Should I replace my R6 with a new R8? : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

I am not a professonal photographer but I have heard so much about the R8 and a lot of people tells me that it is much better than the R6. I already have 3 non-ROM lenses: 28mm/2.8, 50mm/2.0 and the APO 100mm/2.8. I know that it is not necessary to have ROM lenses for the R8 as it only helps in the flash zoom ( I think). What are people's opinion on changing the body of R6 to R8 without adding the ROM electronics to my lenses?

-- David Ho (, November 25, 2001


a lot of people tells me that it is much better than the R6.

And a lot would say otherwise! The thing is, the R8's physical size is at least 50% larger that of the R6, R6.2 or R7 - so you are going to have to see for yourself if you find it comfortable holding it for any length of time.

People with large hands have no problems with this, but it is a stretch for those with smaller, more normal sized hands. ;?)

I have a few entries on the R8 in FAQ - see the relevant topics at

-- Andrew Nemeth (, November 25, 2001.

What would "much better" mean to you?

-- rob (, November 25, 2001.

The R8 is a fine camera. If you do a lot of daylight fill-flash you will find convenience in the R8's 1/250 sync speed and the variable fill-ratios of the SCA3501/3502 modules. The R8 also has some other nice features, some of them more useful than others--for example the centered finder display and fast loading which is a lot less fiddly than the earler R's especially with cold hands! OTOH, if you don't do a large amount of flash work and you just want some automation, the R7 accepts the same motors and flash modules as the R6 and is smaller and lighter than the R8.

In any case, I would get the R8 (or R7)*in addition* to keeping the R6. Having a backup body is IMO advisable with any system, and dare I say from experience, essential with the R.

-- Jay (, November 25, 2001.


You already have a superb Leica SLR outfit with the R6 and 28, 50 and 100 APO lenses. If you want a more sensitive light meter, autoexposure programs and higher shutter speeds, then get the R8. But don't sell your R6 because unlike the R8 it will function without batteries. And don't worry about getting your lenses converted to ROM. It won't add anything useful! I have a R8 and like it very much. But that is just my personal preference..............

-- Muhammad Chishty (, November 25, 2001.

R6 is an overrated dinosaur: features such as spot metering or TTL flash management might have been cool back in the Seventies, viewfinder is prehistoric , lousy balance with longer lenses, indifferent ergonomics and presentation. It feels OK with the 24/28/35 or the 50/60 lenses though. And might be best SLR for Polar Circle hikes.

R8 OTOH is a beautiful system: completely versatile (except for AF obviously), great ergonomics, wonderful features (flashmeter!), great balance with and without motor or winder (handheld with 80'lux, 100 apo-macro or 180 apo-elmarit for example), beautiful viewfinder, luxurious build quality. The best backup for a R8 is quite simply another R8 (and a couple of batteries). They come almost "cheap" these days (in Leica terms of course)...

Widely shared advice is to avoid first years batches, and go for a generally bugfree recent serial nr. My personal experience (and the one of all real life users I have met) has been entirely painless, but some newsgroups contributors have reported various problems (ask Ray Moth!).

ROM conversion of R lenses is a useless exercise for the R8 (only documented feature is auto-management of flashhead zoom, do not pay attention to the blah about so-called "fine management of real aperture"). Conversion *might* become more useful the day Leica launches a R9, sometime this century.

Obviously all the above is if you *need* a SLR: IMHO the M is more useful and more efficient for 90% of non-professional applications and is certainly not nearly as massive ...

-- Jacques (, November 26, 2001.

David, what is your glove size? To give you an idea of the R8's size in a very 'American' way :-) : the SIG P226 with standard factory grips felt perfect in my hands--the Glock 17 was too small; the Leica R8 is too large for me. OTOH it's much easier to handle with the motor drive attached due to the additional release buttons (there's one in front for horizontal orientation, not just the usual 'vertical' one), and it's almost fun to use in vertical orientation.

The best backup for it? An R6.2, without any doubt. The latter is ergonomic, very much so! (Best backup for the R6.2? R6.2.) If you decide to get one, do so soon as the latest Leica rep leaking (Nov. 24) is that production will end next year!

A personal note: even a heavy, long lens feels perfectly OK on a light body if you support the lens barrel with one hand. This 'balance' issue is just, err, amazing.

-- Oliver Schrinner (, November 26, 2001.

I believe it would be a fair statement to say Sebastiao Salgado is the " best" current leica photographer. He uses an R6, not an R8. The R8 certainly can have its place, but your images will not improve because of a body change.

-- dewbie (, November 26, 2001.

I think hand size is less relevant than personal feel. My hands are not large (medium size pistol grips fit me but large size grips are too big) and I like the feel/ergonomics of the R8. It is a great camera. Would prefer if it were lighter but it really feels solid and easy to use. Ditto to previous suggestions. Buy the R8 if you like it but keep the R6 as a second body. (Notice the optimist in me calls it a second body, NOT a backup which implies expected failure.) :-) LB

-- Luther Berry (, November 26, 2001.

From dewbie: "I believe it would be a fair statement to say Sebastiao Salgado is the " best" current leica photographer. He uses an R6, not an R8."

He probably is one of the best current photographers. Period. He could be using a MX or a FM, he would equally be one of the best current photographers. The fact that he uses a R6 is irrelevant in a discussion centered on the merits of R8 v R6. More relevant to this discussion is to note that he almost exclusively uses compact lenses (usually 60mm f2.8) on a compact body. Such a combination balances well (as noted higher in this thread) and is an interesting compromise between size, weigh and reliability.

Much more interesting is to note that Salgado mainly uses a SLR and not a M, though his style (b/w social candids) is obviously closely linked to M photojournalism tradition.

