I was talking about my dog
The Bolsheviks on other forums (no names mentioned!) really enjoy taking the piss out of Leica Camera AG. Part of this is due to a sociological phenomenon. We tend to become envious of things that are within reach. For example, we're less likely to be envious of a Warren Buffett or a Bill Gates, but are more likely to be envious of our neighbour who has a better job or a better house, because that is something within our reach, and we haven't "reached" it.
The M8 represents that item from a company whose products were within reach of the Bolsheviks, but has now crossed over into unreachable territory for most. You don't hear about these same people complaining about not having a $200,000+ car, for that is clearly out of their reach, nor do you hear about them complaining about the Medium Format Digital Backs, the exotic cars of the camera world (way out of my reach).
If you discount all this noise, then the M8 is not a bad camera. Also, most of these critics have never handled one, nor seen the quality of the digital files from them. I know, because I used to be one of them, until I crossed over after tasting Jack and Guy's heroin. Really despicable people, these two.
I actually don't think that the M8 is any less capable in a combat situation than its Leica predessors. With the M3 you got 36 exposures as fast as you could crank the film advance. Assuming two bodies that's 72 exposures. Focus and exposure were only as good as you could make them. Film got lost going back to the agency or your publication. Here is a link to Robert Capa's famous images from D-day in Normandy:
Capa from Omaha Beach
You should note that most images are out of focus. Not perfectly exposed. Capa or Life lost almost all of the film he took on Omaha beach.
What's changed is our expectations of what's possible under these harsh conditions. The M8 reviewer reflects these expectations, based on what's possible with the D3, for example. Leica can't compete for the most demanding PJs business with a 1954 design. That's still fine with me, because the M8 works very well in the situations where I use it.
" and the dog said,"arf" " (Zappa)
more like buying a new top dollar mercedes and finding you have to tune the radio with a knob because the presets don't work, or the ABS goes out all the time, so you have to bring it to the dealer over and over, or the seat recliners don't work, etc. even though on you basic 5 year old Camry, all of the above works pretty well. the Merc has a lot of style though, and is great to cruise in when it works
Last edited by jlm; 11th June 2008 at 11:06.
If you never used M with film you don΄t know how fine the Leicas have been up to the M6TTL.
I have 5 fine M-Lenses and am waiting for a digital body for this lenses with:
Flash synchronous socket
Sealing against dust and humidity
Light balance with 1/3 steps accuracy in the M-mode + time displayed in the viewfinder
Modern one, small exposure range of a digital camera appropriate exposure measuring method
Alternative current supply for reports in areas without 110/220V-Voltage (battery part for mignon cells)
Accuracy of the agreement of the viewfinderframes with the picture
Automatic system for sensor cleaning
Quiet catch elevator engine
Noise-free high ISO values
Integrated picture stabilizer
No need to use IR/UV-Filters
And reliable as an M3
I have 2 M8s and a slew of lenses. M8s are not out of my reach.
I don't give a rat's *** about having to remove the bottom plate any more than I did with a film M ... and I don't have to do it nearly as often with the M8. I like the look and feel of the camera ... it's a rangefinder. Even the cropped frame doesn't bug me, I'm not an extreme wide angle shooter anyway.
And Boo Hoo, it takes time to change the ISO ... an option not available on a film M, yet we seemed to go on with life.
However, Leica has taken on the philosophy of making their problems, my problems. For the first year of ownership, the camera was off being repaired for half that time. That's a problem. 6 months of warranty time was eaten up doing ... drum roll ... warranty work!
But the worst thing about it all is that I have lost the confidence I once had to shoot my work with a M ... which is a real problem, since it was part and parcel of my style ... and without an M it has shown in the overall end-result.
But I keep trying.
Perhaps I am a member of the меньшинство.
