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Leica M11 hands on: Primus inter pares

The new Leica M11 is truly the first among equals...

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So now I have it. I waited before making a decision until last Thursday when it became clear exactly what the new Leica M11 has to offer. On Friday, I studied Jono Slack’s and Sean Reid’s reviews and gave the green light to my trusted Leica store.

The camera was with me on Saturday morning, in chrome. Why in chrome? Why not? The black version is lighter now, but does 110g bother me? Not remotely.

So what really made the difference? Up to now, I have pre-ordered every new M model (about every four years, give or take a month or two) before it was the specification was not even remotely clear. I just assumed Leica would do things right. And so far everything has been fine.

Yet this time I did have some doubts. The “leaked” 60 megapixels of the sensor scared me and it was not clear just how Leica would solve the problem of handling a possible limitation of this number of pixels.

Apparently, Leica understood that not all users wanted such an extremely high resolution. But the solution they found to the dilemma isn’t a poor compromise (like using only parts of the sensor to reduce resolution), it’s just plain genius. Triple Resolution. And, behind what sounds like an empty marketing buzzword lies a technology that combines multiple pixels when needed while still using the full sensor area. The pixel binning allows for reduced resolutions of 36 or 18 megapixels in DNG format. It was a solution that certainly addressed my immediate concerns.

What follows is by no means a full review. Unfortunately, I can’t yet offer a flood of images at all exposure situations. Heaven knows I’ve only had the camera for three days! The weather was sh… uh, shuboptimal and, after all, I still had to work. There will certainly be a lot more to come in the coming months.

The sensor

Any sensor is only as good as the camera that’s built around it (and the optics in front of it, for that matter). For example, the specifications of Sony sensors very often exceeded anything that Leica had to offer. But firstly, the differences were often marginal for real photography anyway, and secondly, Leica has unexpectedly caught up in the sector during the past 16 years. The sensor in the original M10 was already extremely good (much better than the one in the 240; the one in the M9 is a separate chapter). The M10-R and especially the M10 Monochrom sensors took things a step further.

And now – the new BSI sensor. “BSI” stands for “backside-illuminated”. These are not LED lights in a toilet bowl, but a special construction that places the light-sensitive pixel wells particularly far forward. The wiring and printed circuits, which take up a significant portion of the surface area exposed to the light in conventional chips, lie just below.

In addition to the fact that the many pixels do not have to share the space on the limited area with transistors, and thus collect photons more optimally, the wells are also very flat. This has an extremely positive effect, especially with light rays that are incredibly slanted in the edge area. With the new filter technology, only IR cut and UV filters are mentioned on the Leica fluff page.

One wonders whether the “microlenses” in front of the pixels that were often mentioned in the past are perhaps no longer necessary. Of course, they will probably be present in person with the obligatory Bayer filter, the presence of which is so self-evident that it is neither discussed nor can it be identified at all in the “exploded view” of the camera. Nobody talks about the absence of moiré filters anymore, that’s old hat.

In several reviews (for example, David Farkas or DPReview) I found the indication that the sensor has “DG architecture” or “DG technology”. Oddly enough, I couldn’t discover anything about it on the official Leica pages, but the reviewers must have got it from somewhere.

In any case, “DG” stands for “dual gain” and is a method of reading each pixel with two different gain levels and then combining them into one image. This optimises the dynamic range and explains the gain in this respect (we are talking about 15 f-stops).

In this context, I have already examined another property of the new sensor. It behaves with “invariance” (as did that of the M10). On the Leica website, Nick Rains shows some (backlit) photos from the M11, in which he was able to lighten the shadows extremely without capturing excessive noise. This is an indication of invariant or “iso-less” behaviour.

In an improvised test setup at my home, I took a photo at ISO 64 and then successively underexposed up to 6 stops. Then I pulled up the underexposed photos in LR back to the neutral value. Of course, the noise increases, but it shows the high flexibility that the DNG files from the sensor offer when in post-processing. The “original” M10 was also able to do this, but the new sensor seems to me to be a gain of roughly one to one and a half f-stops.

ISO and colours

ISO 64 is supposed to be the real native ISO value of the sensor. After the M10 and M10 monochrome sensor stories, Sean Reid was suspicious enough to follow up with Leica and was reassured that this was so. A relatively low ISO value suits Leica photographers who prefer to open the aperture wider than to close it. From now on, when the sun is out, I can safely leave all ND filters at home (not to mention the electronic shutter, more about that later).

I cannot yet say to what extent the dynamics (slightly) improve when the resolution is reduced or the luminance noise is reduced, but I’ll wait patiently for Sean Reid, who will certainly check this very carefully.

It goes without saying that the camera goes one better at high ISO. If I used ISO 12500 with the M10 more as an emergency measure, I can now confidently leave this value in the auto ISO range. How much more is still acceptable remains to be seen.

The M11’s colours are consistent with what we have been used to with other current digital models (M10-P, M10-R, Q, Q2 or SL, even the D-Lux 7) and I find them very appealing. There is already a colour profile for the Leica M11 in Lightroom (or is that embedded in the DNG, I’ll have to check?), but it is too saturated for my taste. I prefer Adobe Standard.

The shutter

The next change I felt right away was the fact that the shutter opens with an audible click as soon as you turn the camera on. The noise is familiar, you can recognise it from activating Live View on the previous M models.

The M11 works permanently in live view mode. I admit that this made me feel uneasy at first. The sensor is always exposed! Upon further reflection, I realised that this is the normal way all mirrorless cameras work. The M11 even has the advantage that, in rangefinder mode, it does not have to supply a monitor or EVF with power. And exposure metering via the sensor apparently consumes extremely little energy.

There is no longer any measurement of the reflective areas of the shutter blades, that analogue-era relic that many scoffed at. For me personally, the measuring method was always ok if you consider the peculiarities of the centre-weighted measurement. Depending on the subject, this could create other focal points. With strong highlights, for example, you measure them first, save the exposure, recompose and shoot.

And to be honest, the fact that you have to think for yourself in certain, difficult lighting conditions is not relieved by a matrix measurement (which we have had in Live View since the M240). If I had always taken the determined values without reflection, I would be sitting on a pile of quite suboptimal exposures. Above all, you should consult the histogram…

… This brings me to a complaint from Sean Reid: He’s a little annoyed that there’s no histogram showing the RGB channels. That was the case with the M240, but with all successor models there was only the summary. However, precisely because the red channel likes to burn out excessively, relevant information would be very helpful. The question is whether this could be supplemented with a firmware update.

Since the shutter is always open on the M11, it must first close again before the shot can be taken. In the previous models, this produced a noticeable shutter-release delay (“shutter lag”) in live-view mode. In contrast, with “rangefinder mode”, there was no perceptible time lag between pressing the shutter release and taking the picture. This is also the case with the M11, although it is practically always in “live view”. Sean Reid tried to measure the difference between the M10-R and M11 and found the M10-R had a shutter lag of 0.047 seconds compared to 0.064 seconds for the M11. The difference is negligible as far as I’m concerned.

