When I first got my Leica M10-P I referred to it as being brilliantly underwhelming. This isn’t the most complimentary sounding comment I don’t think, but actually it comes from a place of feeling really very satisfied with it as a camera.
For a specific set of my needs, the Leica M10-P does exactly what it’s supposed to and does so in a way that I needn’t put a second of thought into how I use it and what I use it for. But none of this is because it’s the most technologically advanced camera I own – instead it’s because it feels like it’s the most well refined as a concept. And for that alone, I see it as only a little less than a complete success as a camera.
Despite this – in fact probably because of this – I actually don’t use it all that extensively. Which likely sounds like a slightly daft attitude to have toward a camera that is singularly worth more than the sum total of most (if not all) of my other cameras combined…? I’m also aware that it’s not entirely without flaw. And indeed as a rangefinder camera, it’s far from universally appealing.
The thing is, when I do use it, and what I use it for, it just feels nigh on perfect to me. In fact, as well as calling it brilliantly underwhelming, I’ve also referred to it as being the “best camera I’ve ever used”. Of course, phrases like that run precariously close to hyperbole, especially when taken out of context.
As such, this article is designed – alongside the more simple job of reviewing the camera – to be the context to these statements. I want to talk about how I see it as being the best camera I’ve ever used, yet I am able to simultaneously find it quite underwhelming, and indeed be completely aware of and accepting of its shortcomings… despite the amount I paid for it.
The Leica M10-P is not the best camera ever made
Ok, so let me start with my statement that it’s “the best camera I have ever used”. For clarification, I’m not for one minute suggesting that no other camera that’s ever been made is better. In fact, objectively speaking, I could make a very strong argument that the camera I shoot at work – the Sony A7Riii – is a significantly “better” camera.
When I say “best” I mean that context of it fulfilling its specific set of goals as a camera. Of course, there are very few cameras that are designed with the same goals as a Leica rangefinder. In fact, as the latest version of the m-mount rangefinder concept, with Leica being the only company that make this type of camera*, I suppose that it should go without saying that it’s the best at what it is. It is, after all, basically without competition.
*I’m not including Pixii here, as I talked about in a recent post, I actually see it as a very different concept of camera.
What I’m actually trying to say here is that I think the Leica M10-P is better at being a manual focus digital rangefinder camera than the aforementioned Sony A7riii is at being an autofocus digital mirrorless camera. In fact, I can’t think of many digital cameras that are as good as the Leica M10-P is at fulfilling their basic purpose. The key to this – at least in my eyes – is how simple that basic purpose is.
The digital rangefinder niche
The Leica M10-P is a niche product very specifically designed for a small percentage of photographers who want a simple to use, comparatively stripped back feature set in a digital rangefinder camera. That is to say, those who shoot Leica digital rangefinders – at least as a general rule – just don’t seem to be that interested in the bells and whistles. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that many of the people who shoot these cameras do so – at least in part – to relieve themselves of the overwhelming and complex nature of the cameras available from other brands.
What’s interesting about this is that it seems to extend to the photographic power of the Leica M10-P. Leica are often accused by their detractors of charging more cash for cameras that aren’t as high quality when it comes to the output compared to that from other cameras on the market. We who buy them are sometimes derided for paying more for lower maximum ISOs, lower pixel counts and less dynamic range etc. This might seem crazy to some, but as someone who shoots a Leica M-mount digital rangefinder – in the same way as I don’t fuss about those things when I’m shooting film – I can tell you that those factors are just not my highest priorities when I’m shooting my Leica M10-P.
Because of all this, Leica don’t need to conform to the more common camera design philosophy of adding more and more features or excessive jumps in photographic power with each model iteration to sell them in the same way many of the other brands need to. Instead, they just need to conform – at least as much as is possible – to the pretty much fixed design philosophy of the Leica M rangefinder.
Refining the concept
As such, when talking about Leica refining the M10-P, the conversation about what “refining” means is slightly different when compared to when having the same conversation about a Sony camera. Unlike the likes of Sony who try to create cameras that are the best fit for as many people as possible, and therefore are designed to be the “best” all round camera, Leica are instead unusually positioned to just create a camera that’s slightly better at fulfilling the a very specific set of goals for a small niche audience of users.
