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Friday, 10 June 2022

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Nice write up. That beautiful simplicity is exactly what the new Austrian owner and chairman was always saying in his advertisements (Dr Kaufmann). But you are describing a camera that was essentially designed in around 1910 and slightly refined in the following decades. Both Canon and Nikon made very similar cameras at the time. So it is not that they cannot make them. I think it is just that the world has moved on to the smartphone age and only old geezers would still think of buying simple cameras that you actually need to know how to use properly, with no automation. Maybe that is too much for the younger generation to learn. And too little market for a listed company.

Well, simplicity comes with limitations. That's why Leica is not the preferred tool for a lot of genres of photography, and a lot of tech inside modern cameras is related to AF.

But you can set modern cameras in MF mode or adapt manual lenses. At least for Fujifilm, you can program it to have a similar simple control process, with their lenses having the aperture ring and bodies having the traditional dials. Fujifilm X-E4 also has very sparse buttons.

I've given up on camera manufacturers delivering a minimalist still-only body with virtually no menus to get lost in. I still resent all the buttons and switches that pertain to video, not to mention the pages and pages of menus for video and sound. I've never shot a second of video and never will.

What could happen but most likely won't is for my current gear's (Fujifilm) company to produce just a few fully manual lenses with accurate DOF Mark's and a hard stop at infinity that actually corresponds to infinity. I really miss using a wide to semi-wide lens set for a zone that allows for quick grab shots on the street or accurate hyperfocal settings for deep focus scenes. If Fujifilm would put out say a 16mm and 23mm manual focus lens about the size of the Fujicrons, I could ignore the clutter of the video controls and be very happy.

I dunno. I find the standard SonCaNikonOlymPanasonic style buttons and front and back electronic dial interface to be pretty simple to use while shooting. Meanwhile, I find top mounted shutter speed dials like on this Leica to be the worst. To each their own.

Most of the complexity in the high function digital cameras comes from issues of controlling complicated automatic systems (mostly focus, but other things too) or dealing with the various ways people have become accustomed to customizing the camera's various automatic systems to their liking.

Leica of course does not have to do this because there is no automation. Getting rid of automation, somewhat paradoxically, always makes cameras simpler to use.

So anyway the answer to the big question is ... not really ... Leica can do this because this is the envelope of functionality and interface design that the Leica audience expects. No one else can do this because they have to make more complicated cameras for their particular audiences.

I bet the Leica setup menus are just as bad as everyone else's. 🙂

Granted that the Fuji X cameras are APS-C, have video and a cluttered menu, but they also share many of the features that are present in the M10 Leica. I have never shot anything but stills on the X-T4. For me, having video is easily ignored. The Fuji can be configured to one's preferences and then forgotten. Shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation all have dedicated dials. Plus, Leica has entered the megapixel game. The X-T4's 26 megapixels is more than sufficient. What it come down to for me is $1700 or $9000. Opinions, of course, will differ.

Great rant, and I can relate. I love purpose-built, streamlined, intentional tech that does just what I want it to do, without a lot of cruft and distraction. But as I thought about it, I started to consider the other side of things.

I use a Sony A7RIV, which has all kinds of stuff I don't usually want or use. But I've simplified and tailored its controls to a bare minimum. In my use it's not all that different from what you describe with the Leica. Back button focus, so that stays locked by default. Easy dial access to exposure compensation. Good ergonomics. Look, focus, shoot. Simple, dependable, intuitive. (Not even gonna get into sensor quality, autofocus excellence, etc.)

Somebody else would set the camera up in a completely different way. This is a particular product design philosophy, obviously. Everything but the kitchen sink is provided, requiring initial customization and familiarization. But the camera lends itself to purposeful simplicity in the end, if that's what you want. That's how I use it.

I'm paying some premium for all the electronics and engineering I don't use, or only use once in a while. But that's nothing compared to the Leica premium....

"Why aren't there any "beautifully simple" cameras outside of Leicas?"

For the same reason that there is only one Miata.

Mike --

i am sure that many will point out to you that Nikon tried, nine years ago, to go down this road: the Df. It had no video and, with its metal dial centered interface tried to cross a contemporary DSLR with an F3 and FM body. It was equipped with the same sensor as the then-top Nikon D4 and -- glory be! -- it had the mount lever to inter-connect with (then) 55 years' worth of Nikon F mount glass! (But no AF for those optics of course.) Yes, it was somewhat obese due to the needs needs of the digital insides.

