Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica M camera development: EVF, IBIS unlikely

Leica M camera development: EVF, IBIS unlikely

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The prospect of an M camera with EVF instead of the rangefinder is unlikely, as is an M body with stabilisation. During the discussion with members of the LHSA – the International Leica Society – last Friday, production director Stefan Daniel touched on the persistent rumour that there would be an M body with an EVF instead of the rangefinder.

He said that there had been many discussions on the subject within Leica and there are “pro-people and con-people”. But, he said, the M stands for Messsucher, the traditional rangefinder, and if you take that away it would no longer be an M. An electronic viewfinder would be a nice addition but it can be found on other cameras such as the SL2. The likelihood of a pure EVF M body is “highly unlikely”. However, he did not mention the possibility of a hybrid finder.

Stefan Daniel pictured during the LHSA meeting in Wetzlar in October 2018 (Image Mike Evans)

Is IBIS feasible?

Mr Daniel was asked if the next M would have in-body stabilisation. He said that IBIS is desirable and would work well with M lenses as we have already seen with the SL2. The problem, however, is that IBIS would make the camera bigger, in particular thicker.

He said that we would be returning to the dimensions of the M9 and that would be a step backwards after all the efforts that had been made to make the M10 thinner. He did say, however, that if it became feasible to introduce IBIS without increasing size it is something that could be done quickly.

Monochrome M-D?

Asked if there were any plans for a monochrome version of the screenless M10-D, he said that the idea was not impossible but it would depend entirely on there being sufficient interest. It is something that is foreseeable, he said.

He was more positive on the question of a higher-resolution sensor for the M10. He advised us to “stay tuned. If we can do a 40MP monochrome sensor we can do colour as well“.

The subject of an updated Visoflex for use with the M was also raised. The current Visoflex is a six-year-old design. Stefan Daniel said that they were working on the idea but there was no timescale at the moment. Presumably, a more modern Visoflex will be necessary for the launch of the next M camera and LHSA members were hoping for backwards compatibility with the M10. However, Mr Daniel didn’t comment on that possibility.

Development time

When asked for a sense of how long it takes to plan and produce a new model, Mr Daniel said that it very much depended on whether it was a product variant or a completely new project starting with a blank sheet of paper.

For example, the M10 was a completely new development compared with the M Typ 240. For a new model, it takes around 30 months from deciding, obtaining board approval for the funding and starting from scratch. Looking back, however, it sometimes takes much longer. He cited the first intention to produce a mirrorless camera dated back to 2007/2008 and there was then a discussion about the merits of turning the R system into digital or to do something completely new.

As another instance, he had first had the idea of a monochrome sensor back in 2005 and some rough calculations had been made. But it was only in 2010 that the company decided to take the idea further.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Mike, thanks for putting this article. I’m really disappointed about not having an M with evf. I’m certain that eyes of a number Leica users would be felt a relief if this was untrue. I feel it is a bit silly to stick with what originally the M stood for. It was what it was because the technology was not possible/out at the time. The SL cameras are too huge for me and for me then do not represent Leica when I look at them.

    • I use the Sigma Fp as an M camera. I use it with Voigtlander 15 v3, Leica 18/3.8, Leica 21/3.4, Leica 28/1.4, Leica 28/5.6, Leica 50/1.4, 7Artisans 75/1.25. It is at least as good as the Panasonic S1 for compatibility which I originally used. It also boasts cyan correction if you do a calibration process and register the len – brilliant! At present you need to manually identify the lens. I use the amazing optional viewfinder which is like high definition and wonderful for manual focusing. It is amazingly compact with the Leica 28/5.6 or Voigtlander 50/3.5 without optional viewfinder and is like an interchangeable lens Ricoh GR. It is not a perfect evf M but I love it and use it paired with the lovely M9. But wait there is more! It also is L mount and does autofocus with my really compact and lovely Sigma 45/2.8. I also find no handling issues with my Leica SL 35/2 and the Panasonic S Pro 50/1.4. It is no different than using the Sony mirrorless cameras and you hold the lens and the camera is light compared to the lens. I love the files and colours and low light ability.

