The Leica M11 is the latest all-manual focusing digital rangefinder camera from Leica. While still holding onto the timeless roots of the rangefinder style, Leica managed to pack in some pretty significant upgrades including a new 61MP sensor, and a much-needed upgrade to the processor, and they even improved the screen.
But is it worth it?
In this review, I’ll go over some of the great features and downsides of owning a Leica M11. I also want to add, that I want to compare this camera to other digital cameras on the market, where they are with their features instead of just comparing them to the previous Leica M10. Leica is absolutely a monster at innovation, but often they underperform with the most basic features.
NOTE: New firmware 1.60 just came out. I will install and evaluate this week. They are saying they fixed the camera freezes, and general firmware errors have been fixed. Also a bunch of new updates to how the camera tethers and more power-saving options.
Table Of Contents
- Leica M11 Review – Impressions
- Build Quality
- 8 Great Features Of The Leica M11
- 15 Problems Of The Leica M11
- Some Bugs
- A Poorly Made Digital Interface
- Leica Color Science
- User Experience – Rangefinder – Eurgonamics – Menus
- Leica M11 Sample Photos
Best Memory Cards Leica M11 – Use this guide to find compatible SD cards for the M11.
Pros: Built like a tank, amazing sensor and resolution, very responsive processor and live view, responsive touch screen, multiple resolution sensor, great dynamic range, very nice rear screen, rangefinder manual focus is the best, good battery life, USB-C connector on bottom is great, built-in 64GB of memory.
Cons: Memory Card Compatibility Issues, Lack of some customizable controls ( needs the ability to turn off touch screen), poor AWB performance, poor auto exposure performance, shutter always feels slow, sometimes slow or inconsistent shutter release, focus peaking is bad, overpriced battery, sometimes shutter won’t even release (only happened to me with high temperatures, although no heat indicator that I’ve seen), no countdown timer when using exposure bracketing, really cheap wall charger and packaging.
Personal Notes: Overall the camera is absolutely wonderful and Leica’s most versatile M camera ever. However, the firmware feels very Alpha. I would like to see a few of the cons above fixed and the camera needs to have an overall snappier performance. Most of this is firmware related as there is a lot of inconsistency with usability and predictability. If Leica can fix these issues camera will be near perfect, but as is, the camera is clunky to use.
Leica M11 Review – Impressions
This is the first digital Leica I’ve owned and I will approach this review as someone who has owned most of the brands of mirrorless and DSLR cameras and has moved over to the Leica system for the first time.
This isn’t a naked review of a Leica camera compared to nothing. This is a review of the Leica M11 compared to what other brands are doing, where they are with technology and accessories, and how Leica is positioned.
Now I’m not entirely sure why no one ever really reviews Leica cameras. Everyone sort of gives Leica a free pass and most reviews just feel like advertisements. It’s odd to me because there is actually a lot to talk about with the Leica M11, some great pros, and some big cons as well as some general problems, some of which actually really hurt the user experience.
Overall I really like the camera, and I actually held off on this review to give Leica some time to refine its firmware, it was after all a covid launch product. Even today, it’s still definitely not perfect and there could be a lot improved with some good firmware, which Leica is generally good about from what I’ve seen so far.
In general most of the negatives about the camera are just little nuisances, but there are a lot of them and they do add up. I will say they don’t really hurt the camera to the point of making it not worth buying, but it is overpriced in its current sloppy state.
I just want to talk about them because it’s solid criticism and I think Leica can improve most of these issues if we make some noise about it.
Some of the new Sepia looks from my Core Color presets. Shot with the Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 II and the 35mm f2 Type-II
Getting Used To The M11
At first, using the camera was a little difficult to get used to. I have M film cameras so I’m ok with the range finder system, but it still does take some time to adjust to the faster pace of shooting with digital and it takes a while before you really trust yourself with the range finder patch.
Now that I’m used to it, I just don’t know how I’m going to go back to anything else for shooting manual lenses. I used to think focus peaking was great, but the range finder system for focusing is just so easy and faster and a just pleasure to use. Especially when shooting at higher apertures like at f8 which always made focus peaking difficult to work with. Plus you even have the option to add an external EVF.
As with any camera, it took me a while to get used to the response time and feel of it. It’s pretty heavy and blocky, so I had to figure out how to naturally hold it and have it feel good in the hands which took some time, adding a case has helped, actually I’ve tried two now. Also, you have to always be careful to not cover the second range finder window with your right hand.
One of the big things that I noticed right away is the shutter lag, it’s not terrible but then sometimes it will be actually really long. I’m not sure why, maybe the camera coming out of sleep mode or something, but from time to time it’s up to a full second from when you press the shutter to when it engages. And the thing is, you can’t always tell when the camera is in sleep mode if you’re just using the range finder, well you can, but I’m not always paying attention. Then, once I couldn’t even get the shutter to engage, it was hot outside, probably about 105 degrees, so maybe it was restricting me but it never gave me a heat warning or anything.
