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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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Clearly Doomed
Old 02-17-2007   #1
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Clearly Doomed

Well I used my replacement M8 (first one died) on holiday last week. Finished uploading the images (about 200) and every one is slightly soft when viewed at 100%. The images from the first camera were amazing at 100%, which was why I persevered. Anyway, did a quick focus test using the test chart produced by Tim Jackson (from LUG) and shooting at 45 degrees I noticed that the vertical lines were tilted to the right and the shots were soft. Rechecked shooting a magazine at an angle and the RF is quite clearly tilted. Shoot more or less horizontal or vertical and all seems fine apart from focus. Shoot in portrait format and horizontal lines seem fine .

Upshot is that I have emailed my dealer (not open Saturday) and requested my money back. I don't think I can persevere any more.

If you get a good one the IQ is stunning, but there are just too many issues.

I've taken my R-D1 off the market.
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Old 02-17-2007   #2
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sounds like the rangefinder is out
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Old 02-17-2007   #3
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This is what really concerns me with regards to purchasing this very expensive camera. I started another thread re quality control, but that has had no responses so if you don't mind I'll add my thoughts here.

THIS IS MY OPINION:
The Leica brand is/was synonymous with quality and engineering/technical excellence(a bit like VW used to be). Brands will only survive if all strands of the business activity remain outstanding ie:

1. The product is outstanding
2. The communication is outstanding
3. The customer experience is great
4. The behaviour of the company is great

It always concerns me when a company fails to communicate with it's customers. In this case they have issued fixes etc - but I just think they could do a lot more. For instance, even keeping people updated about product availability would be nice.

It seems to me that Leica is in danger of becoming a run of the mill camera company offering no more or less than anyone else except the seductive red dot. I know that Leica cameras are unique in many ways but are they still as unique as they once used to be?

I for instance can not understand why people pay a lot more for the Leica compact camera (DLUX v PANASONIC) when all that is really different is the red dot, I mean come on it's ludicrous really.

That said, I am in the process of saving up for the M8 because I really think that Leica has moved in the right direction. What concerns me though is that their just seems to be too many issues with both cameras and lenses. I'm reading all the time about problems that really should not exist with a camera this expensive not to mention the cost of lenses as well.

So I'm not sure whether I will place my order just yet. I't just seems extremely odd that a camera such as this has made it into the retail environment with so many reported flaws. Leica really must thank their loyal customers for the patience being exercised.

But, I must admit that I actually only know the Leica brand from a window shopping point of view, and as such I have never touched a Leica in my life. However, I suspect that Leica are aiming this product at a person of my age and occupation and as such they are not managing to get me desperate to own one and somehow I want that to be the case.

So I would like to initiate some discussion that may help me better understand the Leica brand. I'm sure there are hundreds of people here who know Leica inside and out. What do you really think about Leica's current position as a manufacturer of fine cameras ?

Is it actually a good idea to buy the M8 or should my savings be directed towards a model a few years down the line after technical advances have kicked in again?

After all we are not talking about a tinpot compact camera here costing $500

Last edited by washy21 : 02-17-2007 at 06:16.
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Old 02-17-2007   #4
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Gid,
Can you post the test chart from LUG? That would be a good test for any M8 user.

Thanks,
ST
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Old 02-17-2007   #5
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That's got to be frustrating.

Leica's main problem as I see it is they waited too long to start developing the M8 (claiming the task was "impossible" until just days after the RD1 became a reality), and then rushed it to market before it was quite ready for prime time. The IR filter problem, seen as a deal-breaker to a lot of people despite the loud cries of those who accept it, probably won't be resolved until the next model. All the electronic bugs, if they are related to firmware, may take a while to solve if there is truly a lack of cooperation with Jenoptik as some suspect. In another few weeks Canon is rumored to be releasing a 22MP DSLR, which I can't imagine even ardent Leica loyals will embarass themselves by proposing does not offer better IQ than the M8. I have to imagine there's a lot of tension inside the company right now. The only thing Leica has going is the consolation that had this been any other brand they would not have the amazing forgiveness and cooperation of their customers. Still, as Gid personifies, that only goes so far.
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Old 02-17-2007   #6
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People buy the "red dot" rebadged Panasonic cameras because it reinforces their self-image as "superior" consumers, rather than for any technical reason. It makes them feel better about themselves, so they come up with mythology such as that Leica-branded cameras have better "firmware", etc.

