The Leica M8 Review: Is The M8 Worth It In 2020/2021?

Good day you war torn camera geeks! There have been few digital cameras that I return to again and again. The Leica M8 is one of the few that I still enjoy using. Today I would like to give you the pros and cons of this camera.

INTRODUCTION

The Leica M8 was introduced in 2006 by Leica Camera AG of Germany. It is their first digital rangefinder model but not the world’s first digital rangefinder. The world’s first digital rangefinder is the Epson R-D1 introduced in 2004.

The M8 features a 10.3 megapixel sensor made by Kodak. The sensor is the model KAF-10500. The sensor is an APS-H sensor with a crop factor of 1.3x.

The M8 has a shutter speed of 1/8 to 1/8000 and has aperture priority and manual mode. The M8 was updated in 2008 with a newer model called the M8.2 which apparently has an improved and quieter shutter as well as more accurate frame lines and a sapphire lcd cover which is reportedly more scratch resistant. The M8.2 has a reduced top shutter of 1/4000.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who enjoy a more “dynamic” experience, here’s our accompanying YouTube video on the M8:

HOW I CAME ACROSS AN M8

As I’ve mentioned many times here, I was and to some degree still am a frequent reader of photography form threads (though not as much these days) but I’m more of a lurker than a contributor. I’ve learned a lot on these forums over the years going all the way back to the mid 1990s!

Part of the reason I don’t get involved in the threads is that there are so many knowledgeable posters there, what I am going to say to them? 🙂

I read, I digest, I research for myself if I’m especially interested in something and I find out for myself what the truth is.

And so ten years ago in 2010 my interest in the M8 was very high. The digital cameras from the year 2007 and up were really taking things up several notches. My main digital SLR at the time was the Nikon D3 which I loved but I kept reading all these great things about the M8.

Now the M9 had been introduced in the fall of 2009 but as is usually the case I almost never buy anything new and especially that pricey, so the M8 was really my only option for a digital Leica M. Never mind that I already had the Epson R-D1 since 2006! It was G.A.S. creeping in again 🙂

“Dream Time” February 2010. Leica M8, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M. My first picture with the Leica M8! It was certainly “Dream Time” for me in 2010 when the Leica M8 arrived in the house! 🙂

So I found what was a good deal at the time, a near new M8 for $2000 USD. I found it in an ad in one of the forums. I happened to have the money but as always I had to bite hard when anything is over $500! But I did bite and soon I was in possession of a beautiful silver/chrome M8.

Now it wasn’t really that I wanted the M8 in silver, though it looks very beautiful in this finish. I’d probably have done better with a black model which would be more stealthy for street photography. The choice of color didn’t have anything to do with my purchase. The lowest price did! Though I must say the M8 does look beautiful in silver/chrome but I don’t really want my camera to look like jewelry, especially if I’m going to use it.

HANDLING & IMPRESSIONS

My first impressions of the M8 back in 2010 was that it handled like an M camera. I had my M3 film camera for comparison and the M8, while definitely way more modern, did feel like a Leica M. The one big difference I felt right away was that the M8 felt quite a bit bulkier. The only film Leica M that feels this bulky is the M5.

The viewfinder is bright and easy to see. The frame lines for the lenses appear in pairs and are as follows: 24/35, 50/75, 28/90. This can be a bit confusing especially due to the 1.3x crop of the M8’s sensor so I’ll keep it short except to touch on a couple of things. A common question I hear is if you put a 50mm lens on the M8 does the 50mm frame line show up? Yes, the 50/75 frame line shows up and apparently they have been adjusted for the crop factor. The 50mm frame line would be the wider of the two (50/75) when looking through the viewfinder. And don’t forget that due to the 1.33x crop factor, a 50mm lens translate to a 66.5mm lens on the M8.

The M8 has a distinctive “clunk” to the shutter. And then you get a “whirr” from the shutter re-cocking. It is not silent but not disturbing to my ears. It is definitely not the soft shutter sound you hear on an M3, M6, or other film Leica M cameras.

To offset this, the M8 has a “discreet” mode that you can activate via menu. What happens in discreet mode is that the camera will not re-cock the shutter until your finger has lifted off the shutter release. This does help in quiet situations.

