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M8-dwg.jpg M8-top.jpg


On the Street - $US 4,195; £BP 2,899 + 1,985 = £BP 4,884 w/ 28 mm lens in 2008.


  1. The Leica M8 is rangefinder as opposed to a single lens reflex camera. The sensor is a 1.3 crop, the recorded field of view of lenses designed for FF (35mm) changes accordingly.
  2. The M8 uses manual focus lenses, with manual setting of the f-stop. There is no image stabilization in the lenses or the camera body. The camera is generally designed for use with wide-angle up to short-telephoto lenses (normally 90 mm max).
  3. There is a viewfinder which is separate from the lens ie you dont view the image through the lens as you do with a DSLR. Focusing is achieved using the rangefinder in the viewfinder. An excellent animation of how the rangefinder works can be seen on the Leica website. Frame lines present in the viewfinder indicate the the boundaries of the image to be captured. They change depending on the lens fitted and are accurate at the closest focus distance of the lens (often 0.7m). At longer distances the frame lines show less than the image captured. In the viewfinder the photographer can see what is inside and outside the frame lines. This is a great aid for composition and capturing that 'decisive moment'.
  4. External viewfinders which fit into the camera's hotshoe are used with lenses wider than 24 mm. Focusing the image is still carried out using the rangefinder in the camera body's viewfinder. With very wide lenses the depth of field can be so great that zone focusing using the distance scales on the lens barrel can be used instead of the rangefinder.
  5. For proper colour reproduction and best sharpness, lenses must be fitted with uv/ir cut filters. These are not the standard uv filters that are fitted to help protect lenses nor are they filters for ir photography. Having bought your M8 you can order two FOC from Leica. If you borrow an M8 for a trial make sure the lens is fitted with a uv/ir cut filter.
  6. The sensor is not fitted with an anti-aliasing filter. As a result great image sharpness can be achieved using the M8, at the expense of increased moire in a few situations.
  7. The menu is very very simple compared to DSLR cameras. There is a battery indicator on the top plate.
  8. The camera is designed primarily for one-shot operation although the continuous setting allows about 2fps for up to 10 frames. There is also a self-timer. The shutter is apparently louder than previous film M Leicas (which are renown for their quiet shutters).
  9. The camera originally used only SD cards but with FW V2.0 and later SDHC cards can also be used. Don't worry about getting fast expensive memory cards - the camera can't utilize them. 133x is fine. You need to remove the baseplate of the camera to access the SD card and the battery.
  10. The metering is centre-weighted as opposed to the 'matrix' system used in many DSLRs. The metering pattern is shown in the user manual and taking note of it helps greatly in making correct exposures. There are no alternative metering patterns. For alternate readings use a handheld meter.
  11. Two shooting modes are available. Fully manual mode uses the shutter speed dial on the camera and the aperture ring on the lens. In this case LEDs in the viewfinder indicate the correct exposure but note that the shutter speed is not indicated. Alternatively in Auto mode the user sets the aperture ring on the lens and the camera determines the shutter speed which is indicated in the viewfinder. Exposure compensation can be set in Auto mode.
  12. Current Leica lenses are coded. As a result the camera knows which lens is fitted and makes corrections in software to negate both vignetting and colour shifts that occur when using uv/ir cut filters. Although the camera knows which lens is fitted it does not know which f-stop is used, thus this information is not included in the exif. However, the latest version of Capture 1 (v4.1) includes an 'educated guess' of the f-stop used. Most old Leica lenses can be coded by Leica at the customer's expense but Leica does not code Zeiss or CV lenses, users can make their own arrangements for these lenses. Coding is most useful for lenses wider than 35mm.
  13. The camera outputs RAW files and jpg files. Best results are obtained in RAW mode. Leica provides a copy of Capture 1 LE v3.7 for the processing of RAW files (dng). Capture 1 LE v3.7 will not run on Windows Vista or the latest Mac OS, however the latest version – Capture 1 v4.1 can be downloaded from the Pase One website and activated with the key included on the Capture 1 LE v3.7 disc. Other RAW converters can be used including Adobe Camera Raw, Adobe Lightroom, Aperture and others. The choice of RAW convertor is often decided by personal workflow arrangements but some users feel that Capture 1 gives the best overall results.
  14. The ISO setting ranges from 160 up to 2500. Using Auto and 160 ISO many users find that setting -1/3 or -2/3 ev is useful for avoiding blown highlights in some situations. Conversely, at ISO 640 and above, under exposure should be avoided for the best results in terms of keeping digital noise as low as possible.
  15. The M8 is compatible with a very large selection of Leica M-mount and Leica Thread Mount (LTM) lenses, which include those that are manufactured today and back to lenses that were manufactured 50 or more years ago. Other manufacturers such as Zeiss, Cosina Voigtländer and Canon have produced lenses in M-mount and LTM, which offers a wide range of lenses with differing characteristics, quality and price points.
  16. When using the camera's auto review feature on the LCD a histogram can be displayed at the same time. This is most useful for checking that the correct exposure has been used. The histogram is generated from an in-camera jpg. If shooting in RAW the histogram from the jpg may show blown highlights, whereas the dng file will not. Of course if the image is significantly overexposed this will affect the RAW file also.
  17. The rangefinder used in the M8 viewfinder is extremely precise – the user's eyesight might not be. Many benefit from using diopter correction lenses to achieve that sharp 'snap-into-focus' that the rangefinder will give. Another useful add-on is a magnifier for the viewfinder. This is especially helpful when using lenses longer than 50mm.
  18. The M8 retains the traditional and aesthetically pleasing rounded body of previous M series cameras. It is completely unlike the molded body of a DSLR camera. Many users find the M8 body comfortable as is but others prefer the extra grip that can be provided by the Leica hand grip. Other non-Leica accessories which 'improve' grip include custom cases or a small curved bracket which fits into camera's hotshoe known as the 'Thumbs Up'.
  19. The battery for the Leica M8 is designed with concealed contacts, no cover is required when storing batteries. It is advisable to carry spare batteries.
  20. The Leica bayonet, in combination with the small size of the lenses, provides for rapid and easy lens changes when required, an important feature as the great majority of lenses used with the M8 – and rangefinder cameras in general – are prime lenses.
  21. Early versions of the M8's firmware (FW) gave erratic Auto White Balance (AWB) performance. This problem was resolved by Leica with the release of FW version 1.201. Those users shooting exclusively in RAW can correct (or adjust) the white balance in post processing. As choice of white balance is often an aesthetic decision this is one of the real advantages of RAW capture.

