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You are hereHome > Best Digital Cameras > Leica M8 Digital Rangefinder

View all Leica Digital Cameras

Leica M8 Digital Rangefinder


Category: Advanced Amateur - Prosumer

Leica M8 Digital Rangefinder
Mouseover image for back view

For a long time, people said it could not be done. The Leica M8 Digital Rangefinder explodes this myth with a next generation Leica M digital camera that adheres to everything that makes the M Series what it is and brings it into the digital era.

In look and feel, the Leica M8 is distinctly a Leica M rangefinder camera using all the benefits of the analog Leica M system, minus those controls that are obviously not needed in a digital camera: the film advance lever, the film rewind knob, the ISO wheel.

Leica Digilux 2 - Back view

Photographers who have always used a digital camera might wonder what all the fuss is about the M8. Why would anyone desire to go "backward" and use analog controls when digital controls are "more precise and therefore better."

Though digital can mean more precise measurements and settings, this does not always translate into better handling and faster response. For example, autofocus is quick and fast in good lighting situations but usually suffers in low-light situations; a manual focus lens using a lens focus ring and a rangefinder viewfinder allows fast and accurate focusing in practically all lighting situations.

The strength of a rangefinder system has always been the ability of the photographer to remain discreet and be able to quietly record shot after shot without the subject being aware of it. Street photography at its best.

Leica Digilux 2 - Top view

Instead of trying to cram all current digital camera features into the M8, Leica engineers have wisely concentrated on what makes sense from a photographic viewpoint: precise control of the exposure using a tonal value histogram; compatibility with the Leica M bayonet standard, allowing the use of almost all current Leica M lenses; ISO 160-2500; RAW data capture; flash sync speed of up to 1/250 sec.; and a durable all-metal body construction.

While the Leica M8 will undoubtedly appeal to professional photographers and Leica aficionados, there are today many more amateur digital photographers who:

  • want excellent professional-level image quality;
  • do not want to carry a cumbersome and heavy digital SLR;
  • want a medium compact digital camera with superb handling and intuitive controls; and,
  • want a camera that lets them concentrate on taking the picture.

If you fit the above profile -- and can afford the high cost of using one of these perfections -- try a Leica M8. Who says that you need to be a pro photographer to use a Leica? You might actually fall in love with photography all over again!

Want to know more before making your decision? Download:

Click here to locate a Leica dealer near you.

Leica M8
QuickFact™ Sheet
  Leica M8 Digital Rangefinder  
  Camera Type Compact digital viewfinder/rangefinder system camera for professional usage with Leica M lenses.
Micro-processor controlled metal-blade slotted shutter.
  Image Sensor Low-noise CCD sensor specially tailored to the requirements of the M lens system. Pixels : 10.3 million. Dimensions : 18 mm x 27 mm.
Extension factor : 1.33 x. Aspect ratio 3:2. Moiré-Filter no, full utilization of lens performance. Moiré detection and elimination in digital signal processing.
  ISO Sensitivity ISO 160 - 2500  
  Viewfinder Viewfinder principle Large light bright line frame viewfinder/rangefinder with automatic parallax compensation.
Viewfinder lens optimal visibility of all bright line frames whatever the lighting situation. Eyepiece Coordinated to -0.5 dpt. Correction lenses available from –3 to +3 dpt. Image field limiter By activating two bright lines each : for 24 and 35 mm/28 and 90 mm/50 and 75 mm. Automatic activation when lens is screwed in. With the image field selector each pair of the bright lines can be activated manually, so simulating each focal length. Parallax compensation The horizontal and vertical difference between the viewfinder and the lens is automatically compensated according to the focusing distance used, i.e. the viewfinder bright-line frame automatically aligns with the subject detail recorded by the lens. Magnification 0.68 x (with all lenses). Large basis range finder Combination of split and superimposed image range finder shown as a bright field in the centre of the viewfinder image. Effective measurement basis 47.1 mm (mechanical measurement basis 69.25 mm x viewfinder enlargement 0.68 x).
  Lens Lens connection Leica M bayonet with additional optical scanning device for the identification of all 6 bit-coded
lenses. Lens system Current 6 bit-coded Leica M lenses with a focal length of 16–90 mm. Almost all Leica M lenses
with a focal length of 21–90 mm manufactured from 1954 can also be used without 6 bit-coding. 6 bit-retrofitting possible for virtually all lenses. 6 bit-functions Lens-dependent reduction of system-specific vignetting. Identification of picture file with lens information to simplify digital archiving. Coordination of flash reflector with motor zoom flash units. Auto slow sync function with automatic mode.
  Exposure Control Automatic mode (Auto) Automatic determination of correct shutter speed with manual aperture preselection with relevant viewfinder display. Manual exposure Independent selection of shutter speed and aperture – camera exposure check visible via LED light balance shown in the viewfinder.  
  Picture-taking modes

