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Auction of the First Digital LEICA M8 Closed with Highest Bid of 24,000 Euro

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Leica has announced that it will offer the last 100 Noctilux-M 50mm f/1 rangefinder lenses in a limited-edition package.

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I have used three different M8’s over the past year in Iraq. The first M8 was a loaner given to me by Leica in the spring of 2007.  My second M8 I purchased new in September of 2007.  The third was given to me as a replacement when the second M8 malfunctioned.

I will try to make this review as comprehensive as possible with samples of the work I have done with the three M8’s that I have used.  This will allow others a detailed look at my experiences with the M8, most of which have been negative.   Please keep in mind that there are many other photographers who like the M8.

I have no axe to grind against Lecia–quite the opposite.  I have made my living with Leica’s for most of the past 20 years; I depend on them.  I still have several Leica M’s with which I shoot film on a daily basis

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Here’s an antidote for today’s inevitable Apple overdose, and a tale of a fetish older and more noble than the Cult of Mac. This is the Leica M3 Prototype No.0034, one of 65 made in 1952-53.

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Rochester Institute of Technology, and Leica Camera, proclaimed May 6, 2008 as Leica Day. The daylong event, hosted by RIT, was celebrated with speeches, lectures, tours, slide shows, seminars and parties. Andreas Kaufmann, the CEO of Leica Camera in Solms, Germany was there do donate 20 classic Leica M4-2 and M4-P cameras, each fitted with a brand new Leica Summarit-M lens (valued at $50,000), to RIT’s School of Photographic Arts and Sciences “to assure that analog photography continues to be a key element of photographic education at the highest levels.” Eastman Kodak Company also donated 400 rolls of their new Portra 400NC film to help support the program.

At the event, Kaufmann took the time to give us some insight about what’s happening at Leic

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So when you get that award(s), you’ll need something to wear out to remind yourself of it. How ’bout a a kick-ass camera pendant? Seriously. It’s a Leica, too

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“There has been much recent speculation concerning the M8, but we can confirm that the current design remains our most important product for 2008/9. As ownership increases, users seem to really appreciate that it is a faithful reproduction of a true classic M, but in digital form.” Says David Bell (Managing Director, Leica Camera Ltd., UK).

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Bill Pierce:

A number of blogs and Web sites have devoted a great deal of space to discussing the recent and somewhat abrupt dismissal of Steven Lee as CEO of Leica. There has been much conjecture as to the reasons and much of that has been centered around the Leica M’s introduction into the digital world. Truth is, the M8 was well underway long before the arrival of Steven Lee. And Leica’s problems started long before the M8 or Steven Lee were around, long before.

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It’s at this point that actor Aaron Eckhart usually comes clean. He lowers his Leica M6 camera, introduces himself, and explains what he’s up to. No, he’s not researching the role of paparazzo. He’s just engaging in his favorite pastime — street photography, something he’s done all over the world for the past seven years. Usually, when he’s recognized, he ends up posing for a picture, in exchange for his subjects’ allowing him to keep shooting. He even offers to make prints for them. “I’ve gotten some pretty good pictures this way,” Eckhart says.

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Statement from Leica Camera AG – 26/02/08

‘Already, in the working hours since the departure of Steven Lee, the Leica product development team has begun to review the M system strategy. It is too early to say what changes will be made. However, it is likely that the path may differ from the one set by Steven Lee. In any case, the M8 will continue to be our flagship camera into 2009. We can confirm that comments made during PMA regarding the possibility of an M8 upgrade to full frame were premature and we apologise if one of them gave a too optimistic outlook.

It is true that it is the desire of Leica to consider full frame within the M system. However, the final decision regarding the appropriate camera body configuration has yet to be made.’

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Scholz & Volkmer has launched an interesting website for Leica, the legendary compact camera brand that is currently trying to reposition itself and earn back the success of the past.

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Leica Camera, the German manufacturer of high-prestige but high-price photography equipment, has replaced its top executive, Steven Lee.

“The supervisory board of Leica Camera AG today removed Steven K. Lee as member and chairman of the board of management of Leica Camera AG with immediate effect,” the company said in a brief statement Friday.

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This project in particular is interesting because it came at a time when Lee was experimenting with different camera formats and frame ratios. Within the span of the 89 images in Frederick Law Olmsted Landscapes he shifts from his Leica, to a Noblex pivoting lens panoramic camera, to his Hasselblad Superwide, and the results are noticeable beyond the obvious frame shape.

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Basically I start by making sure there is at least ONE usable picture. No risk taking… Autofocus, straight flash, no fancy composition, the accused smack in the middle of the frame, 5 or six shots. That’s it… Switch to the M8, ambient light (the last firmware update finally delivers acceptable white balance results), 320 ISO (too much noise higher up), 2.8, 30th/ second and MOVE, change position, go to the back of the pack, slide to the right, push back into the pack again, move back and go to the left where the judges are, go straight back towards the accused, frame, focus and… finished. It’s over. The 5 minutes are gone. We’re politely asked by the security guards to leave the room… Hoping we didn’t screw up and that there is something a little different to show. There are about 60 frames on my cards, 40 of which are really useless.

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It is rare for a photographer that came of age in the 1960’s and 70’s to not cite Robert Frank’s The Americans and Walker Evans’ American Photographs as the two books that inspired them to take up a camera and explore the world. It is lore that gets repeated so often it almost seems disingenuous in the retelling. I have often thought that it isn’t possible that so many people could be so instantly enamored since, as much as it may be embarrassing to admit, both of those books took a while for me to warm up to them and see their true greatness. I’ve come around, probably in the same way that an early critic of the first edition of The Americans had when he described Frank as one who “produced pictures that look as if a kid had taken them while eating a Popsicle and then had them developed and printed at the corner drugstore.” That critic failed to specify which flavor of Popsicle would have fueled such a remarkable feat. If he had, maybe photographers would have flocked to have given it a taste.

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Jeff Mermelstein walks around New York with his Leica taking pictures. Great commentary on his style and process including his work on 9/11 below.

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Reports are piling up that luxury camera specialist Leica is ready to introduce a new model in its M line of digital rangefinder cameras. Besides the look and feel of Leica’s classic film cameras, the M9 supposedly would have a full-frame image sensor the same size as a 35mm negative, promising image clarity similar to a high-end SLR.

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Leica fanatics are different than regular people, so it’s no surprise Leica’s taking an entirely different—but brilliant—approach with its M8: It’s everlasting. Instead of dropping an M9 or M10, Leica is offering substantial upgrades to the M8 itself—mechanical and digital components, so it’ll slowly evolve into a new camera. The first package is a sapphire LCD screen, which can only be scratched by a diamond, plus a new, quieter, less shaky shutter, at a cost of around $1,800.

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Canon Powershot G9 Review

But seriously, who takes their M8 to Japan and ends up leaving it in the bag (or the hotel room) most of the time? The answer, it turns out, is me.

With only eleven days in which to savour a first-taste of Japan, I chose to travel as light as possible. In my old universe, this meant the Leica M8 with a 28/35/50 Tri-Elmar. At the last minute, Michael suggested that I also take the new Canon G9 and put it through its paces as a travel camera. No harm, I thought, as it’ll be nice to have a point-and-shoot for ‘happy snaps’ along the way.

As the story unfolded, however, this solid, dependable little blob of consumer electronics became my constant companion, and the Leica a lonely bag-warmer. This is the tale of how my paradigm on ‘serious’ travel cameras changed.

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