The Leica M-D Camera Review Part 2. I Truly Get It.

PART2

The Leica M-D Camera Review Part 2. I Truly Get It. 

By Steve Huff

This Leica M-D came from Leica dealer Ken Hansen ([email protected]).

You can also buy at B&H Photo or Amazon or PopFlash.com.

My early thoughts are in Part 1, HERE

It’s a funny thing, this Leica thing. Even though I have access to just about any digital camera on the planet to review, test or shoot here I am with something that seems like it is from the early days of digital. So early in fact that there is no LCD or any way at all to review your digital images within the camera. There is no auto ISO, there is no EVF of any kind, and this Leica M-D 262 is so damn simplistic, it is addictive. I have been shooting this beauty day in and out, taking it with me everywhere I go, even if I do not take any pics with it, this camera has been with me every day.

The M-D with grip from Renato Lamberti (His grip will fit any modern M). Email him HERE if interested. It’s gorgeous. 

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It’s slim, its sleek, it’s classic and the shooting experience, for me, has been just like shooting film. Just like shooting a modern day M7 or M6 or MP. While 95% of digital shooters out there will NEVER EVER understand this camera, or the concept of it, or have any interest in it, I sure as hell do! In fact, after being with it for a couple of weeks now, it is a camera I am going to hate to send back. Yes, I have my lovely and amazing Sony A7RII, and that camera can do everything this Leica does and then some when it comes to image quality and output…but…it can and never will be able to mimic the feel, usability and simplicity that is the Leica M-D. That’s a fact, and for those who put importance on not only the image quality, but the act of getting that image then read on…

Debby with the M-D and 50 Jupiter 3+ from Lomography.  This is such a great lens on the M. Pastel type colors, gentle details, full on Bokeh and tiny in size. 

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The 28 Summilux f/1.4

I have mostly had the Leica 28 Summilux attached during my use with this camera, and while it is a gorgeous lens, the price point of $6200 retail is pretty high IMO.  It’s a beautiful lens, no question…but so is the less pricey 28 Summicron II or 28 Elmarit. This Summilux puts out a fair amount of CA or purple fringing (when you do not correct for it in RAW processing), but hey, most fast Leica glass does have CA/Purple Fringing. Correct for it and it goes away. I will show an example below.

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Lux or Q?

Many ask me if I would choose this 28 Summilux f/1.4 or the Leica Q, which has a different type of 28 Summilux lens attached. Well, me… I will always say GO FOR THE LENS! Why?

The LENS will always be with you, for life. It will be able to be used on the next gen M’s from now until Leica stops making them, or you die. The Q will be hot until the next big thing and then you will lose 50% of the value and you will have no lens. With a 28 Lux, that investment outright will be big but over the years it will hold a lot of that value. Leica lenses hold value pretty well over the long term. The bodies, not so much. In my fantasy land, the M-D with this 28 Lux, a 50 APO and 90 cron would be all I ever needed with an M today. But that is a fantasy as the camera and all three lenses would run around $23,000 or so. Ahhhh, gotta love Leica…right?

The 28 Lux is gorgeous and if I had the money I would buy and keep it, BUT it is not perfect! It has some CA issues (but to be fair, so does the beautiful Noctilux). CA/fringing is a digital sensor thing more than a lens thing and most fast Leica glass has CA. Since the M-D does not have JPEG capabilities, there is no in camera correction for this. Even so, this lens is lovely and renders just as you would expect a Leica lens to do. 

UNCORRECTED – SEE THE CA? CLICK IT for larger!

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CORRECTED, took 2 seconds – WITHOUT THE CA – Click it for larger!

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The M-D does indeed mimic the Leica M film experiece

But before I delve into specifics let me be clear. If you are someone who really loves Leica and If you love to shoot “life” and are not a pro shooting studio or weddings where you MUST nail every shot, or if you have no interest in shooting sports AND you love street shooting then this M-D may be what the doctor ordered. It is gorgeous, it is the definition of “simple” and it takes me back to the days when film was king. While there is no film involved here at all, and while there is no film “look” to be had, the M-D itself mimics the EXPERIENCE of shooting film to a T. I mean, so many walked up to me asking why I was shooting film while out and about with the M-D.

Turn it on, manually focus and frame your shot, press the shutter and you are done. No chimping, no preview, no checking the framing and re-doing the shot as with the M-D you will NEVER know what is on that SD card until you sit down to unload those images. To me, that is the most exciting aspect of this camera.

The 28 Lux and M-D, closest focusing distance. This is one 28 you can shoot a portrait with as there is such minimal distortion. This was shot indoors at “Far from Folsom”, a Johnny Cash themed restaurant and bar in Prescott AZ. If you are ever in Prescott, I HIGHLY recommend you stop in and try out the steak street tacos, or the meatballs, or the nachos!

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I’ve owned the Leica M 240 for 2+ years…LOVED IT. I owned the Monochrom for over a year…ADORED IT. This guy is going on 2+ weeks and I am IN LOVE with it BECAUSE of the simplicity, beauty and results I have been getting with it. In fact, it has helped bring back my STRONG passion after shooting Sony, Olympus, and others for so long now. It’s amazing that such a basic  tool, one that costs a fortune for giving you back so little in “tech” terms can inspire so much. But Leica has always had a way of doing that for me, for so many years now and it’s never been a secret!

Yep, this camera has a dated sensor. It does not matter. Yes it is an old rangefinder design. Does not matter. Yes, the high ISO is lacking compared to todays “super cameras” from Sony, Canon, Nikon and others. Yes, it is all manual. No, you can not even format your SD card in this camera. But even with all of that, this is one of the coolest cameras I have come across and while it is a rehash of the M 240 by giving us less for more, I feel this is one of Leicas best “M” models EVER. Crazy huh?

