Why does the Leica M8 cost so much?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Everythingisnt, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #1
    I was reading the M8 review on dpreview and came across this interesting figure: the M8 body costs $4800 and the lens costs around $1600!! http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/leicam8/page21.asp

    Now as I understand it the Leica boats superior iq, rugged build quality, and pro optics, but is there more to justify the cost? (especially when considering that it is matched and surpassed in specs. by much cheaper dslr's like the 40d or d300..)

    I am beginning to wonder if the high price has anything to do with the fact that this camera is considered a 'luxury item' (which we must pay a premium for (ex: mercedes))
     
  2. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #2
    The lenses are fantastic, and for those who prefer a rangefinder (like myself), nothing else will do. It is a different way of quite literally capturing images.

    The glass is so expensive because great lenses are expensive. The camera body costs a bomb because there is no economy of scale.

    I couldn't justify one without a full frame sensor and hence it is the M9 that may get my attention. That said, I would love a smaller camera body that held the M-series lenses. 35mm film required a certain bulk that digital may, in part, be able to do away with while still being ergonomically sound.

    A DSLR is a tank to me, and useless in most situations as I simply don't want to lug it around.
     
  3. Everythingisnt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #3
    I think I was a bit mistified about lens cost because a comparable 50mm nikkor is ~$100, whereas the summicron 50mm for the leica is ~1600...
     
  4. dextertangocci macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    #4
    Isn't that the camera that guy has on Eurotrip:D
     
  5. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #5
    4th best movie ever! But what Scotty doesn't know won't hurt him. ;)
     
  6. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    #6
    small production => Massive cost to them => to us.

    Luxury +dds.
     
  7. krye macrumors 68000

    krye

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Location:
    USA
    #7
    That's because it is actually hollow. It is filled with Unicorn tears and pixie dust.
     
  8. Soma 115 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Location:
    the Chi
    #8
    hahaha i laughed so hard at that! :p

    also...eurotrip is a great movie
     
  9. jpfisher macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2006
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #9
    It's a Leica, they can afford to charge through the nose... it's part of their history. ;)

    You're paying for the optics, the R&D for a small-run product, the brand, and the fact it's only competition is a discontinued Epson camera. It's also an issue of paying exponentially more for top-quality stuff... a Leica lens might cost four times the cost of the competition (say the 35mm Summilux f/1.4 - 3895 retail -- versus the comparable Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 -- around 900), but is it four times better? Nope.

    I've had mine for about two weeks now. Absolutely love it, and yeah, I could have bought a used car instead... or a D3 -- but a used car doesn't take pictures, and a D3 is freaking huge in comparison... plus I'm pretty happy with my Pentax primes and don't see myself jumping over to another SLR system anytime soon.

    You can take a look at what I've shot with it if you'd like -- http://www.downeffect.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=tags.VirtualAlbum&g2_tagName=M8
     
  10. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Location:
    51st State of America
    #10
    Having admitted you've bought a Leica M8, I was expecting a certain type of photography from you that is associated with such a camera when I followed the link provided, can you explain why you bought it if those pictures represent what you've done with the camera so far?
     
  11. jpfisher macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2006
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #11
    I wanted something that was more compact than SLR, but didn't sacrifice image quality. Something I could carry with me during my daily commute that wouldn't weigh me down.

    My other camera systems (Pentax 35mm & digital, Hasselblad 500) didn't fit that bill; the M8 is not meant to supplant them, simply to give me another option for shooting. If you take a look at my portfolio you may get a better idea of what I tend to shoot -- the shots on page 2 are probably the type that most "fit" the idea of the M8, but I don't think shots should be dictated by the tools.... If I was out shooting with an SLR I would never say "Oh, I really can't take this photo -- it's in the style of a rangefinder photo" or vice versa.

    I certainly wouldn't use the M8 as a go-to option for anything I would use a tripod for (ie, nighttime HDR), but it's now my main option for more casual/light (as in weight) use. I very rarely shoot anything telephoto -- I have some old telephoto primes for the Pentax (300mm f/4, 200mm f/4), but the longest autofocus lens I have for that system is 135mm on the long end (50-135mm zoom)... when I shoot with the 'blad, I love the 50mm lens (28mm FOV equivalent), and also use the 80mm (normal -- 50mm equivalent) a lot. The 31mm (46.5mm FOV equivalent) is my most-used lens on the K10D by far.

