Sunday, June 03, 2007

Blowing Smoke/Blowing Ten Grand? Checking Out The Leica M8

photo (c)2007 James Mitchell

Yes indeed, I got to try out the long awaited digital Leica rangefinder camera, the M8. James Mitchell was here in Miami yesterday and we went to lunch, and then we spent part of the afternoon together discussing the state of photography and the state of the world while I was checking out the shape of some cute young lady's legs who happened to be sitting nearby at Starbucks.

When he was last here several months ago he had one of those Leica mount digital Bessas, the Epson RD-1s, with a 90mm f/4 Macro-Elmar. He decided that f/4 was too slow so he traded it in for the new 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit. The Leica M8 had finally reached the stores also, and he was able to snag one and get his lenses "coded" to tell the camera which lens it was looking through.

The M8 body looks like a Leica, has the finder windows and neck strap lugs right where you'd expect them to be, as is the shutter release and what looks like a standard dial to set shutter speeds. About the only things missing are the wind lever and rewind crank that you'd need with a film camera.

Naturally, since the back of the camera has an LCD screen it's like there must be a law requiring people to check it after every shot. No more shooting to the end of the roll and waiting to check the negatives later.

Back at my place I shot a couple shots just to feel how the shutter release felt and hear how silent it was. No quieter than any other M body I've used over the years. James then knocked off a couple of shots of me blowing smoke. Today he Emailed me the file in both B&W and color. I liked the B&W version better. It makes me look more sinister. Next time he promised to use more care in focussing, and not try to hand hold the camera at the relatively slow shutter speed of only 1/12 second. Considering just how sharp that 90mm Elmarit lens can be, next time we'll really be able to see my craggy face and grey hairs in excruciating detail.


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