So, what about the M 8

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by sandyv, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Yesterday I was on the verge of buying a Ricoh GXR with a 50 macro lens module and a Leica M module in order to use my Leica lenses on a digital camera. Buying that, best case, with the EVF, around $600 or $700. While rummaging around the internet, I found a couple of M 8s with a BIN of a bit more than twice the cost of the Ricoh set.
    I have my Dad's kit, an M 3, 35, 50, 90, and 135, all Leica from the 50's - 60's. Any comments on the camera or on usage with the lenses I have with an M 8 will be appreciated.
    No immediate purchase plan, but I'll watch prices in conjunction with my budget. Thanks!
  2. If 10 MP is sufficient for your needs (say, up to 10 x 15 inch prints) and you can accept a 1.33 X crop factor (the 35mm becomes a 50mm field of view, etc.), then the M8, if in good condition (including clean sensor and monitor), can be a very good purchase. Leicas, as you know, are bought for their manner of use and handling qualities (as well as high quality), so that may override any resolution limitation. It is one of few non-modified cameras that can do fairly convincing IR B&W photography. UV-IR blocking filters may be needed for your lenses (mainly 39mm filters?) in some limited cases of color use in order to eliminate chromatic distortion (e.g., some blacks becoming purple).
    carbon_dragon likes this.
  3. I was composing my response while Arthur posted his, so my apologies for repeating some points Arthur already made. :)
    My M8 is my "flagship" camera that I use on a continuous basis. The sensor has a 1.33 crop factor, so each of your lenses will have a 1/3 higher "equivalent" focal length, I.e., the 90 will actually expose the same as 120mm were the sensor full- frame. Having said that, the frame lines that appear in the viewfinder are appropriate for composing with the mounted lens. Being used to the M3 shutter, you will find the M8 shutter to be somewhat noisy, but I got used to it and find it to be no problem. The menus are quite straightforward. Useful ISO is 160 to 640, above that, noise becomes apparent. My M8 has been completely reliable, there are many forums discussing those issues with the M8, but so far so good with mine. I find B&W image quality to be excellent and works quite well handheld with an IR (R72 type) filter at ISO 640 or 1250. Color rendition can be quirky with synthetic black fabrics coming out as purple but otherwise fine. This is solved by mounting an IR/UV cut filter on the lens or in post processing. Leica still services the M8 and has all parts except the display screen. I protect mine with a Giotto screen protector glass and the camera lives in a Luigi half case. In all, I love using it and consider it an excellent value.
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Arthur and Allan, Many Thanks!
  5. Leica still services the M8 and has all parts except the display screen.​
    That's the crux - if that screen goes (google coffee stain Leica M8 screen) it's game over - it's on the inside, so a screen protector does nothing to protect from that kind of internal damage. Then there's the issue with needing IR filters in front of every lens.
    35, 50, 90, and 135​
    Unless you have to have a rangefinder, have a look at the Sony A7 Series, especially the newer MkII. Where else do you get image stabilization for old Leica glass. No crop factor either - unlike with the M8.
  6. One thing I forgot to mention is because of the crop factor, there are no frame lines for the 135 lens.
  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Dieter, so the screen could go down, but the viewfinder is optical and the camera / sensor would work? If so, I would be back to where I started with film, but able to upload directly to the computer.
    Thanks, I will look at the Sony A 7.
    This is really just an urge to use my Dad's lenses (which he was kind enough to let me use as a teenager) on a digital camera. Between film and digital, I really have all the gear I need.
    Thanks for your comments, they are appreciated! S.
  8. Infrared sensitivity is a bit more complicated than touching up the color. You need to use an hot mirror filter if you want black blacks and natural skin tones in sunlight. Under incandescent light, things get even worse. The cause is the thin IR filter - 0.5 mm for best compatibility with film lenses. The M8 is also APS-C, which takes wide angle photography, for which Leica built its reputation, off the table.
    The M9 uses a thicker cover glass, 0.8 mm, which is still thin enough to get sharp corners with a 35 mm lens. It is also full-frame, with outstanding sharpness, even if only 18 MP. Used M9s are fairly reasonable, and would give extra life to your lenses and provide an "M" experience.
    I bought an M9 for the same reasons, but have moved on to a Sony A7ii and A7Rii in that order. While Leica lenses will fit on the Sony, the 35 and 50 don't do as well as native lenses. Again, this is due to the thick (2 mm) cover glass, the presence of which is designed into Sony and Zeiss lenses for those cameras.
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  9. Dieter, so the screen could go down, but the viewfinder is optical and the camera / sensor would work? If so, I would be back to where I started with film, but able to upload directly to the computer.​
    Sure - right up to the point when you want to change a camera setting that's only accessible via the menu - which you can't access because the LCD display no longer works. ISO comes to mind, for example. FWIW, quite a few M8/M8.2 that are affected don't lose the LCD completely - there have even been cases reported where the stain got smaller over time or even disappeared.
    About 3 years ago, I went through exactly the same process - wanted to use some Leica lenses on a digital camera, considered the M8 but eventually gave up on that idea for a variety of reasons. Tried a NEX 6 that after about a year got replaced by an A7. As Edward mentioned, M-mount lenses with a focal length shorter than 50mm don't do so well on the Sony A7 Series bodies - so in the end, only on Leica M-mount lens remains in the bag, together with 3 Voigtlander ones that don't have issues with the thick sensor cover glass.
    Prices for used M8/M8.2 bodies have come down substantially since then - but the crop factor alone is now enough to dissuade me from considering one. Together with the fact that by now I have realized that a rangefinder is not for me anyway.
  10. The 135mm 2.8 Elmarit will work on the M8 because it has goggles that reveal the 90mm frame lines, giving the affect of an 180mm lens. They are usually cheapish because they are a bit heavy, long and lumpy. What is your 135, Sandy?
  11. I just bought a black, low mileage M8 three months ago. For the same amount of money, I could have bought a brand new Sony A7 with kit lens. I chose not to, since (1) I already have a "primary" digital system that I am happy with (2) I absolutely love the Rangefinder experience - I have an M3 and a IIIa. Would my two reasons apply to you ??

