It’s always exciting when a new camera is announced, especially when it’s the signature camera from a legendary camera company. The Leica M10 is the latest in a continuous line of cameras which have evolved from the Leica M3, introduced in 1954.

The M3 was revolutionary in that it combined the rangefinder and viewfinder of the previous Leica cameras and replaced the old screw mount lenses with a bayonet. Since then development has been consistent, if rather lugubrious, with through the lens exposure metering introduced with the M5 in 1971 and aperture priority auto exposure with the M7 in 2002.

The first digital M (the M8) was introduced in 2006, this was a brave endeavour by a company with scarce resources but a lot of ambition. Since that time they’ve introduced live view, video, two monochrome cameras and one without an LCD screen. In addition, not only have Leica continued to manufacture film cameras, but they’ve introduced a new one (the Leica M-A in 2014).

Hat and Moon – Leica M10 with 50mm Summilux M Asph. – 1/125th – ISO 8,000

Amongst these, (often surprising) developments with the M cameras Leica has developed a medium format SLR (the Leica S). An APS/c camera with a complete system of small and excellent lenses and a radical touch based interface (the Leica TL). More recently the ultimate full frame compact fixed lens camera (the Leica Q) and most recently the Leica SL, which uses the same mount as the TL and has by some way the best EVF available on any mirrorless camera.

After all these exciting developments we come to the M10; it’s been a long wait, more than 4 years since the announcement of the M (typ 240). Big Expectations indeed! There has been talk of electronic rangefinders, hybrid viewfinders and even autofocus.

Mystery Morning – Leica M10 with 60mm Macro Elmarit R – 1/500th – ISO 100

When Leicarumors.com published a set of (largely correct) specifications in December last year the response amongst the internet chatterati was fascinating and enlightening. The Leica User Forum (www.l-camera-forum.com) is always a good place to follow feelings, it’s denizens include lots of intelligent and opinionated writers, there are even quite a few with a good sense of humour. Responses to the M10 specs varied between “I’ll never buy another M camera without video” to “I’ll never buy an M camera with video”. But the consensus was that the new camera was thinner, without video, and using a 2 year old EVF, but otherwise pretty much unchanged. Damp Squib?

One of the problems of camera reviews (and reviewers) is the need to ‘tick boxes’. This has led to most camera companies producing increasingly complex cameras with a multiplicity of functions which most photographers never use. Leica have steadfastly resisted this temptation and their current cameras are designed for photographers. Radical departures from the norm (like the Monochrom cameras and the screenless M-D) reflect many photographer’s desire to get back to basics and to reduce complications.

Winter Kitchen – Leica M10 with 90mm Macro Elmar M – 1/180th – ISO 100

On paper the M10 seems like an M(typ240) with the video removed, but in fact it is improved in almost every respect. Leica have listened to their users and addressed pretty much every criticism of previous digital M cameras.

The body is thinner and lighter (think M6ttl or M7)

  • The rangefinder is bigger and brighter
  • The ‘Set’ menu is replaced by a configurable ‘Favorites’ menu
  • The rear LCD is has higher resolution and a changed aspect ratio.
  • Button layout has been rationalised and simplified
  • It has a well thought out new dedicated ISO dial
  • Improved weather sealing
  • Buffer, processing, and writing to disk have all been sped up: basically you can just carry on shooting
  • Continuous shooting is roughly twice as fast
  • High ISO is practically improved by at least 2 stops
  • 100 ISO base makes it easier to shoot wide aperture in good light
  • The Visoflex (typ 020) EVF is higher resolution, bright and clear (and has GPS)
  • Live View Shutter lag/blackout is about 1/3 of that on the M240
  • Exposure and zoom focus point in Live view can be moved

The only concessions that have had to be made to make all this possible are reduced battery life and the lack of video.

Sea Squill – Leica M10 with 90mm Macro Elmar M – 1/500th – ISO 100

Testing

My role with Leica is to test the cameras, not to write reviews of them, and it’s important to understand that this article is not intended to be a critical review. If I find something wrong with a camera, then I tell Leica. Having said that, this article is my work, nobody has suggested what I should write, and I certainly wouldn’t say anything that I don’t believe to be the case or omit anything that seemed to be an issue.

Testing cameras is an exciting job and always seems to include some drama or other, usually just before a trip abroad. This time the test camera was ready the day before we flew to Crete for 3 weeks – just too late to rely on UPS to get it to the UK. So, Leica sent it to the Hotel where we were staying.

We were having breakfast at a café during a walk in the White Mountains. I checked the tracking and was dismayed to find that the camera was stuck in Athens with a message saying that the address was incorrect.

I called UPS in Athens, and they said that the camera was actually in Chania in Crete. So, I rang the office in Chania and before I had a chance to give her my name (still less the tracking number) the lady said:
“I have your package in front of me – we can’t deliver to Loutro because there is no road there – however I have a friend who delivers ice-cream on the ferry boat on a Friday, we might be able to send it with him.
Alternatively, we could send it on the bus to Chora Sfakia and you could pick it up from the bus driver”

So, that was what happened – I was expecting the precious package to be in the cab with the driver, and that I would have to show ID and sign for it. No such thing – when the bus arrived the driver said:
“The package is in the luggage section somewhere – just help yourself.”

So I did.

In this article I’m going to take a journey around the camera and configuration and discuss features as they become relevant. I hope that by the end you’ll have a real idea of the capabilities of the M10 and how things have changed in the 4 years since the M240.