Something else about the noise: Barney Britton from DPreview states that the noise level is back to that of the original M10, that is, noticeably louder. I don’t know what’s going on with his ears, but that’s wrong. It’s not louder, it’s different – and a little longer because the shutter closes, takes the picture and opens again.

For the rest, the M11 offers the option of complete silence, namely when using the electronic shutter. I have always set this to “hybrid” with the Leica Q, which means that if the shortest normal shutter speed (1/4000s) is not sufficient, the camera automatically switches to up to 1/16000s. If absolute silence is required, you select the electronic shutter in the menu and from then on you have to make sure that you have taken a picture because it’s easy to miss.

But always keep in mind the important keyword, “rolling shutter”. No very fast-moving subject parts (for example, a helicopter rotor) or oscillating light sources with this shutter type. The images are read out line-by-line, which takes longer than the actually super-short exposure time. However, with the modern sensor, this will certainly happen very quickly. Even with the Leica Q, I was able to photograph skiers whizzing by at 1/16000s without any rolling shutter problems.

The rangefinder

In an interview about the M11, Leica’s Stefan Daniel quoted the American proverb in relation to the rangefinder: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In my opinion, the rangefinder of the M10 is the best of those in all M camera versions. And that’s how they see it at Leica, too. An indication that we have the same model in front of us is provided by the display, which can indicate the exposure time only in four digits. Since there are now also five-digit times, a workaround is used to display this.

An article was published by DPReview that questions whether Leica is perhaps taking the risk with the M11 of rendering the rangefinder superfluous. Everyone on the team (at DPReview) would perhaps have regretted that the new Visoflex didn’t come with the camera… hmmm… Maybe they just can’t do anything with a rangefinder. If I pass my flute around and say, “Make music with it,” most people will probably ask, “How do I connect this thing to Spotify?”

DPReview is harmless. They just don’t check carefully enough. Otherwise, you can read so much rubbish about the camera on the Internet that it makes you dizzy. As soon as a new model is out, the trolls crawl out of their holes.

I’m saying it for the hundredth time: In certain situations, the rangefinder is superior to focusing in Live View. It is clear that it reaches its physical limits with a wafer-thin depth of field. If it were ever to be replaced by a built-in EVF, that thing would have to be coupled to the lenses somehow. Otherwise, I’d happily forgo it. Focus peaking is nice, but I’m faster with the metering field of the viewfinder.

Battery and bottom plate

The battery? A real monster. We’re back to capacities like that of the M240, the battery of which was probably designed as a starter accumulator for a Leopard II tank. That’s why I didn’t order a second battery at the outset. I expect that the one will be completely sufficient for my purposes. Incidentally, at a pinch, you can also recharge the camera when out and about using a USB-C cable and power bank.

In contrast to the M10-R or M10-Monochrom, the heat development of the camera is apparently marginal during intensive use, which is a plus point, especially for work in warm environments.

The bottom plate is gone! Good riddance! I’m not so sentimental that I miss it. On the contrary, it annoyed me more with the digital models. This separate part was particularly frustrating if you wanted to change the battery or memory card in the middle of a shoot. It stays with me on all film models, so I won’t be getting withdrawal symptoms anytime soon.

Changes to the user interface

If you’re not a Leica nerd, you won’t be able to tell the M11 apart from the M10. Leica didn’t fiddle with this style icon because they know that changes would result in a lynch mob descending on Wetzlar. It’s ok for me, I already said in my last laudatory comment about the M10 that I think the clear lines are beautiful and I don’t need any recessed grips or other folderols.

The focus button has migrated from the front to the top plate, where it is clearly easier to reach. It can also be assigned to other functions. The thumbwheel can also be assigned in different ways, and you can now “click” it. The “Play” button has moved up to the pillar of buttons to the left of the monitor.

The LV button is now called “Fn” (it can also be freely assigned) but will call up Live View by default. Right now I keep hitting the wrong one of the top two. Five years of motor memory isn’t that easy to erase.

The button in the middle of the four-way panel no longer calls up an information screen. Instead, pressing “Menu” brings up an overview á la Q2, which I find very good. You can reach important menu items immediately by touch. For example, the “triple resolution” can be changed in a flash if you wish to do so from picture to picture.

Otherwise: If you know the M10 (or any M at all) you can take pictures with the M11 immediately without exploring the deeper realms of the menu. It has always been like this. Try that with a Sony. It won’t end well.

Connectivity

Up to and including the M10 (and its variants), establishing a wifi connection to the Leica Photos app was so annoying that I seldom bothered with it. With the Leica M11, however, connectivity is now effortless. And, in the past, connecting to Fotos caused the battery to gurgle empty in no time. That is no longer the case.

Since the camera also has Bluetooth, this should be implemented more strongly in the announced firmware update, including geotagging. Whoever needs that? OK, well, no harm.

The USB-C connection and the Apple compatibility of the Leica M11 suit me as a Mac and iPad user. You can connect the camera directly and charge it anywhere, or transfer data. The fact that there is no cover on the socket scares me a bit, but the camera is nominally “weather sealed”, which Jono Slack has apparently already thoroughly tested (for hours in the rain).

The cable, power pack and charging cradle for the battery are well thought out and can be combined as desired. You also get an Apple-compliant USB-C-to-Lightning cable.

Conclusion

I called this hands-on “Primus inter pares” because I wanted to underline the fact that despite the Leica M11 representing the continuation of the rangefinder camera into the next generation of technology, it does not make the M10 family obsolete. Among its “peers” (the word “pares” has survived in English), the camera now has some outstanding qualities (more resolution, more dynamic range), but that doesn’t mean that an M10-P or M10-R doesn’t have many years ahead of it as a wonderful platform for M lenses.

So far I have taken almost all photos at the highest resolution. The lack of image stabilisation isn’t a problem if you keep shutter speed in mind (I set the auto exposure to the reciprocal of four times the focal length of the lens). However, I may stick with 36 MP for many subjects and occasions, which is more practical. Storage space is a secondary argument, but the file sizes of 70-120MB for the high-resolution images (according to Leica) are steep. However, I’ve noticed that they tend to be smaller (around 60-75MB for me) than Leica’s conservative estimate.

I particularly enjoyed Jono Slack’s article. But he had seven months to do it. And there’s one thing I think is worth mentioning in the review: it cites an article by Roger Cicala which states that a high-resolution camera doesn’t have a problem with older glass just because it doesn’t call itself “APO-Summicron”. Rather, he comes to the same conclusion as do I (in relation to the M10 Monochrom), namely that 1) vintage lenses often show surprisingly high resolutions and 2) the high-resolution sensor also gets more out of the optics and still conveys the respective “character“ of the older lenses.

Moral of the story: You can safely use any of your favourite M lenses (Leica or not) on the M11.