S Single frame picture-taking, for one shutter release whenever shutter is pressed C Continuous shooting with 2 pictures per second and 10 picture in series. Automatic release mode Selectable with either 2 s and 12 s visualization of delay time via one of the LEDs visible from front of camera in viewfinder window.

  Controls / display elements

Front of housing Lens release ; image field selector Top of housing Main switch and shutter release ; shutter speed setting dial, status LCD display : indication of number of frames remaining and residual battery capacity. Rear of housing 2.5" color monitor, setting ring for navigation in menu and magnifier function in 4 levels ; 4 x direction buttons for navigation in menu and in image details, Menu button, Play button, Delete button, Protect button, Info button Bottom of housing Locking base plate protects the battery and SD memory card from dust and moisture.

  LCD Color monitor 2.5" bright LC display with a resolution of approx. 230,000 pixels for image reproduction and menu selection. Brightness control in 5 levels. Control options after picture-taking : General quality evaluation of exposure control via RGB tone value histogram with identification of light image details without detailing (can also be used with zoom-in), control of sharpness of focus, display of quality parameters selected and display of lens focal length used (with current 6 bit-coded lenses). Image view sizes : 9 thumbnails, 4 thumbnails, single frame display as well as magnification in four levels up to 1 pixel to 1 pixel view.  
  Picture parameters menu / Main menu Pressing the Set button allows the following parameters relevant to the picture to be changed and selected : User profile, Sensor sensitivity, Manual exposure compensation, White balance, data format, picture resolution. Main menu Pressing the Menu button allows settings such as color monitor contrast or selection of color space to be made in the Main menu. Menu languages German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese.  
  Picture resolution DNG : 3916 x 2634 pixels (10.31 MP), JPG : 3936 x 2630 pixels (10.35 MP), 2952 x 1972 pixels (5.8 MP), 1968 x 1315 Pixel (2.6 MP), 1312 x 876 Pixel (1.15 MP).  
  Data formats DNG™ (Digital Negative Format not specific to any camera manufacturer), 2 different highly compressed JPEG levels. DNG™ file information 16 bit-color resolution, 10.2 Mbyte file size per picture  
  Storage medium SD cards up to 4 GB
The following Internet page includes a list of SD memory cards fully compatible with the LEICA M8 :
  White Balance Automatic, 6 presettings, manual white balance, color temperature input from 2,000 K to 13,100 K.  
  Color spaces Adobe®RGB, sRGB, ECI RGB.  
  Viewfinder display

LED symbol for flash status, four-digit seven-segment LED display with dots above and below (display brightness always adjusted to ambient brightness) for : display of automatically determined exposure time with automatic mode, indication of use of metered value storage, warning of exposure compensation, warning that metering range is overshot or undershot with automatic mode and display for counting down exposure times longer than 2 s, warning about capacity when SD card is full. LED light balance with two triangular LEDs and one center circular LED as an aid when setting exposure manually.

LED light balance with two triangular LEDs and one center circular LED for adjusting exposure.
> Underexposure by at least one aperture stop.
>o Underexposure by 1/2 aperture stop.
o Correct exposure.
o< Overexposure by 1/2 aperture stop.
< Overexposure by at least one aperture stop.

