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A reality check with the Leica M8
Old 12-18-2006   #1
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A reality check with the Leica M8

The long anticipated digital Leica M8 and it's rocky introduction into the market has been the hot topic of discussion on internet forums.

Bump 1.

The first batch of M8's were experiencing problems with banding and green blobs which appeared as ghosting. Any simple search on rangefinderforum.com (RFF) or other related site will yield many results regarding this issue. In addition to to this, there is the dreaded infra red sensitivity issues which renders blacks as purple. These issues have lead to a great level of frustration from consumers. Especially since none of the reviews prior to the release of the camera mentioned any of these flaws. People were asking how these flaws could have gone unnoticed by the reviewers who had the cameras for an extended period of time yet discovered within a few days by the consumer. The outcry began and Leica issued a statement indicating they have identified the issue and a fix was imminent. Shortly afterwards a recall/upgrade statement was issued by Leica. In addition to the recall of the camera for addressing the know issues, a set of two infrared cut filters would be provided for free to deal with the purple blacks due to the infrared sensitivity of the camera.

Bump 2 ?

It now appears that there could be a possible issue with the upgraded cameras. As reported on RFF and other sites, there is a vertical band which appears on images shot at high ISO. This band seems to appear on the same spot all the time and has been confirmed by various users posting sample images. For more details read the following: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=33137 Also, some are experiencing reflection issues with the B+W (486) IR cut filter which is used to address the purple blacks. When photographing bright objects, a reflection of the bright object appears in the image. People have suggested it is partially due to the anti reflective coating of the filter or a lack of. It appears that people using Heliopan filters do not have this issue. The bad news is that supposedly Leica will be issuing filters manufactured by B+W.

Reality Check and smooth sailing:

The reality of the matter is that Leica has produced and exceptional product that many have been waiting for. The Leica M8 is a dream come true for photographers wanting a digital camera that will yield unmatched results. The lens line up for the Leica M's are without question the best performing lenses for 35mm cameras in the world! Coupled to an M8 the resulting images are breath taking and soon become the envy of others. Also, there is no other camera that allows you to be engaged with the subject like an rangefinder. Try photographing an infant breast feeding with a big loud DSLR and huge lens. Then try it with the rangefinder. The experience could not be more different. It allows you to be in touch with your subject and move freely without intimidating them. In a word, you become part of the canvas as you wait for the right moment. A friend of mine had this exact experience last night and told me he realized why he loves the camera so much. He felt engaged rather than intruder.

I have seen the banding issue, I have seen the green blobs and I have seen the purple blacks. All these minor inconveniences are not enough for me to give up the camera. Let me emphasize "inconvenience" rather than a problem. The purple blacks are resolved with a good IR filter. The green blobs have been resolved. The vertical banding is hard to spot and other manufacturers have the same problem with digital backs costing over $20,000.00. I have to look really really hard to see a vertical band in the odd image.

Conclusion:

I for one will not forsake the shooting experience that only a rangefinder camera can offer. Too many of us are looking for problems that are not there rather than enjoying what is without doubt one of the best digital cameras available now. Why are so many professional photographers with thousands of dollars invested in high end Canon and Nikon DSLR's selling off their gear to buy the M8 and M lenses while knowing of the reported issues? Because there is no other 35mm camera in the world that will come close to the quality of an M8 with Leica lenses and resulting stunning images.

If you want to take pictures and produce the best image quality possible with a 35mm camera, stop looking for problems and enjoy the M8. You are but a few privileged to have such a camera that others envy and only dream of. I look forward to a second M8 body when more are available.
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Old 12-18-2006   #2
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I can not be bothered to read but reality is also very subjective, for me reality is very different, I think digital photography is not ready to be a reality
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Old 12-18-2006   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nachkebia
I can not be bothered to read but reality is also very subjective, for me reality is very different, I think digital photography is not ready to be a reality
It's ironic that even for die hard film shooters, the success of the M8 is critical. That is if they want to ever see a new lens release or continued Leica repair support.

The bell tolls for thee, Nachkebia

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Old 12-18-2006   #4
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You might be right, but M8 has enough lawyer`s already, the one who is in trouble is film
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Old 12-18-2006   #5
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Jorge,
Why is the M8 in your equipment list magenta?

/Ira
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Old 12-18-2006   #6
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Oop, I better fix that now
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Old 12-18-2006   #7
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Shooting a Canon DSLR has been a much bigger compromise for me then slapping a filter on my M8 lens will be. The Canon did the job and I used it because that's what was available, no complaints there. But now that there is a digital M that can produce results comparable or superior to the 1Ds I was using? Count me in. Its a platform I much prefer working with and I will be very happy to get back to it.

