The release of a new M camera is always huge; M is Leica.
The M system was introduced almost 60 years ago with the ground-breaking Leica M3. Now with the 11thgeneration, M11 merges the classic world of rangefinders with the modern, connected world of photography.
M11 introduces lots of new features and technologies that are game changing for the M system.
I have had the opportunity to try M11 for a week or so here are 11 things I love after some time with M11.
The headline new feature of new M11 is the new BSI CMOS 60MP sensor. For the first time with any Leica camera the user can choose the DNG resolution of the sensor to use either 60, 36 or 18 MP – but what’s the point?
There is a new technology in the sensor called Pixel Binning. This gives the ability of the pixels of the sensor to combine, so 4 pixels work as 1. The beauty of this technology is that it gives you the dynamic range or a smaller sensor with the sharpness and detail of a larger megapixel sensor.
When using M11 in L-DNG (60MP) mode, the dynamic range is the same as M10-R. If the camera is used in M-DNG or S-DNG (36/18MP) mode, there is an extra stop of dynamic range – how cool is that!
Paint is back
After the black chrome finish of M10, black paint is back. As always with M, M11 feels great in the hand. The new top plate of the black camera is manufactured from a billet of aluminium instead of traditional brass. It is 20% lighter than the brass topped silver chrome camera, and it feels significant.
Leica have also given M11 a new paint finish to previous painted M’s. It has an incredibly robust textured feel designed to withstand the rigours of a lifetimes use.
Built in memory
M11 comes as standard with a built in 64GB storage. Out of the box, in L-DNG mode that’s enough storage for over 500 images. M11 borrows features from the dual SD card slot on Leica SL2 & SL2-S too, meaning should you wish to use the internal storage to back up, split or follow on your SD card you can work it in with your workflow.
In the digital age of Leica M, the available metering modes were dependent on if you were shooting in live view or through the traditional rangefinder. M11 allows Multi-field light metering in Rangefinder mode – the slight lag has now gone!
The battery and charging of M11 is a huge upgrade. Don’t worry about the removal of the baseplate, the system that has been developed is brilliant. Again, borrowed from SL2 the battery is part of the chassis of the camera and can be changed in seconds. Charging is via USB-C meaning that any USB-C charging plug/cable can be used (Apple Macbook’s, iPads, Android Phones). The integrated USB-C port on the camera even means that the battery can be topped up in the camera on the go!
For the first time since M8, M11 has a fastest shutter speed faster than 1/4000 second. The electronic shutter means that the fastest shutter speed is now 1/16000 of a second. This means that a Summilux or even a Noctilux on a bright sunny day can be used without an ND filter.
Customisation on M11 has moved on from M10 generation cameras. The new menu system and button array on the rear of the camera will be familiar to SL2, Q2 and CL users.
The front custom button moves to the top of the camera in a much more accessible location, and the rear thumb wheel is not only usable for exposure compensation and magnification as before but is also clickable so again can be used for another function.
M11 gives you the ability to switch off the Noise Reduction system before taking your shot. You may need to do some noise reduction in post-production, however waiting 30 minutes for a 15 minute exposure is no longer necessary.
New Visoflex and Live View improvements
The Visoflex (Typ 020) has served us well, but M11 brings with it the introduction of a new Electronic Viewfinder. I have always been a rangefinder shooter but the Visoflex 2 is a great addition.
Q2 users will feel right at home with Visoflex 2, with an identical specification of 3.68MP (over 50% more pixels than Visoflex (Typ 020)). Visoflex 2 also uses OLED technology meaning that blacks are 100% accurate, giving a much more realistic view through the EVF. Visoflex 2 will also be compatible with M10 generation cameras after a firmware update (expected March 2020).
Live View in M11 is improved also. To utilise the super sharp screen and Visoflex 2, Image Stabilisation has been introduced. This is great for critical focus when using fast lenses and the magnification aid to make sure you get the shot you want.
Made for iPhone
Released with M11 is Leica FOTOS 3.0. This brings lots of great new features which are designed to work with M11. Included with all M11’s is the new Leica FOTOS cable which plugs straight into iPhones running Leica FOTOS. As M11 is MFi certified, as soon as the cable is plugged into your iPhone, Leica FOTOS launches, and you have a wired connection between M11 and Leica FOTOS.
A full features blog for Leica FOTOS 3.0 will be coming soon on leicastoremanchester.com
Some ace new accessories
Leica have really looked to improve the accessories for M11 over it.
The new baseplate on the M11 means ubiquitous Leather protector (finally!!) has a door to remove the battery and memory card without removing the case from the camera (no more coins damaging screws).
The new hand grip is brilliant. Like the protector, you can change the battery and memory card without removing it every time. Handgrip for M11 is also ARCA-SWISS meaning it just slots straight onto any compatible tripod (The Peak Design x Leica Carbon Tripod works fantastically with it).
Make sure to check out our full M11 collection for the full range.
That’s it, my initial thoughts on M11. We have a demo camera in store from launch on Thursday 13th January to play with and please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Ben Stephens - Leica Store Manchester