The Princess in the Pulpit – Leica M10 with 50mm Summilux M Asph. – 1/60th – ISO 400
Contemplative Caspar – Leica M10 with 75mm Summilux M Asph. – 1/45th -ISO 800

The Camera

Thickness and Weight

The M10 is noticeably thinner than the M240, it seems unlikely that 4mm should be so noticeable, but it certainly is. Part of difference is made up by a deeper lens mount, but that only amounts to about half the difference. The thumb grip on the M10 is a little deeper, which is welcome and makes it seem more secure. The new camera is about 50 grams lighter than the old one (647gms vs 695 gms on our kitchen scales (including battery and SD card). In fact, the dimensions of the M10 are exactly those of the M6ttl and the M7.

The Rangefinder

The rangefinder on the M10 has been completely redesigned and is larger than that on the M240, it has a magnification of 0.72 rather than the 0.68 on the previous digital M cameras. In practice the larger rangefinder means that you can see the 28mm framelines more easily than you can on the M240 and the higher magnification makes focusing easier. This is a subtle but definite improvement.

The Sensor

Leica are not disclosing the manufacturer of the M10 sensor, however, it is not the same as the SL/Q sensor; it’s a new one made specially for the M10.
It has a maximum ISO of 50,000 (3 stops more than the 6,400 of the M240). Improved dynamic range and much reduced banding together with good colour make the higher ISO values very usable. On the M240 I tended to set the maximum ISO at 1600 or 3200, on the M10 it’s been 10,000 or 12,500. In practical terms, I would say that the new camera has about a 2 stop advantage over the M240. With respect to the Leica SL, rather surprisingly, I think the M10 has about ½ stop advantage.

The Processor

The M10 has a Maestro II processor. It is a modified version of the SL processor, so that it produces less heat and uses less battery power. It revolutionizes performance on the SL, improving write and review times.

Showing the Leica M-P 240 with the Leica M6ttl and the Leica M10 – they are all identical height, and a base plate comparison shows that the M6ttl and the M10 are the same width and depth

The Rear LCD

The LCD is 3” as per the M240 but it has greater resolution (1036 vs 920) and a rather different aspect ration from that on the M240. It’s clear and very bright. Great for both live view and reviewing images and an obvious step forward when compared with the M240 (even though that was good too).

Buttons and Dials

The top plate now has an ISO dial, and has lost the video button and the multi-function On/Off switch.

The rear plate has slightly re-designed thumb dial and direction rocker switch, but the real difference is in the buttons on the left-hand side of the LCD.

In case you don’t have one in front of you, the M240 has 6 buttons:

  • LV
  • Play
  • Delete
  • ISO
  • Menu
  • Set

The M10 has reduced this to 3 buttons:

  • LV
  • Play
  • Menu

This makes button selection much easier with cold hands / gloves / or eye to a viewfinder. This is how it works.

The LV Button

Pressing the LV button always brings up Live View – even if you are in review mode.

The Play Button

Pressing Play shows the last image. Zoom functions in conjunction with the thumb dial work in just the same way as the M240 (extremely well!).

Turning the thumb dial shows multiple images or zooms in, whilst the direction rocker moves from image to image.

If you are zoomed in, then you can move the zoomed in area with the direction rocker. If you want to move from one image to another in the zoomed in state, then you can hold down the Play button and press either the direction rocker or turn the thumb dial to change images.

Whilst viewing images, pressing the Menu button brings up the Play Menu which has options for:

  • Delete Single
  • Delete Multi
  • Rate
  • Unrate ALL

The Menu Button

When first pressed this brings up the Favorites Menu. In effect this replaces the Set menu in the M240 (and previous digital M cameras). You can configure the Favorites menu to include any options you choose. What’s more, you can have a different Favorites menu for each of your User Pre-sets.

You can have as many options in the Favorites menu as you like, but you can’t change their order (so they’ll always be in the same order as they are in the Main Menu).

The bottom option is the Main Menu. As in all the menus, pressing upward on the top option takes you to the bottom (and vice versa). I’ll deal with the Main Menu options in the configuration section below.

Triumvirate – Leica M10 with 75mm APO Summicron – 1/60th – ISO 640

Weather Sealing

Leica have done some work on this – of course, the M10 cannot be completely weatherproof, as Leica M lenses are not sealed, and nor is the lens mount. Still, weather proofing has been improved by removing the EVF plug-in socket (the connections are now at the back of the hot shoe as they are in the Leica T). There are no holes in the top plate to accommodate either the microphone or the black plastic protectors above the strap lugs (more on this later). The seals in the base plate have also been improved running all around the inside edge rather than just around the battery and SD card section.

Like most people, I keep the camera reasonably protected when shooting in the rain; over one shoulder and covered by my arm.

I took the M10 out for 2 hours in steady rain holding it out at 45 degrees, so the rain fell directly on the LCD and controls. The camera was fine – I wouldn’t recommend this, but it does go to show that, although not sealed like the SL, the M10 is safe to shoot in poor weather if treated with care.

On/Off Switch

The On/Off switch has been changed so that it’s just that – on/off. The self-timer and continuous shooting controls have been relegated to a Drive Mode menu option. This doesn’t pose much of a problem – you can put them into your Favourites menu if desired (more on in the Configuration section), the options are:

  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Interval (you can choose number of frames and interval time here)
  • Exposure Bracketing
  • Self Timer 2s
  • Self Timer 12s

I’m sure that there will be some arguments about this change, but for me it’s a relief not to find I’m in self timer mode when I press the shutter release.

Chimping – Leica M10 with 75mm Summilux M – 1/125th – ISO 8,000

ISO dial

At first I thought that this was a silly idea, even though the dial looks and feels lovely, but it’s been implemented so intelligently. The point is that all three principle variables for exposure (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) are now visible on the outside of the camera.

