USER REPORT: The Original Monochrom: The Leica M8 by Elie Bescont


The Original Monochrom: The Leica M8 by Elie Bescont

Hi Steve, congrats on your new Leica M240 camera and thank you for having me writing outrageous crap on your wonderful website. Apologies to everyone for wasting your precious time, I am really sorry you chose to read this particular boring article that mainly deals with black and white photography.

To begin with, I would like to politely introduce myself: my name is Elie, I am 24 and I’m into photography for not that long. Like all other French people, I am an arrogant bastard and like all other Leica M users, I am quite handsome:

A self-portrait, hands down:

Leica M8 + 35mm Leitz Summaron f/3.5, ISO160, wide open, 1/30th.



I would define myself as a street photographer, as I mainly use my gear for street photography, but I’m open to everything else. Actually, when I got my first camera only one year and a half ago (which was a little Lumix FS16), the only interesting use I could think of it was to photograph unknown people in the streets. Today, I just do the same thing but I use a more appropriate and traditional tool: a Leica M camera.

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I don’t see photography as a way to capture reality, I see it as a powerful way to transform it, making it more dramatic. Thus, I mainly shoot black and white (well, that’s not literally right. I shoot color and transform my photos into black and white using Adobe Lightroom 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2).

Some of you may ask why I chose a Leica M camera, and I will answer this very good question right away. I chose it because a Leica M (from the M3 to the M240) is the best tool ever (according to ME) to keep in touch with reality, and I think it’s a good thing if your goal is to transform reality to keep things up with it. Also, it is small and not imposing.

And this is what “not imposing” means, for those who may not know:


“A smile to the unknown”

Leica M8 + 35mm Leitz Summaron f/3.5, ISO160, wide open, 1/250th.


Some people think that it is virtually impossible to capture fast-moving objects with a Leica M because everything is manual on these cameras. It IS possible. Your camera cannot do it, so YOU can, or YOU can’t. If you can’t, just train a little bit. The only thing you have to do is to forget this little focusing patch in the middle of the viewfinder. You KNOW where your fingers are, so you know what’s on focus.

Leica M8 + 35mm Leitz Summaron f/3.5, ISO160, wide open, 1/1500th.


Well… At this point, you may have noticed some little things about me: I’m stuck with ISO160 (I feel better this way), I shoot with a Leica M8 and a wide open 35mm Leitz Summaron f/3.5 from 1955, and I steal almost all my photographs. Even when I shoot a self-portrait, I try to steal it.

I like to give some info on my pictures when I post them, but now you know that I shoot ISO160, wide open with a Leica M8 and a 35mm f/3.5 Summaron, so I will only give you the shutter speed.

Why black and white? Well, it’s not that I don’t feel comfortable with colours…




… It’s just that black and white photographs are just stronger to me, more expressive and more beautiful. And the Leica M8 is a GREAT camera for black and white photography. I love the work of classic photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau. It’s not only the beauty of the captured scenes that fascinates me, it’s also this powerful contrast. A powerful contrast you can easily get with old Leica lenses like the Summaron.




The Leica M8 has a nice advantage for you, street shooters: it’s not a full frame camera. Yes, it can be an advantage. Like many street photographers, I like to shoot 50mm. So I put a 35mm lens on my cropped M8, that allows me to shoot 46.55mm (almost 50mm) with a small, discrete 35mm lens. It’s smaller and lighter than a 50mm lens, and the combo holds in my pocket.


I met a lot of people complaining about how Leica cameras and lenses are expensive. One day, I was having a drink on a terrasse, and a man, smoking his cigarette, asked me why I had a 4300€ camera. I don’t smoke. I don’t spend thousands in cigarettes every year, I never did. Instead, I have a Leica camera wich will never give me cancer. Yeah, the Monochrom is quite expensive, the 50 Lux too. But do you really need it? Look:


All the pictures you can see in this article were taken with a combo that costs around 1600€ nowadays. So you black and white lovers, if you think that the Monochrom is too much expensive for you, try the original Monochrom: the Leica M8.



I tried the new Fuji cameras, also. They are nice, small cameras but the feeling of it is nothing like a Leica M camera. If you need a small camera but don’t have the money for a Monochrom, even for a M-E, before you fall for one of the new Fuji, try the M8. Make yourself this favour, it truly is a great camera.




Most people tend to think today that they need the latest Leica body and lenses, and that they will never be able to enjoy taking pictures (and I mean taking incredibly good pictures) with something like the M8 and a Leitz lens from the 50’s. If your pictures are not amazing, please, don’t blame the 6000€ camera and the 4000€ lens. Maybe you don’t need it. Maybe you just need to go out and take more pictures. Maybe you just need a small but efficient camera and a good lens if you want to shoot black and white, and maybe you should try the M8 and one of these fine old Leica lenses from the 50’s or the 60’s. Maybe you won’t like it and maybe you will feel more comfortable with something like a Fuji camera, and it’s fine. The really important thing is to enjoy taking pictures. And it’s even better if the pictures are good.

