Leica is weird. It only puts out a handful of cameras each year, and most of them are remixes or minor iterations on previous models. Its flagship since 2017 has been the solid but still somewhat archaic M10, but now the company has revealed its successor: The even more solid and still somewhat archaic M11,
Leica truly defined the rangefinder genre in cameras and its film models are legendary. In the digital age, they are known for their prices more than anything else. While the build and image quality of the M10, Q2 and other cameras were impenetrable, you could get a lot more camera for less money elsewhere. That won’t change with the M11, but at least the new model brings some much-needed modern features.
Perhaps most important is the switch to the backside-illuminated sensor. This misleading term refers to the light-sensitive part of the sensor facing the aperture rather than sitting behind the wiring and other components. BSI sensors generally outperform their traditional predecessors, and Leicas generally have a decent sensor game. Interestingly, they seem to have chosen a non-Bayer sub-pixel layout with an eye towards better pixel binning.
The new full-frame, 60-megapixel BSI sensor can be shot at full resolution, but that’s rarely needed these days. The 36MP and 18MP options sample the entire sensor instead of just lines or areas, reducing noise and artifacts. If I get one of these I’ll switch it to 36MP and never look back. There are also 1.3x and 1.8x crop modes for those who enjoy it.
There are now three easily reassignable function buttons. The rear touchscreen has twice the resolution of the old M10, though if you’re a true Leica fan, you’ll probably have your eye on the optical finder.
Interesting but controversially, the M11 uses its full sensor at all times for exposure purposes. Having the camera essentially always in “Live View” mode means accurate exposures, But according to DPReview’s initial reviewOf course, this leads to longer startup times – and Leicas are usually just as fast as lightning and shoot with it.
There’s a USB-C port that charges the camera’s new and much larger battery, or pulls shots from cards or 64-gig internal memory – or sucks them directly onto your phone and a companion app (not to shoot full res). second reason).
Leica’s M series is unique and certainly not an option for more hobby photographers, who will rightfully balk at the $8,995 price tag for an M11 body – the M10 debuted in 2017 at $6,600, and was priced at $6,600 for inflation. Adjustment for also the new price is eye-popping. And of course before you get any lenses!
But the point isn’t to recommend this camera exclusively – it’s worth noting that Leica is still making technically interesting and fairly capable cameras, whose technology sometimes drops to prices that you and I can afford. Like mortals (after surviving on ramen for a month or two, anyway). Expect to see more variants of the M11 over the years, but some of the design lessons on display here also apply to something more affordable. No cheap Inexpensive, but “less than a used car”.