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Author Topic: Leica M8 Revisted  (Read 42180 times)
Mort54
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« on: December 18, 2007, 09:43:05 PM »
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Loved the article. I've lusted after a Leica for some time, but I swear, if I buy any more gear in the next year or so, I should be committed :-) But hey, if a new Leica came out with a 16MP full frame with no AA filter, and maybe a little finger grip (oh, heresy!!!) - well, being committed might not be too high a price after all.
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John Camp
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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2007, 11:27:12 PM »
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I once read an article on "Leica Glow" in which the author tried to explain the special glow that some Leica shots have. She said that her husband often shot pictures with Leica glow, but that she did not; and after a lot of analysis, IIRC, she concluded that Leica Glow was a real thing, compounded of extremely sharp lenses shot slightly out of focus, and either slightly under-exposed or over-exposed (one or the other, I can't remember which.) She said her husband got it and she didn't because he worked much more quickly than she did, and she was always somewhat more precise with exposure and focus, but sometimes missed shots because of that. Again, this is all from memory, but I think I'm close (the author was Frances Hicks, the glow guy was her husband, Roger; I think the article was in Shutterbug.)

I also think Leica shots often seem special because they are simply used differently than the big DSLRs. They tend to be used more like exquisitely good point and shoots, in more extreme, unusual lighting circumstances, and often with movement on the part of the photographer. As James says, you often wind up with unusable shots, but sometimes...you get nothing you'd see from a Canon or a Nikon, simply because they are so "correct" so much of the time, without the razor-like lenses on a Leica...A Leica seems to let the photographer show through.

I don't know; a Leica is still something you can casually pick up and walk out with, and that may also account for the different kinds of shot you get with it. My D3, love it as I do --- it's an absolutely brilliant camera -- is like walking around with a cement block in my hand.

Thom Hogan, the Nikon guy, has suggested that a Nikon F6 body with the D3 sensor would be a camera to hunger after; I'd add, "with the Zeiss ZF primes." I think then you might see some Leica-like shots from a DSLR. But not until...  

JC
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Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2007, 11:43:27 AM »
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John

I agree about the cement block: I have a smaller D200 and the other day, after walking around the place with it for about an hour and a bit I discovered two new bruises in my right hand. That tells its own tale.

I canīt quite get my head around the Leica M glass being so damn hot if itīs true that one can seldom get the M cameras to make anything sharp: that being so, how can anyone possibly tell whether the optics are good or are not? Surely, only careful focussing will reveal the ultimate quality of any lens?

The Leica reputation (myth?) goes way back before the Hicks photo-couple took up the pen; Salgado also seems to get some things crisp - are those the products of the R cameras rather than the Ms?

I felt the new article to be anything but an encouragement to buy; I have always been given to believe that with wide-angles, as with up to just over normal focal lengths, rangefinder focussing is the more accurate. Where is all this stuff going then, is it just more naked Emperors yet again?

Confused - Rob C
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John Camp
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2007, 05:38:01 PM »
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I canīt quite get my head around the Leica M glass being so damn hot if itīs true that one can seldom get the M cameras to make anything sharp: that being so, how can anyone possibly tell whether the optics are good or are not? Surely, only careful focussing will reveal the ultimate quality of any lens?

The Leica reputation (myth?) goes way back before the Hicks photo-couple took up the pen; Salgado also seems to get some things crisp - are those the products of the R cameras rather than the Ms?

I felt the new article to be anything but an encouragement to buy; I have always been given to believe that with wide-angles, as with up to just over normal focal lengths, rangefinder focussing is the more accurate. Where is all this stuff going then, is it just more naked Emperors yet again?

Confused - Rob C
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Despite all the bitching, top-end autofocus is IMHO extremely accurate. In any kind of fluid shooting situation, you'll get more in-focus shots with good AF. However, Leica lenses are very sharp, and can be beautifully focused; it's just that, they often are not (because of circumstances.) If you put them on a tripod, and take some time, they're the sharpest lenses in existence.

But that's not really how they were meant to be used. That was (still is) the domain of larger cameras, which is why Michael Reichmann takes MF cameras on landscape trips.

