Why did I not want to buy the Leica M10-R? It didn’t offer all the improvements I wanted to see over the current Leica M10 or M10P.
The Leica M11, or whatever the next digital Leica M is has the potential to be an ultimate M for me. And it may be closer than we think, my reasons below for that.
What will make me upgrade my current standard Leica M10 to an M11…or why did I not want the Leica M10-R? In the next digital M, I want to see everything the Leica M/M10-R has, and more.
More resolution than the 24 megapixels in the Leica M10.
Yes we’ve seen that in the M10-R, but I’m not motivated by megapixels alone. 24 megapixels in the current standard Leica M10 or M10P is actually good enough. Especially when shooting handheld on the street. Higher resolution sensors tend to mean that even the slightest of movements result in camera shake being visible or sharp lines becoming soft because the photosites on the sensor, that make up the pixels are smaller and more sensitive to the smaller movements. Yes I want more megapixels. It will be useful when I am able to shoot at a very high shutter speed in bright daylight, or with a flash, or a tripod. I want to be able to crop my images sometimes, and have the ability to print larger.
But remember, most Leica M users are shooting handheld with natural and available light. So I want the ability to shoot at more than 40 megapixels in the Leica M11 but also to drop the resolution down to 24 megapixels again when I am shooting in available light.
Do I want IBIS (In body image stabilisation) in the Leica M11?
No. I am a Leica user, a purist. I don’t want to rely on technology to help me take a photo, I want the photo to be my own work with as basic a tool as I need.
I want a lower base ISO
Edit October 2020: Yes, the Leica M10-R has a new base ISO of 100. I would have been more impressed if it could get to ISO50, as I like to shoot my Summilux F1.4 lenses wide open. Maybe one day I’ll own a F0.95 Noctilux. Then a lower base ISO would become more relevant.
200 is too high a base ISO for me in the current standard Leica M10 or M10P. I can shoot at 100, but the camera has to pull it (the reverse of pushing an ISO) so you degrade the image somewhat. The Leica M10’s sensor sweet spot is 200, but I want it to be lower to do more with different light situations. Nikon did this, admirably, with the D810 giving it a native base ISO of 64. I enjoyed that and want to see it with the next digital Leica M. If I want to shoot at 100, or even 50 ISO I currently have to shoot film on the Leica MP. It is one of the reasons I still shoot film.
I want the dust reduction from the Leica SL
The Leica M10 is a bit better sealed than the Leica M9 or M240, but it still runs into issues with dust. With the smaller photosites on a higher resolution sensor, this actually becomes more of an issue. Dust is a fact of lift with photography, and I do have to often clean my camera sensor. I never had to wet clean my Nikon D810 because of the excellent dust reduction technology. The Leica SL has excellent dust reduction technology too, as does the Sony A7/A9 range from what I know. So yes, I want to see a dust reduction technology that shakes the dust off the sensor in the Leica M11. It will be useful.
I think the body design of the M10 range is excellent. I love the ISO selection dial, the form factor, the size of the viewfinder. I would like to see it maybe get even a little thinner to make it easy to hold, and have a larger frame line selector lever. I have always found the lever on the M10 to be a little more fiddly than the M240.
I’m ready to buy a new digital Leica M, but the reason I didn’t buy the M10-R is because it only fulfilled two of the three main feature upgrade desires I have for it: Resolution and ISO to some extent. I want to see that lower base ISO (can we get to a base ISO of 50, Leica?) and the dust reduction technology.
I want the near silent shutter from the M10P/M10 Monochrom/M10-R
Edit November 2020: I previously didn’t think the silent shutter in the Leica M10P and later M10 Monochrom would be so important to me until I recently went on a photo walk with someone who had one. I tried to listen to the shutter sound compared to my Leica M10 and MP film body. It was barely audible, and outside, it was impossible to hear unless you held your ear to the camera. I know that I get self conscious shooting, and I’m sure that self consciousness makes the standard shutter in my current M10 sound louder than it really is. Also, when taking photos that may involve candid people, I remember that people can be sensitive and respond negatively if their photo has been taken. Hence a silent shutter in the Leica M11 will be useful. Also, it will help me to be less self conscious, and probably more confident to take photos in public areas.
I want Dual SD Card Slots
The next Leica M needs Dual Card Slots. It is needed for redundancy, for peace of mind, and because it is a given feature for these 2 reasons in other high end cameras. Frankly, Leica Ms are made for the photographer who is going after the photograph of a lifetime, and that shot should not be put at risk from a failing card, lost card, accidental formatting or erasure. SD card slots are cheap. Leica needs to implement 2 of them in the next M. I think SD Cards are fine, no need for another type of card. I’ve actually never had one fail on me, but I have accidentally deleted images I didn’t mean to.
Why the Leica M11 could be just round the corner…
Leica sometimes releases new cameras very quickly. The Leica Q was released in June 2015, and then the QP version at the end of 2018. The Q2 with the higher resolution sensor followed around 6 months later in 2019. Could a new Leica M11 be less than 6 months away after we’ve had the M10P in 2018, and the M10-R in 2020?