Why The Leica M Could Be The The Best Digital Rangefinder Or Mirrorless Camera Ever by Scott Wyden Kivowitz

Why The Leica M Could Be The The Best Digital Rangefinder Or Mirrorless Camera Ever

by Scott Wyden Kivowitz

I have learned a lot from the Leica community, and specific Steve. I had some thoughts on the Leica M and posted it on my Google Plus page, and then my Facebook page – in order to see what others thought. I then realized that what better way to share my thoughts than to ask Steve if he would share it on the blog. Once Steve agreed to publish my thoughts, I decided to write more in depth about it. Thank you again for having me Steve – here goes…

At the 2012 Photokina conference, Leica announced the new M digital rangefinder. I personally believe that the Leica M is the best digital rangefinder (or mirrorless camera) ever, and this is why.

I’ll start with the specs, and compare them to the Leica M9, my current rangefinder of choice.

  • It has a 24 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor with fantastic high ISO performance at ISO 6400 where the M9 is an 18 megapixel CCD with bad ISO noise over 800.
  • It has live view capabilities with focus peaking for precise framing and focusing where the M9 was a pure rangefinder with no live view.
  • It boasts a high-resolution, 3 inch, 920k dot LCD screen where the M9 has a small low resolution, almost useless LCD.
  • It unfortunately has a new battery, but it does have improved battery life where on the M9 the battery would get a photographer anywhere between a half day to a full day depending on the situation.
  • Unlike the M9, and its center weighted meter, the Leica M now offers an option of multi-patter and spot metering.
  • Most rangefinder users will not care much (I’m guessing) about video, but the Leica M offers high-definition video. This is nice for video fans because now recording with the amazing Leica lenses is a possibility.
  • Unlike before, the Leica M is now weather resistant.
  • The new Maestro image processor is not only faster than that of the M9, but it also uses less power.
  • The new 3 frames per second shutter is faster than the M9 (not by much) and quieter.

Optional Accessories:

  • Electronic viewfinder (with 90 degree viewing) if a great accessory if you’re doing studio work, need electronic view, or just have the extra cash to spend on fun accessories.
  • Leica R lens adapter is great for nature photographers who need the R zoom lenses, already have lenses or again, have the extra cash to spend on fun accessories.
  • Stereo microphone is for those who are using video. Although I am not a videographer, I know that external microphones offer a much better audio quality than typical built-in microphones.
  • There is a small finger grip, which I personally do not like, but apparently it is very comfortable.
  • There is a new bottom plate accessory that provides AC power capabilities (great for time-lapse or product photography), a GPS, USB (because there is none on the camera because it is pointless), a hot shoe capable accessory port and a PC port.

Now, the Leica M9 is an amazing camera. I switched to the Leica M9 for a few reasons, which you can read about at Japan Camera Hunter. Since making the switch, I have been very happy with the camera. I very rarely use my Nikon gear anymore.

Having a compact camera is something that I have wanted ever since injuring my back years ago. Having a compact camera with the image quality and full frame sensor like that of the Leica M9 is even better. With that, I am able to use the camera for my paid work and not just for myself.

Now, the Leica M also has a full frame sensor, but it is a CMOS instead of a CCD and includes a few more megapixels (not a huge deal but beautiful results are beautiful results). The LCD on the Leica M is dramatically improved over the useless M9 LCD. The reason I say the M9 LCD is so bad, is because it is only useful for reviewing the histogram. Now, rangefinder purists might say that the LCD is useless anyway because it defeats the purpose of a rangefinder so “stop chimping”. For me, it is not about chimping. It is about guaranteeing that the exposure is precise so when I leave a client, I am confident that the job was done perfect.

The weather resistant body means a photographer would no longer have to worry about every day weather conditions. Although many Leica users don’t both covering their cameras anyway, but even so – I am a big fan of weather sealed cameras.

The live view features means I can compose landscape or product photographs using the LCD instead of just the viewfinder, which I enjoy on the Nikon D700. With the new focus peak feature, I can clearly see when the subject is in focus without having to look through the viewfinder. Again purists, live view can be useful for professional work.

The new image processor is faster, the shutter is stronger and the buffer works harder. Even with all the new improvements, the battery life has not decreased. In fact, with the new CMOS sensor, processor and battery, Leica says a photographer can shoot for a week before recharging. In addition to the new CMOS sensor comes a new sensor cleaning feature. Knowing that interchangeable lens cameras are dust magnets, this is great to have.

I think of the Leica M as the Nikon D4 of rangefinder cameras. Of course, it doesn’t have the speed of a Nikon D4, but if you need speed then Leica cameras are not for you. Add all of the new features together and the Leica M really is the best digital rangefinder ever. In my article about switching to the Leica M9, I mentioned how I was tired of the frills of so many cameras. I believe that Leica includes the necessary features for a modern camera and more specifically, a modern rangefinder. They did not add too much or too little, but just the right tools to get jobs done.

