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Digital Leica M8 / M8.2 / M9 / M-E /Mono / M10 aka "M" Discussions about the Leica M8 /M 8.2 / M9 / M9-P/ M-E / M Monochrom / M10 aka "M": Leica digital M mount rangefinder cameras. Naming the new digital M the "Leica M" is VERY unfortunate as it will only confuse newbies with other Leica M cameras of the the past. Happily there is room for confusion with only the past 59 years of Leica M production ... since Leica introduced the Leica M system in 1953. All Hail for the Leica Marketing Department learning Leica M history!

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Leica M8: Poor mans M Monochrome?
Old 10-15-2012   #1
eleskin
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Leica M8: Poor mans M Monochrome?

I have been working with black and white film, paper etc,,, since 1987, and the Leica was my first digital camera. I can say the black and white I get is on par with much of what I have used since 1987 in terms of black and white image quality. Maybe this has much to do with the M8's sensitivity to IR? At any rate, I have been reading much about the new M monochrome. The files look amazing, but at $8,000, most cannot afford such a camera. The M8 is much cheaper and a case can be made that the old M8 is the next best thing to a monochrome if one wants quality black and white. I do not own an M9 but my impression was when testing the M9 was my M8 files had a crispness the M9 lacked (i thought the M9 files looked a little mushy or soft. The M8 had more bite). So to me, the M8 seems like the next best thing to the Monochrome M. The problem is the M8 high ISO is not that great above 640, although some have used Lightroom 4 noise reduction to overcome some of this. I do not have LR 4 yet, so I would be interested in anyone here who has an M8 and uses LR4 to get the most out of high ISO. At any rate, anyone else feel the M8 is a great cheaper alternative to the M Monochrome?
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Old 10-15-2012   #2
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Gee,

All I wanted was some intelligent discussion on how the M8 is a great black and white camera for those of us who cannot afford an M Monochrome. Lets get back to the issue at hand.

By the way, I shoot 80% for black and white and some have set their M8's to shoot Raw and JPEG B&W. This is a cool alternative. I can get a black and white preview and not be distracted by the color LCD output. During editing, I can trash the JPEG's and only use raw.
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Old 10-15-2012   #3
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I find the M8 to be excellent for B&W, especially (as noted previously) when the IR-cut filters are not being used.

I've played around with shooting RAW + small B&W JPEG when shooting B&W, but I always come back to just RAW only for some reason.

In comparison with the M-M (which I've admittedly not used), the M8 wouldn't stand up as well at the higher ISOs, however I do quite like the noise pattern of the M8 at higher ISOs when converted to B&W, so I guess it depends on individual preference.
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Old 10-15-2012   #4
yossarian123
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I must have missed this one - can someone explain why removing the UV/IR filters would help out with B&W?
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Old 10-15-2012   #5
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From experience, the M8 RAW files are really good enough for any type of manipulation you wish to perform on them in Lightroom or Photoshop. In fact, I would hazard a guess and say you get MORE control with a colour RAW than with the Monochrom's "shades of grey". I actually had several presets I liked to apply to my M8 files back when I still had the camera that allowed me to achieve several unique B&W look and feel.

So yes, it would be a good alternative if you don't want to lose the mechanical rangefinder/viewfinder, but can't afford the insane price of a Monochrom.
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Old 10-15-2012   #6
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to eleskin's point, which i find quite interesting and clear (for that matter). i primarily shoot in b&w, with an M8 for about five years. i would really like to get to FF, but i agree that the M9's b&w rendering seems no better and perhaps worse. i am intrigued by the monochrom, but not by the idea of being locked in to b&w exclusively. it's tempting, though. on my M8, i started shooting with UV/IR filters, but no longer use them. in total, i am happy with M8's rendering of b&w, but--ahhh--i like FF (as i have been reminded from a month or so of experimenting with the M6) ...
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Old 10-15-2012   #7
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and no poor man's monochrome is a kodak 760m good day!
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Old 10-15-2012   #8
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I know I gave my opinion of the M8 above, but if you REALLY want to go with a poor man's option, why not consider a Mirrorless camera? Say NEX-5N or NEX-5R with the Electronic Viewfinder attachment You can mount your M-lenses nicely on these, and they provide quite an excellent way to manually focus as well.
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Old 10-16-2012   #9
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Here's a recent example, with no IR filter used:


Sailing by Bsivad, on Flickr
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Old 10-16-2012   #10
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And one more:


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Old 10-16-2012   #11
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I use my M8 primarily as a B&W camera and am always impressed with it's performance - both in tonality and sharpness, whether i use IR filters or not. It may be no MM, but it's giving me the look i've wanted from my photos, even when i was using my M6 with TriX


At The Junction by Cris Rose, on Flickr


The Sun And The Dunes by Cris Rose, on Flickr


Home In The Dunes by Cris Rose, on Flickr


The Bridge to Nothing by Cris Rose, on Flickr

I paid £1700 for a top-notch, mint example - while i'd love an MM or M9, the jump in expensive, isn't worth it for me.
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Old 10-16-2012   #12
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Those are some really excellent images from CrisR!
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Old 10-16-2012   #13
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Thank you very much Jon

It's true, if you want B&W, rangefinder and the excellent M mount lenses, Bessa bodies are great and cheaper than "M". But bessa don't do digital, and this is a discussion about whether the M8 is a poor(er) man's MM - digitals.

