Live View on M digital

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by peter_mann|3, May 9, 2009.

  1. I have an M8.2. It is a marvelous continuation of the Leica rangefinder camera series. But there is one additional feature which I believe would enhance the utility of this design, a lot. That would be the redesign to provide a live view of the image before (as well as after) tripping the shutter. This would entail having the shutter open during live view, then closing and then tripping the shutter. This would be managed by the software. The advantage of this feature would be to provide view-camera like abilities, and be particularly useful with long lenses and for close up work with extension tubes. For many previous Leica model users, it would reestablish the utility of the camera for scientic and technical uses.
    What do the readers think of this (constructive comments appreciated)? What technical challenges would this present for camera modification? Generally, is it feasible and desireable in the M8 model series?
     
  2. As far as liveview goes, the way it is implemented in Panasonic G1, despite it being the first generation camera of its kind, is very good and very useful.
    If this is perfected , there is no need for RF coupling.
    Yes, to a vastly improved liveview feature and no to the implementation of it in a range finder camera.
     
  3. I have no need for this on an M digital. Leica would be wise to consider a cheaper compact camera using M lenses with live view, like the oft-suggested digital CL. But what I like about the M cameras has always been the lack of superfluous 'features'.
     
  4. Sorry, I just don't think the extra effort and cost associated with it warrant it's inclusion on a rangefinder camera, especially one where the sensor is as expensive and fickle as the M8. To me, it seems like a feature that would add more problems than it solves. If your work requires this sort of feature there are many many other cameras with this already in place and working well, and for scientific and technical uses I'm sure film Leica users who really need this have moved on with no worries to other digital cameras, you can, after all, get a decent (10mp+) live-view enabled camera with a perfectly good and sharp lens for a lot under $1000 these days.
    Personally I would get rid of the screen, it only serves to make the camera's users less competent photographers. You could save some space and maybe some weight if it was toned down to only displaying the histogram (to prove the image has been captured and help with exposure). Rangefinder composition is harder than SLR composition, but it's not *difficult*, and anyone with a rangefinder should have grasped this by now, if not, they should probably move on.
    When I see M8 users shoot-check-shoot-check-delete-shoot-check(-get hit by bus on crosswalk?) it makes me think of all the DSLR users you see with their flashes up in full auto mode on overcast days taking pictures of buildings and rivers, i.e. here is a person who does not know how to use their camera properly.
     
  5. When I see M8 users shoot-check-shoot-check-delete-shoot-check(-get hit by bus on crosswalk?) it makes me think of all the DSLR users you see with their flashes up in full auto mode on overcast days taking pictures of buildings and rivers, i.e. here is a person who does not know how to use their camera properly.​
    I would politely disagree with that contention that digital users "shoot-check-shoot..".
    You are comparing a bunch that aren't sure of themselves. Has nothing to do with DSLRs or M8.
     
  6. >>> Personally I would get rid of the screen, it only serves to make the camera's users less competent photographers.


    I also disagree about the LCD screen "making" users less competent.
     
  7. I wonder what might be achieved if a company (maybe Cosina) were prepared to throw away the rule book, and come up with a design where the only stipulation would be the ability to use M lenses. Replacing the optical rangefinder with an electronic focus confirmation system (and perhaps an EVF - which might even persuade me to buy a 135mm lens) would allow a much less complicated (and cheaper) camera - there was an unconfirmed rumour a while back that Nikon was developing just such a system. Live View (and a movie mode!) would be easy to implement (no mirror to worry about). This would be a fundamentally different proposition to the M8 or the RD-1, and would probably attract a rather different sort of user, but might finally give us an affordable digital platform for all those wonderful lenses.
     
  8. Live view could be very useful tool for checking rangefinder calibration, any time when in doubt. And it could make tilt and shift lenses feasible in M system.
     
  9. I would like to have Video Recording. This only requires minor software enhancements. Imagine the possibilities that could open up.
     
