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Leica M8

APS-H MF digital rangefinder camera

Specification

Production details
Announced:September 2006
Order No.:10701 - black chrome
10702 - silver chrome
System: Leica M (1954)
Rangefinder and Viewfinder
Rangefinder:Built-in, combined with viewfinder
Viewfinder:Built-in, combined with rangefinder
Finder magnification:0.68x
Actual rangefinder base:69.25mm
Effective rangefinder base:47.09mm
Bright-line frames:24mm & 35mm, 28mm & 90mm, 50mm & 75mm
Parallax compensation:Yes
Imaging plane
Maximum format:APS-H
Mount and Flange focal distance:Leica M [27.8mm]
Imaging plane:27 × 18mm CCD sensor
Resolution:3916 × 2634 - 10 MP
Shutter
Type:Focal-plane
Model:Electronically controlled
Speeds:32 - 1/8000 + B
Sensor-shift image stabilization:-
Exposure
Exposure metering:Through-the-lens (TTL)
Exposure modes:Aperture-priority Auto
Manual
Physical characteristics
Weight:590g
Dimensions:138.6x80.2x36.9mm
Accessories
Body cap:14195
14397

Manufacturer description

Many Leica photographers’ dreams have now come true: The LEICA M8 has opened up the Leica M system for digital photography. It is a totally new direction. It not only looks like an M model, it faithfully embodies all the advantages of the analog Leica M system to provide sophisticated and creative digital photography. It is the only professional digital camera to use the beneficial rangefinder system, which is discreet, quiet, fast and accurate. And the uncompromising quality criteria of the M system have been applied to the M8 unchanged. Full compatibility with almost all M lenses means that their unique performance can now be used to take digital pictures. The low-noise CCD image sensor with a resolution of 10.3 million pixels has been specially integrated into the compact lens design, ensuring optimum picture quality. The operation and functionality of the digital M concentrate on what is essential. Useful additional functions provided by digital technology complement the proven M concept. The LEICA M8 is the first timeless digital camera “Made in Germany”. Excitingly new and yet comfortingly familiar.

The lenses recognized as the best in the world demonstrate their full capabilities on the LEICA M8. The extremely high resolution of all M system lenses since 1954 make them perfect for digital photography. The M8 quite deliberately has no resolution-reducing moiré filter in front of the sensor to maintain the full performance of the lens.

The low-noise CCD image sensor has been consistently optimized for the special features of the M lens system and provides an excellent resolution of 10.3 million pixels. The special sensor adaptation with micro-lens offset prevents problematic vignetting in the corners of the picture. An exceptionally thin cover glass prevents unwanted refraction of light rays striking the sensor obliquely.

The highest film speed settings of up to ISO 2500 now allow much more detailed pictures to be taken than was ever possible with analog films. As a result, the M8 opens up a new chapter in the history of available light photography.

The M8 is designed to deliver professional results over many years. The enclosed all-metal body is made of a high-strength magnesium alloy. The top and base plates are cut from solid brass blocks and then given a black or silver chrome finish. DNG technology is used, as this raw data format is future-proof and guarantees secure long-term archiving.

During development of the M8, there was a consistent attempt to only incorporate those digital options that are relevant from a photographic perspective. It retains the basic range of functions, such as aperture priority and manual focus and combines them with the proven Leica rangefinder principle. A simple and intuitive menu system allows the settings to be changed on the 2.5" monitor by pressing just a few buttons.

The electronically controlled metal blade focal-plane shutter enables shutter speeds of up to 1/8000 second to be achieved. Even in very bright surroundings, the photographer still has total creative freedom thanks to the selective focus feature with open aperture. The high flash synchronization speed of 1/250 second now allows daylight flash photographs to be taken with selective focus.

To make cocking the shutter as close to silent as possible, a rubberized silent friction wheel has been placed in the first winding gear stage. A cam disk is used to transfer the force at a constant torque over the entire path of the cocking arm. As a result, the electric motor cocks the shutter almost soundlessly.

At Leica, image quality is not just a slogan; it is achieved by optimizing every link in the performance chain. The high-speed Leica M lenses with 6 bit- design actually offer a slight improvement in performance, while the modified sensor, the use of digital negative format (DNG) and the Capture One LE RAW data converter ensure the best possible image quality.

The lack of a resolution reducing moiré filter in front of the sensor promotes an exceptionally high linear resolution, which the modern Leica M lenses in particular can deliver. Thanks to their outstanding resolution capabilities and the high degree of correction, they are perfect for use with digital technology. The LEICA M8 uses an optical scanner on the camera’s bayonet to identify the 6 bit-coding of the current Leica M lenses. This allows the slight vignetting caused by the system to be compensated, further improving the familiar high image quality. The lens type identified is saved in the EXIF data for the image file and the reflector position on modern flash units is adjusted to the image angle depending on the focal length.

CCD technology provides the lowest level of image noise and was therefore chosen for the image sensor in the M8. A high basic speed of ISO 160 extending to a maximum speed setting of ISO 2500 produces pictures with far richer detail than analog films can deliver. A moiré filter, which optically filters out fine image details, was deliberately omitted to utilize the full resolution of the Leica M lenses. Instead, any moiré patterns are eliminated by the camera’s signal processor. Because the light towards the edges impinges on the sensor obliquely with Leica M lenses, the thickness of the cover glass has been reduced to just 0.5 mm to prevent unwanted refraction. As a result, the image has uniform brightness right to the edge, there is no vignetting caused by the sensor and the existing Leica M lenses can demonstrate their full capabilities on the digital camera. With its LEICA M8 and LEICA DIGITAL-MODUL-R, Leica is the only manufacturer of digital camera systems to consistently modify existing sensor technology in this way.