SAMPLES

Here’s just a fraction of my favorite photos from the Leica M8 over the past ten years. Some photos have been lost but I had resized copies that were used on photo sharing sites such as Flickr so the quality on some may not be optimal and not truly indicative of the M8’s potential image quality.

LEICA M8 PROS & CONS

In my video, I gave viewers “3 For 3” which is 3 Pros offset by 3 Cons. Here on the blog I am listing a few more since I’m not restricted by time constraints as I am on the videos. So here, in no particular order, are my list of pros and cons for the Leica M8:

PROS:

  1. In 2020/2021, the Leica M8 is the cheapest digital Leica M you can buy. Only on the used market of course! But the prices are trending at $1000-1600 USD.
  2. CCD Sensor. There has been a lot of debate over the years over the merits of the CCD vs CMOS sensor and I’m not the one to end that argument. What I will say is that the M8, with the right lenses, will produce images with “presence.” Images have a clarity and acuity that I have not seen in many digital cameras. Color images can have a “chrome” look of slide film and images can “pop” with the right lenses.
  3. The “Poor Man’s Monochrom:” Perhaps because of the CCD sensor and its lack of an AA filter, the M8 produces superb b&w images and has been labeled by its fans as the “Poor Man’s Monochrom.” The Leica Monochrom of course is Leica’s B&W only digital rangefinder. The original Monochrom was the 18mp version based off the M9 but there are newer models today.
  4. The M8 opens the door to the fascinating world of Leica M mount lenses. Not just from Leica, but you also get access to wonderful glass from Zeiss, Voigtlander, Canon LTM, and the wonderful low cost Russian lenses and there’s even more options if you look around.
  5. The 1.33X APS-H sensor is a good compromise between APS-C and Full Frame sensors. For street and portrait work, I actually find the 1.33x crop factor to be beneficial.

Here are the cons that are counterpoint to the pros above…

CONS:

  1. In 2020/2021, the Leica M8 would be the oldest digital Leica M body. As anyone knows, even a few years is ancient for a digital camera, so that would make the M8 beyond ancient! However, it retains its value due to several factors which I’ll discuss later on. But buying a digital camera this old is risky, make no mistake about that. However, it’s a Leica and everyone that goes up for sale eventually sells. We’ll talk more about that later!
  2. CCD Sensor Limitations. The CCD sensor on the M8, while producing lovely images, has limitations inherent to CCD sensors in general. The M8 does not do well at higher ISO values. I generally keep the M8 at low ISO’s and ISO 640 is usually my “high iso” on this camera, although I have many images at ISO 800-1600 that I like. At ISO values higher than 400 on the M8, you risk more noise and sometimes banding in the images.
  3. Color Cast Issues. While the CCD sensor and the lack of AA filter make the M8 a terrific b&w camera, the con is that this sensor is near infrared and as such it does not produce completely accurate colors. There is potential for false color especially on dark cloth where for example a black dress would turn brown or purple on the M8. Indeed early on Leica recognized this and once offered IR cut filters for free (not anymore though!). That said, in most situations, the M8 can produce punchy colors that I find very appealing.
  4. As stated in the #4 “pro” the M8 opens the door to the wonderful world of Leica M lenses. However the “con” is that in 2020, the point is moot because these lenses can be adapted to almost any system, especially mirrorless systems.
  5. The 1.33X APS-H can be a negative for wide angle lovers and anyone who is bothered by the crop factor conversion. As I said I have no problems with it, but I totally understand why people would be bothered by that.

M8 VS M8.2

If you’re looking for an M8, the M8.2 is a newer variant of the same camera and was introduced in 2008. Main differences are an updated and supposedly quieter shutter on the M8.2, sapphire glass on the lcd for better scratch resistance on the M8.2, flash synch 1/250 (M8) vs 1/180 (M8.2) and a top shutter speed of 1/8000 for the M8 and 1/4000 for the M8.2.

Out of all those things the main thing that mattered to me was the top 1/8000th shutter speed on the original M8. I like using fast glass on the M8 and fast glass means bokeh so I wouldn’t want to lose the extra shutter speeds for those rare sunny day bokeh portraits. That said if I had the M8.2 I’m sure I’d be fine with it!

