Monday is Leica Day

The above picture may / or may not be what the Leica M10, or whatever its called, might look like. The camera is rumoured to have a Sony 24MP CMOS sensor, live view, video capability and an EVF, presumably similar to the Olympus VF-2 rebranded as a Leica that can be used on the X2.

On Monday, Leica are having an event in Cologne.

At that time Leica may / or may not announce a camera called the M10, or something else, and some other cameras and lenses.

Because the rumoured M10 has a CMOS sensor and live view, in addition to a rangefinder focusing system there is the possibility for an EVF which can be used for focusing. There is another rumour that says that Leica are announcing an adapter that will allow the use of R system lenses. If this is true then they would need an EVF for those lenses. If this is true then the next Leica M camera may / or may not allow the use of ultra wide angle lenses, zoom lenses, long telephoto lenses and macro lenses. It may / or may not be possible to use a wide variety of lenses on a Leica M that don't have to be m-mount lenses. There are, for example adapters that allow you to fit Nikon lenses onto a Leica M8 or M9 but currently there is no way to focus them. An EVF would make that possible. 

Of all the announcements that come out before Photokina, this is the one that I am most intrigued by, and to large extent what I will be using in 2013 to ply my trade will depend on that. So sometime next year, I may / or may not be using a Leica M10 (The name may differ, but you know what I mean)

The question that I, and I'm sure others interested in Leica want to know, is if the above rumours are true, then will this 24MP sensor have an anti-aliasing / low-pass filer? Will the IQ be close to / similar / not far removed from that of the M9 and its spinoffs. If the answer to that question is yes, that I will sell everything else to buy one. I'm assuming of course, that it will be more expensive than the M9 was when launched. That is based on observing Leica prices over the years. My guess is somewhere between £6500-7000. Now thats an awful lot of money for a camera, but if it has a non-AA 24MP sensor with an EVF then I'm happy to put down my deposit and wait. Why? Well no matter what camera / lens combination I use, I always compare it to the results I got from my M9 and in every single case they fall short. The Foveon sensor Sigma cameras are close, and can even be considered to surpass the quality of the M9, but issues like, lens range, fixed lens compact versions with no viewfinder, slow buffer and general operation, the need to use Sigma software etc. are all factors that would make using either the SD1 or DP2 Merills difficult for me to do what I do. 

An M10 with an EVF, and the same IQ as the M9, in terms of sharpness and colour depth, with the possibility to use a wide range of lenses would be the answer to my dreams. There are further rumours which talk about focus peaking, which if true would be wonderful. I can then happily leave the "rangefinder experience" to those who have the time on their hands to play with it, but as I've always found it a neccesary evil, once a decent EVF is available then I probably wouldn't ever use it again. 

However, the issue here is whether a possible M10 would make any compromise in terms of IQ and / or complexity to add these extra features. If it does then there would be little point in my buying it. If however Leica are committed to that special look that their cameras create, and they keep the camera as simple as the M9 then its most certainly for me. 

Many people have said that the reason to buy a Leica M digital camera was to be able to use Leica M lenses on it. However I have always disagreed with that. For me, it was always the sensors. Despite its colour problems the M8 still produced the sharpest files in any camera I've ever used. The M9 wasn't far behind. Kodak made both of those CCD sensors, and since they don't exist any more, Leica have obviously had to look for an alternative. The question I guess that hangs in the air is that none of us have seen a Sony sensor without an AA filter. (I don't count the D800E because Nikon add another filter to "counteract" the existing one. And while its a great camera with great IQ, its a "different" IQ to the M9, which I prefer.) So will a Sony CMOS sensor without an AA filter give the same look as an M9? 

The Fuji X-Pro 1 uses a CMOS sensor with no AA filter, and though you have to use DPP software to actually see what that looks like, you can see the difference. Taking the time to process the files properly there is a lovely depth to the images and of course at the same time its phenominally good at high ISO's. However, even with this elaborate process, I couldn't get my X-Pro1 files to look as good as my M9 files and if the M10 is only comparable with the X-Pro 1 then I won't buy it.

So lets assume all my prayers and wishes are fulfilled. The camera does indeed have a 24MP sensor with no AA filter, an EVF with magnification and focus peaking and live view. With the Leica build quality and the size, weight and handling of the camera, with, I hope, the same simple pared down interface, then it will be the closest I've ever been to my dream camera. If it falls short in any of those areas then I won't buy it. If it ticks ALL the boxes then I will. 

So on Monday, at 6PM UK time all will begin to be revealed. There may of course be nothing, the rumours may be wrong, it may be coming but not yet, plus all the other things that can make these things not happen. However its going to be an interesting hour or so finding out.

If you want to see where most of this information(??) comes from then its from the excelllent Leica Rumors site which you can find here.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
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