So will I be picking one up? When I win the lottery, sure. Steve has an article about the new Leica M so check that out and preorder yours if you so desire.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,


Scott Wyden Kivowitz is a New Jersey Photographer sharing his passion for photography any way I can. Scott is also the Community & Blog Wrangler at Photocrati, teaching other photographers on how to increase business with their website.

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  1. I think the person who wrote this article lives in a bubble. It is a complete rip-off of a camera. There are so many cheaper alternatives with better quality, higher shutter speeds, and higher iso sensitivity. If someone gave me this camera I’d buy an Olympus OMD E-M5 with every lens.

  2. Why are so many people obsessed with the fact that the M is weather sealed but there are no WR lenses for it? Show me a weather sealed prime lens on your Olympus OMD E-M5, anyone who has got one? Please?

  3. God should have a Leica

    … at least according to Lou Reed (Velvet Underground in the 60is and then solo artist, “Walk on the wild side”) who just published a book with photos taken by him over several decades.

    I got one already.

    …but it is only a Vlux 3 (so not the REAL one). I had been super critical towards Leica since I first visited this web page but in the meantime I studied a lot about the history of our hobby, got nearly all available issues of Leica Fotografy International at home and bought my first Leica (it’s a Lumix FZ 150 with a RED DOT)

    A Mazda is a nice car, gets you from a to b in the same time with less costs than a Benz – but Benz invented the car and they still make probably the best ones available – a ja, a Camry is much more value for money (I got one), half price!!

    Apart from brand image the best photos on the net from “affordable” cameras are the ones from the X2, colors to die for.

    3 times the price of my Nikon DSLR (the Nikon can do better ISO, has a zoom 27-103 real world, better screen, VF, more options than you can ever remember, excellent built quality, can do burst and video,
    in a few years it will make phone calls, pay your restaurant bills and will be called i.camera)

    I know that (and wrote it several times) that Leica is greedy (500+ $ for an Olympus VF or the same amount for a saphir glass screen on a MP, etc), they should have built in the VF in the X2 and make the AF even better (I had one now if they did).

    But then you see images on the web and start to save for at least an M-E.


    • See IMAGES and save for at least a Leica M-E?? Well, no.

      The M-E is a marketing trick from Leica, and a bad one at that. Yes, it may lure people into spending plenty money, but that’s for the myth only. It may even help Leica survive, it will be sold a bit less expensive than the M 9. But it is MISLEADING people in using another name for an older camera with the same outdated full frame sensor as the M9 ! There may be people happy with the M 9, as Steve and others; but my former NEX 5N, as the NEX 6 now and recent camera’s of other mirrorless or reflex camera brands with APS-C sensors give better results, especially at higher ISO. Yes, who really needs any full frame camera with the modern outstanding APS-C camera’s? Only if you have full frame lenses and don’t like the crop factor maybe, but (OK then, for 95 % of our pictures) not for image quality…

      And as for the “M”…

      Let me say first that I once used an M 3, I’m still sad to have sold it and later I used the M 6 that I still own. Using the classic Leica optical viewfinder was fine, quick and precise focussing…Handling and taking pictures was “pure and simple”. But my far less expensive Mamiya Sekor reflex camera of 1970 was also “pure and simple” to use and it had an already very good light metering through the lens (that even is still working today). But using plenty film nowadays is expensive and you don’t have the many advantages of the digital pictures. I used the two M’s with pleasure together with some other (reflex) camera’s.

      So if you give me the money, I will buy the new M with every accessoire that comes with it and I will use it and show it around…But if you are not willing to give me some money, I’m more than happy with my “latest Leica”, the Sony Nex 6. It can do in 2012 everything as good or better then the M in 2013 ! Prime image quality, good handling, good tiltable screen, bright electronic viewfinder (with the left eye overseeing the scene in front of you, as with the original viewfinder of the M camera’s), using older but still outstanding Leica lenses (or R lenses, that I don’t have), etcetera.
      I guess that using the M with the electronic viewfinder will diminish the use of the classic Leica optical viewfinder. Focus peaking (contrast peaking) or magnifi-ing do the focussing job as good as the Leica optical finder and almost as quick and, at least in my NEX 6, gives you the information you want (by the way, with such an EVF, who wants a reflex camera any more?).

