September 6, 2022

From Gerald R. Lucas

Leica M8

Well, my new Leica M8 is on its way from Washington D.C. I’ve been in a bit of a photography funk lately, and I believe that some of it, at least, can be attributed to camera fatigue. The Leica SL, while a great camera, just does not inspire me to use it the same way that my Leica M did. I suspected that this would happen. Though the SL is a much more versatile and modern camera, it’s just not very much fun to use. There’s really no challenge. No excitement. Yes, the photos I get are good—sometime great—but there has to be a reason I just don’t use it much. Yes, some of that has to do with the excellent and convenient camera on my iPhone 13 Pro, but that is in no way a surrogate for a proper camera/photography experience. I decided I needed another M.

A generic placeholder until I can get a real photo.

And it just so happens that my buddy Ernest has an excellent M8 he wants to pass on. This does not surprise me: I think if I bought an M for my first real camera, I probably wouldn’t have liked it much either. I’m not saying that Ernest doesn’t like it, but he’s decided that a Q2 Monochrom will suit his style better. I remember telling him that if he ever wanted to get rid of his M8, to let me know. In fact, I’m the one who found it for him on eBay. At the time, I was tempted to buy it for myself. I might have, if Ernest hadn’t have picked it up.

I know: this is a 2006 camera, and there a quite a few mixed feelings out there about whether it’s still good in 2022. High ISO performance is non-existent, and needs an IR cut filter to render correct greens and blacks. It’s slow. It has a 1.3x-crop (APS-H), 10 megapixel sensor; a poor LCD; questionable battery life. Still 10 megapixels is pretty good for most of my applications, and the files will be manageable to store. Plus, the CCD sensor rendering is supposed to be Kodak Portra 160-like. Like others have said: I’ll pretend I’m shooting an endless roll of Portra 160 and use the camera in appropriate conditions. It’s not like I won’t have my phone with me if I need to shoot something in low-light. I’m actually looking forward to these limitations. Also, I have quite a few M-mount lenses, some vintage, that should work very well with the M8.

If nothing else, I’ll be able to use it for a while and sell it if necessary to recoup all of my money. I could always save for an M10 or M10-P if that were to happen. In fact, this would be the logical upgrade from the SL, as it can sport a EVF. Maybe at some point.

In anticipation of receiving the M8, I ordered a Voigtländer Ultron 28mm f/2 Aspherical VM Type II Black Paint and an IR filter from Amazon. (Both B&H and Adorama had the black paint version on back-order. Boo.) This will be about 37mm equivalent on the M8, so right around my favorite focal length. This lens compares very favorably to the much more expensive Summicron 28mm. I also have the Ultron 1.8/21 (28mm equivalent) that should also work nicely, albeit a bit cumbersomely, on the M8. I considered the 7Artisans 28mm f/1.4, but it’s a heavy, long beast of a lens. No thanks. The Ultron should do nicely.

So I’m excited. I’m sure Giles won’t mind playing with the SL for a while. In fact, I’d like to try the Sigma 65mm f/2 Contemporary lens on the SL. Sigma’s been hitting it out of the park with this new line. I’ve read that they are a bit clinical, but they are priced right and seem to be excellent performers.

On a similar note, Kip and I are going to take a day trip to the Miami Leica store when I’m in Florida next month. I will resist bringing the credit card.