Reichmann's M8 review is up

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by nhsn, Oct 30, 2006.

  1. Fyi:
    Michael Reichmann has published his review and video blog. An interesting read:
    I don' t think that in all my years of writing camera reviews I've ever been as generous in my comments about a new camera as I have been here with regard to the Leica M8. But, try as I might I find little to fault in any regard. The conversion of the M series from film-based to digital has been accomplished about as well as one could wish, and almost all of the hallmark Leica qualities, refined over more than a half century of making essentially the same model, have been retained.
  2. Michael has been a long time Leica shooter, and has been very caught up in the digi stuff for some time. But like most of us that are long time users realise, there is something special about shooting with a M series.
  3. Just finished it. I think perhaps Leica has actually superceded expectations for this new body. It would appear to be everything we wanted and then some. Plus a two year warranty should allay any fears of reliablility problems on a new product. Perhaps I'll be able to afford a used one after the warranty has run out...
    One thing for certain - Michael wrote a bang-up review!
  4. Two seconds for startup? That's a bummer.
  5. Matt:
    I suppose one could just leave it on..? With the LCD turned off and the metering not engaging unless you half-press the shutter - nothing would be drawing much power. And if you need to get the camera from "transport" to "shooting mode" (whether you carry it in a backpack or other luggage of medium accessibility) in a hurry, flicking the switch when you reach for the camera will have it ready very soon after if not before you can point it in the right direction. This is just my experience with the Minolta 7D (which spins the AF-screw on each start up if not set to the hidden full MF mode) over the last year, but our expectancies may vary! :)

    Back on topic:
    I really do need to win the lottery some time soon..

  6. Takes me longer than that to get a camera the right way up....

    then take the lens - that's right.
  7. The battery life will determine if leaving it on is a sensible approach. It might well be.

    It doesn't take two seconds to bring a camera up to your eye, or at least it didn't with the 10D and the 7D, both of which often left me waiting. This was particularly annoying with the 7D, which couldn't be left on for any amount of time without it eating up the battery. After experiencing the instant on of the D80, I'm not willing to be left waiting.

    On the other hand, since the RF doesn't need to be powered up for one to start focussing - unlike an AF camera - perhaps the power on delay won't be as much of an issue.
  8. Hiya,

    " Plus a two year warranty should allay any fears of reliablility problems"

    Why should this be any cause for celebration? Hyundai manages to give FIVE years warranty with it's far more complicated but rather average cars. Why on earth cannot Leica give a similar one on it's alleged brilliant products?

    cheers Steve.
  9. Two seconds for startup? That's a bummer.
    Love the sound of a good whine in the morning.
    BTW, how long does it take for a M7 meter to kick in after turning it on?
  10. Love the sound of a good whine in the morning.
    Yeah, and no doubt there will be even more whiners annoyed that exposure compensation is set through the LCD panel on the back.
  11. Reichmann is a gear head and seems to buy one of everything. No problem with that.

    This being said, it appears that the camera is competent and has an image quality equal to other cameras. So whats the point of buying it? This must be the equivalent of the coach handbag for women. More of an accessory for showing off to the rest of us geeks.

    This being said by a guy (me) who has both a canon eos 1ds and leica m4-p. The thing I like about the leica is its size and being all mechanical.
  12. We don't wanna know about evil, we only wanna know about love...Sometimes it gets so
    hard to listen, hard for us to use our eyes and all around the gold is glistening, making
    sure it keeps us hypnotised.

    Love & Evil by Jean Jacques Smoothie now playing in my Itunes, great song...
  13. I have to wonder when I see these reviews and the endless "commentary" that follows on various fora and blogs, are any people who are honestly undecided and read the reviews to help make a decision, or do mostly people read them to look for confirmation of the decision they've already made, to buy or not to buy. Or, in the case of Leicas, to love or hate :)
  14. Interesting that while Mr. Reichmann has a complete review, there is nothing on Mr. Puts's site.

    Has something changed, as to who gets the first official test cameras??
  15. I think Vinay is on the mark here, although for my part had Reichman and other reviewers
    with some credibility given it a caning, I would have allowed my name to slip down my
    dealer's order list while things became clearer. For now, it remains nailed to the top...
  16. "Yeah, and no doubt there will be even more whiners annoyed that exposure compensation is set through the LCD panel on the back."

    Yup, pretty that's dumb too. And so is having to take off the baseplate to change the battery.

    SD cards, now that was a smart choice.
  17. I wonder if the findings concerning image quality in the above review are also relevant/applicable to the DMR?

    Michael Reichmann makes comparison with 5D or 1Ds2, but does not mention DMR at all. Can any DMR users comment on how the M8 and DMR images may be similar in light of Michael's review?
  18. "I have to wonder when I see these reviews and the endless "commentary" that follows on various fora and blogs, are any people who are honestly undecided and read the reviews to help make a decision, or do mostly people read them to look for confirmation of the decision they've already made, to buy or not to buy. Or, in the case of Leicas, to love or hate :)"

    Vinay, I recognize that your oversimplification or wonderment is more a cynical commentary on the consumer than the reviewer, and perhaps I share it, but this review is very helpful to me. Unlike some, I do read a lot of what is available to help direct my track, and I can deal with delayed gratification. I want to decide whether to buy some DSLR I don't really want or wait until the digital rangefinder alternative might someday be available at a price I can responsibly afford. I won't be buying an M8 at that price, but these reviews help me decide to what extent the goal of an ergonomic digital rangefinder camera should remain a priority on my radar. If Leica can't do it for $4800, then I might as well buy a...(I'm not sure what), but if they can do it, and it appears that they have, then perhaps Cosina will do something acceptable through Epson or Zeiss, and I'll just keep having my film scanned as I see it unfold.

    I like defining my need and taking my time to select what will fulfill it, studying equipment and enjoying the act of photography and the result all the way. Have a little faith. We are not all fools.
  19. exposure compensation is set through the LCD panel on the back.
    That's a biggie, IMO. Not a wise decision at all by Leica.
  20. Having read the reviews of the M8, I finally made a deposit.