ISSUES

As with any digital camera nearly fifteen years old you should be concerned with the camera developing issues.

That said, I’ve never had any real issues with my M8. I’ve shot thousands of frames on it, used it for paid weddings and engagements. But keep in mind I was never a run and gun professional. If I were using the M8 during a paid shoot, it was always with another camera or two for those kind of shoots. I would never put thousands of photos a day on my M8 like I could with say a pro EOS 1 digital body even though the M8 is supposedly rated for 150K shots.

The main issue I saw in my ten years of using the M8 was that the battery could go flat fast in cold temperatures and that’s only happened within the past couple of years. I’m still on the original battery so take that into consideration!

Anything else like noise and/or banding is not a fault of the camera but inherent to its image quality. It IS after all a camera released in 2006 and probably designed way before that. Speaking of noise/banding, that is usually seen at the higher ISO settings and personally I’ve encountered noise but no so much banding.

The other issue I hear often in the M8 is a “coffee stain” effect that occurs randomly on the back LCD. The LCD develops a flaw and it looks something like a coffee stain on the LCD. In most cases it’s just an annoyance but nothing that gets in the way of you seeing the data or affects the picture taking abilities of the camera. Leica apparently does not fix it.

Lastly and best of all, the Leica M8 does not suffer from the infamous “Sensor Corrosion” issues that plagued the M9, the original Monochrom, nor the ME, all of which are based on the original M9 sensor.

That was a very serious issue that affected thousands of cameras and in my opinion put a stain on the M9 which was perhaps the most popular and iconic Leica Digital M up until that point. Leica originally replaced the sensors for free, and sometimes the replaced sensors ended up with the corrosion. It was a mess for Leica! Today, Leica claims to have ended the M9 sensor replacement program stating that there are no more M9 sensors to be had.

Be grateful the M8 did not suffer this issue!

IS THE M8 WORTH IT FOR 2020/2021?!

So here’s the question of the day! Is the Leica M8 still worth it in 2020 going into 2021? My personal opinion is an enthusiastic YES!! Yes, for me anyway! That is my catch 🙂

For you, if you really think you want to dip into a digital rangefinder, it is a great first step and it won’t kill your bank account like the $5000 digital Leica’s will!

Just keep in mind a few things; the M8 is nearly fifteen years on the market and things can go wrong with old digital cameras. The M8 offers no modern amenities such as focus peaking, 4k video, not even HD video. But you don’t need that! That’s why you got your Fuji, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Nikon Z, EOS R right? 🙂

The M8 offers a pure, no-frills shooting experience closer to film but with the conveniences of digital. That’s what you’d want it for!

The main thing you want to do when considering an M8 is to buy it from a trusted dealer. I’ll list some affiliates below but if you buy it from places like KEH, Adorama, B&H, Amazon, UsedPhotoPro, etc, anywhere that offers a lengthy warranty I think you’d be ok. But don’t blame me if something goes wrong 🙂

A camera like the M8 is not one I’d buy off some random guy on eBay. Too risky unless the price was beyond good, which would probably mean that something was wrong with it.

And in case you don’t like it, you can always sell it. I bought mine in 2010 for $2000 and they’re still selling used for $1000-1600. In fact, nearly every M8 that goes on sale from a legitimate dealer eventually sells!

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BOTTOM LINE

The Leica M8 is one of my all time favorite cameras, film or digital! In the ten years that I have owned the camera, it remains one of the few digital cameras from that era that I still use regularly, a camera I return to time and time again.

When the M8 was first released it seemed very much like an unfinished product. The color cast issues and the need for IR Cut filters to correct them, the noise at higher ISO settings, the 1.33x crop factor could have easily doomed a lesser camera. Yet in spite of all its shortcomings, the Leica M8 is still very much revered by a large cult of camera fanatics (myself included). And it all comes down to all that the Leica M8 does right; sharp files straight out of the camera, punchy vibrant colors reminiscent of chrome film, superb b&w possibilities and a pure rangefinder experience, as pure as you can get from a digital camera.

