Leica M or Leica M-P: The choice is easy
In the market for a Leica M as autumn approaches? Should it be the two-year-old M or the new batmobile, the M-P at a £550 premium? It's a tough choice but, for the moment, my advice would be to get the M-P if you can. This is despite the discounts currently being offered on the M.
The M-P adds the larger buffer, the sapphire screen and the returned-from-the-dead frameline selector lever. Perhaps more important than these enhancements, however, is the stealthy all-black image. The similarly styled M9-P was a huge success by Leica standards and even now this is the model to aim for if you want a secondhand nine. It's the one that everyone wants and many are prepared to pay a premium of up to £1,000 for the privilege of owning an unobtrusive camera with a sapphire screen. I am sure that when you come to sell your M-P you will find a similar difference and this will more than cover the extra £550 being asked by Leica.
There is another reason to be cautious about buying the current M before Photokina in two weeks' time. It is just possible that two of the M-P's new attributes will find their way to the base M. I see no reason for Leica to withhold the larger buffer and the frameline lever from the standard M. The lever was dropped in 2012 because Leica assumed it was no longer relevant. I doubt that cost cutting came into it at all. It was done for different reasons. The design team has now had a rethink and reinstated the lever on M-P. Having taken this step, Leica has probably realised that it makes sense from a production point of view to have just one chassis style and uniform internals, leaving just the tough screen and lack of front branding to distinguish the M-P from the M.
These enhancements could give the M a new lease of life until the next major upgrade. On my wish list for then is a redesigned hotshoe and an uprated processor capable of handling the new high-resolution Visoflex from the Leica T. The VF-2 viewfinder is now falling seriously behind in terms of pixel density, lag and image size and is put to shame by the T's Visoflex. And while we're at it, wouldn't it be nice to put the M on a diet and trim it down to the size and weight of the M9?