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John Camp

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« Reply #40 on: November 02, 2006, 10:09:47 AM »

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<snip...> not having experienced the so-called joys of shooting with a Leica, I'm struggling to find any practical benefits that such a camera as the M8 could offer, compared with cheaper models of similar resolution but greater flexibility.

The ineffable subtleties of the Leica appearance, loosley described as 'non-digital', or like the differences between a medium quality and fine quality wine, don't seem convincing to me. The chain in the processing from capture to print can be long and convoluted. One should be able to get any 'look' one likes. Merely using a RAW converter such as Raw Shooter instead of ACR can change the 'look' of an image enormously.

I'd also be rather concerned with the less than stellar noise performance at high ISOs. A comparison in the review shows a Canon 5D shot at ISO 3200 with significantly less noise than the M8 at ISO 2500. Do we know how accurate the Leica ISO ratings are? One might think because it's Leica the ratings would be spot on. If that's the case, then the actual comparison is between the 5D at ISO 4000-4400 (not sure exactly) and the M8 at ISO 2500.

The extra large viewfinder which allows one to see outside the picture format is clearly an advantage, but not more advantageous than any zoom on a DSLR which offers, probably most of the time, an even greater field of view, except when using the shortest focal length.

Rangefinder focussing might well offer greater accuracy, but at the cost of less speed. Not much point in great accuracy of focussing if you miss the shot.

My feeling is, the M8 is still a rich man's toy.
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It's NOT easy to explain. I have a Nikon 12mp D2x and a 6mp Epson R-D1 with Leica glass, and in the last year, I've just drifted away from using the D2x, although I still take it out. I don't plan to replace it with a new Nikon. I am getting an M8.

You can't get any look you want if the detail isn't there. Sharpening a picture isn't the same as having a sharp picture. If the non-AA "look" is what you want, getting it right out of the box is different than having to manipulate 100 pictures at a time to try to get it.

We do know how accurate the Leica's ISO is, if Sean Reid's tests are corrrect -- it's very conservatively rated. The 2500 is actually 3200, the 1250 is actually 1600 -- in other words, move up to the next standard rating from Leica's rating. You say it's noise performance is "less than stellar." Reid actually says that it IS stellar -- just not as good as the 5D, which is the best at noise control. (The 5D ISO is also conservative at the top end. Reid said that 3200 is closer to 4000.) So the 5D is better on noise at the high end, but the Leica is good, and has more detail. More detail, less noise: take your pick.

You say: "Rangefinder focussing might well offer greater accuracy, but at the cost of less speed. Not much point in great accuracy of focussing if you miss the shot." Somebody else might say, "No point in getting the shot if it's out of focus."

As for the rich man's toy, if you look at rangefinder forum, you'll see that most M8 owners aren't rich -- there are whole threads on how you might go about financing or otherwise getting your hands on an M8. A number of people have pointed out that you could buy a one-size smaller car next time -- people routinely spend $25,000 for a car that lasts only four years; so buy a $19,000 car and an M8 which will last for a couple of decades.

As an owner of both a DSLR and a digital rangefinder, I agree that the DSLR is a lot more flexible, better for macros, for zoom capability, for telephoto shots, and certainly usable for everything else. I also don't buy the argument that the 5D or the D200 are huge obtrusive machines, because they aren't (although the 1DsII is, and to a somewhat lesser extent, the D2x.) And they all take good photographs.

But man, a rangefinder is just *different.* The body on the M8 I hope to have Saturday is smaller than one of the common zoom lenses for the 1DsII. You can put a whole Leica kit in a small Domke bag. You can shoot at night without a flash, and I really like the "look" you get from that.

I think your post suggests a faulty analysis, a common kind of disconnect. An analogy is a guy who likes, say, hard rock, and he sees a bunch of people enjoying dancing to disco. He says, "On a practical level, that's not enjoyable music, therefore they can't really be enjoying themselves..." And he says it, despite the evidence of his eyes that the ARE enjoying themselves. You say that you haven't used rangefinders, and despite lots of people's insistence that the handling is the most important thing about them, you analyze them based on your requirements: that flexibility is most important. But Gary Winogrand didn't use a Leica because he couldn't afford a Nikon...

This rush of enthusiasm for the M8 isn't faked: there really ARE a lot of people who like rangefinders. Might not be for you, but for other people, they're great.