For all that it was a sales disaster. It was hard for consumers to see paying roughly twice as much as a contemporary D610 for metal controls and no video. And the simple truth is that, optically, AIS MF Nikkor glass isn't all that great with a modern digital sensor's pitch. Ouch, that was a hard sentence for the owner of a shelf worth of AIS lenses to write. We tend to overlook how much resolution has improved since 2000 between the digital sensors and better optics. That was nine years ago; the bar is even higher now.

Mike, you asked a reasonable question but I think that the industry could fairly state that they've tried and the market doesn't respond.

-- gary ray

Great post, Mike. But, as lovely as the M-10 is there are rather a lot of things it just won't do. I tend to define a tool by what it can and cannot do as much as by how easy it is to do it. The list of things the M-10 can do is long but the list of things it cannot do is long as well.

I agree with you that cameras should be simpler to operate, and they should be available without the needless complexity of video (I cannot even understand all the formats for video) but the image is the final product so if simplicity aids in that, great, if not, one needs look for a different solution. It may make sense that as a Veblen good, the one-trick pony nature of the M-10 makes sense to those who can afford it. So, what can it do really well?

Cameras today are a bit like Photoshop, they can do anything and can do it fifty different ways. Those of us who use Photoshop customize it for our own use. It is the same with complex cameras. I have not been inside the menus of my Sony a7R4 for a long time. It is set up to do what I want in different arenas, eg setting 1, landscape, tripod, no IBIS, electronic shutter, etc; setting 2 hand held, IBIS, mechanical shutter for those pesky LED bulbs that produce banding, and on. It works rather well. I do not even know how to set it up for video, not relevant to what I photograph.

So enjoy the M-10, I'm jealous. Leicas are lovely to hold and handle. I'll keep my Sony... for the price of the Leica body to say nothing of the pretty but rather dear lenses, I can get a Sony/Canon/Nikon body and enough lenses to do a wide variety of photographic tasks.

You may say I've missed the point, and maybe I have. Everyone approaches their photography differently. I and most of my friends who grew up with a 4x5 and a couple of lenses have moved on to the "simplicity" of digital imaging. Very few want to return to film but some do and seem to enjoy it. "Have fun" is the only mantra for a non-professional

Two things:
(i) This is why I prefer Fuji – the simple controls are there, and I can ignore everything else.
(ii) "Danger Will Robinson" is a thing again, on Netflix. Though the robot doesn't say it enough for my taste.

It’s not just the M design; Leica’s design priorities apply (and are increasingly shared) across product lines. This includes control (and menu) simplicity: see S, SL and Q systems. And now even the easy battery access and removal (no more M base plate) across systems.

Viewfinders - how one sees the subject- is another priority: perhaps the best optical VF in the S; state of the art EVF going back to the original SL, and now SL2; and the beautiful window on the world provided by the M.

Lens quality is of course another priority. I only wish that the compactness, and mechanical aperture rings, of M lenses carried over to other product lines. But M lenses can be used on the SL bodies.

I’ve used 11 camera brands since the 70’s, but only Leica has remained a constant throughout. Simply, their priorities have most closely matched my own. M digital bodies (including the Monochroms… another shared priority) and the SL2 now serve all my photo needs. These may cost a lot, but I no longer spend on alternatives. Less is more in retirement.

I was afraid that you would love the Leica, writing how wonderful and inspiring the camera is in use. I have never even held a Leica digital but for a couple of months I have been contemplating selling all of my cameras and lenses hoping to raise enough money to buy a Leica M10 without cutting into our bank account too deeply. Up to this point I have always come to the conclusion that I might be able to afford the camera but not the camera and one Leica lens.

So far, I have been able to resist the urge, the desire for simplicity and yes, trust. Your description of using the M10 now has me re-thinking the subject again.

Thank you very much, I think! :)

Glances over at the M 240 with a Canon 50/1.4 on it that I carry daily. Nods. Good summary. I'd never sell my other cameras; that said I almost never use them anymore. There is a certain freedom in this camera, that you've seen, and now that I have tasted it, I would hate to live without it.

Well, I think this partly why iPhone/Smartphone cameras are so popular. They have ease of use and fun factor.

