The classic Leica M-P rangefinder camera has just gone digital, with resolution and performance upgrades.
Leica today announced the launch of the Leica M-P, which they describe as the "next generation of the Leica Rangefinder Camera." Built for professional photographers, especially photojournalists, documentary and street photographers, the Leica M-P boasts a higher-resolution 24MP sensor, a 2GB buffer (twice the capacity of the Leica M, and a frame selection lever that controls bright-line frames in the viewfinder for six different focal lengths.
Note: The Leica M-P will be available from Adorama in Late August, but can be pre-ordered now from Adorama in Silver or Black. Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Credit cards will not be charged until orders are shipped.
(The digital Leica M-P is not to be confused with the Leica MP, a 35mm film camera that is currently available from Adorama $4,995 in Black and Silver.)
Leica M-P Key features:
- 24x36mm, 24MP CMOS sensor
- ISO range 200-6400, pulled to 100
- Die-cast magnesium body with synthetic leather covering
- Cap, top cover and base plate made of brass
- Integrated thumb rest
- Leica M mount with 6-bit coding
- 3-inch TFT display, 920k dot resolution
- Dual type focal plane shutter
- Live View
- 60-1/4000 second, 180 sec flash sync
- 3fps burst rate
Let's take a deeper look at the latest Leica rangefinder camera.
Users of the Leica M (available in Black and Silver from Adorama for $6,950) and earlier iterations of the digital M series will most likely appreciate the improved buffer capacity. Buffer capacity effects how quickly image data moves from the sensor to the memory card; smaller buffer capacity could lead to the camera locking up until buffer has cleared. Rapid-fire street photography often slowed down earlier M's, and by doubling the buffer capacity Leica has now addressed one of the key issues some photographers have had since the M series went digital.
Design: No Surprises
The Leica M-P's minimalist control layout and design is almost identical to that of its predecessors, which is not a surprise. The red dot has been omitted in order to not call attention to the photographer, and the camera maintains its small size and profile, as well as its quiet shutter and operation, all in the name of helping the photographer work as discretely as possible.
The LCD monitor has an extremely scratch-resistant sapphire crystal cover, rendering it almost unbreakable. This is important when shooting in war zones or other difficult situations that could cause wear and stress on a camera. The LCD also has an anti-reflective coat, making it easier to work with under difficult lighting.
Classically Leica Exposure Control
TTL center-weighted metering in viewfinder mode, spot or multifield measuring available when shooting in Live View. The manual shutter speed dial can be turned to A-mode for aperture priority exposure. Focusing continues to be manual using a tabbed focus ring on each lens. Focus is confirmed via a split superimposed image in the rangefinder; merge the projected image with the viewfinder image and you've successfully focused.
The viewfinder, again a Leica classic, is optical with bright-line projected indicators that indicate the angle of view of the lens in use. A new frame selection lever chooses the appropriate frame lines, which are projected in pairs of 28/90mm, 35/135mm, and 50/75mm. With this tool you can quickly choose the angle of view by moving the lever without having to change lenses, in order to assess whether you should change focal lengths.
Video: A traditional Leica user may not associate the Leica M with video, but the M-P offers 1080p HD Video at 24, 25 and 30fps and it is capable of stereo audio recording via an adapter.
Add-Ons: An optional Electronic Viewfinder (EF-2), multi-functional Handgrip M, and additional Li-ion Batteries (BP-SCL2) are available as well. Leica did not offer projected batter life information, but based on my past experience with older Leica M cameras, if you shoot a lot of pictures on assignment, it is a good idea to bring multiple batteries.
The Leica M-P will be available for $7,950 from Adorama in Silver or Black starting at the end of August.