Leica M8

Leica M8

Besides looking like an M model, the Leica M8 Interchangeable Lens Rangefinder Digital Camera truly embraces all of the benefits of the analog Leica M system, allowing for smart and creative digital photography.

It is the first and only professional digital camera to make use of the advantageous rangefinder technology, which is discrete, silent, quick, and accurate, and it is the first and only professional digital camera to apply the strict quality requirements of the M system.

The Leica M8 is fully compatible with practically all M lenses, and the low-noise CCD image sensor with a resolution of 10.3 million pixels has been particularly incorporated into the small lens design to provide the best possible picture quality.

The Leica M8 is available in black or silver. Its operation and functionality are focused on what is important, while the beneficial extra capabilities made possible by digital technology complement the tried and tested M principle. Despite being a modern digital camera, the Leica M8 is a classic that is both excitingly new and comfortingly familiar.

Enhanced Imaging Capabilities

However, a number of enhancements and functional upgrades have been implemented to make the M11 the most up-to-current M camera to date.

These improvements and functional updates include:
Because of the electronic shutter feature, photographers may now capture images at shutter speeds of up to 1/166,000 seconds, which is ideal for working with faster f/0.95 lenses without the use of ND filters.

A mechanical shutter can still handle shutter speeds of up to 1/4000 second and flash synchronization speeds of up to 1/180 second.
By cutting into the image significantly, two digital zoom steps can imitate working with larger focal length lenses. These steps are at 1.3x (39MP) and 1.8x (18MP) resolutions, respectively. These are reversible crops if you’re recording a DNG file, or permanent crops if you’re shooting directly to a JPG format.

In addition to spot and center-weighted average exposure metering, multi-field exposure metering is now available, which reduces the need to meter and then re-compose before taking a photograph.
When enabled, Long Exposure Noise Reduction helps to lessen the appearance of noise, but it may also be turned off to save time by compressing the image.

This lens supports M lenses with a 6-bit coding system.

It is possible to recognize the 6-bit-coding of contemporary Leica M lenses with the Leica M8 thanks to an optical scanner included in the camera’s bayonet. This enables the tiny vignetting created by the system to be adjusted, further increasing the image quality that has become so familiar to users.

The lens type that was recognized is kept in the EXIF data for the image file, and the reflector location on current flash units is adjusted to the image angle depending on the focal length of the camera lens used.

Current M lenses can have their 6-bit codes retrospectively applied by the Leica Customer Service department.

Modified Image Sensor with Superior Quality

The Kodak CCD technology utilized in the Leica M8 has a high basic speed of ISO 160 that can be increased to a maximum speed setting of ISO 2500, and it generates images that are comparable in quality to those produced by Leica M cameras that employed film-based technology.

A moire filter, which optically filters out small picture details, was purposefully left out of the Leica M lenses in order to make use of their maximum resolution. Instead, the camera’s signal processor eliminates any moire patterns that may have appeared.

To eliminate undesirable refraction caused by oblique illumination of the sensor when using Leica M lenses, the cover glass has been thinned to only 0.5mm in thickness at the camera’s outer borders. A consistent brightness is achieved throughout the image as a result of this technique.

Microlenses are used in front of the pixels of the CCD sensor to boost the light sensitivity of the sensor, and a specific microlens structure is used that is ideally matched to the properties of the Leica M lenses to achieve this result.

The resolution is 10.3 Megapixels.

Low-noise CCD image sensor with a resolution of 10.3 million pixels has been designed for the unique characteristics of the M lens system and delivers great image quality with low noise.

Light Efficiency to the Max

It is now feasible to capture images with far greater detail than was previously achievable with analog film at the maximum film speed settings (up to ISO 2500). Because of this, the M8 marks the beginning of a new era in the history of available light photography.

Design that is long-lasting

Designed to offer professional results over a long period of time, the Leica M8 is built to last. In addition to the enclosed all-metal body, which is comprised of a high-strength magnesium alloy, the top and base plates are carved from solid brass blocks and then finished in either black or silver chrome.

A protective layer is placed beneath the base plate, which keeps the battery and SD card slot safe from dust and moisture ingress.

Contributes to the advancement of creative photography

A focal-plane shutter with metal blades that are electronically regulated allows for shutter speeds of up to 1/8000 second to be reached with this camera.

Despite working in extremely light conditions, the photographer retains complete creative control because of the selective focus function combined with a wide aperture.

As a result of the fast flash synchronization speed of 1/250 second, it is now possible to shoot daylight flash shots with selective focus.

Quiet and unobtrusive

An extra rubberized quiet friction wheel has been included in the first winding gear stage to make cocking the shutter as near as silent as possible when the shutter is opened.

For this purpose, a cam disk is employed to transmit the force while maintaining consistent torque throughout its entire journey. Consequently, the electric motor operates relatively silently, allowing the shutter to be opened.

Conversion of RAW Data to the Highest Quality

It is ensured via the use of the professional Capture One LE RAW data converter that the raw data given by the CCD sensor and saved in the future-proof Adobe digital negative format (DNG) is processed to produce images of the highest possible quality.

