Leica Choice: Used M8 or new X1


Hall of Famer
S W France
What would you guys/(and gals), choose

a good used M8 or a new X1

(lets assume that you have a CV 35mm lens or similar Leica for the M8)
I would go for the used M8, only because of the option to change lenses. However, I have seen some fantastic results from folks using the X1.

Good to see you here, Bill!


It's a tough choice.
The X1 comes with a warranty.
The M8 may not. Expensive to do any reapairs/adjustments.
The M8.2 will cost much more.
They are 2 entirely different machines.
I would try to find an M8 with some sort of warranty.
If ya can swing it, I never will be able to...
Get the M9 with a 35 cron....
It's all ya need for eternity!
In my dreams.....that camera sings.....
I can't answer you, Bill. Have you spent endless hours reading about the M8 with its positives and negatives? Someone urged me to go that route, but I explained that I can't do manual focus on a regular basis...plus I had to think about all those lenses.

Have you tried the X1 in real life and or can you buy it with a good return policy, if you don't like it?

L.Camera.com has quite a discussion forum, but you probably already know that.
The M8 (and any lenses) are significantly heavier than the X1 if that matters to you. And as BB says you have to manually focus which I too can no longer do easily. If it were an used M9 and weight and focus weren't an issue, it would be a no brainer because of the full frame sensor. But, the M8 has the same size sensor as the X1 so it's not an easy choice. I went the X1 route and I love it but it has its limitations.
If I had been a little bit more restrained in my falling for the X1, I probably should have waited until the upcoming Photokina...just to be sure there wasn't something a little tiny bit different coming down the pike. So maybe hold off for a few more weeks and see if you can get your hands on an X1 and an M8 to try out.

Don't take this as a negative on my views of the X1, it's not. I'm just usually more judicious in my buying habits. What would I change about the X1? Hmm, probably just a couple of things that I believe can be fixed with a firmware update - separating the focus lock from the metering...making them two distinct controls. That's pretty much it....unless maybe a fast zoom lens for those farther away than the feet can travel moments. I've also read comments that the Elmarti lens that comes with the X1 is quite different from Summicron lens, that former being very sharp while the Summicron has a different feel to it. I was too ignorant to know these things and am not sure that I would have made a different choice if I had known... Eventually it comes down to finances for many of us, too. Lots of things to add into the choice mix.
The M8 (and any lenses) are significantly heavier than the X1 if that matters to you. And as BB says you have to manually focus which I too can no longer do easily. If it were an used M9 and weight and focus weren't an issue, it would be a no brainer because of the full frame sensor. But, the M8 has the same size sensor as the X1 so it's not an easy choice. I went the X1 route and I love it but it has its limitations.

The sensor in the M8 is larger than the one in the X1, the M8 has a 1.3x crop factor compared with the 1.5x of the X1.

I went with the M8, and bought an extended warranty on it. I was just using it this morning with a Type 1 Rigid Summicron made from parts lenses. The M8 makes it easy to collimate RF lenses.
* The M9 is a clear choice.. newest model..etc.. But at its price range, its not a fair comparison.
* Without any input from the OP concerning their expectations, use, etc.. all recommendations will be made with just our own personal experiences. Thus all need to be taken with a grain of salt.
* My gut tells me we are comparing entirely different types of cameras and thus will also be highly biased. For example: If the OP is highly experienced with P&S (hence posting here), their shooting style might give preference to the X1. If the OP is highly experienced with rangefinders, their shooting style might be better served with the M8.
* I personally wouldn't spend the extra on the M8.2 over the M8. The differences are subtile but deciding between the two should be a different topic.

My vote would be for an M8. I shoot primarily with a rangefinder with m4/3rds (E-PL1), DSLR (1d mII), and P&S (LX3) backing it up occasionally. The beauty of the system over the X1 is the availability of a wide variety of Leica (and Voigtlander) glass with different focal lengths and apertures. It is a much more versatile system. Lets not forget that the M8 is also a rangefinder while the X1 (even though it looks like one) is absolutely NOT a rangefinder. In my mind (no offense to the X1 users), the X1 is a very high end P&S that sets itself apart in various ways.

