Friday, September 15, 2006

Leica M8 Hands-on Preview

by Phil Askey and Simon Joinson @
In 1954, at Photokina (or 'Foto Kina'), Leica introduced the first M series camera, the M3, the first Leica rangefinder body with a bayonet interchangeable lens mount, it was the beginning of a legendary series of cameras and lenses, the latest of which, the M7 is one of the only 35 mm rangefinder cameras still in production. For over half a century Leica has resisted the temptation to change the essential simple design established with the original M3 (it wasn't until 2002 that an electronically-controlled shutter was introduced allowing aperture priority automatic exposure). With an average 10 years between major upgrades and many of the original M3s still in regular use, the M platform is felt by its legion of fans to be the purest photographic tool available, and a welcome antidote to the mass of plastic feature-laden models that make up the rest of the market. Owning a Leica M camera has always been something people do with their hearts as much as their heads - and some of the 20th century's greatest photographers and most famous images were taken using them. It is no surprise then, that - despite talking about it for at least five years - Leica felt no need to rush into things when they decided it was time to bring the M into the digital age.

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