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The fact that Leica would introduce a new rangefinder camera at this year’s Photokina did not come as a surprise; rumors of a Leica M10 have been circulating for months. But two cameras? That was unexpected. The Leica M and Leica M-E rangefinder cameras represent, repectively, a no-compromises, latest technology approach, and a simple, basic camera that appears to be in response to consumer demands for a lower-cost digital rangefinder camera. What happened to the M10? Leica has changed its model naming policy. According to a company statement, from now on, “Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the enduring and long-term significance of the respective systems.” In this Adorama News Desk exclusive, let's take a closer look at the newly-minted Leica M and Leica M-E.
The Leica M and Leica M-E were introduced simultaneously with several new cameras and lenses, including the Leica S and special versions of the Leica X-2. Details about the rest of Leica's latest offerings are coming soon.
Note: The Leica M and M-E will not be available until early 2013, but you can pre-order them from Adorama now. Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Credit cards will not be charged until orders ship.
Leica claims the Leica M is the most innovative M-series camera it has ever made. Featuring a redeveloped 24MP full-frame 35mm CMOS Leica Max sensor, the camera uses a Leica Maestro processor for what Leica says is best imaging quality and responsiveness. Unlike the M9, all the Leica M’s interior components are under the exacting control of Leica’s engineers.
New features include:
- Live View and Live View Focus
- New focus method via live view zoom with 10x magnification, focus peaking
- 3-inch LCD monitor with 920k pixel resolution
- Glass cover plate made from tough, scratch-resisting Corning Gorilla Glass
- 1080p Full HD Video
- Rugged body construction with full metal chassis, die-cast magnesium alloy and rubber seals to protect against dust, spray and moisture
- User profiles can be programmed
- Ergonomic thumb rest in back of camera
- R-Adapter M available, allows R lenses to be mounted on camera (see photo, below)
- Optional Visoflex electronic viewfinder available (see photo, below)
- Optional handgrip with integrated GPS module
The Leica M will be available in early 2013 for $6,950. For details, scroll down to read the Leica press release.
The Leica M-E is, essentially, almost the same camera as the M9, although it costs a bit less. While Leica is still out of reach of many mere mortals, the M-E nudges it a little closer at $5,500. Available imminently from Adorama, the Leica M-E is designed to be a second camera for Leica M or M9 owners as well as a relatively (emphasis on that) more affordable model for those on the fence. It has the same KAF 18MP CCD sensor as the M9 (made by Kodak), a simply laid out gray top deck and base plate and the familiar Leica black leather body covering. The specs seem essentially the same as the M9, which is recently saw a price drop and is currently available at Adorama for $6,945, a $500 price decrease. However, the M-E may be slightly smaller and lighter than the M and M9.
For details, read the unedited Leica press releases, below:
NEW: THE LEICA M
The perfection of digital rangefinder technology
Solms, Germany (September 17, 2012) - Leica Camera presents a groundbreaking milestone in the nearly 60 year history of the Leica rangefinder system: The Leica M. Setting entirely new standards, the Leica M unites the ultimate in rangefinder precision with cutting edge digital technology. As the first camera to implement a newly designed CMOS image sensor and to feature additional focusing methods and functions such as Live View and Full HD video capability, it is the most versatile Leica rangefinder model ever. Remaining true to the legendary values of the M-System, the Leica M not only provides the advantages of rangefinder photography, but also for the first time, offers compatibility with Leica R legacy lenses. As with every innovation and development since the flagship line’s inception, the Leica M was created to capture fleeting moments of time and transform them into living history.
The Leica M also marks the beginning of a new era in the Leica product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the enduring and long-term significance of the respective systems.
In every respect, the new Leica M is the most innovative and versatile model the modern M-System has ever created. Looking to the future, 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 MP, full 35 mm format sensor was designed and constructed in collaboration with CMOSIS especially for the camera and its use with M- and R-Lenses. This new development successfully transfers the characteristic advantages of CCD sensors, such as natural and brilliant color rendition and impressive reproduction of details, to a CMOS sensor.
In combination with the high-performance Leica Maestro processor that is also employed in Leica S cameras, this new full format sensor guarantees maximum imaging quality and speed. Now, all elements in the image creation chain, from the lens to the image file, are under complete control of the Leica engineers. This guarantees the ultimate in imaging performance and quality. An additional highlight is the low power consumption of the components that, in conjunction with the particularly high capacity of the battery, ensures outstanding performance over a long period of use.
