Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

May 9, 2007

Lecia M8 vs Canon XTi

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 9:02 pm

NYCity Ground Zero 

NYCity Ground Zero

There seems to be some internet Angst with a few reviews (example see blog: The Online Photographer) of the Lecia M8 and comparison with the Canon Rebel XTi. For the record, I have a Canon Rebel XTi and a “Lecia”, more about that in a moment.

As to my background for this review, I look at camera equipment from a strong utilitarian perspective, probably from my many years as an engineer develping new medical products for use by hospitals. Usually no fancy marketing extras for these medical devices and they have to do exactly what they need to do.

It has been my experience that what the Lecia camera does best, is not be seen while alowing the photographer to unobstrusively capture the “decisive moment”. The camera had to have very reliable mechanics, good glass and image resolution and fast focus and compositioning. Usually shooting without tripod (keeping with the unobstrusivenesses), pushing the speed of HP4 or Tri-X, and in available light (not only good glass, but “fast” glass). Best known for “street photography”.

When I carry my Canon XTi with the 17-40mm lens (or especially the 70-200mm), it is hard to be “un-noticed”, it is very apparent to all of those around me that I am a “photographer” and I am very aware that eveyone else is very aware. So, if you want to be noticed, carry an all black camera with a big black lens and strange lens shade. It can shout “look at me!”. But don’t look for the subtle decisive moment as you watch life passing by. For the photogarphs that I do create, the XTi is a wonderful camera system.

When I want to move about relatively unnoticed and transparent, I carry my “Lecia”, which has Canon G2 for a name plate. For the record, I do not have a Lecia M8, but I have seen one on the shelf at a camera store. It does not look like a camera that you can carry and use unnoticed. But my little rangefinder digi-cam is wonderful. Everyone has one and I look like almost everyone else, even a little touristy, but seen and non-seen, transparent and almost invisible. The great “decisive moment” guy used to wear a suit just so that he would blend in with the crowd (no black outfit or camera vest and two or more cameras hanging off). The G2 shoots little 4Mp RAW images that make really fine images on 8-1/2 x 11 paper (remember, Lecia images made with HP4 were usually printed on 8×10’s, the de facto standard back then).

What I was hoping that Canon was going to do with G series; a faster zoom (e.g. f1.4?) and better L glass. A camera that was much easier to focus, either manual (guess-a-matic) or auto with more focusing points. Instead we get more pixels and no RAW and still f2.8. Bummer. The zoom lens does zoom kinda slow, but it had a good range of equivalent focal lengths; approx 35 – 85mm, the classic range of the M3 and M4’s. But remember, the old Lecia’s were not perfect either, but absolutely perfect for the intended use. So I do not have a need to repace the G2 and it really is a temendous deal when compared to the real Lecia M8.

The NYCity image in this post was created with the Canon G2.

Best regards, Doug

12/03/07 Update; When Canon announced the G7 10 Mp camera about the same time as the Canon XTi, also a 10 Mp camera, the G7 did not come with RAW, a deal killer for me.  Since then, Photoshop CS3 can do some things added things with JPEG image files, but better than that, Canon just introduced the G9, a 12 Mp camera with RAW capbabilities.  Recent reviews gives this a “best in class” for a digi-cam with its small sensor size.  If I wanted to be ‘transparent’ taking “decisive moments” photographs on the street, this would be the camera that I would seriously consider buying.

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