Previous news story    Next news story

Leica announces 'M' 24MP live view full-frame CMOS rangefinder with movies

By dpreview staff on Sep 17, 2012 at 19:00 GMT
Buy on GearShop

Photokina 2012: Leica has announced its latest M series rangefinder - the 24MP CMOS Leica M. The company says all future M models will also simply be called the 'M'. The latest model (referred to as 'Typ 240') becomes the first of its rangefinders to feature live view, and offers a choice of magnified view or focus peaking for precise through-the-lens focusing, allowing Leica to promise compatibilty with R-mount lenses. It also becomes the first M capable of movie shooting - capturing 1080p footage at 25 or 24 frames per second. It includes a 920k dot LCD with smartphone-style Gorilla Glass cover, and accepts the same plug-in EVF as used by the X2. Availability is scheduled for early 2013 with a retail price of $6,950 in the US and £5100 in the UK.

Jump to:


Press Release:

NEW: THE LEICA M

The perfection of digital rangefinder technology

Solms, Germany (September 17, 2012) - Leica Camera presents a groundbreaking milestone in the nearly 60 year history of the Leica rangefinder system: The Leica M. Setting entirely new standards, the Leica M unites the ultimate in rangefinder precision with cutting edge digital technology. As the first camera to implement a newly designed CMOS image sensor and to feature additional focusing methods and functions such as Live View and Full HD video capability, it is the most versatile Leica rangefinder model ever. Remaining true to the legendary values of the M-System, the Leica M not only provides the advantages of rangefinder photography, but also for the first time, offers compatibility with Leica R legacy lenses. As with every innovation and development since the flagship line’s inception, the Leica M was created to capture fleeting moments of time and transform them into living history. 

The Leica M also marks the beginning of a new era in the Leica product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the enduring and long-term significance of the respective systems.

In every respect, the new Leica M is the most innovative and versatile model the modern M-System has ever created. Looking to the future, the Leica M is the first in a long line of Leica rangefinder cameras to feature a completely new development in sensor technology; the Leica Max CMOS image sensor. This 24 MP, full 35 mm format sensor was designed and constructed in collaboration with CMOSIS especially for the camera and its use with M- and R-Lenses. This new development successfully transfers the characteristic advantages of CCD sensors, such as natural and brilliant color rendition and impressive reproduction of details, to a CMOS sensor.  

In combination with the high-performance Leica Maestro processor that is also employed in Leica S cameras, this new full format sensor guarantees maximum imaging quality and speed. Now, all elements in the image creation chain, from the lens to the image file, are under complete control of the Leica engineers. This guarantees the ultimate in imaging performance and quality. An additional highlight is the low power consumption of the components that, in conjunction with the particularly high capacity of the battery, ensures outstanding performance over a long period of use.  

In 1954, the launch of the M-System opened new horizons in reportage and artistic photography. Now at the dawn of a new era in the system’s technology, the Leica M offers a multitude of new features. The first of these are Live View and Live View Focus. Image composition can now take place in real time with the view of the subject through the lens. The sharpness, exposure and color content of images can now be precisely assessed on the camera’s large, 3-inch, high-resolution monitor screen with 920,000 pixels. The glass covering plate of the monitor screen is manufactured from particularly tough and scratch-resistant Corning®Gorilla®Glass. The new Live View function allows photographers to have access to entirely new opportunities that, in combination with the outstanding performance of Leica M- and R-Lenses, go far beyond the classical capabilities of rangefinder photography. This applies particularly to macro and telephoto photography, but also allows even more discreet shooting. In combination with M- and R-Lenses, the camera’s new 1080p Full HD video capability also opens up further opportunities to record memories as they happen.

Ever in pursuit of capturing Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Decisive Moment,” the Leica M offers two additional focusing methods that can be activated quickly and easily with the new focus button. M-Photographers now have even more options for capturing outstandingly sharp images. The new ‘Live View Zoom’ option enables up to 10 x magnification for precise assessment of the sharpness of subject details or the close focusing limit. The second aid to focusing is ‘Live View Focus Peaking’. Here, contours in the subject are automatically displayed as red lines to allow simple and convenient focus assessment. Focusing precision can be assessed on the basis of the intensity of the lines displayed.

