Leica has a reputation for making stellar cameras that are also astronomically priced. However, you do get what you pay for, as the saying goes. We can, however, take cameras for granted because of how ubiquitous they are these days with just about every conceivable price point covered. Leica targets customers at the very high end of the camera market and targets this audience with extremely refined and highly engineered products that deliver precision optics and performance using the best possible materials and technology.
Leica’s storied history is exemplified in the new Leica M11 rangefinder (manual focus only and optical viewfinder), the latest in the venerated M series that dates back nearly 70 years (via Leica). It continues with the familiar and icon design aesthetic. Leica says there are at least 40 improvements over the M10 model it replaces, but these are largely to be found on the inside of the device.
Externally, the biggest change is the removal of the bottom plate that required a significant amount of work to remove each time the device’s battery needed to be replaced. The M11 now features a simple flap with a clip (similar to those that you will find on most competing cameras) for fast removal and replacement of its new cartridge-style battery. A USB-C port can now also be found underside.
A unique triple resolution 60MP BSI CMOS sensor
The biggest upgrade to the Leica M11 comes courtesy of its all-new 60MP BSI CMOS sensor. This is the first backside illuminated sensor to feature in the M series and should help deliver shots with much lower noise, particularly in low light situations at higher ISOs. In fact, the M11 can shoot at ISOs ranging from 64 through to 50,000.
The M11 can also shoot in three resolutions (Triple Resolution Technology) using the entire sensor without the need for cropping using pixel binning at the lower resolutions. These are 60MP full resolution shots (with 14 stops of dynamic range), 36MP and 18MP (both with 15 stops of dynamic range), all at 14-bit color and in RAW. This unique capability should allow photographers to find a happy medium between resolution and noise balance.
Shooting photos at 60MP will naturally chew up a large amount of storage space. A 60MP shot will take up between 70 to 120MB for a DNG RAW file while this can be trimmed down to just 20MB with the resolution set to 18MP. Thankfully, Leica has integrated 64GB of onboard storage while this can also be supplemented with an SD card. The additional storage will come in handy when you consider the new Maestro III chip can process images at up to 4.5fps of continuous shooting.
The Leica M11 comes in all black and silver-chrome colorways and is available now for a base price of $8,995.