      Surely this new M is more than a marketing trick, it will be very well build I presume and I like the looks of it very much, as most Leica M camera’s…It will also help Leica survive, together with the outstanding Leica lenses, the unavoidable myth, the snobby well-to-do people an the believers whose credo’s I read on this website…

      And the Leica Monochrome? Yes, alas, this is also a marketing trick, as the M-E. I have not any problem with those who favor it over other camera’s, but it is only for the believers! I have seen many black and white pictures on the Internet now, and for sure, you can shoot very nice black and white pictures with the Monochrom, but you can do exactly the same with ANY other digital camera of good quality (and make an occasional colour picture as well…).

  4. Hmmm…. Well…. I used the M at Photokina and the Body isn’t as nice as the one from the M9… But:

    The M9 has a CCD and the M not. And from my experience with CCDs since the E1 the CCD has color like no other at Base ISO. Which I’m shooting at 90% of the time…


      • Well, with the new layout on the back the new M looks slightly out of shape and as there is no real place left for your thumb to place you have to touch the new “selection-wheel” or the bigger “screen” which in result let the new M feel thicker than the old M9 (where was a nice space foe your thumb just above the selection-wheel).

        The only two things I liked was the new GPS&Flash Grip and the fact that it was faster. Liveview and Video is nice to have but that’s why I have my OMD (and for AF as well)


  5. I really really hope they get it right. Leica has traditionally not been an electronics company so i can see some growing pains for this first feature packed m.

  6. It really looks like a nice camera. I did hold one at the Photo Expo Plus a few weeks ago. What I noticed though was I thought the EVF on the camera was just ok, not fantastic when compared to the new Fuji X-E1. Another thing I noticed is I thought the X-Pro1 had a better LCD display. I tried my Noctilux on both the new M and the Fuji X-Pro1 and I thought the LCD was more vivid and 3D on the Fuji. I could not put in a memory card in the M so I have no raw files to evaluate. I do want to see more in terms of performance proofs from the camera. Honestly, I do not have the appetite to blow $7K on a camera right now, and the X-Pro1 with the 35 1.4 looks like a much better bang for the buck. I am still using the M8 and I have a NEX 5n for high ISO (I think the NEX is just ok. My M8 produces better files. I do not like the artifacts the NEX leaves. The M8 has more detail! I am sure the Fuji will be better as well).

    Many will be happy with the new M, but I feel Fuji is really on to something. When the X series matures, I’ll bet many will choose it over any new Leica Digital M based on performance for less price.

  7. I just sold my Leica M9 and waiting patiently for the new Leica M I could put down any camera
    But I really feel this has been a stellar year for camera advances for a while that said you should really watch this video as I think by the explanation of the new sensor it will be much more forgiving on older Leica glass and possibly third party lenses as well


  8. So what the new m is better than the last one? Most of these improvements seem to be for the studio photographer, what sort if moron would use Leica cameras for studio photography? It’s just the wrong tool for the job. Also purists? I think you mean wankers, purists remind me of the ignorant fundamental religous folk which are shooting abortion doctors and carry out suicude bombings. Forgive me for calling a spade a shovel.

  9. With your in depth review and comparison of the Leica M against the M9 and other cameras, I thought you already own a Leica M. You should definitely be having one as you deserve it. I’ve started out with photography and have recently purchased an NEX 6. I also started to save every month a small amount and plan to do it for the next couple years until it is just enough to buy the Leica M. Yes, I’m going to do it. But hopefully I would like to see many choices for that amount of money. I would like to see compact FF interchangeable cameras from Sony, Nikon and perhaps some other manufacturers as well. But for now owning a Leica M is what I will be targeting. Till then it will be learning, shooting, learning with my NEX 6.

  10. I’m OK with the new M. I’d just prefer a M9.2 or whatever, with better low light ISO performance, the new Maestro image processor and maybe the new M’s LCD screen. Hope for this in the future as a successor to the M9.

  11. Read and enjoyed the review, But I can’t help but think that

    •There is a new bottom plate accessory that provides AC power capabilities (great for time-lapse or product photography),

    (Fine so far)

    USB (because there is none on the camera because it is pointless),

    (There, Just there)

    I can’t help but wonder if it is useless because you have identified a problem which you have not gone into, or if it is useless because you say so, so yaaahh boo sucks. A little explaination would be usefull for those of us who are in the dark over this one.

  12. If it lives up to the expectations, it could easily be the best rangefinder. It has a ton of interesting things for one, and if I had the spare money, I would gladly take one and use it besides my other cameras. But, best mirrorless not, because under that point of view that same stuff is almost all of not interest to me, and it lacks many things I take for granted in the camera I use.

