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Leica’s new M10-D is a digital camera with an analog soul

Leica’s new M10-D is a digital camera with an analog soul


No chimping allowed

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Leica is announcing yet another variant of the M10 today, the new M10-D. The M10-D is a lot like the M10-P released this summer, with a flat black finish, quiet shutter, and 24-megapixel full-frame sensor. But where the M10-P added a touch controls to the original M10’s LCD from 2017, the M10-D removes the screen entirely, leaving you with no way to review photos or change certain settings on the camera itself.

Instead, you are supposed to use the M10-D’s Wi-Fi connectivity and the new Leica Fotos app on your Android phone or iPhone to review photos and make changes to things like white balance, JPEG quality, and so on. You can download photos to your phone through the Fotos app for editing and sharing and use it to remotely trigger Leica cameras.

In place of the LCD display is a circular dial to adjust exposure compensation and a ring to turn on the camera and enable its Wi-Fi connectivity. On top of the camera behind the shutter button is what appears to be a lever for advancing film and cocking the shutter. Since the M10-D is a digital camera and doesn’t have any film to advance and it uses battery power to cock the shutter, the lever doesn’t actually do anything. Instead, Leica intends it to be used as a thumb rest, in place of the optional thumb grips that many owners slide into the camera’s hot shoe. The final differentiation for the M10-D is the genuine leather wrap that covers most of the camera; prior models used a leather-like polyurethane wrap.

In all, the changes make the M10-D look less like a modern digital camera and much more like a film camera from decades ago. It still has dials to adjust the shutter speed and ISO, plus a couple of customizable buttons, and the lenses have aperture and focus rings, of course. But it would take a very trained eye to be able to spot that the M10-D is in fact recording images digitally and not actually exposing a strip of film.

Leica says this camera was designed to provide the conveniences of digital photography without any of the distractions of on-screen menus and the constant review of images, or “chimping” as it’s commonly called among photographers. The M10-D is not the first time that Leica has released a digital camera without a screen — the prior generation M camera was also released as a D model with just a flat back plate in place of the usual LCD. But the M10-D is the first one with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can actually review photos while you’re on the go and away from your computer. You just have to use your phone to do so.

I spent a few days shooting with the M10-D and personally, I don’t think I want to give up the conveniences of being able to quickly look at my shots while I’m on the go. The M series of cameras are already difficult to shoot with, especially if you’re used to modern autofocus and autoexposure, and can take years of practice to become proficient with. Without the ability to quickly check my work on the back of the camera, I found that I missed far more shots than I nailed and ended up frustrated more often than not. My kids, who have lived their entire lives with a digital camera shoved in their faces, were often disappointed that they couldn’t immediately see the picture I just took of them, as well.

Of course, if you’ve been shooting film Leicas for years, then the M10-D will feel right at home in your hands and will work almost exactly like the older film cameras. The thumb grip will even make you think there’s a roll of film inside that needs to be wound forward between each shot.

The new Fotos app, which works with all of Leica’s cameras that have Wi-Fi, is cleanly designed and transfers images from the camera to your phone quickly. But getting the app connected to the camera takes some time; it’s not something you can easily do in between each shot you take. Leaving the Wi-Fi option on the camera enabled and your phone connected while you shoot will also quickly drain the battery in the camera. Leica says it expects users to use the app sporadically to review shots when they are done shooting and not throughout the day.


Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

If the idea of having a digital camera that looks and behaves like a film camera appeals to you, you can get the Leica M10-D starting today for the price of $7,995. The Fotos app is also available in the Google Play Store and iOS App Store starting today.