Upload & Sell: Off
Hi guys, I haven't posted for a while because I've been doing a lot of reserach into devloping EXACTLY this system. After much consideration of the 5DII, etc, I finally decided upon the following....
On a Leica M8:
- 35mm f/2 summicron aspheric (to be replaced by the 1.4 'lux in a few years)
- Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Color Heliar (bargain lens with fantastic quality)
- Zeiss 18mm f/4 (need to sell some of my Canon stuff to get this one, but my decision has beeen made already because it gives punchy high-contrast images with outstanding resolution)
This will give me a classic 24, 50, 100 kit in terms of eFOV. Each lens weighs about 250g, and the M8 body is about 600g. Total weight of the entire bag (Billingham) with spare battery, polarising filter and orange filter is a shade over 1.5 kg. This setup is wonderfully discrete (I have already taken street photos and portrats of complete strangers that was never possible with my dSLR), it focusses like a dream in low light once you get the hang of it, and consistently offers me at least 2 extra stops hand holding over an SLR due to no mirror slap. Since any camera/lens combination weighs under 1kg, I can use relatively inexpensive tripods and gorrilapods with good results.
Some of you may not be familiar with the M8s IQ, so let me chime in with my experience (as a keen ammateur only): ISO 1600 is perfectly usable, but 3200 is really "emergencies only". B&W jpg images straight out of the camera are just amazing at all but ISO 3200. This is especially the case if you don't use an IR filter as the M8 sensor has quite a bit of IR sensitivity (comparable to some of the best B&W films), which really gives amazing depth to the shadows. There really is a B&W film feel to these files. On the other hand, for colour shooting the jpgs out of camera are absolutely rubbish, but the dng (open format RAW files) are superb. Even forgetting for a moment that they are just 10MP, the files display great clarity, sharpness, and vivid colours.
Finally, the feel of the camera is exactly what I was looking for. I've found recently that I was spending as much time shooting an OM1 as my Canon dSLR. The small and "non-pro" form factor and direct easy access to shutter speed, aperture, smooth manual focus, accurate markings for zone focussing, etc made me reach for the OM1, but I was always frustrated at not being able to choose colour balance and ISO freely between shots, and I did miss the digital darkroom when required.
I know there are a lot of mixed opinions about the M8, but after saving for three years for the 5DII I realised that what I really wanted was a superb travel camera suitable for street shooting, candids and landscapes, not a heavy camera with video capability or 20MP monster files (I have enough photos on my hard drives as it is... ;o). I freely admit that my current setup does use a sensor which is two years old, but I have no complaints in terms of IQ for what I need, and most importantly it fulfils the size and weight criteria I set myself for a comfortable travel set-up, and the old-school feel and appearance I have got used to with the OM1. If your priorities are the same as mine, I recommend a closer look at a second hand M8, for the same cash you would be spending on a 5DII. Yes, the Leica M lenses brand new are extremely (prohibitively) expensive, but one can achieve very good results with old thread mount lenses from a variety of respectable manufacurers stretching back 50 years (older coatings = low contrast = great for portraits or sunny day shooting) or new Cosina Voigtlander lenses (even better price/performance ratio than 2nd hand OM Zuiko glass IMHO - and the CVs are new). The short focal plane allows for some really nice optical designs in the rangefinder format.
Anyway, this post has turned into a bit of an advertisement for the M8, but it was intended only as an explanation of my targetted three-lens travel kit. It is sufficiently different to everyone else's posts so far that I should offer at least some kind of discussion of it's merits and weaknesses. :o)