It seems like no matter what speed the shutter is set to, with the way it sounds and feels it always makes me think I’m shooting at a very slow shutter speed. And for some reason this delay between the two shutter clicks is not constant, sometimes it’s kind of quick sometimes it’s a little longer. I’m not sure what it’s doing, maybe it’s using some sort of electronic first shutter, then the second click is the shutter returning to its start position? It feels like you’re always shooting at like 1/15th of a second shutter based on how other cameras sound and feel, and for a few weeks this really threw me off. And again, sometimes it has even more of a delay, I don’t know why.
Definitely a buggy camera still even 9 months after its release.
Size & Weight
In terms of size, the M11 is a little larger than the Leica MP and Leica M6 and I actually like this a lot. For those smaller film cameras, I often have nowhere to rest my fingers and am constantly blocking the small range finder window with my right hand and I don’t have that problem nearly as bad as this larger digital camera.
I still have a lot of little complaints about the system which I’ll go over, but overall I’m really loving the camera. It delivered in all the areas I was expecting.
I still do this coloring mostly by hand. No presets yet. Shot with the Kipon 50mm f2.4. I really like this lens as a classic-style rendering.
The Leica M11 comes in two colors, silver chrome on brass, or black on aluminum. I’ve seen complaints about fingerprints with black and silver from earlier reviewers. There is some sort of coating that they have on the cameras when they are new that causes a lot of fingerprinting to show. After a few weeks this residue, whatever it is goes away or wears off or it’s just losing its pristineness and you don’t notice fingerprints as much. Or maybe the whole camera just becomes one big fingerprint smudge so you don’t see it anymore.
Build quality is great. ISO dial pops up to adjust with full stops. The shutter dial adjusts with half stops with a tighter click into ‘Auto’ so you can feel it when you’re not looking.
As far as the silver vs black debate. I’ve had the camera since it came out in silver, I’ve never had one person ever comment on the camera except for some bro at the beach half drunk slurring “is that a film camera?” I was in San Clemente and South Orange country is riding the film trend harder than anywhere else in the world right now.
On the top of the camera, you have a focus assist button on the top that is customizable if you press and hold it, took me like 3 months to figure that out. It would be nice if you could also customize this button from the menu but you can’t.
You have a rear dial that also functions as a button which also can be customized by pressing and holding with no ability to customize the button through the menu like with every other camera that’s ever been made. The dial can be changed from Exposure compensation or focus assist. On the other side of the camera, you have a viewfinder that’s rimmed with hard plastic. Below that a few buttons, and on the other side a D-pad with a center button. None of the buttons are customizable, but you can press the FN button a few times to cycle through your user screen settings which is pretty smart.
The menu works like this – Press it once and you get to the quick menu, press it twice and it pulls up the favorites menu, press it three times and it drops you into the full menu screen.
The screen is a 2.95″ 2.3m-Dot touch screen – It’s really nice.
New base on the camera with an ejectable battery that has a weather-sealed rubber gasket built into it. It’s cool that the battery has a rubber gasket built into the design so if it ever gets worn out or damaged, you can just replace the battery and get a new seal.
The bottom is not replaceable like previous Leica M cameras so once you get a scratch, as seen here, you’re stuck with it forever.
Overall, the build is amazing.
8 Great Features Of The Leica M11
1. Pixel Binning
This is a cool feature that I used a lot at first and now don’t really use so much because the grain always just looks better at 60MP.
The 60MP sensor that lets you pixel bin into different resolutions is fantastic. At first, I didn’t want a 60MP in an M camera because I shoot a lot and don’t like having to buy new hard drives all the time. I’m also on a Synology server and upgrading hard drive space is very expensive and difficult to do. So having the ability to bin down to 36MP or 18MP is really nice, especially since you gain a little dynamic range from doing so.
This was actually one of the reasons I bought this camera. I can shoot most of the time at 36MP or 18MP which supposedly gives you more dynamic range, but then I can also now use this camera for landscape photography on a tripod with that 60MP sensor and have a relatively compact full-frame system.
There is a lot of debate with regards to 60MP being worth it when shooting handheld, but one positive is you do get finer grain at 60MP and I do find it easier to clean up when shooting at high ISO compared to the lower resolutions. There is something weird about the grain when shooting in 36MP or 18MP and it’s difficult to clean up without things looking smeary. I was hoping doing the binning pixels down to 18MP or 36MP would give me a cleaner image as you would expect from a Nikon Z6 or A7III, but that’s not fully the case here since the grain is not as pleasant at those binned resolutions.
I do still appreciate having the lower binned resolutions when experimenting or shooting in very low light.
2. Processing and Sensor
The processor and sensor are so good now that you won’t really ever need more in terms of image quality from this point unless there is some huge breakthrough in the technology.
