LEICA M silver

Leica M black frontHow hot were the discussions about the coming LEICA M10! Some of us saw no more potential for rangefinder cameras, others wrote long wish lists to Leica with urgently wanted features.

Leica now presents not a LEICA M10 but:


  • New CMOS 24 MP Sensor
  • Live View for additional focusing methods – 10x zoom and focus peaking
  • 1080p Full HD, video capability
  • Accessories expanding the opportunities of rangefinder photography

One thing you’ll miss: No more number suffix for Leica M cameras thus no LEICA M10 or M11. Leica wants to “emphasise the enduring and long-term significance of the respective systems”. In order to distinguish single Leica models will have a type code of three digits deriving from the internal numbering. The now introduced LEICA M is “type 240”, the LEICA M-E is “type 220”.

The LEICA M in Detail:

CMOS Sensor

The new 24 MP, full 35 mm format CMOS sensor doesn’t come from one of the big manufacturers but was designed and constructed in collaboration with the Belgian company CMOSIS especially for the camera and its use with M and R lenses. Regarding to Leica the characteristic advantages of CCD sensors, such as colour rendition and impressive reproduction of details, were transferred 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

Live View And Live View Fokus

Leica M silver backOne of the biggest advantages of a CMOS sensor is its live view ability. Now you can assess your image on the camera’s 3-inch, monitor screen with 920,000 pixels.

Additionally to the classical range finder the LEICA M offers two additional focusing methods

  • The new ‘Live View Zoom’ option enables up to 10 x magnification for precise focusing
  • The second focusing aid is ‘Live View Focus Peaking’. Here, contours in the subject are automatically displayed as red lines to allow simple and convenient focus assessment.

Leica M Video

The LEICA M is the first Leica rangefinder camera with video capabilities – up to 25 fps in 1080p in MOV and Motion JPEG. Sound is recorded via an internal mono microphone or an external stereo microphone adapter. The level can be adjusted automatically or manually while recording.

Leica M: Finally the “adequate solution for Leica R photographers”

Three years ago Leica’s Stefan Daniel promised a Leica camera allowing to use Leica R lenses digitally in full format.

The LEICA M now finally fulfills this promise. With the new LEICA R adapter almost all Leica R lenses ever built can be mounted. The camera menu offers profiles for more than 20 R lenses completely with an individual calibrated workflow and EXIF lens recognition.

Leica M As Studio Camera

More accessories allow to use the LEICA M as studio camera

The multifunctional handgrip-M has a dedicated SCA hot shoe, a socket for a remote power supply and a DIN/ISO X-sync socket for studio flash systems. An optional remote power unit (DC Adapter) is also available.

The Leica M can also be connected directly to a computer workstation via the handgrip’s integrated USB socket. This allows full remote control of the camera with the ‘Leica Image Shuttle’ software package and the transfer of image files directly to the computer by USB cable.

The Leica M Outdoor

This was also on the wish list of many photographers: Special rubber seals now protect the camera body against dust, spray and moisture. 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.

The multifunctional handgrip-M mentioned above has an integrated GPS module. Thus users can save exposure location information in the EXIF image data.

LEICA EVF2 Visoflex Viewfinder

The high-resolution electronic Visoflex viewfinder Leica EVF2 has a resolution of 1.4 megapixels and a 90° swivel action for capturing images from unusual angles. It allows to use the LEICA M like a DSLR.

LEICA M – Summary

Leica claims the LEICA M “remains true to the legendary values of the M-System, while expanding the opportunities offered by rangefinder photography.” As far as we can judge it from the information available until now we can agree upon that: The new LEICA M and its accessories make the camera a great tool not only as reportage camera but also in the photo studio, for macro and tele photography.

The CMOS sensor with live view, the additional focusing methods, the EVF and the Leica R adapter make the LEICA M the long awaited option to use the outstanding quality of LEICA R lenses in digital full format.

