Lecia M10-P - First Thoughts

I am far from a professional reviewer, not to mention a professional photographer.  But I do own an M10-P and I like it.  Scratch that; I love it.  Having shot with large DSLR’s for the past decade, the Leica was a revelation.  I picked it up in the Leica Store, Mayfair, along with a 50mm f1.4 ASPH.  I struggled between that and the 50mm f2.0 APO.  Decided on the slightly faster 1.4, I’ll let you know later if that was the right choice. 

The M10-P in black is a very unobtrusive camera.  If you have read my other post on the Leica Q, one of the reasons I ditched the Nikons and smithed to Leica was for the discreet way you're able to shoot. Being an M and not having auto focus has proved to be a steep learning curve for me.  Several professionals who shoot with Leica say, consistently, forget about the focusing mistakes and concentrate on the good photographs.  I can see that they have a point.  At first all I concentrated on was lining up the two images in the rangefinder, not seeing much else in the wonderfully bright and informative viewfinder.  After a while I gave up on focusing perfection and concentrated on the picture.  It works a treat.  On the picture quality front, I noticed that at lower light levels, photographs were either not in focus because of operator error, or they were not in focus due to shutter speed.  The traditional wisdom is you shouldn’t shoot below 1/60th with a 50mm lens.  I found that 1/125th was probably the better shutter speed if you wanted to take pictures of subjects that moved.  It took me a little time to distinguish between badly focused photographs and ones which had stability issues.  Again, Nikon and their VR lenses spoil you in terms of shutter speed versus sharpness.

The fact that with the M photography is no longer almost foolproof has meant that I have to think before I take a picture.  Being older, I remember the days of film where you were limited to 36 photographs on one roll of film.  People say you could carry multiple rolls, but that ignores the cost of processing, not to mention the hassle.  Today, you pull your memory card and feed it into the computer, and hey presto, you’re done.  For me, the M10 has caused me to slow down and think.  The Q did as well.  It was frustrating at first, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I like shooting with the 50mm wide open as the tight depth of field is mesmerising to me and the bokeh produced is nothing short of magical.  I read not long ago that a Leica engineer approached a photographer and basically told him to shoot wide open all the time, asking why did you buy such an expensive lens and refuse to use it the way it was conceived.  I agree with that having never really looked closely at DOF since the advent of point and shoot professional cameras.

The other thing about the M10-P is that is feels right in the hand.  It’s easy to bring the camera in close, less invasive for the subjects around you, stealthy if you like. Cartier-Bresson carried his M behind his back bringing it up to quickly snap the moment. A wonderful documentary can be found here on Cartier-Bresson his work and technique.

In short, I am glad I finally spent the money on an M having for too long looked at the camera as an overpriced luxury. If I never bought another lens, I am pretty sure I am holding in my hand the camera I will use for the rest of my life.

Once I have spent more time with the camera, and I will. I will give you my thoughts in greater detail. Thanks for reading, more to come…………….