Plus now I've got the choice of both Zeiss and Leica lens lines on an M -man I'm in heaven.
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Old 12-18-2006   #8
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Jorge --

You sound convinced and a happy camper (or soon to be one) M8 owner.

I so wish that I could share your point of view. As I have written (and taken a lot of heat for), I was so disappointed even to the irrational point of feeling betrayed by Leica.

I envy you actually. I wish you many cool pictures... And thanks for managing the coolest camera forum that I am aware of.

Last edited by AusDLK : 12-18-2006 at 11:30.
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Old 12-18-2006   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Torralba
Oop, I better fix that now
That's better!

/Ira
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Old 12-18-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nachkebia
You might be right, but M8 has enough lawyer`s already, the one who is in trouble is film
If the M8 is not a marketing success, the demise of the "M" mount will be assured. For the film guys (and I'm one of them) there will be no more Leica lens releases, and probably no more from Zeiss. Perhaps, VC will have a few more products to service the dwindling film holdouts.

It's a pity that the rangefinder film diehards are to be the willing participants in their own marginalzation.


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Old 12-18-2006   #11
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It's amusing to hear all the luddites moan about the coming of the M8.
At the end of the day, Leica had to come up with a digital M, and indeed other digital products to survive. Without them Leica Camera would soon die.

I love film, I shoot it when I can. But digital is here, it's reality, it's not going to go away, you can't hold back technology. But then more than anything I love photographs, good photographs, and I don't really care much about what camera or on what media the picture was taken.
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Old 12-18-2006   #12
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Jorge, a short while ago I saw that you posted an ad offering your M8 for sale. What up that that?
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Old 12-18-2006   #13
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I was going to sell it to buy an upgraded one. Then I was told by my dealer that I could just swap it.
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Old 12-18-2006   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Torralba
Why are so many professional photographers with thousands of dollars invested in high end Canon and Nikon DSLR's selling off their gear to buy the M8 and M lenses while knowing of the reported issues?
Where are you getting your facts? Can you define "so many" in actual numbers? Other than a handful on internet forums, the only ones I know doing this are amateurs who are tired of their 1Ds or 5D toys or can't afford to keep both.

Quote:
If you want to take pictures and produce the best image quality possible with a 35mm camera, stop looking for problems and enjoy the M8.
I'm missing something here. The problems don't seem like it takes much looking to find, and I fail to see where any of them have been resolved in such a way that anyone can claim the M8 yet delivers "the best image quality possible with a 35mm camera".

Quote:
You are but a few privileged to have such a camera that others envy and only dream of.
Again, I would love to know where you are getting these ideas from. I know hundreds of avid camera bugs and none of them are envious or dreaming of an M8 although a few are thanking their lucky stars they decided to wait.

I had every hope for it, and I still have hope the M8-MarkII or M9, whichever it's called, will be what I'd hoped the M8 would be: an M-Leica with a digital capture that works as transparently as my 20D. My M6 could never reproduce the quality of medium format and I don't care if the M8 can't, I just want respectable quality with no band-aid filters needed, and I think you would find a lot more people who hold that opinion than who are envious and dreaming of the M8 as it stands now...though for obvious reasons I doubt you'll find that the majority opinion if you limit your data to current M8 owners and internet Leica forums
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Old 12-18-2006   #15
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Quote:
Why are so many professional photographers with thousands of dollars invested in high end Canon and Nikon DSLR's selling off their gear to buy the M8 and M lenses while knowing of the reported issues?
Very few professional photographers can afford to use Leica kit.
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Old 12-18-2006   #16
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Wink

BenZ --

Like I wrote on another forum to another --

Oh, brother, you raise the questions of a heretic. Non-believers are shunned and placed upon dreaded ignore lists for failing to fall to our knees and praise the dieties of Solms...

Just a word, you know, to the wise and (mostly) silent brotherhood.
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Old 12-18-2006   #17
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The only problem I have with my M8 is the funky white balance.

As far as numbers for stats, I get them based on what owners have been writing on the net. Just like you do, If someone wants to argue the numbers fine. I just generalized. But if some one asks for facts make sure that someone can also provide them as well.

This statement below is addressed to all readers and not just a specific individual. It will upset a lot of people. It will probably show arrogance on my part and drive away some forum members. But enough with the B.S.

