A Leica M10 Review
Through a recommendation, I was offered to have a crack at the leica m10 for several days before its official announcement. i probably spent more time ogling at the camera than making images with it. this is my personal account of the initial impressions of the camera. i am not sponsored by or obligated to leica to write this post. whiskey and insomnia were responsible.
the naming of the camera finally eliminated years of numerology confusion for me. i had the m7, m8, m9 and suddenly came the m240. i had to apply the logarithmic curve to predict how the germans might name the next camera, and the answer was m73494. thankfully, it is named m10.
Remember your first Leica? She was captivating and a sight to behold. She was like your first love. Then she got pregnant (m240) – still very lovely but chunky (with the video function). The Leica M10 is akin to the post-natal m240 – more elegant, simpler and slimmer. Yet she still retained that familiar charm and has matured beautifully.
The Leica M10 sheds 20 grams off her previous form, that is like 1 stone in human terms. She is thinner by around half a cm, that is akin to losing 3 sizes off the jeans. That said, all these enhancements might be superfluous for the leica collectors/connoisseurs vis-a-vis their heavy cognac leather bag loaded with chrome lenses.
What is important to me is that I felt the Leica M10 handled better than her digital ancestors.
The Leica M10 is the zen garden of the camera world. The number of operation buttons halved from 6 to 3. The menu screens were simplified. The underused video function has been retired. The M inscription vanished. Even the file sizes remained small.
I almost had the urge to break out in meditative yoga poses when I am near this camera. It was that tranquil.
It is so simple to navigate and use that I don’t need to refer to the manual. It was also because I wasn’t given one.
The viewfinder is amazing. period. I felt like a flightless superman with good vision. I am cancelling my lasik appointment.
like my waistline, my choice of lenses are getting wider. so this higher magnification viewfinder might not work towards my favour in the long run.
I mainly make black and white images and I have the leica monochrom (mm). so i am curious how the new leica m10 might be used for that purpose. i cranked the machine to use dng+jpg and use the monochrome filter and voila, i have the mm’s spirit in this new body. The Leica M10 is capable of seeing and producing monochrome photos but I will be still keeping my mm for a while.
My mate once quipped about a camera he had “the iso is so good i don’t need to change light bulbs anymore”. The leica M10 can operate up to iso 50,000. Fifty freaking thousand. I have this theory that Leica should price their m’s relative to the iso ability. The m240 is around usd 6,400. Fortunately, the new leica m10 will be priced with sanity.
I reckon I can use iso 20,000 comfortably with this camera, that is a massive 3 stop gain over the iso 3200 I currently use with my m240. Now I can make creepy photos at night.
There are some ongoing debates on what is usable iso. 20,000 isn’t going to smooth (for that you have the freaky meitu app). I can live with the noise and color shift at iso 20,000. your mileage will differ.
The following image is one example of high iso. I have not converted it to black and white but I would imagine it being decent.
A couple of quirks I experienced with the pre-production unit – several of my dng files were corrupted and cannot be imported into Lightroom. On two occasions, I could not switch between live-view and non live-view (powering off solved the issue, just like conversations with some of my apparent bosses).
The dials are a little stiff too. I wished I wouldn’t need to pull up the iso dial to change the settings.
and in case you are wondering, in true m legacy, the camera hung.
I would love the new camera to have in-built gps too.
I was excited when I first got the loaner Leica M10, mainly because the marketing people I picked the camera from are generally cute and this – wifi connectivity between the camera and my iphone. Finally, stealth shooting with the leica m series using the iphone and transfer of images. i commented during my leica q review I did some time back:
Now not only I look creepy, I have the technology to match.
Here’s the bummer.
The connection between the camera and the ios app is painfully slow – 25 seconds for the camera to become wifi-able, another 10-15 seconds for my iphone to connect with the camera wirelessly, 5 seconds to go through a 3-tap sequence to get the app to start interacting with the camera. that is a 45 second cycle to set this up. I remember the leica q wireless setup to be a lot speedier and less clunky.
If the camera goes into sleep mode, it is the same cycle all over again. occasionally, the camera asked for the same password again. i wonder if it because my password was “wifi2slow”.
I need this for street (or voyeurism, they are the same), i’m not shooting flowers or gross collection of rare antique lenses/cameras (i am sure no leica users buy equipment for that purpose, right?).
45 seconds is the download speed for a movie these days. I hope this might be improved significantly with firmware upgrade.
The layout of the app is simple and well-laid out. this is my 2nd most favorite app this week- the first is using the meitu app to make freaky androgynic photos of people.
The following images were edited from dng for exposure and down-sized for internet use. i chose leave the colors “as-is” for this post. a quick processing with vsco yields rather remarkable results.
For those who asked and were stuck in the eternal vortex of discussing m9 ccd versus m240 cmos, click here.