Let's start with the bottom line: The Leica M10 is worth having. That is the short and sweet conclusion you might have come here to find out about. The Leica M10 is the most relevant digital Leica M of them all.
Only when we consider that there are other Leica M models that are nice to have, and that the Leica M10 is still extremely hard to find in stock in any camera store, does the decision-making process become a little more cluttered. Which to get? I will get into that as we move on, but as a single statement, you may take this with you:
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The light sword of the street photographer
If you know your Star Wars, you know that the “Force” which the Jedi uses, is an energy field created by all living things. The Jedi senses and uses the Force, and his tool is the light sword. It has everything to do with photography.
A camera is very simple, or at least it should be. It's all about light, and apart from focusing, light is all you have to know about photography.
The three small words that means the most in photography
It's all about light and there are just 3 controls for you to take control of so the picture looks right.
The razor-thin metal curtain that separates the dark and the light is named after the shutters in front of windows that keep the sun out.
Shutter speed is how long the curtain is up and the sensor is exposed to the light that goes through the lens.
The rest of the time, the curtain is down and the sensor rests in the darkness.
In the beginning of photography, the photographer's hand in front of the lens acted as the shutter to keep it all in the darkness.
The aperture is a Latin word meaning “to open”. If you change the aperture ring, the ring inside the lens (made of metal blades) narrows the lens opening from wide open to small. When the aperture is wide open at 100% the maximum amount of light passes, and when “stopped down” the amount of light becomes as small as 2%. You can see the aperture blades inside the lens on the photo above.
ISO is a strange word because it is short for International Standard Organization. It's simply a measurement for how sensitive to light, something is. It goes from 100% to 50,000% (500 times more sensitive) in the Leica M10.
I'm a user and not a reviewer. I write about how I get the cameras and lenses I own to work, hoping it might help others. That also implies that I don't use anything just to test or review. I don't have the interest, nor the time, to play around with things if they don't work for me.
I write for expert users and novices at the same time. You might have a Leica already, or you are just trying to find out if you are getting one. That's you I write for, as well as for the others.
I've had a lot of Leica's, and I've used all of them down to the brass and through multiple shutters and other random spare parts. It's lovely, but it also means I don't feel the same virgin joy of accomplishment getting the Leica M10 as I did when I got my first Leica. I don't have my Leica on the night table, so I can wake up by the first stroke of sunshine and realize how lucky I am to have a Leica.
I always live in the hope that the next Leica might make me feel a childish enthusiasm. For some reason I had set myself up this time, to hope that Leica Camera AG would deploy unseen futuristic technologies in the Leica M10 that would be a game-changer. When they didn't, I wasn't overly impressed and enthusiastic. To begin with.
I didn't understand why they hadn't applied any futuristic technologies, and I still don't. The Leica Q and the Leica SL, with all the refined new technology they offered, brought me hope that the Leica M10 would redefine the Leica M. Back 100 years ago the invention of the first Leica M was a quite futuristic development, in fact so futuristic it's still the same concept.
Old school with some space technology applied. That was my hope.
None of what the Leica M10 deploys is from the future. None of it is from another galaxy. Not even from Japan. It's all from the well-proven 100 year-long timeline of the mechanical Leica M, with the next predictable step of technology added to it. Not even five years ahead of technology, it's simply just the technology you could expect to be in the next Leica M.
None of it takes away from the fact that I've fallen in love with the M10 after a few months. I don't remember another camera that grew on me like that. Just slides in under your skin for no apparent reason…
I'll admit that back in January 2017, I was so unimpressed with the Leica M10 that even though they had two cameras I could get, I decided to get only one.
And then I went somewhere I usually never go: I decided to get hold of a Fuji X-Pro 2, a Sony A7II and a Panasonic GH5 to take the temperature of current camera technology and measure my own stand on cameras.
Long story short (I'll bore you with the details in other articles and videos over the next months), I became a reborn Leica M fan. I realized I hadn't used Leica exclusively for the last 20 years just because I'm stubborn and hadn't looked at other cameras.
Instead, I realized the Leica M is the exact answer to what I want in a camera. Other cameras might have many great things, but one thing is true for them all: “It's not a Leica”.
That's not all, but as I said, more on that in a not so distant future.
The discussion is always if a black camera looks more professional and more discrete. Leica users are known for putting black tape over the red Leica dot to make the camea even more discrete. Considering I will wear hats, orange scarfs and glittery shoes and can get away with taking photographs unnoticed, I'm not a big believer that a camera must be discrete. But I do like black painted cameras that get brassed after a while.
I got the silver one, and while people I photograph still don't notice me or the camera (which is the intention), people will randomly make comments when the camera is just hanging over my shoulder: “Cool camera, man!”, “You must be a photographer” and “Nice Old School.”
If people think it's my granddad's or they recognize it as a modern digital is still to be determined. I think most think of it as a retro-camera, or an actual old camera. But it gets a lot of attention in silver, that's for sure.
After all, the Leica M is a design statement, a masterpiece of a camera. The silver Leica M10 is stylish over-the-top.
I've been using the “Rock'n'Roll” leather straps from Tie Her Up on most of my cameras for the last year or more. The Leica M10 is a slimmer body, but I didn't notice it much. Then Tie Her Up made their special Leica M10 edition of the “Rock'n'Roll” strap, which is thinner than the usual one, and that actually made a difference.
The thinner the strap, the more you feel and appreciate the thinner Leica M10 body.
The Leica M10 is thinner than the previous Leica M digital rangefinder cameras; it's now the size of the traditional film Leica M rangefinder cameras.
Speaking of film cameras, having had digital Leica M rangefinders since 2009, I've never looked back to film. I still have film, film cameras and a drum scanner in the studio, should I ever get a craving. So far it hasn't happened.
I appreciate the speed and simplicity of working with digital.
With a new digital camera model usually comes a slightly different sensor that you have to get used to and find a way to tweak into your usual look and workflow.
When you photograph DNG (Digital NeGative; raw files that capture all the data from the sensor, as well as the edits you make to it in the computer, in one file), you have the possibility to work them over, and be able to re-work them later when you learned more on what you want. The raw data is always there, as well as the edits that can be edited further, or reset back to how it came out of the camera.
Unlike film, you can change your mind on digital files. I'm not a fan of returning to already finalized digital files. On the contrary I am a big believer in that you do something, and that's how it is. Finish stuff and look ahead.
But in the case of a new Leica M10, I found that I didn't have to stress over the look of the files. I could keep using the camera the first many weeks, dealing with the look later, knowing I could finalize my editing once I had made a decision on what I wanted the Leica M10 to look like.
I'll get into the look of my black and white files later in this article, and the sensor and colors of the Leica M10 in upcoming articles.
In photography and new digital cameras, there are the things everybody know are important. The higher ISO, more dynamic range, faster focus, more megapixels and longer battery time.
Those are nice things to have, and often the main features in digital camera reviews.
They are actually not essential to a camera. They are essential to consumerism (the art of making people buy, throw away and buy something newer).
Why is it called a "camera"..?
The word Camera is today's short name for Camera Obscura (which originally means “a dark room”).
Origin of the word Obscura means "dark" or "covered", and the word Camera meansChambre and was used originally only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers' rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”.
In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”.
Ibn-al-Haytham mentioned Camera Obscura in his "Book of Optics" in 1021.
The concept of Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
The essentials to a camera are so few and so elementary that they wouldn't sell a camera if one only put those features in a brochure: To keep the sensor in the dark and have controls to ensure it get exposed exactly with the right amount of light.
An essential part of a camera is that the lens gathers the light so the image appears sharp or clear. That implies a lot of technology that we don't care to know the details of; but it's easy to judge by the picture. That's all we need to know about the lens design. Does it look bad, good or awesome?
Another essential of a camera is that you can work with it. That it feels right, that is has a size so you will take it with you, and that it is built so simple it enables you to see, think and work.
In other words, do you want to use it?
The Leica M10 has those essentials, and I know these essentials are so boring they are hardly noteworthy. Unless you look in your closet and notice the cameras you don't use. There's all the big and complicated cameras that looked good on paper but didn't work in real life.