The Leica M’s features are optimally combined with the typical values of the Leica rangefinder system and guarantee the accustomed dependability of the Leica M in all photographic situations, from available light photography to discreet and aesthetic fine-art image composition. In line with the principles of the M-Philosophy, all functions and features are designed and constructed for absolute robustness and a long working life. The top deck and the base plate of the Leica M are machined from solid brass blanks and the full-metal chassis is a completely self-contained diecast element manufactured from high-strength magnesium alloy. Special rubber seals protect the camera body against dust, spray and moisture.

The new rangefinder camera is also a typical M due to its intuitive handling concept with direct manual setting options and fast access to functions. The enhanced layout and particular user-friendliness of the menu interface guarantees a clear and uncomplicated overview of all camera settings at all times. Dedicated button controls have been provided for the Live View and new focusing functions. Live View Zoom and Live View Focus Peaking can be selected with the new focus button on the front of the camera. User profiles can be programmed with any camera and shooting settings, stored under an arbitrary name. They can be accessed quickly whenever required for particular situations and can now also be saved to an SD memory card. For increased comfort in use and harkening to the film advance lever of Leica film cameras, the Leica M now provides an ergonomically formed thumb rest with an integrated setting dial at the top right on the back of the top deck. This ensures that the camera can be held securely in even the most demanding situations.

A wide range of optional accessories is also available for the new Leica M. A particular highlight of the range is a new Leica R-Adapter M that allows almost all R-Lenses ever built to be mounted on the camera. The use of Leica R-System lenses now opens up vast new possibilities for zoom, telephoto and macro photography.

Further accessories are the Leica EVF2, Visoflex electronic viewfinder and a multifunctional handgrip-M with an integrated GPS module that, in combination with optional finger loops in various sizes (S, M and L), helps to ensure safe and steady handling of the camera and lens system. The range also includes a Leica Microphone Adapter set for perfect sound with video recordings.

The Leica M will be available from Leica dealers, including the Leica Store Washington DC, in early 2013 in a choice of black paint or silver chrome finish.

Additional images

81
I own it
90
I want it
12
I had it
Discuss in the forums
Our favorite products. Free 2 day shipping.
Support this site, buy from dpreview GearShop.
Leica M Typ 240

Comments

Total comments: 357
123
DaveCS
By DaveCS (Sep 17, 2012)

The sensor is the unknown variable here.
CMOSIS has only been in the game since late 2007-early 2008.

Right now, I wouldn't touch this camera with a 10 foot pole.

I would wait to see some results out of that sensor before even considering that camera for my lenses.

Cheers,
Dave

4 upvotes
semorg
By semorg (Sep 17, 2012)

interesting...do you know of any other sensors they've built?

0 upvotes
Boerseuntjie
By Boerseuntjie (Sep 17, 2012)

Could be Sony sensor and would not surprise me if it was

1 upvote
Boerseuntjie
By Boerseuntjie (Sep 17, 2012)

They say CMOSIS, I say Sony...LOL, I can't wait for Sony to help Zeiss make a Digital IKON

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Sep 17, 2012)

B--

Sure doesn't look to be a Sony sensor, remember too that it's likely to have a curved lens array.

0 upvotes
DaveCS
By DaveCS (Sep 17, 2012)

I've owned, in the past (mid-late 2008) an M8 and it had to travel, after a week of playing with it, to Germany to get the sensor replaced - granted these where the old Kodak sensors that were just plain crappy. But it's that experience that kept me from buying an M9 and it may still keep me from this camera until Leica can prove to me that they've got their "act" together.

I currently love my film Leicas (two M7s) and their lenses but they have to produce something spectacular at a "fair" (relatively speaking of course) price for me to look at them for digital again.

Cheers,
Dave

0 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (Sep 18, 2012)

CMOSIS is NOT Sony. It is a Belgian company that designs sensors for various usages. They typicalyl make big sensors for various industrial and aerospace applications. I read elsewhere in thos thread that they're also working on a medium format sensor.
It will be ineresting to compare the picture quality with a Sony of similar resolution.

0 upvotes
semorg
By semorg (Sep 17, 2012)

Leica makes news with 4-year old features.

17 upvotes
GabrielZ
By GabrielZ (Sep 17, 2012)

Maybe, but this is a big tech-jump for a Leica M-series.

1 upvote
danaceb
By danaceb (Sep 18, 2012)

must be doing something right then.

1 upvote
arhmatic
By arhmatic (Sep 17, 2012)

Using the video is optional. Really!

4 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Sep 17, 2012)

Two exciting new cameras from Leica. Remember, with adapters, we can use many screw-mount lenses on these cameras.

