The Leica M10-D digital camera has no built-in LCD screen and a viewfinder with only manual focus, so is it the camera for you?
Produces superb pictures for intermediate and advanced photographers who want to operate analogue controls in a digital world.
● The image quality is excellent with exemplary colour handling at 24 megapixels.
● Simplified controls focusing on aperture, shutter speed and the sensor’s light sensitivity (ISO).
● Handles low light like a night-time predator with a maximum ISO of 50,000.
● The application works well to review images and remotely capture and adjust settings.
● Adjusting the focus takes getting used to as you need to manually line up two images in the viewfinder until they overlap.
● No on camera LCD screen for checking your images.
● Need a minimum of two feet from your subject to get focus.
How’s the picture taking performance?
It’s not that the 24 megapixels isn’t more than sufficient, but a lot of people think that megapixels, the unit of graphic resolution that makes up an image, is what counts.
But if you notice an image that strikes you and do not know why, usually it is the colour handling that makes cameras unique and why you would choose one brand over another.
In processing the photos, the RAW photos are actually different from the jpegs, which means the Leica certainly has its own “secret sauce” in the way it processes the images so you can get the silky smooth vintage taste in your mouth and Instagram tag your photos with #nofiltermaximumstyle.
Aperture, shutter speed and ISO, what’s that all about?
To use the Leica M10-D effectively, you need to fundamentally understand how to control the iris or aperture, which is the rate a which the shutter captures the image, and ISO, because those are the only controls on the camera to adjust for exposure.
The camera does have an exposure meter inside the viewfinder and the app allows you to see what you are getting in real time, but the reality is, you will want to know how to take a photograph without your phone.
There is no white balance setting on the camera, only in the app, so it seems the camera is somehow telepathic compared to other brands in knowing what type of light you are shooting in.
The automatic white balance the camera determines for each setting is pretty good and rarely needs adjusting.
You can also set the camera to automatic for ISO and shutter speed; however to avoid embarrassment of not being a real photographer who knows what they are doing, make sure you set it to something else if someone asks to inspect your camera.
How does it handle?
You feel the weight in your hands, and the ergonomics of a film camera that will take you back to a time when you actually had to know what you were doing to take great photos because it was super expensive and time consuming to go to a dark room and process your photos with chemicals.
It can be difficult and time consuming lining up the rangefinder to get focus as you have to align two images with a lever on the lens, although a more experienced photographer will be able to get some great snaps in some unique situations.
What about video?
We have all come to expect it out of any camera, but Leica aficionados will kind of blink at you and walk away if you asked them to take a video.
Did they put in an audio jack for vloggers?
There are no jacks or external inputs other than a slot for your SD memory card and battery.
How’s the battery life?
The battery lasted for a long four hour street photography session, so you should be good for half a day to a day.
If you are not as selective about the number of photos you take since you cannot review them without your phone, you might consider a spare battery just in case.
How’s the screen?
It was a bold move for Leica to remove the screen from their camera, but maybe it will pay off just like when Apple removed ports from their gadgets to pave way for simplicity.
Fortunately the smartphone app connects up pretty well.
What about panache?
Cameras are becoming fashion accessories nowadays. Those in the know will be aware that the lens and body cost more than some luxury watches, and absolutely distinguish you as someone to contend with.
The nostalgic look and feel to it is great, but more importantly, since it is not as recognisable and prevalent compared to other digital cameras, you can get more up close and intimate with some subjects while shooting some stunning street photography.
Should it be on my wish list?
If you are a professional or hobbyist photographer or a fashion influencer that is looking for unique distinct photos for their Instagram, this is definitely worth consideration.