And with the 66 years under their belts since they launched the first version of this camera (the Leica M3) and then 14 of those years of refining the digital m-mount rangefinder concept since the Leica M8, it should come as no surprise that they’ve done a pretty good job. In fact, really, they probably should’ve got here sooner… But, regardless of that, they’re here now, and as I’ve said – though still not perfect – the Leica M10-P is – in my opinion at least – a very successful camera!
So what have they refined in the Leica M10-P?
Despite there being not much to the Leica M10-P, there is actually quite a lot that I am going to talk about here. I’m not going to dig into the minutia of every feature and function, mostly I just want to talk about the features that I feel have really helped to refine this camera over previous Leica digital rangefinders… and indeed some of the stuff that still falls short.
A quick note on the Leica M10-P vs. M10
A lot of what I’m about to talk about also applies to the non-‘P’ version of the M10. As I get through this, I will just highlight the few extras the Leica M10-P also brings to the table. Hopefully, if you’re reading this trying to decide if you should fork out the extra cash for the ‘P’, this should hopefully help you work out which version to go for.
Smaller/Nicer to Handle
The Leica M10-P (and M10) has a slightly smaller form factor compared to all of the digital Leica rangefinders that came before. As I’ll get to later, this didn’t come without sacrifices, but if you’re used to the form factor of the original film cameras (excluding of course the M5), the Leica M10-P feels significantly more pleasant in the hand.
What I particularly like about it compared to my old M262 is the sense of density to it. Something about the M262 made it feel a little hollow. There really is only a few millimetres in it, but both the thinner body and more dense feeling body make Leica M10-P feel a lot more pleasant in the hand. The black chrome, as opposed to the black paint finish is also a preference of mine – though I know many will disagree with that one.
The shutter in Leica digital rangefinders seems to get quieter with each iteration. The M8 and M9 made a bit of a racket, the 240 and 262 were quieter, and though I haven’t used one, the M10 was supposed to be quieter still. The shutter in the Leica M10-P is even more quiet than the M10. To be honest, this isn’t really a big deal for me – I never found even the M8 to make to intrusive a noise, but if nothing else, the subtle deadened noise of the shutter in the Leica M10-P adds something the feel of the quality of the camera overall – especially alongside the aforementioned density of the thing.
Live view… but no video!
When the M240 was released, the sense of disbelief in some photographers that Leica had added live view and video was actually quite amusing. As if a Leica rangefinder would need such features?! I wasn’t so sure myself actually, but when I came to the use the M240 I was instantly sold on the live view. The screen wasn’t quite good enough to make use of it perfectly, but it was good enough to hint at the possibility of what live view could bring to this system.
As for video… It was the shift away from CCD to CMOS that allowed these added features, but as the saying goes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I tried the video on the M240 a total of once. The problem with adding video is that it creates a need for so much other clutter. If Leica were to make it a useful feature, they would have to add things like HDMI and mic ports, not to mention all of the added guff in the menu. I really am glad they saw it as a dead end for the Leica rangefinder and ditched it on the M10 and Leica M10-P.
The screen on the Leica M10-P is actually a touch screen, whereas the screen on the M10 isn’t. I’ll share a few brief thoughts on touch functionality in a moment, but for now, I just want to point out that for the first time Leica have managed to find a screen that feels commensurate with the quality of the camera.
It has good enough resolution to judge sharpness, and at the same time isn’t overly warm or overly cool like the screen on the M262 and 240 respectively. I just shows a largely accurate rendition of the image coming from the sensor. As I’ve said, sometimes it seems like 14 years is a long time for Leica to taken to get some of this right…
The Leica M10-P ISO dial
The Leica M10-P (and M10) ISO dial sits on the top left hand edge of the camera. Its design is a nod to the early rewind knob seen on the M3, M2, and then brought back to the MP and M-A. It clicks upward which allows you to change the setting, then clicks back down to lock the setting in. There’s a range of ISOs from 100 to 6400, an ‘A’ (for auto) setting which can be configured for maximum high ISO and slow shutter speeds. It also has an ‘M’ for manual setting which allows the ISO to be set to higher speeds than 6400 and more intermediate speeds via the menu.
