The Leica M8, a digital rangefinder camera, was released in 2006, making it 12 years old now. It was a controversial machine right from the beginning, with an APS-H format and 10 million pixels. Some people thought the camera was a great product, while others felt that it was outdated compared to Canon’s 5D in 2005, which had a full-frame and 13 million pixels.
Despite being over a decade old, the Leica M8 is still a great camera. I have been using it for many years and still get excited to take it out. The M8 has a brass top cover and bottom plate with a built-in magnesium alloy body, making it of unmatched quality compared to any other brand of camera. Holding the M8 is a delightful experience, and I like to carry it with me as an extension of my body.
However, the Leica M8 does have a few small problems. Firstly, the shutter sound is loud, even though the camera has a high-speed shutter of 1/8000s. Secondly, the display screen was outdated when the camera was released, with a small size, low resolution, and sometimes showing “coffee traces.” Finally, the IR cut filter is notorious for causing the CCD to be too sensitive to infrared rays, turning black into purple.
Despite these problems, the Leica M8 produces clear, original images that are still amazing today. It has an ISO range from 160 to 2500, and its 10-megapixel CCD sensor provides film-like grain that is hard to replicate in modern cameras. Although the M8 is not a full-frame camera, its quality does not shrink, and it can handle various lens sizes.
Using the Leica M8 is not easy, but once you get used to it, it becomes a lifelong friend. It is essential to remember that equipment does not take pictures; people do. So, if you can accept its limitations and know what the M8 can do, it is still an excellent choice for capturing life’s moments.
The Leica MP is still in production, and I love the black paint version for its timeless quality that bridges the past and the future.
The MP maintains the same metering system as the M6, providing an exposure indicator that continues to work even when the battery is out. The shutter dial of the MP is similar to that of the M3.
I wonder why the Leica MP is still being produced, much like the sun continues to shine. Black paint never grows old, and it is available in both black and silver. Many people prefer the black paint version as it develops a beautiful brass appearance over time.
I’m curious about how many pictures it takes to make a camera look wise. The answer lies in the years, not the days. Polishing it to reveal the copper underneath brings it back to life, giving it a unique character that cannot be achieved with silver.
Black paint was typically reserved for special models and the MP. It’s for users who don’t mind their camera developing a patina over time. Black chrome, on the other hand, is a real metal plating that maintains a pristine appearance. Cameras with black chrome include the M5, CL, M4, M4-2, M4-P, M6, M6TTL, M7, and digital Ms.
What are the main differences between the MP, M7, and M-A? The M7 is part of an official model sequence, following the M6. The sequence continues with the M8, M9, M10, etc. The M7 is the last model in the film camera line.
The Leica MP is a professional camera, originally designed in 1956 for small batches of reporters. It is available in black lacquer and silver and is still produced in limited numbers, making it part of a special custom series.
The MP is available in both black and silver, with many people preferring black because the paint will age over time and develop a beautiful brass appearance.
Unlike the M7, which emphasizes ease of use, the MP prioritizes reliability. It features a mechanical shutter that does not require a battery and is therefore more dependable. The MP also retains the metering system of the M6, which provides an exposure indicator and can still function when the camera is out of power.
The Leica MP is not designed for beginners and focuses more on the needs of experienced professionals. Every detail is intended to provide maximum benefit to the user.
In 2014, Leica released a new model called the M-A, which removed the metering module found in the MP. This model is a throwback to the classic M3.
Leica has released various custom versions of the MP over the years, including the 2003 Hermès version, the LHSA 35th Anniversary Model, the 2004 Japanese customized black lacquered version, the 2005 Hong Kong customized MP CLASSIC black lacquered version without a light meter, and the 2009 Ralph Gibson custom black chrome version.
Overall, Leica has never abandoned its film camera users and continues to produce cameras that are reliable, durable, and designed for professionals.
In 2003, there was a Hermès version with a 35mm f/2 ASPH lens, limited to 500 units.
Also in 2003, there was the LHSA 35th Anniversary Model with a 35mm f/2 ASPH lens, a faster film advancer, and limited to 1400 units.
In 2004, there were 600 Japanese customized versions with a black lacquer finish, 35mm f/2 ASPH lens, fast film advancer, and a hot shoe engraved with numbers 1-600.
In 2005, there were 500 Hong Kong customized versions of the MP CLASSIC with a black lacquer finish, no light meter, and no battery.
Also in 2005, there were 500 units of the MP3 in black and 500 units in silver, featuring an M3 top cover and an old MP counter.
