Here comes the Leica M. Yes, the M, not the M10. As usual, travelling to Photokina in Cologne is a mission impossible due to money and time contraints, so I missed this exciting event about the launch of two Leica Ms. But I feel excited reading all the news about the new products from Leica.

Please read the hands on written by the photographer Thorsten Overgaard for details if you want to know more about the Leica M. Thorsten is a Leica professional user and I enjoy reading his posts and reviews. He has just posted a video on some impressions of the Leica M interviewing the Leica’s product manager Stefan Daniel.

I think the Leica M a giant step forward for Leica and its M series. Here are some of the new features:

  • 24 megapixel CMOS instead of 18 megapixel CCD sensor
  • Full HD Video capture
  • Live View (dedicated LV button)
  • Electronic viewfinder (EVF) for live view and play
  • Basic ISO 200 instead of 160
  • Adaptor for stereo microphone
  • GPS handgrip
  • A new shutter
  • Higher resolution of rear LCD  display (920,000 pixels)
  • R type lens adaptor
  • Double capacity of battery (for Live View and video)
  • Splash-proof camera body

The following features are gone (as well on the M-E body):

  • Frame selection lever at the front
  • Body USB port on the left side of the body

Among the new features, I am delighted to see the upgrade to 24 megapixel CMOS sensor.  But this is not revolutionary, as the Canon 6D, Nikon D600 and the Sony A99 are capable of achieving this level of resolution. Leica abandons the Kodak CCD sensor used in the M9 and uses the Maestro manufactured by CMOSIS.  This CMOS sensor makes live view possible as well faster speed in image processing for movie capturing.

It is truly amazing to see movie capability on a M body. This is a totally a big surprise. If you are a still photographer, it may sound nothing. The significance of this feature means Leica is serious about the growing popularity of this media. We may still wait and see some samples of the video quality from this body, but the accessories such as the adaptor for stereo microphone means Leica has carefully thought of how to make the best out of it.

Unlike the Canon EOS-M, Leica has made a nice EVF, firstly seen on the X2, to be mounted on the hot shoe. This EVF called Visoflex EVF2 electronic viewfinder provides full data information for all the R-type lenses. But I am not quite sure if this can also be used for M lenses, since users are already capable of using live view and the optical viewfinder for focusing with M lenses. The adaptor pin, like the X2, is located at the back under the hot shoe. This makes the look a bit weird compared with the original minimalist design of the M. I would like to see the design similar to the new hot shoe of the Sony A99 with hidden contacts.

I have noticed that in the information provided by Leica, the Leica M is called the “compact digital view- and rangefinder system still and video camera”. It is a strange type name but it clearly means a total new direction for Leica and what the Leica M is positioned. The rangefinder, like others, needs a modern transformation to keep track of the changes and demands. The Leica M has entered a new era and given us a positive reply.

The Leica M will be available in early 2013.

Featured image: In the shopping mall. Summicron-M 50 mm, ISO400, f2.8, 1/1000 sec
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