I don’t use the latter. I just use the auto setting and then use dial to set it manually when the need arises. Auto is great for when I just want to point and shoot. Having a configured floating ISO in combination with a floating shutter speed allows for very easy worry free shooting. When I’m shooting in more difficult lighting, it’s very easy just to flick up the dial, lock in a speed and carry on shooting without having to think about going into any menus or press and hold buttons whilst rotating dials etc. In one quick glance at the top of the camera, all the settings in the exposure triangle can be understood – and that’s something I appreciate a great deal!
In fact, when I first saw this dial in the Leica M10-P release announcement, my gut reaction was mostly one of wondering why they hadn’t done it before. I wonder if perhaps that the Leica ethos of yore was that photographers who shot digital M rangefinders shot them more similarly to film cameras…? Certainly the M8 and M9 made for a slightly fiddly selection of ISO. The later M240 and M262 didn’t seem logical to me either. In fact, I incorrectly reported how manually changing the ISO was actioned in my M262 review. In hindsight I can see I was just being a bit thick, but really to me, one of the big advantages of digital is being able to quickly change ISO so the closer that level of control is to hand, and the easier it is to understand, the better.
Less Buttons and Switches
I get mocked to my face by some of my closer friends in the photography community about my obsession with buttons on cameras, but honestly, I don’t care. The fewer buttons a camera has, the more at home I feel with it. I’ve been testing myself a little when it comes to this assertion with the Fuji X100v and more recently a Pentax MZ-S – I like both of these cameras a great deal, but really, they do have too many buttons and switches.
Of course, the aforementioned ISO dial is an added dial. But as I’ve hopefully made clear, that one can be excused as – apart from the preferences I’ve outlined already – it also allowed for the removal of one of the buttons off the back of the camera. In fact, compared to the 6 buttons down the side of the screen on the M240, the Leica M10-P (and M10) only has 3.
This might seem limiting, but actually the camera is no harder to use for having less buttons. If anything it seems more simple. Especially, if like me, you don’t need or have any regular desire to use, for eg, the interim or higher ISO settings.
LV switches on the live view. The PLAY and MENU buttons are self explanatory. Once in either the menu or play functions, the d-pad and centre button does all the navigation.
As mentioned, over the M10, The Leica M10-P also has the addition of touch screen navigation. This allows for swiping through images as well as a pinch-to-zoom in on images in play mode. Once zoomed in live view, it also allows you to move around the zoomed in image – though it doesn’t pinch-to-zoom as in play mode. I don’t really see these as essential refinements, but they do make the camera slightly faster than when using the d-pad in both cases.
The Rear Dial and Front Button
One of the things I really love about the Leica M10-P is how Leica didn’t feel the need to give it the nth degree of customisability. As I will get to in a minute, the menu can be customised, but beyond that only thing that can be configured is the thumb dial on the back.
The dial has two possible functions, exposure compensation and zooming in and out when in live view. In the menu there is an option to set which of these two functions is allocated to the dial. Whichever one you choose, the other is accessed by pressing the front button. I have the dial set to exposure compensation primarily, as that’s the function I use most of the two.
The menu has been simplified too. With things like Wi-fi options for transferring images to a smartphone via the Fotos app, there is more options in the menu than the ultra slimmed down M262 menu. But to keep things simple, Leica have set up the menu system so that the first click of it brings up a screen of just the menu items you need quick access. ￼In the menu, this is accessed via the same item as the setting up on the real dial functionality. There is an option to customise the menu where you can simply select ‘yes’ by the ones you want.
For my custom menu, I just have lens detection (which is usually set to off anyway), the ‘ISO Setup’ menu, the ‘Capture Assistants’ and ‘Leica Fotos’ for when I want to beam photos to my iPhone. Funnily enough, I only really use the latter two of those items, but since I have requirement for so few things in the menu, I doesn’t feel harmful to my sensibilities to let the other two remain for the few times I do use them.