Leica M-D and 28 Summilux at 1.4 – YOU MUST Click for larger to see these correctly!

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Some of you here who have been following me for the 8 years I have been running this website know my love for Leica. Yes, I love Sony, I love Olympus and I pretty much love all cameras today. While not a huge DSLR guy, I do appreciate what they can do, and what they offer for the demographic that truly needs and enjoys a DSLR. Sports, action, precision. All things a DSLR excel at and things a Leica are not known for, lol. But for me, when it comes to just getting out there and shooting, and enjoying myself and interacting with strangers who end up being subjects of my photographs, letting the camera get out of the way, the Leica is the perfect tool for just that. No, it’s not just jibber jabber, it’s truly how it is, again, for me.

Approaching strangers is easy with an M for me…

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C’Mon steve, tell us the truth about this crazy camera. 

Lol, I KNOW many of you here are reading this saying “for this kind of cash I could buy a Sony A7RII and a slew of amazing lenses, why would I ever consider THIS?!?!?”

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Believe me, most reading this would NEVER want or enjoy this Leica M-D. Nope, this is made for a specific kind of photographer. First, I would say you need to be a Leica M fan. Then I would say, you must have shot a Leica M film camera in the past, and enjoyed it. THEN I would say, you need some cash on hand. This is a niche that never existed, ever, until Leica created it with the special edition M60. A $6k digital M without an EVF or LCD? CRAZY, and no other camera company would EVER EVER try something like this. NO OTHER company would even think of it. So why would Leica spend money to release something like this, that would sell by the hundreds instead of tens of thousands? Good question, but the answer is great as it shows Leica does indeed care about it’s user base and that is why they did it, for the users who love Leica and have asked for this camera.

CASH – 28 Lux – Leica M-D

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Gelato…28 Lux at 1.4, Leica M-D

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See, there are so many Leica users around the world who LOVE and CHERISH their film M’s but so far, these digital versions, to them, have been lackluster. None have given the experience of an M6 or M7 or M-P, but some have come close. This M-D is for the Leica fan who wants a film experience without having to buy or process film, and it truly does give that experience. Some will say this is going backwards but to those who love and cherish that experience and memory, this camera will deliver the warm and fuzzies that they desire and in a way no other digital can. This is NOT a camera for the average Joe, or the one who wants to upgrade from a phone camera or even one who wants to go to a rangefinder from a DSLR. Nope, this camera has a specific audience, and that is the purist, the ones looking for that vibe of days past. Those who want no muss, no fuss. Those who love manual operation and a camera that you will bond with.

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When shooting the M-D, remember, THERE IS NO LCD, NO EVF, NO AUTO ISO, NO WAY TO FORMAT THE CARD IN CAMERA, and NO MENU! There are NO settings. IT ONLY SHOOTS RAW, no JPEG. I have been shooting in Aperture Priority mode as it DOES have a light meter so shooting it is as easy as setting your aperture (wide open preferred here), composing and firing. It DOES NOT get any simpler, and I will even say this is MUCH simpler than shooting film as there is no processing to do, and no film to load.

To me, this is an almost perfect Leica M for 2016 for anyone who loves that true film M experience. The battery is a beast, and the same one from the M 240 but without an LCD to power I am guessing the battery would go on for a long while. In fact, from the day I received the M-D to writing two previous reports and traveling with it over hundreds of miles, I am still shooting on the same battery charge. I never once had to charge the battery yet, nearly two weeks in. That is impressive.

CLICK THEM FOR LARGER! Three from the 50 Jupiter 3+

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Today we have many options for making memories..

I remember as a child I was obsessed with my Polaroid camera. That was as close to digital back in the 70’s as one could get..I mean..INSTANT gratification. Awful IQ, crazy exposure, horrible viewfinder, expensive film…yet I loved it. I would burn through that film so fast and then beg my Father to buy me more, but being on the poor side as a child we could not afford to replenish my polaroid film so often. I was lucky to get a pack of film every 6 months, but when that time came I was as excited as anyone could be, feeling like it was Christmas. I get those same warm and fuzzy feelings today with digital imaging, and not just Leica but all great cameras and lenses. Which leads me into 2016.

Here we are today in 2016 and we have an unlimited amount of options for imaging. We have so many out there shooting today, one sort of has to stick out to get noticed these days and it is a TOUGH business to start up today. Me, I no longer shoot for money, I stopped that long ago but I could not imagine trying to get into a photo business today, from scratch. I am happy to be an ENTHUSIAST, which means I am a guy who just loves TECH, and I love a WELL MADE beautiful piece of gear that can inspire me. I love Photography in general as a way to make artful memories. Sure, any cel phone or old cheap camera can create memories but I want to create them with passion, with excitement and with some creativity while using a body that just feels so so right. This Leica M-D or any M can offer just that.

During a walk I saw this huge bird on the house. The 2nd shot is a closer look. Click them for larger. Shot with the 28 Summilux. 

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It does not matter if it costs me $100 or $10,000, if I hate a camera or feel it is lackluster, I will get bored and un-inspired. If I shoot something special, something unique, something beautiful and something that not only feels great, is simple and delivers the IQ goods… then I am all in. I have been really enjoying what Leica has been doing as of late. The SL, the M 262, this M-D and the Q, all fantastic, and with Photokina around the corner, I feel we are in for much much more in a new advanced M for 2017. Just a hunch but it’s a strong one!

