Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/07/15

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Subject: Some thoughts on the R8 ...
From: "David Freedman" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 23:16:52 -0400

Though I usually just sit back and enjoy the flow of useful information and
amusing banter that this list produces, I thought I'd break with tradition
and become an active participant and offer some thoughts on the R8:

While the R8 is clearly Leica's best SLR yet, my overall conclusion is that
the folks in Germany 
can still learn a thing or two from the Japanese. For example:

1. The shape is, er, interesting but I find the battery compartment bulge
too small to get my fingers around fully. I find the R4/5/6/7 with motor
and grip
(and leather strap) to be far more comfortable to hold.

2. How in the world could Leica introduce a professional level camera
without having an accessory motor or winder available? I find this to be a
major shortcoming. That Leica might be having actual design difficulties at
this stage 
is a bit alarming.

3. Is anyone else bothered by the seemingly irrational, off-center
placement of the tripod mount? Leica chose to implement a DIN standard that
seems to conform to no known mounting system. The spot that should hold the
1/4" threaded socket is occupied instead by an unthreaded hole that is
supposed to mate with something to prevent rotation of the camera body. 
Attempting to use the camera on my focusing rail was awkward. Using
my macro flash bracket was impossible. I installed a Kirk Enterprises
Arca-style plate to recenter the tripod thread.

4. The "f" (flash metering) facility is an outstanding feature. It would be
more so if the camera were able to trigger the Sunpak and Vivitar flash
units I use for macro work. It can't (at least mine can't). It does work
with Metz units though.

5. Speaking of flash, the need to upgrade my Metz equipment to System 3000
status was an expense I could have done without. Fill flash with the
SCA3501 adapter is effortless. Unfortunately, off-camera TTL flash requires
the purchase of the very expensive (and bulky) SCA 3007A connecting cable
(hint: the Metz 32Z-2 will not work with the off-camera cord; you need the
32MZ-3 or better). Now what to do with my 32CT-7/SCA 351 equipment.

6. It sure would be nice if the R8's exposure counter were "live" at all
As it is, you've got to turn the camera on and lightly depress the shutter
button to know where you stand.

7. No matter how I hold the camera, the neckstrap lugs (and strap) are in
the way. Hopefully, adding the motor (some time next year?) which has its
own shutter release will ameliorate this ergonomic flaw. 

8. Lastly, did they really have to lop $400 off the price just two days
after I bought mine?

Alright, so I hate the camera, right?  Wrong, wrong, wrong. I think the R8
is light years ahead of any of the earlier R cameras (of which I've owned
The main inducements for my buying the R8 were the ability to link any of
the metering patterns
to the various exposure modes, the ability to pre-meter flash exposure and
(finally) the ability -- with the SCA 3501 -- to control fill flash. So
far, I'm delighted with the results I've been getting. It's a superb
machine. The viewfinder information display is probably the most intuitive
and comprehensive I've used and, as has been discussed here before, the
viewfinder itself is as bright and contrasty as one could want. Metering -
both flash and ambient - is deadly accurate. For the first time in years, I
find I'm grabbing for the Leica bag instead of the Nikon bag. What more
need be said?

Now if we could just get an official confirmation that an auto-focus R8
variant is in the works ...