Should you still feel guilty about all the advanced camera equipment you bought in your life that you are sure others can get to work, but you can't, I hereby grant you amnesty. Nobody can figure out those things.
When you know photography, you can simply do certain things and it will result in a certain result. If you don't know photography and your camera, the result can be anything.
There are two things to do to make a photograph: One is to focus the lens, the next one is to measure the light and set the camera's settings accordingly.
That is all there is to photography.
I like to know about things. I read a lot, I work a lot and I practice a lot of things. That's what makes me able to think with the subject and use it to make the things I want.
I don't challenge myself with new and advanced things which there is no reason for. My focus is on understanding what I do, and creating. When it becomes simple, I know I got it right, and I go use it.
Most success in life is about how to break the rules. Or maybe rather, how to improve on what is the usual expected or accepted way of doing things.
What do I do? I photograph a lot, and I study a lot. I review my work, I study what I did, what I did wrong, how to do it right, and how others do it right or wrong.
Ansel Adams said everything in a photograph had to be sharp, so you examine if that is right or wrong, and you see how you can break that rule.
Henri Cartier-Bresson said that out of focus backgrounds in color photographs looks awful, so you examine if that is right or wrong, and you see how you can break that rule. (He actually later expanded his view to say that all color photography was awful).
The camera manufacturers presume you want the camera to do it this way, so you examine how that is right or wrong, and you see how you can break that rule and make something nobody else has seen.
You make it your own expression.
If you do certain things right in photography, you end up with a result. The exposure is the only basic rule in photography (that the final result has to look like reality), and you should know all about how to get it right with closed eyes and in your sleep. And even then, that look of looking like reality is open for interpretations.
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Being professional in using the Leica M10
You don't have to have used a Leica M rangfinder camera for 100 years to be professional in handling it. You don't have to possess magic powers to handle it. You can become very professional in handling it by learning about it; studying all material you can lay your hands on about the Leica M, the Leica lenses and photography in general.
Then train with it and become familiar with the apparatus itself.
You don't become a professional by owning a camera, You become professional by using it. And the more you wonder “what if?” and “why did that happen?” and “how did he do that?” the more you expand your ability to do things.
Obviously, the simpler the starting point is (the camera itself), the easier it is.
There was once a questionnaire done amongst Magnum photographers regarding what their advice to young photographers would be. The most important thing many of them agreed, was to get good walking shoes or boots. You walk a lot to take photographs.
But here's another bit of advice I have on this, which also has to do with using the feet to get good photographs: When I see a sparkle, I stop. Some stop when they see a funny thing, an interesting gesture or a nice background. For me it's the light.
You can change the light by moving your viewpoint around. Simply move your feet. That goes for people, cars, buildings, landscapes, flowers and so forth. You walk around them and see how the light changes; and with it changes the shape and details of things.
If you just take a photo, that's a snapshot. When you start moving around to get the light right to tell the story and get aesthetics, crop out elements that don't belong in the frame and include what is part of the story, that's photography.
Photography is writing with light, but it's not the light source itself we photograph. All you see with your eyes, the textures, the beauty, the colors and the shapes – and the order you notice them in – is guided by reflections of light from a main light source.
It's the reflections of light that shape things and define them. It's also the quality of light that determines if a photograph is perceived as crisp and sharp, or not.
Another part of moving your feet, is to tell the right story. What should be in the frame, and what shouldn't be in the frame. The more you use just one lens, the more natural you simply know where to stand to take that photo (tell that story) you want to tell.
It's not that you can have only one lens. Once you know one lens, you can play around with another one. There are so many nice lenses.
I use ISO 200 on the Leica M10 in the daytime, and 3200 ISO in the evenings and indoors.
ISO is simple to figure out: The brighter light, the smaller ISO number. When there is less light, the ISO number has to go up to compensate for the missing light.
I seldom go to 6400 ISO or 10,000 ISO because it introduces the possibility of noise on three levels: A) more grain and B) stripes in the image, and C) less accurate colors, depending on the type of light you encounter.
If you know that the sensor in the Leica M10 has a base ISO of around 100 ISO to 150 ISO, you also know that any departure from that ISO is depending on a predefined calculation of how things would look if there was more light.
All digital cameras have a sensor with a base ISO of between 100 – 200, and that is what they factually can see (how sensitive they are to light). All other ISO settings are calculated using algorithms (predefined calculations) as to what a color and tone should look like if you turn up the sensitivity up 6400% or 25,000% artificially.
Nikon camera sensors genrally have a base ISO of 200. Canon usually 100 ISO. Leica M9 has a base ISO of 160. Leica M240 has a base ISO of 200. The Leica M monochrome cameras (that only do black and white) have a base ISO of 320.
The Leica M10 has a base ISO of 100-150. I'll get more into the sensor of the Leica M10 as well as the colors, in a later article.
The ISO-dial on the Leica M10 goes from 100 ISO to 6400 ISO and then has Auto ISO and Manual ISO. When the dial is on M, the ISO is set in the camera's menu. I've set mine to 10,000 in the camera's menu so whenever I set the ISO dial to M, it is set to 10,000 ISO.
The ISO Dial on the Leica M10 is the first Leica M with a dedicated dial for ISO on the outside of the camera (when we omit the recent special edition, Leica M-D 262 that has no screen but instead an ISO dial on the back of the camera).
It's not that I change the ISO very often, but I like the mechanical feel of the ISO dial, as well as the historical reference back to the Leica M3 where the similar looking wheel on the top left was for rewind of the film.
Nothing is like the old days: The classic Leica MP film rangefinder camera with a knob for rewinding of the film.
The ISO dial may prevent that people use AUTO ISO (where the camera sets the ISO for you). What's wrong with AUTO ISO is that the camera then keeps changing both the ISO and the shutter time based on what the electronics determine to be “right”.
As photography seldom works that way, you often need to apply your own judgment and change the settings. With AUTO ISO on, you would have to change both ISO and shutter time to get it the way you want it.
With the ISO wheel set to 200 ISO in daylight (and 3200 ISO or 6400 ISO in dark settings), all you have to deal with is the shutter time. Much easier to control and get right when you want to take a photo against the sun, in a dark room, with a dark background, in the snow and so on.
Creative photography simply isn't compatible with “Auto”.
The M on the ISO dial is Manual: In the Leica M10 that means you set the ISO in the menu. But as the ISO dial is faster and easier to use, you will use that mostly.
I have set my ISO in the camera on 10,000 so that whenever I turn the ISO dial to M, it is 10,000 ISO. Not that I use that a lot, but at least something intersting happens when I turn the dial to M then.
The only reason there is a Manual ISO setting on the dial, is because all ISO settings from 100 ISO to 50,000 ISO obviously didn't fit on the dial. When you go to M, you can set the menu to all ISO-levels higher than 6400.
When the ISO dial is set to Manual, the ISO is set in the menu of the camea. I have set my ISO in the camera to 10,000 so that whenever I set the ISO dial to manual, the camera is "automatically" set to 10.000.
The A on the ISO dial is Automatic, which I never use. The A on the ISO dial could easily be confused with the A on the shutter speed dial, which stands for Aperture Priority Mode (where the shutter time is calculated automatically by the camera based on the light coming in through the lens; and where changing the aperture will change the calculation and thus the shutter time). On the ISO dial, however, the A stands for AUTO ISO.
A photo posted by Thorsten von Overgaard (@thorstenovergaard) on
ISO 6400 as maximum on the Leica M10
Realistically the Leica M10 can go to 6400 ISO, and with some positive thinking, it can go to 10,000 ISO.
The maximum speed in the specifications and in the camera menu is 50,000 ISO, which I guess is meant to please those who write reviews more than actual users. The result at 50,000 ISO is so noisy it has no practical use.
Camera manufacturers usually throw in higher ISO than the camera can handle, just to make it look good on specifications. A general rule is that any digital camera can handle one or two stops less than the maximum ISO given in the specifications. That goes for all camera brands.
