First impressions of the Leica M10

Strengthened by a renewed vision, Leica has been innovating lately to cater to the diversity of its clientele. One can now say that the traditionalists have the M262 (M-D) and the ones wishing for technical innovation have been wowed by the Leica SL and Typ 116 , Q.

The question soon to appear was: Will the M line (for Messsucher : Rangefinder) see its turn for a revision?

The newly launched Leica M10 seems to be the answer now, and its existence is clearly what happens when a company listens to its customers, and it is now THE Leica M model of the moment with its unique balance of heritage and technical innovation.

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Technical summary of key improvements of the M10 over the M-P (Typ 240)
(Comparisons are made against the M-P, for one reason: that’s the last newest and closest Leica M model)

1. Let’s get this straight, the M10 sports a newly designed 24MP sensor going up to ISO 50,000 (note: the M-P tops out at ISO6400 so this is noteworthy) In fact, with the M-P, I never shot above ISO3200, actually ISO1600 to be honest, and in the M10 this only means even better performance. The new sensor’s performance is further enhanced with a New Maestro V2 processor and bigger buffer.

2. The addition of an ISO dial at the top plate. (Exposure compensation can be mapped to the back top dial) Now I have ISO up top and EV comp at my thumb. What is now great is the user can configure exposure settings without switching on the camera, shutter speed: aperture: ISO are all now within reach without any need to delve into the menus.

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3. A new button layout that speaks minimalist and yeap, a slimmer profile which consists of shaving 0.13 inches (4 mm) off the depth of the camera (compared to Typ 240) so that the M10’s exactly the same as the film-based M7’s 1.3 inches (33.8 mm).

There is now no DEL button and video capabilities, but well, that’s nothing much of a bummer to me.

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4. What’s a rangefinder innovation without any improvements to the VF? The M10’s VF is now improved significantly over the Typ240’s with a larger magnification and of course, the much touted 50% larger eye clearance for users wearing glasses.

5. Yes, the M10 now has WiFi and can be used with the Leica app for iOS and Android. And to top it off, (I was surprised) , we can use the EVF from the T. One thing to note, its still slightly laggy but usable.

my Personal Usage experience:

The first that comes to mind for most rangefinder users will be the improved Viewfinder, for the users who use the M in the traditional way, the 2 key words you need to know are Clearer and Brighter. I wear glasses and even the frame-lines were easily viewable.

The fact that the frame-lines are now significantly brighter starts the experience off very well, and this made even better with increase of magnification to 0.73x from the 0.68x of the Typ240, the larger eye-relief also adds considerable comfort to anyone wearing glasses.

Why did I mention ‘use the M in the traditional way’ in the first paragraph? The reason is due to the improvements in the M10, one can now use the M system in a more modern way (such as shooting from the hip) and that’s by focusing through the LCD.

Mad? No, in fact this is one method any self-respected photographer should learn and should be glad now that the M is capable in doing so. The improved live view, coupled with clear red focus lines in magnified view now works in tandem wonderfully in helping one capture the shot in moments where you don’t want the subject to know you are aiming a camera at them.

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Of course I confess there will be die-hards who will say shooting this way is blasphemy since they have invested in a rangefinder system. My answer is : “To get a shot , I can let go the pride and ego and instead be proud that this camera now can allow me an alternative way to capture the moment.”

That ISO knob? The way it is built intrigues me, you have to pull it upwards to adjust it and this designs also solves the prob of accidentally knocking ISO values off pulling the camera out of the bag.

Build wise, as all M cameras goes, the M10 is immaculately well built. The further simplified design is lovely (I never missed the DEL button by the way) and I am sure it helped me conserve battery life by chimping less and focusing on shooting instead. I appreciate the smaller build now. The solid heft is still there and frankly even with all the big hoo-haa about it being way smaller than the Typ 240 I will say its lighter, but not as much as some websites rave about.

The menu is as Leica goes, simple and easy to navigate – which is a good thing to have. There’s a new Favorites Tab and this will be useful to those who bother to set it up.

In all, the M10 was a lovely experience to shoot with, and a very significant upgrade from the M-P. It feels like how the Typ240 should have been constructed all along.

In a nutshell, the M10 feels like Ver 1.00 where the Typ 240 felt like Ver 0.80.

Just a few standard points I always share when writing reviews and before moving into the photo samples part:

1. Thanks to the great team under Mr Sunil and Mr Lee of Leica Asia Pacific, I was loaned a set of M10 and a Summilux-M 1:1.4/35 ASPH for the review. The set has been returned to Leica Asia Pacific and I did not receive any form of remuneration for this review.

2. Photo shared were edited from DNG according to the intent and vision I had wanted to present the particular moment.

3. I’m not a professional photographer, and I don’t have any intentions to be one for I won’t survive, hence images were shot with a vision of capturing everyday moments and showing the capability of the M10.

4. I had one intent in mind for this review, to show how a Leica digital Rangefinder can perform up to par with a auto-focus system if one is willing to learn and practice for starters and to show how much the Leica M line has progressed since the last time I handled the Typ 240.

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Focus Points: there’s one for everyone’s palate.
ISO100, 1/250s

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Lines I Love
ISO100 , 1/750s

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I love using the 35mm focal length for portraits
ISO200, 1/60s

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Obies: a light source that causes a specular highlight in a subject’s eye
ISO100, 1/60s

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Everyone’s a Photographer
ISO100, 1/750s

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Dream ( Singaporean )
ISO100, 1/100s

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obligatory low light with balls shot. 
ISO200, 1/45s

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Don’t forget architecture
ISO100

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my Little Star
ISO200, 1/30s

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Moment of Details in a splash: Symphony of Nature
ISO100, 1/100s

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Bubbles Fun / Always
ISO100, 1/125s

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Peek-a-Booooo
ISO100, 1/1000s

in Summary
The M10 is a testament of Leica’s strength in maintaining a delicate balance between technical innovation and heritage, moving its most valued and most note-worthy M line delicately ahead in progress. You know there’s no rush to catch up with a 18fps or a even a tilt-LCD as Leica exists in their own time too.

A question I get a lot is should one swop the Typ240 for the M10, my take is not necessarily. The M10 does sport numerous improvements over the Typ240 but Leica is a camera maker that focuses more on the process of image making then technological innovations, The Typ240 is still a capable and good camera , just that the M10 has now moved from being good to close to being excellent. However if you are moving from a M8/M9, yes, this is worth it and don’t waste your time pondering.

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As always, a Leica M won’t be suitable for everyone, but for those who value the feel of handling a rangefinder boosted with the technological conveniences available, the M10 now stands ready and is an excellent choice to consider.

As we all know the construction is built solid as all M bodies do. However a point I wish to note is within the 1 plus week of having the review set, I had accidentally lost the Viewfinder rubber piece without even noticing it, which was a tad disappointing. Potential M10 owners should take note of this handling their cameras as over the last year I tested at least 4 cameras, all top end ones and had none which I lost a part.

Lastly, it is important to note that a rangefinder works very differently from the typical auto focus systems we have become so acquainted with. There’s a learning curve involved and I see this as an opportunity to chill, sit back and enjoy the process of creating an image more.

thank you for taking the time to read my sharing.

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