R8 Motor Drive advice wanted

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I've read various postings about the R8 Motor Drive, but I have not been convinced either pro or con about one. As some of you may know, I am a hobbyist and shoot mostly travel and landscapes. I have never needed 4.5 fr/sec. with my Nikon. I have not missed any pictures with my R8 without the drive, but as I have come to believe in bracketing more and more, maybe that function alone makes the Drive valuable to me.

I have read some postings about how a Motor Drive attachment has caused failures with the body's electronics. I have also read how there have been may problems with the drive itself. Can someone assist me in choosing? And maybe give some more reviews?

-- Reto (redcave@schweiz.com), March 11, 2002


The Motor-Drive-R8 adds a tremendous amount to both the weight and volume of the already chunky R8 and offers only 4.5 FPS, which is very slow by pro-SLR standards. It also can only use a dedicated rechargeable battery pack which is inconvenient especially if you only use the camera sporadically or where access to electricity for recharging is difficult. The battery pack is also of the NiCad type which is outdated as most rechargeables today are NiMH (or Li-Ion) that have no "memory" and can be topped-off with charge without having to completely discharge them first. NiCad is also very eco- damaging when it comes time to dispose of them. For the bracketing function alone I would not get the Drive. I have Winder R8's on both of mine, which are not very big, give 2FPS, and take replaceable bateries. Even then, when I travel I carefully consider whether the winder is essential.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), March 11, 2002.

Since I use the motor to avoid taking my eye from the finder, I also opted to go with the Winder rather than the Motor Drive for my R8. It does everything I need and is slightly smaller and lighter to boot, not to mention cheaper.

-- Rolfe Tessem (rolfe@ldp.com), March 11, 2002.


I can tell you some about my experience with the R8 and motor drive but you should know up front, I agree with Jay on this.

I have not experienced any reliability issues with the motor drive or the R8. I do not have a winder so I cannot comment on that.

I use the motor drive when size and weight are not an issue. The drive really helps increase the balance when using long and heavy lenses and I do use it for wildlife photography.

When moving light and fast I never take it. I manually bracket all the time and find it no bother at all. I would much rather carry another lens or two than the drive.

The another advantage of the drive seems to be during cold weather shooting. Perhaps the addtional mass of the NiCad helps in this regard. Also switching the rechargeable battery packs is easier with gloves on. This beats fiddling with the smaller cells and the holder. I keep a second charged cell in my coat to swap. By the time the second is failing the first is re-warmed and will work again.

The Leica charger reconditions the battery every time you place it in the charger. As a result, the NiCad's are less likely to develop a "memory". Once charged, the cells last quite a while.

All in all it is a very well thought out package. However I would never use it simply for the bracketing feature.

I am not aware of any product tests or consumer reviews that you could reference.

Good luck with your decision.

-- Scott (PFD261@hotmail.com), March 11, 2002.

I have both the winder and the motor drive. I tend to squeese the shutter release slowly and keep my finger on the button too long for the motor winder. If you keep your finger on the shutter too long with the winder, it will take two or more shots. The motor drive has a true single release setting and only takes one frame even if you keep your finger on the shutter. The motor drive is much better built than the winder. I read somewhere that it was the winder that caused electronic failures with the R8. By the time the drive was released all those early problems wer fixed. The drive grip is a much better shape than the winder or the bare R8 body. It feels better to hold and really makes the R8 a great camera. I will be selling my motor winder and getting another motor drive. The batteries are NMHI not NICADS as mentioned in an earlier comment. It is a pity that Leica didn't make a AA battery pack available.

-- Hugh Esmond (ubique@zygo.com.au), June 10, 2002.

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