New Leica M8.2 and new lenses (September, 2008)
Anyone who had expected, overtly or secretly, that Photokina 2008 would be the moment for the announcement of the R10 or M9, might feel disappointed that the company takes its time to design and market really new products. Leica users and watchers are in fact in that same situation that the Nikonians had to endure for such a long time. For a long period it seemed that Nikon had lost contact with the market and one could see how the competition piled up innovations at a high rate. When Nikon reacted it was a strong range of products and some defectors returned to their roots. Once lagging, Nikon is now leading. Leica-ists are now in the same position. Whether the wait will be worthwhile has to seen.
The new Leica M8.2 shows that Leica responds to market criticism and wishes. This product is intended as a bridge to the future and should attract new customers. The designation (like the old R6 and R6.2 models) refers to an upgrade and not a new product. The current M8 was at first greeted with great expectations and then some severe shortcomings came to the fore. There was/is nothing wrong with the basic image quality and with expert photographic technique and some minimal post-processing the results are on a par with the results obtained with a Nikon D3 and Canon 5D. Leica has always played the minimalist card when comparing camera features and insists that only the basics are required to take good pictures. Leica profiles the M8 as the reasonable and sensible alternative to the overly complex and feature loaded dSLRs. The M8 has just enough features to get the photographic job done but simplicity and intuitive handling are preserved. The Leica M has never been a system camera in the current sense of the concept and claims for itself a small segment of the photographic spectrum: the human interest or documentary photography where empathy and a keen eye are required for meaningful pictures. The emphasis on manual focusing with the rangefinder for framing and distance setting does force one to think about the picture and to experience the act of taking pictures. Full manual shooting is not only fun, but also a conviction, even a certain way of life. The CRF as an alternative to the full automated SLR camera with its inherent machine gunning method of picture taking, is not a new idea. It was the profile of the Leica CRF in the AgX period. Leica wants to extend this position in the digital age and current image culture.
Photokina 2006 was the moment where the M8 was unveiled: the camera immediately got a dual personality: greeted by the aficionado's as the thing we always wanted to have but were afraid to ask for and criticized by many professional users for a number of negative points. The infamous infrared sensitivity, the inaccurate frame lines in the finder, the unpleasant shutter noise, the awkward placing of buttons and the menu-oriented handling of major controls (like ISO settings and exposure compensation) put a bit of a blot on the original enthusiasm. The occasional breakdown of the electrical circuits, the unreliable automatic white balance was not helpful for the reputation either.
So strong is the loyalty of the true Leica user that the sales volume of the M8 was high enough to push the company through its nadir.
The M8.2 takes away the most critical negative aspects, but cannot improve every element. The frame lines are now adjusted to show the 100% view of the scene when the focus is at two meters. The M8 had its frame lines adjusted to the scene at minimum distance (0.7 meters). The shutter in the M8.2 is now tamed to top at 1/4000 (flash synch at 1/180) and makes less noise, some even claim that the sound level is lower than that of a well adjusted M6 shutter: this is mainly a matter of taste and personal hearing. There is an ISO override option (plus minus three stops) that can be activated by slightly pressing the release button and turning the selection wheel. Still not the best solution, but it is an improvement. The main switch has now a stronger resistance when you wish to engage the self timer. With the M8 you could easily activate the self timer when you just wanted to select the continuous shooting mode. These are sensible but not major improvements The addition of the sapphire cover glass and the Snapshot mode and the Vulcanite type body cover can be categorized as nice to have, but will not improve picture taking. The S-mode is a concession to the casual user that a purist might deplore.
The black version now has a durable black paint over the metal parts and no longer the black chrome cover and the accessory-shoe is in decent grey. The red logo is black too. The silver chrome version will bear the red coloured logo. The black version has without doubt a visually satisfying design and is a pleasure to look at and use. Now there is no need to cover the body with black tape to create a Stealth version.
The M8.2 can at last handle SDHC cards to 32 Gb and a new battery loader will inject power into the battery at a high speed. The size of the loader has been reduced and takes less space in the camera bag. You can live with this, but still a far cry from a Canon or Nikon battery that you can use for a long period without recharging.
