The Online Photographer

Check out our new site at!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

O Happy Day

Well, I thought the embargo date was tomorrow, but that just shows you what I know. Sean Reid at Reid Reviews and Phil Askey at DPReview have both now published extensive previews of the Leica M8, apparently in compliance with the terms of the embargo.

It's a near-dead-ringer for the M7 (a little thicker, I hear) and correct me if I'm wrong, but is it also the first true metal-bodied digital camera of any consequence?



Blogger Ian Rees said...

I'm not sure what you mean by true metal bodied. All the Nikon and Canon high end cameras are magnesium.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Mike Sisk said...

Best camera porn ever.

I'm sure lots of folks just don't get it. I think only those that have used a Leica M-series for a length of time can understand the real appeal of the M8. I hope the image quality and image buffer measure up.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Fazal Majid said...

I was worried about high-ISO, as previous Kodak cameras like the short-lived DCS 14 did not impress in that regard, but apparently it can go to ISO 2500. Given the 2-3 stop benefit from not having a mirror and a Noctilux, it will be untouchable for available light photography.

I was already impressed by the R-D1 (although leery because of how Epson gouges in the US, double the price in Japan, as well as the many reports of questionable quality control). This is an ISO 800 shot with a 50mm summicron, you can hardly see any noise, despite it using the same sensor as the noisy D70.

Despite the price, I suspect Leica will be inundated with orders from pent-up demand and be unable to meet it for a while.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Acliff said...

Ah, but do they have brass?

...and look like that?

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the most beautiful digital camera around!! I´m proud to come from this country where it was manufactured :-)

will buy it as soon as possible!

3:08 PM  
Blogger Robert-Paul said...

I'm sure lots of folks just don't get it. I think only those that have used a Leica M-series for a length of time can understand the real appeal of the M8. I hope the image quality and image buffer measure up.

Hey, I've never used a Leica, and I'm still drooling.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Robert-Paul said...

Following up on my earlier post...I should mention that, while I haven't used a Leica, I have used a Contax G2. I loved the images I got from the G2, but got sick of having to deal with getting the film processed and scanned. I sold it and recenly bought a EOS 30d. I'm very happy with the 30d, but I would love to be able to get the types of images I got from the Contax in a digital format. So the M8 is definitely exciting (even if totally unrealistic for me).

3:46 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"I'm not sure what you mean by true metal bodied. All the Nikon and Canon high end cameras are magnesium."

On the inside, sure. On the outside they're the carbon Polly ate. The M8 has top and bottom plates of brass. Like I say, O happy day.


3:51 PM  
Blogger Sean Reid said...

Thanks for the announcement Mike. Leica lifted the embargo as of 9/15 Australia time and called to advise me. There is brass, indeed, as well as a decent RAW buffer. Details in the review.


Sean Reid

4:10 PM  
Blogger Ken Tanaka said...

Re: metal bodies, no, my Canon bodies really are metal. They are coated with a black resin and have a textured wrap on the areas that need grip power. But they're every bit as metallic as my M7. (Although they've no brass fittings or plates...which is fine with me, as brass is heavy.)

The M8 looks generally wonderful. But there are two disappointments I've seen so far in its specs. First is that darn bottom plate that covers the battery and card compartments. Leica just couldn't resist the temptation to carry forward that awful M plate that must be removed to change film on earlier bodies. Couldn't they have at least hinged the thing?

(Anecdote: One winter day nearly two years ago I was changing film in my M7 when I noticed a little girl, perhaps 5, standing nearby. She was staring at me as if entranced, as children often do. When her mother came by to collect her I could see that she asked her mother what I was doing. Mom bent down and replied softly, "Let's leave the poor man alone. His old camera has broken and he's trying to fix it." No kidding. That happened.)

The second disappointment, related somewhat to the first, is the apparent lack of environmental sealing. We'll pay five grand for a digital camera body that doesn't even feature the thoughtfulness of detailing that a contemporary $900 camera (the K10) features.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

Ahhhhhhhh! It looks so much better than I wanted it to be. That may not make sense but I didn't want to want one. I've shot M's since 1980. I have a sweet M body and 4 lenses I've barely touched since I dusted off my unused Nikon lenses to shoot a DSLR.