Better at being a mirrorless camera
One of the things I really love about the Leica M10-P is how much better it is at being a mirrorless camera alongside its core function as a rangefinder. As far as I understand it, Leica’s goal was to allow better use of their R-Mount lenses. Of course, in doing so, they have actually created a platform that’s a lot more usable for adapting all sorts of different lenses.
For some reason, this idea seems to horrify a lot of people. I have written articles talking about times I had used the Leica M10-P with my Nikon 35mm shift lens, as well as a Sony 135mm STM lens. On both occasions I was asked why I would mount such lenses to it, and in some cases even told that one of the main reasons to use Leica cameras is the Leica lenses. I have ranted about the stupidity of that latter ideal before here, but I am happy to give some room to the idea that mounting some of these other lenses might seem a little odd… at least at first. In reality though, the Leica M10-P makes for a very compelling option for lens adapting all sorts of lenses, in fact, for my tastes even more than the M10.
Zoom to check focus
For a start, as I have already said, it has live view that allows you to zoom in on the image to check focus. This zooming can even be set to happen automatically when you start manually focusing, though I find this a little irritating so have it set to manual. As I’ve already said, this is accessed by a press of the front button.
The Leica M10-P, like he M240, also has focus peaking. What I particularly like about the implementation of the focus peaking is that it doesn’t appear on the screen until you press the front button so isn’t always there distracting from the image when you don’t want it to be. And since there is an option to set the zoom to un-zoomed, and the amount of zoom is remembered by the camera, pressing the front button can simply activate the focus peaking.
Better quality accessory viewfinder
The quality of the screen inside the articulating ‘Visoflex’ accessory viewfinder is also a bit step up from the one inside the viewfinder for the M240, which was just not that good for checking focus. The fact that the eye-level accessory viewfinder articulates and not the screen on the back is also a preference of mine. With cameras like the Sonys, it’s all well and good being able to fold up the screen to check focus, but in bright light or where critical focus is necessary, the eye-level finder is always a preference. Because of this, I find the articulating ‘Visoflex’ finder a lot more useful… though, as you will read in a moment, I do have some reservations about its design!
As I have already said, I am not averse to mounting all sorts of weird and wonderful lenses on my Leica M10-P, one of them being my shift lens. Something that makes using shift lenses for architectural photography is having some sort of digital spirit level or virtual horizon. The M10 doesn’t have this feature, but the Leica M10-P does.
Better Edge/Corner Performance
In fairness, better edge and corner performance is something that brings value to mounting some M and LTM lenses to the Leica M10-P. My little Voigtlander 28mm works better on the M10-P than it has on any of the other digital Leica cameras I have owned or used. But, of course, this also brings value to mounting all sorts of other lenses to the system that on some systems would be a lot softer into the corners or have funny colours toward the edges of the frame.
Where the Leica M10-P still falls short
All sound rosy? Well, of course, it’s not perfect. No camera is, but to reiterate the point again, it does amaze me a little bitthat Leica have managed to get this far and are still making cameras that aren’t, well, a lot closer to perfect…
As mentioned before, the smaller size of the camera has come with some sacrifices. The first is that the smaller camera has meant a smaller battery. I had hoped that the Leica M10-P would be more efficient and therefore that the smaller battery wouldn’t cause to much issue. As it turns out, this wasn’t to be the case – or at least perhaps because I use live view slightly more now it isn’t so poor – the battery seems to drain a lot quicker than the one in the M262 and M240.
No longer compatible with goggled lenses
Something else that happened when Leica shrank the body of the camera was that the lens mount got thicker. I actually worried a little bit about this when I bought the Leica M10-P as I thought it looked a bit odd in the pictures and might give a sense that lenses stuck out from the body too much. In reality, I had nothing to worry about – I haven’t noticed once since owning the camera. That said, if you have goggled lenses, the goggles won’t work with the Leica M10-P as they sit too far away from the viewfinder.
