Leica M11, First Two Impressions

A More Dynamic Range

Josh Rose
10 min readMay 3, 2022

BTS still. Photo by Josh S. Rose, 2022. Leica M11, 50m Summilux.

The main thing I like in a photograph is dynamic range. For this reason, I put myself on the wait list for the new Leica M11 and was at the store the day they called me to tell me it was in. It’s pricey, and I had to trade in a good amount of gear to even get close to being able to afford it. Even as a Leica Akademie instructor, I got no breaks.

I don’t often get a new camera anymore. I used to chase gear quite a bit, but that was born out of all the compromises that surrounded digital photography. Always trying to outgun the systemic issues of low resolution, cropped sensors, speed and user experience. My reference is film, as that is where my journey began, so as soon as I had a few cameras with dynamic range as good as a 35mm film stock, I felt I had reached the zenith of digital cameras, and I stopped chasing. Those cameras were the Nikon D850 and the Leica M — I’ve had the Typ 240, M10 and M10P. All superb. All only just shy of that “film look.”

Everyone knows why one would want the D850. It’s for images like these:

Swim meet. Photo by Josh S. Rose, 2022. Nikon D850 with 70–200m and 2x magnifier.

Even if you don’t shoot sports, it’s the idea that it performs well for that genre that makes it reliable for every other. And it not only captures that image, but gives you so much to work with in post, bringing up the shadows and working with the color — a product of very high resolution and a backside illuminated sensor, increasing the dynamic range to just about best-in-class.

Less people understand why one would want to get a Leica M, but for me it’s generally for images like this:

“The Shepherd, Romania, 2016.” Photo by Josh S. Rose. Leica M Typ 240, with 21m Super Elmar.

Photojournalism, documentary, travel and editorial — this is the mainstay of the Leica M. And assuming you live in the minority and like manual focus and smaller apertures, as I do, then the M is really the only choice. Fortunately, it is a very good choice, with its dedication to beautifully-crafted and well-rated prime lenses. The Leica M stands alone in its class and is…

Josh Rose

Filmmaker, photographer, artist and writer. Writing about creator life and observations on culture. Tips very very much appreciated: https://ko-fi.com/joshsrose

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