I use 200 ISO as my daylight ISO on the Leica M10. On the Leica M240 that I have used almost exclusively for the last four years, I always had it on 200 ISO, so I felt it natural to continue.
In the beginning, I appreciated the new possibility of using 100 ISO on the Leica M10, but then I saw no point in it: There seem to be no improved image quality, and my "muscle memory" is so used with calculating 200 ISO.
On the Leica SL and Leica Q, the ISO goes as low as 50 ISO, and because both those cameras have a digital shutter, you can use them in sunshine with even a very light-strong lens like the Noctilux f/0.95.
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Why I some times use 100 ISO on the Leica M10
Only when using f/2.0 Summicron lenses does it make sense to set the Leica M10 to 100 ISO, because then you can use it in sunshine without a grey filter (ND-filter). So if you are a fan of the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0, you now have a great combo.
That's what it takes to take photographs with a f/0.95 lens in sunshine. This can be done on the Leica SLwhich has 50 ISO and electronic shutter that goes beyond (faster than) 1/8000th second. The Leica Q is designed with a Summilux f/1.7 and an electronic shutter as well.
Summilux is a Leica word for f/1.4 lenses, so the Summilux f/1.7 on the Leica Q is somewhat cheating (but necessary to make a camea that works in all types of light).
Summicron is the Leica word for f/2.0 lenses. Noctilux is the Leica word for the f/1.0 and f/0.95 lenses. Summarit is the Leica word for f/2.4 and f/2.5 lenses. Elmarit is the Leica word for f/2.8 lenses. (See my "Leica and Photography Definitions" page for more on Leica lens names)
ND filter ("Neutral Density filter", or "grey filter") is a dark glass filter put in front of the lens so as to reduce the light that goes through the lens and hits the sensor or film.
It's used if there is too much light, or if one wants to make photographs with a really long exposure time (for example photographing the stars at night, a ND filter will allow so long of an exposure time that you can see the stars move).
It's also called a “neutral grey filter” (“graufilter” in German) because it's simply a dark grey filter.
"Density" is the thickness of something, which prevents light to come through. The “neutral” refers to the fact that the filter doesn't add colors, contrast or any effects to the picture. In actual fact, most ND filters will have a very slightly warm or cold tone; but high quality filters also exist that will be absolutely neutral. If the white balance and exposure is determined by the camera looking through the lens, it doesn't really matter how accurate or how neutral the filter is, as the camera would correct it. Using an external color meter or light meter, the ND filter must be precise and actually neutral.
Neutral Density filter for the Leica M10
On the Leica M10 you will need to use a grey filter (ND filter) to reduce the light going through the lens if you want to take photographs in sunshine at wide open aperture (so as to get selective focus with nice unsharp background and foreground).
Without ND filter, you would have no other choice in sunshine than stopping the aperture down to f/2.8 or f/4.0 to reduce the light. But using the aperture to adjust light, also affect the depth of focus: The foreground and background becomes sharp.
So if you want to be able to photograph with maximum out of focus foreground and background, you get ND filters.
An f/2.0 lens without filter. To use this lens at f/2.0 in sunshine, the shutter speed would have to be 1/8000 of a second. As the maximum shutter speed of the Leica M10 is 1/4000, the aperture would have to be changed to f/2.8 or f/4.0 so as not to over-expose the picture.
An f/2.0 lens with an ND filter that reduces the light 8 times so that the lens is at f/2.0, but the light that actually reaches the sensor is as if the lens had been set to f/5.6. The camera can handle that with 1/2000 of a second shutter time (which is within the Leica M10 mas shutter speed of 1/4.000 of a second).
Which ND filter to get for which lens
A grey filter (or ND-filter; Neutral Density filter) reduces the light that goes into the lens so that you can take pictures while having the lens wide open in strong sunlight. It's a neutral filter that doesn't change the colors or contrast. The reason is that the shutter of the Leica M10 goes to 1/4000 as the fastest (maximum speed).
Here you can see which ND-filter is necessary for which lens:
I usually test my ND filters with an external lightmeter when I get them. To see if (for example) a 3-stop ND filter is 3.0 stops or rather 2.5.
This could also be done holding the camera towards a wall in the evening with light from a lamp that does not change, then measure exposure time with and without filter.
It's a little nerdy, but it may be healthy to do.
Testing a variable ND-filter from B+W
I test all my ND-filters. Some are off with a 1/2 stop.
Leica M filters
Leica Camera AG makes ND filters, Circular polarisation filters, as well as color filters
Leica Neutral Density filters:
Leica Filter ND 16x (4 stop), E39, black
Leica Filter ND 16x (4 stop), E46, black
Leica Filter ND 16x (4 stop), E55, black
Leica Filter ND 16x (4 stop), E60, black
Leica Filter ND 16x (4 stop), E72, black
Leica Filter ND 16x (4 stop), E82, black
Leica Filter ND 16x (4 stop), E95, black
I use ND-filters form Leica, B+W, Heliopan, Tiffen, etc. I use 3-stop ND filters mostly, because they are the easiest to get. I have a few 2-stop and 4-stop filters as well. For my Noctilux f/0.95 I have a Leica 4-stop ND filter in 60mm diameter because if the Noctilux is used on a Leica Monochrom camera, the base ISO is 320 or 400, which would then require a 4-stop filter.
I've used variable ND-filters from Heliopan and B+W in the past but find they are too bulky. A variable ND filter is two layers of grey'ish glass, and when you turn the front one you can reduce the light coming in, from 70% to 5% or less. I find that the two layers of dark glass can give unwanted reflections (which produce less contrast when you photograph with strong light from behind the subject).
But mainly I found that the variable ND-filters introduced too much complexity in size and possible settings. For still photography, I prefer a simple one-layer ND-filter that is as compact as possible. For video variable ND-filters are great , because video should be filmed at 1/50th second and that means you often need to reduce the incoming light quite a lot if you want to keep the lens aperture wide open. As the Leica M10 doesn't have video recording, no need for variable ND-filters at all for that camera.
Ther color filters will produce efect in black and white (monochrome) photos, using either a Leica M Monochrom camera, or a Leica M10 with JPG's set to monochrom.
Of course, if you photograph DNG (raw) with color filters, the color image will look the color; but if converted to monochrom in Lightroom, you will get the effect of it. Leica makes orange, green and yellow filters, in the two diameters, 46mm and 39mm. The prices are in the area of $125 per filter. See more on the Leica website.
The shutter speed dial I usually have on A, which is Aperture Priority Mode, as a starting point.
When the shutter speed dial is on A, the camera will suggest a shutter time based on what the built-in light meter reads from the scene.
When I walk out in the morning, my shutter speed dial is on A. I may go manual and change it to say 250 for a specific location or photo. Then I turn it back on A and walk on.
In other words, my shutter speed dial is always set on A, unless I have a specific change I want to make.
My shutter speed dial is on A most of the time. I adjust the shutter speed by changing where I point the camera ('s lightmeter), or I go manual by turning the shutter speed to the speed I need. The B on the shutter speed dial, next to A, stands for "Bulb" which is long exposure; the name refers to pressing an air bulb where the shutter would stay open as long as you pressed the shutter release down via the air bulb (today we use a cable release that is screwed onto the hole you see in the center of the shutter release button).
Adjusting shutter speed and exposure on the Leica M10
When the Leica M10 is set to A(Aperture Priority Mode), I can still adjust the shutter speed by pointing the camera slightly down or to a side if there is a strong light source behind the subject and then lock that reading by pressing the shutter release half down. That way I can trick the light meter to underexpose.
There is a light indicator inside the viewfinder (a stable dot) showing that the shutter speed has been locked. If the speed is for example 360, pressing the shutter release half down will turn on a dot between 3 and 60 (3.60), showing that you locked the shutter speed.
And if I really want to control it, I can look at the preview of the photograph on the review screen and see the shutter time; then set the shutter speed dial manually to a brighter or darker shutter time and take a new photo.
