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M8 Experts: Testing A Used M8
Old 12-04-2016   #1
bayernfan
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M8 Experts: Testing A Used M8

Hoping there are a few M8 experts out there than can guide me in looking over and testing a used M8 (original 1/8000 model) I just ordered. I want to do a full shake-down on it and make sure it doesn't suffer from any of the known issues. If a guide already exists on the forum or the internet, please direct to me to it. Many thanks!
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Old 12-04-2016   #2
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Have you tested a camera before? Do the same here.

The list of issues is rather short
- for colour you will need UV/IR cut filters
- on some M8 the display failed. If your display is working, don't think about it.


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Old 12-04-2016   #3
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Tom,

One issue I'd like help in testing is noise, particularly the strong vertical banding seen from some of the M8 sensors. And really, just any other issues that users have run into that may not be plainly evident at first.
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Old 12-04-2016   #4
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check also "coffee stain" issue in LCD. it does not prevent using the camera, but seller should have mentioned it.
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Old 12-04-2016   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayernfan View Post
Tom,

One issue I'd like help in testing is noise, particularly the strong vertical banding seen from some of the M8 sensors. And really, just any other issues that users have run into that may not be plainly evident at first.
AFAIK there are no differences between sensors regarding banding and noise. I think it's a limitation of the sensor and a matter of correct exposure. You can try to limit iso to 640 or 320 and then change exposure in post processing to reach higher ISO values. ISO 640 and then pushing one stop was better than using ISO 1250.

I think you can easily provoke banking when you take a photo of a darker scene with on lighter area. Expose to the light and then try to lift up the shadows in post processing.
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Old 12-04-2016   #6
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Check all segments of the viewfinder LED function, mine are progressively dying and it is playing up with some SD cards.
If brand new and used in no other camera they are fine. If used elsewhere no formatting in camera or computer using any software, SanDisk and those fancy format programs either will bring them back. Perfectly usable in all other digital cameras I own, both of them!!
If you test with one of your cards it should show.
I have yet to see an M8 that does not band at high iso, M8 high is 640 and above, especially if provoked by underexposure in particular. Most shooters shoot at low iso and push in post or like me limit to 640 and are generous with the light ie blowing some specular to get shadows detail. If you are used to a more recent digital this will seem to be a real step back in time.
BTW if original (from new with the camera) or especially non Leica batteries are used it is almost certain they will need replacing or they will give sudden death from 2 bars and writing issues to the card factor those in the cost. No re-calibration seems to work effectively.
They are a great B/W camera BTW!!
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Old 12-04-2016   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
The list of issues is rather short
I wish !!

( I also wish the 10 character limit was lifted)
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Old 12-04-2016   #8
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I wish !!

( I also wish the 10 character limit was lifted)
Never had any of the typical problems with M8, M9, M240 reported by other people.