    So I got the Leica and the 35mm Summilux (50mm equivalent), which I feel fits my "eye" very well. I also picked up a Voigtlander 21mm (28mm equivalent) as a wide-angle option.

    And yes, I'm still getting accustomed to the rangefinder. I don't know if I need to explain to anyone why I took those photos with that particular camera -- a lot of it is just getting used to the system, the stuff at the Peter Allen House & wedding were done because I didn't want to carry a lot of gear... I was doing videography for the wedding and didn't want to add too much weight, as I was already lugging an HVX-200 with me.
     
  12. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    Tee hee, great quote! You make it sound like Harry Potters fancy wand :D

    I have a Leica CL and absolutely love it, it just has a feel about it that cannot be explained and taking photos with it is a joy - it is the only time I still shoot film now. My DSLR also feels like a tank after using the Leica.

    It is the same as buying an expensive watch when a £20 digital Casio watch tells the time just as accurately. You can't reasonably justify the cost but if you have one then use it and enjoy it.

    PS The lenses are bloody sharp too. Worth 4x the cost of a Nikon lens? Probably not, but after paying for the camera putting anything else on the front is like putting the cheapest, unbranded re-tread tyres available onto a Ferrari!
     
  13. John T macrumors 68020

    John T

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Location:
    UK.
    #13
    No they're not "luxury" items - they're "Quality" items!
     
  14. mcarnes macrumors 68000

    mcarnes

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    Location:
    USA! USA!
    #14
    The film Leicas were cool up to the M6. If you want digital, you would be better off with a Canon or Nikon.

    M8 Iraq Review
     
  15. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Location:
    51st State of America
    #15
    I agree and disagree with what you said about tools dictating the shoots. I agree because I'm in a university with certain students who are through and through practicing photojournalists and they respect the way photography works more than I do. I'm criticised often for shooting portraits in landscape format for example and I'm told I shouldn't do it.

    I'm also told I should shoot MF or LF if the subject is stationary but that's something else.

    With the Leica however, there was an expectation there which I had for your photography with certain types of shots before I clicked the link, generally with such an expensive machine you're going to want to make money with it, not play with it. But you've stated you have had it for a short time and that explains a lot now. Still I can't help my curiosity especially with the money involved.

    With regard to your portfolio, I like the way you're going with the black and white, my only comment is that you're not close enough with the people shots, they are not interesting where you're positioning yourself now. I also notice the repetition of lines in the first 7 images (page 2), the last one seems like the odd one out due to the lack of lines. So anyway, you need some tilt in your images (serious photographers joke there :)), don't confine yourself to the symmetry and lines you've presented in your portfolio so much either.

    I know you probably weren't looking for a critic but I've done it now. What have you done with your portfolio so far?

    Btw, some of the colours on page 3 and 4 are amazing. Some that stick out are 42 and Mantis just because of the depth of field employed.
     
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #16
    I don't think the 40D and D300 have better specs. The M8 has a larger sensor. It is closer to a full frame camera then to a Canon/Nikon crop body.

    The same thing happens with bicycles. Mass market bikes are cheap but the very high end bikes cost over $5K. Why. Well because they are hand built one at a time. Same here. Leica does not build many M8 camera and each one is hand assembled by a skilled worker in Europe. the D300 and 40D are built to much lower standards in a big factory. So like bicycles the last 10% in build quality costs and extra 90%

    I have a fake Rolex I bought on Korea for $15. It keps good time, likely as good as a real rolex. If you look at just the specs there is no difference between the real and the fake. Both are the same weight and size and keep time to withing seconds per month (or whatever) But there are things that the specs just don't capture that make the real thing a much nicer product. Same with Leica cameras. If you get a chance to see an M series camera you can see the level of craftsmanship in an instant. When you pick up a Nikon D300 it loks nice but "craftsmanship" is not the word you think of to describe it
     
  17. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #17
    The M8 costs a lot for two reasons: (1) It says Leica on it, and (2) The M8 is a rangefinder, and therefore, offers the user something different.

    Some digital Leicas are expensive only because it says Leica on it.
     
  18. Everythingisnt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #18
    Okay, well then consider the 5d. It definitely blows the M8 away in IQ as seen in the DPreview comparison..

