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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Why the Leica M11 is a glorious relic in an age of camera phone convenience

Five years isn’t a long time in Leica-land, but the photography world has been turned upside down since the Leica M10 landed in January 2017. Since then, computational photography and AI editing have transformed amateur snapping – and that’s why the new Leica M11 now stands out as a relic from a bygone age.

Yet the fact that the Leica M11 is a complete anachronism – a steam train in a world of Virgin Hyperloops – only heightens its appeal. This is a camera with no autofocus, let alone busy little algorithms piecing together the best bits from your burst of photos. But its manual-only shooting and rangefinder focusing preserve a style of taking photos that’s the polar opposite of, say, Google’s Magic Eraser.

(Image credit: Leica)

Some will argue that Leica’s M-series cameras are overpriced trophies for nostalgists, or badges of honor for wealthy camera snobs. But while it’s hard to disagree that the Leica M11 is overpriced at $8,995 / £7,500, it’s also possible to appreciate that it exists. I’ll probably only ever own quartz watches, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream of buying a hand-wound Tag Heuer Carrera.

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