And I’m really looking forward to LEICA M videos – full format, extremely fast lenses and the unobtrusive look of the camera will generate a video look of its own and completely new.

The new milestone

The LEICA M – digital rangefinder technology in perfection

Leica Camera AG, Solms, presents a groundbreaking milestone in the history of the Leica rangefinder system at the photokina in Cologne (18 to 23 September 2012): The Leica M. As the first camera to implement a newly designed and constructed CMOS image sensor and to feature additional focusing methods and functions like Live View and Full HD video capability, it is the most versatile model ever in the history of Leica rangefinder cameras and sets entirely new standards. It unites the numerous advantages of innovative digital technology with a rangefinder technology that has been continuously perfected over decades. At the same time, it remains true to the legendary values of the M-System, while expanding the opportunities offered by rangefinder photography – and, for the first time, offers compatibility with Leica R legacy lenses.

The Leica M also marks the beginning of a new era with regard to the Leica product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasise the enduring and long-term significance of the respective systems. A further intention of this policy is to reinforce perceived value following the launch of new product generations.

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 colour 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. This now also means that all elements in the image creation chain, from the lens to the image file are under complete control of the Leica engineers and therefore guarantee the ultimate in imaging performance and quality. Another particular highlight is the low power consumption of the components that, in conjunction with the particularly high capacity of the battery, ensures outstanding system-autonomy.

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 colour 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. Thanks to the Live View function, photographers now 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 totally new horizons.

The Leica M offers two additional focusing methods that can be activated quickly and easily with the new focus button. So now, M-Photographers 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.

All the new 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 with regard to its intuitive handling concept with direct manual setting options and fast access to functions. The new 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, and accessed quickly whenever required for particular situations, and can now also be saved to an SD memory card. For increased comfort in use, 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. 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 authorised dealers in early 2013 in a choice of black paint or silver chrome finish.

