Initial Review: Leica M10

I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to pick up a Leica M10 In exchange for two of my lenses (Summilux 35mm FLE and the Summicron 50mm V5) from a fellow member on Fred-Miranda. I was only able to play around with it for the past 24 hours but here are a couple of things that I wanted to share in my initial review.

Build

Positive

The M10’s new slimmer body and lighter weight compared to the M240 is very noticeable to me. What’s also noticeable is the new paint finish as Leica decided to use matte/flat black pain compared to the previous “black paint” finish in the previous gens. I personally prefer the black paint finish that brasses overtime rather than the chrome fade on the M10. This makes me think that the M9 and M240 will age more gracefully compared to the M10.

The shutter sound is definitely quieter and more refined than the M240, but the feel is about the same. Half press locks the exposure and full press releases the shutter. Definitely quieter than the M9’s robo-rewind sound, but I kind of like that as that’s part of the M9’s many charms.

The LCD screen on the back is fantastic and noticeably better than the M240 with better contrast. It’s very similar to the Leica Q and I wouldn’t be surprised if they used the same LCD screen. It’s also years ahead of the M9, which is only useful to check exposure. 

The body also feels more balanced due to better weight distribution between the front and rear of the body if you hold the camera up by just the strap with a lens attached. Feels about the same as the M9.

The got rid of the “S” “C” and “OFF” swith options on the power switch. Now there is only one option, therefore removing the possibility of accidently swinging the switch all the way around to “C”.

Negative

None - it’s a Leica

Operation

Positive

The viewfinder has a magnification of .73x compared to the M240’s .68x magnification. This may not seem much, but that is a big difference when you’re looking inside a tiny window and you’ll notice it right away when you’re focusing your lenses. It’s much easier to nail a sharp focus and with fast lenses, this is a big improvement. By just walking around with the Ultron 35/1.7, I noticed that I was nailing focus with very little to no micro-adjustments to get a sharp focus patch. That means there is one less thing to worry about on getting a sharp focus. The second one being the quality of your eye sight to see the patch clearly. The eye relief is also noticeably better compared to the M240.

The newest firmware update also introduced the Favorites Menu like on the Leica Q, which is very handy since it doesn’t require you to dive into the 2.5 pages of menus to change something simple as White Balance. These are mostly quality of life improvements and not very necessary as I have everything that I need on the body of the camera: ISO, Aperture, Shutter. 

The battery life will be a hit for people moving from a M240 as the 1300 mAh battery is noticeably smaller than the M240’s 1600 mAh battery. I didn’t get around to using it that long, but you should be able to hit 300 photos on one battery if you don’t use Live View or the EVF attachment.

The exposure compensation dial is just where it needs to be like the M240, but the M10 has a slight curvature on the left side of the dial that acts as a pseduo thumb rest. Doesn’t seem like much, but it makes a noticeable difference in ergonomics thanks to the slimmer body. I can’t say if the thumb rest would have the same effect if it was on the M240. I still recommend getting a dedicated thumb rest

The MAESTRO II processor is quick and depending on the Read/Write speed of your SD card, it’s as quick as the Leica Q on writing those DNG files. It’s capable of taking 5 shots per second on continuous which is impressive for a M camera. 

The EXIF lens identification is awesome. For example, if you leave it on manual and choose a different lens profile for a Zeiss lens, the camera will override your previous setting if you use a 6-Bit coded Leica lens. Once you take off the Leica lens, it will revert back to its last saved lens. This is very handy and underrated feature. 

The built-in Wi-Fi feature is nice to have, but I doubt I’ll ever use it as my dedicated source of raw transfers since I prefer to use the SD card to transfer photos via iPad Pro or on the PC.

Negative

The buttons on the back are also big and easy to use, but it will take some time to get used to...especially when you want to delete a photo. You have to press the “PLAY” button, which is one of the three primary buttons on the back, then press “MENU” to bring up the delete option since there is no dedicated delete button anymore. Then once you do that, you have to use the center button on the D-Pad to confirm your choice (what would be the INFO button on the M240). It’s not very intuitive but neither was the M240’s use of the “SET” button on the left.

The new ISO dial on the left of side of the camera is nice to have but highly overrated. To change the ISO, you need to lift the switch up to unlock it (which surprisingly takes a bit of effort with your left fingers) and then turn the dial to your desired ISO settings, then press the dial back down until it snaps in to lock the ISO dial. I’m not of fan of this effort of using the ISO dial. I personally leave the dial unlocked and upright position while I’m shooting without the fear of accidentally bumping the dial to the wrong settings since it’s tactile enough to stay in place. I think they just should have made the dial more tactile to reduce the chance of accidentally bumping the dial. I promise you that this feature will either be revised or removed in the next generation Leica M body.

They took out video entirely out of the M10 from the M240. This is not a big deal for me since I don’t ever use video on any of my cameras, especially Leica. Not much of a negative on this one, but more of Leica removing a feature that wasn’t really in the way in the first place. 

Accessories are noticeably more expensive than the M240. Par for the course, but the OEM thumbs up grip is crazy expensive at $240 a pop. Batteries are $170.

GPS coordinates are only available if you use the $600 Visoflex EVF, which is odd to me. I never use or care about this feature but it made me raise an eyebrow. 

That’s it for now and I’m planning on taking the camera with me to Snowshoe this weekend to test out the image quality, but with the short amount of time I’ve owned this guy, it’s easy to see that Leica went back to what they were very good and just made improvements in their core strengths. This is not a bad thing as there are people out there that love more focused products rather than a plethora of features (i.e. Porsche 911 vs. Nissan GTR) and I think this is a just an evolution from the M240 rather than an outright revolutionary change.