As you can clearly see by most of the questions asked here, most people are appallingly ignorant about technical issues and/or are guided by superstition, such as making declarations of one lens superiority over another, while taking photos of their kitchen tables or rulers.

I'm positive and would bet any amount of real money that a double-blind test would end all these speculations.

Most high-end, low production electronic/high tech items have a long initial shake out period, such as lab equipment, scanners, imaging machines, etc. It's not the end of the world or indicative of a company's collapse, it's a fact of life.

If you can't deal with it, wait a year or so until the bugs are worked out.

The most humorous post I have read so far is the panic post called "Is firmware 1.10 vaporware?", as if they had any idea what vaporware really meant.

PS: Calm down, sleep on it, and try some more test shots when you feel better and you're more relaxed. Focus quickly and instinctively instead of nervously obsessing. Try a couple of lenses. I'll bet they come out as sharp as the first camera.

Last edited by Edward Felcher : 02-17-2007 at 06:55.
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Old 02-17-2007   #7
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Buying "red dot" Panasonics does seem a bit pathological to me.

And, unfortunately, as much as we might wish it to be true, "calming down" and "sleeping on it" doesn't produce any physical manifestations. It might make one feel better and help one more easily accept reality but it's not going to fix anything.

Gid, I'm sorry that you've personally discovered what so many others discovered before you.

The only way to truly enjoy the Leica experience is to use a film camera. Sad but true.

PS. If you find yourself completely regretting the sale of your RF645 let me know...

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Old 02-17-2007   #8
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Backfocus issues on the M8 seem to occurr on several cameras including one that I returned for replacement.

My ideas on the subject is that Leica is using a range specification with master lenses that was perfectly acceptable on film but turns out to not be for digital. Digital is a more critical focus than film. We must also be more accurate on focus with the digital rangefinder than we were with film, especially on the longer / narrow DOF lenses.

It does appear to be very easy to fine tune the rangefinder with just a 2mm allen wrench on the cam inside the lens mount. The amount of adjustment or movement needed is EXTREMELY small to fix the issue.

Leica is aware of the issue now, and I'm sure will be addressing how they calibrate the rangefinder.

-----------------------

Whether you keep the M8 is up to you.

Yes, Leica has had "teething" pains launching this camera. Which I also have experienced. Without getting into a Nikon or Canon vs. Leica war, Leica has treated me much better than Nikon or Canon ever has. They also do communicate more than Nikon or Canon on what is wrong and what they are doing to fix it. Nikon or Canon do not communicate and sometimes don't fix the issues.

I perserved with the M8, and could not be any happier. I get image quality that is unbelievable. I get files that can be manipulated more than any from my Nikons or Canons. I get a Lowepro reporter 100 bag (small) which can hold the M8, flash, cards, batteries, accessories, and 5 lenses. (Try that with any other digital camera that even comes close to the image quality of the M8).

Where we are at today, is Leica still has to work on the rangefinder calibration for digital and some cameras which have basic electrical issues. We need to use IR filters which work. We need to use coded lenses, which not only helps with vignetting but will also take care of cyan drift from IR filters on wide lenses (35 and wider) with the next firmware. We need the next firmware version, to take care of the cyan drift, battery level indicators, some banding issues under certain conditions which are software / sensor reading related, and we need better color profiles when using the IR filter.

I myself still find this camera to deliver the goods better than a D200, D2Xs, or 5D. Others also show very favorable comparison to Canon's much more expensive 1DsMKII.

When using 28-90 mm focal length lenses, I grab the M8.

My M8 is running flawlessly now with about 3500 shots so far.

Best,

Ray
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Old 02-17-2007   #9
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If you want to see how good the M8 IQ is, take a look at this post comparing the top end Canon against the M8. Both produce really great images but to my eye, the M8's images are slightly better. The important thing is that it is cerrtainly capable of producing files that are fantastic and that is why I am keeping mine. Now if I could just get that good

http://www.leica-camera-user.com/dig...st-studio.html
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Old 02-17-2007   #10
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Ted,

Chart for you.

http://www.focustestchart.com/focus21.pdf

Dave,

I miss the Bronica, M6 and MP, but the reasons for selling are still valid - lack of time. The R-D1 still takes a good picture if aimed correctly as do my Olympus DSLRs.