  13. My only digital camera is the OMD. Interestingly the lenses that I use on it are:
    Zeiss Sonnar 50mm
    Zeiss Biogon 35mm
    Voigtlander 15mm Heliar
    See the trend here?
    All Leica M mount lenses.
    So if I get a Leica M I am set to go with the best glass made for this camera.
    But I need $8000! Whoops…

  14. I agree that the article is a bit too enthusiastic for being just based on specs. I know that you are saying that this could be the best…. But in the end it is just another list of the specs and marketing claims. I hope that it will be a great camera but with every new Leica we have seen unexpected problems, ranging from unwanted IR sensitivity to cracking sensors. There is a lot of new stuff in the M which can cause problems. So let’s wait for the first production models and then judge. For some the M9 or MM may remain the best. And while I appreachiate to know that the M could withstand a bit more rain it doesn’t really allow me to do anything differently because of the non sealed lenses. It may just be good to know that in case of accidental exposure to water I may not lose the whole thing. But I wish to sealing would actually allow me to shoot comfortably in bad weather. So far it does not. So the specs are pointing in a good direction but there is not more to say than that. This article would have been interesting right after launch of the M but now it feels a bit late since everybody seems to know the specs and no new perspective is being provided D!rk. Sorry for being overly critical but I think that Leica is already creating enough hype.

  15. From my personal opinion I can’t agree that it is the best ‘mirrorless’ camera. The whole range-finder mechanism is no longer on par with the technology today. One has to realise the Leica M series is a concept, it is an artwork and should not (and cannot) be compare to any other product on the market.

    Spec by spec, it is technically inferior than many other cameras on the market but Leica itself has a charm of its own. They deserved their own place.

    • Very good points.

      Also to bear in mind, drop most mirrorless cameras from a small height and usually no problem at all apart from a light scuff or scratch. As happened with my NEX-7 only last week.

      Drop a Leica from a small height and back to Solms or your trusted repair shop it will need to go for the RF to be realigned generally speaking. As happened to me a few months ago with my M6.

      Leica’s may be well built but they are certainly not the hard wearing, tough cameras that many seem to think they are. 😉

  16. Heralding the Leica M as the best rangefinder and mirrorless camera without shooting a single image, much less holding the camera seems just a wee bit absurd. No question the M’s spec sheet looks good on paper, but will the new sensor compliment Leica glass the same as the M9’s sensor?

    I am a Leica enthusiast, owned an M8.2 and have an M9 now – and have high hopes for the M. With that said the camera playing field is different today than it was 4 years ago, and a $2,800 full frame Sony RX1 may give Leica a run for its money.

    The Sony RX2 certainly will if they add a viewfinder and interchangeable lens option.

    • Indeed. Without shooting a single image, how could we in turn be so certain that the RX1 will give a phantom camera a run for its money? *rolleyes*

  17. Fact check… it’s all well and good the new M is weather sealed but NONE of Leica’s lenses are…

    • When Olympus launched the OMD E-M5 they didn’t have a weather sealed lens to offer, either. In fact, to this day, there are no weather sealed primes in the m4/3 camp, either from Oly or Panasonic. And after 7 years, Pentax has 4 weather sealed bodies, but only 3 weather sealed primes – 55mm, 200mm and 300mm.

      Leica is in good company, I would say. (I own a Pentax K5, fully weather sealed, but no WR lens)

  18. Without the Leica glass, digital M is just a modern toy no better than any other digital camera on the market, digital M is not a true Leica, you can find a used M6 today in perfect working condition easy for 1500 USD, not cheap, what about 30 some years from now? can you find a M8 or any digital M made today still work properly? and can you get a battery for it? in 30 years, M8 won’t even worth a hundred buck.
    if other big name manufacture can come up with a rangefinder digital camera body with true optical finder for a more reasonable price Leica will be out of the game in no time, because 8000 for a digital body is just insane, the good IQ came from good lens, not the body, I’m a Leica user and stop using Leica when they begin making the M a digital junk, digital camera? my EM5 work just find for me.

    • It is a bit like saying that a BMW would be a bad car if it wouldn’t have a BMW engine. Which may be true. But the point of the M is that you can use the Leica glass and get good results. And I don’t think that many photographers here really care if the Leica has a huge value in 30 years from now. They want a great tool now and they make a calculation on how much it will cost them over the next three years to maintain a Leica and after that period they move on to a newer model. With digital people are aware of declining value. It gets balanced with convenience and savings in not using film. The times that photographers have bought one camera and used it for twenty years is gone since cameras started to become electronic devices versus mechanical devices. I can understand that the prices are frustrating and that a much cheaper film camera can give you fantastic results. But there are people who really love the results of the digital Ms, with or without Leica lenses, and they see a value in spending that money. Plus I disagree that the IQ comes from lenses only. The sensor plays an important role on image quality and it is part of the body. The M9 gives a different IQ than the Nex6 even with the identical lens. D!RK.

      • I would really like to take you to task and argue with you on that post. … … Unfortunately I can’t find a single word with which I disagree.

        Glass and sensor combine to produce IQ. Which may be of a similar standard with different camera / lens combinations. But each have their own “Feel”.

