Some new leaked images of the upcoming Leica M11 rangefinder camera appear to confirm it'll have what would be, for Leica fans at least, a polarizing new design tweak.
Leica's M-series cameras have a strong lineage that dates back to the 1950s, and their classic designs are so revered they almost have listed status. But some leaked images, picked up by Leica Rumors, suggest that the new M11 model will dispense with the camera's removable baseplate, which is considered to be one of the series' unique features.
This baseplate design stretches all the way back to the Leica M3 (the first M-series camera) in 1954. Rather than loading your film into the back of the camera, you'd slot it into the base of the M3 base underneath the removable plate. Even though the Leica M-series went digital with the Leica M8 in 2006, it retained this baseplate – which you had to remove to get access to the battery or memory card.
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But it seems that Leica has finally bowed to modern convenience with the upcoming Leica M11, which appears to follow a similar design to the Leica Q2 and Leica SL2. Both of those cameras instead have a more easily accessible flap for the SD card, and a nifty battery design that sits flush with the base of the camera.
Beyond this symbolic change, though, it appears most of the Leica M11's changes will be internal. Other rumors suggest that the focus button – which enables focus magnification – will be moved to the top of the camera, but the biggest change is likely to be the M11's sensor.
According to Leica Rumors, it will have a new 60MP full-frame sensor, which you'll be able to reduce to 50MP, 36MP or 15MP when shooting raw to keep file sizes manageable. That would be a big step up from the 40MP resolution offered by the Leica M10-R, a camera that arrived in July 2020 and is expected to be one of the few surviving members of the Leica M10 series (alongside the Leica M10 Monochrom).
This is because the Leica M10, M10P, and Leica M10D are all, according to the latest rumors, officially discontinued, even though it's still possible to buy them from retailers.
Analysis: Sensible tweaks that may upset diehards
In the digital age, Leica has long had to walk a tightrope with its M10 series between modernization and preserving its heritage. Buyers of Leica Ms see the cameras, rightfully in many ways, as classics whose formula isn't to be messed with. But if the Leica M11 does indeed remove the baseplate design, it would make a lot of sense from a practical point of view.
Even on the recent Leica M10-R, you have to remove the entire bottom plate to access the battery and SD card slot. One added benefit this plate brings is sealing for weather resistance, but the Leica M11 should still offer this with its new design, as we've seen previously on the likes of the Leica Q2.
Otherwise, the rumors suggest the Leica M11 will be another subtle step forward for the throwback series. It'll still be a full-frame rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses and a stripped-back shooting experience that revolves around simple dials for adjusting shutter speed, ISO and (via its manual-focus lenses) aperture.
According to rumors, Leica is expected to resist calls for it to include in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which would likely add bulk to the camera. But it is expected to add (gasp) USB-C support and a new optional Visoflex electronic viewfinder with OLED tech, for those who want a slightly more modern shooting experience.
With the expected addition of a 60MP sensor, we can also expect its price tag to go even further north of the Leica M10, which arrived for $6,495 / £5,599 / AU$9,699 in 2017. Yes, one thing that will always remain unchanged about Leica cameras, whatever happens to their designs, is that they'll forever be niche, collector's items that most of us can't afford.
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Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.