Presumably the LUP will be expanded to help M8 users to get most important features of the M8.2. Then you can at best create an M8.1 but this might suit many users.
What can we make from this introduction?
Some improvements will help suppress valid criticisms and one is tempted to say that the M8.2 is the camera that Leica should have produced from the start. The M8.2 is definitely closer to the Leica roots than the M8, and is more fluent in emphasizing the operational simplicity and the functional effectiveness of the CRF concept. The company has indicated that the M8 will stay in the program, but that is certainly not for a long period. The models are too close in features and usability to warrant two different product offerings. The current prices are quoted as E 4000 for the M8 (and a LUP of at least E 1200) and E 5000 for the M8.2. The M8 price is inclusive a trade in camera.
New buyers will opt for the M8.2 but it is doubtful whether the additional features will seduce a current M8 owner to trade in or sell the M to get a M8.2. The risk for the company is the unknown extent of the potential for new dCRF buyers. There is certainly not a limitless reservoir of dCRF buyers and one cannot guess how much the M8 has skimmed off from this potential. Photographers who are buying into a top of the heap dSLR line (affordable at the M8/8.2 price level) will not divert their resources to buy the M8.2. And photographers who bought an M8 just recently will not feel tempted to buy the M8.2. Leica now offers three routes to obtain products that are quite close together in price and functionality: M8, M8 + LUP and M8.2.
If an M8 owner has money to spare for an investment in Leica products, the new lenses are probably more interesting to take into consideration. Leica has a long pedigree in designing excellent lenses. And the new Summilux and Noctilux designs are very interesting. It is some feat for such a small company and optical design staff to create eight lenses in just over a year. This is an impressive result. The pace of innovation has quickened dramatically and the lead time per lens design has been shortened to almost breakneck speed. Not only lenses have to be designed, but the new finders are also quite demanding on the design team. This aggressive design and marketing approach is the merit of the now much maligned Steven Lee.
The best news is that the optical performance has not been diluted to create these designs in such a short time.
Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH.
Designated as the fastest aspherical 35mm lens in the world, the new Noctilux is the successor of the Noctilux 1/50mm with seven elements. Canon once made a 0.95/50mm lens, but wide open and stopped down this lens was at best acceptable. The new LNA (leica noct asph) improves on three shortcomings of the previous version. The focus shift has been reduced substantially, the stopped down performance is outstandingly good and close up performance is quite good because of the new floating rear group. The old Noct did improve when stopping down, but even at optimum apertures contrast was below that of the Summicron at the same apertures. From f/4 and smaller the performance is comparable with that of the Summilux 1.4/50 asph. Only the corners are a bit softer. But on the M8 you will not notice this. The wide open performance is hardly better than what you get with the old Noct 1/50, but one has to say that the 0.95 aperture is more than 10% wider than the f/1. Do not expect the vignetting to be much improved, but distortion is. With eight elements and two aspherical surfaces and a floating group, the lens is clearly derived from the Summilux asph design, but it is a separate design. New is the fact that the two large front elements are separated and there is an air lens between them, just as the original Summicron from 1953 had. At the widest apertures the depth of field is extremely narrow and the sharpness plane is hair thin. The M8 finder with 0.68 enlargment is not accurate enough and the new 1.4 finder loupe is a must. The MP and M7 with 0.85 finder are in a much better position here. The classical 50mm field of view is with these cameras self-evident. The M8 user will get a 70mm field of view.
It is a pity that Leica marketing has to emphasize that the Noct has a speed that surpasses the speed of the eye. By now it is common knowledge that the eye has an aperture of 2.8 to 3.5, depending on age and DNA.
LEICA SUMMILUX-M 21 mm f/1.4 ASPH. en LEICA SUMMILUX-M 24 mm f/1.4 ASPH.