I saw this camera and realized where it is, it should be able to last me at least 10 – 15 or even 20 years. What more could you really need? Yes, a faster burst, an electronic shutter, a stacked sensor, and more dynamic range would all be nice but what the M11 offers is really enough for the foreseeable future for any general photography. We haven’t really needed more, in terms of image quality since the Sony A7rII back in 2015.
This new processor adds display stabilization which helps focusing off the screen on long lenses and perspective control and it all works seamlessly and overall improves the shooting experience plus it just does it all behind the scenes.
In my opinion, they could have gone with a stacked sensor and removed the shutter completely, but I think this would have come at a small cost of dynamic range and I’m not sure Leica fans are ready for that yet. It’s possibly the next step in the design and hopefully, that’s where things go in the future with most cameras.
3. Screen Is Very Nice
2.95″ which is fine for how small the camera is, but what I really like is the 2,332,800 Dot display, and it has all the tech built-in to guide your preview like it can stabilize your view digitally, or correct your distortion lines.
You also have auto levelers you can turn on and frame guides, also – histograms. The screen also feels like it’s made of tough glass, most other cameras have a plastic feeling screen.
4. Brass Or Aluminum
The Leica M11 black version uses a lighter aluminum body and the M11 Silver uses a heavier brass body. I have the Leica MP and a Leica M6 and the zinc build of the M6 is considerably lighter, although the new M6 is now brass.
Sometimes I feel like the MP is too heavy and I don’t want to deal with it. It just slowly wears on you have a long day and that little difference in weight savings does help. That being said, I got the brass M11 because I like the look of the silver Leicas a little more and am willing to deal with the extra weight.
5. Crop Modes
The Leica M11 lets you run the camera with different crops. 1.3x which is basically APS-H, and 1.8x which is a hair tighter than Canon APS-C. These seem like weird numbers but they actually push your in-between focal lengths into standard focal lengths. For example at 1.3x your 28mm lens becomes a 36mm lens and at 1.8x it becomes a 50mm lens.
If you’re on a 40mm lens the 1.3x becomes 52mm and the 1.8x becomes 72mm. So it’s kind of borrowing some love from the Leica Q2 system.
I never really thought I would use this, but I often carry the Voigtlander 21mm f3.5, and love that lens at 28mm with a 1.3x crop. So I find myself using that lens a lot now with the 1.3x crop. Some of those Voigtlander lenses like the 21mm and 28mm have a lot of issues along the corners and edges and running them with the 1.3x gives great results.
When shooting DNG the files come into Lightroom already cropped, but you still get the full 61MP image, so you can always expand it out and re-adjust the composition if you miss by a little.
The same works with perspective control. If shooting DNG, the images in LR come already cropped with the Guided Transform setting defined by the camera, but you can always revert back to the full sensor image.
Voigtlander 21mm f3.5 set to 28mm with a 1.3x crop.
6. Countdown Timer, Bracketing, Intervolamet
The Leica M11 is fully set up with all the useful features a landscape photographer could want – well almost. You can set up the camera to bracket your exposures all with a countdown timer, and it even has a built-in intervalometer which is really nice when shooting star trails or fireflies as well as any sort of timelapse photography.
Since I bought the Leica M11 partly as a landscape camera, this was reassuring when I opened up the menus and discovered these settings.
7. Files Aren’t Huge
For a 60MP sensor I was expecting bigger files but it looks like Leica is using some sort of lossless compression with their DNG files.
If you’re wondering how big the files sizes are with the Leica M11 –
For the 60MP mode, files are about 60-70MB in size, at 36MP the files are roughly 35-40MB in size and for 18MP they are about 20MB in size.
8. Battery Life
Battery life is fine. Pretty good if you’re using the OVF mostly, but then just ok if you’re using the live view a lot and doing long exposures.
If you shoot with liveview or with an EVF a lot, you may need two batteries to run a full day. I was out shooting landscapes with liveview using the LCD screen and I burned through close to 40% of my battery during the sunset while shooting a lot of long exposures.
When I go out shooting street photography for maybe about 4 hours, I can use almost half a battery or less and I still use liveview often.
If you’re shooting with mostly the range finder then the battery will last you days.
The way I typically shoot, if I go out for a full day and shoot maybe around 500-600 images with RAW+JPG set, then I’m usually ending the day with about 20-30% battery.
It is only a 1800mAh battery, the Sony FZ100 is 2280mAh by comparison. Granted the M11 doesn’t have an IBS system to power, so it isn’t as demanding.
So far I haven’t needed more than one battery.
9. Bonus Feature – The FOTOS App
Firmware 1.6.0 really upgraded the FOTO app and the way the camera interfaces with it. It’s very easy to set up now. The camera now uses Bluetooth to communicate with your phone so once you are setup, all you do is open the app on your phone and tell it to connect to the camera and this usually works without having to interface with the camera at all.
