Interview with Stefan Daniel at Photokina 2012 about the new Leica M and Leica ME

Stefan Daniel and Thorsten Overgaard lie down on the floor in Stefan Daniel's office at Photokina on September 19, 2012 and have a long exclusive chat about the new design of the Leica M, the Leica M-E, the new CMOS sensor that is not like any other CMOS sensors, the lack of AA filter, the new battery time, video recording, the EVF (Electronic Visioflex Finder) and stereo microphone, Jaguars, music, etc.

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  • Bryan Campbell

    Interesting interview

  • Joey

    Looks like Overgaard should invest in some dental work instead of buying Leica gear. The most boring interview on the planet.

    • fjfjjj

      Obvious American is Obvious

  • john ricard

    The content here is really good. It’s a shame the interview is so…creepy. Why exactly are they on the floor. It’s totally undignified? And why is the audio so crappy? A Tascam IM2 fits on to the iPhone and provides professional quality audio with no fuss. It should be part of any journalist’s kit if he knows he might be doing stuff on the fly.

    I was also bothered that no one bothered to flip the video so it wasn’t reversed. There are so many free editing programs out there and this takes only a couple of seconds to do. I’ll bet you could do it in Windows Movie Maker or iMovie without much trouble. It’s a shame to have reversed images of Leica’s latest products.

    So I commend Thorsten for the content of the interview since it answered a lot of questions that we all had about the new camera, but I really think a bit more effort should have been put into the presentation of that interview.

    • David

      From the way they’re looking back at the “camera” — self-consciously checking out their own images onscreen — it’s clear that this was made using the webcam on top of a laptop, not using a dedicated video camera or even a DSLR. Hence the subpar audio and video.

  • bidou

    Admin, What is this picture of Leica M with flat side on ad on top of LR ?

    • This is one of the press images I received I believe.

  • Daryl

    Great interview Thorsten, this was very informative and quite a challenge to watch reversed as I didn’t realize Leica will now make the new M in left eyed version. Thorsten is to be commended for the sheer volume of information he provided for those of us that could not be present at Photokina. Given the uniqueness of floor interviews, if the networks and others don’t pick up on this 21st century technique they’re missing a great opportunity. 🙂

  • boba

    Leica M-E got very uglie color. Absolutly rubbish color.

  • Banksie

    Are more people just overly cranky, mean, and angry these days? Or is it because on an anonymous forum they have no repercussions to personally face for being so cynical, gloomy, fatalistic, and dismissive of everything and everybody?

    • Daryl

      And this is one of the better days, you should see their comments on the bad days 🙂

    • David

      People have always been angry — as the saying goes, “twas ever thus”. The internet just serves as a magnet for the most frustrated and bitter personalities. And I suspect that the internet not only attracts unhappy people, but it compounds their unhappiness and self-loathing.

    • Nobody Special

      There do seem to be days like that in general lately, generally. As to Leica Rumors – I try not to pay a whole lot of attention. I try and go as far as constructive ideas can go without being nasty when directed to Leica. But now, Leica has really built a brand new M camera. Other than the finder mechanics – and even that isn’t quite the same without the older style/original frame lines – this is a completely new camera that comes close to fitting the M9 size.

      I wonder how many really can appreciate that and what was shoe-horned in to the body to satisfy quite a few criticisms and wants of the past M cameras while making what amounts to a positive step forward for the compay. I understand this and I have been less than happy with the whole R ‘solution’ unkept promises, but when a company comes out with a product that addresses major issues it shows they have listened.

      For Leica this is a forward and positive step. There are plenty of positives with the new M – and – the price is lower than the M9 pre-discount for a camera that does much more – AND – it can use nearly any Leica lens ever produced (possibly) from screw-mount to my favorites, the R lenses. It’s good news to me.

  • AB

    I actually liked the interview except for the poor sound quality.

    Overgaard must have went to school with Daniel or is a very good friend in order to get him to do the interview under the table.