    Other than that, I love the M8, even though it's awfully slow in image review, and the screen is low resolution. After all, it will be ten years old this autumn (!!). But compared to my film Leicas, it's just as nice to operate (apart from the "winder" noise), and turnaround time as well as processing costs have been eliminated. The two latter elements mean that my Leica-mount lenses are now seeing much more use than before.

    I enclose a few of my shots so far.

    Hope this helps :)
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  12. I mostly shoot in B/W mode to get the B/W preview on-screen, and then convert the DNG files in Capture One to B/W according to my taste. Works well - I don't have any UV/IR filters, and have noticed the "purple fabric" phenomenon on a few colour pictures.
  13. I generally don't go any higher than ISO 640 - another major difference from "modern "digitals. Again, compared to my film cameras, that's perfectly fine.
  14. Finally: The crop factor of 1.33 is acceptable. My 21 is now 28 (I use an external finder, that I already had for the 28), my 28 is a 35, my 40 is a 53, and my 50 becomes a slightly short portrait lens.

    In summary, if I compare the M8 to my film cameras (I also use Nikon, Contax, and Olympus SLRs), it offers the classic camera User Experience (which i really love), a "satisfactory" digital experience, and really great image quality with my existing lenses. But I would not be happy with it as a primary camera system.
  15. Sandy, I had an M8 for a while. Fundamentally it's a great camera. Perhaps it should not be as expensive as it is in 2016, but the market does not lie. :) I wonder how many DSLRs from 2006 held their value that well? Oh yeah, probably none!
    But okay, so pretty much everything that others have written matches my experience and my opinion. I think what James wrote should be repeated:

    The 135mm 2.8 Elmarit will work on the M8 because it has goggles that reveal the 90mm frame lines, giving the affect of an 180mm lens.​

    I wish I had a 135/2.8 (the one with the 'eyes' or 'goggles') to try on the M8, but alas. I did have a 90/2 which was great. Sadly, my M8 had a misaligned RF (and a flaw which showed hot pixels at high ISO) and I never bothered to adjust it. I eventually sold it as-is. If you want me to send you some RAW files to play with, let me know.

    Some - a lot - of photographers prefer CCDs to CMOSes. The M8 and M9 both have CCDs. This is one advantage of the M8 which the M240 does not have. A lot of photographers also love the M8 for b&w photography.

    I have some advice to share. I generally agree that ISO 640 is about as high as you want to go. However! If you want something like 1250 or 1600, keep the ISO set to 640 but expose for the higher number. IOW, you're underexposing the sensor. I do this kind of thing with all my digital cameras, but I recommend it especially for the M8 and M9. The bonus: you preserve highlight detail at the expense of shadow detail, which is IMHO the better compromise.

    Of course, use the base ISO whenever you can.

    The M8 files do look a bit noisier than they actually are, as they suffer a lot from chrominance noise (the fuzzy, fluffy colour noise that is kind of like a really degraded VHS tape). This should be filtered out in your RAW converter. But I never filter out luminance noise (it looks like film grain), no matter what the camera, as the results are plasticky.

    10Mpx might not sound like much, but the results were better than you'd assume, thanks to the lack of the optical low-pass filter. Have a look at this test between a 12Mpx sensor with an OLPF and the M8:

    'Is the M8 still a good choice?'

