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2007.12.25

If the camera does not matter, then would you mind if your camera:

  • Did not directly show you how the image focus will turn out?
  • What the final composition will be?
  • Precisely what would be in focus?
  • Had a completely illogical menu system?
  • Had a unpredictable white-balance?

If you are the proud owner of a Leica M8, then probably not. You see, a recent editorial on Luminous Landscape, points out exactly those problems with the M8. Here are some quotes from that article:

  • I just didn’t see the point of looking through one window, focusing, then composing with little lines and then shooting through a lens that is probably not near the composition you intended.
  • What I thought was in focus was not, what I thought I had framed perfectly was off,
  • 50% of everything I shoot with it is not in real tack focus, 50% has too much noise, 50% has surprise framing, but no camera I have ever used has touched me so deeply.
  • I can honestly say that focusing the Leica is similar to riding a skateboard down a hill and trying to eat ice cream.
  • The menu is a mess and it’s functions make no logical sense,
  • The auto white balance is a riot, as you never know what color it’s going to produce,

What is interesting to know is that the article in question praises the Leica M8 without any obvious argument for it. So, as Sherlock Holmes would certainly point out, there must be non-obvious reasons for praising the M8 which leaves us with an interesting mystery.

Lets skip any speculations that the author is being bribed by Leica, that would simply make the story boring. Its too simple. Then, how could someone enjoy a camera which is difficult to focus with, produces unpredictable colors and makes framing a surprise?

It may come down to riding a skateboard down a hill and trying to eat ice cream. It sounds difficult. It probably is, but I am sure more than one person did it. Why? Precisely because it is difficult. It is a challenge. It comes down to why you take photographs. Perhaps seeing clearly what will appear in the final picture is too easy or seems boring. Now, if you have to imagine what the camera will produce then the challenge is to master photography and the camera!

Or, could it be the surprise framing and that you never know what color it’s going to produce? Possibly. Surprise, look what you just shot! Some people like surprises. Will it be a boy or a girl? What’s in that box under the Xmas tree? In digital photography era has greatly reduced the element of surprise. This, we know, has greatly aided in a renewed interest in photography. However, this does not mean that everyone likes to easily predict the outcome of a photograph. It is a matter of taste, but just like some things are statistically less liked than others, this is not the most popular taste.

Is the M8 good or bad then? Based on what we know of our target audience, the Leica M8 is definitely not the camera most of our readers are looking for. This does not mean that it is bad for everyone but to all those who are looking for predictability and control in their photography, nearly every digital camera is better. So, to paraphrase a coworker, while you could work blindfolded with your hands tied behind is back, you do not have to. The same applies to digital photography, just skip the M8 if you want simplicity and predictability.


One Response to “The Wrong Camera”

  1. John says:

    That’s a ridiculous review you reference. If a camera doesn’t work, it doesn’t work period. I don’t care who’s name is on it. If Lieca wants the same respect in the digital world as in the film world, then produce a worthy model.

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