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Leica introduces a cheaper, cut-down M rangefinder camera

'Cheaper' is relative, of course

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Leica has announced the M (Type 262), a more affordable version of its M (Type 240) rangefinder camera. It's more or less the same as the M from 2012, with a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor and optical viewfinder that helps you focus manually, but it's missing a couple of the Typ 240's biggest features: there's no live view and no video recording functionality.

To be clear, a large chunk of Leica's audience won't care in the slightest about these losses — the Typ 240 was the first Leica M to include the features in the first place, and the line has always prioritized pure photography through an optical viewfinder. But neither feature is difficult to implement on any camera with a digital sensor, so the removal feels somewhat arbitrary. Leica does, however, say that the lack of video and live view has at least helped clean up the menu system.

Elsewhere, the M saves about 100g in weight by using aluminum instead of brass for its top plate, and there are a few other slight aesthetic tweaks like a smaller red-dot logo. And one new feature that's likely to appeal to Leica's devoted demographic of street photographers is a shutter that the company describes as "hardly audible," guaranteeing "maximum discreetness."

The Typ 262 body will sell for $5,195, making it the new entry-level M; it comes in at about $250 less than 2012's M-E, which was essentially a refreshed version of the M9 that the Typ 240 replaced. We're still not talking affordable for regular humans, then, but it's certainly less than the $6,950 Typ 240 — and the stripped-down Typ 262 could find an audience among purists who find modern digital features to be a distasteful incursion on the Leica brand.

Leica M (Typ 262) images