Leica M11 First Impressions: It Might Truly Be Your Main Digital camera

Leica M11 First Impressions Review

Leica has lastly formally revealed the M11 Rangefinder, letting us lastly put all of the rumors of what we could or could not count on to relaxation. Now that it’s right here, what has 5 years of improvement given us?

Leica’s latest version to its legendary M line of cameras, which started with the Leica M3 sixty-eight years in the past in 1954, has been introduced: the Leica M11. It’s the successor to the Leica M10, which was launched virtually precisely 5 years in the past at a value of $6,495.

The Leica M11 has been hotly anticipated, with rumors swirling about its specs: will it have a hybrid OVF/EVF? Will it solely use a touchscreen and no buttons? Will Leica do away with the baseplate? Let’s dig into it.

Editor’s observe: The next is an prolonged hands-on preview of the Leica M11, however shouldn’t be thought-about a full overview. The digital camera PetaPixel was offered for analysis was pre-production and firmware was not ultimate.

Particular because of Lensrentals for offering a number of the lenses used through the M11 analysis. A full listing of obtainable gear each for rental and on the market could be perused Lensrentals.com.

What’s New with the Leica M11?

Let’s get the headline specs out of the way in which. The Leica M11 incorporates a full-frame AA-less 60.3-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor with a base 64 ISO and twin achieve, a newly developed UV/IR reduce filter and RGGB shade filter array, MAESTRO III processing engine, a a lot bigger 1800mAh battery behind which rests a UHS-II SD card slot, 64GB of inner flash storage, pixel-binned 36.5MP and 18.4MP output choices, a USB 3.1 Kind-C port for charging and information switch, and a brand new 3.68 megapixel* tilting Visoflex 2 EVF, which can be appropriate with the Leica M10 (and presumably M10-P, M10-R, and M10 Monochrom) in a firmware replace. The two.95” Energetic Matrix TFT LCD panel — with Gorilla Glass cowl and a couple of.33 million dots — is now touchscreen succesful just like the M10-P.

*I believe this ought to be 3.68 million dots and never megapixels, however I’m going off the press documentation.

The mixing of 64GB of inner flash storage is a really sensible transfer and one which makes quite a lot of sense. I believe by way of the internals and its restricted house, it’s simpler to combine flash storage — which could be situated anyplace inside the physique — quite than squeezing a second card slot subsequent to the primary slot. It additionally has further benefits, primarily that you’re by no means with out the power to take images since you forgot, misplaced, or broken your SD card(s). I believe that switch speeds from the inner storage are additionally quicker and probably the buffer dumping, although I’ve no numbers on this.

Lastly, the value: a whopping $8,995. This represents a 38% improve over the M10’s introductory value of $6,495 — or $7,365 with inflation. That’s a steep value bump, particularly for the bottom mannequin, even contemplating Leica’s historical past of value will increase that outpace inflation (the alternative habits of each different digital camera producer).

The Leica M11 Physique and Menu

The silver lever subsequent to the tripod mount will partially eject the battery

The largest exterior change within the M11 is on the underside — gone (lastly) is the antiquated base plate because the digital camera inherits the identical battery design from the SL, Q, and S2/S3 our bodies. It’s simply one in all my favourite factors of design on any digital camera and extremely fluid in use: flip the lever to partially eject the battery then push a second time to totally unlock and take away it.

Due to this we now 1) have a considerably higher-capacity battery, 2) have simple and fast entry to the SD card slot, 3) not have to take away the digital camera from a tripod to vary batteries or card, 4) have much-improved weather-sealing, and 5) don’t have a base plate to fret about damaging or dropping.

With the battery eliminated, you now have entry to the SD card slot

Two physique choices at the moment are out there: an anodized black aluminum high plate model with a scratch-resistant coating (455 grams wihout the battery) and a traditional chrome brass high plate model (565 grams with out the battery) — each use a magnesium housing.

The 110-gram weight distinction makes the black aluminum possibility about 20% lighter than the chrome brass. I used to be given the black aluminum model, however I used to be in a position to evaluate it in opposition to the silver brass as nicely and the distinction is actually noticeable. It’s an attention-grabbing option to make the black variant aluminum and the silver chrome brass quite than the opposite means round since I really feel like folks have a tendency to love brassed black extra — maybe it’s as a result of silver chrome bonds higher to brass. Nonetheless, I believe the 2 choices are transfer — I will surely get the lighter weight black — although it’s certain to anger some Leica purists.

Just like the M10, the M11 retains the identical ISO dial on the left high aspect. It’s a cool design on paper — it properly mimics the outdated rewind knob of the unique M3 and successor M2 — however not fairly as fluid in observe: it’s only a bit too stiff and recessed sufficient which you could’t get an excellent grip to simply and rapidly pop it up. I believe if it had much less resistance, sufficient that you might pop it up together with your thumb, it might work way more fluidly. For me, it isn’t an enormous deal. I’m both at ISO 64 or in “A” mode 99% of the time, however absolutely guide shooters could not adore it. However, when you didn’t discover it a problem on the M10, you received’t discover it to be one right here both.

ISO Dial within the raised place

The viewfinder stays the identical: 0.73x magnification with framelines for 28/90mm, 35/135mm, and 50/75mm lenses. It’s on par with the most effective Leica viewfinders because the M3, so it stands to motive that if it ain’t broke, why repair it?

The rear of the digital camera stays largely in step with the M10, with three buttons (Play, Fn, Menu) to the left of the display, a four-way directional pad to the fitting, and a clickable command dial that defaults to publicity compensation (after a press, which I disabled) above that. By default, the Fn button cycles the rear LCD on and off — principally, out and in of live-view relying on the way you take a look at it, although both means the sensor is at all times energetic with a view to meter.

Dwell view is electronically stabilized, which does make a noticeable distinction for smoother framing and focusing — the latter is extremely easy with the digital camera’s focus peaking and/or computerized magnification. Word that it’s only the reside view feed that’s stabilized, not the precise photos; you may’t electronically stabilize a single photograph like you may video, in any case.

Fast entry touchscreen menu

Urgent the Menu button as soon as will first deliver you to a customizable Fast Entry* menu at backside of the display and the realm above it reveals your primary capturing settings — above that could be a standing bar together with your storage, flash, and battery data (which drops in 5% increments). The Fast Entry menu lets you regulate essentially the most generally accessed settings with out in depth menu diving and is touch-capable, although sadly, the first menu — accessed by urgent the Menu button a second time — shouldn’t be. I discovered the simplest means to make use of the Fast Entry menu is to faucet the operate you want, then use the rear command dial to regulate the setting — however you are able to do all of it on the touchscreen when you so select.

*Leica has not but offered me with a guide, so some phrases could differ from the names Leica formally refers to them.

The first menu structure is now in step with the SL2 and Q2, nevertheless it’s not altogether extremely totally different from the M10. Like most Leica menus, it’s fairly intuitive and straightforward to make use of. When you set the digital camera as much as style you’ll not often end up needing to entry the complete menu choices.

The touchscreen is most useful in playback: double-tapping a captured picture will zoom into that time (you may also use a pinch gesture) and dragging your finger will scan throughout the picture. One other double-tap will zoom again out and you may rapidly swipe left or proper to flip via photos. The double-tap-to-magnify operate additionally works in live-view to set the magnification level for focusing.

The highest of the digital camera stays virtually the identical with one exception: a brand new unlabeled button within the far proper nook close to the shutter launch that acts as a customizable operate button; I set mine to toggle the metering mode. Sadly, the M11 has misplaced the M10’s customized button on the entrance of the digital camera, so we haven’t actually gained something. I’ll say although, if we will solely have one button, the brand new positioning is unquestionably superior and easier to entry in observe.

I’d have preferred that entrance button to cycle via the 1.3x and 1.8x crop modes (39.2MP and 18.2MP), although. Talking of the crop modes, I didn’t get an opportunity to check them out in my transient time with the digital camera, so I have no idea if the M11 completely crops the picture (like Nikon) or just tags the crop and permits it to be adjusted in submit (like Canon and Sony).

There may be additionally a newly designed handgrip that doubles as a tripod bracket with its built-in Arca Swiss plate. The brand new grip can also be designed to permit prompt entry to the battery and subsequently the SD card slot, in addition to the USB-C port, with out removing of the handgrip.

Greater Battery

The brand new 1800 mAh battery — up from M10’s 1100 mAh and the identical capability because the M240 battery — gives about 63.6% extra capability in comparison with its predecessor. Given the 210 shot CIPA battery ranking of the M10, I anticipated a good, however not large, improve in battery life.

As an alternative, I used to be shocked. No matter Leica has completed right here by way of energy effectivity, a lot of it doubtless owing to the brand new MAESTRO III processor, is nothing in need of unimaginable.

The M11 is CIPA rated for about 700 photographs (in live-view) and rated for about 1,700 in “Leica Tailored Capturing Model” (utilizing the rangefinder). I firmly belief each figures at a minimal. Within the time I had the digital camera, I solely charged the battery as soon as, and it’s fairly doable I’ll not have wanted to do this. Provided that I used to be utilizing a brand new digital camera, I did way more chimping and menu diving than regular and used live-view quite a bit. It’s much more spectacular on condition that the sensor is at all times energetic, in contrast to the M10 and prior fashions.

As we’ve stated earlier than on PetaPixel, most just lately in our Nikon Z9 overview, CIPA battery efficiency numbers on trendy mirrorless cameras is principally as helpful as not being given any data in any respect. Nonetheless CIPA is evaluating battery efficiency is badly in want of updating, and any numbers it gives are typically woefully beneath precise efficiency.


The discharge of the Leica M11 is complemented by the discharge of the Visoflex 2 — a scorching shoe mountable EVF. The Visoflex 2 incorporates a 3.68-megapixel (once more, I believe this ought to be 3.68 million dots however I’m simply telling you what Leica is saying) OLED show, an anodized black aluminum construct, diopter adjustment from -4 to +3, and three positioning steps of 0, 45, and 90 levels.

I believe the EVF shares the identical or related know-how discovered within the Sony Alpha 7R III and Nikon Z5/Z6/Z7 collection. I’m not certain what the refresh fee is, I’ve requested, and I’ll replace this overview ought to Leica inform me.

I used to be not given the chance to make use of the Visoflex 2 throughout my time with the pre-production digital camera, so I can not touch upon its high quality. It appears to be like to be of excessive magnification and excessive eyepoint and whereas the design appears to be like boxy and huge in comparison with the Typ 020, that is doubtless a very reasonable and mandatory tradeoff for high-quality optics.

The Visoflex 2 can be appropriate with M10 fashions by way of a firmware replace at a but to be decided future date in 2022. The Visoflex Typ 020 is not appropriate with the M11.

The New Sensor

The very first thing I seen after being proven the digital camera had been the matte black shutter curtains — metering is now off the sensor, quite than center-weighted off the gray shutter blades of former fashions. We have now the usual choices of matrix, center-weighted, and spot. Whereas these have been out there because the Leica M240 in live-view mode, they weren’t the default and battery life took a substantial hit. There’s additionally now a totally digital shutter possibility as much as 1/16,000th of a second — Leica has not verified the readout pace but, however I believe it’s someplace round 1/fifteenth of a second. In different phrases, it’s inadequate for many transferring objects with out rolling shutter artifacts however acceptable for a lot of different topics when used with care.

Leica reduce no corners with the center of the M11: a 60.3MP (9528×6328) BSI sensor with an up to date RGGB shade filter array, 3.76 µm pixel pitch, and a brand new, thinner UVIR reduce filter. Now that Leica has fleshed out its masterpiece collection of APO lenses  — Leica 50/2 APO-Summicron-M, Leica 75/2 APO-Summicron-M, Leica 90/2 APO-Summicron-M, Leica 135/3.4 APO-Telyt-M, and the brand new Leica 35/2 APO-Summicron-M — they clearly wished to make a digital camera that actually makes essentially the most of these optics.

Leica received’t reveal the producer of the sensor; nonetheless, the corporate tells me it was developed solely for this digital camera. I believe, on the very least, it shares some very related structure to the Sony sensor discovered within the Sony Alpha 7R IV and Sigma fp L. In the end, I don’t care the place it got here from. The imaging pipeline, which might be unique to Leica, will in the end make extra uncooked distinction than which manufacturing facility fabricated the sensor.

Leica states the ISO 64 is really native and with none pull and up to now, there’s nothing to make me suppose that isn’t true. I see not one of the compromised highlights or abrupt roll off that include pulled settings outdoors the native analog vary. That is good and presents the potential for some glorious dynamic vary and tonality. The sensor can also be twin achieve, like most today (significantly Sony sensors), however I’ve not heard again from Leica but as to what the second achieve is. I believe it’s ISO 320 or 400.

Leica claims 14 stops of dynamic vary at full-resolution and 15 stops with the pixel-binned 36.5MP and 18.4MP modes. I believe this isn’t far off from actual world expectations. Based mostly on my use of the digital camera up to now, I’d estimate 14 to 14.5 stops of useable dynamic vary, relying in your threshold for noise. Its dynamic vary is unquestionably shadow-biased just like the Sony Alpha 7R IV, however not fairly as a lot. It strikes an awesome steadiness, and highlights nonetheless have nice latitude, if not on the identical stage because the Nikon D810/D850/Z7.

