Thumb Prints & Signatures - The Leica CM

Thumb Prints & Signatures - The Leica CM

The Leica CM is a compact point and shoot film camera built with a titanium body and houses a 40mm f2.4 Summarit lens. This lens encompasses the final design Leica made for the 40mm focal length. Even though this lens was built for the Leica CM, Leica took the design of the 40mm f2 Summicron-C and refined it into a sharp lens with modern characteristics. This camera succeeded the Leica Minilux and was produced from 2004-2006, making it a rare camera to find with such a limited production time. In order to compete against big names such as the Contax T2/T3 and Nikon 35ti, Leica had to redesign the Minilux which had a common ribbon cable issue and small viewfinder. The Leica CM resolved the Minilux error issue as well as added a larger viewfinder, more user-friendly LED screen, and simplified the body design which is inspired by M cameras at the time. Thus making this camera a compact M camera or CM in short.

This camera features a fully automatic setting, as well manual settings for your aperture and focus, letting users take control of the photo-making process. The LED screen allows you to control your settings all the way from self-timer to flash control. This camera also features TTL flash capability with external flashes. The ON/OFF switch is found on the underside of the camera, as opposed to other point-and-shoot cameras where it is typically found on the top plate. When powered off, the lens slides back into the body, making it fairly compact.

The camera is very easy to use, and the controls are intuitive. However, some things that got in the way while using the camera, was the auto sleep function which helps save battery life, and would not be too much of an issue if the shutter weren’t so sensitive. There were often times when I would try to wake up the camera which resulted in accidentally snapping a photo. Another scenario that happened often, was the potential of the focus dial to be easily knocked out of the autofocus position, this would happen when I would pull the camera out from my pocket or out of its case and resulted in some out of focus shots. This camera does not save any settings when it is powered off or when it sleeps, so I found myself having to constantly turn off the flash. Lastly, the start up time is pretty slow compared to other film point and shoot cameras, so I definitely recommend keeping the camera on and working around the auto sleep function.

The lens is really where this camera shines. As stated earlier, Leica took the optical design of the 40mm Summicron-C and updated the coatings and made it with modern glass which resulted in higher performance and a sharper signature similar to modern Leica lenses. The depth of field at f2.4 is pretty smooth and does a great job of isolating your subjects, while also having great color rendition. The only downside to this lens is that it was only produced for this camera. One of the downfalls of the premium film point and shoot market is that companies developed these amazing high performing lenses but for cameras that will inevitably break. The 40mm focal length has always been an unusual focal length for the Leica lens family, but if there were a way to rehouse this lens into a M-mount lens it would truly breathe new life into it and really push it to a limit we’ve never seen before.

Thank you to Underdog Film Lab in Oakland California for developing and scanning the film.

Leica CM Gallery

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