My Leica M10 Experience by Howard Shooter

My Leica M10 Experience

by Howard Shooter

Well I’ve been a slightly obsessive Leicaphile since the Leica M9 rangefinder. The M9 was cranky and slow but the picture quality was undeniably beautiful. The M240 was a brick of a camera and I struggled to fall in love with the colour and subtlety of the imagery… and now we have the M10. It is getting rave reviews already as it’s as svelt as the M film cameras, and paired down to only the most basic operations which I much prefer. I never took video with the M240 for example.

I believe the M10 is the real deal…. the sensor, which has been specifically made for this camera and this camera only is somewhere in the middle of the M9 and M240 in looks. It is subtle and has huge dynamic range but the colours seem more punchy from the get go. Things are looking good.

So here we are once again in my favourite haunt, the beautiful fishing town of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England. It’s about 7.00am and it’s pretty bloomin cold; I’m in five layers of clothing and nice and cosy, my Leica M10 on the other hand is feeling the freeze and the brass top and bottom plate after an hours use feels like a block of ice.

So I decided to shoot a few sunset boat shots as they might be cliche but they are irresistible…. and then I thought I’d walk back after the sun had risen to shoot some early morning light shots.


and then it happened… after an hours use the camera, feeling as cold as I’ve known a camera, just packed up. The SD card became non readable, the thumb wheel became stiff and beautifully engineered camera from Germany became as useful as a brick.

I know it’s the cold and the camera is thawing out (not literally), but I am a little disappointed. My iPhone does this as well in the cold but I was a little surprised as my other two M’s didn’t suffer the same indignity….

Watch this space to see how Leica respond. Assuming this normal behaviour in sub zero temperatures, the camera is spectacular, but I’m left feeling a little frustrated to say the least.


  1. …I am in a quandary over the M10. I have a M246 monochrom and a M240. I see some very attractive “upgrades” from the M240 to the M10, such as the larger viewfinder, the reduction and simplification of control buttons on the rear of the M10 body, the larger rear screen with slightly better resolution, the revised sensor AND the omission of video capability (a very welcome omission IMHO – like so many other M users, it seems, I have never used this function so why pay for it?) Just something else to go wrong. My quandary? Do I upgrade from the M240 to the M10? Not just yet, I have decided. With new firmware promised within the next few days and Leica’s history of M-P mid-life upgrades, I have decided not to pay Leica for the privilege of becoming another of their guinea pigs!

    Beats me why Leica cannot figure out and pre-empt the obvious points of possible faults BEFORE (and, as usual, belatedly) bringing new cameras to the market….having said all that, I share Steve Huff’s general enthusiasm for and appreciation of most of Leica’s products and I generally seek out his reviews before anyone else’s. I also respect his views and I cannot begin to accuse him of being biased towards Leica – read, for example, his reviews on the OMD EM1 Mk 2. I think that I would rather be guided by him than, for example, Ken Rockwell, on the issue of the new M10.

  2. I think we are all different in our quest for gear.
    Some are very loyal to a brand,
    some are stuck with their investment on a system,
    some love new technologies with tons of features,
    some love simple basic photography a-s-iso-ev (hope they add a fast manual wb dial),
    some just love everything
    Some love the experience rf, slr, tlr etc
    Many more
    It seems everyone just cant stop complaining. Stop whining it is the greatest time for photography in any generation. We are lucky to be here at this moment. Enjoy the ride.

    As for me Im starting to love digital coming from film and Im way behind using the M9. It is the first time in 2.5 years that I will go to Italy wo film gear only M9 and as backup my wife’s sony rx100m3.

    Tell you guys these 2 cameras is enough for any use. But Im now selling gear to fund leica lens and maybe an M10.
    This is how it is. We are gear whores. And we are lucky to spend time with our current passion photography which should be the end goal to snap that moment in time hoping that future generations will see and appreciate history unfolding.

  3. Nice images. The image quality from the M10 is better than older M’s imho. I like the B/W images, they look like fine grain film to me, with digital high iso ability. Nice tonality to the shots but you have to be an M fan to pay the high cost of entry. Kevin Raber also has a good review on ‘Luminous Landscape’ though you’ll have to subscribe to view it (very cheap)!

  4. The article does not say whether the failure to shoot was caused by the M10, the memory card or the battery. Everyone is just assuming it was the camera and that may not be the case.

    Computers and other electronic devices are negatively affected by extremes of heat and cold; the M10 is no different. When shooting in sub zero temperatures, a film M camera is probably a better choice.