The Leica M8 is a digital Camera Legend. The fact that we are here nearly fifteen years later still talking about it, the fact that nearly every M8 that comes to market still sells says a lot about the camera and how highly regarded it is by its devoted group of enthusiastic users. If you have one, I’d love to hear about it! 😎📸👍🏻

WHERE TO BUY?

The Leica M8 is plentiful on the used market and as mentioned before prices are trending at $1000-1600 USD. The prices also apply to the M8.2.

My best advice is to buy it from a trusted dealer. Make sure they have at the very least a 30 day return policy/warranty although ideally a 90 or 180 day warranty will give you much more peace of mind.

Leica M Cameras

Photo Of The Day: “Rambler” Leica M8 & 7Artisans 35mm f/2

I’m not a rambling man and I’m certainly don’t know what a “Rambler” is but I do know it’s cool old car!

This I believe is an AMC Rambler, and I know it’s a cool old car but other than that I don’t know much about it. If you do, please let me know!

I found this while walking to visit some friends in New York. You never know what you might find in NYC!

I used my trusty Leica M8 and the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 that I acquired only three months ago. The image was processed with NikEfex. More and more I’m lovin’ this lens! And you might have heard that the M8 is the next best digital camera to the Monochrom for b&w images? Well, I’ve never used the Monochrom but they call the M8 the “Poor Man’s Monochrom” and I’m inclined to believe it! Have a good, safe day folks!

The Winter That Never Was

Good morning everyone. Wow it seems the world as we knew it has changed profoundly since the last posting.

The fear and anxiety surrounding the current COVID-19 Coronavirus has gripped the world. In this current state it seems to me that doing another camera review would be trivial.

People are pretty much fearing for their lives at this point. Not only the possibility of getting sick but also the disruption to the normalcy of everyday life.

In countries hardest hit like China, where the outbreak began, people in specific regions such as the Wuhan epicenter have been under a mandatory lockdown. Italy, also hard hit with the coronavirus, has done the same. Now Spain and perhaps a few other countries.

In the USA and specifically here in New York, it’s just beginning to get bad. I’ll tell you something, in my five decades on the planet I’ve never experienced anything like this.

I thought 9/11 was the worst I’ve seen but this coronavirus pandemic may be even more scary because it’s possible to catch this virus anywhere.

We all know the theories about how this started. It’s thought that the virus was born in a Wuhan wet market where exotic animals were being slaughtered for customers willing to pay for superstitious beliefs not based in science.

If true, I say come on man! Leave those bats and pangolins alone! They were not meant to be eaten by human beings. For God’s sake stop this nonsense.

I also wonder if climate change has opened up an environment where germs and viruses could thrive.

“Cold” 2020. Leica M8, 7Artisans 35mm f/2. The only snowfall we had in New York so far was in January.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to preach about the environment to you. I don’t know if human activities lead to climate change. For all we know, the Sun could have grown just minutely and even that could be enough to affect our climate.

What I do know is that here in NYC, this was the mildest winter I’ve ever experienced. I’m not a fan of the snow so I can’t really complain but I do find it very disturbing. When you think of the long term effects it’s downright scary.

I mean, back in the 80s and 90s when I was growing up, the winters were cold and sometimes brutal but there was a rhyme, reason, and predictability to the seasons that made it a beautiful thing.

“Slash” 2020. Leica M8, 7Artisans 35mm f/2. Not sure if you agree, but the kid reminds me a little of Slash from Guns ‘N Roses in this picture! 🙂

Today, just like everything else it seems, the weather patterns here on Earth seem like a “play it by ear” thing. Now you never know from one day to another what the weather will be like.

To me it’s obvious the climate is changing and pretty rapidly. Friend, if you can’t see it and feel it, I think you’ve got your head in the sand.

Anyway I’ve never been one moved enough to write about it but after only one sprinkling of snow this winter I’m more inclined than ever to do my part to save the environment and to help our planet from this downward spiral.

Anyway, everybody please stay alert and be vigilant about minimizing your chances of catching this notorious COVID-19 Coronavirus. It’s so far the biggest worldwide crisis I’ve ever seen.

Technical Note: These two images were taken with the Leica M8 and 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens which has been touted by some as a “Summicron” copy but for under $300. I’m not ready to make any conclusions but I will say the lens has been impressing me! More pics to come!

Unboxing What I Got For Christmas: Leica Summicron Destroyer? 😀

Good day you guys! Well, they always say all your best laid plans can go awry. And yes, that is what happened to your buddy Sam here!

Just when I was on a roll cranking out three videos in a month (a lot for me!) and working on the next one, I came down with either a nasty cold or a mild flu. I don’t know because I didn’t go in to have it evaluated. All I know is it started up slow, and then all of a sudden BAM! Coughing, sneezing, fever, etc.

It’s funny because a couple of months ago, I got the flu shot, which I needed for work. Now in the years when I didn’t get a flu shot, I never got sick. So is it because of the flu shot? Or is it perhaps, as a friend said to me, perhaps I’d be sicker if I didn’t get the shot? Food for thought!

Today, I feel much better but still not quite 100 percent. This whole episode taught me the value of not taking your health for granted. I mean, I was always somewhat health conscious but one thing I took for granted was sleep. I always got by on very little sleep. Like less than four hours a night sometimes.

But I would see friends get sick, catch the cold or flu, etc, and I never did so I wondered if it was just genetics. Anyway, I found myself up late editing videos for YouTube. I mean my Contax T video is like 95 percent done yet I found myself continually editing and reediting parts. And it’s not like it’s going to be a masterpiece video or anything!! I’m kind of like Kanye when he dropped the last album, haha, just edit and reedit till the last minute. But the lack of sleep caught up to me and my immune was down I guess.

Anyway, needless to say, all the videos I was planning have been pushed back a bit. But to make it up to all who read the blog and subscribe to the channel on YouTube, here’s a video you didn’t see coming! Why do that? I don’t know, I like throwing things out of left field, keeps it interesting I think! 🙂

YOUTUBE UNBOXING VIDEO

Here’s my Christmas gift unboxing video! In order to save time, and also to keep me from getting sick again, I’m going to keep this article short because everything is in the video already.

WHY AN UNBOXING VIDEO?

I have done a couple of unboxing videos but in general, I do not do a lot of them. That’s because I usually don’t buy my photo gear new, so I don’t usually have the box and its extra contents. But on the rare times I do buy new I figured someone might like to see it.

Now, I was never a big fan of unboxing videos. I don’t really get the appeal. Yet, there must be something to it because there’s a guy on YouTube with millions of subscribers who does nothing but unbox stuff! Granted, his videos are very nicely produced, but I guess he has the money now and the time to do that.

WHAT AM I UNBOXING?

The 7Artisans 35mm f/2 in Leica M mount has gotten a lot of press with some calling this $289 lens a real challenger to the legendary Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron. Is it a true Summicron killer? Stay tuned to find out!

Well, since you guys who follow the blog are the backbone of my world, I’ll let you know what it is. It’s the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens in Leica M mount. If you look online people have been comparing it to the Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH or IV versions! For a lens from China that cost $289 (I got it for $260) that is a mighty high complement!

Anyway, I’ve always been curious about the lens, but I needed another 35mm lens like I need another camera so I waited until the right moment. I sold my 35mm Summicron IV “King Of Bokeh” a long time ago and didn’t hold on to it too long because I already had the 40mm f/2 Summicron and the 50mm f/2 Summicron. And at that time in my life I was fascinated with bokeh lenses and a 35mm f/2 lens just doesn’t give you dreamy backgrounds like a 0.95 lens.

Anyway just like you guys I go through thick and thin times, financially, and this was a “thin” year. Money’s tight.

So I sold off a bunch of stuff just to make sure I had enough to buy gifts for my loved ones, and with the money left over (which wasn’t a lot) I got myself this lens. You know when Sam is happy about a $260 lens, it’s a “thin” year! 🙂

In all seriousness, I do understand that $260 is a lot for many people, and in hard times, it’s a lot for me too.

But as photographers, camera lovers, etc, we ALL know that photography is no doubt an expensive hobby but $260 for a lens that is supposed to rival the $2000 plus Leica Summicron is a steal. If it can even approach the Leica in any way, it has done its job and done it well!

I have already put the lens on my trusty Leica M8, a camera which I’ve had since 2010, and am comfortable with. It’s my only digital Leica in fact. Anyway, I am using it first on my M8 so I can get results to you guys sooner so stay tuned.