    Soeren, I miss your occasional posts about your family trips! Are you on Flickr, by any chance? I like the tonality of the first shot of Asta with Albert. Lovely. :)
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  16. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Dieter -- thanks -- a bit slow when I wrote. Thinking about the DF or Film cameras. I will have to do a little research on the coffee stain. At any rate not something I need, nor is there urgency. I can always continue to use the M 3 and scan film.
  17. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    James -- I have the plain Elmar 135 f4. As mentioned previously, older gear. No goggles.
    Thanks for commenting!
  18. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Soeren, lovely photos. Obviously you made a great choice of camera. Thanks for your input!
  19. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Edward, you are way ahead of me -- I haven't used IR since the early '70's. Thought about it recently due to some interesting photos posted here, but first I have to get through the basics of getting a camera that works with my lenses. Because of your comment I will research that capability as well. Thanks!
  20. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Karim, thanks! Food for thought. I particularly appreciate the links. I do love the Leica, it was my first exposure to a really fine camera as a boy. I can't imagine buying another Leica lens, possibly a 21 mm Voigtlaender because of the crop factor if I really dove into things.
  21. possibly a 21 mm Voigtlander because of the crop factor​
    which is exactly what I did - got the really tiny 21/4P when I realized that the crop factor of myu NEX 6 (1.5 instead of 1.33 on the M8) made the FOV of my 35 too narrow. I was even toying with purchasing the 15/4.5 for a while. Sadly, the 21/4P doesn't do well on the A7 - I loved that lens on the NEX 6 despite the fact that I had to use cornerfix to correct the color cast.
  22. IR is not something you use on an M8, it is something that degrades your images. The IR filter is still too strong for photography with a low-pass filter (visible blocking), especially without live view. At one point, Leica was supplying an hot mirror filter with the M8.
    An hot mirror filter is a highly selective, high pass filter, based on interference technology. IR is cut off sharply just beyond the visible region with very low loss elsewhere. High pass, low pass refers to frequency, the reciprocal of wavelength.
  23. Arthur - I've made 20X30 inch prints from M8. Those files are just fine. No need to limit to 10X15. :)
  24. IR is not something you use on an M8, it is something that degrades your images.​
    Unless IR is your intended photographic goal (M8, R72 filter 50/2.8 Elmar-M ISO 1250, 1/60 sec handheld):
    See also
  25. The M8 is also APS-C...​
    Actually, the M8 is APS-H.
    APS-C = 1.5 crop
    APS-H = 1.33 crop
  26. Visible with the M8:<p>

    <img src="" width="1024" height="683" alt="L1015873">

    color Infrared using the M8:<p>

    <img src="" width="1024" height="682" alt="I1015874">

    I use Orange and Red filters, as you might with IR Ektachrome. Wrote my own raw processor. But it is unique, block the Blue light from the Blue channel, it gets only IR. Equalize it with the other channels, now mostly visible- get false color IR<p>


    If you get the M8- look up "M8RAW2DNG", learn the button dance, and get true uncompressed DNG files from the
  28. John, I mentioned 10 x 15 as a conservative higher print size. Your 20 x 30 inch prints are no doubt fine if viewed at a reasonable distance. There are also ways to extrapolate digital files to allow reasonable larger prints. The distinctions regarding maximum size can also take into account fine tone delineations as well as sharpness, much like when we compared 16 x 20 35mm film prints with those from a MF camera or small LF camera. Brian, I will check the M8RAW2DNG procedure. Thanks.
  29. ;Soeren Engelbrecht
    Lovely photos both technically and creative...thank you for sharing and showing what you... and the camera are capable of.
    I have never had a problem with my M8 and I understand that only a certain batch had issues with their screens.
    My M8 is set to the way I like it; if the screen failed those functions would still work with those settings. Bottom line an M is about personal enjoyment of that camera.....there are a lot more functional cameras on the market and in many ways better...
    Love the Fuji Pro 1 bought mine for 300 gbp even cheaper now. It is in many ways a better camera...
  30. Im all for the photograph and the capabilities of the tool to achieve my iPhone.
    However, I respect fine engineering; the use of such old fashion materials such as brass for top plates/bottom plate...hand built even if in a production robots. Just nice feel to it all. Its own Art...a step back in time.
  31. Hope your grandfather's lenses don't have goggles. Mounting 35 mm and 50 DR lenses are not recommended from the M8 to the newest Type 262.
    M8 is very good for black and white because of its IR sensitivity. It can also do IR hand held.
    Get the newer M8.2.
    Forget about the M9 because of its sensor mold growth problems.
  32. 35mm, 135mm goggles are not DR & work OK.
  33. Agreed with James upon goggles. - I'd just recommend getting a viewfinder magnifier for anything using the 50mm frame line or narrower.
    Why are sensor mold & coffee stain problems? - Leica promised to fix the first for free and the 2nd has no impact on shootability of the camera and in case the display dies, Leica promised to offer a trade in upgrade at a good price. Both offers to camera owners, not just to Leica customers. The issues might be annoying if they ruin a trip, but are quite cost neutral. I'd worry more about shutter durability on the original M8 or about RF misalignment after the camera takes some impact.

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