Conference pass for my M8
I got the Leica M8 last week. My logic was that I had a lot of M series lenses already. I had waited too long to get the Digital back for my R8 and it was way too low-resolution by the time I finally got it. I didn't want to wait so long to get the M8.

Although I guess I'm still happy I got the M8, I didn't do my research and there are a number of bugs that I'm having to work around.

I already knew about the first bug by the time I actually got my M8. I wanted to use Aperture for my workflow, but Apple doesn't support Leica M8 RAW format so you need to make a fake RAW profile for the M8 and use the Adobe RAW converter to convert the M8 RAW files before importing them into Aperture. (Thanks for the pointer Ian.) One more step, but OK. Fine. I'm going to assume that Apple will eventually support the M8. (Maybe a bad assumption.)

I encountered my second bug when I started shooting at SXSW. Black cloth and other things in the conference sessions came out looking purple instead of black. Several people saw me visibly panic as I previewed photos that I was taking of Phillip Torrone who had a black shirt on. Someone told me to google "IR Leica M8". Tadaaa... a serious flaw.

The Leica sensor is overly sensitive to infrared and certain materials when lit by a source with strong IR (The lights in the conference) will show up as purple. Since it's not a color balance issue, you can't just white balance it out. The Leica forums explained that the Pro version of Capture One had profiles that could substantially improve the image and make it look almost right. However, it looks like you will need to get a special UV/IR filter and a firmware upgrade that is still TBD from Leica to correct for it. Doh. Even after the firmware comes out, needing a new filter for all of my lenses really puts a dent in the amazing backward compatibility that Leica is all about.

After sort of getting this all working, I finally uploaded a bunch of stuff to Flickr and noticed that things looked washed out and lacked saturation compared to how they appeared on my screen. It turns out that Firefox on the Mac doesn't recognize the ICC profile tags so I need to remap the colors and export the images in Aperture instead of just dragging them into Flickr. (Thanks Kevin!) I'm exporting to sRGB IEC61966-2.1 which seems to fix it.

Compare an image remapped/exported to sRGB IEC61966-2.1
SET Players
to
one which is not
SET Players
in Firefox and Safari on a Mac. They will look the same in Safari, but the second one will look washed out in Firefox.) I also learned, from the same post that Macs and Windows machines typically use a different gamma so even if I get the colors right, the gamma will be off for most of the world. There is a page that clearly describes these phenomena.

I guess the lesson here is that the closer you get to perfection, the harder it gets. I'm not upset and I'm learning a lot about imaging and color in the process. It's just amazing how complicated the world of digital photography has become for me in the last few days.

UPDATE: After the OSX update, Aperture is crashing randomly and frequently. Anyone else getting this?

23 Comments

Good article on display gamma, ICC profiles, and web browsers.

http://blogs.smugmug.com/onethumb/2007/02/14/this-is-your-mac-on-drugs/

Joi, you should return the M8 and get the Epson R-D1, which is half the cost of the Leica and takes much better photos but without the expensive brand. To pay thousands of dollars for a camera body, and to have it be so defective from the factory, is insanity.

Fazal Majid returned his M8 and is enjoying the Epson.

http://www.majid.info/mylos/weblog/2006/11/23-1.html

I feel YOUR idea and mind ARE A LITTLE BIT INTERESTING WHEN I VISIT YOUR WEBLOG.

RECENTLY I GOT NICON D200 TO TAKE PHOTOS OF TIBETAN CHILDREN IN ART PROJECTS IN NEW YORK CITY 2006.

"DREAMS&HOPES" ART PROJECT SUPPORTED BY DALAI LAMA'S SCHOOL IN NY.

GOOD LUCK~~~!! ENJOY CAMERA!!
TO JOI

aRT TARO, NYC

from apple discussions:
"Actually, Apple has annouced that Aperture support for the Pentax K10D, K100D, and K110D will be available very soon.

We will also be adding support for 11 other RAW formats from different cameras, including the Nikon D40, Leica Digilux 3, Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1, Samsung GX-1L, and seven of the Leaf Aptus and Valeo models.

Can't publish a release date, but this update will be coming VERY soon.

Joe Schorr
Sr. Product Manager, Aperture
Apple"

HTH

Guess what? Apple released 10.4.9 today which - ta-da - includes "DNG compatibility on Intel-based Macs".

Not able to test this out myself, however your prayers may have been answered.

The first thing I do when I get a new mac is recalibrate the screen to a gamma of 2.2. I know I'll incur the wrath of a lot of Mac users by doing this, but it's the only way to get a somewhat more consistent look across different systems.

Yes, I do know that 80% of the world uses a non-calibrated screen and that it really doesn't make much difference in the end, but the change in gamma is something a lot of people do notice, regardless of having a calibrated screen or not.

Secondly, whenever you export for the web use sRGB as the color profile since that's what most systems use out of the box (even if you don't actually send the sRGB profile along with the image).

What happens is that most browsers assume that images have been tagged with sRGB and thus use that profile by default on every image they display (regardless of what profile you actually map on the image). Safari is the only browser I know that actually opens the image and checks the profile that was set and effectively uses it too.

