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Leica rewards the faithful with the M10 (hands-on)

The design and feature set of the company's latest full-frame rangefinder comes from the wish lists of its pickiest users, right down to shaving 4 mm off the depth of the camera.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
2 min read

The successor to the Leica M (Typ 240), Leica makes its M series even M-ier with the M10.

Unlike the recent M-D, the update in which Leica stripped almost every digital convenience from its full-frame rangefinder, Leica targets photography purists. It does so by removing selected low-priority capabilities, simplifying its operation and updating the design, as well as making improvements where needed or where the fans have demanded. So, for example, while the M10 lacks video, Leica adds Wi-Fi. And where it moved the drive modes off the top, the continuous shooting speed increases to 5 frames per second and with doubled buffer size of 2GB, can burst a decent number of images, even in raw + JPEG.

Shop for Leica M10 (black)

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And I got to spend a few days with a preproduction unit. But you'll be able to pick the M10 up for $6,595 starting this week. I don't have UK or Australian pricing, but that converts to roughly £5,320 and AU$8,720.

Leica M10 photo samples

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In a bid to attract its current film devotees, Leica gave them their most requested change: shaving 0.13 inches (4 mm) off the depth of the camera so that it's exactly the same as the film-based M7's 1.3 inches (33.8 mm).

Another goal was making it possible to configure exposure settings while the camera is powered off. So Leica moved the ISO sensitivity control to the top, giving it a clever lift-to-turn, push-down-to-lock design. Though the camera technically goes up to ISO 50,000, the dial tops out at ISO 6,400 and you can only map one of the higher sensitivity values to the dial at a time. It retains the removable plate on the bottom which covers the battery compartment and SD card slot. You'll be in there a lot, since the battery life is not very good, at least it wasn't with the EVF and in cold weather.

The viewfinder has an increased field of view and magnification plus tweaks that make it more comfortable for folks who wear glasses. And it did seem better to me -- I have trouble focusing with rangefinders, but this one wasn't bad. I still preferred the optional electronic viewfinder though, since it magnifies the focus area and offers peaking. One downside I found is fogging in our winterish weather.

Leica M10 slims down for the film fans

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Although the sensor resolution is unchanged from Leica's other 24-megapixel cameras , it's new with improved light-gathering capability plus no antialiasing filter (like the Leica SL ) and it's coupled with the latest version of Leica's Maestro II processing engine.

The photos look pretty much like other modern Leica's. One of the nice things is that the colors in the JPEGs look exactly like the raw DNGs, unlike most other cameras.

For photo-first photographers, Leica delivers a pretty well-rounded camera. But I wouldn't recommend this as your first Leica if you're coming from a dSLR or mirrorless, if only because it lacks autofocus; it's a crutch, but it's a useful one when you absolutely have to get the shot. You can always choose to not use it.