In 2006, there were 200 units of the m3J.
In 2007, there was a titanium-coated version of the MP that was customized in Japan.
In 2009, there were 50 units of the Ralph Gibson custom black chrome version.
Also in 2009, there was a customized edition for the People’s Republic of China with a Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens and painted in gold.
In 2011, there was a customized edition for the 20th anniversary of the M3P Leica Store in Vienna, featuring M3 styling and a Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 lens.
If the Leica M2, M3, M4, M6, and MP have a noble and elegant temperament, then the Leica CL seems somewhat ambiguous, with a charm that attracts bees and butterflies. It turns out that a camera can also have a story. With a rangefinder viewfinder, coupled focusing, and the LEITZ logo, the Leica CL is palm-sized and does not require a strap, fitting perfectly in your pocket.
Although the Leica CL has a short focusing base and is not accurate enough for f/1.4 aperture lenses, nor as sturdy as the M5, and its viewfinder is small, it eventually came out on top thanks to its gentle touch and graceful figure.
If the CL’s workmanship and precision were improved to elevate its temperament, perhaps it would not lose to the Leica M. However, in reality, Leica and Minolta went their separate ways. The short-lived Leica CL left behind a beautiful story, which is more talked about than its successor models, the M4-2 and M4-P.
The Leica M3 is widely regarded as the best rangefinder camera ever made by Leica, while the Leica CL holds the title of the smallest rangefinder camera ever made by the brand.
Leica’s information states that the Leica CL has a shorter focus baseline, making it less suitable for lenses with apertures larger than f/2. It is recommended to use f/2.8 or smaller apertures with this camera.
Despite its limitations, the Leica CL is still a worthwhile purchase due to its affordability, durability, compact size, and aesthetic appeal. The camera’s design is impressive and feels comfortable to hold.
Interestingly, the Leica CL is rumored to have negatively impacted sales of the Leica M5, resulting in its discontinuation after only three years of production.
Film photography is quite different from digital photography. In the film era, the camera body played a relatively minor role in image quality. The Leica CL, which was also produced under the Minolta name and came with a 40mm f/2 lens, is a testament to the fact that the lens is often the most important factor in capturing high-quality images.
In my impression, MINOX has always been a small manual camera. Black, when I saw that MINOX AF has autofocus, I was a little surprised. Small cameras such as MINOX ML/MB/GT-E often require two hands to operate, but this AF can be operated with one hand. Funny, I never thought a plastic camera would excite me so much.
The lens of this camera is 32mm f/3.5, and the overall image quality is not as good as the GT-E’s 35mm f/2.8. But it’s still pretty good. After all, Minox is very capable in small lenses, and it’s made in Germany. All in all, I quite like this camera. It seems to have a warm tone and is suitable for traveling and taking pictures of the “golden time”.
After all, this camera was produced in 1988, and its autofocus cannot be compared to modern digital compact cameras. For example, its focusing speed is not very fast, and its usage habits are also different from modern cameras. You need to press the shutter button and wait for autofocus, and then release the shutter after the built-in IC thinks the focus is achieved. So don’t rush, press the shutter and wait for a while. That is to say, it is not good at capturing photos and is suitable for taking slow shots. Not suitable for street photography.
The Minox 35 AF, released in 1988, was Minox’s first departure from its line of ultra-compact 35 mm scale focusing cameras first introduced with the 35 EL in 1974.
You can’t believe that the Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 Ver. 1 Steel Rim was produced in 1960. It’s so beautiful, with a 35mm focal length and f/1.4 aperture, yet so compact. Brass chrome plating, the focus lever is very smooth and has an infinity lock function, which is better than all current versions of summilux 35 1.4 asph. Therefore, both collectors and photographers like this lens so much that it sells for a very expensive price.
If I really want something extra sharp, any version of the Summicron 35mm lens will do the job. What fascinates me about Steel Rim is not only its appearance, but also its optical properties. At f/1.4 it is very sensitive to highlights, giving you sharp photos when the light is dark, but creating a partial soft light effect when the light is bright.
