Journeying to an M8

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by allancobb, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. After years of never having a digital camera for myself (my wife uses a Pentax K-5), I finally decided to take the plunge with a Leica M8. After all, I have a 50/2.8 Elmar-M I use with my M6 and M4-2, and some screwmount lenses ( 50 and 90 Elmars, 35 Summaron with adapters for the Ms) for my Standard and II. My thought was if I ever decided to buy a digital camera, it would be a Leica M in some form.
    An M9 is still a ways out of my price range. That left the M8, and after reading through the many forum posts about it here at PN and the Leica Users forum, I still decided it was worth a go. Examples I've seen of it's B&W and IR rendering (at least to my perception) are excellent. I'm aware of the screen/sensor/filtration/etc. issues that have come to light over the years. I found a decent deal with a Luigi case and so far, I love using it, especially seeing how it renders my old LTM lenses.
    Handheld IR at ISO 640, Hoya R72 filter:

    Manhattan Beach Pier, CA
    Manhattan Beach Pier, ISO 160, no filter
    This camera is a pleasure to use, pretty much like my M6 (with minor differences of course), only with a digital sensor! But not to worry, my film Leicas will still be keeping busy.
  2. The M8 "is better than ever", 16-bit mode has been unlocked about a year ago and a software tool made
    available for processing RAW format images. I've been using it on my camera, and ISO2500 shots compare well
    with those from the M9.

    It's worth looking into, especially for monochrome work or High ISO.
  3. Brian, thanks, this is excellent to know. I just got through setting it up in the menu on the camera and it works... now I just have to navigate my way through the software (just downloaded it) and start experimenting. This will come in especially handy for high ISO situations such as those you describe in your threads. Appreciate it!
  4. Congratulations on your new M8.

    If you are coming from film, then the idea that you don't have ISO dial for the light meter might seem a little odd. The ISO setting in
    camera's menu controls the sensor's sensitivity and the light meter simultaneously. This means that, if you set the ISO to 160, you have
    the sensor rated at 160, and the light meter reading at 160. This is unlike film Leica because we used to have the ability to choose which
    sensitivity we wanted for the film, and choose the light meter setting independently from that using the ISO dial. The idea that the ISO
    setting in the menu controls *both* took me a while to get used to.

    If you are like me and have the habit of erring on the side of overexposure, I suggest that you set the exposure compensation to -1 1/3
    and shoot DNG. Exposure comp setting only affects the light meter, and not the sensor sensitivity. This way, when you are shooting, you
    can treat your light meter reading the way you used to with your film camera, and still not blow out the highlights. I find noisy shadows
    preferable to overblown highlights.

    At sensor ISO of 160 and exposure bias -1 1/3, your light meter reads at ISO 400. At sensor ISO 640, the light meter reads at 1600.
    These happened to be ISOs that were more comfortable to me, when coming from film to M8.

    Using exposure comp may introduce some post processing needs, i.e. I'd often push the DNG +1 stop on my computer, but I found that I
    get better results this way. I hardly ever shoot above 640 for color, but the 16 bit RAW mentioned above might make it work if you are
    willing to deal with a little more post processing.

    Also, I am happy to see that you are embracing the IR sensitivity rather than trashing it. To me, IR was low enough that I did not bother
    with IR cut filter with slow daylighht lenses. Only the fast indoor lenses need them.

    Enjoy your new camera, and I look forward to seeing images taken by the camera in this forum.
  5. Thank you Yuki! I really appreciate the tips and on two of your points I am in complete agreement; I too, tend to
    overexpose slightly with film, usually a third to half a stop. I also disdain blown out highlights, barely tolerated them only
    when using TMZ and they couldn't be avoided. I'll be sure to do some experimentation as you suggest and see how it
    works out. I never really thought of the ISO sensitivity vs. metering concept in that way before but it makes sense.

    Just curious, did/do you ever use any of the JPEG modes and if so, for what situations?

    And I'm definitely a fan of IR; I dabbled with it frequently with film (still do); I still have a half dozen rolls of HIE in the freezer! It was one of the capabilities (intentional or not) that further attracted me to the M8.

    I just started posting some M8 images in the weekly W/NW posts; there will be many more to come! Cheers, Allan
  6. This lens you use may just be perfect for IR work. I don't see any hot spot in the picture. I have seen M8 IR pictures taken with a much more expensive and current lens showing a big hot spot in the middle.
    I am still amazed by people who after purchased the M9 and then the M240 still mentioned that they preferred the "old" M8 in many respects.
    It is also great in B & W photography, supposedly because of its IR sensitivity.
  7. The 0.5mm IR absorbing glass in the M8 is "A Curse and a Blessing". When shooting color, you need to use an IR
    cut (Hot Mirror) filter on the lens to get accurate colors in all situations. The M9 uses a 0.8mm thick IR absorbing
    cover glass. These filters act as a weak "anti-aliasing" filter, the M8 images are more crisp than those from the M9
    and later cameras.

