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Leica M8


Well, I think I have finally found the happy medium between digital and film. The Leica has been in production since 1913, and was the first 35mm camera made for production. You can still get the best image from a Leica almost one hundred years later than the other leading camera manufacturers. I had a moving experience the other night. I was in my history of photography class and we were talking about the Leica and what it meant for photography. You could shoot faster, quieter, and more inconspicuously than before. 35mm film introduced the need to enlarge negatives to the same size as the 6x9cm format that was popular at the time. Rod showed us a couple of Leicas; one was a film model and the other was the new M8 10.3MP digital body. The lights were mostly off in the auditorium save for a few around the perimeter since we were looking at a video, but he snapped a picture and showed it to us. I was captivated. I didn’t even get to touch the camera, but somehow I knew that something about this digital was different. I noticed the tonal range on the screen and the sharpness of focus even in such a low light condition. What makes focus in low light situations with the Leica is the rangefinder. It is a manual way of focusing (there is not autofocus on this camera whatsoever), and matches up a patch of the picture with a focus patch. So it looks like you are overlapping two images until they match perfectly. Autofocus would be hunting around and then, even if you did manual focus, you would have a hard time getting a standard SLR lens to focus accurately in the dark. So yesterday I went down to the store where Rod works and along with running into a classmate, I got to “try out” the M8. I had a life changing experience. I wanted to see what it would do in the sunlight, but sat mesmerized with the simplicity and cleanness of the whole camera. It is a piece of art. There are no crazy displays with a bunch of numbers and letters and codes. When I looked through the camera, I felt like I was going back to my old Minolta with the way the TTL light meter worked. Someone not savvy in camera models would not know that it was digital unless they looked at the back and say the rather large, juicy screen. The menus were well laid out and not too fussy or complex or overdone. It was the essentials and nothing more. Rod put a leather half-jacket on it and it fit me like a glove. I have found my match. I haven’t told my family or friends (except one) that I am selling my 20D, all of the lenses that I have for it, and all of the accessories. I haven’t told them that I am also selling the light kit that isn’t working for me. And I haven’t told them of my plans to own an M8. I would also like to own a Leica film body as well, just for versatility’s sake and for re-inventability. Is that a word? I feel that you always have to be re-inventing the way you see and photograph in order to progress in your image making. I am thinking of everything else I can sell to put towards the camera and the lens. I haven’t ever had a camera fit in my hand and feel so right in my life. Oh, happiness in photogging…. :^D

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One thought on “Leica M8

  1. Had to say something…Quite a relief to vent about failures, isn’t it? We never forget the colossal setbacks, but I believe what doesn’t give us a nervous breakdown makes us more interesting as people.I think it’s a gutsy move, finally selling your digital. They’ll be around awhile, and why be another artful photog when you can be an artist? The community needs a fresh reminder of where it came from. It’s almost otherworldly to find “the right fit” in any aspect of life, but how much more intense is it when it involves our passions and interests. I didn’t have time to write it earlier, but I do like the picture you took of your reflection in Heath’s eye. It reminds me of Escher, or those clever picture within a picture paintings, where you can just keep going deeper into it. I can only imagine what that composition looks like expanded to, say, 4′ by 6′ if it was possible. Got to get back to work on my story now. Keep up the great work and don’t disclose your aspirations until you really feel led to by the Spirit! Arrivederci.

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