Not your Daddy’s rangefinder: Leica M offers live view, high-def video


posted Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 2:25 AM EDT


Ladies and gentlemen, the Leica M digital camera is here, and it is not your Daddy's rangefinder! After the first significant overhaul in three years, Leica's latest M-system camera sports a number of significant new features that are quite a departure from the Leicas of days gone by. The Leica M (Typ 240) now boasts functionality taken for granted by the rest of the market for years, such as full-time live view and high-definition video capture, as well as a few options that are less common.

It also boasts a new naming schema. Taking a page from Apple's book, Leica says it will no longer be giving its products unique names. If you want to tell this camera apart from the next Leica M (whenever that's announced), you'll need to remember that this year's model is the Leica M Typ 240. Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue!

The Leica M is the company's first CMOS-based interchangeable-lens model since 2006.

With that aside, though, the latest Leica M camera looks like quite the upgrade. The body is now weather sealed, and houses a brand new, 35mm full-frame CMOS image sensor developed in parnership with Belgian image sensor supplier CMOSIS. It's coupled with a Leica Maestro-branded image processor, as seen in the company's S-system cameras. Together, they make quite a pairing, allowing live view, manual focus zoom, focus peaking, and even high-def movie capture. And those are far from the only improvements since the Leica M9.

There are a lot of new features in the Leica M, including an accessory port-mounted EVF.

Available from early 2012, the Leica M is priced at around US$6,950 list. That's almost identical to the list pricing for the M9, making it a great value compared to the earlier model--even if it's probably still well beyond the reach of many enthusiast photographers. Body colors will include a choice of black paint, or silver chrome. Want to know more about Leica's newest M-system flagship, and how it differs from its predecessor? Read our Leica M preview!

Leica M (Typ 240)
Camera Type Rangefinder
Manufacturer North America: M
Dimensions 5.5 x 3.1 x 1.7 in.
(139 x 80 x 42 mm)
Weight 24.0 oz (680 g)
Planned Price $6,950
Planned Availability February 2012
Image Capture
Sensor Type CMOS
35mm (approx. 1.69 in. diagonal)
24.00 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Focal Length Multiplier 1.00
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Image Dimensions 5952 x 3976 (23.7 megapixels)
4256 x 2823 (12.0 megapixels)
2976 x 1984 (5.9 megapixels)
1600 x 1080 (1.7 megapixels)
Capture Speed Continuous: 3.0 frames per second
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder Yes, Non-TTL bright-line frame rangefinder w/ automatic parallax compensation, 0.68x magnification; Optional Visoflex EVF-2 Electronic Viewfinder
LCD 3.0 in. diagonal, 920,000 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 200 to 6,400 in 1/3EV steps, extendable to ISO 100
Shutter Speed 60 - 1/4000 second
Exposure Modes Aperture, Manual
Metering Modes OVF: TTL Center-weighted with working aperture; Live view: TTL Multi, Center-weighted, Spot
Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 0.3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent warm, Fluorescent cool, Flash, Kelvin Setting (2000-13100K), 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); First or second curtain sync.
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Scene Modes Film Simulation Modes
Self Timer Yes, 2 or 12 seconds
Movie Format QuickTime Motion JPEG (MOV); built-in mic is mono, but external stereo mic adapter available with audio
Movie Resolution / Frame Rate 1920x1080 @ 25p/24p, 1280x720 @ 25p/24p, 640x480 @ 30p
Recording Medium SD/MMC including SDHC, SDXC
File Format .DNG RAW (14-bit, compressed or uncompressed), RAW+JPEG, JPEG
Other Accessory port
Battery Type Lithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary 7.4v 1800mAh
Product Bundle
Software Free download of Adobe Lightroom 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 24MP CMOS sensor, Maestro processor, Live View with 10x focus magnification and focus peaking, 1080p Full HD movies, 920K-dot LCD with Gorilla Glass, optional EVF-2 electronic viewfinder.