The Leica M falls squarely into the well-known tradition of Leica cameras: discreet, handcrafted German design that is built to last and boasts precision optics. The new full-frame digital Leica was released last year, but has already proved so popular that demand has exceeded production.
In an era where the image-conscious public seem wary of photographers, intimate results require a compact camera. Originally developed to be compact, portable and durable, the Leica was one of the first cameras developed for the 35mm film format, enabling photographers to be more nimble and less visible. Photojournalists and street photographers alike embraced the brand, including a pantheon of icons of the photographic tradition: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Diane Arbus and Bruce Davidson to name but a few.
In line with the principles of the Leica philosophy, the functions and features of the Leica M are designed for a long working life. It features a machined top deck and base plate, full-metal chassis cast from high-strength magnesium alloy and rubber seals to protect the camera body against dust, spray and moisture.
Coming into the digital age, the Leica M is the first of the M series to feature live view, video, and live view focusing in addition to the traditional rangefinder focus on this fully manual focus camera. This means that for the first time, images can be composed using the actual image produced by the lens rather than having to work only with the bright lines through the rangefinder. The camera’s large, high-resolution three-inch monitor allows precise assessment of the subject seen through the lens. This opens up entirely new opportunities that previously lay beyond the limitations of rangefinder photography, such as macro and telephoto exposures, or using the monitor for composition.
The new Live View Zoom option enables up to 10x magnification for precise assessment of sharpness. A second digital focusing aid—the Live View Focus Peaking system—fringes the contours of the subject in red lines when the item you are focusing on is sharp, allowing for quick and accurate assessment of focus.
The Leica M has a newly developed high-resolution full-format CMOS sensor that, in combination with its high-performance processor and the legendary M lenses, delivers outstanding imaging results. Leica’s R-range lenses can also be used with an adaptor.
Not only is the camera small, but it is also spare. Spare in its design and simple in terms of the functions accessible through the camera’s interface. This is no criticism—Leica has always been focused on image-making and the design and layout of the camera emphasises that, allowing quick access to things you actually need, laid out in an intuitive way so you can get on with making pictures.
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