Thursday, 6 March 2008

Leica M8 Review

I have had a number of emails from people asking how the Leica M8 is performing. So here is a very short review of sorts!!

For me the camera was intended for B&W reportage and street photography and as such it works great. Lets be honest this Camera is nothing like a Leica M6 or M7 in terms of build quality but it takes Leica glass and thats the main thing.

At present I think the M8 is the only option for photographers wanting a digital rangefinder. There are so many strange things about this camera you simply love it or hate it. The infra red colour situation is beyond belief but I have found the B&W conversions from the M8 to be superb. The extra infra red content seems to help with the mono conversion. When you purchase the camera new Leica give you two free infra red filters, these do resolve the magenta cast problem when working in colour or should I say when colour output is you aim.

The big issue I have with the camera is the on/ off switch, it constantly gets knocked and moves so easily you can find you are shooting in self timer mode before you know it. Also I just was not able to grip the camera without the extra front handgrip. This small device makes all the difference to using the camera. I have since found a product on the market which in effect creates what is a film rewind lever shape on the back of the camera. I guess I have not been alone in comming across this problem.

The M8 is now my constant companion I would hate to be without it. Is it a good camera? It is the only choice for some types of situation. High ISo performance must be improved and the next model must be full frame. I find it hard to get used to using a 21mm lens with a finder just to give me the effect of a 28mm lens. On the whole its an interesting camera not a good one.

The fact that only 2 months after purchase Leica want over £1,000 to upgrade the M8 is not good news. I think I will be staying with mine as is. The screen and shutter modification are of no interest to me.

For now I love the M8 but can't wait to get my order in for the M9 if it ever happens. Will I be using the M8 for wedding work? No Way just to many little quirks and that high iso performance is just not good enough for me.

One other reason is that despite having used Leica cameras for many year, I find it very difficult to operate two different camera bodies when working at the pace required at modern weddings. this is a personal problem and no reflection on the M8. i have the same problem if I start to shoot with one of Stephanie's Canon 5D. The configuration of a Leica and the change in size just amplifies the problem for me.

in conclusion I feel the M8 is a superb tool in certain situations but its more an expensive toy than a real professional working camera. If you want one and are familiar with using Leica cameras in many ways you will be happy. If you have £3,000 to spend on a camera and can stand the cost of Leica lenses then go for it but its never going to be good value. You will in most situations produce better work with a DSLR and good prime lens. I have manage to try a few of the Voiglander lenses in particular the 21mm and 28mm they are superb and well worth consideration.

If I had to rate the camera I would give it a 4/10 for practicality but a 9/10 for desirability.


Anonymous said...

Great review Steve I have been considering taking the plunge with a M8 but you have made me think again. My money could well be going on some faster Canon glass. Keep up the good work. Jason

sinbi said...

What a strange review. It is a mix of everything, either stick to the M8 or write about your dreams, and what if's.

Anonymous said...

Sinbi, I based the review on my thought and feelings, To me all to many reviews focus on technical aspects of equipment. We don't need another. What I want to do is review the gear I use daily.

Were I am I dreaming I am making comments based on what the M8 needs to become a better tool for me.


r4 dsi said...

This digital Leica is more like a traditional film camera than a digital camera. You must be totally in control of focus and exposure, change lenses rather than zoom, and THINK when you shoot.