Leica M 11 Digital Rangefinder Camera Review and User Report
Leica M11 Digital Rangefinder Camera Review and User Report - Page 1
Leica M11 Digital Rangefinder Camera Review - Page 1
Freedom cannot be erased
By: Thorsten Overgaard. January 13, 2022.
While the world goes down, here comes a new camera that will actually make things better.In this article I will try to give and overview of what is new, and help you see if this camera is for you.
That’s one of the great things about being a photographer; you can change people’s viewpoints.
You turn on the television or social media, and you’re told what to think or how things look.
But with a camera, you can express something. You can create something. I think if a lot of people turned off the television and social media and just took out their camera instead, they would start making the world a more beautiful place, a more interesting place.
The first cameras came into being 200 years ago, and in the beginning it was a studio camera. It became a thing one does, to go to the local portrait studio and have one’s portrait taken, and then give it as a gift. People went to the photo studio and had their portrait taken, and even the Royals had photos taken which were reproduced in large numbers so the common people could have a photo of them in their home.
The Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen was one of the most photographed writers of his time because he loved to go to the portrait studio and have his portrait taken.
The local photo studio was the Instagram of the 1860’s where you could get your likeness recorded and share it with friends by giving them “carts-des-visite” (a 10 x 15 cm photo mounted on a piece of card). The Danish poet H.C. Andersen was a big fan and had more than 250 portraits taken in studios in Denmark and around the world.
For the first 100 years of photography, a camera was a rather large and exclusive installation that required expertise on chemicals and the mechanics of cameras.
But then something happened
The small Kodak Brownie camera came out around year 1900 and made photography affordable, portable and something every child could do. It wasn’t any longer exclusive to a few to own and operate a camera. The camera came outside the studios, to the beaches, the streets and inside private homes.
Some of the most celebrated photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams and Vivian Maier grew their first interest in snapshot photography when they were children, with the $1 camera from Kodak.
Box camera in the photographer's studio as they often looked in 1860.
Kodak Brownie was so simple any child or woman could use one. That was the message of the ads. Price was $1.
Henri Cartier-Bresson with the Leica M3 in 1955. Both he and the Leica could be said to have changed photography forever.
The reportage camera
In 1925, Leitz in Wetzlar, Germany introduced the Leica camera that Oskar Barnack had invented. His vision was “small camera, large print”, to make high-quality lenses that made it possible to record a small image on a negative in a small, portable camera, then make an enlargement of that negative in a darkroom.
It was quite an invention and an important stepping stone in the popularization of photography and marked the era of using a camera for artistic personal expressions, and for reportage photography and street photography.
But more to the point of this story, let’s look at the circumstances and business side of things. The story I want to tell here is how it took exceptional courage of Ernst Leitz II, the owner of Leica, to bring this very new and different camera concept to the world in the midst of worldwide economic depression and oppression.
Ernst Leitz II decided to put the first Leica into production in 1925, because the Leitz company had lost its market for their microscopes in Russia after World War I.
Ernst Leitz II felt it was his responsibility to ensure that his workers could keep their jobs, so he needed to produce something other than microscopes. That is how a microscope manufacturer (since 1849) also became a camera manufacturer in 1925.
German companies were traditionally – and still are to this day to a large degree – run like a family: Once you take on employees, you take on the role as the family head who makes sure everyone gets food on the table and has stability for their future.
Leitz II ran the company like a family, just as his father Ernst Leitz Senior had done since the beginning.
The statesman of Wetzlar
Ernst Leitz II was a sort of statesman in his global thinking. In my opinion, this is where the legacy of the Leica as the freedom tool becomes really interesting.
During the great depression in Germany from 1923-1924, inflation raced so quickly that from the time a worker got his pay until he could get to a bakery or store to buy bread and food, the value of the pay had devaluated enormously.
Leitz II thus issued his own money, and the staff was paid in part with Leitz money, a currency which he guaranteed in the local stores. This way, that part of the pay was not inflated but kept its value and the many thousand workers could feel safe.
While governments and national banks had their hands full managing their country’s economy, Leitz II managed his part of the world: His thousands of employees, their families and the economic infrastructure of stores, schools and other companies in Wetzlar.
Ernst Leitz II was the type of manager who walked through the entire factory to see what was happening and paid interest to the people working for him. He knew their names and their families. His dad, and founder of the Leitz factory, Leitz Senior, had been the same way.
He was also known for having an open door to his office, as well as patience and compassion to listen to anybody who would walk in and to talk to him.
Many nice things could be said about the Leitz family. World War II (1939-1945) offered new challenges which the Leitz family met with actions that now stand as an example of doing the right thing – even if back then these actions were considered unacceptable and even illegal.
There are times during history where you must decide and do what you think is right, not what the hypnotized masses do.
It seems almost destiny that a social family as Leitz enabled a new era of photography and freedom of expression.
The period up to World War II, and throughout the war, the Leitz family was unique in their continuous support for all races, nationalities and religious beliefs. They were on the right side of history at a time where they faced great personal danger to their own liveliness and wealth.
There is a German word, “Berufsverbot,” which translates to professional ban. As early as 1400’s, the street Jugenstrasse in Frankfurt was an isolated street for Jews only, sealed off with walls and a gate to the rest of the city. Jews were not allowed to do trade outside Jugenstrasse; and not allowed to own property either.
Berufsverbot is organized discrimination in that it becomes common knowledge and a sort of duty to discriminate certain people. Even though not made official law (because it is against international law and common sense), it become part of a good citizen’s duties to make sure certain people dodn’t enjoy the same rights as others.
With the government monitoring every movement, including the justified discrimination of Jews, one of the richest families in Germany – the Leitz family – risked their wealth, reputation and their very lives by smuggling Jews out of Germany!
More than one hundred families are on record as having been sent to New York with a new Leica around their neck (as starting capital to a new life in the USA), and a piece of paper from the Leitz factory saying they were “essential workers”.
The culture of a company flows from the top, so the Leitz organization was activated against berusverbot. The vice president of Leitz in New York, Mr. Alfred Boch, would interview 15-30 refugees a week in his office, then set them up in the Great Northern Hotel on the expense of Leitz while he spent his time on the telephone the rest of the week, finding jobs for them throughout New York.
Towards the end of the war, Leitz II’s daughter Elsie Leitz was even captured red-handed while she was smuggling Jews into Switzerland. She avoided deportation to a concentration camp when Leitz II, who was months sick with worry, stepped in and paid ransom to the secret police.
Yet, the resistance and fight for the values they knew to be right, continued.
Elsie Leitz was the one who rode her bicycle to the outside of the city gates when the war was ending and the allied tanks approached the city, and there she threw her bicycle and stepped in front of the tanks. It’s a miracle they didn’t shoot her or roll over her, just as it is a miracle that her effort prevented Wetzlar from being bombed. The Nazi’s had already left.
It is no wonder, that with the Leica, artists of all genders, political observance, of all religious beliefs and of all races can express themselves in photographs.
The ability to think for yourself was in the design of the Leica cameras from the beginning.
The story of the Leitz family stands as a testimony that one can stand tall and abide by one’s own integrity, despite pressure from governments, media and the hypnotized masses.
The personal freedoms of movement and expression have been under pressure again and again throughout history. But freedom cannot be erased.
The history books are filled with examples where one can see that those who discriminate and suppress always end up losing. You can’t keep everybody a fool all of the time.
Long story short. I went traveling around the world and offered my free sunset walks the last couple of years. Under the slogan “Walk with Me” I got to meet a lot of people and walk the streets with fellow enthusiasts in New York, Istanbul, Paris, London, Zagreb, Copenhagen, Berlin, Belgrade and many other cities to offer some relief for the mind and something for the camera to record. See the dates of my upcoming photo workshops and masterclasses here.
"I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours"
– Bob Dylan (Talkin' World War III Blues)
Your unique voice
The camera is able to capture the world as seen through the soul of the artist, and that is why it is unique, expressive and a mirror which shows that freedom is inborn to all.
I try to teach in my workshops, by demonstration, that any person who “really wants a camera” does so to express herself or himself. It requires no explanation or reason, just the fact that you “really want a camera” is your entry ticket to the field of photography.
What is often overlooked is that you have a unique viewpoint from the moment you first pick up a camera and start taking photos.
Because you always had your own viewpoint, your photos may not seem special or unique to you, but they will to others.
You show your photos to others, and the fact that you made something makes you special. And the expression and style of your photos, will make an impression because it introduces a new way of seeing things, for anyone who views them.
You don’t need a long education to express yourself, and you don’t have to wait for permission to express yourself. And you don’t need permission to walk with a camera.
A camera is a freedom tool.
All you need to know about the Leica M11
Introduced January 13, 2022.
It's gonna be easier now
The Leica M11 offers freedom of movement with lower weight than ever for a digital rangefinder, and free movement in ISO and shutter speed so any lens can be utilized fully at widest open aperture in the brightest or darkest conditions.
It's a tradition that I release new articles as a continuous user report on a new Leica as I have used it and have something qualified to say. The Leica M11 will be an "Leica Know-All eBook" and a Video Masterclass first and more articles later. Preorder today and be the first to know.
I also made Lightroom Presets for the Leica M11, and these you can buy today Instant download.
The Leica M11 Know-All eBook and
By Thorsten von Overgaard
The Leica M11
The Art of Loving the Leica M11
PREORDER BUNDLE NOW
and be the first to get it
For computer, iPad, smartphone.
The Art of Loving
the Leica M11
The silent electronic shutter option to 1/16000 of a second
For the longest time, the Leica M digital rangefinder cameras could perform 1/4000th of a second as their fastest shutter time. Not a problem for action, mostly, but a problem for a system that offer many light strong lenses, because with that much light from a 50mm Noctilux f/0.95 or a 35mm Summilux f/1.4, you have to use filters to lower the light. Or change the aperture to f/2.8 in sunshine not to get overexposed pictures.
No more. This is all in the past, because while the Leica M11 still features a shutter speed dial with the writing of 1/4000th of a second as the fastest shutter speed, an electronic shutter allow shutter speeds as fast as 1/16,000th of a second. Problem solved.
Also the electronic shutter is soundless, which users of Leica Q2 and Leica SL2 will have experienced on those cameras.
In this photo the shutter speed dial is set to A (Aperture priority where the camera automatically suggest a shutter speed based on the aperture of the lens). The other settings are manual shutter time settings, which is any of the speeds on the dial. "B" is short for Bulb where the shutter is open for as long as the shutter release is pressed (max 60 minutes in the Leica M11). The little "thunder symbol" between number 250 and 125 is a symbol indicating flash synchronizing setting 1/180th of s a second. The digital shutter speeds above 1/4000 are controlled in the menu.
The almost silent mechanical shutter
The mechanical shutter is still part of the Leica M11 and can be used for all exposure times from 8 seconds to 1/4000th of a second. You can turn it off completely and rely on the electronic shutter, but there may be a few instances where the mechanical shutter is to prefer, because the way an electronic shutter works is that a CMOS sensor reads the image line by line, and if the subject is in motion, one will see "rolling shutter" which means that the "image moves" during the time of exposure where the electronic shutter is recording the image, line by line.
Electronic shutter in a Leica M is a first, but has been in use in the Leica SL since 2015.
The only “missing element” in having only electronic shutter in a camera, is to have a sensor scan rate that is so fast it prevents rolling shutter, and thus completely eliminates the need for a traditional mechanical shutter.
Rolling shutter photo from 1912, Jacques Henri Lartigue's "Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France" shows how (the wheel of) the car is recorded across the image surface as the cloth shutter (as was used back then) moves slower than the car.
The mechanical shutter of the Leica M has always been part of a Leica M. In the past, the shutter was made of cloth, which gave a distinct flat, soft sound, and as it was the only moving part in a Leica during the picture taking, this made the Leica known as the discrete (almost) soundless camera.
With the introduction of mechanical shutters that used a foldable metal curtain, the sound got sharper and not as damped discrete as in the past.
Since the Leica M10-P (2018), the metal shutter has gotten damped to make a very discrete sound, even more damped and discrete than past versions of the Leica.
A mechanical shutter. It consist of rows of metal that covers the sensor, then folds when the shutter opens.
Why else is this an interesting subject? Well, it is because the Leica M still features a mechanical shutter, which in modern photography, very few cameras do.
An analog: Back in the day most people wore hats every day, and when you look around, almost nobody wears hats. Hence, almost no hat stores left. Mechanical shutters are a bit like that, and it means that when Leica wants to have shutters designed and produced for their cameras, there aren't really that many options. The Leica M10 features the same shutter as the Nikon flagship camera, but as one can imagine, soon almost no cameras will have a mechanical shutter. The Nikon Z9 (2021) flagship camera is now a mirrorless and shutterless camera.
The point I am making, and which is almost already obsolete before I can end this sentence, is that a mechanical shutter becomes a rare and exclusive part to implement in a camera. We should be happy that it is still there, but likely we won't see it in a the Leica M12 or any other camera in the future. Not a great loss in that the electronic shutter is soundless, uses less battery, doesn't present camera shake, and offer much faster speeds.
Preorder the Leica M11
By Thorsten von Overgaard
I don't sell Leica cameras, but I have a great network of dealers all over the world. Feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with which camera and accessories you want, color, and where in the world you would want it delivered to. And if you want to trade in any camera or lenses. I will help you find any available Leica M11.
This website is not sponsored by, or affiliated with, and does not receive grants from Leica Camera AG.
By Thorsten von Overgaard
A new low base ISO of 64
The base ISO of the Leica M11 is 64 ISO, which is rather low. Which is good, because the lower ISO, the less digital noise. Which plays in not only for any type of photography, but in particular when you have a 60 MP sensor to record the image on. The last thing you want to see when you zoom in on the precious files, is noise.
A "base ISO" of a sensor is always of interest, because this is where the sensor perform the best. Canon traditionally have had base ISO of 100 on their cameras, while Nikon have had a base ISO of 200. Leica M10 has a base ISO of around 150, and the Leica M240 has a base ISO of 200, and the Leica M9 has a base ISO of 160.
The low base ISO also – again – allow for using lenses wide open at f/1.4 and f/0.95 in sunshine without risk of overexposure.
With the new low ISO of 64, and the new shutter speeds up to 1/16000th of a second this is not really an issue.
By Thorsten von Overgaard
Good bye to the baseplate - Hello to uniform design
The look of the Leica M11 will be different than previous models in that the traditional Leica M baseplate is not there anymore. "A horror", some will say, "About time", others will say. Fact is that you seldom look at the bottom of the camera.
