Leica has officially announced the M11 digital rangefinder camera. As expected, the price tag is tough, because the model, which is available now, is said to cost 8350 euros. For comparison: The predecessor M10 was available for “only” 6500 euros when it was launched. The M11 also shows off with big numbers elsewhere: the resolution of its full-frame sensor (BSI) increases to 60 megapixels. This puts it on par with the current resolution leader in this sensor class, the mirrorless system camera Sony A7R IV, with 61 megapixels.
Leica M11 photographers should also be able to work in different resolution levels and also be able to record raw material. Leica calls this “triple resolution technology”. In addition to 60 megapixels, you can also take photos with 36 or 18 megapixels in DNG format. Leica did not want to reveal exactly how this works. Just this much: The pixels are combined into virtual pixels using an algorithm and interpolated to generate the raw data. That sounds a bit like smartphone music, because even the tiny sensors of mobile phones today house a crazy number of pixels, the information from which is combined with one another in order to improve the dynamic range and noise behavior, for example. Leica also promises that.
Exposure metering over the entire image sensor
Although the manufacturer wants to have completely redesigned the M11, it still seems outdated in some respects, especially compared to high-quality models from other players such as Canon or Sony. The sensor of the Leica M11 is not flexibly mounted. But especially with an enormous resolution like 60 megapixels, image stabilization would be a comfortable and, above all, practical feature. According to Leica, the space in the housing is simply not enough. Preserving the design DNA of the series, from which its myth is also fed to a certain extent, has a higher priority.
For exposure metering, the M11 can now also read the image sensor during viewfinder operation and can therefore use more diverse exposure metering methods not only in LiveView mode. Previously, M models could only use an indirect measurement with a photodiode embedded in the underside of the housing in rangefinder mode – the result is a more centre-weighted integral measurement. The optimized exposure metering may be a novelty for the M series, but it is a matter of course for other manufacturers.
Since the M11 is a classic rangefinder camera, there is no autofocus. Focusing is done manually using two partial images that want to be brought into congruence. Of course you can also work with the current M11 in LiveView mode via the rear display and then access conveniences such as focus enlargement. The monitor offers a resolution of 2.3 megapixels with a size of 2.95 inches and reacts to touch gestures. The manufacturer also adopted the design of the on-screen menu from the Leica Q and Leica SL models.
The M camera does not record videos.
Another major innovation within the M family is the lack of a removable floor pan. The battery can therefore be removed more easily. It is a new type that is said to have over 60 percent increased capacity compared to its predecessor. It can be refreshed via a charging cradle; Alternatively, the M11 can be charged via USB-C – also in continuous current. However, it consumes more in operation than it can absorb in this way.
If you want to change the SD card, you have to remove the battery. A lateral SD card slot, as modern mirrorless system cameras have, is also out of the question due to the traditional design. After all, the M11 has an internal memory of 64 gigabytes.