Leica M8 Review + YouTube Review
Qu. Can’t decide – Leica M8 vs Leica M9?
>> Owning both cameras here I review the M8 vs M9 and include some Leica M8 portrait sample photos.
Leica M8 Camera
Here is a Leica M8 review / follow up post with my thoughts of the M8 after having owned it for a few weeks.
>> Join me on YouTube!
I really have been hugely impressed with the September 2006 released 10.3MP 1.33x cropped sensor Leica M8 digital rangefinder camera. Costing x3 less than a used Leica M9, The M8 is also the most affordable way to enter the digital Leica world. Leica retains this myth around the brand that the Leica equipment is not affordable or in reach of the majority of the population. This is of course not true at all.
Leica M8 Used Price
You can pick up a Leica M8 used camera body in good condition for the same price as a Canon 5D Mk II. Need I say more! You may then say that Leica M camera lenses are too expensive. Wrong again. Older Leica lenses can be picked up on eBay for less than some Canon and Nikon lenses. Leica mount lenses from companies such as Voigtlander and Zeiss also offer equally affordable and very high quality optics. If you have an old Leica film camera collecting dust in your attic that your late Grandfather once owned then a Leica M8 would bring a new life to your Leica lens.
Leica Film Camera
Alternatively, if like me you enjoy film photography and love using Leica lenses then you can pick yourself up a used Leica film camera body for even less than the Leica M8. I just treated myself to a 1958 Leica M2 film camera so I can shoot 35mm film with my existing Leica lenses. (Samples of Leica M2 film photography coming soon!).
Leica M8 vs Leica M9?
As you may know I already have a Leica M9 and bought the Leica M8 as a second Leica body for my Leica wedding photography. After having used the Leica M8 for the last few weeks I can tell you that for the black and white portraiture I normally shoot the M8 is equally as good as my M9 for my taste. The cameras feel near identical to use and if I didn’t look at what was in my hand I wouldn’t know which camera I was holding. The Leica M8 resolution is fantastic and exceeded my expectations. I think the M8 photos are as nice as the M9 ones. I almost like the bigger grain of the M8 images more than those of the M9. I think the M9 is a half way house between the more sterile DSLR look of the M Type 240 and the grainier older M8. I think the M8 gives a filmic look closer to film photography than the M9 due to the grain size. Both cameras use the Kodak CCD sensor that I love so much. I am convinced that the ‘Leica Look’ is from the CCD sensor more so than the lenses. I realise this is a topic of great debate! Each LM lens adds a certain character to an image but the overall Leica look is found in all my Leica M8 and Leica M9 images.
I never thought I would say it but I feel like I could happily own 2 Leica M8 cameras rather than an M8 and a M9. The biggest advantage of the M9 is the full frame sensor so gives each lens a different use to when on the M8.
Here are some Leica M8 portrait photos from my Flickr feed
Leica Photography Workshop with the Leica M8
Here is a photo taken with my M8 of me in action yesterday teaching a Leica photography workshop in London. I gave the model a chance to get her own back and turn a camera on the photographers! I was using my Nikon FM SLR film camera shooting 35mm Kodak Portra 160 film. Katie did a great job taking this photo without any practice once I explained what to do!
Finally here is a flower portrait with the Leica M8. The M8 is not limited to people photography! 🙂
I will continue to share Leica M8 images on my Flickr stream (in addition to those taken with my M9, and the soon to arrive Leica M2 which I am very excited about!)
Related Posts / Links
- Leica M8 ordered
- Leica M8 10 Year Anniversary
- Leica M8 IR Filter
- Leica M2 film camera
- Book a Leica photography workshop
More Leica Posts!
More recent Leica M8 photos
(I added a few new ones above also)
26 thoughts on “Leica M8 Review”
Gorgeous black and white images, Matt, as well as your work! I agree with you 100% what you say about the M8. Nice blog post.
Cheers Frank. I’m glad it’s not just me then 😉
Fantastic looks! I’ve always loved M8 shots even while I scorned mine and other’s M9 results. I think I’ve got my stuff worked out pretty good with the M-E but you’re making me want to keep an eye out for an M8. Beautiful photography by the way.
Thanks Donald, very kind. Yes I have been more than impressed with my M8. I am now excited as to what I can get the M2 to give me. You should easily find an M8 for a good price on eBay. I found mine straight away. Cheers
Absolute rubbish Matthew … about the M8 I mean.
