Leica M8, what’s so special?
The M9 is superior in every respect to the M8 including price, but only one thing …
It is not unique like M8
Infrared friendly M8
Leica M8 camera has suffered a big problem after its release due to severe color shift in shadows.
The problem caused by the IR (infrared) blocking filter mounted CCD sensor is too thin to be effective in any sense.
Hence a large amount of IR pass through and influence R, G, B pixels unevenly to reproduce shifted colors.
Follow-up models, e.g. M9, M9P, M240…have a thick IR filter which block IR ray completely.
In fact, all the other makers always use thick IR filter on their camera to avoid IR influence except one exception,
much earlier release of Kodak DCS 460.
Among DSLR, RF and mirrorless camera, only 2 models exist as IR friendly. It tells Leica M8 is indeed unique no matter
good or bad of its point. And for the same reason, easy to guess the characteristics of the Leica M8 and the Kodak DCS
460 might be very similar. This is a reason why paying attention to old M8 as replacement of ‘special’ camera DCS 460.
But, why now?
M8’s IR characteristic has known many years.
Photographers hated it and complained like hell to Leitz until it surrendered and gave away 2 set of UV/IR for buyers in the world.
Why suddenly it become ‘special’ now?
The fact is its price so humble in these days … eventually yes, price is the matter : -)
Leica M8 + Summicron 50/2.0 + R68 filter
Kodak DCS 460 characteristics
This table is compiled with personal experience with long time use, DCS 460 and IR converted Nikon D-70.
It is not scientific experiment result, rather summary for references…
|spectrum||Filter||spectrum reaches to sensor||Result|
|RGB + IR||UV/IR||RGB||UV / IR filters attached to the lens block infrared, hence normal photo produced|
|RGB + IR||No||RGB + IR||(Color photo) In daylight, the rich intensity of RGB is so dominent & IR influence is minimal.
Subtle but still noticable difference is. Tend to
enhance red color.
(Black & White photo) Shadow detail enhanced
due to IR into shadow & render rich BW tone.
|RGB + IR||R72||IR||The R72 filter block visible light completely, only IR passes for imaging
(Color) distinctive IR photo, sky become orange color. Most users swap R, B channel in PS to
bring sky into blue color.
(BW) typical infrared black and white photo,
depicting a very fine-grained detail in shadows
but highlights are easy to wash out.
|RGB + IR||R68||R + IR||(Color) so called false color photo, but sky turn to grey, hard to handle landscape scenery
(BW) It’s middle of normal BW and IR BW photo.
Highlight is enhanced and shadows become rich detail.
|RGB + IR||R52||RG + IR||
(Color) This false color emerges green leaves to beautiful gold tone. It does not look like extraneous infrared photo.
(BW) not significantly different from BW
without filter. If subtle effect needed, use no filter. If pronouced effect needed, use at least R68 or
Left : no filter Right : R68 filter and WB adjusted
R68 filter and no adjustment WB yet.
I did more experiments after first draft of above & found assumption Leica M8 as the same with DCS 460 is not correct.
There is similarity of course but also a meaningful difference.
Without UV/IR, DCS 460 tends to add subtle red-ish casting. It is not strong to destroy overall color balance but distinctive
compare to other camera, for example DCS 560, 660 or 760. It is not bad as expression because it adds warm atmosphere
and emphasize red color.
M8 without UV/IR, add green-ish color cast in shadow area. Especially in portraits green cast is not attractive & no welcome
at all Sherek flavour… Again, in bright sunlight, RGB is domiment to IR thus influence is not so obvious. But in low light and
deep shadow color shift is clearly visible.
In BW post processing, the green cast could work as a mask to control shadow area tonal rendition. (Yeap, bright side…hh)
As LightRoom provides adjustment knob for green, it is matter of twick the knob left or right.
to be continue