Leica Camera AG has announced two new rangefinder-style cameras; the M9 and the smaller X1.
The Leica M9
The Leica M9, the successor to the M8, is the first digital rangefinder camera with a full-frame 24x36mm sensor and is the smallest full-frame system camera available. The 18 megapixel CCD image sensor, specifically designed and developed for the M9 by Kodak, features a newly developed glass sensor cover designed to guarantee the suppression of the infrared portion of the light spectrum, avoiding the need to mount special UV/IR filters.
The M9 maintains the compact size of the M8, despite the considerably larger sensor. It has the usual outstanding Leica build quality, consisting of a one-piece, full metal housing, made from a high-strength magnesium alloy, combined with a solid brass top and bottom plate.
Like previous cameras in the M series, the M9 lacks a built-in flash but includes a flash hotshoe and a high contrast optical viewfinder. It has a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 second and a maximum ISO of 2500. It adds features that were not found in the M8 such as an ISO adjustment button, which the user can hold down while turning the dial to select the required setting, and exposure bracketing. The camera does not take movies. The M9 is compatible with almost all Leica M lenses built since 1954.
The M9 comes with Leica photo capture software and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2. It also comes with a battery charger and lithium ion battery.
The M9 is available in two different styles; standard black with ‘vulkanit' finish, and gray with a leatherette finish. It should be available shortly at a price, for the body only, of approximately $7000.
The Leica X1
The Leica X1 is equipped with a 12.2 megapixel CMOS sensor in APS-C format, similar to that of many DSLR cameras. The X1 comes with a non-interchangeable Leica Elmarit F2.8 24 mm prime lens.
The X1 contains manual exposure modes and also includes numerous automatic features such as autofocus and automatic exposure. Its maximum ISO is 3200. It has a built-in flash and a flash hot shoe. It has "live view" that enables images to be framed with the 2.7 inch LCD, but lacks a viewfinder. It does not have a movie mode.
The X1 is smaller and lighter in weight than the M9 but, like the M9, is a solidly built, all-metal camera with a leatherette finish.
The X1 is supplied with a battery charger and a high-performance battery and also includes Leica photo capture software and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.
The X1 should be available in December 2009 at a price of approximately $2000.
For additional information about the Leica M9 and X1, see Leica's website.