    But the deposit was for the purchase of a brand new film scanner. $1,000 for a new
    Coolscan 5000 lets me keep my 'cheap' film bodies that aren't so f-ing precious that I can't
    take them out in public. I also get to keep my fast, wide glass. Plus my
    electronics depreciation stays right where it belongs: in my office next to the computer.
  21. What does that wheel on the back do when you're shooting? Are the 4 buttons next to it assignable to something when you're shooting? I bet they are.
    Why doesn't the answers to these questions ever seem to come up in these "reviews?"

    Do the Big Guys think they don't need to read the manuals because "hey, it's a Leica, I can use it with my eyes closed!"?
  22. <exposure compensation is set through the LCD panel on the back>

    For traditional Leica photographers who don't use AE, exposure compensation will NOT be set on the LCD panel on the back -- it will be set by turning the aperture ring on the lens or the shutter speed dial on the camera body, just as it has with every Leica except the M7, and even with the M7 in manual mode.

    The relatively few Leica photographers who are accustomed to using their M7 in AE mode and haven't figured out how to compensate for backlighting by metering a darker part of the scene and then depressing the shutter button halfway to lock exposure may have to set exposure compensation through the LCD screen.

    I realize that having a separate, easily accessible control for every function might be desirable in an automated camera, but I think Leica balanced this consideration against Leica users' oft-expressed desire that the digital M should be as clean and simple as possible, like a film M.

    Time will tell whether these users are happy getting what they asked for.
  23. "oft-expressed desire that the digital M should be as clean and simple as possible"

    From a human interface design perspective, modal buttons on the back of the camera are actually inferior to a tactile single function dial. A lack of controls doesn't necessarily indicate simplicity.

    In a perfect world, the M8 would have been a Hexar RF with a sensor crammed in and a top plate lcd to show ISO, WB, battery etc. WB would have been set with a ring around the lens mount a la shutterspeeds on a OM.
  24. For traditional Leica photographers who don't use AE...
    Those Leica photographers are probably best served by staying with film. Others, who want to embrace digital, won't feel the need to be shackeled to how things were done 50 years ago.
    Time will tell whether these users are happy getting what they asked for.
    Really? OK, so apparently users were asked and responded that they wanted AE, but didn't want an easy method for setting compensation Anyone on this forum asked by Leica what they wanted? Perhaps the removable baseplate to change memory cards and battery?
    Matt gets it. Good user design/ergonomics is more than just slamming a function/control into a menu.
  25. I sold my Leica gear when I went digital in '03. The M8 has me trolling back over here, and
    I just bookmarked the Leica Forum again.
  26. Hi,

    I shoot manually and with AE as I see fit. I do not want to trawl through menus to adjust compensation. This is one of the most annoying aspects of most digital 'wunderkameras' it is not good ergonomics, but then top rate ergonomics are not one of Leica's strong points. Contax had a much firmer grip on ergonomics than Leica..

    cheers Steve.
  27. It's simple, f8 and use 1/250 on the sunny side of the street and 1/60 on the shady side.
  28. <so apparently users were asked and responded that they wanted AE, but didn't want an easy method for setting compensation>

    I believe users indicated they wanted a sensor where the film has been but otherwise wanted to retain the ergonomics and shooting experience of the Leica M film cameras.

    For most such users, that means adjusting the aperture and shutter speed in response to lighting conditions on the basis of judgment rather than automation or pre-programmed compensation.

    (As an aside, why is it that I find I agree with almost everything you write on the S&D Forum and almost nothing you write here?)
  29. You're right, Jonathan, as long as you are shooting in manual mode.
    But if you're shooting in aperture-preferred, and you try to compensate by adjusting the aperture, the camera automatically changes the shutter speed to compensate for that change.
    Thus the need for electronic exposure compensation. And to bury it in a menu is a major blunder. However, if the camera has an exposure lock button (I'm not sure), that would work.
  30. Jim, I don't own an M7 and have never shot with one, but I have read in this forum that depressing the shutter button halfway locks the shutter speed. Exposure compensation would thus be possible in AE mode by adjusting the aperture after locking the shutter speed in this manner.

    If this is incorrect...well, I'll stand corrected.
  31. I believe users indicated they wanted a sensor where the film has been but otherwise wanted to retain the ergonomics and shooting experience of the Leica M film cameras.
    So AE made it in by mistake then - rather than user-request as you suggested? Guess that explains how compensation got buried into a menu.
  32. <So AE made it in by mistake then - rather than user-request as you suggested? Guess that explains how compensation got buried into a menu.>

    Of course AE was added in response to user requests. But it did not change either the ergonomics of the camera or the shooting experience of manual shooters, as it is simply one more setting on the existing shutter speed dial.

    Exposure compensation got "buried" in the menu apparently because Leica wanted to keep to a minimum the number of additional buttons on the M8. People who are accustomed to using a fully-automated camera might consider this a major omission, but for most Leica shooters, who are accustomed to compensating manually, the omission is no big deal. Since existing Leica owners are probably the primary market for this camera, the omission hardly qualifies as a mistake.

    Brad, would you have been in the market for an M8 if it had included a separate exposure compensation control?
  33. rj


    I have a Bronica RF645 that has the AE compensation wheel right in the back, right where your thumb rests. Its very easy to use and just works, but to tell you the truth I rarely used it prefering to manually adjust exposure. Of course people on the internet forums complained that it was too easy to use and that you could accidentally move it and never know. You can't please everybody.

    If the exposure compensation is buried in the menu, a good workaround would be to lock exposure on a correct value in the scene and then reframe and shoot. Can the M8 do that?

