Leica M8 Portraits & Thoughts

Leica M8 Portraits
Follow up post with my thoughts of the M8 after having owned it for a few weeks.

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. You can pick up a used Leica M8 camera body in good condition for the same price as a Canon 5D Mk II. Need I say more! You may then say that the 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. 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 Portraits from my last few shoots –

Model Photography
M8 Fashion
Leica M8 Studio Portrait
Leica M8 B&W
Baker Street, London
Zeiss ZM Planar
Zeiss Planar 50
Leica M8 Portrait

Here is a photo taken with my M8 of me in action yesterday teaching a 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!

Photography Workshop, London

Finally here is a flower portrait with the Leica M8. The M8 is not limited to people photography! 🙂

Leica M8 + Leica Lux ASPH 50

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!)

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Photographer

Related Posts / Links
Leica M8 ordered
Leica M2 film camera
Book a photography workshop

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Leica M8!

Leica M8 Camera

Leica M8!

I felt my Leica M9 needed a wingman for the Leica wedding photography. By this I mean a fellow Leica M body to make use of my various Leica M mount lenses.

I looked at a the newest Leica M, the Leica “Typ 240” but they are too expensive for me and would depreciate faster than my car! I then toyed with the idea of a second Leica M9 body for Leica weddings but it seems a waste to have both cameras devaluing with age when I can only use one at a time. I then accidently stumbled across the older Leica M8 (released in 2006) on eBay when looking for used M9 bodies. I started my Leica M8 research and got more and more impressed with every article I read. To cut a long story short a purchase came soon after! A special thanks to Julie who sold me her beloved Leica camera via eBay.

..I never thought I would buy another crop sensor camera after going full frame with the Leica M9 and Nikon D800. The M9 is 18MP and the Nikon D800 is 36MP. The M8 has a 1.33x crop sensor and only 10.3 MP but I feel I can still get just as good results from it for my needs.

Here is a quick summary on why the Leica M8 excites me so much (in no order):

1) Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 (Same as D800. M9 is 1/4000)
2) Maximum flash sync speed – 1/250 (Fastest shutter speed at which I can use a strobe/ speedlight / studio light with the camera). A fast shutter can reduce the amount of ambient light hitting the sensor and is great for Leica strobist work on a bright day. (M9 is 1/180).
3) Kodak CCD sensor (The same filmic look as achieved from the Leica M9 CCD just smaller).
4) No infrared filter – This makes the Leica M8 fantastic for B&W photography. (For colour photography it is recommended that an IR UV filter is used to reduce green ghosting and colour cast). I shoot mostly black and white so this will be perfect for my taste. Some even call it the ‘original’ Leica Monochrome camera.
5) Crop sensor – Most people would see this as a negative however it means the M8 will use the sharpest centre part of my various lenses but more so it gives all my lenses a new lease of life. With a 1.33x crop applied to all my focal lengths it means my Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii would be equivalent to almost 50mm (35×1.33=46.55mm) and my Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 becomes a 66.5mm. This will give me more reach for my wedding photography from my existing lenses.
6) Price! I think the biggest plus is the price of a used Leica M8 camera body and the excellent value for money. Costing 3x less than a used Leica M9 it really is a steal. That is the same price as a used Canon 5D Mk II yet you are getting a Leica!

Any drawbacks of the Leica M8?

1) The coating is said to be not as good as the M9 (or M8.2).
2) The shutter is less refined and more noisy than the M9 (corrected in the Leica M8.2)
3) Minimum ISO is 160 rather than ISO 80 on the Leica M9. I find a low ISO useful to control light levels.

..I am sure there are more but those were the main ones that stood out to me and /or have already been covered above.

To celebrate my now two Leica M camera family I will setup a specific Leica wedding photography website to exhibit my Leica wedding photography work and to separate it from my current model photography that often dominates my pages.

Example Leica M8 photos coming soon!

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Wedding Photography