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Sep 18, 2012)

Like on everything else mirrorless.

1 upvote
ptox
By ptox (Sep 17, 2012)

Now this is more like it.

4 upvotes
Klay
By Klay (Sep 17, 2012)

Curious name - just "M". It seems to break with a few years of tradition. Will the next iteration be "N" or will they go for "M11" and pretend they forgot the 10 last time around?

I like how they've added the "ME" to fill the line out a bit. That makes some sense to me. Anything to bring Leica prices down a bit makes sense....

0 upvotes
brudy
By brudy (Sep 17, 2012)

Yeah, the name is strange. Why not call it the M10? Although if google M10, the first hit is a wiki on an American Tank Destroyer built on the sherman tank platform called the M10.

0 upvotes
photogeek
By photogeek (Sep 17, 2012)

Influenced by Apple no doubt. Every couple of years there will now be a "new" M, and the old, discounted M sold for those without the means to buy the new one.

1 upvote
Tom Caldwell
By Tom Caldwell (Sep 17, 2012)

Changing from a natural numeric progression to something less definable. Like: "Typ240" surely means that future models are going to "evolve" in a more random and less regular fashion. It sort of breaks the consumer expectancy that soon enough there will be a higher number model in a natural number progression. Not only will this higher number model dramatically exceed the previous number in the sequence but render lower numbers obsolete.

By using "Typ" numbers to identify models must indicate more variations and less direct progressions. An M10 would obviously be expected to blow the M9 into the weeds, until similarly blasted by the M11 some time down the track.
The M Typ240 must signify "one of the best", but there will be further Typ's with different emphasis and some will obviously be more desirable once Leica enthusiasts have tested them to almost destruction (you cannot kill a Leica) and have pronounced gravely which Typ is the best (probably the most expensive one). :)

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
GabrielZ
By GabrielZ (Sep 17, 2012)

The upgraded Leica S2 medium format DSLR is just called the S now too.

0 upvotes
Klay
By Klay (Sep 18, 2012)

Just the "S"? Hrmmmm.. now they have the S & the M. There's a joke in there somewhere....

PS. I think Tom Caldwell above has it. It removes the idea of steady and significant progression. Maybe they've spotted the improvements from one camera to the next in line may be slowing or less of a leap with each new model.

0 upvotes
moizes 2
By moizes 2 (Sep 17, 2012)

M with video? Somebody punch me... Very old R lenses aren't for 24 MP sensor, of any respect, today! If so, I am gonna find my old dog Parabellum (made in Germany, BTW!) to take my own life... Oh my God forgive me that...

0 upvotes
wildbild
By wildbild (Sep 17, 2012)

you are maybe right about wideangle R-glass, but the telephoto lenses are suberb. (And have been damn expensive!)

1 upvote
moizes 2
By moizes 2 (Sep 17, 2012)

In my experience all of long R zooms are no good on sensors. Wide ones, such as 21-35, are mushy, no bite. Only 180/3.4 is up to D3x/D800, very decent lens. Will see.

0 upvotes
Emacs23
By Emacs23 (Sep 17, 2012)

No, telephoto are not quite good actually. Good, but outdated.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Sep 17, 2012)

This is a Leica M camera why is anyone posting about Leica R lenses here? Those mount on the discontinued Leica R slrs.

Never mind I get it, but it's not an interesting feature for dedicated Leica M users.

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
hiepphotog
By hiepphotog (Sep 17, 2012)

LOL, I guess you guys have never shot with the 180 APO Elmarit or Summicron or the Telyt 280 APO. They would re-define what you would call a sharp lens. I don't think Nikon actually has anything comparable in their line-up.

1 upvote
GabrielZ
By GabrielZ (Sep 17, 2012)

I hope now with this new camera Leica are working dedicated M-series zooms, long telephoto and Macro lenses. This R adapter is useless for anybody that doesn't have R series lenses as they were discontinued years ago! Too much of a hassle to find good ones secondhand I would have thought.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
kayone
By kayone (Sep 17, 2012)

So does the inclusion of HD video intrigue or infuriate Leica fans and purists?

I don't even shoot w Leica and I think this is wholly pointless, but there will be some rich a**holes out there who will plunk down the cash for this, simply because they can.

2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Sep 17, 2012)

They came full circle. A company founded on the idea of affordable cameras using movie film totally lost sight of "affordable" but regained the "movie" in total.