So it boils down to which serves better.... Digital RF or high end P&S?
I keep missing the used M8s on EBay as they all go for about £1,600 - that's too much for me for a used, little warranty left Cam - I'm tempted to risk divorce and buy a new M9

or should I just get a D700 to keep my D300 and range of Nikkor glass happy

I still have my M6, and pre Ms, plus an F and an F3, but I reckon that I will never find anyone to develop film in France these days

should I go back to developing my own and fumbling around in a light tight bag - it was fun, (the fumbling!), but the nights are getting cold

what do you reckon?
First of all, I completely disagree with usayit's saying the X1 is a point and shoot unless we call all sorts of other cameras the same. Now we move on to the main thrust of this thread - your decisions Bill. I think that it is time that you sought out a soothsayer, perhaps wait until after Photokina to find one who's up on everything?:tongue:
First of all, I completely disagree with usayit's saying the X1 is a point and shoot unless we call all sorts of other cameras the same. :

That's ok most people who own the X1 say the same thing... and become overly defensive. There are several reviews online that start by saying "A german made Point and Shoot". Its not meant to be derogatory to the wonderful camera in any way. It is in no way in relation to the term "snapshot" (even though I see no problem with that either).

My point being, the way you shoot with an X1 is VERY different from the way you shoot with a Rangefinder (like an M8), or an SLR (mirror box with pentaprism). The "way" you shoot and the overall picturing taking "experience" shares a lot of commonality with the "experience" and "way" you shoot with a P&S. You don't frame a subject in field like a rangefinder. You don't pear through a prism viewfinder like an SLR. You don't make focal length / lens decisions like either.

So the most useful way to look at this comparison is which TYPE of camera fits your needs; SLR (then get neither), rangefinder (then get M8), or a P&S SERIOUS COMPACT (then get the X1). Figure out the TYPE of camera first and then figure out which brand/model of that specific type of camera you require.

I had a similar discussion way back when the m4/3rds were being considered as a "poor man's Leica". Yes.. you can mount lenses but the over all experience (even with the EVF) is very different.

Its no surprise that the X1 is listed in BBW's signature. ...
:D Yes, you pushed my hot button and I knew you'd respond to my comment. You are correct that I do think the description tends to carry negative underpinnings. I do think of my Canon ElPH SD870 as a point and shoot because, that's all I can do with it - point and shoot, though I have to say I've been very happy with many photos from the camera.

It's really a rather silly thing to get bogged down in, I agree. Whether the camera has a viewfinder, an EVF, a LCD and yes - even controls that allow one to choose f stop, and the rest all does not really matter if the image produced by the person using whichever camera they have in their hands, works out to be a photograph that they are happy with. As I posted on another thread, one of my own favorites in the last 40 years was taken with a Diana, some others with my OM-1 and still another with a Canon ELPH without any controls at all.

Perhaps I should add more cameras to my signature line.;)
You can easily turn the M8 into a point and shoot. Put a wide-angle lens on it, stop down to F8, set the focus to 8ft or so, select "auto" shutter speed and "auto-ISO". Done.

A lot of photographers preset lenses on RF's to the hyperfocal distance, used it as a point and shoot. But the M8, X1, and many other cameras allow for more control if you want it.
Focusing is just one part of the whole experience. You're not magically changing the M8 to a P&S like experience. How you compose a photo is different for example...

Furthermore.. There's just one plane that can be "in focus" at any one time. Hyperfocal is simply exploiting "acceptable focus". So accurate focus is still different between the two cameras. I also don't know many photographers that shoot only at f/8 and on to use hyperfocal. Subject type photos often will drive the photographer to use wider apertures or longer focal lengths (which is not possible on the X1) for a different effect. I also find that Hyperfocal distances also have to be compensated for on the M8 due to its cropped sensor (one of the reasons I want an M9).

