Leica today introduces a new camera, completely dedicated to rangefinder photography.

The rangefinder has a complete new design, it has a new sensor and the usability was re-engineered. The camera top has now a dedicated ISO dial, thus all relevant parameters are directly visible and accessible.

The Leica M10 will be available as of now in black and silver chrome, the recommended price is 6,500 €.

The Leica M10 at a glance

  • 24MP CMOS Sensor
  • Improvement in high ISO and dynamic range
  • ISO 100 – 50.000
  • Slimmer body, approx. Leica M7 size
  • Additional ISO dial
  • Viewfinder with bigger field of view, 0.73 magnification more convenient to use
  • Visoflex 020 as optional EVF (2.4 MP)
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • 30 DNGs / 100 JPEGs in sequence by 2 GB buffer size
  • Programmable ‘Favorites’ menu
  • WiFi functionality

The Leica M240 was planned a all-round camera also suited for video and studio photography. By now Leica Camera has great cameras which cover these fields, thus the goal for the Leica M10 was to create the perfect rangefinder experience.

Thus the decision is well comprehensible that Leica dropped the video capabilities, Leica S, SL, T and Q are good alternatives.

In order to achieve the high Leica requirements sensor and processor would need more power – plus a lot of connections would have increased size and weight: HDMI, headphones, external microphone, USB.

Bottomline: No video but full concentration on rangefinder photography. But one question before we go into the details: Why Leica M10? No Type XY suffix?

Starting with the M (Type 240) Leica started to change the model labeling. Instead of sequential numbers the marketing people wanted to have only „The Leica M“ (like Porsche 911), leaving the type number as a kind of remark to distinguish model changes. Obviously this didn’t work, the Leica M (Type 240) quickly became the M240 in common speech – which lead to the misconception that a future Leica M with 36MP would be a „Type 360“.

OK, back now to the classic system – the Leica M10 has no type amendment. By the way – this decision was made for all Leica product systems.

But now back to the camera, which has the type designation engraved in the hot shoe only.

Design: Slender

First Leica M photograpers’ desire when asked for improvement was: We want a slimmer Leica M! The developers fullfilled this wish: The Leica M10 has almost the identical dimensions of an analogue Leica M7. The top cover is 4mm less deeper than the Leica M240. The difference in the official specifications is not so big as the lens bayonet protrudes a bit from the camera body – but this doesn’t affect the much better handling.

To achieve this the Leica M10’s innards were rearranged: The battery is now slimmer and the circuit boards are smaller now.

Speaking of „slimmer“: Compared to other camera systems the Leica M is the smallest full format system. Though the Sony A7 cameras have a similar size, the Leica M lenses are much smaller – because of the missing autofocus.

New: ISO Dial

The other big difference is the new ISO dial on top left of the camera.

The other main customer request (after reduced dimensions) was to have direct access to all parameters relevant for photography: Additionally to aperture, shutter speed and distance now ISO sensitivity is too directly visible and accessible.

In rest position the dial is fixed, you need two fingers to push it up to a position where it can be changed. If you have to change the ISO sensitivity frequently you can leave it in this position.

ISO values front 100 to 6,400 are available in full EV steps. If you want to have higher values up to 50,000 or need values on a finer scale of 1/3 steps you have to set the dial to M and use the camera menu.

Leica M10 Body

The Leica M10 body is made from magnesium alloy, the top cover is machined from solid brass. Because of the design of Leica M lenses a Leica M camera can never be 100% weather sealed. The Leica M10 was equipped with additional rubber seals thus can be used in light rain. The display is – like the M240 – made from scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass.

Handling

The next difference when comparing the M10 with the M240 are the buttons on the camera back – or rather the absence: The Leica M10 has only three buttons: The ISO and DELETE buttons are missing. ISO is no more needed because of the ISO dial, the DELETE function is replaced by one click on the MENU button in „Play“ mode.

In photo mode the MENU button shows the new favorites menu after one click, double click selects the main menu. The favorites menu is configured via a dedicated menu item, as of now 7 slots are available, a firmware update later this month will offer 15 slots.

Sensor & Processor

The Leica M10 CMOS was developed exclusively for the camera. The specs are similar to Leica SL and Leica Q but the requirements of the Leica M system made a dedicated sensor necessary. As always Leica doesn’t disclose the sensor provider.

The image processing is done by the Maestro II processor which has an increased performance. The 2GB buffer is now capable of saving 30 DNG files or 100 JPEGs with 5 fps until the speed drops for saving the the files to the SD card.

Leica M10 Rangefinder

The rangefinder is the defining part of each Leica M camera – and it was completely redesigned for the Leica M10. As result all relevant parameters were improved:

  • Field of view enlarged by 30%
  • Magnification factor increased to 0.73x
  • 50% increase of the eye-relief distance

The only drawback: The enlarged field of view demands a bigger screw thread, thus existing correction lenses can only be used via an stepping ring – what results in a reduced field of view.

Via this stepping ring other accessories like the angle finder or viewfinder magnifiers can be used. Leica includes a nice too to screw and unscrew the ring to camera and accessories.

Optional: Visoflex EVF

The Leica M10 can use the Visoflex 020 which is known from Leica TL and X113. It has an integrated GPS receiver, its data are written to the EXIF files.

Leica M10: First WiFi Leica M

Wifi is standard in most cameras nowadays. But Wifi with a Leica M is a surprise, especially as it has some great details.

Bad news first: When the Leica M is controlled by the Leica M App only exposure correction and white balance can be changed. Aperture, shutter speed and ISO are not accessible.

The Leica M10 and the app can connect in two ways: Either the camera creates an own network which the mobile device can connect to or both use an existing network. A password is needed only once, after the initial process the connection starts without data input.

The Leica M10 transfers not only JPEG to the app but also DNGs, which can then be processed via Adobe Lightroom Mobile.

Not included is an USB port – and Leica doesn’t plan a Multifunctional Handgrip with USB like for the Leica M240. Thus studio photography and tethered shooting are not the Leica M10’s domain.

More Leica M10 Accessories

Of course the Leica M10 comes with accessories. Besides standards like half cases, straps and handgrip Leica offers something new – new at least from Leica. Now the official accessory range now includes a thumb rest which was available up to now only from other manufacturers.

Price and Availability

The Leica M10 is available as of now in silver and black chrome. The Euro price is 6,500 €.

The Leica M240 remains available, just as the other Leica M models (M-D, M262 and Monochrome)

If you want to save 6,500 € (or confirm your Leica prejudices), you can relax after taking a quick glance at the specs and the price tag. No autofocus? No more megapixels? 5 fps continuous shooting? No way, I’ll keep my DSLR…

But if you know the appeal of rangefinder photography you should take a look: At the Leica M10 and through its rangefinder. The Leica engineers kept the focus on the essentials of rangefinder photography, on the core advantages and strengths of this concept while listening carefully to the customers’ requests.

The lack of video and tethered shooting won’t bother the Leica M afficionado. But the improved rangefinder, the simplified handling and the increased image quality are convincing arguments to to for the Leica M10.

About The Author

Andreas is Photo Engineer and lives in Bonn, Germany. He runs the international Leica Forum, the Systemkamera Forum (about CSC cameras) and the Fuji X Forum.
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4 Comments

  1. Does anyone know if the new M10 offers double exposure capability?

  2. […] a month after the release of the Leica M10, the German camera manufacturer has published a firmware  version 1.3.4.0. In addition to […]

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