Will the M8 be used by press photographers?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by leon chang, Nov 26, 2006.

  1. Yesterday I saw a nice documentary on press photography in the 1960's and
    1970's. Needless to say, almost all of the press people used Leica-M's or
    Rolleiflexes. Nowadays every sports and newsphotgrapher uses a digital slr
    with some good zoomlenses. Now that Leica has introduced a digital M, do you
    people think the "M" will make a comeback? Will we see press photographers use
    the M8 in the near future? It has continuous shooting, superb optics AND it is
    digital. Besides that it is smaller than a d-slr, the lenses are smaller so it
    looks less obstrusive. I know it has no autofocus but I would say it is a
    perfect tool for press photography. Just like it has always been. What d'you
  2. Yesterday I saw a nice documentary on press photography in the 1960's and 1970's. Needless to say, almost all of the press people used Leica-M's or Rolleiflexes.
    In the USA? Must have been the sixties down south you noticed because that was my day and everyone I knew used Leicas and Nikon F (and some Nikon S). Nikon made it so easy for many press photographers to own a couple or more.
  3. I don't think that large numbers of press will switch to the M8. The important thing for the
    press is to get the image no matter what, and then be able to get that image to the photo
    editor as quickly as possible. Auto focus, zoom lenses, high speed shooting, matrix
    metering and sophisticated flash integration are all huge advantages for this task. A photo
    journalist with a Canon or Nikon DSLR with a wide and telephoto zoom has a much great
    chance of getting any given shot than does an M8 user with multiple prime lenses. The
    cost of a DSLR system for either the photographer or news agency is also much less.
    term documentary photography and reportage are where you may see some
    photographers switch (back) to the M8. Stories and photo-essays where a photographer
    take a more contemplative approach are more conducive to using the M8. This is not to
    say you can't use the M8 for action or a DSLR for slower paced work, it is just about
    choosing the right tool for the job. And of course the M8 is not going to be suitable for
    most professional work until its problems with banding and IR contamination are fixed.
    Even if they are fixed, I think the number of working journalists using the M8 as their
    primary camera will be statistically negligible.
  4. I haven't seen ever seen a photojournalist working for the disposable press (magazines and
    newspapers, 'kitty litter' to me) in the last few years using anything but a Canon or Nikon AF
  5. The press core is kept further away than ever before for security and other reasons. Telephotos rule the day for those reasons and they really are no longer suitable for events covered by mass media digital or not.
  6. I started as a PJ in the 60's and used Leica M and Nikon F's. To this day I still shoot both and would'nt part with them. Matter of fact i purchased a pair of a la carte M's this year. I shoot a great deal of documentary work when not running the commercial studio. In the commercial world I shoot 98% digital with Canon 1DsII's. I still have a number of PJ friends and I can say there's no way they will switch. High speed is the game today and that's not Leica. A full complement of zooms is critical to the job. The M8 has marginal flash, poor high ISO compared to Nikon and canon and no real zooms. The camera is simply too slow and limited. In the world of documentary work, atleast in my opinion, 10MP is too limiting for a full range of applications. I even feel the 17mp of the canon is shy of horse power for the kind of documentary work I do. This is why I stick to B&W film. It can printed to almost any size and only see grain enlarged but digital gets looking plastic as it is enlarged beyond the default size. My critical opinion is 150% enlargement is the limit for really good litho reproduction. Some commercial guys might buy but art directors are demanding 10mp minimum and most frequently they won't accept anything under 12mp.

    My estimation is it will be mainly an amateur camera. Sad that Leica is so out of touch with the pro market.

    Another point is pro service. Canon and Nikon both have priority pro service. The few Canon repairs through CPH have only once taken more than three days total with shipping. The one time it took one week Canon loaned me another 1Ds body at no charge. CPS and NPS are free to the pro and also include free loans od equipment for special jobs. Leica listen to that.
  7. I think there will be limited use, but I don't foresee press shooters abandoning their DSLR
    cameras in droves. At best I can see some of them supplementing their kits with an M8.

