Getting started with the Leica M11: between classicism and revolution

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With the M11, Leica is attempting a small technological revolution: this rangefinder camera, classic in form, is equipped with a new full-frame 60 megapixel sensor. A demanding case for an audience of enlightened amateurs.

Five years after M10 (and as many different versions), Leica begins the year 2022 with the M11. If, in appearance, this brand new model does not upset the brand’s codes in terms of rangefinder device, it nevertheless has a 60 Mpx sensor capable of using the pixel binning, like smartphones. By “combining” the pixels when shooting, the camera gains in sensitivity, reduces the presence of electronic noise and improves rendering in low light. The definition of the images is seen in return modified (without cropping), to the detriment of the level of detail.

Just before the official announcement, we had the opportunity to try out a pre-production model for a few days. So here are our first feelings. Note that, for lack of firmware ultimately, the performance of the device does not necessarily reflect that of the final product.

Natural photography?  © Digital

Natural photography? © Digital

An almost identical device from generation to generation

Anyone who has ever had a Leica M in their hands will not be confused with the M11. The device is well finished, with noble materials. You have the impression of having an object of very high quality at your fingertips. You really have to try your hand at the game of three differences to distinguish it from its predecessor. There, a button has been moved from the front to the upper edge, here the sole used for changing the battery has been replaced by a more conventional ejection system. Finally, a USB-C port is introduced, a great first for an M box!

A well-known design.  © Digital

A well-known design. © Digital

A USB port on a Leica?

This USB-C port allows the device to be recharged and facilitates the transfer of images, in particular to a smartphone. Moreover, if the M11 is flocked with a “Made for iPhone and iPad” certification, full compatibility with Apple terminals (via the Leica Fotos application) will not be operational before a planned update. for the second half of 2022. That being said, it is quite possible to control your M11 from your iPhone: when synchronizing the application, you just have to select… an M10 as the box.

During our tests, we were quite naturally able to retrieve our pictures in this way or use the control by the telephone. On Android, it is not even necessary to go through an application. The terminal recognizes the case as a conventional storage device and makes it possible to easily move the captured images.

The arrival of a USB-C port on Leica M. © Les Numériques

The arrival of a USB-C port on Leica M. © Les Numériques

Photography and worse that’s all

Regarding shooting, we are only talking about photos here, because the Leica M11 does not record videos. Also note that with a Leica M, you do not shoot like with a modern camera. Do not expect to shoot 20 frames per second with autofocus tracking of the eyes and faces. And for good reason, cameras with a rangefinder, such as this one, do not have autofocus.

The famous viewfinder.  © Digital

The famous viewfinder. © Digital

To take stock, it will be necessary to refer to the remote viewfinder thanks to the dedicated ring on the lens. In the viewfinder, two small rectangles are present. One represents the sighting plane while the second corresponds to the focusing plane. To obtain a clear image, the two rectangles must be perfectly superimposed. It may seem a little confusing for those who have never tried, but there is an organic and playful side that allows you to get a taste, while taking your time.

For those who would have been bottle-fed only with classic hybrids (or smartphones), it is quite possible to use the touchscreen to aim. In order to make your task easier, the M11 has a magnifying glass as well as the focus peaking, which makes it possible to be even more precise than the rangefinder.

With Leica, the finishes are always exemplary.  © Digital

With Leica, the finishes are always exemplary. © Digital

The mechanical shutter also has something to surprise. We know that Leica is working to make the latter always more pleasant to the ear, and that of the M11 is soft and pleasant. It then becomes completely silent when you opt for an electronic shutter, which allows the exposure time to be extended from 1/4000 to 1 / 16000s. Note that the shutter closes automatically to protect the sensor when the camera turns off.

A very defined sensor

The main asset of the M11 is therefore its 60 Mpx sensor. It becomes – at the time of this writing and like the Sony Alpha 7R IV (A7R IV) – the 24×36 hybrid with the most defined sensor on the market. This allows more detail to be captured and also offers strong cropping possibilities. In fact, during the few tests that we were able to carry out with a pre-series camera, we were more than satisfied with the image quality offered by this M11.

See the 60 MP sensor at the bottom of the beast.  © Digital

See the 60 MP sensor at the bottom of the beast. © Digital

Released with the Summilux-M 35mm F / 1.4 ASPH, we are only waiting for the M11 with its firmware final to really analyze its image quality. If it seems excellent in full definition, these are the settings accessible thanks to the pixel binning which concerns us particularly for low light photography.

The other interest of pixel binning is to gain momentum. According to Leica, we would go from a range of 14 IL at 60 Mpx to 16 IL in 18 Mpx. Difficult to see at the moment, but we will be sure to verify this in our laboratories with a definitive model, like all the other features of this very promising Leica M11.



Example of edited images

Show EXIF

Brand
Leica Camera AG

Model
LEICA M11

Speed
1/60 s, aperture: f / 1.4

Sensitivity
200 ISO

Focal, expo shift
35/1 mm, 333/1000 EV

“All images were taken with a pre-series camera, so they may not fully represent the quality of the final image” © Louis Royer / Les Numériques

Show EXIF

Brand
Leica Camera AG

Model
LEICA M11

Speed
1/90 s, aperture: f / 1.4

Sensitivity
400 ISO

Focal, expo shift
35/1 mm, 0/1000 EV

“All images were taken with a pre-series camera, so they may not fully represent the quality of the final image” © Louis Royer / Les Numériques

Show EXIF

Brand
Leica Camera AG

Model
LEICA M11

Speed
1 / 125s, aperture: f / 2.4

Sensitivity
64 ISO

Focal, expo shift
35/1 mm, 0/1000 EV

“All images were taken with a pre-series camera, so they may not fully represent the quality of the final image” © Louis Royer / Les Numériques

Show EXIF

Brand
Leica Camera AG

Model
LEICA M11

Speed
1 / 125s, aperture: f / 1.4

Sensitivity
125 ISO

Focal, expo shift
35/1 mm, 0/1000 EV

“All images were taken with a pre-series camera, so they may not fully represent the quality of the final image” © Louis Royer / Les Numériques

6 With the M11, Leica is attempting a small technological revolution: this rangefinder camera, classic in form, is equipped with a new full-frame 60 megapixel sensor. A demanding case for an audience of enlightened amateurs. Leica M11 Introductory price 8,350 € Fnac.com 8 350,00 Fnac.com 8 350,00 Miss Digital 8 350,00 Miss Digital 8 350,00 Fnac.com 8 350,00 Miss Digital…

6 With the M11, Leica is attempting a small technological revolution: this rangefinder camera, classic in form, is equipped with a new full-frame 60 megapixel sensor. A demanding case for an audience of enlightened amateurs. Leica M11 Introductory price 8,350 € Fnac.com 8 350,00 Fnac.com 8 350,00 Miss Digital 8 350,00 Miss Digital 8 350,00 Fnac.com 8 350,00 Miss Digital…

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