Revered by professional photographers, Leica cameras are regarded as a royalty of sorts. Part of that awe stems from the fact that most Leica cameras are assembled by hand. The M series is reportedly made up of 1,000 individual components put together by highly skilled craftsmen in Germany, where labour costs are significantly high. It is one of the reasons why they cost two to three times more than some rival digital single-lens reflex (DSLRs) or mirrorless cameras. Priced at ₹6,25,000 (inclusive of GST), the new M10 P offers the best of both old rangefinder and new mirrorless cameras.
The M10 P has a very functional design—it is slim, weighs just 660g, and has a magnesium body with leatherette-like finish around the centre, for better grip. The top, which houses the control panel, and the base that has the battery and memory card slots, have got a slightly more polished metal shoe cover. Overall, the camera looks and feels a lot more refined than many top-end DSLRs we have seen. The control panel looks less cluttered as it includes fewer control options like ISO dial on the left and shutter speed dial along with the shutter button that also serves as the on/off switch on the right side of the flash mount.
The back panel has a 3-inch LCD screen with touch support, allowing users to adjust settings, check focus, or browse through photos quickly or zoom in/out for better view. Its only limitation is that it is fixed, which means users can’t rotate it for capturing shots from difficult angles.
The M10 P uses a 24MP full-frame (35mm) sensor, which can capture more light and produce better quality images than mirror-less cameras using 24mm sensors. The new ones like the Nikon Z7 also use full frame sensors. Most DSLRs still make that annoying noise after user releases the shutter button. The M10 P’s shutter sound is lot gentle for a quieter shooting experience.
What sets it apart from other mirrorless cameras is the fact that it uses range finder technology to focus on objects. Incorporated within a large view finder, the range finder, shows two parallax images of the same object and users have to coincide the two images manually to get the focus right. Ramesh Pathania, photojournalist with Mint, explains, “While it offers a sharper focus, focusing is a little tricky as with all range finder cameras, one has to work on the principle of parallax, which looks and feels cumbersome in modern times when most of the digital cameras have multiple focusing points, and autofocus works a lot faster.”
Powered by the Leica Maestro Image processor, the camera can shoot multiple shots quickly at 5fps (frames per second), which is decent but not on a par with the likes of Nikon Z7 which can capture continuous shots at 9fps.
Using a range finder camera is not everybody’s cup of tea, the effort is not wasted. Be it landscape shots or close-ups, the M10P, equipped with Leica’s Summicron 28mm lens ( ₹3,36,000, inclusive of GST), was able to muster an enormous amount of detail, that many professional DSLR cameras cannot match. Colours look vivid and even in artificial light, each and every object and colours stand out, points out Pathania. Leica uses a soft coating on their lens that enhances the sharpness of images. The M10 P works with all new M mount lenses. To use the legacy M lenses with it, users will have to buy an adapter.
Pathania believes that range-finder cameras like M10 P are not meant for users who are in a hurry and want quick shots. It is meant for users with the time, patience, skills, and the eye to handle manual focusing. Along with an M mount lens, the M10 P can cost close to ₹10 lakh, which puts it beyond the reach of not just most mainstream but even the professional photographers. For users looking for a more affordable yet compact option, there is Nikon Z7, which costs ₹2,71,450 with a 24-70mm lens.