The Leica System
The freedom to capture fleeting moments
The M stands for Messsucher, the German term for a combined rangefinder and viewfinder, and for an unmistakably individual kind of photography. This system, generally described as a rangefinder, has particular merits that enable photographers to transform their very own personal and subjective visual concepts into photographic realities. At the same time, the Leica M has intuitive controls and is simple to use. Even for photographers who are only familiar with SLR cameras. There are no superfluous functions and no overcomplicated menus. Photographers are given the opportunity to concentrate entirely on what’s essential: their pictures.
The story of 35 mm photography began almost 100 years ago with the legendary Ur-Leica. Today, it is the Leica M9 and its sister, the Leica M9-P, that carry the legend of Leica M-Cameras into the digital age. They are the smallest digital system cameras with a 24 × 36 full frame sensor the world has ever seen.
Closer to the crucial moment
The rangefinder system enables the capture of authentic, natural images, taken from the heart of life itself Photographers become part of the action and frame whatever they wish to capture in the viewfinder – a scene, a mood, a moment. Simultaneously, the photographer still perceives what is going on outside the viewfinder frame. The crucial moment becomes predictable, and can thus be captured at precisely the right instant. The almost negligible delay between releasing the shutter and capturing the shot makes Leica M-Cameras the fastest cameras in the world.
Compact and discreet
No other professional camera is as compact as a Leica M. Because the camera needs no mirror box it can be constructed with a depth of less than 37 mm, as in the case of the Leica M9 and M9-P. The extraordinary compactness of M-Cameras and -Lenses also makes them the ideal camera system for travel photographers and photojournalists. Mirror-slap and related shake effects in captured images are a problem never encountered by M-Photographers.
Unobtrusiveness, their minimalistic formal clarity and a hardly audible shutter are further reasons for the unique charisma of Leica M-Images. Time and again, photographers working with M-Cameras in areas of social and political tension around the world report that they are not perceived as journalists, and can capture images that remain unattainable for users of other camera systems.
The best lenses make the best pictures
Even the best camera remains second class when its optical performance is not up to the photographer’s standards. Leica engineers constantly invest enormous effort and innovative ingenuity in their search for the perfect optical solution. The outcome: compact lenses with unrivalled performance. Premium glass formulations and perfected manufacturing processes enable photographers to capture images with an unmistakable character. These images say much about quality. Not only the quality of criteria such as contrast and resolution, but also structure, tonal richness and a uniquely natural signature, especially under difficult lighting conditions. This is further enhanced by the sheer pleasure of the silky-smooth focusing action so typical of every Leica lens. This quality is ensured for every single lens we produce by the experienced hands of our factory’s precision optical and mechanical engineers. In contrast to mass-produced lenses, this means that every single Leica lens possesses exceptional levels of quality that photographers can truly rely on.
Over 50 years of compatibility
Leica engineers created a timeless standard when they designed the Leica M-Bayonet mount back in the 1950s. It ensures continuous system compatibility for all Leica M-Cameras, including today’s digital M9 and its sister, the M9-P. Almost all M-Lenses ever constructed are suitable for use with the digital Leicas. Thanks to the 6-bit coding of lens mounts, the Leica M9 and M9-P automatically recognise the characteristics of the attached lens and employ this information for internal processing. Of course, uncoded Leica lenses can also be used on the M9 and the M9-P with their advanced M-Bayonet mount.
Only a few things last a lifetime. A Leica M often lasts even longer.
People who take photography seriously usually live their lives at the edge. The M is built to be consistent, dependable and tough under any conditions imaginable. As such, the body is manufactured from only the best materials: brass for the top deck and base plate, and a high-tensile magnesium alloy for the chassis. In the case of the Leica M9-P, for instance, an extremely scratch-resistant sapphire-crystal cover provides even better protection for its LCD screen.