Buying Leica M8 in 2017--does it make sense?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by tomleoni, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. All -

    Been absent from these fora for almost 10 years (had to re-register).

    After a hiatus from photography (hard-core Leica LTM user before), I've become curious about digital. No deep reason, except that with a Leica digital M I can still enjoy the thrill of "doing photography" (translation: using a manual rangefinder) while being able to view, download, enjoy and share my pictures more immediately. I enjoy shooting travel pics (people mostly), street, marine scenes (details), the usual stuff that is OK with rangefinder. And I love my red dot and my manual controls.

    On ebay, prices of an M8 have come down considerably, so I'm thinking of picking one up and using the plethora of lenses I've accumulated over the years--with the usual caveats about the x1.33 factor, the correct adapter, etc.

    My question is, do you think the "planned obsolescence" of an M8 makes it a dumb purchase at this time? I've test-driven the M (I forget which "Typ") and liked the feel. Sure, it's a different camera than the M8, but it got my feet wet with the digi-M series and I liked it--although price-wise, I'm nowhere near ready to commit to such a dollar figure.

    Thoughts? Gut-feelings? Suggestions?
    renata likes this.
  2. Go ahead!
    I beg your pardon. - According to admittedly by now a couple of years old official statements Leica AG feel ultra embarassed about the spare part shortage(s?) they are facing. Since Leica AG thrive to stick to the "lifetime purchase" sales argument, they are at least offering quite generous trade in programs for unrepairable M8s. So if you can at least see yourself able to scratch the missing $$s for a trade in together once you licked blood and are offered a such a deal, the M8 isn't the worst choice.
    I bought mine about 2 years ago for toe dipping purposes and the odd color shot employer or family might demand. - I love my Monochrom more. But nonetheless: The M8 seems a capable camera within its ISO range limitations. - I hardly shoot it above ISO 640. I think it is still a nice camera to do personal / family stuff with (that doesn't need to end as a giant poster). - Results need a bit of post processing but look fairly decent. If you believe to need (more than) twice the megapixels: Bleed for them. If you frame your stuff properly and are content with 4K screen vieweing the M8 seems good enough.

    Keep in mind that some shutters seem to break a bit earlier than 100K clicks, but if they don't you get a lot of fun out of an used M8 for comparably little money.
  3. I went with a used M9.

    Leica is nearly eponymous with wide angle street photography. To get a 35 mm field of view on a cropping sensor, you need a 24 mm lens and an auxiliary viewfinder. With the M8 you also need a hot mirror filter, The excessive infrared sensitivity makes it hard to capture a neutral black, even in daylight. It is bad enough to put a filter on those great lenses for special effects, much less the obligation to use one all the time.

    The M9 has 18 MP, unfiltered. That's equivalent (subjectively) to 24 MP in a camera with an AA filter. With a FF sensor, lenses work the way they're supposed to.
  4. Jochen, Ed--thanks for taking the time with the thoughts and advice.

    I'm almost exclusively a 50mm guy--no reason, just learned to use that lens and in my limited scope as an enthusiast I've never more than dabbled with other focal lengths. Have quite a collection of 50mms, though. One thing that has given me pause is that I'd have to switch to a 35mm for the M8--I have one lonely F3.5 Summaron, but I would definitely miss all the 50's.

    Used M9... really tempting, but so are the US$1,500 M8s beckoning at me on ebay... Damn the choices!