Technical Data LEICA M

Unique Product Name LEICA M (Typ 240), black paint
LEICA M (Typ 240), silver chrome
Camera type Compact digital view- and rangefinder system still and video camera
Lens mount Leica M bayonet with additional sensor for 6-bit coding
Lens system Leica M lenses, Leica R lenses with optional Leica R-Adapter M
Top Cover Milled brass top cover with integrated thumb rest
Material All-metal case made of die-cast magnesium; synthetic leather covering.
Cap and base plate made of brass
Image Sensor LEICA MAX 24 MP CMOS Sensor
Number of effective Pixels 24 Million Pixels
Sensitivity range ISO 200 – ISO 6400, Pull 100 available, Auto ISO
Imaging Platform Integrated imaging circuit with Leica Maestro® Image processor
Electronic Viewfinder Optional available, can be used for Live View and Play functionality
LCD Monitor 3” TFT Display with 920.000 Pixels, scratch resistant cover glass (Corning®Gorilla®Glass)
Shutter Dual type focal plane shutter for classic image exposure and Live view
Shutter Speed 1/4000s – 60s (in Bulb), 1/180s flash synchronization
Burst rate 3fps
Self timer 2s / 12s
Storage Media SD / SDHC / SDXC Memory Cards
Imaging functions
Image File Format DNG™ (RAW data uncompressed or lossless compressed), JPEG
File Size DNG approx. 20 Mbyte – approx. 30 Mbyte (compressed)/ 48,2 MByte (uncompressed), JPEG: Resolution and image content dependent
Available JPG Resolutions 5952px*3976px (24 MP), 4256px*2832px (12 MP)/ 2976px*1984px (6MP) / 1600px*1080px (1,7MP)
Color Spaces sRGB / Adobe®RGB
White Balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shadow / Tungsten / Fluorescent warm /Fluorescent cool / Flash / Manual (Greycard) / Kelvin 2000-13100
Other functions Film Modes, Saturation, Contrast, Sharpening
Movie Recording
Movie Recording Single frame video compression (Motion JPG), Quicktime format (mov)
Movie resolution 1080p, 720p, 640*480 (VGA)
Movie sampling rate 25 fps, 24 fps, 30 fps (VGA only)
Microphone Mono, stereo microphone adapter optional available
Audio recording Auto level adjustment, manual level adjustment (available while recording), concert preset
Exposure Control
Exposure Metering In classic viewfinder mode: Through the Lens (TTL) metering, center weighted with variable aperture.
In Live View and advanced viewfinder mode: Through the Lens (TTL) metering, center weighted, spot or multifield measuring.
Center-weighted TTL metering for flash exposure with system conformant SCA-3000/2 standard flash units.
Exposure setting Manual shutter speed setting with direct dial, A-Mode with direct dial
Exposure Modes Automatic shutter speed (A-Mode), Manual Exposure (M-Mode)
Exposure Compensation -3 EV to +3 EV, 1/3 f-stops
Exposure Bracketing 3/5 frames, 0.5 / 1 / 2 / 3 f-stops
Flash exposure Control
Flash exposure metering 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).
Hot shoe SCA-3502 compatible hot shoe, with center contact
Flash Synchronization Optional triggered at first or second shutter curtain
Flash Synch time 1/180s
Viewfinder / Focusing
Focusing Methods Manual focus with optical rangefinder, Live View, 100% Live View Zoom, Live View focus peaking
Optical Viewfinder Large, light bright-line rangefinder with automatic parallax compensation, LED illuminated frame lines.
Optical Viewfinder frame lines Framelines size matches image sensor size at 2m focusing distance
Optical Viewfinder correction Eyepiece adjusted to -0,5 dpt. Corrective lenses from -3 to +3 dpt. available (optional)
Optical Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x
Optical Viewfinder Displays In the viewfinder LED symbol for flash status (at bottom). Four-digit seven-segment LED digital display, brightness adapted to ambient conditions, for: Warning in case of exposure correction; display of automatic shutter speed in automatic mode; advisory indicating use of metering memory lock LED exposure monitor with two triangular and one central circular LED with manual exposure setting
Rangefinder Split or superimposed image range finder shown as a bright field in the center of the viewfinder image
Rangefinder effective metering Basis 47.1 mm (mechanical metering basis 69.25 mm x viewfinder magnification 0.68 times)
Start up time <1s
Power Supply Li-ion battery (included), 7.4V, 1800 mAh
Horizon Yes
User Profiles 4 Profiles, exportable
Sensor cleaning Dust detection, manual cleaning function
Tripod Thread A 1/4 (1/4″) DIN made of stainless steel in base plate
Dimensions approx. 139 x 42 x 80 mm<br/ > (5,5 x 1,7 x 3,1 in.)
Weight 680 g (23.9 oz)
Operating Temperature 0°C – 40°C
Menu languages English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese
Accessories Included Battery, Charger with power cables for EU and USA (different in some export markets), 12V charging cable, Carrying strap, Accessory port cover, Body cap
Software licenses Supplied Adobe® Lightroom®
New optional accessories Electronic Viewfinder (EVF-2), Multi-functional Handgrip M, Handgrip M, SCA Adapter Set for Multi-functional Handgrip M, Power Adapter for Multi-functional Handgrip M, Finger loop for Multi-functional Handgrip M, Size S / M / L, Leica Microphone Adapter Set, Leica M-Adapter R, Ever-Ready Case M, Li-ion Battery BP-SCL2, Battery charger BC-SCL2

About The Author

Andreas is Photo Engineer and lives in Bonn, Germany. He runs the international Leica Forum, the Systemkamera Forum (about CSC cameras) and the Fuji X Forum. Google+


  1. I am drooling right now. Literally drooling.

  2. Putting it on the “list”… I hope the new M will be properly calibrated unlike 2 M8s and one M9 i had so far…

  3. WOW! Really about time! Those R lenses are jumping up and down!

  4. Ahhhh… so I kind of like this a lot.
    Multifunction handgrip with GPS.. YES
    R lens support… YES

    Need to have – probably

  5. Nice to see that they can follow 🙂
    any idea of the price of this piece ?


  6. How much? I want one!!!

  7. It’s still just a digicam. It doesn’t *make* anything – as opposed to film body Leica M-M7’s which will turn out 35mm film strips with latent images. The Leica mystique ended with the M7. The good news is these digicams may drive down the price of the Leica film bodies so I can afford one one day.