Video on a Leica M? Wasn't possible with CCD sensors (M8 and M9), appeared briefly on the M[240}, but scurried away and has not been allowed anywhere near the M10 or M11.

Curse you! Now I have Leica envy.

All I need is the body. I've already managed to collect two Voigtlander lenses: a 21 mm f/1.8 Ultron and a 75 mm f/1.5 Nokton. Just give me a 28mm and a body and I'd be set.

Well said, Mr. Johnston!

I'm surprised the Hagerty article didn't mention Tom Matano, who actually designed the NA Miata (along with the FD RX-7 and other classic Mazdas). I typically see the two of them mentioned in tandem as being the creators of the Miata. See this episode of Jay Leno's Garage where he brings the two on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1qgtCt1jG0

Interesting and insightful post. It caused me to think about my Leica experiences. They were never bad, but usually disappointing.

Let me begin by getting the really ugly part out of the way. I never, with any lens or film, saw the slightest hint of glow. That's not because I'm blind, I also had a Contax G2, and photos from the licensed zeiss lenses were distinctive. The Leica lenses were good, but no better than my OM lenses.

That said, I had an M9. It was a nice camera, and a reminder that ergonomics are not dead. It is also a reminder that we have an oversupply of engineers and and marketing whizes, and a sad undersupply of industrial designers. Raymond Lowey is dead.

But alas, as good at taking photos as it was, the M9 had to go. I'm getting old, Moreso than you, Mike. And the damn thing was simply too heavy to hang around my neck.

Could it be made lighter? Sure, they could replace the depleted uranium frame with titanium. But here is bill's prediction for the future. Ain't gonna happen. Ain't gonna get any cheaper. It is not because the Leica is made from metals secretly mined on the moon, or that they are assembled by seriously OC Germans without aid from robots and not by grossly underpaid Asians with robots, it's simply that cameras are becoming the photographic equivalent of Italian supercars and private airplanes, the market is just too small.

Sorry to be the predictor of doom.

You have an odd definition of simplicity. With my Z cameras, set on "Auto" with autofocus on, all I have to do is put the camera to my eye and push a button. In almost all cases, the exposure is as good or better than I could have done manually, and the autofocus is far faster and more accurate than anything I could do. Although the line isn't distinct, I do think there's a difference between people who love cameras and people who love photography and photographs.

Saw this today on DP Review, Leica M10-P limited edition. When you look at it, think about the fact that some Leica shooters use to put black tape over the tiny red dot to remain stealthy. Also, I could buy 25 M6 bodies in 1990 for the price of this "camera".

Priorities.

https://www.dpreview.com/news/8306529262/leica-latest-limited-edition-camera-is-a-gold-plated-m6-kit-expected-to-sell-for-50k

Today I was at Appleby new fair with my friend. This is culturally (ethnically) appropriate for me, but he just goes because he likes making pictures of the interesting people and their horses. And he is a hippy (he hates hippies) of course.

About noon he had to leave for a bit so he could collapse in hysterical laughter. The expensive photographers (not the pros, who need to get their images in on the first day of the fair, yesterday) often arrive on Friday so they only have to take one day off their expensive jobs, and were two people – partners probably – with three Leicas between them. One of them was using the camera like a phone: looking at the screen on the back to take the picture and holding it at arm's length to do so. I saw this too but did not understand what it meant. This also caused him catastrophic laughter.

And this, we agree, is why no-one else makes cameras like this: the intersection between the set of people who can afford what is involved in making such a machine and the set of people who understand how to use one is very small. The set of people who might appreciate such a machine for what it is may be larger, but it is not large enough to bring the price down to a level where making one is justified for any manufacturer who can not fund such a thing by selling it to people who do not know how to use it but who do understand that it is the right make of machine for people of a certain standing to own.

–Zyni

In a word Fujifilm. Now this is not a Leica to sure but I think, especially with the X-Pro and X-100 series that they have done a pretty nice job of it when it come to parring down and I would say that photographers must be somewhere firmly in the mix with their design process. That said I once made the mistake of entering an actual Leica store (Washington DC) and worse yet picking up a M10 Monochrom. Fortunately I was in no way financially capable of being tempted. I still felt it wise to flee

Well, I never had a Leica. My point of reference in terms of simplicity would be the OM-1n and OM-3 cameras I used back in the film age. Currently, I use a Nikon D800 with AiS lenses and a Fuji X-T20 with the 18mm. Both cameras are set to manual exposure, and the Fuji additionally to manual focus. In terms of handling and general picture-making experience, I don't see a meaningful difference to the mentioned Olympus film SLR's. Probably this applies to any camera which allows for direct control of shutter speed, aperture and focus.