6 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Sep 17, 2012)

Joseph S Wisniewski:

Thought Leica 35mm camera started out as a film based light meter for movies? Put film in, shoot tests, develop film quickly, then that tell you how to set your movie camera.

0 upvotes
GabrielZ
By GabrielZ (Sep 17, 2012)

I'm a Leica fan and am neither intrigued nor infuriated by the video capabilities as long as the camera is still manufactured to M-series high standards.

0 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Sep 17, 2012)

Leica CMOS sensor is made by a Belgium company named Cmosis. Found two non custom 35mm sensors: 20MP 30FPS 12bit and global shutter with true CDS. Also found a crazy 70Mp (10000 by 7096 pixels) Electronic rolling shutter with true CDS correction. http://www.cmosis.com/products/standard_products/chr70m

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
spidermoon
By spidermoon (Sep 17, 2012)

Nice, they also make custom sensor. They says global shutter pixels, so no more rolling shutter effects ? Even if i can't afford a Leica, i'm curious to see tests in photo and video. But for me, Leica and video sound weird.

0 upvotes
jase
By jase (Sep 17, 2012)

So it looks like Anyone that has just bought an M9 should have waited and got exactly the same camera in an ME for a lot less money. At least those photographers that found the plain body colour of the X2 was compromising their artistic capability will be happy.

Really though, the M and the ME should be half the respective prices.

1 upvote
Deleted-pending
By Deleted-pending (Sep 17, 2012)

So Sony sold billions of its new FF CMOS 24MP sensor to multiple brands, even Leica... I actually liked the colors and details coming from the 18MP CCD sensor very much, I hope that they simply removed the AA filter from the Sony CMOS 24MP sensor bu then, video will become useless too, so I guess Leica will scarify global still imagery IQ to make videos look smoother...

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
gp313
By gp313 (Sep 17, 2012)

CMOSIS, not Sony.

9 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Sep 17, 2012)

This one's not a Sony, it's a CMOSIS, the fellows I've been talking about for some time that essentially reduced both DALSA (now Teledyne) and Kodak's sensor division (now TrueSense) to scrap.

They're essentially the only "indie" FF (and larger) sensor provider for people who don't have enough budget to deal with Sony.

8 upvotes
Deleted-pending
By Deleted-pending (Sep 17, 2012)

at least this is good news, thanks fro en-lighting this, now do you have more data about the cmos tech used here, what about it's Low-pass filter ?

0 upvotes
DStudio
By DStudio (Sep 17, 2012)

Leica here explicitly states that this non-Sony CMOS sensor retains most of the color quality of a CCD sensor, so let's give it a chance and see if it comes through.

0 upvotes
GabrielZ
By GabrielZ (Sep 17, 2012)

The sensor is manufactured by Cmosis not Sony, don't get fooled by the identical pixel count.

1 upvote
uuronl
By uuronl (Sep 17, 2012)

I just got off the phone with the Leica store in DC.

US prices:

M-E $5450
M $6950

7 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Sep 17, 2012)

And the Full Frame hits just keep on coming :)

4 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Sep 17, 2012)

Leica M is not new to full frame. That was the M9.

0 upvotes
kapanak
By kapanak (Sep 17, 2012)

I don't believe Joe said anything about this being new to Full Frame or anything of the sort.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Sep 18, 2012)

K-

I guess you're right.

0 upvotes
JensR
By JensR (Sep 17, 2012)

Right now someone at Sony is seriously mad that they didn't go for the NEX fullframe and instead did the RX1. Ah well, there's always next year.

6 upvotes
kapanak
By kapanak (Sep 17, 2012)

But they did. With a camcorder that has full still photo capabilities and more. They just haven't announced a NEX-7-esque Full Frame NEX yet ... and that can't be far behind. RX1 is just testing the waters and showing Sony's Research and Development prowess.

0 upvotes
Retzius
By Retzius (Sep 17, 2012)

LOL at the picture with the R-mount lens, the extra electronic finder, and grip. Its possibly BIGGER than a DSLR!

3 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Sep 17, 2012)

One way of looking at it, it's both smaller than an R with a Visoflex unit, and a lot more functional.

It may be bigger than say a Nikon D600 or Canon 6D, but it's smaller and lighter than D800, let alone D3. And, although you can pop gadgets onto the M to make it into a tele/macro/zooming thing, you can't pull parts off a D800 or 1DX to make an M rangefinder.