I will now post more pictures of this amazing combo:








Well, we are in 2013 and the M8 is still an amazing camera, like all the other Leica M cameras. My 35mm f/3.5 Summaron is 58 years old now, and it is still an incredibly good lens. The price of the M8 dropped quite a bit lately, and you may consider getting one of these precious “original Monochrom” cameras for yourself. What are you waiting for? Try one out and fall in love. Welcome to the Leica world!

Thank you Steve, once again, thanks to all of you for reading this. I hope some of you have learnt something helpful, and I hope you enjoyed my photographs. If you have any questions, just post a comment, I will try to give you a clear answer quickly. If you want to see more of my pictures, follow me or whatever, here you go:


  1. Elie, that’s a fine article. Bit too humble for my liking but ….

    Just a couple of questions. Do you use an IR filter for colour shots? Do you only use transforming to BW in editing software (from Raw files), or do you also use the M8 in camera BW JPEG setting?

    I have the same Summaron 35mm f/3.5 lens in M39 mount and I’ve just fished out an adapter and mounted it on my M8.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I’ve only just read this and have throughly enjoyed the pictures and the humour! I have to admit I am sometimes bored by “street photography”, but there isn’t one of these photos which bored me. Au contraire, The composition and the tonality are superb. I’ve saved the article for future reference.

  3. Dear Elie, wonderful article. Thanks. And wonderful pix of Paris. I’m a (retired) fashion photographer and used to travel to Paris for 80 days per year during the 90ies. Still love that beautiful city. And I also love my Leica M8 cameras (I own 4 of them just to be on the safe side). I do only b/w mostly infrared. Many Leica-users don’t seem to know that only the M8 can correctly measure infrared light! Doing infrared pix with them is therefore «simple comme bonjour» as we french speaking arrogant bastards put it (I’m from the french part of Switzerland which makes me arrogant to but wihtout being handsome of course. Thomas.

    • Hi Leica Peoples..Has anyone compared the quality of Black and White shot thru a M6. I read that Stock was or is it Still being made OF Inferred Film.
      I would Love to own A PanaLeica Version of the Expensive MM. Does anyone know if Lumix is planning any Full Frame Micro-four thirds that is Designed Just for BW and Shoots HD.
      I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.
      Keep up this Fantastic site Steve and it’s us that make the quality by the passion we all Do.
      Circle Canada

  4. Hi From Canada-Obtained a dumped (HP scanner HP 2006) can get a driver of HP site. This has a filmstrip for scanning film 35mm. I should be getting back my M6 thru Sherry Purgatory address is funny for repairing Leica bodys!
    I will be Finally doing my Coffenol (WW2 home dev using Orange juice and Cafinated coffee as main photo-dev for Black and White Bathroom Dk. Room. For more info RF site and enter B and White home DEV Vitimen C with Coffee-the results are Less then 3 cents per frame.
    I got this from a Mysterious patron who is always throwing away various Office PC gear!)
    Don’t worry what Other people may think This IS OUR Passion Right Photo fans. If Anyone out there is lucky to find any item of use for the Photo-Digital realm that Functions well…Thank your lucky Stars and Stroll On.
    I had to let go on obtaining a Leica MM my budget was well rent money or being back to sleeping on my friends couch! I’m still looking for a Lucky break.
    Is Panasonic moving beyond the Micro-four thirds system. Are they going to introduce a Full Frame system that (drum roll please) is Pro-sumer to Leica MM but on a Post M43 Hybrid.
    My friend in UK has been emailing me about his tech friends who do R and D in Light aerospace.
    The next big leap my include a lens system that works with a New sensor that Sees light as heat waves BUT not sure IF any camera manufacture can adapt this to a consumer market.
    I have seen a Prototype demo with a Cine lens (Looked like a ARRIFLEX cine lens but the item that peaked my interest was a Different sensor that WAS not familiar to me.
    I could not copy nor send this to anyone because this is illegal and my friend made me give him my word not to cause anyone Any trouble. This is big money and without sounding paranoid this is actual part of national security due to the connection ND UK contractors!
    If I can connect the dots my money IS on Panasonic but for me it’s fun and May be the Beyond 4K HD 3-D film Digital Hybrid.
    As for the Leica 8/8.2 the sensor is a red flag for me IF you can get a 3rd party repair Go for it.
    I’ll stay with my Poor Mans M9-I do shoot in Mono BW and will be testing with M42 lens I have a Pentax SuperTack F2 that needs an adapter for the panaLeica Micro 4/3 I’ll let you know.
    As for France and the shots Hey fine by me and don’t call each other petty names the proof is in the pudding folks the shots R Fantastic the city of light and everyone can dress up or down and look great doing it in Leica D or Film. Keep up the great work and Make film Nor War. Merci

