Leica has a reputation for making stellar cameras at astronomical prices. However, you get what you pay for, as the saying goes. We can, however, take cameras for granted due to their ubiquity these days with just about every price imaginable covered. Leica targets customers at the very high end of the camera market and targets this audience with extremely refined, high-tech products that deliver precision optics and performance using the best possible materials and technologies.
Leica’s rich history is exemplified by the new Leica M11 rangefinder (manual focus only and optical viewfinder), the latest in the revered M-series that dates back almost 70 years (via Leica). It continues with the familiar and iconic design aesthetic. Leica says there are at least 40 improvements over the M10 model it replaces, but these are largely inside the device.
Externally, the biggest change is the removal of the bottom plate which required a significant amount of work to remove each time the device’s battery needed to be replaced. The M11 now has a simple flap with a clip (similar to those you’ll find on most competing cameras) for quick removal and replacement of its new cartridge-style battery. A USB-C port now also sits below.
A unique triple resolution 60MP BSI CMOS sensor
The biggest upgrade of the Leica M11 comes from its brand new 60MP BSI CMOS sensor. This is the first back-illuminated sensor to feature in the M-series and should help deliver shots with much lower noise, especially in low-light situations at higher ISOs. In fact, the M11 can shoot at ISOs ranging from 64 to 50,000.
The M11 can also shoot in three resolutions (triple resolution technology) using the entire sensor without the need to crop using pixel binning at lower resolutions. These are 60MP (with 14 stops of dynamic range), 36MP and 18MP (both with 15 stops of dynamic range) full resolution shots, all in 14-bit color and RAW. This unique capability should allow photographers to strike a happy medium between resolution and noise balance.
Shooting at 60MP will naturally consume a large amount of storage space. A 60MP shot will take between 70-120MB for a DNG RAW file, while this can be reduced to just 20MB with the resolution set to 18MP. Luckily, Leica has integrated 64 GB of on-board storage which can also be supplemented with an SD card. The extra storage will come in handy if you consider that the new Maestro III chip can process frames at up to 4.5fps in continuous shooting.
The Leica M11 is available in all black and silver-chrome colors and is available now for a base price of $8,995.