So I have been shooting with a borrowed Leica M8 for the past few days, and I have a few thoughts on the camera. The thought of a digital rangefinder has always seemd attractive to me, as the whole system tends to be smaller and more compact than a comparable SLR system. If I were to purchase a rangefinder system, the Leica M8 would certainly be at the top of my list.
The M8 is a gorgeous piece of equipment. The quality of craftmanship is second to none. When you hold the M8 in your hands, you know that the best materials were use in its construction, and people paid attention to its being built at all stages. I have been using the optional Handgrip for the M8, which is a must-have accessory if you are going to own the M8. Without the grip the M8 tended to slip out of my hands, and didn't feel as stable. With the Handgrip in place, I felt that I could hold on a little tighter, as well as shoot with slower shutter speeds.
The majority of my photography either happens from a tripod or Land Rover in Africa, but I also shoot tons of photographs of daily life here at home. Inside the house. Ambient light. High ISO shots. 1 year old child scurrying about. 2 greyhounds. You get the picture. Absolute chaos. If you were to call me during the day, I am sure you would hear all of the chaos in the background.
ISO 640 can certainly be used, but 1250 doesn't evoke that Leica quality that we often associate to the brand. So I decided to start using the Leica SF 24D flash unit. I learned that once you start using this flash, the camera system starts to get bulky. The flash sits nice and high above the camera, which is a great thing, but it also feels unbalanced to me. The M8 just feels best without a flash. The SF 24D worked great for me, but the metering system needs some getting used to for best results (just like any camera/flash system).
Leica has a wonderful battery charger, as you plug the unit directly into the wall. There are no cords to have to deal with, and Leica has created a charger with interchangable power tips, making it very easy to travel to foreign countries with different eletrical plugs. Well done. I only wish they could have figured out a way to accommodate 2 batteries instead of 1.
At the end of the day, I will not be purchasing the M8, mostly due to what I want out of a camera. If I was a hard core travel photographer in urban areas, I would likely purchase the M8. Instead, I am a wildlife and landscape photographer, and I have different tools to suit my own style and needs. I don't look forward to sending the M8 back, but I probably have another few days to get it out of my system for a while. If my needs change, I will go back and take a hard look at the M8 again.