To increase the light sensitivity of the CCD sensor, micro lenses are positioned in front of the pixels. However, light rays impinge on the sensor obliquely towards the edge of the image and it is no longer possible to direct the light onto the pixels with a conventional micro lens structure. For this reason, the LEICA M8 sensor uses a special micro lens structure with lenses moved right to the edges – perfectly tailored to the characteristics of the Leica M lenses. As a result, the image has uniform brightness right to the edge and there is no vignetting caused by the sensor. For the sensor on the LEICA M8, Kodak uses micro lenses with a lower refractive power than those in traditional sensors. This increases the permissible angle for light falling on the onto the pixels obliquely. The benefit of this is that existing Leica M lenses can demonstrate their full capabilities on the digital camera.

The operating concept of the M8 is the result of a great deal of care, many years of experience and an in-depth understanding of how professional photographers work. By concentrating on what is essential, we have made the user interface simple, clear and intuitive. We have deliberately avoided function keys with multiple uses and complex menu structures on the LEICA M8.

Operation of the digital functions centers on the combined direction pad and dial, which can be used for fast navigation. Pressing the Set key opens the exposure parameter menu on the 2.5" monitor. Here, you can quickly check and adjust the crucial settings : 1. Sensor sensitivity, 2. Exposure compensation, 3. White balance, 4. Data compression and 5. Resolution. There are three blank slots in the memory for profiles, allowing you to retrieve frequently used combinations for specific applications. Pressing the Menu key takes you to the clearly structured system menu, where you can change some of the basic settings that are permanently applied, for example the ECI RGB, Adobe® RGB and sRGB color space options. You can also specify whether you want your pictures to appear on the large display immediately to review them, how long they will be displayed for and whether a tonal value histogram appears.

A display on the left-hand side of the top plate constantly shows the remaining capacity of the SD card and the lithium-ion battery. This elementary photographic information is thus available at a glance at all times.

The LEICA M8 has a special function for manually cleaning the sensor. When you select the corresponding option in the menu and press the shutter release, the shutter remains open while cleaning is in progress. The low depth of the M camera makes the sensor more easily accessible than on digital reflex cameras, for example.

The battery and the SD card slot are located under the base plate, which is cut from solid brass and provides effective protection from dust and moisture.

As a professional digital camera, the LEICA M8 provides an RGB tonal value histogram. This can be called up at any time to check the exposure of saved pictures and can also be combined with the automatic review function. Another useful feature is the additional marking of overexposed sections of an image – known as the clipping warning. The particular advantage of this is that these two control tools are constantly updated constantly updated when zooming in on the LCD display, allowing the quality of even the finest image details to be assessed. Pressing the Info function key displays all of the photographic settings from the quick menu and additional meta-information saved with the image file – this enables you to completely evaluate a picture as soon as you have taken it.

The LEICA M8 has an aperture priority mode with a choice of two delay times of 2 and 12 seconds.

The LEICA M8 is supplied with special software that allows the camera to be controlled remotely for scientific work or in a photographic studio. With LEICA DIGITAL CAPTURE the camera can be operated from a computer via a USB connection and the image data can be saved directly onto hard disk. The software can send all settings in the exposure parameter menu, e. g. sensitivity and resolution, to the camera.

The state of the art metal blade focal-plane shutter enables flash sync speed of up to 1/250 sec to be achieved. The new M-TTL flash technology with pre-flash for flash metering opens up new creative possibilities in composition and flash exposure.

The unique feature of the new flash technology is that a pre-flash for flash metering is fired immediately before the actual exposure. TTL measurement of the light reflected by the surfaces of the subject determines the exact power required from the main flash. The seamless addition of the flash intensity to the available light results in flash photographs that retain the natural lighting mood.

The auto slow sync function allows you to use aperture priority mode in conjunction with the flash technology. It ensures that the image background is balanced even if the intensity of the ambient light should change. An appropriate metered amount of fill-in flash is emitted to provide correct exposure. Depending on the photographer’s experience or the intended effect, various maximum exposure times can be set for aperture priority. This can be done manually or – when using 6 bit-coded lenses – automatically using the rule of thumb 1/focal length in seconds.

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm

Travellers' choice

Note

Among autofocus lenses designed for 35mm full-frame mirrorless cameras only. Speed of standard and telephoto lenses is taken into account.

One of the best

According to lens-db.com; among lenses designed for the same maximum format and mount.

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Unique Leica Look

Leica lenses are one-of-a-kind optical masterpieces that are impressive because of their unique Leica Look. This is ensured through exceptional optical design combined with selected materials and the highest quality standards.

Leica lenses reveal their full potential only when mounted on Leica cameras, since only these have sensors precisely matched to their optical characteristics.

Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

14195

Protection cap, for camera body with LEICA M bayonet mount.

14397

Protection cap, for camera body with LEICA M bayonet mount.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.

Format

Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),

where:

CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.

Mount

A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.

Speed

The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Electronic manual focus override is performed in the following way: half-press the shutter button, wait until the camera has finished the autofocusing and then focus manually without releasing the shutter button using the focusing ring.

Electromagnetic diaphragm control system

Provides highly accurate diaphragm control and stable auto exposure performance during continuous shooting.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.

Weight

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.

Filters

Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.

Teleconverters

Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.