There’s a photography term called “chimping” that describes the habit of taking a picture and then immediately going, “Oh, oh, oh,” like a chimp, while reviewing it on the camera’s LCD screen. Don’t do this. If you’re ogling the display, you might miss the next important shot. But it’s a hard habit to break, which is why we’re thankful for Leica’s new, LCD-less $6,000 digital M-D.
That’s right. Leica wants you to pony up six Gs for a digital camera that has no review screen. It gets better. The camera doesn’t shoot video or JPEGs (only RAW), and it has no fancy controls beyond basics like shutter speed and aperture. Much like Sean Connery placing a typewriter in front of Rob Brown’s character in Finding Forrester and yelling, “Punch the keys, for God’s sake!” Leica seems to be telling the user to just take the damn picture.
We love it.
While fancy functions like image stabilization are useful in some situations, it’s great to see a company making a camera that puts the art of picture making first. Of course, you will need some basic skills to use the thing. You’ll need to be familiar with ISO, and you’ll need to know how shutter speed and the lens aperture work together. It’s definitely a film-style approach, except the M-D allows you to pull the SD card and plug it into a computer instead of laboring in a darkroom. As Leica puts it, “[The M-D] brings back the joy of anticipation of waiting to see how our pictures turned out.”
With some trial and error, the pictures will likely come out beautifully. Under the hood, the camera has some very nice bits, like a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor that records DNG files, an ISO range of 200 to 6400, and a max shutter speed of 1/4000th.
That $6,000 price tag is for the body only, so we can’t imagine Leica selling many of these cameras, and we certainly wouldn’t recommend one to most people. But if you’re an old-school purist, you should be very, very tempted.