The Leica M7 introduces auto-exposure in aperture priority mode: the user sets the aperture on the lens manually, and the camera will choose a shutter speed. Full manual is also available. The shutter is electronically controlled, but speeds of 1/60th and 1/125th of a second can be used with purely mechanical means, making the camera usable without batteries. Like the M6 TTL, the M7 features an "off" position on the shutter speed dial (the electronics of the M6 Classic can be switched off by setting the dial to the B position). The shutter release is redesigned, with several distinct levels of pressure. The first detent locks the exposure reading; the shutter fires after the second detent. The M7 is also the first Leica to support DX encoding, using the dial that has been on the back of Leica cameras since the M3. Originally used simply as a reminder of the sensitivity of the film, and then as a setting coupled to the lightmeter starting with the M6, the dial now controls exposure compensation on the M7.
The M7 features viewfinders with magnifications 0.58, 0.72 (28mm) and 0.85 (35mm). The viewfinder optics are multicoated to reduce flare.
Leica Camera AG, a German optics company, manufactures Leica cameras. The predecessor of the company, formerly known as Ernst Leitz GmbH, is now three companies: Leica Camera AG, Leica Geosystems AG, and Leica Microsystems GmbH, which manufacture cameras, geosurvey equipment, and microscopes, respectively. Leica Microsystems AG owns the Leica brand and licences the sister companies to use it.