We all knew the Leica M10-P ($7,995, body only) was coming. The company has put out a special “P” version of every iteration of its flagship full-frame rangefinder, typically after demand for the standard edition has been satisfied. The P version of last year’s M10 doesn’t just look prettier, it also features a redesigned mechanical shutter that’s noticeably quieter and a touch-sensitive LCD. Everything else is the same—the 24MP image sensor and processor, the slim design that matches the dimensions of analog M cameras, and an improved optical viewfinder. It carries a price premium over the M10, currently selling for $7,295, but if you value the stealth afforded by the understated design and quieter shutter, and aren’t stretching your budget to afford a Leica in the first place, you’ll find the extra cost to be worth it.
Design: Goodbye Red Dot
As with other cameras that bear the P designation—the M9-P and the
The other cosmetic change is on the rear, and it’s a bit more subtle. The M10 has the words Leica Camera Wetzlar / Made in Germany to the right of the viewfinder on the rear. The M10-P only has Made in Germany printed in that location. As with other digital M cameras, the M10-P is compatible with almost every M-mount lens produced by Leica dating back to the 1950s, and thread-mount lenses dating back to the 30s via a
The camera’s dimensions are identical to the M10—it comes in at 3.1 by 5.5 by 1.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.5 pounds without a lens attached. Leica offers it in black or silver chrome over brass. The company has opted not to use the black paint finish, which it did with the M-P (Typ 240). That means you won’t get the brassed look as paint wears thin after years of use—it’s up to you whether that’s a plus or a minus.
The optical viewfinder is the same 0.73x version found on the M10, just a little bit larger than the 0.72x that’s standard on film bodies like the M-A. You’ll see a different pair of white, LED projected frame lines depending on which lens you attach—28mm and 90mm, 35mm and 135mm, or 50mm and 75mm. There is a frame line preview selector on the front, so you can cycle through the three sets to preview what a shot will look like without having to change lenses, but because the lines are created by an internal LED, you’ll need to have the camera turned on to see them. This is different than the M9 and earlier models, which used ambient light to illuminate the frame lines. The advantage with LED is that you’ll be able to see the framing guides, even when working in very dim conditions. The brightness of the LEDs varies based on your environment—they’re bright under bright light, and dimmed down so as not to hurt your eyes in the dark.
The finder has a bit more eye relief than in previous digital Leica models, which means that you’ll be able to see its periphery a bit more clearly. I wear glasses and still have to make an effort to see the edges of 28mm frames, but have no problem seeing a bit outside the 35mm line. If you don’t wear glasses, shooting will be a breeze—you’ll still need an external optical viewfinder or the add-on Visoflex EVF to frame shots with wider lenses, or you can use the rear LCD.
Shutter speed and exposure information are displayed in red toward the bottom of the viewfinder. A half-press of the shutter will show the current set speed if you’re using an automatic setting, while full manual shooters will be greeted with a red circle to indicate that exposure is set correctly, or a triangular arrow if you are over or underexposed. EV compensation is displayed only when you adjust it.
If you haven’t used a rangefinder before, you’ll likely face a learning curve in how to set focus. There’s no sort of autofocus at all. There is a bright square at the center of the M10-P’s viewfinder—the rangefinder patch. It shows a double image when
Controls are very straightforward. Aperture is always adjusted via a physical ring on the lens. On the top
It’s possible to set a minimum shutter speed for automatic ISO control in the menu. You can have the camera shoot at 1/f, 1/2f, or 1/4f, where f is the focal length of the attached lens, or at a fixed speed anywhere from 1/2-second through 1/500-second. The top auto ISO setting can also be customized—by default it’s ISO 1600, but you can set it anywhere from ISO 250 through 50000.
The hot shoe, for an external flash, is centered behind the lens mount. Leica includes a metal cover to protect it from the elements when you don’t have a flash or other accessory
The top plate gets a little shorter on the right side, which means the top of the shutter speed dial is flush with the left half of the top plate. The shutter has a range from 6 seconds through 1/4,000-second, a 1/250-second X-sync speed, and both Bulb and Automatic settings. To its right you’ll find the power switch, with the shutter release at its center. The shutter button is threaded, so you can use a standard release cable or soft release button if desired.