  10. I've always thought it would be interesting if Leica (or someone else) introduced a 'digital mp', with a mechanical cloth shutter, thumb wind and no lcd, or maybe a very tiny one to show a histogram. And a real iso dial could fit in nicely where the MP rewind knob is.
    The manual wind and cloth shutter would serve to make the camera quiet and it should vastly improve battery life. And of course the distraction of the screen would be gone. I don't think lcd screens in and of themselves make photographers lazy or less competent. But they can be a distraction unless you have more discipline than I. (I can't help taking a peek at the screen once in a while even if I try not to).
    At the same time I do think an M-mount live view camera with a digital focus confirmation and maybe video would be great, especially at a lower price than the current DRF offerings. It could expand the pool of M-lens users and provide an inexpensive backup for DRF users.
     
  11. I would like to have Video Recording. This only requires minor software enhancements. Imagine the possibilities that could open up.​
    If only such devices existed, the things we could do....
     
  12. I agree with Vivek, I use my Leica lenses on my G1 a lot, and it's very good.
    Playing devil's advocate, in a digital rangefinder you could says it's the machnaical focussing cams that the superfluous 'feature'. They certainly add more cost than liveview.
    A digital CL that could detect focus movement, or had an easy to trigger control, and do a G1 style focussing zoom woud be really nice to use.
     
  13. "The advantage of this feature would be to provide view-camera like abilities, and be particularly useful with long lenses and for close up work with extension tubes."
    I believe this is called an SLR? Something Exacta developed for 35mm in the 1930's (and others developed for larger formats even earlier). If you want an SLR, there are plenty on the market.
    The Leica M is built around a little window in the corner for viewing. If you like that kind of viewing, you buy the Leica M or some other rangefinder. If you don't like that kind of viewing - move on.
    That's the smart-a** "Leica traditionalist" response, although there is some underlying philosophical truth to it. It is possible to put a pickup bed or 10 wheels on a Miata (or a Corvette or an Audi TT or a Smart For2, or whatever), and one can argue that both "features" would improve the capabilities of the Miata in some way - but why tear it up to make it do something it is not designed for? Just buy a pickup or a Fruehauf tractor, if that's what you want.
    More practically - live-view requires that the sensor be "on" most of the time, which heats it up, which increases image noise (other things being equal). It requires a more complex shutter control system, and a more complex operating system, which may add bulk and/or cost. There are probably other practical reasons why it would degrade the basic premise of the Leica rangerfinder, just as a pickup bed would degrade the basic sportiness of a Miata or the efficiency of a Smart.
    I find it sad that, in an era when we rightly celebrate and promote diversity, so many people want all cameras to have the same feature sets. In the past, there were rangefinders, SLRs, view cameras - shooting 2:3, square, 4:5, 5:7 formats. And part of the wonder of photography was that photographers made choices to give up certain attributes in exchange for other attributes, rather than trying to cram everything into one camera. Diane Arbus chose to shoot square pictures with a Mamiya, while H-CB or Mary Ellen Mark chose to shoot 2:3 with a 35mm RF, while Adams and Weston - or Avedon - chose to shoot 4:5/8:10 with a view camera, while Annie Leibowitz shot 35mm SLR - and those choices impacted their seeing and their work. Part of what makes Arbus' work uniquely her own was the decision to carry a clunky 6x6 TLR with a waist-level viewfinder and interact with her subjects through that device - complete with all its disadvantages and limitations.
    Occasionally or eventually some of them also tried something different - 6x6 for Mark and Adams, 4x5 for Leibowitz. And it was the availability of diverse cameras, each doing some things well and others things not at all, that allowed them to grow and experiment.
     
  14. Great comments Andy.
    There are people who do this as a hobby who would rather just shoot video for an hour, waving the camera in every direction, and choose some stills later on, rather than put any effort into any part of what they are doing. They're usually lurking on forums talking about full-frame sensors, megapixels, live-view, HD video capabilities, etc etc ad tedium.
    They often get annoyed when they get 'called out' by, yes, "Leica Traditionalists" and give one example why a technology that will double the cost of a sensor/image processor/camera is a great idea when what they really mean is 'maybe if they add this my photos won't be so awful' and what they should do is, yes, get a DSLR and then upgrade every six months to the newest one.
    Am I a "Leica Traditionalist"? I own an M8 that I rarely use, not because it hasn't got live view, because it's not the correct tool for ponderous contemplative photography. I wouldn't dream of taking anything else to an event, however, and it will be getting a run-out at a graduation tomorrow, but for long car journeys and wanders around national parks it's back in the cupboard. For that photography it's more about the glass, so it will be an M4-P (as of yesterday, found a cracking 2nd hand one for a steal), a CL or one of my CV Bessa bodies, or a selection if I need more than one ISO available.
    I challenge every M8 owner to put their camera into review mode off and limit themselves to one photograph per framing, and to flippin' well learn from their mistakes so they don't need to chimp-chimp-chimp(-stand in poo?) and don't need live view, I'm guessing they all have eyes, a brain and an imagination (guessing...).
     
