Leica has announced two new entries into the digital rangefinder world. First, the new "M." Instead of continuing the numbering system, they've decided to go with less is more in naming. This new camera sports the first CMOS sensor in the M line. CMOS is known to give better noise performance at high iso, as compared to the CCD. However, the CCD produces sharper images, at least according to Leica's previous literature, and the opinion of many other experts. CCD is limited not only by high iso performance, but by the inability to provide live view, video, etc.
The new M uses a sensor that is reported to give the best of both worlds. The M remains a manual focus rangefinder, like the rest of the line. Probably the two most important upgrades for me are high iso and "focus peaking." Focus peaking uses the camera sensor to indicate when you've reached correct focus with a manual focusing lens. Some Nikon DSLRs with focus peaking have been around for years. I find it useful, especially as my eyes age with the rest of my body. I'm still avoiding going to auto focus exclusively, and focus peaking may give me a few more years. The new M lists for the same price as the previous M9, approximately.
Next, the Leica M-E. This is essentially a repackaged M9 (wonderful camera), with no external frame selector. It lists for ~$5,500, less than the M9. This is a step in the right direction for Leica attracting new customers - awesome camera (I have the M9), better price. But, at $5,500, it's still not for the light-hearted.
I recently bought a used M9, and could not be happier. If I were looking to resell the M9, I may not be happy. I plan to use mine for a very long time. And for now, I'm quite happy with the CCD performance. I'll have to be convinced that the new M's CMOS sensor can really do what the M9 does. That said, sensor technology changes so quickly, I should not doubt progress, ever.
For another post on the new Leica products, check this one out:
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