Again.. I'm not saying the rangefinder (M8) is a a clearly better camera over the advanced P&S (X1).. no more than I"m saying the SLR is a better type camera over the rangefinder. I am simply stating that first decide the type of camera then decide the brand that best suited for the job.

From my experience, I would choose an M8 over the X1 just like I generally choose the M8 over my LX3. If the OP has past experience with a rangefinder.. then maybe the M8. If not but likes the compact sizes of some P&S, then maybe the X1 would be the best choice.
The following are now my personal feelings - I am a keen amateur and shoot in all types of situations - I am just a very average photographer that enjoys the hobby.

My thinking behind asking the original question:

I bought a G1 and EP-1 last February - prior to that I had used mainly Nikon/Canon SLRs and Nikon DSLR, (D300), and Canon P&S - plus a dying use of RF film, (M6 and M3). I have quite a lot of Nikkor, Canon and Pentax MF glass plus Leica, (the cheaper end), CV and Nikon RF glass.
After 6 months experience of using M43, one feature that I do now find important is that I want/need/would consider essential is a viewfinder on such a camera - I prefer an optical one.

- I like to use MF lenses - no more with the EP-1, only with the G1 and that is still not easy. The EP-1 is great for low light no flash shots and the jpeg engine produces great colours - but I find framing using the LCD uncomfortable. If I use MF lenses with the M43 format the G1 is fine tripod mounted with the use of the swivel screen. Also range focusing with the OVF is OK at the wider end. It is really annoying that there is no focus confirm on the G1 or EP1. I also find the controls on both the G1 and EP1 poor, (particularly on the EP1). The use of telephoto lenses on the M43 format is also poor - the Panny 20mm f1.7 and the Oly 20mm f2.8 are great and I now tend to stick with those two lenses on M43.
The controls on the D300 are great as is the use of Nikkor MF glass.

So to summarise my feelings from one standpoint.

I still prefer DSLRs, i.e. my D300, for most situation where the size does not get in the way, it is far more flexible, I find the image quality noticeably better and user control are very good.
Use of Nikkor MF glass is no problem on the D300. The FX D700 seems a bargain and I feel that it would be a good "family Christmas present" to me from my wife and kids, (now grown up) - so that suggestion will be made.

I enjoyed/enjoyed using the RF format and certainly prefer this to M43. I would like an M8 or M9 - and I am looking for a used M8 - now that I am retired I can see me buying a M9, (after a few more months of financial reflection).

I would like a "pocketable" cam with a VF - no I don't want to pay almost £200 for one that sticks out of the top - LX5 or Canon S95 SIZE would be great - but I suppose the only ones around are the Canon G series - so I think that is the way I would need.

So it would be:
a D700 - (I have lots of Nikkor MF lens plus more modern stuff)
an M9 - (or a used M8), again I have RF glass
A point and squirt with a VF
(retain my G1 for use with the 20mm f1.7 plus quite a few old SLR canon, pentax etc., lens that I have.)

As I said I am a keen amateur that enjoys the hobby and photographic interests and I fully appreciate my limited ability - I am not a good or professional photographer that get serious about the "art".

For the above reasons, I would not buy an X1 at £1,500 - I would go for a used M8 (or even a new D700)

Just my ramblings - thanks for all your comments on my original post

(PS: what I would say is that the M43 has helped me a lot - I joined the MU43.com Forum in February and I have learned so much over the last 6 months from people on that forum that it has really made the investment in M43 worthwhile, I am am really pleased that I discovered it - thanks Amin et al )
I did an analysis on completed eBay auctions on RFF, and it seems the mean price for used M8s (without lenses) was around $2400:

Min: $1870
Max: $3042
Mean: $2419