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Leica M8.2 review: Leica M8.2

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The Good Excellent picture quality; unparalleled build and finish; smallish size.

The Bad Infrared sensitivity under (mainly) incandescent lighting; superfluous snapshot mode; very expensive.

The Bottom Line The Leica M8.2 is a welcome, if very pricey, upgrade to the M8, and makes excellent use of the legions of Leica M lenses in existence. While dSLRs may be more versatile overall, the M8.2 provides incomparable quality in the niche it occupies

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8.3 Overall

The Leica M8.2 is an update of the M8 digital rangefinder launched in 2006. It adds a sapphire glass cover screen, quieter shutter, new vulcanite body covering, and a tweak of the viewfinder frame lines. At around £3,600 (plus £1,800 for the lens we had in for review), the M8.2 is a pricey alternative to most digital SLRs, but it's aimed at imaging professionals pitching for high-value advertising and commercial work.

The M8.2's only real competition comes from Leica's own M8, which is still available for around £1,000 less. You could buy one of those and, using Leica's own upgrade facility, have many, but not all, of the new features added. As the total cost would be around that of the M8.2, however, it's something of a futile exercise.

Legendary lenses
There's plenty to like about rangefinders: their viewfinders are large and bright and, unlike those of dSLRs, don't momentarily go black whenever you take a picture. Putting the price aside, there's also much to like about the M8.2 in particular. You won't find another camera that's better made, and the performance of Leica M lenses is the stuff of legend. The M8.2 is quite small but it feels weighty, thanks to its all-metal construction, and chunky in the hands.

The M8.2 produces more detailed raw files than JPEGs. Colours can be quite muted, but images are very sharp and largely free of distortion (click image to enlarge)

The M8.2 has a well-machined power switch that serves double duty for selecting drive modes, and a large shutter-speed dial. This offers aperture priority, manual exposure and an out-of-place snapshot mode. The latter option sets everything to auto and captures JPEGs. Despite providing some detailed information -- on pressing the info button, the user is shown suggested apertures on the LCD, along with the hyperfocal distance setting for the lens in use -- this mode is unlikely to appeal to the target market of advanced users.

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