The majority of those who relentlessly criticize Leica products are non owners who seem to be resentful and envious of not being able to have the gear themselves. Like it or not, believe it or not, that is how I see the bottom line. It is human nature and it will not change with evolution. I am sure many will agree. I bet if someone approached one of these M8 haters who have absolutely nothing good or constructive to say about the camera and gave them one, they would gladly take it and start praising it. It just show how hypocritical some people are. I see it all over the internet including this forum.

So having vented, Unless you are an M8 owner who can provide constructive criticism of the camera based on your experience rather than just spewing garbage from the keyboard make sure your post will provide valuable feedback that can help the situation.
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Old 12-18-2006   #18
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Praised or damned it's all fun stuff. That's how we should look at it. After all, it's something we love to do and love to talk about. Otherwise, what's the point? Or is that the Spanish Camera Inquisition knocking at my door now.

/Ira
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Old 12-18-2006   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AusDLK

Oh, brother, you raise the questions of a heretic. Non-believers are shunned and placed upon dreaded ignore lists for failing to fall to our knees and praise the dieties of Solms...

Just a word, you know, to the wise and (mostly) silent brotherhood.
As a fellow RD1 user, I know the joys of digital rangefinder use. I agree that somehow, somebody at Epson understood the rangefinder concept and implimented it better (a little bit) than Leica. What I don't understand is your almost gleeful attitude towards the M8 teething problems. It's not like Epson has supported the RD1 . Once our darling Cinderella RD develops a serious electronic problem, its teats up.

I was hoping the M8 could fill the breach that will be created with the death of my beloved msRD. However, if you have your way, there will never be a successful M8, since, among other things, you believe the entire Leica organization is/was engaged in a plot to screw you out of your $5000. And anyone that continues to give Leica any slack is a fool that deserves whatever he gets.

Quite frankly, all I hope for is that most of the major bugs be worked out before I work my way up to the front of the waiting list. I'd even be willing to accept what some think to be a beta model in order to have the camera now.

I most definately do not want to see Leica forced into bankrupcy because of the problems they are facing now. I don't think you do either, but at times it seems you feel that it would be the only suitable punishment for your displeasure


Perhaps I'm overstating your anger. I'm sure you too would like to see new lenses, accessories, come out of Solm. But maybe not

Rex
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Old 12-18-2006   #20
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My reality is that i can reproduce almost all the issues reported if pushing it realy hard ... but on the other hand never encounter the issues in real shooting situations.
Another reality is that i almost lost all fun in photgraphy by focussing on testing the camera over and over again for the last 6 weeks due to al the negativity surounding it.
I can't believe myself getting into that testing it to death routine ..... instead of simply use it as a tool!
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Old 12-18-2006   #21
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Quote:
I can't believe myself getting into that testing it to death routine ..... instead of simply use it as a tool!
Exactly. Many of those using the RD1 never knew their cameras had similar issues until everyone was just focused on it. Accept the camera for what it is. An awesome incredible camera!
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Old 12-18-2006   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Borger
Another reality is that i almost lost all fun in photgraphy by focussing on testing the camera over and over again for the last 6 weeks due to al the negativity surounding it.
Good point. There's lots of good stuff in your gallery, get out and take more pictures like those :-)

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Old 12-18-2006   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Borger
My reality is that i can reproduce almost all the issues reported if pushing it realy hard ... but on the other hand never encounter the issues in real shooting situations.
Another reality is that i almost lost all fun in photgraphy by focussing on testing the camera over and over again for the last 6 weeks due to al the negativity surounding it.
I can't believe myself getting into that testing it to death routine ..... instead of simply use it as a tool!
I fell into the same trap with high-end stereo equipment. Stopped listening to music and started listening to equipment. Damned near ruined the experience for me. I gave it up and went to standard off-the-shelf equipment. I like my music alot better now and don't give a damn about "high fidelity".

/Ira

Last edited by Topdog1 : 12-18-2006 at 14:39.
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Old 12-18-2006   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Torralba
"...provide constructive criticism... based on your experience rather than just spewing garbage from the keyboard. Make sure your post will provide valuable feedback that can help..."
I need to print this and tape it to the top of my monitor. It's good advice in any thread - IMHO. (Of course, my post count will do a nose dive, but... )
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Old 12-18-2006   #25
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oddly enough all these comments begin to look more and more the chronicle of an announced death...
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Old 12-18-2006   #26
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Great thread here, and the advice to "stop testing to death" is a breath of fresh air!