  5. Elie,

    I like your shots of Paris’ street life – they remind me of my time in Paris in the mid-1990ies…

    Outside working hours, I had been roaming the streets with an M4P, most of the time with a Summilux M 35mm on, sometimes with a 1970ies Wetzlar Summicron M 50mm, usually loaded with TMAX400. Often I’d step down to F8, set focus to hyperfocal distance, shutter preset to average lighting conditions measured with small Seconic pocket exposure meter, and ‘steal’ photos… carrying a big monopod with a heavy Novoflex ballhead, spike and lanyard on my back in ‘lesser’ areas or at night – never got into trouble (;->). Aaah – memories. But I should stop monologueing.

    I particularly like your into – first the selfie and then the “smile to the unknown” – thank you for that…!!!

    Cheers & keep the good work up!!!


  6. Uups – my response was actually meant to follow up in thread number 6, started by abhishek1985… somehow it got orphaned into thread number 76…. please read it in that context…

  7. Maybe a bit late to respond – but going from an M6 to an M8 is a significant step down wrt IQ potential and wrt longevity.

    The M8 has a CCD crop sensor – and is well beyond its he-day, carrying some risk: Spare LCD screens have not been available for repairs at Solms (Leica factory) for some time now – if the LCD dies, so does the camera (and sadly they do fail, a colleague of mine _knows_ that by experience now) – only way out offered by Leica are upgrades towards newer models with some discount given for handing in the failed body…

    The M6 however, if well maintained, is a timeless classic which still has many years of life in it, and stays fully repairable by Leica and by third parties. If I were you I’d keep it without ado – as I am keeping my M4Ps… usually loaded with b/w film or with Fuji Velvia…

    You already have an X100 which delivers high quality results comparing quite favorable to results of the M8 with a moderate wide angle lens.

    If you must, upgrade to full frame – I did, recently, but not to products from Solms – I now use a Sony A7 with adapter and Leica M, Leica R and Zeiss glass, complemented by a Sony RX1 – still keeping some change compared to a M240 body – or even an M-E. The resulting IQ with both A7 (mainly used with Summicron R 50mm f/2 (late model with ROM)) and RX1 is astonishingly good.

    Alternatively, if crop sensor and cost are important, currently the Sony NEX-7 is attractively priced in many places…

  8. Thanks for this lovely report! nice works. may aou tell how much post-work you put into your b/w pprocess? you use LR? how to you do your b/w developing?


  9. Hi Great Paris shots: I don’t want to dump on any ones user preference-BUT Anyone Out there agree with my Opinion (Leica is Quality and you get what you pay for) For me I will wave the Flag for LTM lens with adapters on the ‘Poor mans M(‘ Panasonic Leica GH1 to G3 with Various primes. Cannon RF-Pentax with Nikon G lens-Made in Korea with Nikon mounts.
    I just acquired a 1976 Cannon 1.8 FD awaiting a M 4/3 adapter total cost in Cdn.under 20.00
    I will be posting my Close to Leica quality to show the love of Made in Japan Optics.
    I realize that Nothing beats Leica in terms of Optics but Inde Artists on a limited budget well the results are close to Pro and the thrill of saving cash.
    You have to work a little hard to capture the images but the results are Holy Flippin great!!
    I have pused the contrast to the limit shot with available light with Starlight hand held and the Pictures turned out hand held.
    Hippy shooting Folks and AS Always Blessings to Steve O for this Fabulous site.
    Ignite your Passion.
    When 2 Click

  10. Great photos. I almost pulled the trigger on buying an M8 until I found out you can’t replace the back screen any longer, there are no more spare sensors and it costs over 1500 to replace the shutter, Suddenly shelling out 2,000 for an M8 didn’t seem like a good idea, so I’ll stick with my Fuji for now.

  11. Elie
    I stumbled across this article after reading your recent blog on Steve’s site.
    Love your style (photo not dress) which inspires one to get out and shoot more.

