Leica M10 Monochrom Review | The world of digital cameras

by Kelvin

Only Leica is brave enough to make a camera that shoots only black and white. When the German company first introduced the first Leica M Monochrom in 2012, many imagined that it was just one of the special edition cameras that would fade away as soon as it arrived.

But now in full association of all three, and various special editions on the way, the Leica Monocrom dynasty established itself as a kind of news camera. Monochrom recreated the feelings of the past when the best documentary photographers used surveillance cameras with one or two main lenses and rolls of black and white film.

  

Last in the line is the Leica M10 Monochrom, which adds capacity by adding a 40-megapixel resolution sensor, which has been specifically designed for this camera, and does not have the usual color and low-pass filters of mirrors without mirror and rival DSLR cameras.

Driving

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

This camera is without a doubt the Leica, with a solid and heavy metal body that looks and a field designed with precision and assembled by hand, and could even be worth the price.

Interestingly, the Leica brand is left to offer this model. There are no red dots, no Leica logo on the top plate, and no color on the buttons. It's as smooth as possible… but the classic rangefinder design and Leica M-range still make it clear that this camera is from Wetzlar.

The play buttons are all mechanical. This means that you can manage ISO, choose the aperture and shutter speed settings (manual or automatic), even before turning on the camera.

The focus is completely manual, regardless of the lens you use. The viewer that focuses on surveillance is a must if you have never used this before … because you are using the center area to get a secondary ghost image to align with the main viewer image. In fact, many camera users use a zone focus system, setting the camera up front for subjects from a certain distance.

An alternative technique, shared with the Leica M10-P, which was largely borrowed from the design of this camera, is to use a three-inch LCD touchscreen in LiveView mode to critically adjust focus so you know the camera is locked. correctly.

One of the unique features of this family of cameras is that you must completely remove the motherboard to access a single SD card slot or battery… You must change the metal plate in some way when you change the cards.

performance

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

The main advantage of the new version of Monochrom is its high resolution. It has a 40.8 megapixel sensor specifically designed for black and white photography, so you don't have to use color filters or demo algorithms to create your images. Each photosite directly matches the resulting pixel, and that means a jump in effective resolution compared to the color sensor. And there is also no anti-aliasing filter, which increases the sharpness of the camera.

The 40-megapixel resolution may seem overkill for a camera that's especially appealing to documentaries and street photographers, but the added detail means it has plenty of ability to crop your image (offsetting the fact that you could use this camera with a primary lens). ).

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

Based on a ten-minute photo shoot on a gray street in London's Covent Garden, we are impressed with the image details and the ability to take advantage of the wide dynamic range that this camera can demonstrate.

The disadvantage of the unique black and white sensor is that it cannot use color channels to enhance and darken certain tones; you cannot use blues in images, for example to darken the sky. However, image processing is somewhat nostalgic, basically using old-school avoidance and recording techniques to shift emphasis and extract detail from files.

The 40 megapixel file you recorded has a lot of detail: the average JPEG is around 19MB, and the Raw DNG file is around 50MB per piece.

Leica M10 monochrome samples

(Image credit: Chris George / World of Digital Cameras)

(Image credit: Chris George / World of Digital Cameras)

(Image credit: Chris George / World of Digital Cameras)

(Image credit: Chris George / World of Digital Cameras)

(Image credit: Chris George / World of Digital Cameras)

(Image credit: Chris George / World of Digital Cameras)

(Image credit: Chris George / World of Digital Cameras)

Initial decision

The Leica Rangefinder, in the digital and autofocus era, is an acquired taste, but one that still has a large following. Leica M10 Monochrom takes this specialty a step further by shooting only in black and white. However, the combination of an old-school focus system is only capable of shooting strangely attractive black and white.

This is a camera that simplifies the process of taking photos and forces you to focus on one thing. Is it worth paying the high price for a camera that offers an apparently limited set of shooting possibilities for most people? But you can be sure that the high resolution offered by the latest Monochrom will ensure that this camera will be on the back for some time.

• Pre-order Leica M10 Monochrom at B&H Photo
• Leica M10 Monochrom Reserve in Adorama
• Pre-order Leica M10 Monochrom at Park Cameras

Read more
The best Leica camera in 2020
The best full-frame camera in 2020
David Yarrow explains why black and white are best

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