Quick Review: Leica M Edition 60

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images product photos (2 of 6)ISO 6401-80 sec at f - 2.8

The Leica M60–some may argue that it’s it’s overpriced; actually, everyone would argue that. The camera was announced at Photokina 2014, and it’s quite the unconventional offering. It comes with the very expensive and wonderful Leica 35mm f1.4–the new version announced only a couple of years ago. The entire kit itself comes up to around $16,000. Yes, that’s a lot of money and there are only around 600 of these cameras being made. It is the ultimate special edition and collectors camera.

But in all honesty, the Leica M Edition 60 is the camera that every digital Leica should be. Why? Take it from a guy who was trained on and cut his teeth in the photo industry on their cameras. The philosophy behind shooting with a Leica in the streets has to do with ease of use, speed, and relying on your own knowledge. You’re more or less a master. It doesn’t involve sitting there chimping an LCD screen and hoping that you got the shot.

No, this camera is for the master of the streets. And in the one hour that I had with the camera, I’ve never been captivated by a single digital image taking device in my career yet.

Pros and Cons

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (3 of 23)ISO 4001-3000 sec at f - 1.4

Pros

– Excellent image quality

– The ISO dial, shutter dial and aperture dial force you to focus on getting the shot and not chimping your LCD screen. And that’s an absolutely beautiful thing

– ISO dial is in just the right spot

– Incredibly intuitive for the veteran Leica shooter and former film shooter

– Very sturdy build quality

Cons

– Rangefinder smudges way too easily. Leica needs to develop coatings for these to prevent or lessen smudging

– No way to tell if your battery is low

– Digital Leica M cameras are a bit too chubby for my liking

– That price

– This camera is what every single digital Leica should be.

Tech Specs

  • 24MP Leica MAX Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • Leica Maestro Image Processor
  • Rangefinder with Image Field Selector
  • 0.68x Optical Viewfinder Magnification
  • ISO 6400, 3 fps Shooting for 24 Frames
  • Compatible with M-Mount Lenses
  • Magnesium Alloy Body and Brass Top Plate
  • Classic Appearance without Red Leica Dot

Gear Used

We tested the Leica M Edition 60 with the 35mm f1.4 Summilux (special edition).

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images product photos (6 of 6)ISO 6401-80 sec at f - 2.8

The Leica M Edition 60 is a camera that looks like many other Leica cameras before it. But it is also incredibly different. For starters, the front of the camera is very minimalistic. You attach a lens, have the rangefinder, viewfinder, etc.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images product photos (5 of 6)ISO 6401-80 sec at f - 2.8

Move to the top and you’ll find the main controls. Like all M mount lenses, the aperture control is around the lens. But the shutter control is up top along with the on/off switch and the hot shoe.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images product photos (4 of 6)ISO 6401-80 sec at f - 2.8

Then we come to the back–and this is where one would usually find an LCD screen and loads of buttons. Instead, we find the viewfinder and the ISO dial. That’s it.

Because of this, Leica puts the entire emphasis on just shooting.

Build Quality

We had around an hour with the camera and didn’t have a wrist strap that worked well with the unit. In fact, the Edition 60 doesn’t have strap lugs. So we had to be very careful with it. To be quite honest though, it rained the entire hour that we used the camera in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Nothing happened to the electronics inside and it kept working flawlessly.

We don’t encourage you to take your digital Leica out and shoot in the rain, but you should know that it will survive. However you may want to do some maintenance to ensure that it’s always in tip top shape.

This photo would have been in focus if it weren't for a smudged rangefinder.

This photo would have been in focus if it weren’t for a smudged rangefinder.

A problem that I’ve had with lots of Leica cameras is that the rangefinder can smudge very easily at times–and therefore mess with your ability to focus. So while out in the field, you’ll need to wipe it down fairly often–especially because you’ll always have this camera in your hand due to the lack of strap lugs.

Around the body is a very grippy material that helps to make up for the lack of lugs.