Best, Thomas

Mike

You wrote, "Even with Leica showing the way no one else can do it? No one cares to try to mimic the most prestigious camera brand in the world? Not one company has the courage to leave video off just one model?"

It's one of those things that baffles. Does "Stay on the safe side and don't rock the boat" explain why?

Leica seems to outshine the rest with, "Who dares wins"!

Dan K

Try an SL2. It's the same three button control layout on the back and the menus are quite similar. They do an exemplary job with the interface.

Wouldn’t another manufacturer sticking to beautiful simplicity just end up recreating the M10? Or perhaps the differentiation would be a lower price?

A few years back I heard Prince saying that the point of no return in the music business was when producers stopped being musicians and started being accountants. He said something about them even being unable to follow a basic rhythm.

I suspect that’s pretty much what happens in most major consumer business this days.

I agree with all the thoughts on the Leica simplicity but one. The iso dial. This is a clunky hangover from film days when the whole film needed to be set to a predetermined rating. To have a dial on top that needs to be lifted to be changed is nostalgia for old technology. It is actually a denial design/function mantra the camera claims to espouse. It's nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia rather than design based on simplicity and function.
For me, the Sony A7C is worth a close look. It depends though on the lenses you choose. It needs to be a lens with barrel mount aperture control.There are now plenty of these available that are small and good. The A7C has considerably less control buttons elsewhere cluttering things up, just that one at the top where your thumb wants it that gets sets for shutter. The whole package is small, quiet and fast.

Hi.

"*Highly dated Boomer reference..."

'Cept if you have Netflix. Rebooted in 2018, & three seasons to date.

Just thought I'd mentioned that, cos I refused to be dated. I remember hiding behind the couch (won't mention whether that was when it was in B&W or in December last year...)

Peace & all that/
Dean

I suppose simplicity is not for everyone. Most photographers are not Henry David Thoreau, and they seem to rather enjoy buttons, and knobs, and levers, and switches. And if their cameras were simple, God forbid, they might have to amuse themselves solely with the labor of photography. I know, I’m not Henry David Thoreau either.

I don’t yet own a Nikon Z9, but I know I could get lost for days just playing with the switchgear. Photography is too much work.

Leica M-D (Typ 262). A coterie of engineers must have come up by that name. The camera is brilliant, though.

This is not an new or unique opinion, but if one sets up one's modern compucam (I have Nikons and Fujifilms) to act as an old-fashioned manually controllable camera, the functionality is the same as the M10. The ergos, haptics, smallish size, and tendency to be ignored by the public can't match the M10, of course.

"So my mystification is this: why can't any other camera manufacturer willing to sell a camera at a normal price do anything within a country mile of this?"

Because they don't want to lose money.

"Why aren't there any "beautifully simple" cameras outside of Leicas? Is it that hard to do?"

Redundantly, and at considerable length: "Or is it just that it really is too difficult to do, and all the companies apart from Leica just don't have the ability? . . . or else they simply can't bring themselves to do it."

You show an almost complete lack of understanding of the economics of production. So pure that it's almost breathtaking.

The simple answer is that conceiving of and designing the kind of camera you want is not that hard. Engineering, tooling up and production of low volume goods at prices like those for similar, high volume products is impossible.

A lot of people believe that Leica's are Veblen goods, priced based on demand for prestige, not cost. But we really don't know that. If we knew their costs and sales volume, it might turn out that their prices are based on what's needed to avoid going bust.

The economics of production aren't as immutable as Newton's Laws of Motion, but they are right up there. To expect the sun not to set is bound to be a failure. Likewise the production and sale of the kind of product you long for, at the price you desire.

(BTW, that camera sounds awful, but you knew I wouldthink that. \;~)> )

"Not one company has the courage to leave video off just one model?"

Sigma Quattros (fixed lens 'dp' and ILC) don't have video. Also a very simple UI that works well with manual operation including focus.

And, despite the abject visuals of the dp models to most eyes, they are a lot of fun and very well built.

cheers
Arg

Beautiful writing as usual.

