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Leica announces the M-E, a stripped-down 18MP full-frame rangefinder

By dpreview staff on Sep 17, 2012 at 19:00 GMT
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Photokina 2012: Leica has announced a more affordable rangefinder: the Leica M-E. Built around the familiar full-frame 18MP CCD, the company describes the M-E as being a stripped-back camera, offering just the basics required for photography. Its core specifications are essentially the same as the M9's, including an ISO range of 160-2500, 0.68x magnification viewfinder, and the same 230k dot 2.5" screen. It'll be available from Leica dealers later this month with a retail price of $5,450 in the US and £3900 in the UK.

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Press Release:


Solms, Germany (September 17, 2012) - Leica Camera presents a new model in the Leica rangefinder system, the Leica M-E.  Possessing the high level of technology perfected in the nearly six decades since the M-System’s introduction, the Leica M-E represents the essence of rangefinder photography.  Rather than offering all that is technically possible, it is limited to only those functions that create a better image. These essentials include the M-System’s typical rapid manual focusing with the viewfinder/rangefinder and the focusing ring of the lens, as well as the option of selecting automatically determined or manually set shutter speeds. It is the ideal entry-level model for photographers wishing to experience the fascination of M-Photography or require a secondary camera that performs at an optimum level without fail.

Advantages of rangefinder photography include the ability for photographers to become a part of the action and frame whatever they wish to capture in the viewfinder, while still perceiving what is going on outside the viewfinder frame. The crucial moment becomes predictable, and can thus be captured at precisely the right instant. Featuring the proven, high-resolution, 18 MP CCD sensor in full 35 mm format, the Leica M-E offers maximum imaging quality. Perfectly attuned to its role in the extremely compact M-System and the superior performance of M-Lenses, this particular sensor type possesses a high sensitivity to light. These characteristics lead to an unmistakably individual kind of photography.

The Leica M-E’s most distinctive feature is a minimalistic, purist, design statement. The top deck and base plate are discreetly finished in unobtrusive anthracite grey. The application of a new leather trim with enhanced grip characteristics ideally complements the camera’s timeless design.

The Leica M-System portfolio provides perfect tools for capturing a moment discretely, silently and without hesitation, allowing photographers to become a part of the scene. Together with the new Leica M and the Leica M Monochrom, the world’s first digital black and white camera in 35 mm format, the latest digital generation of the Leica M now offers three rangefinder cameras.

Additionally, the Leica M-E package includes the latest version of Leica Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to assist photographers with viewing, editing and managing digital images. The Leica M-E is available now from Leica dealers, including the Leica Store Washington DC.

About the Leica M-System
Since 1954, the Leica M system has stood for an unmistakable, individual kind of photography and a very conscious photographic style. Because, with a Leica M, the photographer becomes a part of the action in the process of capturing challenging and creative images. The rangefinder frames precisely the shot the photographer envisages while allowing a clear view of what is going on outside the viewfinder frame. This allows the photographer to predict the decisive moment and capture it discreetly and reliably at the right moment – in all fields, from photojournalism and ‘available light’ exposures to discreet and aesthetic fine-art images. The functions of the Leica M rangefinder camera are consistently constructed for extreme robustness and a long working life. Highest quality materials, elaborate manufacturing processes and painstaking manual assembly guarantee functional reliability for decades to come. Full backward system compatibility – almost all lenses of the Leica M range built since 1954 can still be used on the latest M camera models – is an important factor in the enduring value of the M series.

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Leica M-E Typ 220


Total comments: 231
By Rotherhithe (Sep 17, 2012)

in other words, it seems to be the same as the M9. Their new M has more features, so they rename the M9 the ME and call it stripped down. Are they feeling the competition from Fuji and Sony, or is it a neat way of getting rid of an older design?

1 upvote
By Knorp (Sep 17, 2012)

It lacks the frame lever and has a quieter shutter.

By GabrielZ (Sep 17, 2012)

Good observation on the lack of frame lever, I didn't notice that. So it isn't just a re-branded M9 after all...ha ha.

By TitusXIII (Sep 18, 2012)

The "M" also lacks the FL lever.
So is it done electronically now?

By jase (Sep 17, 2012)

Hmm, so the ME is the M9 with a revised second character designation. I wonder how much extra that's going to cost?

By bidou (Sep 17, 2012)

Haterz gonna hate

By onlooker (Sep 17, 2012)

What are you, 14? Can't at least spell "Haters" if you have to post this vacuous hippie vomit at all? And who are you responding to?

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
Jim Radcliffe
By Jim Radcliffe (Sep 17, 2012)

He's "just saying".... it is a standard response from those who like something that others do not. You'll find something similar in every thread about a new camera in which there is no real defense available for any shortcomings.

By onlooker (Sep 17, 2012)

@Jim: Response to whom, though?

Agree with the rest, btw.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By wattoinni (Sep 17, 2012)

How much?

By DRabbit (Sep 17, 2012)


By micahmedia (Sep 17, 2012)

It's in there!

...DPR says €3900, which is about five grand US. Seems like a silly idea if you ask me. Looks like you're paying $1000 for a camera, and $4000 for what's not there. Including exclusivity (which isn't really there either).

1 upvote
Total comments: 231