  5. Hello, I’ve got oner of the first M10’s in Germany and went on travel for a weekend right from my dealer with my new M10 and a halfway charged battery. Flight into Siberian cold. Minus 10 – minus 23 degrees. The only thing I had to face coming back from outside was the time of the camera’s acclimatisation sitting on the chimney. Outside I had it in my bag or in my hand with gloves. It was not close to my body. Of course the battery became a bit weaker outside – recovering inside. But nothing else happened.
    I would completely rely on the M10 in the cold now.
    Howard’s experience is a pity but seems to be an exception and an issue for the customer service.

      • Hi, You are right – of course I’d say the camera didn’t reach that temperature itself. -23 was the maximum – maybe one hour. The camera changed from bag into my hand and hanging round my neck. To be honest – I didn’t test all this deliberately. It was just observation afterwards – max. two hours in -10 or more. And just thought by myself: oh – the camera did fine job and had no problems.

      • Hell Jean Gabriel again – now on your Site I see – you probably need far more carefully testing. Compliments! I adore your work!

        • Thanks Lik!
          Yes photography in cold conditions is a part of my life. I’ve been up to 99 days on the polar sea pulling a sledge to make pictures and eventually cross most of the Polar Sea via the North Pole. In cold conditions I gat through all kinds of equipment. M6 tend to brake the film below -40°C, so I used Contax G2 with external power; M9 wasn’t reliable below -20°C because of it’s batteries. I had to always keep them warm and therefor couldn’t shoot long time in a row. I built an external power solution for it but by -35°C even with the battery close to my body it wasn’t always running normally. At the South Pole I ended up shooting more than I wished with my RX100…the small Sony saved my assignement. M240 did very good for me at the North Pole during a 2 weeks expedition and for some bellow -25°C ice climbing days in Norway. I never even had to use the battery laying close to my body.
          I’m longing to hear more about the M10 behavior in the cold.
          Thanks for your infos.
          JG Leynaud

  6. Dear Howard,
    Thanks for your comments and your pictures.
    Could you by any chance try to use the M10 in the cold again and figure out when it stops working and which temperature stops it? Did you run the new firmware? Did you try different batteries (also cold ones, one coming out of the pocket will always work for a while)?
    I was on my way to buy one but I often work in extreme cold places so I’m afraid I have to stick to the M240 which behave wonderfully even at the North Pole. This sort of battery problems happened to me at the South Pole with the M9, they sort it out for the M240 so why the hell didn’t they use the same kind of products in their new batteries???
    JG Leynaud

  7. Maybe its me but I don’t see the appeal of Leica files. At least these ones. I have seen much more life in files of the new Sonys or Fujis.

    • I have to agree with you.I have no experience with the M10 ( for obvious reasons) but never enjoyed my M9 files after changing from Nikon. Does not seem the M10 is much better, although the slimmer design is nice. Don´t know why they didn’t´t do it years ago.Now with Fuji and provided you use the right software the files are superb, and at a quarter of the price!!

      • Definitely Steve’s pictures of A7sii are much more magnificent than any of M10 I have seen ! I am in fact thinking of selling my A7ii to get an A7sii 🙂

  8. Great things await to those who are patient and willing to wait. Just hoping the price don’t go up! Will build my lens collection first. After a year, we will know if M10 is a worthy upgrade.
    But so confuse 50 lux or 50 noct? Hate heavy but surely not a dslr here or even an emount.

  9. Hopefully these frustrations can be cleared up very quickly.

    The images given here are delightful to inspect in large size. I tend to work at the other end of the temperature spectrum. But regardless of temperature, these images are desirable.


  10. Hi, thanks for your comments as always… my Leica went back to normal pretty quickly after it got back to room temperature and I checked the card out and all is fine. Leica Mayfair have been fantastic as ever saying that if the new firmware does’t fix it they will replace the camera immediately… As soon as I’ve tried the camera out in cold conditions again I’ll happily give everyone an update.

    I didn’t want to write loads of text on this camera as Steve’s done a brilliant job on the analysis and I think the photos in real life situations are always a better indication of a cameras potential. The point was I would’ve tested the camera for longer had it not frozen out. By the way, the files on the M10 are subtle and display the full dynamic range in the same positive way the M240 does but where as some people missed the pop of the M9 the M10 seems to have reached an excellent balance between the two. If you want to see more M10 photos shot the day after then feel free to check out my little blog.

    Watch this space…

  11. Interesting post I would be concerned living in a very cold climate.

    I have been shooting with a M9, M240 and the M10 (no cold issues where I live) and very much looking at the file output from all three and comparing.