Do I miss the display of shutter speed in the M8 in manual mode- NO I just set it on the dial. Seems a lot like the MP. I love my M8...but
Sure, The issues are there, and the M8 has more than its share of them, but the images Oh La La! really more to do with weak AA and 72lp/mm resolution along with some lenses that are not half bad.
My D3 is relegated to limited roles that the M8 cannot handle. It is a boring camera with an over-active paparazzi mode.
Oh, and no, the M8 is not the be-all-and-end-all, it is not an all-weather-night-fighter-bomber-reconnaissance drone. It is a decent camera with a few problems.
What I hope that Leica hears, is that I don't give a rat's gluteus maximus if there is 1.5 stories behind an M8 and I loath the Hermes/Montblanc marketing image, what I hope is that we finally get rid of the mad hatter display, the need to occasionally re-boot by removing the battery, and for GOD'S sake please fix service and figure out how to calibrate your lenses and rangefinders. Buy out DAG for whatever it takes and just do IT or give IT UP.
The line that divides love and hate is fine indeed. Pleasure and pain and not strangers either.
Please save me from this whining and show me some pictures that you bothered to focus.
I have not read what happened to this guy and honestly don't have to. Bottom line in a war zone in those conditions anything can and will happen to any body. There disposable items in these type of conditions for any camera be it Nikon, Canon , leica or anything else. Just the blowing sand will eat anything so on that level what the hell do you expect. On the level of the M8 and what it does not have is something maybe you don't need anyway to get it done. These are not P&S cameras and i think the mentality on this coming from being somewhat spoiled of what Nikon and Canon do with Auto everything. Let's face it no many want to work at shooting, some of us do because we love to but the vast majority wants to pick up a camera and not work at it. The M8 is a working camera in this sense , good , bad or indifferent that is what it is and folks will never stop whining about it, i have given up on all threads that people complain , just not worth my energy anymore because they still don't get the fact you have to work at it. The M8 is not perfect no question but it does deliver images and very good ones. The bottom line to me is either you understand this and accept it or you don't but i do agree with Marc service time is not what it should be and it does become our problem and leica needs to not just fix this but make it a priority before they announce anything else because it will not be easy to sell anything until this issue is solved and they better realize that.
Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.
For decades, my primary back-up to any SLR/DSLR while shooting weddings, or any other "one chance" assignment, was a demure M6 or M7 slung over my shoulder. I could always count on it if the primary camera hiccuped. Alas, that time has pasted.
As of late, a little D300 with a nice array of Zeiss optics has crawled up the M8's backside as a small alternative for travel and walkabouts. If Zeiss ever delivers the legendary 21 and a 135/1.8 ... oh, oh.
The real final "excitement" will come after all this sorting out is complete, and the problems that were made my problems have been dealt with, the M9 will appear and turn a $10,000 investment and almost 2 years of frustration into a lame duck ... all because I foolishly associated my previous M experience and trust in Leica with this camera.
One should NEVER bring emotional baggage from an old relationship into a new one.
Whether or not the M8 was the right tool for him, and his previous film M's were, I think he may have a valid point that at a $5000 price point it should have been the right tool - for most everything. You can only justify that kind of price if the tool is something far better than the $2000 competition and with all the QC issues, the lack of field testing, etc, why exactly does it justify Rolls Royce pricing? What does it have that justifies 2.5X the price of a 5D? Yes the chip may be something special but we know that it doesn't cost that much relatively, the build quality seems to be down to canon level (the ultimate curse!) and I get a 3 day turnaround with CPS for repair. If the M8 wants to be a professional tool then as Marc says it needs to be reliable, it needs extremely strong pro backup. If it's a rich mans toy then why does it even begin to justify $5000?
Please don't take this as an attack I'm genuinly puzzled as to how Leica can justify even half of that price tag for any other reason rather than they can. It has no expensive AF motors, no expensive 10fps shutter units, no incredibly sophisticated metering modes with the years of research needed, no weatherproofing and a chip that has to be less expensive than the 5D's. If it had diamond build quality and QC then it would be worth it, but it doesn't does it?
