D850 user gets to play with a Leica M10.

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TonyJohns Regular Member • Posts: 223
D850 user gets to play with a Leica M10.

Hi all... my name is Tony. I know its strange posting about a Leica on this forum, however I just wanted to share my experience with anyone who is a Nikon full frame user like myself that might have ever been curious as to what its like to shoot with a Leica - in this case a Leica M10. I was lucky to have one rented to me recently and thought it would be worth it to share my thoughts.

Im a Nikon shooter.. started with the D600. About just under a year ago I managed to purchase a D850. I wanted a second camera body because I hated changing lenses during my trips and I wanted something with better autofocus. The D850 is a camera whose capabilities I will never exceed. I was blown away by the difference in resolution. Its one thing reading it on paper and another seeing the extra detail captured compared to my 24 megapixel D600. It is a truly exceptional camera that in terms of functionality I doubt I will need anything extra for my needs.

About two months ago, I noticed some of the pictures a friend of mine put up. I knew he shot with a Leica. I have honestly never myself been interested in one previously. I got to play with an M8 a while ago for about 5 minutes and I hated the rangefinder mechanism. It confused me greatly why anyone would purchase a very expensive camera and then have to manual focus. I thought it was pretty ridiculous. But for some reason... about 2 months ago I noticed my friend's pictures somehow were different. I was taken aback by how beautifully the background melted away from the subject. I couldn't help but notice that almost "3D" look that was just somehow different to what I could capture with my nikon cameras and lenses. I have an 85mm 1.4g, a 50mm 1.4g and a 16-35mm f4 as well as a 35mm Tamron 1.8.

So after making a few calls I managed to eventually rent one for few days...

Now before I actually held one, I had a few questions of my own regarding Leicas.

1. Why are they so darn pricey?

2. Whats the point of no autofocus?

3. How difficult is it to use a rangefinder?

4. Is this just a rich man's toy?

5. Is the image quality really that good?

I had read all the hate comments that normally follow any new announcement from Leica within this website. I had always assumed the major gripe from people was regarding the price. Either way, I was curious so I just had to see it for myself.


1. its a ridiculously good looking camera. I know thats pretty subjective.. but its difficult not to fall in love with the retro look.

2. It's light and heavy at the same time - in the sense that its much lighter than a DSLR but at the same time it feels heavier than it looks.

3. The grip on the standard camera is not really that comfortable if one is used to holding a DSLR. I love the grip on the D850 and even more so on the D5. As much as I appreciated the smaller size and lightness of the Leica, I can't say i loved the grip of the M10.

4. It feels really well built.

5. The size of the lens compared to a DSLR lens is much smaller and adds to the weight advantage.


1. The biggest learning curve is using the rangefinder.. the first day it was quite frustrating..I kept thinking how anyone could use it for street photography when it just takes so long to get focus. I used the camera's own viewfinder the whole time as the rental did not come with an electronic viewfinder. I have to say though that after the 3rd day, I eventually started getting the hang of it. One definitely gets faster using it the more you practice. The strange thing is though.. that it starts to feel almost like a challenge after a while.. and one that I actually started enjoying.

2. It is extremely accurate at focussing. There are times with an SLR where I have sometimes seen back focus or front focussing when using autofocus. With the rangefinder its just extremely accurate once you manage to get used to the mechanism.

3. The shutter sound - this is going to sound ridiculous... I just never knew a shutter could sound that good! Im not sure if it has a quiet shutter mode.. but the shutter sound is really really good.. almost inspiring!

4. It slows down your photography. This surprised me... in that I enjoyed it. I initially was preoccupied with the thought of "missing the moment" while fiddling with the camera settings. But in actual fact, I somehow felt more involved in the shooting experience. I can see why people have struggled to explain this point to someone like me who had never actually shot with one before. But after using one now I slowly began to understand. A DSLR can sometimes feel like a point and shoot.. they've become so easy to use. I think with the Leica, the combination here of manually setting aperture, iso, and shutter speeds together with manually focusing with the rangefinder, one feels more involved with the process of actually taking a shot and you do feel a sense of reward when you get it right. A positive consequence of you actually working for your photos is that you actually end up with less random shots than when shooting with a DSLR.

5. I haven't tried to see if this is also possible with the D850, but I like that one can choose to shoot in RAW and JPEG and have the JPEG specifically captured in monochrome. One can additionally then adjust the contrast and sharpness specifically for the monochrome JPEG image while the RAW image remains unaffected. This is particularly great for this camera because it captures beautiful Black and Whites straight out of the camera.

6. A very important thing I noticed almost immediately when I was just shooting people outdoors with it is that they are much less intimidated by the Leica than when I used a DSLR. I guess the size does play a part in that, but it was nice to be able to take picture of people naturally without them being influenced by the sighting of bigger camera and often they hardly noticed at all.


a) I shot a few pictures with the lens cap on accidentally - the reason is that you can still see through the viewfinder even when the lens cap is on and so you can be completely unaware of it, something that would never happen with an DSLR.

b) The viewfinder itself - this is not so much a negative as it is something to get used to especially during composition. You do see lines in the viewfinder that represent the borders of the frame of the image you will capture, but then you do see outside those lines as well, so one needs to be conscious the whole time of framing correctly. Very often a focus and recompose technique is required.

c) The lack of good grip does take a toll if you have been shooting with it for a while.

d) It can be a difficult camera to use initially if one is used to the automaticity of a DSLR. This can be frustrating initially.. but I feel like it only gets better with practice.

e) Auto white balance in artificial light wasn't really the greatest. But that is also true of some other cameras as well.


Ultimately this was what I really wanted to see for myself. For all the other discussions around price, autofocus, etc etc.. this was what I really cared about. And honestly there is only one way to describe it - mind-blowing.

Even the most boring, random images you capture somehow look dreamy. I shot with a 50mm 1.4 summilux. I quickly realised one thing about Leicas... they are meant to be shot wide open. The sharpness one gets when shooting wide open is simply second to none. The image quality is staggering. It is obvious with almost the first shot you take that they capture beautifully. I love how they capture render highlights.. and even when the highlights have been blown, it somehow does not seem to affect the normally exposed parts of the image.. there is not much "bleeding" so to speak.

I have often blindly tried to see online whether I could spot a leica image from another, and its often not really possible. Shooting with it however and seeing images that you yourself have captured, its impossible not to notice the 3d effect. Perhaps the most surprising thing was how good the images were straight out of camera. The more I shot with it, the more I loved it.

Ultimately thats really what its about... Image quality. Quite honestly, they are in a different league, even compared to the d850. Thats why people seem to go on about them. There is always a lot of noise surrounding Leica's, but one thing after using it first hand that I can't deny, is that it simply has the best image quality.

Would I sell my Nikon gear for it? I don't think so because I think they are two different cameras for two different purposes.. but one thing I have decided for sure, is that sooner or later, I will definitely own a Leica, and it is simply because their image quality is second to none.

I have included 4 images below that will sadly not reflect the camera's true potential

a) Sculpture shot in daylight around 2pm.

d) Another BnW Sculpture shot:

c) Black and white of our helper Margaret:

ISO 800

d) Raw image unedited - straight from camera - only cropped. To my eyes, it has a 3D look

ISO 3200

Leica M10 Nikon D5 Nikon D600 Nikon D850
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