Leica M10 – The Camera (?)

Introduction

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 with Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5

Leica M10. The Camera. Photography reduced to its essentials. This is what Leica says about this camera. If you care what I think of it: keep on reading.

For many people owning a Leica camera is a dream. But why is that so? Is it simply the high price tag, the Bauhaus look or the huge “Made in Germany” writing, not hidden on a sticker at the bottom of the camera, but easily visible on the back?
It surely isn’t image quality or ease of use. You get more of both, elsewhere, for less. This is why Leica cameras are often perceived as vain men’s luxury items, that happen to be able to take photos from time to time.

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | 7Artisans 28mm 1.4 FE+ | f/1.4
leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/1.5
leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | TTArtisan 21mm 1.5 | f/1.5

Did I dream of owning a Leica camera? I actually didn’t. I always had a look at them, tried out the newest model every Photokina I went to, but in the end, especially after the arrival of the A7 series, I did not think they would improve my photography or allow me to do things I wasn’t able to do before. And I didn’t talk about the price yet: could I afford one? Nope.

Sometimes destiny travels strange paths though, so I ended up winning a Leica M10 in a photography competition. Did I consider selling it while it was still new and worth more? Of course I did, we are talking about a lot of money here.
But then, this would have been incredibly boring, wouldn’t it? So instead I decided to give it a chance and see where it gets me.

Specifications

The Leica M10 has the following specifications:

  • Sensor: 24mp full frame CMOS without anti-aliasing filter
  • Weight: 660g (without cap, including battery)
  • Rangefinder: 0.73x magnification, framelines for 28, 35, 50, 75, 90 and 135 mm
  • Electronic Viewfinder: optional accessory for hot shoe
  • Shutter Speed Range: 1/4000s – 125s
  • ISO range: 100 – 50.000 (Auto ISO 200 – 50.000)
  • Liveview: yes
  • Auto focus: no
  • Image stabilizer: no
  • Mount: Leica M

You may also have a look at Leica’s official page.

New the Leica M10 costs $7995 and you can get it e.g. from amazon.com or B&H. On ebay.com/ebay.de you also find used ones starting at $5000 (affiliate links).

Handling

There are clearly different user types. Some who “just want to take pictures” are probably fine if the camera only comes with a shutter button. This is true for all those Fuji Instax (and similar) cameras. Picture comes out too bright or too dark? Who cares, as long as it was fun taking a picture in the first place.

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 15mm 4.5 II | f/8.0

I am not in that category. I need my pictures to come out in the best possible way. When I take a picture of bride and groom at a wedding I need it to be perfect. When I see one of the pictures I took hanging in their apartment afterwards I don’t want to think “Oh, the sky is blown out, maybe I should have checked the picture I took on the camera screen and readjusted the exposure and then taken another one”. It doesn’t work like this for me.

So first, consider in which category you are, it may vastly change your perception on certain aspects I will be talking about.

The Rangefinder

If you were born in the 80s or even after that you may not even know what a rangefinder is: it is an inaccurate and archaic focus mechanism.
I won’t go too much into detail how the rangefinder works here (there are clearly enough sources out there if you want to learn more) but I will tell you what it means for you and your photography and where its limits are.

Rangefinder window

It is an optical finder, but what you see through it does not change when changing a lens or the lenses’ aperture (unlike EVF or (D)SLRs). Instead you get framelines with compatible lenses that will roughly show you, what should be in the frame, but framelines are only available for 28, 35, 50, 75, 90 and 135 mm.
Even without glasses it is sometimes hard for me to see the 28 mm framelines, the 135 mm framelines are so small, it makes it hard to decently compose. Furthermore the framelines are not exactly accurate at all distances, which also makes exact composing harder.
If you want to use the rangefinder only I would recommend to stick to lenses with 28-75 mm.
For wider lenses it is mandatory to get an optional viewfinder, more on this in the next section.

Rangefinder coupling on lens (tube in cut out bayonet) and camera (roller on top of bayonet)

Compatible M39 and M-mount lenses have a so called “rangefinder coupling”, a small metal piece attached to the helicoid of the lens that “tells” the camera at what distance it is currently focused at.
Quite a few problems derive from this: this metal piece needs to be perfectly calibrated across all lenses and cameras from different manufacturers. Interestingly only the newer chinese M-mount lenses allow you to adjust the lens yourself. If you have a Voigtlander lens that isn’t properly calibrated you are pretty much screwed.

Typical focus range of 0.7 m to infinity

Another problem is, that the focus range of this mechanism is limited to 0.7 m to infinity and most mechanical lens designs follow that. For longer lenses this does not make a big difference, but shorter lenses for other systems can usually be focused much closer. There actually are some M-mount lenses that can be focused closer than 0.7 m (when using liveview or the external electronic viewfinder) but these are the exception.

Apart from the framelines the only information displayed in this finder are ISO, EV compensation (both only when you change them) and current shutter speed.

We didn’t talk about the elephant in the room yet: focus accuracy.
The split image is in the center of the frame so you have to use focus-and-recompose, which is something I generally recommend not to do at wide apertures as your subject may not be in the plane of optimal focus anymore after recomposing.
Furthermore the split image only works well on clear vertical structures and “human eyes” don’t exactly fall into this category.
Leica knows this, so this is what the M10 manual says about accuracy with fast lenses.

 

If you use mainly wide and slow lenses you will most likely “be fine” with the rangfinder mechanism. Actually I have also been fine with the 7Artisans 28mm 1.4. But if you use fast portrait lenses like the Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 I advise to use the optional electronic viewfinder to get consistent results, especially under dim light.
It should also be noted, that focus shift cannot be accounted for when only using the rangefinder. With such lenses it is also advisable to use an optional finder or Liveview.

Some of my friends who have used the camera were asking what is the benefit of this rangefinder focus mechanism. It was – and still is – hard for me to name even one, actually. The only thing I could come up with is seeing more of the surroundings if using a lens of 35 mm or longer which can be a benefit in street photography.
Whether this outweighs the disadvantages is up for you to decide.

Electronic Viewfinder EVF 020

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 with Voigtlander VM 15mm 4.5 II and EVF 020

If you want to use lenses that are wider than 28 mm this accessory is pretty much mandatory. Also if you want to get consistent in-focus results with your fast portrait lenses. And also if you want to use a polarizer without getting insane.

It is expensive (affiliate link), it is ugly and the quality can best be described as “soso”. Leica has access to some amazing electronic viewfinders (Q(2), SL(2)), but this is not one of those.
The colors often look pale and washed out and the dynamic range is not up to today’s standards either.
It gets the job done, somewhat, but I would take any A7 series’ viewfinder over this one any day.

There is focus peaking available but you cannot adjust its strength. Generally I found it to be too sensitive, which is why I often have to turn it off to properly focus.
Customizable over- and underexposure warning (known as “Zebra” among Sony users) is also available.

Many people claim having connection issues with the EVF 020 and I also had to remove and reattach it to get it working again a few times.

Metering

The metering of the M10, compared to other modern cameras, it sucks in rangefinder mode (and there is only one metering method in rangefinder mode). It simply sucks. For bright scenes better dial in +1 EV, for dark scenes better dial in -1 EV to start with, but this can still be off by a lot.

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/1.5

In Liveview/EVF mode you can choose between multi, center weighted and spot. While I would generally prefer multi I use center weighted here as it is closest to the rangefinder mode metering. Sometimes I switch between rangefinder mode and LV/EVF mode and using completely different metering methods means that I constantly have to adjust the exposure compensation dial when switching between these two.

The rear display cannot be tilted, something that constantly annoyed me coming from cameras where this is easily possible.

Button layout / Menu

There are not that many buttons to begin with and while there are a few minor things you can change about the behaviour of some of those, they are generally not programmable. There isn’t even one button that you can assign a custom function to.

Leica M10 button layout

While some people claim that fewer buttons make a camera easier to use I most certainly disagree: many of the buttons have more than one function here and to get access to some functions you even have to press two buttons at the same time. Not very intuitive.
I also missed having a button for AEL, self-timer and to toggle focus peaking.

Lifted ISO dial

The ISO dial, generally a good idea, is a pain to use: the knob has to be lifted first before you can change the ISO and lifting it is not that easy or intuitive actually.
Another nuisance: despite DXOmark showing that there actually is a higher dynamic range captured at ISO100, Leica decided to introduce a stupid firmware update that will limit the Auto ISO base ISO to 200 only.
So the only reason I ever touched that ISO dial is to change from Auto ISO to ISO 100 with fast lenses in bright conditions (to avoid overexposure because the fastest shutter speed is only 1/4000s) or if I wanted to maximize the dynamic range in tripod based shooting.

The menu is quite okay. There even is a custom menu where you can add the functions you need most, but unfortunately you cannot add sub functions. For example: focus peaking can be found under focus assist. You can add focus assist to the custom menu but not focus peaking directly.

