Any reason to look at M8

Started Dec 18, 2012 | Discussions
chekist
chekist Senior Member • Posts: 2,416
Any reason to look at M8

Hi all,

I am new to Leica - never owned one. That being said I like good quality lenses and have used M-mount lenses from Leica, Ziess, Voigtlander for few years on mirrorless cameras. For travel I just switched to Fuji X-E1. But despite the dedicated adapter, the camera has nothing to assist MF lens users (there is magnification I guess). The best camera I have owned for MF lenses was GXR, which had two peaking modes, second best Sony NEX5n.

But despite peaking, focusing M-mount lenses on those cameras was still slow, hit-and-miss endeavor. This is why I was looking at some rangefinders as possible alternative, not to replace but to supplement X-E1. Despite its age M8 is still quite an expensive camera. I wanted to get frank option from some M8 users about its capabilities by todays standards. I am sure I would appreciate the quality of Leica, but I am chiefly interested in the result.

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marcio_napoli Senior Member • Posts: 1,250
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".

Exactly.

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.

Cheers

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Marcio Napoli

www.marcionapoli.com

harold1968
harold1968 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,687
Re: Any reason to look at M8

chekist wrote:

Hi all,

I am new to Leica - never owned one. That being said I like good quality lenses and have used M-mount lenses from Leica, Ziess, Voigtlander for few years on mirrorless cameras. For travel I just switched to Fuji X-E1. But despite the dedicated adapter, the camera has nothing to assist MF lens users (there is magnification I guess). The best camera I have owned for MF lenses was GXR, which had two peaking modes, second best Sony NEX5n.

But despite peaking, focusing M-mount lenses on those cameras was still slow, hit-and-miss endeavor. This is why I was looking at some rangefinders as possible alternative, not to replace but to supplement X-E1. Despite its age M8 is still quite an expensive camera. I wanted to get frank option from some M8 users about its capabilities by todays standards. I am sure I would appreciate the quality of Leica, but I am chiefly interested in the result.

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its very good camera

construction is Jewel like and the results are pin sharp. ISO is good, in conjunction with lightroom, until around 640. 1250 is usable and 2500 can be but they are quite behind something like the Fuji X-pro1

however the Leica workflow is very particular and you will need to like it (e.g. only manual or AE mode, diffuse spot metering only, MF, etc.)

The manual focus is a dream, its the best MF I have ever used (including all the old film DSLRs)

Main downside of the M8 compared to the M8.2 and M9 is the slightly noisier shutter

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LeitzKameraAktion
LeitzKameraAktion Regular Member • Posts: 123
Re: Any reason to look at M8

Without question, the M8 is a great and much under-rated camera. I bought mine not long after the camera launched, and was blown away by its outstanding sharpness, natural colour, and 3 dimensional tonality. I still think it's among the best cameras out there for IQ, and actually prefer its' colour rendition to that of the M9! I've compared my M8 to full-frame cameras like the D700/D800, Canon's 5D/I and II, plus various 1Ds models, and Sony's a900, and the M8 easily holds its own. Indeed, M8 files typically look sharper and the colours are somehow both more vibrant and more natural. I also own the GXR with M module, and an XE-1 with Fuji's M adaptor, and (at base ISO in good light) the M8 delivers superior results. I'd agree the M8 is not so good at higher ISOs, and you can get IR colour shifts even with the IR Cut filter in place. Also, you need to shoot RAW and process in Capture One for best results. Having recently compared my M8 against three different M9s, I'm not tempted to 'upgrade'. However, the new 'M' with Live View is another matter!

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Prosophos
Prosophos Senior Member • Posts: 1,837
Great responses. Some samples here...

You've had some insightful commentary already, and I agree with it.

The M8 was always underrated (yes, that's just my opinion of course).  I remember first picking it up when I was shooting a Nikon D3... and then I sold my D3.

Some M8 images, for your consideration:

My only hesitation in recommending the M8 today is Leica's recent announcement that they will no longer be able to replace defective or broken back LCDs.  Something to keep in mind.

Peter.

http://prosophos.com/

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Bryan Campbell Senior Member • Posts: 1,012
The M8 is still amazing... Here is why (with samples)

The best way to describe the M8 is that it's slightly more difficult to get perfect results in everyday use, simply because you are in completely control. You'll need to nail the focus, learn how to press the shutter down with minimal vibration, and you will need a UV/IR filter for each lens you use on the M8.