When I look at the preview screen, I can see the shutter time the photograph was taken at. Then I can set the shutter time manually on the shutter speed dial on top of the camera. To the same if I am happy with that exposure, or 1/500 if I want it a lot darker, or 1/60 if I want it slightly brighter than 1/90 of a second. I use manual shutter time to control the exposure; either for a specific photrograph, or if I want to keep photographing the same scene and wants to make sure the exposure stays the same.
If I find a location where I want to wait for something to happen, I will often set the camera focus and exposure so all is ready. That is when I go to manual shutter time by setting the shutter speed dial to for example 1/500.
Often when I do several photographs in the same light and location (portraits or street photography for example), I'll set the shutter time manually so it is set and doesn't change no matter what.
It's a relief to have a camera where the shutter speed is controlled on a dial on the outside of the camera. If you have used a digital camera where the shutter speed can only be controlled via the camera's menu, you know what I mean.
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Maximum long exposure time of the Leica M10 ("Bulb")
Leica M10 has limited long exposure to 125 seconds at 100 - 400 ISO, at ISO 800 it is limited to 60 seconds, at ISO 1600 it's limited to 32 seconds, and at ISO 3200 it's limited to 16 seconds.
You set the Leica M10 to long exposure by turning the shutter speed dial to B.
The camera will deploy LENR (Long Exposure Noise Reduction; and electronic process to remove digital noise) after each exposure: The sensor gets warm after several seconds of use. This noise presents itself as a fog-like brightening around the edges of the frame. Also, there can be bright spots with various colors at numerous places in the image, due to the sensor-noise created by long exposure. The LENR is a function that tries to eliminate the noise caused by the sensor from the actual image. Obviously, this is different than using film where there was never any (electronic) noice, no matter how long the film was exposed.
The Leica M 10 has the posibility for the user to customize your own menu with the few (or many) items you want in your menu. If you use WiFi a lot, put it there. If you never use it, leave it in the main menu.
I didn't change mine at all since I got it. I guess I find that the things put in the main (or "Favorite") menu from factory was well laid out.
The Main Menu remains the same, having all things in the sequence they always have, not matter what you put in the Favorites Menu.
The Favorites Menu of the Leica M10 is the first you see when you press MENU.
With the Leica M10, I find that I can photograph intensively for 5-6 hours with one battery (or 300-600 photos). For moderate use without EVF I can have the same battery for several days. Using the EVF, the energy consumption goes up and you will likely be able to do half or 2/3 of that.
I appreciate the smaller batteries in the Leica M10 and I have one battery in the camera and one spare battery. I have one spare battery because it's easy to use one while the other charges, then swop them around. For other camera systems where I have more than two batteries, I have marks on them so I can tell which battery is which. Small detail, but important when you have three or more of the same type battery and you don't want to check and re-check them in the charger to see which ones are charged. Or worse; stand out in the desert with all your wonderful batteries and realize you have charged only the same one!
Of course, I would have loved if I could have kept using the extra batteries and the extra battery chargers I have accumulated for my Leica M240. I happen to believe smaller batteries are better. All technology goes towards smaller batteries with the same power. Not larger and larger batteries. The Leica M10 battery has 60% of the power of the Leica M 240 battery, in 60% of the size. Not impressive numbers, but in a Leica M10 that doesn't have video feature, large batteries is not necessary.
My Leica M10 is always turned on and in the menu I have set Auto Power off to 2 minutes. This way the camera turns off after two minutes of inactivity, and it turns on again by a light touch of the shutter release (and is ready in 1.5 seconds, which is the time it takes to lift the camera from the hip to the eye and start focusing).
Auto Power Off simply makes sure the camera is not turned on all the time and uses all the battery sitting arounn and not being used.
Till a firmware update fixes the SD-card issues with the Leica M10, I have to be very exact is which SD-card I use in the Leica M10. I have used the Lexar 128GB memory cardwith a writing speed of 150MB/sec for the last five months and found that to work almost without any problems in the Leica M10.
The important thing with an SD-card is that it gives the optimum startup time of the camera (1.5 seconds) and that it has enough speed to be faster than the writing speed of the camera buffer.
I usually have only one SD-card I always use, and then one spare (exactly same model) I can use if the “usual one” fails. I avoid using several SD-cards as it often creates too many confusions as to which card holds what, and what can be deleted.
June 29, 2017: Firmware 188.8.131.52 (download link) from previous Firmware 184.108.40.206. July 10, 2017: Firmware 220.127.116.11 (download link) from previous Firmware 18.104.22.168.
Leica issued a statement saying "With the Firmware 22.214.171.124, certain SD cards were not recognized, or the complete write speed could not be used with the camera. The Leica M10 supports SDHC/SDXC cards from 1GB up to 512 GB. We (now) recommend to use cards with write speed 80 MB/s or higher. Use UHS I cards instead of UHS II. The M10 is compatible with UHS II cards, but does not use the full UHS II speed."
The 126.96.36.199 Firwmare fixes an issue with black frames on shot exposure times, as well as SD-cards.
1. Download the firmware and put it onto your SD-card (just on the card, not in a folder or anything). The file is called M10-188.8.131.52-SYSTEM.FW and put the SD-card in the camra and turn the camera on.
2. Menu > Camera Information > Camera Firmware.
3. Click YES. Then the firmware updates uncompresses (1/2 minute), installs (3.5 minutes) and optimizes (ca. 10 seconds). The screen then says "Update Successfull" for 10 seconds and turns off the screen.
4. When update is done after about 4 minutes, the camera goes off. Turn the camera on..
SD card errors in the Leica M10
There has been reported quite many SD-card problems in the Leica M10, indicating that nobody in the factory found it worthwhile testing this important feature before the release.
As I write this, five months after the release, an official list of recommended SD-cards hasn't been published. Also, the promised firmware release that should deal with the many SD-card issues hasn't been released either.
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SD card startup time
An SD-card usually takes 0.10 - 0.20 seconds longer to start up the first time it is used, because the camera writes a DCIM folder to the card so as to be ready to store images.
After this, the startup time on the Leica M10 should be about 1.5 seconds:
SanDisk 32GB 45MB U1: 1.65 sec.
Lexar 128GB 150MB/sec 1000x U3 II: 1.55 sec.
Writing speed from Leica M10 to SD-card
Time it takes the Leica M10 to write 9 pictures from the buffer to the SD-card:
One advantage of getting faster SD-cards is that they can deliver the image files faster to the computer. However, really fast cards tend to challenge the compatibility with the camera; and they are more expensive as well. But don't buy SD-cards based in speed, buy them based on the camera model.
SD cards should obviously have been tested in the months before the release and not in the months after. The camera specs say that SDHC cards are limited to 32GB in size while SDXC cards are limited to 2TB.
The messages can be pretty random when the Leica M10 doesn't like the SD card:
Black startup (camera freeze).
"No card available".
"SD card not readable".
"No media file to display".
Previews scattered on camera screen (but actual files are fine; the camera can't read the preview on card).
No files stored (no pictures taken and stored on SD-card despite previews shown in EVF).
Leica M10 freeze
I've experienced that the Leica M10 freezes when shooting series of photographs; and mostly when using the EVF. This is an issue I will return about when the next firmware version has been released end of June 2017.
Be aware that the red light will be on for a while after you have shot a series of photos, then when it the camera has written the majority of the data to the card, the red light will start blinking, and then finally turn off when the writing process is complete. Unfortunately, when the camera freezes, the red light stays on (so you don't really knoiw if it is frozen or writing).
In any case, if the camera freezes, turning it off and on will usually remedy that. Or take out the battery and out it in again will for sure.
Does NOT work with the Leica M10:
SanDisk 64GB ExtremePRO UHS-I SDXC 95MB/sec.
SanDisk Extreme 64GB SDXC UHS-3 90MB/sec.
Samsung 64GB SDXC Class10 Pro UHS-I.
Samsung 16GB SDHC Class10 Pro UHS-I.
Lexar 32GB SDHC Professional Class 10 UHS-I 600x.
Transcend 128GB UHS-3 95mb/s SDXC.
Sony 64GB SDXC SF-64UX2.
SD-cards for M 240 / M-D 262 / M 262 / M9 / MM / M246:
This card does not work in the Leica M10 but works perfectly in all previous models:
I usually format my SD-cards once in the free software SD Format when I get them.
