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Leica M11-P First Impressions
And last call for my Capture One Pro contest!
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The easiest way to think of the Leica M11-P is to consider it as a director’s cut of the nearly two-year old, Leica M11. If the assignment was to take this iconic piece and tastefully nudge it toward something more timeless, it would be the M11-P. Now, there’s one major upgrade added to this camera that won’t be seeing it’s way to the M11 or M11 Monochrom but before we get to that, let’s talk about design changes to this camera.
Like most P models, the Leica logo is replaced with an unbranded screw for this cleaner design and on the black version, it just makes for a stealthier profile. The viewfinder also has a dark chrome trim, similar to the M11 Monochrom. Looking at the top, you have this engraved Leica script that sits there to almost—and look, these are just my own words—celebrate the brand. It feels like an artist signing their painting. On the back, users can expect an upgrade to sapphire glass for the rear LCD that all but eliminates the need for a screen protector.
The black model has an aluminum top plate as opposed to the brass you’d find in the silver model. What’s interesting is that this also has a scratch resistant black finish that feels a little different than the standard Leica M11. This may just be the paint on mine wearing down over the years into something slightly smoother but my first guess would be that the paint on this black M11-P has a bit more scratch resistance.
Alright, we’ve now covered the changes on the outside, let’s look at the upgrades on the inside.
The Leica M11 really popularized the idea of offering internal storage with modern digital cameras. Here on the M11-P we see an upgrade from 64gb to 256gb. A decent bump but let’s talk about a feature that will be misunderstood by many.
The Leica M11-P is the first camera in the world that will give users the ability to securely encrypt the entire metadata of their images through the Content Authenticity Initiative.
Okay, what the f*ck does that mean?
Over the years you had many companies, from tech to publishing, come together and develop a secure way to authenticate an image. Companies like Adobe, Associated Press, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and yes, even Leica, all came together to address misinformation with digital content. The result is this CAI platform.
Again, what does this really mean?
It means that this camera has a secure chipset and when you turn on the feature, the unique certificate and key on each camera will digitally sign the image to prove that this camera captured an image with its respective settings. You can then upload this file to a specific site to validate the metadata. Now, what if you edit the image? That’s where it gets interesting. All the changes are tracked and you can see the changes made to the images’ metadata as well.
Turning this feature on will impact the continuous shooting performance of the camera but for the most part, its pretty seamless. You activate it when you want and now your images carry this digital record that can’t be tampered with. As far as I understand, this is not like an NFT where each file is entirely unique; if you make a copy of the file, the copy will have all the same secure information as well. But this is something that I think professionals will appreciate.
Specifically, if you work in journalism, documentary, or even fine art, you now have a powerful tool to validate the authenticity of your work. And in a world of AI, spoofing, and—pardon my French—shady motherf*ckers, it’s a feature that I think more users would welcome than not.
So, those are all the changes and upgrades to the Leica M11-P but let’s not forget about the other key features that this camera inherits from the original M11. You have that same triple-resolution, full frame sensor than can capture at 60, 36, and 18 megapixels. The Maestro III processor is the same, allowing for continuous shooting up to 4.5FPS. The ISO ranges from 64 to 50,000 natively. Flash sync is a capable 1/180. And the nearly 3” rear display has 2.3M dots and touch functionality incase you wanna take a break from range… finding.
Look, specs are great but what can the photographer expect? Well, I’ve made two lengthy videos talking about the Leica M11 and it’s impact on my photography. In short, it quickly became the best photo camera I’ve ever owned. The small profile, modern sensor, and infamous glass all come together to create remarkable images. Images that not only rival other flagships, but even some medium-format offerings. Add to this all the small but powerful upgrades that modernize this camera—like a brand new battery that will let you shoot for days at a time—and you have something that really gets out of the way to keep you creating.
In my one-year retrospective of the Leica M11, I shared some clear words on what this tool has done for my journey.
“This camera has over-delivered for me where the glass, the results, and the experience have all come together to raise the ceiling for what I could do as a photographer.”
And just months ahead of its second anniversary, there’s now an alternative option that is quite objectively better.
Maybe I’ll find some time to do a full review of this camera in the future but in the interim, let me try to qualify this camera a little bit.
Let’s say you’ve made up your mind and you wanna add a Leica M11 to your kit. You truly believe that this camera will bring a ton of value to your work. Should you spend more for the Leica M11-P?
If you find yourself in documentary, journalism, or fine art, I think it’s seriously worth considering. You have a handful of upgrades like the sapphire glass and 256gb storage that make the product more robust but the inclusion of a secure chipset—at least in my experience from navigating this journey as a photographer—provides a substantial way to add more value to your files.
I feel like it’s like having some more insurance to your digital content where you hope you never need to, but because of how the technology is built and implemented, it should withstand the scrutiny of a courtroom. And sure, while it’s something that’s only available on a luxury imaging tool right now, for the M photographer that’s out there putting in the work, I think it’s worth being excited about.
Each month, I run a contest for the Church & Street community and try to feature something that I think people will appreciate.
For October, I’ll be giving away a one-year subscription to Capture One Pro. Yes, an entire year of Capture One Pro on me! This is the image editor that I’ve relied on for years and the one I recommend for regular photographers.
How am I picking the winner? All you have to do is be a member of this community and leave a comment on this post. As with every contest, I’ll be randomly picking one person, confirming they meet the requirements and then contacting them directly before announcing the winner publicly.
Once again, this contest is void where prohibited by law. Good luck!
Last weekend I was in Utah working on a special project. This weekend I’ll be an LA for a meeting. And next week I start another photo adventure across India. What this all means is that I have some really exciting stories to sharing over the next few months. If you’ve enjoyed what this community has offered so far, I can’t wait for you to enjoy the stories I have planned soon. But that’s enough for this week.
See ya next time!
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