Edward,

I appreciate your comments, but I do know what I'm doing and I have the previous M8 to compare with.

Ben,

Yes, very frustrating.

Ray,

No way am I going to risk the warranty with a self fix. In any case how do you fix a wonky RF?

All,

I agree with the QA sentiments and the IQ sentiments. As I said in a previous post the IQ is stunning - just not from this one
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Old 02-17-2007   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barjohn
If you want to see how good the M8 IQ is, take a look at this post comparing the top end Canon against the M8. Both produce really great images but to my eye, the M8's images are slightly better.

Handheld shots with completely different lenses corrupts any possible conclusions about the cameras' IQ itself, which the OP on that thread admits. And the 1DS-II is probably about at the end of its product cycle and will be replaced with something that has double the # of pixels as the M8, and improvements over the MK-II in many other areas of IQ. It may be a close call between the Mk-II and M8, but not likely to be so with the Mk-III. And that's not a year off, it's maybe a month.


Quote:
The important thing is that it is cerrtainly capable of producing files that are fantastic and that is why I am keeping mine.
Also yours seems to be working properly so far. I suspect Gid would be keeping his if that were so in his case.

The dilemma wrt the M8 at this point is akin to finding a campsite with a beautiful view, but there's a hornet's nest underneath where the tent has to be pitched. Sacrifice the view, or hope not to get stung.
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Last edited by Ben Z : 02-17-2007 at 08:47.
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Old 02-17-2007   #12
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Yes, but what will the MK-III cost? I disagree with your comment about different lens making the comparisons invlaid. It is the complete system that forms the image. It is fair to compare complete systems. One of the reasons to buy the M8 over something else is the lenses.
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Old 02-17-2007   #13
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Wow Leica is giving German engineering a BAD name... oh wait, the car makers have already done that.

At this point, I don't really care of Leica survives or not. They don't deserve to, with this debacle.. I'll use their film gear until they fall apart and then switch to another brand

Quote:
Originally Posted by barjohn
Yes, but what will the MK-III cost? I disagree with your comment about different lens making the comparisons invlaid. It is the complete system that forms the image. It is fair to compare complete systems. One of the reasons to buy the M8 over something else is the lenses.
lenses nothing.. my summicron 50 has a manufacturing flaw where the rear mounting plate reflects light onto the film plane causing fogging on the image. Even my cheapo $80 Canon EF lens doesn't have this flaw. You think I'm happy with my 'superior' Leica lens? You want it? Sure gimme $600 and it's your's. The sad thing is that fools out there will actually buy it, like I did.

Another reason reason to buy the M8 is if you want to take a break from photography every now and then and figure out what went wrong with the hardware.

Last edited by ywenz : 02-17-2007 at 09:12.
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agreed
Old 02-17-2007   #14
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agreed

Quote:
Originally Posted by barjohn
Yes, but what will the MK-III cost? I disagree with your comment about different lens making the comparisons invlaid. It is the complete system that forms the image. It is fair to compare complete systems. One of the reasons to buy the M8 over something else is the lenses.
agreed. although a comparison using the equivalent Leica R lenses would also have been interesting to see
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Old 02-17-2007   #15
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Gid,

Do a search on the LUG. There is a thread on backfocusing with photos that show the screw and cam. It will describe the very basic "small" move to the screw that fixes the adjustment.

No disassembly is required. it is in the just inside the lens opening of the camera. No warranty would be voided. No one would even know that you touched the screw.

I agree it should be adjusted correctly before you get it, but if you want to keep the M8, you can tweek it yourself in just a few minutes.

Best,

Ray
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Old 02-17-2007   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barjohn
Yes, but what will the MK-III cost?
About the same as the MK-II, which like the M8 is out of the reach of most people who consider money an object.

Quote:
I disagree with your comment about different lens making the comparisons invlaid. It is the complete system that forms the image. It is fair to compare complete systems..
Agreed, but when you posted the link you said
Quote:
If you want to see how good the M8 IQ is, take a look at this post comparing the top end Canon against the M8.
You didn't use the word "system" then. Different lenses made different IQ on film too, but to compare film, the same lenses had to be used or the results were invalid to the purpose. Comparing IQ of digial cameras is akin to comparing different film emulsions in "the old days" except that today the "film" is built into the camera.

