Jun 052013
 

Lupico_130604__DSF2364-3“Perhaps the most versatile M lens.“ This is a quote straight from the Leica site. And that about sums it up. The Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FLE was designed to be even “more compact” with even “higher performance” than its predecessor, which did not feature the floating element and was available from 1994 to 2010.

I have not yet had the opportunity to try the previous model but I have had the newer version on loan from Leica for a couple of weeks and want to share some of my findings.

For the past few years I have been using the Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH with my M9 and only recently with the Leica M Typ 240. I was always glad to strap on the Cron, really appreciating the contrasty, sharp and overall nice results that lens could achieve. I did not think I would ever need f/1.4 on a moderate wide-angle at all. I usually do not tend to shoot too much in extemely low light and could not care less for more shallow depth of field with this focal length. That is what I thought…

But now, after trying the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FLE on the new M, I am almost tempted to spend some extra cash and trade in the trusted Summicron. The new Summilux is simply amazing and I had great fun putting it to use in the little time I had with it. Trouble was, the weather happened to be so appalling most of the time, I hardly had any opportunity to shoot it in good daylight – most of the time it was overcast and either pouring cats & dogs or drizzling with temperatures closer to winter rather than late spring. Good thing I had f/1.4 after all 😉 .

Basic Lens Specifications

Lupico_130529_PDF Leica 1 35 Lux

More details on this lens including a PDF with all the relevant technical data following this link to Leica Camera AG


Build Quality and Ergonomics

This is what Leica lenses in general excel at and this Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FLE certainly is no exception. The lens feels just right, with nice weight and size and that unique precision tool feeling you can only get from Leica products. It has great ergonomics right down to the all-metal hood that can be screwed on and off with ease. This hood is the same as used with the Leica M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH, which happens to be my all time favorite super-wide. Look out for a review on that lens soon.

The older version of the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH as well as the newest Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH do not have this special screw-on hood. They both only feature a plastic clip-on version which makes the handling a little less fun. They also have strange wishy-washy lens caps or rather slack push-on covers whereas the new Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FLE has a very much nicer slip-on kind of cap – albeit still made of cheap rubber.

I have found myself cursing the clumsy Summicron clip-on hood solution and fiddly rubber cover more than a few times. After loosing the first one or two caps you can get quite annoyed. They cost around €25 or $35 which is a lot for such a simple thing (probably not even a dime in production). But that is not a problem to be discussed with the new Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FLE.

Leica Summilux-M 1.4 ASPH FLE with hood and cap

Leica Summilux-M 1.4 ASPH FLE with metal hood and rubber cap

Summicron-M f/2 ASPH with hood and cap

Leica Summicron-M f/2 ASPH with plastic hood and rubber cap

Only a very small part of the rangefinder viewing window is obstructed by the lens with the hood mounted. The cut-out on the upper left of the hood is sufficient for precise framing. If you leave the hood off and put on the supplied special metal screw-on protection ring (that is supposed to protect the male thread for the lens hood), you can even use the also supplied E46 lens cap instead. This way there will be no finder blockage whatsoever.

Did I mention this lens is really quite small? Just look at the comparison with the latest version of the Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH below. There is not too much of a difference. The Summicron is only 11.5mm smaller to be precise (compared without hoods). This does not really make any difference in actual use.

Lupico_130528__DSF2342-Bearbeitet-3 Lupico_130528__DSF2346-Bearbeitet-3 Lupico_130528__DSF2312-Bearbeitet-3

I even found the Lux to be a little easier to handle due to its slightly bigger size. The focus ring is a lot stiffer than on my 35mm Cron. Some might prefer a buttery smooth focus ring though. The new Lux has a nicely engraved DOF (depth of field) scale which may come in handy for zone focusing. The half stop detents for adjusting the f-stops feel like they are oozing quality as well.

The previous version of the Summilux was said to have the tendency to focus shift. The new FLE version seems to have this problem sorted out. At least my copy did not show any shift whatsoever. All in all there is absolutely nothing to complain about when it comes to build quality and ergonomics with this very special lens.