High speed extreme wide angle lenses are not common to say the least. The M designs can be optimized for this type of lens more easily and better than true retrofocus designs. The new designs depart from the Leica philosophy to create short lenses in this range. The Zeiss view that the elongated but narrower design has advantages by extending the distance between the location of the entrance pupil and exit pupil to balance aberrations has been adopted by Leica. Additional advantage of the more tubular design is the fact that the viewfinder is relatively clean and the lens inclusive shade does not intrude. To keep the diameter as narrow as possible the same design as is used in the Tri-Elmar 16-18-21 has been employed: External thread with non-rotating mount and stop for filter holder or lens hood. The Summiliux 21 and 24 share many characteristics, but are not two versions of the same basic design. Every lens has been optimized, but there is a family resemblance. The 21 lens has 10 elements in 8 groups and is a quite complex design for Leica norm. This is required as the lens needs to cover a wide field of view and a massive amount of light. Compared to a 2.8 design four times as much energy is passed through the lens. Two aspherics and a floating group are incorporated. Wide open the lens has a shade of softness, but is very usable. Stopped down the performance is exemplary.
The 24 Summilux has ten elements in eight groups, but has a different layout to optimize for the smaller angle of view. One aspherical is enough and the floating group is also available.
For both lenses the wide open performance is quite good, but do not expect a high contrast definition. It would be wrong to give all attention to the high speed aperture. With current sensor technology a high ISO speed may compensate for the sheer speed of the lens. At least as important is the ability to compose a scene with true selective focus. Environmental portraits are now possible with very fine out of focus blur in the back ground. The boke of the 21 and 24 is very pleasing with a clean background blur and smooth gradation.
Leica Elmar-M 3.8/24 ASPH.
This lens is the successor of the Elmarit-M 2.8/24 ASPH. There is a definite improvement in overall quality and the definition is now very even over the whole image field. Wide open the image quality is already outstanding in the centre of the field. Stopped down the performance becomes outstanding if not superb over the full image field. The optical layout has 8 elements in six groups. The compact design fits very nicely in the Leica M tradition. The price is quite acceptable and this one should not be overlooked because of its modest aperture.
These lenses (with the exception of the Elmar) are heavy and voluminous and are in a different league compared to the Summarit range in all respects. The speed of the lux and noct designs is very impressive and the performance can hardly be faulted. The designers have balanced the requirements for performance with the demands for a volume that is as small as can be tolerated. The noct as example has eight elements and there is no room for additional lens elements given the space requirements.
The precision of manufacture and assembly is demanding on the whole production chain. The floating groups move only a few millimetres, but must operate at micron level to be effective. The tolerances have been narrowed to twice the level of previous designs. This is impressive, as the use of machines has been increased. The level of precision that a skilled worker can hold is generally higher than what a machine ca do, but the worker has its lapses of inattention, where the machine works without fatigue. The cooperation between and the tuning of optical design, tolerance level, machine capabilities and performance requirements is optimized to a level previously thought impossible. The design and manufacturing now operates close to sub- micron level.