    I just got done reading the review and watched the little video at the end. I have to say that this camera really looks cool and should make a great compliment to a pros slr kit or maybe even a medium format film shooter. Due to the fact that the only way I could get this camera is to sell my car and keep the money from my wife, I won't be getting one soon, but I would like one if somebody wants to buy one for me. ;-)
  34. Since existing Leica owners are probably the primary market for this camera, the omission hardly qualifies as a mistake.
    I'm glad you characterized that market as Leica owners rather than photographers. In that case I will agree with you.
    Brad, would you have been in the market for an M8 if it had included a separate exposure compensation control?
    I'm not in the market for another cam as the one I have now works fine. But if I were, that ommision would strongly influence my decision in a negative way - seems like an otherwise fine cam. But then I view myself more a photographer than equipment owner. Even my $200 canon A620 has direct compensation control.
  35. rj


    So to be a "photographer" I have to use exposure compensation? To tell you the truth, I don't ever use it. I usually just meter manually and adjust accordingly using shutter speed or aperture (why I like having aperture rings on lenses) depending on the scene. Makes life easy and it is only slightly more taxing on the brain than using the stick shift in my car.
  36. So to be a "photographer" I have to use exposure compensation?
    You're being disengenuous. What I'm saying, and I'm sure you got it first time, is that a photographer will be far more interested in compensation than one who is just an owner.
    You've used the exposure compensation on an M8 in "street shooting"? Do tell...
    More disingenuous prattle. I didn't say that. I am very familliar with digital and exposure compensation. On both my cams I turn a dial.
    If it fulfills some need for you to believe you've made me your victim, be my guest.
    What is it with reading comprehension.... I never said you were my victim. You are your own - it's a role in which you relish.
  37. << ... a photographer will be far more interested in compensation than one who is just an owner. ... >>

    Call me a photographer/call me an owner. Either way, Brad, at those prices, I'd be desperately in need of "compensation."

  38. As evidenced by your work, Michael, your definately a photograper. No need to be
    humble. :=)
  39. <a photographer will be far more interested in compensation than one who is just an owner>

    ...and a photographer who is accustomed to working manually, as most Leica users are, will be less interested. Even Leica shooters who use AE know how to press the shutter button halfway and then adjust the aperture for compensation.

    You may prefer a camera with a particular feature set, but that's no reason to derogate people who feel otherwise as mere "owners" as opposed to real "photographers." Very often, it's the most experienced photographers who are least in need of the features.
  40. Blah,blah, blah. Where are the photos? Just a link, sort of playing it safe. Tip toe through the tulips stuff. Show me, don't tell me....links to this site are usually lacking, big style....... Dare they post,knee tremble remember, you old foggies, when you got it on. The good old days. Okay, i will help.......the humble 199 gbp Leica lens.
  41. Don't tell me,look at the print, look at the red dot.. Yeh, right.

    One born every minute.

    I don' t think that in all my years of writing camera reviews

    Yeh,right, better rush out and buy 10. Shame about the photos....but who cares about that.
  43. rj


    Here's one for ya' Allen.
  44. Thanks Mr Hicks, very nice. Mine too had a Leica lens. A cool lens;)
  45. "Yeah, and no doubt there will be even more whiners annoyed that exposure compensation
    is set through the LCD panel on the back."

    Even DLSRs that cost 1/10th the Leica don't make you go into the menu to control exposure
    compensation. Leica must employ a few mentally challenged non-photographers in their
    design department.
  46. BTW, the noise on the M8 at high ISO values is worse than my ancient 10D! That's got to be
    embarrassing for them. Then again, people never shoot Leicas in low light, DO THEY?
  47. rj


    How do you know Andrew? Do you shoot an m8?
  48. rj


    And, pre-M7 days, Leica shooters never needed exposure compensation. It definately would not be a deal breaker for me, the price tag is the deal breaker for me.
  49. ...I have read in this forum that depressing the shutter button halfway locks the shutter speed.
    If that's the case, Jonathan, (I don't know), then, yes, that would work fine. And that would be fast, too.
    My point is that in aperture preferred mode, you need some kind of fast compensation.
  50. <Even DLSRs that cost 1/10th the Leica don't make you go into the menu to control exposure compensation>

    The M8 also lacks icons for Portrait Mode, Flower Mode and Mountain Mode, features that can be found on cameras that cost 1/20 what the M8 costs! And how come there's no pop-up flash? What's wrong with those guys in Solms, anyway?!?
  51. Exposure compensation got "buried" in the menu apparently because Leica wanted to keep to a minimum the number of additional buttons on the M8.
    The exposure compensation on my Canon is set by turning the thumbwheel on the back of the body. The M8 has very similar controls on the back. You wouldn't need any additional buttons--you just need to assign a function to a control that's already there. I agree that it's a silly omission, but it's one that could be fixed by a firmware update.
  52. Mike, that's a good point. When I go to PhotoPlus at the Javits Center later this week, I'll stop by the Leica booth and ask whether such a solution is contemplated or, better yet, can be implemented now with a custom function.
  53. I think the point about exposure compensation is once you have an auto exposure mode, you also want some quick and intuitive way to control the results it provides. Not to implement a fast compensation function is to miss the point of AE: it can be very reliable, but it can also need some tweaking, and that ability must be quickly available in a way that does not interefere with the shooting experience. On the 5D, the compensation feature is on the control wheel at the back of the camera: it's very well implemented and intuitive. To have an AE mode which does not provide for convenient controls like this is to miss the point altogether.

    I think this is a problem with the entire M series: the ergonomics are really not that good. Of course you can get used to anything and use it effectively, but things like the small shutter control dial on the pre-TTL models (and indeed, the lack of TTL for so many years) make the cameras fiddly and inconvenient to use. It's ironic that when Leica introduced both a larger shutter dial and TTL, thus improving the camera's ergonomics/ease of use, they were attacked for it. These are small things and can be worked around quite effectively, but they do affect how efficient the camera is in actual use.

    You can go on about manual exposure and so on, but the fact is that DSLR's have implemented both manual and automatic exposure very well, and in doing so they have created expectations in terms of ease of use and functionality that it seems the M8 (like the film M series previously) is not meeting. If the M8 had the function set and ergonomics of a 5D, I'd probably be very keen to buy one (price apart). But the fact that the camera costs twice what the 5D does, while apparently continuing to implement Leica's poor ergonomics and feature set, is pretty disappointing. They seem to have put more money into aesthetics than function - this is of course the core of the Leica tradition.

    Having said that, I'm sure that for many people the M8 will be an attractive and effective solution to their needs.
  54. "How do you know Andrew? Do you shoot an m8?"

