Leica has announced two new digital cameras, the M9 digital rangefinder camera and the X1 aimed a little lower in the market place.

The M9 is the world's first digital rangefinder camera with a full-frame 24 x 36mm sensor and is also said to be the world's smallest, which is kind of obvious.

With an 18-megapixel Kodak-made image sensor, apparently specifically designed and developed for the M9, Leica promises capture of the full 35mm film format "without any compromise" with existing Leica M lenses said to be compatible to their full performance.

The M9 also boasts a new, microprocessor-controlled, silent, metal-leaf, focal-plane shutter that enables shutter speeds of up to 1/4000 seconds.

Measuring 139 x 37 x 80mm, the M9 is described as compact and offers a robust, one-piece, full metal housing, made from a high-strength magnesium alloy, combined with a solid brass top and bottom plate.

As far as looks go, the M9 will be available in two different styles - a standard black with "vulkanit" finish, and a version in steel-grey with classic leatherette finish.

The Leica M9 will be available in the UK from 9 September 2009 at a suggested retail price of £4850.

The small X1, "set to become a future classic", gets a 12.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and an "all-purpose" LEICA ELMARIT 1:2.8/24 mm lens that's equivalent to a 35mm lens.

With a design "strongly reminiscent" of the "legendary" Leica M cameras, it gets an all-metal construction and leather trim.

As well as auto options, the X1 offers manual control options with aperture and shutter speed that can be set manually with the dials on the top plate of the camera.

Other features include up to ISO 3200, a 2.7-inch display, live view and a retractable flash.

The LEICA X1 will be available in the UK from January 2010 with pricing due to be available nearer to date of launch.