Image Quality

In one word: superb. My Summicron may be a great lens but this 35mm Lux ups the ante. Colors look vibrant, contrast is perfect in my view and the lens is bitingly sharp from edge to edge. You can check for differences in sharpness in comparison with the latest Summicron looking at the images below (click file for large view). You will see the Lux is quite the better (especially when comparing corners) but not overwhelmingly so. I did the comparison using one and the same camera mounted on a tripod changing lenses within minutes (repeating the procedure a couple of times to be sure everything was set identical including the point of focus in the centre of the frame). This naturally does not take into account possible sample variations that might occur when testing several copies of each lens, nor was this done in a sterile laboratory environment.

Leica Summicron-M ASPH @ f/2 (OOC RAW to JPG / no changes to original file)

Leica Summicron-M ASPH @ f/2 (OOC RAW to JPG / no changes to original file)

Leica Summilux-M ASPH FLE @ f/2 (OOC RAW to JPG / no changes to original file)

Leica Summilux-M ASPH FLE @ f/2 (OOC RAW to JPG / no changes to original file)

It would not be fair to do too much of a comparison between a Summicron and a Summilux. They serve different photographic needs and the Lux is almost twice the price. I just wanted to show in real life, there is quite a difference – but the Cron is no deadbeat either.

Back to the Lux: even wide open this lens performs tremendously. I could hardly see any differences going from f1.4 to f2.0 and even above that differences in image quality are only marginal – except for when looking at DOF (depth of field) of course.

And DOF is something I want to discuss a little further. It is a widespread belief, that wide-angle lenses cannot really put anything much out of focus even when used wide open and the results then would look quite mediocre. This may be true to some extent. But with the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FLE you can get quite nice results. Shot at f/1.4 this lens can show a good smooth and shallow depth of field and give a nice enough bokeh. For portraits or subjects where bokeh is of higher significance, I would still prefer the rendering of the Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH though. Below are some examples shot with the 35 Lux @ f/1.4. Please keep in mind, these are not meant to have any artistic value and are just to show what f/1.4 can be like with this lens in different shooting situations. Images have not been tweaked in post at all (OOC DNG converted to JPG via LR 4.4).

Lupico_130518_L1000038Lupico_130518_L1000056Lupico_130518_L1000134Lupico_130528_L1000397Lupico_130525_L1000351

 

Searching my files I could not find any that showed substantial chromatic aberration (CA). It seems to be no great issue with this lens. Vignetting is the only thing that might make you think twice about using the widest aperture. It can be quite pronounced – at least on the Leica M Typ 240. In some situations it might be wiser to stop down a bit – unless you like to add some darker boundaries to your images (e.g. when shooting portraits).

Other than that this lens is great fun to use under almost any conditions. The lens shows little tendency to flare and after using it with the M Typ 240, I was very impressed with the dynamic range. There are some general sample images below with slight editing applied in LR 4.4 and Silver Efex Pro II (for B&W). Again no artsy aspirations.

Lupico_130518_L1000165-Bearbeitet Lupico_130518_L1000130Lupico_130518_L1000222-Bearbeitet-2

Lupico_130525_L1000318 Lupico_130525_L1000293 Lupico_130525_L1000315


Price

Ouch! That`s the part where anyone in a solid state of mind would have to start flinching. € 4.200 or about $ 5.150 is way more than most people would want to spend for a single lens. Even for a Leica this is big money.

But consider this: if you were to choose this beauty of a lens to make up a single lens kit alongside the Leica M camera of your choice, you might not need any other lens – ever again.

Of course, if you are a 50mm kind of guy you would probably rather have a Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH (or maybe even a Noctilux or the new crazy expensive Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 f/2 ASPH) to serve as your standard lens. And many of us frequently like to swap focal lengths anyway.


Is it worth it?

For every photographer who appreciates the field of view 35mm lenses offer – it simply cannot get any better than this for full-frame digital or analog 35mm photography. IMO the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FLE is worth every cent. But if you can live with a very slight difference in image quality and do not need a faster aperture, the latest 35mm Summicron still is a great choice. This is why I can only give the Lux three stars out of five for price (i.e. value for money). Your mileage may vary on this though.

I currently own the Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH but I would not mind keeping the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH FLE for myself. Pity I have to return it to Leica. At least now I know what I am missing…

 

Lupico`s Take

Build Quality/Ergonomics ★★★★★
Image Quality ★★★★★
Price ★★★☆☆
Recommendation ★★★★

 

 

Apr 302013
 

The plastic screen of the old M9 was quite prone to scratches, so it was wise to cover it with an additional screen cover. Lucky owners of the new M can now put all their trust in the special tough Corning®Gorilla®Glass that comes with the camera (which in most cases will probably suffice to save it from damage) or may choose to show their screen that extra bit of care by applying additional covers.

