Leica R8

Leica R8

The Leica R8 is a manual focus 35 mm single-lens reflex camera produced by the German firm of Leica as part of their R series of cameras. Development began in 1990:cite web|url=http://www.imx.nl/photosite/leica/rseries/designr8e.html|title=Leica R8 Design|author=Erwin Puts|work=Photosite] the camera was introduced at the 1996 Photokina trade show,cite web|url=http://www.leica-camera.us/culture/history/leica_products/|title=Leica Product Timeline|publisher=Leica Camera AG] and was succeeded by the similar Leica R9 in 2002..

The R8 can be fitted with the Digital Modul R (DMR) digital back (discontinued in 2007 [http://www.leicapages.com/novelties.html] ) and used as a digital camera; from 2005 to 2007, the R8 and R9 were the only 35 mm SLRs to take a user-installable digital back. The R8 was the first R series camera to have no association with Minolta, and was a completely Leica design; it was stylistically a clean break from the past as well.


Industrial designer Manfred Meinzer was chiefly responsible for the R8 design, along with a team of designers largely new to Leica or drawn from outside; the previous Leica design department had been largely dismantled.cite web|url=http://www.meinzer-mm-design.de/hypertxt/leieng.htm|title=MM-designed products from LEICA Camera AG|author=Manfred Meinzer Industrial Design]

A key design goal was to evoke the Leica M and its smooth top-plate; instead of a raised pentaprism as in previous R series cameras, the R8 has sloped "shoulders" that blend almost seamlessly into the pentaprism housing. The shape is strongly asymmetrical, especially in plan view, with a bulged right handgrip and smaller, tapered left-hand side.

Another goal was to improve the ergonomics and to place controls so they could be easily reached and operated without removing the eye from the viewfinder. Although the R8 is capable of fully automated exposure and (with the addition of the integrally-styled motor drive or winder) automated film transport, a major design goal was that the camera be easy to operate in fully manual mode, since many Leica customers prefer this. In this it differs strongly from other modern SLR designs, which are designed primarily for automatic operation. The top control wheels are sunken into the top plate, with knurled edges protruding at the front where they can easily be turned by hand.

The R8 is substantially larger and heavier than previous R series cameras, being about a third heavier at 890 g than the R7. This is partly explained by being built to take and balance the heavier zoom lenses in the Leica R lens range.

The styling of the R8 proved controversial. Some photographers consider it ugly, and dub it the "Hunchback of Solms"cite web|url=http://www.luminous-landscape.com/columns/sm-04-01-04.shtml|title=Has Leica Lost It?|author=Mike Johnston|site=The Sunday Morning Photographer] (Solms is the German town where Leica is headquartered). The size and bulk of the camera see a lot of criticism.

Technical information

The R8 was without doubt the most complex camera Leica had ever constructed. It contained extensive electronics, despite its manual operation bias, and in addition was built in a very modular fashion to integrate seamlessly with motor drive units and new backs such as the Digital Modul R.


The shutter used is a Copal vertically running metal-leaf unit capable of speeds between 1/8000 and 32 seconds steplessly in automatic modes, or to 16 seconds in half-stop steps in manual mode, as well as Bulb. The flash X-sync speed is 1/250 sec.

The shutter release is in the center of the shutter-speed dial, and is threaded for a cable release. The optional Motor-Drive gives additional front and vertical-grip releases.



Leica sell a number of dedicated accessories for the R8 and R9. In addition to the Digital Modul R, these comprise the following:cite web|url=http://www.leica-camera.us/photography/r_system/accessories/|title=R System Accessories|author=Leica Camera AG]

* Motor-Winder R8/R9: gives powered film transport (loading/advance/rewind) and continuous 2 frame/s shooting. It affixes to the camera's base, adding 20 mm in height, and replaces the right handgrip as well, this containing the two CR-123 lithium batteries it uses. A switch enables leader-out rewinds. An additional battery pack may be affixed to the base for extended use.cite web|url=http://www.leica-camera.us/photography/r_system/accessories/accessories_for_the_camera/film_advance/524.html|title=Leica Motor-Winder R8/R9|author=Leica Camera AG] This winder is much lighter and more compact than the previous version, the combination of R8 + Winder is almost exactly the same overall size and weight as the previous equivalent R7 + Winder
* Motor-Drive R8/R9: like the Motor-Winder, but larger and gives continuous 4.5 frame/s shooting in addition to single-shot and 2 frame/s. It provides additional shutter releases ― on the handgrip and on the vertical grip on the base. Enables three-shot auto-bracketing of exposure in 0.5 or 1 EV increments. cite web|url=http://www.leica-camera.us/photography/r_system/accessories/accessories_for_the_camera/film_advance/525.html|title=Leica Motor-Drive R8/R9|author=Leica Camera AG]
* Remote Control R8/R9: an electronic unit that attaches to either the Motor Winder or the Motor Drive; it cannot be connected to the bare camera. In addition to triggering the shutter, the Remote Control can turn the camera on or off, control mode and exposure, control auto-bracketing, and can function as an intervalometer triggering at rates between one per second and one every 24 hours. It comes with a 5 metre cord and can be fitted with up to 4 25 metre extension cords for a maximum length of 105 metres.
* Electric trigger switches: If the functionality of the Remote Control is not needed and all that is required is to trip the shutter, two electric trigger switches are available; one with a 5 metre cord that can also take extension cords, and one with a 0.3 metre cord for shake-free trigger release on a tripod.
* SF 24D flash: Leica's dedicated flash unit enables camera-controlled TTL flash output on the R8 and R9. Covers the field of view of 35–85 mm lenses (with diffusers, 24–135 mm.
* Focusing screens: the standard focusing screen, ground-glass with split-image and microprism collar, can be replaced by any of five other screens for specialised tasks. For the Digital Modul R, an additional set of six screens marked with the Modul R's sensor crop area can be substituted.
* Other accessories from Leica include a rubber eyecup, right-angle finder, diopter correction lenses, cases, straps, tripods, cable releases etc.


cite web|url=http://yandr.50megs.com/leica/r8/r8.htm|title=Leica R8 User Manual|author=Leica Camera AG]


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