LEICA M10 MONOCHROM

Mar 16, 2020  By Jonathan Slack
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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!).

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2 Comments

Great article and nice comparisons. Thanks!


Thanks for the detailed report. I have had my M10 mono for a little over 6 months. I must say that when in doubt of whether I did the right thing buying it all I have to do is pick it up, use it and print big. The use is a joy and the results really start to show when one goes bigger than 16×20″ in print: they are just amazing. Amazing too are the range of usable ISO (for the first time I go confidently beyond 6400), and the amount of information in the shadows (as pointed out in this review). Two things though: a-one has definitely got to expose for the highlights, b-one also has to define their own profile for processing the DNG and JPG files. They are generally on the contrasty side and as long as Adobe has not designed specific profiles for the camera we need to do it. But once done and applied the results are quite a feast. And yes, the difference between older lenses and the latest aspheric generation shows. I do not own a summilux 35 mm FLE (I wish I did, finances sometimes dictate choices) but just comparing my older and newer (asph.) 28 mm proved the point.



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