  19. Wait, the new model is going to be better than the old?!?!? Steve I’d like to write an article titled “Things that are Obvious” about how I feel the ‘M11’ (also not available to actually use and prove my thoughts) is going to be newer and better than previous Digital-M models. Come on now.

    • Brian…..a little facetious don’t you think? Funny though, I laughed aloud:) With that said….this is kind of a gear site so nothing wrong with a bit of fun and conjecture once in a while.

  20. The short answer to the title-question is: Because there are only 4 digital rangefinders out there of which one (Epson) is ooold, other two (M8, M9) are predecessors of the M and the MM is basically a M9.

    Of course there are more mirror-less out there but none of them is full frame and none of them is really high-end so the M should of course be better.

    And still I must disagree because the Sony RX1 will blow the M away in terms of IQ and everything else is a matter of taste (good or not so good; good = leica)

    • I’m not sure that I’d assume that one state of the art, 24MP CMOS sensor will blow away another state of the art, 24MP CMOS sensor without seeing tests, first.

  21. Weather-sealing may preclude dust issues with the viewfinder but over the long haul the sealing, presumably rubber compounds, will deteriorate, crack, and leave little flakes floating around to bother you later.

  22. I have no idea what Leica feels like or what you get out of it but I know for sure this camera brand is out of range for a lot people, too pricey. I belonged to 3 different photo camera clubs and I visit it a lot of different camera stores, never seen it, touch it or even know anyone to have own one, sorry… I must be in the wrong poor group of pathetic photo geeks……… oh I just remember I know someone who has the M9 or is it the M8…. he is a pro for the last 30-35 years…. oh who cares….

    Sorry I didn’t write this… it’s all in my head 🙂 maybe I was thinking a little bit too much out loud.

    • I didn’t want to sound like I am bushing Leica but the opposite. I wish I could at least try it. I can imagine once you try you fall in love and than money is just an object and I am sure it’s worth every penny. Photographers which grew up with Leica, used it, it’s harder for them to let go this very unique camera and step down to something else. People which don’t have that kind of money will never understand the love for it.

      I am happy what I have and sometimes I have more or too much than others in the world.

      Enjoy what you have but you can always wish for what you don’t have, it’s OK.


  23. It’s promising for sure. But I’m anxious to see IQ comparisons between the CMOS and the CCD. I’ve always been very impressed by the latter.
    The LCD is a big improvement indeed, and offers extra possibilities. But still I find it a pitty and a missed opportunity that Leica didn’t make it possible to shoot overhead or close to the ground with it. Really, I don’t get why Leica (or Sony on the RX-1 for that matter) doesn’t mount a tiltable LCD. Once you used it, you wouldn’t wanna miss it. Is there any reason (that I don’t know of) why it’s better to mount a fixed LCD?

    • ‘Is there any reason (that I don’t know of) why it’s better to mount a fixed LCD?’

      it has a smaller profile.

    • Perceived fragility of a tilting screen, joints and contacts, not borne out in reality by thousands of Nikon D5100 owners, Sony owners, and some compact camera owners.
      Just another “missing feature” that some will deride as unnecessary, but which is seriously useful on a live-view camera.

  24. I see nothing in the M that makes me want to “upgrade” from my M9. The M9 does everything I need. I also have Leica SLRs and R lenses, but I’ll stick with film for those – the M & EFV are not appealing. The Monochrom is more interesting.

    • Why would you want to ‘upgrade’, the Monochrom is everything I could have needed. I’d always wanted a monochrome digital camera. It’s the removal of the filters (Bayer) that gives increased sensitivity and using an Orange filter slows it somewhat!

    • Without knowing about the sensor, there are still a few things appealing to me about the M over my M9:

      -quieter shutter
      -weather sealing (even though the lenses aren’t sealed, at least you’d cut down on potential problems.)
      -MAYBE the LED illuminated rangefinder lines. We’ll see.
      -smoother shutter release

  25. Advertorial. Although they usually have less spelling errors. I thought only DPR did the “preview” thing, rattling of the manufacturers specs, and they do it better.

    On the other side, it’s entertaining to see the Leica crowd switching allegiances in an instant, without ever having held the camera in their sweaty hands. CMOS sensors were abject stuff for the equally abject DSLR crowd, now they’re all fashionable. OK.

    Just a thought: why are all DSLRS always (by some) described in derogatory terms (huge, heavy, etc etc) while the Leica S2 never is? There must be a reason…

    Let’s wait for the real thing, see how it works, maybe Leica even solved all previous gremlins.

      • It is medium format, and it is a very alluring camera. Not cheap, not light, not small. It is also an SLR. Possibly with Leica “mystique”.

