Just to sort things out first. I love Leica M cameras (but I am not an expert on Leica M:s – I only express my opinions) – that is pretty obvious if you have read this blog before. I love the process of taking pictures. For me it is not about getting a technically perfect picture. For me it is about learning to use a camera that has looked and worked almost the same since the 1950:s. A Leica M is a not camera that you just pick up and master immediately. You have to learn to use it. You have to learn about depth of focus, how to use a center weighted light meter, to focus with a rangefinder and to use your legs instead of a zoom lens. These things have been what has drawn me to the Leica M. The M presents a challenge to me every time I use it.
The other week the latest Leica M camera was released by Leica; the M11. The M11 introduces several new features to the M camera – for example a 60/36/18 MP sensor, better battery life, USB-C connection, matrix light metering, 64 GB internal memory and more. Still it remains a true rangefinder camera – though it has an optional electronic rangefinder, as has been the case since the M240. The price is around 9000 Euros. That is a lot of money…and raises some questions to me.
It has around 2,5 seconds of startup time – the same as my ten years old M240. Whats that about? And how about using old Leica lenses? Yes we can still use them – but how will they look in a 60MP picture? I suspect that the flaws old lenses can have, will be more visible. Some reviewers said that the 60MP sensor made it more difficult to get a sharp picture, due to the incredible detailed picture you get. The smallest camera shake shows. If thats true it is another thing to think about. The M is a street camera and not a tripod camera.
Yesterday i watched the ”Red Dot Forums” 2 hour Q&A about the M11. On their home page we can see examples and download picture files from the M11. I did so – and they are really incredible. No question about that. But then again, for me personally, the end result is not the main thing. My M240 still gives all that I need. As does my X100 from 2012, my X-T2, my M4 and why not my old Nikon FA.
In 2012 I started to use the Fujifilm X100. Some people called it ”The Poor Mans Leica M”. In a way it was. I certainly thought it was, until I tried a real Leica M. Wow. That was a whole other ball game. I understand that Leica has to develop their products and evolve even the M camera over time. But I cant help thinking about if the M camera is starting to loose its charm. The M11 is probably a fantastic camera and I can see my self getting one when I can afford it (by then I suppose the M15 is the newest M…). The question is; when will Leica introduce a hybrid view finder to the M – where the optical rangefinder and the EVF can be used in the same finder? I tend to hear more end more voices online that say this must be the future of the M. Ok – say that we get a hybrid viewfinder. I am ok with that – as long as the optical rangefinder remains as an option. But what then? Autofocus? Zoom lenses? You see where I am going? Is the Leica M on its way to become a ”Rich Mans Fuji X”? Leica certainly has a challenge to evolve the M and keep it an M. Will the M11 perhaps the last ”real” M-camera? Only the future can tell…