No longer compatible with cut out lens adapters
This is something I have fallen foul of a few times recently. I have a full set of Voigtlander LTM-M mount adapters that I use with quite a lot of lenses – not least my ever-growing collection of Sonnars. The issue is, the design of these adapters is such that that they have a cut out area to allow some lenses with infinity locks to rotate without interacting with the mount. Unfortunately, this cut out reveals the 6-bit code reader. This wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that the reader is also responsible for switching the live view off when a lens is detached. As such, when the camera is switched to live view, with the cutout adapters, the live view will randomly turn off as if the lens has been detached.
On the M240, if you set the lens detection to manual, it wouldn’t do this. This is not the case with the Leica M10-P, so now I need to buy a new set of adapters. In the meanwhile, I have been trapping a bit of tinfoil in the mount.
Poorly designed Visoflex
As I mentioned when I was praising the ‘Visoflex’ accessory finder above, whilst its a good viewfinder, it wasn’t designed for the Leica M10-P. In fact, it was designed for the Leica T. On the Leica T and Leica TL, whilst quite big, it sits quite nicely on top of the camera. On the Leica M10-P (and M10), it’s too big and thus covers over part of the shutter speed dial which makes it hard to read some of the speeds. I can see that that Leica were just trying to save a bit of money here by not making another viewfinder just for this camera, but really, this just seems crap to me.
Front button position
As much as I have praised the functionality of the dial and front button, the position of the button on the front doesn’t work for me. It is positioned as a nod to the rewind release on the button version of the M2, but I don’t think that button was ever designed to be pressed with the right hand holding the camera. As such, it just feels awkward to find and press – and it doesn’t seem to matter how much I use the camera, I still struggle to find it!
It’s a bit slow
I have to admit, the speed of the Leica M10-P is not something I have ever fallen foul of, but I know of a few people that are quite critical of its speed. This issue seems to most bother people who like to be able to shoot quickly, yet sporadically – for eg, street photographers. The issue seems to be summed up by the fact that when the camera goes to sleep, it can take a moment to come back to life. At the same time, if you turn off the power saving mode, the battery drains too quickly. It’s also a little slow to start up if you switch it off between shots. As I say though, I don’t find this an issue in the way I use the camera.
Leica M10-P Photos
So after all that, maybe you’re thinking I call it brilliantly underwhelming because I find it both brilliant and underwhelming. Well, you’d be right to a point, but unlike when I called the Sony A7Rii a “superb farce” of a camera, and didn’t like it for all the reasons I found it to be a farce, I actually really like all the Leica M10-P for all the reasons I find it underwhelming. In fact, so much so, that I can actually forgive it of its shortcomings, and rarely notice them in use!
I’ve actually been underwhelmed by my Leica M10-P since day one. Once I had made the choice to get one, I was very keen to get it – but when I first took it out of the box, I found myself to be a lot less excited to have it than I expected. I suppose what I really mean by “underwhelmed” is simply that I wasn’t overwhelmed by it. I put a lens on it, had a quick look in the menu, felt that I understood how to use it entirely in the space of about 5 minutes, then set it aside and went about my day. As it was, I don’t think I even used it in anger for at least a week after I received it. Not because I didn’t want to, I just didn’t need to. I knew that when the time came to shoot it, I wouldn’t have any issue just picking it up and getting on with it – and that’s exactly what happened.
If you compare that to the experience with the Fuji X100v, you can perhaps see why this is such a big deal to me. I wrote an article almost as long as this one just about how I have set up the X100v buttons, and to be honest, I still don’t feel like I’ve got to grips with entirely. The X100v – despite very strong efforts by Fuji – is, to me, an overwhelming camera. The Leica M10-P isn’t.
But, the simplicity of the Leica M10-P is just part of what makes me feel underwhelmed by it. I don’t think by many people’s standards there’s much that’s particularly exciting about these cameras. This is a big chunk of the reason why Leica have so many detractors when it comes to the M-Mount digitals – they don’t do much, and thanks to their functionalist design, they don’t look very exciting either. But even as someone who’s familiar with, and indeed gets a lot of enjoyment out of shooting a Leica rangefinder, there really isn’t that much to get excited about when it comes to the Leica M10-P – it’s just not different enough from what came before to make it that exciting.