The speed of the lenses is better interpreted as enhanced capabilities for interesting compositions and imagery than the sheer performance wide open, however good this is. The current line up for the M camera is Tri-Elmar 16-18-21, 2.8/21, 1.4/21, 1.4/24, 3.8/24, 2/28, 2.8/28, 1.4/35, 2/35, 2.5/35, 2.5/50, 2/50, 1.4/50, 0.95/50, 2/75, 2.5/75, 2/90 en 2.5/90. Of these 18 designs, 14 lenses belong to the 50mm or shorter and half of all lenses are 35mm or below. This composition shows the road for the profiling of the M line: as the ultimate snapshot camera in the wide angle domain where the rangefinder concept has decisive advantages. At 90mm and longer the current Leica rangefinder operates at its limits and the composition of the lens range reflects this property. A very interesting complement to the Leica proposals is the brand new Zeiss ZM 4/85, which operates well within the rangefinder tolerances. A final word may be spared for the new finders for the 21 and 24 lenses. The newly designed and constructed lenses have a full metal construction, and a complex lens system. The result is a crystal clear view, undistorted and flare free. The solid construction is closely modeled to the original shape. The finder shows framelines for the full 35mm format and the M8 format. These are really beautiful products. For the price you can also get a D-lux 4.. For this price you also have a full blown DSLR with quite good performance. This makes one reflect on the price elasticity for the Leica M products
Leica M8(.2) and Nikon D3 (October 3, 2008)From 1959 to 1970 the Nikon F and the Leica M3 and M2/4 were the two top products that a serious professional wanted/had to use. Both cameras incorporated the highest level of engineering that the precision mechanical industry had to offer. And the optics were state of the art too. Not only the professional user used both cameras, the passionate amateur followed the lead and bought these models too. Both the F and the M3 followed spartan morals and offered only the minimal set of features. Not a sprinkle of automatics was available. Coupled exposure metering is available, but only as an add on (Leicameter and Photomic. Otherwise you have to set the aperture and speed by yourself on experience or on guidance by a handheld exposure meter. The Nikon had as add on a motor drive and the Leica had the Leicavit (on a special model). Basically both cameras were manually operated based on user expertise, just as photographic lore would dictate. The main difference was the rangefinder here and the ground glass there. Both systems had advantages and limitations and therefore many photographers had an M3 and later the M2/4 with wide angle and an F with telelens. Larry Burrows is the prime example.
From 1970 more and more functions become automatic as electro-mechanical and electronic functions are incorporated into and do replace mechanical functions and processes. The role of the micro-processor is greatly enhanced. When the capture medium has been changed from silver halide to a CCD-sensor the transformation from analogue to digital is complete. The complete photographic chain has been digitized.
The Nikon F6 is the ultimate camera for AgX photo technology . The Leica M7 might be seen as the true comparison. Handle the F6 and you still feel the vestiges of the original F body, but enhanced and amplified by numerous electronic features. A study of the manual is necessary to fine tune the options and study their operational value.
The D3 is a totally different machine If the F6 is from Mars, the D3 is from Venus. The M7 on the other hand is hardly different from the M8 and indeed the M8 is intuitively identical to the original M3. But you keep searching for that lever wind.
Speed versus skill.If the M8 has the philosophy of a mountain bike, the D3 feels like a Formule 1 racer. The M8 does offer only a minimalist set of options and choices, just as what you get with a mountain bike. You can ride a bike if you do most things yourself and you need experience and training to get somewhere. You can do wonderful things with a bike, but it does do nothing itself.
When using a Nikon D3, you can get very good pictures without knowing much about the photographic principles. When you are able to frame the scene and on automatic pilot, the software goes quite far in ensuring a technically well balance picture. The main characteristic of the D3 is speed and customization. Exactly these are the aspects the Leica is lacking. With the D3 you can customize almost every aspect and function to the wishes, situation and application of the photographer. The amount of choices and parameter options is almost limitless and you need a handbook to find out what and how to customize. You have three main picture formats (24x36, 24x16 and 30x24), and an endless list op compression options, several exposure meter options (3D matrix, spot metering and a range of centre weighted circle diameters) five stops exposure compensation, exposure and flash bracketing, AF focusing on one or 11 or51 points , dynamic AF with pattern recognition, flash control with DDL and matrix and a very sophisticated flash slave system. The menu has a list of more than 40 items than can be programmed and adapted to personal preferences. The choice of options allows one to optimize the camera to a certain set of photo assignment and/or personal style of working. The display and finder show a large amount of information so much that is not easy to see what the camera is telling you.
The Leica M8 has hardly anything to offer in this area. A handful of options are available, you can switch between automatic exposure with aperture priority and manual setting, you can select the white balance operation and you can do some exposure compensation by hand. And you can set a few flash options. Compared with the D3 the Leica is really frugal and costs much more. The Leica is quite slow, the buffer overflows easily after a few pictures and above ISO 640 the noise becomes quite visible.
