Notes on the M11

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by Karim Ghantous, Jan 22, 2022.

  1. This is a combination of observations made by reviewers, as well as a few of my own thoughts.

    The central idea of the M11: a camera that can compete with MFD while remaining an excellent travel camera.

    It’s the only camera I know of that is sold as being ideal for bright light conditions, as opposed to low light.

    The cover glass is designed for a broad spectrum as well as thickness.

    The colour filters are described in the same way as those of Phase One’s Trichromatic sensor.

    Vintage lens compatibility has actually improved over the M10.

    Some lenses are terrible in the corners on the M10, but this might improve on the M11. Use the 1.3x crop mode if necessary and practical. I will be reading Sean Reid’s review soon.

    36Mpx is arguably the better setting than 60Mpx.

    It will be interesting to compare a quarter frame crop from 60Mpx compare to Micro 4/3. 15Mpx vs up to 20Mpx at similar surface areas, both cameras with the same focal length.

    It can’t replace the S3 but it does challenge it.

    One camera can do it all, but one body can’t. It’s better to own a pair of M10’s if your budget only allows for one M11, and it’s not a choice that would fill you with too much regret.

    All the 50Mpx Fujifilm bodies are cheaper, and have features more suited to commercial photography, but not as compact.

    You can get an entire Pentax 645Z kit, secondhand, for less than the price of one M11 body.

    A good 18Mpx file can make for big prints - 60Mpx can make for enormous prints.

    The M system could exploit leaf shutter lenses very well, as they would not have to be open before the exposure, if using the OVF.

    60Mpx should mean less colour mazing, even at native resolution.

    It could be the last M with a physical shutter. If the next sensor has a global shutter sensor, this could also make leaf shutters redundant for high speed sync.
    invisibleflash likes this.
  2. Seems like it’s the best mirrorless thus far, incorporating many improvements over the M10. I feel sorry for M10 owners, who may feel the strong urge to upgrade. I think M11 paired with the f/2 35mm APO can be an unbeatable kit.
  3. I was inspired to dig out my M9P and charge the batteries. It's a great camera as long as you don't wear glasses (can't see the edges of the frame) and are free of cataracts (see double and can't focus), or use a 90 mm lens wider than f/4 (focus accuracy). Oh! Keep the shutter speed faster than 1/F.
    Jochen likes this.
  4. Previous digital M cameras are subject to purple vignetting due to the cosine effect of short back focus lenses passing through a thick IR filter. The vignetting is digitally removed, using lens data plugged into the camera manually (my fate) or per an engraved code on the lens mount. Leica has a brilliant solution of using a thin film IR filter in the M11. However the thick cover glass remains, which affects the corner resolution for which film Leica lenses were noted.

    While the vagaries of rangefinder focusing is particularly bad for longer lenses, it affects all focal lengths, to the extent that resolution greater than about 6 MP is wasted without the benefit of live-view operation. I have some incredibly crisp shots with my M9 and Summicron 90, but many more too OOF for any practical use.

    After nearly 60 years (1964) of use, I feel comfortable using a Leica M, in full consciousness of its limitations. I caution anyone seeking to buy one without careful consideration of how it will be used to advantage. The only unique properties may be seeing outside the frame lines to anticipate action, and the ability to focus in extremely low light compared to an SLR. The legendary quiet option is still there, but most MILC's offer totally silent shutter operation. Low light focusing is enhanced with electronic amplification and magnification. MILC has manual lenses, but even the tiny Zeiss Loxia lenses are 50% larger than their Leitz counterparts.

    In short, owning an M11 won't make you shoot like Cartier-Bresson or Capa, any more than new clubs will let you golf like Arnold Palmer.
  5. Maybe I'm lucky, but with only one exception, I haven't had the rangefinder focusing problems that other people report. My oldest lens (a 1969-vintage 50mm f/2 Summicron) and my newest lens (a 2021-vintage 50mm f/1.5 Voigtlander) focus accurately at all distances. My 90mm and 135mm lenses are accurate too, although the 135mm requires careful focusing.

    The only exception was in 2020 when my 50mm Summicron suffered an accident and was knocked out of calibration. It took DAG two tries and nearly a year, but he fixed it.

    None of my lenses are six-bit coded. I turn coding off except when using my third-party 21mm f/2.8. With other lenses, vignetting is hardly noticeable.

    The new Leica M11 doesn't tempt me. The 60-megapixel resolution is far more than I need. Even the 24MP M10 is overkill for my applications. Maybe I'm biased after using film Leicas for decades, but the M10's removable baseplate doesn't bother me at all. It's much sturdier than the flimsy plastic battery and memory-card doors on other digital cameras. I don't think the M11 arrangement is an improvement, except for the larger battery. I rarely change batteries in the field, though.

    If I ever buy another Leica M camera, it will be a second M10 body, not an M11.
  6. A further data point, as observed by the guys from Leica Store Miami: shooting at 60Mpx does not compromise DR at all, and noise is not any worse than on the smaller resolutions. The triple resolution feature has practical uses, and should not be dismissed or ignored. But, 60Mpx mode will absolutely give you the best image quality in all ways, if that is your aim.

    Also, at ISO 64, it challenges medium format, both in detail and in DR. One-shot HDR is astonishingly good in high contrast situations. Of course, you need an appropriate lens if you want all that detail, especially in the corners.

    I think I'm going to disagree with that statement. I have seen plenty of evidence to the contrary.

    I absolutely agree with this point, especially if you're working on a real time job, like a wedding or a party. The M11 is no doubt reliable. And I don't care much about dual SD cards. But what if you dropped it?

    BTW how can it take a year to fix a lens? Phew. If it had to take that long, maybe it wasn't worth fixing. Just thinking out loud!
  7. My assertion is based on long experience, not a salesman's opinion. That said, it's a LOT better now that my eyes have been updated.
  8. All the Leica repair services in the U.S. are swamped with business. DAG (Don Goldberg) enjoys one of the best reputations and was the only repair person I contacted who agreed to recalibrate my 50mm Summicron. (After a car seat and heavy suitcase fell on it, there was no visible damage, but it no longer focused correctly.) Unfortunately, DAG's turnaround time varies greatly. Sometimes it's a few weeks, sometimes a whole year.

    The lens was definitely worth fixing. It's a 1969-vintage 50mm f/2 Summicron version 3 (V3). They cost at least $1,200 these days in any usable condition. I paid $300 in the 1980s. New ones cost $2,795. Besides, it's my favorite lens. It's small, light, and works great on film or digital.
    Karim Ghantous likes this.
  9. [​IMG]

    Leica M9 with the Canon 85mm F1.5, wide-open. ISO 2500.
    Subject did not stay still for me to focus.

    I use a lot of long/fast lenses on the M8, M9, and M Monochrom. No problem, just need to practice.
    Karim Ghantous likes this.

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