Leica M10-R Black Paint
A year ago I bought my first digital Leica M camera, a Leica M10-R Black Paint version and I’ve used it just about every day in the time I’ve had it so far. I’d held off from buying any digital Leica M for a couple of reasons, I’ve been a committed Leica MP film camera user for the past 16 years at the time of writing this and there always seemed to be something not quite the same with Leica M digital cameras.
Variously they either felt too bloated or had poor high iso and dynamic range performance and the M8 & M9 were, seriously flawed for reasons that are well-known.
On it’s release, I saw the M10 as a landmark M digital in that it returned to similar dimensions as most film M cameras and to me this was a step forward that I had been waiting for
I waited to see how the M10 was received and how it would develop with alternative options. All the reviewers, at least the one or two that I can be bothered with, seemed to praise the M10. When the M10-R Black Paint version was announced, the increased 40mp resolution, fairly good high iso and dynamic range performance and the black paint finish were immediately attractive to me.
Despite the fact that the release of the M11 was imminent, I ordered an M10-R Black Paint from the Leica Shop within a week of Leica announcing the black paint edition had sold out.
I’m pleased with my purchase and I’m also comfortable with my decision to eschew the M11, a camera I see as an interim model, somewhat immature and with some operational quirks that irritate me. I’ll await the M12 with interest in expectation of a more rounded camera than the M11 is.
Leica M10-R as a camera for travel
Part of our decision to leave England behind for our new life in the Outer Hebrides in 2020 is that we wanted more time together, less pressure to work and more opportunities for travel, and, pandemics notwithstanding, the M10-R is a good digital camera globe-trotting option. The M10-R won’t need much of an external description for anyone familiar with Leica M rangefinder cameras and once familiarised with the controls and menus, the transition from using a film Leica M to a digital Leica M is intuitive. Seamless, actually.
My trusty black paint film MP is mine for life, but it’s also nice to now have a choice between digital and film cameras that are pretty much the same, just different! Put the black paint MP and M10-R black paint side-by-side and the family pedigree could not be more clear. Aesthetically they’re a good match.
Our first adventure came a couple of months after I bought my Leica M10-R Black Paint when we went on a cycle tour in Sri Lanka in February 2022. Actually, we spent a couple of weeks cycle touring in the Central Highlands and another couple of weeks backpacking and travelling by train, taxi, bus and tuk-tuk.
We lived like Royalty at the Hill Club, like hippies in home-shares and loved everything in between. We had a great time with experiences and sights that have left us with many good memories of Sri Lanka, frequently relived when we look at the images I made with the Leica M10-R.
New Leica lenses for the Leica M10-R Black Paint
Along with the M10-R Back Paint, I also decided to invest in three new Leica lenses. I liked the look of the 28mm summicron safari edition in olive green and the sliding lens hood was a welcome and more sensible change, for travel, than the absurd plastic hood that came with my 28mm summicron asph v1. I part exchanged my old v1 for the new 28mm safari edition, the 50mm summicron safari edition and the 90mm apo-summicron safari edition.
Purists will probably disagree with me but I really like the colour combination of a Leica M10-R Black Paint body with an olive green safari edition summicron! It’s an expensive set of three lenses and I could have saved myself several thousands of pounds by keeping my v1 28mm summicron asph and buying used equivalent black 50mm & 90mm summicron lenses, but I like my olive green set of three summicrons.
I don’t intend to sell them and I’ll only die once!
The recurring question!
‘What are the best single/two/three focal length lenses for travel?’
Questions similar to this seem to crop up regularly on forums and in photography groups, I doubt anyone can answer that in any other way than from their own experience and preferences. For myself, the classic 28mm, 50mm and 90mm set is perfectly adequate for most of my purposes.
These are Leica summicron lenses, which I prefer over larger aperture summilux lenses. I’ve also previously taken just a 28mm or 35mm and a 75mm as a lightweight 2-lens set, again all summicrons, but I find three lenses to be more useful than two. I tend to use the 28mm summicron asph the most followed by the 90mm apo-summicron and the 50mm summicron (in that order).
The M10-R as a travel camera
If you’ve read through this, you’ll probably see that I’m happy with my choice of Leica M10-R Black Paint. There isn’t a lot more to say, if you’re familiar with Leica M rangefinder cameras, for my purposes the M10 and M10-R are subjectively closer to the original Leica M ethos than any other digital M. If the evolution of the Leica M rangefinder progresses on the course set by the M11, then the M10-R may be the last of the line as far as the nod to the past with it’s optical viewfinder, removable baseplate, iso knob and frame selector lever goes.
Time will tell, but for now and for myself, if I’m not going to take my MP and a enough film for the journey with me, the the M10-R Black Paint is a perfectly good enough digital camera for my travels.
Yes, I would buy the same again!