Triangular LEDs give the direction of rotation of the aperture setting ring and for the shutter speed setting dial to adjust the exposure. LEDs flash as a warning when metering range is overshot or undershot.

  Light Metering TTL metering heavily center-weighted with preset working aperture. Measurement principle Measured by light reflected by a white blade in the middle of the metal-blade slotted shutter. Metering range EV 0 to EV 20 at room temperature 20° C, aperture 1.0 and ISO 160/23°. Measurement cell Silicon photo diode with collection lens, positioned at center lower edge, on bottom of camera.  

Flash exposure metering
and control


Principle of M-TTL Flash

An extremely short metering preflash activated immediately before the picture is taken is used to measure the output
light required for the exposure.


M-TTL Guide Number Control with metering preflash via accessory shoe SCA 3502 (from version M4) or with flash LEICA SF24 D  

Flash sync time

Fast 1/250 s provides for creative open aperture photography even with bright ambient light. Manual flash sync times from B (bulb) to 1/250 s automatic mode Auto slow sync: automated extension of longest flash exposure time to rule of thumb 1/focal length in seconds. (only with 6 bit-coded lenses). Selection of long flash sync times e.g. up to 1/8 s for balanced flash with available light shots with automatic mode.  


Can be switched to either first or second shutter curtain (with appropriate flash unit, e.g. LEICA SF24D or when using
SCA-3502 adapter).

Flash exposure compensation

±3 1/3 EV in 1/3 EV stages adjustable at SCA-3501/3502 adapter. With LEICA SF 24D ±3 EV in 1/3 EV stages or 0 to –3 EV in 1 EV stages adjustable with computer control.  
  Shutter Speed

Micro-processor controlled metal-blade slotted shutter with vertical movement.

In automatic mode (A) steplessly from 32 s to 1/8000 s. Using manual setting 4 s to 1/8000 s in half steps. B for long exposures of any duration.

  Activation of shutter

Shutter action optimized for minimum noise. Driven by an electric motor with friction gear in first speed-increasing gear stage and a cam for homogeneous torque during entire activation process.


Three-stage activation depending on pressure level : 1. Switch-on of camera electronics and activation of metering, 2. Metered value storage (with automatic mode), 3. Shutter release (standard thread for cable release included).

  Power supply Lithium-ion rechargeable battery with 3.7 V and 1900 mAh.  
  Computer interface 5-pin standardized mini USB port for fast USB 2.0 data transfer to computer on left side of housing. With LEICA DIGITAL CAPTURE camera can be software-controlled via USB 2.0 connection.  
  Camera housing Material Closed solid metal housing made of a highly stable magnesium alloy for long-lasting professional usage. Black synthetic leather covering. Cover plate and base cover milled from solid brass and silver or black chrome-plated.
Tripod bushing DIN4503 – A1/4 (1/4") at center of base cover.
  Included Accessories Carrying strap with anti-slip guard (14 312), camera cover for M bayonet (14 195), lithium ion battery (14 464), charger incl. car and 3 mains plug adapters (Euro, UK, USA) (14 463), USB connecting lead, operating manual, software CD Capture One LE, software CD with LEICA DIGITAL CAPTURE and operating manual; warranty card.  
  Dimensions (W x H x D)

approx.139 x 80 x 37 mm

  Weight (Camera body only) approx. 545 g  
  MSRP US$  

Product technical specifications (including MSRP and Included Accessories) are as represented by the manufacturer and subject to manufacturer's change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer. Product color availability and included accessories may also differ by country or area. Please verify the latest specs from the appropriate manufacturer's site.

Before you buy, do your homework and verify a seller's reputation. One source you may want to check with is Resellerratings.com. And remember, if a price seems to good to be true, it probably is.


Though we make every effort to strive for accuracy in reproducing these specs, we do occasionally make mistakes, so verify with the manufacturer's site for the latest specs. Also, in the early stages of a product introduction, you can almost guarantee there will be some errors from the manufacturers themselves as they update their sites. If you see any mistakes, please contact us. We do appreciate your writing in with the corrections and thank you in advance!

Leica M8
Black Silver







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