The type of bottom is the same as we have had on the Leica Q2 and Leica SL2 for a while now, and in reality, nobody seldom notice what the bottom of a camera looks like.
The bottom of the Leica M11 shows the USB-C connection (far right) for charging/downloading. The battery release is in the middle next to the tripod mount. The sticker with all sorts of approvals can be removed once the camera is yours. A small hole far left is for attachments.
Many things Leica goes in the direction of uniform elements that can be shared across the camera models, and across the lenses. The Leica S lenses were from the beginning made with certain similar diameters and so they could share some of the many parts that goes to making lens.
The Leica SL lenses is even more extreme, and if you look at the recent Leica M lenses, the 90mm f/1.5 (2020) and 75mm 1/1.25 (2018), they are the same lens in size and even as far as the lens element groups inside goes. With a screwdriver, some tape and a little glue, you could probably change your 75mm Noctilux to a 90mm (that was a joke, don't do this experiment).
In short, the Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 (2010) is an excellent lens, but if you study a handful of them closer, you will realize that each lens is handmade to individual specifications. For example, a lens shade that fits one 35mm FLE doesn’t fit the other 35mm FLE. Individual made!
The way it went down just a little over ten years ago was that Leica would start a production of 10 or 30 lenses of one model, handmake them in the workshop by the use of parts from the warehouse, test and adjust each one individually, then box them up and send them to dealers who had placed orders and usually waited a while with no prediction as to when the lens would be back in stock. Leica is and was so sought after that the factory seldom have stock. Everything made is shipped right away.
Cameras would be made in larger batches, but also each of them individually tested, adjusted and put together to perform to a very high standard. Due to the differences of the cameras, and the way the whole thing was put together – largely based on designs and ways of doing things going back 80-100 years, when production was almost performed in candlelight’s – each camera could and would need occasional re-adjustment.
The focusing mechanism in the Leica M today is a refined mechanism of the one Oskar Barnack designed in 1932. It is mechanical all the way, all made by employees with years of experience in assembling wheels, prisms, mirrors, screws, using lubricant, love and hard-won craftsmanship. That's what it takes to make a Leica. Traditionally.
With the introduction of the Leica T (2014), the Leica Q (2015) and Leica SL (2015), cameras from Leica was for the first time made like factories would make Apple MacBook’s in China: You CNC-drill a chunk of aluminum while some robots solder together electronic boards, and then another robot put it all together. All very uniform, the same for every unit, and all fits hand in glove with the precision of a Swizz watch – or "as a Leica " as Steve Jobs said when he introduced the iPhone, by which he referred to the Leica II (1932).
Apple was the first to industrialize and mass-produce the Leica quality, and Leica learned from that. The Leica T, Leica Q and Leica SL doesn't have any mechanical focusing parts that needs individual finetuning before the product leave the factory, and they never need go back for re-adjustment. It's uniform, it's precision, it's something you can train a robot, a monkey or anybody to do.
Erwin Puts (1944-2021) mentioned in his blog that Leica M was over, that Leica Camera AG would disavow the Leica M system and turn to modern production methods that didn't allow for such fine instruments as the Leica M camera. And the lenses too.
And he might have been right that certain people within the Leica campus dreamt of killing the Leica M system and turn up the steam on uniform production methods.
But there’s several reasons why it is not likely. Again the lesson can be learned from Apple, because Apple rose from being unknown to becoming Apple by making a product out of passion and make it the best it could be.
I recently stayed in a hotel in Carmel in California (La Playa Carmel) where Steve Jobs and other Apple employees stayed in 1983 to do an internal presentation of the first Apple Lisa computer. They also jumped in the pool naked and throw a “college beer bash” that earned them a five year ban from that hotel. In other words, they were very enthusiastic about it all.
What I am trying to say is that while auditors and finance people often have many great ideas about how a company is best run, it's the passion and ideas that drive things. And it’s infective, because you can feel the passion when you have a product that is made with passion.
Apple rose to the top company in the world in terms of making profit, by making tools for creators, inventors, writers and artist, and their enthusiasm spread to the commoners who started liking the products, and this then made it possible to produce large numbers.
Apple of course then started making mass-produced, "off the shelves" iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch’s. Who could resist that. In the process, and in what must have made Wall Street and their own financial bores smile like sharks eyeing a good lunch, they decided that the high-end expensive machines wasn't that important to make anymore.
You look in the Excel sheet, and there is the truth: Much more to be had from selling millions of Apple Watches and slow 12" MacBook computers that looks like a makeup compact mirror, than a few thousand high-end 15" MacBook Pro.
Hence, for a while any inventor, artist or first-mover who wanted a real bad-ass MacBook had to wait for weeks for a $8,000 machine while commoners could walk straight in and pick up any Apple Watch with any color wrist strap. The keyboard on the 15” MacBook Pro didn't work, for who needs a keyboard or more Shakespeare when all it is all about watching Netflix and like stuff on Instagram. Also, repairs of the dysfunctional keyboard had to be done in China because that is the most cost-effective. Damn if it takes two weeks to do, Shakespeare can wait.
Until recently, first-movers, artists, creators and inventors started looking for alternatives and started abandon Apple products. Which doesn't show in the excel sheet because commoners still buy Apple Watches and iPhones every 18 months as if the world ends tomorrow. It all looks fine, and Wall Street agree.
But when the ones who influence the rest of the world to do things in a certain way stop using the product, then the others will follow, and by the time it light up in the Excel sheet, it's too late. The party is over. That is the danger for any company that grows. They forget their legacy and their reason to exist, and to make things worse, as they grow, they stop taking phone calls or emails from their customers.
Apple turned that around with their 2019 MacBook Pro 16" that could be delivered fast, could be maxed out to the extreme in computer power, with excellent keyboard and available with an 8TB hard drive. Photographers could get editing done, writers could write again, and sales exploded of these extremely fast and max'ed out machines. This was what the professionals craved for. With the introduction of the 2021 MacBook Pro M1 recently, if you noticed, the presenters kept stressing again and again, that "we made some machines for the pro users". Apple got it. Their core users and drivers of the entire show was the pro's.
When I was a child in Denmark, the police drove BMW motorbikes, and all Taxi's were Mercedes cars. It meant something, it meant that was the best machines. Likely, you can remeber that you bought a camera becasue you sensed this was what the pro uses.
Leica has the reputation of being the best camera and the best lenses in the world. Even that other make more advanced and more modern devices, Leica has long been perceived as "the best money can buy" in the eyes of many, also a lot who could never afford a Leica.
It's very simple, it's the Leica M cameras that started production in 1925 that is the reasons for it, and the Leica lenses that are the best in the world. And with the best, I mean the best. There are factually other great lenses from other brands, but no other brand has an entire lineup of stellar lenses. The Leica lenses are not "lucky designs" but the result of an attitude that doesn't leave time or space for compromise.
This is the heritage that make all other possible, and logics would say that no matter if they didn't make a dime on the M system ever again, it must be kept going as the crown jewel and the north star of all else.
It's very likely that someone in the Leica campus now and then have dreamt of killing the Leica M system and do something that is easier. That is the risk when you hire many new people who think they joined a hip company but are oblivion to the heritage.
So far, because there are still wise heads and even some geniuses in the Leica campus in Wetzlar, the Leica M system stays alive and evolves. The proof that there is an intention to put fresh blood into the Leica M system is the new very ambitious lenses, 75mm f/1.25, 90mm f/1.5 and the recent 35mm APO-Summicron (and the upcoming Leica 35mm Noctilux).
And now another proof: The Leica M11 that is made as uniform as it can be made, without losing the soul of the traditional Leica M. The two types of bodies (brass for silver edition and aluminum for the black edition) might be a compromise they will have to eat again. It was done with the Leica M6 TLL (1984), and in the end the later versions went back to brass (2002). Then again, you get a 110g lighter camera in the Leica M11 black edition. ... but no brass patina as the camera gets used.
The silver camera seldom brass, meaning that the silver wears off and the brass shines through. It takes a lot more use of a silver to look brassed, than a black edition.
The Leica Q2 and Leica Q2 Monochrom also has aluminum top, and they "brass" like this:
Finally the battery is part of the baseplate, as we have seen since the Leica T (2014) and integrated really beautiful in the Leica SL (2015) and the Leica Q2 (2019).
The Leica M11 has a battery that also covers for the SD card slot inside the camera, and the battery itself it released with a release arm under the camera: Simply clicked in place when you change to a new battery. It has a lock so it doesn't fall to the floor, should you accidentally hit the battery release arm. You turn the release, then push the battery slight in, and it pushes out). It's very elegant and has worked very well in the Leica T, Leica Q2 and Leica SL
The battery for the Leica M11 is as powerful as the Leica SL2 and Leica Q2, but unlike those models, the Leica M11 battery doesn't have to supply power for auto focus, image stabilization and built-in EVF.
Specifications say un to 1700 images on one battery when EVF and screen is not in use, likely 700 when screen and all is lit up. Still almost twice as many photos on one battery as the Leica M10.
The Leica M11 battery (BP-SCL7) in the battery charger. When the battery is 80% full, the "80%" lamp lights up. The "Charge" light blinks when charging and stays lit when fully charged. You can see the weather sealing on the battery itself, which closes the bottom of the camera which also holds the SD card inside just next to battery.
Internal flash memory
By Thorsten von Overgaard
Internal memory of 64 GB
As a first, the Leica M11 features an internal 64GB memory (good for about 320 pictures in full 60MP raw resolution) , which means you can photograph without inserting an SD card. This was first introduced in the Leica TL2, and it is a very elegant solution.
Though, one has to be aware that when you have both an SD card, and internal memory, you will see that sometimes you get confused as to where the images are stored. Or you forget you stored images on the internal memory. But you will get used to it.
The internal memory is accessed via a USB-C connection under the bottom of the camera. You simply connect a cable to the camera and it appears like a SD card or hard drive on the computer.
Internal buffer of 3 GB
The Leica M11 features an internal image buffer of 3GB, which is enough to hold 15 pictures. The buffer simply is there so the camera can continue to photograph while pictures are written to the memory card. With the maximum speed of the Leica M11 of 4.5 frames per second, you can keep shooting continuous for three seconds before the speed slows down. As fast as the buffer manages to send the pictures to the memory card, the buffer frees up again. The Leica M10 (2017) has a buffer of 2GB, the Leica M9 (2009) has no buffer.
Five buttons, a thumb-wheel and a joystick
By Thorsten von Overgaard
The buttons on the back of the Leica M11 has been simplified in that the buttons sits on the leather and not, as in previous models, on a frame. The camera thickness has been reduced a tiny bit due to this design and the screen has moved closer to the body.
The Fn (function) button that was on the front of the previous Leica M10 model has been removed.
The back of the Leica M11. The little "eye to the right of the viewfinder is a light sensor to adjust the brightness of the LCD screen to the ambient light (if LCD brightness is set to "Auto" in the menus, which I recommend to be turned OFF). To the right of the screen is seen a little red LED lamp that blinks to indicate the camera is writing to the memory, or is otherwise working on waking up, etc. In the previous designs these two were places on a frame above and below the now only three buttons. New simpler design.
Backlit 60MP sensor (triple layer)
By Thorsten von Overgaard
The Leica M11 sensor
The Leica M11 sensor is optimized for low light photography, using a sensor that is backside illuminated (BSI), which the Leica SL2-S (2021) was the first Leica to implement (and people have been happy with that, so don't worry). Backside is simply changing the layers of electronics and moving the light-sensitive region to the front of the sensor – let's stay with that simple explanation. Ther is not, as the name backside illuminated could suggest, light added from the backside of the sensor.
The sensor is likely the Sony sensor from 2020, which from birth has "auto-focus pixels" on top of the traditional "image pixels" (a so-called OSPDAF sensor type = On Sensor Phase Detect Autofocus). But as the Leica M sensor doesn't need to support auto focus, that layer has been removed.
Also, a Leica M sensor fetures a thinner protective glass cover than traditional sensors, so as to save space and avoid reflections. The backlit sensor is already more compact than a traditional sensor, so we're moving in the right direction.
And then there is the final touch, which is the micro lenses to handle the Leica M wide angles. The layers on the Leica M11 lens are quite special, featuring the micro lenses that are unique for Leica, a non-Bayer color filter (!) as well as thin IR and thin UV filter glasses that also act as protective glass on the sensor surface.
Three DNG file sizes all based on full-frame sensor
The Leica M11 is a 60MP camera, but it also features the possibility to "downscale" the DNG file (raw file) to 37MP or 18MP. This might even result in higher dynamic range for those smaller raw files (which I shall return to in the next article).
The point, however, would first and foremost file size management.
Each size of raw files utilizes the full sensor format, sort of three different layers (of iamge size, even the sensor is referred to as "dual layer"; but that is about the IR and UV filter), and can be seen as a way to accommodate those who still think the 18MP of Leica M9 was sufficient, or the ones that think 37MP is the sweet spot for digital sensors (which is something that has been going around; that digital sensors shouldn't be more than 40MP max).
The market wants 60 MP, but it's a commitment in terms of computer workflow, space and speed and all. So the Leica M11 delivers all the options, and in 14 bit color depth and lossless quality. Which is fair: A bit better than the Leica M10 2017) and M10-R (2020), on level with the Leica SL2 that also delivers 14 bit color depth, and almost as good as the flagship medium format cameras Leica S (2012) and Leica S3 (2018) that specifies 14 bit but deliver close to 15 bit.
The bit is simply how many color tones the sensor can see and record. If you are old enough, you remember when a PC had green letters on the screen. The first color computers delivered 8 colors, and then it went to 256 and onwards over the years. And here we are. 15 bit is the same as 32,768 colors or 4 trillion shades.
"Why 60MP?" you may wonder, and that is just how things go. Convenient for larger prints, though you could make any smaller file size large enough in Photoshop. But higher pixel count means less moire also (detailed patterns and ilines clashing in an image), and possibly also better definition of colors (which I will get back to in the Page 2 of this review).
Also, three cropping sizes
What might first confuse a bit, the Leica M11 also offers the possibility to do digital crop, meaning that one can do 1.3x and 1.8x crop of the sensor. A bit like the crop introduced on the Leica Q2. In this way, one can use for example a 135mm lens and then cropped to 1.8x, it performs a 18MP file as a 240mm lens. More likely, one would put on a 35mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 and it can act as a 45mm or 63mm.
