The rumors that Leica will introduce a new, mirrorless Leica camera this year are certainly intriguing. Instead of a conventional SLR viefinder, the camera will feature an electronic viewfinder, not unlike the Digilux 2. But the viewfinder will be substantially better in terms of resolution. In addition, the new camera will have interchangeable lenses.
That made me think of the Leica M cameras. Obviously one of the great features of these cameras is the rangefinder, one of the easiest manual focusing viewfinders ever made. But it is not without limitations. The framelines for various focal lengths are limited and several of the wide angle lenses have to be used with auxiliary finders. In addition, focusing accuracy cannot be assured with lenses longer than 135mm and close-up photography is very limited to say the least.
What if the camera could be equipped with an electronic viewfinder in addition to the rangefinder? It would eliminate the need for auxiliary viewfinders with all of the wide angle lenses. In addition, it would allow the use of lenses longer than 135mm. It would make the M camera as versatile as any DSLR camera while maintaining the advantages of a rangefinder.
Of course that brings up the problem of where to put the electronic finder. One possibility would be to add a designated second accessory shoe to the top of the camera with contacts to send the viewfinder information to a special, detachable electronic finder. But this would also add an appendix to the camera which is less than ideal.
The best scenario would be to incorporate the electronic finder to the existing rangefinder/viewfinder. I am quite familiar with the complexity of the Leica rangefinder. It would be incredibly difficult to find a way to accomplish that, but then, Leica engineers have done the seemingly impossible in the past.
The result would be an incredibly versatile camera with the compactness of the Leica M and the overall versatility of a DSLR. What’s not to like?