Battery door / Tripod Socket

Leica M10 with removed bottom plate

Why this needs its own chapter? You will see.
To change the roll of film you had to detach the bottom plate of the analogue Leica M cameras. For sentimental reasons this is still the case with modern digital M cameras to get to the battery or SD card.
To my surprise removing the bottom plate is slightly less bothersome than I would have expected: only a very small rotation of the wing screw is necessary.

No third party manufacturer bothers to make batteries for this camera, so you have to buy the outrageously priced original batteries and you will probably want a spare one.

Original M10 bottom plate and RRS BM10-L

For stability reasons the tripod socket is connected to the camera itself though, not to the removable bottom plate. So if you want to use an arca plate you always have to remove it first in order to get to the battery or SD card. Unacceptable.
Your only option here is buying the RRS L-bracket (affiliate link) which will replace your original bottom plate.

Image quality

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | 7Artisans 28mm 1.4 FE+ | f/1.4

If you don’t want to read the whole paragraph I will summarize it for you: it is okay.

If we look at DXOmark’s sensor measurements (which I consider way more useful than their lens ratings) they rate it slightly worse than the original A7 which pretty much matches my findings.

High ISO noise is on par with the A7(II) and dynamic range slightly worse. Dynamic range is still on par with Canon’s current cameras though and I was told they are actually okay to take pictures with [citation needed]. There is no anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor, which is a small benefit over the older 24mp Sony cameras.

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/1.5

I rarely had the feeling that the sensor is holding me back, but still, if you are used to cameras like the Sony A7R series or A7III you may notice the differences in certain scenarios, e.g. high dynamic range scenes or shooting at higher ISOs.
Also, Auto White Balance is not exactly doing a great job under artificial lighting, but this might also be a matter of taste to some degree.

If you expected this chapter to be longer: I see no point posting high ISO or sharpness crops here. You will not buy this camera if you are looking for maximum image quality anyway.

Color Science

Some people claim how Leica cameras have the most beautiful color science which makes the pictures look significantly better compared to the competition and how this easily makes up for the higher price.

Yeah. No.

I have often shot my Sony cameras and the Leica side by side, sometimes I preferred the Sony colors, sometimes the Leica colors (before editing anyway).

Lenses

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/1.5

In the (D)SLR era the small yet capable rangefinder lenses were certainly one of the most appealing benefits of using a Leica camera. The shorter back focus distance (possible due to the absence of a mirror box) allowed for smaller lenses, especially when it comes to wide angle designs. This is of course no advantage over the new mirrorless cameras from various manufacturers anymore, that offer the same advantages.

Leica cameras come with a very thin filter stack in front of the sensor, therefore they work significantly better with lenses designed for analogue cameras than Sony’s stock cameras.
Still, there are some lenses that still show issues like color cast. Unfortunately this color cast varies greatly across the different digital M cameras. It seems to me, the M10 is the best so far though.

The Voigtlander VM 15mm 4.5 II for example shows a very noticeable magenta color cast on one side of the frame which apparently is true for many of the older ultra wides.

voigtlander vm 15mm 4.5 m-mount leica m10 review sharpness resolution corner wide angle 42mp 24mp cosina vignetting color cast
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 15mm 4.5 II | f/8.0

For Leica’s own lenses in camera correction for color cast can be applied, if the lens has been 6-bit-coded or is manually chosen from the menu. Only Leica lenses are included, no Voigtlander or Zeiss lenses. There are even some lists available online which profile ought to work for third party lenses, but I can only recommend to stay away from these and fix it properly in post instead.

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/1.5

Generally lenses work best on the sensor they were designed for. I also took this opportunity to use the Leica M10 mostly with lenses that perform not so great on a stock Sony camera and where there is no direct substitute, like the tiny Voigtlander VM 15mm 4.5 II and the Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5.
So if you have a collection of old rangefinder lenses you might be tempted to think that a modern Leica is your only way to go, but I would still recommend to look into a kolari modded A7 series camera instead. You will be getting a more modern camera with better usability and image quality for significantly less money but the same (or better) compatibility to your rangefinder lenses.

Conclusion

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 with Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5

When buying a Leica M10 you do not spend ~7.000€ on a camera. The camera is not worth 7.000€. You spend this amount of money to be a part of the Leica cult. To have a reason to go to the fancy Leica Boutiques, to be invited to events in Wetzlar, to put it on the table in a nice café and have other people look at that beautiful piece of mechanical engineering. This is also what appeals to me personally most: the unobstrusive stylized look compared to other modern cameras.
You also buy into a story. A story from a time, where those rangefinder cameras offered clear technical advantages over other camera systems, especially in terms of size but also speed of operation. Those times are long gone.

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | TTArtisan 21mm 1.5 | f/1.5

While it is clearly possible to take good pictures with a digital Leica camera, you have to be a mix of sentimentalist and masochist to enjoy that whole process, especially so, when you are used to any modern camera from Japan. So would I recommend to get this (or any digital M) Leica camera?

If you care most about the image quality of your pictures and getting the shot: No.
If you don’t care about the money and you enjoy the rangefinder cameras because you have already used them 40 years ago: sure, get one. And please use one of the affiliate links provided.

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | 7Artisans 28mm 1.4 FE+ | f/1.4

Personally, I will keep the camera for now. I see a clear benefit for this blog when evaluating the performance of future M-mount lenses from Cosina/Voigtlander and 7Artisans/TTArtisan.
With the Voigtlander VM 15mm 4.5 II, 7Artisans 28mm 1.4 and Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 it also makes for a nice compact and lightweight 3 lens kit for the times when “getting the shot” is not of utmost importance.
Also, the Leica M10 probably lost 30% of its value when I took the first picture with it. German cameras have something in common with german cars it seems…

New the Leica M10 costs $7995 and you can get it e.g. from amazon.com or B&H. On ebay.com/ebay.de you also find used ones starting at $5000 (affiliate links).

 

Lenses I have used for the pictures in this article:

 

Sample Pictures

leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/11
leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | TTArtisan 21mm 1.5 | f/2.8
leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/1.5
leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | 7Artisans 28mm 1.4 FE+ | f/1.4
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/1.5
leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/2.8
leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | 7Artisans 28mm 1.4 FE+ | f/8.0
leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/1.5
leica m10 review rangefinder messsucher comparison vergleich sony a7iii a7rii R2 42mp 24mp wide angle portrait
Leica M10 | 7Artisans 28mm 1.4 FE+ | f/1.4
Leica M10 | Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 | f/5.6

Further Reading

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My name is Bastian and I am your expert here when it comes to ultra wide angle lenses, super fast portrait lenses (ranging from a 50mm f/0.95 to a 200mm f/1.8) and I also have reviewed way too many 35mm lenses. Don't ask me anything about macro or wildlife shooting though.

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126 thoughts on “Leica M10 – The Camera (?)”

  1. Bravo for so outspokenly pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. (Not that we knew that for a long time anyway, but it’s strangely satisfying to read it on this highly-regarded site :-)) Leica is simply the equivalent to golden USB cables for HiFi “enthusiasts”. 🙂

    1. While I do appreciate Philip’s review, I think he’s missing the point, here. Rangefinder experience is everything. It teaches a lot about composition and how to see the world. Because it’s always the same magnification. Because of framelines. It takes a lot of time to understand the Leica M.

        1. You are missing the point. This way you are forced to visualize all of it in your head. Sure, you can do same thing with EVF but it makes people lazy when all if it is already done for you.

  2. To be honest, I was looking for an article regarding the announcement of the director of the IMF, that we are heading right into a worse recession than that of 2009, when I accidentally clicked on my bookmark to this blog.

    As a procastination or coping strategy to slightly postpone the ominous news, I decided to linger. When I saw the M10 header, couldn’t help but think that, oh crap, Leica is gone bankrupt and now Bastian could finally buy a Leica without being a dentist, and go out shooting the end of the world as we know it in full luxury. I couldn’t resist the temptation to read on.

    Much to my surprise – and disappointment – this blog is apparently cognitively immune to the Covid-pandemic, or still in shock or denial. Still, I kept reading, hoping for at least a mention or irony of getting one’s hands on an M10 in end times. Nope, full German austerity on that.

    Conclusion was of course obvious, the M10 is cute, a temptation just because one can’t afford it, but ultimately a piece of uselessly beautiful camera with no advantages beyond rubbing it in on other’s envy.

    This ultimately says a lot about our current predicament: let’s just keep moving along with the flow, with progress, economic growth, and capitalism – something Covid-19 has suddenly given everyone the ability to imagine an end to – and stick to the business as usual practice of modern day individual realization: consumerism as the very meaning of life, and what ultimately separates us from them. Them: those that lacking immigration status, a work contract or healthcare will inevitably die, and ultimately be lavishly portrayed for posterity in monochrome glory, in some portfolio winner’s exhibit by lensculture in Paris and aperture in NY, once this apocalyptic scenario is under the control of normalization.

    I hope we can all see the urgency of getting our heads out of our arses, and stay the f**k home in lockdown, so we try and flatten the curve of spread of Covid-19, in oder to preserve as much as possible of the ability to respond and treat, of what’s left of health care infrastructure after neoliberalism and austerity turned it into a money machine.

    An R0 3 virus with 20-30 times the mortality rate than the influenza, in 177 countries in less than 3 months, and with over 3/4 million confirmed infected and over 37k deaths, should – I sincerely hope – have more urgency than the IQ of an M10.

    I hope you are all well and taking care. I suggest a photographers guide to projects to shoot at home, and how to perhaps document these strange and volatile times, and leave a memory for those who might survive us, miss us and continue living in the ruins of capitalism and environmental devastation, and make something better of with, something worth imagining, picturing and remembering.

    Be well, be safe and yeah, screw Leica.

    Cheers!

    1. I thought this already was more ironic than my other articles.
      At a time the article even included a “The Leica Fanboys” chapter, but being more of a pacifist I decided to remove it for the time being 🙂

      1. The real irony is that your response here continues in denial and omission of the pandemic, and that since I wrote the comment, the 3/4 million infected are now hours shy of 1 million, the 37k deaths are now close to 47, and the 177 countries infected are now 180 (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html). Imagine if your M10 review produced that level of increase in clicks.

        Still wishing you all well, that everyone here follows the 2m (6ft) rule of social distancing, wears a mask outside their home, sneezes & coughs into their elbow, stays home as much as possible, washes their hands as if life depended on it (it probably does), and for those grabbing your camera, remember: Covid-19 can stay active on metal and plastic for over 72hrs.

        Salut!

        1. Maybe you want to engage in some discussion about covid 19 at an appropriate place.
          The comment section of our blog is not such a place.

          I am sure most people are aware of the situation and we are more interested in offering distraction than getting into political discussions.

          Thank you.

          1. Thank you, not having COVID-19 all over the site, like everywhere else, is a welcome reprieve from the over-sensationalized news.

      2. Actually you just don’t get rangefinder cameras. There is a certain satisfaction in shooting an admittedly outdated anachronism of a camera that transcends technology.
        Too bad for you.

        1. If you wanna shoot a camera that transcends technology, why are you using a digital one? Why not just use an M6 and call it a day?

  3. interesting article and congrats on your well deserved prize.
    Like you’ve pointed out, Leicas are ‘Made in Germany’ lifestyle products much like a Porsche, Audi or Mercedes. No body needs them but if you can afford they’re nice to have.

    1. Average Porsche is still better than average Suzuki (I believe most of us agree), while in this case I don’t think that the same comparison makes sense. It’s difficult to say that this Leica is better than average Sony A7(r,s) camera, actually it’s difficult to say it’s in the same league. With cars it’s not all about style (even though some may purchase them solely for that reason). But hey, to each his own, we all have our irrational needs.

  4. Hello Bastian,
    thank you for the calm approach to your discussion of the M10. I have been using analog Leica M since 1989. Back then it was a blessing to my Nikon F4 or FM or FE, because it took me away from my constant concern with camera technology. My photos got better in design after the simple mastery of the then 2 sizes, shutter speed and aperture in flesh and blood had passed.
    Over the years I equipped myself with many Leica M lenses, including the Noctilux, and used the M system exclusively at the end of the analogue period. With the beginning of the digital age, I returned to Nikon, especially since I had enough lenses there.
    I came to Sony with the NEX 5 and have seen the improvement of this system ever since. At the end of last year I borrowed an M240 from a friend for 4 weeks and went again specifically to compare my extensive Leica M lenses and the native Sony and Zeiss lenses on the A9 and A7RII that have since been bought. My observation coincides with yours, the quality that can be achieved with the Sony system is higher. The difference between the A9 and an M240 in terms of discretion (volume) is clearly in favor of the A9.
    As a result, I expanded my lens portfolio with GM lenses, which bring much of the more analog look of the Leical lenses to a modern level. For a 50mm that is really sharp at the edge, for example, I bought the 55mm Zeiss, which I tend to like less from the bokeh.
    In this context it should also be mentioned that for the first time Sony designed the AF system with the 3D tracking on the A7RIV and the A9II so that I use it in everyday life.
    In the end, yes an M feels good, I wanted an A7RIV to do that too (gladly with a little extra charge).
    In this sense, thank you to your team for the great work you are doing.
    best regards
    Jürgen
    sorry the translation was not their

  5. Sorry I have to disagree on the accuracy of the rangefinder comment. I shoot my young children at 0.95 very often and my hit rate is very good. I actually prefer shooting with the RF than the EVF, it’s way quicker once you’ve had the practice.
    My recommendation to you is get a 35mm Summicron and get practicing!

    1. Agreed, I’ve been able to focus f/0.95 lenses with a speed I simply couldn’t do on my Sony cameras using live view or the EVF. With practice, the rangefinder patch can make focusing become quicker then using the evf, it also can allow you to setup shots using predictions of where a subject will move into focus, but hasn’t done so as of yet, often as what’s done with street photography.

      The Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses made by Cosina for M camera systems, can also be adjusted by competent repair technicians, not just the manufacturer. Usually, this involves slightly changing a shim thickness somewhere internally, and doesn’t take too long to do.

      Quite a few lenses I’ve owned, like the 50mm ASPH Summilux, are sharper on the M240 and M10 then my higher res Sony 42mp sensor. There is truth that the lenses designed for film systems work better on Leica, due to their thin cover glass/ micro lens design they employ. This has been shown by Bastian on his other blogs here and is the nature of the beast really.

      If anything, I would welcome a competitor to Leica, in the form of an alternative Digital M rangefinder camera system that is more affordable or uses more advanced sensor tech. If Cosina partnered with Canon or Sony to make an alternative camera to Leica’s, we may see some real completion, price reductions and innovations take place.

      But the enjoyment of using a rangefinder camera is a different experience then using many other modern cameras. For me, it has nothing to do with being invited to Wetzlar, cafe discussions or any of this other stuff. I actually enjoy the image making process of using a rangefinder camera, more then I do with a fully automated modern camera that can track everything and shot at 20 FPS. This slower approach, makes the process more enjoyable for many.

      I guess it’s the same reason people ride vintage motorcycles and drive older cars. It’s not that they get us to our destination any quicker, but they do sure make the journey more fun, and sometimes that journey is more important then the end destination.

      1. I perfectly agree with Chris. Disregarding for a moment the outrageous Leica prive tag, there is people who enjoys drowning in the abyss of a Sony menu system and other who prefer to set aperture, speed, focus and click!
        And what is faster is highly personal and also depend on your photography interest.

        1. The thing is, you can do that with every camera. You don’t have to use the menu.
          Not having options has never been an advantage.

          Only Leica users try to claim it is one.

          1. You are obviously right Bastian but to me it’s important how easily I can exploit all those options.
            It must be a joy for you to read the 200 pages (or maybe more) instruction manual of my Sony A7rIII. I’ve got one and when I use it for mountain landscapes at dawn and sunset mounted on a tripod or in a studio with flashes is certainly a superior camera to a Leica. But when I use the camera hand held in daylight or for portraits in natural light on average the Leica shines.
            Look at your photos taken with the M10 and the Voigtlander 75/1.5, they have a pleasing charm that in my memory put them amongst the best I’ve seen on your site.
            That’s simply an old amateur opinion, not a Leica fan nor a Sony detractor. Cheers!

        2. I have just got an A7 because my 5dmk2 finally died (I like to buy secondhand and you can still get good photos with older equipment) , and the menu is fine. Plenty of custom buttons if you want to make it easy/quick to use.

    2. I think you are in the minority.

      Some time ago I went over a lot of photos made with 50/1.2 lenses on Flickr and one thing I’ve immediately noticed was: rangefinder users have abysmal hit rate with those.

      1. Hm, I have used 7artisans 50 1.1 on film (leica m4) and A7 quite a lot, and leica hit rate was definitely higher. That’s considering that I’ve had sony for much longer and have used it almost exclusively with manual glass, so I’m quite good at that. Obviously, if you have something like A7(III) with a new sigma 1.2 AF lens and eye-af, your life will be much easier, but manual focusing with EVF vs RF is a tough call.

        The “shimmering” trick Philipp promotes works well only with certain lenses/apertures/lightning conditions, and not so well with 1.2 lenses where you often have to switch to magnified view for critical focus. It makes things slower, and, if you’d like to take a final look to composition after focussing, will also throw focus off quite often. Same for shooting stopped-down: the differences in sharpness become essentially invisible in EVF even in magnified view, but still visible in pixel peeping. With RF you always get the same split view no matter what, so focussing is easier.

        One issue of RF focussing not covered by Bastian is focus shift (with aperture): there’s no way to account for that on RF system, so lenses are optimised for certain aperture, usually one/two stops down where you want to be anyway for critical sharpness. That may explain lower apparent hit rate with likes VC 1.2 35 or VC 50 1.1, for example. The thing is, however, that if you know what you’re doing, you can get around that (i.e. choose lens with less focus shift, re-adjust the lens to be spot-on WO or just back off/forward couple of cm when shooting wide open before hitting the trigger).

  6. Thank you for giving your personal opinion on the Leica M10. I have agonized a long time over getting into the Leica M system and ultimately decided not to; your appraisal of the M10 confirms many of my reservations.

    As much as I probably would like to use a Leica M camera for street photography, it cannot be my one and only camera. And as I don’t want to have multiple camera systems, I decided to stick with the Sony FE system.

  7. Excellent article, as always! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and never commented, but this article is very timely so I can’t resist 🙂

    I recently bought a second-hand M10-P and have similar observations in terms of image quality and ergonomics. I also own an RIII and an RX1R II. I’m not sure I’ll keep it. I have a serious obsession with lenses, but unlike you, I’m not a professional photographer nor a photo blogger, so I have no good reason to stockpile awesome glass. This is exactly why I enjoy using the Leica, even though I am clearly having a first world problem here.

    I like that the image quality on the Leica is not great. It forces me to focus on the content, not technical perfection. I’ve a friend who’s shooting with a film Nikon, and half of his shots are slightly blurry or out of focus, yet I like them; when it comes to my own pictures, it must be pin sharp on all the 42 megapixels. Shooting on a Leica, I’m glad when I nail the focus and exposure, but I don’t discard slightly blurry pictures if I like the content.

    The price of the lenses is, in my admittedly weird case, a plus also: I cannot afford a 50 APO-summicron or a Noctilux or whatever other highest quality Leica lens; I only have a 50 f/2 and a 90 f/2 (pre-ASPH), plus the excellent 7artisans 28 f/1.4. Knowing that I’m not going to get the best lens for this body, it’s easier for me to focus on actually using the few lenses that I have, instead of reading this website and dreaming about all those sexy, relatively affordable primes.

    Another thought I have is: when viewed on a small screen, all images are technically perfect. If the result is the same, why not have a bit more fun in the process? You have to admit that Leicas are a pleasure to use recreationally, when you don’t absolutely need to get the shot.

    In conclusion, I’m not even sure if I’m going to keep the M10 or not. My A7R III is half the price and is superior in every way, plus the lenses are just better (though larger). It’s just not as fun to shoot with. I think once the covid-19 is over, I’ll go to the Alps to properly try the Leica in the field to make up my mind.

  8. Hello Bastian,
    I’m not so interested in the Leica world but, as many other amateur photographers, I’m curious to better understand the meaning of a choice like that. Your article is very well done, well written and balanced… then, above all, the sample pictures are really really good… a pleasure to see (and admire).
    This is the plus of this site: good reviews with great pictures. You and the team take fantastic pictures. Kudos to all of you!
    Thanks also to keep this site active in these period… a moment of leisure is always helpful.

      1. I’m under deep impression after reading current essay, it was the first time when I didn’t want it to end =)
        A kind of hypnotic feeling, a mix of stunning photos and so personal, so intimate thoughts, that are far beyond the scope of a regular review.
        Pretty much agree with Manuel, cheers!

  9. Thanks for what must be the sanest Leica review I have read. I do like the Leica legacy for some reason but I ain’t masochistic so I would most likely end up feeling quite much like you if I would ever be able to get one.

    What did strike me is the very pleasing images. They often have something in their feeling and how colors, contrast and much other things come through that is really lovely.

    I know much is in the post process. But a side by side test with the Leica with its native lenses vs a modern Sony mirrorless with its native FE lenses at the same focal lengths and apertures would be very interesting for a future article I think.

    Best regards from Sweden!

    1. I would love to compare a lens like the new Summilux-M 90mm 1.5 to the Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM or the Summilux-M 50mm 1.4 Asph to e.g. the Sony FE 50mm 1.4 ZA, and especially the Summilux-M 28mm 1.4 to the 7Artisans 28mm 1.4, but I don’t have access to those expensive Leica lenses.
      I also fear that few Leica owners would be willing to send me those lenses, having a guess how the result might come out.
      Therefore this is rather unlikely to happen, unfortunately.

      1. Roger Cicala of Lens Rentals did scientific test of several 50mm lenses a couple of years ago. This is onlinez somewhere. Summilux Asph and Summicron Apo surpassed Otus and Sigma Art in sharpness in the center of the frame and were slightlly behind or same in the corners. Of course Summilux is one third the size and weight of Otus and Sigma and it is a 15 a year old design.

          1. The Leica lenses are indeed superb and have a remarkably small size. Note that Roger’s results have a couple of apparent errors (although probably not big ones). For the 50mm Summilux, he shows the exact same results at f/1.4 and at f/2.0. Normally the f/2.0 results should be better. For the 50mm Summicron, he shows the exact same result (1200) for center, middle and edge. Normally the center should be best. The results shown are impossible or nearly so. They look like input errors. As Roger notes in the comments, he no longer has the original data to check the results.

      2. I remember seeing such a comparison a couple of years by a Leica owner with both the Sony A7R III and Leica M10 on Leica rumors. “The Sony A7rIII shots capture much more detail, either using the native Sony lens, or using the 75 Noctilux.”

        https://leicarumors.com/2018/07/21/comparison-of-leica-m10-vs-sony-a7r3-with-the-best-of-leica-vs-sony-lenses.aspx/#ixzz6IJyziRQc

        https://leicarumors.com/2020/02/05/medium-format-quality-test-results-leica-m10p-vs-leica-m10m-vs-sony-a7r4-vs-phase-one-iq4-with-optimum-lenses.aspx/

        https://leicarumors.com/2019/01/20/mega-shootout-best-of-the-best-sony-leica-and-phase-one-comparison.aspx/

        Still waiting for a rangefinder style built-in EVF full frame camera with >42mp of resolution from somebody…any takers for my money on that one?

        1. Well, there’s Leica M10 monochrome, which is ~40mp equivalent 🙂 It’s even more limited and expensive though…

      3. Dear Bastian,
        just compare your Sony 85 1.4 on any of your Sony body with the Leica M10 and Voigtlander 75 1.5 combo (that according to me, looking at your photos, produces very pleasing results). Compare them just out of the camera and after post-production. It’s a challenge 🙂
        Thank you for all your beautiful and entertaining lens testing.
        Umberto

  10. Thank you for the article. I’d never buy something like this simply because everything in the system is so obnoxiously priced. However, it’s nice to read about the other camera systems just from an educational standpoint. If you’ve got the money, and you enjoy the Leica system, then hey more power to you.

  11. I really like the monochrome shots in this review… and since I like b&w pics I often try to convert images into b&w and always find something missing… is it possible – that in these weird times where most of us have a lot of time on our hands but are mainly obligated to stay at home – to get an article on converting color images to b&w? Pretty please :-)))

    Anyhow, thanks for another wonderfull review…

    And I must admit if I had money to spare I’d love a analog Leica and the 35mm Ultron to shot b&w film… 😉

    Cheers, A.

      1. Confirm interest in b&w conversion. This can be done in a million ways – some of them good – so happy to be inspired.

      2. I would also be interested in a b&w conversion article — or, frankly, any post-processing articles you or the other authors would write. Thanks for all your hard work!

  12. Acceot your assessment of the camera. Very well written article, thank you. Yet, sometimes a piece of equipment like this is more than a technical tool that can or can’t do one thing or another. The inspiration and motivation that such a camera can bring should not be underestimated. It is an expensive inspiration and I will certainly not buy one. But on a much lower level, if you put a Voigtländer 21/3.5 or a Kamlan 50/1.1 MKII on an a6400 they turn the camera into something very different – it is hard to descrive. It feels good, it makes me want to go out and take pictures.

  13. Well done.
    This was the first Leica_Review i read ever.
    some time ago i bought a Leica SL2 because i got mad of my Canon AE1. I was the only Person in the 80s who had bad experience with Canon equipment.Canon told me.I am happy with my 2 x A7II .
    Thanks for your review

  14. Great job, pretty pics👍
    I love Leica cameras and lenses but they are very expensive for me.
    Great camera with Voigtlander 75mm f1.5, I wish Cosina makes that lens for Sony.

      1. M10 + Leica Noctilux-M 75mm f/1.25 ASPH. 😫
        A perfect lens but 14000$; hideously expensive…
        Dear Bastian, Could you please check my Sigma 35mm f1.4’s pic in your “HOW TO CHECK HOW DECENTERED” article. I want to know your opinion. Thank you.

  15. Sorry, this review leaves me a little bit underwhelmed – especially compared to all the other fabulous reviews on this site. Now you all might guess that I’m a Leica guy. But I am certainly not: I never owned one and maybe never will. The #1 reason being that I can’t live with the .7m focus limit, even as a kid with my first roll of film in my first camera ever I already wanted to go closer very often.

    Nonetheless, I don’t think at all that the M10 is such an outdated toy for the rich as this review does suggest. It is much more than that I am sure. Even the price is not only so you buy into boutiques. It is cause they do such a low volume production with a lot of hand labor. It’s not that Leica just makes a €999 body and then only puts an insane price tag on it. (In contrast, Hasselblad tried exactly that with their Sony NEX-7 version … yes.)