The dial is reminiscent of the film rewind knob on some M film cameras (including the M3 and the most recent Leica M-A). The dial needs to be pulled up with two fingers to unlock it, this is intentionally a little tricky, but the detents are also firm, so if you are planning to use the dial to set ISO during a shooting session, then you can pull it up and leave it up until you’ve finished. A red line appears when you’ve pulled it up, when pushed down the red line disappears and it’s flush with the top plate of the camera.

The dial has options for

  • – 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 and 6400 ISO
  • – There is a red A for Auto (like the shutter speed dial)
  • – There is also an M (for Menu)

The M option sets the ISO chosen in the M-ISO menu which has the above settings plus additional settings for 8000, 10,000, 12,500, 16,000, 20,000, 25,000, 32,000, 40,000 and 50,000 .

In practical terms this works well: The figures on the dial always override those set in the menu. I have my M-ISO value set at the highest ISO that I like to use in normal situations (10,000 ISO).

ISO Dial with User Pre-sets

The M-ISO option comes into its own with User Pre-sets. You can set an explicit ISO value for any of the 4 User defined menus including Auto ISO. If the ISO dial is on M then the chosen value will be used, but it can be over-ridden at any time by moving the dial.

Max Middleton at Mellis (with the Charlie Harper Blues Band) – Leica M10 with 75mm APO Summicron M – 1/125th – ISO 10,000

Straps and lug protection

Lots of Leica users have favourite camera straps and leave the Leica straps in the box. This time around Leica, have given up on the old cloth and rubber straps and included a slim leather one. This is okay, but not floppy enough for my taste, and so I quickly changed to trying out a range of my other much loved straps.

I guess you could call me a strap fetishist, and I have lovely straps from Leicatime, Artist and Artisan, Tie Her up and Harry Benz.

Like the latest Leica film camera (the Leica M-A) the top plate of the M10 does not have black plastic protectors above the strap lugs. This makes the camera nicer and sleeker, however, in practice it means that the camera body is more likely to get scuff marks where the strap rubs against it. Experience shows that this is much more of a problem with straps which have a thicker leather connector.

Think about this when you make your strap selection for your new camera – once you have scuff marks they’re there forever!

EVF connection

The Leica M10 uses the Visoflex Typ 020 used on the Leica TL and the Leica X (typ 113). Rather than a socket below the hot shoe (as with Leica M240) this has connectors at the back of the hot shoe, thus removing another problem point for weather sealing.

Chris with his Claas Leica M10 with 80-200 f4 Vario Elmar R – 1/250th – ISO 100

The Battery and Charger

The M10 has a smaller battery than the M240, this is the sacrifice required to make a thinner body. I suppose that some will be unhappy about this, but in practice it’s not caused me very much grief.

  • The rated voltage is 7.4V
  • Capacity is 1100mAh / 8.2Wh (M240 was 1800mAh / 13.32Wh)
  • Charge Voltage limit is 8.25 V

Some practical examples:

  • Shooting the camera as a rangefinder over an evening with no EVF or Live View, but plenty of chimping: I took 310 pictures, after which I was left with 45% battery life.
  • Shooting the camera with no sleep mode and turned on all the time, with full time LV (mostly with EVF). The battery lasted 1.1/2 hours and I took 160 photos
  • Shooting for 45 minutes, no sleep mode, turned on – no EVF. I took 245 pictures – leaving 85% battery life.
  • Shooting for 3 hours, EVF attached but live view not used GPS on, no sleep mode and no automatic sleep. I took 146 pictures and had 50% battery life left.

What has improved is the reporting of the remaining battery life. The percentage remaining reduces evenly and the camera works properly until the battery is exhausted (with warnings from about 5%).

The INFO screen (pressing the button in the middle of the direction rocker control) shows the remaining battery power both as a percentage and as a long bar. The bar is green at 100% and gradually goes through yellow to red (at 5%).

The charger is much like that on the M240, with a light for 80% charged (very quick!). It has a sensible figure of 8 power connector so that you can use it with a (supplied) cable or with a figure of 8 plug with the local pins (I use Apple plug connectors). It also has 12 Volt DC input so that you can charge the camera from the socket in a car (cable supplied).

Fen Ley Lines – Leica M10 with 16-18-21mm f4 Wide Angle Tri Elmar – 1/125th – ISO 100

Configuration and controls

I’m not planning to go through all the menu options. The basics are the same as the M240 with nothing lost, but with some notable improvements.

The ‘3d’ graphics of the M240 have gone, and the options are much clearer, the main menu on the M240 is 5 screens – on the M10 it’s 4 (with only 2 options on the last screen). Obviously, the video settings are missing, but they’ve taken the opportunity to rationalise the menus and group things together (for instance the jpg settings are in a sub menu rather than taking up a page of their own).

Drive Mode is a new option (mentioned above) which allows choice of Self Timer times and with an interval mode together with Single and Continuous shootings. The Exposure Bracketing options can also be found here.

One nice touch is that if you reset the camera it first asks you:

  • – Do you want to save user profiles?
  • – Do you want to save file numbering?

Lens Detection

This has been rationalised and extended from the M240, partly to maximise options for choice, and partly to ensure that one doesn’t make silly mistakes when selecting manual lens options.
The options are:

  • Off
  • Auto
  • Manual M
  • Manual R

The big changes here are:

  • You can choose any manual lens at any time, even if you have a coded lens attached to the camera.
  • If you change to a coded lens it changes to Auto and picks the correct lens.
  • If you change to a non- coded lens (or the R adapter, or the macro adapter M) then it remembers the non-coded lens you selected last and defaults to that.

