Despite the impression given by Leica fanboys and girls, all, and including the previous generation Leica rangefinder cameras, the M9 (amd M9-P) sported a really horrible sensor-by any current standards. The new M Leica is manages to turn this trend around, coming with a sensor that is pretty much comparable to the best of today's cropped sensors by other manufacturerers, but as expected, is still far behind any current full frame sensor equipped camera:
Featuring a new higher resolution sensor and updated functionality expectations are high for the new Leica M and it doesn’t disappoint. Although
remaining true to their ‘no gimmicks’ approach the addition of an improved LCD screen with live view, as well as the increased ISO sensitivity range are welcome additions that update Leica’s digital rangefinder for the modern era.
The latest 24-megapixel CMOS sensor offers not only six million extra pixels but DxOMark’s Sensor Scores indicate a +1 Stop improvement in overall image quality compared to the previous 18Mp CCD sensor. As well as offering more consistent Color Sensitivity across the ISO range there’s also an impressive extra +1.6 Stops boost for Dynamic Range and its low-light ISO scores are improved too, again beating previous versions by around +1 Stop.
So a big step in the right direction although the new sensor doesn’t quite match the heights of the best sensors DxOMark have tested or those of flagship DSLRs. Compared to the best sensors the Leica M is a little off the pace with the Sony RX1 and Nikon D800 boasting around +1 Stop better image quality overall.
Against the Nikon D4 and Canon 1Dx the overall scores indicate the Leica M is either better or not far off in terms of Color Sensitivity and Dynamic Range. These overall scores are a little misleading however as image quality on the M drops quickly as ISO sensitivity is increased compared to this DSLR competition, which deliver a more consistent performance up to ISO 3200.
Nonetheless a welcome improvement in image quality demonstrates Leica made a wise choice switching to a CMOS sensor. If you’re after a Leica digital rangefinder and your budget can stretch to $6950 the new M offers better image quality, features and functions compared to the $5450 M-E Typ 220.
It also comes with a new naming style. Gone are the numbered suffixes, like the M8, M9 etc, because in Leica's own words:
The Leica M also marks the beginning of a new era in the Leica product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the enduring and long-term significance of the respective systems. As for the sibling, it appears to be a slightly stripped down M9. . . . read more
No longer the stuff of rumors, here's the E-M5 straight from the horse's mouth:
Q: What's the difference between Steve and Ken?
A: One of them is actually a descent photographer
"One thing I found is that it took a few days of using the new M 240 to realize what it can do. I had to relearn processing of the RAW files as they do not work like the M9 files did. Different sharpening levels are needed and there is so much more DR my usual tricks for the M9 files only made the M240 files look worse. Once I figured out my workflow it all started to come together. I started seeing the benefits of the new sensor. . . . read more