    This spring I went to the VII Photo seminar in Pasadena (CA) and Gary Knight showed us a
    story he had shot in an African nation park on elephant poaching. Normally he works with
    a large Canon DSLR, but he shot that assignment with his M6, because he needed to keep
    a low profile and didn't want to be recognized as a photojournalist.

    On the other hand I've spoken with some shooters, who will give nothing more than a
    disparaging look at a Leica, like it's a curiosity or relic from a bygone era. Usually these are
    the younger shooters, who've never used a rangefinder and in some cases skipped film all

    So, yes I think there will be takers, but don't expect a stampede.
  8. jtk


    Go to aljazeera.com or any other non-governmental website and you'll see that the real (as opposed to "embedded"/AP/Reuters/propaganda) PJs are using digicams, not even dslrs.
  9. the real (as opposed to "embedded"/AP/Reuters/propaganda) PJs are using digicams, not even dslrs
  10. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    That link goes to a site with a very small number of active PJ photographers.
  11. Yeah, you're right. No "real" ones. And all using P&S digital, too, I hear.
  12. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    The point is that there is no point in the link. It's a tiny number of active PJs. I'm not sure that the standard is P&S digicams as stated, but the link doesn't have anything to do with that. What a couple of active photographers in an increasingly marginalized agency mean is unclear at best.
  13. The point is, what's your standard for "real" photojournalism? The Magnum members are among the best. That's why there are only a few of them. "Increasingly marginalized" is an easy epithet coming from someone who's never tried to get into the agency, but it's difficult to imagine a PJ today who wouldn't jump at an invitation. Most of the VII agency photogs famously use Canon DSLRs (they sat for a Canon ad with them).

    The statement I quoted from John is simply garbage, and his categorization of photojournalists is presumptuous and empty. Real photojournalists don't shoot cameras, they shoot stories. They do it with the tools they need to get the job done. Some of the best still use Leicas. Others use Canons. Others use Speed Graphics. Others use digital P&S cameras. Get over it.
  14. I do like the idea of having the same gorgeous, sturdy piece of glass that i can put on a digital body and a batteryless film body. and i really like the idea of putting a fifty year old lens on a 2006 digital body.

    imagine you are in a far flung place, away from civilization for a couple of weeks. (new orleans) you are shooting digital like crazy and you run out of batteries. with a small kit:leica RF or nikon SLR might be the way to go.

    in general though press photographers (youtube) are gonna use what's laying around.

    no way are sports guys gonna use the M8, unless they're in the huddle!
  15. Who bought a Epson during the days of the Canon 10D? - The M8 is for wealthy freaks and whoever struggles to make ends meet might prefer a D Rebel to get started and will collect 2 other DSLRs, ISed zooms and so on first. Such folks might have other hobbies like families too and few of them will be left to buy M8s as professional toys / special occasion cameras. - Keep in mind that even Al Kaplan doesn't preach shooting a single Leica for a living, while some beginner PJs are focused on one DSLR + fishy backup to get started.

    Local newspaper journalism isn't very demanding. I met a pro shooting a 1.3MP Powershot 70 during the days of that bugger.
  16. Two misunderstandings IMHO:

    a) the cult of PJ. A profession like any other. I wouldn't obsess over the preferred brand of taxi drivers or truck drivers when I'm in the market for a car. Do the "pros" drive BMW?

    b) reducing PJ to paparazzi chasing after celebrities. While I'm no PJ I can really imagine that this profession has a lot more to offer than a crowd of fellows waving dslrs over heir heads in the hope of getting a shot of Tom Cruise.. In htis case the PJ is part of the show, I'd even say that he is the show and the celeb would be just another ordinary mortal without the crowd of paparazzi..

    And ym 0.02$

    When it comes to recording something as opposed to the inscenation of an event as in b) I can well imagine that a camera that does not fire like a shotgun and look like a ahoulder missile launcher will have it's share of use even among professional photographers. But then, as in a), I don't really care at all.
  17. Only men with too much time & money on their hands will buy these. Sort of like Leica film cameras.
  18. Will the M8 be used by press photographers? Why not... last week I have been in a meeting with three pros and one somekind of freelance. Let me told about their equipment: Nikon D50, a very little card size digicam and a Coolpix. The other one liked the D50, he wants to buy one. Two of them publish quite often on national leader print run magazines; the other is a publisher (he is not worried about cameras -I think he just want printable images-).