  8. Honestly, from what i have read, i don’t get it. I am an M user. Why should I care about the R lenses? Personally, I don’t care for live-view focusing. GPS should be built in to the camera, not the optional grip. The old naming system used to make sense to me, the new is bound to be confusing. The only changes that matter to me are the new sensor and associated picture quality, which I will be eager to find out more about, in particular in higher ISO’s and the increased dust and moisture resistance.

  9. I sort off found the new M weird to say the least. Purely for an aesthetic point off view is ugly. Specially the back side. Those rectangular buttons are really bad, the screen is over size and not proportional to the body. The silver round control looks simple cheap. I guess this is what happens when you have a bunch off people always asking for more and more when there was no need for all those “features” in the first place. The result is a frankenstein!. They should’ve just update the 9 with better screen resolution, better sensor and keep the design intact!. This is the new M5.

  10. Leica, once again has kept the “M” alive and basically useful, but the system is getting more complicated (from the early report) and decided to sacrifice the intrinsic clarity of the CCD for somewhat faster speed, a 1/3rd more pixel sensor with apparently less noise. Glad to see the “R” guys/gals have something to fall back on.

    After 20+ years as a commercial photographer with the Canon FD system, Pentax 6×7, Mamiya 7II and 4×5 w/Rodenstock’s 90-480mm, I started kind of late in my career with Leica M, including several M6’s, then several M6 TTL’s, an M7, an M8 and now an M9 and 7 or so ASPH lenses 21-135.

    The M9 produces the best file I’ve ever seen (took a “hand held” shot to 30+ inches wide, razor sharp on an Epson 3800 (13″ x 32″) from a center cut from a 50mm f2.0 Summicron with my M9).

    I’m in love with the idea and history of the Leica M system and how it brought “miniature” photography to usefulness and prominence and got news photography off the static tripod and how it survived in spite of the bad rap many German companies are still trying to outlive. I can only hope the new M is moving in the right direction and will help to keep new Leica photo machinery coming our way .

    There can be no argument that over the years Leica has had the preeminent philosophy pertaining to the design of the best overall performing lenses in 35mm photography and even though I’m not likely to pop for the new M body immediately (what, estimated 7-10,000 Yankee?), had it been 35 or so megapixel – full frame CCD with 2, maybe even 1 more speed stop over my M9, hey, I’m 70, could maybe scrape together the cash and why not?. And if Leica wants to send one for a test by a “35+ years in the business” commercial photographer, I might end up with a new perspective and say so.

  11. While the new M looks beautiful, but I kind of wish it had not been burdened with video capability. I’ve been considering upgrading my M8 to the M, but it seems that I’ll get better value and all the camera I need in going to an M9 or M9- which addresses the shortcomings of the M8. I’m sure with the M coming out prices will come back “slightly” on the 9.


  12. great great new features! i love them bringing back the Visioflex in digital!

  13. Sorry, 24 mp is far too many mps for video and a CMOS sensor is no help

  14. Once more, Leica uses a sensor produced by a surely excellent company, but…. who knows CMOSIS? Was’nt enough the experience with Kodak and, much more bad, with Imacon? By the way, finally I shall use my R lenses on a full frame digital camera, throwing away my DMR and buying the new Leica M for 10.000 US dollars! (or more???). Shall I use also my Telyt 4/250mm? I hope that Leica will finally give a chance to the R system owners, perhaps giving the possibility to buy a new battery for DMR, or a full frame reflex camera or, at least, sending an adapter for Canon EOS bodies…. free of charge!