  2. On the LHSA meeting, I was privately messaged that the high resolution M camera is in production so get your preorder money ready.

    • Yes I also heard that but just reported what was actually said during the on-line meeting. The arrival of this camera has been on the cards for a long time and I suspect launch date has been put back until the virus emergency is over.

  3. Thanks for posting Mike, most interesting news. I must say that an EVF on an M series camera is something which wouldn’t interest me. I’ve been happily focusing using the rangefinder for over fifty years and hope to go on for a good couple of years more. Similarly, with the present 24mp sensor I don’t long for IBIS; although maybe if the resolution goes up over 40mp it may be advantageous. I’m quite happy to hand hold at certainly 1/30th and have had perfectly good results at slower shutter speeds.
    Sorry to be a “stick in the mud” but I love the M in its present form. Says he, ducking for cover.

    • Hi Tom, I love the Leica M in the 35 to 50mm range. However, outside that range it rapidly is less ideal. I an fine with those limitations but an EVF makes 21mm, 24mm, 28mm, 75mm, 90mm and 135mm far more comfortable to use. My core focal lengths are between 24mm and 135mm. I love tiny size and quality of M glass. Also, in my experience, sending an M off for calibration is horrible with Leica whether US or Germany. My experience was six months with no real communication. Eek! I love the M but one definitely needs a backup camera – either M or something else. I love Leica but their service is shameful especially for a prestigious product. On the LHSA meeting which was invaluable, nobody responded to my poor service question. My 3 other questions got answered. They certainly are not striving for
      legendary service or even poor service. If the M was not such an amazing camera and the glass was not incredible AND tiny I would cheerfully flush Leica down the toilet. However, the Sigma Fp is now my M backup.

    • Leica service is incredible really. They turned my m10p Safari edition back to me within a week for rangefinder calibration and At the same time checked out my very old 75 Summilux, to see what if the camera or lens was at issue.

      My same rep also got me in touch with a person at Leica Europe when a lens I ordered from overseas was defective and the Leica dealer in Europe was not responsive.

    • @tomlane try out the Fuji Xpro3. It’s an optical window finder with an electronic VF that slides into the OVF at the touch of a button. It will make you change your mind at the utility of an EVF when using a window finder camera.

      Already so many people use the rear screen on a m10 when focusing long or narrow DOF lenses, this would just allow them to do it more seamlessly. You would never have to pull your eye off the back of the RF if an EVF slid into the RF, Xpro3 style.

  4. I agree with the comments concerning Leica not producing an M body with a built in EVF. Concerning the comments they are receiving, which indicate demand, not doing so is just being stuck in the past. Unfortunately, in my lifetime, Leica has always been a trailing edge company.

    Leica has had some flashes of innovation with the TL and SL, but they let the engineers go without having any photographers or people good at human design involved in the project.

    The SL bodies have terrible ergonomics, being blocky with points in locations that aggravate the nerves in my hands; it seems they were designed primarily for video than still images. I borrowed one during a local promotion and the images I made with my lenses were fabulous. I still look at an image I printed from this day and enjoy it. But the sensor lacked enough information to drive the EVF when zoomed in, and the overall experience was not enough to induce me to try the camera a second time.

    Finally, my experience with service from Leica USA mirrors Brian’s comments above. Which gives me second thoughts when I think about the M10 or a Monochrome body.

    So I am still looking for an alternative body for my M lenses.
    Paul

  5. Too bad Leica doesn’t want to produce a EVF M.
    I guess my M10 will be my last Leica, no EVF = no buy, and I’m definitely not interested in the SL. Too big, too chunky, terrible ergonomics, subpar autofocus, atrocious battery life, humongous native lenses.
    Anyways, to ignore the market demand because of silly statements like “M stands for Messsucher” shows a company stuck in the past and unable to look at the future.
    I think that sooner or later I have to move to some other brand, now the hard part is to figure out which one.

    • I still think there is a possibility of a hybrid finder. The technology is probably there, it’s just a matter of making it work and offering it at an acceptable price.

      • I’d love an hybrid finder. In fact, it would be even better than a full EVF. The EVF is fantastic for fine tuning, but not great for moving subjects.

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