With a Leica, you can be sitting across a table from somebody, say, in fairly low light, shooting a Noctilux at f1, and you've got a DOF of a couple inches, maybe, with a fairly long throw on the focus, and if you've got soft edges, like hair...precise focus can be difficult or nearly impossible (so you take the shot anyway and call the result "Leica Glow.") Given the same situation with a N or a C, the autofocus is often right on, in a fraction of a second. But the Leica shot will give you that wonderful f1 isolation, and the OOF parts are so beautifully rendered...That's part of what James is saying. Notice that he used the Leica on special "signature" shots, the D3 on sports, and the Canons presumably where he need the most resolution.

The wide angles are particularly great with rangefinders for the simple reason that if you're shooting, say, at 16mm, and you have an idea of how long a range you're shooting at (like inside a cafe, or on a sidewalk) you can often preset the lens and not bother to focus at all, since everything from a few feet to infinity is in focus...so shooting is radically fast. In the same place, a AF would take the extra time to actually focus (unless you went all-manual.)

Some Leica users say Leicas are faster or more accurate in focusing than DSLRs, but I think that's mostly wrong, for most people, and maybe all people. I can't imagine anything faster than a D3; it can focus and shoot faster than I can frame a shot. if I had to turn a Leica focus ring 1/100 of an inch, I'd be slower. Simply thinking, "out of focus" would make you slower with a Leica than with a D3, and I suspect the same is true with the top-end Canons.

Edit: of course, there are situations where it is easy for AF to mess up -- like the standing low on a sidelines, with an isolated running back running down a football field, and a high-visual-noise grandstand behind him...and you can find that you've got a perfectly focused grandstand. You wouldn't make that mistake with a Leica.  

JC
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melgross
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2007, 06:59:11 PM »
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I bought an M5 when it first came out, because I needed a camera that I could use for some lectures being given at Brooklyn College staff and department head meetings when I was a student there. They found out that I was doing fashion and ad work, so asked me if I would do this for them. I traded extra college courses for it, and it was worthwhile.

But, after that was over a couple of years later, I found myself using the camera less and less. While I never had any focus problems (in fact, I found it darn easy to focus), I did find that it forces you to shoot in ways you might not want to, due to its limitations. Before the '70's, indeed, before the '60's, the Leica's had advantages with the fact of life slow films, and slow lenses. But. later on, those advantages disappeared.

I found myself using my Canon F 1 more and more, and the Leica less and less, as the problems with wide angles and their framing difficulties cropped up (ah, no pun intended ). Same thing for tele's. Well, in any really useful way, there weren't any. And for what was there, it was clumsy, to say the least.

I ended up selling it in the early '80's, after having it for about 14 years.

Having a certain type of camera can make you think that you are shooting differently, or even better, but it is mostly a myth. even well known photographers can fall into that trap, as we see here.

Sometimes I regret it, but, we must move on.

The only thing about those days that I miss at all, is the split image rangefinder inside of all SLR's. THAT I would welcome.
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mahleu
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2007, 04:28:26 AM »
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The only thing about those days that I miss at all, is the split image rangefinder inside of all SLR's. THAT I would welcome.
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I would get one for the almost silent shutter as well as the focussing. People love the clack of my SLR's in quiet theatre productions...
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Rob C
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2007, 05:51:56 AM »
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Melgross

Starting from the end: split-image rangefinders in SLRs. I have had that battle with Nikon, writing to them for help with trying to get a split-image screen with grid line that was suitable for fast lenses, as against the one they already supplied which was NOT for fast optics. No dice, not surprisingly, but worth a try, I thought, and it would make my F3 more useful too.

I find the same trouble with focus in my D200 because I use manual lenses as I have never wanted to abandon control to the camera or lens and am happy to share them with the two cameras; anyway, who in their right mind wants to spend even more money on the same lenses! Recently, I was using the camera (D) with a 2.8/24 Nikkor in some alleyways where I was interested in some old door-knockers which might have made worthwhile pics. Anyhow, I discovered very quickly that my dream of a split-image screen had not died at all: trying to focus on the right bit of the image, check the little green dot of light at the same time to see whether it helped, all of this was a lesson in futility. I was doing hand-held, of course, and fairly tight framing (tripods are not part of my options any more). Tight framing - yes, not RF camera territory I guess...

