The rumors are true — after recent leaks suggesting Leica will be modernizing its M series with the M11, the company has officially released the new rangefinder camera with some welcome design changes.
The tweaks, as leaks first showed, favor modern convenience over maintaining a film camera vibe, with the exclusion of the camera’s bottom plate, and the addition of internal storage, and USB-C charging.
The removal of the bottom plate from the M11 is what’s likely to irk the traditionalists the most. The plate from previous M series models was an artifact designed to reference Leica’s film camera background. Rather inconveniently, it also required photographers to twist the plate off to get to the battery and SD card. Nowadays, pretty much all cameras let you directly eject both those components without the same hassle.
Not that I’ll be able to buy the super-expensive M11 anytime soon, or any of Leica’s expensive cameras for that matter, but for those with enough money, the new design seems like a perk. Though the M series dates all the way back to 1954, it shouldn’t have to follow all the design elements from decades ago.
New and improved — The most impressive specs that were circulating amongst the M11 rumors was that it would have a 60-megapixel sensor and an even lower native ISO of 64. Turns out the leaks were also right on the money with the high-end specs. More specifically, Leica says its M11 sensor is a full-frame sensor with Triple Resolution Technology. More simply put, it can shoot at 60, 36, or 18 megapixels while always using the entire sensor area.
The M11 also features an optional electronic shutter component that shoots up to 1/16000s, alongside the more traditional mechanical shutter that shoots up to 1/4000s. The new electronic shutter should give the M11 the ability for even quicker and quieter shots. The M11 can store up to 64GB of photos with a new internal storage design, alongside a traditional SD card slot.
Leica finally introduced a USB-C port for charging to the M series with the M11 so we don’t have to carry around a clunky battery charger anymore. As an optional accessory, Leica designed a new electronic viewfinder for the M11 with a 3.7-megapixel resolution.
There were some minor things that kind of went under the radar with the leaks, as most people were interested in those big megapixel numbers. Leica says the M11 has a new color filter array, which means a more natural color reproduction, and multi-field metering in rangefinder mode, so it’ll be easier to understand the light you’re shooting. In another design choice that favors convenience, the M11’s menu design is more in line with Leica’s SL2 or Q2 that both have a more user-friendly interface.
Black or silver variants— Leica is releasing the M11 in two color options: a black finish that’s made of aluminum with scratch-resistant coating and a silver-chrome alternative that has a classic brass top plate and is a little heavier. The M11s are currently available on Leica’s website, starting at $8,995.
Leica will also add some connectivity features to the M11 in a firmware update in the second half of the year. The new version would upgrade the camera to allow for accessing images via Bluetooth, embedding location data, and faster transfer rates, all through Leica’s Fotos app. Now, someone lend me $9,000 so I can try it.