ACMAXX for Leica M

ACMAXX for Leica M

 

Let us take a look at the choices usually available:

Protective Foils

Widely available are special foils with silicone adhesive layers that can easily be applied but usually do not last very long and have to be replaced frequently. A single foil can cost up to €/$ 10. This seems steep considering the material is dead cheap in production.

Glass Screen Protectors

Alternatively you can stick on additional protectors made of tempered glass. Good ones (e.g. by GGS or Giotto) can cost way up to €/$ 20 a piece. They provide great protection against scratching and usually do not significantly reduce the screen clarity. Higher end protectors claim more than 98% of light transmittance using various different layers of coating. Alas, in very rare cases they can break if they are thumped hard enough and this could result in damages to the LCD screen that was to be protected in the first place.

Nevertheless these glass covers are very popular. I would have bought one myself but I simply have not been able to find one for the new M yet. The screen sizes just do not match even if they have the stated 3 inches. This is because the new Leica M screen shows a little more glass on the right side of the screen than is actually used for the color display. Manufacturers do seem to take a while in accommodating to these new camera models with varying screen sizes.

Plastic Screen Protectors

Stick-on screen protectors made of poly-carbonate offer a third option. They can offer good screen protection with the added benefit of not breaking easily and can quickly be removed if necessary. They are more resistant to glare than glass but naturally not as tough when it comes to scratching. But isn`t it better to have scratches on the protective cover than the camera screen itself?

ACMAXX mounted on the M  - round corners

ACMAXX mounted on the M – only low reflection

 

I did a quick test of the only cover I could dig up that fits the new M / Typ 240. It is called the ACMAXX LCD ARMOR. You can find out more about the material used and the places to buy via this link (but watch out, the cover for the new M is not yet listed on the site). I bought mine for about € 22 including shipping via eBay and it was sent to Germany within a couple of days straight from California.

The ACMAXX LCD ARMOR offers good protection, showing good colors with quite enough contrast and the low-reflection coating seems to work just fine, also offering UV protection. In comparison to my glass screens used on other makes it does have a tendency to attract a little more dust to the surface but this can easily be blown off or wiped away.

Applied to the new M - rounded corners

For the new M – with rounded corners

 

Considering the foils and even most glass covers are quite thin, the ACMAXX LCD ARMOR is of much thicker material (0.8mm). The corners of the cover are rounded whereas the corners of the new Leica M screen are not. Thus the fit is good but not 100% perfect. Most people will probably never notice this. IMO this screen protector is the best you can get for the new Leica M today – unless you prefer foils or want to wait until glass protectors for the new M become available.

Lupico`s Take
Quality       ★★★★
Usability       ★★★☆☆
Price       ★★★☆☆
Recommendation       ★★★☆☆

 

Apr 182013
 

Lupico_130410__DSF1949Mvorne 1


It sure is one nice looking piece of photo equipment. But not every photo enthusiast or pro will ever want a Leica M. For many it will only ever be a luxury item or simply a rich man`s toy. But for those of us who have learned to love the quality feel of Leica cameras, who treasure the simplicity of use and adore that allegedly superior Leica glass, that new M might well be a great temptation.

Lupico_130410__DSF1967Moben 3

 

And I must confess, having owned the previous model M9, I just could not resist testing the new beast. Unfortunately the new M arrived only a few days after my Easter trip to Vienna. Great timing! 🙁 D`oh! This would have been a great opportunity to give the new CMOS sensor a go. Then, when in Vienna, I was just about to cancel my order because it just so happened that my Fuji X-E1 did a great job – even in sleet and snow – and I was quite happy having autofocus at my disposal. In the end my affection for the Leica brand got the better of me and I have been fondling the new M ever since.

Lupico_130410__DSF1954Munten 2

 

But the question still remains: Is it worth shelling out the cash? In Germany you currently have to pay € 6.200,- and in the U.S. around $ 6.950,- for the pleasure of owning an M Typ 240 – and that is without any lens (just adding one Summilux would set you back another few grand). I will try to find an answer to the question while avoiding going into technical details (there are plenty of good sites including Leica`s own Homepage for that). Instead I would like to give you a quick glimpse of relevant features and what I personally think is good and not so good about the new M.