This is probably the best camera App I’ve ever used so far for this very reason. It works very well. Although it does give me trouble with the 5Ghz wifi connection so I have to leave it in 2.4Ghz. Not sure if this is my phone or the camera being funky.
Also what’s really cool is you now have location tagging through the GPS device on your phone. I haven’t fully tested this, but I think it works like a smart watch where every minute or so it will ping your phone for the location data through Bluetooth even if you’re not connected directly with the camera app at the time. If this actually works the way I think it works, it’s really cool. But the firmware is new and I haven’t had much time to test this.
The only downside of the app is your remote options are still very limited. Since the camera has no ability to use a countdown timer with bracketing I would like to be able to just use my phone as a remote, but you can’t use your phone as a remote with any of the advanced bracketing type settings.
These were shot on the Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 Nok II – A really nice character lens for softer portraits like this.
15 Problems Of The Leica M11
The camera itself is amazing, where it lacks is the firmware.
It really seems like the camera’s firmware is still alpha. Getting better over time but compared to any other camera out there, it’s probably the worst camera I’ve ever used when it comes to the implementation of digital features, except for the first-gen Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras. With where this camera is with AWB and Exposure and some basic features missing like “flicker reduction,” the camera feels like it’s still living in 2013.
M11 is not the first-gen product, actually, the Leica M system was one of the first mirrorless systems ever made, so there is kind of no excuse here.
I’ll just make a list, some of these things are not so bad and kind of a fundamental feature of what rangefinders are, I’ll just mention and share my thoughts on everything.
Remember this is compared to other cameras, not necessarily compared to older Leicas. Basically how does the $9k Leica stack up to something like a Sony A7rV, minus IBIS, AF, and other video features you wouldn’t expect to see in an Leica M11.
The box and the packaging is not very good (Sorry don’t have any pictures, the box is not with me).
Leica historically has always had nice boxes and packaging. I get they are maybe trying to save on materials and waste even though paper and cardboard are mostly renewable resources, but it feels like they didn’t even try. After only a few months the outer casing box is already starting to come unglued and fall apart, not only that, it’s built with very thin cheap paper which is extremely easy to tear.
The inner box is just cheap cardboard and it all feels like it was designed by an intern working from home while binge-watching Netflix. It’s overall very disappointing. It’s a box yeah, but anytime you buy a luxury product (as people call these cameras), it always has a nice box and packaging.
We see a lot of weakness with most brands with areas like this and my guess is that it is Covid-related. Creatives are not able to be in person to feel the material and design and provide immediate feedback. So I don’t want to be too critical here.
If you think I’m being too harsh here, go look at the Fujifilm X-H2s and the whole unboxing and packaging experience that comes with that camera. Fujifilm is getting very close to Apple when it comes to making you feel like you have a special product and how good their accessories feel. Leica is not even close here.
Leica feels about on par with a DJI product. I’m not kidding. It’s sad.
2. The Power Charger and Battery are Low Quality
Again the wall adapter and charger feel about on par with what DJI is doing. The cable is high quality but way too stiff and thick.
The battery feels light and cheap although it does have weather sealing built-in since it has to sit flush with the body.
The battery by the way costs $200. It’s not handmade in a factory in Germany, it’s made in China. It feels Chinese mass production quality and the price gouging here is silly. A Sony battery feels amazing and well-built with a hologram on it to let you know it’s genuine. But it’s a battery, it fits flush with the camera so can’t be too picky here, except it costs $200.
This is all concerning to me because Leica is supposed to be a premium designer brand, but they are so far away with the attention to detail here with the simple stuff that a company like Apple could pump out in their sleep – it’s all kind of concerning.
It’s like they only looked at the details of the camera with care, but all the little experiences that surrounded the camera were totally neglected.
I wouldn’t be as critical here but the camera was $9,000 dollars and the whole thing is “handmade in Germany,” the store clerks even wear white gloves when handling the cameras and lenses like it’s some fine jewelry. Then they dump a bunch of cheap accessories out of China into a poorly made Toys “R” Us box with zero interesting design. Usually, Leica shooters keep their boxes, but I could see people throwing this one away. My Leica MP box is great!
If you think I’m being too critical here, again, go check out the Fujifilm X-H2s, all the accessories are light years better than what Leica is offering here. I was kind of blown away by the X-H2s and the accessories and presentation of that flagship product.
If you’re just a person that’s not testing other cameras all the time, you’d likely never know the difference so maybe it this doesn’t matter all that much.
3. No Stabilization – Which Is Fine
This is not a big deal and doesn’t really count as a negative but I’ll mention it.
I see a lot of people talking about stabilization, I put it here because we need to talk about it. In general, the lack of stabilization isn’t a problem at all. Even with stabilization on Sony cameras at 60MP you still get micro motion blur. 60MP is really great for reproductive work on a tripod and that’s why we buy 60MP.
I look at 60MP as being for tripod use and all the other formats are what you would use handheld, and for me, this is totally fine. You’ll still see some very subtle shake at 36MP when handheld at high shutters but it’s totally acceptable, this is part of the look of these cameras. But, we’re forgetting that at 60MP the grain is very fine and small, more on this later.
The question I think we all have is, could they have squeezed a little 3-Axis IBIS in there? Maybe remove the shutter by going with a stacked sensor, they would likely still have to push the mount out a little more which would make the camera uglier when no lens is attached, and then maybe push the screen back out even a little more. Would all those design compromises be worth it? I’m not sure.
If they wanted 5-axis IBIS they would have to electrify all the lenses so that they communicate focus position unless they just programmed the camera’s range finder clutch to do that. Considering the M11 does not have electronic contacts for the lenses, you can ensure there are no plans in the future to expand the technology of the lenses for anything like 5-Axis IBIS. 3-Axis IBIS however doesn’t require a focus position.
With only a 1800mAh battery, IBIS would ruin battery life or they would need a bigger heavier battery. IBIS just isn’t something Leica can do right now while keeping the design aesthetic.
4. Electronic Rolling Shutter But No Sound
The electronic shutter is an interesting feature that’s been in cameras for over a decade but is new to Leica. Really it comes in handy when you set the shutter to auto and use fast lenses in bright situations. Then the electronic shutter takes over and lets you still get proper exposure. It has a rolling shutter that’s noticeable so you don’t really want to use it except for these situations or if you need a silent shutter.
Unfortunately, the Leica M11 has no internal speaker, so when the camera switches to the faster electronic shutter in bright conditions, there is no audible indication that a picture is being taken and it can be really confusing if you’re not expecting it when the camera’s shutter mode is in auto.
This feature is actually not uncommon with most camera brands. I think Canon and maybe Nikon also don’t have a sound option for using the electronic shutter. Fujifilm does, I can’t remember if Sony does.
5. No Video – Which Is Fine
This is probably a sin to say this, but there are no video options built into this camera.
Some basic video features would be nice. I know Leica historically has not been great at implementing video features in M cameras and ultimately gave up based on the idea that M cameras are more photo purist machines. Makes sense.
I’m not going to film a movie or youtube video on a Leica M, but sometimes it’s nice to run some video for something spontaneously happening. I actually use video a lot for utility purposes for this website and now it means when I travel I have to bring a second camera.
6. Not A Lot Of Sharp M Lenses for 60MP – Yet
There are not a lot of very sharp Leica M lenses (especially from the third party) that resolve 60MP very well. Some Leica lenses are great of course and some of these new Voigtlander lenses are nice but so many of these smaller lenses are not super sharp wide open but then get hit very hard by diffraction very early on like at f8. I’m not sure if that’s a byproduct of the lenses being so small but diffraction is pretty heavy with a lot of lenses I’ve tested at f8 even at 38MP. This could just be me and the lenses I have so I’ll have to continue testing here.
The good news is Leica has already started updating lenses starting with a new 35mm f1.4.
7. Only DNG or JPG, no HEIF
I’m not sure about the full limitations of DNG vs a custom RAW, and it seems like DNG can do a lot, but apparently RAW can do more. I do know that we’re still missing a lot of custom settings that can carry over to LR as we get with Nikon. With a Nikon camera you can adjust your contrast, sharpness, profiles, etc, and this information carries over to your LR settings.
Some people love DNG since it can be used in most editing programs without the need for an update. But would having a RAW format allow Leica to further advance the technology of their lens and their system?
Also, the Leica in-camera image and the LR Leica profile are quite a bit different. I think there is some extra magic Leica does with their JPGs with how they are rendered.
This is all not a huge deal, but it would be nice if there were more in-camera functions to adjust the look of the image, active D-Lighting, WB shifts, etc, but I think you might need RAW to do that, not the more limited DNG.
I will say that the perspective control and the crop modes do pass through to Lightroom which is pretty cool. So if you shoot at 1.3x crop mode which I like to do on my 21mm lens, then it comes into LR as a 21mm image pre-cropped to 28mm. So it looks like there are some capabilities there to expand the communication of the DNG files with the editing software.
But again, Nikon and Fujifilm are quite a bit ahead with what they offer and how some of the camera’s customizable settings can pass to LR.
Many of the brands are now offering HEIF which is basically a JPG on steroids.
8. No Non-Leica Lens Support
If you’re using third-party lenses you don’t really have the option to program in your own focal length or aperture like every other camera brand, you can only pick from the list of Leica lenses.
Leica cameras will try to guess your aperture and populate EXIF information which is pretty cool, but it’s never fully accurate with third-party lenses. I wonder if allowing more customization here would help.