Can this lens compete with the Leica at a steal of a price? I know what other people have said, but as always, I’m curious to find out for myself. We’ll see. Thanks for reading and catch you in the new year camera lovers!

CURIOUS? GET YOUR OWN, IT’S CHEAP!

If you would like to try this lens for yourself, click on the link from our trusted affiliate below. You will find it for the usual price of $289. But if you browse around a little bit, you might still be able to find it for $260!

***USED CAMERA TRENDS***

I have noticed that the 50mp Hasselblad X1D-50C has gone down in price and you can now find them used for around $3000 USD! That is a heck of a deal for a camera with superlative image quality. If you ever wanted to get into high fidelity imagery and try your hands at Medium Format digital, this might be it!

Digital Manipulation Part I: Should You Use Digital Filters?

A few postings back I showed a color image from the Leica M8 and said that with some post processing and treatment, I could maybe, possibly turn the photo into something more dramatic. Well, I had some time to play with it and here’s the before and after:

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SumiZZCC

Now I know it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s certainly more “dramatic” than the first photo!

Ok the color shot on top was a straight out of camera jpeg from the M8 with a 50mm f/2 Summicron attached. The bottom b&w image is the same image processed through Google’s Analog Efex using a wet plate filter. It’s basically a digital filter attempting to emulate the look of a wet plate film print.

Seeing the image from a photographer’s perspective, I would certainly choose the “Plain Jane” straight out of camera color shot, but I do have to say that I did like the b&w conversion too. But that’s probably me being partial to the subjects 🙂

Anyway, it got me thinking this…if this image was a true wet plate photo, I’d wager that most photographers, even analog only photographers would accept it, maybe even think it was cool with all its grit and drama.

But since it’s a digital manipulation, they’d probably dismiss it. I can understand this. First of all, a true wet plate print requires a lot of work and people can respect the process. And most will give your props for that. Digital manipulation, digital filters, etc, are much easier in comparison.

Digital photography “purists” may not accept it either as using filters seem “fake” and especially now when people are on the “no filter” wave. Technology has made life easy, but people still seem to prefer hard.

So you get no respect from analog photographers and no respect from digital photography “purists.” So who would be the audience for this kind of digital manipulation? Why I’d bet my money on social media! Your friends on Facebook, Instagram, etc. I think images using these filters would be perfect for social media.

Why? You might think I’d say that the audience there don’t know any better, but I’m not saying that. Being on social media for many years, I can honestly say that while there are a lot of non photographers posting photos, there are also many, many hardcore photographers posting there as well. And many of these folks are very knowledgeable and would know that the photo has received some kind of “artificial” treatment.

The wonderful thing about social media though vs the photo forums is a general sense of acceptance for almost anything. The folks tend to view images on a broader scope, accepting the image as it is first. The process too sometimes helps to get the votes, the likes, etc, but if you didn’t mention it, they probably wouldn’t care and they’d probably accept it as is. But we photo geeks care about the process, don’t we? 🙂

On the negative side, there’s also a drive for votes and likes, so your followers will likely “like” your image anyway, whether they really like it or not.

Please understand, I am just using this image as an example, not because I think it’s a great photo or not. I love the photo because of the subjects, but I’d honestly say that to the general public it’s probably not a very interesting shot, even processed.

If it were me looking at this from an outsider’s eye, I would say there’s no way this is a real wet plate photo. Real wet plate photos are rarely ever this clean nor this sharp, though I have seen some sharp ones. They do tend to be dark, and the Analog Efex did a good job there.

In the end though, it has always been my belief that digital b&w started out of a desire to emulate film. As things evolved, it was no longer just about film but about achieving a look that is unique and different from everyone else. The incredibly high saturation of photographers in today’s world drives this desire even more.

All I can say is…

If you shoot film, continue to shoot it. You will always be a little different in today’s world and part of a wonderfully amazing and passionate brotherhood. But film can only take you so far in and of itself. Content is most important.

Content to me is subject, composition, and the overall “interesting-ness” of the photo. Technical quality is usually second. You can have a technically perfect photo that’s boring as hell and not many people will like it.

