« Phun with Photomerge | Main | JPEG...Seriously? »

Thursday, 12 June 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Very nicely said!


Mike, you wrote in praise of photo merge and mentioned P. H. Emerson in the VERY NEXT POST?
And then speaking of Bob Schwalberg and Leicas in the same post, he said "At one time I actually owned 87 Leica cameras ... I sold most of of my Leica collection in 1967, and for years I went around telling people that nobody really needed 87 Leicas; 12 were enough. Today I´m down to only four, and my collecting has taken a new turn for the practical."

amen, brother

So the camera is a piece of shit. The kid needs to get over it.

Before you buy a Leica, get a dozen disposable cameras and shoot a project and YOU pick the images you wished were shot with an M8.

When you pay $5000+ for a camera, unless you are so rich that amount is pocket change, cognitive dissonance sets in and you think it is the greatest thing, well, because it *has* to be, right?

I had one of the first general availability M8 and excoriated it, not just for the magenta cast issue (which I knew about before buying, no thanks to the likes of Michael Reichmann), but because of atrocious quality control (or the utter lack thereof):


Frankly, the M8 is not quiet or compact enough to claim the mantle of a stealth camera (unlike the Olympus C8080 Alex Majoli used), and simply can't compete with Canon or Nikon's offerings. It speaks poorly of the original reviewer's judgment that he took a camera with such well-documented flaws into mission-critical use in the field. A Nikon D3 or a Canon 1DmkII/III would be a no-brainer in those circumstances.

Only one piece of hate mail? I could get more than that just from posting something like "babies are cute" somewhere on the internet.

Can ANYONE, ANYWHERE in the camera industry PLEASE tell us photographers why nobody wants to build a decent small reporter/pro camera??? See the specs for Mikes DMD, build it strong and sturdy, and earn heaps of money. Why is this not possible??? Is it marketing that tells you it will cut into DSLR earnings? (it wont)?? Take a Canon Rebel/450, put on a fixed 28 - 70 f2.8 lens and a framed wiewfinder, and make heaps of cash... Why is this so hard to grasp???

"...the mere ownership of any kind of camera is never going to make you a photographer in anyone's eyes but your own."

Unless your income relies on photography, isn't that the whole point?

Insulting other people is no good but ignorance (Hey, I was called ignorant once a couple of weeks ago on this site...) by the reviewer and many others (calling it "a piece of shit") is really just the same. You try to hurt other peoples feelings because you *think* you are the one who owns the right on the one and only truth (and probably because you feel insecure about your own opinion.

The title of the article also made me a bit agitated ("Roundly and Soundly Slammed"). I already had read the experience test and thought the guy was hoping to get a new job as a tester for Leica. I've been using the M8 now for 2 years (along side a Nikon D2x and D3) and have not experience any problems. Off course there are some design errors. But the picture quality is stunning. That's the only thing that counts in the end. Nothing else. I hope Mr. Kamber doesn't take a Phaseone back on an Alpha 12 TC to Iraq and writes up another review...

I have used Leica M's for over 40 years. Just prefer optical viewing.

My M8 has given me no problems except for white balance which the new upgrade has fixed. I often shoot raw + B&W jpg and am amazed at the quality of the jpg. If I need something big I just convert from the raw.

However this latest review has certainly influenced me. I will never take my M8 int a war zone or the Gobi desert.

This behaviour goes beyond just photography. We have tried to create a society where we are what we buy and have succeeded to a too large extent. People tend to take their purchases way too seriously.

A $100,000+ Porsche is probably a very nice car, and to someone who has purchased one, it probably seems like a big deal. But remember, there are people in the world to whom that car was just inventory they had to count as part of their job.

The M8 was DOA? I thought that description was supposed to be reserved for the DP1. I've always wanted a Leica camera but I never thought I was a good enough photographer to justify the expense. Some days I wonder if I'm good enough to justify using my 40D.

For grins, you should post the piece of hate mail.

I once (1975) owned a new black Leica M5 with a black Summilux from the old MP.
The one really neat thing about it was that when I wore it (prominently displayed, hanging vertically from my shoulder) into even the Tonyest camera store, I would immediately get the attention of every lounging salesman, who were really happy to let me fondle any piece of equipment that caught my eye. LOL!

Sadly, a lot of leica owners are in fact enablers of a feeble, behind-the-curve company. And when any justifiable criticism is leveled at the M8, the photographic world's equivalent of an army of Rush Limbaughs begin to foam at the mouth and rant that the criticism isn't valid because the review is either 1) stupid, or 2) stupid or 3) doesn't get it, or 4) a closet Canon (or Nikon) lover or 5) just a very, very bad person. There is very little rational thinking coming from the small ragged band of Leica True Believers.

And for the record, I own both a Leica MP and a Leica M8 and handful of their lenses. So I am not writing this from ignorance. The MP does what a Leica always did: dependably and discreetly take very sharp photographs in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, and is willing to do a little thinking along with their shooting.