While I have been ‘running’ the M11 for the past three days, there was nothing on the camera that sort of slowed down my usual way of working. It feels, responds, works as well as any M I’ve had before. So far I haven’t discovered anything that is a “no go” for me.

Finally: Everyone knows that there are no advertisements on my website. But I have to thank my Leica store for getting the new models for me in the shortest possible time over many years. It’s a small, almost inconspicuous shop on Fasanenstrasse in Berlin, just around the corner from Kurfürstendamm.

Translated from the German by Mike Evans (who is, therefore, responsible for any errors…)


Read more from Claus Sassenberg

Sie können auch diesen Testbericht auf der Messsucherwelt lesen

55 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,

    “..I’m saying it for the hundredth time: In certain situations, the rangefinder is superior to focusing in Live View. It is clear that it reaches its physical limits with a wafer-thin depth of field. If it were ever to be replaced by a built-in EVF, that thing would have to be coupled to the lenses somehow..”

    Er, why would a built-in EVF “..have to be coupled to the lenses somehow”?

    Surely, the whole point of an electronic viewfinder is that it takes its image straight from the sensor (..or from the image which hits the sensor and is then ‘de-matrixed’ from the Bayer filter, etc ..and other gobbledegook..) but it needs NO coupling between lens and EVF.

    The photographer look at what the sensor sees, and you either manually adjust your lens’ focus till the image from the sensor looks sharp, or – with an auto-focus camera – the camera checks the contrast and phase of the image while the lens racks out and in, and then automatically positions the lens at the point where there’s maximum contrast on the sensor (..the image has minimum blurriness..) and/or where everything’s ‘in phase’ (with a region of the image on individual pixels and not superimposed on other adjoining pixels).

    One of the points of having an Electronic View Finder is – surely – that the camera needs NO complex mechanical connection between the lens and the finder, and all that mechanism can be done away with, and the EVF takes its image – through a few cheap wires – directly from the sensor-decoding electronics!

    Assorted websites tell us how many separate moving parts there are in a Leica’s rangefinder mechanism – oh; here’s one which says there are 1,200 parts in an ‘M’ ..just fell off my seat, as this so-called ‘Dan Tamarkin’ is clearly our esteemed Ed ..cloned! tinyurl.com/M0v1ngPart5

    So, reducing manufacture and assembly of all those teeny rangefinder parts and linkage to the lens, SHOULD reduce the cost (..and/or provide greater profit!..) when creating an EVF camera! ..And, sure enough, you’ll notice that a Canon digital full-frame mirrorless camera – such as an ‘R’, or a Nikon ‘Z’ – does, indeed, cost less than a Leica digital rangefinder ..fewer mechanical linkages to assemble.

    • I did read somewhere, a few years ago, that the rangefinder alone accounts for €1,000 of the cost of manufacturing an M. It can’t be a cheap bit of kit, especially when the adjustment and checking time is taken into account.

      Next time I meet Dan (who is a well-respected Leica dealer in Chicago) I will offer my services as a double, Kim Jong-un style.

      • I don’t think Dan is Desperate for a “Double Dan” – the cloning is nigh on impossible (The Barnack Hour attempted it earlier) and you have to spend a good chunk of time shooting funny and educational videos about Leica’s of all ages.

    • David,

      simply adding an EVF would cripple the camera.
      You can never focus a manual lens with an EVF by eye as fast as you can with a rangefinder (as long as the lens used has reasonable focal length and speed).
      Nor as accurately regardless of the aperture setting.
      The aperture has to be open for correct focus peaking, then you go to working aperture.
      Not necessary with the rangefinder. Because it’s coupled with the lens.

      The cost is a different story.The comparison with any Canon or Nikon is a moot point.

      • “..You can never focus a manual lens with an EVF by eye as fast as you can with a rangefinder (as long as the lens used has reasonable focal length and speed)”.

        Oh. That’s odd. I seem to be able to do it REALLY ACCURATELY with my M10-P (and its clip-on EVF) by just pressing Live View ..and then the EVF gives a continuously zoomed-in view as soon as I turn the lens’ focus ring. (Or, if the lens doesn’t have any mechanical linkage to the rangefinder ..and so the camera doesn’t know that the focus is being adjusted.. I just press the ‘Focus Zoom’ button on the front of the camera, and that gives me really accurate focusing ..with any, and every, lens!)

        I don’t quite understand what you mean by “reasonable focal length” ..d’you mean 90mm rather than 21mm? ..I don’t quite understand (..please forgive my stupidity!..) “..reasonable focal length and speed” ..d’you mean that the lens has to have a wide – or a narrow – aperture? ..But what does the lens aperture have to do with the – completely separate – glass viewfinder? (..or the lens’ focal length, for that matter?)

        The ‘glass finder’ of an ‘M’ shows a view entirely independent of whatever focal length or aperture you’re using!

        Do you mean that focusing with longer focal lengths is more difficult and less precise than focusing with a wide-angle when using a rangefinder, because a -l-o-n-g- change in the lens’ actual length as you focus (if it’s a long focal length lens, e.g; 90mm or more) is translated into a very short movement of the mirror system in the mechanical finder? (That’s why Leica has never made a rangefinder lens longer than 135mm.)

        But that just doesn’t matter when using the Zoom feature of a Leica EVF: it’s always accurate, whether you use a wide lens – e.g; 21mm – or a long lens – e.g; 135mm or more.

        I generally focus wide open, because I generally use most lenses wide open ..and so that business of problematic focus peaking doesn’t arise ..for me. And if I do want to use a lens stopped down – to f5.6 or f8, for example – and that’s very rarely – then ‘hyperfocal distance’ covers any possible focusing errors ..pretty much everything’s in focus between, say, 5 feet away and 8 feet away ..and so I don’t have to even lift the camera to my eye!

        So I don’t quite understand what you mean, Claus ..sorry.

        • I’m with Claus:
          Quote
          You can never focus a manual lens with an EVF by eye as fast as you can with a rangefinder (as long as the lens used has reasonable focal length and speed).
          Unquote
          For 90mm and above it might be quicker with an EVF, but even with the lovely EVF of the M11 I’m still using the rangefinder 80% of the time, and always with anything wider than 50mm
          best

    • A rangefinder camera with an evf just makes absolutely no sense. Removing the evf mechanism to place an evf becomes then an SL or a CL full frame. Or a fixed lens Q. Then the business of M lenses, which seems the Gordian knot, will disappear.

        • Do you see anyone measuring house dimensions with a mechanical rangefinder? No. They should develop a laser rangefinder system with integrated evf and laser coupled lenses however. And bye to M system. Amen
          Using rangefinder plus live view to focus makes of it the most expensive and slowest system ever, despite the time to check exposure compensation.

