Monday, October 28, 2013

Leica M-E Product Review: Rolling Back the Price...and Time!

With more wannabes in the wings, is the lowest-cost Leica M-series rangefinder really a bargain?


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To understand the Leica M-E, let's roll back the calendar: 9/9/09 was an amazing day. That's when Leica announced the world's smallest full-frame digital camera and the world’s first full-frame Mirrorless System Compact, the Leica M9. It was a smashing success. With its 35mm sensor and full compatibility with Leica's rangefinder lens system­—and its $7,000 price tag—the M9 was truly in a class by itself. When I unboxed the recently introduced Leica M-E I felt like I was stepping back four years in time, because it's basically the same camera as the M9 with a couple of minor differences. But there's one significant difference. At the Adorama price of $5,450—$1,500 less than the M9—the Leica M-E is the most affordable digital M-class Leica ever.

A lot has changed since that late summer day four years ago. Fujifilm and Sony introduced high-end mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and Sony NEX-7) that, despite their APS sensors, were clearly gunning to take a bite out of the Leica market. The situation got even more interesting in early October, when Sony announced the Sony A7 and Sony A7R, both full-frame mirrorless system cameras that are smaller and lighter than the Leica M, and promise better quality. Leica last year introduced three cameras on the same day: The Monochrom M, which I reviewed earlier this year and declared the images it produced the best black-and-white photos I've ever seen from a digital camera; the Leica M, a high-end, spare-no-expense 24MP full-frame camera, and the ME, designed to appeal to those who want Leica quality but who simply can't afford the pricier models...

Read the rest of my review at the Adorama Learning Center. 

BLOG SPECIAL! Here are some additional street photos I shot with the M-E... 

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