  15. When I moved to digital I was enamoured with the ability to shoot/check/shoot to make sure I got the shot. I also agree with Graham about whats needed with landscapes that require a lot of thought.
    Live view is pointless for me because I look through the viewfinder, but to look at the screen or change controls etc I have to put my glasses on. Thats ok of for landscapes etc, but not for candid or sports. And even then, and despite my D300 having a nice big screen, its also very hard to read in our bright sunlight. I end up reviewing back in the car.
     
  16. Personally I would get rid of the screen, it only serves to make the camera's users less competent photographers.​
    Yeah, that Ansel Adams guy couldn't compose worth a darn on that 8x10 screen...
    Live view could be very useful tool for checking rangefinder calibration, any time when in doubt.​
    Or any time where you have focus shift at different apertures due to spherical aberration.
    I'm flat out amazed by the opposition to liveview. We saw it 2 years ago when it first started to appear on DSLRs, and here we go again with rangefinders. It makes the camera more useful, and if you don't like it, you don't have to use it. That's not a hard concept.
    I would like to have Video Recording. This only requires minor software enhancements.​
    Not if the sensor can't output at video rate (like the M8) and the camera doesn't have enough processing power to handle video coding (also like the M8).
     
  17. The M8/M8.2 already has a live view feature...
    - it's called a rangefinder.
     
  18. "Personally I would get rid of the screen, it only serves to make the camera's users less competent photographers."
    "limit themselves to one photograph per framing, and to flippin' well learn from their mistakes"
    Hmm, well, as a long time rangefinder user, I would strongly disagree with this. It is precisely by looking at the images that we learn from our mistakes. That we can now do this preciseley when we want to - immediately, if necessary, then correcting the mistake, or five minutes later and going back, or an hour later and thinking about it while things are still fresh in your mind - rather than having to wait to develop the film, that we can learn much more quickly. To characterise everyone who does this as somehow oblivious to what is going on around them, seems both disdainful, and plain daft.
    As to ""limit themselves to one photograph per framing", this might be enough for a landscape photographer (if they are not interested in changing light and weather conditions), but it is very rarely the way most top flight photojournalists work. Given that the M camera has traditionally been so used, I imagine most users find the screen a boon. What I would like is to see is its definition radically improved - at the moment it is probably the worse screen on any camera sold.
     
  19. "Personally I would get rid of the screen, it only serves to make the camera's users less competent photographers."
    "limit themselves to one photograph per framing, and to flippin' well learn from their mistakes"
    Hmm, well, as a long time rangefinder user, I would strongly disagree with this. It is precisely by looking at the images that we learn from our mistakes. That we can now do this preciseley when we want to - immediately, if necessary, then correcting the mistake, or five minutes later and going back, or an hour later and thinking about it while things are still fresh in your mind - rather than having to wait to develop the film, that we can learn much more quickly. To characterise everyone who does this as somehow oblivious to what is going on around them, seems both disdainful, and plain daft.
    As to ""limit themselves to one photograph per framing", this might be enough for a landscape photographer (if they are not interested in changing light and weather conditions), but it is very rarely the way most top flight photojournalists work. Given that the M camera has traditionally been so used, I imagine most users find the screen a boon. What I would like is to see is its definition radically improved - at the moment it is probably the worse screen on any camera sold.
     
  20. As to the live view question, I have it on my 5D II, and for critical focus and framing it is very useful. When the camera is on a tripod, it is doubly so.
    As far as I understand, on cameras without a mirror box it is pretty easy to include - cameras costing a small percentage of the Leica M, like the G1 have it, so why should it be so onerous to include it in the Leica. As to it causing the sensor to overheat and it draining the batteries, well, you just turn it on when you need it - so, if you didn't want to use it you wouldn't have to. It's not exactly rocket science.
     
