Leica M10

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Leica M10

Leica M10 Review

Leica M10 is a refreshingly unusual company in the modern camera industry – weird, wonderful, gleefully anachronistic but never, ever, boring. As such, Leica is one of those companies that I’ve always enjoyed writing about.

In fact, the very first camera that I ever reviewed right at the beginning of my career was a Leica.  I forget the exact model, but it wasn’t particularly good.

I’m not immune to the ‘Leica effect’ myself. I owned and used an M3 for years, and wildly impractical as it was . I’ve always regretted selling it. It’s not easy – and that’s the point.

The M10 is also very slightly lighter than the Typ 240, too.  More noticeable is the addition (finally) of a control point on the upper left of the camera’s body.  I don’t know why this has always bothered me, but it has. The cameras always felt like they were missing something.

Gone is the multi-position switch that also gave all-too easy access to continuous and self-timer modes, and good riddance. Say goodbye to accidental self-timer shots – those modes are now accessed through the camera’s menu.

And then there’s the viewfinder. The end result is a viewfinder that feels larger and clearer than any previous digital M-series camera, and  comes close to the famously immersive finder of the M3.

The viewfinder frame-lines preview lever was omitted on the Typ 240/262, but has been reintroduced on the M10. You might never use it (I don’t) but it looks nice.

The M10’s slimmer body has necessitated a smaller battery (8.2Wh compared to 13.2Wh in the Typ 240). The M10’s CIPA rating is a modest ~210 shots but Leica claims at least twice this figure in ‘normal’ use, and quotes a rating of ~500 shots when the camera is used in optical (rangefinder) mode.

On the rear of the M10, Leica has simplified things quite a bit. With half the number of buttons as the Typ 240 (live view, playback and menu), the rear of the M10 looks far less cluttered than its predecessor. The dedicated ISO dial takes care of the need for an ISO button, and the ‘Menu’ button now works overtime. On first press it brings up a slimmed-down, customizable ‘Favorites’ menu, which only contains your most often-changed functions, and on a second press it activates the full menu. In playback mode, pressing ‘menu’ brings up a contextual menu overlay for image deletion or rating, negating the need for the old ‘delete’ button. The middle button on the 4-way controller effectively replaces the old ‘Set’ button, too.

Live view might seem like something of an anachronism on a camera modeled after a mid 20th Century rangefinder, but it’s very useful for candid shooting and waist-level compositions, as well as anything requiring critical framing. It also unlocks two of the M10’s three metering modes – spot and ‘multi-field’, both of which provide greater versatility than the conventional center-weighted metering used in normal rangefinder shooting.

During my shooting I’ve used live view at least as much as the optical finder, and I’ve come to really appreciate the experience of shooting with the M10 using the (optional) Visoflex Typ 020 EVF. Unlike the Typ 240’s companion finder, the $545 Visoflex Typ 020 offers decent resolution (2.36 million dots) and an eye sensor, which saves time and provides a surprisingly intuitive shooting experience. It also has a GPS module built-in.

 

I mentioned earlier that I tend to keep manual ISO dials locked to ‘A’. Some Leica users will cry foul at this, but I’m primarily an aperture-priority shooter, and I enjoy the luxury of only having to worry about one exposure variable. Also, I’m lazy. But this only works if the Auto ISO setting is actually useful. Fortunately, Leica’s automatic ISO system works very well.

Of course, the X/FL modes rely on the M10 knowing the focal length of whatever lens you’re using.  Auto ISO works in manual exposure mode, as well as aperture priority.

This is better than previous M-series digital models, but prehistoric when compared to a modern DSLR. Speaking of which, a battery life rating of 200 or so shots isn’t great.  With this in mind, keeping a spare battery handy is probably a good idea.

It’s a bit daft, but you get used to it. As with the Typ 240, the tripod socket is attached to the camera’s chassis, not to the plate.  It’s all about the magic.

Leica M10

Body type
Body type Rangefinder-style mirrorless
Sensor
Max resolution 5952 x 3992
Other resolutions 5952 x 3968 (JPEG, 24MP), 4256 x 2932 (12MP), 2976 x 1984 (6MP)
Image ratio w:h 3:2
Effective pixels 24 megapixels
Sensor size Full frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
Processor Maestro II
Image
ISO Auto, 100-50000
White balance presets 8
Custom white balance Yes
Image stabilization No
Uncompressed format RAW
Optics & Focus
Manual focus Yes
Lens mount Leica M
Focal length multiplier 1×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fixed
Screen size 3
Screen dots 1,036,800
Touch screen No
Screen type TFT LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type Optical (rangefinder)
Viewfinder coverage 100%
Viewfinder magnification 0.73×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 8 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/4000 sec
Aperture priority Yes
Shutter priority Yes
Manual exposure mode Yes
Subject / scene modes No
Built-in flash No
External flash Yes
Continuous drive 5.0 fps
Self-timer Yes (2 or 12 secs)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing ±3 (3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)
Videography features
Microphone None
Speaker None
Storage
Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC
Connectivity
HDMI No
Microphone port No
Headphone port No
Wireless Built-In
Remote control Yes (via cable trigger)
Physical
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description BP-SCL5 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 210
Weight (inc. batteries) 660 g (1.46 lb / 23.28 oz)
Dimensions 139 x 39 x 80 mm (5.47 x 1.54 x 3.15)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Timelapse recording Yes
GPS Optional
GPS notes via optional Visoflex EVF

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