    • Dear David, it is clear that you do not like or appreciate a rangefinder method of focusing. That is not a problem as I probably do not like what you like but that is why the market has different products to make different people happy.

      i have the SL2, SL2-S, M9 and M10 monochrom. I am 67 years old and still love the style of focussing with a rangefinder within its intended shooting envelope. My M9 has some limitations some of which you correctly point out, but I love its rendering and it inspires ME to go out and pursue my passion in photography. I tend to be critical and a perfectionist but am making a major effort to focus on the half full glass instead of what is missing.

      Life is especially tough with Covid but I enjoying my fast focusing rangefinder experience and I have an ☂ for ignoring people peeing on my Leica rangefinder or my “overpriced underspecced” Leica SLx system.

      Any camera these days exceeds most peoples capability, including me, but I want to buy what motivates my artistic vision in my final chapter of life. Leica sells rangefinders because people love the immersive experience and I am one of them. If I wanted a lens attached to a computer I would buy a different brand, but I am an artist that wants to be in control of my creative experience.

      Best wishes,
      Brian

  2. Great review and images. Thank you so much. I still love my MP240 and M246 but will indulge myself in a MP11 or Safari when they get around to it. I use only three focal lengths 35/50/75 and utilise the classic rangefinder, never live view, and it works for me. Anyway a very good read – nice one Claus.

  3. Hi Claus! Great read! Because of a hand injury I sold off my M10-P, and I miss it dearly. Focusing had become a lengthy affair- it gave new meaning to ‘slowing down’. However, you have pushed me to the edge- I’m so close to buying an M11, if for no other reason than to spite my hand. It’s your fault. I will explain that to my wife. Expect a call…

    • Hi Bob, you are an M person at heart, pull the trigger – life is too short. The M is a more methodical experience in general yet it can be faster than autofocus in the right situations contrary to the general inexperienced viewpoint.

      I may buy one but my wife is now starting to ask how many cameras do I need? Maybe I will wait until they bring out the discrete snow white owl Canada edition. Actually, I am going to wait for the M11P version as I am in no rush for a new camera.

  4. Sorry, I got distracted by comments and forgot to compliment you on your article. I am amazed that you could produce such a great article in an amazing short time. Really enjoyed it.

    I need to now take the 12 step do not buy M11 program.

      • Agreed, excellent article Claus, especially so because you touched on so many points that potential users of the M11 really care about, instead of just writing about specs. Even though my own M cameras still eat film and my digital Leica is a SL2s I still very much enjoyed reading your experience with the camera.

  5. Schöner review. Vielen Dank dafür Claus. And that is the extent of my German for now. I wish to mention Claus, that some of these magnificent images are reminiscent of those seen in the recent M9 article. In terms of colour and contrast. What do you think ? Nice work with the highlight preservation in the sky.

    • Excellent German!
      I’m not sure about the colours compared to the M9, but that’s just because I haven’t thought of doing the comparison yet.
      Sean Reid has currently compared the M10-R and the M11: There is almost no difference.

  6. Hi Claus. I’ve read on your blog that you also bought the new Visoflex. I’ve experimented quite a bit with it, and was rather disappointed by the lack of resolution of the Visoflex. Of course one needs to critically adjust the dioptr setting and use focus magnification, but even then the resolution to my eyes is not satisfying. Despite the fact that the pixelcount is about the same as the Q2’s EVF, the sharpness stays inferior to that of the Q2’s EVF, which makes the Visoflex less geeignet for critical focussing. Whereas manual focussing on the Q2 works like a charm. I’ve asked Jono the same, but he couldn’t compare the two. What is your opinion? Could you have a critical look and maybe compare the two?

    • Hi René,
      Unfortunately, I no longer have the Q2. But I am surprised that your impression of the Visoflex 2 (we are talking about the new model, aren’t we) is so different.
      I can’t confirm that, at least not subjectively. I really have no problem focusing fast lenses.
      Is there something wrong with your Visoflex?
      Imagine me scratching my head.

      • Thank you very much for your swift answer, Claus. Yes, I was wondering that too, but then, it’s hard to imagine something being optically wrong with such a simple device. Image quality is also even across the image field. I suppose there has to be done some calculation when the image data of the sensor is transferred to the Visoflex, with possibly some sharpening necessary. But then, if you’re satisfied.. I’m too scratching my head.

      • BTW, I see you are enjoying your Funleader conversion of the beautiful Gontax-G 45mm f/2.0 lens, as do I. I’ve allways had a serious weak spot for the truly excellent full titanium Contax G2 camera and its full titanium Zeiss lenses, and it’s really nice to be able to use the 45mm now, with it’s image quality and practical FOV, on the Leica.

  7. Hi Brian..

    I got an email from Mike (Evans) this morning after he and I had been out for a walk a couple of days ago to see how the M11 – Mike brought one along – compares with, say, the M10-P – I brought one, and some other cameras. We’ve been emailing each other since to discuss the results of our shooting with the M11.

    At the end of Mike’s latest email he says “..From all the comments on Claus’s article, readers could be forgiven for imagining that you never use a rangefinder and find them annoying and irrelevant. Yet my own eyes saw a bagful of Ms, from the M9 through to the M10-P, and evidence of hard use. Maybe you should come clean and tell them…”

    Well, yes; I did take with me an M9, an M10-P (and also a Ricoh GXR and another camera or two) ..and I’ve several other regularly-used ‘M’ rangefinders at home: an early ’54 M3, an M5, an M4-P [besides an M-fit CL, CLE, Epson R-D1, etcetera, and several pre-‘M’ Leicas: a couple of IIs and a couple of IIIs, some Russian copies, a couple of English Reids, and so on].

    So I’m not ‘unused’ to rangefinders; indeed I have stacks of them (Chiyoda/Minolta, Konica, Contax, etc). And, as I think you’re saying, “..each to her or his own”.

    That’s fine by me: some people like chicken, some like beef, some are vegetarians. Some like rangefinders, some like SLRs, some like automatic cameras, some like manual cameras. Fine! But aren’t we all allowed to express our thoughts and, perhaps, preferences here?

    My job used to be – oh; I’m 74 by the way, although I do prefer to think that I’m 18 – ‘Technical Editor’ of one of the UK’s most-bought photography magazines, so my job was to analyse and examine and test many scores of different cameras – back in the film era – and their lenses, and all the associated paraphernalia (flashguns, developing tanks, enlargers, chemicals, lens-grinding and coating machinery, focusing devices, MTF testbeds, and all the rest of it). So I do have some reasonable experience of photography, and the various varieties of cameras – and other processes – which are used to achieve it.

    I have no problem with your – or anyone’s – delight in using a rangefinder! Or with someone else’s preference for a ‘point-&-shoot’ Box Brownie!

    But, having been in the publishing business, I s’pose I do wonder why some people are so influenced by stories and legends about particular motor-bikes, or cameras, or audio recording machines (tape recorders and mics) and so forth, without themselves objectively analysing what they read or hear. Some people seem to – unconsciously? – bias themselves towards a particular type of device ..whether it’s a style of camera, like an SLR or rangefinder, or auto-focus or manual-focus.. but may be blinkered against those devices’ shortcomings.