    No, I just looked at Reichmann's noise comparison.
  55. ...while apparently continuing to implement Leica's poor ergonomics and feature set, is pretty disappointing.
    On that subject, is there a reason (ie, great ergonomics, technical feature, etc) for making the user remove the baseplate to replace the memory card and battery? Or is it simply another case of users getting what they asked for?
  56. Another dismal, ugly, envious, Leica bashing post from Brad - of course there's a reason
    for retaining the need to remove the baseplate. It's to make sure the M8, in line with it's
    film forerunners, has the structural integrity to deal with a bull African elephant sitting on
    it (as we all know, the average Canon can't support the weight of any mammal larger than
    a miniature schnauzer). I've lost count of the number of times this Germanic
    overengineering has saved the day for me. Sadly, I've also lost count of the number of
    times the rangefinder mechanism has been thrown out of alignment by a single longhaul

    And as for hardbitten documentarist Bob now choosing to wield a plastic Canon, I'm lost
    for words. All I will say is this: stay well clear of the larger pachyderms....
  57. Boris, I'm beginning to understand that you're probably the hardestbitten contributor to this forum. I'd love to hear from you in person, but I'm sure I won't. Anyway, to return to the 5D, which I bought partly on your prompting, I'm very happy with it. But the 28/1.8 sucks ass at anything less than f5.6. Leica lenses can really spoil you for good fast glass.
  58. Bob, if your 28 is as bad as you say then I'm guessing it's out of alignment - register as a
    CPS member and emphasise to Canon that you're not a muppet (that seems to be their
    first assumption about the punters - maybe they look at Photonet) and they'll put it right
    for you. It's nowhere near as good as any of the Leica 28s but it should be entirely usable
    closed down even a third of a stop - though the corners will be really soft and swirly (I
    actually like the swirliness). Here's the Boris guide to the widish lenses I use:

    16-35: Big, but surprisingly well balanced. It's at least as sharp as the 28, but again (wide
    open) the corners are soft. Has a nasty tendency to get out of alignment - you'll know
    when this happens because one side of your frame will go laughably muzzy (at least with
    digital you'll clock this before catastrophe kicks in).

    24f1.4: Useable wide open (soft corners) and very sharp by f2 (a lot sharper than the 28). I
    don't use this much now, I got it pre5D to use with 20Ds.

    28: Mine's a lot better than the one you describe. Despite being softer at wide apertures
    than the 24 and 35 I use it a lot because it's so light and compact. Also, it's a 28 and there
    are times when nothing else will do....

    35f1.4: Fine wide open and really sharp when closed down even a third of a stop. Big, but
    really useful, and, again, it balances well.

    24-105is: This is the wildcard choice. It's huge and slow (f4) but bizarrely likeable. It's
    very sharp wide open (as sharp as any of the others at f4), distorts to a comical level
    (buildings bend like bananas), and the stabilizer allows you to work in light just as low as
    the fast 24 and 35 - albeit with a lot of motion blur (not necessarily a bad thing). I now
    always take this away with me, there's no reason why you couldn't produce an entire story
    with this lens alone.

    50f1.4: Useable wide open and very sharp by f2. Slower and more hesitant focusing than
    all the others, but it gets there in the end. Mechanically a piece of junk, this needs as
    much maintenance as the 16-35 to keep it in shape.

    I don't know anything about the longer lenses.

    Coming from Nikon (?) and Leica you should find the 5Ds an ergonomic joy to use. Once
    you've separated the focus from the shutter release to the back button there's no faster
    camera to work with, and the thumbwheel on the back (whether you're on manual or auto)
    is a brilliant piece of industrial design. They're also very, very reliable - they seem
    impervious to dust, and the only problem I've had in the rain is that the joystick thing that
    moves the focus point has got locked on one position (when it dried out it worked fine

    I feel like a real photonetter now, maybe I'll even get one of those lovely hero icons for
    being so uncharacteristically helpful....

    ps the 5Ds produce really nice weighty image files, but I was re-editing an old story made
    with color neg and the tonality brought tears to my eyes. Digi is sharp and grainless but
    it's still a long way from trouncing film.
  59. It's the swirliness in the corners that pisses me off ;-) Apart from that, it's OK.

    I agree that the 5D is an ergonomic wonder. The back button focus setting reminds me of the Contax G2 - that was one of my favourite features of that camera.

    BTW - I'll be in Bombay for most of next year, leaving in a couple of weeks - if your travels take you there, get in touch.
  60. In relation to the G2, at f2 my Zeiss 35mm has the most beautifully and surreally swirly
    of any lens I've owned. The extra bulk and cost of the fast Canon 24 and 35 seems to deal
    with the swirl. Regarding India, I'll probably be making at least one visit to New Delhi next
    year, so you never know...
  61. "50f1.4: Useable wide open and very sharp by f2".

    Got so fed up with my 50mm playing up that I bought the new Zeiss 50mm f1.4, with an
    M42-EOS adaptor, just to use on my 5D. There isn't really a sensible reason for doing this
    but it is a very nice (make that excellent) lens, easy to focus and, despite not being
    electronically couple etc, less frustrating to use than the EOS 50mm. It's not particularly
    expensive, either.
  62. Are you guys seeing the new 50/1.2L much in use out in the field among your PJ crowd or has that lens been deemed too heavy for such work? Given the price, I am assuming the image quality of 50L must be above reproach.
  63. Nels, I haven't seen the f1.2 actually on sale yet. It's supposed to be in the GBP 1,000 bracket.
    For that kind of money, I'm assuming it can also mix cocktails.

    This is why, in a foolhardy moment, I plumped for the Zeiss f1.4. I'm not saying that the Zeiss
    f1.4 is better than the EOS f1.4. I'm saying I'm foolhardy.
  64. Andrew, I wasn't aware that the 50L hasn't gone on sale yet. It's listed at $1599 on B&H. For that price, it should at least get some tail, if not mix cocktails.

    My guess is, Canon is testing it on the upcoming 1DsIII body which is allegedly in the 22-24MP range. There are very few lenses left in Canon's catalog that could hold their own against the next upgrade of their flagship body. I anticipate the results to be on par with those from 85L, with a generous throw on the focusing ring to allow for easier manual focusing in low light.
  65. My only experience with the 85L was confined to the FD version and the first EOS version.
    The AF on the first version had such snail-like speed and I would often nod off before the
    lens was focussed. I have the 85mm f1.8 version which I think is a belter of a lens and is a
    terrific bargain.

