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Thread: How good is the M system

  1. #1
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    How good is the M system

    I stopped using the M8 about a year ago after returning from a Leica/Porsche sponsored trip through Germany for 10 days.

    There was nothing wrong with the M8 or any of the lenses. I bought the D300 in November and then the D3 in February and was pretty consumed with them and some new lenses for the subsequent six months. I also bought a new Hasselblad H3DII-39 system and had to get used to it and the new HC lenses.

    Last week, I decided to take up the M8 again and went to a one lens (50 Lux pre-asph) approach to get back to a non-gear approach and focus on image making only. After the first couple of shoots what struck me was just how good the M8 files look. And yes, even compared to the wonderful files of the D3. If I would make any comparison it would be to the Hassy. The files have that wonderful tonal gradation that makes the files look real and 3D. There is just no (well almost no) plasticity to them.

    I was about to sell the M8 since I was not using it and as it turned out that would have been a terrible decision. I now again look forward to shooting with this great tool and creating wonderful images from the superb files.

    Just wanted to let you know.

    Woody


    We buy too much and shoot too little

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    Re: How good is the M system

    Woody: I have experienced the same thing. During the first 6 months of having the M8 I used in every possible type of photo. Then I began to use the Nikons for flash and telephoto work. There are just certain types of photos that are more difficult with a rangefinder. However, I, too, have been using it more lately: just for fun. I have more fun with the light system of a body and a couple lenses. So, I agree with you, there is room for both types of cameras, at least in my experience. DR

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    Senior Member atanabe's Avatar
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    Re: How good is the M system

    Woody,
    Glad to see that you are shooting with the M8 again. I agree with you that the files have a unique feeling to them that I have not seen elsewhere. I am kind of torn between systems myself, on one hand I need a SLR for close up and long lens work but do not want the extra weight for everyday shooting. So one system is not the answer for me, I am hoping that Leica will have an answer in a couple of weeks.
    The evolution of digital images, DMR to M8 has me salivating with anticipation of what the next generation will bring. Both of these platforms have proven to have set the standards for what is possible from DSLRs at low to mid ISO ranges. Now if they can boost the high ISO quality then we will have a true all around system.

    Al
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    Re: How good is the M system

    Woody, my story is reverse. Starting from Olympus 2000 digicam (if I spell correctly), Nikon D1H, Phaseone P30+ and P45+. Then M8 which I like a lot. The only one I feel much like medium format back. It do not say M8 is equal to medium format. But the file character is much like.

    I am a retoucher. But I like to photograph.
    I felt DSLR is going wrong direction. Modern DSLR use CMOS to save battery and low noise and use a lot of digital process in camera.
    I feel the files from DSLR is too flat and plastic for me.

    I do think M8 is really good.

    kitty

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: How good is the M system

    Great comments all!

    The convenience and ease of use of the auto-everything DLSR makes it an attractive consort, yet for what it does well, the M8 is clearly superior. If you look for ultimate file quality, the M8 is the one compact camera that compares to medium format. Yet there are things the DSLR can do better than anything else, like long lenses, high ISO or multiple fast captures. At the end of the day, it's horses for courses.

    That said, I don't currently own a DSLR, have not owned one for about 8 months and frankly have been making do quite well without it.

    Cheers,
    Jack
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    Re: How good is the M system

    Woody,

    I'm kinda like Jack is here. After buying the D3, the M8 sat dormant for a while. Then I upgraded to MF and sold the Nikon gear. That left me with the M8/M7 and MF systems.

    I have been grabbing the M8 for fun stuff again, with my downsized lens collection. It really is a fun, small system, with great files at lower ISOs. Right now the only thing that could possibly compare for me would be D700 if Nikon introduces some new fast primes.

    Best,

    Ray

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    Re: How good is the M system

    Quote Originally Posted by harmsr View Post
    Woody,

    I'm kinda like Jack is here. After buying the D3, the M8 sat dormant for a while. Then I upgraded to MF and sold the Nikon gear. That left me with the M8/M7 and MF systems.

    I have been grabbing the M8 for fun stuff again, with my downsized lens collection. It really is a fun, small system, with great files at lower ISOs. Right now the only thing that could possibly compare for me would be D700 if Nikon introduces some new fast primes.

    Best,

    Ray
    Ray

    I also agree with Jack about "horses for courses." I love the Nikon gear and use it for a great deal of work, primarily Macro, product shooting etc.

