Alternative views on the Leica world by Erwin Puts

Corrections for the new Pocket Guide

Here are the corrections known since the date of the print:


Cameras: Originally planned: 4.888.905 - 4.888.920 (M3D always without the dash between 3 and D, so NOT "M3-D“!)

4.915.005 - 4.915.020 were finally used

M Mocnochrom (Typ 246) in silver for Leica Historica e.V.

Cameras: 4.969.001 - 4.969.040

Lenses: 4.969.001 - 4.969.040 for the APO-Summicron M 1:2/90 mm ASPH. in silver (same serial numbers used for the lenses as for the bodies)

The Leica M10-D in practice.

I used the camera with and without the FOTOS App.
Leica promotes the Leica Photos application as the modern (digital) interface between the smartphone and the camera. With the WIFI enabled on both the camera and the smartphone (an iPhone 5S in my situation) the screen of the phone is a substitute for the monitor display of the regular M10 and M10-P. It is an unpractical solution. Holding the camera in one hand and the phone in the second hand (that is all normal humans have), you cannot focus rapidly. The only practical solution is the fixed distance setting while changing the distance with your arm advancing more or less. This is by the way the classic solution for street photographers who fix the distance setting to exactly 1,75 or 2 meters and change the physical distance between camera and object to focus sharply. The other option is to lay down the phone and handle the camera with both hands. Problem now is that the small screen requires you to position the phone close to your eye. Perhaps with a large screen of more recent smartphones there is more to see.

The best option is to use the camera on tripod and then to activate the app. For photography on the run with dynamic scenery the app is not suitable. Then the classical choice of the view/rangefinder is the best way to operate the camera.
When the app is activated there are a few selections to make in Live Mode: The File Format and Resolution (when using JPG) can be selected as are the metering options (spot, center-weighted and multi-field) and the White balance (hardly ever necessary to select one as the DNG option lets you select the colour balance on the computer.
The camera settings can be found under (obviously) the Settings tab. Here you find most of the menu options that are available to the user of the M10(-P).
The most natural option is to use the camera without the App and rely on the viewfinder. There are a few, but useful indications in the finder area, like number of remaining pictures, the battery capacity and the shutter speed (in A-mode). Also the flash symbols are visible.
The finder is very clear and the bright (white) lines of the frames are well lit. The illumination is by LED's but the frame lines are projected by physical masks. An electronic option would be possible.
Knowing that the camera is digital, gives the initial impulse to look at the monitor after taking a picture. This impulse is soon repressed.
The camera's simplicity and the lack of the monitor have seduced many commentators to apply the designation 'analog' to the handling. This impression is intensified by the little lever that works as a thumb support. As a support there may be improvements possible, because ergonomically the support does not function quite well. You need all fingers of one hand for a firm grip of the camera and after some time, walking around with the thumb behind the lever, the camera starts to slip because of fatigue. Perhaps with more exercise?
The very low shutter noise makes it hard to know when exactly the shutter has been fired. The counter that indicates the number of remaining pictures helps! The classical portait session when the sitter relaxes after hearing the shutter firing and the photographer quickly shoots another picture to capture the relaxed pose has vanished. It should not be difficult to include an option in future updates to increase the shutter noise.
The general operational features and the performance of the M10-D are similar to the standrad m10 and need not to be discussed. The main topic of the M10-D is its analogue feeeling.If (and this is a big IF) we assume that the delay between taking and viewing the picture is the defining characteristic of the chemical/physical process than there is some logic in treating the M10-D as the analogue version of the digital camera. But this delay is an illusion. As soon as the smartphone is activated we can see the results. When there is no smartphone, the direct access to the laptop will do the job. The Polaroid effect we do not have: there is always a time lag between taking the picture and looking at the finished picture. The essence of the chemical/physical process is not the immediacy of controlling the result, but the risk factor and the lack of flexibility. First the risk factor. There is always the chance that the picture goes wrong: exposure setting is wrong, chance element is not controlled, unsuitable developer has been selected and so on. The inspection of the film strip after development always produces surprises. The most important negatives are unusable. The digital process on the other hand gives fool-proof results: there is always the software that comes to the rescue.
The lack of flexibility is the second characteristic of the chemical/physical process. Before we start taking pictures, we have to select the film (negative or slide, colour of bw, low speed or high speed). When the selected film is the wrong one, we are lost. In the digital world, even with the M10-D, we can select auto ISO and we gain lots of flexibility. When taking pictures (handheld) with ISO 100 bw film, we may be confronted with low shutter speeds: the choice then is under exposure or blurred images. A change of ISO settings as on the M10-D is impossible when using the M-A. There is a limited option to under expose and use a suitable developer to increase the density but this procedure has other problems.
The basic fact is that the M10-D produces numerical virtual files and the M-A produces (after a lengthy process) fixed physical negatives. The result is different and the process is different.
Claiming that the M10-D invites the user to the analogue world is an illusion. The simple fact that there is no darkroom involved when processing M10-D images says it all. The analogue mentality is absent when using the M10-D. To understand the difference, compare the handling and workflow of the M10-D with the M-A or even M3 from picture taking to the printing stage.
The emphasis on the analogue feeling has obscured the real merits of the M10-D. The operational environment is differen from the M10 and previous digital models. The inability to check the result immediately is a fine reminder of the fact that risk and chance are elements to confront in the photographic workflow. The fake transport lever as a thumb rest is evidently a suggestive feature that is unmasked after the first release of the shutter and the immediate motorized tensioning of the springs.