And the Nikon is fast. The speed is indeed incredible. Then the race is over? Not really! In the final analysis, you can capture with the Leica many of the images that you can make with the D3. The core of every picture consists of one single shutter speed and one aperture combination (however sophisticated the decision to select a certain exposure) and one sharpness plane with more or less depth (selected automatically or manually) and last but not least the framing and shooting angle for the scene. Whatever the software algorithms and automatic detection systems, in the end you have these simple parameters for every picture: distance = 3 meters, aperture = 5.9 and speed = 1/1250, focal length = 70mm. There is no difference here between the D3 and the M8. The main point is that the D3 does select these numbers mostly automatic, with user weighting for the selection, that changes in circumstances are accommodated for superfast and continuously, based on pattern recognition algorithms and a database of exposure and luminance distributions. The Nikonian can make 20 pictures in two seconds, where the Leica-ist can handle at most 3 pictures in two seconds. The Leica-ist has to set the exposure and distance pro-actively and must anticipate how the scene or motive will change. With aperture automation the Leica has a modicum of exposure automation, but this is not as fast and accurate as the Nikon automation. The classical scene where the Leica may have troubles is the theatre where the actors move quickly and the lighting changes erratically. Here the D3 user operates with ease and confidence, where the M8 user needs a substantial amount of anticipation and even empathy to wait for the perfect image. The scene must fall into a shape at the moment and location where the Leica-ist is prepared to take the picture and has set the parameters accordingly.
You need experience and some luck to get the picture you want. Here we meet the second group of differences between the D3 and M8. The Leica user has to be in command of the camera to create the picture and when the act of photography is successful, there is this element of proud of having accomplished something. With the Nikon you have always the feeling that the camera is in control and that you are simply guiding the camera. This is not bad in itself: a Formule-1 racer does not brake or steer by himself, but is reacting to processor controlled monitoring of speed and forces. But there is a difference in type of pride. Playing the violin takes years of training, but a pretty melody out of a synthesizer is much easier to do. Both pieces of music are valuable, but there is an intrinsic distinction.You might not see a big difference between a picture made with a D3 or an M8, but the way to get there is of totally different order. Take as example the Nikon flash control system that is built into the camera. The i-DDL program allows the use of five remote controllable flash units and the automatic exposure control for balanced lighting based on pattern recognition and highlight background analysis. This is a very sophisticated system, and relatively easy to use and set up. The Leica user has a very restricted range of options here. With the Metz SCA system you can go someway to emulate the same functionality. In fact an external flashmeter and a modicum of knowledge about balancing main lights and supporting lights in the studio or on location would suffice to get the same results. But you need time and some expertise to set up the lighting for the scene and the analysis of the results of the flash metering.
The Leica M8 is at its best when the photographer has a strong rapport to the scene or motive, when he/she stands in the midst of the action and can anticipate what is going to happen, based on an emphatic understanding of the situation. Wide angle lenses form the majority of focal lengths in the M scuderia and the high speeds of the lenses compensate for the slower ISO sensitivity and add to the impact of the picture with the aspect of selective sharpness and environmental background.
The very clear finder and frames support the focus on the subject and the simple handling of the camera does not detract from the actions in front of the camera. But you need to stay in contact with the subject and the camera: one moment of lack of concentration and you may miss the opportunity. With the Nikon you work more relaxed and with a bit of detachment. You know that the camera takes care of most unexpected changes in the scene. You can even change on the fly some parameters if you want to do this without interruption of the workflow. The Leica has only a few options and these have to be operated manually and this is not always easy to do. The camera has not been designed, nor built to allow dynamic changes during the photographic act. You select in advance what you want and wait for the scene to develop into a shape that matches the idea you had in mind.
For a comparison between the D3 and the M8 we regarded the Leica options as the rule and used with the D3 just these options, but allowed every automatic support that is available. Especially impressive in the D3 is the pattern recognition of the camera when you use the focus lock option. If you compare feature lists the Leica loses instantly. When you turn the table and use the D3 with simple advance, simple Aperture priority exposure, and selective metering as in the Leica, you set the same basics and then you are able to compare the cameras.