    My MF gear, identical to yours, is just awesome in regard to IQ. When I am shooting landscapes now it is my go to system. Being able to print 22x30 images without uprezzing is just wonderful. And there is a "look" to these images that belies just resolution. The color is more natural and the tonal gradations so fine. Just love it

    To me the M8 "mimics" , not replicates, the look of the MF files. And of course at its size and weight is a natural for travel and frankly just grabbing to go out and shoot. I find that a kit with a 21, 35, and 50 (pre-asph) I can shoot just about everything except macro and longer telephoto. But if I think I need longer reach I can always take my 135 APO/Telyt. And if I want to shoot "street portraits" I take my summarex 85 which is unbeatable for this kind of look.

    So horses for courses is the right stuff.

    Woody

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: How good is the M system

    Owning a D3 with several of the new glass, as well as M8 with almost all modern glass, I must say I love both systems. I cannot back the others comments that the D3 files look "plastic", for me they look just great. But what I reckon is that the M8 results look different - because I work different with a RF. And yes, of course the size speaks for the M8.

    But just think what a FF M Digital (M9?) could give in terms of IQ and feeling etc. I think this will be the real killer system then and I am confident we will see such a camera in the next 1 - 2 years.

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    Re: How good is the M system

    Peter

    I shot for quite a while with the D3 and certainly did not find the looks plastic at all! I also shot with the Canon 5D and did and do find the Canon files somewhat plastic. I am not a fan boy having shot successfully with both systems.

    However, having said that, to me the M8 files have a look that, as I said above, mimics MF. To a degree i think this is due to the contrast, both Micro and Macro of the wonderful M8 glass. It also has to do with the lack of a strong AA filter. Some folks don't like that look and that is cool. Different strokes. But for those who do, it is hard to get as enthused with other approaches. It is interesting to note, of course, that the MFDB also contain weak AA filtration.

    Woody

  10. #10
    kitty
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    Re: How good is the M system

    D3 file look plastic to me. It is hard to explain in word.
    Make big print like A2 and you will see what I mean.

    If you have a chance to try to old MF eg H20 or P20 you will see what I mean.
    The new MF 31MP and 39MP capture better detail eg. skin, fabric texture. These new MF look more like film.

    D3 is a great great camera.
    Just file quality doesn't match M8.

    Kitty

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    Re: How good is the M system

    @ Kitty

    I think what you feel as "plastic look" comes from the still heavy AA filtering in today's Nikon and Canon models.

    AA filters are not there in Leica digital cameras DMR and M8 and also not in MF backs. So this makes a huge difference.

  12. #12
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    Re: How good is the M system

    I agree with Peter. The two things that make M8 image quality special are the lenses and the lack of AA filter. The latter seems to me to be what is responsible for the medium format-ish file character to which Al and Kitty refer.

    Good capture sharpening gives the Canon 5D files a very organic look IMO. It's a bit more challenging to get the same with D700 files, but the RAW presharpener in Nik Sharpener seems to do a good job and fits into my Aperture workflow.

    Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how the 5D replacement files look since the rumors point to special attention to the AA filter.

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    Re: How good is the M system

    Quote Originally Posted by ptomsu View Post
    @ Kitty

    I think what you feel as "plastic look" comes from the still heavy AA filtering in today's Nikon and Canon models.

    AA filters are not there in Leica digital cameras DMR and M8 and also not in MF backs. So this makes a huge difference.
    Hey Peter
    Nice to be able to agree about the Leica files - the lack of an AA filter, together with one of the things leica have done really well (sorting out the moire) makes the files splendid.

    I'm not sure that the D700 files look 'plastic' but they certainly aren't as sharp as the Leica files.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: How good is the M system

    I don't necessarily agree that the D3/D700 files look "plastic" ... IMO they are the right pixel pitch for a full frame 35mm camera, and the IR filtration is enough to avoid odd color shifts and lens filtration, but not so aggressive as to diminish inherent IQ. I see a significant enough difference in approach from my previous Canon's, including the 5D, 1DMKIII, and 1DsMKII & III to have warranted change.

    Like any new camera, the Nikons require nailing the post profiles and processing techniques ... and use of the newer, very excellent lenses ... with some of the ZF optics providing that 3D pop we often associate with Leica.

    The M8 remains in the arsenal, as an M always has ... a small, excellent image maker that's easy to carry almost anywhere. The weak IR filter is surely the reason, but comes at a penalty ... in low light (where a M is suppose to excel) filter reflections can wreak havoc, and ISO 1250 pales in comparison to the Nikons.