I suppose if I ever go to an M mount camera, it will likely be an M8. It sure looks like it would be worth several times an RD-1, if only because it will likely keep on working. The longevity issue is what kept me off the refurbed RDs.
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Old 12-18-2006   #27
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I'm severely doubt that there are bucketloads of Pro's ditching DSLR's to buy the M8. ANY rangefinder system is too limited and inflexible (no lenses over 135mm for example) to replace a fully fitted out DSLR kit. RF is special because it is excellent at a few things ( e.g. documentary, or street work) but totally useless for others (macro or super tele work), DSLR's are dominant because they are very good at some things (like sport) but usable if not fantastic for virtually everthing else. The M8 is a fantastic addition to an DSLR kit because it adds another string to your bow, but it is certainly not a replacement. There is a lot going for the concept of digital RF but to build it up to levels of fevered hyperbole is foolish. The real achilles heel of the M8 is that the professional work it excels at is probably some of the worst paid, but Leica can't be blamed for the paucity of serious photojournalism in the media and the rise of celebrity magazines and assorted trivia. The M8 is important because it provides an alternate way of making pictures, and choice is something all photographers should be in favour of. I'm an enthusiatic Canon user, but the idea that Canon could become the microsoft of the photography world sends chillls down my spine, we need diversity in our photographic tools and for that reason alone we need a digital M, ricoh GRD's and anything else that can give us an alternate way of expressing how we see the world.
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Old 12-18-2006   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by endustry
Even if the M-mount dies with Leica and new lens design for the mount dies out, my questions is: how much better can M-mount lenses get? ......

Meanwhile all film will do is continue to become a more and more expensive hobby as digital takes over more and more market share but it's not going to die. .
I agree that film will be with us for a long time, as will used equipment. But if the M8 takes off, the market for "M" mount lenses and cameras to put them on will be a living, breathing thing. That is a lot different than being an antique collector. But your comment "how much better can M-mount lenses get" indicates a kind of thinking that may seal the doom of Leica.

It doesn't have to be that way. I also collect and enjoy mechanical watches. The Swiss watch industry is far healthier than if was before the advent of the digital watch. While it's true that the introduction of the digital movement almost killed the precision mechanical watch in the 1980's, enough people maintained and cultivated and interest in the tradition analog watch that the industry came roaring back in the late 90's and it is now bigger than ever. And the new mechanical movements are inovative, modern and are not hobbled by any design considerations except what works and is elegant.

In my opinion, there is a market for the same kind of traditional approach to digital cameras. And that is the road that Leica has taken. Even though their have been more than a few hiccuos, I think it serves no one to engage in persistent negitivity. Who or what does the demise of the m8 serve? Will the film fans "win" if the M8 tanks? Is Leica the Evil Empire?

I don't know about the you, but I would like to see healthy M8 sales, a new RD2, new B&W emulsions from Kodak, and a whole lot more.


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Old 12-18-2006   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AusDLK
BenZ --

Like I wrote on another forum to another --

Oh, brother, you raise the questions of a heretic. Non-believers are shunned and placed upon dreaded ignore lists for failing to fall to our knees and praise the dieties of Solms...

Just a word, you know, to the wise and (mostly) silent brotherhood.
My comment, sir, on your repetitive and increasingly tedious posts can only be this:


You are within your rights to return a product that did not meet your expectations, but continious bashing of those that have another opinion is, to say the least, rather unpleasant. Out of several dozens of M8 sold in our country, the number returned was zero. You are a minority, and an overly vocal one at that.
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Old 12-18-2006   #30
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Jorge - Were you the one who were really "worked up" on the M8 issues with open letter to Leica so on and so forth... Were you the one who had an M8 for sale with smthg like ... don't ask me why I'm selling it ? You did the same thing when Leica DMR first come out. I have a chrome Leica M8 on order and pretty much impervious the stupid threads about Leica issues... So why you do need a reality check with M8 now ?
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Old 12-18-2006   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Torralba
Oop, I better fix that now
Shouldn't that be M8|8M ?
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Old 12-18-2006   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider
Jorge and all you M8 users out there: I am happy that you enjoy your camera.

Why we need another heated argument about the M8, and in "RFF News" at that, I fail to understand.

Sincerely,

Roland.
Jorge

Rolands right, why did you put this in "RFF News" ? If I knew I was getting up on my high horse in front of a crowd


But Roland, you must admit my raving was pretty philosophical


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Old 12-18-2006   #33
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I am one those hanging in there with the M8 still and love form factor, use of my M lenses, plus the RF shooting style.

This will be a great camera for me once the vertical band is fixed and we have good profiles in a RAW program.

In most situations the M8 performs very well.

