Goodbye M8, hello CL!

A while ago I was debating whether to sell my Leica M8, due to financial issues. Well, I made a decision, and now it’s gone. Its new owner is quite enthusiastic about it, which reminds me a bit about how I felt when I first got it back in 2010. I’ve now spent almost two and a half years with it, and we had a great time together. But as it is with great times, they all come to an end eventually. Some sooner, some later.

If I could have, I would have kept the M8. No question. I loved this camera. But to be honest, during our last holidays this summer, where I only took the Panasonic G1 and 20/1.7 lens, I didn’t miss the M8 at all. And now that it’s gone, I must admit I am also a bit relieved. The M8 is not an easy camera. It’s a dog. It rewards you with some of the most gorgeous pictures you’ve ever seen, if you’re doing it right. My Micro Four Thirds cameras are much easier to use. Heck, even my old Pentax ME is easier to use (apart from the scanning/post-processing involved.)

I will in due time write a retrospective post on my time with the M8. I also still have some 1000+ pictures that haven’t been processed yet, so even though the M8 is gone now, my time with it is far from over. The M8 still has a place in my heart. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll get another one. For the moment however, I got myself a replacement. It’s not digital, it’s not convenient, it’s a dog, too. But it’s a proper Leica. It takes M mount glass, it is a marvel of German-Japanese engineering, and it fills the hole that selling the M8 has left.

And it is … a Leica CL.

The CL is the smallest analog M-mount rangefinder ever built, developed by Leitz and Minolta and produced by Minolta in Japan. It was also sold as the Leitz Minolta CL and the Minolta CL, and its successor, the Minolta CLE, is the most advanced M-mount rangefinder before the M7 and Konica Hexar RF came along (and its metering is still more advanced than that of the latter two.)

This particular CL may look like a beater, but believe, mechanically and electronically it is working a charm. I couldn’t be happier. Also, its beaten exterior means I could get it at a very reasonable price. For the moment, I am using it with my 28mm Zeiss Biogon (which, btw, is up for sale, so if you’re interested drop me a line). But I am awaiting delivery of a russian-made 50mm f/2 Jupiter 8 lens.

Besides a first test roll I haven’t used the CL much yet. All I can say is that the shutter speeds seem to be accurate and that the meter readings are plausible. I will drop the test roll off at my local drugstore today and will report on the results shortly.

So, goodbye M8 and welcome CL!

Picture | Joie de vivre

Simply enjoying life. Wildpark Edersee, May 1st, 2012.

Leica M8 + Planar 50/2 ZM @ f/2, 1/2000 sec, ISO 160

Re-skinning the Leica M8

When I first got my Leica M8, I immediately disliked the standard leathering it came with. The fine grain of the original M8 leathering resembles sandpaper (from the looks at least), and offers as good as no grip. Leica fixed this with the M8.2, where they switched to the more pronounced vulcanite covering, but for some stranges reason reverted to the sandpaper style with the gray M9. The black M9 and the new M9-P models, however, all feature the vulcanite covering, which has just recently been slightly refined.

Thus, very early, I desired to give my M8 a new leathering. However, at that time, the only supplier for M8 leatherettes was (if you did not wish to send your camera in to Leica themselves). They have some very nice leathers in their product lineup, but they’re all relatively expensive. Then I remembered that when I got my Olympus E-P1, I ordered a custom leatherette from the Japanese manufacturer Aki Asahi, for much the same reasons that I now wanted one for my M8: grip. And also looks. But the E-P1’s metal finish in particular proved very slippery, and also attracted finger prints due to its shiny surface. However, Aki Asahi were only offering custom coverings for analog M models, not for the digital M8 or M9. That is, until very recently. Continue reading Re-skinning the Leica M8

New Aki-Asahi Custom Covering Kit for Leica M8

Finally! Aki-Asahi, Japanese manufacturer of custom coverings (“leatherettes”) for analog and digital cameras, are now also producing a Custom Covering Kit for the Leica M8. Look:

Previously, they were only offering kits for analog Leica Ms. If you wanted to reskin your digital Leica M, you had to order a much more expensive covering from There’s nothing wrong with that — their coverings are well worth the price, especially the ones made from real leather. But they’re known to be slow on responding to inquiries, which has in the past put many people off of ordering from them. But worry no more! Now you can order a very nice replacement leatherette for your digital Leica from Aki Asahi, who make very good coverings that come in at very affordable prices.

You can visit Aki Asahi’s web store here.

Btw, I reckon the covering should also be applicable to the M9, since its main body is virtually identical to that of the M8 (although the website states it’s only for the M8).

Picture | Kid

Taken in March, 2011, at the Opel-Zoo in Kronberg/Hessen.

Leica M8 + Nokton 50/1.5 @ f/2, 1/2000 sec, ISO 160