I usually don't format in the camera in daily use. I simply throw the DCIM folder on the SD-card into the waste bin on the computer and empty it when I have downloaded the pictures. Then I put the card back into the Leica M10, and keep shooting. Only if I encounter problems on a SD-card, will I format the card in SD Format or in camera.
Some people on forums recommend formatting SD-cards to EXFAT for the Leica M10 as it should give faster speed and more stability. Formatting to FAT32 is an older system, not compatible with all devices any more. This is not something I have experimented with as the Lexar Professional 128GB SDXC UHS-II 1000x 150MB/s works straight out of the box.
I usually have just one SD-card for each camera, and I call that my lucky card. As long as that one works, I don't use any other.
But I always buy an extra back-up card so I have one similar card to use in case the “lucky card” gets lost.
I find that having more than one card confuses what was copied and which card(s) is empty and ready. For my use, one card can easily hold all images I make until I get to a computer.
I haven't had SD-card errors in the last 4-5 years resulting in loss of images. That's somewhat 200,000 images gone through my SD-cards without errors.
Some prefer to use several, and smaller cards, to distribute the possible errors or loss of images to more cards. I obviously am not one of those.
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The Leica M10 has a 2GB buffer so as to have none of the buffer-issued that are well-known in the Leica M9 (which would prevent new photos to be taken for some minutes when you took a fast series of 9-12 photos, until the camera had sent the photos to the card).
The 2GB buffer is there to make sure you can take a large series of images without the camera slowing down (and you can).
Taking photographs without SD card
The Leica M9 had a great feature; if you took photos without the SD-card, the camera would write the photos to the SD-card if you put one in quickly before it was turned off. The Leica M10 does not have the same feature. The buffer doesn't store the pictures for later. You cannot put in the card later and get the camera to write them to it.
The Leica TL has a great feature that is has internal memory of 16GB to 32GB (depending on model). You can use tha camera without memory card, and the internal memory will store the images. This is a feature I would hope to see in a future Leica M.
You can say it loud, I don't mind. It sucks if you cannot get your hands on a Leica M10.
The way I get things is that I look for dealers that are small, and that's how I simply get lucky and find a camera or lens sitting without anyone claiming it.
I can tell that Meister Camera in Germany has a waiting list for 3-12 months (becuse they are a big store with many customers). Leica Store Wetzlar has a waiting list for 4-6 weeks (becuase they are a store with relatively few clients; serviceing only visitors to the factory). BH Photo is one of the largest Leica dealers why they likely have the longest waiting list.
Looking for a Leica M10 you have to find the one sitting on the shelf. It just arrived this morning, and nobody have asked for it yet. In fact, when visiting the Leica Store inside the mall in Paris a few weks back, they had one sitting on the shelf for sale. Without mentioning any names, my American friend said to himself (and me), "I'll get one from Leica Store Miami when I get home", and sure enough I got a text a few days later that he couldn't find a damn M10 anywhere.
"I should have bought that one," he realized. Yes he should. Though, he found one three weeks later.
The silver Leica M10 has been easier to get than the black Leica M10 since the release. In other words, you are more likely to find on if you want the silver Leica M10.
You should know from experience that this is not the first time you wanted something you cannot get. One way to deal with it is to simply preorder a Leica M11 today.
I preordered my Leica M10 five months before it was announced. And I did the same with the Leica M 240, which I actually prepaid in full already then. The Leica M9 I just happened to find in a store in Germany the day it was announced.
I'm telling you, preorder the M11 today. It's coming, and no matter how unlikely you think it is that some mothersucker will get one before you and try to sell it to you on eBay for a premium of $9,800, that's exactly how it will play out. It always does, and for some reason it's not only Leica these days. It's the MacBook, the Panasonic GH5, Samsung phones and so on.
The Leica M-P models are usually a model that looks more classic, without the red dot on the front, and a few other minor changes. The Leica M10 doesn't have an M on the front as previous models, but it does have a red dot.
Usually Leica Camera AG issues a M-P edition of their Leica M after 18 months, a version without the M on the front, without the red dot, and often with a “Leica” engraving on the top plate.
As the Leica M10 is already close to being a Leica MP in simplicity, the question of course is how an eventual Leica M-P 10 would look.
Personally, I think Leica Camera AG should issue a Leica M10 Monochrome next week, but without a screen (like the Leica M-D 262 model). A true vintage feel with black and white image files only, and no screen will make it truly as thin as the Leica film rangefinder cameras. I would buy that one, even I know I don't need it. It would be irresistible.
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Using the EVF (Electronic ViewFinder)
If you use the EVF, it should be set up so that only the EVF is on when you are in Live View mode (when you press the LV button on the back of the camera).
You set it up in the menu like this:
MENU > Main Menu > EVF/Display Control > LV Screen Target > EVF
The alternative is that it is Auto, which would mean that the screen shows the Live View, and then when you move your eye close to the EVF, the sensor on the EVF senses that you are looking through the EVF and will move the Live View to the EVF (with a small delay). But you don't really want the screen to show anything, so that is why you set it up to EVF only as above.
When you use the EVF, you can see a preview of the picture you just took in the EVF so you don't have to move your eye. But should you take the camera away from the eye and want to see a preview, you of course want it on the screen instead. This is done by setting the menu up like this:
MENU > Main Menu > EVF/Display Control > Play Target Screen > Auto
MENU > Main Menu > EVF/Display Control > Auto review Screen Target > Auto
Live View was something that was introduced on the Leica M240 (2013). Leica Camera AG used to have the Leica R system that was an SLR system with it's own graeat range of lenses from fish eye and wide angle lenses to 800mm lenses.
When Leica announced (in 2009) that they would stop making the Leica R system, they promised to come up with a new system so those who had the R lenses could use them on a digital camera in the future. The solution was the Leica M240 with Live View and the EVF-2 ("Leica Electronic Visoflex 2") which enables you to see on the screen and in the viewfinder that the sensor sees.
Also, an R to M adapter was made so the Leica R lenses can be mounted on a Leica M body.
Using Leica R lenses on the Leica M10: Top left is the Leitz Leicaflex SLR flim camera that was released in 1964 as the first Leica SLR camera. It's still a classic with "the most sexy shutter sound ever heard" and basically feels like a Leica M made into an SLR. The latest two Leica R cameras was to be the Leica R8 (1996) and Leica R9 (2002) that are almost identical. In 2005 made a 10MP CCD digital back with Kodak and Imacon that could be mounted in the Leica R8 and Leica R9. But after having made just 3,000 of the new digital backs, Imacon was bought by Hasselblad, and that was the end of getting more made. As the Leica R system was originally a defence Leica Camera AG came up with to stay in the camera market when everybody else was turning to SLR, and the fact that it wasn't selling like hotcakes, Leica decided to stop producting Leica R lenses and cameras. In essence, that is why Leica came up with the Leica M with "Live View" and "EVF" so you can still use R lenses (and everything else you can fit onto a Leica M with an adapter) on a digital Leica M. In the bottom, my Leica M10 with the Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8 using a Leica R-to-M adapter (model 14.642, $395.00).
The past of the Leica M viewfinders
In trying to accommodate customers' presumable want for other ways to focus than the famous rangefinder, Leica first came up with the SLR-like VisoFlex in 1951, and then with the Leica M 240 with the Electronic VisoFlex (EVF-2). Obviously both were impractical and not in alignment with the simplicity of a Leica M.
The Leitz VisoFlex came out in 1951 as a way to implement a mirror on a Leica M.
Leica M cameras and Electronic Viewfinders
The Leica M9 (2009) does not have Live View and thus doesn't support any EVF.
The Leica M240 (2013) has an "EVF-2" that was made by Epson for Leica (EVF2) ($550) and Olympus (VF2) ($198). The Olympus and the Leica is the same image quality, and they both work on the Leica M 240.