Lupico_130410__DSF1968Mhinten 4

 

For all of you who have already ordered (hopefully sooner rather than later…) it might just be a confirmation of some of your own thoughts. For all of you who have not ordered yet…well, there might be enough time to indulge in further very intensive reading. I think you will probably not see your copy until the year 2014. The waiting list is T H A T large. According to a nice guy at the formidable Leica Store Vienna, there is a backorder of over 140 M Typ 240 in that store alone. How many dedicated stores are there worldwide? Well, you can easily assess there have to be a lot of people waiting for their precious. In fact someone at Leica in Solms told me last week, they have a waiting list of over 2.000. Products in part assembled by hand do tend to take a while in production, so you will either have to be very patient or try to find one on the secondary market.

Lupico_130410__DSF1983Msucher 5

 

So here you have it – the good and the not so good (IMO):

Fantastic build quality and haptics

The new M just feels perfect in your hands. It has the right weight and looks solid as a rock. Compared to some of the plastic Japanese contenders it is in a world of its own. So the quality feel is just right. It remains to be seen if the product quality on the whole can confirm the first impressions after a while of heavy usage.

Still the best way to make use of Leica glass

I tried using my Leica lenses on other cameras with high quality adapters but found no joy in doing so. Especially with wide angles there is no real alternative to an M body to date. Color casting and light fall-off can be moderately corrected in software most of the time but why should you bother. The NEX 5n actually gave some very good results but nowhere as good as with my old Leica M9. And instead of a nice wide angle you have to make do with a crop factor. Right now, there is no other full-frame alternative for mounting M-glass so there is no real reason to forego the native lens solutions of e.g. Sony or Fujifilm. In fact I found that Fuji lenses can almost compete at eye level. You would have to look twice to notice the difference between an M9 with 50mm Summilux ASPH and the Fuji X-E1 with the current 35mm Fujinon lens. But if you want to use Leica glass there is no alternative to a Leica body right now.

Great new full-frame sensor

The new 24 megapixel CMOS sensor not only gives you more pixels to crop away. It also does away with one of the greatest shortcomings of the good old M9 or ME. The low light capabilities now are almost on par with other professional full frame cameras. Certainly useable way up to ISO 3200. Above that I usually take advantage of some other form of lighting anyway.

Some say the new CMOS sensor lacks the crisp output of the old CCD sensor used in the M9/ME. Well, I simply cannot see that. There may be some sort of difference that pixel peepers can define, but personally I have not been able to notice anything of the kind when comparing to my old M9 files.

The dynamic range has also greatly improved compared to the old M9. Apart from that, the new sensor is also supposed to give much better results when using older ultra wide legacy lenses. I cannot confirm this myself, since I do not own such a lens at the moment.

What I do not like is the pronounced vignetting wide open that occurs with all of my existing lenses. The fall-off seems to be worse than with the M9. Auto White Balance can also be tricky at times. I will have to do some more shooting to verify that. Maybe a firmware update will need to attend to these problems at some later time.

Better shutter release button

This has been greatly improved. Works like a charm. The two step release button renders an optional external shutter release button obsolete.

High capacity battery

The new battery may be a bit on the heavy and large side but it lets you shoot longer than the old battery in the M9 due to its greater capacity. It even charges fully in about 2 hours which is absolutely fantastic. I was able to run my M for approx. 500 shots using live view or the EVF quite extensively and more than 1.500 shots should easily be possible using the OVF exclusively. Nevertheless I never would depend on a single battery and have ordered a second.

Advanced mode metering

Gone are the days the M could only do center weighted metering. In the advanced mode you can also choose between matrix and spot metering, which is great when using Live View. I am sticking with the classic version for now but it is nice to have alternatives for precise metering.

High resolution 3“ LCD

The new screen features VGA resolution and is a joy to use and finally big enough too. The screen on the M9 was awful – this one is absolutely suffcient giving realistic colors and providing enough clarity even in fairly bright daylight use (a light sensor on the back of the body measures the amount of reflected light and dims if necessary).