-- Jacques (, November 26, 2001.

The R6 or R6.2 is a fine camera which in my opinion it has everything one could want in a manual camera, except perhaps 1/250th sec sync speed. It is very compact and pretty light. This is a big advantage. The R8 is more sophisticated and has lots of interesting features such as preflash and an electronic shutter, but it is large and pretty heavy. I for one would not want to carry it all day in my bag, but would like to use for specific jobs. It is probably nicer to hold, but you can get a pretty goods approximation if you use an R6 with a motor winder on it. I use the R6.2 with an 80mm Summilux (which is heavy) and it works very nicely. As to the R6 is being a dinosaur: it is in the same way that an M6 is. There is never much to say about a camara with a manual shutter. There is a simplicity and a reliability about a manual camera that is attractive to many users and it is these users who buy an R6 or Nikon FM2. The features it has are no more dated than any other camera that has a shutter and meter. The viewfinder is excellent and the same to my eyes as the R8. Both are a little behind the SL. It is not an EOS 1, but that is precisely the point. The R8 is the Leica equivalent of the F5/EOS1. If you do not "buy" this concept then the R6 is very much worthwhile.

As to having to change the lenses to ROM, it is a waste of money even if you do have an R8. One day R cameras may actually really need the ROM contact; at the moment ROM is not really necessary in my opinion.

-- Robin Smith (, November 26, 2001.

I used the R8 for about a year. IMHO it is the best handling camera I have ever owned, and I have owned quite a few. I used it primarily in manual mode. The built in flash meter is a terrific feature. The size and weight issues are minor. Solid build quality is apparent as soon as you pick it up. Much beter exposure control than with a mechanical shutter camera. No information overload in the viewfinder, it just gives you what you need. No frilly functions of dubious value that plauge most modern SLR's. If I found myself in need of an SLR the R8 is the one I'll get. Buy one. You won't regret it.



-- Steve Belden (, November 26, 2001.


Concerning the ROM for the R8:

The main reason for this is not the flash. As you know the R8 is equiped with a very sophisticated and intelligent metering system which allows you to rule most of difficult situation.

For this reason the R8 needs to know the specific lens data`s like vignetting etc. .... but must also have access to a library which gives a characterisation of the calculated exposure values.

As littel ex. you can well imagine that a picture made with a 28mm by having the same brightness allocation like one made with a 180 mm does very seldom mean that the character of the picture is the same.

However the metering system will do also fine job without ROM but if you want to use the Programm mode with the multimetering system than in my opinion you should look for to add the chip to your lenses but if you are going to use most of the time the manual mode with selective metering than let the lens be as they are.

I hope that my swiss-english is clear.


-- Salvatore Reitano (, November 27, 2001.

From Robin: "As to the R6 is being a dinosaur: it is in the same way that an M6 is."

I disagree. The M6 is a totally different concept, answering to very different needs. For a few decades (since the demise of the Contax RF) and up until recently, it has been the only kind in its species. Not being submitted to competition, that concept did not really need to evolve. Things are changing lately though, thanks to Mamyia and Cosina (and even Contax in certain ways). The M6 was/is also "protected" by being the only, then the best, Leica M lens holder. Nobody else produces fast lenses of such quality and useability. A 0.72 Mamyia (w/silent mode) designed in strict compliance with Leica tolerances would immediately turn the M6 into another dinosaur...

OTOH the R6 is offered in the overcrowded 35mm SLR market, where evolution has been radical, including in optical design. Its set of features has basically not evolved since the days of the SL2. Its design is outdated compared to what the rest of market currently offers, even in the marginal field of mechanical SLRs (FM2 and FM3, etc). It is completely overshadowed by the R8 in the Leica product range, and shares only 1 unique selling point with that R8: the Leica R bayonet.

To be seen as something else than a dinosaur, a R6.3, even if completely mechanical (which is basically a silly request from a 'tool' point of view except for extremely marginal extreme environments), should be designed around a contemporary shutter (with contemporary sync performance) and offer a modern HP viewfinder....

-- Jacques (, November 27, 2001.


A 0.72 Mamyia (w/silent mode) designed in strict compliance with Leica tolerances would immediately turn the M6 into another dinosaur...

Well we do clearly disagree. The Konica RF has not been a great success and it offers a great deal that "updates" the basic M concept. There is some argument over tolerances compared to the M, but I do not think this is the main reason for its relative lack of success.

The fact is that if I had an R8, I would use the camera largely on manual mode, and for this it offers nothing extra compared to the R6.2 and I would be more exposed to the vagaries of electronics and also to a much larger size and weight, things that I just do not see the need for. I do like the R8 by the way. The term "dinosaur" to me is a perjorative term unfair to an otherwise completely satisfactory camera. There are a few small things I would change on the R6.2. - better diopter adjust, different timings for the self timer and a real mirror lockup rather than prerelease, but these are very trivial. In short, if you want a manual camera this is in my opinion the best there is at the moment. Nikon manual cameras have only center weighted metering, which in my opinion is not so useful in real shooting situations as the R6's selectable spot and center weighted approach, otherwise they are good, no question.

Of course, we can agree to disagree: no problem!

-- Robin Smith (, November 27, 2001.

Interesting reminder from Dewbie : Why SS use R6.2 instead of R8? Maybe because it is a mechanical camera; non battery dependent. He usually carry 3 R bodies to avoid change the lens while shooting; why he has to bother to change the battery? Maybe with an R6.2 he always got the moment. Maybe he doesn’t need the TTL flash and the other auto-everything; because he use TMZ or Tri-X. And reliable Leica lenses. I think he is clever enough to choose R6.2 as his camera...;-)

-- Andy Wijono (, November 27, 2001.

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