In 1954, at Photokina (or 'Foto Kina'), Leica introduced the first M series camera, the M3, the first Leica rangefinder body with a bayonet interchangeable lens mount, it was the beginning of a legendary series of cameras and lenses, the latest of which, the M7 is one of the only 35 mm rangefinder cameras still in production. For over half a century Leica has resisted the temptation to change the essential simple design established with the original M3 (it wasn't until 2002 that an electronically-controlled shutter was introduced allowing aperture priority automatic exposure). With an average 10 years between major upgrades and many of the original M3s still in regular use, the M platform is felt by its legion of fans to be the purest photographic tool available, and a welcome antidote to the mass of plastic feature-laden models that make up the rest of the market. Owning a Leica M camera has always been something people do with their hearts as much as their heads - and some of the 20th century's greatest photographers and most famous images were taken using them. It is no surprise then, that - despite talking about it for at least five years - Leica felt no need to rush into things when they decided it was time to bring the M into the digital age.
And so, fifty-two years after the M3, and just in time for Photokina, Leica has made another historical introduction, the first digital M series, the M8. This new rangefinder digital camera has the classic design, build and function of the M series but utilizes a completely digital imaging system. The M8 has a specially designed ten megapixel CCD sensor which being slightly smaller than a film negative introduces a 1.33x field of view crop. This ratio conveniently converts several standard M lenses to sort-of equivalent steps (so 21 mm to approx. 28 mm, 28 mm to approx. 35 mm).
The M8 is not an adapted M7, it is a totally new camera with a new body (albeit one that bears all the usual M trademarks), a new viewfinder and a new sensor. Nor is it necessarily the end of the line for M film cameras; Leica is leaving that door open, for the moment at least.
Solving the corner vignetting problem
Because a rangefinder camera doesn't have a mirror box doesn't need to use retrofocus lenses, meaning they sit much closer to the film (or in this case the sensor). The problem with this comes with wide angle lenses (which are pretty much the main staple of the rangefinder camera). Towards the corner of the frame the angle of incidence of light coming from the rear of the lens is so severely off-perpendicular that they would not pass equally through the microlenses above the sensor leading to fairly strong vignetting. Even a modest wide angle lens at this kind of distance could produce a difference of a stop or two between the center of the frame and the edges using a standard CCD sensor.
Leica, obviously keen to solve this problem, took a three pronged approach with the M8:
- Don't use a full frame sensor - at this time it would be cost prohibitive and too complex to produce a sensor which can cover the entire 36x24 mm frame and still work with rangefinder lenses. For this reason the M8's sensor measures 27x18 mm (or 1.33x crop).
- Use offset microlenses - instead of placing all microlenses directly over the photodiode they are gradually offset as you get closer to the edge of the frame (see below).
- Know which lens is being used and apply some software correction - all new M series lenses now carry a six-bit code which allows the M8 to identify which lens is used and (optionally) apply a 'final stage' software based vignetting correction (for RAW images the lens used is simply recorded, no change is made).
Below is a diagram provided by Leica which does some way to explaining how microlenses at the edge of the frame are offset from the photodiode below them, compared to a normal microlens / photodiode combination in the center of the frame.
Tri Elmar M 16-18-21 mm F4 ASPH lens
In conjunction with (and ideally suited for) the M8, Leica has also announced the Tri Elmar M 16-18-21 mm F4 Aspherical lens. Tri Elmar lenses are not zoom lenses but are instead specially designed to provide optimum performance at their selectable focal lengths. On the M8 this lens will provide an equivalent field of view of 21-24-28 mm. This is a normal M series lens and is not in any way specially optimized for the M8 (and so will work just as well on a traditional M series camera).
Also available in Silver
If you prefer your Leica with a more traditional look (I'm sure there'll be some argument over that) then you can buy the M8 in Silver.
Rangefinder advantages / disadvantages (for the uninitiated)
- Fewer moving parts (no mirror or diaphragm) means slower shutter speeds possible (-2 EV)
- More compact, discrete and quieter than an SLR
- Shorter shutter lag
- Lenses are considerably smaller than an equivalent SLR lens
- No auto-focus makes them less suitable for action shots (or at least doing so requires a lot more skill)
- Many users claim rangefinder focusing is faster than using a focusing screen
- You are not looking through the lens itself and do not have a focusing screen hence it is more difficult to get a sense of depth-of-field
- Framelines indicate the field of view of different lenses
- Because there is no mirror you have no mirror black-out
- Brighter than any SLR viewfinder, and not affected by lens maximum aperture
- Not as accurate as an SLR viewfinder, especially with longer lenses (or close subjects)
- Longer minimum focus distances compared to an SLR
- Virtually no telephoto lenses beyond 135mm
- Very wide angle or telephoto lenses require an accessory viewfinder, meaning focus and framing are separated
Leica M series History (brief)
- M3 (1954 - 1966)
- MP (1956 - 1957)
- M2 (1958 - 1967)
- M1 (1959 - 1964)
- M4 (1967 - 1975)
- M5 (1971 - 1975)
- CL (1973 - 1976)
- M4-2 (1977 - 1980)
- M4-P (1980 - 1986)
- M6 (1984 - 1998)
- M6J (1994)
- M6 TTL (1998 - 2002)
- M7 (2002 - )
- M8 (2006 - )
|Lost in cyber space by Jill Hancock|
from Your City - Look Down
|Bringing Home the Bacon by Domenick Creaco|
from My Best Photo of the Week
|I Think I Can? I Think I Can? by kjfrigo|
|ON THE TAXIWAY by DIM POL|
from Leaving on a Jet Plane
The new HP DesignJet Z6 and Z9+ supposedly offer "the fastest printing capabilities available on the market today," all while using fewer ink tanks, and featuring useful add-ons like a built-in vertical trimmer.