    But okay. This remembers me that there actually is a second review on this site I don’t agree with: The Voigtländer 35/1.4. I bought the FE variant and it is my #1 favorite lens of maybe the last 10 years. Apart from that, I thoroughly enjoy the HUGE quality of all your reviews. Keep up the good work!

    1. They definitely do charge a heavy premium for the Leica name. See: the Leica cameras that are just rebranded Panasonics.

  16. Thanks, you almost cured me of Leica lust!

    The real strength in the Leica system is not the cameras, it’s the excellent lenses – but nowadays I can use these lenses on any mirrorless camera, so the need for a Leica camera is disappearing …

  17. Great review! I have been using Leica for a year, and share many of the observations. As much as I enjoy Leica, I agree with this “cult” assessment (the same can be said about Apple and many other brands). But aside from the brand premium, Leica rangefinder lenses were the selling point for most people. The article is a little unbalanced when all the lenses the author used were third party lens, at less popular focal length (21 and 75?). At least for me, owning a Leica M means permanently mounting a 35 or 50mm Leica lens. Hopefully, Bastiatank would find the time to share his experience with these lenses on his M10.

  18. I would frankly be more concerned about the lack of shadow detail before posting images like your B&Ws here:
    #1The gal’s hair,
    #2, most of the shadow area around the pigeon,
    #4 the Stairs,
    and the last pic of gal with coffee cup featuring a black splotch that is her hair!
    all photos to support your otherwise honest if clueless critique of the wonderful camera that is the M10.

    There is in fact no other camera that offers the finder or rangefinder experience of the Leica M. Fuji have something going for sure with the X Pro 2, and 3. Are there many aspects of that camera superior to the Leica M9, 240 series or M10, sure but still none the same experience. If the M doesn’t suit you, kudos, there are many other fine cameras out there, and then the Sony line too. I’ve used many of these other cameras but nothing inspires me to take pictures more than a Leica M.

    1. Not sure you understand the concept of high contrast B&W 🤔
      In all of those pictures, additional information in those parts of the image is totally meaningless.
      Unfortunately in the days of HDR some people think a picture is not allowed anymore to show pure black or white and instead go for some evened out boring tonal curve where everything is just grey.
      I am tempted to recommend having a look at Bruce Barnbaum’s books “The Art of Photography” and (the newer, imho better) “The Essence of Photography” which are both great pieces on B&W photography.

      1. If you want to toss these “high contrast” images off as “artsy”, fine. You are reviewing a camera here and criticizing the metering. People who shoot Leica know what to do with the info the camera provides and if in need, one can carry a light meter along.

        The suggestion stands; take the time and care to get your shadow detail! Yes, it matters. “Meaningless” is very telling of your work here.

        And in discussing rangefinder focusing (which is very accurate) you might also reference that it offered a nice alternative to the SLR which was what most folks who chose not to shoot rangefinders would use back in the days of film. The SLR had mirror slap, hence manufacturers provided a button on their pro models to lock the mirror.

        This and many other details that your readers might be interested to know in assessing the camera, and explaining in part why for example M6 cameras are holding their value very nicely; more than one can say for a Sony that is one or two model editions back.

        1. Did I say anything about artsy?
          If you don’t like the way I process my B&W images, fine.
          Seems many other readers disagree.

          Maybe you can share some of your work, I am curious to see as I now expect it must be excellent and maybe the readers can learn something from you instead of me then.

          PS: I did talk about benefits over SLRs back in the day, but to notice that you actually need to read the article.

          PPS: This article does not deal with analogue Leica cameras. The loss in value of a newly purchased M10 (this article is about the M10, if you didn’t notice) is roughly 3000$. Enough to buy 2 brand new Sony A7III…

          1. Hi Bastian,

            The high contrast B+W you’ve published here are terrific – they’re my favourite of the bunch (the colour shots are great too). They B+W work as intended – strong tonal differences clearly leading the viewer to the point(s) of interest.

            I echo your sentiment above about this fad of avoiding pure blacks and whites. The fetishising over pulling detail out of deep shadows etc. just because it’s possible, is actually creating this whole class of fake-HDR style pictures chock full of unnecessary detail and with almost no tonal variety.

            Thanks for the time and effort you all put in. One of many great reviews on this website.

    2. Leica boss: “Argh, another article exposing our business method! Jürgen, fast, write a fake comment as countermeasure!” “But under which name?” “Doesn’t matter, simply take… David. Just make sure to really make this Bastian dude seem clueless.” “OK, boss, will do it!” (Military salute, leaves room.)

  19. I’m currently shooting with a Sony A7 MkII using the old (but mint) Leitz Summaron 35/3.5 and the Elmar 90/4 (retractable). Plus a plethora of Voigtlander lenses and various Nikkors. All are fitted with K&F Concept adapters.

    Bastian’s article tends to reinforce my continued use of these items. I’d considered moving to a Leica body (and I still may given the quality of his accompanying shots)) but the ease of quickly adjusting my preferred exposure via the EVF is the deal maker/breaker. (And the A7II is a hardy beast having easily survived a drop onto a cement pavement.)

    As they say, spend your money on lenses, not bodies.

  20. This is the best reading so far in 2020. Your writing blew my fantasy about Leica and gave me some nice insights. Thanks.

  21. I have used Leica (film and digital), Sony, and Fuji concurrently over the past six years. Hence my comments are informed by firsthand experience:

    –Excellent review, certainly one of the best I have read regarding the Leica digital rangefinder platform (and I have pretty much read them all dating back to the M9 era).

    –I respectfully disagree with the suggestion that Leica cameras and lenses are just for rich people who want to visit a fancy boutique. While there is certainly a group of Leica buyers who fit that category, there are many (like me) who are not wealthy and get into the system by purchasing used Leica equipment.

    –With the rapid expansion of full-frame mirrorless options since the original Sony A7 in 2013, Leica has lost its hold on the claim to producing the highest-quality 35mm lenses. However, there is still something fun about using a Leica rangefinder, and many people enjoy the optical rangefinder as an alternative to the EVF (see Sean Reid’s site). I think your article would benefit from taking a less dismissive attitude toward photographers who acknowledge the limitations of the Leica rangefinder system but enjoy it and use it for other reasons.

    All in all, great review. Thank you for taking the time to write it. It is refreshing to read something calm and rational. But please consider that not all Leica users are rich or in denial about the system’s limitations.

    1. Right, the real Leicaman (not the snobbish!) is a summicron shooter (35 or 50), buys and sells used (rarely losing money), likes to travel light and doesn’t care for pixel-peeping.
      Lenses, buy used are not more expensive than Sony. Sony lenses quality vary a lot from piece to piece: I tried a Sony 55 1.8 FE by a famous Sony reseller, then bought one and it was a completely different story, finally I sold it losing 1/3 of the price. Anyway I am conscious Sonys are much more technically advanced cameras. And I must say that Sony produced the wonderful RX1 that is by far the modern digital camera closest to the true original Leica traditional heritage.

  22. There is nothing like the beautiful,milky -elasticity of images taken with a Leica. Why put a milk bottle bottom, on ‘the’ street photographers’ ultimate machine?

    If you can’t afford leica lenses, then you shouldn’t buy a leica camera.
    Prize my leica from my cold dead hands!
    Please lord bring back real photographers, and let’s say goodbye
    to anal retentive technicians!
    BTW…some of your shots were quite good🙂

  23. Really an interesting and highly enjoyable review.

    I never quite understood all this Leica fascination, personally. Or rather, I like some old equipment and similar things because of semplicity or what have you, but I wouldn’t care for it at all if it was priced the way anything Leica is. If I’d won a Leica (especially in these days) I would have waited about 0.5 seconds to put it on ebay still brand new, so I commend you for your bravery 🙂

    While the photos look lovely, if you’d told me they’d been shot with an a7, I wouldn’t have any trouble believing it (nor would most of Leica’s fanboys, methinks). And considering all other usability issues and annoyances…well, it’s not a pretty picture, surely. Can I also say that having to buy an evf (which is mandatory to use plenty of lenses) for a camera that costs as much as two d850 or a7riv…talk about fleecing, good grief.
    I’ll keep looking at Leica as rich old hipster’s instruments for the time being 😉 it’ll be interesting to check the performance of native lenses when compared to the same ones mounted on Sony cameras, so there’s that. Cheers!

  24. Good morning, at the beginning of your article you mentioned that you won this camera in a photographic competition, what a contest it was, what was your photo that won, please link, so I ask out of curiosity, and your pictures are beautiful

  25. Apart from the insane price tag:
    Perhaps the struggle with the Leica is worth it: The pictures you shot with it are gorgeous, they have a fantastic look that seems for me different to your Sony pictures. I can see your style of shooting, but there is something different.

  26. Nice pics!!!

    I found an old M39 Leica IIIg with 50mm f1.5 summarit at a thrift shop for a song and have run a few rolls of B&W through it and enjoy using the camera, what a feel to hold it in your hands – just ooozes quality.

    that being said, I have no desire for a current one.

