Leica M11 High ISO Noise Tests

The biggest new feature, and what excites me most about the Leica M11 is the 64ISO. To me this represents the cleanest, most detailed, best possible images available from the Leica M11’s new sensor. It also lets me use my fast F1.4 50/35/28mm Summilux lenses to their full extent and shoot wide open.

I wanted to test out the Leica M11’s performance at high ISOs but also see the difference between the lower and higher ISOs. So I’ve taken the same shot, using available light at F2.8 on the Leica 28mm Summilux once with every ISO available on the camera. On the Leica M11 there are 2 ways to set the ISO. the ISO dial on the left, but you can also program the selection ring on the right (just hold it in and choose ISO from the menu). Doing this opens up a lot more ISOs at the lower end, but also makes the higher ISOs right up to 50000 available.

If you’ve come here from the YouTube video, or you want to try out the DNGs for yourself, as promised:

Download High ISO Tests


This is an important point to make. That the Leica M11 is producing such clean high ISO images at 60 megapixels means it is such a versatile camera. At prints up to A2 size you can easily shoot at up to 16000 ISO and noise isn’t much of a worry. That and there is no noticeable difference from 64 to 800 ISO in terms of noise or detail.

My Observations

I cannot see any discernible difference between 64ISO and 800ISO on the Leica M11. It truly is that good. I remember back on my old Canon 400D in 2008 going past 400 ISO resulted in unusable images. And, to be honest the Leica M240 was never great past 1600 ISO. With the Leica M11 there is very little detail lost in the images between 64 ISO and 800 ISO.

Images are still very usable up to 6400 ISO which was never the case with the Leica M240, and was borderline with the M10. To me, there is no notable colour shift although some noise creeping in. I certainly wouldn’t have an issue with it if i was converting the image to black and white.

I’d use the 8000 to 16000 ISOs on the Leica M11 if I had to. But I am lucky to have some nice fast glass so likely won’t need to. The noise profile for these images is starting to become too visible for me, but maybe sampling some of these images down to the equivalent of 24 megapixels would hide it. This is an important point to make. That the Leica M11 is producing such clean high ISO images at 60 megapixels means it is such a versatile camera. At prints up to A2 size you can easily shoot at up to 16000 ISO and noise isn’t much of a worry. That and there is no noticeable difference from 64 to 800 ISO in terms of noise or detail.

And for fits and giggles, here are the 2500 to 50000 ISO images. To me, past 16000 ISO is where the Leica M11 is unusable. There are unwanted colour shifts caused by the noise coming in. But I will say, the 50000 ISO image has the noise profile of what an 8000 ISO image was like on an old Canon 5D Mk2. And to be frank, it is only a little more noisy than 6400 ISO from the Leica M240 from 2012, so the Leica M11 is truly a big leap forward in ISO performance.

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