There has been a lot of speculation about the direction the Leica M would go in and a few heated debates. The one thing everyone seems to want is for the form factor to return to the likes of the original analogue M cameras. The M8 & M9 were a bit fatter and the M240 fatter still. Just as noticeable was the portly weight of 700g with battery for the current generation. With a lens attached, that’s no longer light and nimble.
Rumors abound and of course the above leaked photo seems to be accepted as a genuine depiction of the M10. It shows – as some suspected – that the way to trim down the M was to lift the mount proud of the front of the camera, allowing everything else to be slimmer, while maintaining the depth of the camera from mount to the back plate. With digital cameras, there’s electronic gubbins behind the sensor, which takes up more depth than film and a pressure plate. This was Leica’s challenge, because the register (distance from the mount to the imaging surface) has to remain the same as with the film cameras due to the design of M lenses.
There is a hardening of information around the initially rumored 24MP and the speeding up of the camera up (both of which will be welcome to many), but this is the first time I have seen reference to the new M10 being as small as an analogue M. If this really does turn out to be the case, a lot of people will be thrilled and you can count me among them. Bulk and mass were two of the reasons I was never quite able to fully embrace the M240 and M246. The only question now is weight. Assuming it does continue with the M240 battery, weight might be a little harder to control, but it’s a fair bet we’ll see alloy construction as per the Leica M262. Anyone with some of the smaller M lenses (28mm Elmarit-M ASPH, 35mm Summarit-M, 35mm Summicron Version IV and of course the new 28mm f5.6 Summaron) will be able to really get back to the sort of carefree, slimline handling of their film bodies. One only has to pick up a film M to be immediately reminded of how the specs don’t tell the full story of what has been lost.
According to Leica Rumors, it will also only have three buttons on the back. It would seem the delight many showed at the lighter, simpler M262 has been taken on board! With the M, simpler is invariably better and there are very few people who would disagree.
Some would like to see the M with more like 30-36MP, but Leica did not have access to such a sensor at the time of development. I’m one of the few who would like more MP from a M, but if choosing between MP or form factor, the latter would win every time. I also suspect that the majority of buyers would rather keep MP fairly modest. That said, it will be difficult for Leica to resist the MP creeping upwards as time passes. As for where the sensor comes from and how it will perform, the SL is likely to be a starting point and there may be a little extra high ISO performance on top of that. After all, most gains in high ISO performance in the last ten years have actually come from software improvements, rather than hardware.
It’s good to see the ISO dial on the top plate (in the same position as the rewind crank/knob of the M film bodies). That will make for very quick adjustments; however, I’d like to see exposure compensation implemented in a mechanical way too. With the frameline preview lever back, it’s all heading in the right direction. My only gripe with what I am seeing now is the garish silver mount and lens release knob and it will be interesting to see what Leica does about that. They’ll surely do something for the production models. I hope.
The M10 announcement is supposedly going to take place in mid-January 2017, so lets see what Leica does with the price!
I’m wondering if we will ever see a 48MP monochrom with a variable ND filter…..