    I photographed the actress Ziyi Zhang with the humble 85mm f1.8 (and got a cover out of
    it). Sadly, I can't actually show you this picture without getting express permission from
    the ZZ camp. In fact, because I have told you this your computer screen will now explode
    in 10 seconds.

    BTW, I'm hoping, with all fingers crossed, that the new all singing EOS will mean that I
    don't have to stump for a MF digital system....In the meantime, I love the 5D.
  66. Apart from that, it's OK.

    No, it's proper ugly, Bob. Jeez, Bob, who wants to walk around with ugly. Hi everyone, Bob's looking to jump the broomstick. Hey, his looking for ugly to love him extra there.
  67. Seeing the results from 5D has me now lusting after a bigger sensor in a body not significantly larger than 5D. Yes, you can kiss goodbye to faster lenses with MF but considering how often I use the 24-105L IS lens, I'm willing to put up with a good f/4 normal zoom for most of my needs.
    The Mamiya ZD seems to have been a disaster at least as far as marketing it in the US goes. The Pentax 645 digital appears promising, if it's ever released. This may be just wishful thinking on my part, but I think Canon with its CMOS R&D expertise needs to get into MF business with a body and a whole new line of lenses. They can sure help bring the price of a MF sensor/body down from its current levels to sub-$5K levels, if the price of 5D sensor is any indication. That would give the Hassy H3D a run for its money.
    PS: You can e-mail me the ZZ pic. My e-mail InBox self-explodes every 10 minutes anyway.
  68. At $ 8500 you can buy an M8 andseveral lens instead.
  69. I must be the only person who uses the 5D with the booster pack. I prefer the ergonomics and the weight stabilises the body. I've never found heavy cameras to be problematic.

    In reality, I don't mind using the 28 at 5.6, because dialling up to 1600 asa gives me the equivalent of a 1.4 at 100 asa if I really need it, which is still two stops faster than my old 24/2.8 when I was shooting 100 asa slide. The small amount of noise can be dealt with quite effectively in photoshop even without specialised noise reduction software.

    What I have been surprised with is the large number of dead pixels in my new body. But this too can be dealt with using the dust and scratches filter with a 1 pixel radius and high threshold in photoshop. So it's not a problem for me, unless you're shooting star trails, I suppose.
  70. Nels,

    I'll send you the image plus the story behind it :)
  71. Andrew, I have my own (very) tenuous Zhang Ziyi connection. In 2003 I was being lined up
    for a story about Wong Kar-wei and the never ending saga of 2046. More than anything
    (even more than the possibility of bumping into Maggie Cheung) I was looking forward to
    meeting cinematographer Christopher Doyle. Anyway, to cut a long and convoluted story
    short, I became another casualty of the 2046 curse.....I never got to meet WKW, ZZ, MC,
    CD, Faye Wong, Gong Li, or anybody else remotely connected to the film world. Instead, I
    found myself in southern China covering the SARS epidemic.

    Bob, I think you probably are the only photographer bulking up your 5ds. Everybody I
    know that uses them uses them because they're half the size of a 1 series EOS. If you
    really find the weight a positive then you might as well see if you can stretch to the cost of
    a 1ds2 - the files are very, very good, and (despite what you might read on a forum like
    photonet), from what I can see, no noisier than those from the 5d. When it comes to noise
    and speed I never actually go above 800ASA, digi noise annoys me way more than film
    grain. Something else you might find is that what's acceptable noise-wise in a cool Euro
    November changes radically when you use the camera in the tropics. For some reason this
    is never discussed on photoforums but i see a real increase in noise when I use my
    cameras in hotter parts of the world. 1600ASA in December in Milan looks radically
    different to 1600ASA in Manila. If you really have got a lot of dead pixels then I'd ask
    Canon to replace the camera - the most I've come across are a couple of lazy rather than
    dead pixels that go to sleep in very low light.
  72. Andrew,
    Looking forward to seeing your ZZ pic. In exchange, here are two recent ISO 3200 pics from a hot and muggy 90F+ night in India, both with 35L wide open. Noticing the shutter speed on the first one, even at f/1.4 @ ISO 3200, I wished for image stabilization.
  73. Boris - I only have one body at the moment, and the one lens, the 28. If I were to get another body I certainly wouldn't add the booster to it! But being a lazy bugger, I find that I don't take verticals often enough if I don't have a grip - and this recently cost me a sale to a German newspaper. Quite annoying. I could imagine getting a second body eventually, but it's really a luxury for me, photography just doesn't make enough money for me.

    The noise issue - it'll be interesting to see how that works out.

    I'll get a 1Ds2 when the price drops to something reasonable - for the moment, the 5D does everything I need it to.
  74. Bob, if you want to work with a single body I'd really recommend you have a look at the
    24-105. It's not a lens I would have imagined liking (I'd tried and quickly given up on the
    24-70 as being too bulky), but it's very sharp and the stabiliser really works - the only
    downside is that it vignettes badly at f4 (though at night and indoors you won't even
    notice this). One other thing, for your RAW conversions give DPP a try - I know received
    wisdom is that it sucks, but, as with so many other things, received wisdom is way off the
  75. Bob - I recently sold my 24-70L after having it sit in the closet for about a year since getting the 24-105L IS. I miss f/2.8 but the extra reach and IS more than make up for it on a full frame body.
    If you get the 24-105, try PTLens, an inexpensive PS plugin that corrects distortions and vignetting in a pinch. I've been using it since it was a freeware, but $15 is still a small fee to pay for one click work on distortion from just about any digital camera and lens on the market.
  76. Nels,

    Thanks for posting those pics and very nice, too.

    Check your email...

    Regarding zooms, I've tried out the 24-105 and 24-70 and have a marked preference for
    the latter. I supsect the latter is sharper, has better AF and I like the extra stop. To each
    his or her own..

    Boris, ZZ was very nice and incredibly pretty. My shoot was essentially a PR job and I didn't
    hit any creative highs with it.
  77. uk


    Hey Andrew,

    Fancy meeting you here. Thanks for the postcard by the way.

    I bought a new 24-70 last month (the reason you were able to buy the 270mm lens by the
    way). It is a star performer and finds focus easily.