As a sidenote, afaik there's 2 ways of setting a colorprofile on an image. One is through an exif tag. There are currently 3 supported values: no colorprofile, sRGB and AdobeRGB. The other way is to actually embed the profile that you mapped to the image.

iPhoto has issues with the first way :). If you import an image into iPhoto that uses the exif system to indicate the required profile (and most camera's use this mechanism since it saves space), it'll ignore it and map the generic RGB profile on the image instead (regardless of it being sRGB or AdobeRGB). If you send the profile along embedded inside the image, that profile will be used and no remapping will happen.

Disclaimer for my previous comment: I'm no expert, just a casual photographer :)

Leica Digilux 3, but not M8. I have already upgraded and it doesn't work. :-\

AFAIK, hardly any browsers recognise ICC profiles. Also, and I don't really get all this despite running a small photo business, sRGB is like a smaller box of brighter crayons compared with Adobe1998. So yes, converting (not assigning) to sRGB is the thing to do. Also, making images smaller can make them darker. I usually bump brightness and saturation up a few notches for Web stuff too.

Presumably the CCD used in the Leica is the same as that used in other cameras? It is hard to believe that this is not an issue the ccd manufacturer can resolve.

It's a custom CCD.

Kodak today issued a press release stating that the new Leica M8 features their new KAF-10500 CCD. This was developed specifically for the M8 with offset microlenses to help reduce the effect of vignetting due to severely off-perpendicular light towards the corners of the frame (especially when using wide angle lenses). The KAF-10500 has an active area of 27 x 18 mm, a 6.8 µm pixel pitch and two channel output.
But... a recent release says:
The image sensor in the LEICA M8 is highly sensitive for infrared light. This can lead to a magenta-colored offset (e.g. with black fabrics). Usually, this effect is undesirable. Therefore, Leica recommends using exclusively the special Leica UV/IR filters on the lenses in order to prevent the infrared light from reaching the CCD sensor. These screw-in type filters work based on interference. As a result, and depending on the angle of the incident light, they have a differing degree of spectral transmission, which in turn

BTW, "Usually, this effect is undesirable." is SOOOOO insincere I feel like hitting them over the head with a 30 lb catfish.

Hahahaha...I was thinking that the phrase "Usually, this effect is undesirable." was a bit disingenuous but didn't think about hitting them with a 30lb catfish! :-)

I thought that the latest OS X Update would have fixed the DNG issue. I guess not. Did you fix your RAW handling workaround that the Update broke?

Thanks for sharing though for the on the Firefox not reading ICC profile tags. Much appreciated. I noticed this same issue but obviously didn't look into it as deeply as you.

Joi Ito could you please allow my first comment, my second comment doesn't really make much sense without the (quite extensive) first one :)

You will find, however, that with an filter designed for IR photography that you have a SUPERB instrument for making infra-red photographs - far better than what IR film can do for you.

CraHan, I'm sorry, I can't seem to find your first comment. :-(

Now Aperture keeps crashing. Anyone having trouble since the OSX update?

Sorry. I found some lost comments.

Oops. I feel sort of responsible now. Joi asked me how I liked the M8 and I praised it but didn't link to the reviews about the IR stuffs. I didn't realize Joi would order one off the cuff I guess ;)

There's been huge discussions about this whole phenomenon on the various Leica forums. Interested parties should probably go and read there. At the end of the day, the pro-Leica position is that the IR sensitivity is a "necessary" trade-off for other optical properties. This is probably impossible for most reasonable people to accept, and maybe the Leica geeks are self-justifying. Still, I've not yet had magenta cast issues very often, and I've always been able to correct for them. The main problems come when you have synthetic fabrics reflecting a lot of IR light AND true, strong magenta objects in a photo. And that just hasn't happened to me very much.

I received email from Leica a couple of days ago saying that they plan to release a 1.10 firmware update mid-April that should solve the color offsets problem in the M8 (1.092 is available now).

Recently I switched from Aperture to Adobe Lightroom which handles M8 DNGs no problem.

The whole magenta/IR issue is pretty hard for me to grasp as a regular guy that likes photography.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a longtime film M user, but people are telling me that Leica actually knew about the IR situation before release, left it in deliberately, and didn't tell anyone.

That just seems wrong on so many levels.

1. Why did Leica not think this was an issue that should be disclosed?

2. What is so magical that requires this nasty effect to be necessary in order to obtain Leica optical nirvana?

3. Why are M8 users making excuses for this? These are the same people that would be slagging Nikon or Canon if they bought a D40 or Rebel that had the same issue. Fanboys?

4. Filters? Filters?!?! That's the fix? Sigh...I thought it was all about preserving the purity of light going through the magic Leica glass?

We were running Aperture at the Miami Ad School, it crashed the director of photographies macbook and it never fully booted without help from the boot disks. After we reloaded EVERYTHING, we tried aperture again and we haven't had any problems since. No one else has reported any issues.

That is crazy, isn't it? You get a couple of tens of thousands of high-spec CCDs especially manufactured at a cost of millions of dollars, they come back from the factory, you assemble them into cameras and then someone figures out that everything has turned purple all of a sudden. Hate to be that QA guy!

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