"This is my camera. There are many like it, but this one is mine". I was recently watching a YouTube channel that I really love, created by Eduardo Pavez Goye (see it HERE) where he shares the sad story of the death of his Leica M8 and he un-recommends buying it. While I agree with him that the Leica M8 is a bit too old and early in the development to recommend buying, I do believe that it is worth telling of my own experience with the Leica ME.
I bought this camera in 2016 used in London. The camera was made in 2015 and had 200 shutter actuations. The M240 had been out for a long time and the M10 was coming out. So this was three generations back, and was designed around 2009 technology. All very good reasons to pass it by. But I liked my film Leica and wanted to give digital a try. So I bought it without any plans of upgrading.
The wonderful thing about the ME is that it is basic. Nothing fancy just a digital camera with aperture priority as the most advanced function. The bad is that the camera is slow and can only take memory cards up to 32GB. It is built like a tank and the LCD screen is about as useful as a hole in the head.
But here is the thing, I LOVE to shoot this camera. I have more "keepers" then I get with my Nikon D800. The system is smaller so it makes it easy to carry. It is a silent camera so I can run around all day without drawing too much attention. The high ISO performance is roughly the same as film, so it does not match modern digital cameras, but I love film so the limitation is normal for me.
I did indeed buy the Leica M10, this was a 20th wedding anniversary gift from my wife. I love the M10 however it is a massive investment and I would not have done it without a wedding anniversary as an excuse. The ME gives me 18mp compared the the M10 24mp (roughly the same). The only improvement on the M10 is the ISO performance and the ability to transfer images via WIFI. Aside from that they function the same way.
So as I travel to the rough an tumble streets of Buenos Aires, going to shoot in high crime locations, I do not want to risk the M10. I will risk my trusty ME, and I love the images it delivers. Slap on a 7Artisan 35mm lens and you have a trusty companion that can outshoot most photographers.
Would I recommend this camera? Yes. Here is why. This camera was built around 2009 technology and I still love it. On Nikon you would have had four or five generations of cameras out by now and the desire to upgrade is there. I do not develop a relationship with digital SLR, they are consumable. The Leica is not. So if you like the Leica feel, then this camera will serve you well with one warning, get one with a new sensor to reduce the corrosion risk.
Do you run risks with older digital technology? Yes. A solid film camera is a better investment. But if you want digital then you are buying into this risk. So a brand new Nikon, Sony, Cannon or Fuji will set you back a similar amount of money, will wind up in the trash in three years time (or sold for peanuts) while the ME should still be relevant and shooting great images. If you do not care for the Leica "feel" then by all means spend your money on something else. There are a great deal of good quality, technologically advanced cameras out there.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.