    Over on DWF there is a very strong bias towards this lens in preference to the 24-105 re
    speed vignetting, freezing the action..... This influenced me significantly.
  78. Hi Gary.

    What a small world! Looking forward to getting the lens. Think I may have to put up lots of
    posts on the web to find out more about it. I'm guessing it's from the '70s. Where did you
    buy it?

    Note to everyone else: I have bought a 5x4 270mm f6.3 lens in a Linhof panel from Gary
    on ebay. All it says on the front is anastigmat and portrait. Because it's a portrait lens I
    gather it gives a softish look. Have I described it right, Gary?

    Glad to you like the 24-70. I think it's terrific with the one quibble about it's performance
    at 24mm. Lots of bendy lines...
  79. uk


    "Where did you buy it?"

    Car boot sale.

    Only joking !! :)
  80. Just to put Andrew's preference for the 24-70 into perspective, you should all be aware
    that he doesn't have to actually carry his own equipment. He has a team of three fulltime
    assistants: Carlos, Alfonso, and (my personal favorite) Clint. As well as being easy on the
    eye (my friend at Tatler tells me he bought them on ebay from Karl Lagerfeld, although
    she may be pulling my leg) they cater to his every need - bag carrying, film changing,
    downloading, backup, monocle polishing, cooking, cleaning, plus a few other things I
    probably shouldn't mention....They're also fiercely loyal
    and protective
    - at NY fashion week Alfonso overheard me being bitchy to Donatella and Elton about
    provincial taste in
    sashimi (salmon ahead of yellowfin, swordfish ahead of sea urchin roe) and threatened to
    slap me senseless.
  81. I think it's only fair that I tell you that Clint has left my team.

    The official press release stated that it was down to artistic differences over my choice of
    floral print shirts. However, I don't mind telling you, in strictest confidence, that he and I
    were embroiled in an increasingly bitter dispute over skin care regimes. For all his good
    points, and let's be honest no one could iron a cravat like he could (amazing what they
    teach you in the Marines), I felt that Clint was too tied to the past. He was an out and out
    devotee of Creme de la Mer and as any self respecting metropolitan male will tell you
    Chanel's Sublimage is now the only was to go.

    I've emailed Guy about suitable candidates as a replacement but he has yet to reply. I
    suppose this means another trip to the Pink Flamingo.

    By the way, I won't have a bad word said about dear Elton. I have photographed the
    interiors at his White Tie and Tiara ball for the last two years and he's hilarious. Nothing he
    said is anywhere repeatable on such an august forum as this, however. Besides, he didn't
    say those things about me. It was just a rumour put around by a embittered DMR owner
    who probably still uses Creme de la Mer.
  82. Guy is currently busy massaging Creme de la Mer on his M8 sensor to see if he can come up with a novel method to cure the banding and color cast issues from his new favorite toy, and while he's at it, single handedly save a little company in Solms from world wide embarrassment. His last visit to Pink Flamingo is what made him realise there was something wrong with his M8. When he came back from the establishment and reviewed his files, he thought he'd just paid a visit to the Magenta Flamingo.
  83. Nels,

    I LOVE THAT!!!
  84. On a more serious note, do you think that the M8's novel approach to colour casts means
    that Guy won't have to put so many gels on his backgrounds lights?
  85. On a more serious note, do you think that the M8's novel approach to colour casts means that Guy won't have to put so many gels on his backgrounds lights?
    I'm OK with that, as long as the Batman intro on his web site stays...
  86. "Only joking !! :)"

    Please, Gary, this is a forum for purists, like Boris.
  87. For some reason, Guy gets extremely emotional whenever the issue of putting gels comes up, especially in connection with "background".

    Andrew, please be sensitive to Guy's feelings.
  88. "I think it's only fair that I tell you that Clint has left my team"

    .....and I think it's only fair to tell you that Clint is now second lens wrangler on Team
    Boris. And a fine and dignified job he's doing - well, well away from the degradation of Mr
    Lamb. His rehabilitation is also going very, very well. He even uttered his first words today
    - you may live to regret not enforcing a nondisclosure agreement....

    As for the cheap jibes about Guy and his filters, he who laughs last laughs longest. The
    world is changing and you boys may well find yourselves left behind in your dull gel-free
    cul-de-sac. You've heard of The Bilderberg Group? Prepare to hear the mighty roar of The
    Raccoon Group (named after our inaugural meeting at Raccoon Ranch) - where fashion
    meets politics meets art. The founders are myself, Lagerfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Kylie, Hedi
    Slimane, and, of course, the BIG MAN himself. From now on what we say goes. On Monday
    Hedi launches his new Urban Cowboy range - I'll let you guess who the face of this radical
    new look is....Thin is out! Magenta skintones are in. The Kaiser has redoubled his
    bodyweight in the last six weeks.
    Before Christmas you'll all be gelling up and sporting snakeskin boots 'n' hats. And
    another thing Andrew, cancel your reservations for Milan, Paris, and NY. There's a new axis
    of fashion - Phoenix, Yuma, and Tucson. Yeeha......!
  89. Shouldn't that be "tHeE raKooN cLUb"?

    Who's providing the music for this bold, but slightly over-weight, venture? I'm thinking MC
    Mancuso duetting with the Scissor Sisters re-mixed by Tiefschwarz. I know you've still got
    a bit of a thing for the '80s (you soppy old thing, you) so it would be no hardship to drag
    (sic) Boy George in.

    Gotta go now. I want to see how my stocks are doing in manufacturers of IR filters.

    Waiter! Another bottle of your finest if you please and Karla, go gentle on the massaging
    will you? There's no rush.
  90. Boris,

    Before you start digging up your old copy of 'She's A Model' by Magenta, maybe you can
    suggest a decent agency in the UK that I could place some portraits with? My experiences
    with Retna have been almost as surreal as recent posts on this forum and I know about your
    unabiding love affair with Getty. Who else is there?

    By the way, you can tell Clint that if he thinks I haven't noticed my missing pair of Manolos
    then he's VERY much mistaken.
  91. "a decent agency in the UK"

    Oxymorons agogo...