And there's nothing philosophically wrong with this. Don't forget, Leica has been turning M rangefinders into awkward SLRs with five different versions of the Visoflex for 60 years now. (nearly a century, if we count the PLOOT). I'm glad to see that name carry over onto the new EVF attachment. It's the ultimate evolution of Visioflex.

They've never stopped coming up with creative ways to turn the M into Frankenstein's camera. Ever seen their geared binocular polarizers, closeup kits with viewfinder prisms, or auxiliary rangefinders and viewfinders?

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
10 upvotes
GabrielZ
By GabrielZ (Sep 17, 2012)

You know a lot about Leica history! Well done Joe.

1 upvote
BobYIL
By BobYIL (Sep 17, 2012)

Welcome to plonk down over $9.000 for a technology offered by the D600 for $2.100 plus the Red Dot.

11 upvotes
jkr1185
By jkr1185 (Sep 17, 2012)

I didn't know the D600 was a rangefinder.

7 upvotes
yslee1
By yslee1 (Sep 17, 2012)

And that, is a plus point. So it works better and costs less! Amazing!

5 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Sep 17, 2012)

yslee1:

Nikon lenses can't come close to Leica lenses for colour. In car terms the Leica colour is the Ferrari F40 while Nikon colour is a Subaru Impreza WRX.

Now of course the Nikon does do AF well.

0 upvotes
barjohn
By barjohn (Sep 17, 2012)

How would RF focusing work with R lenses or wide angle or telephoto M lenses? Answer, it probably won't. You need clip on EVF or P&S style hold the camera out and use the LCD. This is real Leica inovation? Fuji & Sony are putting them to shame.

0 upvotes
AnakChan
By AnakChan (Sep 17, 2012)

Like the 24MP, like the 3" 920k display, even fine with the ISO maxing out at 6400 only. But video!? Really!??

0 upvotes
Cane
By Cane (Sep 17, 2012)

you realize you don't have to push that button, right?

12 upvotes
noirdesir
By noirdesir (Sep 17, 2012)

Video-capability comes with LiveView.

1 upvote
CopCarSS
By CopCarSS (Sep 17, 2012)

Leica M? That'll make internet searches for information about the new camera easy....[/sarcasm]

11 upvotes
andrew turner
By andrew turner (Sep 17, 2012)

Heard this one's a kachillion dollars.

1 upvote
Lonnie Janzen
By Lonnie Janzen (Sep 17, 2012)

OOOOH Shiny thing!
I'm even afraid to ask...

3 upvotes
RX100
By RX100 (Sep 17, 2012)

If you got to ask, you probably can't afford it.....

6 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Sep 17, 2012)

I could buy the camera..its the lenses i'm afraid of.

2 upvotes
wattoinni
By wattoinni (Sep 17, 2012)

live view , CMOS, not leica anymore...

0 upvotes
Cane
By Cane (Sep 17, 2012)

You could still dress like it's 1968, shoot b&w and pretend.

5 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Sep 17, 2012)

Liveview for macro and tele came to the M in 1935 with the PLOOT, which then became the Visoflex, and continued through five models.

This most certainly IS Leica, and continues a near 100 year tradition. The new Visoflex EVF is the best Visoflex ever.

5 upvotes
wattoinni
By wattoinni (Sep 17, 2012)

It is like a full frame NEX, why I need a leica and which using Sony cmos ...

0 upvotes
GabrielZ
By GabrielZ (Sep 17, 2012)

For the zillionth time here. Wattonni it's not a Sony sensor!

1 upvote
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Sep 17, 2012)

CMOS sensor now. Sony?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
jkr1185
By jkr1185 (Sep 17, 2012)

CMOSIS out of Belgium

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Sep 17, 2012)

@ jkr1185
Yeah right, a company founded in 2007 with 42 employee have enough money to build a multi-billion fab making FF sensors for a company whoes monthly sales are only in the thousands (if).

I know that what DP said, I just don't believe it.

5 upvotes
Sunny15
By Sunny15 (Sep 17, 2012)

I'm guessing they are responsible for the design, but not the fabrication.

2 upvotes
georgla
By georgla (Sep 17, 2012)

The manufacturer is most likely STmicroelectronics with a fab in France. Core components for the production process have to be sourced from Germany/Netherlands anyway.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
jeerzz
By jeerzz (Sep 17, 2012)

because sony nikon olympus canon are too mainstream

1 upvote
Total comments: 357
123