I've come to like an SLR after barely using one but now this! What can I sell, want can I sell. I want this.

I can get along with quirks. I've already been shooting M's afterall

5:10 PM  
Blogger Photoburner said...

I don't understand the comment above about a mirror costing 2-3 stops in light. The mirror is out of the optical path when the exposure is made. So how does it cause any problems that way?

I can understand saying that the view finder is much brighter.

5:55 PM  
Blogger StephaneB said...

The absence of mirror makes the vibrations associated with the mirror movements disapear. With some training anyone can get sharp pictures at 1/15 sec. with an M. Now with reduced frame DSLRs that advantage is not as great as with full frame because the mirror is smaller and creates less vibration. I used to have an Olympus E-300 that allowed me the same tripod-less performance as with my M. I sold the E-300 because Olympus forgot to put a decent viewfinder but that's another story.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think most people here speak purely out of gut feeling. some objective review without all the ass kissing atittude is needed.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I'm so very tired of all of the attention that is paid to the camera -- how many pixels it can capture, # of bits, metal vs. plastic -- while the quality of the image produced by the lens (and I'm NOT talking about sharpness here) has become a relic of times past. If the M8 sensor/software can produce the quality of my d200 while allowing me to use my 35 Summicron it would be a useful tool.

Users of Leica equipment may fetishize it at times, but I'm afraid the image quality justifies some veneration.

That said, it will be nice when production samples are released so that we can hear more about image quality.

Probably my biggest concern with the m8: my m4 will continue working as long as there's film to put in it. How long will the proprietary battery needed for the M8 be produced?

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think there is some confusion about available light shooting. for one thing, mirror slap vibration gets less significant for longer shutter speeds, such as 1/15, not more; if you can take a sharp picture at that speed with a rf, you can do it with an slr too. (the vibration comprises a smaller proportion of the exposure.) it's true that rf have gloriously bright vf, but so does my 5d with 24/1.4, and an even higher iso. nothing whatever like a 3 stop advantage. (for those who're counting, that's a full stop just in the lens alone over any leica wide angle on the m8--your noctilux is now a moderate tele, not exactly ideal for available light work.)

oh, and like ken says, my canons and lots of other dslrs have metal bodies, including top/bottom plates.

and yet, i will be buying one of these as soon as i can. too bad no one else wants to compete in this market (g7 is a big disappointment).

2:21 PM  
Blogger PatrickPerez said...

In regards to Mike's supposition that this might be his desired 'decisive moment digital' camera, I wonder if I'm the only one thinking Leica should release a monochrome sensor version of this model, in the vein of the Kodak mono DCS from a few years ago. I seem to recall that model had software issues related to how Nikon's autofocus system (or maybe it was the metering) functioned, but that would obviously not be an issue here. In fact I would expect removal of the Beyer (sp?) matrix would make the camera's image processing much simpler.

If any potential market exists for a monochrome only camera, surely it would be among the Leica community. The biggest handling aspect to re-learn would be to expose for digital, which is more akin to chrome instead of negative film (e.g. meter for highlights instead of shadow).

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Storm said...

I'm not at all sure that putting a lot of vulnerable digital parts inside a sturdy Leica body will give a camera that lives up to a Leica user's durability expectations. Try putting an egg inside a metal box and then drop it on the ground.

At first glance this looks to me like a camera built primarily for fondling. Compared to what you can get from other brands for the same price I mean. Features such as a full frame sensor. The Leca church members will no doubt be happy and defend any shortcomings no matter what, but I'm not convinced that we will se a lot of these used in the field by actual working photographers. It could very well be the De Lorean of digital photography.

One good thing is that just as when the M7 arrived, there will be a flood of second hand previous generation bodies on the market, making Leica film cameras available to more students and other poor people.

Now I suppose you will all flame me. Well ok then... go on. :)

7:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home