Leica first announced its M10 rangefinder camera in January 2017, and the company has since released several variations of the camera. More recently, the M10-R added a 40-megapixel sensor to the camera, a big step up from the 24-megapixel one of the original M10. But today, Leica is ready to ditch the M10 range and move on to a brand new camera, the Leica M11.
Well, “totally new” might be overstating. This will sound familiar to anyone who has seen Leica’s famous range of rangefinder cameras before, and it still uses Leica’s M mount for lenses, but the company has put in enough new features to justify giving it a new name. First and foremost is a new full-frame 60-megapixel sensor, which makes this camera a huge upgrade for anyone who could have bought the original M10 in 2017. The so-called “triple resolution” sensor can take 60, 36 or 18 megapixel photos in DNG RAW or JPG. Notably, Leica says it will use the entire sensor area when shooting at a lower resolution, rather than cropping the image. But these images may lose sharpness due to pixel clustering or line break that occurs when using the full sensor to take photos at a lower resolution. .
Shooting at a lower resolution, however, will naturally save storage space and provide extended burst shooting as well. The ISO on this camera is 64-50,000, a level above the 100-50,000 range offered on the M10 series. The ISO on this camera goes from 64 to 50,000, a step up from the 100 to 50,000 range offered on the M10 series.
Speaking of storage, the M11 has 64GB of built-in storage, which allows photographers to store images both on internal memory as well as on an SD memory card. Leica also redesigned the camera’s bottom plate to allow faster access to the SD cart location and battery. There’s also a USB-C port at the bottom of the camera, which makes it a bit easier to charge the battery and transfer images to a computer. It’s a pretty common feature these days, but it’s still a welcome addition to the M11. Leica also reports that the M11’s 1800mAh battery stores 64% more energy than the battery in older models.
As with the M10 series, the M11 uses only Leica’s optical range finder and manual focus. But the 3-inch rear screen, which you can also use as a viewfinder, has 2,332,800 pixels, more than double the 1,036,800 pixels of the M10. Another concession to modern technology, the M11 has both a mechanical shutter and an electronic shutter.
The standard mechanical option can take pictures at speeds up to 1 / 4000th of a second, while the electronic shutter goes up to 1 / 16000th of a second. Perhaps more importantly, the electronic shutter will be completely silent, which street photographers should appreciate. The M10-R had an “extra quiet” mechanical shutter, but you can’t beat a stationary electronic shutter if you need perfectly quiet operation.
Leica offers two models: an all-black M11 and a black and silver option. The latter uses a brass top plate and therefore weighs 640 grams, 100 grams more than the all-black models. To save weight, this camera has an aluminum top with a scratch resistant coating. Whichever finish you prefer, the M11 is extremely expensive, in keeping with Leica tradition. It costs $ 8,995 without lens, the same price as the M10-R.
Considering the many improvements here, it’s good that Leica doesn’t increase the price further, but as we said when we checked out, the M10-R-Leica rangefinders are as much a status symbol as they are photography tool. We said the M10-R is the king of this category in 2020, but now it looks like the M11 has taken the throne. The M11 is available to order now.
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