  21. The M8/M8.2 already has a live view feature...
    - it's called a rangefinder.

    A little secret Bobby; pray do not tell...... live view is about...well, you know.

    Your photographs are always of the highest technical quality; a credit to you. The finest bedroom (wish i was there) photos i have seen with an M8. Just kidding.
    Great stuff .
     
  22. how about the minor issue of a non automatic daiphram? To get the best (ie, brightest) live view image you'd have to crank open the lens only to crank it back down to take the picure... It would only be good for macro/scientific and ect (read:slow stuff), and seriously, who the hell does that with a Leica M anymore??? The whole "extension of the eye" thing goes down the tube right there. You look INTO the LCD; you look THROUGH the view/rangefinder. much much different.
     
  23. The...cloth shutter would serve to make the camera quiet...​
    The metal shutter on the M8.2 is substantially more quiet than the cloth shutter on the M6 and also a bit more quiet than that of the M7.
    —Mitch/Bangkok
     
  24. Andy Piper, May 09, 2009; 05:22 p.m. wrote as follows in part:
    "The advantage of this feature would be to provide view-camera like abilities, and be particularly useful with long lenses and for close up work with extension tubes."
    I believe this is called an SLR? Something Exacta developed for 35mm in the 1930's (and others developed for larger formats even earlier). If you want an SLR, there are plenty on the market.
    The Leica M is built around a little window in the corner for viewing. If you like that kind of viewing, you buy the Leica M or some other rangefinder. If you don't like that kind of viewing - move on.
    That's the smart-a** "Leica traditionalist" response, although there is some underlying philosophical truth to it. It is possible to put a pickup bed or 10 wheels on a Miata (or a Corvette or an Audi TT or a Smart For2, or whatever), and one can argue that both "features" would improve the capabilities of the Miata in some way - but why tear it up to make it do something it is not designed for? Just buy a pickup or a Fruehauf tractor, if that's what you want."
    The quote above from Mr. Piper, outside of being meaninglessly viscious and vulgar, ignores the long history of Leica use as a copy camera, a camera for use with long lenses, a scientific camera, a close up photographic device. Mr. Piper may not be seasoned, or thoughtful enough, to know some basic Leica history, but many of you more experienced users of the system will remember the Visoflex, the extension tube sets, the bellows. Some of these attachements are still used by serious Leica M users, but there is no current production or support. The live view feature of course can replace the Visoflex, as well as be useful for view camera like purposes.
    I so wish that the people who write in this forum would be more tolerant, more civilized than those including Mr. Piper who seem to build on hate and arrogance (and are so often factually wrong).
    Many of the other answers were thoughtful and substantive, and I have enjoyed the debate so far.
     
  25. long history of Leica use as a copy camera, a camera for use with long lenses, a scientific camera, a close up photographic device​
    Seriously, who is going to spend $6000 on a camera as akward for these purposes in 'the digital age'? It's nonsense, there are cheaper, more megapixelly, more featured alternatives available for doing that. Why would anyone use an M8 with macro adapters when they could get a sensible dedicated lens and stick it on a 5Dii for doing the same thing at a much cheaper cost? If that's your thing, I strongly doubt that you're using an M8 for it. A history is a history, once we're in digital land the terrain is remapped, my feeling on the digital Ms is that keep the main ethos of the cameras (simplicity, reliability, quality) and build the best camera you can for that spec, acknowledging that the main cost comes from the sensor and making it as good as possible for a sensible price. Don't load it full of features so that the idiots who used to rave about Pentiums and now rant about megapixels feel the need to get involved, they're genuinely not welcome, and I'm really sorry if you feel offended, but if you want the camera to do everything for you you should go buy a 5Dii and make yourself happy... I have the image of you looking forlornly at your M8 after every bad shot thinking 'if only this camera was better!'
     
  26. For close up work with an Epson RD-1; Leica M3, Fed or Zorki I just use my "SPEED-O-COPY" attachment; US patent 1,973,542 by D Paul Shull of Los Angeles.