If you shoot digital, that’s awesome too but try to make your mark by content first. Again content is key. Interesting photos will always win over filters. And if you want to use filters, I have nothing against that. Just know that filters get old pretty fast so use them sparingly.

There is room for everybody and every style in the wonderful world of photography so let’s not lose any sleep over this. As long as you’re having fun, I’d say that’s good enough for me and it should be good enough for you 🙂

Flashback Friday March 24, 2017 Edition: M8 Pic & The End Of Pop Photo Magazine

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“Shout For Spring” 2016. Leica M8, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M.

Spring just arrived this week. I’m not sure about you, but I just don’t get to take many pictures in the winter. Not for a lack of things to take pictures of, but I just don’t find myself going to places that would make me want to take photos. Spring is more my thing! Hopefully, we’ll get to try some stuff we’re wanting to review and come back with some decent pics.

The above photo was taken last spring with a Leica M8 and 50mm f/2 Summicron-M. This is just straight from the camera. With a little post-processing, one could possibly turn this into something more dramatic and if I were still posting to photo sites, I might have done that but I find it too time consuming these days.

The M8 raw files or even jpegs have a crisp, chrome like quality when shot in color and can be very filmic in black and white.

Knock on wood, the M8, she looks fragile at first but has proven to be one heck of a durable and reliable camera. Knock on wood again!

I’m sure many of you wouldn’t mind another M8 review, just as I wouldn’t, and I’m going to try to give it to you someday. But let me just say when I first got it in 2010, I truly did not think I’d have it this long or that it would even last this long! Don’t wait for me, if you find a good deal at a good price with a good warranty go for it. M8 rocks!

THE END OF POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE

Well, it was announced about two weeks ago that Popular Photography, aka Pop Photo magazine would cease production after 80 years. They started in 1937 and was a mainstay at newstands here in the USA, and I’ve seen it in Asia too. Their sister publication American Photo has also been cancelled. I’m only talking about Pop Photo in this article.

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Popular Photography Magazine has come to an end. This 1997/1998 Buyer’s Guide was one of the last issues I actually bought. RIP Pop Photo!

I guess we should have known this was coming when they started changing to a bi-monthly publication recently, that’s never a good sign.

As a nostalgic fool, it saddens me a little to see them go. The magazine was very much responsible for keeping my interest in photography in the 80s and 90s. I loved those Nikon F3 and Minolta X-700 ads!

Then in the early 1990s, I remember spending hours in the college library reading nearly every copy of Pop Photo they had and it renewed my interest in photography, after a brief loss of interest. I know I should’ve been reading my school books instead, maybe this was the reason for my below-average grades 🙂

The magazine also served to fuel my G.A.S. even then as a poor college student. All those nice equipment photos, all those glowing reviews!

Yet it was those glowing reviews that made them lose some credibility to some people. I learned that the hard way. Back in the 90s Nikon came out with a headline grabbing super-zoom, the 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-D.

I got one based on one of their reviews. It was an impressive looking lens with its large 72mm filter size. After using it for a while though, I remember being very disappointed with this lens. Even with my then still learning eyes, I could tell this lens was sub-par on my N90s. I sold it and got the 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 AF Nikkor which was a much better lens.

However, I still picked up the magazine or (actually if I may admit) looked at it every month at Barnes & Nobles, Borders, or whatever bookstore carried it. You got to remember this was pre internet days and this was one of the few ways to read about cameras, lenses, and photography back then.

I loved the articles from the late, great Herbert “Burt” Keppler. He was the main man at Pop Photo and a Camera Legend. He would write in this straight-up style that only a New Yorker could relate to. I remember I was over the moon when he sent me back a hand written response to a question I sent in. Sadly, he passed away in 2008.

As the years progressed, I would still look at the magazine, but it was usually for a quick glance and nothing more. I began to lose interest in the magazine as I could read better things online.

People used to trash them as a “rag” and only there to make money because of all those ads. In their defense, I would say come on now, they are Pop Photo after all and anything “Pop” is all about the masses. Just like pop music, yes they have to make some money.

They did attempt to give you reviews with some backup. They had this “SQF” (Subjective Quality Factor) thing on their lens reviews which were based on MTF charts I think. But it clearly stated “Subjective” so you had to be careful.