In 1954, the launch of the M-System opened new horizons in reportage and artistic photography. Now at the dawn of a new era in the system’s technology, the Leica M offers a multitude of new features. The first of these are Live View and Live View Focus. Image composition can now take place in real time with the view of the subject through the lens.
The sharpness, exposure and color content of images can now be precisely assessed on the camera’s large, 3-inch, high-resolution monitor screen with 920,000 pixels. The glass covering plate of the monitor screen is manufactured from particularly tough and scratch- resistant Corning®Gorilla®Glass. The new Live View function allows photographers to have access to entirely new opportunities that, in combination with the outstanding performance of Leica M- and R- Lenses, go far beyond the classical capabilities of rangefinder photography. This applies particularly to macro and telephoto photography, but also allows even more discreet shooting. In combination with M- and R-Lenses, the camera’s new 1080p Full HD video capability also opens up further opportunities to record memories as they happen.
Ever in pursuit of capturing Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Decisive Moment,” the Leica M offers two additional focusing methods that can be activated quickly and easily with the new focus button. M-Photographers now have even more options for capturing outstandingly sharp images. The new ‘Live View Zoom’ option enables up to 10 x 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’. Here, contours in the subject are automatically displayed as red lines to allow simple and convenient focus assessment. Focusing precision can be assessed on the basis of the intensity of the lines displayed.
The Leica M’s features are optimally combined with the typical values of the Leica rangefinder system and guarantee the accustomed dependability of the Leica M in all photographic 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 deck and the base plate of the Leica M are machined from solid brass blanks and the full-metal chassis is a completely self-contained diecast 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 due to its intuitive handling concept with direct manual setting options and fast access to functions. The enhanced layout and particular user-friendliness of the menu interface guarantees a clear and uncomplicated overview of all camera settings at all times.
Dedicated button controls have been provided for the Live View and new focusing functions. 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 an arbitrary name. They can be accessed quickly whenever required for particular situations and can now also be saved to an SD memory card. For increased comfort in use and harkening to the film advance lever of Leica film cameras, the Leica M now provides an ergonomically formed thumb rest with an integrated setting dial at the top right on the back of the top deck. This ensures that the camera can be held securely in even the most demanding situations.
A wide range of optional accessories is also available for the new Leica M. A particular highlight of the range is a new Leica R-Adapter M that allows almost all R-Lenses ever built to be mounted on the camera. The use of Leica R-System lenses now opens up vast new possibilities for zoom, telephoto and macro photography.
Further accessories are the Leica EVF2, Visoflex electronic viewfinder and a 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 for perfect sound with video recordings.
NEW: THE LEICA M-E
The fascination of M-Photography reduced to essentials
Solms, Germany (September 17, 2012) - Leica Camera presents a new model in the Leica rangefinder system, the Leica M-E. Possessing the high level of technology perfected in the nearly six decades since the M-System’s introduction, the Leica M-E represents the essence of rangefinder photography. Rather than offering all that is technically possible, it is limited to only those functions that create a better image. These essentials include the M-System’s typical rapid manual focusing with the viewfinder/rangefinder and the focusing ring of the lens, as well as the option of selecting automatically determined or manually set shutter speeds. It is the ideal entry-level model for photographers wishing to experience the fascination of M-Photography or require a secondary camera that performs at an optimum level without fail.
Advantages of rangefinder photography include the ability for photographers to become a part of the action and frame whatever they wish to capture in the viewfinder, while still perceiving what is going on outside the viewfinder frame. The crucial moment becomes predictable, and can thus be captured at precisely the right instant. Featuring the proven, high-resolution, 18 MP CCD sensor in full 35 mm format, the Leica M-E offers maximum imaging quality. Perfectly attuned to its role in the extremely compact M-System and the superior performance of M-Lenses, this particular sensor type possesses a high sensitivity to light. These characteristics lead to an unmistakably individual kind of photography.
The Leica M-E’s most distinctive feature is a minimalistic, purist, design statement. The top deck and base plate are discreetly finished in unobtrusive anthracite grey. The application of a new leather trim with enhanced grip characteristics ideally complements the camera’s timeless design.
The Leica M-System portfolio provides perfect tools for capturing a moment discretely, silently and without hesitation, allowing photographers to become a part of the scene. Together with the new Leica M and the Leica M Monochrom, the world’s first digital black and white camera in 35 mm format, the latest digital generation of the Leica M now offers three rangefinder cameras.
Additionally, the Leica M-E package includes the latest version of Leica Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to assist photographers with viewing, editing and managing digital images. The Leica M-E is available now from Leica dealers, including the Leica Store Washington DC.