Leica launching new Leica M in early 2013, stripped-down M-E available this month

Do you need a stylish, undoubtedly expensive German camera early in 2013? Perhaps right now? Leica's got you covered on both fronts, announcing today that its Leica M line is finally getting an official followup to the venerable M9 rangefinder in "early 2013." The new M is outfitted with the company's first 24-megapixel (full-frame, naturally) Leica Max CMOS image sensor (à la the A99 and D600) -- what Leica calls "a completely new development in sensor technology." That sensor will snag you a sensitivity range of IS0 200 to 6,400 (expandable to 100). Even more exciting, this latest M can mount Leica's legacy R glass (!) with a new adapter (available separately) and it can also shoot video in 1080p HD with 24 / 25p frame rate. While it retains the classic M-series styling, rear now features a 3-inch 920k-dot display, protected behind a layer of Gorilla glass. Leica's also making special note to highlight that the new M features live view functionality on the embedded screen and with an optional EVF.

The M-E model (which appears to be a refresh of sorts on the M9) comes paired with a slightly less-potent 18-megapixel full-frame CCD sensor. Beyond that, it doesn't appear to pack any video functionality and features a much smaller 2.5-inch 230k-dot display. Neither model comes with any additional numbers in their titles title, however -- that's a conscious decision on Leica's part to rework its naming policy. "In [the] future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the enduring and long-term significance of the respective systems," the announcement says. We're calling it "The iPad 3 approach."

The cameras were revealed along with a slew of new products that Leica's showing during Germany's Photokina convention, including a range of new accessories (the Leica R-Adapter M, the Leica EVF2 electronic viewfinder, the multifunctional handgrip-M with optional finger loops, and the Leica Microphone adapter set). Although there's no word on pricing for the new M, we'd expect it to sell for somewhere between a cool 7 to 10K given the $5,450 price of the M-E and the approximately $7,000 sticker tag on the M9 -- hey, at least both snag you the prestige of the red dot and a pro-bono copy of Adobe Lightroom. The M-E will be be available from Leica dealers before the month's out, while the M will ship out early next year -- both in your choice of black or black / silver. In the meantime, hit up the source link below for the full tech specs on both shooters.

Joe Pollicino contributed to this post.

Leica launching new Leica M in 'early 2013,' Leica ME out now