Released simultaneously with the Leica M, the M-E is pitched as Leica’s entry-level rangefinder, but at £3,900 it doesn’t come cheap. Richard Sibley sees how it fits into the range. Read the Leica M-E review...
Build and performance
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured with the Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 Asph lens set to its 100mm point. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.
Like the M-9, the body of the M-E is magnesium alloy with a brass top-plate. The only difference is the colour change from the steel-grey or black painted finish of the M9 to an anthracite grey paint finish on the M-E. Other than this, plus the USB port and guideline selector switch, the build and handling of each camera is identical, as are the features and image quality.
Having the image quality of the M9 is no bad thing because there is very little noise at low ISO sensitivities and images are very sharp due to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter. In fact, they look far more detailed than you would expect from an 18-million-pixel sensor.
That said, the specification of the Leica M9 is now looking somewhat dated, and as the M-E has inherited these features, it too is lagging a little behind the times – you only need to look at the difference in specification between the M and the M-E to see this. Perhaps the least impressive part of the M-E’s specification is the 2.5in, 230,000-pixel (690,000-dot) LCD screen. This is comparatively small and lacking in detail compared to almost all screens currently found on DSLRs and compact system cameras. The new Leica M, by comparison, features a respectable 3in, 920,000-dot display.
There are a few further differences between the M-E and M9-P. The latter doesn’t feature Leica’s red-dot logo, instead having ‘Leica’ engraved on the top-plate. It also has scratch-resistant sapphire covering the LCD screen, whereas the M-E uses toughened glass.
Overall, then, the M-E is virtually identical to the M9. In some respects both cameras fall a little behind the times, but as far as images are concerned, the tried-and-tested 18-million-pixel CCD sensor of the Leica M-E can’t be faulted. There are some who may even favour it ahead of the CMOS sensor of the new Leica M.
Image: As shown in the resolution test images, there is slightly more detail in raw files