Leica says it makes use of a sophisticated algorithm by way of the brand new Maestro III processor to provide the pixel-binned outcomes. Extra investigation is required once I get a manufacturing unit as as to whether the in-camera binning ends in cleaner photos than downsizing in submit. Nonetheless, capturing at 36/18 megapixels does offer you larger buffer capability and smaller file sizes. One factor I’m unsure of is why Leica didn’t select 30/15 megapixels binning modes as a substitute, for an ideal 2:1 oversample — I’ve reached out for remark however haven’t but heard again from Germany.

Surprisingly, the Leica M11 solely makes use of the sRGB shade house — primarily based on the spec sheet and RawDigger inspection of my DNG information — and even stranger, I appear to recollect a menu choice to set it to Adobe RGB (which is without doubt one of the first issues I do when establishing a brand new digital camera). I could possibly be misremembering this, nonetheless. Extra investigation and dialogue with Leica are required as soon as I get a manufacturing unit, however this appears odd on condition that the Leica SL2 and others use each sRGB and Adobe RGB.

Picture High quality

Provided that this was a pre-production unit that was not working with ultimate firmware, Leica has requested us to order in-depth testing and detailed feedback concerning picture high quality for now, so this can be transient and can be explored in additional element in our full overview down the road. So, that out of the way in which…

Photographs from the M11 are excellent. They’ve glorious dynamic vary that I’d (tentatively) put up there with the most effective of Sony and Nikon, nice shade significantly after profiling, and improbable noise efficiency.

In my transient comparability in opposition to the Sony Alpha 7R IV — utilizing the Leica 50/2 APO-Summicron-M (top-of-the-line lenses I’ve ever used) on each cameras — I’d even give the Leica M11 a slight edge over the Sony. There isn’t rather a lot in it, perhaps half a cease, however the Leica appears to provide much less shade shift and chroma noise. Once more, extra testing is required.

Whereas there’s clearly no Adobe profile for the digital camera but, there’s an embedded profile inside the DNG information. I make my very own profiles for each digital camera I personal and I did the identical right here; colours are glorious, particularly after profiling.

Beautiful reds and nice pores and skin tones | Leica 35/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH FLE

I did encounter two points in use. First, the auto white steadiness was in all places to the tune of +/- 2,000K. Even a collection of images, on a tripod with the identical framing and publicity, seconds aside, could end in values with as a lot as a 1,500K distinction. The right white steadiness at all times appeared to lie someplace in between. This was reported to Leica and its staff in Germany was already conscious of it, so we will count on this to be ironed out in ultimate firmware.

Secondly, I had points with publicity in Aperture Precedence and Handbook modes with auto ISO: the digital camera would massively overexpose, generally to the tune of 4 or 5 stops. This solely occurred throughout both: 1) photographs the place I in a short time raised the digital camera to my eye and snapped a photograph, or 2) throughout bursts in a equally fast surroundings.

Within the case of the latter, it might at all times “leap” to the proper publicity someplace in the course of the burst. It by no means occurred throughout extra deliberate capturing. Basically, it’s just like the metering system couldn’t preserve tempo with fast-paced capturing and would take a number of seconds to catch up. Just like the white steadiness challenge, Leica was already conscious of this challenge once I reported it. I don’t contemplate both of those to be something to fret about — such points usually are not unusual in pre-production models.

Leica 50/2 Summicron-M

The 60.3MP sensor will actually check photographers’ capturing methods, in addition to their lenses. The larger the variety of pixels per diploma of FOV — no matter sensor dimension or pixel pitch — will amplify the detrimental results of each sloppy method and uncorrected lens aberrations. What could have regarded nice on the 24MP Leica M10 could now be stuffed with aberrations and blurred pixels in case your shutter speeds aren’t enough. Take into accout, apart from some Hasselblad and Part One cameras, this sensor is extra taxing than some other available on the market, alongside the Sigma fp L — the IBIS within the Fujifilm GFX 100 and 100S mitigate the difficulty.

I discovered 1/2x focal size to be the absolute minimal for pixel-level sharp outcomes, with 1/3x being optimum. This implies even with a 35mm lens, you’re ideally at 1/100 to 1/125. Fortunately, Leica has glorious minimal auto-shutter pace choices within the menu — simply remember to set your lens data when you’re utilizing an older, non-coded lens.