But for now, no matter what the new year may bring for a new M, it will NOT be anything like this M-D. Instead it will be fully featured and advanced. So if the M-D is attracting you for what it does offer, no new M will offer this, therefore I would feel safe buying an M-D because one buys this camera for what it does not have instead of what it does. It’s a documentary beast. It’s a camera that captures life and does so with a tug at the heartstrings.

28 Lux at 1.4 on the M-D

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28 Lux at 1.4

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28 Lux at 1.4

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True true…this camera and lens (28 Summilux) IS INDEED going to break the bank for almost any of us. TRUE TRUE when you go to sell it 2-3 years from now, you will get 40% of what you paid. TRUE TRUE that this camera is SO IMPRACTICAL it should be illegal for what it offers vs what it costs but at the same time it is very TRUE TRUE how many smiles, how much joy and the fun and passion and motivation that this can bring is priceless. It’s a strange thing..to know that you have a camera that should cost $2500 (going by what it offers) coming in at $6,000 yet when you own and use it, you know 100% that what you paid for it is so worth it.

I can’t explain it but I enjoy this camera more than the M 240 and the reason is part psychological and part reality. I never imagined I would enjoy this thing, in fact, I was ready to write about how no one should buy this, but instead, I want to say BUY IT!!! I will not say that because as I stated above, it’s not something for most of you out there. Many today could NEVER EVEN IMAGINE not having an LCD as many have been taught with a big fat LCD! Instead, the small amount of you who ARE smitten by this, know what it is and do not need me to tell you how unique and welcome it truly is.

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This Leica M-D looks like an old school MP, though with the larger size of the new M 240. You have your typical Leica rangefinder for focusing, which again, is always 100% manual. It only shoots RAW so forget about JPEGS. This camera is for those who love to “process” their files just as we did back in the film days (as many still do today). So one must take their time when shooting this camera. Framing for those new to Rangefinders can be tricky, and remembering to set the ISO manually has been an issue for me on 2-3 occasions (I am so used to and spoiled by Auto ISO).

But when you slow down, take fewer shots and actually learn how to frame, expose and maser the RF focusing by trial and error then it becomes a ver rewarding process. Add in a true Leica lens, like the 28 Summilux and you get that classic, beautiful, uber realistic Leica vibe going on with your photos.

Click it for larger to see the tones and rendering of the 28 Summilux at f/1.4. Zero corrections applied.

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Town Square in Prescott AZ. My favorite small town in all of Arizona. Uncorrected.

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28 Summilux f/1.4

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Why you DO NOT want this camera!

Lol, instead of me stating why you WANT this camera, I am going to tell you why you do not want it. ME, I want it. Badly. I want to so send Ken Hansen a check and say “SOLD” but for me, this is a ton of cash. Even so, I WANT IT and if it gets sent back without purchase I am going to have a frown on my face for months to come. Truth be told, this camera has re-ignited some passion in me and it has made me excited to look around for shots, to carry it with me everywhere and to have that excitement and anticipation of getting home to see the shots I envisioned in my mind and through the rangefinder.

So now you know I love it, and feel it’s one of the coolest Leica M’s ever.

BUT, here are ten reasons why YOU DO NOT WANT THIS camera…

  1. It’s $6000
  2. It has no LCD
  3. It has no EVF
  4. It is manual focus only
  5. It has no menu, at all
  6. It has no settings
  7. It only shoots RAW, no JPEG
  8. You can not format your SD card in this camera
  9. You can buy the same camera, with LCD for $600 less (M262)
  10. There is NO Auto ISO

So with that said, 95% of you probably said YES, that is correct! Why would I want THIS camera with those 10 flaws?

The Jupiter 3+ at f/2

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I’d guess that 5% of you see this list above and see all of the reasons YOU DO WANT THIS CAMERA!

That 5% is who this was made for. Those who appreciate the minimalist approach. Those who long for the old days of a Leica M film camera without the cost and time of film. Those who despise menus, settings and configuring a camera. Those who love the tactile feel and experience while being rewarded for your efforts when you nail a shot.

The Leica M-D is an odd cookie in 2016 but for some it makes so much sense. Yes, you can buy an M 262, brand new, with an LCD and menu system, auto ISO, JPEG shooting, a Leica red dot and in camera card formatting, for $600 less. True, see it HERE.  So why on earth pay MORE for LESS? To some, LESS IS MORE, that is why. Ever since I started writing about this Leica M-D, it has been my faithful companion and even though these days I shoot for ME and only ME (and for these reviews), I focus more on the feelings I get when using a camera, the ease of use, the way it connects with us and the performance it can deliver. For example..low light. The film M’s, back in the day were known to be wonderful low light cameras simply due to the size, quiet non shock shutter and methods of shooting them. Of course it also depended on the film loaded but today we have the same features here in the M-D.

A quiet and subdued soft click shutter that sounds more like an M6 than ever. We have the same body style, easy to grip and hold and not massive. Hold an M and brace yourself and you can shoot at very low shutter speeds. While the high ISO performance is lacking compared to today’s super cameras, it does pretty good for what it offers. ISO 6400 max with a fast f/1.4 lens can deliver you images that work, in pretty low light.

Very low light with the 28 Lux. f/1.4, ISO 1600

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My final word on the Leica M-D 262

It’s limited but liberating. It gives less, but you get more in return. It is unique, it is beautiful, and it is expensive. Superb battery life, amazing build and feel. Most simplistic digital camera ever created. 