        You got my point 🙂

  26. It looks nice, but problem with Leica now is the price. I love Leica rangefinders and have for years, I shot film because of their ergonomics, reliability and because I felt they gave the best results. Leicas have never been cheap but they were vastly a superior product.

    I don’t feel thats necessarily the case anymore. Theres two reasons why I owned a 9:
    Portable full frame sensor
    Can use my M lenses

    come 2012 if you want a portable full frame sensor both SLR giants are offering vastly slimmed down FF options (played with a d600 yesterday and its tiny compared to a d800) and there are a plethora of options for using you M lenses some of which even have an optical viewfinder (fuji). Although there is no other FF camera with optical viewfinder that can use M lenses, I feel like its not far away and when it happens what does Leica have thats unique in the market? History, prestige and a vintage look will that justify the premium?

    I’ll probably buy the new M but not without looking around.

    • ff m mount on digital has huge challenges. other mirrorless cameras are not exempt from these challenges.

  27. I don’t think you will get much argument about the quality of Leica lenses; however, to laud a camera that no one has had available to test and publish any information about its performance or to demonstrate that performance seems to be either naive wishful thinking or pure marketing hype. The major weakness that Leica has demonstrated is their software development and camera engineering. Both are behind compared to other vendors. One need look no further than the time it took them to recognize and fix (if they have) the issue with SD cards. The Maestro processor was designed to work with a large CCD sensor at relatively low ISO values and now it is having to be reprogrammed to work with a high ISO CMOS sensor. The simple fact is that it takes time to transition technologies and for engineers to learn the subtle nuances and issues of a new (to them) technology. They will make mistakes (we all do) and it may take some time for them to understand that they made a mistake and find a solution, especially, if the assumptions that led to the mistake impact multiple areas. I do think Leica has improved in their ability to work with their older CCD sensor but that won’t necessarily translate into the new CMOS sensor. Adding to this complexity is the fact that this is a new sensor with very little history and probably few knowledgeable experts. Production problems and quality problems could easily plague this sensor. Just look at the quality issues with the Kodak sensor and Kodak was an experienced producer with established production and quality processes. It is undoubtedly a huge engineering undertaking and far too early to raise the flag of success.

  28. Scott, don’t disagree with the hypothesis but we need to see more comprehensive hands on reviews before we can fully assess this camera’s place. My main interest is how the CMOS sensor compares to the CCD which has given us an accepted Leica aesthetic.

  29. I hope it all works in real life. My OPINION of Leica electronics is that things can be a bit iffy.

  30. Offcourse it will be an amazing camera – why wouldn’t it? Thats not to say that the usual nay/yeah-sayers, leica-‘haters’, leicaphiles and all in-and between will not shout out their opinions both for & against in all directions, for all that listens, to hear;o)

    I have been very happy with my choice of Leica as my main system both now and in the past (analog+digital) but can also appreciate what the ‘rest’ of the bunch has to offer. Personally I have no need for better LCD’s, video-functionality etc. but understand from an evolutionary as well as competitive market-standpoint the ‘need’ to implement such functions…. guess for me these things just complicate matters (gettin’ the shot) unnecessarily.

    Have fun guys.

  31. Argh. Your post makes me wish I was rich… Still my OM-D has better skills then I… But if I keep this hobby up then one day in the far future I could see going Leica and not looking back. They remind me of what Apple strives for, less technical jargon more useability. I don’t feel connected to Canon’s or Nikons. Strangley I feel a little more connected to the OMD. I think it’s a size/look thing.

    • I’ve gone thru years of angst over Leica and cost justification. I’ve owned an m6 with 24, 35, 50, 75, a contact g2 system, every Nikon pro grade digital body (after many film bodies), lots pf p&s’s, and all the iPhones… The best camera to have is the one that is with you. Each has its place. For years, when shooting high school/club sports, the only game in town was Nikon/canon. Still is if you need long lenses, or speed. You wouldn’t shoot an nfl game with Leica, nor would you mount one above the rim at an nba playoff. 3fps is just too slow… But I would never haul my heavy Nikon gear on a business trip or family vacation. Hence contax, Leica, and now Olympus em-5. For some, like my brother, even the Oly (or Leica) are too big. Hence canon power shot…

      I finally resolved that Leica isn’t for me. I kept trying to say – if I want the very best pictures, then Leica… Or, I lust after build quality, so… Leica. But in the end, although I admire and occasionally lust after Leica, 90% of my shots are autofocus, and either program mode or aperture mode. Yes, I do go manual, and I do manually focus – but not most of the time. And although I’ve had an m8, my kids never picked it up (although they knew how to focus it). I find myself most inspired when I view other people’s work, whether on 500px, pbase, this sight, or many others. Find an inspiring photo – I bet it wasn’t shot with a Leica. Am also inspired by a ‘fun’ camera. This is a matter of taste. The camera system I shot the most with? Nikon. Over 300k pics. The least? Leica. Under 10k. Was Ho hum on both. My faves, and the ones that took most of the pics of my kids on my walls? Contax G2 and now my Oly….