Live view with focus peaking

So now we have live view and focus peaking. It really works but it could be a bit more pronounced for my liking. I can hardly make out the very thin red lines and it would have been nice to be able to change the color of the peaking. No electronic split screen focussing as seen on Fuji X100s, but instead of that we can always use the OVF.

Superior OVF

Speaking of the Optical Viewfinder. Well, I currently do not have an M9 at my disposal for direct comparisons, but I honestly believe they have done something to improve even this. I was simply amazed at the brightness and clarity coupled with the absolute precision of the rangefinder mechanism. I think there is nothing that can beat this viewfinder. You have to see it to believe it.

R-adapter

For all tose that have waited to reanimate their old R-lenses there is finally a good solution. At Leica Service I was recently shown a prototype adapter and strapped on a battered Leica Elmarit-R 135/2.8. It works just as well as with any M glass. It is not for me though, since I do not have old R-lenses and would not ever buy them used either. They may be good lenses but M-lenses tend to have better optics. Then again, there is no real zoom M-lens. The Leica Vario-Emarit-R 28-90 might make a good companion for some M users.

No built-in EVF

Now that is a little disappointing. It seems the native Leica EVF 2 is a rebranded Olympus VF-2 made by Epson with some slight cosmetic alterations. In fact I bought the Olympus version myself and saved more than 50% on the price tag. I certainly would not pay a premium of Euro/Dollar 200,- to see the shiny white Leica logo – but some people may find it is worth the extra cash.

Although the EVF does a good enough job (with a 1.4 MP resolution) it is not quite up there with some of the newest Japanese viewfinder solutions. Sony is even rumored to have a 3.8 million dot resolution EVF in the makes for the next NEX flagship, also giving far quicker refresh rates. So there may be updates to this hardware coming from Leica before there is an update for a new M 240. I can only hope that by then they will manage to incorporate a built-in hybrid viewfinder. Fuji can do it, so why not Leica?

The only benefit I can see using the external viewfinder is that you can tilt it upwards by 90 degrees (although I have not really found this useful myself). I would suggest using the LV on screen instead and switching to the excellent OVF when necessary.

Badly placed microphone and dirt-prone accessory port

If the EVF was top notch I would not have any complaints here. But as it stands, the accessory port only accounts for an ugly crevice in the camera body. This can be covered up by the plastic cap but that does not make the finished product any nicer. I wonder if the port is weather sealed in any way, there certainly is no way to save it from dirt (unless you keep the ugly plastic cap on). Same goes for the badly positioned microphone openings on the top left of the body. For those of us who like to plug the cam into our PC instead of unscrewing the base plate to transfer the files…well that port has been omitted. You might want to consider the optional grip which includes the USB.

Necessary rangefinder calibration

My new M 240 did a great job shooting in Live View but at first try I just could not get any crisp looking files using the optical viewfinder. That is not an uncommon problem when using rangefinders. IMHO you have to be very lucky to receive a new camera which is perfectly tuned. Your existing set of lenses might possibly need adjusting too. The problem with the rangefinder is, it has to be calibrated just right. Some experienced Leica users venture to adjust this themselves with an Allan key and self-made tools at home. But I would not recommend that. It might void your guarantee with Leica and it could completely ruin the rig. Once the M is calibrated, it usually does not end there (unless you are happy using the EVF or can live with a little focus drift in the long run). It is wise to check your system once in a while because the rangefinder mechanism is quite sensitive to changes in temperature and might not take it too kindly when accidentally knocked on something. Other cameras can be more forgiving in this point. The Fuji way of implementing hybrid viewfinders may prove to be the better way to go in future – but then again, nothing compares to the clarity of what you get when looking through the Leica viewfinder and the possibility to look beyond the given frame. I had to take my own brand new M 240 to Solms for calibration along with my existing lenses. They did a great job there and now I can finally use it the way it is supposed to be. I hope I do not have to send my camera in to service all that often though.

Sensor dust

There is no sensor cleaning on board. We will have to wait and see, how this will work out after a couple of months of normal use. I can only say, I was fairly shocked to see my sensor with lots of dust specks fresh from the factory. And cleaning at Leica Service did not really help. I had the same problem with my M9 right from the beginning. And no sensor cleaning ever got a real grip on that. Maybe this is one of those things Leica fans will have to live with. At least Lightroom comes free of charge with the camera – so you can always stamp away…

But at Leica I was shown how cleaning the sensor is done most effectively and I will soon do an article on that. So stay tuned.