I am so happy to see choices in the Leica M lineup today. Not so long ago, if we wanted a Digital M we had one choice. The M8. The M8, while great at base ISO lacked in every other way from low light, to a horrible LCD, to freeze ups from time to time, to weird colors when not using a special filter on your lens. The M9 was amazing but has come and gone, and today we have the M 240, which is the fully loaded M with video, live view, EVF capable, etc. We have the Monochrom which is an all black and white camera, and we have the M-E which is an offshoot of the old M9. We also have the M 262 which is a stripped down M 240 and the M-D 262 which is what I a writing about today. Some may prefer the M 262 as it has an LCD, menu system, Auto ISO and costs $600 less. BUT one thing I have noticed with the M-D is the way it feels like a film M as well. having no LCD on the back means you do not feel the LCD, instead it is just smooth and feels amazing in the hand. It feels like a solid chunk of metal, and inspires confidence when you shoot with it. It just glides into your hand.

A video I made when the M-D arrived…

The M-D 262 may not make sense to most of you, but to some of you it does and to me…well, it’s been an amazing time with the M-D. Eye opening, fun to use, a conversation starter and typical Leica M results. At $6000 it is not cheap, or inexpensive. In today’s world, $6000 is a huge chunk of change for 99% of us so this is not a purchase to take lightly. You do indeed get less for more, so if you believe LESS IS MORE then the Leica M-D 262 is one hell of a unique camera for you. I do not think Leica will continue this line into the next gen M, so one day many many years from now it may even be a collectable. Who knows. If I had the spare cash right now, it would be sitting on my shelf along with my favorite and most used cameras.

Steve

WHERE TO BUY?

If you want any Leica gear be sure to send Ken Hansen and e-mail to [email protected]. He has been a staple of this website for 8 years now, and a legendary Leica dealer. You can also find the M-D at PopFlash.com, B&H photo or Amazon.

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82 thoughts on “The Leica M-D Camera Review Part 2. I Truly Get It.

  1. The problem with these big ticket cameras be that Leica or others is that fact they become obsolete in a few years. You could get nearly a 1000 rolls of film (as of 2017) in the UK for the price of an M-D and get you shooting for years. I personally appreciate my M4 more than any other Leica of the digital age that will be a useless piece of brick in 20 years time rather than a handy tool.
    So I see the point in the M-D and very much appreciate it, but just seems pointless to purchase it when you can do the same thing with a film camera (and good scanner if you want digital) for a lot less.

  2. Leica guys, be good and make me an MD-10-Monochrome please!! I would spend whatever they ask for that for it… in a heartbeat!

  3. I just got mine a week ago, second-hand nontheless for USD 3700. Very very lucky to pick up one at this price… and I just love it. The handling was great, it somewhat feels slimmer on hand. If you are not into high iso and enjoys shooting with good light, I say MD over M10, its a beauty. Will Leica make more MD type of camera? Who knows? A MD-10 would truly feel equivalent to an M6 wouldn’t it? Love it and its a keeper.

  4. Leica have started re-issuing model numbers, are they running out? I’ve got a Leica MD. It was made in 1965. It is actually a Leica M2 but minus the viewfinder and rangefinder. It was originally intended as a scientific model to be clipped to a microscope, used to record telephone meters or used with long lenses with a visoflex reflex housing. Of late, Leica enthusiasts are discovering these ‘funny’ Leicas as bodies to mount a wide lens on with the appropriate viewfinder plugged in the top. I am not wealthy enough to collect Leicas, but I have made a ‘mini’ collection of these bodies. As well as the MD (1964-67), I have a pair of MDa bodies that are M4s (1967-77) and an MD2 (M4-2/P 1977-86).
    The two MDa are used for street photography with a 3.5cm F3.5 Summaron lens and the SBLOO 35mm viewfinder. When film runs out I just exchange lens and finder for the body cap on the spare body and carry on shooting. The MD2 is black and made in Canada in 1980. It has the 21mm F3.4 Super-Angulon lens and 21mm viewfinder atop. This is a brilliant outfit for shooting in cities. The MD has a visoflex 2 and a 280mm f4.8 Telyt lens and is used at cricket matches on a tripod. Film is Ilford XP2 Super. Digital? Cannot afford the memory cards!

  5. Resurrecting an old post – checking to see if Steve and others still feel the same way about this camera? I have had a number of film Ms over the years and still use my M2 on a regular basis. I am apparently the other 5% that this appeals to but we are almost a year into the review. I have been invited to do some work in Cuba and do not really feel like taking my OMD EM1 kit with me and opting for small. As I convert almost everything to B&W the MM still calls my name, but that price.. ouch.
    Anyhow, I would appreciate any year-in thumbs up or down on this camera. Thanks!

    1. Funny you commented today as just last night I was missing my MD. I sold mine to go with the M10, which is awesome but do miss the MD for its basic simplicity. Was nice to not see my images until I loaded them in to my computer.

  6. I’ve had my M-D for almost two months now and just love it. The rumors right before the release of the M10 pushed the price down well under $5K for a very gently used M-D (500 clicks), and I’ve not looked back.

    Masochist that I am, I shoot mine with the 35 FLE and the 50/0.95, usually wide open, and get great results most of the time.

