The digital M8 revolutionised the M series while remaining true to its tradition. Released in 2006, the M8 was the first model of the M series to combine mechanical precision with contemporary digital technology. As if replacing a film chamber with a sensor was a mere formality, the exterior of the M8 remained as similar to its predecessor as possible. The front view shows very few obvious changes. Only the rear with its display monitor and control keys (which surprisingly do not look out of place) point to the camera's digital inner workings.
The popular, quiet shutter of analogue M models (with a maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 second, and rather long flash sync time of 1/250 second) was outdated as well as too large for the M8. Instead, Leica's engineers developed a metal-blade focal plane shutter that enabled a shutter speed of 1/8000 second and flash synchronisation of 1/250 second.
Despite some initial reservations about the addition of digital technology, even stalwart advocates of analogue M photography were eventually swayed by the camera's remarkable results. Further development of the M8 resulted in the M8.2, released in 2008 – with both models quickly replaced by the M9 in 2009.