Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Hands-On Impressions of the Leica M10

Leica just launched their replacement for the M9, and it looks like a worthy entry in their illustrious history of rangefinders. I really like the sound of the new ISO hardware dial, as described by Kevin Raber of Luminous Landscape:

The ISO dial is new. It is nice to have the ISO dial on top of the camera. You lift the dial, turn it to your selection, and push it back down. In other words, it won’t be possible to change this setting by accident. I do wish the dial was a bit bigger. You have to pinch the dial to lift it up. The way the dial is positioned, there is very little space, which is inconvenient if you have large fingers (like me). Once again, this was a hard setting to change with cold fingers. Leica should have thought twice before sending me out on one of the coldest days in NYC. You can change the ISO using the menu, which seemed to be easier at times.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with using the menus, but I’ve found that having hardware controls available keeps you in the moment. I generally have ISO set to automatic and use the hardware shutter speed and aperture dials on my camera, but there are times when I really want to be able to set the ISO. A physical control sounds like a worthy addition.

Barney Britton of DP Review was brave enough to take his review model to a rock show and the results look great. His impressions:

For all that, I’ve never really enjoyed the digital M-series models. The M8’s APS-H sensor felt like a compromise, and both that camera and the full-frame M9 always felt a little bloated, their shutters a bit too loud, their images a bit too noisy. Things got better – the Typ 240 and Typ 262 are very good cameras, and the Monochroms are fun – but neither they nor their predecessors ever really truly felt like a continuation of the classic film models. Leica claims that adding a movie mode to the Typ 240 was in response to demand from its customers, but the idea of shooting video on a rangefinder always seemed a bit silly to me.

The M10 can’t shoot video – let’s just get that out of the way. If you really need video in an M-series body, the Typ 240 is still available.

Personally, as you might be able to tell, I like the M10 a lot more than the Typ 240 and 262. There’s no single major change which makes all the difference, but rather a raft of little tweaks which add up to (in my opinion) a more attractive product than the the digital Ms which came before it.

At nearly $6,000 USD for the body alone, plus over $5,000 for an appropriate lens, the M10 is eye-wateringly expensive. But if you’re comfortable with that kind of outlay, it looks like it delivers in spades.