John Camp

I know for a fact that the 21mm lenses for the Ms are good - I worked for a short time for a studio which did stills stuff for the BBC TV people in Glasgow and part of the job was recording room sets. The chap who owned the studio would send us out to do that with an M3 and a 21mm and having to do the printing of the negs, I knew they were excellent quality compared with the Nikon F alternatives which we had. There WAS a different character to the black/whites that we printed from the combination; when I left I took a print of one particular pic with me just because of that different colour (to the b/w).

The late Jeanloup Sieff would utilize an M with a 21mm for much of his work, and to great advantage; he also had Nikon F and Hasselblad gear, so it was from choice. But, I think in his case it might have been more to do with the perspective choice which the lens allowed him.

The arguments for RF as superior to Reflex for candid photography (now thereīs an ancient word!) are a bit dubious too, when you go through them in detail. A split-image screen is as fast as you are going to get manually, and as grid lines are not going to be important compared with snatching the shot anyway, a straight Nikon F series will be as good as a RF Leica. Letīs face it, finding focus with your Noctilux isnīt going to be a cakewalk either, with zero DOF! For shots where pre-set distance is an option, the R-type camera will still offer more accurate framing.

I think the real advantage to the Leica option may well reside in the realm of lens quality when all the usual care is applied to the making of the shot; anything which consists of hitīnīrun will never be able to serve as a sensible measure of absolute quality. Much as you say yourself, really, so we do agree.

Whatever, Iīd still love the option of an M film body and one or two lenses!

Not to mention the fact that I would have liked to have had the confidence in RFinders to have bought a Mamiya!

Rob C
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hankg
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2007, 07:52:25 AM »
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The attraction of rangefinder camera's boils down to one essential thing: how you see the world through the finder. With an SLR viewing system you view the world through a tunnel with the scene rendered at full aperture with a narrow depth of field, with a rangefinder you look at the world through a transparent window with some discreet corner marks to indicate your crop. You see what's inside the frame and what's outside with no distortion or alteration courtesy of the viewing system. With the M3 and a 50mm you could shoot with both eyes open and see the frame lines floating in front of you like the camera wasn't even there.

Now it used to be that rangefinders had other advantages as well. The lack of a mirror made hand holding at slower shutter speeds possible but image stabilization has removed at least part of that advantage. The narrow register between film plane and lens made for higher quality optics especially at the wide end. Unfortunately what was an advantage with film is a disadvantage with digital. Finally with digital small size and quiet operation are no longer the exclusive domain of rangefinders as a matter of fact the M8 is not all that quiet.

As to focusing accuracy a practiced hand using lenses in the wide to normal range should be able to match or best most AF systems in the sort of situations the M was meant for (it's not a camera for the sports shooter). That's assuming your lens and finder are properly calibrated and the finder is clean. It is a finder system that could be improved but is eminently usable as is.

Finally, the early Leica's made Leica an iconic brand not because of image quality. If you wanted image quality you would have used a 4x5 press camera or at least a Rollie TLR. Leica and small format roll film photography was about emotional content over technical perfection, it allowed you to capture life in a way not possible with the 'better' bigger cameras. The M8 gets close enough to the feel and operation of the film M's that really it's only competition are not DSLR's but the little Ricoh GRD with an optical finder mounted. Comparing pixels between the latest DSLR and the M8 really misses the point. The M8 has more then enough IQ to do what an M was meant to do.
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2007, 10:38:39 AM »
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Hank

I agree that the advent of 35mm changed the face of photojournalism; I also know from experience that using a Rollei TLR alongside a Nikon F was not a brilliant combination  either.

But I feel that you point about the Leica is more historical than contemporary - there simply were no comparable slr cameras around then; my first slr in the 50s was an Exakta and IT was considered top of the (small) heap in its day! But even so, I think we ARE talking about image quality when we compare like with like - 35mm Leica glass with any other 35mm glass. I have seen it myself, as reported earlier. I also think that the same holds true for 35mm R lenses: the 180mm appears to have much smoother tonal transition than Nikon - many fashion photographers would also run Leica R lines for the benefits of Leica colour. None of that was money lightly spent!