Sony have a reputation for making sophisticated, but soulless machines, (gadgets, not cameras) as far from the Leica philosophy as you can get. But...

I have a venerable A7rii, not an obvious model to compare to Leica. But with lenses similar to the Sigma 24mm f/2 DN or the Loxia 50mm, you get on-lens aperture rings. Also smooth manual focus even with the AF Sigma (switchable with a giant mechanical switch); silky smooth with the all mechanical Loxia.

As soon as you touch the focusing ring, the EVF automatically magnifies to enable easy accurate manual focusing. There is a dedicated EVF comp dial as well, which makes aperture priority simplicity itself. And it has IBIS.

The Sony menus are a dis-organised mess and it has video. The key to simplicity is to invest one-off time setting it up, pick the right lenses and ignore all the other features.

And the real benefit: it cost 1/7th of a Leica (new, with a 2 year Sony warranty), possibly the cheapest way to get high resolution 42MP full frame. Anti-Veblen.

This simple mode of operation was still available in a consumer, mid-range line of cameras from a mainstream manufacturer right to the end of the film era, in the Pentax MZ-(Zx in the US) 5/5n/3/m series - move the aperture ring on the lens to set aperture, or set it to A for aperture priority, and the same with the shutter speed dial. A on both gave you program, A on neither gave you full manual. No video either!
So it is with digital that this has been definitively removed. Sadly my mz-5n shutter curtain has warped somehow so it is now an ornament. I don’t know how well the pentaxes sold, and I’ll admit I mainly used them in Program mode but it was nice to know they were there. I’m happy enough having two in-body dials to do the same job now, but your post did make me think a thought I’d never thought before, vis that I’d like to shoot a Leica… thanks, I think

I could probably be called a Leica Fanboy these days, as I have now owned every colour Digital Leica M since the M9, I absolutely hate the fanboy cult that surrounds the brand and feel somedays a bit like I could have a cheaper camera if I wanted one, right now that would be a Nikon Z9 but then I would lie back to carrying a huge camera and lens around again. Right now I am using a Leica M11 and I have a range of lens that include 21, 28, 35, 50 and 75mm (I still want a 90mm). I down have the most expensive lens. I did write about my dream list of lens and cameras to add to my Leica collection and that would cost £30K
( https://www.michaelwayneplant.com/what-would-you-buy-if-you-won-the-lottery ). I have also written a piece for Professional Photo magazine here in the UK about the M11 ( https://www.michaelwayneplant.com/leica-m11-review ).
Yet I have never written something like what you just wrote about the reasons why I use the camera. I did think seriously about whether I should sell all my Leica gear when the Nikon Z9 came out and replace the lenses with a 24-120mm zoom and a 40mm lens and make life easier. Then I realised that I would be gaining a fast, responsive, fantastically, focusing AF monster camera and losing the small discreet and perfectly formed camera that makes me want to go out and make images. So I traded my M10 that I had brought for £5500 five year ago and in for the M11. I got £3800 for my M10 as a trade in and if I look at the depreciation on that the camera only cost me £380 per year to own. The lenses I can sell for what I bought them for. As an example when I first got my M9 I brought the 35mm f2 Summicron new for £1730, and I could if I wanted to sell it for the same amount. I have never had that happen with another lens that I have brought new in all my years as a photographer. So for me while the cameras are admittedly expensive they are when I look at eh total cost of ownership not so expensive.
Then there is the thing that I love about using them they just feel right in my hands and I love how they force me to work slightly slower and more considered but if I have my cameras settings preset I can instinctively create images so much faster than just about any other camera that I have ever used.

So Mike, thanks for articulating ever so well how the Leica M10/11, makes me feel when working with it.

Maitani San (at Olympus) was said to be a big Leica fan, despite his day-to-day camera being a Yashica 35GTN. "It is said" (Oly rumour?) that he had the Leica M series in mind when he designed the Trip35 and the OM1, originally named the Olympus M1, much to Leica's disgust and protest.

With all due respect, I'm having a dejá vu all over again, as we've discussed this exact question previously (always with an Leica M as the subject), with the same key question ( Why aren't there any "beautifully simple" cameras outside of Leicas?) and the same key answer: Fujifilm X100 series.

And, with all due respect once again, but the extension distortion the first two photos is really setting off my architectural photographer's eye; this correctable using the Lens Correction filter in Photoshop and/or the Skew feature of the Transform function.

