The Leica M10 might be the most ‘analog’ digital M yet. And perhaps the most faithful to the M lineage. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Leica’s journey into digital photography over the last decade or so. Every step of the way, the venerable German camera company has endeavored to approach that holy grail of M-ness. And with each generation, with each iteration, they’ve achieved minor victories, inching ever closer to that goal.
With the M10, have they finally realized this lofty aim of creating a digital camera that is truly worthy of the M moniker? When I took the M10 out for a few days of intensive shooting in New Orleans, this question was always in the back of my mind. And now that we’ve gotten to know each other a little better, I’ve certainly formed my own opinions.
The M10: how did we get here?
But first, I think it’s worth looking at the steps and missteps in recent years, as Leica has found their way with digital M cameras. Let’s face it. Leica was late to the digital party. And when they did show, they were at a significant disadvantage owing to their lack of in-house expertise. Now, in some ways, being first isn’t always best. Kodak was actually the first to market a digital camera, and we know how that story ended. Most of the earliest medium format digital back makers either went out of business, faded into obscurity or were absorbed by other companies. As the saying goes, “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” In this case, Leica’s late entry into the market allowed them to start with a different mindset and with the availability of slightly more mature technology.
M3 – 1954
Okay. The M3 isn’t digital, but it was the first M camera and gives some historical perspective. Every M since, save for the M5, looks like an M, feels like an M and is just…an M. Some aficionados might have their certain preferences, be they for the M4, M6TTL, M7, etc., but all could agree on this common M-ness. Generations of M shooters have felt it and been drawn to it. Eventually, when the world of photography started moving in that direction, they wanted a digital version that evoked that same essence.
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