M8 Firmware History

Launched - September 14, 2006+.

  • 1.06 (Nov 2006)
  • 1.09 (Dec 2006)
  • 1.091 (28 Feb 2007)
  • 1.092 (05 Mar 2007)

Version 1.092 Includes: In Review mode the bar above the image is black and now includes displays for the shutter and ISO speeds as well as the image number. The clipping function is now accessible directly in Auto Review mode, i.e. without having to press the INFO button first. The color rendition with Adobe Camera Raw was improved. If Auto Review and Histogram are both selected in the menu, this is now indicated as „Hold/Histogr.” The word „disabled” has been replaced by „off”. Numerous internal procedures were improved and so-called bug-fixes implemented.

  • 1.102 (14 Mar 2007).

Version 1.102 Addresses: Image quality problems resulting from the M8 sensor sensitivity for infrared light. Depending on the angle of the light it can lead to color offsets near the image edges with focal lengths from 16 to 35mm and will give an undesirable magenta-colored offset effect. Leica has therefore recommended the use of special Leica UV/IR filters. Together with coded lenses, this new firmware version corrects these color offsets.

  • 1.107 (27 Jul 2007).

Version 1.107 Includes: Changes within the firmware allowing Leica Camera an even saver and more efficient production process. Modification of internal procedures, optimisation of the general image reproduction and the functional features of the LEICA M8 has been accomplished.

  • 1.110 (05 Nov 2007).

Version 1.110 Includes: 6 Bit lens codes for Summarit-M lenses 35, 50, 75 and 90 mm; Time shortened between pre-flash and main flash in M-TTL mode with flashes LEICA SF24 D and SCA compatible flashguns function of the central setting wheel on the camera back improved (unintentional scrolling of the menu now prevented) battery capacity display improved. Change in the French menu: «Marche +UV/IR» instead «Marche avec»

  • 1.201 (02 Feb 2008).

Version 1.201 Includes: New and considerably improved algorithms for the automatic white balance (AWB), Bug fixes: The following effects have been remedied: With certain SD card types, images were bouncing while being reviewed. In few cases, wrong exposures were reported when the camera was released from stand-by mode. In the Exif data, the Max-Aperture-Value of the TRI-ELMAR-M 16-18-21mm/f4 ASPH was incorrect.

  • 2.000 (03 Sep 2008) - Released 18 Sep 2008.

