Leica M-E rangefinder: Almost an M9, for a whole lot less?


posted Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 1:14 AM EST


Think quickly! How much would you pay to have a USB port and an extra switch on your Leica digital camera? Did you say US$1,500 or more? If so, then you can stop reading this preview: the German camera legend would rather you looked at our review of their M9 and M9-P instead.

If, though, you're the kind of person who's willing to sacrifice a couple of features that--let's face it--you probably wouldn't use much anyway... Well, the brand-new Leica M-E might just be the rangefinder camera for you! The M-E retains almost all of what made the M9 so popular with Leicaphiles, and yet somehow manages to shave a very handy 21% off the list price.

The biggest difference between the Leica M-E and M9 is to be found in the pricetag.

Available immediately, the Leica M-E is priced at around US$5,450 list. That's a pretty impressive US$1,500 off list pricing for the M9, a significant difference for a camera that lacks only two small features! In fact, the price difference is so significant that we found ourselves poring over the spec sheets looking for any slight differences. We were convinced we must be missing some significant omission between the Leica M-E and the more expensive M9, which has been shipping since September 2009--but no. We can find only three differences between the M-E and M9 beyond their pricetags.

There's no denying the Leica M-E is a handsome-looking camera.

Want to know what they are, and what they mean for M-E shooters? Read our Leica M-E preview!

Leica M-E (Typ 220)
Camera Type Rangefinder
Manufacturer North America: M-E
Dimensions 5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in.
(139 x 80 x 37 mm)
Weight 20.6 oz (585 g)
Planned Price $5,450
Planned Availability September 2012
Image Capture
Sensor Type Kodak KAF-18500 CCD
35mm (approx. 1.69 in. diagonal)
18.50 megapixels (total)
18.00 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Focal Length Multiplier 1.00
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Image Dimensions 5212 x 3472 (18.1 megapixels)
3840 x 2592 (10.0 megapixels)
2592 x 1728 (4.5 megapixels)
1728 x 1152 (2.0 megapixels)
1280 x 846 (1.1 megapixels)
Capture Speed Continuous: 2.0 frames per second
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder Yes, Non-TTL bright-line frame rangefinder w/ automatic parallax compensation, 0.68x magnification
LCD 2.5 in. diagonal, 230,000 dots
Image Stabilization No
Aperture Range Varies with lens used
Focusing System Fixed Focus
Does not have AF assist lamp
Manual focus possible
ISO Sensitivity Auto, ISO 160 to 2,500 in 1/3EV steps, extendable to ISO 80
Shutter Speed 32 - 1/4000 second
Exposure Modes Aperture, Manual
Metering Modes Center-weighted with working aperture
Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 0.3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Flash, Kelvin Setting (2000-12800K), Manual
Internal Flash Modes: Control with center-weighted TTL pre-flash metering (with SCA-3501/3502 adapter, or SCA-3000 standard flash unit such as Leica SF 24D/Leica SF 58).
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Scene Modes n/a
Self Timer Yes, 2 or 12 seconds
Recording Medium SD/MMC including SDHC
File Format .DNG RAW (14-bit, compressed or uncompressed), RAW+JPEG, JPEG
Video No
Battery Type Lithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor 1 x proprietary 3.7v 1860mAh
Product Bundle
Software Free download of Adobe Lightroom 4 for registered owners
Battery / Charger 1 x Proprietary Lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger
Internal Microphone No
Internal Speaker Yes
Tripod Mount Yes, Stainless steel
Remote Control Yes, Threaded cable release
Waterproof No
Notes Cost reduced M9. No framing guide selector, no USB port. Available in Anthracite grey paint.