JC
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DarkPenguin

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« Reply #41 on: November 02, 2006, 10:31:48 AM »

To paraphrase C. Montgomery Burns, I think I'd be happier with the money.
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image66

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« Reply #42 on: November 02, 2006, 12:36:05 PM »

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Automatic functions is not what enables you to take better photos... they just makes things well, automatic...
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Alain, this is one of the best explanations I've read.  So very true.

The problem I have with automatic functions is the hoops you have to jump through to work around them or disable them.  For example, "Focus Point Selection"--isn't is just easier to turn the focus ring till your subject is in focus?

Ken
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alainbriot

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« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2006, 12:59:51 PM »

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Alain, this is one of the best explanations I've read.  So very true.

The problem I have with automatic functions is the hoops you have to jump through to work around them or disable them.  For example, "Focus Point Selection"--isn't is just easier to turn the focus ring till your subject is in focus?

Ken
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Thank you.  One of the things I love most about 4x5 is that nothing is automated.  On the one hand it can be cause for many mistakes. On the other hand it makes you focus that much more on the process of creating the image, and makes you think about the image a lot more.  Why?  Because if you have to work that hard at getting all the settings right, you are far less likely to take a snapshot.  The work you put in makes you want to get a good photo and not a snapshot.

There are, in this regard, similarities between Leica Ms and 4x5.  Leica Ms make you work harder.  In turn they make you think about the photograph more.  

I remember the first time I held a Leica, a used CL, which was all I could afford at the time (1985).  What shocked me was that  the viewfinder showed me more than what the lens was actually going to record (the crop lines are smaller than the total viewfinder, even at the widest lens setting).  

What that did to me was make me think: "Why do I want to crop out what is outside of the viewfinder?"  At that time I had been doing photography for 4 years (I started in 1980) and this was the first time I asked myself this question.  What I didn't know then was that I was questioning what should go in the photo and what should be left out.  The CL taught me a lesson that no SLR (single lens reflex) could teach me (I had been using an SLR until then).

Alain
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Alain Briot
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mtomalty

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« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2006, 01:14:15 PM »

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There are, in this regard, similarities between Leica Ms and 4x5.  Leica Ms make you work harder.  In turn they make you think about the photograph more. 

Fair enough,but what,then, would be the reasoning for much of your newer imagery
being captured with a 1DsMkll. (at least those images on your site that provide camera details)

Would you say these images are less thought out than some of your previous work?

Mark
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howiesmith

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« Reply #45 on: November 02, 2006, 01:14:55 PM »

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One of the things I love most about 4x5 is that nothing is automated.  On the one hand it can be cause for many mistakes. On the other hand it makes you focus that much more on the process of creating the image, and makes you think about the image a lot more.  Why?  Because if you have to work that hard at getting all the settings right, you are far less likely to take a snapshot.  The work you put in makes you want to get a good photo and not a snapshot.

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So very true.  When I was in photography school, that is exactly why the first year all assignments were to be done with 4x5.

We learn through mistakes.  And pain is a very fast and powerful teacher.

And the reward for the effort, ...
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alainbriot

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« Reply #46 on: November 02, 2006, 01:51:38 PM »

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Fair enough,but what,then, would be the reasoning for much of your newer imagery
being captured with a 1DsMkll. (at least those images on your site that provide camera details)

Would you say these images are less thought out than some of your previous work?

Mark
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Mark,

I started using Leica Ms in 1985.  I started using 4x5 in 1986 (with an Arca Swiss).  I got the 1DsMk2 in 2005... that's 20 years with 4x5 and 21 years with Leica Ms, plenty of time to learn how to create an image with a non-automatic camera... :-)

So, to answer your questions specifically, when I use the 1DsMk2 I am using it with the knowledge I built over the past 20 years.  The images I create with it are just as thought out as the ones I create with these other cameras.  

Only the camera is different. The photographer remains the same.

Eventually, as I explain in my essays, the photographer creates the image, the camera simply records it.  Once one knows how to create an image, this knowledge can be used with any camera.

What I am talking about in this thread is the process of acquiring this knowledge.  There are many ways to learn, but thinking carefully about the contents of the image is essential.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2006, 02:09:49 PM by alainbriot »
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Alain Briot
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Paulo Bizarro

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« Reply #47 on: November 02, 2006, 02:17:02 PM »

Interesting reading, this one about the process of learning. What I would argue is that with digital, you can learn a lot faster, and perhaps with less pain?