But within the context of now, we arenīt even talking M film but M digital, where the digital has already shown to be a very compromised machine indeed. If you doubt that, look no further than the various threads/reports within this site. I have a gut feeling that the digital camera will never attain the legendary position of its film cousins.

The point about seeing the world with both eyes open (should you wish to view like that), within those shorter focal lengths isnīt at all impossible with a reflex either.

But, as we are not even comparing FF with FF, this entire line of conjecture gets a little lost along the way...

But then, isnīt that the way with photography?

Ciao - Rob C
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hankg
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2007, 10:59:33 AM »
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Hank

I agree that the advent of 35mm changed the face of photojournalism; I also know from experience that using a Rollei TLR alongside a Nikon F was not a brilliant combination  either.

But I feel that you point about the Leica is more historical than contemporary - there simply were no comparable slr cameras around then; my first slr in the 50s was an Exakta and IT was considered top of the (small) heap in its day! But even so, I think we ARE talking about image quality when we compare like with like - 35mm Leica glass with any other 35mm glass. I have seen it myself, as reported earlier. I also think that the same holds true for 35mm R lenses: the 180mm appears to have much smoother tonal transition than Nikon - many fashion photographers would also run Leica R lines for the benefits of Leica colour. None of that was money lightly spent!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=162023\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I feel the point about the finder is still as relevant today as it was when the M was introduced. Today of course using a rangefinder is a choice as there are many other options. If I'm using a long lens at a wide aperture I prefer a SLR as what you see in the viewfinder is what you get but for normal lenses doing the sort of shooting the M is associated with I'll take a small rangefinder. It's a very different way of working and seeing and it's one I prefer even though it may be a minority view.

I have an M8 and have owned and shot extensively with the Canon 1 series digital and as far as image quality is concerned with 35mm high end digital cameras any of them can do a capable job. The IQ differences with digital are miniscule. In terms of the end product in print a Canon with L glass can do the job every bit as good as a Leica with Leica glass or a Nikon. The real differences are in handling and ergonomics and whether you require things like weather sealing or tilt shift lenses or high quality ultra wides, etc., etc.,.
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Paul Kay
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2007, 11:18:07 AM »
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Having a certain type of camera can make you think that you are shooting differently, or even better, but it is mostly a myth. even well known photographers can fall into that trap, as we see here.
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Having (or using) a certain type of camera can most certainly make you shoot differently, not necessarily better, and the myth is (mostly) to anticipate that the ownership of different equipment will somehow, magically, make someone a better photographer! But you are right in that well known photographers are only human and probably have similar failings to the rest of us.

From my own point of view (as someone who fist owned a Leica M when studying (photography) many years ago), I would say that one aspect of the Leica M that is underrated is the discipline it instills into photography. My own experience in going back into M photography (I've dabbled with Leica rangefinders several times) is that I am made to think far more precisely about both focus and composition. There are of course many other reasons for using Leica M cameras (film or digital) but trying to justify them purely in terms of optical quality is not easy (though the files are very nice!) although in today's pixel obsessed world it is tempting to try.

My own justification for owning and using an M8 is that I like doing so, and the files it produces suit my requirements and are quick to adjust for how I want them to be. Add to this the size, weight and familiarity and I'm more than happy to use one. Although the web would have you believe that reliability is a huge issue, I'm cynical about the web's ability to differentiate between a small or a big problem as opposed to a vociferously announced one!
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John Camp
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2007, 12:11:59 PM »
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My own justification for owning and using an M8 is that I like doing so, and the files it produces suit my requirements and are quick to adjust for how I want them to be. Add to this the size, weight and familiarity and I'm more than happy to use one. Although the web would have you believe that reliability is a huge issue, I'm cynical about the web's ability to differentiate between a small or a big problem as opposed to a vociferously announced one!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=162035\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I certainly think that liking a camera is a good reason for shooting it, and I do that myself -- and I also shoot Nikons because I like them better than Canons, not because I think they make better photos.