    And while you're certainly right about the fact that the Leica has more 'quality' and attention in its build, the actual difference in build performance we are going to see in each model is minimal.. I mean, even if a D3 is built in a big shop in Japan, it still needs to be robust and strong.


    However i think you really hit the nail on the head with your Rolex watch analogy.
     
  19. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    #19
    While the Leica M8 is certainly a nice camera, some of the best pictures I've seen have been taken with point and shoots or just plain film cameras. The camera rarely has anything to do with a great shot.
     
  20. jpfisher macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2006
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #20
    Well, my view is you should do what works for the shot. I'm not one to color by numbers -- if it works, it works.

    I've yet to experiment with LF, but I do enjoy the MF process. Shooting with an older camera is actually one of the things that made me consider the M8; handheld light meter, setting everything manually - it makes me much more selective when shooting-- when I'm working on film I want to make damned sure that my exposure has at least the potential to be something I want to hold on to.

    I'm not a professional photographer, nor do I have a desire to become one. I shoot for myself -- a creative outlet which is very important to my mental well-being.

    It *is* a lot of cash -- I did get it at a discount compared to MSRP -- professionally, I work as a web content writer for a photo retailer... it has its benefits.

    I think it's clear from my work that people are not my strongpoint. When I do shoot them, I try to convey some sense of isolation -- evident in Swilling Toads (the subjects are at the far left of the frame, engaged with each other, but almost pushed out of the composition by the otherwise empty diner counter), and the same with Laundromat -- a lone figure, watching his clothes go round and round, on the far side of the frame.

    Of course, I say the above *now* -- when I was getting those shots, it wasn't conscious in my mind. Personally I was more interested in the setting each time, the people there simply acted as ways to frame the image.

    The last black and white shot you mention is of my favorite street vendor in Manhattan. I hope to replace that in the future with a better shot. He's got a great face, and is almost always in full camo gear. Usually at the corner of 34th and 8th if you find yourself in NYC during the day.

    I'm always open to critique, I appreciate someone who takes the time to actually *look* at my work. Which I guess is what I've done with the portfolio so far... put it out there for comment. As I said before, I've no aspirations to go pro. I do plan on doing an revision to the portfolio in the very near future -- there are some shots that I'm going to prune and replace with stronger ones.

    The Mantis & 42 were both taken with the same lens, interesting that you would pick them out... actually the only shots in the whole thing captured with it -- the Pentax FA 77mm. I generally work much shorter than that, but it's nice to go a bit long on the focal length occasionally (again, shooting with longer focal lengths -- one of my weaknesses).

    Almost everything on page 3&4 are digital.. the exceptions are Oncoming Train (Kodak negative film... something 160 speed, I think a Vivid Color type, I didn't note it down) and Ruins/Commmodore Criterion (Provia 400)

    Again, thank you so much for taking the time and effort to offer a critique. I realize it's a bit OT compared to the original intent of the thread, but I hope it's offered some insight. As I get more used to shooting with the M8, I'd be very happy to field any questions... part of my lives for "talking shop" when it comes to photography. :)

    Jim
     
  21. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Location:
    51st State of America
    #21
    I didn't think it was clear that working with people wasn't your strongpoint actually I thought you just weren't letting yourself focus on the people because you're concentrating on other things such as the surroundings. You've got a handle on the background and they clearly don't interfere with the foreground, I'm just suggesting you shake things up a bit. :)
     
  22. l'homme macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    #22
    Just Panasonic bodies with stylish retro designs + great sharp lenses, all for high premium charges.

    Go for Nikon or Canon.
     
  23. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    #23

    Not true of the M8. The compacts. Yes.

    When nikon went and made film rangefinders, reproductions of their old designs around the year 2000 they were pretty expensive, and yet they were supposed to have made a loss on each one. This is Nikon. I can imagine it costs Leica a lot to make an M.
     
  24. juanm macrumors 65816

    juanm

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    Fury 161
    #24
    A real-life review (of course, if your real life involves living in Baghdad :D )

    Link

    After reading it, I wouldn't buy this camera for more than $500.
     
  25. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    #25
    Essentially, he's taken a camera, built for wealthy middle-aged men, pootling around the hills (not an insult, just the truth) into a war-zone. Funnily enough, it's the wrong tool.
     

Share This Page