Maybe I should not play the consultant for typical issues with electronic devices because I never break this stuff. If I'd buy an item where 9 out of 10 are broken, I'll be the guy with the working item.
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Old 12-04-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLivsey View Post
BTW if original (from new with the camera) or especially non Leica batteries are used it is almost certain they will need replacing or they will give sudden death from 2 bars and writing issues to the card factor those in the cost. No re-calibration seems to work effectively.
I have an original battery and three generic ones. This has never happened.
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Old 12-04-2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
Never had any of the typical problems with M8, M9, M240 reported by other people.
This is why in medical circles an N=1 trial (ie one patient) is not acceptable evidence to treat a population.
I am pleased your N=1 is a positive one !!
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Old 12-04-2016   #11
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I have an original battery and three generic ones. This has never happened.
Lucky you, a simple Google will greatly expand the number reporting it to many more than myself.
No one is saying, least of all me, that ALL M8 cameras have any of these problems just that some have and if buying it is as well to be aware of what to look for, which is what the OP asked for. I am sure he is as pleased as I am that you have not had that problem but that is regrettably no guarantee that the camera he is looking at will not.
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Old 12-04-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLivsey View Post
Check all segments of the viewfinder LED function, mine are progressively dying and it is playing up with some SD cards.
If brand new and used in no other camera they are fine. If used elsewhere no formatting in camera or computer using any software, SanDisk and those fancy format programs either will bring them back. Perfectly usable in all other digital cameras I own, both of them!!
If you test with one of your cards it should show.
I have yet to see an M8 that does not band at high iso, M8 high is 640 and above, especially if provoked by underexposure in particular. Most shooters shoot at low iso and push in post or like me limit to 640 and are generous with the light ie blowing some specular to get shadows detail. If you are used to a more recent digital this will seem to be a real step back in time.
BTW if original (from new with the camera) or especially non Leica batteries are used it is almost certain they will need replacing or they will give sudden death from 2 bars and writing issues to the card factor those in the cost. No re-calibration seems to work effectively.
They are a great B/W camera BTW!!
this is excellent user feedback, thank you very much. are you running the latest firmware in yours?
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Old 12-04-2016   #13
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Originally Posted by bayernfan View Post
this is excellent user feedback, thank you very much. are you running the latest firmware in yours?
I am, and use Aperture priority mode but have no idea what the speed is because of the LED issue or manual and tweak if needed from the histogram. It's just not worth a) selling with the issues as they are b) spending to fix them. Unless Leica came back with a discount against new but, for me, even with a discount, I don't see value for money against other available hardware. Used market is different and I do love rangefinders and Leica but a premium is a premium.
Look at Phase One backs for medium format, or Hasselblad digital, what was 30,000 five to seven years ago is 3,000 today, that was a premium people paid for cutting edge commercial work. Leica has a premium for lovers of Leica that doesn't go away over time, relatively.
BTW I bought mine new in 2007 so fully know its history and that Leica once said it would upgrade the M8 to current spec. not that they would run out of spares within 5 years and that they wouldn't keep records to show which model serials had been fitted with faulty parts (rear screen). Once lost trust takes time to rebuild.
Would I buy a S/H one? Yes I would, they produce, under the right conditions, amazingly good results with amazing glass and are, especially if you own the glass already, stonkingly good value. Just avoid the dogs, good examples are out there, we already have posters in this thread with no issues who can't believe the problems others have seen, understandably, just find one.
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Old 12-04-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLivsey View Post
This is why in medical circles an N=1 trial (ie one patient) is not acceptable evidence to treat a population.
I am pleased your N=1 is a positive one !!
But I think that the majority of M8 out there still operate flawless. It's a pity that you had so many problems but you are in the minority group.
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Old 12-04-2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLivsey View Post
we already have posters in this thread with no issues who can't believe the problems others have seen
The point is that not all the cameras have issues which some people report. If it not useful to hear this, then it is easy to ignore.
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Old 12-05-2016   #16
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And check the shutter!

Mine and a friend's both developed "sticky" shutters, where the mechanism wouldn't recock after firing. (Well, mine would after I slapping it!) Both cameras needed overhauling by Leica.

As mentioned, if shooting colour, you will need IR-cut filters. The sensor is so IR sensitive that colours are changed, notably foilage and synthetic fabrics (a black suit or dress will become dark red - at least you can tell who are wearing cheap clothes!). Non-Leica IR-cut filters are cheaper and possibly easier to get.

Also as mentioned, original batteries that are worn out and have reduced capacity, or cheap generic replacements that have a reduced capacity from new (very common), can cause problems such as locking up the camera - usually fixed by inserting a fully charged battery. However, lack of charge can jam the shutter (see below). I strongly suggest buying a couple of brand new genuine batteries, as Li batteries lose significant capacity after a couple of years (yes, I know they're pricey!)

Last, a fault but one to ignore, as every M8 I've used does this! If you put the camera in multi-shot mode and keep your finger on the shutter button and take too many photos for the camera's buffer to cope with, it can lock up. This is presumably a software design bug: turn the camera off, and remove and replace the battery - i.e. you need to "reboot" the camera, like you would a faulty computer!

M8s are fine but a bit idiosyncratic!
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Old 12-05-2016   #17
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Quote:
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I strongly suggest buying a couple of brand new genuine batteries, as Li batteries lose significant capacity after a couple of years (yes, I know they're pricey!)
seconded. I wasted couple ten euros for two China batteries that were total rubbish.
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Old 12-05-2016   #18
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Last, a fault but one to ignore, as every M8 I've used does this! If you put the camera in multi-shot mode and keep your finger on the shutter button and take too many photos for the camera's buffer to cope with, it can lock up. This is presumably a software design bug: turn the camera off, and remove and replace the battery - i.e. you need to "reboot" the camera, like you would a faulty computer!
How long do you have to do this?

After reading multiple complaints about the M8 buffer, I ran a test to verify just how the buffer performs. I timed one minute on continuous and the camera achieved 32 exposures. The first 12 exposures were quick (more or less the specified fps), after which the camera was dealing with the full buffer and shooting rather slowly. Obviously, this is not a great feat, but no locking problems. This is only a single test, so I will run a few more to check if I can make the camera to lock up. Just let me know the required time.
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Old 12-05-2016   #19
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This is useful for any digital camera.

Take a well exposed photo at F 16 or higher. The subject could be a plain white or gray wall or blue sky (no or few clouds).