PS Speaking of Fujifilm, I'm surprised that there's been virtually no mention of the amazing new Fujiflm X-H2S, which has been out for over a week now. The functionality and feature set of this new camera is quite amazing.

Cheers.

I suppose simplicity in camera design is rare for the same reason it is rare in other disciplines like cooking and cabinetmaking.
It does not leave you anyplace to hide.
Shaker furniture looks easy until you try to replicate it.
Same way with cooking. If you hit a BBQ joint and they brag up their secret rub and slide you a plate full of chopped brisket swimming in sauce chances are they have something to hide.
There is also a lot to be said for sticking with things that work.
If you have focusing where you want it move on to other things like ergonomics or sensor design.
Mose Allison had a clutch of songs he played throughout his career. It wasn't some kind of nostalgia special He played them because he loved the material and found something new each time up.
Perhaps Leica is the Mose Allison of camera makers. That would be very hip.

I can't get excited about this camera ... on the other hand I enjoy driving my current-production automobile with its clutch and six-speed manual transmission.

You have encapsulated the reason some of us still shoot film, even if not to the same degree as in the pre digital days. Because that is what the cameras we like take. As an aside, only Leica has the nerve to still make the MA (although in quantity so limited they cannot meet demand). Yep, I’m 73 and marketing wise my preference and opinion are meaningless to modern day businesses. All the same to pick up a camera that could have the instructions on a 3X5 index card is still a delight. Even my digital selection is ancient, a mark 1 EM10, and even then all the lenses I have for it are manual focus and aperture. It is used in aperture preferred where the front dial controls exposure bias although occasionally I’ll switch to spot metering mostly it’s on the regular evaluative setting.

What Leica has is a rabid fanbase of collectors who will snap up limited edition models at fabulously inflated prices. They buy reskinned Panasonic S cameras at triple the Panasonic price. The main use case is to sit in a display box. They will keep buying them as long as Leica continues to hold the Leica mystique, which holds as long as they are "the product of a singular vision." (Snark quotes) So there is the second use case for Leicas. Rich photographers who are willing to pay extra for the gestalt. Just as Zyni says above.

Nikon has a different set of customers. They have varied needs, and those varied needs cut across the different price levels. Wedding photographers? Reporters? Sports? Wildlife? Outdoor enthusiasts? Corporate portraitists? Hobbyists? Side-hustlers? Pros? All of those. And they all need different features. And that breeds complexity. And since there are so many varying use cases, you wind up with modes, menus, and so on.

Ok, so the M10 is a pure experience of the true photography. You know what it doesn't have? Autofocus. Or vibration reduction. Or long lenses. Or, honestly, wide lenses. Or a lot of other things you probably want if you want to do any of the things except experience the true photography in a pure way. What sounds like a no-compromises design suddenly looks like a highly compromised design.

Different constraints -> different compromises -> different designs. That's it. The end.

John Camp said "I do think there's a difference between people who love cameras and people who love photography and photographs."

Exactly! To me, what Leica offers is not simplicity but fake / pretend simplicity at the cost of some usability.

Why "fake" simplicity? Because Leica puts form over function. That "simple" Leica design does not allow changing settings on the fly without taking your eye off the finder, but my Nikons do. As do Canons and Sonys. And good luck with autofocus.

Leica can do some things well, particularly street photos and studio work, but all modern digital cameras can do that *and* can also photograph birds and wildlife, pets and children at play, action & sports images, or anything requiring telephoto. And of course, video for those who want to be able to do both stills and video.

For what it is worth, as someone else noted, Nikon offered the Df with dials and without video, and it was a niche camera at best. Even Fuji seems to be moving away from dials on many(?) of their newer cameras. As for phones, umm, yeah, they can also do video. And there are no dials on any smart phone.

Glad you liked it! Seeing you this positive about a camera also makes your negative comments on others mean more.

Last month I was ready to buy a Leica M10. I had the money in hand. I already own a number of very nice M mount lenses. But, for once, reason prevailed and I rented one from LensRentals.com for a week first. By the time I sent it back I knew I would never buy one. The reason? It has terrible eye relief for a person how wears glasses like me. I cannot see the 28mm frame lines at all, and can only see the 35mm frame lines by moving my eye around the viewfinder. so it kind of kills the whole purpose of shooting a rangefinder for me--a clear unobstructed view of the subject including the area outside the framelines. I could just attache a Visoflex external electronic viewfinder to get around this, but then, why not just buy a Sony a7 series camera? In the 90's I owned an M6 TTL with a .58 viewfinder, and this solved the problem for me, but no such camera exists in the Leica line now. For film I own a Zeiss Ikon ZM camera which allows me to see all the frames clearly, as well as a Minolta CLE that does the same. But, unfortunately, not true for the M10.