    I would also appreciate an article on B&W conversions, I’m in a weird point where I’m finding myself shooting as much B&W medium format film as I do my sony and almost all my digital photos end up B&W so I would love to learn more techniques to make them better.

    Film shot
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/D7Gp6UZevtsYaYnA8
    Similar shot – digital
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/gXF7V1BcEoQ4EfjL9

  27. There are snobs, anti-snobs, and pragmatists. I had a Leica M3, vintage 1957, with an f/2 Summicron for a while and never really got the Leica mystique, even though I’m a bit of a pragmatic snob. I like nice toys but only if they’re practical, the minimal criterion is that they do the job. Ultimately, image quality is what matters. No normal viewer cares what camera was used or how the photographer “felt” while making the photo, only whether the image is appealing.. Cameras are tools. It is nice to have nice tools (toys) but only if they do the job properly. It appears that digital Leica’s are not terribly good at doing the job, compared to many less expensive, easier to use cameras and lenses. Great review, great comments. It’s easy to tell which commenter drank the Leica kool aid.

  28. I compare Leica to Rolex or Porsche. If you don’t have one is because you really don’t care about it or you can’t afford it. If you test a Porsche in the traffic of LA you can’t feel the power….same with Leica if you test the camera with third party lenses. After reading your review i have the impression that it was pay by the competition. Yes, my first camera was a Leica and my last camera will be the same Leica. On another note, great pictures, what it tells me you are a good photographer wich have nothing to do with the camera but your skills.

    1. Ah, another Leica fanboy.
      1) I do not get paid to write anything by any company. But thanks for the insult and the insinuation, already tells a lot.
      Who would pay me? Do you think Sony/Nikon/Canon/Fuji care about the minimal amount of digital M-mount cameras Leica is selling?
      First think, then post.
      2) The “rangefinder experience” and all the disadvantages of the camera I mentioned do not change with first party lenses
      (of course the rangefinder generally sucks with all lenses where there are no framelines for).
      3) I tried and used cameras from many different brands. Maybe you should do that too.

  29. Hi Bastian,
    very nice review as usual! I think, however, that you miss the point of the system! Before explaining why, let me emphasise that I’m not a leica fanboy, and fully agree with your conclusions regarding “color science”, image quality and limitations of M10. I also don’t own a digital M (likely never will too as unlike you I’m not in position to win a photo competition 🙂

    That said, the reason I think you’re missing the point, is your choice of lenses: while all nice, two out of three are completely not in the “spirit of M” as fanboys say. Nokton is ok, although 1.5 mid-tele is borderline for M, but the other two are really exotic. Wide angles generally don’t fit RF cameras well because a) you don’t really need RF to focus them, b) there’s no way to account for parallax properly in this case, so framing is tricky. The 7Artisans is also excessively bulky, and don’t tell me is even heavier: that’s a niche lens even by leica standards.

    The M will never compete with SLRs in flexibility (zooms, wide-angles, metering, AF, the list goes on), but it has found a niche in being a system which offers compact high quality cameras and lenses for those who find that 28-35-50-75-90 f2-4 primes is all you need. That’s because high quality lenses which are faster tend to be bulky, and wider/more tele require external VF so why bother with RF at all (i.e. your situation)!

    Replace your VC15 and 7A21 with 28mm summicron or 25mm Skopar, your nokton with 75 2.5 Heliar or tele elmarit 90 2.8 (thin version), and add something in-between for completeness (either 50 or 35 mm summicron would do fine depending on other choices, i.e. either 25-35-75 or 28-50-90), and be happy!

    1. The 7artisans 28mm 1.4 is smaller and lighter than the Leica pendant if I remember correctly.

      Maybe you missed some parts:
      Rangefinder focusing is easier the slower the lens is as less accuracy is needed.
      I recommend to stick with 28/35/50/75 mm lenses mainly and I did primarily use 28 and 75 mm.

      Using only slow lenses is certainly not an option for me.
      They don’t serve my style of shooting.
      If I was happy with the DoF these lenses (4/25, 2.8/90) provide I would not be using a full frame system.

      1. 7Artisans 28 is comparable in size to summilux (well, slightly smaller), but that’s not the point: Leica is happy to sell summiluxes for those who strive for speed, but they sell way more summicrons and elmarits than summiluxes because that’s what the system is good for, and that’s exactly my point. If you’re using it with big fast wide tele lenses, you’re using the system for what it is not good for, and thus will be inevitably be disappointed.

        As I said, M is a very limited and niche system, and the fact that your shooting style does not match its limitations just means that you’re better with SLR/MILC unless you’re a true Leica fan, which you seem to agree with. It’s obvious that it is possible to get better (and more flexible!) results with MILC, especially considering the M prices, but it does not mean that digital M is no good at all. It’s great fun to use, it’s small (with small lenses) and quick to operate, and actual IQ is comparable with cameras released at the same time (M10 was released in 2017, and the noise/dr is slightly better than a7/II (2014) and worse than A7III(2018), and Sony is best with sensors, right?). The lenses are “slow”, but compete well in IQ with the best in class at fraction of size, and are joy to use if you prefer MF.

        To conclude, I’m not saying that digital M is worth it (it’s not), but just that to have any chance to appreciate the system you need to go slow, small, and within framelines.

      1. Manual focussing experience did not change much since then, however 🙂 If anything, I preferred MF on my original A7 to that on A7rIII (“shimmering trick”!)

  30. I use old film Leica’s. I will tell you a benefit of the rangefinder focusing mechanism; it is easier for some to look at the rangefinder focus patch and align that first, frame – then shoot. And it is much better for my eyes to do that since I am an eyeglass wearer too. It strains my eyes less by just focusing the rangefinder patch, align it to what ever I want to focus on, compose the press the shutter. Done. It is much more straining to look at a SLR, DSLR and do that. Some people like that from rangefinders. It’s a different way of taking photographs.

  31. Brilliant (and long overdue). Leica mania strikes me as a sure fire way of testing the IQ. Those afflicted with it may be loaded, but in terms of IQ…

    BTW, I was surprised by the person who dissed you for not talking about the “elephant in the room” (pandemic). While I completely agree that his input was not very helpful, one interesting idea that he did come up with was the notion of doing an article about “domestic photography” (not necessarily indoors, but definitely at a good physical distance).

    Anyway, I hope that you and yours are staying healthy (and that all of your correspondents, including David “down under”) are well.

  32. i think one important point many are missing is that Bastian is one of the few unbiased people to test a Leica because 1) he’s not an affiliate to Leica 2) he did not have to pay for the product himself, so he’s not having to justify a purchase.

    Since you kept the M10 i think you might want to update the article sometime in the future, maybe theres things you missed, or maybe not.

    1. I already gave myself 3 months to write this article, but yes, the articles of gear I keep using will usually get an update.
      How much I will use this camera in the future is of uncertainty at the moment and will mainly depend on which lenses I want to use.
      The Voigtlander VM 75mm 1.5 is a truly wonderful lens, but only when used on a camera with a thin filter stack, so I better not win a Kolari modded Sony camera, otherwise this experiment may be over rather sooner than later 🙂

      I have to add though: import tax on this camera I had to pay was more than some actual cameras…

  33. Bravo! Looking at the comments It seems to me that this is your most controversial article on this site. But even if you doesn‘t enjoyed using the M10 your pictures are great and maybe the best street and portrait samples so far.

    I wish someone would create a full frame rangefinder with a Fuji OVF. But even Leica does not come up with this kind of creature. My impression is that I enjoy taking photos more when using a smaller inconspicious camera. DSLRs are the opposite of that and even the A7 line ist only aceptable.

    Maybe you should see the appeal in Leica cameras more in limitation. A lot of photographers enjoy limitation in there process. Using a prime lens is limitation. Using manual lenses is limitation. So maybe using an OVF is only the next step in a creative process? And what do you gain instead? A beautyful small camera that look and feel like from another time? Think about it. 😊

    PS. I would be interested in a B&W article too.

    1. The controversy does not come as a surprise.
      Interestingly though, no one adressed the actual design flaws (except for the focus accuracy, and here see the M10 manual on that) I pointed out, so I guess everyone agrees on them.
      Some comments also show a clear lack of understanding of optics and mechanics, which makes discussing with those people a pointless endeavour.

      Street is usually not exactly my genre of choice, therefore you will usually only find few pictures like that in my reviews.
      But as there won’t be any travel for the foreseeable future (I did intend to bring the M10 to Prague as the only camera,
      also because I have already been there and therefore there are no shots I “need” to take) I have to resort to such genres.

      Btw: the M10 is not actually smaller than even a Gen2 A7. Noticeably bulkier with the added EVF. Maybe I will include a picture of both side by side in a future update…

  34. Hi Phillip!
    Nice article and: I totally agree with your conclusion!
    But newertheless the M10 is still my “must have” camera.
    Maybe someday I’ll have it, someday…

  35. On mirrorless we could use wider lens to ‘see the environment’ and ‘predict’ what happens on the street and then crop a little. There are cameras that deliver more MP, better performance of sensor, smaller DOF than RF lenses with accurate AF so there would be no harm to the photo.