The drawback of the Leica EVF you get used to, if you use it a lot – and I did – is that the shutter “gets sticky” because there is a delay from pressing the shutter until the Leica M 240 takes the picture. And also, in the Leica M 240, there was a 1 second delay from taking the picture until the EVF was clear again and you could see the subject. So you would set the Leica M240 to 1 second preview so that you would look at the picture you just took, for one second, rather than a blackout screen for 1 second.
On the Leica M10 the blackoput is reduced to 1/10th second or so, and the "sticky shutter" delay has been reduced to almost zero.
Obviously, it makes focusing much easier in the dark, as well as for “tired old eyes”. It also gives the possibility to preview the exposure and depth of field. It's a very neat feature and one I compared to “making a polaroid” as it gives an exact preview of what you are photographing, just as polaroid test photos did in the film days where we took a polaroid first to check that exposure and all was correct before we loaded film in the camera.
The main advantage of the Leica EVF on the Leica M10 is gthe possibility to use other lenses than Leica M lenses, as well as doing macro.
Using Leica R and other lenses on the Leica M10
With the EVF, you can mount any lens on the Leica M10 and be able to focus with the EVF. My article "The Leica R Lenses Catwalk" about Leica R lenses on the Leica M 240 is valid also for the Leica M10. So read that to see the endless possibilities.
"Live View" makes it possible to use the Leica M10 for macro as well. Even before Live View, Leica made a macro kit that would work with the traditional rangefinder. That's the 90mmMacro-Elmar-M f/4.0 with adapter and eyepiece that was sold as a set from 2003.
Today it's much simpler, because with a macro adapter you "elevate" any lens you put onto the Leica M10 to a macro lens. When a lens is moved just 10mm away from the body, it becomes a macro lens, which means that you can make any 21mm wide angle lens, the 50mm Noctilux or a 400mm Telyt-R lens into a macro lens.
I prefer the Leitz OUFRO adapter from the 1970's ($100-$250 on eBay) becasuse it brings me closer with any lens. Leica also introduced the LeicaMacro-Adapter-M (Typ 14.562) in 2014 ($695), but that one extends the lens even further; and then adds a "zoom" posibility so you get really close macro. I'm not really into macro, but some times I just want to get closer. The OUFRO is good for that. If you want to get really close and, the LeicaMacro-Adapter-M is the one to get.
You don't need Live View to use the classic Leica screw mount lenses on the Leica M10. On of the almost unbelievable features of the Leica M system is that you can use all Leica lenses made in the last 85 years!
Leica Thread-Mount (LTM): Also known as M39, is the screw mounted lenses for Leica cameras. It’s a simple as that; you screw on the lens, and back in 1932, the possibility to change the lens was the big news. The M39 system was updated with the M Bayonet from 1954 for the Leica M3. The M bayonet is a quick way to change lenses and is the current mount for Leica M digital rangefinders.
Leica M bayonet (1954)
Leica M39 screw mount (1932)
With a simple screw mount to M adapter, any older Leica lens works as any modern Leica M lens on any Leica M camera. The adapters are so ecomonical ($15 - $50 a piece) that I suggewst leaving it on the lens.They are very thin and little timeconsuming to mount, so I simply leave them on my screw mount lens so it's an M mouint lens. Be aware that the M39 adapter comes in different models so as to actuvate the framelines in the Leica M.
You can also look for the original Leitz adapters on eBay or at Leica dealers such as Leica Shop Vienna, Meister Camera, etc. The original Leitz adapters are usually around $100.
When you have explored the Leica M lenses, you may start exploring the less expensive and/or the more rare and expensive Leitz Screw Mount lenses. One of the exotic ones is this Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2 that was deliberately made to create "blurry portraits". The complete set (as above) consist of the original red box, lens cap, lens shade and the special soft focus filter with a black dot in the middle. They exist with the focusing scale in either Meter or Feet. Only 3,500 or less were made from 1934-1940, from serial number 226001 to 540500 and the price usually starts from $3,000.I've been there, done that, as you can read more about in my article here: "Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2".
The EVF for the Leica M10 is the LeicaVisoflex (Typ 020) model that was made for the Leica T (and Leica TL) back in 2014. Leica Camera AG didn't make one for the Leica M10. Or, if they did, they didn't finish it.
One of the things I admire about the Leica M10 is the technical simplicity and how perfect it is all made. One of the things I dislike about the Leica M10, is the way the electronic parts of the Leica M10 seem to have been found in a spare part catalog (the screen is overlapping the body, the buttons has been spread evenly to make some sort of democratic design).
Leica Camera AG originally planned to make a new EVF for the Leica M10, but then gave up in the process. The EVF was supposed to be the 3.7MP Leica Bizofurex EVF. This was something that was announced before the release of the Leica M10, but then disappeared just as quickly from websites and all publications.
I've asked a few times if it was something I dreamt, or if it actually did get announced. The consensus is that I dreamt it.
I have also asked if I could borrow the prototype, and I was told no.
This is likely the closest we get to a conspiracy theory in the world of photography, so let's indulge in it and enjoy the moment: I do know that the Bizofurex was being developed. I also know that it was skipped because it was too expensive to make. I also know that a re-housing of the Leica Visoflex 020 to fit the Leica M10 better was skipped because that too was too expensive.
Instead we were left with the 2.4MP viewfinder Type 020 made for the Leica T and Leica TL in 2014.
I'm happy to report that the Leica M10 EVF has developed a personal traume for me. Growing up in a safe and pleasant fairytale-like country like Denmark, it brings some sort of strange pleasure for me to experience some real-life reistance.
I of course bought the Typ-0020 Visoflex EVF with my Leica M10 because I usually like to have an EVF for some things. I've actualluy used the EVF-2 quite a bit on the Leica M240.
The EVF on the Leica M10 is much larger than the one for the Leica M240, and I will deliberately avoid using a strong word such as "clunky".
It's a big addition to the Leica M10, and as it's not designed for the Leica M10 it happens to cover the shutter speed dial in a way so you cannot easily see what the shutter speed is set to. In other words, it delays or hinders manual setting of the shutter speed.
Long story short, I decided to change my ways. I decided that for the Leica M10, I would not use the EVF but use the rangefinder. As a side note, that is also a compliment to the better-than-ever optical rangefinder. Not a difficult choice: Choosing between a clunky EVF that obstructs the functionality, or an elegant and bright rangefinder, I decided to make the latter my main tool.
Only for macro or working with cine lenses, or other brand lenses that requires the EVF, would I use it. Or if I get really old before Leica make a better one (which I find hard to believe).
I've grown up with Danish design furniture wall to wall, so anything that isn't perfect made to look great while working with great functionality gives me heart burn and dry eyes. The EVF for the Leica M10 causes just this, and I try not to get angry whenever I stumble into it in my photo bag.
Despite the large size of the EVF Typ 020, the viewing field for us who wear eyeglasses is still limited to somewhat 80% of the full frame (so you move your eye slightly to see the corners).
The Leica M10 EVF has higher resolution than the EVF for the Leica M240, but it's not that it makes a big difference. For black and white previews (which I use), the difference is very small. For color previews, the improvement is considerable.
A very good thing with ther EVF is that it swirvls up so you can look down into it while pointing the camera forward. It makes a great tool for many people, and is a small feature that many Leica SL users miss in their built-in viewfinder (the greatest electronic viewfinder made so far for any camera).
In recent years the Leica M system has been the flagship for Leica with approximately 60% of the overall sales for Leica Camera AG.
The Leica M system is the core of Leica. It's the system that inspired Leica to all that is Leica and the rest of the camera industry for many years. It's what everything else Leica is founded on; and it's what the heart of any true upcoming Leica fanatic eventually gets full of.
You start with a small innocent Leica D-Lux because the red dot rings a bell far back in your head that there was a day and age where all great photography was done with a Leica.
Once you get smitten with the red dot, you start browsing websites late at night and camera stores. You start worrying your spouse when you are found gleaning with a smile in front of any shop window that displays a Leica Q or Leica M.
The appeal of Leica is that it's the optimum, and it just feels right. You sense nirvana when you pick the camera up.
There is no known recovery for it. Once you get smitten, you have to get more of it. Some think it's a symptom of being well off, but it's actually not. It's a symptom of being a fan of “perfect shit” and knowing that you have found it. How much you make a year is not really the question. If you want it, you will eventually find the way to get it.