  12. Not dumping on your M8 (Leica fan as well) as your aware inards are Kodack and after waranty and high act count the repair thru Solms in GmBH may not be worth it.
    If your on a budget (I suspect you are) Try RF forum I had good luck thru Sherry Kruter (not sure about her spelling surname) there is also 2 two trustworthy leica electronics repair in New Jersey US if there still there google S. Kruter leica repair.
    Another help is DAG camera I got this linc thru Ye Yee camera in boston He doen’t do electronics cause I get my analogue leica thru him.
    I swear by (St. Barnak Stop down to 0.85!) the Poor mans “Leica” Panaleica G1-G3 with various adapters w primes and ltd MF FSU or Pentax-Nikon-Re-branded Leica glass:MF Minolta Rorkors.
    I have to stress the quality will never compare to leica Specks but a friend with a HD Pro mac screen has been doing comparisons with BW film scaned prints negatives etc..the quality is Pretty close and a huge plus is the look is clear and get this some old 70’s M42 Pentax I got for 5 cdn thru a local photo student union along with the above metioned lens are…my friend stoped and said How did you do that. I pulled out my budget series lens and with out pride or arrogance…So much for Digitat eh?
    Just some MF inde. artist advice out there.
    Remeber it not what you shoot it how you use it. A while a friend who has great hand technique put me to shame with her Point and shoot she got as a hand me down-back stage at Plant Alison Krause meet and greet the LZ fans were all making a fuss me yelling out eh we all flocked like deers in the headlight me with my Film Pentax K-1000 with a standard 50-and her with a rather crappy PS D guess what the sun was setting and she clicked away what she got was Fantastic all the elements were there light angle
    Plant saw me and I panicked ok paul now or never I aimed the camera as close as possible he let his goldi locks down and well erm…Cousin IT sings with a great shot/s of Ms. Krause but some times even the Pro’s make mistakes it just costs them more money so dont feel bad were all still learning and anyone who has a big ego and trys not to share well usually a sign of not a true artist.
    Sorry if I offended anyone out there but I call it the ways I see ’em.
    As always Steve keep this Fan Dabey dosy Site up and running and all the Camera fans out there Hippy shooting and may all your deals be at a great discount!
    PS Film IZ Not dead. Thanks for your passion. Paul Circle

    Oh Yeah Steve congrats on your new Toy You Lucky So and So.
    Biker like a Lica!

  13. So this blog among others have convinced me to pick up a M8. And I did. But only after I received it (a used one, without warranty or anything) did it come to my attention the supposed rate in which the M8 shutter would fail suddenly. Whether the actuation is high or low, it is rather spontaneous. So I am curious if anyone have encounter any of these technical issues with their Leica M8, or are the individuals who raise up the problem are the unlucky ones. I am currently on the edge and line of deciding whether to simply just return the M8, or gamble and keep it. Any thoughts?

  14. It’s always a special moment to find pictures that are not only of high technical quality but also inspire me for my own work. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Great article! I recently picked up an M8.2 and have been using it primarily as a B&W camera. I’ve been shooting with an M9 the past two-years and forgot how wonderful the ISO 160 images were on the M8. Thank you for reaffirming my purchase and help quell my Monochrom desire; at least temporarily! 🙂

  16. I loooooveee arrogant Leica users! Im an arrogant and handsome leica user as well representing the Philippines 🙂 Oh, your photos are awesome!

  17. Beautiful shots, congratulations (the one with the birds and the man is fantastic, btw). You are absolutely right, you can shoot fast moving objects (myself I’ve shot quite a lot bycicle races with an old film rangefinder), and base ISO is what usually do amazing images… BTW on an unrelated note, I must correct you: like all other French people, you are quite handsome, and like all other Leica M users, you are an arrogant bastard 😀 (joking of course!)
    Keep up with the excellent work!!!

  18. Love your photos, great job! And, thanks for sharing. Any particular reason for ISO160 and wide-open lens?

    • Thank you J. Kim. Yes, ISO160 because it’s the native sensivity of the sensor, and wide open because I love the look of the pictures at f/3.5. I will soon get a f/1.2 lens wich I will use betweet f/1.2 and f/4 for street photography.

      A lot of street photographers shoot at f/8 or more, and I personally don’t like it. Shooting around f/1 to f/4 forces you to look for original scenes to capture and to isolate from the background. Also, it gives a nice look to the pictures.

    • Hi Felipe. I enhanced the dynamic and contrast of the pictures because I wanted the skies to look dramatic. I aimed for it and I like it that way. I won’t always do that, but this is how I wanted these particular pictures to be.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Have a nice week,

      • Yeah, well… I’ve done it too, let’s call it youth, but later one must understand that “more” almost never means “better”. It’s largely the other way around.
        Are you familiar with the work of Vivian Maier? She is, to me, the quintessential street photographer. She never enhanced anything. She was so humble that no one ever knew she even existed. She just framed and composed and captured life as only the finest spirits can. A real photographer must capture, first of all, himself through light. “Drama” comes from the world we live in, not from the contrast in the clouds. And over-sharpening is for publicists.

        • Felipe, I do not over-sharpen my photographs. My gear produces very sharp pictures when I focus properly. I assume that I do not share your personal tastes, as the quintessential street photographers are HBC and people like Yanick Delafoge (Yanidel) to me :

          But I know that my pictures will never please everybody (and I don’t want them to).


        • Thank you for mentioning Vivian Maier here. I had never heard of her and now I’m familiar and looking forward to the documentary of her fascinating story.