    In any case, any type/brand IR-cut filter you recommend?
  5. One strike against the M9 is the tendency of the original sensor to self-destruct. I would only buy one now if the sensor had been replaced after September 2015, when the issue was fixed. Leica will still replace the older sensor for free, but aren't known for doing this especially quickly.
  6. Filters: I bought from a well reputed dealership and got a 39mm Leica and a 46mm B+W tossed into the package. - They seem to work and reflected easily visible reddish spots when hit by the sun. (I haven't the slightest clue if B+W could be in any way inferior; they are the filter brand I used to splurge on and used to build some Leica re-badged lenses too.) Since Leica offered 2 free filters to their customers, I'd consider it odd when used cameras get sold without these.
    With a lot of respect: Are you sure it is / was you that made you the 50mm guy or could it be the LTM bodies to blame? - My big SLR system consists from a Pentacon six body, 120mm and a bellows I haven't used yet. I did absolutely want a 90mm in my first Leica package and got an M3 with 90mm & DR 50mm 'cron. - Long story short: While the faint hint of a 75mm frame line in the FF RFs can't convince me to try out that focal length, I am pretty happy with another 50mm cron on the M8. - I'm doing product shots at work with it and have a chance to frame the people I am interested in somewhat tight enough for my taste but can still hope to nail them in focus, which seems too hard to do with 90mm unless there is plenty of light permitting to shoot at f8. So yes most of the time I have said 50mm on the M8 and 90, 35, 21mm in another bag with the Monochrom. I really don't want to change your style, I am just saying: M8 + 50mm can be quite nice to have with consenting subjects and 66.5mm equivalent isn't that long. - AFAIK a lot of studio shooters work with "slightly longer than normal" lenses, like 21mm on a 4x5"?
    Ed is a tad off. AFAIK he shot Nikon with a 1.5crop factor & the M8 is APS H with 1.33? - 35mm equivalent would be between 24 and 28mm. - The M8 offers frame lines for both and is usable with the 28mm one. - I don't own such a lens and mount a Soviet made turret finder with my Zeiss 21mm.

    What I don't like about the color M9: ISO range & price. - It might work by daylight but I feel a need for the 2 extra f-stops provided by the old Monochrom or M10 now, although the M9 performs one stop better than the M8, even at pixel peeping level and is likely to pass as a contemporary "good camera" (= Sufficiently equal to the 24MP FF stuff by other manufacturers.) while the M8 punches in the crop sensor league. If you are looking at it take the option to dial in lenses into account too.
    A little warning on the side: My Ms are stuck in auto everything (WB, ISO & shutterspeed) most of the time outside studio environments. I am really no big fan of the manual options on M8/9. - While I happily shot old film bodies with handheld meters, I am not yet sure if I adapted my metering to digital demands. - The built in traffic light thingy is something that feels hard to warm up with and I feel very challenged to feel, (i.e. to keep track of) my shutter speed setting on the M8. The dial moves into both directions infinitely. You can see leaving "auto", when the VF display changes from "number" to traffic light with activated meter but the dial is in half stops! - Who on earth is able to count subconsciously to 9 or 11?
    Another issue: Setting ISO or exposure compensation manually takes a few clicks and using the rear display.

    I am not sure what to recommend. - US$1K5 might buy a used Sony A7II too. - It should work well enough adapted behind your beloved 50mms and grant more DOF when you use it's built in image stabilisation instead of keeping your shutter speed safe. While a good camera it is probably "as digital as things can get" shooting experience and handling wise. - I haven't tried these yet.

    If you dig deep enough you'll find a few further folks still happily using their M8s online.
    On a side note: US$ 1K5 don't sound like "nice price" to me. - I have absolutely no clue what US$ might really be but around here a used M8 could be had for 237 local BigMacs or another with CV 21mm for 264 (=900 & 1000 Euro - Not much use in looking the manipulated official exchange rates up; risk customs and import taxes sound prohibitive.)
  7. There is a charm about the Leica M, film or digital, that can't be ignored. The M9 (and M8) have CCD sensors which produce wonderful color, close to Fuji Velvia, but with dynamic range. High ISO is not one of it's strengths. I avoid going higher than 400 unless the subject matter is compatible with grain.

    I mostly put my M9 aside when I bought a Sony A7ii, which has 24 MP, excellent performance up to ISO 12,500, accepts Leica or Nikon lenses with simple adapters, and has in-body image stabilization. The foot print is nearly identical to the M9, but of course it's not a Leica. The color is a little muted compared to the M9, but probably more accurate, closer to Provia than Velvia. With the electronic viewfinder, you can use any lens and see it full screen. All this, brand new, for the price of a used M8. It even feels solid like a Leica, being all metal except for battery and memory card doors.

    I'm not trying to proselyte for Sony in a Leica forum, but that's the evolution I've gone through, and the reasons I think it was a good choice.
  8. Some of the A7 bodies do work well with M lenses. Perhaps you might want to do some research on that. But it's not the same kind of camera - not even close.

    Have a look at these videos. You might find them interesting:

    5 Reasons to buy an M8:

    5 Reasons to buy an M9:

    M9 is better than M240:

    M240 is better than M9:
  9. " mostly put my M9 aside when I bought a Sony A7ii, which has 24 MP, excellent performance up to ISO 12,500, accepts Leica or Nikon lenses with simple adapters, and has in-body image stabilization. The foot print is nearly identical to the M9, but of course it's not a Leica".