Lens mount - Leica M-bayonet
Number of lenses /groups - 7 /5
F stop range - f/1.4-f/16
Angle of view diagonal - 64 degrees
Filter type - E41 - A46.5
Accessories - Hood: OLLUX 12522
Dimensions length x diameter - 38 x 53 mm / 1.50 x 2.07 in
Weight - 245 g /8.64 oz M3 - 195 g / 6.88 oz
One day, I was seen by a colleague holding a Leica I camera, and he exclaimed, “Wow, this is a great camera. It’s obvious that it belongs to a man with a story.” The Leica I was the first mass-produced model by Leica. Its prototype was called the “O” model, which is now a highly sought-after collectible item. Leica later released two replicas of the “O” model. However, the “O” model was never truly sold on the market, and the “I” model was the first Leica camera that was available for purchase. From 1925 to the present day, most of these cameras can still be used with just a little adjustment to the cloth shutter, which is truly miraculous.
The Evolution of the Leica I The Leica I camera had many versions, which can be broadly classified into three types: Type A, Type B, and Type C. The “I” (Type A) model was first released in 1925, and its main feature was a fixed metal strip on the front of the body that was used to lock the lens focusing lever. This model was further divided into versions equipped with an Anastigmat lens, an Elmax lens, a Hektor lens, or an Elmar lens. The “I” (Type B) model was released in 1926, and it was Leica’s only camera with an in-lens shutter. It has a distinct mushroom-like shape, which is highly coveted by collectors, but personally, I find it quite ugly. The “I” (Type C) model was released in 1930 and was the first Leica camera with a detachable lens. Early versions of this camera were sold as a set with three lenses, and the body and lenses were individually calibrated and could not be used with other bodies or lenses. Therefore, the body and lens in a set were engraved with the same serial number, or the lens had the last three digits of the body’s serial number. Later, Leica standardized its production and made all bodies and lenses interchangeable. They also offered to calibrate early lenses to the standard type, which were marked with a “0” and the body mount had a “0” engraved at the 12 o’clock position.
Leica I cameras all come with a small black-painted viewfinder slung over the shoulder, which is very beautiful. This viewfinder only provides an approximate framing range and does not assist with focusing, which still requires estimation.
The black paint on the Leica I cameras was all hand-mixed, and the recipe has been lost over time. The finish is very nuanced and has a high gloss, making it truly captivating. With such an inexpensive black paint camera, maybe it can balance my desire for a black paint M3?
Leica I cameras are all equipped with nickel-plated brass lenses, and the counter and film advance knob on the body are also nickel-plated because chrome plating technology was not yet available at that time. Nickel plating, like black paint, is not very durable, making the pairing perfect for collectors who prefer to match black paint with nickel-plated brass lenses. Therefore, the nickel-plated brass lens versions are generally slightly more expensive than later chrome-plated lenses, because collectors prefer to pair black paint with nickel-plated brass for a more beautiful appearance.
External Extendable Rangefinder
Leica I cameras can be equipped with an external rangefinder, which is very interesting. Those who are interested can give it a try.
Playing with Leica
Those who frequently buy new cameras have become “fallen” into just taking pictures, haha! Those who play with old cameras are the ones who truly appreciate them. This camera is so small, exquisite, simple, and clean that it’s hard to put down once you hold it. I like to pair it with the Elmar 35 3.5 lens in black, it looks absolutely beautiful. Blind shooting with a 3.5 aperture is no problem at all, with no pressure.
To Buy or Not to Buy
I think this camera is not suitable for beginners. It’s recommended for those who already have an M camera, want to play with screw mounts, and like black paint. Of course, it can also be used for serious photography, as this is the camera that H.C.B used most in creating many of his masterpieces.
Leica i model A B C
The Leica I (C) was made by Leitz in 1930 after the initial Leica I (A), to which it added lens interchangeability.
The last Kodak train quietly took away the CCD of the M9. It couldn’t be kept, nor could it be saved. Leica has entered the mature CMOS era. Youth must eventually bid farewell. Farewell, youth, that pure happiness gradually stings memories.
Remembering the Leica M9
In 2009, Leica released the M9. How many people dream of having one? The world’s first full-frame rangefinder digital camera. Holding such a camera, like Henri Cartier Bresson, wandering the streets, how many fantasies could it evoke? How many people only knew about this brand because of the Leica M9? At that time, it was the most expensive 135 full-frame digital camera. Hanging it around your neck, you would become the center of attention wherever you went.
How many people have tried various settings in Photoshop, trying to force their Canon or Sony colors onto Leica? In the end, they failed, not because of Photoshop, but because of impatience. Time flies… Enjoying it on one hand, shedding tears on the other, ten years ago, I didn’t know you, and you didn’t belong to me. Walking through the familiar streets, ten years later… Looking back, I found classics all over the ground. Leica’s old users have always blamed Leica for its shrinking history. From M3 to M6, until M7 used an electronic shutter. Looking back, M6 is still quite classic! When Leica released the digital M8, users said Leica had fallen, making digital cameras. At this time, looking back, the M7 was still a film camera, still quite classic! When Leica released the M10 without a framing window, users said the bald front face was ugly. At this time, looking back, the M9 is still quite classic!
