Any reason to look at M8

Started Dec 18, 2012 | Discussions thread
marcio_napoli Senior Member • Posts: 1,371
M8 is pretty fine

Hi chekist

I'm not able to help you directly, as I do not have the M8, nor any digital Leica.

Having said that, I've played a lot with M8 files, and gathered as many samples as I could.

I believe the M8 files follow the same pattern I've seen on all CCD based cameras I've ever used (and I have a bunch of them):

Great colors, with rich, smooth gradations, and an unmatched base ISO image quality.

On the downside, very poor High ISO performance, compared to CMOS sensors.

The M8 has all these positives and also these weaknesses.

Two things I'd like to point out:

First is a myth about better CCD colors.  That's not a myth: CCD cameras DO have better color, or at least, to my eyes they do.

Many will jump in and say "sensors are black and white. What gives color output is the filter in front of it".


The filter is responsible for better colors, but there's a catch, and a pattern behind it.

Sensor designers know at first hand that CCDs can't handle well High ISO performance, and they're better performing at low ISOs.

Having that in mind, almost all CCDs out there have a very strong CFA, in order to enhance what it offers best anyway: base ISO performance (as low light performance is compromised anyway).

That's why you hear all the time CCDs output better colors than CMOS, but also give noisier files at High ISO (it's a trade off made, I believe, in the design process).

Stronger CFA = better low ISO, but poor high ISO. Good design decision for CCD cameras.

The second thing I'd like to illustrate is that sensors do not age like computers do.

The M8 sensor is indeed very noisy at high sensitivities, but also, has unique characteristics that you won't find anywhere else.

Sensors do have their own signature, or look, and that's what the M8 offers that is so unique to this particular camera.

I'll illustrate with an example:

Earlier this year, I had to decide between the newest technology of the D800, or the old one of a 22mp Leaf Aptus digital back.

I've gone the DMF route.

It's a 22mp sensor (very low for MF standards), and gets pretty noisy as soon as you reach ISO 200.

But I couldn't be happier! At its base ISO (25), it's an entire Universe apart from anything I've ever used before, including what I've seen from the D3X, D800 and D600.

So, don't get scared with the old sensor talk.

Many of these old sensors are low performers only at HIGH ISO, but for anything else, they're as good as it gets.

To your OP question: I'd buy the M8, without any fear.


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Marcio Napoli

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