  36. Dear Bastian,

    I always like your reviews as I do this one.

    Image Quality: To me this is not of any matter any more since the 5D. Yes, A7RIV, Z7 can do better. They have IBIS and Eye AF. Great features. But all these features distract me from taking the picture. Maybe I am just to dumb to handle a menu of 1000, I prefer the Leica menu of some 200.
    The quality of lenses and bodies/sensor did improve in the last 10 years. Does it matter? Not to me. Even that 10 year old stuff is still way better than my skills.

    AF: Yes. Nice. Fast. Very fast in 2020. Very reliable. Besides that I often do not have the AF point where I want it to be. So MF is fine to me. I am not into sports nor into dogs running towards me.

    Size: Yes, you’re right, the M body itself is neither lighter nor smaller then an A7 or a Z6.
    But: Attach a lens. Even the Sony 28 2.8, which is a mediocre lens at best, is bigger then my 28 Elmarit.
    A nifty fifty? Show me a single AF 50mm which is as small and light as my 50 summicron.
    Why aren’t there any more lenses like Nikkor 50 E? All lenses are getting bigger and heavier.

    Does size matter? To me it does. The smaller the less attention I get, people are less distracted by me taking shots, the bigger the photography setup is, the more likely people are even feeling bothered. I am not even talking about street photography. I am talking about weekend trips, hoilday, events, walks, dinners, party and bbq with friends and family.
    Model shots? I am much more connected to the model with a small M/Lens combo then with any other camera (besides m43).

    Yes, you can achieve the nearly the same using dlsm with voigtlaender lenses. But then I ve to use the EVF. Most of the EVF are not good enough to focus quickly, besides the newer 5 MP EVF, which are great. But focus peaking is not precise enough – to me. Focus Magnify blocks the composition, besides in the Panasonic S1, which enables to magnify a part of the EVF only.
    Decisive to me is: I am more connected to my subject using an OVF/RF then using an EVF.

    What I love most about Rangefinder is the slow down. I enjoy it.

    Is M expensive? Yes it is, absurdly epensive.
    But two points on the prices, please.
    First one: GAS. Most M owners I know are not plagued by GAS. They buy a lens every few years, some even did not buy a lens for decades. Compare this to Sony/Nikon/Canon/Fuji owners. After 30 or more years into photography, who would have spent more on equipment?
    Second: Leica M RF is mechanical stuff. This is one of the expensive parts. Buy anything mechanical in the 21st Century, no matter what, it is expensive. Is a 50mm Summilux expensive compared to a sigma 50 1.4 Art? Yes, for sure. Is the Summilux better? I don’t know. But I know for sure that I am not willing to carry a 1000g lens, or even three of them. It is the glas inside that makes the difference in weight and size.
    Electronic stuff: Do I like the correction of lenses? No. I don’t. Worst of all is Fuji-X. Such a nice system but the results are clinical.

    Do you sometimes see people driving an older flat six 911 and they just keep smiling? Yes, they could drive a Tesla or an Audi and everything would be better, easier and cheaper.

    Do you enjoy listening someone playing a piano? Or a grand piano? This stuff is insane expensive. And it takes forever to master. Does it sound “better” then spotify/Qobuz and a Hifi?
    Enjoy an acoustic guitar on the beach or rather Earpods / Ultimate Ears Boom 3?

    Is a portafilter a good choice to have a cup of coffee? Very expensive and lengthy.

    Just a different point of view besides price and performance.

    Keep up your good work and enyoable reviews and website, I really aprecciate it.

    1. I think you just underlined my point:
      Normally one does not buy/use a Leica M10 if one needs to take pictures or needs to get an assignment done,
      just as one does not drive an Oldtimer if the whole purpose is to get from A to B,
      or one wears a Burberry scarf because he needs something to keep his neck warm.

  37. I would encourage anyone interested in this to read this article posted by the famed alpinist Mark Twight about photography and his experience with Leica. For those who do not know Mark, he’s one of the greatest mountain climbers that has ever lived and the photography that illustrates his book Extreme Alpinism is totally incredible. Even those who are not in to climbing have probably seen Mark’s influence. When he retired from alpine climbing, he began training elite athletes as well as actors who needed to get shredded for a role. They include the cast of 300, Man of Steel and others. Check it out: http://leicaphilia.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Steve-and-Scott-posthole-to-Cassin-1_Folio_1.jpg

  38. Thank you Bastian for your work and spending so much time for factual reviews!
    Because I am a parttime wedding photographer, and a lover of manuel glas as well, I want to mention my thougts about ergonomics. Very often I have to hold my camera with just the right hand, while doing something else with my left hand. Even a A6400 ist easy to hold with the right hand (or the A7, Z6/7 and EOS-R). With the M Leicas and even the Fujis (exept the X-H1) this ist a pain and to slippery for a wedding day.

  39. Here’s the thing, your sample pics from this post are best that have EVER been on your website. And you made some amazing pics with a TTartisan lens…

    And thats the thing about Leica, it makes no sense logically but look at the output…there have never been more engaging and wonderful pictures on your website compared to what is posted above.

  40. I photographed for many years with large, medium and small format.
    I even built 2 cameras myself.
    For a couple of years now I love my Sony A7RII.

    Is it important to see which camera was used?
    Is it visible at all?
    The decisive factor is whether I love my camera.
    Photography is like a wedding between photographer and camera.
    I have to have fun taking pictures.
    When I love my camera, I feel more like it and I am more creative.
    I would love to be on the road again with my large-format camera …. unfortunately, in my eyes it is simply not practical. Too heavy, too inflexible, too slow, too big.
    I get along fine with my Sony. Only that counts.
    7000 € for a camera is too much for me …. but should I fall in love and just put a 35mm on it … why not? … Then I sell all my equipment, get a divorce and marry again.

    The more restriction, the more creativity is promoted. (Fixed focal length, light meter, tripod, weight, large-format camera …..) But where is the limit? Should I just take an exposure with me on vacation? …..
    It is up to me whether I use the possibilities of the camera.
    For many years I only used a Rollei SL-66 with an 80mm lens. And it was ok.
    Now I’m enjoying the optical variety.

    Leica, Sony, Canon, Nikon … etc is not better or worse.
    It’s just the superstition that the camera and lens make the difference.
    The difference is the love of my job as a photographer.

  41. Dear BastianK,

    Glad you said it straight!
    That’s the only way that we can hope for change.
    Soft healers are making stinking wounds.

  42. Loved reading the article Bastian and congratulations on winning the contest- always a fan of your work!

    Curiously, did you try mounting your CG WA lenses on the M10? Do share experience & images/links in case you did.

    Will eagerly await your B/W converting article.

      1. Contax G indeed. Sure-no worries.
        I have been absolutely enjoying the mf experience adapting Contax G lenses + PCX on the z6 and was curious to see how the thinner M10 stack renders.

        I shall await your B/ W article.

  43. Thanks for the review. It was completely accurate in my estimation, if anything a little generous in not mentioning some of the M10’s limitations.

    I am a long time Leica user, though I sold my M10 a year or two ago in order to acquire a Hasselblad X1D, another niche camera with serious flaws that make it quite challenging to use in many (most?) photographic situations. I still use my Q2 and SL2 quite frequently, though, and really like most of Leica’s products a lot.

    Some of the flaws you didn’t happen to cover in your review that keep an M10 from being a decent general purpose camera… The flash support is abysmal—even worse than the metering. M10 has no weather sealing. The rangefinder, already only vaguely accurate for focus, has a tendency to come out of calibration over time if you don’t treat the camera gently. Turn around times for repairs are typically several months or more. There is no program for professional users to receive loaner equipment during servicing. There is only one card slot, so if your card fails you can lose an entire shoot. The list could go on. And to those who say the rangefinder is accurate enough to get a high hit rate at f/0.95 to f/1.4? I’m sorry, but, just, “No.” It’s not. Field curvature alone using the ‘focus and recompose’ technique required by a central rangefinder patch makes that completely impossible. No, the M can not possibly be considered a good general purpose photography tool.

    All that being said, there are still photographers who use and love them, and they are not all just drinking the kool-aid. There are good points that don’t show readily in a spec sheet. The lenses, for example, are superb. Slow to focus? Yes. Limited by the lack of zooms? Yes. But they make exceptional images when everything is done right, and they are dramatically more compact than anything else offered at the same focal length and speed.

    In addition, some photographers quite literally benefit from the lack of features in an M. I found many years ago that I took better pictures with prime lenses than with zooms. Had nothing to do with the optical quality of the lenses or with their size and weight. Zooms are certainly much more flexible and when used appropriately are quite simply a better choice. But I didn’t use them appropriately. I got lazy with them. With zooms I thought about framing, but not perspective. I stopped considering possibilities that could make an image stronger. I didn’t move my feet. Was that the zoom’s fault? Of course not. It was my lack of discipline. But it was still true. Even when I tried to be good, I often wasn’t.

