The M9's 18-megapixel 35.8mm x 23.9mm sensor has been replaced with a higher-resolution 24-megapixel full-framer on Leica's latest top M camera. The Leica M goes up to a standard ISO of 6400 and features a new, faster Maestro image processor, and even improved — gasp! — autofocus. In a big step forward, the camera also features 1080p HD video recording.
Importantly, in addition to working with Leica's M-series lenses, the new sensor is specially designed to also work with Leica R-series lenses. And because this camera is likely to be a significant investment, you'll be pleased to learn it has a new "splashproof" body.
Leica is also putting out a new Leica M-E camera, which sports a spare design more in line with the Leica tradition. Like the M-9, the M-E sports a 18-megapixel, full-frame sensor, and its 567g build is more compact than the 652g Leica M.
The Leica M will reportedly be out next year for $US7000. The Leica M-E is available now for about $US5500.
Once upon a time, Leica's 35mm rangefinder-style cameras used to exist in a vacuum, but they're not alone anymore in catering to the classy street photographer with cash to burn. The new Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX1 offers a full-frame sensor in a compact package much like the Leicas do for $2999 RRP in Australia. And for under $2000 you can pick up one of Fujifilm's hot, vintage style X-series cameras. Whether or not Leica stands alone anymore — and whether or not any of us can actually afford the new cameras — they're still unbelievable works of engineering. [Leica M-E and Leica M]