My real remaining issue is that Leica needs to fix the new vertical band, whether it be hardware or firmware. It shows up in night street shots with car lights, neon, street lights. That type of scene is something that I happen to enjoy shooting a lot. My film M, D200, and even DLux3 have no issues with that type of shot while the M8 does.

I am continuing to take photos that I like with this camera vs. all test shots.

My dissappointment is that Leica would send the new "fixed" camera out into the world with this issue. All they would have had to do, is take a test shot of anything which caused the old banding and this new vertical line becomes obvious.

The vertical band is something that we should not gloss over, but is something that Leica must fix again. Let us hope that it was planned to be addressed in the 1.10 or higher firmware, although they should have stated so with the delivery of the 1.09 camera. If it requires another hardware change, then Leica completely missed the boat and did insufficient testing again prior to release.

I am hoping for the best and awaiting word from either Leica USA or Leica customer service in Germany.

Ray
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Old 12-18-2006   #34
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All the more reason not to be an earlier adopter. I will probably get one eventually, but no rush for now. I'm gald you pioneers are willing to debug this camera for us. I am still amazed that Leica didn't find these problems with their own testing.

/Ira
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Old 12-18-2006   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Topdog1
All the more reason not to be an earlier adopter. I will probably get one eventually, but no rush for now. I'm gald you pioneers are willing to debug this camera for us. I am still amazed that Leica didn't find these problems with their own testing.

/Ira
Yes indeed ... how the hell someone can walk out into their backyard, take a photo and find an immediate problem with a camera that Leica with it's facilities and experience missed ... will continue to be one of life's great mysteries to me!

You wouldn't accept it from a $300.00 point and shoot and you certainly wouldn't be shuffling back to the manufacture's store congratulating them on their efforts as you return it!
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Old 12-18-2006   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith novak
Yes indeed ... how the hell someone can walk out into their backyard, take a photo and find an immediate problem with a camera that Leica with it's facilities and experience missed ... will continue to be one of life's great mysteries to me!

You wouldn't accept it from a $300.00 point and shoot and you certainly wouldn't be shuffling back to the manufacture's store congratulating them on their efforts as you return it!
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Old 12-18-2006   #37
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OK, let's not get too negative or in bashing mode. Leica may have made some mistakes and there are problems to iron out but the expectations were perhaps higher than normal. Epson had problems with the RD1 and ran away. Other makers have also had problemswith some models. It doesn't stop the M8 from becoming a very fine and capable camera. Most users have had the opportunity to return their camera and are keeping it.

Kim

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith novak
Yes indeed ... how the hell someone can walk out into their backyard, take a photo and find an immediate problem with a camera that Leica with it's facilities and experience missed ... will continue to be one of life's great mysteries to me!

You wouldn't accept it from a $300.00 point and shoot and you certainly wouldn't be shuffling back to the manufacture's store congratulating them on their efforts as you return it!
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Old 12-18-2006   #38
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cnguyen,

Even in my open letter to Leica I supported the camera. My letter was addressing how they would tend to the customer needs.

Here is a quote from the letter:

Quote:
Leica, please tell us how you are going to address the issues at hand without the consumer incurring an additional cost and please tell us when we can expect to see the issues resolved. Many of us still have hope in the product. We just ask that Leica does what is right for the customer.
In fact, I think my letter may have contributed to the getting two free filters from Leica. I may be wrong but my stink about expecting the consumer to buy a filter may have had an impact. I never said that the M8 was no good or that people are stupid for buying one. Unlike some who just bitch without having anything positive to say.
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Old 12-18-2006   #39
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I'm not bashing Leica in particular. I just love examples of corporate stupidity. This time Leica. Next time - who knows?

/Ira
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Old 12-18-2006   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim Coxon
OK, let's not get too negative or in bashing mode. Leica may have made some mistakes and there are problems to iron out but the expectations were perhaps higher than normal. Epson had problems with the RD1 and ran away. Other makers have also had problemswith some models. It doesn't stop the M8 from becoming a very fine and capable camera. Most users have had the opportunity to return their camera and are keeping it.

Kim
I'm not bashing the M8 or Leica Kim ... I'm merely pointing out that there seems to be some anomalies from a company that we all expected better from. I admire Leica hugely for making a digital rangefinder in a world swamped by soulless DSLR's and I would love to own one one day. However, we as a consumer group shouldn't be defending or justifying their actions because we have warm fuzzy feelings about their previous products ... that's their job!
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Last edited by Keith : 12-18-2006 at 17:58.
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