The M11 is Proof Leica Should Stick to Rangefinders

Leica is best known for its rangefinder-style cameras, but it has expanded in recent years. The company should learn one thing from the praise for the new M11: It should keep doing what it is good at.

The Leica M11 is a great camera. The M11 updates the iconic design of Leica’s rangefinders, but doesn’t change what made them so popular. The camera combines its iconic M-mount optics and a versatile sensor that is much more efficient. It is easy to use without losing any of its usability.

The M11 is truly a story about balance in design, and function. You can say what you want about Leica’s pricing, but it’s the most compelling camera that the company has ever released. This is from the same person who praised its SL2.

Speaking of the SL2, I am happy to say that I feel Leica would be better served if they moved on from other camera designs, and instead stick with rangefinders.

Leica M11

M-Mount Lenses were the best part of SL2.

was my review of the Leica SLR2 in November 2019. It praised the mirrorless camera’s expensive price. I claimed that the price of the camera and the associated baggage were enough to make people ignore it. This was a shame. While I stand by my original argument, time has taught me to see that it wasn’t the SL2 I was so infatuated with but the lenses I was using with it.

None of these lenses were natively made for Leica’s L mount. In fact, I can recall a shift in how I felt about the camera after I took out the SL glass and began using M-mount optics. After taking a few photos using that glass, I fell in love.

I was so pleased with the photos that I took and the experience of taking them that I had, that I should give credit to the SL2 sensor. But, in reality, the lense were the ones that made the majority of my love.

Due to the use of a poor contrast-based autofocus system, the SL2 offers a sub-par experience in comparison to a traditional autofocus-based shooting experience. The SL2 was not able to offer enough hook when compared to the field.

The SL2 was a rangefinder in the M-series, which is what I liked about it.

Leica Rangefinders Can Change a Photography Experience

The SL2 was my first rangefinder review. I didn’t know what I was missing. The M10 Monochrom was the year that I realized this. This was my first experience using a rangefinder camera. The second I pressed the shutter button, I realized that it wasn’t the SL2 I liked but the spirit of a rangefinder.

Although I may sound self-absorbed and Kool-Aid-drinking “Leica bro”, there is something that I love about Leica rangefinders (pun intended). Despite my best efforts, I have had the privilege and great fortune to be deeply involved in the camera industry over the past decade. As a result, I am not as inspired by photography anymore. While I appreciate the technology, my passion for creating art has ceased.

A Leica rangefinder is still the camera that I would buy to re-enter the world of photography. The camera does not define a photographer.

My Canon and Panasonic equipment, which I have used for over 10 years as the basis of my video and photo business, are tools to me. They are my tools. I use them to accomplish a task. These cameras are my only source of inspiration.

The only camera experience that makes me feel anything is the Leica rangefinder. As a photographer who has tried every type of camera, I only want one camera. It is the only camera I don’t have, and likely will never be afford.

Leica: Stick to what you’re good at

Leica is the only company making a reliable, competent digital rangefinder. There are many other options, including Fujifilm’s offerings, but Leica is the best. The M10 was my favorite rangefinder, but the M11 is a great upgrade.

Leica made significant changes to the M-series cameras, but they didn’t forget what makes them so beloved. PetaPixel’s review explains the changes and how they impact the use of the camera. But suffice to say that the M11 has evolved so that you can use it both as a primary camera system and daily driver.

The M-series rangefinders of the past felt like a hobbyist toy. They simply couldn’t keep up with the demands of a professional shooter. But the M11 changed all that. A professional photographer, full-time, can now look at the Leica M11 and justify the high price of entry. They know that they will get their money’s value.

It was impossible to do this with the M10 series, or before. The same is true with the SL2. A friend of mine who does commercial work in Los Angeles actually bought an SL2 and sold it because it didn’t work for him professionally.

Leica is the owner of the rangefinder segment. It would be best to look at it and act as if it does. There is no reason why a rangefinder shouldn’t be an excellent choice for many photography disciplines. Leica is already showing that it can develop the format in a way that makes good sense in 2022.

Get rid of all extra Leica stuff. Keep making rangefinders and keep making them great. Provide an industry with solid, high-end alternatives to the standard mirrorless camera. You can do it, as the M11 shows.