However, when you do nail the exposure, get spot on focus, and have that beautiful Leica glass, the best looking M8 photos I would prefer over ANYTHING I've seen outside of medium format cameras, with the exception of the M Monochrom, which is takes the most impressive photos I've ever seen.

I've had my M8 for awhile now and I even owned the Leica M9 breifly. I don't like the M9 color as much, there is something not quite right about it, although there are plenty of wonderful M9 photos out there by better photographers than me. The M8 is also slightly sharper than the M9 do to the lack of internal UV/IR filter.

I used to use the M8 up to ISO 1250 with black & white, but now I only use mine for ISO 160 and ISO 320 which the occasional ISO 640. I think that ISO 160 is completely magical. I've never seen another camera come close to this at low ISO.

Here is the kind of color and sharpness I can't quite get out of a CMOS sensor:

M8, 35mm Summarit, ISO 160

Here is a good example of smooth tonality and purity of colors you can get:

M8, 35 Summarit, ISO 160

A good example of sharpness throughout the frame, and if you are creative you can find ways to brace the camera and still use ISO 160 in dim lighting:

M8, 35 Summarit, ISO 160

Here is an ISO 640 photo with a little bit of noise reduction applied... It doesn't look quite as good as the above photos, and there is a bit less:

M8, 35 Summarit, ISO 640

Another ISO 640 photo when it was darker outside. Oddly enough it looks better than the one above that was taken during the day:

M8, 35 Summarit, ISO 640

Find out what focal lengths are you favorite and stick with just 1 lens at first and then work your way up to 2 or 3, but only if you feel the need. I recently added the 50 Summilux ASPH to my arsenal, but it's not calibrated perfectly with my M8, so I often miss focus. I do get lucky and guess the focus from time to time. This lens along with the 35 Summarit are the best I've used on any system by far.

M8, 50 Summilux ASPH, ISO 160

Anyway, I say forget the Leica M9 or Leica ME and get yourself a Leica M8 or Leica M8.2 that is in good condition. Find your favorite focal length and buy the Leica version. Don't forget to buy a UV/IR filter for it otherwise your color will be awful. Use Lightroom if possible for processing and get a good Leica M8 color profile installed. Take time to learn the camera, rangefinders are very different beasts than a DSLR.

Dr. Ulrich Rohde Senior Member • Posts: 1,672
Re: The M8 is still amazing... Here is why (with samples)

your pictures  are not just a vailidation how great you are taking these motives, but also corrcetly shows how good the M 8 is.

I have not beed close to motives like yours but I will see what I can do to convince all of you about the M 240 capabilities. I own an  M8 and M9, and I am sure the signal processing chip can get the same top ferformance as from CCD.

I have forwarded your pictures to Leica for comments, just bear with me. Thanks

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BSweeney
BSweeney Contributing Member • Posts: 903
Re: The M8 is still amazing... Here is why (with samples)

"The M8 is also slightly sharper than the M9 do to the lack of internal UV/IR filter."

I've seen some people state this before- The M8 has a thin IR absorbing glass filter on the CCD. It absorbs most of the IR light that would otherwise hit the CCD. I have not done a measurement, but it is "most". I've done some quick tests using a full-spectrum camera, modified Olympus EP2, the M8, and M9. The M8 with a "Hot Mirror" (UV/IR CUT) filter has less IR contamination than the M9. I'll repeat the test with the M Monochrom.

The filter used on the M8's KAF-10500 is 0.5mm thick. The M9 uses an IR absorbing glass filter that is 0.8mm thick. I believe the filter used on the M9's KAF-18500 is an improved IR absorbing material. The M8 images are more "crisp" than the M9 with the same lens.

The M8 is under-appreciated. I'm keeping mine.

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chekist
OP chekist Senior Member • Posts: 2,416
Re: Any reason to look at M8

Thanks everyone for the advice! It is clear that I would love to have M8, to see how I like the controls and to form my own opinion about the quality of the images. I just need to get over the fact that it costs as much as a brand new full frame DSLR with a lens...