Looking back, there are always classic things to pick up.
Classic Elements of the Leica M9
The viewfinder frame of the M9 is physically lit, just like the film M cameras. Film users will feel comfortable looking at the front face of the M9, while the bald front face of the M240 and M10 may feel a bit awkward. In addition, the M-E and M240, which were introduced after the Leica M9, lack the preview lever, making them look less classic in appearance. Therefore, when looking back at the M9, its classic elements appear more dazzling. Nowadays, the M10 also lacks the light window, and Leica designers realized this. If we continue to simplify it like this, can we still call it a Leica? Therefore, Leica M10 quickly introduced the most classic rewind knob of the M3, making it into an ISO dial. In order to maintain its classic elements, it can be said that they put in a lot of effort.
Leica users are interesting. On one hand, they say that Leica is becoming less and less classic, but on the other hand, they look forward to seeing what new products Leica will release slowly. This shows that Leica M has always had some kind of tacit understanding with its users, which can only be explained by mysticism. But in any case, it is now a consensus that there is no light window after the M9. From today on, the Leica M9 is officially classified as a classic camera!
M8 and M9
APS-H and full-frame are the differences in film size, but in terms of operation, the M8 and M9 belong to the same type. Once you get used to the operation of the M8 and M9, it will feel a bit awkward to switch to the M240 and M10 in terms of settings menu. The menu contents of the M8 and M9 are few, which makes them seem simpler.
M8: black and white negative film, M9: color reversal film
The colors of the M8 are light, and it can take infrared photos through filters. It can also take rich black and white grayscale photos with the texture of black and white film. The M9, on the other hand, has increased color contrast and color correction that leans towards the Kodak legendary Kodachrome.
The Color of the M9
Film is good, digital lacks character. No matter what data you use to prove the high pixels and accurate colors of digital, it can never replace the premium texture of film. To say that the color of the Leica M9 is close to film is actually the biggest compliment to the M9.
Thanks to the power-hungry CCD from Kodak, the Leica M9 produces photos with a special texture, of course, when paired with Leica lenses. Many people switched from CCD to CMOS, but still missed the color and texture of the M9. The solid and slightly overexposed blue, the pure and glossy red, and occasionally the greenish tone throughout the entire photo…they always give you some unexpected surprises, isn’t that the characteristic of film?
Of course, don’t mythologize the CCD of the M9. Some people can even process a CMOS photo to have a CCD-like texture, it just takes some time. And the color of Leica’s CMOS is also not to be underestimated, it is not something other brands can easily catch up with.
CCD vs. CMOS
You can list a lot of parameters and say how advanced CMOS is these days, but when it comes to adapting to the Sony A7, it lacks the Leica flavor. Even compared to the M10, the images lack a certain something compared to the M9. Why is the CCD in the M9 so special? Is CCD more advanced than CMOS in terms of technology? I cannot find a convincing explanation. Whether it’s scientific principles or sample images, nothing can objectively prove anything. I can only find answers by looking at the problem itself: Why is everyone discussing “CCD is better than CMOS” instead of “CMOS is better than CCD”? The problem itself seems to provide the answer.
The general public never pays for image quality. They prefer simplicity and convenience, just as digital cameras with only a few million pixels ended the era of better film quality. In fact, the aesthetics of most users tend to be self-healing, where a beautified phone is better than anything else.
So even though CCD has better low-sensitivity image quality, the general public won’t pay for it. CCD has advanced low-sensitivity image quality, poor high-sensitivity image quality, and limited video capability. CMOS has average low-sensitivity image quality, normal high-sensitivity image quality, and strong video capabilities. This is not an inference, it is a fact.
After the M9, Leica finally realized how rash it was to use CCD to pursue low-sensitivity image quality, like the acne of adolescence. Finally, by using CMOS sensors, the problem of acne was solved. Although CMOS sacrifices a bit of low-sensitivity image quality, it gets good high-sensitivity image quality in return, and what’s even more valuable is its better compatibility with old lenses, where many film lenses don’t have as much red shift. Most importantly, how many of those who say CCD is better have actually paid for it?