But as I’ve hopefully got across, nothing about this feels like a bad thing to me. Quite the opposite in fact. Leica have – at least in my opinion – have done a superb job evolving this concept. The Leica M10-P solves more of the problems of the digital rangefinder concept than any of them have so far. But not through Leica just throwing more and more at it.
Making the concept digital rangefinder more complicated and feature-packed would have been the easy path to take – like Sony, they could have just thrown the kitchen sink in there in the hope that more and more people would like it. But that isn’t what the Leica digital rangefinder concept is about. It is instead a simple product; by design, sure, but also because that’s what its user base wants. 66 years in, with a few mistakes, and at least one largely less well received tangent under their wing, they are almost duty bound to refine and subtly evolve and improve the concept.
As I have outlined, they never get it quite right – and it does seem to take ages for them to achieve improvements that seem quite obvious – but certainly when it comes to the digital versions of this camera, the Leica M10-P feels like the most successful, and indeed the most complete camera in the series so far. I personally want for nothing when I use it.
Though I must admit, I can’t help wondering what the M11 will bring…
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17 thoughts on “Leica M10-P Review – A Brilliantly Underwhelming Digital Rangefinder”
Good review, Hamish. The results are excellent, so it’s down to personal interaction with the camera, and for me the less I have to worry about, the better. Simplicity Rules. So I totally get the tenor of your review. Leica have got the simple things right, and that evidently is not easy. I’m very much still in love with my M9 Monochrom and M-A (setting aside your misgivings) and if I ever want a colour M digital, I’ll consider buying your M10-P when you’ve changed your mind about it 🙂
Thanks Rob! Let’s see what the M11 brings to the table shall we 😉
I miss my m9m… still happy with the m4-p over the m-a though 😉
Excellent thoughts as usual Hamish. I understood what song you were humming within the first few bars. If I were flush and going on a road trip documenting American cities (pre-pandemic), I can think of no better companion than the Leica M10-P. It is a niche camera not only for its price but for its feature-set. Any working photog, used to system cameras like Nikon or Canon, would find it very limiting. But it is a specific tool, perfect for street photography. I believe it was the British who coined the phrase “snapshot” in reference to taking quick aim at moving game. One of the most frustrating things about my Leica SL (Type 601) is bringing it to my eye to catch a fleeting moment and seeing nothing (since the EVF is off). Nothing! The SL is a brilliantly complicated, overwhelming camera, full of choice, and sophistication. But it is not a snap-shooter!
Thanks John! Of course, I’m some ways the m10 fats short of the snapshot ideal too. One of the big complaint is the speed to awake issue I mention. Let it go to sleep and when you bro g it to the eye there can be about a second delay before it does anything. One day they will get there with all this stuff!
Pleased you enjoyed the review – and that my direction of waffle made sense…
I’m happy with my M-P 240 while wishing it had better features for adapted lenses (ie. LV usability and features). M10P is a dream camera but from what I understand it’s not perfect. One thing in particular, aside poor EVF of MP240 is how you can’t have LV magnification outside center area, hindering tripod working. M10P would answer this, and much more. But these are quite minor upgrades for a thick wad of money so I’m biding my time.
I’m waiting for what M11 has in store for me. I fear it won’t offer the perfect experience for LV users either, Leica maybe having trouble making the chip low-power enough to have the battery life for example. Or perhaps they cite legacy concerns, saying that M is not supposed to be this LV, mirrorless camera. If this is the case, I have saved a good chunk of money, because sticking to M lenses and OVF, the MP240 is just stupendous.
Like you, I see immense value in ability to adapt any old glass on the M. M lenses are wonderful but if you want to take the occasional landscape shot with a Canon FD 200 mm then it is most wonderful you can achieve this with just one body.
People say, one can adapt those lenses on a Sony or Nikon and get other benefits too. Yes, but Leica M (or SL) is the only platform that offers good support for M lenses too. In this sense M (or SL) is the most versatile platform, of them all.
PS. In the meanwhile I’ve been romancing DSLRs again. Nikon Df in particular.
One may have noticed how DSLRs start to appear very simplistic cameras after the mirrorless cameras just march ahead, adding complexity and whatnot.
