INTRODUCTION I have been lucky enough to test all three of Leica’s Monochrom cameras. The 18mp M9 Monochrom was launched in Berlin amongst much excitement in November 2012. The 24mp M246 Monochrom was announced two and a half years later on April 30th, 2015. We have had to wait nearly five years for the latest version, with the M10 Monochrom being announced on January 17th, 2020.
I think that for many of us the M10 was the ultimate digital expression of the Leica rangefinder camera. They had managed to reduce its size to that of an M7, speed it up, quiet the shutter and streamline the operation. Then came the M10-P with an even quieter shutter.
The M10 Monochrom retains the quieter shutter of the M10-P, but adds a completely new 41mp monochrome sensor (7864 x 5200 pixels). Of course this brings up a number of immediate questions:
Are the M lenses good enough to support such resolution?
Does anyone really need this much black and white resolution? Are the M10 electronics sufficient to deal with such big files?
Is it possible to hold the camera steady enough with no stabilisation? Is it possible to focus accurately enough with the rangefinder?
I’ll be looking at these questions in the course of this article.
As usual I should emphasise that my job with Leica is as a camera tester, and my job is to report problems to Leica (which I certainly do!). On the other hand, I would never miss pointing out anything which seemed to me to be critical and I don’t get paid for writing these articles (either directly or indirectly). I’m not told what to write, and although I do show them to Leica first for fact checking, that is all that they do.
In the past (and always by chance), it has turned out that testing cameras has coincided with one of our trips abroad. This time, it hasn’t been the case. What’s more, I’ve had a pretty busy time at work, so, apart from a brief working trip to Cornwall (where it rained every day), the images accompanying this article have mostly been shot within walking distance of home (or in a local pub!).