    My conclusion is that they are all great cameras, the M9 with natural light and low ISO still is hard to beat for IQ, the M240 with lenses like Zeiss 1.5 and the new Summarit 2.4 range or if you can afford Cron 50 apo can be magic. And then the M10 which is so impressive (just taking a little while to get used to the color rendering especially the reds) anyway all wonderful M cameras,

    By the way none one will ever beat the M3 but that is another story. Cheers

  12. “beautifully engineered camera from Germany became as useful as a brick.” I feel really sad about this. It is absolutely unbelievable. Looking forward to the reply from Leica.

  13. Hi Steve,
    If you’re a first time owner of a Leica. Would you recommend a M240 vs M10? Is The M10 that much better to pay for full and skip out the used M240. M240 for half the price used.

    • Well, half price for a 240 is a great great buy. I love the 240, always have. Much more than the M9. Ask yourself if you ever need or use ISO above 3200. If so, go M10. If not, M 240 is just as beautiful.

    • Interested in this also… I have owned the Q for 6 months now and love it to death. But I want another Leica… can’t decide between m10 or a mint condition m240 I can pick up for 3000 in LA.

      • Well if coming from a Q, Id save the $3500 and try out the m 240. It’s a fantastic camera and if you have never owned an M (not sure if you have or not) then I’d suggest going M 240 to make sure you like the experience. if not you could sell at a minimal or no loss.

  14. Hi Howard! My Leica M3 is likewise “subtile and has huge dynamic range.” Plus, it cost $175. It will easily outlast the M10.

    Short question: why should I dream of spending so much more for the M10?


    • Not everyone wants to pay for and shoot film which is much less versatile than digital. With digital we have 100 films built in – color or mono. With digital we are not limited in frames or ISO or choice of film type. With digital we can get much smoother files and print larger. Many advantages, but one can also get those advantages with an M240 or a Sony A7II.

      • Digital does not have 100 of films built in… it’s not film, it’s digital. Lots of advantages of film over digital as well but not going into that debate.

        • Coming from film much of the past 2.5 years I think I woke up one day and found it cumbersome. I love it and gots lot of collection.

          I need to have a life photographing not processing. I hope I can move forward though. My first trip wo a film camera. Let us see.

    • I’ve been shooting digitally for years and in my opinion although film looks lovely and prints beautifully, if you want digital files, once you’ve scanned film it never looks as good as a pure digital file… thanks for your comments.

  15. I am having issues as well with the SD card. I purchased a bunch of new cards to test and all the same issue. Leica advised me that a new firmware is coming next week, which they hope fixes the issue.

    I am pretty upset about this. =(

    • I have had zero issues with mine, mechanically or memory card issues. None. BUT, usually with Leica there are some reports of this with a launch. I think the SL was pretty solid though. I have tried 5 brands of SD, all work fine for me. Sounds like you have an issue with the body, I would exchange with the dealer.

      • Thanks Steve, Leica assured me that exchanging the body wont help. They advised that they know about the issue and are working to resolve. Hopefully firmware fixes this.

        • Well, I can not replicate this issue, tried last night with several SD card brands. I have had no issues so it can not be a real issue on all bodies unless you are using some really old or possibly really NEW SD cards. What SD cards have you tried? I used Sandisk, Sony, Lexar and Kingston of various speeds and age with no issues so far. Hope I do not see any!

          • Brand new SanDisk SDXC 64GB 300mb/s, older SanDisk SDXC 64GB 95mb/s, SanDisk SDHC 16GB 45mb/s, SanDisk SDHC 16GB 80mb/s, SanDisk SDHC 8GB 40mb/s.

            Have not had a chance to do much shooting today, so will keep at it and see what happens. Hopefully firmware gets released for next week.

    • Reading all these issues here about being with the M10 in minus temperatures – SD-card, thumb wheel, battery etc. – again – I had none of these being in minus 15 degrees on average for about two hours twice a day…
      So was I the lucky exception…?

    • Well, I think a complaint is silly considering this is a free website, and you can choose to read or not read. It’s his experience with his M10, so just as advertised. Thank you.

      • Well it’s a very one-dimensional experience if it only consist of “it gets stuck in the cold”. Would be nice to hear some of his other impressions.

        • Leica has created for itself an image of status and desirability, like a Rolex watch.I have both and my Rolex is less accurate than my Seiko. Leica digital has been plagued by poor quality control for years, I don`t need to repeat some of the sad stories. At the price you would expect a perfect camera. So much for their image.