Now, I'll get to the point, which was the EVF for the Leica M10:
Leica Camera AG supplies cameras and lenses to a minority group for whom the price is not really the main concern. Perfection is paramount, and yet they decide not to make a perfect EVF, but instead offer an accessory made for another camera, for their prime camera, the Leica M10.
Now, everyone who bought a Leica M with lenses, to save money – raise your hands.
Anybody? No? The fact is that if you buy Leica, you do so to get as close to optimum and perfect as humanly possible.
I don't want to make a big fuss out of the EVF, but now that it's there, let's think about it for a moment. In many ways the Leica M10 goes backwards to the film rangefinders. Simplicity and functionality, combined with a mechanical design that would last for generations.
The Leica M9 was the first full-frame real digital version of this, and while the screen and buttons on the Leica M9 might have been a lot of new functionality to swallow back in 2009 when the camera was introduced, in hindsight the Leica M9 is in fact very close to simply being a digital Leica film rangefinder.
With the Leica M240 in 2013, Leica had listened to their users, as well as people who haven't used a Leica before (and never will), and they likely also looked at what other camera manufacturers did. Alas they found their new ground, trying to be modern and with it, yet staying functional and honoring the philosophy of simplicity, packing it all in mechanical design that might very well last for generations. Just because, Leica always did, and some ads even said so.
It's obvious that EVF is the new mantra in photography. Even Hasselblad now makes a medium format “mirrorless” camera with EVF, and it's hard to imagine many (or any) cameras in 10 or 20 years with an optical viewfinder and/or mirror. It's very unlikely.
Just because everybody does it, doesn't make it right. Actually, some of the greatest art and innovation throughout centuries has been when one person did something nobody else did.
But camera production is also competitive. One corporation tries to beat another one. Obviously, despite sitting on the optical viewfinder that operates 20 levels above anybody else, Leica Camera AG decided to explore the EVF future. This required Live View, which requires a CMOS sensor (that has higher ISO capability and uses less battery power), which opens up for having video.
In short, that's how the EVF and video became part of the iconic Leica M cameras when the Leica M240 was introduced in 2013. It looked so great on paper. The Leica M got higher ISO, less battery consumption, video and live view. And an EVF. All the things every other camera had and which everybody who never used a Leica M stated any relevant camera should have.
In the Leica M10, however, Leica Camera AG rightfully took a step back to the classic Leica M again. No more video, because it's a whole new spiral of external sound plugs, connections for hard drives and screens to get it right. And a lot of battery!
Also, apparently, the ones who had screamed for video, weren't actually Leica users, but more likely reviewers with not much other to do in life than repeat the list of endless features cameras seem to “need”.
A camera that takes great photographs by using just one button is not newsworthy in today's internet reviews.
So, here is the question we can think about for the next 3, 4 or 5 years:
Do we need EVF?
The Leica M10 could go two ways from here. Either it is decided that the Leica M10 has so superior a rangefinder that we actually don't need an EVF. There is a lot of eye relief in a rangefinder, it doesn't require battery power, it's simple to use and, in short … everything is awesome.
You have to learn to use it, but that too is possible. I wrote this article on how to use the Leica M rangefinder, “Focusing with a Rangefinder“.
If you feel your eyes are failing and the EVF is the solution, go with theLeica Q or Leica SL that boosts awesomeness in the EVF. They are both way ahead of any EVF's on the market, and the Leica SL is as close to a perfect optical viewfinder as any EVF has ever gotten.
But much suggest, in my opinion, that the camera industry with the EVF once again has gone down a road that may be viable for camera sales, but is not preferred for photography. I don't find the EVF in the Hasselblad, the Fuji and many others as a great tool. I find that the Sony A7 electronic viewfinder is quite good.
On the other hand, I also remember the optical viewfinders on the Nikon F3HP and in the Leica R9 SLR cameras. Man, those things were awesome!
Making an EVF that works naturally with the eye and mind is not just making a screen that lights up in the dark.
If the Leica M is to have an EVF, it should be one that is on par with the rest of the camera.
Make one that is awesome, fits with the design, feels natural and compact, works and looks great (and with a diopter adjustment ring that doesn't move accidentally, and with a rubber ring that doesn't smear eyeglasses).
Or make a Leica M10with a built-in EVF. If that is what it takes. But do provide a EVF solution that works. Or don't do it at all.
The usual viewfinder has become unusual (in a good way)
Leica Camera AG decided to improve the classic viewfinder on the Leica M10 on several points, now that they anyways had to implement it into a new and slimmer camera body.
1) The made the view wider, enabling more space and making it easier to see wider framelines (when using wide angle lenses). This also gave room for 2) an enlarged view from 0.68 enlargment to 0.73 enlargment.
3) They also made the viewfinder clearer and easier to focus with.
The viewfinder magnification used to be 0.68 on a Leica M, with the Leica M10 it is now 0.73. In other words, the image is larger. Alas, Leica Camera decided to make the viewfinder bigger. The new viewfinder also features
"50% wider Eye Relief"
What is Eye Relief?
The Leica M 10 includes, as one of the important new improvements, a "50% wider Eye Relief". Eye Relief is the term for the distance between the eye and the first piece of optics in the viewfinder. In short, it should give a higher and wider and more relaxed view.
In short, when the Eye Relief is correct, you see the whole image clearly, without distrurbing elements of frame or reflections. This is obviously technology learned from the Leica binoculars that has always been extremely bright and clear to look through. Expecially for us who wear eyeglasses.
When you import to Lightroom, those marked in camera will have one star in Lightroom.
There's a little hidden feature in the Leica M10 which is that when you preview an image on the screen, you can press arrow up and it will mark that picture with a star.
When you import to Lightroom, those marked in camera will have one star in Lightroom.
I don't know what you would use it for, because I don't use my screen for viewing pictures (because they always looks different on the computer), but I guess there could be instances where you want to mark one photo to find it quickly after import.
So that's how you add a star to an image in camera:
Arrow up when you preview the image on the screen of the Leica M10.
When Lens Detection is set to Automatic the camera will write which lens was used into the EXIF file (EXchangeable Image File format) of the image, as long as the lens has the 6-bit code engraved on the bayonet.
A 6-bit code on a Leica M lens
as it appears in Lightroom
All new lenses have the 6-bit code engraved, and most older lenses can get engraved by Leica Camera AG or by a third party.
Only some older lenses which have physical screws where the code should be engraved cannot be engraved by Leica Camera AG (such as for example the 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 Version II from the 1960's).
Which lens used is nice information to have for later review of images. I usually put the lens and camera in the keywords of my images because I like to know and I don't trust that the EXIF information will always be available across all software.
Automatic lens profile in Leica M10
Whereas choosing the lens profile in Lightroom was and is a possibility for pictures taken with previous Leica M digital rangefinders (M8, M9, MM, M240, M262 and M246), the Leica M10 uses the lens profile by default.
You can turn it off manually, just as you could turn it on or off in Lightroom on previous Leica models.
What does it do? It corrects mainly optical things such as making lines straight. In some cases it also adjusts colors and/or contrast overall, or in the edges.
Overall I find the corrections so relatively small that I never cared to use lens profiles for previous models; and I don't care to remove them for the images I do with Leica M10.
I presume the default use of lens profiles and their corrections have the blessing from lens designer Peter Karbe.
You will notice that if you photograph DNG and JPG at the same time in the Leica M10, that the DNG and JPG are slightly different in their appearance in Lightroom. The DNG file are corrected when imported into Lightroom, and the JPG files are not.
The natural explanation for this is that the lens correction is a software correction (performed in Lightroom), whereas the camera itself does not apply any corrections.
I often wonder if the use of lens correction profiles slows down Lightroom performance, but it's not something I have investigated. I've just noticed that Lightroom seem to work slower for each update. Maybe one day I will perform an experiment; or if you do, please let me know.
