With all the talk about 10 megapixel cameras, including 6 DSLR models and 13 fixed-lens models, the just-announced Leica M8 is of no real significance. Historically, it is the second range-finder digital camera. After the quasi-failure of the already expensive Epson RD1, the even-more expensive Leica M8 should probably be the last.
Some people care about range finder cameras and not without reason. There are advantages to range finders over other camera types but there are also a great number of disadvanatges. See DP Review’s preview of the Leica M8 for a detailed list.
Advantages of range finder cameras, including the M8, are few and of limited use when we consider the existance of high-quality compact cameras. Compact cameras are ultra-quiet, have more flexible lense and some have extremely short shutter lag. This leaves the range-finder’s 1:1 viewfinder its only significant advantage. This is quite small compared to having autofocus, live-preview and zoom. When using a lens longer than 50mm on a range-finder, the subject’s view becomes very small, even though the viewfinder still shows a big image – only a small portion stays relevant.
With a conservative and very traditional range-finder design, Leica is clearly aiming at current range finder users. Unfortunately, at nearly 5000 USD, most Leica-lens owners could by a DSLR plus high-quality lenses for that sum. This damages the M8’s chances in its most likely market.