Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica M-D battery life: Automatic power off function disabled

Leica M-D battery life: Automatic power off function disabled

 The new Leica M-D is super responsive and comes to life within a split second, no wait for startup. It makes an ideal street camera and is always ready for action. But this responsiveness comes at a price. 
The new Leica M-D is super responsive and comes to life within a split second, no wait for startup. It makes an ideal street camera and is always ready for action. But this responsiveness comes at a price. 

Since finishing my review of the new Leica M-D last weekend I have had a couple of worrying instances of excessive battery drain after I inadvertently left the power switch on. On both occasions I found the battery completely drained, in the first case overnight and on the second time within a couple of hours from last checking the level. So worried was I by this that I asked Leica here in London to check with the factory. The answer came quickly: 

The automatic power off function was disabled purposely, to avoid long start-up times – this was based on customer feedback from the M60 model.

This is certainly rather worrying for me because I do tend to forget to switch off the camera. Despite this I have never experienced such rapid battery drain. No wonder this camera is so spritely and springs back to life as soon as I brush a forefinger across the shutter release. It makes for a very responsive digital and one I thoroughly enjoy using. The 12s shut-off, when the exposure meter and framelines are switched off, is not a full standby as I had imagined. 

Owners need to be wary of this and should definitely carry a spare (at least one, I might have to buy a third battery to be on the safe side). It’s a concerning aspect and it would be nice to think that the factory could come up with a satisfactory compromise solution.

John Reynolds, who wrote about his experiences with his M60 earlier this week reports that his camera appears not to use any significant power when in standby mode. Looks like we’re stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea on this one and I will be interested to see if the factory has any second thoughts. 

14 June 2016: The problem has now been fixed by firmware update.


  1. Battery drain (and power issues in general) seem to have been a bugbear for Leica for years. I bought both a CM and an M7.85 new and both had to be replaced within days because of excessive power drain.

    • Dear Bill, don’t exaggerate. I never had to replace the Battery in my M3.

      But seriously: This is not necessarily a Leica issue. I owned several digital and analog models, the 240 with outstanding Battery-live, and the Battery of the M6 lasts, like, forever. Never had an M7 though.

      But this "no standby" thingy really is a silly prank, hope it will be corrected soon.

      Best, Claus

      • Indeed, Claus. I never had these problems with my M2, and the battery in my IID seems to last forever…

        It should be a basic, though, and one model with power issues is unfortunate, but many…?

          • Ah, but you see Mike, that’s predictable consumption… I know it’s a bit gluttonous but I can cater for it. It’s random or unexpected battery flattening that’s the killer in terms of trust and reliability, n’est çe pas?

          • Yes, you do have a point. In the same way, though, the M-D can be coped with as long as I carry one (or maybe even two, like you) batteries. Since I’ve been aware of the battery drain problem I have been making sure I switch it off. When I do this, the battery life is long.

  2. Hi Mike
    I suppose I’m a bit anal about switching the camera off, but only do this when stowing it away. I used my M-D in London over the last 2 days and shot fairly extensively wandering around and keeping it switched on when it was in my hand, which was most of the time.

    The battery is still showing 85% tonight……



    • The strange thing about all this is that I have had three heavy days of shooting since last Friday and, in general, the battery stood up well. I didn’t switch it off during any of the days (except over lunch) and I ended the days with 75% remaining (with approximately 160 shots on the card on each occasion. But the drain came when the camera was left switched on an unattended. I really cannot make up my mind whether I prefer to have the quick operation with the danger of battery drain if not switched off, or a delay for waking every time. The decision will be made by others so I can relax.

  3. This one sounds like a real doozy.And there was I thinking that Leica had shut down their department of silly ideas.
    I guess that the majority of M-D owners given the choice between a lightning fast start up combined with the probablity of a frequent dead battery or a slower start up and normal battery life would opt for the latter.
    Still I am sure it will be easily sorted by a firmware update.Should be all fixed by the end of 2017…….

  4. I updated my M240 firmware this week to eliminate the ‘check battery age’ issue and also, according to Leica, to eliminate the ‘lock up’ issue. I got a lot of ‘lock ups’ when I got the camera first in 2013 and then they disappeared for good. I put this down to a ‘running in’ period, in old motoring parlance, for the so called ‘intelligent’ battery. Yesterday, when I was out taking some shots with the M240, what happened? Yes, I had my my first ‘lock up’ in nearly 3 years. I did not have to remove the battery. A quick switch on and off solved the problem. A shot I was taking at the time of the ‘lock up’ was lost. Yes, I did check the rear screen and then I took the photo again.

    I believe that batteries and buffers are a weak spot with the M240 gene pool cameras. I hope that when the next truly new digital M camera appears that Leica pay a lot of attention to that area as well as to the various handling issues that I have raised on these pages. Leaving aside those handling and power issues, the output from the camera is superb.

    Mike, I assume that you have tested the M-D with a number of batteries to eliminate a faulty battery issue.

    Finally, my practice is to switch off a camera when I am finished using it even for ‘little breaks ‘ when I am out on a shoot.


    • Dear William

      Thanks for your thoughtful contribution, as usual. I have made sure that this is not a battery issue. It happens with both the new battery supplied with the M-D and one of my other batteries which has been working perfectly on the M-P. This conclusion is confirmed by the factory’s quick response and the acknowledgement that the auto power off function has been switched off deliberately.

      This is a curate’s egg, of course. I love the instant response, just like a film camera, and I am almost prepared to accept this as a trade off against the delay that all digital cameras exhibit when waking from sleep.

      You are fortunate that you can always remember to switch off the camera. However I suppose it is a matter of habit. I have never felt the need with other Ms and, on many occasions, have left the camera switched on overnight without bad consequences.

      Now I am aware of the situation I can train myself to be more careful, especially not to leave the camera switched on overnight or when in the bag (with the risk of phantom shutter presses bring the meter and framelines to life). I shall continue to enjoy the remarkable quick start up of this camera. I already carry one spare battery, which should be needed only in emergency situations. I might well carry two, but I will certainly enjoy the camera as it is.

      Apropos the M7 and Bill’s earlier comment, this is another camera you need to remember to switch off if rapid battery drain is to be avoided. After using other cameras such as the MP and M6 I didn’t appreciate this at first. But you get to understand and live with it.

      Finally, in defence of Leica, this is a decision they took knowingly, not a fault although it can be interpreted as such. They could reverse their decision by way of firmware update if the demand were there. The problem with the M-D is that there is no means of setting sleep time in the absence of a menu (or more combobulations with the function button) and to arbitrarily select one minute, two minutes or more is likely to lead to criticism.

      Personally, I would go for auto power off but only after a reasonably long period of inactivity, five or even ten minutes, for instance. This would preserve the instant response in most normal situations but provide a backup safety net in case of forgetfulness.

  5. Thanks Mike

    I would give a Leica a ‘needs more effort’ on battery life and stability and associated systems such as sleep mode. I hope that they do address it soon.



    • I would be inclined to hang on for a bit and see what happens. Don’t make any rash decisions unless you dislike the camera for other reasons. I am delighted with mine and hope that a solution for this particular problem will be found.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.