On the rear there are only three buttons, to the left of the LCD, and a directional pad with a center button to its right. The buttons toggle Live View (LV), switch to image review (Play), and open the menu (Menu). To delete a photo, click Menu during image review and then hit the center button on the d-pad. It’s not initially apparent, but once you’ve figured that out, the menus are quite intuitive.
There’s also a rear control dial, which works in conjunction with a button on the front of the camera to set EV compensation. You’ll need to turn the wheel while holding the button to set EV in third-stop increments from -3EV through +3EV compensation. If you prefer, you can set the wheel to adjust EV without an additional button press.
Opening the Menu shows you the Favorites page first. It’s a customizable menu, and out of the
The LCD itself is gorgeous. It’s 3 inches in size with a 1,040k-dot resolution. The touch capability makes it easier to navigate through photos—you can swipe to move from shot to shot, double tap to zoom in and check critical focus, or pinch to zoom. When framing images using the rear LCD you can also double tap to zoom in and focus manually, with the aid of peaking highlights if desired.
New to the M10-P is an internal level. You can turn on a gauge, visible on the rear LCD or in the EVF only. It shows up at the center as a horizontal line to measure roll, flanked by two smaller lines housed within gray borders that measure pitch. The lines show red when the camera is not level and green when it is. You can also opt to enable grid lines, in 3-by-3 or 4-by-6 patterns, to help keep your shots as straight as possible.
Aside from the hot shoe, the M10-P doesn’t have any sort of data ports. The battery and SD/SDHC/SDXC card load in the bottom. As with film rangefinders, which require you to take the bottom plate off to change film, you’ll need to remove the M10-P’s bottom cover to take the battery out to recharge or change the memory card.
Wi-Fi is built in, but it only works with iOS devices. Leica promised an Android app when the M10 launched early last year, but it hasn’t followed through. If you have an iPhone, you can install the Leica M app and connect to the M10-P’s Wi-Fi network. The app gives you remote control over the camera, with Live View and a shutter release, and full access to the menu system. Of course, you can also transfer images to your phone. You can copy images regardless of whether you shoot in Raw or JPG format, but keep in mind the photos will be sized down to 1.4MP and converted to JPG—fine for Instagram, but not for archiving. I did notice one bug with the Wi-Fi—it wouldn’t save a custom password, but you can use the default password to connect. Leica is aware of the issue.
Performance and Image Quality: Just Like the M10
From an imaging perspective, the M10-P is the
The shutter mechanism is redesigned, but it maintains its top 1/4,000-second firing speed and 1/250 flash sync. The real difference is that the new shutter is quieter than the M10. I was able to fire the cameras off side-by-side during a briefing and the difference is palpable. For a comparison with some other cameras, including the M3, M (Typ 240), Sony a7R III, and Nikon D850, watch the video below. I controlled the testing as much as possible outside of a true sound studio—I set audio gain to a fixed level and used a Rode VideoMic with my camera. All of the cameras were set to a 1/125-second shutter speed.
I didn’t retest the M10-P, as it’s identical to the M10, but have included crops from our ISO test scene shot with the M10 in the slideshow that accompanies this review. Imatest shows that, when shooting in JPG format, noise is controlled through ISO 6400. Details remain strong at ISO 12500, even though there’s a bit more grain. At ISO 25000 we start to see some smudging, and photos are more noticeably blurred at the top ISO 50000 setting.
Raw photos are captured in DNG format. Because Leica doesn’t apply a ton of noise reduction to JPG images, detail and noise are that much different between the two formats. You’ll likely be happy with image quality through ISO 12500, but shooting at 25000 or 50000 takes its toll. The real advantage of shooting in Raw is the ability to adjust exposure and color, recover highlights, and open up shadow detail to a much greater extent than the JPG format allows.
As far as video goes, there is none. Leica still sells the previous-generation M (Typ 240), with support for 1080p recording, but there are many other, better cameras out there if you want to capture moving pictures, including the Sony a7 III and the Panasonic GH5, which allow for 4K and 6K capture, respectively.
A Premium Edition of a Premium Camera
You don’t get a lot more with the M10-P as compared with the M10. An extra $700 gets you the more discrete, classic look, a touch screen, and a drastically quieter shutter. At
Leica’s continued development of its rangefinder series shows that it is devoted to its
The M10-P looks more like a classic Leica from the 60s than the standard edition of the M10. For some shooters that’s enough to justify the premium. For me, the biggest upgrade here isn’t the aesthetics or the