Photography News 81 WEB

First test

PRICE: £7100

UK.LEICA-CAMERA.COM

If you’re after frills, look elsewhere. If you want a lovely picture-taking camera, a great experience and have the budget, this Leica could be your dream machine LeicaM10-R

SPECS ›  Price M10-R body only £7100, Apo-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH £6500 ›  In the box Body, strap, body cap › Sensor 40.89 megapixels, CMOS sensor, no low-pass filter. Maestro II processor › Sensor format 24x36mm, 14-bit DNG 7864x5200 pixels, 8-bit JPEGs 7840x5184 pixels › Lensmount Leica M › ISO range 100-50,000 in 0.3EV steps › Shutter range 16mins-1/4000sec in 0.5EV steps (manual), 8secs to 16mins in 0.5EV steps, B up 10 16 mins with self-timer T function, flash sync 1/180sec › Drivemodes Max continuous 4.5fps › Exposure system Aperture- priority AE, manual. TTL, measures light reflected off the first shutter curtain › Exposure compensation +/- 3EV in 0.3EV steps › Monitor 3in fixed, 1036K dot resolution. Shows 100% of image › Viewfinder Large, brightline frame, 0.73 magnification viewfinder with auto parallax compensation. Brightline frames 35/135mm, 28/90mm, 50/75mm › Focusing system Manual with super-imposed image rangefinder or via live view › Connectivity Wi-Fi › Storagemedia 1xSD › Dimensions (wxhxd) 139x38.5x80mm › Weight 660g body with battery Contact uk.leica-camera.com

The M10-R’s body design is typically M. The solid body means the battery and SD card are loaded via the camera base, focusing is manual and the shutter is quiet with low vibration. At the far left is a lift and rotate ISO knob. This has ISO settings from 100 to 6400 in full EV steps, plus there’s an A and a M setting. Lifting the knob up is a good test of your finger strength, so there’s no chance of it accidentally shifting. On the right, we have the shutter speed dial with A for aperture- priority AE, shutter button and an on/off collar. Turn the camera on and start up is quick, but not superfast. Push the MENU button and you go straight into a menu of up to 15 of your favourite items with the 16th item taking you into the main menu. But you can remove every favourite, so that when you push the MENU button, it takes you straight into the main menu, rather than your favourites. There are 26 items on four screens in the main menu. Capture Assistants is one item in the menu that needs explanation. Here you can fine-tune seven features: six are common and the seventh is

Exposure Clipping. Clipping features are common, but on the M10-R you can set working limits. In the shadows, the range is 0-20 and in the highlights, you have the option of 200-255. And if your scene exceeds your set limits, you get blinking blue shadow warnings or red highlight warnings. The monitor is fixed and has touch functionality. During capture, a quick tap shifts the metering field, the focus point can be moved by swiping or a double tap brings up the focus aid. When you are shooting live view, the info strips obscure too much of the frame for my liking, but you can get a plain view by pushing the centre button of the four control cluster on the back of the body. In live view, rotate the lens focus barrel and you get a magnified view of where you have the focus point set and peaking helps accuracy. The focus point can also be moved with the four-way cluster in a 28x30 grid. If you have live view on and you put your eye to the viewfinder eyepiece, there is no auto switch over and the live view shows until you press the LV button.

Live view is perfectly usable, but of course the essence of M photography is using the optical viewfinder. Lens view is shown by brightline frames that show in pairs – 35/135mm, 28/90mm and 50/75mm – with the correct pair set by the lens as it’s fitted. A lever on the front lets you manually toggle between the frames. Leica’s rangefinder focusing is tried and tested. It’s renowned for its accuracy and usability even in poor light and the M10-R’s lived up to expectations The only info on show in the optical finder comes from four red LEDs. Touch the shutter button and you’ll see the shutter speed in use, manual metering indicators and whether compensation is in use. First thing for me in this test was a mindset change. So, when I took the M10-R out for the first time, it took a few shots to remember to focus manually. But using the Leica rangefinder is a pleasure and makes you feel involved with the subject. I set multi-field metering and aperture-priority AE for live view shooting and here I got decent exposures most of time. Shooting with the rangefinder and the meter is centre-weighted with cells reading off a pattern on the shutter blind. On my M10-R in aperture-priority AE, I found even mild backlighting caused significant underexposure. The system did fine with less contrasty scenes, but consistently inconsistent is how I’d describe the centre-weighted meter’s AE performance. WC

I enjoyed using the Leica M10-R, despite some handling quirks and a consistently inconsistent autoexposure system. Framing up the shot, using the rangefinder and pressing the button to release that quiet shutter is a joy. The results are impressive, too. For me, the Leica M10-R is by far and away the best and most enjoyable digital M I’ve used to date. Is it good value for money? No, but Leicas have never been good value for money on a bang for your buck basis, but as a camera that looks, feels and sounds the part, the M10-R has a great deal going for it. PROS Inspiring to use, quiet and vibration-free shutter, shooting experience CONS Even gentle backlighting causes underexposure Verdict

ABOVE (FROMLEFT) The shutter button accepts a screw-thread cable release. The M10-R’s menu is good and the favourite’s option is handy, while the ISO knob is reminiscent of the rewind knob of rangefinder-film Leicas

PERFORMANCE: ISO

100

800

1600

3200

6400

12,800

25,000

50,000

28 Photography News | Issue 81

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