    There's no decent UK agency right now. But then there never was a decent Brit agency. I've
    had contacts/friends/girlfriends at a few of the Brit
    agencies over the last 20 years and it's always been a total freakshow. The weirdest of
    them all was (is? can it still be limping along?) Impact, an agency of independently wealthy
    photographers owned by a bizarre three-feet-six Frenchman married to a real-life
    princess. I'm not making this up. Put him in a red mac and give him a meat cleaver and he
    could have cranked up the discomfort factor immeasurably in Don't Look Now. Then you
    had Network, a bunch of champagne socialists who, as soon as they caught sight of the
    corporate dollar, gave up on editorial completely and couldn't understand why their stock
    sales dried up. Last I heard they fired all their staff just before Christmas last year -
    although I understand that at least one of the Leica toting class warriors is doing very
    nicely with an annual retainer from Satan Inc to show the public the caring side of the
    devil.....Then there was the fetchingly chunky (perfect for Hedi's new Urban Cowboy look)
    Geoff Katz and his merry band of men. Geoff, from what I can work out, is a decent human
    being with appalling taste in photography. But, who else would have backed and made
    Parry a rich man? From what I can work out Geoff was too pure for the London snakepit -
    hence the move to NY (and the subsequent sellout/demise of Katz Pictures). You mention
    my contempt for Getty. Staggeringly this has grown over the last month - they managed to
    fire the one decent guy and asset that they
    had in NY (a Brit, and, I believe, former protege of G Katz). I totally understand the Getty
    operating model, I just don't understand the collusion of willing photographers - it really
    is like turkeys voting for Thanksgiving/Christmas. It's insane. Getty and Klein don't even
    hide their intentions....

    Anyway, I could rant on endlessly....but I won't. To cut a long story short there are no ideal
    agencies. Magnum manage to stay afloat. Which is a good thing. VII have discovered that
    there's more money in giving workshops to dumb wannabe richkids than in photography
    itself. Which is an interesting thing. Vu have discovered that moving sideways into the
    gallery scene is an option. Which is a good and interesting thing. Meanwhile Getty and
    Corbis seem to be stumbling. Which is a wonderful thing. Finally, a few small new agencies
    have surfaced in the last couple of years who take photography seriously and have
    discovered that the big assigning magazines are starting to look for an alternative to
    Gorbis. Which is a really hopeful thing.

    Why not target and work direct with individual agencies in key territories rather than
    giving syndication rights to any single outfit?
  92. Thanks for your thoughtful, if somewhat depressing, reply. You may retain Clint's services
    for a little while longer but don't come sobbing to me when you discover that some of
    your more risque Lanvin frocks have gone missing.

    Retna contacted me about selling some of my older images. They have managed to do this
    on occasion but the little treasures omit to mention this to me. Having wearied of phoning
    them up about the trifling inconvenience of forgetting to pay me (I'll get 'em in the end),
    I've decided to look elsewhere. Looks like it won't be a barrel of laughs wherever I go.

    Now then, on the question of corporate photography, I have noticed that you have often
    criticised PJs who have taken money from this particular avenue. Is it possible you are
    being, perhaps, just a little too idealistic?

    You know how tough it is to make a living from photography (unless you're...Magenta
    Man! Groovy costume and cape, incidentally but perhaps just a shade too tight). You know
    how rubbish editorial rates are and the fact that they are proportionately getting worse. Is
    it so bad to take to the occasional corporate gig to keep the wolves from the door. Or, are
    you an independently wealthy, Leica touting, Jimmy Choo wearing, champagne socialist?

    Thought not.

    I really can't see what's wrong with doing a bit of corporate work providing, it's not for
    someone like the manufacturers of Agent Orange. I mean, how far do you take it? Do you
    stop certain publications from using your photos because of their political line or the fact
    that they take ads for SUVs? Do you sell your photos in galleries but only to those who fit
    the right profile?

    I think I appreciate how passionate you are about this and I don't wish to sound glib but
    it's not easy making an honest buck doing photography.

    Curious of Kentish Town
  93. Andrew, sorry about the delay in replying. In terms of my levels of idealism, I'm happy to
    fess up to the fact I went awol from this thread because I was entering the frantic last
    week of a six week commercial assignment. Hypocritical? Kind of...

    A lot depends on how you pitch yourself. What troubled me about Network was that they
    (at least in the early days) billed themselves as concerned right-on photographers, yet by
    the end they were producing PR images for the British Army. I really don't think that that
    sits comfortably with, for example, their earlier "Still War" project in N Ireland (even
    allowing for the fact that it involved different photographers) - it would be interesting to
    know what some of the Catholic families in Belfast and Derry who opened their homes to
    Abrahams and Sparham made of this development.

    Another problem with immersing yourself in the commercial world is that there's a strong
    possibility that your work will permanently lose its edge. You meet with an art director
    who positively gushes about your "vision", but you understand within the first 24 hours
    that if you're going to get any repeat work then you have to leave that vision behind.
    You're being paid that (admittedly pleasing) "creative fee" for not much more than tripping
    the shutter to order. I know a lot of photographers who'd like to dip back into editorial
    assignments who simply can't hack it in that world anymore - they've lost the ability to be
    the primary creative force.

    Editorial rates are now abusively bad. Most of the big players haven't (at least officially)
    increased their day rate for more than a decade. Plus, where once an assignment would
    have been fairly open-ended, they pin you down in advance to too few days. The net result
    is that there's little option but to take on corporate/advertising work if you want to live a
    reasonable lifestyle. The problem is retaining a credible balance that allows you both to
    survive and continue evolving as a photographer. I know a few people who manage this
    (I'm desperately trying myself), but the vast majority lose their balance right at the
    beginning and never regain the qualities that made them attractive to the commercial
    world in the first place.
  94. Boris,

    There's nothing in your reply that I can take exception to. It's an entirely reasonable
    rationale. There is a moral/creative conundrum here. Period.

    You still haven't explained why you don't want an M8 but we'll let that pass.

    I've taken one photograph this year that I'm pleased with and that was on an unpaid job.
    How's your hit rate?
  95. My "hit rate" sometimes drops to the point where I have to look at previous work to
    convince myself that I'm the real deal. At other times I feel totally unstoppable. It ebbs and
    flows, but like any photographer with a sense of their own creative mortality I understand
    that there's the real possibility that, at any time, it might never flow again. If I ever reach
    that stage I'm moving to Arizona with my three M8s and the biggest box of gels you've
    ever seen.