  7. Hello Steve, nice article, thank you :-)! After 30 years I’ve put a new film into my Beirette and was shooting a bit.. Wow!! My experience was pretty the same as yours here ;o). And I started to look around, how to achive this with a digital sensor today. I’ve switched everything off in my Oly EM5 and set B&W, but it still doesn’t feel like my Beirette; still menus, still no real MF lens, no DoF table.. Question: is there anything comparable simplistic out there, which would have a bit healthier price? I mean: ~15k$ for a body with 1-2 lenses is almost a sin.. All I want is a manual Beirette with a sensor.. Thank you, Andy

  8. Thank you Steve, for this review. Because of your words and those of Thorsden Von Overgaard, I have an M-D on order from my local Leica dealer. I have longed for this type of camera since the early days of digital when I retired my Minolta SRT 101 for an Olympus C8080 digital bridge camera. I had a few canon SLRs, starting with a 350D and ending on a 5D. When Fuji came out with the X100, I fell in love with the concept and snapped one up. Unfortunately it reminded me of driving my wife’s poor old 1999 Hyundai Accent, the controls always felt like they were connected by an elastic band or wool. There was that nagging delay between making an input and the camera reacting. I now have a selection of great Fuji Xs, which I must add I am very happy with plus some beautiful and fast glass but I still longed for something that put me 100% in instant control with no digital distractions. I dug out my old Minolta from college and threw in a roll of slide film. It felt great and drew a lot of attention with people asking about the camera and why on earth was I using film! Unfortunately the film was returned to me in the prepaid envelop untouched. I guess the lab is no longer in business. I was very disappointed, especially after the feeling I got from composing those 36 carefully selected shots. I was even planning on sending a couple to you for film Friday if I thought I had something worthy. I’ll continue to use my Fuji setup for commercial work, I just don’t think I could relax on a shoot not knowing if I have the images I need to deliver to the client. The Leica is for ME. I’m one of that 5% you speak of Steve and I can’t wait. Thank you for that, Mark.

  9. Great idea; I love my M7. It would more superb if it had an interchangeable sensor with update-able custom firmware. It is all about interfaces is not it?

  10. Have only just caught up with this, Steve, and want to say: a classic Huff review of a classic-to-be camera. Sharing your enthusiasm is the next best thing to owning the camera (which is over the hills and faraway for me)! Thanks.

  11. Some time ago I sold my M6, 35 cron and 50 lux. It was painful. My spouse was dead set on digital and the quality of commercial processing was in the tank and I didn’t have time with my professional responsibilities to keep up the wet darkroom. I got specialized development and did my own scanning for as long as I could manage the volume.

    For a long time I longed for this camera. There is a feeling of intimacy that I get with the simplistic process of taking an image in the fashion that this camera offers and depending on my training and experience to make it a good one.

    I now have a XPro2. If I’m shooting for myself, I use primarily the optical VF and either a 14mm f/2.8, 23mm f/1.4 or 35mm f/2 Fuji lens. I love the way the 23mm / 35mm (manual) focus works with the optical finder. I get that moment of decision view with the optical finder and instant ability to fine tune or revise my focus with focus peaking for changing situations – all this while using zone focusing. This is the blend of technology that is assisting my sense of minimal interaction and creativity.

    These tools do help my process. I remember distinctly fighting the ranger patch flare in my M6, not the M3. I eventually had a M7 finder installed and that helped the situation, but even the good old days could be raspy.

    I laud Leica for making this camera available. I would be in the 5% but for me this other solution allows me greater flexibility in shooting the way I want in the narrow window that I have to pursue my “selfish” craft and still provide the quick firing travel/street and documentary demands from my other “clients”. The XP2 allows me to configure a very near MD experience and still have almost a DSLR like flexibility at the change of a lens.

    The XPro2 will never be a MD or provide Leica panache. I miss that.

    Roger

  12. STEEVE, you get it right !

    the MD is my eleven M, and as you say, this is for me the best M ever.
    It is not a no LCD camera…it is a no button, no Menu, no everything useless camera.
    One day people will realize that most of theses menus are to controlled a JPG file with is useless.

    I use my MD with an EYEFI PRO SD WIFI CARD and I develop my RAW on LIGHTROOM MOBILE on my IPAD….
    WHAOU ! this is the best combo….IPAD is a real screen if needed to show to others, and a very good platform for quick development.
    different tools, different function.

    The classic MD camera keep you in the action for street photography and you concentrate on exposure and framing more.

    If LEICA has to evaluate, they should bring us a new N ! no base plate, no telemeter, no heavy metal…
    M mount, full manual with clear visor and an electronic focus system at the center.

  13. So… I’m trying very hard to understand this …but sorry….I guess I’m one of the 95% that will just never get it. The very idea of a digital camera that does not let you format the card in camera is frankly rediculous …. there is a version of exactly think same camera …cheaper…and yet without these silly, artificial limitations..again, rediculous ….if you want the “pure” experience of shooting film….well….shoot film….

    1. As an M-D user, I don’t really see a problem with no in-camera formatting. If you’re downloading your photos onto a computer, it only takes a minute (or less!) to format the card in the computer with SD Formatter. Besides, how often are you formatting them anyways?

      True, I’m sure many people won’t ‘get’ this camera, and I think you’d have to actually try this camera out rather than simply reading online reviews in order to ‘get’ it. Just the feel of the camera in your hands is wonderful — certainly the best of the digital Leicas.

      I love my M-D and it provides a great complement to the Monochrom 246 (actually it makes me realize how much time I waste looking at the camera’s screen). Hate to admit it, but I find myself reaching more for the M-D than the 246.

      I did love the ‘pure’ experience of shooting film, but honestly I gave up processing film and working in a traditional darkroom 12 years ago. Just a personal preference, of course, but for me this camera gives you the best of both worlds — it provides that ‘pure’ shooting experience, yet offers digital processing at the ‘back end’. Works for me, at least.