It’s difficult to say whether choosing an M9 in 2023 is a wise decision or not, as it depends on individual preferences and priorities. The M9’s CCD issue is a known problem, but as you mentioned, it can be resolved with a CCD replacement. It’s also worth noting that the M9 is a classic camera with a loyal following, and it’s still capable of producing great images. Additionally, its price has dropped significantly over the years, making it a more accessible option for those who want to own a Leica.
However, there are also newer models available, such as the M10 and M11, which use CMOS sensors that are less prone to the CCD problem. These cameras also offer newer features and technology that may be more appealing to some users. Ultimately, the decision to choose an M9 or another Leica model depends on individual needs, preferences, and budget.
It’s also important to consider the source of the camera and whether it’s been properly maintained. As with any used camera, it’s possible that the M9 may have other issues or wear and tear that need to be addressed. It’s best to purchase from a reputable dealer or individual seller who can provide information about the camera’s history and condition.
Overall, the M9 is still a capable and desirable camera for many photographers, and with proper care and maintenance, it can continue to provide great results for years to come.
About the parameters of the Leica M9:
The screen has 230,000 pixels, is it low? First of all, I think it’s a bit lame to take a photo and immediately look down at the screen, it shows lack of confidence, people from the film era were more confident than you. Besides, what can you see with high pixels on a small camera screen? If you have time, why not upgrade to a retina display Mac computer from Apple?
Slow continuous shooting. If you need to take a series of shots quickly, it’s better to switch to Canon or Nikon, it’s not very elegant with the Leica.
Slow storage speed. Why do you need it to be so fast? If you were using film, would you take ten continuous shots for a newspaper article? Don’t forget, although SD cards are free, every extra photo you take is a burden for post-processing. At the same time, if you use a low-speed card, are you not doing a disservice to Leica? Please switch to the SanDisk 95-speed extrame pro professional card, don’t just look at the parameters like class 10, the pro version of SD is professional, it’s expensive for a reason.
The maximum supported card size is only 32GB. I would rather have several small cards than one big one, it’s safer to spread your eggs across multiple baskets.
CCD is power-hungry. The M9 does consume more power than a CMOS camera, but Leica is also expensive, is being power-hungry a reason not to buy it?
The top LCD screen of the M8 has been removed. Leica is still quite traditional, thinking that people are still in the film era, isn’t 999 shots enough for a while? A roll of film has 36 shots, 27 rolls are enough for a themed shoot, right? No, modern people use very large SD cards, taking thousands of photos on every trip. The M8’s shoulder screen always showed 999 because it can only display three digits at most. This design is not very modern, so the M9 removed it altogether. However, removing the card and battery level display is a bit of a pity, you have to go into the menu to check the status, it’s a shame if the camera suddenly dies while you’re shooting. However, the M10 also doesn’t have this LCD screen.
Raw Dynamic Range
Underexposure of up to 4 stops can be salvaged, while overexposure can be recovered up to 3 stops. This is quite impressive, especially for retaining highlights, which has made many people obsessed and claiming that highlights cannot be recovered well in CMOS cameras.
I don’t want to judge other people’s opinions about the Leica M9. For me, it will always be a camera that inspires admiration. It was in the past, it is now, and it will be in the future. Because I have never denied those whimsical thoughts from my youth.
For the previous generation, owning an M3 was a happy thing. For those who were interested in Leica ten years ago, owning an M9 was a beautiful thing. Don’t say that I’m trying to persuade you to buy a Leica M9. Maybe the M11 and M10 are the ones you are thinking about, and my song won’t be in your dreams.
You will fall in love with his work just by looking at it
Looking at Frank Horvat’s work always gives one a relaxed and spontaneous feeling. Whether it is commercial work or street work, it exudes a spirit of euphoria and optimism. And this spirit is not built by relying on clean backgrounds and telling circumstances, but rather capturing a moment when the characters shine. He does not shoot surprisingly like other photographers, nor does he shoot seriously like some photographers, simply put, you will fall in love with his work at first glance.
I think it is difficult to introduce Frank Horvat in a sentence or two, or in an article, because he is a fashion photographer who is also very good in the field of street photography and is also famous for photographing club girls. Sometimes photographers don’t know how to be themselves.
Frank Horvat has taken a lot of black and white photos, but also a lot of color photos. But from his black and white photos I see more or “open”, no excessive sense of obstinacy, are naturally emitting a kind of optimistic calmness. This is perhaps the secret of his longevity. You can see that he was a very cheerful man.