Leica M8

 

All right, it's not a camera for everyone. The price alone guarantees that. So does the fact that it is a rangefinder. Many people, for a wide variety of reasons, don't get on with rangefinder cameras. There is more about this in the Zeiss Ikon review (paid).

 

 

Among those who do like rangefinders, there are a few (a very few) who don't get on with Leicas, but prefer other cameras. Frances finds the Zeiss Ikon easier to hold steady, for example, though if price were no object, she confesses that it would be hard to choose between a ZI and an MP: an awful lot of people rationalize their 'preference' for another camera to disguise the fact that a new M-series Leica (film or digital) is horrifyingly expensive.

But if you can afford one; and if you do like rangefinder cameras; and if you are not utterly wedded to silver halide, and determined to spurn digital forever; in that case, the M8 is stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

We use the word 'afford' in its broadest sense. If you can scrape up the money without alienating your nearest and dearest, or resorting to crime, or selling the children into slavery and living on baked beans for three months, then you can, by this definition, afford one. And you should.

 

Bastille Day, 2007

You can use an M8 in the same way as you use any other Leica: quickly, almost instinctively. You can capture a child's expression before she loses interest -- or a politician's before he realizes what you are doing. Roger used a 50/1.5 Zeiss C-Sonnar for this picture, with the lens set fairly wide, ISO at 160 and auto-exposure.

The M8 is not perfect, of course. Horror stories abound on the Internet, mostly about excess IR sensitivity. Well, no camera will deliver 100% perfect pictures, 100% of the time, but the M8 comes as close as film cameras do: just think of the 'slab of beef' complexions delivered by some high-saturation films. Most people who take real pictures with the M8 say the same thing that we do: 'What problems?' Yes, you can get purplish blacks, especially with synthetic fabrics under tungsten lighting -- but unlike film cameras, you can 'fake out' all but the worst of these problems using either the Capture 1 software supplied with the camera (of which more later) or Adobe Photoshop or both.

And the much-vaunted 'banding' problem, streaks coming out from bright light sources, has affected maybe ten or twenty pictures out of several thousand that we have taken with the camera.

 

 

Spectacle de Danse, Moncontour

This is about as bad as the IR sensitivity gets, without the UV/IR filter. Roger shot this with a 50/1 Noctilux and the ISO equivalent at 1250; there was no real need for the full 2,500 with an f/1 lens. It is a sectional blow-up of maybe 20-25% of the image area.

Her clothes (and tights) were charcoal grey or black, and you can see that the IR has put a very great deal of red into the black blouse, even after post-treatment in both Capture 1 and Adobe Photoshop. But her dance shoes are cotton, and therefore render as a true black.

Actually, we do have another set of examples that look worse, which is a band that was all dressed in black. With the high IR reflectivity of their synthetic clothes, they appeared to be wearing various shades of purple, so instead of looking well 'ard, they looked... well... not as they had intended. But this is a more eye-catching picture.

If you are shooting performances professionally, we would heartily recommend the use of UV/IR filters as well as (ideally) bar-coded lenses, as described below. But we have encountered very few problems with any other subjects.

 

 

 

 

Pub, Brick Lane

This is one of the first pictures Roger shot with the M8. It's not technically perfect -- he'd have shot DNG (RAW) if he'd known then what he knows now -- but it's at least as good as anything he could have done with film. The lens was the 15/4.5 Voigtländer used at full aperture; ISO equivalent was set to 2,500, the maximum available. It's the kind of thing he loves to shoot. For low-light mono, we'd still use film. For low-light colour, it's the M8.

Wind-on Levers -- and Unobtrusiveness

In fact, the thing that we (and other Leica users) miss most is the wind-on lever. The wind-on component of the shutter noise is the louder part, as compared with the actual shutter tripping, but overall, it's still a very quiet camera. In all fairness, though, the days when a Leica was significantly quieter than the quietest SLRs on the market are long gone, not because the Leica has got noisier but because the quietest SLRs have got a lot quieter.

 

 

 

Where the Leica really does score is in general unobtrusiveness. People are used to cameras nowadays, but big SLRs are often a lot more noticeable than rangefinders. Most people, after all, can't tell an M-series Leica (or any other rangefinder) from a compact camera, and there seems to be a widespread feeling among the anti-camera brigade that compacts don't count: only 'professional-looking' cameras matter.

 

M2 and M8

We chose the M2 for comparison, rather than the MP, because we have a chrome M2 (like the M8) while our MP is black paint. You can see both the plumpness and the very strong family resemblance.