So to get back on topic, i would say that yes, you can get very good B&W out of an M8 - the files will be smaller, the ISO more limited, but photos are more about the subject than the gear. Therefore i would say you'll get no better a photo from an MM than with an M8 and that many on this forum would get better shots with an M8 than others here would with an MM/M9/S2/Jewel-encrustedSX70
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Old 10-16-2012   #14
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The M8 is amazing in b/w!
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Old 10-17-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eleskin View Post
..... anyone else feel the M8 is a great cheaper alternative to the M Monochrome?
Errrrr - yes, though in the Alice in Wonderland world of forums it tends to be a contrary view. I downsized to the M8 after reading David Adamson's epic thread "40inch prints from the M8" on LUF's M8 Forum. [Google him for his seriously good credentials].

I don't need exhibition prints to be 40 inches long, and I certainly don't need MM files capable of making prints larger than 40 inches, so I see several disadvantages with the MM. This is a considered view, but a minority one.

.............. Chris
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Old 10-17-2012   #16
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I don't understand: I thought the Sony NEX was the "poor man's M8" (as declared many months ago elsewhere in a different thread OP), and hence, that (the Sony NEX) should be "the poor man's M Monochrome".

Assuming, of course, that the "poor man" isn't too poor to buy the NEX and the computer and the software to do the B&W post-processing...
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Old 10-17-2012   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriel M.A. View Post
I don't understand: I thought the Sony NEX was the "poor man's M8" (as declared many months ago elsewhere in a different thread OP), and hence, that (the Sony NEX) should be "the poor man's M Monochrome".

Assuming, of course, that the "poor man" isn't too poor to buy the NEX and the computer and the software to do the B&W post-processing...
the M8 has very unique B&W capabilities due to its sensitive IR profile. The Nex does not have those characteristics.....the only reason a Nex could be a 'poor man's M8' is because it's easy to adapt Leica lenses for use on them. That's it, really.
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Old 10-17-2012   #18
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Some picture I had put also in another thread before:
M8.2 with summicron 35mm IV:
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Old 10-17-2012   #19
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Wow Cris love the Sun and Dunes pic. I have been getting back into digital B&W lately with my M9 in anticipation of the new M and my drift away from film. Printed a couple on some rag paper with my Canon 9500II and was really happy with the results.
Great to see some superb digital images here, very inspirational.
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Old 10-18-2012   #20
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Thanks Hausen!

Gabriel, i have an NEX as well, and the files just aren't the same - they're no where near as sharp even tho the MP are higher - and the shooting experience is nowhere even close. I got my NEX as a cheap digital body to mount the lenses from my M2 and M6 but i disliked using it so much, i saved up for 4 months to buy an M8... and now it's my main camera!

The NEX is mainly for shots of my artworks and video now.

But everyone likes something different. I never got shots out my NEX like i do from my M8 tho.
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Old 10-19-2012   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IEDEI View Post
the M8 has very unique B&W capabilities due to its sensitive IR profile. The Nex does not have those characteristics.....the only reason a Nex could be a 'poor man's M8' is because it's easy to adapt Leica lenses for use on them. That's it, really.

I understand that. I've owned an M8 for almost six years, and owned a Sony NEX 5 briefly.

So let me re-estate what I don't understand: the "Is X the poor man's [Leica's latest rangefinder]?" threads keep on rehashing something that misses the point: there are always cheaper alternatives to anything.

Also, the sensor of the M is very different from the M8. It is also easy to adapt Leica lenses on to the NEX (new NEX + adapter = cheaper than used M8). Both the NEX's sensor and M8's sensor are different from the Leica M "Monochrome" sensor.

Hence, it follows that there are cheaper alternatives to B&W photography that use different sensors from the Leica M Monochrome.

If the question were framed as "is the Leica M8 a cheaper alternative to the M?" then, yes, I completely agree. But since the question is "is the Leica M8 the 'poor man's Leica M?", then, no, I don't think it is. Many people would argue that even the R-D1's files converted to B&W challenge the "feel" of M8's files converted to M8 in general. Although with the use of a proper workflow on the same shots taken with both cameras of the same scene, you can produce far better images from the M8 than from the R-D1. But that is a completely different subject.
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Old 10-19-2012   #22
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wish i had a monochrom to compare... but these are M8 OOC jpegs:





i usually shoot RAW, but on that particular day i wanted to see how good the jpeg quality is
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Old 10-19-2012   #23
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I shoot M8 always in B&W . Sometimes I work on the RAW image, but mostly Jpeg is just fine. I like the "noise" of 1600 asa. When you sharpen, adjust the profile etc. in Photoshop, you end up with "grain" that looks just nice to me.http://www.flickr.com/photos/4014628...57629217655908
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Old 10-19-2012   #24
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At first, I used my M8 as B&W only with the out-of-camera jpeg files. Periodically I'd get curious about what a shot would look like in color, so I'd process the DNG to see. Often the color was subtle... I found that I almost always preferred the color version. This was instructive in determining that I'm really a color shooter after all. So I can relax knowing that I won't be an M Monochrom customer.

The below were among my early M8 shots, and stick in my mind as an example of preferring the color...



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Old 10-19-2012   #25
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in Port Lligat by careca2013, on Flickr


in Port Lligat by careca2013, on Flickr
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