  19. I also bought an M8 two months ago (not really an early adopter myself), and I love it – for all its simplicity and limitations. I also like the fact that it’s not “full frame” (whatever that means) but for a whole different reason than you: I like to have as much depth of field as possible, and a smaller sensor helps: it’s ideal for street photography. I’m always looking for several “things” that make sense together in creating a composition. Mostly there’s a main subject in the front but also one ore more interesting things in the background. I want them all as clear as possible, so putting my lens (a 28mm Elmarit – around 35mm if you like) wide open would blur all those “side subjects”. It also seems quite unnatural to me, a blurred background. Unless your main subject is really great. Besides that, I still find it difficult to focus a rangefinder, it just takes me too much time and concentration. If I would have to think only a second about focusing, then it would influence the result. So I pre-focus (use the hyperfocal distance) and focusing becomes faster than the fastest autofocus in the world. Works great, but I’ll probably never learn to use the focus ring properly.

    • Patrick, you only have it for two months and I am sure that you still have a lot to learn from this camera. You WILL get faster and faster at focusing, of course. Just practice a little bit 🙂

  20. Hi Vive la Leica Revolution…OR how I Still (photo Joke) use panaLeica ‘Poor Mans M9’-Lumex G1-G3.
    I also use 1.7 52mm PK mount with Pentax to Micro 4 Thirds. I will be posting some of my shots SOON but not in cmpitition with any other Photoperson out there. But I do believe in Hey It’s a poor artist who blames his instrument. I’m Very tight with my hard earned cash-I’m not fan of Hey just got this so…
    I search Ebay-Hound various thrift shoppes and always check out Steves site for what other Artists have to offer in form of advice and Inspiration. There is a very great feeling in ‘boasting’ I got this 1.7 or slight beat up LTM (My only stipulation Optics are 100% lens Inside blades functions)
    I mostly use available light-Some D lens for PanLeica micro 4/3.
    Don’t forget to check out for Garage sales-Car boot (Yikes even Trash Bins!!!) Most folks fell for Digital spell of Salesmen but theres nothing like the feel of a M42 SuperTack I got from a Photo polytech for 5 CDN with a Free Pentax screwmount adapter from a friend at a local thrift store-Leica on a Budget.
    I have been looking at MM-M8-M9-I have taken shots with a Nikon D200 with a 50mm E lens-I tried a ltm
    2.5-Cannon 1.4 and FSU 135mm 2.0 and Nokton 1.4 M lens-so with frame comparisons with other high end
    cameras the results are Close to Pro.
    I saw HD Pro Mac screens with what I just mentioned and Guess what folks…Save your money.
    I also Shot with M3 and Refurb M4 (with transplanted M3 Prism-Viewfinder Colour BW film so working on getting a good scanner to input to a Found Monitor on a HackINTosh running windows 7 and Roxio Photo
    programs…Be patient I’m trying to give advise on IF your on a budget and Trying to make amends…
    (I Understand Leica glass IS Very good and you get what you pay for but for us lesser mortals on a budget)
    Steve great site Happy for your New gear-Happy Clicking Photo fans!


  21. Some great work! We have similar gear and a similar workflow (although I shoot with a Nex 6 and an RX1 as well). Going to add you on Flickr immediately. Thanks for sharing.

  22. The Leica M 8 is by far the best Leica digital camera ever built.

    Its b/w capabilities beat everything else, as the influx of infrared light makes the photographs so special.
    I never use the IR filter, not in color mode either.

    The Leica MM, with all due respect, lacks the IR effects, and therefore is far less ‘biting’ and contrasty.
    At 1250 ISO, the M 8 does still well.
    If you want more…well, I use the 1/50mm Noctilux. Always at 1.0 for razor-sharp shots with the M 8.
    This lens is 100% ideal for the M 8, and not so much for the M 9/M-E, something I have tried a couple of times.

    It is funny to read all these rave reviews of the various Fuji cameras. At 1.0, my Leica M 8 brings in 8x more light than any Fuji at 2.8….a fact which is often forgotten.
    This natural light can never be compensated by any electronic device. That is why any Canon/Nikon
    camera with their 12800 ISO and so on are inferior to the M 8, whatever their pixel count.
    Have a look at the gorgeous b/w photos shown here, and try to make them with any Japanese camera…good luck!

    It is t h i s end result which counts, and not the DxO rating or ‘reviews’ by test magazines which heavily depend on subsidies from the Japanese manufacturers.

    So, thank you, Elie Bescont, for showing your fantastic photographs, and long live the M 8 !!

    • Any camera brings in 8x more light at f 1.0 versus f 2.8, whether Leica or Fuji or whatever make……..

