The Leica M11: Manually Focusing on Retro Charm

The cell phone camera looks little like it did a few short years ago. With every new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy launch comes an incrementally better product. Over time, this leads to huge improvements. Hardware manufacturers keep adding new bells and whistles — and cramming more lenses into their handsets.
This transition may convince some that dedicated cameras are obsolete, but that is not the current reality. Instead, many traditional cameras go above and beyond to please committed photographers. The Leica M11, for example, is an excitingly old-school camera that promises to delight photography enthusiasts.
Yes, the high price and somewhat bare-bones features may make the Leica M11 less than desirable for some, but its niche audience can find a lot to love, as we explain below.

No Autofocus, No Video, No Problem?

The Leica M11 is one of those rare products defined primarily based on what it doesn’t have. In this instance, these missing features could be a red flag for some consumers — but for fans of Leica cameras, they are par for the course and even advantageous at times.
For example: autofocus. It’s a staple in just about every camera and smartphone these days —and for a good reason. Regular consumers aren’t professional or even hobby-grade photographers, so they need all the help they can get with their shots. Leica, however, boasts a customer base that consists of discerning and skilled photographers. These talented individuals can easily handle a camera without autofocus.
This lack of autofocus echoes the appeal of modern cars with automatic or manual transmission. Most drivers don’t want to deal with the hassle of a manual stick shift — but that’s where serious drivers have the most fun.
Another missing feature? The complete lack of video capture. Again, this is something Leica fans expect. After all, if they wanted to shoot video, they would invest in a dedicated video camera. In a world where phones, watches, and even household appliances can do so many things, it’s nice to see a decidedly one-dimensional device.

What the Leica M11 Can Do

Leica’s newest M series camera packs 60 megapixels into its sturdy metal design. With 36 and 18-megapixel resolutions available, users enjoy plenty of flexibility. Shooting with the smaller resolutions is encouraged, given the M11’s excellent dynamic range. This allows for up to 15 stops at ISO 64.
Leica’s website touts the camera’s ability to snap photos in very low lighting conditions thanks to its maximum sensitivity of ISO 50,000. Technically speaking, the Leica M11 is a powerhouse in every sense of the term.
The main draw of the Leica M11 is the optical viewfinder. Instead of leaning on autofocus, users will need to use the focus ring to manually capture at just the right moment. There’s also a lot to love about the digital touch screen. This 2.9-inch panel packs an impressive 2.3 million dots into the display, making menu navigation a breeze.
Several customizable function buttons are new to the M11 model — a welcome addition for users who want to quickly change on the fly. Meanwhile, 64 GB of onboard storage allows for plenty of photos to be taken before needing a separate memory card.
The battery life on the M11 is exceptional for a device with this much technical prowess. Most reviewers who have taken their M11 out on the town have returned from a busy day of use with plenty of battery life still available.

The Elephant In The Room: Price of the Leica M11

Photography isn’t a cheap hobby, with cameras and lenses adding up to several thousand dollars after it’s all said and done. For example, Leica’s M11 — when purchased alongside a quality lens — costs almost as much as a brand new 2021 Chevrolet Spark.
However, the vast majority of M11 customers are professional photographers who think of this as a business expense. The same cannot be said for amateurs, however, so most will find the price far too high. That’s perfectly fine because the Leica M11 is aimed at a very specific customer. Ultimately, almost anyone who invests in this camera will either be a longtime fan of the brand or a professional photographer.

Protect Photography Equipment With Upsie

Protecting an expensive camera with an extended camera warranty from Upsie is a no-brainer. After all, Upsie provides easy-to-understand terms and conditions, as well as unbeatable prices and customer support. Upsie’s camera warranties protect cameras and lenses from accidental damage and defects, ensuring customers get the most out of their devices.
Currently, Upsie doesn’t offer warranties for the Leica M11. However, Upsie does offer camera warranties for a range of other cameras, including the Fujifilm X T4 and the Sony A7 IV. In addition, Upsie offers warranties for camera equipment, smartphones, and laptops.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.