    The M3 rangefinder was – and is – a terrific camera: almost silent, easy to focus, with its 90%-life-size viewfinder, and I often use it when I go visiting (..or went visiting, pre-Covid..) those European cities where I think my father-in-law (it was originally his) would have taken it: Graz, Vienna, Venice, Paris, Munich, Berlin, Athens, and so on. But – in my opinion, anyway – things went downhill from there: Leica viewfinders were standardised down to 70%-life-size (..making everything smaller and more difficult to focus on..) the cameras continued to be heavy (..which was justifiable with the all-mechanical M3, but was clearly shown to be unnecessary when the original small, lightweight CL was built – though admittedly built by Minolta in Japan, as Leitz couldn’t manage it..) and what people had originally liked – or loved! – about the Leitz rangefinder became devalued and under-developed as Leitz ran out of money and of the will to innovate: Yashica made the zooming-rangefinder Contax G, but Leitz didn’t manage that; Cosina made the 100%-life-size finder for their own Bessa (and for Epson and Zeiss) rangefinders, but Leitz/Leica couldn’t manage that. Leica continued to create great lenses, but built only a continuing succession of slight variations of 1954’s M3 ..which is what we have today with the M11.

    The old pre-‘M’ screw-fit Leicas had variable-magnification finders ..but not the M-series ..unless you buy a high-priced fiddly screw-on-screw-off adaptor. My M7 has an 80%-life-size ‘easy-focus’ finder, but is an 80% or 90% finder available for the M11? I don’t think so. The M11 is less easy to focus than the M3 of nearly seventy years ago!

    I have nothing against rangefinders per se, and I was taking pictures the day before yesterday – along with Mike – using several assorted rangefinder cameras. (In the days of SLR cameras, rangefinders were generally quieter than SLRs – which had noisy slapping mirrors – and that was part of their appeal ..and they had less inside to go wrong).

    But rangefinders haven’t really progressed since 1954. And while I like a charming Sunbeam-Talbot or Jaguar E-type motor car as much as the next person, the cars of today – though generally without as much charm – are easier to drive and are much more efficient.

    So although I do use a wide variety of rangefinders (Leica, Epson, Contax, Konica, Reid, and many more whose names I can’t remember) I also try to keep objective about what various cameras can and cannot do ..while also using them, like you say, as “..an artist..”

    As you’re happy with your rangefinders ..great! And if you want to despise my preferred camera(s) ..great! Why on earth should you, or I, ever feel upset if we disagree about something? Claus appears to think that the M11 is the bees knees. But I don’t. So what? Isn’t there room here for all opinions and explanations?

    Yours,
    David.

    • Dear David,
      no question at all: there ist room here for all opinions. And no doubt at all: you are an expert.
      But due to your comments above, today I found some funny “translations” in leo.org for the German Saying: “Der Ton macht die Musik.”:
      “C’est le ton qui fait la chanson”.
      Or:
      “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.”
      Or:
      “C’e modo e modo di dire le cose.”
      Or as some would say:
      “It’s the wording, stupid!”
      Best greetings,
      Andreas

    • David, a few points need clarification and/or commenting on ( if you don’t mind)…
      “built by Minolta in Japan as Leitz couldn’t manage it.”
      Oh yes they certainly could, but not at a competitive price because of the significant difference in labor cost between Europe and the Far East at that time, and in sufficient quantities – hence the collaboration with Minolta whose factories in Osaka were already designed and set up for larger scale production.
      Leitz could also develop an autofocus system but chose not to produce it due to limitations with the accuracy of the system. When the technology appeared in 1985 in the Minolta 7000 ( now I wonder where Minolta got that idea from? ) the Minolta’s focusing worked rather like R2D2 with little whirring and beeping noises and the lens moving backward and forward until it found ( or didn’t) focus.
      “Rangefinders haven’t really progressed since 1954” Progression is not always the point.
      The rangefinder was already working successfully and the reason Leica survived the transition to digital was, that they were making that very product and there was a consistent demand for it, especially so in Japan of all places where there was certainly no shortage of innovation in camera tech. Minolta, with markets worldwide and one of the big five manufacturers had some of the most advanced tech. They are now gone. Leica is not only still here but now has one of the strongest line up of products in their history. Yes, some of this is due to management, ownership and corporate decisions but technology and progression doesn’t always create products which function better. Leica knows this and that is why the rangefinder is still there.
      A good example of how technology doesn’t always make better products? These days we have a plethora of wireless speakers, the luxury models of which are extremely expensive. They are convenient to use and to listen to, because you can connect your phone and music library in seconds. Yet how come my antiquated music system from the 70’s with a cassette deck of all things ( and maybe the audio equivalent of the rangefinder in terms of vintage ) sounds much, much superior to the latest digitally sound processed device which clearly distorts at higher volume levels?
      “Yashica made the zooming rangefinder Contax G” Technically speaking, and by way of clarification, this was actually made by Kyocera, parent company of both Contax and Yashica but two different brands. Yashica didn’t really have anything to do with the Contax G series.
      Today Leica offers customers a choice. EVF on the CL, Q2 and SL series cameras or the rangefinder for those who enjoy the traditional experience. Good for them!
      The problem today is that, like DP review staff, so many people think that the best cameras are only the ones that have the most pixels and the most features and the fastest focussing and…
      (well you get the idea ) but we photographers know that’s not what it’s really about, right?

      • Thanks, Stephen,

        Yes, we photographers know that it’s not really about adding extra pixels.

        You say.. ‘“built by Minolta in Japan as Leitz couldn’t manage it.” Oh yes they certainly could, but not at a competitive price because of the significant difference in labor cost between Europe and the Far East at that time, and in sufficient quantities..’

        Well, that was my point: Leitz couldn’t manage it ..at a competitive price because of the significant difference in labour cost between Europe and the Far East at that time, and in sufficient quantities ..or whatever other reason.

        [And – bizarrely – Leitz management didn’t see that the one-third-smaller camera – the CL – with almost all of the same capabilities as Leitz’ new bigger, heavier TTL-metering ‘M5’ would utterly cannibalise sales of the M5 ..leading to almost bankruptcy in ’75 and then to the sale of the company.]

        “Leitz could also develop an autofocus system..” ..yup, but they didn’t do anything with it, and handed it to Minolta, who did develop it ..and that’s what we have in most cameras today.

        ‘“Rangefinders haven’t really progressed since 1954” Progression is not always the point’.

        So why aren’t we driving the same cars today as in 1954, or still broadcasting radio in mono, and watching TV in black-&-white, or still listening to recordings on 78rpm shellac discs? How come we can now make phone calls ..pretty much instantly.. to anywhere in the world? In 1954, I seem to remember, we had to dial ‘0’ for the operator – on the ‘landline’ telephone – to book ahead for a ‘trunk call’ to London from, say, Manchester ..and have to be connected to the London International Telephone Exchange on Farringdon Road to book a call to, say, Nairobi for, what, two hours hence? Now just touch a few virtual buttons on your mobile phone ..and you’re connected, anywhere in the world. Which d’you prefer, the old way or the new way?

