A Sony shooters perspective on the Leica M10.  By Edgar Corona

A Sony shooters perspective on the Leica M10. 

By Edgar Corona – His Instagram is HERE

I’ve shot on the Sony A7rIII since December of last year. I primarily bought it for both my professional work in food photography and my passion for street photography. While it excelled in my professional work I never fully fell in love with using it as a street camera but it was more than capable with anything I threw at it.

At times it felt like I was battling all of its features, menus, and options. Eye autofocus, amazing for portraiture, useless for the street. 425 focus points? Amazing for event photography, I felt like it slowed me down in the streets. An EVF that displays all the information you’ll ever need before even clicking the shutter? Amazing for product photography, a bit distracting for street. Yes the Sony features sound amazing on paper and they entirely are for professional work that requires these features to make life easier, but for street photography, I felt like it just bogged me down.

First two images from the Sony A7RIII

Those 425 focus points? I’d still mainly use the center. The wide, zone, center, expandable flex spot, and the various focusing methods mainly went unused because it still wasn’t as reliable as focusing and recomposing. The EVF as amazing as it is (and believe me, it is godsend when it comes to professional work) often took me out of the moment because you don’t actually see what’s in front of you, you’re seeing pixels that are interpreting it, on top of that, there is always a layer of latency because you see an LCD with live view of what’s in front of you, compared to the Leica’s optical viewfinder that allows a lag-free, crystal clear picture of what is in front of you, with the added benefit of frame lines that would enable you to see what is coming in to your frame.

Sony A7RIII

Now one of the solutions I tried to mainly shoot with manual lenses on the A7rIII and yes this helped because it took me back to that patient, methodical, and planned shooting that I appreciate when it comes to manual focusing rather than the pray and spray method of shooting anything that moves when you have autofocus. This was a half measure because I felt like I could never fully tell if something was in focus or not, with this came using aids such as magnification and peaking, which again are extremely useful (mainly for wide open shooting) but still where another thing I felt I had to battle when I was out and about.

The Leica M10

Don’t get me wrong, the Leica M10 is far from a perfect camera. First of all, it is costly for what you get. The metering system still isn’t as sophisticated as it’s counterparts. I do find being able to see my exposure in real time through the EVF extremely useful, no matter the type of photography you do. No weather sealing is a bummer considering shooting in the rain and snow make for absolutely beautiful street photos. The battery life doesn’t hold a candle to the Sony Z-series batteries. The list goes on and on, but what it does offer is a camera that inspires, is exceptionally compact, and most of all a pure joy to use. And while I know for a fact I can get a great photo regardless of the camera I’m using, when you aren’t fighting with it and inspired by it, it sure makes life a lot easier.

Leica M10

So if I had to choose just one camera to use for both street and professional work which would it be? *drum roll* the A7rIII for sure. While I battle the Sony in the street I would be fighting the Leica in the studio. All if the rIII’s automated features are endlessly useful in professional work, and let’s not forget macro photography (or close focusing for the matter) is more work on a Leica body. Is it impossible? No, but it takes more time which is crucial in a practical setting. At the end of the day I am fortunate enough to be able to use both, and while the A7riii has my brain, the M10 has my heart.

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34 Comments

  1. Very nice photos, Edgar. I wish I had at least one of my Leicas. But, I will eventually buy another one. 😉 There is no camera like it.

    Of course, I like other brands, too, such as Sony and Olympus. I can’t wait to try the Micro 4/3 system. Very different to the M. 🙂

  2. Shooting film might be a good way to savor the full old-school experience and the look, for a lot less money. (Except maybe if you shoot like Gary Winogrand, popping frames by the hundreds of thousands. Then a digital Leica might be a real money saver.) :o)

  3. Perhaps what makes Leica really special are the lenses. I have used some of the premier lenses from Pentax and Zeiss, but my Leica lenses are the ones that put a smile on my face.

    • For me it is more about the bodies. I actually use and prefer the newer Voigtlander lenses when I shoot with an M10 or even SL. I find the prices Leica are asking these days for their lenses are not justified as Voigtlander is now 85%-90% of Leica quality for 1/4 the cost or less.

