It wasn't actually a big surprise today when Leica announced the successor to the M9 Rangefinder—everyone knew that a camera, which they thought would be the M10 would be released at Photokina 2012. What they didn't know is that there'd be no M10, but instead they'd be getting two cameras, the top-of-the-range M and M-E which will have a lower price-point. While the M-E still starts at around $5,500, and the M around $7,000, Leica may not be for everyone, but if you're looking for attention to detail, and the latest technology packed into a classic design—Leica might be worth a look.
According to Leica, in addition to being the most innovative M-System camera the company has created, it's also the most versatile rangefinder they've made to date. With features such as Live View, and Live View Focus, and 1080P Full HD Video, the $7000 camera has finally caught up. For the M, Leica has also brought "all elements in the image creation chain" under the watchful eye of Leica engineers. The 24 megapixel Leica Max CMOS image sensor continues the M9's tradition of a full-frame, 35mm sensor.
The camera features a die-cast magnesium alloy chassis with rubber seals to help protect the camera from dust, spray and moisture.
Many enthusiasts have been confused as to why there's no M10, in response Leica released the following statement: "The Leica M also marks the beginning of a new era in the Leica product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the enduring and long-term significance of the respective systems."
An adapter is available for the M to allow use of R series lenses.
The Leica M-E is incredibly similar to the outgoing M9 model, although it does receive a small decrease in price at $5,500. At the heart of the M-E is the same Kodak-produced full-frame KAF 18 megapixel CCD sensor that is inside the M9. According to Leica, the most distinctive feature of the M-E is the "minimalistic, purist, design statement" that the camera makes. The M-E(ssenntial) focuses on the basics of rangefinder photography and is the most affordable way for a photographer to get involved with the M-System.
The M-E is paired with the latest version of Leica Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to help users easily manage and edit their images.