The Leica M10 offers the perfect balance of long-established tradition and technical innovation in one very slim and stylish package
The performance gap between high-end smartphones and a camera such as the Leica M10 is narrowing but the current ability for a phone to match the performance of a standalone camera is still a long way off. Even with the addition of external lenses to a smartphone and dedicated software, high-end cameras still come out way ahead, simply due to superior image quality. I might be a little biased being the owner of a Leica camera, but, I do also own a high-end iPhone and although both produce high-quality images at first glance, the differences become more obvious when used in our online and print articles.
Anytime Leica launches a new camera, it’s worthy of further investigation as along they sit amongst a handful of brands who can lay claim to producing the finest cameras in the world. Although I have not yet had the opportunity to try the camera first-hand, we can look at what the camera is purportedly capable of and the story behind its creation.
In creating the Leica M10, the company listened to the feedback from photographers working with film-based Leica M systems. Based on this feedback, the M10 was created to reflect the compact design of its analogue predecessors and is at the same time, the slimmest digital Leica M ever produced.
Used to capture some of history’s most iconic photographs, Leica M-Cameras have always focused on the essentials of photography. This principle now continues in the Leica M10, with its exceptionally intuitive operation and easy access to the most relevant photographic settings. For ultimate simplicity, the controls have been limited to just three buttons: Play, Live View and Menu, plus a single joystick on the back. A new Favourites Menu enables the photographer to store and select their most regularly used settings and personal preferences.
One of the most striking features on the new Leica M10 is an ISO setting dial on the top plate of the camera. For the very first time on a digital M, all essential functions, such as focusing, aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings, can be selected manually without the need to access a menu – or, indeed, even having to switch on the camera. This puts the photographer completely in control, and allows them to prepare their shot in advance, for even greater discretion.
At the heart of the Leica M10 is a 24 MP, full-frame CMOS sensor, developed specifically for this camera model, bringing a host of improvements in image performance – from its impressive dynamic range to exceptional contrast rendition, sharpness and fine resolution of detail.
Thanks to this newly-designed sensor, the ISO sensitivity range has been significantly increased, allowing exposures from ISO 100 to 50,000 – opening up entirely new genres of photography and delivering outstanding results, even in the most challenging lighting conditions.
The Leica M10 is also the fastest M-Camera ever made. A state-of-the-art, next-generation processor, combined with the brand new sensor, ensures stunning image quality, while the generous 2GB buffer memory, and continuous shooting at up to five frames per second, means photographers will simply never miss the decisive moment again.
Due to the fast processor, the camera’s loupe function can be freely positioned allowing even better sharpness assessment, both on the camera’s LCD screen and in conjunction with a Visoflex electronic viewfinder with 2.4 MP resolution. A convenient swivel feature enables shooting from various angles, while the integrated GPS function allows geotagging of image files.
The rangefinder has always played a significant role in the heritage of the Leica M, and this legendary focusing method has now been enhanced even further, with a 30 percent wider field of view and a magnification factor of 0.73. Eye-relief has been improved, too, with a 50 percent increase in distance of the eye from the viewfinder eyepiece, making it more comfortable to use, particularly for those wearing glasses.
Offering exceptional versatility for photographers, the Leica M10 is the first M-Camera with integrated WLAN connectivity, for fast, wireless transfer of images to Apple mobile devices, and enabling pictures to be edited, posted and shared on social networks. The Leica M-App also permits the direct transfer of RAW DNG files to smartphones or tablets for further processing with suitable apps from iOS Version 10.2. Furthermore, the Leica M10 can be remotely controlled from a mobile device, making it easy to capture pictures from unusual angles or avoid camera shake when shooting with longer shutter speeds.
Dr Andreas Kaufmann, majority shareholder and chairman of the supervisory board of Leica Camera AG, commented, “The new M, the M10! Not a camera for everyone – but increasingly a camera for people who love a system that is built for the future while maintaining consistent compatibility with its past. The rangefinder system lets me frame and compose my pictures. The rangefinder system lets me tread in the footsteps of the world’s greatest photographers. The rangefinder system lets me create photographs with my own visual style. The new M10 and the wealth of present and past Leica M-Lenses – products that awaken and fulfil the desires of every photographer.”
Leica M10 – Pricing and availability
The Leica M10 is scheduled to be available from 19 January 2017, at a suggested retail price of £5,600 including VAT. You can read more on the UK website here.
See more of the Leica M10 in the gallery below