Compared to...

In this section of the review we would typically compare the review camera to its nearest competition, however as a digital rangefinder the Leica M8 is a little bit of a special case (and we didn't have the six megapixel R-D1 / R-D1s). Hence as on previous pages we will compare it to Canon and Nikon's semi-pro models, the twelve megapixel EOS 5D and the ten megapixel D200. As you can see below there's a pretty considerable price difference between the M8 with a 50 mm lens and the other two cameras, however the M8's target market aren't likely to worry ("if you have to ask how much it costs you probably can't afford it"). For reference; M8 body only $4,800, EOS 5D body only $2,600, D200 body only $1,600.

(effective pixels)
Leica M8 + Summicron-M 50 mm F2.0 lens $6,400 10.3 MP CCD, 27 x 18 mm (1.33x crop)
Canon EOS 5D + EOS 50 mm F1.4 lens $2,900 12.8 MP CMOS; 35.8 x 23.9 mm (full frame)
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 50 mm F1.4 D lens $1,900 10.2 MP CCD; 23.6 x 15.8 mm (1.5x crop)

Camera settings used for these comparisons

  • Leica M8: Leica Summicron-M 50 mm F2.0 lens, ISO 160, Manual exposure, Manual WB,
    Default Parameters, Self-Timer
  • Canon EOS 5D: Canon 50 mm F1.4 lens, ISO 100, Aperture Priority, Manual WB,
    Default Parameters (Standard PS), Self-Timer
  • Nikon D200: Nikkor 50 mm F1.8 lens, ISO 100, Aperture Priority, Manual WB,
    Default Parameters (Normal), Self-Timer

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Leica M8 vs. Canon EOS 5D

Leica M8
Canon EOS 5D
3,317 KB JPEG (3936 x 2624)
4,012 KB JPEG (4368 x 2912)

The EOS 5D strides confidently into this comparison with a 432 vertical columns by 288 horizontal rows (2.4 million pixel) advantage, and to be fair that can be seen, in places, although honestly it's not as big a leap you would think, above eight megapixels the law of diminishing returns takes over. The M8's color response is clearly more muted than the EOS 5D. The lack of an anti-alias filter (low pass filter) on the M8 affords its processing systems more per-pixel detail than the EOS 5D and in some instances this can be seen although as you will see later for this to be truly obvious you really will need to shoot RAW.