I have been shooting slide film for 15 years, and that has certainly helped in getting correct exposures with my digicam. Photographers starting today, with digital, have superb tools, and automation, to help them.

alainbriot

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« Reply #48 on: November 02, 2006, 02:24:34 PM »

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Interesting reading, this one about the process of learning. What I would argue is that with digital, you can learn a lot faster, and perhaps with less pain?
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Absolutely.  Exposure is guaranteed by the histogram. The LCD preview (or laptop/desktop monitor) means you don't have to wait for your films to come back from the lab to see what you got.  There is no increased cost for taking a large number of photographs.  You and not the lab have control over optimization and printing of your work...

But you still have to know what makes a photograph work :-)  And that, eventually, is the same with film or digital.
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Alain Briot
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howiesmith

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« Reply #49 on: November 02, 2006, 02:37:07 PM »

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Interesting reading, this one about the process of learning. What I would argue is that with digital, you can learn a lot faster, and perhaps with less pain?

I have been shooting slide film for 15 years, and that has certainly helped in getting correct exposures with my digicam. Photographers starting today, with digital, have superb tools, and automation, to help them.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=83406\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

You can certainly make that arguement.  It is my opinion that automation is most useful after you have learned the basics.  Better to really understand what the camera is doing for you.

I am reluctant to say that Photogrpahers who shoot 10,000 frames in a month have much time to think about what they are doing when they make an exposure and spend little time looking at 10,000 frames to figure out what went right, what went wrong, what to do the same or differently next time, and why.

I still think pain is a fast and powerful teacher.  I also think that instant gradification dulls the pain of learning to the point one does not learn.  And of course, thought, before and after making an exposure, is an important teacher.

Let the camera decide focus and exposure (f/stop, shutter speed, or even both), zoom a few times, then auto bracket in leau of thinking destroy real learning and reinforce sloppy work.

But whatever works for you.  But I would make sure it is really working first.
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Ken Tanaka

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« Reply #50 on: November 02, 2006, 04:54:13 PM »

Well this thread has certainly turned into an interesting stew of perspectives and philosophy, eh?  Many good thoughtful points made above.

I first touched a rangefinder camera only two years ago when I bought an M7.  My objectives were ( a ) to get one film camera (I'd long since divested my film cameras), and ( b ) to have a largely manual camera that could help keep me grounded in the basic craftsmanship of photography.  I had been using dslr cameras for quite a while and really wanted the best back-to-basics camera and lenses I could get.  My M7 has accomplished that goal and I very much enjoy using it.  

But I will welcome its digital cousin.  I just don't think I have the patience for film any more.  Not being someone who develops film I must rely on a lab's services which seems to take an increasing amount of time and cost.  (Developing 36 b&w TMax shots with contact sheets typically requires 3-5 diz days and costs $17.50.)  

Also, related to Howie's comments, I believe that digital's EXIF metadata presents an outstanding tool for learning and self-improvement.  I always recommend that newcomers to serious photography spend quality time not just looking at their images but also at the associated EXIF data (including date and time of day, for outdoor images).  Film images leave no such creation footprints.  If you goofed badly on film chances are you'll do it again.

The price of the M8 is hard to justify from a capabilities perspective.  The M's are not very versatile and the M8 is a bit like putting a fuel injection engine in a 1950's Chevy.  I think MR said in an essay last year that the digital M will be "the best digital camera of 1954".  That's essentially true.  But that's a delightful prospect for those of us who enjoy the M style of photography.

In closing I think it's important to keep in mind that for most of us photography is principally an activity of enjoyment.  "Getting it" is an unfortunate and rather exclusionary phrase with respect to Leica M cameras (or anything else).  I believe that in the coming years, if Leica and the M8 survive, many more people will have a chance to take a whirl with rangefinder cameras and that their digital incarnations will create a new generation of photographers who will find a new type of enjoyment from these cameras.

p.s.  I attach an image of the Leica M of the near future.  I don't think you'll see it on sports sidelines but... (BTW, it works fine.)
« Last Edit: November 02, 2006, 04:55:06 PM by Ken Tanaka »
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dbell

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« Reply #51 on: November 02, 2006, 04:56:20 PM »

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Interesting reading, this one about the process of learning. What I would argue is that with digital, you can learn a lot faster, and perhaps with less pain?