    It has LTM threads. It adds some thickness so one gets closeup but no infinity focus.
    Setting a 50mm lens to infinity means one has focus about 16 inches from the film/sensor plane.

    If the 50mm lens is set to 3 ft; one has focus 13 inches from the film plane.

    If the 50mm lens is set to 1.5 ft; one has subject focus about 11 inches from the film/sensor.
    The gizmo has a ground glass focus screen that one flops in place to focus and compose; then one flips this out and flips in the other piece that has the camera body. Then one shoots the image. This gizmo was brought out for medical photography; shooting book pages.

    Here Mine for LTM cost 30 dollars; the other for Kodak Ektra 99 cents. I was the ONLY bidder on these ebay auctions.
    One can also use it for cine and video macro usage if one has a LTM adapter in place in the system.
    I use the 5cm F2 Nikkor LTM that has focus by scale down to 18 inches with the Speed O copy. Adding some LTM spacer rings allows one to get closer; or try combos of 50mm enlarging lenses; or my 28mm enlarging lens too.


    The speed o copy attachment goes back before WW2; it has been used for astro images, microscopes; macro work.. The Inventor David Paul Shall had patent 1,973,542 issued in 1934. Thus usage of these gizmos is abit old; ie 3/4 century. It works well with an Epson RD-1 when one has a LTM adapter.
    patent PDF
     
  27. Graham; many buyers of Leica in the past were not bottom end wage earners; but Doctors. The same folks would be better off to buy a quartz Timex watch instead of a real Rolex; a canon dRebel instead of a Leica M8; a 45 buck 1963 Konica Auto S2 instead of a Leica M3 with DR Summicron.
    Money is often not so much an issue; performance, and or bragging about ones toys; having the best is.
    Sometimes things do not make sense; the doctor next door has a M3 and DR summicron; plus about 60 k to 100k worth of lathes etc to build model boats. When he died his wife gave the old film camera and lens to the dude across the street; he sold it to a pawn shop for 150 bucks.
    He had special lathes to machine cannons that are about 1cm long; 1mm in diameter; with a panograph reduction template gizmo for each cannon type. Today all of this machine shop stuff is scattered; the folks who bought the stuff for a grand did not know what most of the stuff was; most probably is in a landfill.
    One might argue the old doctor could have made the cannons out of injected molded plastic cheaper than solid brass if one considers all the labor and tooling.
     
  28. '...my feeling on the digital Ms is that keep the main ethos of the cameras (simplicity, reliability, quality) and build the best camera you can for that spec, acknowledging that the main cost comes from the sensor and making it as good as possible for a sensible price.'
    The 'problem' with the M8 is that the price is nowhere near sensible, and that much of this cost comes from building a complex rangefinder mechanism into a body designed to last for decades, rather than the sensor. All very well when you're investing in a camera for life (just ask anyone who is still using their M3 from the 50s), but a harder sell in the digital era, where the M8 is already showing its age. There is still a market for a classic digital rangefinder, and I hope that Leica continues to produce cameras of this type, but I think there's another market for something more affordable (the sort of people who would once have bought the CL, or a secondhand M in user condition, or one of the VC cameras). Nobody is really serving this market right now (a secondhand M8 goes for over 2000 GBP). I'd love to see Cosina or a Leica-branded Japanese partner produce something of this kind. It could include all the bells and whistles like Movie Mode that the purists aren't interested in (but are cheap to implement - every p&s has them), and perhaps be sold for around the price of a D300. As I recall, the rumoured (fantasy?) Nikon was an AF 'rangefinder' like the Contax G-series, but backwards-compatible with M lenses (for which it would provide a focus confirmation indicator). If designed with a compact body, this could also serve the untapped market for a large (say DX) sensor in a more or less pocketable body, a sort of digital successor to the tiny LTM cameras. I'd have to agree that the technical/scientific market for Leica cameras is long gone - our lab has a consumer Canon dSLR mounted on a microscope (obviously with live view!), and it does the job very well; we certainly couldn't justify Leica prices for this application.
     
