while I was in Germany for the Celebration of Photography Event a.k.a The M10 Launch, I had a chance to sit down for a chat with Jesko von Oeyhausen, product manager for the Leica M10, and Stefan Daniel, Global Director of Business Unit Photo. I’ve known both Jesko and Stefan for many years now, so I thought readers might find it interesting if I published our full discussion, rather than the conventional and more formal Q & A.
First off, let’s get the obvious question out of the way. Why M10 and not M11? Or, why not M (Typ XYZ)?
Stefan: The reason we skipped the Typ number thing is that initially the goal was to call it a Leica M so that people would just talk about the M. On the other hand, somehow the products need to be differentiated, so the idea was to add the Typ number but not make it as prominent as it became in real life.
You mean that everyone now refers to it as an M240?
Stefan: So the Typ number, which was not intended to be part of product name, became part of the product name. Even worse, it got simplified from M (Typ 240) into M240 and this was not the initial goal. And also, the Typ numbers got confusing: 246, 262, 240. So, we’re back to the classic numbering. And M10 because we had to make a decision one day whether it’s the M10 or the M11. Honestly, this was really random.
M10 sounds good.
Jesko: Yeah. Why skip it?
Of the top features and improvements on the M10, which are you most proud of?
Stefan: I don’t think it can be reduced to a single feature, but we’re convinced that it’s the sum of the changes and improvements which make the camera so unique. Of course, there is the slimmer body which is the most noticeable. A 4mm reduction doesn’t sound like a lot, but it absolutely feels much smaller. We are very pleased with the result.
I’d say the M10 feels very much like an analog M.
Stefan: That was what everybody was wishing for and when we asked customers they were saying, “Can you make it just a little bit thinner? We know it’s difficult to go to the analog size, but please make it slimmer.” Especially those who are used to analog M’s like the M6, M7, etc. So, this was quite high on the ranking list on by DAVID FARKAS proposed features.
It’s true. If you look on paper, it doesn’t seem like the amount of distance here (indicating the protruding lens mount) would make that much of a difference, but the total volume of the camera seems so much smaller in your hand when you use it.
Stefan: It’s not only the lens mount coming out of the camera, though. The entire layout of the electronics has been changed from what is considered normal or standard digital camera design. Typically, you have a shutter, a cover glass, the sensor, a sensor board, the main electronics board, the monitor, and finally, the cover glass of the monitor.
So, it has a lot of depth. How did you address this?
Stefan: Lots of depth, yes. So, to make this assembly thinner, we arranged the sensor board and main board to be on the same level. Not stacked, one behind each other, but side-byside. Even the main board is around the sensor board.
Does that mean it’s a custom PCB shape?
Stefan: Yes. It’s all custom. You can’t buy that at Best Buy, that’s for sure. This layout is quite unique compared to other cameras on the market.