        I do use my 1954 ‘analogue’ M3 ..but to get access to its photos I have to do what I did in 1954 ..rewind the film into its cassette, then wind the film (in the dark, of course, or using a ‘daylight-loading’ tank) onto a spiral film-holder, and put that into a tank, slosh some chemical soup around it, pour that away and use a ‘wash’, pour in some more chemical soup (unless I’m using ‘Monobath’ developer), pour that out and give the film another wash, hang it up to dry, put it in an enlarger to make prints, or scan it with a ..oh, no; there were no digital scanners in 1954.. well, ignoring the anachronism, scan it, then display it on my computer (..Lyons tea houses had their Leo computer in 1954, but there weren’t any ‘home computers’ back then..) and maybe print it on my home inkjet printer (..of which there were none in 1954).

        “..Progression is not always the point..” ..it’s not, but it helps, unless you want to live in 1954 today.

        Here’s the thing; Leica decided that staying with film wasn’t viable, and so modernised ..to stay viable, and put a sensor and electronics into their first ‘digital M’, the M8. They “made progress”. They didn’t simply stick with old photochemical technology. Then they upgraded the sensor to ‘full-frame’ size in the M9. Then they ‘upgraded’ from a slow CCD sensor to a faster CMOS sensor in the (no model number) ‘M’ and boosted the megapixel count to 24 mpxl (including a video capability). Then they reckoned the video capability wasn’t wanted, and dispensed with it in the next – are we up to M10 yet? – iteration.

        But then – realising that every digital M had a noisy shutter – they progressed further, and almost silenced the shutter with the introduction of the M10-P (and M10-R). That was “progress”. Oh, and they upgraded to 40mpxl with the M10-R. And now the pixel count has been increased to 60mpxl with the M11 (with the option of dropping back down to 36mpxl or 18mpxl for those who prefer that).

        So since the initial M8, the sensor has been made bigger, the sensor speed has been increased (via CCD to CMOS), the megapixel count has been repeatedly increased, the shutter’s been made quieter (..now optionally silent in the M11..) and all the electronics (..plus the mechanical shutter..) have been continuously upgraded.

        But what about the ‘window on the world’ ..the mechanical rangefinder/viewfinder through which the photographer looks to take a photo?

        Some may think (Stefan Daniel?) that it’s absolutely perfect, and that it doesn’t need any alteration or improvement. Maybe that’s thought to be part of Leica’s ‘Unique Selling Point’. But ..as we’re all very civilised here.. perhaps I might be allowed a contrary opinion. May I..?

        Leitz repeatedly upgraded and improved the viewfinder/rangefinder in the pre-M days: the original Leica had NO rangefinder, the Version II had a built-in rangefinder with separate windows for seeing the focus and for viewing the overall scene (plus a built-in adjustment for the photographer’s sight), the Version III moved those two viewing windows closer together to make the finder simpler to use, and with (limited) easy-to-use focus magnification; the last of the III series – and the first of the M series – combined the range-finding and view-finding into a single window (long after Zeiss had done that with the Contax and Canon had done it with their Leica lookalikes) ..and with autotomatically-selected built-in framelines for the (optional) 90mm and 135mm lenses!

        But then the viewfinder magnification was reduced from 90% to 80% with the M2, to show the view seen by a 35mm lens. Then the view was diminished even more with the M4-P, to cover the view of a 28mm lens. A few bodies were made available with – optionally – 60% or 80% life-size finders, but the standard was consistently 70% life-size (which still persists today).

        Where is the flip-into-view finder magnification for longer (e.g; 90mm and 135mm) lenses, as on the 1941 Kodak Ektra? Doesn’t exist. Where’s the flip-into-view wide-angle finder view (for 24mm and 21mm lenses)? Doesn’t exist. (You’re supposed to buy and clip on the hideously-bulky-with-a-separate-viewing-but-not-focusing-window ‘Frankenfinder’ ..but why?)

        Loyal Leica customers – or aspiring customers – are told that this inability to view wide angle lenses through the finder is, er, ‘part of the Leica tradition’ ..or some such rubbish.

        Two flip-into-view adaptors – which could be flipped into the finder via the lens bayonet tab, as with the framing lines, or by the 6-bit coding, or by the existing manual-selection frame-lines lever – would fix this at a stroke.

        But Leica (Stefan Daniel?) seems to consider that the finder ‘..is how we’ve always done it..’ and that there’s no room or need for improvement. Leica seems to want to brainwash the customer – or potential customer – into believing such defeatist nonsense. Leica’s concentration has been on the electronics since the M8, and they don’t seem to care a jot for the mechanical anachronism of the poorer-than-lifesize, only-as-wide-as-28mm, ‘superimpose-those-distant-teeny-lines’ viewfinder.

        It’d be interesting to know how many NEW customers Leica sells to each year, rather than just selling newer models to existing loyal customers. As people come into money in China, Russia and all points East, so Leica sells these old-fashioned-viewfinder cameras to them, for the Leica is positioned as an expensive ‘aspirational’ product ..as in “Wow, you’ve got a Leica: I envy you!”

        Despite its multi-megapixel presence with the M11, it is still – mechanically – stuck back in 1954. Or, perhaps, to be generous, back in 1980 ..when the 28mm-to-135mm viewfinder first appeared. But that’s still 22 years ago.

        You may like it. You may adore it ..as does Claus, it seems, and Brian and others.

        My opinion is that it’s WELL past its sell-by date, and all the PR and advertising and hagiography and devotion cannot disguise – this is rather like the Emperor’s New Clothes, isn’t it? – that it’s an outdated finder, and that no-one at Leica has really had the honesty and integrity to say “we should turn our attention to this archaic finder and update it for the 21st Century” ..perhaps thereby boosting sales, too.

        So, once again, as you said, “..we photographers know that it’s not really about adding extra pixels..” ..I do so agree; it isn’t: it’s actually about making the outdated viewfinder something really useful, instead of its being stuck in a long-ago fairyland.

        • First of all to Claus. This is a lovely article with great photos. I love the old wireless set with the IIIc and the M2. The OKARO orange filter is often necessary with the IIIc because of rangefinder image issues with materials from the immediate post WWII period, which brings me along to David’s points about focus aids.

          I am about 2 years younger than you, David, and I have eyesight issues as a result of a detached retina and cataracts. As a collector, I have a large number of Leica rangefinder cameras, maybe 30 to 40, and most of them are easy to use. At the moment I am holding off on ordering my M11 until I hear from my eye doctor next week. I am hoping that I all that I need is just laser treatment and some new glasses.

