Earlier this year Leica announced the first truly new M series rangefinder camera in four years. The M10. Whilst there were only limited quantities available it has already been making waves in the industry. So let’s take a little look at the brand and what this stunning new camera can do.
Leica is a german company which is the namesake of four independent companies.
Leica Microsystems, Leica Biosystems, Leica Geosystems and Leica Camera which is a manufacturer of digital and and analog cameras, designed for both the professional and amateur photographer. Back in 1913 Oskar Barnack built the first 35mm film Leica prototypes at Ernst Leitz Optische Werke in Wetzlar. The name of the company formed from the first three letters of Ernst Leitz name and the first two from the word camera. Lei-ca.
Fast forward to 1934 and leica put the M3 into production. With it’s bayonet mount and bright-line rangefinder the look of this camera is most definitely what formed the iconic ranges today.
The Germans are known for incredibly simple, ergonomic design. They place functionality over form however seem to stumble across both, repeatedly. German designers and engineers have a precision like no other which is why they are the leaders in so many products we see on the market today. The M10 is one of them
With a streamlined design M10 has fewer features than the M240. However if does have an all new image sensor, processor and, vitally, wireless connectivity. This places the M10 shoulder to shoulder in terms of quality of image and modern features with the brands other cameras.
The M10 is the first interchangeable lens digital rangefinder that Leica have produced, to have the same dimensions as its film cameras. Whilst being lighter, thinner and more delicate to the hand than the M240 it appears more like the M7 film camera. Whilst it is smaller, this camera is around the same weight than the old M10 and constructed with brass and magnesium. Looking slicker than ever with a stunning matte look it captures elegance and classic design with a modern twist. You will find the classic red leica dot however the M badging is no longer present. A bold statement by the company, but one that works. You don’t need the M to know exactly what this is.
When it comes to shutter speed you have to bear in mind that M cameras aren’t known for being action cameras. However the M10 performance is better than the M240 with an increase speed of 5fps over 3fps. Buffer also goes up with a 2GB memory which allows you to shoot 40 JPG images in one burst.
So, how does she handle and is she worth the $5,600 price tag?
Firstly Leica has definitely reached their goal of capturing the true essence of photography. Not only does the M10 feel sublime in your hand, there is a perfect blend between the brands roots and a practical camera relevant to the real world. When you are shooting, regardless of the subject, you feel you are creating a world in much more detail. The raw images are effortless but for the amateur photographer it is definitely worth taking an InDesign training class to maximise the potential of this fantastic camera.
The electronics have been shrunk dramatically which will give analogue users the product they have been lusting after. A digital camera which still gives the same ergonomic features they demand.
The WiFi capabilities really give you effortless shooting. With the iOS app you will be able to transfer JPG and DNG files to the mobile app for editing and instant sharing. You can also control the camera remotely with your iPhone or iPad which is an incredible addition for any hobbyists looking to enjoy the technology of the experts without the need to buy even more expensive equipment.
The sensor certainly delivers the goods giving you remarkable results up to ISO 6400 and possibly even further. You also have an option to shift magnification to the edge of the frame which makes manual focusing away from the centre far easier if you are composing your image via the screen. The thinner design and reduced power requirement allows for a smaller battery (1300mAh) You will see from various early reviews that the M10 doesn’t consume a lot of power so whilst the battery is smaller it certainly packs a punch when it comes to lifetime.
The M10 is going to be getting a whole bunch of accessories too which means you can
personalise the camera making it a little more bespoke to you. You have the Visoflex electronic viewfinder and Leica are going to produce their own thumb rest which will be finished with as much class as the body of the camera. Leica have also improved the system for fitting these retrofit add ons. You will also be able to purchase a screen protector, finger grips, a wide range of leather straps and cases and, of course, a leather holder.
When it comes to video capability you may feel a little wanting. Leica has ditched video altogether on the M10. Only the live view on the rear monitor remains. M Typ 240 can record in Full HD at 24, 25 or 30fps. However Leica has never really made it in the world of moving image. The brand purists won’t be affected by the decision to ditch video, however it does take something away, especially when you are paying over $5000 for the body alone.
For years analoge camera lovers have been desperate for a product which delivers that same nostalgic feel and usability and Leica have definitely delivered that. Yes, you are paying a hefty price to enjoy the experience but the quality of build gives you reassurance, making this a camera for a lifetime and one which you will enjoy every time you pick it up. In all we think Leica have produced a stunningly beautiful camera which will help you improve the quality of your images and to deliver more empathic photography.