You should try the Fuji X-E4. If you couple it with one of the recent Voigtländer X-Mount manual lenses, your experience would be quite similar to that of the M10. The only thing missing is a dedicated ISO dial, but you can set the front dial to do just that with your index finger. And it is very small, very light and quite affordable.

The comments here have so much depth, so many contradictory views, and so much truth. This was a good one.

"practical, unified single vision imposed on the resulting product—by a photographer"
Well, yeah, one who learned on [antique] film cameras.

"a clunky hangover from film days"

"an odd definition of simplicity"

"as a Veblen good, the one-trick pony nature of the M-10 makes sense"
That makes me want one!

"simplicity comes with limitations"

I love that it's a beautifully machined hunk of metal and glass, but its capabilities are limited.

Isn't the ability to change lenses a big step away from simplicity? You have chosen an arbitrary distinction for your definition.

I agree with those who set their Sony, etc. ONCE for ease of use and simplicity(!), yet get maximum flexibility with one click of the mode dial.

Good post.

So much hate for video!

I seldom use it either, but combined with Audio, with the click of a knob, I got:

A waterfall in a snowstorm, with the sounds of water and wind in the trees, with the camera on a tripod.

A springtime creek in the woods, with the sound of the spring peepers.

I was very pleased.

[I object to the word "hate." As I said, I simply don't use video in any serious way and know relatively little about it, so I don't presume to discuss it, that's all. Where dislike comes in is when cameras I use for still photography suffer feature changes for the sake of video, such as aperture rings with no clickstops or swing-out viewing screens (the Fuji X-T[x] series "broke" for me between the X-T3 and X-T4 when the formerly nearly perfect viewing screen was switched to the preference of videographers).

I'm considering making some pool videos, though, so maybe I'll change my tune. --Mike]

An addendum to my previous post, and maybe the real point:

Recognizing that a photo needs to be a video is like recognizing a good photo in the first place. That skill is so hard to learn but so easy to do.

To complete a thought from my first post:
Interchangeable lenses are a step away from simplicity and toward flexibility, even if you only choose once. Or once a year!

This is the post I would have written had I the opportunity to work with the Reporter … and had your insights and writing skill. In other words, never.

That said, I can tell, without having seen much less used the M10 Reporter, that you are on the money. Alas, it’s Leica money and I’m also not able to purchase one without a lot of sacrifice; read: sell all my beloved hifi gear, LPs, other cameras (including my OM kits,) etc.

As to why other companies cannot or won’t design and produce a more affordable but equally capable digital camera, I don’t think it’s down to capability. Rather, I think it’s that they lack courage and are beholden to an imaginary “standard”of profitability. As for the latter, I think they would be surprised at how such an effort would be profitable, if only marginally, but also seriously burnish their brand.

A camera that's too precious to take anywhere is pretty useless. That's why I got rid of my Leica M2 many years ago, much as I loved it.

psu wrote “I bet the Leica setup menus are just as bad as everyone else's.” Actually, not; far simpler. Hasselblad X1D, which I only tested, is another example of menu simplicity.

It is an interesting review this because I was wondering if you would take to the Leica or not. My personal feel is that if you take that simplified view to the use of a modern camera, most modern manufacturers get a lot right. For example, I can go from my Leica to my Panasonic GH5 or my Pentax K-5, easily. I especially like Pentax, Canon, and Nikon ergonomics for example, but do wish for a modern ME Super, FE2, or AE1.

Pak

Have you used a Fuji X100V?

[No. But I've used an X100 and X100S. --Mike]

The camera that you have to operate in kid gloves, (literally or figuratively, not important) is not a camera. It's a piece of jewelerry, or a collectible. Its basic function is voided by the monetary value. The Leica's shift to luxury goods provider is extremely sad, given its photographic heritage.

Isn't the Pixii simplifying even further by removing the curse of chimping/lcd backscreen? And being relatively affordable?
Would be nice for you to review one in the wake of that m10!

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