    The Fuji xt2 is a superior camera to any A7 variety with lenses that Sony can only dream about. Yes, it has a APC sensor which all you need for poster size prints . Try to escape from marketing hype and think...yes, you can ...the thinking thing. A7 slow slow auto focus and rather dismal prints....really difficult to work with...yes, I've used one.

    A rangefinder camera is a different beast you either love them, or hate them....sort of like marmite. They are just are the photographer.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
  10. I use a M8.
  11. I really like Fuji stuff (the X100T is probably the most fun I've had with a digital camera), but if you want a digital back for your existing Leica lenses the AF speed and the range of Sony's own lenses for the A7 series are neither here nor there, while the XT2's APS-C sensor is a disadvantage if (like many of us) you don't have anything wider than a 35mm to mount on it.
  12. make sense, as long as it is in good condition, and you buy it cheap.
  13. Would you buy a computer that takes a floppy disc?
    Gus Lazzari likes this.
  14. Since the flange distance on the Sony A7 is 13 mm, compared to 18 mm for Leica, there is 5 mm latitude to do things beyond adding space. Voigtlander makes an adapter with a helical thread which dramatically reduces the minimum focusing distance. Moreover at least one manufacturer offers a motorized adapter which makes any Leica lens auto focus.

    There is nothing slow about Sony auto focus if used correctly. It is as fast in that regard as any Nikon camera I've owned, including a D3. There are over 30 native lenses for the A7 by Sony and/or Zeiss, half of which are considered world class. Regarding color, if you want "garish," there are JPEG modes which will accommodate you. For adults, there are other options. Even Ming Thein has made an about-face on the Sony. Having Dismissed the A7Rii in an early review, he now uses one along with his arsenal of digital Hasselblad gear.

    M digital cameras retain the quaint requirement to remove the bottom plate in order to access the battery and memory card. To fill a 64 GB SDXC card takes at least three fresh batteries, so that means a lot of juggling under any conditions, more if you use a tripod. One reason I started with Leica was that the bottom plate would fit in a shirt pocket, whereas the back of a Nikon F would not. Thet was before Nikon discovered hinges.
  15. Yes, yes I would.

    The M8 is going for $1200 or so, the M9 is About twice that. At $1200, the price of the M8 is not going to drop too much more. Get one, use it, sell it if you upgrade. I know people that are quite happy with the M8, use it on a regular basis. I use mine quite a bit.

    I also write my own raw processor running under PharLap extended DOS, on a computer with a Floppy drive as backup.

    [​IMG]I1015961 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    Color Infrared, using an Orange filter to block blue light- leaves Blue channel as IR only.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  16. Well your picture is certainly pink. Enjoy your camera.
  17. Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  18. Whatever you got there is fine with me. I shoot HP5 and was getting purple highlights for a while. I finally retired my old Artisan 50 printer and bought a Canon IP8720 and now I am back to B/W and shades of grey. Actually the printer even has a grey cartridge. I really like it and it's amazing how a couple hundred bucks can improve your prints. Anyway if your old school I am older school with my HP5.
  19. "Moreover at least one manufacturer offers a motorized adapter which makes any Leica lens auto focus". Edward.

    Ive tried mororizwd adapter on a A7ii it was slow and the focus accuracy left a lot to be desired.

    "There is nothing slow about Sony auto focus if used correctly. It is as fast in that regard as any Nikon camera I've owned, including a D3" Edward.

    Wow!you have posted many times and excepted that any a7 variation is no match for a DSLR for sports and action photography. Methinks you have been eating too many fairy cakes, Edward.

    "Regarding color, if you want "garish," there are JPEG modes which will accommodate you. For adults, there are other options".Edward.

    In the real world Ive found the images from the A7 rather dull and lackluster dispite my efforts in Photoshop. Of course adults would find those images wonderful and children...well, I suppose being children they would like Fuji and Leica images.

    Photography and Art through the eyes of a child.

    Imagination unfettered.
  20. M8 today.

    A Leica for cheap that still takes great images...second to non.

    BW it challenges the Monochrome with more natural contrast....
    tomleoni likes this.

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