9. You Can’t Use Countdown Timer With Exposure Bracketing
Currently, on the Leica M11, you can’t set a countdown timer at the same time as using exposure bracketing.
If you’re a landscape photographer and don’t want camera shake from pressing the shutter while on a tripod, but like to bracket your exposures, you’ll have to use a mechanical shutter release of some sort, or just do one exposure at a time manually.
The FOTO app also won’t allow you to use the bracketing when used as a trigger.
10. Can’t Disable Touch Screen
This aggravates me the most. It’s like soft torture.
As it stands this is a design flaw because if you want to use liveview for focus assist, your right thumb almost always touches the top right corner of the display setting the focus assist point to that area. Focus Assist is nearly unusable, or at least very cumbersome to use because there is no ability to disable this section of the screen or to at least disable the touch screen completely.
So to use liveview with focus assist (when the camera punches in for fine focus adjustments), it almost always defaults to the top right of the screen, then you have to set the point back to the center of the screen and try again. It’s very cumbersome. Let me just turn off the touch screen on the edges of the screen, I think Fujifilm does this, or let me disable the touch screen completely when in liveview. Or, give me an option to just lock the focus position in the center, then I can push a button to unlock it if I want to move it.
11. Very Dangerous “Delete All Setting”
This is totally crazy to me. Currently on the Leica M11, if you want to delete a file, you have a menu of Delete single, Delete all, Delete all without *, Add * etc.
It looks like this.
This menu can be touchscreen, and if you accidentally touch and click down and “Delete all,” and are tired and press ok without thinking, you are essentially formatting your card. It’s just right there, that easy to do. I’ve done it once already by accident when not paying attention and it was not good.
Just remove “Delete All” and “Delete all without *,” or move them to the bottom of the menu. I don’t understand why you would need two Delete All commands when there is a Format command in the quick menu. This reminds me of the Windows operating system where there are multiple ways of doing the same thing which just clutters up the settings and design aesthetic.
This is also a strange inconsistency in the design language of the camera. They have multiple ways of formatting your card, in the menu, on the quick menu, or on this playback screen, but then you can’t customize your top right buttons through the menu, only by pressing and holding.
12. Leica M11 Gives GPS Information While Not Having GPS – FIXED
The Leica M11 sets the EXIF data with a null GPS location so all your photos are tagged with coordinances linking to NULL Island.
Update: Can be fixed in Firmware 1.6. Now you can connect the camera to your phone and have it stay connected and it will populate the location data of each photo. Part of this latest update was introducing Bluetooth connection and power-saving connection options with the Leica Photos app, which actually works very well.
13. Photometry Settings Don’t Work Well
The camera can use center-weighted, multi-weighted, spot-weighted, or highlight-weighted. I can’t see any major difference between any of them except Spot.
Center, Multi, and Highlight weighted all seem to perform almost exactly the same as far as I can tell, and they all seem to be mostly working as a Highlight Weighted focus meter, but then sometimes it doesn’t. There seems to be some inconsistency here for me.
It would be cool if they actually borrowed some tech from the Leica SL2, and tracked faces for exposure and AWB purposes only. That would be an amazing feature. Fujifilm actually does this and I think Canon will too. Track faces and set your exposure to where the face is at.
14. AWB and Auto Exposure Are Not Very Good
As mentioned above, the Photometry settings just don’t work very well and your exposure can bounce around by a whole stop if you’re not careful since the camera seem to be overly sensitive to any highlights or specular highlights no matter what mode you’re in. Again, this might just be a bug because sometimes it works better than other times.
On top of this, AWB does not perform very well and it often bounces around a lot when you’re shooting within the same scene. This kind of forces you to manually use WB, which I almost always do anyway.
In terms of AWB and Auto Exposure, this is probably the worst camera I’ve had in the last maybe 8 years. It’s about as bad as the first Sony mirrorless cameras.
Myself and a lot of Leica shooters I know shoot manual, and while I don’t want to speak for the entire community, I think probably this isn’t a huge deal, but I definitely think it’s something Leica could work on.
Also, all the camera brands now give you further options for the AWB.
With Nikon, you have a few options to shoot with AWB – Natural Light Auto, Keep White, Keep overall atmosphere and Keep warm lighting colors. Most brands have something similar, but Leica is behind. Fujifilm actually even lets you add WB shifts which are pretty cool for building custom JPG styles.
15. Auto ISO Shutter Shutter Limiter Not Working Correctly
I set my shutter limit to 1/125, however, no matter what, the camera always shoots at 1/160 or 1/180 as a minimum. Same if I set the shutter limit to 1/60 it always shoots at 1/80. My guess is this is just a bug?
Firmware 1.6.0 did not fix this.
Speaking of bugs.
Exposure Highlight Priority
As mentioned above, Leica added highlight exposure priority, but it does seem like all the other exposure settings heavily try to prioritize highlights. Even when I’m center-weighted if any highlights show up in the scene the image drastically shifts to protect them and this just makes using the auto exposure system difficult.