I have been shooting slide film for 15 years, and that has certainly helped in getting correct exposures with my digicam. Photographers starting today, with digital, have superb tools, and automation, to help them.
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Yes and no. All of the automation in a modern camera basically boils down to two things: making it more likely that you have an image that is focused wherever you pointed the camera and that the captured image is exposed "correctly" (for certain values of "correct").  

It's not doing anything that helps you compose effectively, chose an effective depth of field and focal point, or expose for an effective set of luminance relationships (pardon my B&W bias in terminology...).  Those things can't be metered or expressed numerically and they are at the core of the set of creative decisions that we have to make.

In my opinion, the truly compelling feature of a digital camera is instant feedback. A student can turn off all the automation and then use the LCD to immediately verify their own decisions (and they can always turn auto-whatever back on if they are struggling to solve a problem on their own). The important thing is to strike the right balance between the advantage of instant feedback and the danger of losing too much creative control. The human has to remain in charge; the camera's capabilities are just tools.

And once they have a decent image file, the kids still have to learn how to make a decent print from it. There's still plenty of pain to go around .


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Stephen Best

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« Reply #52 on: November 02, 2006, 05:37:45 PM »

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In closing I think it's important to keep in mind that for most of us photography is principally an activity of enjoyment.  "Getting it" is an unfortunate and rather exclusionary phrase with respect to Leica M cameras (or anything else).
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I agree. Except that there's likely to be quite a few people buy into the M8 and find, not for personal failing but just a matter of personal style, that it isn't for them. The augers well for plenty of activity on eBay in the future. Add some Zeiss ZM lenses and maybe the entry price won't be so steep. Also, I'm sure the buzz surrounding the M8 won't go unnoticed by Zeiss. Full marks to Leica though for kicking this off.
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Ken Tanaka

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« Reply #53 on: November 02, 2006, 06:49:22 PM »

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It's not doing anything that helps you compose effectively, chose an effective depth of field and focal point, or expose for an effective set of luminance relationships (pardon my B&W bias in terminology...).  Those things can't be metered or expressed numerically and they are at the core of the set of creative decisions that we have to make.

With "face recognition" now in several consumer cameras can auto-crop/auto-zoom be far behind?  I imagine you might be able to select certain framing "styles", like you can for tonality on some cameras.  You want "HCB style"?  How about Elliott Erwitt?  Wow, that Avedon style works great for portraits of my dog!

I can't write more...I'm nauseating myself.
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dbell

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« Reply #54 on: November 02, 2006, 07:09:19 PM »

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With "face recognition" now in several consumer cameras can auto-crop/auto-zoom be far behind?  I imagine you might be able to select certain framing "styles", like you can for tonality on some cameras.  You want "HCB style"?  How about Elliott Erwitt?  Wow, that Avedon style works great for portraits of my dog!

I can't write more...I'm nauseating myself.
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See Pete Myers' article entitled "Dude! Where's the Ansel Adams button?"  

[a href=\"http://www.outbackphoto.com/essays/essay017/essay.html]http://www.outbackphoto.com/essays/essay017/essay.html[/url]

To expand on your theme, imagine the fun that could be had with a Robert Mapplethorpe button .


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jani

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« Reply #55 on: November 02, 2006, 07:35:49 PM »

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I'm not sure that owning an M8 takes you out of the digicam rat race. Image quality from handhelds is starting to plateau but Leica is best placed to take advantage of any advances that may come in sensor design (due to superior optics and no mirror slap). I'd predict a M8 Mk2 appearing in the next 18-24 months.
Not to forget that there will be people lusting for a "full frame" digital model Leica. That's the M9, then.

So sure, Leica will have signed up for the rat race, but I don't think they necessarily need to be in the same race as everybody else, and perhaps they can go on racing at their own pace.
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« Reply #56 on: November 02, 2006, 07:58:54 PM »

Here's a clever thing they could have done with the winder....

Michael commented on the lack of a winder. What if they had left it there, and hooked it up to a litte winding/magneto thing.  When you wind it, it gives the battery a little charge.  Like the amount of energy used to process one picture.