          I took my M10 out today and I managed pretty well apart from some double imaging in the viewfinder making it difficult to tell if I had focussed correctly. I agree absolutely that the M3 has the best rangefinder set up in respect of a 50mm lens and has not been improved upon since its introduction nearly 70 years ago. I have used EVFs with the Ms, but, leaving aside my eyesight issues, the rangefinder is still the best method to get what I want from an M camera. I have used EVFs with autofocus cameras and they are fine, once I can hold the point of focus.

          As for going back to the way that we used to do things many years ago, I have no issue with doing that. I like listening to Louis Armstrong on 78s, the original medium for his greatest recordings, and I make no apology for that. As Mike will confirm, I am not a hipster nor a poser of any kind, just somebody who knows what he likes. I suspect that in that respect we are probably alike. We all have our own preferences when it comes to cameras and photography.

          William

        • Hmm David
          First of all the Rangefinder really has changed – and especially in the years since the M8, tolerances have been reduced and it has become brighter and much more accurate.

          The EVF (especially that of the M11) has made it much easier to focus with telephoto lenses and super-wides.

          I’m a great deal older than you, and so I feel I have the right to consider your post to be that of a grumpy old man!

          I like Claus’s article, and I think that the M11 is a cracking evolution of the M cameras (which are a wonder in terms of technical longevity!)

          Maybe you should go try one?
          best
          Jono

          • “..The EVF (especially that of the M11) has made it much easier to focus with telephoto lenses and super-wides..”

            Absolutely! But that’s the add-on Electronic View Finder. I have no complaints about that. I’ve been moaning about the Optical View Finder

            “..the M11 is a cracking evolution of the M cameras (which are a wonder in terms of technical longevity!)

            Maybe you should go try one?..”

            But I have done, otherwise I wouldn’t be qualified to complain ..or even discuss it! As mentioned above, Mike and I went out for a walk a couple of days ago – a walk along the Thames – and we used an M11, an M10-P (mine), I used an M9, too ..oh and an M7 ..just to compare them all ..and a Ricoh GXR, and a Sony A7RII with a Contax G 45mm lens on it ..again ..just to compare, and to see how the results differed, or were similar (I haven’t yet developed the film from the M7).

            The M11 – to me; others’ mileage may vary, of course – seemed no different from the M10-P (..except when using the silent electronic shutter ..whose only indication I could see that it had fired was a brief brightness on the rear screen of the camera: I didn’t see any indication in the glass viewfinder ..I hope there’s some indication in the EVF).

            No; there WAS a difference between the M11 and the M10-P ..the M11 is more complicated: there are MORE options in the Menus ..and the (optional?) Touchscreen, when used with Menus, can inadvertently change some settings there without your noticing, if accidentally touched! (I think Mike had some problem with that, with some accidental changes to the settings of the ‘Status Screen’ Menu symbols ..which are something else I don’t like ..I can understand words, but some of that double-row of symbols on the Menu screen are NOT very intuitive ..and I couldn’t find – even after repeatedly poring through the 177-page instruction manual – how to turn OFF that touch screen during Menu access!)

            The full-res 60 mpxl DNG results were, of course, very detailed, and allowed enormous after-shooting zooming in and cropping with plenty of detail still remaining. Mike had considerable trouble with his jpgs, though ..but I’ll leave him to describe that, and later this week we’re going to try to find out why they ‘came out wrong’, so to speak.

            Would I take an M11 over an M10-P..? Well, I haven’t tried the electronically-stabilised EVF ..but I think that’s the only improvement – for me – which would make an M11 possibly worthwhile. For general shooting; no.

            I would – seriously – have no use for the 60 megapixel mode. For me, it’s absolute overkill. And apart from the 60 megapixels, it seems – to me! – to be an M10-P with a stabilised EVF. Oh, and with a really annoying touchscreen.

            Sorry.

          • Hi David, I basically agree with you that an M11 isn’t that different from an M10-P. Or even from an M-P type 240, for that matter, a camera that Mike doesn’t seem to like that much, but that I personally do like a lot. Because, since when is the historically defined thickness of the beautiful M7 supposed to be the ideal? Who says so? That thickness (I suppose) is just the consequence of the once chosen diameter of the 36-frame film cassette. Why shouldn’t the slightly thicker body of the M(-P) 240 not be the ideal? It might provide an enhanced grip of the camera, and it does makes the camera less front-heavy with my favorite Summilux 50 ASPH. attached. The M-P 240’s strap protections on the top plate, the multifunctional on-off switch (which obviates another menu option), the large RGB histogram, the large battery capacity, the ultimate scratch-resistant quartz glass of the screen (!), and even the possibility to make the occasional video, an M-P 240 with the slightly more sensitive 24 MP sensor and the more silent shutter of the M-P 10 could well be my ideal camera. The extra thickness of the M-P 240 might even provide the necessary space for sensor-based image stabilization. There’s always something to moan about, isn’t it?

          • The M11 for me is a completely intuitive camera, I haven’t looked at the manual yet. No, the “status screen” can’t be bypassed, nor can it be made “touch-insensitive”. But I suppose it’s a very good thing that Leica unified the UI of the different M, Q, SL camera lines (don’t know about the CL or T cameras). And, in practice it will only take a little time to get used to, you probably would miss it after a while, once you’re used to the M11. Or, you simply push the Fn button twice every time, to reach for either your Favorites (if customized), or the traditional menus. But yes, there IS an indication that you triggered the electronic shutter, the shutter-time indication in the viewer “disappears”, or rather changes to “- – -“, for a brief moment, once you take a picture with the electronic shutter. Just trust your camera. And I suppose it’s also a very good thing that Leica has chosen a state-of-the-art 60 MP BSI sensor in this new camera. No, most of us really don’t need 60 MP, but then what if Leica had chosen the “sweet spot” 24 MP sensor resolution again for the M11? Only imagine the headlines: “why only 24 MP?”, “no match for the competition”, “not SOTA”, “already an obsolete camera”. Sensors aren’t shoes, there isn’t a size for everyone. If Leica could have chosen a 33,33 MP sensor, then we probably would have read: “why such an odd resolution?” I think they just did it right by providing the additional 36 MP and 18 MP options. Just choose the 36 MP option and never look back, or choose the 18 MP option, to get back that good old M9 feeling. And for the occasional once-in-a-lifetime picture that you really want to print at a width of 1 meter, choose 60 MP. Simply brilliant. The only thing I have to get used to is the sound of the shutter opening up every time I power up, and closing down after I shut down the camera…

        • Good points David and some I agree with. I did find it odd that they changed so many things on the M11 … EXCEPT the viewfinder. when they could have made it better. ( magnification, frame lines, precise alignment )We are in full accordance there!
          I’ll also be entirely honest and say that when it came time to upgrade my Leica gear I went for the SL2s instead of an M10 variant primarily because of the size of the viewfinder screen and close focus ability with a wide range of lenses.
          I still think the M11 is a capable camera for those who want it. There are two ways of looking at it…The Leica M is past its sell by date, as you say. (But it, clearly isn’t because it is still selling well! Or…Leica have done an amazing job of updating it for the 21st Century while maintaining a focus system that a lot of people still want to use.
          No I don’t want to go back to 1954, (but 1974 will do nicely! I was happier then and I was certainly happier before everything in life needed a phone and a computer)

  8. Dear all and thank you very much, Claus.

    I first read your review on messsucherwelt of course and I am delighted to see that it is so well read (and discussed) here. This is more than justified in my eyes because both the review and the author are very competent. And, as always, I very much appreciate to read from someohne who works with such a camera in real life and who shows the results of this process. Wunderful pictures and well selected because the prove what you claim in the text. This is the way I wish all reviews were.