A basic DSLR where one sticks to BBF and uses Focus-recompose technique, the overall experience comes *pretty* close to a rangefinder one IMO…
I’ve been having that sort of fun with a Pentax MZ-S film camera – it’s really quite advanced by my standards!
I tend to agree!
My point of view will be: this is only to stay by Leica M photography style, but my Sony A7 RII is a better camera also if I do not like the menus …
In fact this is with digital cameras we discover the most that no camera is perfect 😉
We have to take Leica M digital camera for what they are : the RF experience which we can get maybe in a better way with the Fuji X3-pro which has great lens and provide great results … 😉 who needs really so many pixels. I use my Sony at half pixels for the flowers I take which I must reduce the size to use as back for my thoughts in my Philosophical web site, so …. before I have a Fuji and pictures was clean
For film Leica M is one of better experience with TLR.
A Leica Digital M is to keep a feeling knowing we will never match the result of top cameras as Sony and Nikon, but they will stay in market. Olympus has left, some will do to, Leica I do not think so, because they have a niche and this is a luxury brand under the eyes of a famous french luxury company. Just hope they will not have too much lose with their amazing cooperation with an asian big brand that nearly all the world care now for real reasons … Leica does not need this kind of cooperation, it depreciate his value, what is a Leica lens on a smartphone : this is bigger joke than Sony A7 RII
Bonjour Eric, reading you I am just wondering whether you have ever used a Leica M… it does not sound so, in which case why assert “my Sony A7 RII is a better camera” when you may not be able to compare. I’d like to illustrate my point rather than just say “I have a better feel and photographing experience from my Leica than any Sony I have used”—which is true but remains a very personal experience, one that also depends on what I expect from the tools I use and how I use them. So…, first, as Hamish points out in his review, using a Leica M is a unique experience: some may enjoy it, some may not but let us acknowledge a sure fact those who do… do. How could that many people be so wrong? At first what probably strikes any Leica user is the feeling of fine craftsmanship and durability, the result of careful manufacturing and testing (the cameras are assembled and tested individually and mostly by hand in Germany—which may give you a hint about the reason for their cost—from a French perspective, the difference between a real Laguiole and a cheap Chinese imitation/fake reproduction). DSLRs, which are extremely practical tools do not tend to provide this experience. Second, one of the key elements of any camera may not be just the camera itself but its lenses. In that respect few lens makers match the solidity, care, precision and resolution of Leica lenses (60 pairs of line per mm with the new generations)—which may also explain that even used/old Leitz lenses tend to keep a high market value. If Sony has improved the quality of its lenses, the first generations did not match either Canon or Nikon,… or Leica. Some of us who have had cameras and lenses for a few decades do appreciate that we can still use our Leica lenses (manufactured when Sony was known for its Walkmans, before they bought defunct Minolta (a brand, by the way, which did collaborate with Leica for the making of SLRs and 2 range-finders (CL and CLE)). Another misconception in your reply is that a Fuji X-pro 3 may give its user a better RF experience… the X-pro series is not, strictly speaking, a range-finder of the same caliber as any Leica M. Fuji’s is an electronic RF whereas Leica is mechanical one and as such more precise, reliable and in my experience also more user-friendly. What the X-pro (as well as the X100) series brings to the table is a more usable electronic view-finder, just at the tip of its user’s index (not the case of Leica that only provides a rather cumbersome if not ugly “appendice” ). “For film Leica M is one of better experience with TLR.” [???] How do TLR cameras provide a “better film experience” than Leicas? Could you explain? TLRs and Ms play in two different leagues. The former ones use 6×6 cm (120 format) film the others 35 mm film. 12 exposures against 36 to the roll. There is also a far greater choice of lenses with Leica than with TLR brand. One comment comment to mind: if one would like to enjoy a medium format film experience, why not choose Hasselblad? Having used both TLRs, Leicas, and Hasselblads, I can assure you these three types of cameras provide totally different experiences which are difficult to compare. The real criteria, in my opinion, is what one uses them for (the answer being: for different reasons, thence the difficulty of truly comparing them). “A Leica Digital M is to keep a feeling knowing we will never match the result of top cameras as Sony and Nikon” Again here “feeling” really depends what one uses those cameras for. One does use a RangeFinder for the same reasons as a DSLR or mirrorless camera. In terms of “better” built and quality of lenses: most Leica users who know their cameras and lenses, may assert that their equipment is far better than what you seem to think (in this area, a legend is not a myth! ;o). As for Leica being “a luxury brand under the eyes of a famous french luxury company,” I suppose that you are here referring to Hermès, it sounds that you have lost track of what has happened to Leica for the past 10 years or so (since the Kaufmann family has been in charge). And finally in terms of cell-phones, correct me if I am wrong, but Sony seems also to be producing cell-phones… so what is this point about?