  29. Why would anyone use an M8 with macro adapters when they could get a sensible dedicated lens and stick it on a 5Dii for doing the same thing at a much cheaper cost?​
    Simple. Because they want to do street, clubs, and other "Leica stuff" more frequently than they want to do macro. But they still want to do "some" macro, but don't want to spend an extra $3500 and learn an entirely different user interface in order to do it. (I think this one was a trick question, wasn't it?)
    how about the minor issue of a non automatic daiphram? To get the best (ie, brightest) live view image you'd have to crank open the lens only to crank it back down to take the picure...​
    Not entirely true. Many liveview cameras use the aperture stopped down, in order to provide the best (i.e. accurate focusing at shooting aperture without focus shift, accurate DOF) live view image. That's how I normally use liveview on my Nikon D3. (see, not so cut and dry when you're not the one who gets to define "the best", is it?)
    cameras costing a small percentage of the Leica M, like the G1 have it, so why should it be so onerous to include it in the Leica.​
    Kodak. Plain and simple. Their volumes aren't high enough to match the innovations of Canon, Sony, or Panasonic. Four thirds didn't get liveview until they ditched Kodak.
     
  30. "acknowledging that the main cost comes from the sensor and making it as good as possible for a sensible price."
    You are clearly not talking about Leica then.
    If Leica were really serious about a simple camera at a reasonable price , with the best possible sensor, you just might have a point. Keep it simple to meet that price. As it is, as Joseph's first point above makes clear, your remarks seem to be bereft of any imagination.
     
  31. Peter Mann, I'm sorry if you were offended. However, if you read what I wrote, you will see that I was referring to my own argument as the "smart-..." - well, the vulgarity you mentioned - "....Leica traditionalist response".
    I don't think your words - "meaninglessly viscious and vulgar", "not...seasoned, or thoughtful", "hate and arrogance" - were directed at your own arguments. Being offensive using la-de-da language is still being offensive.
    As it happens, I am well aware of the Visoflex. In fact I've used one professionally as a medical and scientific photographer. And disposed of it, and the MD body it was attached to, for a modern SLR as soon as I became department head - because while it was a fine mechanical device, it was woefully outdated even then (c.1982).
    The Visoflex and its predecessors do have a long history, but I would submit that it is mostly a marginal and irrelevant history post-1960. Perhaps you can identify a Visoflex picture taken since then that either graces museum photo collections or has won journalistic awards, or has otherwise contributed to the development of photography as a creative medium - but I don't see a lot of them among the works of the photographers whose names are synonymous with Leica rangefinder photography: Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey, Stuart Franklin, Jill Freedman, Ralph Gibson, Susan Meiselas, Elliott Erwitt, Costa Manos....or Anthony Suau.
    http://us.leica-camera.com/news/news/1/6473.html
    I can't find my "Laney" at the moment, but perhaps you can tell us the number of M-mount Visoflexes sold over the years compared to the number of M cameras sold. I'd guess the ratio is probably on the order of 1:100 - maybe less. Which meets my definition of "marginal".
    As it also happens - I've actually conducted a survey over on the Leica Users Forum regarding preferences for features and specifications for a full-frame Leica-M digital, if one ever comes to pass. "Live view", about as you described it, was among the "other" features listed as possibilities. It was the most popular feature among "other", with about 25% of respondents expressing some level of interest in it. About another 30% were adamantly opposed to it being included even if it imposed no technical compromises in the performance of the camera otherwise. The middle 45% did not mind if it was available, but would not use it and did not want it if it compromised the basic "M-ness" of the camera.
     
  32. When I see M8 users shoot-check-shoot-check-delete-shoot-check(-get hit by bus on crosswalk?)​
    If it's an M8 - probably because the rangefinder framing is so inaccurate that they're trying to see if the image even resembles what they throught was being framed. I found frame inaccuracy the single most frustrating problem with the M8. The viewfinder upgrade has eliminated that problem and need to chimp on tightly composed photos for me.
     
  33. To Andy Piper: La-de-da is me! Apparently vulgar "smart a.."is you, as you confess. But really, since at least one of us is a Leica lover and user for over 60years, I suppose we should not sully this forum with pointed exchanges. Now if you will read this thread so far, you will find that a large number of responders are in favor of some version of live view, which is what I wanted to find out. Some are not in favor, but not always for relevant reasons. Mission accomplished and thanks to the more thoughtful folks who were capable of expressing a civil opinion on the merits of the question.
     

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