The M8, unfortunately, is more of a crap shoot in those same experienced hands: Goofy colors, random shutdowns, loud shutter noise, madly scrolling menus, awful high ISO performance all rear their ugly head from time to time. And some of these flaws are not always consistently there, which is all the more maddening.

For what I paid for this beast, I expected a whole lot more. That said, it has a strength: very sharp raw files. Which makes it a perfect camera for landscape photography with the ISO down at 160 or 320 and mounted on a tripod.

In short, it is like a portable view camera, which is about as far removed from the original idea of what a Leica should be as you can get. It has very limited abilities in many areas, but it strong in small subset of photographic needs.

I probably have a camera or two too many, but I never purchased a camera thinking it would make me a better photographer. Maybe a little more convenient (8x10 camera)or for the sheer joy of ownership, but never thinking I could produce better photos. I finally figured out that a tripod would improve my photography more than any camera/lens ever could. My wife who uses whatever camera she gets as a gift- Minolta slrs and a Nikon digital p&s is still able to frame a picture better than me even though she never read a photo book or spent countless hours on the net searching for that secret to a great picture.

There are always going to be those who are going to agree and disagree with us on a variety of issue, but the anonymity of the web has made some of us less cordial than we would be having a face to face conversation.



A prescient piece as usual. I am amazed at the Internet play the Kamber piece has gotten. In addition to T.O.P. (and my own humble musings) it has been prominently featured on websites as diverse as The Luminous Landscape and Ken Rockwell.com. This is a firestorm that Leica can ignore only at its peril. The readers of these (and other) websites are precisely the market that Leica is targeting with the M8. They had better act and act very quickly. They might start by hiring Kamber as a consultant.



First I was going to send you hate mail; but then I realized that you weren't writing about the gear I own - so everything's ok!

(Should I mark this with 'S.A.' like you do?)

I'm at a loss for words so I'll just say this: LOL!

I've said it a million times..when folks drop lots of bucks on anything..the brain sets out to defend the exchange of those dollars. They can be holding a piece of dried up dog crap with a ribbon tied around it and that will be gold in their minds.

When I started reading about this M8 the flags were going up pretty damn quick..so were the lines of defense. I do love the lenses from this company so that's something to tolerate it for..I spose?

Well said, Mike.

Camera owners who believe the camera makes them a "real" photographer are like finding someone who tinkers with cars who believes the brand of wrenches they use make them a "real" mechanic.

Cameras are simply tools. Use them wisely and you'll get great results.

Off topic. While looking at Fazil Majid's weblog (above post) I came across this excellent article "Resisting camera bloat":


Check it out!

Ah, I love the logic of people who buy expensive cameras. It's like I said "I just bought myself a $300 Mont Blanc pen. Shakespeare, watch out!"

Come on, Mike, let us read the hate letter! LOL I always get a laugh out of the Leica fanatics who foam at the mouth whenever anyone points out any flaw it has.

Leica fetishism cont'd —

Westlicht in Vienna: "We are especially pleased that the first M8 ever produced was able to achieve a sensational 24.000 Euro - this is the highest price ever paid for a digital camera at an auction! Leica Camera AG will donate the proceeds for charitable purposes."

Not having read the hate mail (which, based on the hateful response to Mr. Kamber's thoughtfully negative review on the Leica forum was probably pretty bad), sentences such as "Sorry if negative reviews of your precious security blanket offend you, young man" do little to strengthen your position here. You have done more than a little troll-baiting in your insistence on writing off anyone that likes the M8, in spite of it's (many) flaws.

I like both the Online Photographer *and* the M8. They both are at times annoying, but they both also have their redeeming qualities.

The funny thing (I mean funny ha-ha, not funny-strange) is that someone sent you hate mail about a camera. Hate Mail. Camera. Try keeping those ideas in your head for a moment and let 'em marinate awhile. To quote a favorite long-eared philosopher: What a maroon! Hate. Mail. Camera. Excuse me, but I gotta get back to work.

Ben Marks

Oh. Another thing. I own the camera: the dread M8, I have taken some of my recent favorite pictures with it and ANYONE is free to denigrate the camera as much as they wish. Sacrifice a ream of paper; fire off some electrons into the aether; do your worst.

Finished? I still enjoy using it.

Ben Marks

ah the endless m8 debate. damn nauseating if you ask me. i own one and it takes really great images. i like using it. i spent MY money and i'm not stupid... get it. can we (insert f word followed by 'n here) move on?

One odd thing on both sides of the M8 argument is the characterization of Leica owners as fanatics or people who buy *bling* hoping it'll make them better photographers; and people (who may or may not be Leica owners) who find it necessary to attack anyone who says anything about a Leica that is in the least bit negative.