I figure you would make these images sing for you even if the only tool at your disposal was a box camera. Seriously! And no, I was just kidding about the M8. It is especially wonderful when dedicated to B&W image making; one can dispense with the IR filters then.
Anyway, awesome photography as usual.
yeah, i still find the M8 files are more crisper at base iso 160 compare to M9.
keeping an eye on used M8/M8.2 market
Yes i’ve been really pleased with my M8. I’ve only used it at ISO160. Certainly excellent VFM!
This “old camera” is “better than ever”. Between the V2 firmware from Leica, and the availability of 16-bit raw mode processor “m8raw2dng”- I’m getting better images from the M8 now than when I bought it almost 5 years ago. Tomorrow I’m taking the M8 and M9 out with matching lenses, had a request to shoot some images and convert to monochrome.
Thanks Brian, I’m not sure what firmware my M8 has installed but I suspect not the most recent. I will check so thanks for that info. I look forward to your M8 vs M9 shoot out results! (It would be interested to see M8 results in colour with IR reducing filter (as I use it) vs M9!
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Hi Brian – I am a totally new M8 owner, haven’t really played with cameras since film and darkrooms – OM2 long gone, still have a Minox somewhere, but can’t find it at the minute..
Anyway, I’m really enjoying the Leica experience, but purely rattling off jpegs at present to get a feel for the camera, DOF, exposure etc.
I haven’t even invested in software yet, still about a month away I feel, still researching.
However, I am intrigued about your statement on RAW images – that option doesn’t appear to be available on my M8, although it has the latest software loaded.
Can you advise further?
Just seen this post – thanks! nice images with the M8 – are you post production in Lightroom?
One major thing no-one mentions about the M8 is the 8000th sec shutter speed which was dropped afterwards, because the shutter made a slightly louder noise. For me this is an advantage, as it allows me more flexibility to use my old noctilux at full aperture!
Hi thanks. I batch edit in LR and then normally pick a few images from each shoot to finish off in PS, adding a border and tag etc.
I normally use ND filters on the Nocti but yes the 1/8000 is a great feature. I am used to many of my film cameras having 1/500 or 1/1000 max so I probably don’t use it as much as others do. Thanks Matt
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Hi Matt, since your initial post on the M8, what are your thoughts now? Is it still worth buying and using in 2017? Thanks, Max.
Hey Max, sorry for the delay… I do use the M240 mostly + film and find the M8 fits between the 2. At a recent wedding I used the M240 + M8 and the client unknowlingly picked quite a few M8 photos for their final set. I have a Nikon D800 and much prefer the M8. I think if you want to edit a photo loads in post get an M240, if like nice results almost SOOC then the M8 is amazing. (it is best in brighter light too*).
Sorry, not sure if that helps at all..but yes I wont be selling my M8 so I guess that means it’s worth getting. 🙂
Hi Mattew, great work you’re showing. Congratulations !
Can I ask what lenses you’re using? Thanks, Pedro
Thanks Pedro! Sorry I can really answer that as I own and use a huge range of Leica M mount lenses that I use on all the Leica film camera, the M240 and the M8.
If you click any of my images the Flickr description should tell you the lens used for that image (most of the time!) Thanks Matt
Hi Matthew,, I have an M8.2 which I bought SH about 4 years ago. I am now thinking of getting an M240 for better low light performance, all my lenses are 2.8. Would you suggest the M240 or a faster 35mm and 50mm. Would welcome any thoughts..
Hi, an M240 would help you no end. Much much faster to operate (less lag), LiveView for wide lens composition, and yes much better ISO. M8 + f2.8 @ ISO800 max (for me) vs. M240 @ ISO3200 (+2 stops)(same as 2 stop gain from an f1.4 lens but I think the more MP and other modern benefits will give you more life from you existing lenses. Both options give the same answer to low light but the M240 will give more benefits IMO. ..I still have my M8 so can compare.
Thanks Matthew for your prompt reply, much appreciated, I had thought the M240 would be the cheapest way round it 😀
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“You can pick up a Leica M8 used camera body in good condition for the same price as a Canon 5D Mk II”
Not any more. In early 2021 a good M8 is 3x the price of a good 5D mark II
Thanks, yes the problem is the Canons are mass produced so quickly drop in value vs Leica which often go back up in value if hold them long enough.