    Surely all of them would like to have such a famous camera... but not at their own expense. Not all pros are sport shooters.
  19. And that's one of the real keys, Jose. Staff photographers use what their publication or agency buys for them. That often means Canon or Nikon DSLRs, because they're tough (so the company doesn't have to replace them as often), they take interchangeable lenses (so the company can buy just a few of the specialist glass and check them out as needed), and those companies have excellent support for and marketing to the big (and even medium and small) media outlets.
  20. "Usually these are the younger shooters, who've never used a rangefinder and in some cases skipped film all together."
    Mmmmm... pity them. Could a guy, who has only ever known frozen foods and micro-wave ovens, open a restaurant?
  21. Could a guy who's only shot manufactured, pre-packaged film without ever having mixed his own emulsions and coated his own plates ever be a decent photographer?
  22. Probably not many. Most press photogs prefer zoom type and long focal length lenses.
  23. If I were a pro PJ I would definitely buy an M8. I'd use Nikons for tele work, but an M8 is ideal for wide angle work, and won't put too much stress on your spine and muscles. Zooms are convenient, but unnecessary. Nikon and Canon make good lenses but they are not as good as Leica M lenses optically, mechanically or as convenient in size. Most of my PJ-film projects (for my own site) are Leica Film-body M work with a few Nikon telephoto shots. After all, there is no modern Leica 180mm/2.8 or 300mm/4 M-mount lens, and who would want to use a Visoflex on an M8?

  24. They're also not as expensive. The Ferrari is better made than a Yugo, but also costs more.

    Try a Nikon FM with a 55mm/2.8. Pretty sweet actually.
  25. If I were a pro PJ I would definitely buy an M8.
    And if I were a professional Grand Prix racer...
    But we aren't.
  26. Gurley boys use M8's Manly men use Nikon D2x's and Canon IdsMII's with big teles and zooms and flex their CEPS and PECS. Rowell used an FM10 and got stunning landscapes, he didn't flinch if someone saw him shooting with a cheap camera while he was making money off photography.
  27. I am a PJ who shoots Canon digital slrs for my work gig for all the reasons already pointed
    out. But to tell you the truth, probably 90% of the routine news coverage ( I shoot for a
    newspaper) could be done with a 5 megapixel p&s. Those 85 line screens newspapers use to
    reproduce photos destroy any resolution advantages the slrs have over the p&s cameras. For
    sports, the digital SLR is king. For most other shots, no one looking at the newspaper could
    really tell the difference.
  28. "Rowell used an FM10 and got stunning landscapes, he didn't flinch if someone saw him shooting with a cheap camera while he was making money off photography." Rowell only used that camera when he was trail running so it's doubtful too many people saw him using it. He also used a Canon Rebel, to gain access to the T/S lenses. Any other time he used top of the line Nikons (F4 and later F5)for their features and dependibility. There is a large body of his writing where he describes his equipment choices in excruciating detail, including several books. Even some of his coffee-table books have annotations in the back as to what equipment was used for each shot. He was a pragmatist not a dogmatist, who demonstrated that attention to equipment choice is not sufficient for great photography but it most certainly can have a strong effect.
  29. What Vinay said.
  30. I worked for UPI and other news organizations for 15 years and currently work in PR on Capitol Hill in Washington. (I started as a photographer and ended up as a writer but still rub shoulders with news photographers or less every day.) Leica is simply coming to digital too late. In the days of film, Nikon and Canon dominated the news photographer market probably 45/45 with 10 percent left over for Leica, and you certainly saw Leicas in use. But since digital took over, the market is pretty much 50/50 Nikon/Canon and with the exception of someone working on a long-term book/magazine project with no daily deadline you rarely see a Leica (or any other film camera) at a news event any more. A digital Leica makes sense for someone who has a bag full of Leica lenses they would still like to use. But if that photographer is shooting daily newspaper/wire service news, he already switched to either Nikon or Canon five years ago when digital became a job requirement. Those Leica lenses may be sitting there waiting for a body, but he's already got a huge investment in Nikon/Canon glass and bodies that's he's become accustomed to. If Leica had brought out a digital body five years ago they might have held onto news photographers who were already using Leica, but that train has left the station. Will a handful of news shooters buy Leica because they've used it in the past and love it? Sure. Will most of them abandon their Nikons and Canons? No way.
  31. Make that "rub shoulders with photographers more or less every day."
  32. If I saw a guy trying to cover a serious news event with a Leica, I would think "amateur."

