The Leica M10-P is certainly a follow-up to 2017’s M10. It is not designed to replace the older model, but rather, sit alongside it as a substitute option.
It shares many of the same specifications as its predecessor, including the same sensor and processor, and the same overall body design, with a few tweaks which are particularly geared towards making it more appealing as a street photography camera.
First up is the addition of a “quiet” shutter, which is normally noticeably more discreet than that found on the M10. The iconic Leica red dot, from the front of the camera, has also been taken out in a bid to reduce attention towards the camera.
The rear screen on the back of the M10-P is now touch-sensitive, while a guide level, in addition, has been added (when shooting in Live Watch, or via the optional additional electronic viewfinder).
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Leica M10-P: Price
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Leica M10-P: Ease of Use
Leica has used the same style and materials for the M10-P as for the older M10, which means it has a brass and magnesium alloy body. The result is something that has the classic good looks of a Leica, as well as feeling extremely solid and well-built. It’s a little on the heavy aspect, but if used in conjunction with one of Leica’s smaller “M” lenses, the overall weight is not too bad.
This is by no means a pocket camera, but you should be able to fit the M10-P into a small bag, ready to bring out for street shooting when you need it. One of the most noticeable design differences between the M10 and the M10-P may be the removal of the iconic reddish dot from leading of the camera – but if you’re at all worried that people won’t know you’ve got a Leica, just flip to the top plate to see the large LEICA engraving to reassure you.
The Leica M10-P is a rangefinder, this means it is manual focus just. In a world where autofocus, and autofocus speeds, are king, getting used to this rather old-fashioned way of working can take quite a bit of time to get used to. Add in the unusual way in which you focus a rangefinder lens, and it can all feel completely alien to the uninitiated.
Leica M10-P: Front side of the Leica M10-P
In order to focus a rangefinder zoom lens, you look through the viewfinder, lining up the image you discover in a central container with the picture superimposed on top of it by twisting a ring on the lens you’re using. Once the outlines match hit the shutter release and you should have created an image that is properly in focus. There are always a couple of problems here – first of all if anything is usually on the outer edge of the body, it’s difficult to judge the focus, and second of all, if you’re photographing a subject which appears on a fussy background, it can be hard to distinguish what’s taking place in the viewfinder.
One way for this is to use the M10-P’s Live View capacity. With this, you can take advantage of an enlarged watch and focus peaking to make it easier to get your shot in concentrate. When you’ve been using a rangefinder for a long time, it also starts to become a little more intuitive as to where to stand at what focal size to attain good focus.
Leica M10-P: Rear of the Leica M10-P
Speaking of the viewfinder, this is the same finder as you’ll find on the original M10, which was an improved version of the one on the M Typ 240. It includes a magnification factor of 0.73x, while its design means that the widest focal duration it covers is 28mm, meaning you’ll need to use the LCD display, or the optional EVF if you’re working with wider lenses.
The overall design of the M10-P, like the original M10, is extremely minimalist. There are just a couple of dials and buttons, but there is pretty much everything you should take most shots. On the top plate there’s a shutter speed dial, which includes speeds from 1/4000 – 8 seconds, and also offering the choice of “Bulb”. You can even leave it in the “auto” position, to have the camera work out shutter speed for you. A secondary, smaller dial may be used for adjusting ISO velocity – but you’ll first have to lift the dial before you can twist it around – a design that prevents accidental undesired changes. Again, you can even keep it in the automatic setting to really have the camera workout the relevant ISO rate for you personally. The dial only shows ISO 100 – 6400, so if you want to use a higher ISO value, you’ll need to established the dial to “M” and choose a higher value in the main menu.
Leica M10-P: In-hand
Another new feature relating to the screen is the addition of a spirit level or virtual horizon. This can be very useful in helping to ensure your shots are straight but aren’t something that can be utilized with the optical viewfinder. If you choose to purchase the optional electronic finder, the level can be displayed in that.
In a nod to Leica M film cameras, the entire foundation plate comes off the camera – just as it would when you needed to insert a brand-new 35mm film. These days, you’ll find the camera battery pack and the SD memory space card slot underneath the bottom plate. It’s a sweet idea, but it’s a little bit of a faff if you need to quickly change the storage card. A warning is displayed on the screen should you accidentally forget to replace the base plate.
Just like the unique M10, the Leica M10-P provides inbuilt Wi-Fi. With it, you can connect wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet. With Leica’s app, you can transfer your images and remotely control the camera.
Leica M10-P: 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 is to be expected from Leica, the images the M10-P can create are excellent, especially once you get accustomed to its operational quirks. As the sensor and processor chip is the same as found in the existing M10, image quality should be the same.
Images have a superb amount of fine detail and sharpness, while they also have a “filmic” quality that is hard to quantify in phrases but is standard of capturing with a Leica. Noise is definitely well-controlled throughout ISO 100-1600, with just a little acceptable noise creeping in at ISO 3200. At ISO 6400 and above, pictures remain usable up until around ISO 12500, but it’s best to avoid ISO 25600 and above.
Colors are well saturated, with a good amount of vibrance and pleasing tones. On the whole, exposures are well-balanced when relying on the all-purpose metering option (Leica telephone calls it “multi-field”), while automated white balance does a good job when faced with different kinds of light sources.
Along with creating JPEGs, the M10-P shoots in the universal DNG raw structure, meaning you can open the files without any need for the latest updates from Adobe, or proprietary software. From the raw data files, you can draw out additional details and tweak the colors towards your own personal preferences.
Leica M10-P: Conclusion
The Leica M10-P is a beautiful camera, crafted with precision to be incredibly well made. The images it’s capable of taking are equally beautiful.
Upgrades have been made to the M10-P, but it’s even more of an incremental evolution rather than a complete overhaul of the previous model. The most visible difference may be the removal of the classic red dot, while the addition of the quieter shutter is an advantage for street and discreet photographers. That said, it’s not really silent, and with the invention of modern electronic shutters which make absolutely zero sound, it’s perhaps not quite the plus point it once might have been.