This means that if you are using a mix of coded and non-coded lenses you don’t have to keep delving into the menu every time you change a lens. It also means that if you want to use different lens profiles for coded lenses then you are at liberty to do so. More to the point, if you’ve been using manual selection for your much loved 16mm lens, if you quickly change to a coded 50 summilux, then the camera won’t still apply the lens corrections for the 16mm.

As before, the chosen lens is put into the exif information for the images. As a side note, the estimated aperture value is no longer included in the exif – it is however still used for calculating lens corrections etc.

IKEA – Leica M10 with 28mm Summicron Asph. – 1/180th – ISO 100

ISO Settings

The ISO settings now have their own menu option (one for the Favourites menu). The options are like those on the ISO button on the M240, with:

  • Maximum Auto ISO
  • Maximum Exposure Time

On the M10 there is no option to have ‘Auto ISO in M mode’ because this is set explicitly with the ISO dial. It’s much easier to change the settings via a menu option rather than the rather fiddly press and hold on the M240.
The Maximum Exposure Time option has 1/fl, 2/fl, 4/fl and shutter speeds from ½ second up to 1/500.

I think this is the best Auto ISO setting of any camera I’ve used (and that is certainly too many!).

EVF/Display Control

The Visoflex typ 020, unlike the older one, has eye start, so that it will work when you put your eye to it (default). This works well, but personally, if I’m shooting with an EVF I don’t want it to be flicking from Live View on the LCD to the EVF every time I take my eye away (especially in low light situations where the LCD can be a real distraction).

The EVF/Display control menu option gives you all the options you need to control this in a simple 3 option menu:

  • Play Screen Target
  • LV Screen Target
  • Auto Review Screen Target

For each of these options you can choose from:

  • Auto
  • EVF
  • Display

Auto means that it uses the Eye Start option to choose where to display EVF defaults to the Visoflex (if it’s attached) and Display uses the LCD

It defaults to Auto for each – I’ve changed the settings to:

  • Play Screen Target – Display (ie LCD)
  • LV Screen Target – EVF (I don’t want LV on the LCD with the EVF)
  • Auto Review Screen Target – Auto (if I have my eye to the EVF it comes up there – otherwise it’s on the LCD)

This seems to me to be elegant and well thought through, in fact the M10 menu system generally reflects a great deal of thought (and user feedback). Simple and comprehensive, and everything works the way you expect it to.

Concerned Princess – Leica M10 with 75mm Summilux M – 1/90th – ISO 3,200

Customize Control

Most of the controls on the M10 are self-explanatory and fixed, however this is the place to set the controls which are configurable. There are two options:

  • Edit Favourites
  • Customize Wheel

Edit Favourites shows all the top-level menu options with a simple On/Off toggle to decide whether they’re in the Favourites Menu.

I like to keep it to one screen – but it’s possible to put up to two pages worth of items in the Favourites menu as you like. Settings are remembered in the User Profile menu, so you can set a different Favourites menu for different shooting situations.

The Customize Wheel option allows you to change the function of the Thumb Wheel, there are three options:

  • Off
  • Exposure Compensation
  • LV Zoom.

Wireless

The Leica M10 has Wifi, with much the same settings as the Leica SL. You can switch wifi on and off, if it’s on you can choose whether to create a LAN or join one. Setting up or connecting to a network works well, it remembers networks and passwords.

I’ve had a short time to play with the application, and it works as expected – allowing remote release of the shutter together with the obvious controls. It will even download a decent image to your device if you’ve shot DNG only.

The rest of the Configuration options are largely unchanged from the M240, they worked well there, and they work well here.

Icy Dawn – Leica M10 with 50mm Summilux M Asph – 1/350th – ISO 100

Shooting with an EVF and Live View

Let’s get the bad news over to start with. This is not like shooting with an SL or a Q. There is still a blackout of a little less than a second. There is no electronic first curtain, so the shutter must close before making the exposure. However, shot to shot times and blackout have improved by a factor of about 3 over that of the M240.

The Visoflex is large, clear and bright (and not too contrasty), it’s a real revelation when compared to the EVF on the M240. In addition, it doesn’t suffer from ‘tearing’ and although there is a blackout, the shutter lag time is minimal, and the refresh rate excellent even in poor light. You may have to wait a second before taking the second shot, but you certainly don’t have to wait for the first one.

Zoom magnifying is fast and the improved resolution makes critical focusing much easier (not just on the EVF, but also on the LCD Display). Many will be relieved to hear that the zoom point (and the spot metering) can be moved all around the screen using the direction rocker switch. This works really well, what’s more, the zoom and spot focusing move together, and when zoomed in, half pressing the shutter takes the exposure reading from the highlighted area of the zoomed in image.

I had largely stopped using the M240 with the EVF (I’d simply prefer to use the SL for such images). With the M10 I’ve found it rather a pleasure to use for situations where the rangefinder is not suitable; especially shooting close up with the macro adapter M and the 90 macro elmar. I’ve also been shooting with a range of R lenses – the 60mm macro elmarit and the 35-70 f4 being favourites. It’s also been useful using the improved screen for landscape shooting with the WATE (Wide Angle Tri-Elmar).

More than that – I’ve found myself using the EVF when shooting normally with M lenses – especially in dreek weather: I put the jpg settings on high contrast, monochrome (whilst shooting DNG), it helps to concentrate on the composition.