  32. It also has the frame lines optimized for 2 meters. I think the importance of this change is underestimated by many.

  33. IMHO, I think Leica went too far with the M. They should have improved some of the things on the M9 and left it there. I tried one (in my hand only – no pictures) at the resent Photo Show in Copenhagen and I must say I was disappointed. With all extra buttons it looks over-engineered now and the screen it too big – it destroys the nice lines of the back of the camera. The thumb grip and scroll wheel = ugly !!
    Also, nobody would buy a M to shoot video – Mr Bresson would turn in his grave….. I will keep my M9 which I thing is a gorgeous looking piece of equipment. I don’t mind the poor resolution on the LCD. Only used to check the histogram anyway.

    • “Also, nobody would buy a M to shoot video – Mr Bresson would turn in his grave”.

      Absolutely true! This is awful. This takes Leica’s purity of purpose and waters it down. I don’t these camera manufacturers these days. Why would Leica cheapen their brand with video when any ol $200 Sony camcorder can do a better job? What, and still no auto-focus? Isn’t this like putting the cart before the horse? And speaking of Sony, how could they come out with the revolutionary RX1 and not include a EVF?

      I, for one, file a motion for all camera manufacturers to contact Steve Huff and hire him as a consultant. This way, none of these silly mistakes will happen again. Will anyone second the motion?

      • “..Why would Leica cheapen their brand with video..”

        Perhaps you missed the video revolution over these last three years: when the Canon 5DMkII arrived, with its superb full-frame low light video capabilities, video professionals (making broadcast TV programmes, and shooting material for feature films) took to it with relish.

        Professional movie makers generally use ‘prime’ (non-zoom) lenses, which are manually adjusted for focus while shooting. Zeiss has a share of this lens market, and Leica has been trying to increase its share ( http://www.bandpro.com/lenses/35mm-film-or-digital/leica-summilux-ctm-lenses.html )

        By creating a stills camera which takes Leica lenses, but which also shoots video with Leica lenses, Leica may be able to open up this market and expand sales for Leica cinema lenses once the ‘M’ camera’s video credentials have proven themselves.

        (Cinema lenses have a different ‘PL’ mount, and cinema film frames are only half the size of 36mmx24mm stills frames, but no doubt the hope is that the opportunity to use Leica photo lenses for high-definition 36x24mm video may steer professional cinematographers to specifying Leica lenses for their cinema cameras, too.)

        • So we have: 2 people against video & 1 person for video – on the new Leica M. How do others way in? Perhaps we could start a poll?

  34. I really want to believe this is going to be an awesome camera, there is a lot I like about the spec, even the features I initially hated don’t worry me too much anymore, but and its a really big but……it’s all about the sensor.

    It’s yet to be seen if this sensor can deliver, there isn’t enough out there to ascertain this at the moment. I do have faith in the Leica techs though!

    I’d love to be a tester for this camera…..:-)

    In the meantime I’ll keep rocking along with the Monochrom.

    • The Monochrom is, for me, a camera for life. Though it might be super-ceeded with a better model. It’s fantastic, I love using it.

      • I could never be so bold as to claim any camera was for life…..I wish I could 🙂

        My adventure with the Monochrom has only just begun, already I know it to be very special.

  35. No idea where you take the conclusion from that it will be great at high iso. Wheater sealing? Really? None of my 9 Leica M lenses is, so what’s the point here. How about waiting with conclusions until M bodies will be availble and in the hand of capable testers?

  36. Scott,

    Great idea, weather sealed bodies. It’s a positive move by Leica and one I welcome. No argument, there… shame their lenses aren’t 🙁

    • I don’t know if I would take an M+50Lux out in wet weather just because the body is weather sealed. Would you?

      • that`s why he asks for weather sealed 50lux, boy. C`mon Leica, here`s new line to make extra bucks. Make a line of weather sealed lenses, call them explorer. What about 16-18-21 and 28-35-50 or 24-70/2.8 ( with LV you don`t need complicated RF coupling ), on two bodies, all weatherproofed. I´getting wet but I don`t care being weatherproofed too.

        • I weather sealed my 50 mil cron by pumping silicone bathroom sealant into it… now it only works at infinity as a fixed focus, but what heck ;-0

    • I already use my m9 in everything from snow to monsoons, including with my 50/1,4. (though i try to stick to the m6ttl if i am deliberately going to soak it.) the weather sealing will be tied for the most desirable new feature in my book (with the maestro processor which i am praying will end the intermittent errors i get on the m9).
      People forget that the lenses are mostly immune to rain, and it’s not like they suck water into the camera body. If the rf block is sealed well enough to retard fogging i will be ecstatic.

