Leica’s new M11 digital rangefinder camera may well be from another age. To be sure, the technology within makes it feel rather contemporary. The M11 features a high-resolution sensor (a 60-megapixel backside-illuminated full-frame CMOS sensor), advanced metering capabilities, and even some of the more standard digital camera accessories. However, it functions similarly to the film cameras your parents possessed. It eschews autofocus, does not record video, and is perfectly content with decades-old lenses.
The Leica M11, on the other hand, just feels like a vintage Leica. Compared to its predecessors, the new M11 is very much a continuation of the M series camera, which was released in the 1950s and became digital in 2006. It’s small and simple, a box to which a lens may be attached.
Despite the M11’s hefty price tag, it lives up to its name. It’s unlikely that most of us would ever pay that much on a camera, with a suggested retail price of $8,995. And that’s just for the body; lenses from Leica cost anything from $2,500 to $12,000 each. If you can’t afford a Leica M11, here is a camera you should talk about, even if you never will. It’s deserving of more than just a product evaluation.
Leica’s engineers are striving to preserve something alive, which I believe the rest of the camera business has forgotten: that cameras don’t matter, but rather photos do. As with any other equipment, the camera is only as good as the person using it.
It doesn’t matter what kind of wrench it is; a wrench is a wrench. Regardless of whether wrenches are superior, a person who knows how to operate a wrench is required for any productive work to be done. That ability might be found in a variety of ways. Using a socket wrench on an IC engine is second nature to me, but using a plumbing wrench on the pipes in the basement is completely out of my league.
A camera comes to life in the same manner when it is picked up by someone who knows how to operate it. In the hands of Maggie Steber, you’re likely to get a fantastic photo even if the camera is from the early 2000s. I’m less likely to obtain a beautiful photo with the brand-new Leica M11 in my hands.
I had a week to shoot with an M11 that Leica lent me. Not because it lacks capability, but rather because it was designed to be used in conjunction with human talent, the Leica M11 seems more like a film Leica than a current digital camera. I’m referring to your photography abilities.
Cameras are increasingly intended to remove the human element from the act of capturing a photograph. Most camera makers have spent the last several decades developing capabilities like autofocus, auto white-balance correction, and auto light metering to replace the human photographer’s taught decisions with algorithms. The process of creating a wonderful picture is no longer something you must overcome or adapt to, but rather a set of choices you may make.###