    For Monochrome work- IR does not matter.
  8. Hi Allan, I tried using JPEG from time to time, but I was never a big fan of it. The JPEG processing appears to take away a lot of hidden details, so, unless you nail the shot at the time of the exposure, the post processing is a pain.
    Given that 10MP compressed DNG file is small by today's standards, and a 8GB SDHC card holds 700+ of these files (that's about 20 rolls!), other than the slow write speed and the small buffer of M8, I did not find a lot of compelling reasons to use JPEG.
    The 16-bit DNG from RAW Brian mentioned earlier is worth trying. It is amazing how much detail in the shadows the Leica engineers were willing to throw away, on the grounds that they did not make perceivable difference. I agree that they make no difference when we are exposing at the sensor's rated speed, but they make a huge difference when we intend to push in post-processing. I wish if Leica released a firmware update to allow M8 to shoot uncompressed DNG, so that we do not have to do the button dance to get M8's true imaging capability.
  9. I've posted this before- but this image shows what an M8 can do. This is with 16-bit RAW, ISO set to 160, then Pushed 4-stops for an ISO 2500 equivalent.
    The lens is a Minolta 50/1.4 MC mount that I converted to Leica M Mount. $45 lens and a $30 adapter, I made the RF cam.
  10. Thanks again everyone! It's amazing to see what the sensor is really capable of, yet like you say, it's required to do this
    "workaround" to make it happen. But the results speak for themselves, it's definitely worth the effort! The more I learn,
    the more I discover how underrated the M8 is (reminiscent of my M4-2 in a way.....).
  11. Alan as others mentioned the CCD sensor in the M8 is great. I also have the M240 and in many ways still like the CCD
    sensor in the M8 and the fact that it is "less digital" than the M240. By the way just shoot raw with the M8 as the JPEGs
    are terrible. Also if shooting IR it is worth getting in the habit of focus bracketing as it is much more sensitive to accurate
    focus than IR film was.
  12. Gotta admit, the M8 is the only digital Leica that's tempted me, specifically for the notorious sensitivity to near-IR. I've been exploring and exploiting that very same "flaw" in my Nikon D2H. It would be interesting to try that on an M8, and be able to see what I'm doing. Still too $$$ for my budget, alas.
  13. Also if shooting IR it is worth getting in the habit of focus bracketing as it is much more sensitive to accurate focus than IR film was.​
    I'm finding that out the hard way the further I experiment with it. Also, most of the lenses I use don't have an infrared focusing mark, further complicating the process.
    Lex, would have been for me too, but after selling off some stuff and decluttering, I was barely able to swing it!
  14. Philip is right: M8 JPEGs are not so good. But the great thing about the DNG files is that you can open them in old RAW convertors. I used to have a Power Mac G5 running Aperture 2 it handled the M8 files easily.
  15. I found this useful when I started with IR on the M8
  16. Thanks Karim and Philip, excellent article also. With a Hoya R72 filter, I've found the meter set in "Auto ISO" falls to 640 usually in sunny conditions. My images also tend to be somewhat soft, so I'll have to try lower ISO settings to see if it makes a difference sharpness-wise. I've also been setting the saturation to B&W so maybe I'll try normal color exposures then desaturate during post-processing.
  17. Yes High Iso is not an M8 forte - try and stay to 200 or 400 for colour or B&W (shoot RAW). In B&W you can go to 800 and more if you like the grainy effect. One thing about the M8 is that noise looks closer to film than is normal for a digital image.
  18. This is ISO160 with -3ev exposure compensation, then pushed 3 stops in post. 16-bit RAW mode. ISO 1250 equivalent.
    An "uncommon" Minolta 5cm F2 in LTM, based on the Summitar- same optical formula, but rigid mount and uses 43mm filters.
  19. Just a warning about the RAW+jpeg mode on the M8: Be sure to remember to turn the camera off yourself after setting the RAW mode (don't let the M8 go to sleep on its own). With my M8, if it decides to take a nap before I remember to turn it off, the processor freezes with a blank battery/shots remaining window and no activity on the LCD screen. To recover it takes a long wait (about 48 hours) with the battery removed before the camera resets itself and becomes usable again.
    When I turn the M8 off myself, no problems.
  20. Thanks Gray. I guess I've been lucky, I've been diligent about turning the camera off without knowing about this. Had this happened I would have been a little agitated trying to figure it out!
  21. I have not experienced that lock-up using Raw mode; but early-on I did set the camera to not go to sleep. I turn on
    and off manually, ever since I missed a great shot waiting for the camera to wake-up.

    The M9 also has a "RAW" mode- do not use it. I can verify that it is DNG format files without dead-pixel correction. I simple renamed the file to ".dng", and then they could be processed as DNG.

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