Then look for debris on the sensor. Some debris is common. The debris location(s) will be upside down and backwards. Usually a puff of air from a Gitto Air Blower will at remove the debris or at least move it around. Any debris that is not affected by this level of cleaning will require a wet cleaning.

I have a local camera shop tech do this. Some people send the camera off to Leica. Others buy a wet cleaning kit and do it themselves.
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Old 12-05-2016   #20
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How long do you have to do this?

After reading multiple complaints about the M8 buffer, I ran a test to verify just how the buffer performs. I timed one minute on continuous and the camera achieved 32 exposures. The first 12 exposures were quick (more or less the specified fps), after which the camera was dealing with the full buffer and shooting rather slowly. Obviously, this is not a great feat, but no locking problems. This is only a single test, so I will run a few more to check if I can make the camera to lock up. Just let me know the required time.
That sounds fine! Mine and my friend's frequently locked up after 15 or so images! It might be because ours were early production cameras: perhaps this was fixed in later-manufactured cameras?

Never a big deal, as "rebooting" the camera always worked, and "machine gunning" a Leica sort of goes against raison d'etre!
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Old 12-06-2016   #21
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Ok, I ran the continuous shooting test earlier today to see if I can make my camera to lock up. It worked just fine through the experiment. My camera is an M8 with all the upgrades. The firmware version is 2.014. It seems to me the problem may be limited to M8 cameras with the original shutter, it has been fixed through firmware updates, or there are problems with the units that manifest the lock up. This, of course, does not mean that it is necessarily an uncommon problem.

Test procedure:

I first used a Leica battery and a Sandisk SD card. Formatted the card, and switched to continuous. I had the camera make more than 15 exposures to fill the buffer and then let it clear it. I repeated this twice. I then shot about 15 exposures, waited a few seconds, and shot a few more, and only then let it clear the buffer. I repeated this once. No problems.

I then switched to a non-brand battery, took a Transcend SD card from a Panasonic P&S, and proceeded to use it without formatting in the M8. I repeated the above experiments. Three times buffer full and let it clear, two times buffer full, clear a couple of frames, fill again, then let clear. No problems.

Neither battery was freshly charged. Both SD cards had plenty of free capacity at the beginning of the experiment.
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Old 12-06-2016   #22
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I think the lock up comes from continuous shooting rather than single exposure. Do not turn camera off until all exposures are written to card like any digital camera.


To get proper colors including greens outside, UV/IR filter is required.

Noise is best handled by under exposure native 160, then clean up noise you see at 100%, then push exposure in LR or PS.
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Old 12-06-2016   #23
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Noise is best handled by under exposure native 160, then clean up noise you see at 100%, then push exposure in LR or PS.
The problem with this technique is, that you lose the ability to see something in preview. Then the push exposure is limited. My experience was max. 2 stops with an M8 and 3.5 stops with an M9. Pushing more brings up artifacts. When you use base Iso all the time you can pus up to Iso 640 but not more. I used Iso 640 on the M8 regularly and still think that this is very usable.
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Old 12-07-2016   #24
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I think the lock up comes from continuous shooting rather than single exposure.
The experiment above is continuous shooting only, as fast as the camera is capable of making exposures. No lock ups.
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Old 12-07-2016   #25
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Quote:
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That sounds fine! Mine and my friend's frequently locked up after 15 or so images! It might be because ours were early production cameras: perhaps this was fixed in later-manufactured cameras?

Never a big deal, as "rebooting" the camera always worked, and "machine gunning" a Leica sort of goes against raison d'etre!
I had a November 2006 one. It never locked up, just slowed down after 12 shots.
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Old 12-07-2016   #26
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Quote:
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The problem with this technique is, that you lose the ability to see something in preview. Then the push exposure is limited. My experience was max. 2 stops with an M8 and 3.5 stops with an M9. Pushing more brings up artifacts. When you use base Iso all the time you can pus up to Iso 640 but not more. I used Iso 640 on the M8 regularly and still think that this is very usable.
Yes.

What you describe is entirely consistent with signal-to-noise ratio vs. ISO estimates from statistical analyses of unrendered M8 and M9 raw-file data.

While I never owned a M8 I owned quite a few digital bodies that had similar ISO SNR limits (~640 to 800) before things fell apart. In general, conversion to B&W is practical at higher post-production pushes just before banding ruins everything.

Using base ISO and pushing global brightness in post mimics one aspect of film cameras... in-camera image review is greatly compromised. This (lack of image review) is considered desirable with the new Leica M-D (Typ 262) where review is physically impossible.
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