Leo Laksi’s Bangkok And Back

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Leica M8 v. Nikon D700 at Angkor Wat

with 8 comments


Actually it was never a contest.  I recently spent a few days at Angkor Wat and surrounding area in Siem Reap, Cambodia and brought a M8 and three lenses, the Summicron 35mm f/2, the Summilux 75mm f1.4, and the Carl Zeiss Biogon 21mm f/2.8 and the Nikon D700 with the 14-24 f/2.8 zoom and the 135mm DC f/2 lenses. I figured that the two kits would complement one another.

In addition, I brought a Gitzo 1227 Mk2 tripod with G1275M head.  I carried the gear in a Thinktank Rotation 360.

The D700 failed miserably.  In fact in the first 30 minutes and after 10 shots.  The electronics in the camera packed up, causing the camera to not power up.  I tried to revive the camera by reinstalling the battery, installing a second battery etc.  Nothing worked.  Done.

So for the next few days I relied on the M8, mainly using the Summicron 35mm f/2. And the M8 succeeded in the extreme conditions.  The temperature reached a high of 36 Celsius and the humidity was 85 percent.  The tropical sun was constantly beating down on you and you felt like you were going to melt.

I will be posting on Angkor Wat in the next few days.  It is a wonderful venue for photographs.

Photos taken with a Leica M8 and a Summicron 35mm f/2 lens.




Written by leolaksi

May 23, 2009 at 6:32 am

8 Responses

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  1. So Leo…did you manage to revive the D700?

    Daniel Ho

    May 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    • Hi Daniel,

      How’s it going? Never came back from the dead although I spent a better part of a day trying to figure out what went wrong. Nevertheless, once I returned to Bangkok, I visited the dealer and within 10 minutes, they replaced it. I like the D700, especially with the 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. The shop, which has a technician on staff, figured that the main circuit board must have been defective. Leo


      May 27, 2009 at 12:21 pm

  2. Who’s your Nikon dealer in BKK Leo?

    I’m about to decide between an M8.2 and a D700 – doing mostly scenes, street photography and portraiture.

    Hate flash, love to work with available light – is the M8.2 therefore killed already?

    Today, having worked with both cameras, why would you go either go with the Leica or the Nikon?

    I know, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s say you have to make up your mind.

    Looking forward to your answer!


    June 23, 2009 at 11:32 am

    • I tend to buy almost all my camera gear at Fotofile at MBK. I also buy from Cathay Photo in Singapore and a small shop at Causeway Bay in HK. I bought both my M8 and D700 from fotofile. Lenses are hit and miss, having bought lenses in all three locations as well as the US and Japan (great used market).

      The M8 (or 8.2) is great for your interests and once you get used to manual focus, it’s use is relatively easy and quick. Quicker than you would think, given manual focus. Sometimes I hyperfocus, which allows you to be even quicker. And with the small presence, it’s easier to be inobtrusive when street shooting.

      There’s no doubt that the D700’s low light capability is phenomenal. I’ve used it at ISO 6400 with good results. The M8 is a bit dodgy beyond 1250. However with the Leica, you can also buy lenses as fast as f/1 (noctilux) or more normal f/1.4 (summilux). And the quality of the lenses is without peer. There are no zoom lenses for the M-mount but I don’t find myself missing them. Also M8 and lenses are a bit short for telephoto use. Portraiture is great with 75 or 90 mm lens. For me, the biggest downside to the Leica system is the cost of the lenses and the lack of true telephoto. The magenta issue, which requires the use of an IR/UV cut filter, is not a concern. Same with the issue of backfocus. Doesn’t bother me that much.

      Recently I used the D700 with 14-24mm f/2.8 lens at ISO 6400 in a poor light environment. The focus was spot on, the ease of use was good (although I accidently switched from RAW to TIF in the dark). In the identical environment four months ago but with the M8.2 and Noctilux 50 f/1.0 at ISO 640 and 1250, the manual focus was a bit tricky and there was a slight back focus, the results were better than with the D700. And with fewer controls, it was easier to handle.

      If I had to choose one, it would be the Leica mainly because of its small footprint and the superb lenses. The D700 is a great camera but the sheer size of the body and lenses makes it hard for you to discreetly take photos. And the shutter is louder than the Leica. But Leica lenses can be costly. The recently introduced 21mm and 24mm Summilux f/1.4 are going for around 6000 USD.

      I believe that the Kodak CCD sensor (without an antialias filter) in the Leica is very capable, giving an almost filmlike look to the images. The Nikon CMOS is very good but definitely the image has a different look.

      I ended up buying the D700 and lenses after having sold my 5D and L lenses. That came about after a recent trip when I missed the telephoto (and action) capabilities of my 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens and decided I needed to replace that kit with another. That’s where the D700 came in. Bottom line with the D700 and lens – great but heavy.

      Hope that helps. Leo


      June 23, 2009 at 12:23 pm

  3. Thank you so much for your comments about D700 and Leica…it’s really interesting. I think the D700 is very good when you don’t have light, by night inside or outside, when it’s very dark around….the quality of the photos is really wonderful. it’s the first best product of Nikon D!….look like a slide.

    Pascarel Nicolas

    November 7, 2009 at 6:24 am

    • The D700 is a very fine camera. And as you said, in low light, high ISO conditions, it’s hard to find a camera to best its performance. The M8 is also a fine camera but for different reasons. It uses the best lenses in the world, is unobtrusive, and is hard to beat in street-shooting mode. It’s MF does require more thinking but then again, it makes for a very rewarding experience.

      The D700 is a go to camera for almost all situations and I have used it in harsh conditions from desert shoots to tropical high humidity situations.



      November 7, 2009 at 7:39 am

  4. what story is it..?? may be a joke..for amateur photograph??
    I stay in Cambodia for 10 years with Nikon F100, FM3, D200 and D700..I never see problems with the camera, nothing!! it’s not a problem of 32 or 38°, 85 or 95 % humidity….nothing of that it’s real.
    it’s just a joke.


    September 19, 2010 at 6:28 am

    • Pascarel, the breakdown has nothing to do with the humidity or the temperature. the electronics were faulty. was on mekong last february and no problem. leo


      September 19, 2010 at 7:13 am

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