  33. John Camp If I saw a guy trying to cover a serious news event with a Leica, I would think "amateur."
    With quotes and all?
    But that's more telling of you, John. I suppose if you saw a news photographer using a LF camera you would think the same thing?
  34. If I saw a guy trying to cover a serious news event with a Leica, I would think "amateur."

    I guess all those Magnum photogs are amateurs!!!

  35. I PRAY that John Camp is not a close relation to Donald Eugene Camp, the photojournalist who did marvelous work with a modest M2 in the sixties.

    So... John Camp... are ya?
  36. rj


    I don't know if the m8 will be the main camera for a present day press photographer, but it seems that it could be a good companion to the slr kit. Kind of the camera that you could keep around your neck for those times you really want a smaller camera.

    Documentary photography, now this is where I can see the m8 used to its full potential. I can see a documentary photographer who wants to keep a lower profile using an m8 with a few small primes, easy to transport and you get to keep the great image quality.
  37. jtk


    Vinay, I knew Galen (who would not have claimed to be a PJ) from working with him and some of his film...he was a pragmatist, not a gear enthusiast...for example, he bragged about a $200 clamshell Minox, kept warm close to his chest, when his Nikon died of cold batteries at a peak (McKinley?). He got a kick out of using the cheapest K-mart running shoes for K2 approach, rather than exotic "climbing" boots. As well, he modified images whenever he thought they'd be more fun by correction in slide duplication (Pentax). Many of his important images are known only through his modified E4 slide dupes.
  38. The camera will work very well where quiet, unobtrusive, lowlight type work is done, as it always has.
  39. Leon Chang - "Besides that it is smaller than a d-slr, the lenses are smaller so it looks less obstrusive."

    You haven't seen those IR blocking filters yet, have you. From off axis they reflect bright (and I do mean bright) red.

    Years ago, I had one of those filters on a Nikon D100 (had IR sensitivity problems similar to M8. D100 wasn't quite as bad, but it was similar). Security at an event came after me because they saw the gleaming red lens and the only other thing they'd ever seen that looked like that was a spotting scope. They thought I might be an assassin!

    You know Elmar and Planar and Elmarit and 'Cron.

    Tri-Elmar and Summar and 'Lux and Biogon.

    But do you recall the most infamous camera of all

    M8 the red-nosed camera, had a filter on it's nose.

    And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.

    All of the other cameras, used to laugh and call it names.

    They never let poor M8, join in their street shooting games.

    Then one foggy Christmas eve, Santa came to say.

    M that sees with infrared, won't you guide my flying sled.

    Then all the cameras loved him, as they shouted out with glee.

    M8 the red-nosed camera, you'll go down in his-to-ry!
  40. poetry
  41. I use an M8 for my paper when I am tired and my body aches it is much nicer to carry around
    then my mk 111 but when I am shooting sports I use my canons
  42. I shot Canon F1s with prime lenses for many years. So no zoom lenses, no autofocus, I didn't even need a battery which is probably impossible for younger shooters to even imagine. When I did go digital it was with the epson RD1. So still: no autofocus or zoom lenses, just two gorgeous leicas, 24 and a 50mm (which also now spend time on a used M6 I bought more recently)

    When the Canon 40D came out I purchased one immediately. All of a sudden I had autofocus and a 24-70 zoom! I was worried that the RD1 had been a mistake and would now languish in the bag. But no: the smaller size and weight of the rangefinder are much better for street shooting and candids when I am shooting weddings.

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