Leica M11 Evaluation: Is It Price $9K?

If I examined the Leica M11 myself, it might have been a misplaced trigger. Regardless of figuring out Leica is the Porsche of camera-makers, what on Earth am I, an newbie, going to do with a $9K camera?

That’s why I bought one within the arms of my brother, Sam Hurly, knowledgeable photographer who focuses on vehicles and portraits. I knew he’d be the man to inform me two issues: What makes this Leica so nice in comparison with previous fashions? And why would a layperson like me spend that a lot dough on a digicam in 2022?

Sam, who usually works with Canon our bodies however typically shoots movie on a Leica M6, got here out of his expertise as a possible convert. Right here’s what he needed to say after a two-week check drive with the Leica M11.

Courtesy Picture

What Makes the Leica M11 Stand Out?

To start with, that is no new price ticket by way of Leica fashions. Leica steadily releases a brand new M mannequin each few years, like Apple with its iPads and iPhones. The brand new options outpace the previous fashions, whereas all the time working in roughly the identical value vary.

“Subsequent to the M10, the M11’s megapixel improve from 24 to 60 is extraordinarily vital,” Hurly says. “Even in comparison with the later M10-R and M10 Monochrome at 40 megapixels, you get 33 p.c bigger native pictures from the M11. That’s a serious assertion. You might print a billboard with that type of high quality. What folks will actually respect is it means that you can crop a picture nevertheless you want—and nevertheless small you want—whereas nonetheless getting the tiniest particulars in excessive definition.”

Right here’s a shot Hurly took of his cat, Sox, with a crop in on the nostril for proof of those particulars: Yeah, Sam wants to clean his window, however you’ll be able to see the person hairs, and the tufts on the nostril.

Closeup of gray cat photographed with Leica M11
Sam Hurly

Right here’s a Mercedes grill—cropped in on that lattice element—and black on black, no much less.

Mercedes front grill shot with a Leica M11 camera
Sam Hurly

Observe that the digicam permits for smaller-res pictures to be taken—36 or 18 megapixels. Hurly says, usually, as a digicam’s potential to seize bigger pictures will increase, its potential to shoot in low mild decreases. However he discovered this wasn’t the case with the M11, which superbly “pixel bins” the pictures. Translation: It creates a composite pixel from a number of surrounding pixels and does so uniformly throughout the picture, in an effort to create a smaller but nonetheless sharply outlined end result.

Talking of low mild, one other massive good thing about this improve might be present in taking pictures contests. He likes the M11’s dynamic vary and the way straightforward it’s to regulate shadows and highlights to provide one thing profoundly reasonable—the precise manner the attention sees it. He confirmed me this subsequent picture as a terrific instance. Usually, a digicam would drown out both the blue sky or the contents of a shadowed storage, regardless that our eye can see contained in the storage and out concurrently. However Sam was in a position to seize the small print of each in a single picture, versus parsing collectively two totally different pictures—which might have every centered on the oppositely lit topics

Open garage and blue sky shot with a Leica M11 camera
Sam Hurly

A easy adjustment in post-production—no picture enhancing expertise wanted—permits for the above picture with stark contrasts, in a single click on. “The element and shade retention on this one is so good, it appears like dishonest,” Sam says. You possibly can simply do that with smartphone apps like Photoshop or Afterlight, even by connecting the digicam to your cellphone utilizing the included USB-C lightning cable.

Sam additionally factors out the 64GB of inside storage. That’s a terrific addition to at least one’s personal reminiscence playing cards, and prevents having to switch pictures all day—even for giant information like this one.

Ditto for the battery that lasts as much as 64 p.c longer than earlier fashions. Not often was there a priority to cease taking pictures and search a recharge or a photograph obtain/card clearing, although you are able to do the latter over Wi-Fi.

Aerial photograph of Great Plains with Leica M11 camera

Flying over the Nice Plains—with the Leica M11.
Sam Hurly

Hurly additionally beloved the expanded ISO vary—i.e. the digicam’s potential to let in mild. This one’s ISO most notably sinks as little as 64 (most cease at 100), which makes the digicam extra delicate—in a great way—when there’s an excessive amount of mild. Meaning much more consideration is given to shutter pace, which is a “professional” for individuals who don’t desire a easy click-and-shoot digicam. Relating to shutter pace and F-stops, that is the M mannequin with the broadest vary of them: 15 stops in all.

Why Purchase a Leica?

When you will get comparable options—and sufficient to impress most hobbyists—for effectively underneath half the fee, why Leica? That’s a query impartial of any particular mannequin, as a result of there’ll absolutely be an M12 down the road that bests this one for at the very least as a lot cash.

Hurly says this isn’t comparable to purchasing, say, the most recent laptop computer or smartphone and swapping them out continuously. As an alternative, it’s primarily about consumer expertise. “These guide controls demand consideration, precision, and thoughtfulness,” he says. “We regularly consider movie because the ‘guide’ model of driving vehicles, however that’s not true,” he says. “Understanding the digicam’s capabilities, and adjusting these issues to create a smoother, extra dynamic end result, all underneath your personal management—that’s the guide expertise.”

Black and white image of man walking his dog through the snow on a residential street
Sam Hurly

“Sure, within the automotive world, they’ve constructed automatics that outpace the manuals,” he continues. “But when it weren’t for the true lovers—individuals who prefer to really feel the change in gears between their fingers, simply because the rubber grips the highway, they’d cease making manuals altogether. That is just like the guide Porsche of cameras. Regardless of how a lot it ages, its worth will persevere due to the controls and consumer expertise it provides—whereas managing to enhance on its predecessors.”

Portrait of man in a car taking with the Leica M11 camera
Sam Hurly

I believe I’m starting to grasp.

“Should you’re going to take the time to change into a grasp in images, even when as a passion,” Hurly says, “then Leica’s your model.”


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