      • … and Fuji is not exactly limited to f/2.8 (so why mention f/2.8 in the comparison?), nor is Fuji limited to ISO 1250 (which doesn’t look very good on the M8), nor does a Fuji lens cost even near what a 50mm Noctilux f/1.0 costs ($6,000 – $8,000), nor is the effective 65mm focal length of the Nocti on the M8 always 100% “ideal” … just some other facts that are “often forgotten”.

  23. Great article Elie with beautiful BW images!

    The street combo that I use is an E-M5 with the PanaLeica 25/1.4.
    It seems I enjoy the 50mm equiv too!


  24. Wonderful work Elie.

    Félicitation Élie tu fais vraiment du beau travail!!!

    Jean de Montréal

  25. Wonderful article Elie. Give a frenchman a Leica and the flair is evident. Great photos and some are very reminisant of Robert Doisneau . Black and white photography in Paris is perfect. Well done.

  26. Dear Elie,

    Being French and a Leica user, I could not agree more with your intro…

    I completely share your views concerning gear : using an M (including a M8) is a completely different experience from shooting with a X100/X100s, even though these cameras are nice little devils. But an M puts you in full control, so if your picture is blurry, you won’t be able to blame a slow AF…

    I like your pictures, but I really think they could be better post processed : the skies are too dramatic to my taste, and there is an overall HDR feel which is not very pleasant (MY opinion…). I think you can achieve better results with Silver Efex, trying to have less “fake” dynamic and deeper blacks.

    I used to shoot B/W film with a M7, but I began shooting color when I bought a used M9 (that I still use and that I like very much). I think that nowadays, with the control we have over color in post processing, shooting color can be close to shooting B/W, i.e. reproducing a different kind of reality, to the photographer’s own taste.

    Keep up the good work, maybe we’ll meet one of these days on the streets of Paris!



    • Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for your comment! A picture can ALWAYS be better processed. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of taste. I don’t have a predefined treatment I apply to every picture. I just give it the looking it has in my head from the begining. So they won’t be the same forever (they might be better, then worse or whatever), and I will soon work way more in color with a new lens I will get in a few weeks.

      I took a look to your book (yes, that’s a LOT of oo’s), your pictures are just great, I love them.

      I will support people of Turkey tonight (it’s near Chatelet, I think) and take some pictures of the event. Meet you there… Maybe 😉

      See you Thomas!


  27. I enjoyed your images and thoughts, but wonder why you are satisfied with the f/3.5 lens with its wide DOF since you shoot wide open, versus using a faster lens? or, are there no fast lenses similarly vintage and affordable?

    • Jeffery,

      There is avery affordable vintage fast lens that is small light of and sharp as you could want the 40mm Summicron C that was on of the Leica CL lenses. You can pick one up for around £300 – £400. Its the main lens on my M8 unless the light is very low when I go use a 1962 50mm Summilux pre ASPH which again can be found at very reasonable prices. Leica glass from the 60’s and 70’s still produce great images.

  28. Bravo ! Excellent work, further proof that we do not need the latest – biggest gizmos to shoot quality work, rather an imaginative eye.. Great work on ‘les quais’. Makes me want to look into an equivalent M8 with Voigtlanger’s 35mm 1.4 instead of doing stupid jobs to collect stupid $ to buy an ME, or M240, or MM and latest lenses from the Red Dot people..Lol..

    • Don’t get me wrong, the ME, M240 and MM are incredibly awesome cameras, and the latest lenses from the “red dot” are the VERY BEST out there.

      … But you can have just as much fun with an M8 and a Leitz 😉

      • Cannot agree more. But in the end, it’s not what you have, it’s what you do with it 🙂

  29. Over filtered images make them look borderline cartoony.. Really needs to scale back on the editing.

  30. Great article! The photo of the girl is great! I reminds me of the power of a smile. Steve, you have such variety on the stuff on your website. It is like opening a present each day I stop by.

  31. Nice Report Elie.

    The best Camera is the one who’s with you…
    So you’re true to say…if that’s the tool, MF etc, than train to get better !

    M8 + any lens (try zeiss and voigtlander too) will be a wonderful B&W tool.
    Monochrom users will point out that you can’t compare that to the superior technology of the MM.

    But isn’t Photography not all about a communication of your way of viewing the world?
    So technology is only a restriction in some special area’s where most of us never will be.
    Most B&W shooters are somewhere fans of Henry Cartier Bresson..
    He didn’t have 6400 ISO or Aspherical lenses and fine grain film in his days was 50ASA(18 DIN) or now 50 ISO…. And didn’t he make nice shots?

    Todays camera’s are ALL superior to what Bresson had, or Manray or Cappa…

    I agree on 160ISO too, for me they shouldn’t have to put in anymore….And night photography? well i don’t

    Don’t forget to mention that you can leave your IR filters at home too !

    I like the way you see.

    • Indeed, the Monochrom is a better camera than the M8 (to shoot b&w only, obviously). But this wasn’t the point, the point is that you can take pretty decent images with the M8 too.
      I agree on everything you say.