  14. I grew up shooting film—two IIIf cameras that were given to me by my father. They were already well over 20 years old then. My friends were using SLRs and they laughed. I used them through college, then went to large format and medium format. I eventually purchased an MP. I only started using an M Monochrome and M-P a few years ago. Both are wonderful cameras but the temptation to chimp and look at the LCD after every shot is quite tempting. I think the M-D is a brilliant camera. I’d buy one but adding a third Leica to my current kit is strictly surplussage.

  15. Only Leica could pull this off? It’s a marketing managers nightmare. Less is more, and well done Leica. This will rank highly against the Monochrom M, a camera that didn’t produce B&W, only monochrome, but I guess the clue was in the name. I only shoot B&W since the demise of Kodachrome and I have a couple of M6’s. They shoot B&W.

  16. Yup, you’re right. There is simply no other digital camera like this. I started with an M6 years back at the paper I worked as a reporter and have used or tried almost every single digital SLR since they came out. I picked up one of these at the Leica boutique store and got all giddy. I sold off tons of stuff, maxed a credit card, ate Mac & Cheese for a week (I did actually), annoyed my girl to no end and finally bought one. They’re 8 grand and change here in Canada. I haven’t put it down since and its reignited my passion for photography like nothing else. Good review Steve!

  17. I covered up my M 240 display with black tape as soon as this thing was released and have not taken it off since. It has totally changed the “zen” mode of my photography and yet the quality of my photographs has not dropped in the slightest.

    You HAVE to know what you’re doing with a manual focus display-less rangefinder like these but that’s part of why I enjoy it so much. It has made me even better at really SEEING.

    I’m not sure I can justify the extra $4K AUD on top of my M240 sale price but after trying the M-D in store I have no reservations that it is absolutely the tool for me moving forward!

    I’ll just have to make do with the taped-over M 240 until the desire to get an M-D becomes too great.

    Cheers for the review. It sounded exactly like what I was thinking about the camera.

  18. I have traded my SL (too big, too heavy, I can also take my DSLR then) for this M-D and I love it.
    More concentration to get a 100% correct shot results in less shots but also less outliers!

    And the price, yes Leica is not the cheapest, but with an expected low number of units sold the development costs will need to be spread to much less units that a M240, so I would think that it is correct.

    Smart move from Leica, well done.
    John

  19. Do you really know what you’ve got with 42mp or a medium format digital camera until you “develop” the RAW?

    You can check critical focus on an LCD, but do you really want to?

    Forget the meter on the MD too. Do all MD shooting with an incident meter.

  20. I traded in my M-P for this M-D, and I immediately fell in love with it after shooting for 15 minutes . It brings back almost all the film era experience, perhaps except one thing. With film, I usually just click once with a scene, With M-D, knowing that it is digital, I tend to click more than once on the same scene to increase the rate of success.

  21. Hey Steve, great article and yeah I want one. As you know I have an original MM,, M 262 and an M-E and I love shooting with a true rangefinder. Now if Leica were to ever make (I doubt they will) an MM in this form the wallet may just have to come out again. The 28 Lux looks amazing to. Thanks for the evaluation.

  22. LEICA has the great luxury of being able to produce these variations on the M-theme in that they have a customer base that will, in aggregate, allow them to make a business case for them.

    I think it’s fabulous, in that I’m old enough to remember when cameras and shooting film were a process just like this: No safety nets. You had to know what you were doing.

    The price will insure this is a niche product, like the Monokrom or the various commemoratives and designer models. But for younger, digital-experience only guys, I guarantee that if you can master this, all of your work on more customary digital cameras will gain a lot.

    If anything, it’s been a lot of fun to hear the ‘they can’t do that / how can I shoot without all that stuff / no LCD-EVF / no chimping?’ grumbling. Guess what? That’s how it was for years and years, and we did just fine.

    Don’t get me wrong: Modern cameras are tech marvels alongside the Nikon F’s and Rolleis and Hassleblads we cut our teeth on in the old days, and I don’t miss the goo and stink of film processing, nor the time lag waiting on that. But it is fun to re-visit that way of working where you either knew you had it or you didn’t.

  23. This camera still has the main weakness of all digital cameras – electronics. I really cannot understand why you would buy this camera over a genuine film camera. Same experience and satisfaction, but then really for life.

  24. Why choose such hybrid over film camera when you are missing the best part – having film output. Plus for this money you could have films developed and scanned for lifetime I guess 🙂

    1. You don’t — Leica maintains that with this camera, coded or non-coded lenses don’t make much difference. The only lenses they say that you cannot use with this camera are the 15mm f/8 Hologon, the 50mm f/2 Summicron with close-up, the 90mm f/4 Elmar retractable (1954-1968), and some versions of the 35mm f/1.4 Summilux (1961-1995, non-ASPH, made in Canada). Everything else is okay to use and “will deliver excellent pictures in most situations”.

  25. Great review. It’s like going back in time when you were enthusing about the M9.

    I had an A7R and, whilst a great camera, it’s simply annoying to use. Fiddly and frustrating. I swapped out for an M240 and love it – the usability is just superb. If only the M had an ISO dial. Not sure if I could lose the screen (I use my M for paid shoots) but an ISO dial would be the icing on the cake.

    That being said I nearly bought an M 60 recently, mainly because it’s just so luscious.

  26. Personally I would never buy an M-D, but I completely understand your argument for why you love the camera. Most of what you love about the camera are the intangibles that create a great user experience. The same argument can be made for most of Leica’s cameras….let’s face it, almost the entire lineup is bettered spec wise by other cameras from other manufacturers.