I'm also somewhat cynical about web judgments, but not when it concerns the Leica M8. I read the main Leica forum, and virtually everybody on the forum, it seems, has had a very serious problem with their M8-- these are not people who are self-selected *because* they had a problem, but Leica enthusiasts who were anxious for the M8 to succeed, and then had serious problems.

The first batch of cameras actually had a mechanical/electrical problem that had to be fixed. I sent my camera back to Solms, and it was fixed. That took two months. Then it broke again, a month later, and this time, after examining it, Leica gave me a new camera. The M8s failed so often, and so comprehensively, that certain problems were given specific names, and when you developed those specific symptoms, you knew you were toast. If somebody put a gun to my head and demanded that I produce a percentage number of failure-in-use of the M8s produced before, say, last February (that is, from the first sales in November of 2006 through February of 2007) I would say that number would be greater than 60 percent. That does not include cameras that had to be sent back for the mandatory repair (which would push the number to 100%), but didn't actually fail in use.

One of the members of the Leica forum, am engineer, actually disassembled an M8 and the M8 battery charger. The assembly quality of the charger was disgraceful. It looked like the inside of a $2 flashlight.

I carry my M8 all the time, for the reason you gave above -- I like it. But it has lots of problems.

Rob -- I don't think we disagree. However, the M8 gives the IQ equivalent of a top-line DSLR, IMHO. If Nikon produced a body the size of an F3 with the D3 chip inside of it, and with (only) M8 battery life, I would buy it in a minute (and use Zeiss primes on it.) Unfortunately, the top-end Nikon/Canon cameras  weigh more than some LF cameras, and also have a huge, obtrusive frontal area; and as I pointed out in another post, some of the common lenses (like the Nikon 17-35 zoom) are, by themselves, as large as the Leica camera. *That's* the problem with using DSLRs in candid photography; it's not the IQ.

If you're doing some heavy duty PJ or studio work or whatever, and failure is not an option, you put up with the size and weight; it's the job. If you're going out for a ramble in the woods with the dog, or down to the art fair, the Leica's nice.

JC
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2007, 01:59:34 PM »
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As a matter of passing interest, but on-thread, please have a look at this - if the subject doesnīt interest donīt bother going into it, but DO read Stan Malinowskiīs INTRODUCTION, however difficult it might be on the eyes, what with being so tiny and so on.

http://www.modelpix.com/retroframes.html

Ciao - Rob C

Edit: If you look at the pics under Malinowski at Work, thereīs one titled Stan with Cigar. Is that an early Leica R model? Shot was taken circa ī83.
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melgross
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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2007, 03:01:46 PM »
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Several things about using RF's for candid work are in order.

One is that the cameras are smaller, and less bulky, than SLR's. When you are doing candids, where the people (you don't know, usually) are close enough to be distracted by your work, a smaller camera is a benefit. The quieter shutter (the reason I bought mine) is also beneficial.

As for wides, Leica makes really fine lenses. No one will argue that. But, as one begins to get closer, there is less correspondence to what one sees in the viewfinder, esp. with the widest models. The corner cutoff rarely bother me though.

When I said earlier that one THINKS one is shooting differently, but isn't, I meant that the results are rarely different. But, one thinks they are. Other than the quieter shutter, and smaller size, and I remember the whacking the M5 got when it came out about how big it was, I've never found any advantage to them as far as shooting went. Sometimes, in really dim light—1200 Tri-X and Accufine time, my M5 could be a bit easier to focus, but not always.

In the more general areas of photography, though, I always felt that the M series was under a great disadvantage. Fewer lenses. No zooms. Few accessories.

Removing the bottom cover to re-film the camera was always a bug of mine. Sheesh! They still do this with the M8 for Flash and battery! I cant think of a single good reason for that. I've seen people drop that danged cover into the dirt, after losing their grip on it.

Come on Leica. This is the 21st century!

And lastly, those split image rangefinders previously found in SLR's. I'm led to believe that they mess up auto focus. I don't remember if the early autofocus film cameras still had them. does anyone remember?