  16. This is actually a nice story, encompassing hope and despair. You lead us one direction by proclaiming the M10 is the “real deal.” Then you abruptly end the story with the camera freezing, comparing the M10 with an iPhone, and finally waiting in the cold for Leica to respond. Maybe you can write a screen play and sell the movie rights?

    All in good fun. 🙂 I do think the dual nature of the story catches one’s attention!

    Oh, and some nice photos, too!

    • It wasn’t a battery issue as the camera was still on, it just wasn’t letting me shoot i.e. the error messages were coming on and the information screen just showed no card in the camera even when there was one….
      Fingers crossed the firmware will fix it. Most early adopters know they are part guinea pig when it comes to first firmware implementation. Shame though.

  17. Very irreverent, no doubt, but I would say: get yourself a Pentax for the winter! Judging by these well-caught photos, you would get some very satisfying images out of it. And go on enjoying the magnificent M10 when it’s above freezing ! So nice to see Aldburgh again.

    • If a comparison is to be assumed, in context I think it would be to the M9 and M240. But the statement could as easily stand as an observation of the M10’s qualities without necessarily being a comparison.

    • Oh come on, Frank. You know he means other Leica cameras. Sony is way way way better with dynamic range. No comparison with Sony on dynamic range. Even the RX100 Mk IV has better DR.

      There are many flaws with the new Leica M10. But I thought Steve does not want anything negative to be said about Leica. But since the end of the story has the M10 lockup, maybe Steve is allowing some truth to be told about Leica.

      Steve would not allow my negative comments about the Leica SL either.
      I have had my M10 for five days. I passed on the first one the day after release because it was black and I really wanted silver.

      Problems are:

      The virtual keyboard de-activates when trying to log on to a WiFi network. If you have the M10 start up it’s own network it works fine.

      The exposure metering icon does not change no matter what the setting is.

      The battery life is 25% worse than the M240. (Not a big deal.)

      There is still white balance issues. But only sometimes. (Pinks seem way too purple.)

      Jpegs have trouble when rendering overexposed areas. (But much better than the SL.)

      Leica made the ISO dial so stiff to lift up and adjust, it’s almost useless.

      Leica applies a lot more software perspective correction to lenses like the APO 50 and the Noctilux. (Funny, I always thought those were pretty good without perspective correction.)

      The BEST thing about the M10 is that in Live View it remembers where you placed the movable magnification area. (Until you turn off the camera.) The SL is STILL not capable of this.

      Steve, will you allow photographers who receive the Fujifilm GFX to post samples on your site? It is only $500 more than the M10.

      Also a big thank you Steve for allowing the lockup story here. The only way to make Leica better is to bring it to their attention when they make a mistake.

      • The RX100 MK IV ir V does not in any way have better DR than the M10, or M 240. That is an untruth. The weakness of the RX100 series is the DR. You have many other untruths here which is showing your bias against Leica 😉 But so far, Id say 98% of M10 users are in love with their cameras. That’s where one should go to see unbiased reports. Go to the M10 group on Facebook, has over 1200 users now and they all LOVE their new M10. ISO dial too stuff? Takes about an hour to learn how to use it and lift it correctly. When you figure it out it is EASY as can be. I am finding battery life to be around 15% less than the M 240. My entire review was done on one battery that still had 60% left. My own M10, now in my hands for almost two weeks, still on the same charge, meaning I have not had to charge it yet. As for AWB, its much better than my Sony A7RII AWB and leagues better than my M 240 AWB but no AWB is ever perfect in all lighting situations. As for me not allowing negative comments, UNTRUE, I just do not allow trolls, drama, attacks, smack talk or baiting. Which you must have done in the past. I do not tolerate anger, attitude, trash talk, know it alls, or those who have an agenda against any camera brand to make comments that are not true or made to start trouble. Been like that for years.

        • Good to hear that myself and others can disagree with you and still post replies. I still don’t find the DR of the M240 and SL good. I’ve had great results with all Sony cameras including RX100.

          I’m not biased toward any camera company. I’m not anti Leica. Why would I buy all of there FF cameras if I was against Leica?

          I’m just trying to help promote your site with early first hand knowledge of the M10. Like I tried to do with the SL. My opinion is just my opinion, Sometimes is sounds harsher than it really is.

          I’ve also written my letter to Wetzlar yesterday after they asked for my views of the M10.

        • *As for me not allowing negative comments, UNTRUE*

          Completely agree. I have posted a few negative comments about M10. Steve hasn’t blocked them. He has always respected other views but not malicious comments. Thanks Steve.

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