The Leica M with Summicron-M 50 mm

The Leica M with Summicron-M 50 mm

When we say the Leica M is a new rangefinder, we mean it is a departure from the old. It is not until that the moment you hold the Leica M in your hand, you realise something is apparently different behind the red dot. The first thing you should notice is the weight. The Leica M is 680g weighed whereas the Leica M9 is only 593g.  Yes it is solid as usual but I really want a camera body to be lighter. Carrying a camera all day long is not a comfortable task. But thanks to those tiny M lenses, the total weight of a body and a lens is not able to let our feet be dragged at the end of the day. In this respect, the Micro Fourth Third system is indeed a very smart system: practical and convenient. Their development is making sense by starting with a small sensor in a tiny body. Nearly after ten years they are able to make some miracle improving greatly the sensor and features, like the latest Olympus OM-D E-M1. Don’t forget we have other non Micro Fourth Third mirrorless players out there too, such as Fujifilm and Sony, making wonderful smaller-sized camera bodies. Sony, in particular, has striven hard to place a 36Mp full frame sensor to its A7R. The result is remarkable on such a small body.

The thumb wheel

The thumb wheel

The noticeable ergonomic difference is the thumb wheel at the rear when you hold the Leica M in hand. We used to complain how hard to firmly hold the Leica M9 (in fact we should not) and we finally thought we might need an external object to add on its body, an example is the product from Thumbs-Up. Now the thumb wheel is truly making more sense.  It also serves as a multi-purpose navigation dial to the menu, or adjusting the exposure value, or enlarging the image during viewing on the rear LCD. I find it functional and aesthetically beautiful.  I can now firmly hold the Leica M in one hand (although it cannot be long). You may want to know Thumbs-Up is still planning to produce a thumb rest for the Leica M, but I think it is not necessary and aesthetically making the rear look so odd.

The M (movie) button

The M (movie) button

The next thing you notice is the M (video or movie) button next to the shutter lease button. Yes Leica has finally brought video feature to a M body. It may not be a great feature but at least it is catching up with other DSLR counterparts. It offers the maximum resolution of [email protected] or @24fps.  This video capability is made possible with the new Max CMOS sensor. It is not a surprise that the microphone on the body can only record mono sound effect, like other DSLRs such as the Canon 6D. But if you attach the Microphone Adaptor set (sold separately), it is possible to record sound in stereo. In reality, you may need post processing on application such as Adobe Premiere instead of relying on the microphone on the body.

The Focus Button

The Focus Button

At the front of the Leica M body, there is a newly added Focus Button under the M name. It is used with Live View. In the user instructions, it reads as follows:

  1. Press the focus button (3). • The monitor image shows – the enlarged detail – the setting dial symbol with the possible enlargement /reduction directions – the current zoom factor. You can change the zoom factor using the setting dial – either 5x or 10x.

If you want the focusing assist to be automatically enabled in Live View, you can set ON to the Focus Aid in the main menu. Then you can immediately see whether the subject is in focus rather than through the optical viewfinder.  This is particular useful if you use the lenses with focal length 50 mm or above. At the beginning I found this button not responding well. After a few attempts, now it works as it says. Still the position of the button is a bit odd when switching your index finger between the shutter release button and the focus button.  I would like it to be placed at the rear below the thumb wheel.

LV button and other function buttons

LV button and other function buttons

Another noticeable change to the rear of the body is the LV (Live View) button on the left.  This is an apparent addition to the quick function buttons.  Next to these buttons is the 3-inch TFT monitor (921,600 pixels) with scratch-resistent cover in Corning Gorilla glass. But don’t believe it is really scratch-resistent. As always, a screen protector may be needed to provide further protection. Even it is a 3-inch monitor, every camera model has its own dimensions and be sure you get the right one. So it should be well said that the Leica M is a milestone in the history of Leica M-Camera. Choosing what camera to use is very personal. It is quite true that many people expect the Leica M to be flawless because of the price they have paid. But you won’t be naive to believe that there is an ideal camera. No camera is perfect regardless of the price tag. At the end of the day, Leica has the finest optics and it is you that can turn every subject you capture into a masterpiece. So the next is to do some more testings.

Featured image: The Agapanthus.  The Leica M with Summicron-M 50 mm, ISO200, f/3.4, 1/250sec

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