Leica's New M9 and X1 Continue Tradition of Excellence, Expense

If a Hummer died and came back as a camera, it would be a Leica -- for many reasons. First, they're built like tanks. Second, even the "small" ones are still huge. And, the most affordable ones are expensive. The just-announced M9 rangefinder and X1 compact are true to Leica form: they're both masterfully constructed cameras that are built to last. But at $7,000, the M9 should have a solid 24K gold shutter at the very least.

The M9 is the world's smallest full-frame system camera. But, as with all Leicas, its 100 percent metal (magnesium and brass) body doesn't make it the lightest; once you slap a lens on it morphs from "portable" to "brick." Its 18-megapixel sensor was specially designed by Kodak for the M9 and captures the full, 24 x 35mm frame. All 22 M-series lenses are, of course, compatible.

The M9 body comes in either an all-black or black-and-silver finishes and will be available for $7,000 this week. Wondering what else you can get for seven grand? That's one 65-inch HDTV, or an entire startup photo studio setup from B&H.

Leica also showed off the 12-megapixel X1 compact. The "beginner" camera in the lineup still allows for manual control of shutter speed, aperture, and focal distance, but adds an auto mode and a pop-up flash. The X1 will go on sale for $2,000 in December.

Oh, and we snapped a couple shots of the new(ish) S2 D-SLR, just for kicks. If you're curious about its price, let me put it this way: buy a car instead (it's $22,000).

Leica M9 1
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Leica M9 2
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Leica M9
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Leica M9
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Leica M9
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Leica X1 2
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Leica X1
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Leica S2
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Leica S2
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