Editing Leica M11 images in Lightroom and Capture One
The Leica M11 comes with a camera profile integrated that Capture One and Adobe Lightroom uses, and then usually after a little while, Adobe creates an Adobe RAW profile that has their look and some of the features that can be nice to have when opening Leica M11 files in Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and any other Adobe software.
The same goes for Capture One that also created their profile for the Leica M11 (it is in Capture One 22 already).
You can also create your own profile based on what you edit, then save it as your personal camera profile for that camera.
I will get more into the look and editing of the Leica M11 files on Page 2, the next article in this series on the Leica M11. I have also made these presets for Lightroom.
Exposure metering is done by the image sensor for all exposure metering methods (in Live View mode and in rangefinder mode).
This is different than the previous models that all included also a “Classic” metering mode, which is three small sensors inside the lens bayonet mount that would read the reflections off the shutter curtain.
Some will cry a little over this, because the new way of always measuring light via the sensor means the sensor has to be “on” at all times. This involves concerns about battery use, heat of the camera, as well as dust on the unprotected sensor.
I haven’t made my mind up about this, other than that in the Leica M240 where metering the light via the live view of the sensor was offered for the first time, I stayed with the “Classic” mode that is more quiet, faster and use less battery.
This is a pointer to what we already know; that in a future Leica M12 there will be no shutter curtain.
A very good habit, which is not new technology, but simplification of the camera and understanding of photography, is to set the Kelvin manually to 5400 kelvin, which is the daylight light setting of for example sunshine day anywhere in the world, like in Los Angeles, Jakarta or Melbourne.
If there is a standard for color management one could refer to, it is daylight 5400 kelvin, because in the many years we used color film, all color film were "set to 5400 kelvin daylight". By "set to" I mean that the chemistry in film was tuned to record daylight.
For users who have gotten accustomed to setting their digital camera to Auto, this default setting will open a new world of simplicity, because now all images will have standardized colors.
With Default Daylight, pictures taken in the sun will look good and mostly perfect colored, and pictures taken in the shade will need to be corrected in editing to about 7300 kelvin. Pictures taken on an overcast day in Munich or London could be 7300 Kelvin, or they could be 6000, depending on how much warm sunlight comes through the overcast.
But the essence of it, and what makes it simple, is that the white balance adjustments done in Lightroom or Capture One, will be logical and almost the same for all pictures in a given location or series.
When we used film (and some of us still does occasionally), the colors are as they are, because the film chemistry is geared for 5400 kelvin daylight. Sunshine looked like real colors, and overcast looked as it often looks to the eye, as colder and more grey. So nothing really needed to be changed.
One of the most important settings on a camera, is white balance. Yet it has been overlooked. With digital, the great news is that you can fine-tune the white balance and get excellent colors by simply changing the white balance in Lightroom or Capture One.
Most digital cameras comes with the White Balance set to "Auto", which is a setting that sounds uncomplicated and relieve the user from having to think. But the way it works actually makes the colors less excellent, and makes it rather complicated to get it right. And here is why:
Auto white balance works the way that a feature in the camera try to spot white or grey spots in a picture that could be "neutral" white or greys, and the camera uses that spot as the key to calibrate the overall color setting of the image. It work most of the time, in the sense that the camera balances the kelvin to say 5800 for one photo, and 4900 for another. It could be the same street, because for each photo, the Auto white balance pick a spot within the frame, and uses that spot as the key for an overall adjustment. If there is a house painted in cold white, the camera will use that white as "the neutral" (which will make the image overall look warmer and make the cold white house look white). But then in the next frame on the same street, in the same light, there is a house painted in egg-white, and now the camera uses that and as "the neutral" (which will make the image overall look colder and make the egg-white house look white).
Fundamentally it doesn't look bad. It's just that it could be better and more accurate.
But mainly, when you import your photographs into Lightroom or Capture One, you will see that the white balance – the overall color harmony and color quality – and thus the mood of each photo goes up and down. If you have used Auto white balance for a long time, you don't really know what to do about it. You just perceive it to be the image quality of the camera - good or bad.
The reason white balance is one of the most important settings in a camera, is because it determines the color fidelity, the mood and the accuracy of colors.
With a camera set to manually 5400 Kelvin, there will be a consistent look to the image, very much like the last known standard for colors, which was film. And with the added feature that you can adjust each image.
I had hoped, when I read the Leica M manual the first time, that they had added a new Default setting of 5200 Kelvin daylight, instead of the Auto White Balance a camera usually is set to when you open the box. But I read it too quick, and then saw all is as it uses to be. So that is my advice; change the Auto to Manual 5400 Kelvin.
The Leica cameras in recent years all offer remote control via smartphone having the Leica Fotos App , as well as download to the smartphone from the camera. Handy when you want to take a coffee break in the city and have some photos you just can't wait to post online, or send to someone.
For the cameras that do video, the Leica Fotos App is also handy for remote controlling focusing, settings and start/stop of the camera.
It works very well, though it might not work exactly as planned till Leica releases the first planned firmware for the Leica M11 in second half of 2022.
Geotagging via smartphone
Also geotagging of photos is done by having the camera connected wirelessly to the smartphone with Leica Fotos App installed and active. This works well with for example the Leica SL2.
On the Leica M11, this feature might work optimum Leica releases the first planned firmware for the Leica M11 in second half of 2022. Which is to say, it might not work as optimum as planned before that firmware release is ready.
I wrote an article on using the Leica EVF, and while many automatically assume that an EVF with more megapixels equals higher resolution, one actually doesn't need a lot of megapixels in an electronic viewfinder.
As an example, the good old Leica Digilux 2 (2014) had a 0.3 megapixels electronic viewfinder and did fairly well for what you use an EVF for. The colors weren't very accurate, and the variety of tones weren't awesome, but it managed to give a pretty good idea about what the image would look like. Which is what you want. The electronic viewfinder is not the unit that takes the picture, it's just a tool to help the photographer set the camera right and get the picture.
In many ways, the Visoflex 2 is to compare the the Leica Q2 EVF, which is quite good. Same resolution more or less. But what is important in en EVF, is the optics in front of the screen. The excellence of Leica in making optics for viewfinders (analog or digital) is covered in my article on using the Leica EVF, and in many ways the optics in front of the tiny screen inside the EVF is perhaps even more important than megapixels. The Leica Q and Leica Q2 have the same megapixels of the screen, but the Q2 had greatly immproved optical viewfinder to view it.
The Visoflex 2 viewfinder for the Leica M11. Reeail price is about the same as for the Visoflex 020 ($699.00) which also fits the Leica M11. Read my article about electronic viewfindershere. Basically same resilution sa the Leica Q EVF, and similar optics in front of it as the (largely improved Leica Q2 EVF with same resolution).
On the other hand, the Leica SL2 (2020) has a 5.8 megapixels electronic viewfinder, and you most often still won't be able to focus without zooming in on the picture. In the 5.8 MP Leica SL2 viewfinder you often see pixilation or digital noise around the edges of things, which makes it impossible to focus precisely without zooming in. The Leica M10 Monochrom (2021) seem to apply an over-sharpening in the EVF which can be gotten used to.
So what can we learn from that? An EVF has to be reliable, you have to be able to see the image clearly without distortion, sharpening, edges and other. Not unsharp, and not too sharp. Just a realistic view.
In my opinion, the EVF works best when preview is set to black and white, and the red outline is set to OFF. Then you look at a clean picture. As seeing a photo in the EVF will never be like the fidelity of looking at the same image on a large computer screen or in a print, why not just give up that illusion that we "one day will get perfect EVF's"..?
The EVF in black and white will give a clear idea of the tonality and exposure of the photo, the depth of field, and of course the framing. Omitting colors allow you to focus on the technical settings, because the EVF (or screen on the back of the camera) will never show the actual colors.
The manual focusing is the critical point, and you can't see it clearly enough, you must zoom in.
The diopter adjustment of the EVF allows to fine-tune the view to suit your eyesight. This can be done by looking at the text in the EVF and adjust the diopter wheel till the text is crisp and clear.
But an even more precise way is to call a photo up in the EVF that you already took, and then adjust the diopter of the EVF until the details (preferable some grain or noise), are crisp.
For some EVF's, the text and the image is on the same plane, but in others (like the SL2), the image is on a slightly different plane. So adjusting the diopter to the image rather than the text below and above the photo, is more reliable and may result that you see the image so well that you can focus manually without having to zoom.
The Visoflex 2 electronic viewfinder on the Leica M11.
Refresh rates of electronic viewfinder
The main issue in my opinion with any camera and elecronic viewfinder, is the delay caused by refresh rates. That means the small delays when you turn it on, when you zoom in, when you zoom back out to compose the photo, and the blackout between photos.
The trouble making an electronic viewfinder
When the Leica M10 was introduced in 2017, product manager Stefan Daniel of Leica Camera AG told me they had wanted to redesign the EVF originally designed for the Leica T but the cost of molding a new housing was simply too expensive. That was why Leica went with the EVF 020 for the Leica M10 as well, even it didn't fit the body perfectly (shades for the shutter speed dial).
The new EVF for the Leica M11 is a new housing, and a slight improvement of megapixels. It maintains one of the successful features of the EVF 020, which is that it can tilt to a 90 degree angle and it has a diopter adjustment on the side of the house.
EVF is not a high-tech product, it is not the EVF most camera producers focus on improving. The sensor is, speed of AF, electronic transmission speeds, heat transmission and such.
The Visoflex 2 should be compatible with Leica TL2 and Leica M10 once firmware allow.
Even the Leica M9 (2009) did pretty well in rain and show, and since then Leica Camera AG have weather sealed their cameras more and more.
They will never issue any guarantee, so it's up to you to judge.
Look at the rubber band on the battery, closing the department of the battery and the SD-card. The USB-C is exposed, but so is the USB-C on many smartphones. The ISO dial is an external dial that connects to the camera's inside via magnets (so no water in that way).
This, I fear, is how close we ever will get to and definition of how weather sealed the Leica M11 is. Just don't go snorkeling with it.
The Leica M system is unique due to its lenses. In a period where in which the quality of the lenses from Leica, Zeiss, Sigma etc. will become increasingly uniform, the size will also grow and become uniform, and the fingerprint that characterized the former objectives will be replaced by a standard prescribed by the computer.
I am talking about Leica L and Leica S lenses, new types of lenses where the size of the lens is of not a consideration. Easy to design, easy to produce uniformly with re-use of same elements, and tolerances are not that tight when you get to make the lenses big.
As a general trend is that we see many products that require us as users to conform. Software, websites and smartphones are obvious examples with their constant request for attention and a tendency to alert us in the middle of the screen with things irrelevant to what we are working on this minute.
Some people who buy "a good camera system" with a lot of lenses do so because they are enthusiastic about photography. What they realize is that the amount of complexities is a demand on them. Where a camera should serve you as a tool, you become the one who have to work to get all the parts to perform.
The Leica M system is a camera that was invented and designed as a simple tool, to help the user record light. The slogan in 1925 by the inventor was "small camera, large print", which resulted in the small Leica camera you could take with you everywhere. It was called the "miniature camera" in the beginning, and you didn't need a chemical degree to use it, and you didn't need a tripod, and you didn't need a large bag, nor an easel to carry the equipment up the mountain to take a landscape photo.
By a miracle, not much changed in the Leica M system. The useability defined the system, and the size of the lenses forced the lens designers to make small lenses work perfectly.
This is an overseen factor in buying a Leica M: You can always wear a camera, and you can make large prints from it. Why even consider a larger camera with larger lenses?
With the restrictions on size comes the lenses that are mostly designed by one lens designer who, with some help from a computer, can direct the lens' performance to be of a more emotional character than a "cold computer-calculated perfection". Genius things are often the product of one mind.
Sharpness and resolution
How sharp can a picture get? How sharp should it be so that you can actually perceive it? If you look at film, as we used to do in the old days, those are around 18-20 megapixels.
That means that now that we have 24, 47, 51, 60 and 100 megapixel cameras, it's kind of an overkill, because what are we going to do with that level of sharpness – or detail level might be a better expression?
If we make a print, and we look at it, we're not going to see more than ... well this may surprise you ... but if you make a 300 dpi high resolution 20 x 30 cm print, it requires 8MP to fill the paper. Of course, we can have special scenarios. You want to work in a studio, you want to make photos where you can crop them extremely.
But generally, you don't need such a level of detail or sharpness. If it looks sharp, it is.
A lens' overall fingerprint is the same for a frame, no matter if it is a 6 megapixels or 60 megapixels sensor it is recorded on. Only when you zoom in, you might find more details. Yet, many will argue that they see more also in the overall pictures if the sensor has more megapixels.
I guess more megapixels isn't going to hurt, though I heard a theory that if you go above 40 megapixels, it's going the opposite way. Could be true for now, could be true in the future, but no matter what, cameras will go above and beyond 40 megapixels. It's a fact.
Maybe in the same way that many lenses perform optimum technically at f/5.6. If you go to f/8 or f/16, you get more depth of sharpness, and one should think more overall detail and clarity. But that is not the case, above f/5.6 other problems starts arising.
Figuring out the Leica M model numbers can be confusing. The first digital Leica M was the Leica M8, then a slightly updated version Leica M8.2, and then the first full-frame Leica M9. The next one should then have been Leica M10, but instead Leica decided to change to call them all Leica M with an added "type 240".
Hence, what was supposed to be the Leica M10, was instead called M240.
But then when the next Leica M was to be introduced, Leica came back to their right mind and went back to the model numbers, and the Leica M10 was introduced. And then the Leica M11. But yes, you are right in thinking that the M11 should rightfully have been called M12.
The very first Leica cameras had names, and they sort of also had model names. But the first Leica cameras made in 1925 and onward came with a guarantee that any Leica could be sent to the factory for an upgrade to any later versions. And that is why they were called Leica II, Leica IIIf, Leica IIIg and so on from 1925 and onward.
The Leica M1 came out in 1959, but before that the Leica M2 came out in 1957, and before that the Leica M3 in 1954.
Yes, that is strange.
But then came the Leica M4 in 1966, the Leica M5 in 1971, Leica M6 in 1984, Leica M7 in 2002. And then the Leica MP in 2003 as the last film camera before the digital Leica M8.
As one can see, the model numbers weren't always as logical as you would think. Anyone should be able to count to 11, but in this case the road wasn't that straight forward.
I won't get into all of it, but the strange thing with the Leica M3 (1954) and then the count-down to Leica M2 (1957) and Leica M1 (1959) is easily explained. Maybe, at least I will try:
The Leica M3 was the first Leica with the M bayonet lens mount. Previously Leica cameras had screw-mount lenses (“M39”, also known as “Leica Thread-Mount LMT“) , except the very first models that had a fixed lens.