    One thing that's really perked me up this week is the news that me and The Guy have
    placed joint first in the forthcoming World's Best Dressed Photographers issue of PDN.
    They've described us as the Outkast of modern photography - with him playing Big Boi to
    my Andre 3000. It's a better analogy than the usual Lennon (him) and McCartney cliche,
    but I still think think Sontag nailed it more accurately with her sombre post 9/11
    appraisal: "More than anything else this tale is a love story. Two intertwined lives
    cascading through the exploitative freak and demon show that is modern photography.
    The parallels with Buffy The Vampire Slayer are simply shocking. Can this be
    happenstance? Of course not. Whedon clearly is using demonic metaphors in an attempt
    to rationalize the post-Corbis era. Spike (romantic, intense, cheek bones to-die-for, but
    with a reckless capacity for spilling blood) is Mr C Han. Buffy (petite, pretty, convincing in a
    plaid microskirt, but with a kick like a mule) is The Big Man. Will love conquer conflict? Will
    Getty be slayed using nothing more than an overengineered German camera and some
    lurid backround lights? We can do no more than hope".
  96. Susan Sontag? Susan Sontag?

    Earlier this year I found myself yet again in one of those periodic creative slumps and
    decided to do something about it by attending one of the Big Guy's (to give him his proper
    name) workshops.

    There we all were, sitting under the cruel, unyielding Mexican sun, the usual mixture of
    wannabes and no hopers who had lost their way, Soth, Koudelka, Iturbide (at least she got
    to go home at night) etc.

    The BG was conducting a seminar on The Crop Factor and the Structured Absence when
    Andreas Gursky, who was sitting behind me, made a comment about Sontag.

    I can still hear the sound of the sombrero as it flew past my ears and made a six inch cut
    down Gursky's cheek. "Sontag?" The Big Guy bellowed. "Nobody mentions Sontag!"

    The BG has got this thing about always going to the original source: Althusser, Lacan
    and, before we knew what happened, he barked out a huge chunk of Roland Barthes from
    Camera Lucida in the original French.

    It was hilarious watching all these so called masters of contemporary photography all
    blubbing into their laptops as they frantically translated what the BG had just said. I don't
    think Martin Parr even knew how to turn his power book on. All of them were panicking
    except Luc Delahaye, of course, who just sat them looking smug but the BG took him
    down with a machine burst of Walter Benjamin and his essay on Mechanical Reproduction.

    With the Big Guy it's all about keeping your gels and your vision as unsullied as possible.
    "Purity of essence", he kept muttering to himself. "Purity of essence".
  97. I went on a Mexicano Foto Safari myself, but, unlike you and the crew, came away deeply
    unsatisfied. It was no fault of the organizers, just a simple misunderstanding - I took the
    word safari to imply that we'd be doing some killing along with all the photo stuff. It had
    been a lifelong ambition of mine to harpoon a Gila Monster and I thought that this would
    be the perfect opportunity. Sadly, The Guy took a nasty flesh wound as he hurled himself
    between the monster and my javelin. I learned a number of things from this incident:
    firstly, that the Gila Monster is a much misunderstood and unfairly maligned creature;
    secondly that the monster is a protected species in, that most civilized of states, Arizona;
    thirdly, and perhaps most intriguingly, I learned (after inspecting my super-sharp M8
    image files) that, contrary to popular belief, human blood is in fact magenta rather than

    Incidentally Andrew, Sontag took the Buffy analogy further. She went on state that Willow
    was clearly based on you (that mix of magic, mayhem, and long flowing skirts), that
    Xander represented Another Bob (straightforward, trustworthy, but with plodding taste in
    Billingham bags), and that the blunt stick used to slay the Flamboyance Demon in series
    three was in fact Trevor "Bumpkin" Hare.
  98. I heard from an attendee of the Mexican safari that the bean and cheese burritos served for dinner, and prepared by The Guy, were yummy. Although, quite to his dismay, the toilets were fully occupied following the dinner, and because of that, The Guy had no steady partner to show off his Fandango moves with on the dance floor. I heard he does a mean Macarena.

    To his credit, and to ensure 100% customer satisfaction, The Guy understandably provided free targeted gel massages to anyone who may have had to spend too much time sitting on the porcelain chair.
  99. Boris,

    It was more than a little misunderstanding! I think you are, yet again, guilty of not keeping
    pace with the Big Guy's utterly irresistible and mischievious sense of humour. That wasn't
    a Gila Monster. That was Al Kaplan's Monkey! You bleeding heart liberals just don't get it,
    sometimes, do you?

    According to Money's blog, on, Big Al was receiving an lifetime
    achievement award at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (something to do with the most sat
    on Leica) and little M had spare some time to spend down Mexico way. Naturally, when he
    turned up, the Big Guy's limitless of fun went into overdrive.

    A simliar thing happened to us at a lecture entitled "Environmental Portraiture and The
    Purple Gel". The BG had his assistant, Wanda, on stage and was telling us how you should
    really woo a lady before capturing her soul on a DMR.

    I must confess it was quite a sensual experience but our reverie was abruptly destroyed
    when the BG stood up, on his Manolos, to his full height and announced "But if you really
    want to shoot them, use this".

    Before we knew what had happended BG had pulled back his Louis Vuitton poncho to
    reveal a low slung holster. There were cries of shock as BG whipped out his revolver and
    fired three shots into Wanda.

    Imagine the uproar! Not one single war vetran reached for his camera. Instead, the big
    sissies were all running for the door. It was only when we heard the Big Guy's manic
    bellows of laughter that we realised that he'd done it again! Two of the bullets were blanks
    and Wanda was patched up quickly enough to join us for beers and Gila burgers on the
    deck. Gee, I hope it was Gila. I kinda wondered what happened to Monkey.

    I'd show you the photos but they came out a funny colour.
  100. By the way,

    "She went on state that Willow was clearly based on you (that mix of magic, mayhem, and
    long flowing skirts),"

    I no longer wear skirts since a Gila nipped me at the Workshop. Only my wife and Antoine,
    the pale houseboy, get to see those scars.

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