If you want a fair test of the camera's IQ you need to remove or properly account for all other variables (true of any test for it to be valid). Through adaptors it would be possible to use any number of the same lenses on the Canon and M8 (Cameraquest sells some for Nikon and Leica R). Rangefinder focusing is not always possible but the shots could be at infinity or close-up with measurement.
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Old 02-17-2007   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harmsr
Gid,

Do a search on the LUG. There is a thread on backfocusing with photos that show the screw and cam. It will describe the very basic "small" move to the screw that fixes the adjustment.

No disassembly is required. it is in the just inside the lens opening of the camera. No warranty would be voided. No one would even know that you touched the screw.

I agree it should be adjusted correctly before you get it, but if you want to keep the M8, you can tweek it yourself in just a few minutes.

Best,

Ray
Ray,

I did have a look, but that won't fix the misaligned RF and I don't want to risk touching anything just in case. I'm just a bit wary now of sending it back to Leica for repair, when the camera is just over a week old, and then maybe something else going wrong. As it stands now, I should be able to get my money back. If I go down the repair route it may prove more difficult if something else goes wrong.
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Old 02-17-2007   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Z
That's got to be frustrating.

Leica's main problem as I see it is they waited too long to start developing the M8 (claiming the task was "impossible" until just days after the RD1 became a reality), and then rushed it to market before it was quite ready for prime time. The IR filter problem, seen as a deal-breaker to a lot of people despite the loud cries of those who accept it, probably won't be resolved until the next model. All the electronic bugs, if they are related to firmware, may take a while to solve if there is truly a lack of cooperation with Jenoptik as some suspect. In another few weeks Canon is rumored to be releasing a 22MP DSLR, which I can't imagine even ardent Leica loyals will embarass themselves by proposing does not offer better IQ than the M8. I have to imagine there's a lot of tension inside the company right now. The only thing Leica has going is the consolation that had this been any other brand they would not have the amazing forgiveness and cooperation of their customers. Still, as Gid personifies, that only goes so far.
I'm sorry Ben, but it is indeed highly doubtful if a 22 Mp camera on a 135 class sensor makes any sense. The Airy disks of the image produced by the lens are about double the size of the pixels, so the Mp gain will not result in any resolution gain. As it is, 12 Mp is the technical limit on a 1.3 crop sensor and 18 Mp on a full-frame one, assuming diffraction-limited lenses (which Canon does not build). So a 22 Mp camera is marketing hogwash....

@ Gid: Sorry to hear of your misfortune, but maybe some perspective will help: The rangefinder has nothing to do with the electronic part of an M8, and might just as well be misaligned on an M7, or an M3 for that matter. Fortunately it is about the easiest error to correct for Leica and I'm sure that if you decide to send it in -and from which I have read on these forums directly to Solms and not to your local distributor- you will be sure to get a perfect camera back within three weeks. Anyway - good luck and hoping you will be able to resolve this.
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Old 02-17-2007   #19
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The question about Canon since the original 1Ds has involved the lenses more than the sensor; there were Canon enthusiasts who owned the original, took at look at the Mark II and decided that the Mark II was already limited by the lenses, and the improvement from 1 to 2 was not what they'd expected. So what will the III get you? The Canons, including the 5D are superb machines, but I think a better lens line-up might improve things more than another six mp. I noted somewhere on these forums that there are rumors of an ultra-L class, but that may just be rumor. If there are ultra-Ls coming, that would be a step forward.

IIRC, Michael Reichmann on Luminous Landscape put some Zeiss lenses on a 1DsII and said the improvement was notable. Unfortunately, you give up IS and the other automatic features, and it is those automatic features that made Canon the category leader.

When I looked at the comparison shots between the 1DsII and the M8 on the Leica users forum, after you cleared away all the b.s. and the camera chauvanism, etc., the Leica shots were as good as the 1DsII; and *I* liked them better. The "betterness" was mostly, but not entirely, related to lenses.

And almost everybody agreed that the 1DsII and the 5D were better at equivalent high ISOs.