    As to the discussion with David B. I think, David just has some fun in provoking a discussion. There is no rangefinder religion and no Leica Creed. It’s just one option in a market full of choices. I agree with you, Claus, that working with a classic rangefinder is great fun, and it will give you good results if you know how to work instinctively. Many of us like this workflow (including Claus and I), other dislike it. Neither side is wrong or right. I am conviced that the M11 is a great camera, an excellent piece of engineering and as a product up to date. Others will claim that for a Nikon Z9, and they are right, too. But it is the case and will remain the case that I prefer the Leica.

    I think you all can imagine that I have thought about the idea objectivity for all my professional life as a journalist. That’s 30 years now, and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for (that ist: an answer). What I achieved however is the conviction that objectivity is more of a concept than a state of affairs. And what I know that exists: The right balance between closeness and distance. If you publish something with the attitude of informing somebody, you are well advised to keep in mind that you are walking an very thin line. You have to be close to your topic in order to have the insight. And you have to keep a certain distance to understand what you are doing. And Claus walks this fine line – in my eyes – with an almost sleepwalking confidence.

    All the best, JP

    • The right balance between closeness and distance. That’s fantastic!, J P. I have this in mind since long ago when taking street photographs (absolute must for me: kinda to be or not to be), and first time I see someone mentioning. Never, no one. After many workshops and tons of readings

  9. Interesting review and even more interesting discussion … Yet, I am missing a healthy portion of Claus’ sarcasm that is otherwise so typical and entertaining with his articles. And this topic almost cries for sarcasm doen’t it? A 60 Mp sensor in a rangefinder!? Who needs this? Leicanians like us who are getting older and jealously look at increasing pixel size sensors with the mirrorless competition? Now we can say we have a 60 Mp sensor. Let’s challenge our ability to use the rangefinder in achieving optimal sharpness with 60 Mp. And the lack of sensor stabilization certainly helps here; when I switch off IBIS with my alpha 7R IV there is a marked increase in blurry images, so not sure I can confirm Claus’ statement here. Just knowing you have 60 Mp but buying this to use it in 36 or even 18 Mp mode … interesting consideration. I do agree with Claus that the 24 Mp sensor of the M10 is superb and the question really is what we gain here. May be the base plate. The review certainly helped me to foster my state of happiness with the M10, and that it will need other breakthroughs for me to step up to the next model.

    • Hi Kay
      Your 7R IV is considerably lighter, and has a louder shutter than the M11, so although the sensor might be the same as the M11 it’s likely to be more challenged to get maximum sharpness without IBIS.
      On the other hand, 6 months shooting with 60mp on the M11 has taught me that on a lot of occasions you really do take advantage of the higher resolution, and on the occasions when you don’t, then you haven’t lost anything over smaller resolutions.
      It’s important to understand that shooting at a lower resolution never gives you better image resolution.

  10. Hi There Claus
    What a great article – balanced and entertaining, and I’m rather shame faced that you managed something so good after 3 days with the camera!

    Anyway, I think you’ve nailed the benefits, of course, for some users they might prefer a Sony A1 or whatever, but I think Leica have managed to make a seriously wonderful camera, playing to the strengths of the rangefinder concept without ever compromising it.

    With the wonderful image quality, the EVF when you need it, the croppability of the 60mp sensor I think that Leica have hit a home run this time!

    And your article is a pleasure to read.
    Best
    Jono

    • Thanks Jono,

      that means a lot to me!

      Over all the years that a Leica has accompanied me, it was always your reviews that gave me the best impression of what to expect, be it a new camera or a lens.
      Just like this time.
      I’m also very grateful for your assessment of the rangefinder’s utility value. Like you, I use it about 80% of the time and it enables me to be fast and efficient with it. It is still a great tool for me. Emphasis is on “for me”.
      Everyone can and may see it differently. But personally, no one can prove the opposite to me by giving me endless explanations. A quote from Hamlet comes to mind: “The Lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

      Keep up the good work, kind regards,

      Claus

      • Hi there Claus
        And thank you for the kind words – I might have been doing it for a long time, but I’m still nervous about it and grateful when people appreciate it.

        I still think the rangefinder is the best for manual focus – even though I have old eyes (I use contact lenses). But I think it’s much more about practice than eyesight – but it’s a commitment to keep in practice. I think you need to use it every day!

        I don’t think he’s a lady . . . . 🙂

        and you keep up the good work too!
        all the very best

  11. Not sure whether I’m older or younger than the respondents to Claus’ enthusiastic report , but just past my 80th and successful cataract surgery, and certainly not grumpy, I have always found the M rangefinder better than any enlargement or peaking on a digital evf. I’m very happy with my M10 and Q2, which give me the benefit of auto focus/ large enough files and the incomparable M rendering where needed. And since reviews note very little difference in normal use between M10 files and M11 files I shall be happy to wait until the black M11 is priced OB or near mint used and enjoy the lighter heft! I’ve ordered the new finder though since I also love using my R and VM lenses —- And I really enjoy these spirited discussions!

      • Also, as a matter of interest, I think the new evf works at a lower resolution on the M10 but have not researched it yet.

        • Yep, the new evf will be 2.4MP on the M10 with the coming soon firmware update. I am thinking of buying one for my M10 monochrom to see the tonal response with my yellow, orange, red filters.

          Tony, and others that appreciate rangefinders, you might want to look into the amazing golden contrast eyepiece the replaces the Leica one. It makes it much easier to focus the rangefinder and can be purchased with your prescription so that you do not need to wear glasses. I had one on my M240 and it was of Leica quality. I am going to order one without my prescription as that changes and prefer glasses on to see distance clearly. Check out walterleica.com.

  12. Good Morning Claus – I am playing a little light reading catch up – thought I would read your wonderful article, and then spent an hour attempting to get beyond the lengthy discussion beneath the article, so much so – I have had to read the article twice. 🤣

    For me, I would be interested in seeing a future update, seeing what images and situations you get in to with the M11, and what the results are.

    Best wishes Dave

  13. Best photocolleages

    Long time ago as a medical student travelling through birma with Minolta cle 3 lens set and later for 14 years M6
    I love the newer M verslons a lot
    M240 ME M10 M and R are great
    I think the M 11 is more of the future and love it.
    I sold the qp for the lighter black alu version and its great
    Dont hesitate and live because life can be short
    Docter eric oelrich Netherlands

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