The Leica M11 is the most beautiful camera I will never buy

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The Leica M11 is the iconic photography company’s latest full-frame digital rangefinder camera, packing a 60-megapixel image sensor in an all-metal body along with a slew of refinements compared to the previous M10. It’ll also cost a Leica-specific $8,995 (without the lens) when it goes on sale later this month, yet it omits features like image stabilization, video recording and even autofocus. And it’s that sort of thing. Leica fans won’t buy this camera based on whether it ticks enough boxes on a specific list.

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The M11 is beautiful and I love it. A part of my brain gets excited the moment I pick up a Leica, let alone take it out on a shoot. If I get this as a gift I’ll take it around Edinburgh as often as I can, and I’ll look down on anyone I carry around with envy when I get away with my test model .

But after spending a couple of weeks with the prerelease model, I have to admit that it’s not for me. I like a lot about it. The build quality, for one, is superb. Its all-metal construction feels incredibly sturdy—not to mention a substantial premium to go a long way toward justifying that price. This is the last M10. slightly thinner and lighter than ,$4,995 on Amazon,, but it still gets a satisfactory load when you hold it. You can access the SD card slot from within the battery compartment, instead of having to open and remove the entire baseplate, as was the case on the M10, a definite improvement.

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There’s an optical viewfinder and a bright, sharp 3.0-inch LCD screen for accessing menus and using Live View (yes, it has Live View). There are also menus that I found easy and intuitive to navigate, even when shooting quickly on location. Battery life is superb; Even after a full day of shooting, often using Live View, I had more than a quarter of the battery left. You can then recharge it either in the external cradle (supplied) or within the camera via a USB-C cable connected to a port within the camera.

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Leica paired the M11 with M-mount 35mm f/2 lens ($3,795) which was great for a day and about Edinburgh, and I’m really pleased with many of my shots. Images Maybe Pin-sharp, with beautiful bokeh behind your subject when shooting with the aperture wide open.

The ability to select different image resolutions is a neat new feature, even when shooting in DNG RAW format. You can choose to shoot at the full 60MP for the largest image size, down it to medium (36MP) or down to small (18MP) for a smaller, more manageable file size.

But instead of just using all of the sensor’s pixels and scaling to the desired size, as most cameras do, the M11 combines multiple pixels into “superpixels” for smaller sizes, increasing the amount of light that can be used. As a result, the camera can achieve a wider dynamic range (up to 15 stops) for better low-light performance in medium and small when shooting at its maximum resolution. I didn’t notice a particularly noticeable difference in my shots, but it could be more apparent in high-contrast situations.

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Image taken on a Leica M11 in DNG Raw and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

You need manual focus to take sharp shots. This was my biggest challenge and one of the main reasons it doesn’t belong to me. I found it took a few seconds to focus, sometimes more, and sometimes I just couldn’t get it right. The lack of image stabilization, which on other cameras allows you to get sharp handheld images at slow shutter speeds without resorting to a tripod, means living with camera shake or compromising on desired settings.

They meant missed opportunities for shots that I capitalized on and whether I was shooting professionally – eg, a press event or someone’s wedding, when every second counts – when missing a shot was simply an option. Does not happen.

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Image taken on a Leica M11 in DNG Raw and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

As with any high-end camera, it takes time to familiarize yourself with its features. Auto white balance turned out to be quiet and metering delivered unexpectedly underexposed shots, especially when shooting landscapes with bright skies (with multi mode in aperture priority and allowing the camera to set ISO and shutter speed automatically) . Both issues are easily resolved with some trial and error to find your optimal settings or adjust them in software like Adobe Lightroom.

it’s a leak

Some Leica owners and photography purists might say that becoming a better photographer involves shooting photos with precise focus, unpredictable exposure and white balance, visible shake, etc. because it allows you to learn from mistakes, find your limits, and get accustomed to individuality and quirks. helps to be. of your camera.

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Image taken on a Leica M11 in DNG Raw and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

There is something to be said for slowing down and taking your time on my images, something I do quite often with my landscape and macro photography. But I couldn’t part with the nearly $13,000 (with lens) for a camera that lacks modern features in both my professional and personal work. Autofocus that can lock a subject in milliseconds so I know I’m not going to miss that crucial moment. Which can shoot 4K video. It offers the slowest shutter speed I could get with in-body stabilization, ultra-fast continuous-shooting and — I’m sorry — a flip-out screen for shooting at awkward angles. This is why I would hesitate to recommend it to many photographers, even if they have the money for it.

Just in the same way an enthusiast would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the pleasure of driving a classic sports car that lacks traction control, power steering, built-in telemetry, cruise control or even airbags, Leicas is one of those photographers. For those for whom experience is as important as taking a shot. It’s for that particular subset of photographers who want Leica’s trademark image quality and because of Lack of those modern facilities. Who would appreciate the M11 for exactly what it is.

Leica M11 Key Specifications

  • 60.3-megapixel full-frame image sensor
  • UHS-II SDXC cards up to 2TB supported
  • 64GB internal memory
  • USB-C battery recharging and data transfer
  • Leica M-Mount Lens Compatibility
  • Weight 540 grams (Black model, with battery)
  • optical rangefinder viewfinder
  • 2.95 inch LCD display
  • ISO speed 64-50,000 . From
  • Shutter speed 1 hour to 1/16,000 (with electronic shutter)
  • 4.5 frames per second burst mode
  • 1,800 mAh battery

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