Limited video capabilities

Rolling shutter effects, frame rates only up to 25p in HD and the lacking HDMI connector on the camera are just some of the shortcomings that limit the usefulness of the video capabilities. I do not care much for video, so for me it is nice to have but no necessity. For video I can make do with my Sony NEX or an old iPhone. Some pros may be disappointed but most Leica fans tend to use an M for photos and probably ignore the video function anyway. Maybe Leica will give us a firmware update that makes it possible to re-assign the video button for some other useful application. If you use video a lot yourself, you will be pleased there is a dedicated movie-button. You do not have to hit Live View first, simply press “M” and off you go. Some may prefer a locked movie button because they are afraid to take movies of their camera bags but I think that is a bit overanxious. I have not managed to hit the button accidentally yet.

No autofocus – naturally…

AF happens to be the one thing I am missing on my M 240. If my eyesight gets any worse, I will be forced to switch brands no matter what. On the other hand the manual focussing does appeal to a great number of retro-minded photographers. So it may in fact be beneficial to Leica marketing giving it a unique selling proposition no one else in this category of cameras would dare to copy. But in time I believe Leica will have to adept and offer both AF and MF in all of their cameras. Personally, after shooting the M for some time now, I have become so enchanted with the bright OVF that I think I may not miss AF after all. In fact, it seems I can focus more precisely and sometimes even faster than with other AF cameras. I believe it is better to correctly focus manually than to leave the task to some falsely adjusted electronic parts. I was never very happy with my D800 for instance. It left me flabberghasted, waisting files shot wide open almost all of the time. I finally had to return it because Nikon Service could not adjust it properly.

Did you know that Leica actually invented autofocus back in the seventies and then sold their patents because they did not believe in the benefits of their own invention? It was Minolta who then bought the patents. The biggest threat to the Leica M might well be a full-frame autofocus NEX model rumored to hit the market maybe as early as 2014. Ironically Sony is the company that snatched up Konica-Minolta. So the decision to sell the AF-patents might prove to be more of the same old nuisance for Leica.

Order wait times

I do not want to wait a lifetime for an ordered product. It took my M almost 7 months to arrive (and I ordered on the day of announcement). In fact that happens to be a fairly quick delivery considering you will probably have to wait for at least another year until it becomes more widely available. That is way off target and may put off a lot of Leica fans and wannabes.

Not an ” M10″

This new naming policy may prove to be a mistake. It probably will not help extend the value of the camera in its lifecycle but rather confuse prospective buyers of second-hand equipment. People will still count by numbers and the next model undoubtedly will be known as the M11 – rather than the “Typ 240 Mark 2” or “M Mark 2”. So the benefit of the new naming policy does not really make any sense to me. But for Leica it may now be possible to implement minor changes in hardware without having to market a complete new model M. Those that want to buy a new M will be delighted if new features are incorporated and users of previous versions will not be put off (they still have an original M and only the well informed buyers of the secondary market will know the differences). So it might make sense after all – at least for the Leica AG.

My take

I had far too little time to play with the new M so far because it had to be calibrated back in the factory. But from the limited use I could put it to so far, I believe the new M is a delightful evolution. Lacking a hybrid viewfinder it is not really the mighty milestone it set out to be – but that was to be expected. Nonetheless it is an absolute pleasure to use and makes sense for everyone who wants to use the great Leica lenses. It may be purely a luxury item for some and a professional tool for others. But most of us will buy this camera for the pleasure in handling and the almost three-dimensional rendering that can be achieved using top-notch Leica glass at full aperture.

There may also be cameras that have higher resolution (e.g. Nikon D800E) or can even top the output with an equivalent sensor (Sony RX-1) and surely there will in time be yet other full frame cameras that will have more features and even greater sensor resolution – but none will be quite like an M.

The M is unique and probably will be for a long time. It may be expensive but the resale value is good and if you invest in the great Leica lenses, they keep their value well or even tend to go up in price. So it is up to you to decide whether it is worth investing in a Leica system or not. But be prepared to spend a lot of money should the Leica virus hit you.

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