As somebody almost suggested higher up in this forum, I think the best possible test would be to make a couple of nearly identical studio portraits (so that you eliminate variations in lighting), from tripod-mounted cameras, and then send them to a master printer to make the best possible prints, to see what you could squeeze out of each system, and then have knowedgable people, without knowledge of which systems were being tested, select the best shots. Sort of like a blind wine tasting.

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Old 02-18-2007   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaapv
I'm sorry Ben, but it is indeed highly doubtful if a 22 Mp camera on a 135 class sensor makes any sense. The Airy disks of the image produced by the lens are about double the size of the pixels, so the Mp gain will not result in any resolution gain. As it is, 12 Mp is the technical limit on a 1.3 crop sensor and 18 Mp on a full-frame one, assuming diffraction-limited lenses (which Canon does not build). So a 22 Mp camera is marketing hogwash....
Yup, Canon's sure a bunch of fools to have hired digital electronics experts instead of dentists Look at how unsuccessful they've been so far
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Old 02-18-2007   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Z
Yup, Canon's sure a bunch of fools to have hired digital electronics experts instead of dentists Look at how unsuccessful they've been so far
Well we gave Leica the benefit of doubt before the M8 came out, and look what they did with that... I'd perfer to tread light from now on..
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Old 02-19-2007   #22
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On a microfilm, those same Canon L primes will resolve you hunderds lp/mm, and well above 18mp equivalent with normal contrast film, so I don't buy that "the lenses already the limit" nor "135 tops at 18Mp". Even my $10 Helios can do more than that, sorry
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Old 02-19-2007   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gid
I did have a look, but that won't fix the misaligned RF
Gid, forgive me if I am misunderstanding what is wrong with your M8 but I'm not sure how your RF is misaligned in a way that is only apparent when you do the focus test. I presume you are not confusing the effects of parallax when trying to align two edges at an angle in the close range (in the rangefinder patch the edges appear at different angles and will only align at the point where they cross). This is normal.

However, backfocussing is another issue and seems to be quite common. My own M8 is currently in Solms and is being corrected for this. The 2mm allen key fix looks seductively easy but, from my understanding, is possibly not the right adjustment for close range back focus (which my M8 suffers from). Messing with this adjustment isn't going to void your warranty (how would Leica know what you have done?) but it shouldn't really be necessary to tinker in this way with a 3k camera body to get proper focus with 1.5k lenses. If you have lost confidence with the M8 I think that you are right to consider getting a refund now rather than try and secure one later. You can always get another M8 later in the year.
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Old 02-19-2007   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ian_watts
Gid, forgive me if I am misunderstanding what is wrong with your M8 but I'm not sure how your RF is misaligned in a way that is only apparent when you do the focus test. I presume you are not confusing the effects of parallax when trying to align two edges at an angle in the close range (in the rangefinder patch the edges appear at different angles and will only align at the point where they cross). This is normal.

However, backfocussing is another issue and seems to be quite common. My own M8 is currently in Solms and is being corrected for this. The 2mm allen key fix looks seductively easy but, from my understanding, is possibly not the right adjustment for close range back focus (which my M8 suffers from). Messing with this adjustment isn't going to void your warranty (how would Leica know what you have done?) but it shouldn't really be necessary to tinker in this way with a 3k camera body to get proper focus with 1.5k lenses. If you have lost confidence with the M8 I think that you are right to consider getting a refund now rather than try and secure one later. You can always get another M8 later in the year.
Ian,

I did the same test using the same lens on my R-D1 and whilst there is a very slight skew (parallax), its hardly noticeable. I tried to focus on a magazine (using the M8) focusing on the magazine edge from an angle less that 45 degrees and the only point in focus (in the VF) was the centre of the VF - above the centre was skewed very badly to the right and below, very badly to the left. No such issues with the R-D1 and never seen this with either the M6, MP or Bronica RF645.

I'd dearly love to have a "fixed" M8 that I had confidence in, but not sure how I can get there. Maybe wait until some of the other issues are fixed and come back to it.
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Old 02-19-2007   #25
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Yup, Canon's sure a bunch of fools to have hired digital electronics experts instead of dentists Look at how unsuccessful they've been so far
I'm sure not even dentists have walls to hang 2x3 meter prints on, which is all 22 MP resolution would be good for...
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