The Leica M10-D is the latest variant of Leica’s top-of-the-range digital rangefinder camera.
Using the M10-P as a basis, it features the same full-body 24-megapixel sensor and Maestro II processor, and also the “quiet” shutter of the M10-P camera.
The biggest difference between the two is definitely that the Leica M10-D while getting digital, has the look and appearance of an analog or film camera, lacking a rear display. In its place can be a large exposure settlement dial, in the same place that an ISO dial was found on older M series models.
Check Out: Best Lenses for Leica M10-D
Leica M10-D: Price
Leica M10-D: Ease of Use
In terms of shape and size, the Leica M10-D is the same as the M10-P or the standard M10. It is closer to the M10-P because it is missing the iconic “red dot” on the front of the camera, and instead has “Leica” written in large letters on the top of the body rather. For the M10-P this was designed to make the camera more “discreet”, and thus more suited to street photography.
Of course, the biggest difference between the models is definitely that the M10-D is certainly lacking a screen. Instead, on the back of the camera, you’ll find a large dial that can be used to adjust exposure compensation, giving you the chance to choose between -3 and +3, with 1/3rd stops in between each. It’s a flat sort of dial that is a little stiff to regulate but at least should prevent accidental changes – something which is even more important when you can’t preview your image.
Also on the trunk of the Leica M10-D is where you can turn it on or off. Again, it’s a dial that has three independent positions – there’s off, indicated by a very small reddish colored dot, on, indicated by a white dot, and on, with Wi-Fi connection, as indicated by a standard Wi-Fi symbol.
Leica M10-D: Front side of the Leica M10-D
The rest of the dials contribute to the M10-D’s minimalist appearance. On the top left is an ISO dial, which you need to pop out of its housing slightly in order to transform it – or you can leave it on the Auto setting. Note that the ISO dial just goes up to ISO 6400 – if you want to shoot at faster speeds than that, you can change the speed via the app.
To the right of the top is a shutter velocity dial, which gives you speeds between 8 seconds and 1/4000 of a second, or again you can keep it in Auto. You can even activate a Bulb mode. If you need to shoot for speeds longer than 8 seconds, you’ll only be able to do that via the app. Aperture is normally controlled via the lens itself.
Leica M10-D: Back of the Leica M10-D
Just to the proper of the shutter rate dial may be the shutter release button. Attached to this is a faux film winding on a lever, which doesn’t have got any function other than to act as a thumb rest, as well as to put in a little bit of nostalgia. There is a small button at the top of the camera, as well as a small dial on the rear of it – right now there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable function attached to these, and perhaps are just there as they have been brought over from the body of other M10 cameras.
Another component of nostalgia comes in the form of the bottom plate which hides the battery pack and the memory card. The whole thing detaches, in the same way, an analog M10 bottom plate would detach to allow you to put in the 35mm film. The downside is that there is a risk of losing the plate if you don’t immediately reattach it, plus it’s impossible to change the battery or storage cards if the camera is mounted to a tripod – but it seems relatively unlikely that a camera like this will be used all too often on a tripod in any case.
Leica M10-D: Bottom of the Leica M10-D
The Leica M10-D is usually a rangefinder and therefore is a manual focus only camera with a slightly odd way of working. If you’ve never used a single before, it’s quite an unusual experience that is not for everyone. In essence – looking through the viewfinder, you should match up the scene you can view in a small box in the middle of the finder with the picture behind it. When the images match in the box, then the lens is in concentrate and you will take the picture.
It makes focusing on anything which is not in the center of the frame very difficult, and is also quite gradual when you’re just getting used to how it works. Lenses are marked with focus distances, so over time, you come to learn how to set the lens so it will be roughly focused on the subject when you lift it to your attention to take the shot.
Leica M10-D: Image Quality
All of the sample pictures in this review were taken using the 24 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 9Mb.
As can be the case with additional Leica M series cameras, once you get the hang of using a rangefinder, the images that the Leica M10-D is capable of producing are excellent. As the sensor and processor here is the same as found in the M10-P and the M10, we can expect similarly excellent pictures.
Images have a great number of details and sharpness, and as is definitely common across Leica digital cameras, have somewhat of a “filmic” quality about them which is definitely hard to describe. Put simply, they “look” like they were shot on a Leica.
Noise is controlled well through ISO 100-1600, with some noise needs to creep in at around ISO 3200. At ISO 6400 and above images remain usable unless you’re hoping to print at very large sizes – well ISO speeds of 12500 and 25600 are best avoided if possible. The top speed of ISO 50000 renders images very poorly, so that should also be avoided.
Otherwise, colors are well saturated with a good degree of realism without going over the top. Exposures are generally well-balanced when relying on the all-purpose metering option, but not being able to double-check with a screen can lead to some somewhat overexposed or underexposed pictures. Luckily, the Leica M10-D can shoot in the general raw DNG format, providing you the option to tweak images should you need to.
Automatic white balance does a reasonably good job when faced with different lighting conditions, erring slightly towards yellowish tones when shooting under artificial lighting. A more appropriate white balance environment can be set – however, not directly on the Leica M10-D, so once again shooting in raw structure and leaving it on Auto is probably the best option for speed.
Leica M10-D: Conclusion
As we’ve seen before with the Leica M and the M10-P, the M10-D is a beautiful camera, which is likely to appeal to Leica aficionados. Very expensive digital rangefinders are a niche proposition as it is, removing the trunk screen just makes it, even more, niche – so it’ll end up being interesting to see how well the M10-D performs, sales-wise.
With regard to usability, the Leica M10-D is extremely frustrating at times. It would almost be better to assume that Wi-Fi online connectivity isn’t possible, and use it just as you would a film camera, just looking at the images when you get the possibility to get to a computer or similar. Otherwise, the number of instances that the M10-D failed to connect to the phone made this aspect of capturing with the camera extremely annoying, and time-consuming.
Putting that aside, the pictures that the M10-D is with the capacity of producing is very good, but as it uses the same sensor and processor chip combination of the M10 and the M10-P, you’d have to specifically want the “no display screen” style to opt for this over the various other M10 cameras in the series.
Using a rangefinder takes quite a bit of time to obtain the hang of – and it’s not for everybody. Once you get yourself a bit more used to it, getting pictures in focus comes to a lot easier, but without the ability to check (quickly) that you’ve nailed the shot, this is certainly not a camera for those who are new to rangefinder shooting.