When a coded Leica M lens is attached to the M10, the camera automatically switches to "Auto Lens Detection", even if a different lens had previously been entered in "Manual M Lens detection". This also means that it is impossible to manually select a lens if the camera detects bit codes.
Using Adobe Lightroom for Leica M10
Until April 2016, all Leica cameras (even the smallest ones) came with a free Adobe Lightroom download. These days they come with a free 90 days trial of the entire Adobe Cloud.
If you are new to Lightroom, I will suggest signing up for your own 30 day free trial with Adobe Lightroom only so you don't get into the whole cloud and have to downgrade in 90 days.
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Lightroom support for Leica M10 since February 2017
From Lightroom version 6.8 (or cloud version 2015.8) there is support of Leica M10. Since then, version 6.9 (cloud version 2015.9) has come out.
If you click Help > Check for Updates inside Lightroom, you will experience it says it's updated to the latest version even though it obviously is not.
You actually have to uninstall Lightroom first, then install the LR 6.0 and then the update 6.8 or 6.9.
To install the LR 6.10 or 2015.9 with support of M10, first uninstall your current Lightroom:
In Applications > the Lightroom folder contains an > Uninstall Lightroom option you can run. Choose “Keep preferences” when you uninstall as you will else have to set up LR again from scratch with your preferred preferences.
In Lightroom, only the Lightroom 6.8 or CC 2015.8 and later versions support the Camera Raw that supports Leica M10. Previous Lightroom versions are supposed to work with new Camera Raw versions, but in reality, they don't (Adobe calls it “backwards compatible”, but it doesn't work).
Which Leica M10 profile to use in Lightroom?
There is a Leica M10 profile built into the Leica M10 files. In any older version than the Lightroom 6.8 / Lightroom CC 2015.8 that profile will be the only one visible.
When you update to Lightroom 6.8 / Lightroom CC 2015.8 you will have the possibility to use the Adobe Standard profile which gives more natural skin tones and reduces the blue shades. For the Leica M10, I have decided to go with the Adobe Standard.
I've had the discussion some time ago with Leica M product manager, Jesko Oeynhausen, regarding whether the Leica or the Adobe camera profile is the most optimum or correct colors?
Leica Camera AG makes the embedded LEICA M10 profile as good as they can, so that the camera has a profile when released. A while after the camera has been released, Adobe then creates their Adobe Standard as a sort mix of how Adobe thinks colors should look and how the sensor data obtains the most elasticity within the Adobe suite of software – how to make editing in Lightroom the most elastic (how much the files can be stretched).
Whichever is best, that's for you to decide. In the Leica M 240, I preferred the Embedded. In the Leica M10, I go for the Adobe Standard.
You can set Camera Profile in Lightroom, it's in the bottom right corner when you are in the Develop mode.
Black and white JPG's only has Embedded Profile
As for black and white tones (when the Leica M10 is set to JPG in the File Format of the camera menu and Monochrome in the JPG Settings in the camera menu), there is only LEICA M10 embedded profile available. The monochrome JPG is simply made in the Leica M10 camera and saved to the memory card per the pre-defined tonality.
Better black and white images in the Leica M10
I wasn't entirely happy with the greytones of the Leica M10 JPG file. So, I decided to make my own Leica M10 black and white preset that I can use to make the DNG file into a black and white with the tone values close to how the Leica M9 made black and white JPG files.
The black and white JPG out of the Leica M10.
My own Leica M10 black and white preset.
My Black & White Presets
When I say not happy with the tones, I am talking about the skin tones and definition of details that I found a bit flat. The texture of the skin was missing, and the glow was missing, and often darker skin tones were too dark.
I've made my Leica M10 profile in two versions. One that translates the image into Process 2010 (which is the one I prefer to use), and one that translates it into Process 2012. Difference between processes is which tools Lightroom gives you to work with.
You can buy and download my
Leica M10 Presets here:
Leica M10 greytones
Leica M9 greytones
My Leica M10 preset to get Leica M9 greytones
Thorsten Overgaard Lightroom Preset:
Traditional black and white from Lightroom:
Thorsten Overgaard Lightroom Preset:
Traditional black and white from Lightroom:
Thorsten Overgaard Lightroom Preset:
Traditional black and white from Lightroom:
Common errors in Adobe Lightroom 6.8, 6.9 and 6.10
Apart from being slow, here are some common errors in Lightroom:
Not importing all files
I've experienced that Lightroom recently doesn't import all photos when using the Import button. I check the SD-card and there are photos not imported.
It's a very disturbing error because I'm used to trusting that it got them all (because it used to).
So, now I check, but one can also drag and drop the files into a folder on your computer to make sure that all were copied; then drop that folder into Lightroom as “Add” (doesn't copy the files but lets them stay in the folder where they already are).
Not building previews
Once Lightroom has finished copying files into Lightroom and is supposed to start building previews automatically, it often hangs.
To get the preview building started; go to Develop mode and ramble around with some of the images till the building of previews starts.
It's an error that has been in Lightroom since before Version 3.
Lightroom doesn't sort after date
Since Lightroom 6, the files don't appear in the sequence they were taken, but in the sequence Lightroom randomly copied them into the library.
Even when you have set Lightroom to View > Sort > Capture Time.
To remedy this, I sort after file name: View > Sort > File Name. That way the pictures appear in the sequence they were taken.
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All in all, the not-very-fast processing of things in Adobe Lightroom, as well as errors that remain unaddressed, is not something that builds confidence that Lightroom will develop to be a better software.
You might want to start considering the CAPTURE ONE PRO 10.2 image editing software(with Leica M10 support as of September 12, 2017) if you are not into the perspective of having to sign up for the Adobe Cloud to be able to use Lightroom in the future.
I'll start supporting how to use CAPTURE ONE PRO in the future as soon as I get time to write about it.
Not much information will be available on the sensor. Just like the Leica SL and the Leica Q sensor, all we will know is that it's made by or for Leica, and this one is made for the Leica M10. I much prefer not to compare details on sensors (as to who produced them and so on), but simply do this: Look at the picture.
In the case of digital, the picture is not just what comes from the camera, it's what you can make out of what comes from the camera using Lightroom or CAPTURE ONE PRO. It usually takes some weeks or months to settle for a way to get your own look with a new camera and sensor.
The image quality will take a while to get right, no matter what. Opinions will be divided, but eventually we'll get the look we want. Most of us. I'm not worried about it. I dislike changes but they come with every new sensor model.
I will get into more on the colors of the Leica M10, as well as how to get the best black and white pictures out of the Leica M10. Stay tuned for this and much more. If you are not already getting my free newsletter, sign up today and get a free eBook.
Which Leica M to get?
I won't get into that in this article. But here is an overview of the different models. Currently Leica Camera AG offers some discounts on Leica M 240 with lenses that might make that camera the choice while Leica M10 is on waiting list.
2.4 MP Typ 0020 Visoflex with GPS device.
First came Leica M9 (2009), then Leica M240 (2013), and now the Leica M10 (2017). In eesence, the Leica M240 was the Leica M10, but Leica Camera AG wanted to introduce the idea that the Leica M was always the Leica M, and updates would be "Typ 240" as model numbers. Just like the MacBook Pro is always a MacBook Pro but has a model number to distinguish the models.
Now, that didn't work, so Leica Camera AG returned to the M9, M10 and so on. Something I think we all agree is a great idea. The point maybe is this: The Leica M9 is a legendary classic Leica rangefinder camera. The first full-frame digital Leica, the true love of many who still use it today, 9 years after its release. I redefined my love for this camera some months ago as you can read in this page 19 of "The Worlds (Possibly) Longest Camera Review".
The "Viewfinder" issue contains user report by Jono Slack, interview on the Leica M10 with Leica Camera AG Global Manager Stefan Daniel and Leica M10 Product Manager Jesko Oeynhausen, and more. Sign up for a print membership or digital membership at lhsa.org (Leica Historial Society International).
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Index of Thorsten von Overgaard's user review pages covering Leica M9, Leica M9-P, M-E, Leica M10,
Leica M 240, Leica M-D 262, Leica M Monochrom, M 246 as well as Leica Q and Leica SL:
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator.
Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.
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