Leica’s M-System rangefinder cameras are, in one oft-overused word, legendary. Made in various guises over the last 64 years, the latest iteration to join the German photographic stable is the new Leica M10.
Replacing the M9 (naturally) at the top of the digital rangefinder tree, the M10 provides a number of technical and ergonomic updates, which we were able to sample first-hand on last month’s Rétromobile classic car extravaganza.
Specially developed for the new camera, there’s an updated 24MP CMOS sensor delivering an increased ISO range of 100 to 50,000, making it an ideal partner even when shooting in lowlight, indoor environments.
The sensor’s most impressive skill however is its ability to beautifully render colours (especially the array of tones in clear skies) even before taking photos into Lightroom for a quick tickle, something aided by the Maestro-II processor.
Leica’s viewfinder has been improved too, providing a 30 per cent larger field of view and a 0.73 magnification factor, allowing for even easier use of the idiosyncratic rangefinder element, even for glasses wearers like us.
Ergonomically, the Leica M10 falls to hand exceptionally well thanks to its reduced dimensions compared to the outgoing M9.
After feedback from Leica’s band of loyal snappers, the M10 now more closely resembles the analogue film rangefinders of yesteryear. For candid event photography, it means the M10 is even more discreet and easy to wield at a moment’s notice.
Shooting with the new M10 is still an incredibly mechanical experience though, with all the major shoot settings (including, for the first time, the ISO) confined to analogue dials on top of the camera body.
Without the need to constantly return to the camera’s amazingly clear LCD rear display, shutter speed, ISO, focal length and focussing distance (the latter two found on Leica’s range of M-mount lenses) shooting a rapidly changing scene becomes second nature, with the Leica M10 eventually feeling like an extension of your own vision.
Faced with bitter cold and the first Parisian snow in years, we were also glad that the M10 is tougher than ever, its solid metal construction making it incredibly durable, while Leica has also worked hard to provide improved weatherproofing to the magnesium alloy body, adding new rubber seals to components to prevent water and dust ingress.
Of course, this technical excellence doesn’t come cheap. The new Leica M10 comes with £5,850 price tag for the body (with the excellent Leica Summicron 35mm f/2 lens that we used at Rétromobile adding a further £2,550). For many this will mean the Leica M10 will remain firmly on lottery win wishlist rather than in an actual kitbag.
This is undoubtedly a shame as, once we’d got our heads around the rangefinder setup, the Leica M10 meant our usual go-to DSLR didn’t see the light of day for the entirety of our Rétromobile visit.
£5,850 (body only), uk.leica-camera.com