    It’s the intangibles that make me love my M240 so much. The build quality, the heft, the rangefinder…the craftsmanship. Is an M240 the pinnacle of tech…no…but I don’t care I sold all of my Canon gear and never looked back. One of the cool things about Leica is that they make cameras no one else would…like the M-D…or the Monochrom. Are they expensive?? Hell yeah but if you can afford them and enjoy it then hey, why not!

    Onjh

  27. Simple yes. The M-D is simple. Liberating? I doubt. I had a go with a Leica M9 a few years back, with a 35mm Summilux. I spent too much effort trying to focus, than framing and composition, because with a F1.4 lens, it’s very hard to get the focus spot on. The Q or an X100T is the simpler camera. The camera takes care of focusing, u just concentrate in story telling. My 2 cents.

  28. Just want to say that, honestly Steve, your review is next best to owning the camera itself. (And what a difference in price!). I’ll probably read it again for the sheer enjoyment you communicate. Thanks.

  29. Great follow up review, Steve.

    Yeah, I suppose if I had the $$ and I was strictly shooting for myself, I’d be pretty tempted to get an M-D setup. I could see using it 90% of the time.. I’d still keep a 2nd camera for the rare extreme tele stuff, but I could see using this nearly all the time with a small mix of primes.. maybe even 1 main prime would do in that case.

    But, snapping back to life and reality, for now, my best bet to simulate this is with my x-pro2 and setting no preview and OVF (with electronic rangefinder mode on) only.. and of course, set to raw only and that’s it.. I have all the manual controls I need.. just have to keep the discipline to not hit playback nor set to an auto mode.

    I’ve only tried to maintain OVF and manual exposure controls only for the most part, it’s been challenging, but fun to see if I can get use to nailing the exposure by site and knowledge of what all the combination of numbers on aperture, shutter speed and ISO equate to for any particular situation. I also like to use the OVF as it does not tell me exactly what I’m getting, so I have to imagine and see if what I imagine turns up in the review of photos later.. that is part of the fun and interesting part to see if the results match up with what your mind and eye sees and wants to capture at the time.

    I’d be interested in eliminating any chimping or review of photos off of the camera completely just to see how the mindset of concentrating on the photo taking and not worrying if I got the shot or not immediately afterwards is like. It’s something which the M-D definitely forces you to do, but not necessarily only possible with the M-D.. I think with enough discipline, you can basically achieve the same experience with almost any other camera.. but yeah.. the way it’s done specifically with a Leica can not be 100% replicated except with a Leica.

    Anyways, inspiring insight and really makes me want to try and approach my daily photography opportunities the same way you have with the M-D, but with my X-Pro2.

  30. Leica M-D. Great review! It’s waaaay out of my price range, but I want one!

    Leica kept it simple. Think of it as “the Count Basie of cameras”. Basie was famous and loved for the notes he did not play.

    Its really all about the experiece.

    Your website is inspiring!

    Might just dust off the Oly OM1 and shoot some BW.

    (Can’t stop thinking sbout the beauty of having no menus. )

    Thanks for the most informative and entertaining site on the web.

    JG

  31. Hi Steve
    I have to put the M 262 into perspective. My concept of it was a smaller lighter version of the M 240 that was the size and weight of a m7.
    Sadly it’s none of those.
    The M9 is lighter.
    The M 240 and 262 are brilliant. Nevertheless big and heavy in a world of many exceptional alternatives.
    But I struggle with the thought of paying more for less functionality. Especially useful functions like card formatting. Video and live view are helpful too. If you don’t want to view the Led and can’t help yourself, try covering a M240 display with black tape.
    I find now my go to Leica is the venerable X2. For what it is, it is all that an M is not. Small light that takes high quality stills. The Led on it is so average, it’s best left unused anyway as a means to review images
    Thanks again
    Noel

    The M262 is too little for too much. Send Leica a message. Not good enough.

    1. Well, I do not agree. I believe less is more, which is what I stated here in this article. Only message I will send is a thank you to Leica for making this 😉

      1. Apart from that nothing beats the results you get with a Leica lens on a Leica body.
        The X2 is truly a great camera but cant touch this. Some might disagree but then this camera is not for you anyway.

  32. Wow and Damn The Leica Price is a wall for the momment but any leica fan knows How do you place a price on Passion and Inspiration-I still Treasure all my M film bodies M3-4-M6 but can’t sell any of them despite the temptation to D-Upgrade to a Modern M. PhotoKina 2016-Bring it on and Hopefully (legs crossed) PanaLeica Lumix series will offer a Budget M 10 for us on a budget.
    As for NO LCD Raw etc..Great idea but price factor will be limiting but still want a monochrome and don’t require video or HD at 4 K…If your a previous Leica user (I first used a leica Reprovit copy camera at school late 80’s-Funny camera-Germany?)
    Here’s hoping the new M will set a Standard. Thanks for your Site steve and Yeah The Leica passion is back so More OK. LO Leica…If it were up to me Keep this one for free OK.
    BCNU. Click. Advance.

  33. Your passion for Leica shone through brightly in this article. This review reminds me how I came and stay with your site in the first place. Yours was one of the two articles that most influenced me to go with the original Fuji X100 (and never looking back). The fact that the M-D ignited such passion in you (and those nice sample shots) put it on my short list of next camera to get (a7r2, Leica Q, and now the M-D)

    Cheers!

  34. Nice images of Prescott. I grew up there, and occasionally return. It really hasn’t changed much in 50 years.I hope you stayed at the Hassayampa.

  35. I agree with you completely – it’s a product that will do relatively well, but most of us would probably want an LCD. I’m glad Leica makes it, even though I think they should have kept the price the same as the 262 (only to keep the trolls away).

    The girl in the doorway is cute as, but the photos themselves are great, particularly the medium close-up.