    I love the M8 files, but it is limited in application for me ... out IQed by the H3D-II/31 even @ ISO 800, and outshot by the Nikons.

    It's a rangefinder, for my personal enjoyment rather than professional use. Horses for courses.

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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: How good is the M system

    The M system is just great not necessarily the M8 though, I am using now just 2 MPs and have my M8s for sale. Film's sirens got to me... again!

    Anyway, back to the original question, the M system is definitely the best thing there is for what it is made to do - street, PJ, candid, portraits, some artsy stuff, etc etc, while for macro, sports, astro photography, nature birding & safari, and whatever you'd probably be better off with a DSLR (or a SLR for that matter if you love film).
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    Re: How good is the M system

    I'm going to guess that the M8 system will earn a sentimental niche for itself, and that its images will stand the test of time. Ten years from now when we can all take 45 MP images with our Star-Trek-communicator-type-all-in-one device (made by Apple), photographers in that not-too-distant future will look back and recognize the unique talents of the M8 with something of the same reverence the old film Ms receive now. In that sense, Leica has remained true to its roots by producing a unique (if somewhat quirky) image making device.

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    Re: How good is the M system

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    I'm going to guess that the M8 system will earn a sentimental niche for itself, and that its images will stand the test of time. Ten years from now when we can all take 45 MP images with our Star-Trek-communicator-type-all-in-one device (made by Apple), photographers in that not-too-distant future will look back and recognize the unique talents of the M8 with something of the same reverence the old film Ms receive now. In that sense, Leica has remained true to its roots by producing a unique (if somewhat quirky) image making device.
    Hi Tim
    How nice
    I do agree . . . . but looking at old photographs I'm still increasingly struck by the point that; if it's interesting, nobody cares much about the image quality, and if it isn't interesting . . . nobody cares at all!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: How good is the M system

    Owning both an M8 and a Nikon D300, I can safely say that there is no such thing as a one-camera-fits-all type device. The M8 produces wonderful files, but you have to know what you are doing! Screwing up a photo is not the camera's fault. It's all you baby! Not for the P&S crowd.

    Nikons (D300 or newer) also produce wonderful images (I don't know about Amin's claim about D700 files requiring more work to get an "organic" look - I have a preset in Aperture and Lightroom for my D300 images and I get them the way I want in a blink) and are more suited for rapidly changing situations.

    I use the M8 for "art photos" and the Nikon D300 for everything else. Both are fun.
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    Re: How good is the M system

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hi Tim
    How nice
    I do agree . . . . but looking at old photographs I'm still increasingly struck by the point that; if it's interesting, nobody cares much about the image quality, and if it isn't interesting . . . nobody cares at all!
    Absolutely spot on Jono.

    Now having said that, we are all out to make interesting images so it is safe to say that the choice of equipment is part of the equation.

    I just shot a wedding for a friend (we had a real pro to do the heavy lifting so it left it for me to be as creative as I would want.) and found the M8 and two lenses (35 1.2 Ultron CV and 50 lux pre-asph) to be perfect. When I needed tighter shots (or the converse) I found myself walking back and forth (God what a clever concept LOL)

    So once again I found myself loving the M8 quality with all the warts we are all so familiar with after two years of using the system. It is so close to what is possible with MF (The operative word here is "CLOSE") that it is hard not to love. The groom at the wedding was in love with the images I sent him (all converted to Black and White since I was sure the "pro" was shooting only for color) and I loved doing it for him.

    You know, for all the issues associated with wedding photography, being the friend of the family and shooting just for fun really is fun!

    Love the M system

    Woody

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    Workshop Member ChrisDauer's Avatar
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    Re: How good is the M system

    Quote Originally Posted by etrigan63 View Post
    Owning both an M8 and a Nikon D300, I can safely say that there is no such thing as a one-camera-fits-all type device. The M8 produces wonderful files, but you have to know what you are doing! Screwing up a photo is not the camera's fault. It's all you baby! Not for the P&S crowd.
    Not true!

    Throw a CV 12 on the M8. Set the focus to somewhere between 1-2m. Point and shoot away! =) It's the camera and the setting I use when letting someone else run off and take pictures. No more focus, shutter, aperture issues to deal with. LOL

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    Re: How good is the M system

    Woody,

    It is a fantasitic way of taking photographs and the file quality is in my opinion remarkable.

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