  32. I have a M8 and M9 must say I love me M8 and it is my B&W camera don’t understand why people bag them as been no good

  33. Alors bonhomme!!! Content de te voir ici surtout avec cet article! De plus t’as posté 3 de mes photos préfèrées , l,inconnue dans le bar,les oiseaux en plein vole et le manège de Monceau , elles sont vraiment
    Très bon article et surtout très vrai!
    À très vite

    • Héhé ! Prises avec ton M8 ! Merci Guy, j’espère que tout roule pour toi.

      Je te tiendrai au courant pour qu’on boive un coup un de ces jours.

      Bon weekend!

  34. Thank you for introducing me to that wonderful lens! Wow, I adore the contrast and the bokeh. The birds & cathedral — AWEsome. The clouds melt deliciously.
    But the lens would be nothing without your artistic eye to direct it.

    J’aimerais ça, parler français aussi bien que vous parler l’anglais! Très amusant, votre article. Encore!

    Steve, please keep this guy in your rotation. :^)

  35. Beautiful work but some of the shots are a little too processed (HDR looking) for my tastes. I like the girl, the birds and the gondola images. You are proving two things. One is that you don’t need the latest and greatest equipment and two is that a good photographer can deliver the goods with any camera (not that the M8 is ANY camera). Anyway congrats and thanks for the post. I use an X100 by the way but this inspires me to a) get a Leica one day and b) to move to France.

    • I understand, but everybody doesn’t like spending time with and extra 5000€ hole in their bank account. The MM is stunning, it is a great camera and yes, it is better than the M8. I’m not saying that the M8 is as good as the MM, I’m saying that you can have great black and white results with the M8 (which also shoots colors, BTW) for a fraction of the price.

  36. I got the M8 just for 2 months and I really have to say Leica is Leica 🙂 The same old lens is surprisingly sharp!

  37. Dear Elie,

    fantastic work that you are doing with your 1600€ Leica gear. I’m going to do the same, sold my M240, bought a 400€ 40mm Summicron, and a 1600€ M8 (with 1 year guarantee).
    The M8 is now in Solms as it did not read the SD cards.
    Looking forward to get it back soon!
    I’m are on the same line with our thoughts. Have a look in the international section of the Leica Forum in the M8 part where I wrote my story (as Satijntje).

    I hope to be able to join you soon on the same level of your Photo’s.

    Keep up the good work, et merci beaucoup!

    John G.

    • Merci John. I hope your M8 will be back soon. It’s great for people who cannot afford the latest body and lenses to have these wonders on the used market.

      Have a nice weekend.

  38. Mon Ami,

    You’ve earned the RIGHT to be cocky (and that’s not your birthright I’m talking about).

    Stunnig immages, great write-up… but damn you, I just can’t afford these kind of temptations any more.

    Steve, please come to the rescue and post some pixel-peeping articles from Canon-users until I can balance my check-book. Pretty please..


  39. Hey Elie, this was one very moving article indeed. Your passion shines through in both the text and your stunning photographs. Thank you for the inspiration and have a great weekend!

  40. Good stuff. I also have a 35 3.5 Summaron from 1950. Great lens. Your M8 shots look better than my M Monochrom shots! Excellent.

  41. Like the last commenter, i sold my M8 for financial reasons. And now that I have saved enough for a fuji xpro, i am having 2nd thoughts if i should get a Leica again. The only thing keeping me from going back to Leica are the prices for the lens. Maybe when I win the lottery (or when my kids finish school) I can buy myself a Leica again.

    Great shots and i will look for your flickr account to follow 🙂

  42. Jolies photos !.. Mais comme souvent maintenant, je vois plus le rendu “noir et blanc” de silver efex dans ces photos “plutôt” que celui du M8 (que j’ai eu…).. 😉

    • Silver Efex est un très bon logiciel, ça c’est sûr. Mais j’ai eu l’occasion de post-traiter des photos issues d’autres boitiers, et le rendu n’est pas le même. C’est probablement plus facile à voir sous Lightroom que sur les petites vignettes, ceci-dit.

      • oui, heureusement, mais on retrouve toujours ce rendu limite “HDR” en noir et blanc avec d’autres boitiers et silver efex… Au delà du vignettage marqué, je parle surtout de cette “dynamique” pesante et qui homogénéise un peu trop l’image je trouve…

        Cela ne m’empêche pas d’apprécier tes images !

  43. What a great collection of amazing images!!!
    One of the best photographs at Steve’s amazing site – EVER!
    You have ‘an eye’ to capture valuable moments.

    Great stuff!!!

  44. Excellent!
    I have the same set-up and I hope one day I have the courage to post some pictures here 🙂

  45. Thanks for this article and the beautiful pictures! I’ve been missing my M8 dearly ever since I sold it last year due to financial issues. Your article makes the pain even stronger … Maybe I’ll own another one, some time in the future.