So if you start with a full battery, and use your camera a fair bit, winding between frames, you would never have to use an external charger!

How cool would that be?

Bob.

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« Reply #57 on: November 02, 2006, 08:04:46 PM »

Ken, the pocket wizard photo is great, I love that.

 
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Ray

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« Reply #58 on: November 03, 2006, 04:12:19 AM »

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Automatic functions is not what enables you to take better photos... they just makes things well, automatic...
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C'mon, Alain. If you are saying that fancy equipment is no substitute for talent, then I agree. But that's not the issue here. Automatic functions have an 'enabling' effect, otherwise there's no point to them and they really are just bells & whistles.

I don't really consider aperture or tv priority mode a bell or a whistle. Auto-focussing, auto-bracketing, auto-exposure and image stabilisation etc are the very sorts of features that enable one to take technically high quality photos that one might otherwise miss or cock up. Whether or not they are intertesting photos is another issue.

Is anyone claiming that the Leica M8 will release his/her creative energies which have previously been blocked up due to the ease of automatic functions?
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Ray

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« Reply #59 on: November 03, 2006, 06:12:03 AM »

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It's NOT easy to explain.

Then I'm suspicious. Is this really like a designer item of clothing that might be marginally better quality than something off the peg but not to a degree that justifies the high price? In other words, it has snob appeal.

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You can't get any look you want if the detail isn't there. Sharpening a picture isn't the same as having a sharp picture. If the non-AA "look" is what you want, getting it right out of the box is different than having to manipulate 100 pictures at a time to try to get it.

I would suggest that a camera with no image stabilisation is likely to give you more unsharp images. Leica glass has a reputation which seems to appeal to the connoiseur, but the results on the Photodo site seem to indicate that the best Leica lenses are more or less on a par with the best Canon lenses. Ultra-wide angles might be an exception, but Photodo has not tested such lenses so I can't comment.

However, to get an FoV equivalent to 50mm on 35mm format, you need to use a Summicron or Elmarit 35mm lens. None of them, whether M or R, rate as highly as the Canon 50/1.4 which I imagine is also cheaper.

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(The 5D ISO is also conservative at the top end. Reid said that 3200 is closer to 4000.) So the 5D is better on noise at the high end, but the Leica is good, and has more detail. More detail, less noise: take your pick.

I haven't subscribed to Sean Reid's site so haven't read his review, but any marginal increase in detail is just that, marginal, insignificant. It wasn't apparent in Michael's comparisons so I'm assuming it has to be marginal. It would be interesting to see if it is more marginal or less marginal than the difference between the 5D and 1Ds2. My guess is that any differences in detail between the M8 and 5D would be less significant and therefore inconsequential and outweighed by the many other factors which conspire to produce images which are less than tack sharp, such as insufficient shutter speed, lack of a tripod and/or lack of IS.

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I think your post suggests a faulty analysis, a common kind of disconnect. An analogy is a guy who likes, say, hard rock, and he sees a bunch of people enjoying dancing to disco. He says, "On a practical level, that's not enjoyable music, therefore they can't really be enjoying themselves..."

Can't see any similarity to that guy and me. I'm generally swayed by the quality of the evidence, whether it's a reasoned argument or a sensory experience.

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You say that you haven't used rangefinders, and despite lots of people's insistence that the handling is the most important thing about them, you analyze them based on your requirements: that flexibility is most important. But Gary Winogrand didn't use a Leica because he couldn't afford a Nikon...

I never said that. I've never used a Leica rangfinder. I used a Canon 35mm rangefinder camera about 45 years ago, before I got my first SLR, the Pentax Spotmatic which I considered was a huge improvement. Before I bought my first DSLR, the Canon D60, I was using a Fujifilm GSW690 ll medium format, fixed lens rangefinder.

I don't know why Gary Winogrand uses a Leica, but I could think of lots of reasons which would not necessarily have any bearing on why I should use a Leica. As mentioned earlier in the thread, a very good reason for using an M8 would be prior ownership of a number of expensive Leica lenses.

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This rush of enthusiasm for the M8 isn't faked: there really ARE a lot of people who like rangefinders. Might not be for you, but for other people, they're great.

That's fine by me. There's often no accounting for taste. I'm just trying to find out what are the real and tangible benefits of a camera that seems deliberately devoid of so many automatic features which most of us find so useful.
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