I heard it all before, it is not worth the money, it is a camera made for people with too much money and too little ability, it is a status symbol. And the crazy bit, each of these has an element of truth into it. The Leica camera is ridiculously priced and I did not purchase it for a full year after it came out. I could not bring myself to part with the money. I love my Leica ME and the M10 did not introduce too many new features that I absolutely needed.
But this year my wife and I celebrated 20 years of wedding happiness. When she asked me what I wanted, I could not think of anything else. With so many of my fellow photographers criticizing the purchase of the Leica M10, I thought I would openly explain my logic.
The answer can be found deep in my Lightroom archives. A few years ago, I wanted to see if it was necessary to carry three massive lenses on vacation. I was shooting my Nikon D800 and usually took a 70-200mm, 24-70mm and 14-24mm lenses. So I went back to my previous three vacations, and had Lightroom tell me how many of the pictures I took were taken with each lens. My next vacation I left the 70-200mm lens at home. Nice simple. I love the lens but I was not shooting it very much and it was not worth taking.
A few months ago I was looking back at some of my favorite images and I noticed an odd trend. The vast majority of my favorite images were taken with the Leica ME. I had several favorite images shot with my Nikon D800, however these were images I had planned, set up and prepared for. This was with the full tripod, remote trigger, lens filters and so forth.
In fact, it would have been much cheaper if I never saw the difference between one camera and another. But I did. When I walk around with a Leica ME I do not really feel that I have a camera. I feel that it is part of me and that people will not be bothered with my use of it. When I pick up my Nikon D800, I am clearly shooting and I know people will be bothered with such a massive camera pointing at them.
This picture above is an example of what I am talking about. It is not a wonderful picture, but it is a picture I would never have taken with the Nikon D800. I took this picture, and several others, and the man to my right never even looked at me. These are the kinds of pictures that I take with my Leica that I do not take with my DSLR.
This picture above is one of my all time favorite shots. I was in Covent Garden and was wondering around trying to get a good shot. Not sure what it is with Covent Garden, but it is a wonderful place that is frustratingly difficult to shoot. As I wandered around, I saw this entertainment show. Now I should explain that there are shows there everyday and they are selected carefully. Only the best of the performances are allowed there.
I found myself near the wall of a Church that sits opposite the Garden. As I turned I noticed that a show as starting and I was behind the performer. My instinct was to move but while I did, I pulled my Leica ME up and snapped a single shot and then I walked off for the show to start.
This image would never have been captured without a Leica and what is worse, I would not have gotten a good image of the Garden.
This is what a Leica M gives me. It gives me the ability to shoot images I want to shoot, but a DSLR makes it impossible to shoot. So if I wanted to continue to shoot the images that I want to then I needed to continue shooting a Leica.
So why buy the M10? Simply put, I wanted the better low light capabilities and it delivers. I would not have gotten it if it had come with a EVF, or some other gimmick. I wanted a simple camera that got out of my way and allowed me to forget it was there.
Is it worth the $7500 price tag? For me it is. I am willing to pay this to continue to shoot the images that I love.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.