There's also the point that because the Leica is manually focused, it does not advertise its presence by projecting blobs of red light onto people. One of our friends in the White House Press Corps had some interesting moments with this when autofocus cameras first appeared: the Secret Service was understandably confused and worried when a red spot appeared on the President, and firearms, worry and confusion are a bad combination.

Of course there's no built-in flash. There's no PC flash synch nipple either, just a hot shoe, but as we never use on-camera flash, we can't get excited about this. Leica have since told us that there was no flash nipple because there was simply no room, but that they hope to incorporate one in the next model.

Appearance

 

At first glance -- and indeed when you pick it up -- the M8 is like a slightly plump M-series film Leica. Of course, the more you handle it, the more differences you notice, but equally, the less they seem to matter. On the front, the only real differences are the small extra window in the top-plate for white-light metering and the missing battery cover (or self-timer on many non-metered models) and rewind lever. The Leica red dot has made an unwelcome reapparance just above the lens, with 'M8' to the left of the small rangefinder window, but these are aesthetic choices, not technical.

The back, of course, is where you see the real differences: a good-sized screen, six buttons and a big, round switch that happily recalls the film reminder on an M1 to M4-P, or the ISO setting switch on the back of an MP. It's a combination switch, as usual nowadays, that rotates as well as being a 4-way rocker. There's also an all-but-invisible trapdoor behind the left-hand strap lug, for a USB mini connector.

 

M2 and M8

Apparently Leica did seriously consider using a wind-on lever instead of motor-driven shutter cocking, but decided against it. You can see that the flash synch nipples are missing on the M8, but the extra controls on the back are about as simple as they could be. The slight bulge to the left of the PLAY and DELETE buttons is the USB trapdoor.

 

 

 

On the top plate, as seen above, both the wind-on and the rewind are missing, the latter for obvious reasons, and the LCD picture counter is at the left end of the top plate instread of the mechanical counter on the right end with film Leicas.Like all digital counters it is subtractive, showing the number of pictures left, not the number taken; the battery meter is incorporated. There is an on/off switch concentric with the shutter release, marked 'Off', 'S' (for 'single' not 'serie'), 'C' (for 'continuous', at quite a modest 2 frames per second) and what is presumably intended to be a drawing of a clock, for the self-timer mode. The serial number is engraved on the hot shoe (which has several extra contacts as compared with an MP) and the word 'Leica' is conspicuously missing from the top plate: another aesthetic decision, and (in our opinion) another misguided one.

The speeds of the vertical-run metal bladed shutter are from 4 seconds to 1/8000, plus B and A-for-auto. There are half-stop clicks in between the marked speeds. The shutter speed dial is much bigger than on 'classic' Leicas, so the numbers are no more crowded. Flash synch is at 1/250, much faster than the leisurely 1/50 of the old cloth shutters.

The dial goes the 'wrong' way, as on an M6ttl or M7: logical from a metering viewpoint, as discussed in the Zeiss Ikon review, but tiresome if you are used to traditional Leicas (including the MP), Zeiss Ikons or Voigtländers. Even so, the camera is different enough in handling (the big dial is a useful reminder) that this was less of a problem than we expected.

 

 

 

The base is removable, just like a 'real' Leica, for replacing batteries and SD cards, but the hook (onto the camera body) and the twist-lock latch are at the wrong ends. If you are used to film Leicas, you will find yourself turning the base-plate around and trying to re-attach it the wrong way, without thinking. We did not notice this at first, because we had no occasion to reload both cameras at the same time, and we could not work out what was wrong.

 

M2 and M8 bases

The reversed base latch was arguably harder to get used to than the 'wrong-way' shutter speed dial, simply because we were not aware of it.

 

 

Silhouette, City of London

Film probably could have handled this one better: you can see that we have everything here from pitch-black shadows to 'blown' highlights, and even slide film could probably do better. On the other hand, Roger (who took the shot) had not yet learned the value of adjusting contrast to compensate for unusually long or short subject brightness ranges.

Lenses

As with all other M-series Leicas (and the Zeiss Ikon, but not Voigtländers), one of three sets of viewfinder frames is automatically called up when a lens is inserted. This is done by a simple mechanical cam on the lens, which has the same 4-claw bayonet that was introduced over 50 years ago on the M3. The 18x24mm sensor in the M8 means that the field of view of all lenses is reduced by 3/4 as compared with the field of view of the same lenses on full-frame 35mm. The focal length equivalents are therefore as given in the table below. Red numbers represent the frames that are automatically selected in three pairs: 24+35, 50+75, 28+90. All others will require accessory finders. As on any other M-series, there is a preview lever for checking the field of view of other lenses than those fitted.