  37. LOL. It’s hard to call yourself the best one at the party when you’re the only one there. The Leica digital camera is the only interchangable lens that uses a FF sensor with lenses made at no expense without any kind of budget constraints, let alone AF.

    People have such a hard time understanding what Leica really does. Leica is a camera manufacturer, compared to the likes of others like Canon or Nikon or even Sony, that does not have to worry about keeping up with technology and budget constraints. It’s easy to make a lens when you don’t have to worry if most customers can afford it, it’s easy to make a lens if you don’t have to worry or invest in Af technology, and I haven’t even started talking about what they don’t have to worry about when it comes to their bodies as well.

    Does Leica make the best lenses in the world? Many would argue Zeiss is better and at better prices. The best camera is the one you have with you and the truth is if Leica was the only one making cameras, almost no one could afford to take a photo, heck, we’d all be using film if Leica had a monopoly. People here should thank the heavens that there are other companies that can make great affordable cameras for all markets, entry, mid and pro, not just uncle rich Bob.

    Leica could make 90k cameras and lenses, it is pointless, really. Leica spends very little money to make ultra expensive equipment in comparison to other comapnies that spend a tonne of money to make affordable equipment for everyone. That is the main difference that many folks fail to see.

    It’s always harder for company to manufacture high quality equipment at all price levels that the masses can afford. Leica on the other hand, couldnt even make a half decent camera for a half decent price. people look at a nikon d3200 or reble t4 and say, look at thart plastic body, the small ovf, the cheapo kit lens…etc. If you look closely, those cameras came about through years of expensive R&D, years of refining and improving technology. It took Canon and Nikon a tonne of money to make those ” affordable “cameras, more I dare say than Leica has spent making their “glamorous” stuff. Leica still does not even have AF..consifering AF requires a tonnes of money to even achieve. A great product is more than just building something that spares no expense. I’m sure a gold toothbrush is pretty good but how many people need gold toothbrushes?

    • I know that a lot of people are going to take issue with this statement. I find it interesting. It is not true but it is the truth. Something to learn from.

      • “It is not true, but it is the truth” – I like that, heh.
        A very Zen statement worth remembering. 😉
        Compared with the “clunking whistling” DSLR bashing vs rangefinder “quiet contemplation” post before this one, I think this is much closer to the truth than people credit. Decades of R&D to produce a range of products that can be afforded by many, appreciated by most, and used professionally by those with the requisite skills. Democratic capitalism.
        Not denigrating those who choose to use Leicas, but to make them out as wundermachines for the 21st Century is a rather feeble argument, and Zeiss in particular can show a clean pair of heels to many Leica lenses, before we even explore the short-comings of the always-behind-the-times bodies. 😉

    • Leica doesn’t have AF because it doesn’t want AF. I have a D800E with very sophisticated AF system. I also have an M9P. There are many times I prefer MF and the Leica. I don’t want an AF Leica. There is a market niche for everything. Learn to live with it. Leica builds MF cameras because there is a market for that.

      • Leica doesn’t want Af because they CAN’T do Af. Alot of folks don’t want to paint likeDa Vinci either but chances are they CAN’T either.

        Leica can’t even make their own sensors.They used to get minolta to make bodies and certain lenses for them. Heck, Leica manufactures parts in Portugal.

        It’s not a mater of WANT, it’s the fact that they CAN”T. There is a BIG, BIG difference.

  38. I am completely in agreement with Scott here about the conversion from a huge great clunking, whistling DSLR camera to gorgeous rangefinders, these DSLRs have become too much of a handful. It is backbreaking lugging around a huge fast SLR zoom and camera all day. If you’re wanting speed then a rangefinder as you said is not for you, if you prefer stepping back to a time for some image creation and contemplation time a rangefinder is much better.
    Often people buying a rangefinder mostly know very well how to create images, better screens only help if you are not sure that you need to look at a tiny screen increasing your myopic tendencies. Enough ranting, I must sell some of my Canon gear.

  39. Although Leica cameras satisfy my GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) it NEVER satisfies me when people ask what camera I use when seeing a nice photograph of mine. Even the M10 won’t.

  40. I do think too that it’s a little bit too early to make the final decision but you are right. When I look at the specs of the new M and the concept as well as trying it out at this years photokina, it seems to me that Leica has almost done every homework we gave them for the last few years and I really hope that it will be the best digital M ever!

  41. still havn’t seen any M HQ snaps to compare the two cameras, I think that the most important thing is the final IQ, so lets have some comparisons of RAW images and I’ll let you know what I decide 🙂

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