  15. Sounds like a dream come true for all those who have a full set of Leica lenses and a way to attract many new uses to the Leica line.

  16. Availability is scheduled for early 2013 with a retail price of $6,950 in the US and £5100 in the UK.

  17. HD video with manual focus, a little tough with my 5 year old girl.

  18. can ı use all kind my old m lenses in new leica m?

  19. I’m very tempted, for the first time. But how quiet is it? I found the M8 and M9 too intrusively noisy for photographing people. But this time the live view and other additions may make me buy the M. One big drawback with film Leicas is that the cloth shutters caused fogging when the lens points directly at the sun, and with fast films bright sun caused fogging if the lens inadvertently caught bright sun. Live view would allow one to see the image when looking at the sun, without covering the viewfinder with layers of black film, which then blots out the rest of the image. Luckily we have plenty of time to think it over, so I won’t make an impulsive decision I’ll later regret. (I hate impulsive purchases.)

  20. I love my M9-best bokeh I’ve seen in a camera since my Mamiya 7II. I am certainly tempted to jump onto that pre-order list, however I can’t justify doing so until some actual image samples-ie ones NOT on Leica’s M site, which, IMHO, are crap, come out. I would forgo the better ISO quality and more MP for some more dynamic range. I understand this one’s got 1 stop better performance than the M9, which is OK…but imagine if they got 14-stops of range into this baby?!? I wouldn’t even need to look at the D800e! I am not sure why they felt like they needed to go with video. Seriously, if I want to do video and not buy a flippin’ video-specific camera, I’ll just get a dSLR. Anyhoo, I’ll wait for the reviews. I appreciate Leica going to more “competitive” prices, as I thought the M10 would be 9K+, but like I said, I’ll wait for the reviews.

  21. Since the 1950s I have had my share of Leicas and many other cameras too.
    I am surprised that the new M Leica has no exposure -lock button. I sent a fax to Leica asking if one could be retro fitted on my M9. The fax apparently was handed to someone in the firm for action but nothing has happened in the past 9 months of waiting { not a good sign ] Even my last Hasselblad 203 FE had an EL button and their comprehensive instruction book went to great lengths to show how easily and effectively exposure could be locked to avoid backlighting effects. They provided excellent photographs indicating how part of the scene could be used to lock in exposure for a string of shots until the lighting changed when a quick repress of the EL button would reset the exposure. The EL lock capability on the shutter button of the M9 is very slow since it only stays set for one shot and one has to look through the viewfinder to see if the indicator light appears. I find it easy to take premature shots using this system as configured for the M9. The alternative is to go to Manual in which case it is still necessary to look through the viewfinder. All of which are slower than using an Exposure lock button.
    I would have been happy with just three changes to the M9.
    [1] A better LCD screen [2] An exposure lock button. [3] Possibly more pixels but not at the expense of more noise.
    I think that I shall wait for further M models. I might even get a reply from Leica before the year is out !

  22. I would take an in body image stabilization over video capability..If I need video my Canon 5D III is better suited…A maximum exposure of 60 seconds in “B”?…My M9 does 300 seconds…A new LCD sounds nice but how could it be worse than the M9’s?…Weather proofing looks like the only really important improvement.

  23. I’m waiting for the LEICA CL version by PANASONIC? Or the LEICA M2 version?
    So working pros can afford to buy one, not just the rich & famous, yes?

  24. What is the rumour that all Leica M (240)s have been withdrawn due to a problem with the eyelets that hold the carry strap? Rumour has it that a few broke away from the body, dropping the camera and lens onto the floor. Anyone heard anything like this?

  25. […] For the anniversary “100 Years of Leica Photography” Leica has presented another limited edition: The Leica M. […]

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