      • Agree completely. The Leica lenses I have bought I made sure to buy used because if not I’d just go voigtlander

      • So I have a question if you are saying it is all about bodies and Voitlander lenses.

        What about Sony bodies and Voitlander lenses? I am not asking about usability or the “soul” of the camera. Just the character of the lens and end product of image (no pixel peeping just from an artistic side)

        I have a Sony full frame camera and have been interested in Voitlanders offerings.

        • They will work good from 35-75mm focal length. Wider angles will have corner smearing. Ive used Leica M and Voigtlander M glass on Sony bodies for years though you will get better quality when used on an M or SL.

  4. Nice pics from the OP. Sounds like what the author needs is a Leica SL…best of both worlds. The EVF is superior to the Sony, M lenses perform better and the user experience is much simplified from the Sony. Sure, you give up a bit of resolution but for someone who never crops (like myself), 24Mp is usually more then adequate.

    Occasionally I miss my M240, with certain lenses like my 35mm 1.4 ZM it is simply magic. That said, the rangefinder is a pain in the butt for longer focal lengths and useless for UWA. If you can only afford one camera (which is my case) the SL is a much better bet then an M240/M10.

  5. “while the A7riii has my brain, the M10 has my heart.” says it all. While people like their modern cameras, they love their Leica. Love makes us blind. One does not need a reason to love Leica. Any arguments that a Leica is a better camera are weak ones.
    If someday, I bought a Leica, I probably will start arguing Leica is special.

  6. Great article Edgar! Spot on about the A7RIII, I couldn’t be happier with mine but shooting my M5 is just a totally different experience.

  7. Funny, I went from a Leica M240 to a Sony AR73, after a few years of frustration with my Leica system. I found the Leica to be slower, less reliable and the results to be less consistent. Auto focusing, regardless of the type, is a godsend after using the Leica with its sometimes difficult to use rangefinder, particularly in low light. Leica has created this mystique that less is more, but I found that less was much less and limited the quality of the results. Oh yes, I ended up selling my Leica system and buying a Sony system for half the price.

  8. Having reached my seventh decade of life, I’ve run through the gamut of camera systems from pinhole to digital but I heartily agree that simpler IS better. I’ve owned and used four different Sony digital cameras and cannot stand their menu setup. After recently returning from a trip to Germany to see an older friend (in his eighties) who lent me his Leica M9 to use for the week I was there, I bought an M10 and also love it with all my heart. As a predominantly landscape photographer I do miss the reach of my longer Nikon lenses but I certainly do not miss the weight and complexity of that system.

    • Less IS indeed more, in so many ways. Ask these new cameras pump in things for marketing hype, making us think we need them to get a good image, the Leica proves this to be false every time. Funny as I was shooting the Nikon Z6 last night, shooting a concert in a venue I have shot with the Leica M10-D and Canon EOS-R, both of which did amazing there. The Z6 with its IBIS failed me and reminded me why I much prefer a camera without it. The AF was slow and missed where the Canon was instant. Half of my shots were no good (and I have been shooting shows for many years) with the Nikon. The shooting experience, the quality and the ease of use when shooting concerts, for me, goes to Leica without question. Once one learns how to get the most from it, it can be a beautiful thing.

        • Not sure I understand. I have been using the Z6 and posted a video on it yesterday. It’s nice, but A: I prefer my EOS-R (and state why in the video) and also much prefer a Leica to any of the three full frame mirrorless cameras, for photography (not video).

  9. Spot-on analysis about the M10.
    Reminds me of my friend who drives around in a new all-wheel drive, 450+ HP, 8-speed automatic transmission BMW M4 he uses for everyday driving.
    When he’s going out to drive for pleasure?
    A 24 year-old Porsche, 5-speed manual transmission, crank-up windows and 1/3 the horsepower.

    • Completely agree. In fact, I use an M9P with a 50 Lux for nearly everything. I drive a nice sedan for everyday but my heart is always afire when I drive my 35 year-old air-cooled twin spark Carrera.

