Leica M8

Thoughts on this old Leica classic.
1. One must embrace the noise. There is color banding so one has to choose wisely with lighting or not care (and I don’t care).

2: The colors are wonderful, moody, playful and filmic.
3: The camera is dreadfully slow writing to the card. This trait is comical after getting accustomed to new blazing fast technology.
4. With this camera there is no useful chimping. The image displayed on the LCD screen is poor and it’s ancient technology. Zooming in on the play screen initially introduces a highly pixellated rendering that after a few seconds restores to as-shot. Regardless, the review process is not useful to judge the quality of focus or rendering.

5. Black and white JPGs are beautiful out of the camera, and biting sharp.

6. The shutter is loud and mechanical sounding, but reassuring at the same time. It is a wheezing sound preceding a pronounced click. It’s not a camera for stealth closeups on the street.

The images above were shot at ISO 320 using a Zeiss 35/2 lens. This was pushing the limits of the camera’s sensor. There is severe noise and color banding in the image on the bridge, regardless the image has a nice character. I believe shutter speed on the bridge image was only 1/20th but because of my position the strollers are relatively sharp. All images were shot at F2. Slow shutter speeds impacted the ability to achieve sharpness on many images, including these and moreso on the ones I deleted in-camera or later. The bridge shot is an in camera .jpg, suffering from slow shutter speed but a decent composition.

Above are two images shot at Iso 160 using the Summicron 35mm (F8). These are in-camera paired DNG (color) and Jpg fine (bw), cropped to remove unavoidable distractions from shooting out of my car window hindering composition. The black and white rendering is beautiful and I don’t see displeasing shifts in the color green to yellow or brown, nor is the ebony black stature rendered purple. These are a common complaints about the camera. I did not use any UV-IR cut filter, something that is recommended from my reading to correct weaknesses in greens and blacks.

Summicron 35/2. Warming in Lightroom

For the image of Eskimo King below I added an IR Cut / UV filter to the Summicron 35. The colors are as from the camera under these conditions and are very realistic and pleasing. Greens are green, blacks are black.

35 Summicron ISO 160 UV/IR Cut Filter


Husband, dad, photographer, old camera lover, lawyer.

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