It’s like all the modes are Center Weighted + Highlight Priority, Multi Weighted + Highlight Priority, Full + Highlight Priority. Then they also give us Highlight Priority. Seems redundant. I wish the camera worked more like other brands here.
And again, it does seem to perform normally sometimes, so my guess is there are still some bugs here.
Focus Assist Exposure Shift
There is a strange bug when focusing off the LCD screen – you press the exposure focus assist button on the top of the camera the image flashes brightly for a second before going darker. It doesn’t feel like it’s associated with the correct exposure and is very distracting. I actually wish it stayed bright because once it pops darker it’s harder to see.
Sometimes if you have a busy bright background with the liveview engaged, the camera will go crazy on the auto ISO or shutter settings and flicker with a strobe-like effect.
Camera Locks Up
I still get a lot of lockups. I don’t think it’s from the memory card because I was even getting them when shooting internally. Sometimes the camera even stalls when coming out of sleep mode and the shutter will often have huge delays when trying to take a picture after the camera was sleeping.
Also, the camera once would just not let me shoot at all. It was about 104 degrees out in the California desert ( a normal day in the California Summer), and I could not get the camera to take a picture. I’m thinking it overheated, but it didn’t give me any overheating warning. So adding an overheating warning would be nice.
UPDATE: Firmware 1.6.0 is said to have fixed some of the lockups.
Also, Now that summer is over and winter is here and it’s a lot colder outside, I haven’t had any lockups in a while. This makes me think the lockup issue might be entirely heat related. This also could be why some people have issues with some memory cards and not others, some cards can get very hot and further add to the heat issue.
I’m using an older Sony G card (not tough).
A Poorly Made Digital Interface
I think a lot of the problems above could be fixed over time but it’s been a while now and they are still problems. Are other Leica cameras this bad? I don’t understand what’s going on here with poorly implemented digital features.
The digital side of the Leica M11 by modern standards feels like a stripped-down free demo, and I’m supposed to pay extra money to unlock all the features with the Pro version. But the Pro version just doesn’t exist.
But then some features like the FOTO App and perspective control are amazing.
My big takeaway is that if you’re going to put something in a camera, why half-ass it? Makes no sense to me.
The good news is, all the problems with the camera are just the software and it’s possible for Leica to fix all the little issues. However, I hear a lot of the problems I’m having with this camera are also problems with the M10, so I think it’s come down to Leica just not caring, or they lack the management that understands these things.
Leica Color Science
Back to some good stuff.
The Color DNA Of Leica
Every camera brand has its own signature look or DNA to the way it renders and they all are constantly improving and changing. It’s not just coloring, sometimes it’s more tonal. Nikon images for example generally render colors with a softer more pastel feel to them, whereas Canon images feel a little more punchy with high clarity.
It’s a popular belief to think that once you shoot RAW you can change the colors to whatever you want, and while this is true at the basic level, the basic DNA of the camera’s look usually still shines through.
And I actually like the Leica M11 DNA a lot here.
Straight Out Of Camera JPGs
JPGs are very nice. It seems Leica cameras do some additional processing on them and they do look quite a bit different from just shooting RAW and loading the M11 profile in Lightroom.
There are various JPG looks in cameras from Standard to Vivid to Natural. These are the Standard look. All the colors are very well balanced, there is a nice contrast overall with deep shadows for a very signature Leica look.
These are straight out-of-camera JPG shot on the Kipon 50mm f2.4 lens.
What I Personally Like About What Leica Is Doing
Leica’s colors are pretty good especially if you shoot JPG. They remind me a little of maybe a Fujifilm Provia look, but the greens are a little more realistic. The contrast is really pronounced, and the shadows seem to be a little deeper with a little more contrast than most brands. What I don’t love is the blues are maybe a little too deep and strong, but it’s easy to adjust.
I feel like when I’m editing my photos I get a very similar vibe to what I get when I’m editing with my Fujifilm cameras – a very natural feeling images with great tonality in the mid tones.
Overall the Leica M11 has a really nice DNA to start your edits from, but the JPGs also usually look great right out of the camera.
Probably has my favorite JPGs apart from all the crazy customization you can do with the Fujifilm JPGs.
Here is an edit on top of the M11 Profile in Lightroom.
User Experience – Rangefinder – Eurgonamics – Menus
The Leica M11 still uses an analog range finder system. There is the optical viewfinder you look through, then another viewfinder to the right side of the lens that gives you a stereoscopic split view of what’s in focus vs what’s out of focus. You line up the two images and you’re in focus.
When you first buy a camera like this it does feel a little overwhelming and the experience can be a little uncomfortable, but as you keep going and improving your technique the camera becomes a part of you, and using it is second nature.
