Leica has today unveiled the eagerly awaited digital version of its legendary M-mount rangefinder camera – a 10.3-million-pixel model that will be called the M8.

Though shrouded in secrecy for weeks, Leica gave AP an exclusive hands-on preview of the M8 at a briefing in central London last month.

Full details of this historic launch appear in an exclusive news report published in this week?s issue of AP.

The M8 will be available in silver and black versions at a projected body-only price of £2,990 ? a price that was yet to be confirmed at the time of writing. It is due out in the UK at the end of November.

Comparing it to the film-based M7, Leica says: ?The discreet appearance of the camera and its timeless elegance, particularly prized by many customers, are retained.?

Viewed side by side and face on, the M8 looks very similar to the M7. Obvious differences to the M7 include the absence of a wind-on lever and rewind crank. The battery and SD card are housed under the bottom cover.

Leica claims that the M8 inherits ?all the key characteristics of the analogue Leica reporter?s camera?. It adds that features such as ?compact design, exceptional picture quality in conjunction with Leica M lenses and unique picture composition using the Leica viewfinder have been seamlessly carried over into the digital world?.

It is possible for ?virtually all? Leica?s M-mount lenses to be ?retrofitted? for use on the M8, according to the company.

To coincide with the launch, Leica has revealed a 28mm Elmarit-M f/2.8 ASPH ?standard? lens and a Tri Elmar-M f/4 ASPH optic that carries 16mm, 18mm and 21mm focal lengths. Both lenses are designed for use on film and digital M-mount cameras.