I would advise you to try and use a Leica M10-P if you can and then share what your experience has been compared with the one you have had with your SONY A7 RII… it would be fairer.
Nice review, Hamish. I agree, when I shoot with the my M10, I don’t find myself in want of anything – quite similar to when I shot with my M4-2. I think I feel this way because my upgrade path to the M10 came from the M8. The M10 is faster, has better finder, the menu system is great and the ability to shoot at higher ISOs makes it a great package but now that you’ve brought it up– why did it take Leica so long to get here? 🙂 But in all honesty, when i finally decided bought the M10, it didn’t feel as special as what I assumed I would get for the price. It felt a bit clinical and perfect. I missed the quirks and some of the M8 image quality. I think I’m over it now and I appreciate the M10 for it’s “perfection” but I can’t seem to part with the M8.
But like one poster said, if I were going take a camera all over the world I personally can’t think of a better companion (ok, maybe the M10 D, lol) because, in this iteration of the digital M there are hardly any compromises for a digital RF shooter.
“The problem with adding video is that it creates a need for so much other clutter. If Leica were to make it a useful feature, they would have to add things like HDMI and mic ports, not to mention all of the added guff in the menu. I really am glad they saw it as a dead end for the Leica rangefinder and ditched it on the M10 and Leica M10-P.”
There is a long interview/discussion on Youtube between a Leica’s Andreas Kaufman and Ralph Gibson. Kaufman mentions they dropped video from the M10 as it caused the camera to overheat due to the smaller body:
The thing about the digital spirit level – it was present on the M240, they removed it on the M10 but added it back on the M10-P which is really lame.
The M10 should have had it if the M240 had it.. marketing I guess to make the M10-P seem more special.
Great review Hamish! You really did a great job to explain the pros and cons of this camera from a practical point of view. To me, the M10-P and the M10-D are really the most beautiful digital cameras from Leica. They look perfect and I do not know, what they really can improve on a M11 (except more megapixels which I do not need). Maybe a better battery life which is really perfect for the M240 and 262 cameras. You can shoot one day long without taking care of the battery. But up to now I will keep my MD-262 because I am very happy with it. And it is always the same question when you want to buy a new camera: will it improve my photos? And to be honest, in most cases you have to say no. But buying such a camera is always an affair of the heart and not of the brain.
Thanks, Marc! My bet is features like image stabilisation. I wouldn’t mind that, to be fair, but they need to sort out the battery life if they did it, as you say…
Yes I agree with you Hamish, Image Stabilisation, especially on the heavy-Mp M10 monochrome and M10 R would be a welcome addition but might increase the thickness of the camera and in doing so set us back to the M240. I must confess that after having used an M6 for years I did appreciate the new size of the M10 compared to the M240 and would not like to go back (in my opinion and experience, that reduction in size was worth losing the video capacity).
An excellent article where I learned something about the Leica thinking. Actually everything made total sense regarding why you appreciate the camera, except for the price. If the camera cost $3500, I could understand why folks would be drawn to it, but at $7000? If I were Leica, I would price the next camera for over $10,000…. why not? But I guess there’s things I would understand far less. Like somewhere there is a guy who paid $65 million for a Cy Twombly painting. Suddenly, the $7000 for the Leica seems like a bargain, and at least for the $7K, you get something of quality.
That’s it, I guess, value, price, etc. It’s all relative