12 = 18

21 = 28

35 = 47

75 = 100

15 = 20

24 = 32

40 = 53

85 = 113

16 = 21

25 = 33

50 = 67

90 = 120

18 = 24

28 = 37

65 = 97

135 = 180

 

 

These are not ideal combinations, but are the result of historical accidents. Originally the M3 had 50-90-135mm frames, and the M2 (which appeared afterwards) had 35-50-90, so the same cam selected 35 and 135. Then when they squeezed a 28mm frame in, it made sense to put it as far as possible from the other frame that came up at the same time (90mm). This left only 50/75 as a pair. Then, when the 135 was dropped from the M8 as too long, 35 was 'spare' and could be linked with 24. The only 135 we would recommend for the M8 -- and we would recommend it very strongly -- is the now-discontinued 135/2.8, which has a pair of magnifying 'spectacles' built in, to increase both the effective rangefinder base (necessary for accuracy with this lens at full aperture) and the field of view: the 135/2.8 calls up the 90mm frame, which is magnified to become a 135mm frame.

 

 

Frosty grass

The 135/2.8 Elmarit-M has wafer-thin depth of field when used at full aperture, and of course the very high top shutter speed of the M8 (1/8000 second) greatly extends the range of lighting under which the full aperture can be used. Add in the fact that the equivalent focal length climbs to 180mm and we predict a resurgence of interest in this lens. It's unlikely that Leica will re-introduce it, so second-hand prices might climb quite rapidly.

 

 

 

Lens speed

A major disadvantage of the M8 is that there is no fast, wide lens equating to the 35/1.4 Summilux on film: the fastest reasonably wide lens is a 28/1.9 Voigtländer Ultron, or an f/2 if you want to stick with Leica's own lenses. On the other hand, with a maximum ISO equivalent of 2,500 available, and the possibility of setting it for a single shot if need be, this is much less of a disadvantage than it might seem.

Ultra-wides

By the same token, there are no ultra-wides available. The widest lens we own in Leica M-fit is a 15/4.5 Voigtländer Ultra-Wide-Heliar, equivalent to 20mm, but so far, we have not really felt the lack of anything wider. The Voigtländer gives astonishingly good results with the M8, with far less vignetting than we expected.

 

 

London Underground

No fast lenses... no ultra-wides... Well, how much does it matter? Again, this was an early picture with the M8, shot on a winter's evening at ISO 2500 equivalent using the 15/4.5 Voigtländer (20mm equivalent -- we use a 21mm finder, which is close enough). Because it was shot as a JPEG with auto colour balance it's very green. Now we'd probably do a custom white balance, or shoot DNG and correct it with the Capture One software -- which can white-balance almost anything.

Lens coding

All new Leica lenses come with a bar code on the back of the mount. This is read via a small window in the body mount, and allows electronic optimization of the image -- a path first brought to the popular market by the French firm of DxO, but since adopted by many others. At the limit, yes, the software and bar-coding do make a difference, but realistically, you are unlikely to see the difference in the vast majority of pictures.

 

 

 

At least, this is the consensus from everyone we have spoken to. The only bar-coded lens we had was a 50/2 Summicron supplied for test and it really didn't seem to make much difference whether we switched 'lens recognition' on or off in the main menu.

 

Lens code reader

The black and red stripes of the lens code reader are just about visible here. The marks on the lens mount itself are dirt, not wear: we are extremely wary of trying to clean them off, in case the debris falls into the body and necessitates cleaning the sensor.

Using the Camera

 

 

Choose a lens. Fit it. Remove the base; stick in a charged battery (Leica-unique lithium-ion) and an SD card; put the base back on; switch the camera on; you're ready to go. It's a good idea to have a second battery with you: this is not a battery-hungry camera, but a whole day's shooting with one battery is pushing your luck.

Actually, you'll do well to set your preferences first, using both the Menu button and the Set button. The Menu allows you to set a load of preferences that you won't normally want to change very often (if at all) such as the language in which the menus appear, the self-timer delay, sharpening and so forth. The only one we change at all often is colour saturation (5 steps plus a very convincing black-and-white), plus an occasional change to Contrast (boosting it in misty weather, cutting it on very bright, sunny days).

