Leica M & Leica M-E.

Inspiration, Teaching point

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As any Leicaphile already knows, today Leica introduced TWO new models:

The Leica M and the Leica M-E.

As expected, the new flagship M sports a 24 MP CMOS sensor and is therefore able to offer video, live view, focus peaking, and has a higher (than M9) ISO upper level (though at ISO 6400, it’s not as high as one would have expected).   The purportedly faster Leica Maestro image processor is a welcome addition, as is the new splash-proof camera body and higher resolution LCD screen.

Leica has obviously been listening to its customers (at least, to those customers who wanted these features).

The M-E, with its 18 MP CCD sensor, is — essentially — a re-jigged M9.  This is not a bad thing, as it means that Leica is still listening to the remainder of its customers — those who are more traditional with respect to their camera needs (if you can call digital camera photographers traditionalists!), who want to keep things as they are, more or less.  It also minimizes on development costs since many of the core components are being borrowed from the M9.  Shrewd move.

Back to the new flagship M:  I still have my concerns about CMOS (vs. CCD) sensor rendering.  But, the proof — as they say — is in the pudding… so I’ll wait to see some real-world images before I conclude anything.  The sample images on Leica’s website are inconclusive.

Now, here’s the main reason I decided to create this post of, essentially, re-hashed news:

No matter what you think about Leica’s new M products, you have to give Leica credit for (finally) trying to tap into the various customer segments… the pricing spread between the new cameras in their line-up (don’t forget the DLUX and X bodies) makes it possible for them to sell more gear, which bodes well for the future of the company.

That’s just Business 101.

—Peter.

18 thoughts on “Leica M & Leica M-E.

  1. The pictures I have taken with the M are better (in my opinion ) as the M9, more dynamic range, better colors , and look like the Leica tradition.

    The highest ISO setting shows no visible noise when cropping to 100%. The JPG files are about 15 MB

    1. Thank you for your comments Dr. Rhode.

      “The pictures I have taken with the M…”

      — is it my understanding that you’ve already used the new M? If so, then your insight is much appreciated.

      I don’t know, though. I’ll have to wait and see a greater sampling of images. With respect to clean images at high(er) ISO — I don’t doubt it.

      But the other metrics you mention: more dynamic range, better colours… I read much the same when the Nikon D3 was released, and now the D800/E… and yet, the images from my CCD (D200, M9, and M8) cameras have always been more appealing (at base ISO) to my eye — and I’ve actually owned the D3 and the latter D3S.

      Now, I’m willing to admit that it could just be a matter of taste.

      Ultimately, I have to trust my eyes, however.

      Hopefully you’re correct.

      Thanks again,

      —Peter.

      1. Well, I can only compare M 8, M 9 and now M. The M 9 at top ISO and full crop show significant noise, the M none. Colors and contrast are subjective.

        I am sure Leica will show some color pictures in the next few days, which will support my statement

        1. Sounds odd that the top ISO would show no noise. If this were the case, it would have made more sense to push the top ISO up and allow an acceptable amount of noise, as a “noise-free” image is not always the most desireable aspect of an image capture.

  2. The new M just looks brilliant to me. The camera I’ve been waiting for, although of course I wish it were a bit slimmer like my M4-2. no rush, I’ll buy one next year. The product lineup looks great for Leica now.

    1. What’s brilliant about the two new cameras is that they are, well… two cameras.

      Had Leica gone just one way or the other, they would have alienated a significant proportion of potential customers. Their current strategy, however, avoids this.

      —Peter.

  3. Thank you for providing this overview Peter. Your desire to achieve balance is appreciated.

    I loved the picture of the treasured Red Flyer.

    What was the lens that you sought / bought?

    John

    1. Thanks John…

      It’s interesting how I’ve been asked a few times what the “new” lens is… it’s one I’ve previously used and — if you notice — I’m being coy about it :).

  4. Hi Peter. Nice article as always.

    Just my 2 cents. Leica seems very conscious regarding CCD / CMOS look, adding a explanation in the new M’s brochure. No one would concern about that if didn’t get a good job. Looking forward to see M’s hires files.

  5. This is the first time I’m posting on your blog, but I’ve read all of it.
    Until I read Dr Rhode’s post, I was seriously debating whether to buy another M9 body ( I already have one, but changing lenses is a pain as you know). Now I’m not too sure. Personally, I feel there is not much to improve on the CCD image files from M9. (Like you, I also held on to the D200 for a long time for this very reason).
    The one thing Leica could have done was to inform whether there was an AA filter or not.
    Secondly, The LCD is better off on to the left, I felt, but hey.
    Perhaps the one thing WE should all do is be grateful. Grateful to the gear that we all have now. Grateful to our ability to make nice art. 20 yrs ago, (we were in India and quite poor) I found a broken yashica film camera in a rubbish bin and repaired it and used it for 2 years. Now. here we are tossing about why EVF and why live view… you get the point. So on second thoughts, I’ll probably hold off.
    Eagerly waiting on your next article about scanning film, then I shall decide whether getting an MP is worth it… wink wink.
    BTW, great blog, peter. Keep it running.
    Dr Bhat

    1. Welcome, Dr. Bhat, and thank you for your comments. I have no doubt the new M is a wonderful instrument, putting my CMOS reservations aside for a moment. And yes, we SHOULD all be grateful for the choices before us. I know I am.

  6. I’ve ordered mine, Peter. Only regret is that I couldn’t order a second silver one for my 35 Cron. I’m one of the folks in the camp of wanting the sensor change and that, quite frankly, the M9 is anything but a camera that produces ‘traditional’ photographic images. That’s why I sold mine. I’ve dreamed of being able to put Leica lenses in front of a D3 sensor and with an “M’ body. And the D3 was just a 13 MP camera, if my memory serves me. I think this camera is for me and I can’t wait to finally be shooting it. Till then, it’s the M7 and M6 and a fridge full of color film. But to all you guys who loved the M9 CCD sensor, you’re in the pink now with all the ones in stock and now the ME. I’m thinking everyone should be happy.

    1. Dear Donald,

      Knowing how you felt about the M9, you’ve shown great restraint in this post! I agree, the latest announcements by Leica represents a win-win scenario for photo enthusiasts. Enjoy the M when you get it… I know it’ll be amazing in your hands.

  7. I’m more looking forward to the M-E / M9. If I want live view, focus peaking, M lenses, and HD video i’ll use my NEX-7. For everything else I’ll use a traditional M.

    -Dominic

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