Leica M8-2 - Yes it's true, the Leica M8 is upgradable!

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Leica M8-2 - Yes it's true, the Leica M8 is upgradable!

Post by Nando on Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:04 pm

In the thread about the discovery of Robert Capa's negatives, I mentioned that it would be great if camera makers would produce an upgradeable digital camera. In truth, there was already an attempt at this but I didn't mention it because I thought it might make it seem like I was going on and on about how good one particular camera company really is... being the Leicaphile that I am. However, I just came across news that is just too good not to share. bounce

The Leica R9 35mm SLR could switch between a film back and a digital back dubbed the DMR (digital module R). Once newer DMR's were available, one could upgrade the digital back instead of buying an entirely new camera. Well, it didn't take off. Leica being as small as it is, it isn't a mover and a shaker like Nikon or Canon. It also didn't help that Hasselblad took over Imacon, the developer/supplier of the DMR. There were no new DMR's made. However, the concept did not die at Leica. I thought it had died... up until about an hour ago.

I saw a new posting on Rangefinderforum.com finally confirmed the rumours of the Leica M8 digital rangefinder being upgradeable. I've seen such a post before but the it was just a rumour and people who have started such posts were often ridiculed - almost nobody believed these rumours, including myself. However, Leica has sent emails to M8 owners providing details for upgrading their cameras to the specifications of upcoming Leica M8-2. Instead of purchasing an entirely new replacement camera for $5500+, M8 users can send their camera bodies to Leica for retrofitting to the latest standard for 1200 Euros. That price seems to also include optional arrangements for picking up the camera from home, complete testing of the camera's functions and CLA if necessary, and a two-year warranty. M8 owners can always pass on the upgrade and instead opt to go for a later upgrade down the road. Some people are now speculating that an upgrade may become available once every 21 months or so. There hasn't been an official press release yet.

Here's the email that they sent the M8 customers:
--------------------8<-------------------------------------------------------
Dear LEICA M8 customers,
The desire to own a digital camera manufactured by Leica, possessing the identical lifelong value retention associated with every Leica product, was brought to us by many of our customers. Leica Camera AG has now configured the LEICA M8 to meet this demand. With today’s newsletter, we would like to inform you exclusively and in advance of an outstanding innovation regarding your cherished LEICA M8.

Subjects
LEICA M8: An investment in the future
What does the first upgrade kit include?
How do I get the upgrade for my M8?
Firmware update 1.201 available

LEICA M8: An investment in the future

With the introduction of a perpetual upgrade program, every LEICA M8 will forever be a state-of-the-art digital camera. Today’s and tomorrow’s users will always be able to incorporate the latest refinements and developments in handling ease and technology. It is our aim to secure your investment in the LEICA M8 for the future. “While other digital cameras quickly become outdated and are replaced by newer models, our new concept extends the value retention and resistance to obsolescence embodied in the Leica ethos. Over time, we will gradually offer new product features and developments as upgrade options,” declares Steven K. Lee, CEO of Leica Camera AG. “Our customers can therefore still invest in the photographic tools they need without worrying that they will miss out on improvements and technological developments along the way.
This information will be presented during the PMA fair in Las Vegas, beginning January 31st.

What does the first upgrade kit include?

* Scratch-proof sapphire glass cover for the LCD monitor.
* Noise-optimized shutter with a fastest speed of 1/4000s.
* If so desired, the camera will be picked up at your home and sent directly back to you, without any intermediary stage in the process.
* Health-check and complete adjustment of the camera, testing all its functions.
* Installation of the newest relevant firmware.
* New factory warranty of two years covering the same conditions as for a new camera.


How do I get the upgrade for my M8?

* This offer applies exclusively to all registered M8 users.
* We will inform you shortly via e-mail when the website is updated with detailed information about the new M8 upgrade program, and will also inform you as soon as possible how to purchase the first upgrade certificates.
* The fact that you are registered as a M8 owner will give you guaranteed access to an exclusive online area where you will be able to purchase your upgrade certificate.
* Purchasing the upgrade certificates will be possible as of March 2008 - the actual upgrading will commence as of August 2008.
* The upgrades will be fulfilled in the same order as the upgrade certificates were purchased. It is therefore advisable to acquire the certificate as quickly as possible.


Firmware update 1.201 available

In keeping with the overall sustainability of the concept of the rangefinder camera system, Leica Camera AG is now offering all LEICA M8 users an updated version of the camera firmware, which can be downloaded free of charge from Friday, February 1st from our website. Among other things, the new firmware version contains new, substantially improved automatic white balance algorithms for natural color rendering in nearly all light conditions. We will send you special information via e-mail which contains a direct link as soon as we post the firmware update on our website.

We would feel very honored if you would be amongst the first to participate in our new program for the lifelong value retention of your M8.

Yours Sincerely,
The Leica internet team
--------------------8<-------------------------------------------------------

Leica is are continuing a great tradition of upgrade programs with their digital M's. Back in the 1950's for example, one could send to Leica a pre-war Leica III body and they would completely upgrade it to the latest specs without buying a new camera. Even today, Leica will modify the M cameras to an extent. If one has an M6 from the 1980's and would like the upgraded rangefinder found in the latest MP - no problem. Even when ordering a new camera, one can mix and match parts from different M's to an extent.

This is a complete shift in the economic model of digital cameras. A shift for the better on the side of consumers. And it goes to prove once again that one doesn't buy a Leica, one invests in a Leica.

When will Canon and Nikon come out with their upgradeable cameras? Very Happy


Last edited by on Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nando

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Re: Leica M8-2 - Yes it's true, the Leica M8 is upgradable!

Post by Kenneth Armstrong on Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:27 pm

Makes the price tag a little easier to swallow. My Canon 1D cost about $8000 new in 2001 and is now worth about the same as a Rebel XTi.

Luckily I didn't buy it new.

I'd love to try an M8 or R-D1 but I just don't have the cash.
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Re: Leica M8-2 - Yes it's true, the Leica M8 is upgradable!

Post by Nando on Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:26 pm

Well, I'm very happy as a Leica fan. I'm thinking that there might not be a full-frame sensor M9 now... perhaps the full-frame sensor will come as an M8 upgrade. The major upgrade with the M8-2 is the quieter shutter but it will come with slower top-shutter speed - 1/4000th instead of 1/8000th. My Leicas only go to 1/1000th and I never needed anything faster. For rangefinders, the M8 was super-loud. Noticeable up to 30 feet away in a quiet place. It was a huge deal to the photojournalists that used them.

The best thing about this is the potential of Leica's upgrade program to affect how other cameras are built. I think that consumers purchasing entry level SLR's would appreciate a digital camera body that could be upgraded to stay current with the latest technologies. This is how it should have been done in the first place.
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