Leica collaborated with the Danish business Phase One to develop the advanced camera profiling as well as the necessary software upgrades for the new camera. Quality-optimized algorithms for digital color processing are produced as a result of this research, enabling incredibly low-noise photography with remarkable resolution.

Using the 16 bit picture offered by the CCD sensor, it is possible to generate even the most minute tonal value distinctions, which is equivalent to the image quality provided by film processed in a photography studio.

The logical functions for altering the quality, as well as the well-structured user interface, allow Capture One LE to be utilized to obtain remarkable results with the utmost simplicity and speed.

The operation is straightforward and intuitive.

In order to use the digital functionalities, the user must utilize the integrated direction pad and dial, which may be used for quick navigation purposes. The exposure parameter menu is displayed on the 2.5″ monitor after pressing the Set key.

You can rapidly examine and make adjustments to the most important settings right here (Sensitivity, Exposure compensation, White balance, Data compression, and Resolution). For profiles, there are three vacant spaces available in the memory, allowing you to retrieve commonly used combinations for specific programs from memory.

In the system menu, selecting Menu brings up a well-organized list of options for changing some of the fundamental settings that are permanently applied, such as the ECI RGB, Adobe RGB, and sRGB color space options.

Besides that, you may decide whether you want your images to appear on the huge display instantly so that you can study them, how long you want them to be exhibited, and whether or not a tonal value histogram should be presented.

The remaining capacity of the SD card and the lithium-ion battery are displayed on a display on the left-hand side of the top plate, which is regularly updated.

In this way, this fundamental photographic information is always available at a glance for the user.

M-TTL Flash Technology is a cutting-edge innovation.

The Leica M-TTL flash technology is distinguished by the fact that a pre-flash for flash metering is fired immediately before the real exposure, allowing for faster shutter speeds. The TTL measurement of the light reflected by the surfaces of the subject determines the precise power that must be supplied by the main flash unit.

The seamless addition of flash intensity to the available light results in flash images that keep the atmosphere created by natural light. The auto slow sync option enables you to employ the aperture priority mode in conjunction with the flash technology without having to manually switch between them.

Additionally, it guarantees that the visual backdrop remains balanced even if variations in the intensity of the ambient light occur. To ensure proper exposure, a measured quantity of fill-in flash is delivered at the right intervals.

Variable maximum exposure periods for aperture priority can be set based on the photographer’s previous experience or the desired effect that is desired.

When utilizing 6-bit-coded lenses, this may either be done manually or automatically using the rule of thumb 1/focal length in seconds, which is applicable when using 6-bit-coded lenses.

Cleaning the sensor Function

The LEICA M8 is equipped with a particular feature that allows you to manually clean the sensor. While cleaning is taking place, the shutter stays open if you pick the appropriate option from the menu and hit the shutter release button on your camera.

Because of the shallow depth of the M camera, the sensor is more easily accessible than it would be on a digital reflex camera, say.

Histogram of Tonal Values

The LeicaM8 is a professional digital camera that has an RGB tonal value histogram as part of its functionality. This feature may be used at any time to check the exposure of previously stored images, and it can also be used in conjunction with the automated review tool.

In addition, a valuable feature is the extra highlighting of overexposed areas of an image, which is referred to as the clipping warning. The ability to zoom in on the LCD display has the additional benefit that these two control tools are continually updated, allowing the user to check the quality of even the most minute image details.

When you press the Info function key, all of the photographic settings from the fast menu, as well as any additional meta-information recorded with the image file, is shown – this allows you to analyze a picture in its entirety immediately after it has been shot.

Control through a remote device

Special software is included with the LEICA M8 to enable remote operation of the camera for scientific study or in a photographic studio. In addition, the camera may be controlled from a computer through a USB connection, and the image data can be stored straight on a hard disk with Leica Digital Capture.

The program may communicate with the camera by sending all of the parameters in the exposure parameter menu, such as sensitivity and resolution.

In addition, the camera is equipped with a standard threaded release button, which may be used in conjunction with a cable release.

Leica M8 Specs

Body typeRangefinder-style mirrorless
Max resolution3936 x 2630
Other resolutions2952 x 1972, 1968 x 1315, 1312 x 876
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels10 megapixels
Sensor photodetectors10 megapixels
Sensor sizeAPS-H (27 x 18 mm)
Sensor typeCCD
ISO160, 320, 640, 1250, 2500
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Standard
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Lens mountLeica M
Focal length multiplier1.3×
Articulated LCDNo
Screen size2.5″
Screen dots230,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewNo
Viewfinder typeOptical (rangefinder)
Minimum shutter speed8 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityNo
Built-in flashNo
External flashYes (Hot-shoe)
Flash modesFront Curtain, Rear Curtain, Slow sync
Self-timerYes (2 or 12 sec)
Exposure compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Storage typesSD/SDHC card
Storage includedNone
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Remote controlNo
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Weight (inc. batteries)591 g (1.30 lb / 20.85 oz)
Dimensions139 x 80 x 37 mm (5.47 x 3.15 x 1.46″)
Orientation sensorNo
Timelapse recordingNo

About Author


Freelance journalist Corey has been writing about digital photography since 2006, first as a deputy editor and then as the editor of a variety of photographic journals. Featuring expert product reviews and in-depth features

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