For the D3 works the speed of operation, the AF is very fast, transport is silent, response is immediate. But the many buttons, wheels and display items always give you the impression that you are overlooking something and the many symbols and display items in the finder are too complex to quickly grasp their value and you have that feeling of insecurity that you might be missing something. Ergonomics of the Nikon are excellent, but the camera is heavy and even a bit unwieldy. The selection of the speed or aperture with a wheel and a display symbol is definitely slower than the turn of a ring on the lens or camera.
The manual focus of the Leica is really slow, compared to the D3 and the rate of success is lower too. But with the Leica you know where you focus and here the D3 is a bit annoying: at unexpected moments the D3 surprises you with a blinking AF point out of 51 or 11 possible points at a position of the subject where you do not want the sharpness plane.
With the rangefinder you are slower, but you can precisely locate the plane where you want it. The concept of the rangefinder implies that only the centre of the finder can be used for sharpness selection. The Nikon can even focus at the outer regions of the finder.
With experience and much training the rangefinder can be operated with speed and accuracy, and that is part of your pride. The pictures made with the M8 and the D3 do not differ greatly is image quality, colour reproduction and exposure. The Nikon D3 blows away the Leica M8 when you look at the possibilities, speed and range of photographic assignments that you can cope with. The D3 can handle almost every task with ease and good performance. The operative speed is impressive, the sensitivity of the sensor is amazing and the scope of customization leaves no wishes. The Leica M8 is more restricted in its area of deployment, but can score points when the photographer needs to be intimately involved in the subject or scene and wants to operate at close range, where selective sharpness, the precise framing and the conscious focus are required.
The very low noise of the D3 (shutter, mirror, AF) is really amazing and the M8 has trouble to match that level of decibels. The new M8.2 is more silent than the M8, but the classical claim that the Leica has the most silent shutter noise in the industry is no longer as true as it was in the past.
With the M8 you have the best lenses in the industry, but only an experienced user who has trained and is in command of the skills and feels proud of his/her accomplishments can exploit the performance potential. The Leica does not necessarily make better pictures than the Nikon (I want not to fall in this easy trap!). Both cameras are formidable performers. The Nikon scores with speed and dynamic automation, the Leica needs skill and dedication. But when you see an excellent Nikon picture, the camera takes the credit for 75%, where in the case of the Leica the user takes 90% of the credits. When using the Leica M8, you use the bare essentials of the photographic process and your own skills to get the picture. The Nikon D3 is a most flexible instrument to get the job done, but you are more removed from your own skills and thus the pride of accomplishment is less.
M8 or M8.2?The recently introduced M8.2 is not a new camera, but an upgrade of the existing M8, that was introduced two years ago. Basically the M8 and M8.2 do not differ as they use the same body, same chassis, same sensor and same lenses. The software is also the same in all essential points, but a few differences remain. A true test of the M8.2 is not expedient, as the performance is identical.
I have been using the black paint version of the M8.2 for some time and I like this most recent interpretation of the M-culture very much. Especially the black paint incarnation of the M is a most pleasant instrument. Let us set the record straight: the technical differences between the M8 and M8.2 are minimal. Switching between the M8 and M8.2 does not give you any more potential for better pictures.
The only really smart change is the adoption of frame lines that are related to the scene representation at a distance of two meters. The M8 has frame lines that relate to the scene framing at a distance of 0.7 meters. The idea behind this choice is to be sure that the photographer gets every part of the scene that he sees on the sensor at every possible distance. But the downside is the fact that at longer distances the sensor captures much more of the scene that the photographer assumes he gets based on the selected frame lines in the finder. That is annoying, because exact framing at closer distances is the hallmark of the CRF. A comparison between the M8 finder and the M8.2 finder proves that the frame lines for the same focal length are indeed different and visibly so.