The Leica M1 was a low-budget Leica M, based on the Leica M2, and without a rangefinder to be used with the Visoflex attachment (that adds a mirror to the camera). In that sense it wasn't really a rangefinder-camera, even it has the family name Leica M.
Queen Elizabeth II with her Leica M3.
As implied already, if we go earlier than the Leica M with bayonet, the picture gets a bit blurred.
As an example, some people who bought the very first original Leica took the factory up on their offer to get the camera upgraded with later inventions. So they got an original model that was modified with some of the newer features ... without being the next model. The irony of this is that while original Leica models can be sold on auctions for 100,000 or even millions as rare original Leica cameras, the modified and "modernized" versions are of almost no interest to collectors.
Some of the later Leica models were also modified sometimes, into other models. There are Leica film cameras with double-stroke film rewind, and single-stroke film rewind. A feature that photographer Eisenstadt asked for, and then Leica made a few cameras that way. And then later more, which is why some Leica M3 cameras are single-stroke and some are double-stroke.
A Leica MP was introduced as a very simple film camera in 2003 (where the MP stands for Mechanical Perfection) but actually was made already in 1956-1957. Of the 500 Leica MP cameras that was made back then (in a confusing mix of single stroke and double stroke), a few are black and go for extraordinary high prices to collectors on auctions. The silver ones, not so much.
The Leica M3D that belonged to LIFE photographer David Douglas Duncan, known for photographing Pablo Picasso through many years. The camera was sold for 2.2 million dollars.
Oh, and then there is the Leica CL film camera that was made from 1973 to 1976 as a compact version of the Leica M2, and with electronic light meter. Not really a Leica M camera, but as the name states, a CL (Compact Leica), but a sort of Leica M camera because it shares the bayonet mount of the Leica M.
It was made together with Minolta who made a similar camera named Minolta CLE. The idea, I guess, was to make a modern camera with built-in light meter, and make it compact and inexpensive. But it was also a "necessary cooperation" with Minolta to try to help save Leica that had lived in the past for a long time (which we must admit, can be a pleasant place).
"The operation was successful, but the patient died" as the saying goes. In this case, Minolta and Leica gave up their corporation, and the remaining members of the Leitz family had to sell theirs stocks in Leica in 1986, after which it split up into different companies (cameras, microscopes and more - which is the reason Leica camera actually don't own the Leica name, but rent it from Leica Microscopes GmbH).
Yes, all this and more is in the name Leica M11. Some of it is covered in my Leica History article, and more will be in other articles and books.
I often a little annoyed when a new Leica M comes out, in the same way as one can get annoyed if someone rings the doorbell when you are reading a good book and having soft-boiled eggs on a sunny Sunday morning.
I guess, because the one I have and use works so well. I never feel I used any of the models enough to be done with them and crave for a new model.
But then, as the day of release comes closer, I start to get excited about the new camera. That is how it should be, and when that feeling arrives, I know I am in for months or years of enthusiasm about using a new camera.
I get new cameras when I am ready. Usually it is instantly, but there are some cameras I don't crave for, and then I don't get them. Or I get them later when I feel it is time. Because a new camera is always a new way of doing things, getting used to the buttons, the menu and all of it. But mainly, getting the images to look the way I want them to look for me, which is the thing that takes the most time to fine-tune in Capture One or Lightroom.
The test of a camera, if it is really a good camera, for me is when it keeps making me happy and I keep making good photos with it. The output is always a thing I measure, because honestly, a camera can be exciting, but if the output is not as great as the feeling, then what is it worth spending time working with it? Other cameras doesn't feel like friends, but they actually produce great results. I respect that.
An analogy can be a really fine and expensive paint brush, but that it is made of special horse hair doesn’t guarantee that you enjoy using it. Or you may enjoy using it, but can’t get the damn thing to paint the way you want. That is what I am talking about.
I always look for the camera that feels easy and natural to use, like walking with a good friend, and which at the same time produce high-quality output in the style that is mine.
I do the same with lenses.
I find it individual for people, which cameras make sense to them. That is why I am not going to tell you if the Leica M11 is for you, just as I don’t expect you to ask me if you should get one. You should rather ask yourself.
The breakthrough I look for in any photographer is that they start believing and stop doubting. Believe that when you “see a picture” or “get an idea” that it’s valid and real. Decide to take the photograph, and take it.
That is the main breakthrough, and the rest of the career is to make the process from seeing it, to getting it, simple.
It sounds nice and easy, and it sort of is. But most people want to complicate things with more gear, more software, more knowledge and all.
Making an idea communicate requires that you remove things. Not that you add.
Single Continuous - Low Speed (3 fps)
Continuous - High Speed (4.5 fps)
2 or 12 Second Delay
Bright-line rangefinder with automatic parallax compensation.
(Suitable for -0.5 dpt; optional corrective lenses available: -3 to +3 dpt).
The horizontal and vertical difference between viewfinder and lens is compensated automatically in line with the relevant focus setting.
Congruence of viewfinder and actual image.
The size of the bright-line frame matches the distance: – at 2 m: the exact sensor size of approx. 23.9 x 35.8 mm – at infinity: (depending on focal length) approx. 7.3% (28 mm) to 18% (135 mm) – less than 2 m: less than sensor size
Electronic Viewfinder "Visoflex 2"
-3 to +3
2.95” Active Matrix TFT with Gorilla Glass.
Fixed Touchscreen LCD
Maximum Sync Speed
Dedicated Flash System
External Flash Connection
Media/Memory Card Slot
UHS-I, SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card (SDXCup to 2 TB)
USB 3.1 Gen1 Typ-C
ISO accessory flash shoe with additional control contacts for
Leica flash units and Leica Visoflex 2 viewfinder.
Via Leica Fotos App
1 x BP-SCL7 Rechargeable Lithium-Polymer), 7.4 VDC, 1800 mAh (Approx. 700 Shots to 1700 shots (Leica adapted shooting cycle).
Manufacturer: Fuji Electronics (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. made in China
Dimensions (W x H x D)
147.2 x 80.3 x 38.45 mm
Black: 530g (with battery, magnesium and aluminium body)
Silver:640g (with battery, magnesium and brass body)
Power pack ACA-SCL7
Manufacturer: Dee Van Enterprises Co., Ltd.., made in China
Box Dimensions (LxWxH)
Leica M11 handgrip as acessory. Can also be used as handgrip without the rubber ring.
1:2/50 the description says.
But what does it mean?
1: = Basically means 1 divided with. On the lens to the right, it means that the diameter of the hole throught he lens is 25mm.
We would normall call it
a 50mm f/2.0 lens. The writing of 1:2/50 is a tradition from the 1800's of specifying a lens, which reveals quite a bit about the construction: Focal length 50mm simply means that the distance from center of focus inside the lens to the focusing plane (the sensor or film) is 50mm, and the aperture of f/2 or 1:2 means that the diameter of the hole the light comes throught is 25mm (50mm divided with 2 = 25mm).
In traditional lens design, one could usually tell from looking at the length of a lens if it was a 400mm, 100mm or 35mm. Newer designs with mirrors (in tele lenses) and more corrections (in wide lenses) can make the size of the lenses shorter or longer, but the distance from center of focus to sensor in a modern 50mm lens will still be 50mm for a 50mm and 400mm for a 400mm, and so on.
See Focal length and Aperture further down for more.
a) 35mm lens is a lens that has a viewing angle of view is 63°vertically, 54° horizontally and 38° vertically within a 35mm film frame or "full-frame" 24x36mm digital format. See Focal length further down.
b) 35mm focal length: the distance from center of focus inside the lens to the focusing plane (the sensor or film) is 35mm.
35mm film format (also known as full-frame)
c) 35mm film format (also known as full-frame in digital sensors) was a standard film format that came about in 1892 where the width of the film roll was 35mm, and it's been the most used format ever since. Only a format of 24 x 36mm is used for the photo on the film roll.
35mm film format was first used in 1892 by William Dickson and Thomas Edison for moving pictures with frames of 24 x 18mm, using film supplied by George Eastman (Kodak), and this became the international standard for motion picture negative film in 1909. Later other motion picture formats came about, such as Academy Ratio (22 x 16 mm), Widescreen (21.95 x 18.6 mm), Super 35 (24.89 x 18.66 mm) and Techiscope (22 x 9.47 mm).
The inventor of the Leica camera, Oskar Barnack, built his prototype Ur-Leica in 1913 as a device to test film stock and\ motion picture lenses and had it patented. Putting 35mm film format into a small camera gave him the idea "small negative, large print" and he decided to increase the size of each frame on the 35mm film to 24x36mm (for more detail and sharpness), and then invented an enlarger to make large prints from the small negative. The length of a film, 36 pictures, is said to have become the standard because that was how far Oskar Barnack could stretch his arms (when cutting film from larger rolls to put them into film rolls for the Leica camera).
d) 35mm equivalent is often given as a standard when talking about lenses in small compact-cameras or large format cameras with other sensor/film format than the 24 x 36mm frame. Example: A camera with a 12 x 18 mm sensor has a 14mm lens on it, and even the lens is actually a 14mm, it is specified as a 28mm lens because the viewing angle that ends up on the sensor is equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm of full-frame camera.
The Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M
ASPH f/2.0 lens
a) 50mm lens is a lens that has a viewing angle of view is 47° vertically, 40° horizontally and 27° vertically within a 35mm film frame.
b) 50mm means there is 50mm from the center of focus inside the lens to the focal plane (sensor or film).
c) 50mm lens is often compared to the human eye. Not because of viewing angle (how wide it sees) but because of size ratio (how it sees). The 50mm lens is the lens that comes closest to the size that the human eye see things. Whereas the human eye has a much wider angle of view [120-200°] than the 50mm lens [47°].
AEL = Auto Exposure Lock. This is a function that can be used when you want to reframe the scene, but keep the current exposure from changing.
AF = Auto Focus. The idea is that the camera does the focusing itself (the word auto comes from Greek "self").
AOV - angle of view = Is the angle a lens 'see'. A 35mm lens has a 54° angle of view horizontally. Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120-200° angle of viewn ags.
Aperture = The same function as the iris and pupil has in the eye. The pupil in the eye is the dark circular opening in the center of the iris of the eye, varying in size to regulate the amount of light reaching the retina (the sensor area inside the eye).
Aperture on a camera is the f/ stop on the camera that regulates how much light passes through the lens by increasing or decreasing the hole through the lens. On a f/2.0 lens the lens is fully open" at f/2.0. At f/2.8 the aperture inside the lens make the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/2.0 passes through. For each f/-stop (4.0 - 5.6 - 8.0 - 11 - 16) you halve the light. The aperture of the lens is basically the focal length divided with the f/-stop = size of the hole (50mm divided with f/2.0 = the hole is 25 mm in diameter).
Besides regulating the amount of light (so as to match the correct exposure), the aperture also affects the dept of field: , which is how deep the sharpness is. To get the sough-after photos with narrow depth of field where the background is blurry, the lens has to be wide open at f/2.0 or so. Stopping the lens down to f/8 or f/16 will result on more depth of field, meaning the background will start becoming in focus. To maintain narrow depth of field, one can use the ISO sensitivity and/or the shutter speed to match the correct exposure (as aperture is only one of three ways to control the exposure; the correct amount of light). ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
Aperture Priority Mode = When the shutter speed dial on top of a Leica M camera is set to A, it is short for “Aperture Priority” and allows the user to set a specific aperture value (f-number) while the camera selects a shutter speed to match it that will result in proper exposure based on the lighting conditions as measured by the camera's light meter. In other words, you set the aperture as priority (f/1.4 for example), and the camera calculates a shutter speed (1/250 of a second) that matches that. If you change the aperture to f/2.0 by changing the aperture ring on the lens, the camera will re-calculate the speed to 1/125 so as to get the same amount of light to hit the sensor (f/2.0 is half the light through the lens as f/1.4 and 1/125 if twice the amount of light on the sensor as 1/250).
APO corrected basically means that the red, green and blue has been corrected to meet more precisely in the same spot. Clarity of colors and definition of details would be the result.
APO = in lens terminology stands for "apochromatically corrected". In most lenses, optical design concentrates the focus of blue light and green light into a single plane, but red light falls slightly into another plane of focus. In APO lenses, the design and expense has been put in to making red light focus on the same plane as blue and green. Under a microscope you would see that all light subject is now in focus, creating a sharper image overall. Many manufacturers offer APO designs, but in most of these only the very center of the lens is APO corrected. Leica prides itself on making most of the frame APO corrected.
APo-correction has traditionally been used for long tele lenses (and periscopes), but in recent years APO-correction has been applied to 50mm and wide angle lenses as well. One will notice that the colors are really bright and alive, almost more real than to the eye, in lenses like the Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 and 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.
Apochromat; ORIGIN early 20th century, made of the two words; apo (Greek origin, away from) and chromatic (Latin origin, meaing relating to color).
ASPH = (Aspherical lens) stands for "aspheric design".
Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius
of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by
grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design
however restricts the number of optical corrections that can
be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible.
ASPH lenses (a-spherical, meaning non-spherical), however, involve usually 1 element that does
*not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements
can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic,
or 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element
is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical")
shape. This design allows Leica to introduce corrections
into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically,
the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation)
due to increased correction of the image, in a package not
significantly bigger than the spherical version.
There is another Aspherical lens manufacture technique: an uneven coating layer is applied to a spherical lens. The coating is thicker on the edges (or on the center, depending). Canon "Lens Work II" calls these "simulated" aspherical lenses. Simulated and Glass-Molded (GMo) asphericals show up in non-L Canon lenses, while the L lenses have actual ground aspheric elements.
A- means non, or without.From Latin, ex. Sphere: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira "ball".
Normal spheric lens (grinded)
ASPH (note the shape of the glass as result of pressing rather than grinding)
Auto- means “self”. The idea is that when a camera has auto-(something), it does that (something) by itself.
Banding = Noise in digital images. Horizontal lines in a horizontal picture (if the camera is in portrait mode/vertical, the lines will obviously be vertical). It's simply noise; the result of uncontrolled algorithms working overtime with an image the sensor really can't see because it's very dark. (If your image has vertical lines in it, it is more likely that the sensor needs remapping).
This image at 6400 ISO, underexposed and then brought up to correct exposure in Lightroom, displays banding: Horizontal lines in the image. Leica M-D 262 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.