 

London Eye

 

The management of the London Eye are paranoid about photography with 'professional-looking' cameras, but fortunately they know so little about photography that M-series Leicas don't look professional to them... Here, Roger used the 15/4.5 (again) with the ISO equivalent at 160, the minimum available.

 

 

The Set button gives a much smaller range of choices that you may well want to change more often: ISO speed, auto-exposure compensation (+/-3 stops in 1/3 stop steps), white balance, compression (DNG or JPEG or both), resolution (10 MP, 6 MP, 2.5MP, 1MP) and a choice of three 'User Profiles' you set via the menu. These are to reflect typical uses of the camera. Our three 'user profiles' are:

User profile

ISO equivalent

White balance

Compression

Resolution

1

160

Daylight

DNG + JPEG fine

10 MP

2

320

Cloudy

DNG + JPEG fine

10 MP

3

2500

Tungsten

DNG + JPEG fine

10 MP

The slowest ISO equivalent is 160, and the fastest is 2500. In between are 320, 650 and 1250. It's a little odd to have them 1/3 stop off the round numbers (200-400-800-1600-3200) but presumably Leica found that this worked best. Either that, or, if you're being cynical, they chose these numbers because it looked as if they had really thought about it. The same rules apply as with film: the lower the speed, the more convincing the colour, the higher the sharpness and the lower the noise/grain.

Pre-setting your white balance, or (better still) doing a custom white balance is a good idea, as the auto white balance really is not very good -- though with the Capture One software (below) this really doesn't matter very much.

The compression option gives us the fewest number of exposures per card (70 to 90 on 1 gigabyte, our standard) but the most options: most pics are OK on JPEG fine but shooting DNG as well gives us more options on white balance and contrast if we need them. DNG or Digital NeGative is a variety of RAW.

 

 

 

 

The set button is also used to select menu items for changing, in conjunction with the 4-way/rotary switch (next paragraph). The other four buttons are self-explanatory: Play to review the pictures on the screen, Delete, Protect and Info to show histograms and other data.

The 4-way/rotary switch is used to step through pictures when reviewing (left-right only); to select items on the main menu/set menu (up-down only); and to move the 'window' on the screen when viewing a magnified image. Twisting the switch varies the magnification, each of which is about half the area of the previous image, so you can go from all-in to 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x, the last being all you are realistically likely to need when checking sharpness. Unexpectedly, when you are in either the main menu or the set menu, the rotary switch steps you through the menu choices when twisted, too.

 

 

Courtyard

This is a corner of our courtyard, shot with the (rare, valuable) 90/2.2 Leitz Thambar soft focus lens at f/3.2 for a romantic, 'olde-worlde' look. A very warm colour rendition sits extremely well with this. Here you can see two enormous advantages of the M8: instant exposure confirmation (exposure is always tricky with soft-focus lenses) and zero cost for experimentation with colour balance, etc. Yes, we could do this with film -- but we probably wouldn't.

Most of the rest of the camera is exactly like using any other M-series Leica, and indeed, much like using any other rangefinder camera. The parallax-compensated frames are the same; the focusing is the same; metering is the same; auto-exposure is the same, with a half-pressure on the release to hold an exposure; and (joy of joys) the delay between pressing the shutter release, and taking the picture, is about the same too. This last point, the lack of 'temporal parallax' (described towards the end of the free 'Basics' module on cameras), is a delight: it's just like using a film Leica.

Initial switch-on is reasonably quick, about a second, and although the camera switches itself off after a while, it switches back on very quickly when you touch the shutter release (1/2 second or less). You can override the switch-off anyway, if you like: the options for switch-off without use (from the main menu) are 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes and Disabled, with ever-shortening battery life as you lengthen the period. Likewise 'review' (the length of time the latest image stays on the screen) can be set to Hold (indefinite), 5 seconds, 3 seconds, 1 second and Disabled. We find it hard to choose between 1 second and 3 seconds. The former is generally long enough to evaluate exposure, but 3 seconds also allows you to hit other buttons (such as 'info') if you wish. In any case, the screen goes blank as soon as you exert the slightest pressure on the shutter release button.

 

 

Graffiti and posters, Poitiers

The 21/2.8 Kobalux that Roger used to take this picture is a 28mm equivalent on the M8, so we have to use a separate 28mm finder -- which is no great hardship. It is hard to convey just how 'like a Leica' the M8 is: Roger found himself shooting the same subjects that first attracted him when he borrowed his girlfriend's Leica II in about 1970. Believe it or not, he's got better since...