As an M8 (and M7) owner, I spent a lot of time on the L Camera forum the last couple of years, and found the Leica owners there to be about the most rational bunch of people on the net, with, of course, a few goofs. There are always a few goofs; that's simply a fact of life. Most Leica owners, however, are coolly aware of the shortcomings of their various cameras, and discuss them in terms that sometimes grow quite harsh. What touches off the "fanatic" response is when some Canon guy (and it's almost always a Canon guy), who's never had a Leica, and never shot a rangefinder, starts blathering on about why his Canon X is better than a Leica could hope to be. Well, no.

I doubt that most of the serious shooters on the Leica forum would disagree with Kamber's assessment of the M8 -- except, of course, that they would argue, as I do, that he simply chose the wrong camera for the job he's doing. You wouldn't take an Ebony 4x5 for the job, though it's an exceptional camera, and you wouldn't take a Leica M8. As war cameras, the Leicas were famously ditched in favor of Nikons by David Douglas Duncan more than fifty years ago...

For other jobs, the M8 is exceptional. Just not Kamber's.

As for hate mail...life is too short. Don't print it, delete it.


When Leica's "fix" for bad colors was to put a cheap filter on an expensive, exceptional lens, you all should have known.

"fix" for "bad colors" a "cheap filter"?!?!?

could you explain that one i a bit more detail david?

I posted the article on a well known photo site and the first was response was very negative about the article and writer. I'm always amazed at how people get so invested personally in their tools that they can literally turn violent.

Aw, c'mon, Mike. You are responding to a specific letter, which sounds like it was a doozy. But your readers are responding to the general discourse about the M8. And so much that discourse boils down to this: "It's a Leica, and it costs a lot, therefore it must be perfect, fabulous, and improve my status and sex life, otherwise it does not deserve to exist, and all who bought it are pompous, pontificating pretentious pretenders" (apologies to Spiro Agnew).

Many of us found that the "M8 in Iraq" review had valid observations, but that some of the complaints were based on old firmware or early QC problems.

Me, I bought the M8 because I like rangefinder focusing better than SLR focusing, I already had the lenses, and I wanted to use them digitally. There have been some adjustments I've had to make, but on the whole, I'm very happy with its performance. For me, for what I generally like to shoot. Your milage may vary.

I will gladly refrain from taking my M8 to 130 degree dusty locations where people are shooting things other than cameras at me. :-)


The Leica M8 will all one's hopes and dreams come true. Take it from J.T.

Do you believe product advertisers and marketers want to fulfill your needs and desires?

That's what they advertise.

Re: "Do you believe product advertisers and marketers want to fulfill your needs and desires?"

I have mixed thoughts on this one. First, a camera that commands such a high price as the Leica M8 should have features that justify the amount charged. The RF camera culture historically has survived on the quality of the body and the glass. Leica need to be careful that this is not downgraded to quality on glass only.

In defense of Leica, I've not seen them report that the M8 is a full dust and waterproofed body. Only Oly (although I've seen the adverts for a Nikon user wading waist deep in water recently) does this as a USP. If you are going into a war zone and your camera may be needed to kill a sniper by throwing the camera at them, get an E-1, its the only one which will survive. You think those anti-radar detection curved bodies were designed for nothing? :)

Like another commenter, I own an M8 and read TOP, and although neither is perfect, both are worth the effort. I don't think that the camera makes me a better photographer, but I do love the feel of it, the low-ISO result are quite stunning, and the lenses are to die for (if they are correctly adjusted; we all suffer for our art). In total, I have to say that the camera and its quirkiness inspire me to do better in a way that my (ex-) Canon 5D never did.

I do wish that the pot-shots at the M8 from the sidelines would stop. It is a great camera to some, not so great a camera to others, and some just can't get over the price (I am still paying off my loan), and that should be where it ends. Ignore the rabid M8 fans just like you ignore all other rabid people; there are lots of very friendly and reasonable M8 owners too.

Someone I know wrote, "You're hoping to destroy the M8's pristine reputation so that you can buy one ... or maybe two from those whom you've broken."

There's an idea, eh. ;)

"Someone I know wrote, 'You're hoping to destroy the M8's pristine reputation so that you can buy one....' "

I promise you, that's not it.

Mike J.

I'm very late to the debate....
I've got an M6 and love it. Yes, it was extremely expensive.
Strangely enough it had so few things on it by comparison with Nikon, Canon et al offerings, but I was still compelled to buy it. The photo's from it always look different to everything else. Not more accurate. Not more colourful. Not sharper. But they are discerningly beautiful. There's a certain something about them.
The M8 offers something else that other competition doesn't. A certain something that lots of people want to buy into!
It's pricey but it makes some people feel as if they should put more effort into taking better photo's. To me - that's worth something invaluable!

Perhaps one day Leica will make a real digital M.

Hey Blinder,

I got a Cosina made Bessa R3A and I love it. It's ugly compared with big brother Ik, the Zeiss one, and it's much lighter than any Leica M except for the Japanese made CL.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007