The poor mans Leica
Love at first sight
When I first got a M8 (.2) back in 2016 it wasn’t as a still photographer per say. I knew my way around the camera. I had been paid to take photos lots of times, but it had been more in a journalistic matter.
On a hobby level I shot and developed film almost exclusively. On the digital side my focus had always been video. But the M8 changed that. With it I started to find joy in taking stills. For the first time ever I started to “get it”.
Many say that the best camera is the one that inspires you to go shoot. Well, the M8 started my deep love affair with stills.
I had owned countless DSLRs and mirrorless cameras before it and still didn’t think digital still photography was anything worth my while outside of work.
So for me personally that alone justifies my 4.5 start rating.
But for you I can try to sum the camera up in 10 simple points.
- Excellently built camera
Second only to the Leica T in my opinion. The brass wares nicely. Everything is exact and tactile. The weight is just spot on.
- Rangefinder and Manual controls
It enabled me to learn zone focusing. And not just hyperlocal, but actual zone with narrow field of view and razor sharp images. This is something Ive had a lot of use for since then. It also lets you focus very exact and pin point small subjects. The all manual controls also helps you become a faster, better and more exact photographer.
I actually like the extra crop factor. It sits in between APS-C and Full Frame. Its big enough for wide shots, SDOF, etc. But still has that extra little reach for example a 35mm lens, which I find useful when the camera is on the big side for street shooting.
These aren’t expensive anymore. All is of course relative. My Sigma DP1 only cost me $28 dollars while this was $1000. But in Leica territory its pretty cheap. About the same price as the T.
Lastly the image quality. Like I said in my DP1 Review, cameras of this era where still competing and trying to replace film. So the images are just so film like. No need for filters or grading. Ad contrast and you are golden.
Its usable in the dark, in the same way that film is. But it can’t compete with modern cameras.
- No live view
Over time Ive become to love tilt screens and live view for street shooting. It has opened up a new field of creativity. But its something the M8 can never give.
- Its a bit loud
The M8.2 is much quieter than the original M8. But its still loud. There is an awesome stealth mode that helps, still loud though. I actually find it kinda charming.. but still.. its pretty loud.
- Service will end
Its an old camera. You can still get it serviced and repaired but sooner or later those days will be gone. So go for it while you can.
- Shutter speed
Ive given my M8 a 5 start rating. The only reason this got a 4.5 is because it has one stop less on the shutter speed dial. Not worth the other upgrades imo.