The learning curve

Unlike most digital cameras, the M8 gives the impression of having been designed by a photographer, rather than by a computer programmer. Of course there is more to learn to use than there is with a film camera, but it still feels very familiar. Comparing it with an MP, both have 6 features in common: shutter release, shutter speed dial, lens mount button, field of view selector, twist-lock for the base, and hot shoe. The MP has the following 5 controls or features that an M8 hasn't: wind-on lever, rewind clutch, rewind knob, ISO speed setting dial and flash synch nipple. The M8 has the following 9 controls or features that an MP doesn't: on-off switch, USB trapdoor, 6 push-buttons and a multi-switch on the back. There are, therefore, only 4 more controls or features on an M8 (15) than on an MP (11).

For comparison, using similarly inclusive counting methods, a Nikon D70 has almost twice as many controls, features, trapdoors, etc., as an M8: so many it's easy to lose count, but it looks like 28. About a third are really obvious (shutter release, on-off switch, lens mount button, eyepiece adjustment, flash release, hot shoe and battery and card trapdoors) and another third are at least dual-function. Fewer than a quarter are marked with words or obvious abbreviations; the remainder are unmarked or use pictograms, many of which are completely incomprehensible. After three years, we still have to look in the instruction book to remind ourselves what some of these buttons do. The D70 is an enormously useful camera, and we'd have to be without it, but intuitive, it ain't.

 

For anyone who has ever used a Leica before, the learning curve on the M8 is likely to embrace two groups of changes. One group is getting used to the reversed latch on the base trapdoor and the 'backwards' speed dial (not a problem for M6ttl and M7 owners). The other group lies in having to remember a battery charger and spare battery and memory cards. With film Leicas (except the M7) you are not battery dependent, and you can pick up some sort of film almost anywhere, though this is also becoming increasingly easy with memory cards if you don't mind paying several times as much as you normally do. With the M8, you need the Leica-specific battery (preferably two of them) and the Leica-specific charger.

If you forget the charger and spare battery when you check out of your hotel room (easily done if the only socket is behind the wardrobe or under the bed), you are stuffed unless you can get back. Likewise if the power goes out for a few days, though you need to be well off the beaten track nowadays for this to happen. This is why we never travel with only digital cameras. A Post-It note on the door-knob of the room is a good idea! So is a checklist in the back of the daily mileage book.

 

 

Church of St. Martin, Noizé

With a true IR filter -- this is a B+W with a T50 (50 per cent transmission) of about 715 nm -- the M8 delivers striking IR imagery. Effective speed is however very low and ideally you need to use the camera on a tripod with a lens that has an IR focusing index.

 

 

Software

The M8 comes with Capture One LE software from Phase One, which is very good (especially for white balance in DNG) but appallingly documented and far from intuitive to use. A moment ago, we said that the M8 appeared to have been designed by and for photographers, not computer nerds. Capture One is the opposite. It's also rather slow, unless you have an extremely powerful computer. This is one reason why we shoot DNG + JPEG fine, and only keep the DNG if we really need it.

Results

This is, after all, what any camera is about. Above all, megapixels aren't everything. For a given quality of construction and design, the lower the megapixel density (i.e. the bigger the sensor for a given megapixel count) the better the results. We have been amazed by what our humble 6-megapixel D70 can deliver, when fitted with a better lens than the zoom that comes with it and mounted on a tripod. The bigger sensor on the M8 is very clever indeed, with microprisms to compensate for vignetting: these are especially important, given the narrow flange-to-film distance of the M8. The very thin built-in IR filter, necessary for the same reason, does sometimes give problems with excess IR sensitivity and purplish blacks, but on the other hand, it makes for much higher sharpness than would otherwise be possible. Besides, Leica offers buyers of new cameras two lens-mounted IR filters of their choice.

 

 

Abbey of St. Michel

For us, perhaps the greatest pleasure of the M8 is not having to fight with it -- though we still forget to turn it on sometimes. Roger should really have put the camera on a tripod for this shot, because if you do, the sharpness is amazing. As it was, he was too lazy. In future, we expect to use the tripod more in order to capture the maximum possible detail with this remarkable camera.

In the real world, for hand-held pictures, the M8 delivers results that are indistinguishable from film. Put both on a tripod, and film regains the edge. Scan the film, and its advantage is reduced, but not eliminated. Latitude, if you shoot DNG, is probably roughly similar to transparency film, or a little less: a greater risk of 'blown' highlights, but it's arguably easier to get more out of the shadows. Then again, with a decent scanner, it's amazing what you can get out of the shadows in an underexposed slide. As compared with negative film, there is slightly more latitude for underexposure, but nothing like as much as for overexposure.

