Like admiring the smooth lines of a passing Rolls Royce, this picture is probably as close as we’ll ever get to the new Leica M, a 24-megapixel full-frame digital rangefinder camera sporting Live View and Full HD video recording capabilities.
The Live View feature gives users a choice of two focusing aids, focus peaking and up to 10x magnification, via the rear 3”, high-resolution 920,000 pixel screen or the optional Visoflex EVF2 electronic viewfinder.
Inside the super-sleek and horribly desirable lines of the Leica beats the Maestro processor, promising to set ‘entirely new standards in terms of image-processing speed.’
Expected to be swanning into the UK in cushioned boxes in early 2012, the Leica M will be available in black paint or silver chrome finish with a suggested retail price big enough to make grow men cry at £5,100. Ouch!
Here’s the Leica Press Release
The LEICA M: a new milestone in digital rangefinder technology
Most versatile rangefinder camera yet includes high performance sensor and processing technology, three focusing options including Live View, Full HD video recording and compatibility with Leica R-Lenses
Photokina, Cologne, 17 September 2012: Leica Camera AG has today announced a groundbreaking milestone in the history of the Leica rangefinder system: the Leica M. As the first camera to implement a newly designed and constructed CMOS image sensor, and to feature additional focusing methods and functions such as Live View and Full HD video capability, this is the most versatile model ever in the history of the Leica rangefinder camera, and sets entirely new standards.
The Leica M combines the advantages of digital innovation with rangefinder technology that has been continuously perfected over decades. At the same time, it remains true to the legendary values of the M-System, while expanding the opportunities offered by rangefinder photography – and, for the first time, offers compatibility with Leica-R legacy lenses.
The Leica M also marks the beginning of a new era in Leica’s product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasise the long-term significance and enduring value of the respective systems.
The Leica M is the first in a long line of Leica rangefinder cameras to feature a completely new development in sensor technology: the Leica Max CMOS image sensor. This 24 megapixel, full 35mm format sensor was designed and constructed in collaboration with CMOSIS specifically for the camera and its use with Leica M- and R-Lenses. This new development successfully transfers the characteristic advantages of CCD sensors, such as natural and brilliant colour rendition and impressive reproduction of detail, to a CMOS sensor.
In combination with the high-performance Leica Maestro processor, which is also employed in Leica S cameras, this new full format sensor ensures maximum image quality and speed. All elements in the image creation chain, from the lens to the resulting image file, are now under complete control of Leica’s engineers, guaranteeing the ultimate in image performance and quality. A further key feature is the low power consumption of the components which, in conjunction with the high battery capacity, ensures outstanding performance over a long shooting period.
The Leica M offers a multitude of new features. The first of these are Live View and Live View Focus, where image composition can take place in real time with the view of the subject through the lens. The sharpness, exposure and colour content of images can be precisely assessed on the camera’s large, 3”, high-resolution 920,000 pixel screen. The glass covering plate of the monitor screen is manufactured from particularly tough and scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass.
Thanks to the Live View function, photographers now have access to entirely new opportunities that, in combination with the outstanding performance of Leica M- and R-Lenses, go far beyond the classic capabilities of rangefinder photography. This applies particularly in macro and telephoto photography, and allows even more discreet shooting. In combination with M- and R-Lenses, the camera’s new 1080p Full HD video mode also opens up completely new possibilities.
The Leica M offers two additional focusing methods that can be activated quickly and easily with the new focus button, giving M-Photographers even more options for capturing outstandingly sharp images. The ‘Live View Zoom’ option enables up to 10x magnification for precise assessment of the sharpness of subject details or the close focusing limit. The second aid to focusing is ‘Live View Focus Peaking’. With this feature, contours of the subject are automatically displayed as red lines to allow simple and convenient focus assessment. Focusing precision can be reviewed on the basis of the intensity of the lines displayed.
All new features of the camera have been optimised for the Leica rangefinder system, and ensure the renowned dependability of the Leica M in all shooting situations, from available light photography to discreet and aesthetic fine-art image composition. In line with the principles of the M-Philosophy, all functions and features are designed and constructed for absolute robustness and a long working life. The top and base plates of the Leica M are machined from solid brass, and the full-metal chassis is a completely self-contained, die-cast element manufactured from high-strength magnesium alloy. Special rubber seals protect the camera body against dust, spray and moisture.
The new rangefinder camera is also a typical ‘M’ thanks to its intuitive handling, with direct manual setting options and fast access to functions. The new layout and user-friendly operation of the menu interface guarantee a clear and uncomplicated overview of the camera settings. Dedicated button controls have been provided for the Live View and new focusing functions, and Live View Zoom and Live View Focus Peaking can be selected with the new focus button on the front of the camera. User profiles can be programmed with any camera and shooting settings, stored under a specific, user-selected name, and accessed quickly whenever required for particular situations. The profiles can also now be saved to an SD memory card. For improved comfort when shooting, the Leica M features an ergonomically formed thumb rest with an integrated setting dial at the top right, on the back of the top plate. This ensures the camera can be held securely in even the most demanding situations.
A wide range of optional accessories is available for the new Leica M. Of particular note is the new Leica R-Adapter M, which allows almost all Leica R-Lenses ever built to be mounted on the camera. Further accessories include the Leica EVF 2 (Visoflex electronic viewfinder) and the Multifunctional Handgrip-M with an integrated GPS module that, in combination with optional finger loops in various sizes (S, M and L), helps to ensure safe and steady handling of the camera and lens system. The range also includes a Leica Microphone Adapter set to ensure high quality sound with video recordings.
The Leica M will be available in a discreet black paint version, or an elegant silver chrome finish.
Pricing and availability
The Leica M in black paint or silver chrome finish is scheduled to be available in the UK at a suggested retail price of £5,100 inc VAT from early 2013, from authorised Leica dealers including the Leica Store Mayfair: http://www.leica-storemayfair.co.uk, tel: 020 7629 1351. A full list of authorised UK Leica dealers is available at http://www.leica-camera.co.uk.
Leica warranty and added value services
The Leica M comes with a two-year warranty and a one-year Leica UK ‘Passport’ (complimentary accidental damage cover). UK customers are also welcome to visit the Leica Store and Akademie in Mayfair, London, for a complimentary demonstration or training session on the features of the camera. Technical support by telephone or in person is available via Leica’s London-based Client Care department.