Leica M10: Film Meets Digital
Leica announced the launch of their latest digital rangefinder camera – the Leica M10.
Available at Leica dealer stores since January 19th, 2017 the Leica M10 is designed around a new 24-megapixel sensor.
The new Leica has a redesigned frame, and the new digital rangefinder promises to be “the perfect balance of long-established traditions and technical innovation.”
The M10 Sensor
A newly developed full-frame 24 megapixel CMOS beats as the heart of the Leica M10. The sensor does not have an optical low-pass filter. The absence of an OLPF means the camera is capable of making sharper captures than traditional OLPF equipped sensors. The large sensor is capable of recording fine JPEGs and RAW frames of the size 5976 x 3992 pixels.
The M10 does have a newish processor to go with the newly developed sensor. This is the ‘Maestro II’ processor, and we have previously seen that in the Leica SL. It has 2 GB buffer memory which gives it extended continuous shooting speeds.
Continuous shooting speed of the M10 is five fps for a maximum of 30 RAW frames. Alternatively, you choose to shoot in JPEG and capture a maximum of 100 JPEG files in one burst. Though continuous shooting speed isn’t something that is ideal for fast action, the extended buffer capacity means you can grab as many frames as necessary to get at least one sharp frame in everyday shooting situations.
Auto-Focusing with the Leica M10
There is no auto-focusing. The M10 focuses entirely manually. That, however, can be both fun and a nuisance depending on the type of photographer you are. If you always had a lot of fun working with manual cameras and manual focusing systems, this is something you would enjoy immensely. Quite the contrary if your entire photography career has been based on auto-focusing systems.
Native ISO sensitivity of the camera is 100 – 6400. However, it can be extended up to 50,000. Not much is known at this point as to how effective the sensor’s noise handling capabilities are at high ISO.
The Leica M10 does not have video recording options.
Built-in Wi-Fi is probably the only ‘modern’ need that has been granted by Leica in this camera. Other than that there is no USB port. Meaning you can’t simply plug a USB cable and download the images to your computer.
If you own an iPhone, the Leica M App allows you to transfer RAW images in DNG format straight to your iPhone for further processing. This feature is available for iOs versions 10.2 and onwards.
The wireless feature does something else. It gives you the ability to control your Leica M10 remotely using a compatible smartphone or tab and shoot images with it.
The optical viewfinder of a rangefinder is the point of synergy where human element touches the machine components. Compared to previous Leica M cameras the viewfinder of the M10 has a 30% larger real estate. Previous cameras had a magnification of 0.68x. The M10 has a magnification of 0.73x.
However, the Leica M10 comes with an option to attach an external electronic viewfinder. An external electronic viewfinder gives the live-view feed of what the sensor sees. In a way that's more accurate regarding exposure and framing.
Rear LCD Screen
The 3″ 1.04 million dot rear LCD screen of the camera is made of Corning Gorilla glass, which gives the LCD screen ultimate strength against scratches and knocks. The LCD provides 100% frame coverage.
Leica M10: Construction
The M10 carries forward the traditions laid down by older analog rangefinders. There are a lot more manual options to work with than the previous digital rangefinders in the series.
There is a new dedicated ISO dial, along with the shutter dial and the options to choose the aperture and focusing distance.
When the camera is off, you can still set the optimum exposure and other details and be ready to shoot in a fraction of a second, which saves a considerable amount of battery. Plus, you don’t have to rely on the menu of the camera.
Top and Bottom Panel
Construction quality is top class. The camera boasts a magnesium alloy chassis, the top plate housing of most of the major control dials and buttons as well as the bottom plate are formed out of brass.
The bottom plate is something of a misfit a sort of relic of the film days. Something that is no longer required. It’s more of a hindrance to change batteries and memory cards than anything else.
The overall construction quality, however, evokes confidence.
Along with the significant changes and additions, subtle smaller changes add nice touches to the camera. Like the optical viewfinder for example.
The optimal distance between where the photographer’s eye rests and the viewfinder’s eyepiece is now increased by a healthy 50% for the convenience of photographers who wear glasses.
Having said that, the M10 misses the LED frame line illuminators that are so much a part of some of the previous M-series rangefinders.
Nevertheless, the overall construction is demure compared to the previous rangefinders on the show.
The dimensions are 5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5”. Just for the record, this is the thinnest digital rangefinder that has come out of the Leica stable.
The weight of the camera is a little on the lighter side as well. B&H states that the camera weighs just about 660 grams with the battery.
The Leica M10 costs around $6,600 (and will be available soon online here: Leica Section on Amazon).
At that price, this is certainly going to be out of the reach of most amateur and enthusiast photographers. That being said, this is certainly not a camera designed for everyone.
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Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly.
He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits.