New Leica M with no screen, stripped down racing model
The rumours, unlikely as they sounded, were spot on with this new stripped-down M. I know many friends who are attracted by the idea of what is, in effect, a Leica film camera with a sensor replacing the film. Anyone who can take pictures with an M3 or, indeed, any M up to the M7, will find a purity in this camera. Controls are limited to what you will find on a film camera. Aperture, speed and ISO is all you get. As far as I can see there is no auto ISO setting on the rear dial. Images will be recorded in uncompressed RAW format, which is what many M users use exclusively anyway. The idea this back-to-basics digital is alluring and Leica, as with the Monochrom, have done something really bold and unusual.
Sadly it is to be part of a limited-quantity special edition of 600 units and will cost £12,000, including a matching 35mm Summilux lens. Made from stainless steel, the edition is not ridiculously priced: A standard M with 35 'Lux will set you back around £8,500, so the edition premium of £3,500 is actually reasonable by Leica standards. It will surely sell out in days or weeks.
But what of the future for the M60? I believe Leica could sell a version of the M without all the modern trimmings and I am sure it would sell to those many purists still out there. If it could be produced in standard materials, without lens, I think it would sell, especially if the body could be priced somewhere south of the current M's £5,100. I could be interested myself because I love the simplicity of film cameras but am always discouraged by the hassle of developing.
PRESS RELEASE FROM LEICA
The essence of photography: the LEICA M Edition 60
Special edition for the 60th anniversary of the Leica M rangefinder system
This year, Leica Camera AG, Wetzlar, is celebrating two special anniversaries. At photokina 2014, the focus of the celebrations will not be exclusively on 100 years of Leica photography, but also on the 60th anniversary of the legendary Leica M rangefinder system.
The first Leica M-Camera to possess the unique characteristics of the Leica M-System was the Leica M3, presented in 1954. A camera distinguished by absolute mechanical and optical precision and a focus on the essential parameters needed for photography. A camera with functions that clearly placed the skills of the photographer in the foreground rather than any special features the camera offered. Continuously perfected over six decades, these unique characteristics, today in combination with the latest technological innovations, still differentiate the current Leica M models from other cameras.
And now, on the 60th anniversary of this legendary camera, Leica Camera AG presents a commemorative limited edition: the Leica M Edition 60. The set consists of a Leica M-P digital camera (Type 240) and the fast Leica Summilux-M 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens, both in special versions created by Audi Design that pay homage to the essence of photography and carry it back to its origins.
Reduced to only the essential camera features, the Leica M Edition 60 is the first digital camera to concentrate exclusively on the bare functions required for digital photography – shutter speed, aperture, focusing and ISO sensitivity. This is also the reason for the replacement of the camera’s display with an ISO selector dial. For reasons of quality, exposures are saved as raw data in DNG format. Working with the Leica M Edition 60 intentionally demands the same care and attention as working with an analogue model. Only the sensor and the entire electronics reflect the state of the art of contemporary camera technology.
With the Leica M Edition 60, photographers compose and frame each subject in the viewfinder, set the aperture and shutter speed and press the shutter release at the decisive moment. Instead of the constant distraction of technical features and the checking of menu settings and controls, they enjoy the freedom to concentrate completely on their subjects. With this concept, Leica is once again the synonym for an art in which technology plays a role subordinate to the essentially creative aspects of photography.
In addition to these unusual features, above all the exceptional finish of the products is an outstanding aspect of the Leica M Edition 60. Here, stainless steel – a material that is extremely difficult to work with – has been employed for the visible metallic elements of the camera and lens. Resistant and durable in equal measure, this material guarantees enduring value preservation and lends the products a refined character with a silky sheen. The premium look is further complemented by special anthracite-coloured genuine-leather trim applied to the camera body.
Strictly limited to 600 examples worldwide, the cameras and lenses of the Leica M Edition 60 feature unique matching numbers between 001/600 and 600/600. The M-Cameras also bear the engravings ‘Leica 60’ and ‘Leica Camera Wetzlar’. The special edition includes a camera protector, also created by Audi Design.
The Leica M Edition 60 will be available at £12,000 RRP from Leica Store Mayfair and Leica Store Burlington starting October 2014.