In an effort to streamline production and minimize confusion, RED has announced that it is simplifying its product lineup to three main cameras. As an added bonus, this change dramatically drops the prices for all three options.
Fujifilm's new X-T100 is an SLR-style mirrorless camera that takes the internals of the X-A5, including phase-detect AF, and adds a fully articulating LCD and high-res OLED viewfinder. The X-T100 is priced at a very reasonable $599/€599 body-only and $699/€699/£619 with a 15-45mm lens.
Panasonic's latest firmware update for its GH5S, GH5 and G9 series of cameras was leaked in Japan earlier today and is now being officially announced a week early. But don't get too excited – you still won't be able to download it until May 30th.
We've been saying for years that the term "lens compression" is misleading, but Lee Morris over at Fstoppers has put together a useful video that explains why this is the case, and demonstrates it with two easy-to-understand examples.
Last week, some 'leaked' photos were published online that purported to show a DJI Phantom 5 drone with interchangeable lens camera and several prime lenses. The rumor was widely reported, but DPReview has learned that those images do not, in fact, show a Phantom 5 at all.
The bezel-free Vivo Apex concept phone with its pop-up camera might be more than a concept. A new teaser video and ad seem to hint at a similar smartphone to be released June 12st.
Skylum has teamed up with its sister company Photolemur to create Skylum AI Lab, where the duo will work on AI-powered image solutions including image segmentation, tagging and upscaling.
Award-winning fashion and celebrity photographer Markus Klinko recently tested out the Godox EC-200 flash extension head. Actually, he tested out four of them, creating a quad-flash ring light alternative that works great for both beauty and close-up work.
According to a recent investor presentation, Sony intends to occupy the top slot in the overall camera market by the end of 2020, beating back Canon and Nikon by boosting its interchangeable lens systems.
HTC brings back the dual-camera on the newly-announced U12+, which features a secondary tele-camera with 2x zoom factor, as well as 4K video recording at 60 frames per second.
Google has finally added the ability to mark your favorite images in Google Photos, so they can be filtered into a dedicated album. The service is also planning to a social network-like "heart" button that lets you like other people's photos.
We've been messing around with Apollo, an iOS app that allows you to add 3D lighting effects to images using depth information, and have to say we're impressed with what it's capable of – but that doesn't mean we don't have a few requests for the next version.
The new lightweight laptop packs a whole lot of photo- and video-editing punch. The laptop can be specced out with a Core i9 processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage, NVIDIA graphics with 4GB of GDDR5, and a 4K display with 100% Adobe RGB coverage.
It looks like Canon is getting into sensor sales. The three specialized CMOS sensors the company recently demoed—including a 120MP APS-H model and an ultra-low light sensor—have been listed for sale through a distributor in the US.
Instagram has finally launched a "Mute" button, and is testing an "All Caught Up" feature that will let you know when you've seen all new post from the people you follow from the past 48 hours.
45-year-old photography magazine Shutterbug announced today that it is shutting down its print publication, focusing instead on reaching its readers online as a web-only publication.
Kodak Alaris has launched a new single-use disposable camera in Europe. Called the Kodak Daylight Single Use Camera, this 800 ISO film camera is supposedly ideal for parties, weddings, and similar events.
Computer vision company Lucid and cinema camera maker RED have partnered to create an 8K 3D camera that can capture 4-view (4V) holographic images and video in real-time. The camera is designed to work with RED's upcoming holographic Hydrogen One smartphone.
If Canon and Nikon do get into high-end mirrorless, it's almost certain that they'll do everything they can to maintain compatibility with their existing mounts. But, asks Richard Butler, wouldn't it be more interesting if they built a small, niche system to live alongside their existing DSLRs?
It seems RED's Hydrogen One super-phone will make it into the hands of customers in the near future. The phone is now officially slated for a Verizon and AT&T release in the US sometime this summer.
You know that feeling when you're already all suited up and out on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, and only then do you realize you forgot to put the SD card in your GoPro? No? Us either... but one astronaut on the ISS sure does.
From 2015 to 2017, filmmaker Macgregor and his crew spend many months traveling back and forth on the famed Mauritanian Railway—the so-called 'Backbone of the Sahara—to document the grueling journey endured by merchants who regularly travel atop this train. This beautifully-executed short doc is the result.
You can now insert another user's Instagram post into your own Stories as a customized sticker, the first official "regram" feature we've seen from the Facebook-owned photo sharing app.
Synology has added a new 6-bay NAS to its DiskStation+ series, and it's aimed squarely at photographers and medium sized businesses. The DS1618+ can handle up to six 12TB drives, giving it a max capacity of 72TB, or up to 60TB in RAID 5.
Our original gallery for Tamron's new 70-210mm F4 had portraits, slow-moving wildlife and city scenes, but was sorely missing fast action. We remedied that by photographing some motorcycles flying through the air.
This week on DPReview TV, Chris and Jordan prepare for the summer holiday season by putting several popular waterproof cameras to the test. If you're considering a rugged camera for the beach or pool this summer, or if you just want to see what a Chris and Jordan fishing show might look like, tune in.
Soulumination is a non-profit organization that provides life-affirming legacy photography to families facing serious medical conditions, completely free of charge. This video shares the work they are doing.
Fujifilm EU seems to have accidentally leaked an unreleased camera to the masses. The leaked page details a new "X-T100" camera that will share most of its specs with the X-A5, but includes an EVF, deeper buffer, and 3-way tilting touchscreen.
LA-based director and cinematographer Phil Holland of PHFX recently joined forces with Gotham Film Works to create something out-of-this-world. Using a special aerial camera array, Holland shot a flyover of New York City using not one, not two, but three 8K RED Weapon Monstro VistaVision cameras.