Leica M10-D: The Digital Camera for Film Purists

8Share

Leica has always had a penchant for remaining true to its filmic heritage, and this sentiment rings loud and clear with the newest M-series digital rangefinder, the M10-D. Fresh off the release of the stills-only M10-P, and the true successor to 2016’s unique M-D (Typ 262), the new M10-D takes the core imaging capabilities of its flagship rangefinder and places it in a stripped-down, minimalistic body without a rear LCD screen. This controversial decision by Leica was “based around the idea of using a camera completely free from distractions, allowing the user to fully focus on their subjects and the core photographic settings at hand.” By removing the menu system and all playback functions, photographers are forced to concentrate on their process and enjoy the moment—akin to photographing with film. However, as a digital camera, the M10-D still benefits from the imaging flexibility and ease of post-production when compared to film.

Leica M10-D (Back view)

The M10-D has the same imaging specifications as the M10-P, including the full-frame 24MP CMOS sensor and Maestro II image processor, which afford a wide dynamic range, true color rendition, a sensitivity range from ISO 100-50000, and a continuous shooting rate of up to 5 fps. This new model also uses roughly the same body design; it has a 0.73x-magnification viewfinder, has the slimmer body profile that debuted with the M10, and features a built-in ISO dial for easier adjustment of exposure settings.

From here, the M10-D begins to differentiate itself. The calling card of the camera is its lack of a rear LCD monitor. In its place, on the rear of the body, is an exposure compensation dial (a first for Leica M bodies) and surrounding this dial is an outer ring to turn the camera On/Off or set it to On with Wi-Fi. And just as disorienting as seeing a digital camera without a screen for the first time is seeing a digital camera with a film advance lever… well, it’s not really an advance lever, but rather an integrated fold-out thumb rest for greater stability and handling, especially when working with heavier lenses. Finally, giving the M10-D a bit more versatility than its predecessor, this new model also has built-in Wi-Fi, which works in concert with the newly introduced Leica FOTOS app. This app, available for iOS and Android, will allow you to pair the camera with a mobile device for transferring images, remotely controlling the camera and shooting with a live view image, and enabling you to adjust a selection of camera features, such as choosing between JPEG or DNG, setting the time and date, and formatting your memory card. Also new, the M10-D will be compatible with the Visoflex electronic viewfinder for TTL viewing, extra-precise focusing, and for working with super wide-angle lenses.

Be sure to view the purist video about the Leica M10-D that we shot at the Photo Plus Expo 2018.

What do you think of Leica’s bold move? Would you ever consider working with a camera without a rear LCD screen? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.

8 Comments

The beauty of film has little to do with the camera and everything to do about processing and printing. I can remember the days (Not too long ago) where a great photographer was judged on their expertise in the darkroom almost as much as their ability to take the picture.

I still see talented photographers today get great results with old classic film cameras (older Leica M film cameras for example), and I think that great photographers should not be limited to people who can afford thousands of dollars on cameras every two years when their "New" camera is obsolete.

Photographers did not have to worry about buying new equipment, as cameras typically lasted 40-60 years. Their money was much better spent other ways such as traveling, where they could be inspired to use their talents shooting in new places rather than worrying about getting the newest technology.

Sorry, but the Leicas are not made in Germany anymore they are made in Portugal or Austria. That doesn't mean they are not very good, but it does mean that Leica needs to make it "Cheaper" and still charge the most.

There are many cameras that cost $1,000s (Especially with the lens prices.) less that are as good or better.

Compare any Leica with a Canon 5D IV or a Nikon D850. Even a Nikon D750 is up there with the best. Save your money and put it towards a "Better " lens in the $800-$1200 range. I would consider the Nikons in the D5500 or D5400 the best for the money. Try any one of them with the Nikon 35mm 1.4 or the 20mm 1.8. Always test first.

Did you test the Leica extensively?

OMG, how pretentious is this and at what a price premium !  If you really want to shoot film, then shoot film.

This is a great camera. I didn't realize how much I missed this kind of workflow until I went back to my analogue M. The tactile feel of the controls, especially winding up the shutter gives a better feel, valuing every shot and thinking through the creative process and mechanics rather than just shooting away. While the new M10-D winds automatically, unless you’re shooting with the Visoflex, it doesn’t show you a proof shot on a screen, so you’re fully concentrated on the creative process of capturing the image. It brings me back to the days when my first photography instructor instructed us on the first day of class to remove the batteries from our cameras, because we  won’t need our exposure meters throughout the class. That doesn’t work with digital cameras now, but back then, it disciplined us to master exposure evaluation as we were shooting, which I still practice today. While the M10-D does have automatic settings, it doesn’t give you the immediate exposure feedback through clipping masks or histograms. It does give you a very rapid control of exposure compensation on the fly to really nail that exposure based on the scene especially for digital. That mechanical control and the tactical feel gives it a very intuitive feel in your hands without having to take your eye off the image. When I take long exposures for instance, I don’t look at my watch to time the exposure. I use a musician’s metronome to help me count the seconds accurately so I can focus on the scene, lest a bird fly through it and ruin the shot without my knowledge. The M10-D really sets you fee to bring out the creative imaging artist in you.

Trust me there are many other cameras which can give you HQ photos. You may need a Doctor to help you as a "Studio Assistant".

Sarcasm not necessary.

While I'm sure that the images coming out of this camera/lens combo are fitting with the Leica tradition, I, like so many other photographers, am quite capable of "focusing on the photographic process without distraction" with the Fujifilm X-T3 (and their superb Fujinon XF lenses), despite the myriad of buttons, dials, and menu options on that camera. I think the ad copy should espouse the great image quality of the Leica System instead. Thank you. 

Close

Close

Close