  10. I think you do an excellent, and concise, job in describing the salient differences between the Sony and the Leica. Most photographers will who shoot with a Leica and another mirrorless (me included) will share your pain on this one. And as much as I like that zen-like feeling everyone describes when using a Leica M, at the end of the day what matters is getting the shot, especially if we are talking about making a living off those photos. Those limitations you mention about the Leica M10 are becoming more pronounced each day as technology advances. There is so much Leica can do cosmetically to the line while leaving the user base without weather sealing, an optical viewfinder that doesn’t work adequately with any of their lenses outside the 28-50mm range, and with slow operation reminiscent of the Vietnam era. Those Leica M’s certainly went, in the market out there, from being a camera of choice to being the 2nd camera photographer use sometimes, and primarily when a job is not on the line. Exceptions? Yes, but in an ever decreasing number.

    • Completely agree! The leica will remain my travel, street camera. As much as i love it when push comes to shove the Sony pays the bills.

  11. Beautiful. I like in particular the woman with the umbrella, a classic street image. Personally, I also prefer (a bit more vintage) rangefinders for street shooting, because nothing distracts one from simply shooting in a flow.

  12. Love the photos, but can I ask a silly question… as I too have an a7r iii and can turn off the evf info, use a single focus point etc to simplify the experience, combined with a manual focus lens (I use old M42 mount ones) wouldn’t this overcome the majority, if not all, of your negatives for the a7r iii (bar the emotional connection, and the ability to see beyond the frame) – just wondering if I’m missing something

    • I can chime in here on this. I have used Sony cameras for years with older manual lenses. Leica M mount mostly. It enhances the experience for sure over using big AF lenses but it’s still far and away different in many ways over an M and even a Leica SL (still in my top fave 3 cameras of all time). The M is about the feel, the simplicity, the beauty, the way you take the photograph and align the rangefinder. It’s about the unique color signature, the way the images have something unique about them when you take the time to process the RAW files. It’s about the small thin size, the lack of bloated features we do not need and the super simple menus. It’s carry, aim, focus, shoot instead of “which focus mode should I use here” or “is my IBIS on”? or shooting at 10 FPS (which we also do not really need, unless you are a sports pro, even then…really not). It’s about getting one shot, and doing it in a way that is natural. When you shoot with an M for a while you can see the focal length in your mind. You see the shot without using the camera, before you use it and shoot it. You start seeing with your fave focal length and for me, when I use Leica’s long term it truly inspires me, and makes me better at finding and getting the image. A Sony, Nikon or Canon can not even begin to get close to that experience. Some will not like a Leica as it’s harder at first. It’s different. It’s odd using a RF. But once you learn it, learn the files, and start to learn the weaknesses you can use those to grow. To me, all of this new tech in cameras is killing the actual art of photography. Too many today worry about these features, think they need them, and camera companies love this. Marketing is at an all time high yet all the while there sits one camera that doesn’t cave into this madness and stays true to what it is. It’s the Leica M and it’s a beautiful thing. With that said, I do not own one right now due to funds. I have a Canon EOS-R and Nikon Z6 here but miss the Leica as I always do when I do not have one here. It’s the only camera that doesn’t bore me. I love my Canon but use it for video mostly. The Nikon to me is good but not WOW. In any case I have used the m professional and would again.

      • Hey Steve and Edgar.
        I can very much understand and appreciate what you’re writing. The first 15 years of my shooting, I used range finders. After that I went to SLR’s for professional use and have now ended up with Sony. But I have always longed for simplicity, so I only use MF prime lenses and simply don’t use (almost all of) those modern features. A few years back, I obtained an M9, as a part of a business deal. I had never wanted to pay that kind of money out of my “camera budget”. At that time it had been my dream camera for some years. But honestly, I was disappointed. As much as I was excited to have the RF experience again, I immediately missed the EVF and the flipping display for low and high shooting. So I quickly sold the Leica and never regretted it ever since. But (!) I have programmed my Sony in a way that I (almost) never have to use the menu and can have an experience as basic as possible, because indeed, I find this to improve my photography. My ideal would be a stripped Sony A7 series, with those essential new features like EVF, but without all those whistles and bells that only serve marketing purposes. More over, I still love the Leica design and IQ.
        BTW Edgar, I find your pictures VERRRRRY beautiful. Great work. Love them!

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