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Dr. Ulrich Rohde Senior Member • Posts: 1,672
Re: Any reason to look at M8
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spiegellos Forum Member • Posts: 73
Re: The M8 is still amazing... Here is why (with samples)

Bryan Campbell wrote:

The best way to describe the M8 is that it's slightly more difficult to get perfect results in everyday use, simply because you are in completely control. You'll need to nail the focus, learn how to press the shutter down with minimal vibration, and you will need a UV/IR filter for each lens you use on the M8.

However, when you do nail the exposure, get spot on focus, and have that beautiful Leica glass, the best looking M8 photos I would prefer over ANYTHING I've seen outside of medium format cameras, with the exception of the M Monochrom, which is takes the most impressive photos I've ever seen.

I've had my M8 for awhile now and I even owned the Leica M9 breifly. I don't like the M9 color as much, there is something not quite right about it, although there are plenty of wonderful M9 photos out there by better photographers than me. The M8 is also slightly sharper than the M9 do to the lack of internal UV/IR filter.

I used to use the M8 up to ISO 1250 with black & white, but now I only use mine for ISO 160 and ISO 320 which the occasional ISO 640. I think that ISO 160 is completely magical. I've never seen another camera come close to this at low ISO.

Here is the kind of color and sharpness I can't quite get out of a CMOS sensor:

M8, 35mm Summarit, ISO 160

Here is a good example of smooth tonality and purity of colors you can get:

M8, 35 Summarit, ISO 160

A good example of sharpness throughout the frame, and if you are creative you can find ways to brace the camera and still use ISO 160 in dim lighting:

M8, 35 Summarit, ISO 160

Here is an ISO 640 photo with a little bit of noise reduction applied... It doesn't look quite as good as the above photos, and there is a bit less:

M8, 35 Summarit, ISO 640

Another ISO 640 photo when it was darker outside. Oddly enough it looks better than the one above that was taken during the day:

M8, 35 Summarit, ISO 640

Find out what focal lengths are you favorite and stick with just 1 lens at first and then work your way up to 2 or 3, but only if you feel the need. I recently added the 50 Summilux ASPH to my arsenal, but it's not calibrated perfectly with my M8, so I often miss focus. I do get lucky and guess the focus from time to time. This lens along with the 35 Summarit are the best I've used on any system by far.

M8, 50 Summilux ASPH, ISO 160

Anyway, I say forget the Leica M9 or Leica ME and get yourself a Leica M8 or Leica M8.2 that is in good condition. Find your favorite focal length and buy the Leica version. Don't forget to buy a UV/IR filter for it otherwise your color will be awful. Use Lightroom if possible for processing and get a good Leica M8 color profile installed. Take time to learn the camera, rangefinders are very different beasts than a DSLR.

I also have the Leica M8.2 and I agree 100%. It is together with my M6 the best camera I have in my collection. The workflow to get the best out of the M8 is another story but at the moment a combination of Lightroom 4.3 and RPP is a very good deal. A dream combination for the M8 is for sure the Summicron 28 and the Summilux 50 1.4 ASPH. Sharpness and look is hard to beat for every camera. The 8.2 fo me is the digital M3 only for the way the camera is made. Like a rock!

Best whishes from Germany Wetzlar.

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Daedalus2000
Daedalus2000 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,607
Re: Any reason to look at M8

chekist wrote:

Thanks everyone for the advice! It is clear that I would love to have M8, to see how I like the controls and to form my own opinion about the quality of the images. I just need to get over the fact that it costs as much as a brand new full frame DSLR with a lens...

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Can you not hire one for a couple of days to test it out?

BSweeney
BSweeney Contributing Member • Posts: 903
Re: Any reason to look at M8

At Low-ISO, and with an IR-Cut filter, the M8 gives an image that is more "crisp" than the M9. I believe the thicker IR absorbing glass of the M9 acts like a weak AA filter.

ANYWAY: These are with the M8 and a Jupiter-9 85/2. This lens was under $100.



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Bryan Campbell Senior Member • Posts: 1,012
Re: The M8 is still amazing... Here is why (with samples)

Dr. Ulrich Rohde wrote:

your pictures are not just a vailidation how great you are taking these motives, but also corrcetly shows how good the M 8 is.

I have not beed close to motives like yours but I will see what I can do to convince all of you about the M 240 capabilities. I own an M8 and M9, and I am sure the signal processing chip can get the same top ferformance as from CCD.