    Is Maike Harberts still at Leica? We need more information on the new S. Why is the ISO performance still so low compared to the Canikon offerings? I know everything is pretty much the same as the S2, but why call it a new model when it is really just a slightly improved S2…………………

  • AB

    Oh, Maike Harberts now looks after the X2 product line and the responsibility for the S series has been given to Stephan Schulz.

    An interview with Herr Schulz perhaps?

  • Ian Johnson


    In the interview it stated that the M is fully waterproofed, does anyone know whether the M monochrome has the sme features

    • Nobody Special

      I’m guessing not, as the new M is a completely brand new camera with everything inside different (except the finder, mostly) including the chassis and the remaining M’s all have the same basic features and form factor. Too, Leica probably would have mentioned any weather sealing, etc., that would have fundamentally changed on the camera.

      • Ian Johnson

        Bit of an oversight then! Surely, there would have been some overlap in their development and it would have made sense to also weather proof the monochrome.

        • Nobody Special

          There are images on the web now that show the inside of the existing M chassis and the new (completely new and different) M chassis. While on the surface it may seem like a simple adaptation to weather sealling, it is of course, much more than that; machining new top cover nad bottom, etc., etc.

          The new M (can we just start calling the Mv? for video) internals take up half of the inside of the body, the rest is for the new battery, the whole camera was designed for all the features and changes. Which means the sealing has to be taken into account. Where as the M mono is the same old M digital chassis with different software programming and the sensor tech/size didn’t change. Little to change means little money spent and there is also the fact that it seperates the two into different lines.

          This time based on what they’ve decided to do – I don’t think there was any oversite – just deliberate direction to keep the M’s different.

  • Thank you for a great interview, Thorsten. Lot’s of new information not covered anywhere else yet.


    The film must be done on the reflect of a mirror.
    The viewfinder of the cameras seems to be on the right side and the shutter on the left side.

    That’s a stupid way to do an interview to present new models of expensive cameras.

    And the fact to lie on the floor is not an originality is just a lack of respect to everybody interested in those cameras.

    Shame on you guys .

    Mark : 0/10

  • Henry

    I owned Leica M cameras for a long time , but what they are presenting us now is really a big shame.
    Nobody who really liked an M style of shooting needs Live view or even a microphone on this kind of cameras. They really seem not to now on wich horse to bet.
    A total destuction of the M spirit!..
    All this by a ‘new dynamic management’ wich thinks they can manage both worlds in this body, scared to miss any profit by being more rigorous?
    Hopely Fuji or so will come quickly with a FF alternative, let’s wait a while.
    At least we will not be robbed like now.
    Ceo : Go please !

  • Thank you for the interview. I actually really enjoyed the rough and unfinished nature of it. Having the interview on the floor helped here. And yes it was mirrored, and yes the sound was bad and not in synch. But the cameras are not finished yet, the cards are still glued in. There is something about this video that feels as if it were a recording that was not actually made to be released to general public. So while many here think that they would prefer a properly produced video, I am sure that they will also be very unhappy with those shiny videos (and there will be many) in the future.

    The cameras look very interesting. I admire the courage to keep so much of the tradition alive, despite of the pressure of progress on features that might not matter in the long run.
    The commitment to quality is tangible. The commitment to longevity of the product is there. Many of the choices made by Leica actually make me like the company more.

    So many people here seem to be angry at the M-E camera, for example. I see it as a living organ donor for those who want to keep shooting with their M9 and M9-P cameras. Had Leica decided to not produce the M-E, we could have a serious concern that batteries and CCD boards for the M-9 would soon become harder and harder to find. This will now not be the case. As long as there are M-E cameras, new parts will be actually produced, and the technicians will know how to deal with them.

    As far as live view and video go. I think we should let the courageous photographers and movie makers decide if these are good features or not. I think the features will be embraced. I think we will see film footage that we will admire. I am actually looking forward to that.
    Those who hate the features, can simply chose to use the camera as if id did not have the features. And that’s quite impressive too.
    I shoot on film and I shoot with an M9. And I might not be able to shoot with the MP the way I shoot with the M9 sometimes, but I certainly can shoot with the M9 almost as if it were an MP. (As long as we don’t mention the exposure selector’s direction here.)