The thing with Pop Photo is that you had to read between the lines to figure out for yourself what they’re trying to say. They probably didn’t want to burn any bridges with their advertisers. For example, you might read in the article that a camera’s high iso was generally good, but look at their chart and it says “Unacceptable.” If you see that, then you know “unacceptable” is the real answer. It wasn’t that hard.

I found Pop Photo to be a much more enjoyable read than many other competing magazines. For example, if you compare Petersen’s Photographic to Pop Photo, there’s no comparison. Petersen’s reads like a rehash of the manufacturers brochure. Shutterbug was generally ok,  a little bit better than Pop Photo, but not much. My favorite photography magazines by far were those fancy British magazines and of course the awesome Japanese magazines. I can’t read a lick of Japanese, but I loved the photos!

Anyway, in today’s virtual world it should really come as no surprise to see Pop Photo go. Just like books, music, porn, etc, the internet killed everything real or “real” as we knew it. It’s still unclear whether they will continue as a website.

I hope they will, but speaking for myself, I never found their website engaging enough to keep my interest as the magazine did. Just like many old school companies, transitioning from the real to virtual world did not seem easy for Pop Photo. I think if they hired some real pros to refurnish their site, they could turn it around. They had a huge audience for their magazine, especially back in the day. It would be a shame if someone at the top could not capitalize on that and keep it running.

As it is right now, RIP Pop Photo. You were a great source of inspiration back in the day. Thank you.

 

 

Black & White Portraits

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“The Tsingtao Boy” 2009. Canon F-1N, 50mm f/1.4 FD lens, Tri-X. Chinatown, NYC.

While I do love color photography, there’s just something different about black and white photography that really endears me to it. And when you combine b&w with people (or animals!), that really takes it to another level for me.

These are just some b&w images taken over the years. Like I’ve said before, sometimes I do want to remind myself that I love shooting almost as much as I love cameras…I think! These are also images from cameras I am planning to review for you, cameras like the Leica M8 and the Canon F-1N, which is one of my favorite Canon bodies ever, past or present.

It seems almost unbelievable to me that it has taken this long, but after two weeks I’m finally getting my main working computer back today! As I mentioned before, this really set me back as far as content for this website is concerned and I’m just beginning to catch up. Thanks to those who continue to visit and I do appreciate your time and comments.

This is admittedly going to be a busy week and writing a blog with any kind of content takes a lot of time. Even my shortest article takes me almost half a day. I admire those who can do this consistently on a daily basis, I know I can’t!

Hope you all have a good short week in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA.

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“Man In The Middle” 2011. Canon Powershot G10, Paranaque, Philippines.

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“Imported From The Past” 2011. Nikon F4s, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AIS. The great Louis Mendes stands out like an icon from the past with his old school Speed Graphic and sharp, retro outfits.

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“Vimeo” 2006. Canon Rebel XT, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC. I was buying a lens from this man and I took this shot while testing it. I found out a couple of years later that he is apparently one of the founders of the video sharing site Vimeo!

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“The Competition” 2006. Canon Rebel XT, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC. Sometimes facial expression tells you everything!

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“Time Will Not Wait” 2011. Leica M8, 35mm f/2 Zeiss Biogon. Koh Samui, Thailand.

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“Brother Blues” 2010. Leica M8, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M. Washington Square Park, NYC.

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“My Door Is Open” 2011. Leica M8, 50mm f/2 Summicron-M. Nonthaburi, Thailand.

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“The Godfather Of Bangkok” 2011. Minolta CLE, 40mm f/2 Summicron-M, Tri-X. A scene from a restaurant on the side streets of Bangkok, Thailand. With one hand on his meal, the other hand reaches for the plate before anyone else could get to it first. Don’t mess with the Godfather of Bangkok! 🙂

A couple of my favorite portraits from the selection above were done with Sigma lenses. Our affiliate and friends at Adorama is offering some incredible savings on SIGMA lenses which only runs through 11/30/15 so if you wanted to pick up some of those super sharp “ART” lenses, this is a good time to do it! And if you order within a certain time, they make every effort to ship same day, which is a great benefit to buying from Adorama versus the competition.