Ease of Use

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images product photos (3 of 6)ISO 6401-80 sec at f - 2.8

Using the Leica M Edition 60 is just like taking out an old film Leica–sort of. The Edition 60 doesn’t have a film advance or a film rewind, but instead it more of a hybrid. At the heart is a digital sensor, but there is no LCD screen on the camera. Because of its design, it’s sole purpose is to just shoot photos and not worry about anything else. Want to change the ISO? Use the dial on the back just like the film cameras did.

It forces you to just focus on shooting and worry about all the rest later on.

Metering

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (7 of 23)ISO 4001-180 sec at f - 4.0

Given that we shot with the camera during an incredibly rainy day, we weren’t able to do a proper Sunny 16 test. But from our guess, the camera seems to underexpose just a bit by around 1/3rd of a stop. This is very standard in the photo world now.

Image Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (4 of 23)ISO 4001-12 sec at f - 6.8

The Leica M Edition 60 has the same sensor as the Leica M, which is really good. While it can’t take on the offerings from Nikon and Sony, it beats Canon’s. For the most part, that means that you’re still getting one of the best full frame sensors currently on the market. You’re also going to be able to do a lot with the images that the camera shoots. Indeed, the experience is very much like film. Essentially, you’re shooting and figuring out how to fix the images in the darkroom, except this time around it’s in Adobe Lightroom.

The camera shoots DNG files, and so it’s very simple to work with the files since it’s Adobe’s own format.

High ISO Output

F3.4 at ISO 6400

F3.4 at ISO 6400

The Leica M Edition 60 shoots at up to 6400 ISO. And while the image above is largely unedited, it still delivers extremely clean high ISO results. If I wanted to get rid of all the noise, I would simply move a slider in Lightroom just a tad. Otherwise, the Leica M Edition 60 delivers some of the cleanest high ISO results at 6400 that we’ve seen.

The only things that best is are the latest offerings from Sony and Nikon.

Raw File Versatility

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (16 of 23)ISO 4001-750 sec at f - 1.4

The image above had the shadows pushed three stops in order to bring the details back. The original is below.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images pushing (1 of 1)ISO 4001-750 sec at f - 1.4

 

As you can see, we were able to bring back loads of details in the image both in the highlights and the shadows. Again, the experience is very much like shooting film because of the versatility of the RAW files.

Extra Image Samples

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (22 of 23)ISO 32001-90 sec at f - 9.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (21 of 23)ISO 4001-180 sec at f - 2.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (20 of 23)ISO 2001-30 sec at f - 4.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (19 of 23)ISO 2001-250 sec at f - 1.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (18 of 23)ISO 64001-1500 sec at f - 1.4

ISO 6400

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (15 of 23)ISO 32001-2000 sec at f - 1.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (13 of 23)ISO 64001-250 sec at f - 3.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (12 of 23)ISO 4001-1000 sec at f - 1.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (10 of 23)ISO 4001-3000 sec at f - 1.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (9 of 23)ISO 4001-3000 sec at f - 1.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (8 of 23)ISO 4001-750 sec at f - 1.7

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (6 of 23)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 4.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (5 of 23)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 6.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (2 of 23)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (1 of 23)ISO 4001-45 sec at f - 11

 

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M60 review images (17 of 23)ISO 2001-180 sec at f - 1.4

Conclusions

Likes

– The entire experience transported me back to my college years but with the knowledge of a shooter that I have today

– Versatile raw files

– Incredible build quality

Dislikes

– The price

– No strap lugs

– The price

– This is what every Leica digital M should be like

– Did we mention the price?

– Digital M cameras could be thinner

The Leica M Edition 60 is a camera that I didn’t really think that I’d like, but instead I walked away wanting more. It’s beautiful, feels great in the hand, and puts you in a zone where you have to focus on getting the shot in a single frame. You won’t be chimping LCD screens–no, that’s the stuff of amateurs. Leica’s elegance is also present in the design, and with that said it would have been nicer if there a version of the camera in all black.

However, this is a special edition. And my major hope is that Leica will continue to make certain cameras like this.

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

We give the Leica M Edition 60 four out of five stars.