New Leica M? A Mini?

A new Leica M is on the way to be announced On June 11, says the Leica web site. The new model is slated to take the spot between the X2 and the classic digital M system and dubbed the ‘mini’. Presumably, the mini designation means small.

This is an interesting announcement for Leica. They have a fairly versatile X2 with a large APS-C sensor, CMOS in nature capturing 16 megapixels. The Digital M series has a full frame sensor (and the Digital S series, well, they contain ‘mega-sensors’).

The X2 has a very small size rivaling the D-Lux models and is heavy, armored with a metal chassis or ultra-light magnesium. The X2 can even use the Leica SF 24D flash.

Why is this detail about the X2 important? Because the ‘mini’ is supposed to be between the X2 and the M9/M(240). The digital M has a magnesium chassis. The digital M uses the SF 24D flash.

One of the major differences outside of the sensor between the digital M and the X2 is the lens choice. The X2 has a fixed Elmarit 24mm ASPH lens, albeit it operates like a 35mm size because of the sensor size. However the digital M can take any of the M-mount lenses.

Where is this hole between these two camera systems? I enjoy my X2 and I love my M9 and my Monochrom. However, I spent a good while this year studying the Fujifilm X-series. I finally purchased the X100S and have been thrilled with its JPEG output, assuming you nail the exposure.

If Fuji had an X-1 Pro that had the enhancements of the X100s, I would have purchased it instead (in black of course) and a few of the Fuji lenses to boot. Thus my first prediction – the ‘mini’ will accept external lenses, like the Fuji X-1 Pro.

I don’t know if Leica will develop another line of lenses and in fact, I doubt they will invest that capital when they have two fine series in the M and S. In addition, they stopped making the R series. So, my best guess is it will accept the M line of lenses. The Summarit-M lenses are an inexpensive alternative to Summicron and Summilux models – so an affordable option for the ‘mini’. In addition, other well known lens makers have M mount lenses.

Prediction number two is a CMOS sensor that is at least an APS-C size and maybe full frame. The Leica ME had a CCD sensor like the M9, but was not as popular with the CMOS sensors so far ahead in speed. I would expect a new model CMOS, ahead of the X2, with better high ISO output like the new M or the Monochrom. Best guess is a smaller version of the new M(240) sensor so that not too much programming needs done.

Ok, that’s about it! These two predictions address the lenses and the sensor. I’d expect a magnesium body, well built, a good mix of key buttons and typical Leica programming – the same as the existing series!

We will all know more on June 11…

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