M10-D sound level

General comments:
(1)The usual measurement is in dB, but this is a relative measure compared to the standardized threshold of just audible human hearing. The absolute measurement is related to the maximum possible recording value of the instrument. These values are generally minus values. I calculated a correction factor to convert the negative values of the recording instrument into positive values of the usual dB measure.
(2) I made five measurements per shutter speed, measuring the minimum, maximum and average values. In all cases I used the RMS values, because these give a more reliable result.
(3) I noted that there is a substantial variation between samples, not only with the mechanically governed shutters, but also the electronically controlled ones. Therefore I used the average value of all measurements per shutter speed.
(4) The variation between shutter speeds (1/4; 1/60; 1/250/1/1000 sec) is minor, at least at 1 meter distance. Example: the M Monochrom II has max dB values of 47.86; 51.55; 51.58; 51.30. The M3, often accepted as the quietest rangefinder camera has max dB values of 54.88; 54.46; 53.53; 53.53. The higher level noise of the 1/4 sec is caused by the additional sound of the retarding gears. The M7 has dB values of: 52.99; 51.96; 51.88; 51.80.
The loudest camera is the Canon L1. The dB values are: 59.25; 61.73; 60.92; 60.41. The Canon has the loudest shutter, but the variation between samples is negligible. To simplify the results I selected the 1/60 sec as the reference speed.
(5) Some typical sound levels: normal conversation: 60 dB; humming of refrigerator: 45 dB; noise level of typical urban roads daytime is 55 dB and night time is 50dB; a quiet library is 40 dB.
Below are the values of all tested cameras with the max RMS power at 1/60 sec.
Canon VI-L——————————— 61.73
Leica M-A——————————— 54.82
Leica M3———————————- 54.46
Leica M7—————————— 51.96
Leica Mono II———————- 51.55
Leica M8.2 standard———————— 49.09
Leica M8.2 discrete———————— 49.92
Leica M10-D———————— 42.00

It is evident that the M10-D is the quietest. A picture taken with the M10-D in a quiet library is still audible. But every camera, with the exception of the Canon is inaudible in normal conditions, like conversations and urban streets in day lime. The M3 and M-A are for all intents and purposes equal. The M7 has a remarkable low level and compares favorably to the MMono II (and presumably all versions of the M240). The M8.2 in discrete mode is louder than in standard mode. The discrete mode is identical to the standard mode, but with a time lag for the sound of the closing blades.
For a correct interpretation of the figures it should be noted that the equipment has a tolerance of 1 dB and the figures should be rounded to the first decimal. The usual interpretation tells you that a difference of 3dB represents a doubling or halving of the sound level. Note also that the peak noise is the sound of the brake: a rather short sharp click. The cameras with the Copal shutter have a more subdued noise that is more pleasant for the average person.

M10-D review: Intro

There is very little difference between the performance and image quality of the M10, M10-P and M10-D. The main difference is the handling and the approach to (digital) photography. Leica stresses the fact that the M10-D has the most quiet shutter release of any Leica rangefinder camera and enables un-conspicuous photography. I used a dedicated sound meter to check this claim and compared the noise of the M10-D with a number of other cameras (M3, M7, M-A, M8.2, M 246 and Canon L1) The distances were 10cm and 1 metre. The shutter speeds were 1/4, 1/60, 1/250 and 1/1000. I used the dB-C . All camera used the same lens and the analog models were additionally fitted with a film cartridge to fill the hollow space of the body. The loudest camera was the Canon L1. The M10-D was indeed the most quiet. The mechanical braking has been presumably replaced by an electronic one.
The complete shutter sound consists of two distinct components: the (softer) release of the first curtain and the (louder) braking of the second curtain. When using faster speeds, both sounds merge into one complex sound level.
Normal conversation level peaks at about 60 dB-A and the urban sound scape varies between 56 and 95 dB-A with an average of 73 dB-A. Even the loudest camera would be below the normal sound level on the street for un-conspicuous recording. Only when taking pictures in a very quiet library the sound would be detected.
The second important characteristic of the M10-D is the lack of the monitor which is supposed to emulate the idea of an analog camera where you also cannot check the results immediately. My first impression after using the camera for over a week is different. The fact that the M10-D has an adjustable ISO speed feature and an electro-magnetic shutter release button gives a non-analog experience. Add the fact that you do need to rewind the film and with the knowledge that after 36 exposures you do not have to load another cartridge which give you a digital experience. The acid test of the analog workflow is the proper exposure and the choice of developer and development time. This connection is not existent when walking the digital path. Proper exposure is much less critical because of the latitude of the sensor and the power of the software.
In my second part I will comment on this feature and also the use of the Leica Fotos App.
The noise patterns were recorded with Adobe Audition. The study of these recorded signals takes some time and needs the consultancy of an expert

New Pocket Guide

I have been inspired by the famous Bredow pocket "Leica Tashenbuch'. I produced a new book: "Leica Pocket Guide 1953 - 2018".
The content:
listings of price development of selected Leica cameras and lenses since 1998;
listings of all serial numbers since 1950 to 2016 of cameras and lenses;
a Leica time table;
specifications of all Leica cameras since 1953
specifications of all current Leica lenses (S.SL, M, Q, TL, CL)
lens diagrams of all current Leica lenses
pictures of selected special M editions
pictures of all Leica cameras since 1953
and more

The book is A6 format: 105 x 148 mm, 280 pages thick, bound and with an imitation leather soft cover.

The idea is that you can carry the book with you at all times and quickly can reference details you did forget.

Below is a sample of images

The price of the book is Euro 19.95 excluding shipment cots. I am at this moment discussing the shipment fee. Y
It is a limited edition. You can preorder the book on the shop tag.

The book" The Leica way in 21C will be published soon!