    I look at the M cameras the same way. No program mode? No shutter priority? Well, at least I’ll have to give a little thought to my choice of f-stop and associated shutter speed. I’ll end up considering depth of field, the need to stop motion blur, ISO, and their interdependencies because I virtually have to in order to get a decent image. Is that a camera strength? Probably not, but it may still result in a better picture and perhaps my growth as a photographer, and that’s the point, isn’t it?

    Some will claim that’s just my providing justifications for an inferior camera. And certainly, by the spec’s it’s an inferior camera. But if I take better pictures with it? I stop caring. And for several years I did, in fact, take better pictures with M cameras than with my other cameras.

    So why did I sell it? Photographic interests change with time, and the small number of niches where the M excels were not where I was spending most of my time. I still think it’s a solid choice for certain photographers. Is the Leica mystique deserved? Depends on your perspective.

    The analogy of Rolex earlier is actually not a bad one. If you go by spec sheets, any Apple Watch or a Casio G-Shock beats any Rolex ever made by a huge margin. They are more accurate, vastly more feature rich, more legible, and (at least the G-Shock and probably the Apple Watch) much more durable and reliable. But that’s not why anyone buys a Rolex, is it? And there is no question that a Rolex is still a very capable wristwatch if what you want is to see the time.

    As to the haters out there who despise Leica for their pricing or think anyone buying a Leica is a fool, know that there are some people out there who fully understand the limitations of the camera and STILL want to buy it for making pictures. Just as there are still people choosing Rolex over Casio despite the cost and lack of features. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s just fine. But just owning and using a Leica does not make one a poseur, a fan boy, a snob, or a fool.

  44. A few objective observations from a Sony shooter who moved to Leica M few years ago. I do not spend hours on post processing, I do not like it.

    I am a fan of the A7 series, having owned the first one and the mkII. I shot thousands of pictures with them, and I had a huge collection of lenses, both AF and MF.
    I had a friend who got a M9, tried it, and enjoyed the new experience of the rangefinder.
    I got an M240 used, when the prices dropped a bit after the introduction of the M10. A colleague has one, I used it as well.

    Now I have only two lenses, the Voigtlander 35/1.7 and the Summilux Asph 50/1.4. I plan on getting the Summarit 90.

    It is totally true that the Leica M digital bodies will not make you a better photographer, because they are thousands of euros. The image quality is good, not stellar. Colors are nice sure, the reds and greens look awesome out of the camera, surely better than the pictures I had from Sony, they were more “ready for interpretation”, a bit more clinical, waiting to be post-processed a bit, to give their best.
    The Leica gives already a bit of transformation of the colors. You like it or not, but I do. I prefer the colors of the M240 to the Sony, and my wife as well. A bit more punchy, vibrant.

    Yes the lack of buttons is bad sometimes. Changing the exposure compensation is a pain, you have to press a heavy button, turn the dial at the same time, it is not easy.

    But the quality of the camera is nice, and it gets attention of course when you take pictures with it. I got congratulations in the street for the “nice Leica”, questions about the price, and interest. The sony was always the “tourist camera”, no one knew how powerful and modern this tool was !
    I do not care much, I am no Leica fan, it is just a tool that produces images I like, and I enjoy the rangefinder experience for street and landscape shooting.

    So at the end, it is a nice experience to make. I enjoy having one, and I am very happy by the photos it produces. I sold the A7II and its many lenses, I have what I need. But I am no pro. And sometimes I regret not having an EVF with a 15mm or a 200mm…

    I guess you are a Leica snob when you buy it for getting this congratulations, and attract people from the same group. The group of “special guys” that invest into the brand and its values. You recognize them easily, I have been to an event at a Leica gallery. Yeah they come with Porsches and A8, but some do not.
    Some like me just have one because the pictures look nice to us. That’s it. Even if it is expensive and not justified. But what is ? Many people shit on Leica but have more than their price in lenses and gear from Nikon of Sony. Some friend have.

    So they are not a 8000 euros awesome tool that produces 8000 euros pictures each time.
    They are only a cool object to experience, which produces pictures with (more than you would agree) little character.

  45. Well said, Jared. I am a 67 year old retiree and my experience with Leica started at age 16 when I accompanied my grandfather when he purchased an M4. In the intervening decades, in addition to Leica, I have owned Canon, Pentax, Nikon and Lumix equipment. Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses, as do Leica rangefinders.

    I rarely hear the term “fan-boy” applied to Canon or Nikon or Sony enthusiasts. That term seems to be a pejorative reserved almost exclusively for Leica users. Yes, Leica equipment (at least new) is quite costly. If any of us is fortunate enough to have a little extra disposable income, we may choose to scratch a particular itch that another person may have no appreciation for.

    I am not wealthy, I hope I am not a snob, and I know that I am not a fool. But I do enjoy using Leica rangefinders and the resulting images that I am able to capture with them. For me, using a Leica rangefinder and compact lens were best described by another user in the succinct phrase…
    “a combination of size, ergonomics, tactility and the resulting image quality”.

  46. If anyone bothers to read the comments down to this point, I simply wish to say:

    If you’re interested in trying the Leica M system, you should do so before writing it off based on the opinions of this and other like-minded authors.

    Use the information here and elsewhere to build a basic understanding of what you will encounter with the M system in order to determine whether it will match your use cases. Then use it for at least a few months photographing the things you normally do, to build an in-depth understanding of whether or not it will work for you.

    Ultimately, you are the one who has to make that decision.

  47. 1. I think author of this post/review are totally missing the point of this camera. 2. Luckily there is cameras for everyone with tilt.screens and extra buttons 3. Leica price discussions does not lead anywhere (btw new Fujis comes pretty close to used Leica M10 in price actually (and i def prefer used Leica than Fuji). 4. I never understand of someone saying that some camera has better IQ than other. Photography is not only sensor or pixels (we can make blind test for the author, he never tells what is what. 5 People – its just one persons opinion in the end of the world. Just enjoy yout camera you like and keep shooting 🙂

  48. Hi Bastian,

    Thank you for the great piece. I do feel like your Leica photos look different from the ones you take on a Sony—they have that Leica “look.” I’d love to know what accounts for that. I’d also love to know if it’s possible to move in the direction of that look using a Sony body and lenses (like the 85 or 24 GMs, or the Sigma 35 1.2, or the Voigtlander 50 APO). Maybe through editing or presets? Thanks for your consideration!

    1. You are seeing something that I am not then 🙂
      I am currently working on an article how I edit my pictures to get the look shown here.
      It may take a bit until it is finished, but camera and lens don’t really matter.

  49. One thing is for sure, this might be the most commented article on this site.
    Funnily enough, if I came across this review a bit sooner, it might have stopped me from buying an almost unused M-E Type 240 last week (I was still unsure when it came time to actually pay for it, even though the deal was good), and in my case, it might have been a mistake. It simply works for me, and for people pictures it really delivers (some of it is probably down to how the camera actually looks). Wish I’d done it sooner, but again, it enabled me collect vintage lenses for the time being.

    All things considered, shooting MF or AF, prime or a zoom, etc. lenses or Canon/Nikon/Sony/Fuji (or maybe all) is a completely individual choice (and it may change over time as well, maybe one simply gets bored of using a 35mm/50mm lens etc.) and people should be more considerate towards each other instead of trying to prove what camera is better and why, based on specs lists, to justify their decisions. (Ron Scheffler is right)

    If you are a reader of this site, you probably own one of two rangefinder glass, which means they might have also came with a film camera as well, so the advantages of shooting with one doesn’t need to be explained. Happy shooting!

  50. Bastian what have you done! You have waged war against the Leica cult lol.

    Jokes aside, we all know quantitatively, Leica digital camera specs are kind of behind the industry. But the rangefinder thing is somewhat hard to quantify, and Leica lovers will justify it as a unique feature, along side with design, ergonomic and the glorified red dot psychological buffer.

    So, as one of the top comment said, thanks for pointing out that the emperor has no clothes, and prepare for the cult, as they are going to burn you alive lol.

    1. Leica cult? Never understand that. Is there Fuki and Sony cult too? I mean there is camera for everyone. I just dont lile revies like ”oh this camera has not this ir that feature” Some Leicas feature is that it has not ”features” Some people that may work. Like me. Perfect!

      1. Sure there is a fuji cult sony cult or whatever fanboy cult with high allegiance to a certain brand, this is what marketing does to people.

        I guess “cult” is a humorous term to describe fanboys (which is another humorous term) blind-sighted from fact and come up with reasons that will justify themselves.

        In this “Leica cult” argument, the rangefinder could be a prime example, its like reintroducing a vintage 50s Rolls-Royce with modern engine. Sure it runs on the road alright, and gives you a very vintage, premium driving experience (with an even more premium price tag). Its just not comparable to the tech and design of modern time, but a “culty” comment will claim its just right, probably saying what is offered is all ever wanted.

        Arguably a product that make customer happy is a good product, but please keep in mind, while some companies spend their budget on improving their tech, others care more about marketing and brand allegiance.

        For this exact reason, I believe people are paying much more for the red dot tax then the camera itself.

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