My preferred way of shooting is with spot metering engaged, and with exposure compensation on the rear dial. However, I don’t use the magnification or focus peaking that much as the EVF is good enough to get accurate focus without it, and of course, it makes composing easier.

I have an old friend whose definition of Good Technology is that it’s “Not Irritating”, the new EVF/Live view on the M10 may not be perfect, but it’s rather a pleasure to use, and it’s definitely “Not Irritating”.

Cake Lizard (Madeira) – Leica M10 with 90mm Macro Elmar and the Macro Adapter M – 1/180th – ISO 1,600

Shooting with the rangefinder

To my thinking the real reason for having a Leica M is because you enjoy shooting with a rangefinder – it’s the essence and purpose of the camera and although using Live View is certainly an asset, it will never be the best way to make images with an M camera.

There was nothing wrong with shooting the M240 as a rangefinder camera (or the M8 or M9 come to that), but several apparently small changes have revolutionised the ‘feel’ of shooting with the M10.

The new rangefinder has been completely redesigned and improved. The increased magnification of 0.72 makes focusing a little easier, but the rangefinder is also larger so that the 28mm framelines are easier to see. This is a big improvement.

When set to continuous, and with the shutter held down, my camera will shoot around 26 DNG files in 6 seconds (4 frames/second), subsequent shots are at about 2 per second (this is on a 95ms Sandisk extreme 128Gb card). I understand that 5 fps should be possible with a faster card.

A similar test on my M-P 240 produced 14 files in 8 seconds and afterwards shots at about 1 per second.

Personally, I can’t imagine shooting continuously on an M, but I think this performance means that there is really no chance of missing a shot because of a full buffer (the buffer is 2Gb).

The combination of the improved rangefinder and the better shot to shot times with the slimmer body, improved high ISO and dedicated ISO dial all helps to make rangefinder shooting a more fluid and satisfying experience than it was with the previous M cameras.

Angel’s Inn Paradise (Madeira) – Leica M10 with 90mm Macro Elmar and the Macro Adapter M – 1/180th – ISO 1,600

Image Quality

The M10 has a 24mp sensor just like it’s predecessor, however, the image quality is a step forwards in all respects.

Colour

A huge effort has gone into getting the colour as good as it can be This is a complicated issue and personal preferences can be at least as important as accuracy.

Adobe have been working hard at their end as well and there is already support for the M10 in Lightroom. To my eyes the skin tones are greatly improved over both the M240 and the M9, with the slight yellow cast removed and the reds being a little gentler.

Auto white balance has never been my preferred method of shooting, but once again, a lot of effort has gone into getting this right and they’ve done a great job.

ISO

I’ve done some detailed comparisons between the M240, the M10 and the Leica SL (all with the 50 APO Summicron at f8).

My Results suggest that 6,400 ISO on the M10 looks a little better than 1,600 ISO on the M240 whereas 25,000 ISO on the M10 looks a little worse than 6,400 on the M240. Generally speaking a 2 stop advantage seems to be about right, getting slightly less as one goes into extremely high ISO.

In comparison with the SL, the M10 seems to have about a half a stop advantage, perhaps a little less.

At any rate, 12,500 seems to be quite useable for indoor shooting, with 25,000 okay at a pinch (especially if you’re converting to black and white)

Honky Tonk – Leica M10 with 60mm Macro Elmarit R – 1/250th – ISO 100
Echo & Chloe – Leica M10 with 75mm Summilux M Asph. – 1/125th – ISO 4,000

Conclusion

Keen Photographers (whether amateur or professional) have got used to radical new camera developments since the onset of digital; expectations are always high, and each new camera needs to have its killer feature.

But times have changed: These days all cameras give great image quality and most of them actually take a picture when you press the shutter (remember the old days of zzzzzt zzzzt zzz click!).

Perhaps the time has come to recognise that what we need is not new features, but better features and a smoother user experience.

The Leica M has never been a ‘Jack of all trades’ camera, but it has always been the master camera for candid and street photography: The arrival of the digital M9 made landscape a real possibility and the introduction of Live View on the M240 offered other opportunities, including close up and nature photography.

With the M10 Leica have proved faithful to the concept of the rangefinder camera and every effort has been made to improve functionality rather than to change it. The menu system is a masterpiece of clear organisation and simplicity (whilst still providing lots of configurability). The rangefinder is improved in size and magnification. The buffer is increased and the shot to shot time is about half that of the M240.

Of course, it’s nice that the new M10 is slimmer, and the ISO dial is sexy and functional; certainly, the camera will certainly appeal to your heart. But the real advance is that the M10 will allow you to take better shots in all situations, but especially in those marginal situations where lighting is a real challenge.

It’s nearly 6 months since I started taking pictures with the M10, during that time I’ve been thoroughly examining it’s every characteristic and come to love it, perhaps the most satisfying camera I’ve used. Each aspect of it shows how much experience, intelligence and thought has gone into it; it’s a camera designed by photographers to be used by photographers. Head and Heart indeed.

The Force Awakens – Leica M10 with 50mm APO Summicron – 1/2000th – ISO 100
Sfakian Sunrise – Leica M10 with 35mm Summilux Asph – 1/45th – ISO 100
Laundry Dance – Leica M10 with 90mm Macro Elmar with the Macro adapter M – 1/180th – ISO 100
Criss Cross – Leica M10 with 60mm Macro Elmarit R – 1/125th – ISO 100
Butter Wouldn’t Melt – Leica M10 with 75mm APO Summicron -1/90th – ISO 1,250
Echo – Leica M10 with 50 Summilux Asph. – 1/90th – ISO 3200

About The Author

72 Comments

  1. […] Leica M10 Review by Jonathan Slack Leica M10 Blog Post Leica M10 Pictures by Wolfgang Hagen New Leica M10 Forum Leica M10: Forum Discussion Leica M10 Group […]

  2. […] Leica M10 Review by Jonathan Slack Technical Data Leica M10 Leica M10: Forum Discussion Official Announcement Leica M10: Forum Discussion Leica M10 Group […]

  3. Thanks Jono for another great review

  4. Very Nicely done Jono. Thank you.

  5. I’m very impressed with your review and your photos, well done.

  6. Jono,
    You are lucky to review the Leica M10. I’m disabled for a decade and I am still using my Epson RD-1 with my 7 Leica lenses. I just like the Rangefinder experience. I can almost get every shot in every lighting condition. In part thanks to my (second version) Leica Summilux 50 f/1.4 lens.
    Always good to read your opinions and especially to look at your photography.
    -Peter

  7. Excellent review and an interesting read Jono👍

  8. As a Q / MM1 user with plenty invested in M lenses (and a few R including the 60mm you used), have you compared image/ISO performance between the M10 and MM?

    • Hi There
      I find it really hard to compare the two – ISO is about the same I guess, but image quality? Obviously the MM has a resolution advantage at 100%, but I’d say it’s apples and oranges!

  9. Thanks very much, Jono – an excellent, clear review, covering all the key aspects. My initial thought was that it didn’t add enough to the M240 to make the upgrade worthwhile, but your findings on IQ and high ISO performance are encouraging. It is why I sometimes take the SL when I would rather take the smaller M. It’s a pity there is no silent, fully electronic shutter still. But I suspect that, when I see it in the flesh, the new VF will be very tempting.

  10. Can you speak to the ability to recover highlights on the M10 files? That’s the achilles heel of the M240 I think, and if they’ve fixed that then it will be a tremendous camera indeed.

    • HI Lawrence
      I try not to over-expose (and to be honest I didn’t have a problem with the M240 either). The files seem to me to be extremely flexible though.
      best
      Jonathan

  11. Thanks once more Jono, I follow all your reviews
    Erick

  12. I didn’t think I’d ever want to upgrade from the M240. Sure it has its nuances but it will fulfill my requirements till the end of time. Who am I kidding!? Having read this I will be looking into trade in deals once they are easily available (after the inevitable shortage). Nice reading write up. Thanks for the effort you’ve put in to testing it.

  13. Great review Jono as usual.

    Now the million dollar question is do I keep my SL with Zoom and M lenses or go back to the M? I realize they are to completely different cameras yet it does make me wonder. I wish Leica was quicker on releasing more primes for the SL this would make my decision much easier but until today only the 50 Sumilux is available. I was hoping for more Sumicrons to come out.
    Another question I have is at base ISO how much better is the IQ then the M 262

    • Hi Steven
      I feel your pain!
      For me, I keep the SL with Zoom and get an M10 – but I’ve not been without an M and I’d always rather shoot with the M and primes.
      If you nailed my bank balance to the floor and said that I can only have one camera, then it would be the M10 every time (it would have been the M240 before). I just like to shoot with a rangefinder!

      I don’t have a 262, but at base ISO I can’t see anything wrong with the M240, so it’s hard to come to a conclusion – I do like the colour better on the M10 though.

      Best
      Jono

  14. Great and thoughtful review, much appreciated. I have skipped the upgrade to the M240 after going through M3,M7 and M8 to the M9 as I thought the M240 had more features than I really needed. With the M10 Leica seems to have covered all my wishes. I wonder how you see the image characteristics compared to the M9.

    • Hi There GWG
      Well, I did actually do comparisons between the M10, M240 and the M9, and I’d say that the colour has got ‘better’ with each iteration (the M9 colour looks quite ‘primitive’ in the comparisons).

      Trouble is ‘better’ is nothing like as important as how much you like it. (and I’m pretty sure we all see it differently). Correct is only really a proposition in unmixed and even lighting, the minute you have a shadow then it’s all up in the air.

      I’ve noticed Ashwin Rao thinks the colour is more like the M9 – I just like it better than either camera.

      As for IQ generally, the M9 was absolutely fine . . but the M10 has better high ISO (2.5 stops maybe) more dynamic range, less banding (I could go on and on!).

      Best
      Jono

  15. Jono, you mentioned that no aperture data being stored in exif. Would you know why? I found it useful to analyze my test shots even if it was totally accurate (it allowed me to distinguish f2 vs f4 shot).

    • Hi there
      I hope you’re well?
      I quite agree with you about the exif, but the reason for removing it was (I think) because they got a boring number of complaints from people saying it was wrong!

      Best
      Jono

  16. I meant “not totally accurate”.

  17. Simply awesome

  18. Thanks very much, Jono – an excellent, clear review, covering all the key aspects. My initial thought was that it didn’t add enough to the M240 to make the upgrade worthwhile, but your findings on IQ and high ISO performance are encouraging. It is why I sometimes take the SL when I would rather take the smaller M. It’s a pity there is no silent, fully electronic shutter still. But I suspect that, when I see it in the flesh, the new VF will be very tempting.

    [I posted this comment earlier but it just disappeared – please delete it if it is a duplicate]

  19. Thank you so much for this Jono, clear, informative and interesting to read. Having not wanted to change from M9 to 240 this is a different move altogether. Look forward to trying it. Thanks for all the work you put in to come out with honest reviews
    .

    • HI There Rod
      Thanks for the kind words – I really hope you enjoy it if you get one (sure you will).
      I’m glad I come across as honest (I’ve been practising for years) 🙂

      Best
      Jono

  20. Jono, reading your review is like going into a pub with you and saying I don’t drink!
    Hope this round is on you, because my pockets are empty at present, but I sure want the M10 as you describe it.
    Cheers mate.
    John A

    • HI There John
      Happy New Year – I hope you’re well – we were REALLY sorry to miss you in Portugal.
      The drinks are definitely on me . . .

      All the best
      Jono (and Emma too)

  21. Nice review, thank you Jono.

  22. I can’t see myself getting the M10. I had an M-240 for two years, and ran into different problems with the software during that time, including the camera locking up mid-shutter. No, it didn’t happen often, but enough to make me sell it.

    I’m still up for buying a Leica, but the lack of video… I guess I just fall in that camp. Quite frankly, I doubt I’ll ever buy a digital Leica.

    I’ve been shooting film exclusively for the past year and a half, with a Nikon F3. If I were to buy a Leica, it would be an M6. My next digital will probably be a Fujifilm.

    • Well, of course, one can’t tell what future firmware updates might cause, but this camera has been remarkably stable, right from the early version I had last summer. Certainly no shutter lock ups.

  23. Why did Leica delete the Horizon/Spirit Level option? Am I the only one who uses it with a Leica wide-angle lens (in my case the 18mm).

    • Yes. Why did Leica remove the level? More importantly, why did Jonathan Slack not mention it? This is a very biased review.

      No comment about how the Visoflex 020 blocks half the exposure dial. Enough so that you cannot read it’s setting.

      No comment about the M10 not being able to join a wifi network. (virtual keyboard de-activates) The keyboard does work when the M10 creates an ad hoc network.

      Also the exposure metering icon does not display the correct info. Always center weighted no matter what setting you are using.

      Jpeg colours are off too. Oranges look yellow, pinks look purple.

      The black out in the visoflex 020 is so long I cannot use the M10 for fashion shoots.

      • Hi There Corvus
        As far as it being a biased review – it isn’t really intended as a ‘review’ – if you read my introduction you’ll see that as a tester for Leica, my job is to refer to them issues with the camera – indeed, until the embargo date (which is when this was published) I certainly can’t be seen to refer to issues which might easily be subject to change before the camera is shipping . . . However, you make some good points, so here are some answers:

        1. the level gauge
        There are some things which one really doesn’t notice – I’ve never used the level gauge with any camera – the first thing I do is to switch it off, so, remiss or not I wasn’t aware it was missing until it was pointed out.

        2. Visoflex blocking half the exposure dial so you can’t read it’s setting
        I quite agree – this is unfortunate, although I’d have said that it’s 1/10th of the dial, but I agree, although you can usually infer the value, you can’t see it. I’d say it was scope for a different EVF – probably weather sealed. Worth mentioning that if you are using the EVF you can always see the shutter speed in the EVF

        3. EVF not being able to join a wifi network.
        The Leica APP together with wifi settings are changing fast at the moment – I only had the APP a few days before, and I’d been using it (very successfully) by making an Ad Hoc network. I wasn’t aware of this issue, and I’m sure it’ll be fixed soon, but either way it would not have been appropriate to talk about it with pre-production software.

        4. Exposure metering icon does not display the correct info.
        As far as I’m aware it does. The exposure metering options (spot, centre, multi-field) only work with live view (when the shutter is open). When using the camera in normal rangefinder mode it will be taking a reading from the shutter curtain as per every previous M. Personally I think it should say “Metering Mode in Live View” . Unless I’m missing something here?

        5. jpeg colours are off
        There was a huge amount of work done on the colour for the M10 – I think that the jpg files are ‘snappier’ than those using the LR profile (too much perhaps), but I guess it’s trying to play to the demographic of those who would prefer jpg files to DNG. . . . . and of course, the files may look different in different circumstances.

        6. Black out on Visoflex too long for fashion shoots.
        I quite agree – but if you read the review that David Farkas did with Stefan Daniel and Jesko you’ll see that something had to give with the size of the camera and the processing. In fact the black out time is 1/3 of that on the M240 and it has a much faster refresh time, so it’s a big improvement. I believe work is still being done on this, so it may improve.

        Personally, I like using the Visoflex for times when things are happening slowly, and for using longer focal length lenses (or macro). The actual shutter lag time is pretty good – but for quick shooting it’s not ideal.

        Mind you, I can’t imagine why you would want to use the Visoflex when shooting fashion – isn’t the rangfinder just about perfect in such situations . . . . and if it isn’t, would another camera be better?

  24. Have you compared M10 to MM (1 or 2) in terms of image quality and ISO performance?

  25. Thank you for your wonderful insight. I always enjoy reading your articles. Looks like Leica are on to a winner with this one. Refinement and apeasing film and digital photographers alike.

  26. Honestly the only thing that bugged me on the M240 is the interval between two consecutive shots. I’ve lost amazing moments due to this.
    And was hoping the next M would solve this.

    Is the M10 as responsive as one would hope?

  27. I’ve enjoyed the trip to Greece, well illustrated by talkative shots. How much post-processing goes into these images, particularly Fen Ley Lines?

    • Hi There Ludo
      Of course there is some post processing . . . that shot I was too heavy handed with the clarity (but it’s a mission to do it again!).

      best
      Jono

  28. Awesome they’ve fixed the colour from the 240.

    • I thought they fixed the M240 colour about 3 weeks after it started shipping!

      But I do like the colour from the M10 better as well

      best
      Jono

  29. Jono,

    There are some really nice shots in your review there. The color and presence in some of those shots looks sooooo sweet. And, I love your doggy. I bet that is a cool dog. Oh, pull him away from that cliff! What a great shot.

    Rick

    • Hi there Rick
      Caspar likes looking over cliff edges (for nesting birds I guess). He’s a noisy menace, not to mention a shameless butter thief. . . . . and yes, he definitely is cool!

      best
      Jono

  30. Thanks for the nice and quite comprehensive review. You mention all types of improvements with adding-up potential. What I am missing in your review: would you comment on how meaningful you consider releasing in 2017 a camera without image stabilisation. It seems to me that skipping this feature cannot underpin “concentration on the essential”, on the contrary.

    I am an M-user, 240 and film, and disappointed. Thanks for your response.

    • Well Herbert
      I take your point (I also use an Olympus OMD E-M1 ii, so I understand it’s benefits) – there are downsides to it as well though. On the other hand the M10 has absolutely the best auto ISO settings with 1, 1/2, 1/4 fl choices, and with the fast primes and good ISO performance it’s beginning to look clumsy to get camera shake!

      all the best
      Jono

  31. Thank you for sharing your experiences and this very helpful review!

  32. As it often happens I don’t know if I enjoyed your review more or the photographs that go with it. Either way, it’s a win-win proposition.

    Thank you very much.

    – Vikas

    • Thank you Vikas
      I always hope to entertain people – there are quite enough technical reviews (and I’d hate to tread on Sean Reid’s toes – I think we make a good team 🙂 )
      All the best
      Jono

  33. I can see a mono without screen coming on the same form factor.

    The only phantasm left is a mono digital sensor in a m4 mechanical body.

    About the Angel’s Inn Paradise (Madeira) picture, i think the lens (90 macro) is miss quoted.
    full rainbow and much distorsion of the car!

    • HI There Eric
      I guess there will be a mono – but without a screen?
      You are quite right about the Angel’s Inn picture – thank you – the exif was not totally reliable at that point, and I fear I had left it on ‘manual’ The good news is that if you shoot with the lens corrections for a 90 then the 28 still doesn’t do colour shifts!

      All the best

  34. Thanks a lot for great review Jono. One thing I wanted to ask – have they increased the maximum exposure time (for long exposures) – I’m hitting this problem with my 240. Thank you

  35. Jono – I really look forward to any new Leica release so I can read your insightful prose that, as you say, is a test and not a review. You communicate the user perspective flawlessly and I very much enjoyed this run through . Many thanks. Des

  36. Jono,

    A very insightful and useful review. Thank you But I’m curious about one thing. Are the monochrome images you posted in-camera jpegs produced by the Monochrome setting or are they B&W conversions in post from RGB raw files?

    • Hi There Doug
      Sorry about the delay in replying
      Most of the black and white images will have been converted in Silver Efex Pro
      All the best

  37. Jono, thank you for your very readable and objective review of the new M10. (There must be an interesting story behind the decision to revert to the old long-established version labelling). Insights into your family life show how generous you are with relevant illustrations.

    Your honest account of the delivery saga could test credibility were it not for the fact that UPS left a boxed M8 on my doorstep a few years ago after the ‘coffee-stained’ LCD was replaced. Leica in Germany had sent it with full tracking history. Yet the final link in the chain departed from my home with his own version of my signature. I reported this to my dealer and Leica but heard no more.

    The M10 would be more appealing to me if I was considering upgrading from M8 or M9. But not from a young M-P 240 which more than meets my current needs, despite its healthy girth. In contrast I would have welcomed a modernisation of my X Vario to solve AF reliability; but Leica seems to have lost interest in its further development. This has nothing to do with the M10, I concede, but it is typical of other factors which influence the upgrading challenge.

    From you various reviews I feel I know your family pets unusually well. Aren’t they just super subjects!

    Best Wishes,
    David

    • HI There David
      I’m glad you enjoyed the review.
      I don’t think the X-Vario has been forgotten at all, but I guess it’s not just as simple as dropping in a new processor – I’d love to see a Q with a zoom lens!

      As for your M240 – it won’t stop taking good pictures just because the M10 has arrived!

      Best
      Jono

  38. I take a lot of people photos during the evening and at nigh time under street lights – the improved high ISO performance over the M240 together with the improved viewfinder is likely to prove a great advantage, as will any handling benefits from the smaller and possibly easier to handle body.

    • You are certainly doomed Robert
      And I’m sure you’ll be very happy with the M10
      I hope you’re well – we were really sad to miss Lisbon, and we’re determined to make it to Rome.
      Best
      Jono

  39. Hi There Everyone
    Sorry for not answering questions yet – I got home late yesterday and work beckons – but I will answer everyone ASAP
    . . . and thank you for the kind words – you can’t imagine how much they are appreciated!
    All the best
    Jono

  40. The article was a pleasure to read; It seems honest, balanced and fair.
    Makes one feel the M10 will be big success for Leica, like the M9 was.

  41. Many thanks for your factual real world review of the M10.
    I’m shooting with an SL, so am interested to hear how the M10’s EVF (the Visoflex typ 020 EVF) compares to the one used on the SL, and how would the M10 shutter blackout effect be when one shoots at continuous.
    Cheers,
    NaHar

  42. So I guess your announcing the 75mm Summilux-M ASPH?

    Any ETA for when this lens ships?

  43. Like many others, I much appreciated your review. It sure seems Leica has gotten it right this time and your photos are a testament to a great camera in the hands of a skilled photographer. For my mind, the M10 is the first M-mount Leica since the M9 (and Monochrom) that has carried such appeal. I would imagine the M10 will be another great success for Leica. Your article explains why!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Close