Base ISO = The ISO the digital sensor was born with. Even a digital sensor goes from say 50 ISO to 25,000 ISO, it only has one base ISO. Any other setting is an algorithm that figures out how the image whould look if there was 64 times more light, or half the light, etc.
When you go down from Base ISO (for example 200 to 100 ISO), you can expect a
decrease in quality. When you go up, the decrease is much less. For some sensors, you loose 2-3 stops by going down 1 step in ISO, but can go 8 steps up and only loose 1 stop in dynamic range. Basically, your ISO range should be from Base ISO and as far up as you can, before you see visible decrease in quality (mostly 3200 ISO - 6400 ISO).
Base ISO for Leica M9 is 160 ISO, for Leica M240 it is 200 ISO. For Leica M10 it is around 160 ISO.. For Leica M11 it is 64 ISO. For Leica M Monochrom it is 320 ISO. For Leica Q and Leica Q2 it is around 100 ISO. For Panasonic Lumix S it is 200 ISO. For most Canon cameras the base ISO is around 100, for most Nikon cameras it is around 200 ISO.
Max Berek (1886-1949) was lens designer who joined Ernst Leitz Optische Werke in 1912 and became the head of the microscope development where he also designed the first lenses for the company's new adventure into photography, the Leica introduced in 1925. In particular, he calculated the Elmax 50mm f/3.5 lens for the so-called Ur-Leica.
Bizofurex = A Leica Visoflex electronic viewfinder name for the new electronic viewfinder thatr was planned to be made for the Leica M10 introduction in 2017. Dues to too high expenses molding a new viewfinder, Leica decided to stay with the Leica visoflex EVF 020 that was originally med for the Leica T.
Bokeh = The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens: It's a matter of taste and usually photographers discuss a 'nice' or 'pleasant' bokeh (the out-of-focus area is always unsharp, which is why the quality discussed is if one likes the way it renders or not by a particular lens). The closer you get to something, the 'more' bokeh' you get (in that the focus becomes less for the background and foreground at close distances than at long distances). ORIGIN from Japanese 'bo-ke' which mean 'fuzzines' or 'blur.'.
BSI = Backlit sensor = Back-Illuminated Sensor (also known as BI = Backside Illumination) sensor that uses a novel arrangement of the imaging elements to increase the amount of light captured and thereby improve low-light performance. These sensor types were first used for low-light security cameras and astronomy sensors, and then was brought into wider use, in the A7 II (2015), Nikon 850D (2017), Leica SL2-S (2021) and Leica M11 (2022), to increase the cameras performance in low light (high ISO).
Camera comes from Chambre, mostly in relation to Spanish soldiers’ rooms. Obscura means 'dark', so a dark room is basically the derivation for the word camera.
Camera -is today’s short name for Camera Obscura (meaning “a dark room”). CamerameansChambre and was used only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers’ rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”. In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”. Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
Why is it called a "camera"..?
The word Camera is today's short name for Camera Obscura (which originally means “a dark room”).
Origin of the word Obscura means "dark" or "covered", and the word Camera meansChambre and was used originally only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers' rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”.
In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”.
Ibn-al-Haytham mentioned Camera Obscura in his "Book of Optics" in 1021.
The concept of Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
CCD sensor (as used in Leica M8, M9, Leica S)= (Charged Coupling Devices) - The first digital cameras used CCD to turn images from analog light signals into digital pixels. They're made through a special manufacturing process that allows the conversion to take place in the chip without distortion. This creates high quality sensors that produce excellent images. But, because they require special manufacturing, they are more expensive than their newer CMOS counter parts.
An acronym for "(C)lean, (L)ubricate & (A)djust", whereby the item is merely re-lubricated, fine-adjusted and calibrated rather than repaired. "I just got my equipment back from CLA at Leica"
CMOS sensor (as used in Leica CL, Leica T/TL/TL2, Leica M10, Leica M 240, Leica M11, Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, Leica S Typ 007, Leica SL, Leica Q, Leica Q2, Leica M10, Leica X, Leica D-Lux, etc.) = (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) chips use transistors at each pixel to move the charge through traditional wires. This offers flexibility because each pixel is treated individually. Traditional manufacturing processes are used to make CMOS. It's the same as creating microchips. Because they're easier to produce, CMOS sensors are cheaper than CCD sensors. CMOS allow Live View and use less energy than CCD.
Collapsible - Usually refers to a collapsible lens such as the Leica 50mm Elmarit-M f/2.8 Collapsible, or Leica 90mm Macro Elmar-M f4.0 Collapsible, etc. A collapsible lens is one that can collaps into a compact lens when not in use.
Compact Camera - A camera that is compact, usually the same as a point-and-shoot or beginners camera. See my article Leica Compact Cameras.
Contrast - The degree of difference between tones in a picture. Latin contra- ‘against’ + stare ‘stand.’
Normal to low contrast
Depth - Distance between front and back. Distance from viewer and object. See DOF in this list.
Digilux (Digital Lux) = A series of compact digital cameras by Leica Camera AG developed with Fuji from 1998, and then with Panasonic since 2002. The first models, Leica Digilux (1998) and Leica Digilux Zoom (2000) and Leica Digilux 4.3 (2000). With Panasonic, Leica Camera AG made the Leica Digilux 1 (2002), Digilux 2 (2004) and Leica Digilux 3 (2006). See my article Leica Digital Compact Cameras for more. Lux comes from Latin and means Light.
Digital Shutter = Electronic Shutter (see in this list).
Lens distortion looks like this. The lines are not straight. Our eye uses distortion correction. Lens designers can design lenses so they have very little distortion, or they can make less complicated lens designs and "fix" the distortion in software.
Distortion = In photo optics/lenses: When straight lines in a scene don't remain straight because of optical aberration.
Lens designers can correct for distortion to a degree so the whole image field is perfect corrected and all lines remain straight. In modern lens design many designs rely on Software Distortion Correction (SDC).
The eye adjusts for distortion so we always see vertical and horizontal lines straight when we look at things. Even when you get new prescription glasses (if you use such), you will often experience distortion in your new glasses. After a few days they eyes have adjusted for the glasses and the distortion you saw to begin with is now gone. Software Distortion Correction (SDC) is far behind what the human eye can perform of adjustments. (Also see my definition on Perspective for more on the eye and optics)
DNG = Digital Negative, an open standard developed by Adobe. It is a single file that contains the raw image data from the sensor of the camera as well as date, time, GPS, focal length, settings, etc.
The alternative is a RAW file + XMP file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XMP contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken, as well as editing data when the photo is edited in Lightroom or Capture One.
A Camera Raw profile (that is specific for that camera) in the computer helps the software program, for example Adobe Lightroom, to translate the RAW data into the image. Camera producers provide a Camera profile with their camera, and Adobe makes their own 'refined' Adobe Raw camera profile for all new cameras.
A raw file (or DNG) is simply the full recording of digital data (1's and 0's) from the sensor. In the computer, the sensor data is translated into the exact colors, via a camera profile.
The lines on this 28mm lens indicates the DOF. Here the focus is on infinity, and if the lens is stopped down to f/1.6, objects from 1.8 meter to ininity will be 'acceptable sharp'.
DOF = Depth of Field (or Depth of Focus), an expression for how deep the focus is, or (more often use to express) how narrow the area of focus is. This is how much of the image, measured in depth or ditance, will be in focus or "acceptable sharp".
The appearance of the DOF is determined by:
1) aperture (the smaller the aperture hole is, the deeper is the depth of field, and opposite, the wider open a lens you se, the more narrow will the DOF be) and
2) distance to the subject (the farther away, the larger area is sharp; the closer the subject in focus is, the more narrow the DOF gets)..
The DOF scale measurement on top of the Leica lenses shows lines for each f-stop that indicates from which distance to which distance the image will be sharp. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance, like f/1.4 and f/0.95 lenses, which can be used to do selective focus; making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catches the viewers eye).
in modern cameras like the Leica SL2, the camera has a DOF scale inside the viewfinder. As DOF is the same for all lens brands and designs, only depending on focal length, distance and aperture f-stop, the camera can calculate it and show a 'digital DOF scale" in the viewfinder.
Depth Of Field scale from Fujifilm, same lens with different aperture settings from f/2.0 to f/8.0.
Leitz Summicron DR (Dual Range) f/2.0 (order no SOOIC-MN).
DR = Dual Range lens. This is a type of Leitz/Leica lens that works as macro (near focus range) and normal lens, and comes with googles/"Eyes" for the macro function. The 50/2 Dual Range Summicron was made from 1956 to 1968, only in chrome, with a near-focusing range as close to 478mm.
You mount the googles/"Eyes" to focus at close range. If you use the lens in normal range, you can take off the googles/"Eyes"
The googles/"Eyes" can be critical for which camera the lens fits on. the Leica M6 TTL requires that the plastic tab onthe eyes is removed; and other Leica M models likewise. It fits on the Leica MP, M2, M3 and oterh models. .
Dynamic range. The grade of ‘contrast range’ (or number of tones) a film or sensor, or simply a photograph, possess between bright and dark tones. The human eye is said to have a dynamic range of 10-14 ‘stops’ (but because we scan area by area and compile a concept of the overall scene, they eye is often thought to have a much higher dynamic range), Film used to have 7-13 ‘stops’ and some modern sensors have up to 15-17 ‘stops’.
E - Diameter in Leica filters and screw diameter, as in E46 which means that the filter diameter is 49mm for this lens. In general language, one would see Ø46 used, as Ø is the general symbol for diameter.
Electronic Shutter = A shutter that operates silently by turning the cameras imaging sensor on and off to control exposure, rather than a traditional shutter where a foldable metal curtain keeps the sensor in the dark and goes up for a brief moment moment, like 1/125th of a second, and exposes the sensor to light. In the Leica TL2 (2017), there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter speeds. In the Leica M11 (2022) an electronic shutter can be activated from 60 seconds to 1/16000th second while a mechanical shutter goes from 60 minutes to 1/4000th second..The word shutter simply means to close something, like with a curtain. It comes from "desist from speaking" (14th century).
Electronic ViewFinder = See EVF.
Elmar = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f3.5 . Historically derived from the original 1925 50mm f3.5 Elmax lens, which was an acronym of (E)rnst (L)ieca and Professor (Max) Berek, designer of the original lenses. Later that year the 50mm f3.5 Elmar superceded the Elmax, which was discontinued due to its complexity and high cost of manufacture.
Elmarit = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f2.8 . The name is obviously derived from the earlier (and slower) "Elmar" designation. Not every f/2.8 lens is called an "Elmarit" though, the most obvious current exception being the 50mm f2.8 Elmar-M collapsible lens which for nostalgia and marketing reasons has kept the original 1930's Elmar name (the 50mm f3.5 collapsible Elmar, manufactured 1930-59, was one of Leica's most famous and popular lenses). Vario-Elmarit (and Vario-Summicron, etc) is Leica Camera AG's name for zoom lenses.
Elmax lens named after = Ernst Leitz + Max Berak. Ernst Leitz was the founder of Ernst Leitz Optical Industry which later became Leica. Professor Dr.Max Berak was employed at Leica in 1912 and was the architech of the first Leica lens which Ernst Leitz asked him to design for the "Barnack's camera" (the 1913-prototype named after Oscar Barnack who invented it). The lens was a f/3.5 50mm and was known as the Leitz Anstigmat and later the Elmax.
The Leitz Elmax 50mm f/3,5 (1925-1961) on the Leica A camera (1925) camera. Photo by Marco Cavina.
EVF = Electronic ViewFinder. A viewfinder where you look at a small screen through optics/prisms. The advantage is that you see what the sensor sees. Some cameras have built-in EVF (Leica CL, Leica SL, Leica Q, etc), others you can attach an EVF (Leica TL2, Leica M240, Leica M10, Leica M11).
Traditionally a viewfinder is adeviceon a camerashowingthe fieldofviewofthe lens, used in framing and focusing the picture. Some rangefinder cameras simply have optics that show an area in front of the camera with frames indicating what will be recorded on the film or sensor. SLR cameras have mirror and prisms so you see theough the lens of the camera. Electrnic viewfinders show on a small display inside the viewfinder what the sensor see.
The EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) on the Leica SL.
EXIF =Exchangeable Image File, a file generated in camera and enclosed in the image file that contains recording information on the image such as shutter speed, exposure compensation, what metering system was used, aperture setting, ISO setting, date and time the image was taken, whitebalance, which lens was used, camera model and serial number. Some images may even store GPS information so you can see where the image were taken. The data from the EXIF file continues to follow any later editions of the image and can be read in photo editing software such as Capture One and Lightroom, as well as Photoshop (go to the menu File > File Info). There is also software available that can read EXIF data from any file, like Exifdata.com.
The EXIF data is all the information about shutter speed, metering method, ISO, etc. - and then some more that you don't see on the screen (such as camera model, serial number, lens used, etc).
Exposure Bracketing = The possibility to set the camera to automatically record a series of images where the exposure is above and below what the camera measures. The idea is that at least one of the images will be correctly exposed.
f/ (f-stop, also known as aperture).
f- (focal length). Often given in mm, for example 90mm. In the past they were often given in cm or inch, for example 9.5 cm or 3.2 inch.
f/1.25 is the size of the "hole through" the lens, the aperture. f/1.25 means focal length divided with 1.25. In the Leica 75mm NoctiluxM ASPH f/1.25, the "hole through" the lens at f/1.25 is 60mm in diameter. At f/1.4 the "the hole through" is 53.5mm in diameter. At f/4 the "hole through" is 18.75mm in diameter.
Each step smaller from f/1.4 to f/2.0 to f/2.8 to f/4.0 and son on is a reduction ofthe light to half for each step. The Noctilux f/1.25 therefore lets 50% more light in through the lens than a 75/1.4 Summilux.
f-stop = the ratio of the focal length (for example 50mm) of a camera lens to the diameter of the aperture being used for a particular shot. (E.g., f/8, indicating that the focal length is eight times the diameter of the aperture hole: 50mm/8 = 6,25 mm); or the other way around, the hole is the focal length divided with 8).
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: from f (denoting the focal length) and number.
One f-stop is a doubling or halving of the light going through the lens to the film, by adjusting the aperture riing. Adjusting the f-setting from f 1.4 to f.2.0 is halving the light that goes through the lens. Most Leica lenses has half f-stops to enable the photographer to adjust the light more precicely.
Filters = Glass filters you put in front of the lens. A much used filter is the claer UV filter that is supposed to protects the front of the lens. Other filters are color filters that add effects to black and white photography by changing the color balance. Other filters are ND (Neutral Density) filters that reduce the amount of light coming through (used for for example video recordings as video is usuallu filmed at 1/50th second shutter speed and thus most lenses are too bright wide open. Or they are used for long exposure photography in order to record for example stars movements over the sky. Other filters are filters that create star effects, or blur the view, and almost any effect you can think of.
A traditional Yellow filter in 49mm diameter to screw onto the front of the lens. The yellow filter is used for black and white photography where it slightly darkens skies, helps to cut through haze, and improves overall contrast. Yellows and reds within the scene are also lightened.
Flare = Burst of light. Internal reflections between (and within) lens elements inside a lens. Mostly, flare has a characteristic "space travel" look to it, making it cool. Particularly in older lenses with less or no coating of the glass surfaces to suppress this, it can be a really cool effect. In newer lens designs, the coatings and overall design try to suppress flare and any reflections to a degree, so that there is seldom any flare to be picked up (moving the lens to pick up a strong sunbeam), but instead a "milking out" (or "ghosting") of a circular area of the frame; meaning simply overexposed without any flare-looking flares.
Sunlight creating (fairly supressed) flare in the bottom right quadrant of the image of a modern lens.
Lens Flare in Star Trek (2013). JJ Abrams famously said, "I know there's too much lens flare ... I just love it so much. But I think admitting you're an addict is the first step towards recovery (ha ha)"
FLE = See "Floating Elements"
Flickering = blinking light. This may result in "banding like" horizontal stripes in an image, or simply that the light you see isn't in the picture, or it looks different. For example, you take a photo in light, and the result you get is darker. You take another, and now it is all right. The reason is that some light blinks. Here's the difference within one second (notice how the light in the room, the wall light and the sign light all flicker):
Flickering light causing different result in each frame becasuse the light blinks faster than the eye sees, but slow enough to be caught on camera. Here at shutter time 1/1500 sec, four pictures within a second.
Often you will see that you take a portrait indoor in an office, and from frame to frame the person has shade on one side of the face in one photo, but not the next.
Flickering ligh is a new challenge that photographers face, which is flicering light that looks good to the eye, but result in different results in a photo. Through cinema and photography history, the three standard high-quality light soruces have been daylight (from the sun), daylight HMI (5400 Kelvin Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide lamps) and tungsten lamps (3200 Kelvin). When I say high-quality, it's because those are the light types that ensure high color quality (see the definition of CRI - Color Rendering Index in my "Leica and Photography Definitions page") and how quality light traditionally has a score above 90 CRI).
In recent years we have seen "light that flickers" because it has a pulse, such as stage light, photo lamps, video lights and of course indoor and outdoor late night lamps using LED (Light-emitting diode), compact fluorescent lightbulp-shaped lamps and other low-energy lamps (such as halogen). These light also generally have lower CRI (Color Rendering Index) below 90, and even lamps that are stated to have 90 CRI or higher, may mis out on the important red and blue tones, which will make it impossible to get the colors right, espoecially skin tones). If a stage has one or more low-quality lights (which they thend to have), these will pollute the colors of the scene to some degree.
Banding as result of electronic shutter, and often also if the ISO is high.
Flickering horizontal stripes (or "banding"-looking stripes) may appear when you use electronic shutter, and you are photographing with one or more light sources that flickers.
When the electronic shutter is on, you are usually at higher shutter speeds than 1/2000, which means there it would be possible to go down to a lower ISO, and to activater the mechanical shutter. (In some cameras you can choose to use electronic shutter throughout the entire range, which would make the camera completely silent; and this alone may cause horizontal stripes/banding if one or more lights in the room flickers).
Flickering in the EVF is very normal and will apear often without the vertical lines you see in the EVF will be in the picture.
Floating elements (a group of lenses or can also be s aingle lens element). .
Floating Elements (FLE) = Near focus correction in a lens by having a single lens or a group of lenses floating independently of the other lenses. Most lenses are born with poor performance at their closest focusing distance. Center sharpness may be good, but aberrations and corner softness increase when you’re shooting closeups. Floating elements are lens elements outside of the primary focus group that change position when the lens is focused on a close object, correcting aberrations and improving close up performance. Floating Elements originally was coined by Canon in the 1960's and quickly became the general term for this feature. Other brands came up with new names for the same thing, Minolta called it Floating Focusing, Nikon used the term Close-Range Correction (CRC), Leica call it FLE/Floating Elements.
Floating elements are for close-focus improvement of image quality and not for reducing "focus shift". Floating elements by themselves cannot reduce focus shift, but by reducing the impact of focus distance on performance, they give the designers more freedom in other areas - which could include minimising focus shift.
(As a side-note, when a lens "rattler when moved, it is not the floating elements "floating around" but can be the IS (Image Stabilization) elements for elense that has that, AF elements for auto focus lenses, or the aperture cage that rattles (as in the case of the Leica 35mm Summilux-M f/1.4 FLE - if you stop down the Summilux to f/16, the sound is usually not there).
Fn = Short for Function. It's a function button or wheel on a camera that you can program (focus zoom, turning acessories on/off, one-click to set white balance, one-click to call up a particular menu setting).
The Leica M11 has a Fn button on top.
The Leica TL2 and Leica CL has two Fn wheels (wheels you can program to different functions after your likings).
A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle
Focal length = Originally focal length referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens (28mm, 50mm, 400mm, etc). Today one call it effective focal length (EFL) as a 400mm lens is not nessesarily 400mm long due to optical constructions that can make it shorter. The 35-420mm zoom on the Leica V-Lux 1 is for example only ca. 135 mm long. Nobody uses that measurement, except those who construct lenses! For users of lenses, focal length refers to how wide the lens sees. The viewing angle, which is often given in for example 90° viewing angle for a 21mm lens, 74° viewing angle for a 28mm lens, 6° viewing angle for a 400mm lens, etc.
Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120° to 200° angle of view, but focus only in the center.
Focus, in - Sharp and clear in appearance. Focus - “The burning point (of a lens or mirror)”. In Latin the word focus meant fireplace or hearth. The word was probably first employed outside of its Latin literal use as “the burning point of a lens or mirror” in optics, and then came to mean any central point. The German astronomer Johannes Kepler first recorded the word in this sense in 1604.
Focus shift = That the focus of a lens shifts as the aperture changes. For example, if one focus a 50mm lens at f/2.0 and then stop the aperture down to f/8, the focus may change, especially noticeable in close focusing. Modern lenses with floating elements (FLE) where the floating elements adjust for image quality in close-focusing may also help avoid focus shift.
Frame lines = the lines inside a viwfinder that indicates the edger of the frame. In a Leica M, the viewfinder always is as wide view as 24-28mm. A mechanical contach on the lens (triggers the camreas frame selector) so the viewfinder shows the frame line of that lens. In the Leica M, the frame lines comes in sets, so there are alwaus twop sets of frame lines shown at any time (see illustration below).
(This is different than in most cameras where you only see what the lens captures: SLR cameras was the evolution in 1940's where the image from the lens was displayed directly onto a matte screen inside the camera via a mirror.
Later mirrorless cameras, the viewfinder shows the exact picture that the sensor sees through the lens).
Frame lines of the Leica M, here showing the set of 35mm and 90mm framelines.
Full Frame is "king of photography"
Full Frame (FF) = The size of the sensor is 24 x 36mm which is the format Oskar Barnack and Leica Camera AG invented with the first Leica that was introduced in 1925. Many other formats invented since, such as APS, APS-C and all usually refer to Full Frame ratio, by which it means what size they have compared to Full Frame. The "full frame" technically deifinition thouhg is a sensor that camtures the full frame in one go (as the early sensors as in Leica S1 scanned the image/senor over a period of time). The 24 x 36mm Full Frame format is so "king of photography" that it has continued to be the ideal for all cameras. Besides this, there exists Large Format cameras such as 4x5" (100 x 125 mm) and Medium Format 6x6 (60 x 60mm amongst other sizes in that area).
Ghosting = Secondary light or image from internal reflections between (and within) lens elements inside a lens. The reflected light may not always be in focus, so overall it looks like a "milked out" image. A subject in focus has brightened patches in front of it that come from reflections inside the lens. the most elementary look of ghosting is when you look in a rear-view mirror in a car at night and you see doubles of the headlights behind you (a strong one and a weaker one), because the headlights are reflected in a layer of clear glass on top of the mirror glass.
Degrees of ghosting from strong sunlight entering from outside the frame. To the right the outside light has been shielded with a shade.
ISO = Light sensitivity of the camera sensor is given in ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It's a standard that was used in film and is now used in all digital cameras also. The base ISO for the Leica TL2 sensor is around 100-150 which means that this is what the sensor "sees". All other levels are computer algorithms calculating the effect as if the sensor could "see" more (hence noise at higher ISO levels).
ISO goes in steps of doubling: When the ISO is raised from 100 ISO to 200 ISO, the camera only need half the amount of light to make the same picture. For each step in ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc. the light sensitivity is doubled for the sensor (and the camera sensor only need half the light of the previous ISO to record the same image).
Also see Base ISO in this list.
JPEG = A standard for picture format made in the 1990's by Joint Photographic Experts Group). Mostly referred to as JPG as in L1003455.JPG which would be the name for a JPG file from the camera.
Leica L-mount bayonet.
L-mount = Lens bayonet mount introduced by Leica for the Leica T in 2014 and used for Leica TL, Leica CL and Leica SL. Since 2019 the L-mount has also been shared with Panasonic, Sigma and others who produce cameras and lenses that are compatible with Leica L cameras and lenses lenses, and vice versa.
The L-mount has a diameter of 51.6 millimeter which is big enough for any design we could wish to design, and at the same time compact enough for the L-mount to be used on compact cameras such as Leica TL and Leica CL with APS-C sensor sizes. Leica chief lens designer Peter Karbe spent years calculating this ideal size, large enouhg for any design, yet as compact as possible. Read my article "Small Camera, Large Print" (2019) with interview with lens designer Peter Karbe for more.
After Leica introduced this new bayonet mount in 2014, Nikon (Z-mount 55mm), Fuji (G-mount 65mm) and Canon (RF-mount 54mm) followed with similar new bayonet mounts, but with bigger diameter, making them less able to produce compact lenses.
LCC = acronym for Lens Cast Correction, which is a tool in phtoo editing (Capture One) that can help correct common issues that arise when using wide angle lenses. The "cast" is typical color cast, meaning that the color goes in an unwanted direction; snow in a photo has too much blue, so you correct it to have less blue and look like white snow. In Copture One, one create an LCC master profile which contains adjustment of color cast, dust spot removal and more, and then that LCC file can be applied to any photo in a series (of for example landscapes or architecture photos).
A screen on a camera is often referred to as "LCD Screen" for no particular reason (illustration is the back of the Leica Q2 special limited "James Bond/Daniel Craig & Greg Williams" version (2021).
LCD = Screen. LCD itself means liquid crystal display, which is slightly irrelevant (what it is made of) as the expression is mostly used to simply mean "screen".
Leica = A compound word derived from " (Lei)tz" and "(ca)mera". Apparently they were originally going to use "LECA", but another camera company already used a similar name in France, so they inserted the 'i' to prevent any confusion. The Leica name and logo is owned by Leica Microsystems GmbH.
Leicaflex was Leica's first single lens reflex (SLR) camera, released in 1964. It is a very solid, fully manual SLR with an exceptionally bright viewfinder. The Leicaflex SL and Leicaflex SL2 and Leicafles MOT (enabling attachment of motor winder) came after, and then Leica went onto Leica R3 that it developed with Minolta, then Leica R4, Leica R5, Leica R6.2, Leica R7, Leica R8, Leica R9.
My Leitz Leicaflex SL (1973) film camera in black, here with 50 mm Summicron-R f/2.0 from Canada.
The word lens derives from lentil, because of the similar shape.
Lens - A piece of glass or similarly transparent material (like water or plastic) that has a shape so that it can direct light rays. The word “Lens” is used both for single piece of glass as well as a camera lens with several lenses that works together. From ‘lentil’ because similar in shape.
A camera lens consists of several shaped lens elements of glass. The lenses can also be made of simple cheap plastic as in "kit lenses" (sold with a camera as a kit to make a workable cheap package), but it is mostly very exotic glass (that can be heavy or light in weight, very hard or very soft in surface (esay to scratch or very resistant) with each optical glass recipe made to develop very specific qualities in how the glass and final lens treats light. As a general rule, high quality glass is soft, which is why some lenses has as their front and back element, a non-optical lens element that is there to protect the actual optical glass from scratches. As a side noite, Leica made their own glass laboraty, The Leitz Glass Laboratory, from 1949-1989, which deveopled 35 new glass types and took out more than 2,000 patents of glass recipes from more than 50,000 experimental melts of glass. These designs, or recipes, are still used today by the lens designers to obtain very specific optical results. Other lens manufacturers in the world of course have had their glass laboratories, and today one will find an interchange of glass patents amongst production facilities that service Leica, Nikon,, Fuji and so on with optical lens elements.
Lens hood = (also called a Lens shade or Ventilated Shade). A tube or ring attached to the front of a camera lens to prevent unwanted light from reaching the lens and sensor. In the past where lenses were not coated to prevent internal reflections inside the lens, the lens hood was often essential. These days where lenses are coated, the shade serves just as much as decoration and protection (bumper) as well. ORIGIN Old English hod; related to Dutch hoed, German Hut 'hat,' also to hat.
Lens hood or Lens shade or ventilated shade. In the picture is a ventilated shade with clip-on mount to a 50mm f/2.0 lens. Ventilated means it has openings that allow for view from the viewfinder.
Lens names of Leica distinguish which widest aperture the lens has:
f/0.95 - f/1.25
f/ 1.2 (Leica-designed Panasonic lens)
f/ 1.4 - f/1.7
f/2.4 - 2.5
f/1.9 - f/6.3 (used 1930-1960 for screw mount lenses only)
f/2.8 - f/4.5
f/3.5 (only used 1921-1925 for the 50mm Elmax f/3.5)
f/2.8 - f/6.8 (used for tele lenses)
Bubble Level Gauge to mount onto the flash shoe.
Level Gauge = This is a tool in the viewfinder to see if you hold the camera 100% horizontal and/or vertical. You can turn it on in the Menu > Photo Live View Setup > Level Gauge > On.
Before level gauge was integrated as a digitized feature in modern digital camers, it was a Bubble Level Gauge / Spirit Level you put on top of the camera.
