Happy 10th birthday digital Leica M

The first digital M the M8 was released onto the world on the 14th September.  This month Leica are celebrating ten years of digital M’s.

Leica M4, Summicron 35mm Ilford Delta 400
Leica M4, Summicron 35mm Ilford Delta 400
Up to then ranger finder users either had to use film and scan or use the Epson R-D1 which had a cropped DX format sensor.  Leica up to that point had declared a rangefinder impossible.

Fashion at the Drill Hall
Leica M8
Using a cropped sensor helped mitigate the issue of range finder lens having their rear element so close to the sensor.  To also help the M8 Leica’s first digital rangefinder they made the cover glass and infrared filter a lot thiner then was usual.  With a cropped 1.3x sensor it was a great little camera, if a little slow and with a rear view screen only useful for menus.  I still use mine regularly and get stunning results.  It also has an advantage and disadvantage.  It is prone to infrared contamination thus you need to use IR cut filters on your lens.  This while an issue for colour photography makes it a great camera for black and white use.

The M8.2 introduced a better shutter and my M8 was upgraded to this shutter by the previous owner.

The first real digital M people generally consider is the M9.  With sophisticated micro-lens over the sensor it could be made full frame.

The next M the M Type 240 introduced better electronics and the option to use live view and an EVF.  All M’s since then have been variations of this, with either a bigger buffer or with a better shutter and live view removed.

I am still using my M8 and will continue to do so until the next M is announced.  I am hoping that the learning Leica has done making the Leica Q and the SL will mean it will have class leading electronics as the only thing letting down the M8 and to a point the M9 and M Type 240 range is the electronics.

When its announced i’ll make a decision on whether to buy that or pick up a cheap M Type 240 derivative.

Happy birthday digital M.

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