January 13, 2022
Leica has revealed the latest in its long-running and highly revered line of M-series rangefinder cameras. The new Leica M11 sports a 60MP backside-illuminated full-frame sensor, which is the highest resolution yet for an M camera. As a result, it promises image quality that should match the best full-frame cameras on the market. Available in a choice of silver or black finishes, it costs £7,500 body only.
Key technical specifications include a sensitivity range of ISO 64-50,000 and continuous shooting at 4.5 frames per second. Focusing is via a rangefinder patch integrated into the optical viewfinder, which boasts a magnification of 0.73x. On the back there’s a 2.3-million-dot, 3-in touchscreen surrounded by the bare minimum of controls needed to operate the camera.
One interesting and unusual feature is that the Leica M11 can record DNG raw files in three different resolutions: 60MP, 36MP or 18MP, so you don’t have to live with the storage and processing overheads of the high-resolution sensor all the time.
Design-wise, the M11 looks much like the previous models in the range, with a traditional flat-bodied rangefinder layout, simple analogue controls for shutter speed and ISO (plus focus and aperture rings in the lenses), and Leica’s signature rounded ends. As befits a tool that’s designed specifically for photographers, it doesn’t even record video.
We had our hands on a pre-production Leica M11 for a few days prior to its initial. Read our detailed Leica M11 hands-on first look review, complete with image samples and an initial investigation into its lower-resolution DNG files.
The new Leica M11 – A Legend reinvented
Wetzlar, 13th January 2022. The new Leica M11 combines the experience of traditional rangefinder photography with contemporary camera technology, delivering a maximum of flexibility to every photographer. Featuring an exclusive triple resolution sensor, expanded ISO range, dual memory, extended battery life and a streamlined and intuitive menu system, the Leica M11 represents a new benchmark in digital photography and the most flexible M-System camera in Leica’s storied history.
At the heart of the new Leica M11 is a full-frame BSI CMOS sensor with Triple Resolution Technology. Raw image files in DNG format and JPEGs can be recorded at 60, 36 or 18 megapixels, always using the full sensor area. The 60-megapixel option delivers unprecedented image quality and detail resolution, exploiting the full optical potential of Leica’s latest APO Lenses for the M-System – whereas the lower resolutions enable faster camera performance, extended burst lengths, and smaller files.
A special IR + UV cut filter – comprising of two extremely thin, cemented layers of glass – achieve an especially effective correction of even the most oblique rays of incident light. Thanks to a new color filter array, the camera also offers an improved, more natural color reproduction.
While maintaining the iconic look of a traditional Leica M, the carefully optimized design of the Leica M11 is focused on efficiency and ergonomics. The controls have been arranged in a unique layout around the new, 2.3 million pixels, high-resolution touchscreen. The menu structure of the M11 remains consistent with that of the Leica SL2 and Q2, unifying the acclaimed interface for a more user-friendly experience.
The Leica M11 has a sensitivity range of ISO 64 to 50,000; it records a 14-bit color depth and has a dynamic range of up to 15 stops. With its Maestro III processor, the Leica M11 offers a fluid and responsive operation, even at the highest resolution and image quality. With the optional electronic shutter featuring a shutter speed of up to 1/16000 of a second, photographers are empowered to work with wide open apertures, in bright light – without ND filters. The M11 marks the first-time multi-field metering in rangefinder mode will be available, affording photographers a valuable tool to curate light.
The black-finish variant of the Leica M11 features a top plate made of high-quality aluminium with an especially scratch-resistant coating, resulting in a body that is approximately 20% (100 grams) lighter than its silver-chrome counterpart. By comparison, the silver-chrome M11 features a classic brass top plate and weighs in at 640 grams.
Unique to the M11 is the deliberate omission of the traditional base plate, offering photographers easy direct access to the battery and SD card. In addition to the SD card slot, the Leica M11 is equipped with a generous internal storage capacity of 64 gigabytes. As a result, the M11 is the first M model to save image files simultaneously onto two different storage media. The 1800mAh battery stores 64% more energy than before, and combined with the camera’s more efficient operation, allows for considerably longer shooting sessions with a single charge. In addition, the newly added universal USB-C port also serves to charge the camera’s battery, using most USB-C chargers.
Upgraded connectivity features of the Leica M11 will be available through a new firmware version in the second half of 2022. This will enable the new M11’s advanced connectivity capabilities that will elevate users’ mobile workflows and enhance the Leica FOTOS app with the possibility to embed location data, access images via Bluetooth connection, and allow increased transfer rates. Moreover, the Leica M11 is already an Apple “Made for iPhone and iPad” certified accessory and as such, offers unique abilities with the included Leica FOTOS cable.
With the evolution of the Leica M comes new accessories to enhance the rangefinder experience. The new Visoflex 2 electronic viewfinder features 3.7-megapixel resolution to provide outstanding image control in Live View mode. Encased in a metal exterior, the Visoflex 2 perfectly matches the M11 in terms of design and functionality. Full-frame viewing and the precise focusing of Leica lenses is supported by the Visoflex 2’s large diopter adjustment range of -4 to +3 and 90 degree tilt function. To improve ergonomics without obstructing access to the battery and SD card, photographers will have the option to complement their M11 with a newly designed handgrip. The new handgrip doubles as a tripod mount, where the Leica M11 can be attached to Arca-Swiss-standard tripod heads without the need for any additional equipment.
Leica M11: Witness the Future
“We are very proud of the new M11,” says Stefan Daniel, Executive Vice President Technology and Operations. “This camera is another milestone for Leica. Its inner workings are a completely new development, while the exterior remains true to the iconic Leica M design.”
“As we all know,” says Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Leica Camera AG, Wetzlar, “the iconic Leica M-System has accompanied dedicated photographers worldwide over decades, giving them a superior tool for witnessing their time and creating outstanding pictures. The new M11 will continue this legacy with outstanding technology, based on the experience since 1925.”