Updated: Aug 19
On paper, the Leica M10 Monochrom makes no sense to get because it’s such a niche camera, but it’s a whole lot of fun to shoot with. It’s the third version of the Monochrom series, first was the M9, followed by the M 246 and now the M10.
It’s different though; the other cameras just had colours taken out of them, but the sensor for the M10 Monochrom was built especially for black and white to get the maximum potential.
The 40MP sensor is of higher resolution than the M10 colour version, and we think this is Leica’s low-light king out of all the cameras they have. At 10,000 ISO, it’s just getting warmed up.
When you shoot with a black and white camera, you start thinking in terms of shadows, highlights and not just colours. Shapes, textures and more all play a big part in the thought process. It definitely becomes more challenging, but at the same time, it’s more freeing and more creative.
The nice thing about the M10 Monochrom is that it also has the same quiet shutter as the M10-P, which adds to the discreteness afforded by the stealth black look the camera has.
We have the 35mm f/1.4 and the 50mm f/2 APO lenses for this review, and we loved the 50mm paired with the M10 Monochrom. We think the 50mm f/2 APO is the best manual 50mm lens on the market, and an example of Leica engineering at its best.
Pair that with the unique sensor that Leica’s put into the M10 Monochrom and you’ll get a lot of texture and details in photos that will wow you.
The 35mm f/1.4 is nice as well, but there’s something to be said about pairing older M lenses with newer cameras, and it’s that while photos from them do have a certain look, the lenses are unable to fully resolve the higher resolution sensors like the 50mm f/2 APO and other newer lenses can.
That being said, the 35mm lens looks beautiful and gives photos a classic look while the 50mm gives photos a more modern look.
We have the camera paired with the Visoflex electronic viewfinder, and found that it gives a lot more flexibility to the M10 series. There’s also the traditional viewfinder, but the Visoflex definitely makes it more convenient to frame a shot. That begs the question, is it time for a Leica with an EVF?
Moving onto the photos that come out of this, we’ve found that you no longer need superfast lenses for low light situations because of how well the camera handles grain and noise. At 25,000 ISO, instead of overwhelming noise, the photo actually starts looking like it was taken on film.
Even pulling out details from shadows shows how much information and sharpness is retained. From a slightly overexposed photo, dropping the highlights will produce a perfectly useable photo with excellent detail.
To us, this is Leica’s best M camera to date, for digital. The M10 Monochrom hits all the notes, great low light performance, quiet, looks fantastic and more. This camera is about the process, about the joy of photography and it does that excellently.
More information about the Leica M10 Monochrom (S$12,800) can be found on Leica’s website.