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Leica M: Compact clicker

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The new Leica M combines heritage and high-quality technology in a package brimming with cachet.

For decades, the Leica brand has evoked a sense of sober professionalism in the increasingly populist activity that is photography. Now that everyone seems to have a lens in their back pockets, the century-old German company is doubling down on its heritage by emphasizing quality.

The new Leica M, announced this week, drops the model number of its predecessors -- now recalling the intelligence chief of Ian Fleming's James Bond series -- but keeps the digital, full-frame, 35-millimeter rangefinder that photographers enjoy. An all-new 24-megapixel image sensor adds high-resolution video recording to the camera's signature snaps, and a "live view" mode offers a modern alternative to the viewfinder.

Not that you'd let anyone see you using it. You wouldn't want to ruin the vintage-chic appearance that comes with using the same camera model as Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The Leica M is available today from the company's namesake stores located in various global cities, including London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo and Washington, D.C.; it's also available through a number of authorized retailers. $6,950 in the U.S., £5,100 in the U.K.

Photo: Leica

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure