It’s been 3 long years since Leica introduced the M9 in September of 2009. The much anticipated successor to the M9 was revealed today at Photokina by the boys from Solms, Germany. The Leica M is a 24 megapixel (MP) rangefinder camera with a completely redesigned full-frame 35mm format CMOS sensor, live view, and 1080p HD video recording.  This is the first Leica M to have live view for easier framing and focusing of images and the first to have video recording of any kind, let alone HD 1080p.

Utilizing the Leica Maestro processor already present in the S series of Leica cameras, this allows for improved and faster image processing achieving the ultimate in image performance and quality. The combination of the Maestro image processing engine and the new CMOS sensor ensure low power consumption and prolonged battery life. The new live view, a mainstay on compact digital cameras, has two very interesting features. One of these is the Live View Focus feature, allowing a 10x zoom focus of the subject ensuring a razor sharp image, something that anyone who’s used a Leica rangefinder knows is an acquired skill. The other is Live View Focus Peeking, where red lines are displayed around the contours of the subject, the intensity of which allow the photographer to easily assess the areas of desired focus.

It appears that Leica has taken a page out of Apple’s nomenclature book, and like the iPad, removed the numerical suffix for all future models. Subsequent Leica M bodies will be simply referred to as the “M,” with whichever future generation model being discussed listed in parenthesis.

The Leica M will be available in early 2013 in either black or chrome for $6950.00

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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.

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