My 5D allows changeable focussing screens. They should have one that can be used without auto focus, but with the rangefinder, should we choose to go that way at times.
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melgross
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« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2007, 03:08:38 PM »
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Edit: If you look at the pics under Malinowski at Work, thereīs one titled Stan with Cigar. Is that an early Leica R model? Shot was taken circa ī83.
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Somehow, the Leica "R" never interested me. The expense didn't seem to be worth it, and the cameras have always seemed so bulky, particularly in the days of smaller pro SLR's. Though now the pro Canon and Nikon digital units make it seem small.

It just occurred to me to write that I was disappointed that the M8 didn't come with a full frame sensor, as the camera's lenses have always presented excellent edge quality. I do understand some of the problems their non-retrofocusing wides will have there, but I have to hope that Leica is working on that issue.

Even the price of Leica is no longer high when compared to the top Canon and Nikon models, not to say the medium format digital models.

Would a full frame Leica be so out of the question?
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2007, 05:26:05 PM »
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I was surprised by the article's emphasis on focusing problems.  I just don't have 'em.  

I wonder if some variability arose in switching back & forth from uncoded VC to new coded Leica lenses.  Older lenses were designed to focus on the film plane, & different manufacturers made different allowances for film flatness - and had different quality control tolerances.  Leica doesn't always get this just right on new lenses.  But when you send an older Leitz lens in for coding, part of the service is to make sure the lens will focus exactly on a sensor plane.  

I first noticed this when my 35mm Summicron that focused perfectly on M4 & 6 tended to front-focus on my M8.  My spare 35mm Summicron, which didn't seem as sharp on film cameras, was perfect on the M8.  My dealer explained that adjusting for these variations was part of the coding operation.  

So I don't think there's anything wrong with Leica rangefinders - it's more likely that some lenses are calibrated more accurately than others to the sensor plane.
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2007, 04:02:21 AM »
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melgross

The Leica wasnīt the only one with a film loading design flaw: the Nikon F back too had to be taken OFF in order to put in film! But they cured all that with the F2 which was a honey of a camera. Then, of course, the F4 was created to drive me insane with constant reloading problems which, in essence, meant that it always took me at least three goes at it to get the damn thing to engage. Just think about that if you have human subjects... Which, of course, is why I got rid of it and bought one of the last F3s.

Ciao - Rob C
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ashaughnessy
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« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2007, 05:29:14 AM »
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When I take a picture (on 35mm film), scan it and it ends up on my computer I'll always judge its sharpness at 100% magnification, as a matter of course, and then I'll always print it at A3+, as a matter of course, because I can. I'll see any deficiencies in quality immediately.

I've never worked in a darkroom but I can imagine that you can't see the image quality in a 35mm negative until you've printed it. If your normal darkroom workflow is to print on 8x10 paper, perhaps with a border so you get perhaps a 9x6 image, you might be entirely happy with the image quality, compared to the minute examination you can so easily give it magnified to 100% on your computer screen.

I've recently been using disposable film cameras, with the explicit intention of not printing the pictures larger than about 7x5 inches. The results are absolutely full of imperfections but at 7x5 some of the imperfections look lovely and give the pictures a definite character that I enjoy. As a result I've bought an old Olympus Trip to keep on doing the same thing. It's really hard to focus but I don't care too much at 7x5.

So I wonder if digital cameras have changed our requirements for focussing accuracy?

Anthony
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« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2007, 07:11:32 AM »
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I was surprised by the article's emphasis on focusing problems.  I just don't have 'em. 


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To Quote....

Leica M8 Revisited by James Russell

"I'm not a range finder guy.

In fact for my entire career, other than hold somebody's point and shoot at a party, I've never shot a frame of film or digital with a rangefinder camera....."




Using any new piece of gear is never really easy until you feel at home with it.  Until you've used it in all sorts of situations and feel that you are in sync with the camera.  That happens with any new piece of gear.  I just tested a D3 for Nikon and even though I have not shot Nikon in five years, the muscle memory was there and everything felt instinctive and right.