  46. Stunning article. Stunning pics. And I love your sense of humour!

    It reinforces what I have always believed, what we were all taught, and yet so few practice – It is the photographer, not the camera that makes the picture!!

    Now where can I get hold of a nice M8 and a 35 f/3.5 summicron……!

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Thanks alot Phil. The photographer makes the picture, yes, but chance and luck do a lot too. The scene must be there and it doesn’t depend on you. You have to look for it and when it’s there, you have to chose a cool angle and to release the shutter. A lot of things count.

  47. You really made reading this interesting and fun – and I admire that. Getting the photos out is one thing, but being able to eloquently talk about them (be it in a very serious or very fun mood) is rare. Your intro, “Like all other French people, I am an arrogant bastard and like all other Leica M users, I am quite handsome…” hooked me. (Being of French decent, I can’t agree more! And being a Leica user, well sure!)

    I really enjoy the photos you have shared here. You have a nice eye for comp and style. I am also a big fan of sticking the ISO at 160 and leaving it forever. I also have one lens fixed at almost all times – my Lux 50 – and always wide open.

    Will be sure to follow a few of your accounts – I need the entertainment.

  48. Love the images! As a monochrome guy myself, I was originally inspired by Ansel Adams for his monochromatic skills but it was the likes of Cartier-Breeson, Doisneau, Ronis, Capa, and the like that really captured my attention for content.
    I have also been looking at the M8 as an alternative to my DSLRs which, after 35+ years, I have grown tired of carrying the weight. Since I no longer work as a newspaper staffer, I did pick up the Fuji X100S which I have been enjoying but…isn’t there always a “BUT”…would like an interchangeable lens setup. Never will be able to afford a Monochrom without winning the lottery but will have to do some more looking at the M8/8.2.

  49. Ôh ôh ôh, je suis têêêêêllement arrogant. Ou plutôt, un précieux un peu ridicûûûûle.


    • There is no need for it, no. It is really cool, though, to own the latest and greatest, but you don’t need it to take good pictures. You have a better dynamic and definition, sure, but even old cameras can give you a lot of pleasure and fun.

  50. Great stuff. Really nice shots and good quality, too. Thanks for taking the time to give us such a good presentation.

  51. Excellent work, and yes the M8 is still a great camera. Lucky for us that many people feel the need to upgrade to full frame.

  52. Incredible article Elie.. I have been thinking for months now to sell my M6 and get a M8 but was wondering if it will be a good decision. I love films but things are getting a little costlier for me since I dont process and scan them.
    I think you have hammered the last nail of confusion I had.. Thank you so much

    • To be honest, I can’t tell you if this is a good decision or not. Digital photography is nothing like film. I mean, you take pictures the same way (not everybody does, I do) but you have to learn how to use Lightroom and to shoot raw. It really is a part of the process. If you feel ready for that, then I think you can go for a Leica M8. If not, try to learn how to use these softwares, and when you feel ready go for it (if you do, some people who used to shoot film don’t like it because it’s quite different).

      • Hi Elie, I already own x100s and thats my goto 35mm focal length camera.. In conjunction I use Lightroom 4 and Silvereffex pro2 to edit my files. So I am pretty much ok with it . But the only concern is , how much I have tried, digital can never get the look of film – “The tri-x look”.Not even with teh film simulations in silver effex pro2. That’s what is a little concern.

        BTW, I just loved your images and can only say – “THEY ARE AMAZING”!!!

        • The x100s is very nice. But you should think of film and digital as two completely different things. Don’t try to imitate film, start from scratch. Don’t think, use your eyes and please them. Forget your goal, lose yourself and have fun 😉

  53. You truly are an arrogant bastard, lol. Please continue to do so, this was an awesome article, I loved it.
    Also, great photos, love your style.

    The one with the umbrella and the one of the couple in from of the river are priceless.

    I added you on Flickr, good job.

    • Thank you but it’s not really my fault. I just push a button and everyone suddenly looks good, cute lovers kiss on bridges, cats are everywhere and… Damn. Where are my pills?

  54. BTW, the first shot of the girl smiling at you while you take her picture would have gone very differently if I were taking it 🙂 Guess it helps to be a handsome Leica user 😉

      • Hi there!!!! I really like your photos, and I’m myself considering being a m8. Could you shed some light on your workflow, because I tend to think that the photos ain’t straight out of the camera, are they?

    • Hi Elie
      I moved from an M2 and M6 in 2005 to an M8, when the M9 arrived I bought one and used it alongside the M8. I shoot almost exclusively mono and found I was not getting the same results from the M9. I recently sold the M9 and bought another used M8 mostly as insurance against sensor problems. I have tried the Fujis but find the electronics too cumbersome and they get in the way of actual picture taking.

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