I have forwarded your pictures to Leica for comments, just bear with me. Thanks

Thank you very much! All of us really, really appreciate the information and your impression of the new Leica M (type 240).

Dr. Ulrich Rohde Senior Member • Posts: 1,672
Re: The M8 is still amazing... Here is why (with samples)

I am going to send you some R lens pictures after Jan 15

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mrwilkins Forum Member • Posts: 70
Re: Any reason to look at M8

Hey there!

I'm not sure what country you're in, but used M8 cameras are available for under US $1500.

As an owner of both an M8 (with the 35/1.4 ASPH, 50/2 non-ASPH, and 75/1.4) and a Nikon D800-based system, I can offer some thoughts.

The Leica M-system, being strictly oriented toward manual focus, is awesome when you're shooting a still scene and very, very challenging when you're trying to shoot anything in motion.  Yes, there are effective tricks for pre-focusing and manually executing the equivalent of trap focus, and if you become an expert Leica user you're going to have a lot of practice with these, but it takes work and you're going to have a lot of missed shots.

The Leica system's optics are amazing. I also own an M7, and when I first started shooting with it, I'd get a roll of film back from the lab and my jaw would drop open wide at a few of the 4x5 prints from each roll.  I have trouble putting my finger on what it is that made me feel this way.  It's not really sharpness, because I would be having this reaction looking at small prints at arm's length.  It might be contrast, but more I feel like it was something about the quality of the transition between in-focus and out-of-focus areas.  The 35/1.4 ASPH and the 35/2 ASPH (which I briefly owned) both provoked this feeling.  I feel like the Leica's an optimal low-light tool.

However, I do prefer my Nikon system for general photography.  It's just too easy to screw up a particular shot with the Leica.  (Particularly on the M7, where I have at least once opened the bottom cover without rewinding the film, but that's a different matter.)

I mentioned this in another thread on here, but I like using the Leica when I can be slow, deliberative, and careful.  If a friend wanted a really striking portrait and was willing to tolerate a long session, I might reach for it.  However, a camera with good autofocus will help you capture a decisive moment a lot more reliably.

Bryan Campbell Senior Member • Posts: 1,012
A few more with a low contrast lens...

Before I bought the 35 Summarit, I used the 40mm Rokkor-M which you can get for a good price used. The bokeh isn't the best at times but I love the way it draws, it's tiny, and has wonderful sharpness especially on the M8.

starwolfy Senior Member • Posts: 1,308
Re: Any reason to look at M8

Simple answer:

A Leica M8 is used like any other Leica Body.

It has few limitation though:

- Crop factor of x1.33 (a 35mm lens on a M8 is equivalent to a 46mm).

- It needs UV/IR filters on your lens if you shoot color. If you don't put this then it means you won't have true black's on your color pictures. But well...that is not a big deal since you probably put filters on your lenses anyway...

- Higher Iso capabilities are low with current "standards"

If you can live with these 3 points...the Leica M8 is wonderful true rangefinder camera, amazingly built like any other Leica, with amazing IQ at base Iso up to Iso 320. A Leica M8 excels at day-light.

I've owned a M8 and I would take that camera over a Nex5n or a Fuji X whatever any day.

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starwolfy Senior Member • Posts: 1,308
Re: Any reason to look at M8

And of course some sample pictures with M8.



100% CROP - Details are huge at base iso.

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janlu
janlu Veteran Member • Posts: 7,132
Re: Any reason to look at M8

Hello Eugene.... The M8 is a wonderful camera and it's better that i stop myself here to talk about this camera , since for me it's the best digital camera i have.

I also shot with a M9 and a Canon 5D mark ll , so i don't speak only because the M8 is my only camera......

The IQ , colors and sharpness at the low iso setting are unmatched even by the today standards , and for the BW it's even better.....(just use it without IR filter). Of course the pleasure to shot with a rangefinder manual camera play a big part in the choice .

For high iso , i have no problem to use up to 640 .... The 1250 setting is for emergency , but shooting with this kind of cameras you can get a good picture at about 1/30 sec with a 50mm lens (66mm equivalent on the M8).

If you think that rangefinder can suites your way of capturing images , you can't go wrong with the M8.

Here's some of my pictures with the M8 , various setting.... so i hope you can have an idea :





Best, Gianluca

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