The idea is to be able to get 100% vertical and horizontal lines (because if you tilt the camera slightly, the horizon will not be horizontal, and of you tilt the camera forward or backwards, the lines of for example vertical buildings will not be vertical.
Digitized level gauge in a Leica M10-P. You tilt the camera up and down (front/back and left/right) till the level is completely straight.
Light = Tiny particles called photons that behaves like both waves and particles. Light makes objects visible by reflecting off of them, and in photography that reflecting off of subjects is what creates textures, shapes, colors and luminance. Light in its natural form (emanating from the sun) also gives life to plants and living things, and makes (most) people happier. So far, nobody has been able to determine exactly what light is. The word photography means “writing with light” (photo = light, -graphy = writing). Read more about light in my book Finding the Magic of Light.
The "light balance" scale in the camera menu.
Light Balance = That the amount of light is correct, or is under-exposed or over-exposed. Not a common expression, but is used in camera manuals for the scale that shows how the exposure compensation is set, or indicates a scale that shows what the camera thinks the exposure should be adjusted to.
Live View = This is the ability to see the image the sensor see, live, via the screen on the back of the camera, or via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
LMT - Leica Thread-Mount: Also known as M39, is the screw mounted lenses for Leica cameras. It’s a simple as that; you screw on the lens, and back in 1932, the possibility to change the lens was the big news hwen introduced by Leica on the Leica III. The M39 system was updated with the M Bayonet from 1954 for the Leica M3. The M bayonet is a quick way to change lenses and is the current mount for Leica M digital rangefinders.
M (as in "M3", "M6", "M7" etc.)
A) The M originally stands for "Messsucher", which is German "Meßsucher" for "Rangefinder". The "3" in M3 was chosen because of the three bright line finders for the 50, 90 and 135 mm lenses. Later the numbers of the M cameras were more or less chosen to follow each other.
M-body evolution in chronologic order:
M3 - MP - M2 - M1 - MD - MDA - M4 - M5 - CL - MD-2 - M4-2 - M4-P - M6 - M6 TTL - M7 - MP - M8 - M8.2 - M9 - M9-P - MM (black and white sensor) - ME (Type 220) - Leica M (Type 240) - Leica M-P 240 - Leica M 246 Monochrom - Leica M-A (type 127, film camera) - Leica M 262 - Leica M-D 262 (without a screen) - Leica M10 - Leica M10-P, Leica M10 Monochrom, Leica M10-R, Leica M11.
B) M also refer to M-mount as the M bayonet that couple the Leica M lenses to the Leica M camera. Before the M bayonet the coupling between the camera and lens was screwmount.
M nowadays refer to the Leica M line of cameras rather than the "Messsucher".
The Leica M bayonet on the Leica M10.
M-mount: The Leica M-mount is a bayonet that was introduced with the Leica M3 camera in 1954 and has been used on all subsequent Leica M cameras, as well as on the Epson R-D1, Konica Hexar RF, Minolta CLE, Ricoh GXR, Rollei 35RF, Voigtländer Bessa, and Zeiss Ikon cameras (2019).
Compared to the previous screw mount (M39), the M
mount requires a quick turn of the lens, and ithe lens is mounted. The patent for the M-bayonet ("Bajonettvorrichtung für die lösbare Verbindung zweier Kamerateile") was registered by Ernst Leitz GmbH 10 February 1950 (patent number DE853384). Hugo Wehrenfennig was credited with the invention.
Leica M9 is a model name for the Leica M9 that was introduced on September 9, 2009 (as the first full-frame digital Leica M). It was the latest model designation using the M and a number. From their next model, Leica Camera AG introduced a new model system so each camera would simply be a Leica M but then with a model designation like Typ 240, Typ 246, Typ M-D 262 and so on. The idea was inspired from Apple who name their computers for example MacBook Pro and then it has a sub- model number designation which model it is (and which would define speed of processor, etc).
MACRO = Macro lens. The Leica 60mm APO-Elmarit-Macro-R ASPH f/2.8 is a 60mm lens for portraits, landscapes, etc. as well as a near focus macro lens. The Leica Q lens can be turned to Macro which enables you to go close so as to enlarge smaller subjects. The Leica M cameras becomes Macro when you add a Macro ring "Oufro" or "Leica Macro M Adapter" that increases the lens' distance to the sensor. The word macro comes from Greek makros ‘long, large.’
Maestro III - A processor developed first as Maestro for the Leica S2 (Maestro) and upgraded to Maestro II for the Leica S (Typ 007). The Leica Q and Leica Q2 has a Mestro II (Leica Q edition) processor developed by SocioNext Inc. based on Fujitsu's Mibeault architecture. Leica M10 also has a Maestro II processor, but seemingly developed further for this model. The Leica M11 (2022) has a Maestro III processor.
Mandler, Dr. Walter (1922 - 2005)
Legendary Leica lens designer and CEO of Ernst Leitz Canada (ELCAN) 1952-1985. Read more inLeica History.
Dr. Walter Mandler (center) at the Ernst Leitz Camera factory.
Megapixel (or MP) - Millions of pixels. See pixel further down. How many units of RGB is recorded by a given sensor by taking height x widt. A Leica M10 delivers a 5952 x 3968 pixel file = 23,617,536 piexls. On a screen the resolution you choose determines the size of the image. Say you have a 5000 pixel wide file and your screen is set for 8000 pixels wide. Then the image will fill only the 5000 pixels fo the 8000 and the rest will be empty, If you then change the screen resolution to 5000 wide, the image would be able to fill out the whole screen.
Meßsucher = (rangefinder or distance finder) = Mess = range, sucher = finder. It is always correctly written with the "ß". There are technically not three "s", rather the "ß" and one "s" because it is a word constructed by the combining of two precise words.
mm = millimeter(s), as in a 50mm lens. (Earlier in lens history lenses focal length was given in cm = centimeters; as in a 5 cm lens). For anyone used to centimeters and millimeters, it’s no wonder. But if you grew up with inches, feet and yards, you may have had a hard time grasping what a 50mm lens was. But as lenses were designed first in Europe, the metric system with centimeters and millimeters was used to describe lenses.
(Leica and others made lenses for a while with either meter scale or feet scale; but then eventually started including meter and feet on all the lenses (two scales, usually distinguished with different colors). However, the lens' focal length remained always 50mm, 75mm and so on).
The reason a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens is that there is 50mm from the focus plane (the film or sensor surface) to the center of focus inside the lens. When photography was a young subject, it was engineers who made it all, and the users were expected to understand. The engineers were so into the making of the lenses, that it apparently never dawned upon them that today’s users would think of a 21mm lens as a wide angle lens rather than a lens where there is 21mm from the sensor to the center of focus inside the optics.
a) Stands for Mechanical Perfection, as in the Leica M-P.
b) Megapixels (millions of pixels).
c) Megaphotosites (millions of photosites).
Neutral Density filters are grey filters function as 'sunglasses' for lenses. They simply block the light so that a lens can work at for example f/0.95 or f/2.0 in sunshine.
If a camera is set to 200 ISO and the maximum shutter speed is 1/4.000, this will usually result that the lens has to be at f/2.8 or smaller aperture in sunshine. Else the image will over-exposed. So in order til stay within the maximum shutter speed of 1/4.000 and still use a lightstrong lens wide open, one mount a ND-filter that reduce the light with 3 stops (8X) or 6 stops (64x).
For video ND-filters are used quite a lot (as the shutter speed for video is 1/60), and ND-filters are also used to reduce the light for really long multi-exposures at night (stop-motion video and stills).
ND-filters also exist as variable ND-filters so one can adjust the amount of light going through from for example 1 stop (2X) to 6 stops (64X).
ND-filters also exist as graduated ND-filters where the top of the filter is dark and then gradually tone over in no filter (so as to reduce the skylight in a landscape for example).
The ND filters are called Neutral because it is a neutral filter. It doesn't change colors, only the amount of light.
ND-filters / gray-filters.
Noctilux = Also known as "King of the Night" because "Nocti" means Night and "Lux" means Light. The f/1.0 lenes from Leica are named "Noctilux". The first Leica Noctilux lens was the 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 which shortly after it's introduction was improved to the 50mm Noctilux f/1.0. In the current model the f-stop has been improved further to f/0.95.
"Noctilux" refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.0 . "Nocti" for nocturnal (occurring or happening at night; ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from late Latin nocturnalis, from Latin nocturnus ‘of the night,’ from nox, noct- ‘night.), "lux" for light. The Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 is famous for enabling the photographer to take photos even there is only candleligts to lit the scene. See the article "Leica Noctilux - King of the Night"
The Noctilux "King of the Night" lens. From left the f/0.95 in silver (same on the camera, in black), the f/1.0 in the back and the rare and expensive first model, the f/1.2 in the front.
Number, on this site Leica catalog numbers or order numbers. Some the numbers changed depending on the number of cams in the lens: The Elmarit-R f2.8/135mm started life as No. 11 111, however when fitted with 2 cams for the SL became No. 11 211, yet another No. for the 3 cams lens and a fourth number for 3 cam only at the end of its life. Number changes also applied to M lenses depending on whether they were screw-thread, bayonet or for M3 with “spectacles”. Thus the No. in the Thorsten Overgaard Leica Lens Compendium list is a guideline but not a comlete list of existing catalog numbers.
OIS = Optical Image Stabilization. This is used in tele lenses where blurring motion of the camera from inevitable vibrations are adjusted by the lens. At low shutter speeds and/or with long lenses, any slight movement would result in a picture with "motion blur" unsharpness. The Leica TL2 supports optical image stabilization when A) OIS is turned on in the camera menu, and B) when you use lenses with OIS (the Leica SL longer lenses has OIS). An alternative is EIS = Electronic Image Stabilization, which the Leica T has. Here the problem of "motion blur" is corrected electronically after, which might lead to image degradation. However, the larger the sensor resolution, the less one will notice small 'degradation'.
Optic = Eye or vision. From French optique or medieval Latin opticus, from Greek optikos, from optos ‘seen.’
OSPDAF (sensor type) = On Sensor Phase Detect Autofocus, which is a digital sensor where the main imaging sensor has "focus pixels" added in a layer on top of the traditional image pixels that are used for autofocus. First introduced in 2010 by Fujifilm on F300EXR and used in the first smartphone in 2014, Samsung Galaxy S5.
PASM on a cameras 'program wheel'
PASM = is short for P = Program Mode / A = Aperture Priority Mode / S = Shutter Priority Mode / M = Manual Control Mode. On some cameras, these P, A, S and M are choices on a wheel on top of the camera, or in the menu.
PDAF = Phase Detect Autofocus. Used in canon EOS 5D Mark IV in 2016 where a dSLR camera use mirrors to reflect copies of the main sensor’s light at a dedicated phase detection sensor. Compact cameras and smartphone cameras has the AF sensors built on to he sensor itself so as to be more compact (OSPDAF = On sensor Phase Detect Autofocus). The alternative to PDAF is CDAF (Contrast Detection Auto-Focus).
Perspective - The way objects appear to the eye; their relative position and distance. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of perspective (also see Three-dimensional). A wide angle "widens" the perspective and makes objects further away appear smaller than they are to the eye; and objects closer, relatively larger than they are to the eye. A tele lens will "flatten" the perspective and often objects further away will appear relatively larger than close objects than they are in real life. A 50mm lens is the one closest to the perspective and enlargement ratio of the human eye.
Vanishing points are the points where lines meet. This is how you make perspective in paintings and drawings (and some times make movie sets or theatre stages appear more three-dimensional than they are)
Painters works with vanishing points, which is where the lines meet, so as to create an illusion of perspective and three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional painting or drawing.
The human eye corrects for perspective to an extreme degree. We always see vertical lines vertical and horisontal lines horisontal: The eye has a angle of view equivalent to an 8mm wide angle lens, a size ratio equivalent to a 50mm lens and we focus on relatively small area of the viewing field - one at the time. Three things happens that are worth paying attention to:
1) We compile areas of our view that we focus on, to one conceptual image that "we see". Ansel Adams, the great American landscape photographer pointed out that a large camera used for landscape photography capture every detail in focus and sharp so you can view it in detail after; but the eye does not see everything in focus when you try to compose the landscape photography, the eye scans only one part at a time and stitch the idea together. This makes composing or prevision of a landscape photography challenging.
2) We compile areas of our view that we individually adjust the exposure of. A camera adjust the exposure of the whole image frame to one exposure. That's why what looks like a nice picture to the eye of houses in sunshine with a blue sky above, becomes a photograph of darker buildings with a bright white sky: The camera simply can't take one picture that compare to what we "compiled" with our eyes, adjusting for each type of light.
3) Objects (on a table, for example) in the bottom of our viewing field will appear 100% perspective corrected - to a degree that it is impossible to correct in optics, with or without software correction. A wide angle lens, even with little distortion, will exaggerate the proportions of the closet part so it - to the eye - looks wrong.
Perspective correction - In software like Adobe Lightroom and Capture One Pro there is often a feature to correct perspective (and distortion) like seen below. You can change perspective this way, or at least make believe: If you correct a tall building on teh vertical lines, you will notice that the height of the windows doesn't match the perspective. If the building is with straight lines, the windows should all be of the same size. But a tall building seen from below and corrected with software will have taller windows (closer to camera) in the bottom than in the top (further away from the camera originally).
A graphic illustration of the typical Bayer Color Filter Array on an RGB sensor. It's called a Bayer filter because Bryce Bayer of Eastman Kodak invented the technology of filtering incoming light into RGB and distribute it into the the photosites that each read just one color (R/G/G/B).
Photosite - The unit in a digital camera sensor that records intensity of either red, green or blue. Unlike the output of a sensor, measured in pixels (and where each pixel contains RGB), the photosite records only one color each, and it's intensity (how bright it is). A photosite can not distinguish colors, which is why there is a Color Filter Array (basically a prism) above them to filter the colors and send information to the photosite if 's a R, G og B color. See illustration below. In a monochrome sensor (as in the Leica M Monochrom and the Phase One Achromatic), all photosites are recording intensity of light only as there is no concern which color it is, and there is no color filter.
The ratio of photosites to pixels is not a given. Each block of 4 contiguous photosites contains one photosite sensitive to low wavelengths (blue), one photosite sensitive to high wavelengths (red), and two identical photosites sensitive to medium wavelengths (green). So four photosites would be the minimum to create one 'full-color' pixel. Apart from that, depends on the sensor specifications, which is different from brand to brand. Sometimes four photosites (two Green, one Red and one Blue) makes up one pixel, at other times it's more photosites to one pixel; and there is also pixels sampled from photosites across (sort of overlapping patterns).
Pixel - Made up word from Pix (picture) and el (element). A pixel is the smallest full-color (RGB) element in a digital imaging device. The physical size of a pixel depends on how you've set the resolution for the display screen. The color and tonal intensity of a pixel are variable, meaning that each pixel contains RGB. This is different from a camera sensor's small eyes (photosite) that are an intensity of either red, green or blue. You could say that the digital sensor's photosite (where each unit collects just one color; red, green or blue) is the input technology, whereas the pixels on a screen (where each pixel contains red, green and blue) is the output device. So while sensors are measured in megapixels (mega = million), it's their output unit of pixels, and not the input unit of photosites that is measured and stated. See illustration below.
Q - The Leica Q model was released in 2015 as a full-frame 24MP digital compact camera featuring a fixed auto-focus and 28mm f/1.7 lens with macro, amd upgraded with a larger 51MP sensor (same concept) Leica Q2 in 2019. See my article Compact Leica Cameras for more.
R = Resolution, in the name Leica M10-R camera model (2020).
R - Reflex: The Leica R cameras (2009) is the SLR cameras from Leica. The first Leicaflex (1964) feels like a Leica M, built as a tank, and with reflex and fits Leica R lenses. Over the production time of the Leica R system, a number of magic lenses from fisheye to 800mm were made for this system (as well as a made-to-order 1600mm lens for a prince in Qatar). Also a number of zoom lenses was made for the Leica R system. Many of the lenses are being used for cinema in their next life, especially the wide angle and the 50/1.4, but also the 280mm APO f/2.8 tele lens was retrofitted with a PL mount and used for the Joker movie in 2019.
The Leicaflex series (1964 - 1976) was modernized with the Leica R3 (1976) that was made together with Minolta , and then Leica went on with Leica R4, Leica R5, Leica 6.2, Leica R7, Leica R8 and Leica R9. The latter two models got a digital 10MP back made as an accessory in 2004 (CCD-sensor made with Imacon and Kodak). You simply took off the film back and mounted a digital back (and could change back to film if you wanted to). See my Leica DMR article. The Leica R system was retired in 2009 when the production of new lenses stopped. Leica Camera AG said then that the plans fot the R10 camera had been retired as it was not feasible to maintain an SLR system. Though, in 2016 Leica opresented the Leica SL system which is a SLR camera without reflex and instead is mirrorless cameras, and with a new series of L-mount lenses. The Leica SL (and Leica M) can use Leica R lenses via adapter.
"Rattle" = Noise from something moving around inside a lens when moved or shaken, as if something is loose: When a lens "rattle" when moved, it is not the floating elements "floating around" but can be the IS (Image Stabilization) elements for elense that has that, AF elements for auto focus lenses, or the aperture cage that rattles (as in the case of the Leica 35mm Summilux-M f/1.4 FLE - if you stop down the Summilux to f/16, the sound is usually not there).
Rigid - Refers usually to the Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "Rigid" of 1956.
It is called "Rigid" because, unlike the 50mm Collapsible, this one is not able to be changed.
Rigid means stiff, uable to be forced out of shape. Not able to be changed. From Latin rigere, "be stiff".
The name is a little confusion nowadays as all or most lenses are rigid today, but back in 1925-1956, many lenses were collapsible so the camera was compact when not in use. Just like compact cameras today often has a lens that extrudes when the camera is turned on, and collaps into the camera body when the camera is turned off.
(R)ange (F)inder - the mechano-optical mechanism which allows M Leicas to focus.
Alternative meaning - RF is also shorthand for Hexar RF , Konica's motorised "M-lens-compatible" rangefinder camera released in 2000.
S = Single image. When the ring by the shutter release on top of the camera (or in the menu of a digital camera in case it does not have this ring on the ourside) is moved from OFF to S, the camera takes only one photo at the time (Single). The other possibility is Continuous where the camera takes pictures continiously as long as the shutter release button is helt down. (see above).
Saturation: How colorful, intense or pure the color is. Less saturation would be less colorful, more saturation would be more colorful. In today’s photography, de-saturating a photo on the computer will gradually make it less and less colorful; and full de-saturation would make it into a black and white photo.
Sensor = A device that detects a physical property (like light) and records it. A camera sensor is a plane plate with thousands of small “eyes” with (photosites) a lens in front of each (CFA, Color Filter Array), which each individually records the amount of red, green and blue light rays that comes through the lens. Together, Red, Green and Blue form all colors of the spectrum, which becomes a pixel. Sensor comes from Latin sens- ‘perceived’.
SDC = Software Distortion Correction. A correction of lens distortion (not straight lines) applied in the camera and which is part of the DNG or RAW file. In Lightroom or Capture One Pro the SDC of the camera file is applied automatically (and cannot be removed), in software like AccuRaw one can open the DNG file without the SDC correction. Sean Reid Reviews have written a good article on what SDC is and does in "Software Distortion Correction".
SDC (Software Distortion Correction): In Lightroom the correction profile for the Fujinon 23mm is applied automatically and cannot be turned off.If you go into Develop mode in Lightroom and look under Lens Correction > Profile, you will see a message in the bottom with an exclamation mark. When you click on that, you get the message above.
Sharpness - See “Focus”
Shutter speed dial - The dial on top of the Leica M where you can set the shutter speed manually. It can also be set to A which stands for Aperture Priority (where the camera suggests a shutter speed; or when you move the dial away from A, the camera will show arrows in the viewfinder, suggesting which direction to change the Aperture to, to get the correct exposure).
The number on the dial refers to the shutter speeds. "4000" is 1/4000th of a second (one second divided with 4,000).
Shutter speed dial set to A (Aperture priority where the camera automatically suggest an shutter speed based on the aperture of the lens). The other settings are manual shutter time settings. "B" is short for Bulb where the shutter is open for as long as the shutter release is pressed (max 60 minutes in the Leica M11). The little "thunder symbol" between number 250 and 135 is a symbol indicating that this is the flash synchronizing setting (1/180th of s a second).
Six-bit code (6-bit code) - An engraving on the flange of M-lenses that makes it possible for digital M-cameras to recognize the lens that has been mounted. The camera can include information on the attached lens and its focal length in EXIF data and make digital corrections for lens-specific flaws, such as color-cast or vignetting. Six-bit coding was introduced for all M-lenses sold since 2006, but many older lenses can be retrofitted with the code at Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar.
SL = Abbreviation for Single Lens (used by Leica for theeir Leica SL (2015) digital cameras. The point is that there is no Reflex mirror (See SLR in the list).
SLR = Abbreviation for Single-Lens Reflex; the lens that forms the image on the film/sensor also provides the image in the viewfinder via a mirror. Newer camera models has aen EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) that displays in the viewfinder what the sensor sees in real-time.
Leitz Wetzlar Mikro-Summar 42mm f/4.5 lens anno 1910 might be the first lens carrying the name Summar.
Summar - (or a story of name development) The 1933 lens 50mm f2.0 Summar: It started out as Summar(f2.0), then the Summitar (f2.0 in 1939), then the Summarex(f1.5 in 1948), then the Summaron(35mm f.2.8 in 1948, then later f2.0, f3.5 and f5.6 lenses), then the Summarit (f1.5 in 1949 and used again for the 40mm f2.4 on the Leica Minilux in 1995, then again for the 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm Summarit f2.5 in 2007) then the Summicron(f2.0 in 1953 for the collabsible 50mm) and finally the Summilux(50mm f1.4 in 1959).
ORIGIN of Summar is unknown.
The great thing about being a lens designer is that you get to name the lens. Dr. Max Berek who worked for Leitz from 1912 till his death in 1949 named lenses after his two favorite dogs. One was Sumamrex named after his dog Rex, the other Hektor named after his dog Hektor.
Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/1.5.
Summicron = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/2.0 . There are many guesses how this name came about, a popular one being that the "summi" came from "summit" (summit means the highest point of a hill or mountain; the highest attainable level of achievement) while the "cron" came from "chroma" (ie. for colour). Not so: The name (Summi)cron was used because the lens used Crown glass for the first time, which Leitz bought from Chance Brothers in England. The first batch of lenses were named Summikron (Crown = Krone in Deutsch). The Summi(cron) is a development from the orignal Summar (the 50mm f2.0 lens anno 1933). Vario-Summicron, Vario-Elmarit is Leica Camera AG's name for zoom lenses, for example the Vario-Summicron f/2.0 as the one that is on the Leica Digilux 2.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In Leica terminology a Summilux is always a f/1.4 lens and a Summicron is a f/2.0 lens.
Lens nomenclature - short-hand for " telephoto " (tele- is a combining form, meaning to or at a distance) and used in names of instruments for operating over long distances : telemeter. The name has been used for a number of tele lenses from Leica.
ORIGIN: from Greek t?le- ‘far off.’
Thambar Leitz Thambar 90mm f.2.2. At most about 3000 were made, originally, probably in eight batches, starting with 226xxx (built in 1934) and going through 283xxx, 311xxx, 375xxx, 416xxx, 472xxx, 511xxx, and 540xxx (about 1939/1940). But then the Thambar was re-launched in 2018, exactly the same lens.
Three-dimensional = Having the three dimensions of height, width and depth. In photography and lens design, three-dimensional effect is also the perception of even small micro-details; the texture of skin can appear flat and dead or three-dimensional and alive. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of depth. Also see Perspective.
Leica T is the compact camera developed by Leica Camera in 2014 as a touch-screen operated camera that can take the Leica L mount lenses made for this camera and the Leica SL and Leica CL. This camera series was names Leica TL later. See my article Compact Leica Cameras for more.
(T)hrough (T)he (L)ens light metering, usually WRT the flash metering capabilities built into the R6.2, R8, R9, M7 & M6TTL cameras.
V-Lux is a series of compact SLR-like digital cameras by Leica Camera AG developed with Panasonic since 2006, starting with the Leica V-Lux 1 (2006), V-Lux 2 (2010), V-Lux 3 (2011), V-Lux 4 (2012), V-Lux Typ 114 (2014), V-Lux 5 (2018). See my article "Compact Digital Leica Cameras".
To add confusion, Leica also made a Leica V-Lux 20 in 2010, V-Lux 30 in 2011 and a Leica V-Lux 40 in 2012 that was a temporarily renaming of the Leica C-Lux series.
Vario- is the Leica Camera AG name for zoom lenses. Vario-Elmarit, Vario-Elmar and Vario-Summicron and so on.
Ventilated shade on a 35mm of Elliott Erwitt's Leica MP camera.
Ventilated Shade - A shade is a hood in front of a lens that provides shade from light going straight onto the lens from outside what you are photographing, which could cause internal reflections like flare, which would make the picture less contrasty.
The ventilated shade has holes so it doesn't obstructs the view from the viewfinder. In many of today’s mirrorless cameras where there is no viewfinder looking ver the lens, so there is no actual need for a ventilated shade; but they are considered classic or vintage looking and are still in high demand. It makes no difference for the purpose of the shade (to create shadow) if it is ventilated or not.
Ventilated Shade for the Leica Q. I make ventilated shades for most lenses and sell them from here.
Viewfinder a device on a camera showing the field of view of the lens. Also known as the German word "Messucher" (or Meßsucher).
1) A built-in viewfinder in a camera that simply show the frame you get when you look through the viewfinder.
2) A rangefinder viewfinder which is also used to focus the lens. In Leica M cameras two pictures has to meet and lay 'on top of each other' for the picture to be in focus.
3) An external viewfinder, usually on top of the camera in the flash shoe, so as to show the field of view of lenses vider than what the built-in viewfinder can show (15mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm etc viewfinders exist)
4) Very simple "aiming-devices" on top of a camera that is simply a metal frame without any optics. Just a frame, as for example very old cameras (the original Leica), or when using cameras in diving where you can't look through the camera.
5) A Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) that shows what the sensor sees "live".
A device mounted between the Leica M camera and a lens, containing a mirror mechanism like in a SLR camera, thus allowing the M user to 'preview' a picture using a tele lens larger than 135mm which is the maximum covered by the framelines in the Leica viewfinder. In 2012 Leica made the electronic Visoflex for the Leica M240, which is an electronic viewfinder (see EVF in this list).
Leica Visoflex EVF2 electronic viewfinder.
You can also use the Olympus VF-2 which essentially is the same.
The Leitz VisoFlex came out in 1951 as a way to implement a mirror on a Leica M. The first version exist for screw mount lenses and M mount lenses.
The black rubberized, textured material used to cover Leica camera bodies prior to the 1980s. It actually was made of vulcanised rubber (hence the name) and was and remains much loved by professionals because of its solid, sure grip.
WLAN = German short for WiFi. In camera menus, Leica may refer to WLAN, which is simply German for WiFi, (and for some reason they refuse to believe that the rest of the world doesn't call it for WLAN like they do). WLAN stands for wirelesslocal area network.
X1 - The Leica X1 was released in September 2009, the Leica X2 in 2012, and Leica X Typ 113 was released in September 2014, all with a fixed 23mm f/1.7 lens. Leica X Vario Typ 107 and Leica X-E Typ 102 was released later. A Leica X-U underwater edition was released in 2026. See my article Compact Leica Cameras for more.
Ø - Diameter. As in Ø49 for example which means that the filter diameter is 49mm for this lens (or if a filter is Ø49, it is 49mm in diameter and fits that Ø49 lens). Leica uses E to express their filters sizes, as in E49 for a 49mm filter size.
Index of Thorsten Overgaard's user review pages on Leica M9, Leica M9-P, Leica M-E, Leica M9 Monochrom, Leica M10, Leica M10-P, Leica M10-D, Leica M10-R, Leica M10 Monohcrom, Leica M11, Leica M 240, Leica M-D 262, Leica M Monochrom 246, Leica SL, Leica SL2, Leica SL2-S, as well as Leica TL2, Leica CL, Leica Q, Leica Q2 and Leica Q2 Monochrom:
Leica Digital Camera Reviews by Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish born multiple award-winning AP photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops which cater to Leica enthusiasts. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.
I am in constant orbit teaching
Leica and photography workshops.
Most people prefer to explore a
new place when doing my workshop.
30% of my students are women.
35% of my students dotwo or more workshops.
95% are Leica users.
Age range is from 15 to 87 years
with the majority in the 30-55 range.
Skill level ranges from two weeks
to a lifetime of experience.
97% use a digital camera.
100% of my workshop graduates photograph more after a workshop.