SOOC JPEG, downsized and exported in ACR  with noise discount zeroed out and no changes or sharpening utilized | Leica 35/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH FLE | ISO 6400

Lastly, a fast touch upon out-of-camera JPEGs: I didn’t totally check this as a result of it appeared like one of many least vital issues to spend time on (particularly with a pre-production digital camera with out ultimate firmware), however I did do some fast, preliminary changes and testing with a number of of the JPEG modes till I received one thing I used to be fairly pleased with. And the outcomes are glorious — improbable shade, excellent element, and compression are minimal, which helps keep away from posterization and different artifacts. Whereas there’s clearly noise discount within the JPEGs, as with every different digital camera, Leica has completed an exquisite job making certain it doesn’t compromise effective particulars or yield waxy, smeary outcomes. Extra thorough investigation on this can be within the ultimate overview.

Under are a set of pattern photos that I captued as a part of my time with the M11.

Leica FOTOS 3.0

I didn’t get a lot time to make use of the brand new Leica FOTOS app, which was a beta model and nonetheless had many options to be added (the corporate estimates that may come within the second half of 2022) and kinks to work out, however I can say the time I did spend with it was simply essentially the most nice and clean wi-fi tethering expertise I’ve ever encountered. I solely used the app on my iPhone 13 Professional, however I may even check it with my iPad Air 4 as soon as I obtain the manufacturing unit.

Capturing with the FOTOS app — at the moment out there for iOS solely, as Leica stated most of its consumer base are iPhone customers — and altering settings couldn’t be easier. There may be little or no lag with each the live-view picture and making changes to settings, the connection by no means dropped and, in contrast to each different app I’ve used except for Hasselblad, the preliminary connection setup may be very fast, easy, and intuitive.

Replace #1, 1/13/21: Whereas Leica knowledgeable PetaPixel that it was solely concentrating on iOS, that doesn’t look like the case. We’ve reached out to Leica for readability, however the app is out there on Google Play with famous assist for the M11.

Replace #2, 1/13/21: Leica confirmed that regardless of the FOTOS app seeing an replace on the Google Play Retailer with famous assist for the M11, it is not going to “in the intervening time” assist the options touted within the model 3.0 replace. Meaning it may well’t be used to replace the digital camera, picture search with filters, enable for multi-select of images, favoriting, or ranking. The Leica Fotos 3.0 app is a “Made for iPhone” product, and Leica didn’t present an estimation of if or when these options would come to Android.

The upshot right here is you not solely get nice options like embedded location information, picture entry by way of Bluetooth, and elevated switch charges, however extra importantly, it makes the digital camera a lot extra usable for tripod-based work outdoor or in a studio, particularly because it lacks a tilting LCD. In reality, the FOTOS app is so good and easy that I’d in all probability use it over a tilting display in tripod-based conditions.

The Leica M11 Might Truly Be a Main Digital camera

Leica 35/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH FLE | ISO 12,500, no noise discount apart from the ACR default

Leica has thrown every little thing however the kitchen sink into the M11. In-body picture stabilization (IBIS) is the one main function I want had been included, however I believe there are vital limits to what could be stuffed right into a physique of this dimension (perhaps this is the reason Leica solely has a single SD card slot and inner storage and never two card slots). Maybe there are additionally limitations of the M mount throat, which is even narrower than the Sony E mount. Leica went to vital effort to lower the thickness of the M10 to match the movie M our bodies and IBIS would little doubt require them to backtrack on this regard. Nonetheless, if Ricoh can stuff three-axis IBIS within the Ricoh GR III and GR IIIx, I believe Leica is as much as the problem, even when it isn’t full five-axis.

The mixture of all the weather right here — the high-resolution sensor with glorious dynamic vary and low-light means, decrease decision pixel-binning choices, a silent digital shutter, the extremely spectacular battery life, 64GB of inner storage as an efficient second card slot (however with different advantages too), off-the-sensor metering, a brand new high-resolution tilting OLED EVF, the easy wi-fi tethering — makes the Leica M11 essentially the most full and versatile M digital thus far by an enormous margin. It virtually feels just like the leap from the M9 to the M240, as if a technology has been skipped.

Leica 35/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH FLE | ISO 6400, no noise discount apart from the ACR default

Maybe the very best reward I may give the digital camera, primarily based on my expertise up to now, is it’s the primary time I really feel like an M digital camera might function my main system. No, it isn’t appropriate for a few of my work, nor might or not it’s my solely system, however the M11 is stuffed with all of the capabilities I want for a great deal of my work, all with none vital shortcomings.

I’ve by no means thought-about a Leica M digital digital camera as a result of they’re far out of attain financially for me, but additionally as a result of there have at all times been sufficient vital limitations to the cameras that may stop them from ever being greater than a enjoyable private digital camera, quite than additionally a device for work. I not really feel that’s the case with the M11.

Boy, do I want I had a spare $9,000. Perhaps a brand new M-E primarily based on the M11, Leica?

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