Useful, but not necessary are the changes in the shutter, that allow an almost silent working of the shutter. In the normal mode the shutter fires and the shutter is readied for the next shot. This operation is not noiseless and even a bit unpleasant as the sound is not mechanical but almost artificial. The new M8.2 shutter mechanism is redesigned for less noise and now has a topspeed of 1/4000. The trick of the so-called discrete mode consists of a time delay between the shutter action and the subsequent tensioning of the shutter. There is no noise at the moment of pressing the shutter and as long as the user keeps his/her finger on the shutter release nothing more happens. After releasing the finger, the shutter is tensioned.
The loss of the top speed of 1/8000 and the drop in flash synchro speed from 1/250 to 1/180 is immaterial in most situations and the gain in user satisfaction is quite big. Useful too is the option to change the ISO speed when you press the release button and turn the selection wheel. The change in EV value is visible in the finder. Not the best of solutions, but given the limited opportunities for change, this is quite acceptable.After some training you can change the ISO speed on the fly during picture taking, and keeping eye at the camera finder ocular.
The black paint version of the M8.2 in addition with the dark grey accessory shoe and the black/white logo give the camera a very elegant look. In fact this version might be one of the best looking M-cameras in the whole lineage. This black paint is a hardened version of the normal black paint which peels off easily. Leica has assured me that the new black cover is very resistant to abrasion, but to be honest I am not convinced at first sight. History will give the verdict.
The adoption of a sapphire glass for the protection of the display is a smart choice in my view. It is nice to have, but it will not add anything to the functionality or operation of the camera. I did not try to damage the surface by using a steel nail to scratch the glass. On the other hand it is reassuring that you do not have to worry about the sensitive surface of the protection glass.
The new vulcanite cover looks good (it is reminiscent of the classical M3 cover and also of the MP 3 special edition), but the claimed advantage of a less slippery grip cannot be substantiated.
The new S-mode (S for Simple or Snapshot) is a remarkable option. It reduces the choices to a minimum and automatically shifts to JPEG. In the menu you can choose between color or monochrome pictures, but that is about all you can select.
The additional feature that you can get a pictogram (after selecting the INFO button) that teaches you to select a wider aperture when photographing a portrait and a small aperture when doing a landscape with accompanying depth of field indications, begs the question who Leica thinks will buy this camera and needs this support.
Leica assumes that there is a market where fabulously rich persons want to own and use a Leica M8.2, but do not bother about the basics of photography and want fuss-free and think-free photography. In my view as soon as you can read a pictogram and know what the depth of field means for the picture, you can look at the lens ring with the DoF scale and read off the same information.
The message from Leica is inconsistent here. On the one hand the company profiles the M8(.2) and indeed the whole M-line as a working photographer's tool for those who know the basics and take pride in getting excellent imagery with the minimum of automatic support. But then you add a Simple mode to the camera that is absolutely superfluous for the general M-user and is intended to seduce newcomers to buy and use the camera as a (very expensive) point and shoot model.
The owner of an M8 has two options: buy an additional M8.2 and hold or sell the M8 or use the LUP to add some features to the M8. The new user has an option of buying the M8.2 or an M and use the LUP to improve the camera. In my view most M8 users should upgrade to the new frame lines. This is really an important improvement and still acceptable in cost-effectiveness relation. If you are happy with the M8 the selection of the M8.2 is not the best idea. A new Summilux 21 or 24 might be a better investment. Basically an M8.2 has the main focus on improving the user satisfaction compared to the M8 and it is up to the user to weigh his investment potential. A new user would be wise to buy the M8.2 (see below) or the M8 without upgrades, but still add the new frame lines. For the price differential you can buy a Summarit lens or a good ZM lens. If you want the upgrades, then the cost of the LUP is too high. Is there any reason now to buy the M8. Functionally the differences between the M8 and M8.2 are quite slight.The only argument is the lower price, but if that is what you want it might be smarter to buy an M8 second hand and do the LUP. You will end with an M8.1 and still shell out less money than for the M8.2 In this period of credit crisis it might be a consideration. If you want the finest example of a Leica digital M camera that you can buy at the moment, then the black paint version of the M8.2 is the best choice. The white-chrome version of the M8.2 is functionally equivalent, but lacks the stealth-like character of the black version. But the chrome plating might be more durable.