Future-Proof Camera?

Leica M8 owners have recieved an interesting e-mail promising an update package for the camera, the first in what is described as “a perpetual upgrade program” which will result in the Leica M8 being able to “incorporate the latest refinements and developments in handling ease and technology.”

Registered users can buy certificates for the upgrade in March, but the factory will not start the work until August 2008, and we have still to be told the cost, but it sounds as if it will be very useful.

Included are two features which are significant improvements:

  • Scratch-proof sapphire glass cover for the LCD monitor.
  • Noise-optimized shutter with a fastest speed of 1/4000s.

The shutter noise has been one complaint by many users, including myself, who found the M8 sound much more obtrusive than the film Leicas. You can compare the two in the sound files on the Leica M8 Downloads page.

Also welcome is the news that a firmware upgrade, version 1.201 available from tomorrow, Feb 1, (presumably from the download page above) will improve the automatic white balance, one of the annoying minor (for those of us who shoot RAW) defects of the camera.

Leica does seem finally to be getting its act together with the M8, and it’s good to see that it intends to keep the early purchasers of the camera up to date rather than bring out a new model every couple of years. I just hope the cost will not be too great.

Along with Cornerfix – and of course those IR cut filters – we look like ending up with a truly usable camera. Like earlier Leicas it is a great camera to use – within its limitations, and the discipline that this imposes can be extremely productive. I found it very useful in Paris last November when I wanted to travel fairly light, shooting mainly with a 35mm f1.4 lens. Although it isn’t as flexible as a digital SLR, for certain things it is still the best tool. While the SLR is the Swiss Army knife of photography, the Leica is more of a scalpel.

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