I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz
I don't think I would miss my M8 and 3 lens travel kit - until I sold it....
I'm in pedantic mode. The earlier Robert Capa analogy was not a good one; as far as we know Capa got his pictures of the Normandy landings. His camera worked under pressure as did he, the films were rushed back for processing and were successfully processed, and then were melted in a too-hot drying cabinet by an inexperienced and over excited processing bunny. For the metaphor to work in the M8 context, that would be perhaps be the equivalent of a hardrive death after images have been downloaded from an M8. Not even the biggest Leica critic would blame Leica for a hardrive failure.
I have been a consistent critic of aspects of the M8; but the damned thing still has allure for me despite it's irritations. I can't stand bodgers and habitual compromisers, they always irritate me. Leica seem to have got within range of making a classic camera with the M8 [despite my misgivings about certain 'legacy' holy cows that I find anachronistic], and yet a 'that will do' culture ruined that worthy aspiration. I was a first time Leica customer with my M8, 'that will do' wasn't and isn't good enough for me!
And yet; I still hold on to the camera.
But there is a difference between not getting a nice personal shot which can be very frustrating, and not getting the Bride walking down the asile with her Dad ... which, in it's own way, is also a land mine
Again another example of - Horses for courses Marc - the pain of owning an M8 is considerably eased by having an M3 and an MP to use the glass with when in the TRX mood....if they ever bring out a full frame ( or larger than full frame) that will be a camera to own..thats when the 35 lux will become king of the hill top of the pops again..
btw speaking of wedding shots..my favourite of yours was teh bride gettign dressed shot..smokin hot that one.
You can keep your R series whatever they bring out - no interest - wish them good luck trying to compete with MFD companies who I think ( fiinally) are starting to understand that the market is bigger if their prices are lower ..LOL
Forgive my intrusion into a history I'm unsure of. My gap in shooting "for real" between about 1983 and 2006 leaves a big hole in my grasp of the digital revolution.
But, didn't Nikon (and Canon) start with several models of digital cameras that have now evolved into the D3 (for example)? Wasn't there a D1, etc.? And didn't those early versions come with their own unique set of challenges? I ask because my impression is that the M8 is Leica's first entry into the "pro" level digital camera.
That's how I understood it and was still able to justify the purchase of the M8 in my own mind since I felt the rangefinder approach and the lens quality were worth the cost of admission. I went into Leica territory fully expecting there to be a follow on camera body that would evolve from the M8 in the same way the D2H evolved from the D1 (or whatever the path actually was).
For absolutely no good reason, I choose to believe that Leica will eventually get it right with digital. In the meantime, I love the kisses I get from the M8, and can live with the slaps.
The problem with the M8 as a "working camera" is when it's not working. Mine spent a better part of last year being worked on or replaced. Even after that I still have the occasional need for reset and the occasional gray shot (and no it's not the blasted card - it's the camera software!).
I think Mr Kamber expected the M8 to work as film M's always have (well up to the M7 at least) albiet with at least some of digital's mod cons. I think that those who have never used film M's don't quite get the level of frustration or disappointment some of us have felt. Like why exactly did Leica feel the need to monkey with a legacy of the way framelines were set up? Just some really bad decisions made, I guess to pander to the "1.5 stories" set (???). I also would have much preferred a sync plug vs a self timer (haven't used it yet, except in accident).
The single worse thing about the M8 though is when I pick it up to fire the shutter and nothing happens (camera is already set to on). When you miss a shot, .7 sec startup time may as well be 3 sec or a minute for that matter. Nikon/Canon measure their start up times in the microseconds.
The single best thing about the M8 is the images. They do look great. Just getting there is more of a struggle than it should be (and I've been using M's and Medium Format rangefinders for 15 years so it's not a user issue). It really didn't need to be that way.
One of the best things about the M8 is that it influenced me to buy an MP.