    Remember that Nikon and Canon both make cameras over $6,000. The Leica is only slightly more expensive, even with lenses, as you can always use CV or ZM lenses in lieu of the Leica ones. I have not seen any evidence that suggests that CV lenses are inferior to Nikkors. And the M kit overall will be more discrete. In almost every way I’d prefer the Leica. The DSLRs are niche products.

    Having said that I’m happy with super cheap mirrorless and film cameras. For now. 🙂

  36. Nice camera. But man that Jupiter lens has some jarring bokeh. Looking at that photo of Debby, the out of focus Jeeps in the background look like they are being electrified!

      1. Does the new J3 exhibit as much focus shift as the old models? I love the lens, but find comfort in my M9’s LCD for checking my focus.

  37. My E-M5 mkii with the screen folded closed, set to manual, and a voigtlander on the front, it’s a feeling of man taking control over machine.

    One thing with the with the CA correction on the horseman statue is it seems to have raised the highlights on the guys hat which loses detail. Is this a result of the CA removal, or did you also raise highlights?

  38. thanks steve for a great review. this camera really speaks to someone who loves leica film cameras. unless leica blows the doors off with the new m, i’m trading in my MM for this.

    David

  39. Thanks for the great review I totally understand this camera but I’m one of those 5% I still shoot an m6 and a Leica m9p waiting for the next Leica m hoping they have a version like the SL BUT WITH A CCD cheers

  40. I absolutely, totally understand the lure of this camera. If i could afford a Leica, this is perhaps the one i’d go for. Ive just started playing with an old film rangefinder again, and its very much “guess the metering, watch the frame lines and focus patch, ‘click’ and move on”. Then wondering if i stuffed up the sunny16 rule, missed focus, will the colours be what i thought, chopped heads etc etc lol. Its actually quite addictive, but also somewhat expensive with film, developing et al and no guarantee until the negs come back. At least with a digital version the processing costs and waiting times are removed but the “mystery” element remains.

    But the best i can probably hope for is a Pen-F with the screen flipped around. Which is probably not a bad option at all, actually. Throw on an adaptor with MF pentax lens for the aperture control vibe and thats about as close as i will ever likely get.

    Great review steve. Love your passion for the actual act of photo taking.

  41. I love the idea of a simple manual camera and if Leica sold it for 3000.00 I think it would be a great intro camera to rangefinder shooting and not just a niche camera.

  42. I’m still in love with film, as I have been since the early 1960s, and really enjoy shooting film. I’ve tried various digital cameras, but only the M9 ever clicked, as I shoot it as if it were film. I also use an A7, but again use it only with my old manual SLR lenses as if it were a digital Spotmatic. I wasn’t tempted by the M240, but stayed with the M9. Now I may sell all my digital cameras to get the M-D. It’s the camera for those of us who came of age in the 1960s.

  43. Steve, you probably shouldn’t keep this camera because you know you’ll want whatever Leica unleashes on us next. But man, reading your words I can see your passion is back. And isn’t that the reason we all picked up a camera in the first place?

    As for me, I’ve tried many cameras over the years, but I keep going back to the M9… because of that passion thing again:)

    —Peter.

  44. Welcome back
    I actually started reading your sight because of your Leica love. U know i am a huge Leica fan and for a long time i was disapointed as you hardley delt with Leica anymore. I understand your pasion for this “film” camera and feel the same although i am not going to buy it as i dont consider myself a good enough photographer and i need the LCD screen.
    Anyways i loved this article ( not enough of Leica) and i hope i shall see more of these again
    Danny

  45. Your writeup inspired me to try an experiment: I’ve un-retired my old Epson R-D 1 rangefinder camera and have been using it strictly with the LCD folded over (out of sight, out of mind!) You’re right, it’s hugely relaxing and liberating to shoot photos without the constant temptation to check them immediately afterward — you can keep your mind purely in “photographer mode,” rather than having to jump back and forth constantly into “editor mode.” Looking at your take at the end of the day is more fun, too. This chimp-free style is growing on me!

    One practical question (you might have answered it earlier, but I missed it): with the M-D, how do you know when you’re running low on battery power or card space? (The Epson has cool “clock dials” for this…)

  46. Hey Steve!

    I have an MP240 because of this site and love it.

    This review was great because in every sentence I could hear a rediscovered lost joy in your voice. I think you should keep this one! Tell Ken (who I also got my camera from because of your site – and he is great), you are not sending it back. When something makes you this happy again and helps you to refind the passion in your hobby, it’s worth it.

    Great stuff, I love the idea of this camera and loved your photos. I visted prescott years ago on a road trip with my wife, you captured it. Such a great small town.

    Mike

    1. i second your thought ! And i appreciate your review Steve, as always, but it’s a bit of a bad joke to sell at higher price a camera that cost less to make !

        1. the less is more concept is great Steve ! that’s not what i’m saying. I’m talking about the price … two different things, thank’s to you too 🙂

          1. Putting out a product in such a small number is making it more expensive. If this would be mass production it would cost less but then again it would not be a Leica. They dont want to produce this way. It is just so much more rewarding when you are able to take time and effort into your products and take your time to be close to your customers. I also shoot a Sony but heard nothing good about customer service.

  47. But for the price, such an enticing camera. Combining the clean hands ease of digital with the excited anticipation of film. Brilliant. I really wish Nikon would do an FM2n/digital like that and it would be with me always (like my 26 year old FM2n tends to be).

    As I had a few beers this afternoon out of a Murphy’s (Prescott) glass that I’ve had for over 20 years, how was the beer in Prescott?

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