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REVIEWED: Leica M10

Many thanks to the folks at PopFlash.Photo for the Leica M10 on loan. PopFlash.photo offers many accessories for Leica M and other brands, such as the Thumbs Up EP-MX for Leica M10 and the Leica Visoflex (Type 020) EVF.

When I evaluate a camera, I evaluate it for my own working style, referring as needed to other usage potentialities which might differ a little—there are many ways one might put a camera to work.

But in no case can bad design choices be rationalized away even if such features are not a priority for some users.

I am very unhappy with the M10 design. Key features have been removed, and others have been degraded, causing time-wasting problems that were elegantly simple with the M240 (e.g., the self timer). Were it a free exchange for my M240, I’d hesitate—it’s that degraded in functionality for the way I work (which is not to say that others work the way I do). Except for the slightly smaller form factor versus the M240 (meaningless with an L bracket and grip), the M10 deeply disappoints operationally after years of waiting.

The saving grace is the outstanding image quality. And that means that most users are going to love the M10, because it is the image that counts. I just wish that Leica had not removed or degraded key operational features. Elegance in a camera is to make it as simple as possible but no simpler, but with the M10 Leica has crossed that line by degrading the three key things I use all the time (RGB histogram, leveling function, self timer). This is done needlessly, for zero benefit—design insanity.

And so I’ll nuance my comment above about “were it a free exchange”: having seen the image quality and the vastly superior EVF, I would trade the M10 for the M240, but I’d rue the missing RGB histogram and the self timer reset behavior. Both are fixable in a firmware update, but Leica clearly does not see those features as important.

I kick off my review with discussions of usability problems and bugs:

Leica M10 With Really Right Stuff L-bracket
Leica M10 With Really Right Stuff L-bracket

Field shooting images to follow from the Eastern Sierra.

I find it laughable that a medium format camera with twice the pixels on a larger sensor, high-res built-in EVF, autofocus and far superior image quality and many more features is available at lower cost and with far less costly lenses. One truly has to want the still too large and heavy form factor and Red Dot to put up with so many problems and limitations.

It would be one thing if the M10 had enhanced the usability of the M line. Instead it has stepped backwards, leaving M users like me to twist in the wind, because it is NOT an upgrade to the M240 at present (there is still hope for firmware sanity), but (excepting the very nice but optional EVF), a downgrade.

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