Once you hit this level, it’s a ton of fun and a totally different and unique experience since the camera always actively keeps you as part of the process compared to something like a Nikon mirrorless that just does so much of the work for you.
Using A Rangefinder – Pros and Cons
There are some pros and cons to this system. A pro being it’s pretty fast and accurate and easy to use in even low light, what’s bad is that it’s useless if you’re shooting a scene that has really busy details. Think like trying to shoot a carpet or a wall of flowers. But at least there is liveview that is actually pretty good with decent focus peaking that you can use in these situations to fall back on.
One problem with this system and all Leica M cameras is you really have to watch your right hand and your fingers so that it doesn’t block this little viewport. Also, the system can get uncalibrated and you then have to send your camera in for adjustments. Not only that, you have to make sure your lenses are all designed properly and are properly calibrated. Some third-party lenses still struggle with this precision.
Even some precision lenses can have other issues with focus shift. Where the camera is calibrated perfectly wide open, but off when stopped down.
Lenses like the Voigtlander 50mm f1.5 are calibrated at f1.5, and when you stop down the focus can shift slightly. People often make a bigger deal about this than it is, because as you stop down, you also increase your depth of field so it’s sometimes a self-correcting problem. But if you want absolute precision, sometimes focus can change slightly between f1.4 and f2.8 where depth is still very shallow.
The Rangefinder is really nice when you’re shooting at higher apertures where focus peaking would just show everything peaking. In these situations the rangefinder still allows you to see where the center focus position should be to really get accurate focus.
Ergonomics is not great with these cameras. Some people love it, but it is what it is, you are carrying around a beautiful brass brick. It’s not super comfortable to hold for long hours, since there is no grip or anything.
It takes awhile to get used to and once you do it’s not so bad, but never amazing.
It’s a giant list like Sony used to do. There is some thought to the menu maybe. It seems like the options you would use the most are on the first or second page and more setup technical options are put further down the list.
They do give you a favorites menu which is mostly fine. There really aren’t too many options so it ends up not really being a problem. You can adjust mostly what you need from the quick menu page (not customizable for some reason), and then you have your favorites page. Typically you don’t need access to more than four or five things at a time anyway. It’s a range finder and not really a techy camera so it doesn’t and should be overloaded here.
While the whole menu thing could have been a nightmare like old Sony menus, Leica keeps it simple and clean and you never feel overloaded with information.
Leica M11 Review – Bottom Line
The M11 is a very nice machine and a ton of fun to use. The sensor is amazing, the processor is great, the body and screen are all great, JPGs look great and the color profiles and black-and-white profiles are all amazing. The camera produces amazing images always.
But, Leica still has a ways to go before this camera is anywhere near perfect or even to the same level as any of the other camera brands. This is because of all the poorly thought out and poorly developed UI issues that you’re constantly having to work around. It’s just impossible to have a seamless shooting experience.
There are just so many stange design decisions going on here with this camera. As a first-time Leica shooter, I’m actually a little shocked. I don’t know how else to say this.
Am I crazy? Is it me or is it crazy to have the option to bracket your photos but not the option to use it with a countdown timer?
Am I being crazy to think it’s a bad idea to have a Delete All button as your second delete option on a touchscreen display that’s way too easy to push when there is already an option to format the memory card in the menu?
Am I being crazy to think it’s a bad design to set up focus assist so that every time you use the focus assist button, the image punches in at the top right of the screen because that’s where your thumb always overlaps the screen as you’re holding the camera? So you have to push back out, touch the center of your screen then punch back in, every time you want to use the focus assist button, then it teases you with a bright and beautiful image for a second before switching to a darker image that’s hard to see.
Then there are the bugs. Flickers, flashes, no heat warning, etc. Some of it is being worked on and improved but not quickly enough.
Now all that being said, it’s still really fun. I just have to pretend I’m shooting with the first gen mirrorless cameras from 2010 with a few modern features sprinkled in. It almost seems like Leica doesn’t care, but then they release new updates to things like the FOTO App which are amazing and work great.
So it’s a little confusing and hard to know what’s going on with Leica with this camera. They introduce some big new features without fixing little annoyances. At least it’s all moving in the right direction.
It just seems like it would only take an engineer a week to fix all these little issues to make the camera perfect. We’ll see what happens in the future and I’ll continue to update this review with new firmware and tricks I discover.
Ultimately there are really only 3 things that still bug me which I’ll explain again here.
1. No ability to turn off the touch screen or at least limit it. This means when you’re using a live view or EVF, when you focus assist it will always start at the top right of the screen because that’s where your thumb overlaps.
2. Flickering when something is backlit.
3. No countdown timer with the exposure bracketing.
The white balance and autoexposure settings I can live with, although they are not amazing if you were to compare this to a modern Sony camera.
Leica M11 Sample Photos
A mix of lenses and Binning modes shot on the Leica M11. Colored with my Core and Ono Preset.
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