The Leica M box

The Leica M box

The latest Leica M series camera (March 2013) called the Leica M is completely a new Messsucher. Messsucher is the German term for rangefinder. The Leica M, in the tradition of a rangefinder, is the successor to the Leica M9.  Many people thought it should probably be named the M10.  I have read from some sources (perhaps on the LFI) that Leica wants the users to see the new M as a milestone and the renaming to M is significant in the history of M. Now people often call it the Leica M Type 240 to differentiate with the other models (even you see Leica states this model as Type 240 in the instruction booklet). Anyway I think Leica M is a unique name and should be used all the time.

This is my initial impression of the Leica M, and a journal of how I learn to use this new classic. Please bear with me if you find my notes are a bit disorganised. In terms of user report, Thorsten Overgaard’s reviews are still among the best.  The post on Phoblographer is also able to provide you a very comprehensive introduction to all the features of the Leica M.

I have an opportunity to test a Leica M thanks to a local dealer. It is a M body in black paint finish, a perfect match to my black paint finish lens family.

Every Leica M body comes with a warranty booklet (with the serial number) and a test certificate by a Leica Professional to indicate that the camera body has been examined.

The test certificate

The test certificate

The first thing I did was to take out the battery charger and insert the battery to run a full charge.  The battery of the Leica M is not the same type as the Leica M9 . So it is a pity that the old battery of the Leica M9 cannot be used in this camera body. This is not a surprise as the Leica M now support video capture. A bigger battery capacity is inevitably needed. Indeed the charging took almost three hours to finish. In the instruction manual, this Lithium ion battery claims to enable more than 500 shoots for one single full charge.  If you take videos from time to time or viewing the pictures by the rear LCD, a spare battery is well needed.

Leica has provided the user with a car charger cord too.  This was what it did to the Leica M9.  This is really a thoughtful design, making sure you can get battery recharge on the go (provided you drive).

Leica M charger and power cords

Leica M charger and power cords

When the Leica M was initially launched, users in some Leica forums complained the colour from the new Maestro CMOS sensor is disappointing. Perhaps the latest firmware is trying to address this: to improve the white balance and video quality. Therefore my next step was to perform the firmware update.  This Leica M it came with the version 1.5.0 but the latest firmware is 2.0.0.11.  I downloaded the file directly from the Leica official website and followed the instruction there.  After seeing “Loading files…” message on the rear LCD screen, I patiently waited until the whole process took about several minutes to complete. A warning message was always showing on the screen reminding me not to remove the battery.

If you would like to register your Leica M or other Leica products, please do so here. By registering with Leica, you will receive the license key of Adobe Lightroom 5 (you have to enter the TAN number from the box). You can also get 6 issues free by subscribing to LFI (Leica Photography International) magazine (8 issues a year).  As currently a LFI subscriber, I am not sure if I am still entitled to this offer. Although LFI is the official magazine from Leica, do not think it only provides new product information, it also publishes technical information such as the optics and the featured articles impress you with a great culture of taking photography through the photographers’ eyes. Every featured photo showcases the skill of the photographer.

Leica M front view

Leica M front view with Elmarit-M 28 mm f/2.8

At the end of the day, by inserting the battery back, fitted with the bottom cover and mounted a lens to the Leica M, let’s get started.

(The featured photo was taken in original DNG (compressed) format and converted to Black and White in Adobe Lightroom 4.4.)

Featured image: The corner. The Leica M with Elmarit-M 28 mm, ISO200, f/8.0, 1/90sec

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