This isn’t a traditional review we typically do because the Leica M11P (otherwise, the Leica M11-p) is a variant of the original Leica M11. For that, we think that you should do a deep dive into our full review, that you can find here — and you can even jump to the sections your heart desires. Carrying on, few cameras these days bring me joy in a unique way. Reviewing camera after camera, they all become monotonous. And it saddens me that even some of my favorite YouTubers have sold out just to warm up closer to companies. But I had a nostalgic fling with the Leica M11P for a few days. And like all things Leica these days, they’re innovating in ways that most photographers won’t realize.
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What’s New With the Leica M11-p?
The Leica M11P innovates in super important ways to the future of photography and photographers. And to scoff in the face of these updates is to condemn photographers and their intellectual property to damnation in a world where people must feel the consequences before they act. So we’re going to list them out here:
- 256GB of internal storage, up from the Leica M11’s 64GB. This is in addition to a single SD card slot, so the camera acts as another memory device.
- The world’s first camera that lets users encrypt their metadata and copyright information through the content authenticity initiative. This lets photographers validate the authenticity of their images as well as the origin. More specifically, the copyright info is tamper-proof. Once the image has been captured, any documentation of the edits is recorded. This translates into letting people know that you actually shot the image and that it isn’t an AI-based image. It’s a feature that’s very important to journalists like the NYTimes, BBC, Reuters, and, believe it or not, us. The Phoblographer’s reviews have entire sections that show whether or not our images our edited or not.
- Your digital signature is stamped on the image at creation and then verified through a specific website.
- Sapphire Monitor cover glass, which adds contrast and sharpness in ways that you have to see the understand.
- Black aluminum or silver brass choice
- Unobtrusive logo
- A dark chrome viewfinder, which is more of an aesthetic thing, in my opinion. However, the copy of the Leica M11P I received is one of the best calibrated that I’ve used in several years.
For photographers who shoot advertising or more commercial and editorial work, the image legitimacy might not matter as much. But for all the work around truth-telling, it surely will. The bigger problem here is that lots of photography is seen on social media networks, which forces photographers to surrender their copyrights when uploading the images.
That’s a big reason why we’re so huge on printing and seeing photos in person. And of course, it’s automatically getting 5/5 stars.
Ergonomics and Ease of Use
The Leica M11-P is a beautiful camera in so many different ways. I spent my time with the black version — though Leica knows that I typically prefer a silver camera. It’s pretty much identical to the M11 when you hold it. I typically shoot with my Leica M6, and adore how that feels. But when I need autofocus, I reach for the Fujifilm X Pro 3. All of these cameras feel similar in their own ways. And the Leica M11P makes everything feel right at home.
All the controls are really where you need them to be: the ISO dial is on the top left, the shutter dial is on the top right, the buttons are all easily programmable with a long press, and there isn’t much to worry about overall. Just point, focus, shoot, and admire the images. Or, as more Leicaphiles do, zone focus, point and shoot.
However, if you want to, the LCD screen is more than good enough to use. In fact, the sapphire monitor makes it one of the sharpest that I’ve ever seen for manual focus. I didn’t even need focus peaking because it was that good. To recap, I’m legally blind. The first time that I tried to focus the camera using the LCD because of the weird positioning that I was in, I really was amazed. Leica did a fantastic job with this LCD screen.
When I put the camera in the hands of fellow photographers, they, too, were enamored with it. A friend of mine, who is now searching for a new hobby to delve into, even really considered buying one for himself as a gift that he’s earned.
If you care about aesthetics, then the Leica M11P is for you. Take your Sony cameras that feel like a Playstation and throw them out the window. Well, don’t really do that — and note that the a1 and a9 series actually really do feel like cameras. But the Leica M11P is a proper camera that feels elegant in the hands and that is something that you’d actually want to carry around with you. I’m not alone when I say that. In my tests of the cameras I use, I often put them in the hands of other people. Everyone, pretty much across the board, likes Leicas. No one likes the price — but some are ready to commit to it because they themselves are in a point of their life where they’re ready to embrace commitments.
That’s an important part of all this, because Leica cameras help you get closer to subjects and scenes that you wouldn’t necessarily shoot with an autofocus lens an camera in the same way. Because you’re manually focusing the lens, you’re being more intentional and thoughtful about the image-taking process.
To recap, even shooting using the LCD screen is a nice part of the process. And because you’re working manually to get the shot instead of working with some focus algorithms, you feel closer to the moment.
The feeling is something that we’re genuinely missing these days. Modern cameras lack the romance that previous cameras had. But the Leica M11P brings that back in some ways. There’s the beautiful sound of the shutter that’s quiet yet vibrant to let you know that it’s there. In the hands, that slight vibration feels much nicer than it does with many other modern cameras. Combine all this with the cold metal feeling of the camera body, the aesthetically pleasing buttons, and the tactile feel of manually focusing a lens, and you’ll be in love.
I adored the Leica M11 when I reviewed it. And with the Leica M11P being a variant of that, the pictures are just the same. This camera reminds me of the Leica M9 — the colors are just that vibrant. Everything I shoot looks like a painting in a way that’s sufficiently distinct from the Fujifilm Velvia film simulation on their cameras. With that said, the images are saturated, deep, and beautiful.
Truly, you can’t shoot a bad photo with this camera. Even if it’s out of focus, the lenses help give it a look that’s still bound to make at least a few hearts beat a bit faster.
On top of all that, there’s the content initiative around protecting the images. When I uploaded a DNG straight from the camera, it worked. But if that image is edited in Lightroom or Capture One, it seems like all that information is stripped out — even if I tell the software to keep all that information. The photo is supposed to have all the information around the edits and all. I haven’t been able to figure this out yet. Perhaps the software just doesn’t totally support this initiative yet — and so you truly have to get it right in camera as many photographers who work for wires do. Getty demands JPEGs from their staff photographers, after all.
But in the meantime, we can enjoy how beautiful the images from the camera are.
Would I buy one? It’s tempting. But there is still more I want from Leica M cameras — like a dual EVF/OVF. I also yearn for actual weather resistance — which is long overdue from Leica. However, the Leica M11p is a camera I think will make a lot of photographers very happy if they just get out of their own shells and stop relying on machines to do all the work for them.
And that’s coming from a legally blind man.