I've used M Leicas all my life.  I started off with an M2 in high school and have pretty much always owned a M camera of some sort.  (either an M4, CL or M6)  I own the M8 and have never had any focusing problems with it....but then again...I've used M cameras for a long time and even when I focus and recompose, I know how much to shift my focus depending upon if I reframe to the left or right.

The M8 is a very different beast than any other Leica.  It is quirky.  I had one in for repair and it was quickly replaced when it was discovered that it locked up after it was repaired.  Leica is a super small company led by good people who are trying very hard.  

I am 50-50 on the M8.  I love that Leica is in the digital age but I do wish it worked a little bit better than it does.  Leica got hit with some pretty significant problems after the M8 was released and they have worked to solve them.  One is  a stop-gap measure but it solves the problem of the IR contamination.  

I just shot an annual report for a conservation group - people and aerials in North America.  I shot mostly with the M8's and the client was very pleased with the files and results.  The only time I shot with the Canon's was when I knew we were going for more than a double page spread. (It was a fold-out double truck)

Yeah, it takes time to learn how to focus a rangefinder properly.  If you've been depending on auto-focus or using medium-format with the bigger viewfinder than it is a bit of a stretch to get use to the rangefinder patch.

But once you do, and you use it for a while, it becomes second nature and you understand something you've known all along, that the M is a very different camera but it just feels right.

Not something to be derided or lusted after.  It is a tool that hopefully, is an extension of who you are as a photographer.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2007, 07:12:37 AM by Camdavidson » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2007, 10:13:53 AM »
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When I take a picture (on 35mm film), scan it and it ends up on my computer I'll always judge its sharpness at 100% magnification, as a matter of course, and then I'll always print it at A3+, as a matter of course, because I can. I'll see any deficiencies in quality immediately.

I've never worked in a darkroom but I can imagine that you can't see the image quality in a 35mm negative until you've printed it. If your normal darkroom workflow is to print on 8x10 paper, perhaps with a border so you get perhaps a 9x6 image, you might be entirely happy with the image quality, compared to the minute examination you can so easily give it magnified to 100% on your computer screen.

I've recently been using disposable film cameras, with the explicit intention of not printing the pictures larger than about 7x5 inches. The results are absolutely full of imperfections but at 7x5 some of the imperfections look lovely and give the pictures a definite character that I enjoy. As a result I've bought an old Olympus Trip to keep on doing the same thing. It's really hard to focus but I don't care too much at 7x5.

So I wonder if digital cameras have changed our requirements for focussing accuracy?

Anthony
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The darkroom experience did not hide problems/mistakes with camera and/or film malpractice; the problem was that very often the photographer did not print his own work and, as a consequence, had no idea if he was over- or under-exposing his work in a habitual manner. But, and a big but, his printers sure did!

There is nothing on record, of which I am aware, that claims the success rate with film to be any higher than with digital capture. Both require that the photographer understand what he is doing. I would suggest that in the realm of film, b/w was even more prone to bad practice because few people knew how to read a negative, whereas anybody with half a vision can spot a dud transparency.

If you did do your own printing, you would often run the enlarger right up to the top of its column just to have a look at what youīd got. For my own part, most of what I did commercially fitted on 8x10 and was mainly on grades 2 or 3. I did not like Multigrade or, even less, RC, which was another reason why I eventually gave up my last darkroom, though that one had no commercial pretensions. But, in general, I wouldnīt agree at all that digital and 100% has made any difference to the informed photographer and his quest for quality.

Where big differences did arise, was when there was a need for display prints on 40" rolls of paper, which showed up the differences between Nikon and Hasselblad capture, even though the 35mm was usually on FP3/4 and the 6x6 on TXP 120. The same, of course, was the case with colour.

Basically, film or digital, you require the same sense of accuracy and care with the whole operation of making a photograph - I see neither way as a shortcut to success.

Going back to the īspecialī look that Leica glass can give a print, perhaps this sense of difference was due to the look of a Leica neg printed on paper in a wet darkroom. I have not heard of the same look being available via scans and machine printing. Even in a wet darkroom, using anything but SWG was always a passion killer. I have never heard of an M8 being talked about in that way - maybe digital capture is a huge leveller of lenses, and not in a happy way!

Rob C
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