Version 2.000 update adds these improvements to your camera: Compatibility to memory cards in the SDHC standard up to 32GB capacity.

Note: The choice of SD and SDHC cards in the market is already very big and is constantly growing. Therefore, Leica Camera AG is not able to do comprehensive compatibility- and quality testing with all available cards in the market. We recommend “Extreme III” or “Professional” from the leading brands such as “SanDisk” or “Lexar”. Using other card types, will not damage camera or card, but as especially “no name” cards do not respect the full SD or SDHC standards, Leica Camera AG cannot warranty full function with those cards.

New function “AUTO-ISO” with setting options for maximum ISO values and the slowest shutter speed (please see also instructions for LEICA M8.2 from page 121) Note: It is not possible to “downdate” LEICA M8 cameras to previous firmware releases, once the version 2.000 has been installed.

  • 2.002 (28 Nov 2008).

New function: Detection of 6-bit coding for new M lenses. The 6-bit coding and the correction profiles of the new Leica M lenses LEICA SUMMILUX-M 21mm/f1.4 ASPH., LEICA SUMMILUX-M 24mm/f1.4 ASPH. and LEICA ELMAR-M 24mm/f3.8 ASPH. have been implemented. The profile of the lens LEICA NOCTILUX-M 50mm/f0.95 ASPH. will be implemented in a later firmware version before the first shipments will start. “Bug Fixes“: a. If LEICA M8.2 cameras are set to the “Discreet” option and to single exposures, an unintended “black image” may have occurred when the finger was not completely lifted from shutter release button before pressing it down again for the next shot. (Not valid for LEICA M8 Cameras) b. Setting “AUTO-ISO” in combination with lens dependent setting of the slowest shutter speed: the camera will switch to the higher ISO when the shutter speed corresponding to “1/focal length” is reached (was 1/focal length + 1 f-stop). c. Correct display of image numbering. d. Correct display of the fastest sync speed in the menu (1/180s on upgraded M8 and M8.2, 1/250s on M8).

Notes: a. It is not possible to “downdate” LEICA M8 and M8.2 cameras to previous firmware releases, once the version 2.002 has been installed. b. Saved User Profiles will be deleted during the update process and have to be set again after updating the camera.

  • 2.004 (03 Mar 2009).

Detection of 6-bit coding for new M lenses: The 6-bit coding and the correction profiles of the new Leica M lenses LEICA NOCTILUX-M 50mm/f0.95 ASPH. and LEICA SUPER-ELMAR-M 18mm/f3.8 ASPH. have been implemented. Discrete Mode for all LEICA M8 cameras: Since the Market introduction of the LEICA M8.2 we have received numerous requests from customers, asking for the delayed shutter cocking action in combination with the LEICA M8. Therefore with the new firmware 2.004, the Discreet-Mode is available on all LEICA M8. At the lower end of the Menu list a new menu point „Advance“ has been added with the options „Standard“ and „Discreet“. Notes: a. It is not possible to “downdate” LEICA M8 and M8.2 cameras to previous firmware releases, once the version 2.004 has been installed. b. Saved User Profiles will be deleted during the update process and have to be set again after updating the camera. c. The maximum aperture value of the lenses M 21mm/f1.4, M24mm/f1.4 and 50mm/f0.95 are not displayed correctly in the EXIF-Files.

  • 2.005 (07 Aug 2010)

Resolving the error message “Shutter fault“ When shooting in C-Mode (Continuous) or taking several pictures consecutively in S-Mode (Single), the message “Shutter Fault“may appear on the display. The new firmware 2.005 will solve this issue.
Please note: After updating to the new 2.005 firmware the LEICA M8 with quiet 1/4000s shutter and LEICA M8.2 can not be “downgraded“ to the previous firmware.

  • 2.014 (22 Jun 2011)

Support of the new lens “Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm/f3.4”
Optimization of internal processes

M8 Basic Skills

M8 Serial Numbers

Serial numbers compiled from known cameras and Puts Pocket Pod.pdf
~ stolen camera, please report if found on sale
SN Start SN End Product Year Total
3100000 3112000 M8 (black+chrom) 2006 12,001 ~3100888 ~3108620
3195001 3198778- M8 (chrom) 2007 3778+ ~3198258
-3199346 3200726- M8 (black+white) 2007 1381+ ~3199476 ~3200505
-3329137 3332206- M8 (black) 2008 3070+
-3510164 3510301- M8 (white) 2008 275