In black and white, although the quality is very good, it is let down by the imability of digital printers to produce prints that are consistently as good as traditional wet printing. In reproduction, or on a computer screen, you can't always see this. With original prints, although increasing numbers of digutal black and white prints are very good, we still believe that overall, 'wet' printing still has a significant advantage. The one possible exception is infra-red, where the M8 can be very impressive indeed: put a true IR filter on the lens (T50 710nm or above, visually near-opaque) and you get excellent IR effects.

 

 

Mist on the Dordogne

This seems to us to capture rather well the melancholy beauty of mist. Increasingly, we find that beyond a certain level of technical quality, we simply do not care what camera was used to create an image. Yes, there is lots of digital rubbish around, but then, there's plenty of film-based rubbish as well. As far as Roger recalls, he used the 21/2.8 Kobalux (28mm equivalent) for this shot.

Is 10 megapixels enough?

The best we can say here is, 'probably'. As noted above, for hand-held use, this is probably the break-even point between 35mm film and a good digital sensor. It is possible that a slightly higher pixel count (12-14MP) would be an advantage, but we would be surprised if this were the case for most people, using M-series Leicas for most of the things that people use M-series Leicas for.

 

 

 

This means that obsolescence should not be a major problem, and Leica has undertaken to support the camera for 20 years. On the other hand, Roger's first new Leica, his M4-P, was bought in about 1984 and doesn't need 'support', let alone any special electronics.

Digi-nerds scoff at 20 years support, saying that 'Next year there'll be an M9, and nobody will want a 10 megapixel M8 any more, so there will be no point in supporting it.' This may be true if you think like a computer programmer, but we rather doubt it is true of the average Leica buyer. Wealthy dilettantes will no doubt buy new Leicas as they come out -- much as some Ferrari buyers do -- but those who take their photography seriously are less likely to be wooed by (often illusory) technical 'advances' and may well use their Leicas until they wear out or are so outmoded that even a traditionalist might want something new.

 

 

Ruined spa

Ever since we tried our first spa, they have fascinated us, but more and more of the old 'medicalized' ones are falling into deserved ruin. This one was abandoned shortly before Roger took the picture, using the 21/2.8 Kobalux. Quality, hand-held at ISO equivalent 2,500, is really not too bad, as shown by the sectional enlargement on the right.

 

 

The Bottom Line

It's probably easiest to reduce this to 'pro' and 'con', but before we do, we'll say this: if it came to a straight choice between film and digital, purely for the enjoyment of creating pictures, film would win for us: especially black and white film. On the other hand, it would be foolish to ignore the advantages of digital, and we are perfectly happy to use both, side by side. Several of these pros and cons are common to all digital-versus-film arguments, but we have recited them anyway.

Costs and learning

Very roughly, in the UK, an M8 costs £1000 ($2000, 1500 euros) more than an MP; similar differentials apply elsewhere. The very least you can pay for 36 35mm slides, processed at home, is maybe £4, and double that (or more) would be nearer the mark for the more expensive films, trade processed. In other words, the cost differential is amortised over something between 100 and 250 slide films: 3,600 to 14,400 exposures.

If this seems like an incredible amount to you, then the M8 is unlikely to make sense in purely financial terms, though it may still appeal to you for other reasons. If, on the other hand, you average a roll of colour a week across the year, the M8 represents an actual saving after 5 years (as compared with an MP). For someone shooting for a stock library or anywhere else you shoot lots of pictures, it could probably pay for itself in film savings in as little as a year, or almost certainly within three years.

Very roughly, too, we find that we shoot 50 to 100 per cent more pictures with the M8 than on slide film, simply because it costs no more. You can call this laziness -- 'try it and see', instead of thinking about it -- or you can call it learning. After decades of taking pictures, we're still learning.

Pros and cons

Against

1   Inconvenience of focal length multiplier

2   Dependence on expensive camera-specific batteries

3   'Backwards' film dial and baseplate

4   Sheer expense (50% more than an MP)

5   Probable obsolescence (as compared with film)

6   On-off switch

For

1   Lenses interchangeable between film and digital

2   Handling as close to film M-series as reasonably possible

3   No worries about film cost or bulk for experimenting

4   Small, light, unobtrusive, quiet (just like any M-series)

5   Vastly better built and more durable than digital competitors

6   A pleasure to use

 

Another ruined spa

Maybe someday we'll do a book about them... Roger shot this with the 21/2.8 Kobalux again.

 

 

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