    I am glad that Leica engineers and designers spent time thinking about how their products will be perceived in the future. And not just in books and on photographs of the products. Instead as useable cameras still taking pictures. I wish there was more of that spirit in other companies. Many companies we might consider as leading in design, do not have Leica’s tradition and do not have the respect for long term use.
    Wish more companies had engineers and designers as careful, deliberate and thoughtful.
    Too many products we purchase today were designed mainly for the moment of purchase, not designed to deliberately survive and actually serve for many years to come.

    • Banksie

      Witold says: “So many people here seem to be angry at the M-E camera, for example. I see it as a living organ donor for those who want to keep shooting with their M9 and M9-P cameras. Had Leica decided to not produce the M-E, we could have a serious concern that batteries and CCD boards for the M-9 would soon become harder and harder to find. This will now not be the case. As long as there are M-E cameras, new parts will be actually produced, and the technicians will know how to deal with them.”

      In addition they were also being mindful not to anger existing M9/M9-P owners and especially those who recently bought the M9-P. They are basically saying that the traditional M9/M9-P idea is still very viable. And they are respecting the needs of their entire user base while still addressing the wants and desires of those users who do want more technology. They certainly understand their legacy in rangefinder photography and the whole concept of minimalism, but without compromising material quality and still trying to stay current with ever changing technology (like Porsche has chosen to try to do with their iconic 911.)

      The new M does represent what many Leica users have been asking for and Leica does definitely listen to their customers the majority of the time.

      Leica is somewhat like the ‘Apple’ of camera makers. They take industrial design as a serious component of their products. Not everyone may appreciate that, but it is part of their mission and so it’s also part of the expense and cost of doing business (and why the products are not inexpensive.) They are also very serious about photography as medium and their own place in the history of photography and optical design. Again, these things may not matter to everyone, but they are certainly part of the ‘Leica DNA.’

      You can include me as one who does appreciate industrial design and the desire of trying to achieve high standards. And I realize that it doesn’t come cheap (it’s the same with well built and well designed automobiles, too.) And I’m also happy to hear that Leica has now become privately owned and can concentrate on developing products without trying to appease shareholders. And yes, I realize that the Blackstone investors will want a return but they will leave decisions to Leica management as long as Leica remains profitable.

    • AB

      I totally agree with you.

      Guys, see the ME as a BMW budget 318i compact from a decade ago. A lot of people thought it was a travesty (myself included), but it did increase sales and brought many first time buyers to BMW. I suspect the Leica ME serves the same purpose. But time will tell if it works or not.

      Let the owners and users of the new M decide if LiveView and video have a place in a Leica rangefinder. I personally believe it is absolutely fantastic! One thing I cannot fathom is the rejection of the high definition LCD screen by older Leica users. Again, I think the 920,000 pixel LCD is absolutely necessary. The LCD on my M9 is just not good enough.

      I see the new M as a watershed model for Leica. It shows Leica is moving with the times and not just looking after the older Leica owners and users with antiquated cameras that do not compare favorably with the latest offerings from Japan. I have been saying this all along, I feared Leica was becoming the Jaguar of the photography world. That is, it’s product line-up was old and tired and the marque had great difficulties attracting new buyers. The new M has proved otherwise. But wait, Stefan Daniel’s favorite car is a Jaguar………………..

  • Nobody Special

    Over time, I’ll venture to guess that Leica will adopt many of the M improvements or upgrades to the new M cameras. The ME is a desire for there to be a ‘traditional’ basic M camera alongside the newer, higher tech, new featured M. It makes sense to have both for the obvious reasons that not everyone wants the new tech.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see weather sealing as a standard feature eventually – assuming a less featured M chassis/platform will eventually be adopted – but many, for example, want the feature of switching framelines manually to see framing options, so time as usual, will tell the tale. Choice is good, variety is even better.

    This may not be a good comparison, but remember, years ago in the later 70’s Leica showed the first working SLR autofocus – and decided not to build it. The M is a posiitve step forward, I gladly welcome it with open arms.

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