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Leica M10, an interview with Stefan Daniels (Leica Camera, Product Director)

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Interview with the Leica product team that designed the new Leica M10, 19 January 2017 (the day after the official launch).

Stefan Daniel, Global Director, Business Unit Photo
Jasko von Oeynhausen, Product Manager Kamerassyteme, Business Unit Photo


Dr. Andreas Kaufmann (Chairman) and Oliver Kaltner (CEO, Leica Camera AG) at M10 launch in 2017


Stefan Daniels, during the Leica M9-P launch in 2011

Extracts from the group interview, including, CJ (ClubSNAP), Zung Heng (M Photographer), Daryl Lee (Robb Report), Gerardo Enrique Lopez (Daily Enquirer), Ong Wee Jin (Straits Times), Tay Kay Chin (M Photographer), and Enche Tjin (Leica SL Ambassador)

Q: It has to be asked, whatís the rational of not having the video function in the new Leica M10?
Stefan:
From intensive customer surveys, what came across is that many people said that, ďit (video mode) is not really necessaryĒ, ďI rarely or hardly use itĒ, some said that they did not get the M Typ 240 because it has video on it, and some even request for a firmware to disable the (video) button. So we said, "Okay. Letís remove it". It has proven to be not so popular.
Jasko: Thereís another reason. We figured out that the video function of the M Typ 240 is very popular amongst professional video users. However, as we target to make these functions that are really working for professionals, we learnt that they have additional needs like HDMI, microphone, etc. So if we would have continued making professional video camera, we would have needed to add these, and we decided to make a pure product for rangefinder photography, so that didnít match. And now that we have the Leica SL, which is a very good camera for video, we are in this comfortable situation to focus on the customers for the M rangefinder with the M10, and the perfect product with the SL for the video.

Q: Thatís a rather bold move, to remove the video function, without reducing the price.
Stefan:
On the other hand, we have improved all the functions that are M (the M stands for MeŖsucher, which is German for Viewfinder). And not to forget that we will continue selling the M10 and the M Typ 240. So if the users wants video, we still have a product for them.

Q: In that case, are there any intentions to put HDMI onto the M Typ 240?
Stefan:
Thatís not foreseen.

Q: Might we expect a M10 Monochrom?
Stefan:
For the time being, the Monochrom based on the M Typ 240 will still remain.

Q: With the naming of the new M, as the Leica M10, are we moving away from the ďTypĒ naming convention of the Ms?
Stefan:
The point is, when we decided to skip the number, the basic argument was to say that a M is a M. So that was the idea of skipping the numbers. What in reality took place was that people needed to differentiate models, then the ďTypĒ number came into play. Then it was a bit undesired that everybody didnít speak about the Leica M, but the ďM240Ē. So it became the product name, which was not our intention. The ďTypĒ number was just meant to be the way of differentiation. So letís go back to the numbers because thatís more bold and clear, and this will happened with the other product lines when a new product comes along.

Q: Are there any similarities between the sensor on the Leica SL with that of the new sensor in the M10?
Jasko:
Itís true that itís a brand new sensor (in the M10), of course the experience from the SL and Q were taken in developing the senor for the M. Itís a really unique sensor for the M system, even though the specs are similar (e.g. 24MP) and performance is also quite similar, but itís a unique sensor as the M lenses needed a special design, special mircolens shift, a special glass package. The most visible difference would be the performance in the outer edges. The SL is also very good with M lenses, compared to other manufacturersí cameras, but I would say, not as good as a M (the M10).

Q: Is it possible to ask who makes the sensor?
Stefan:
Itís possible, but you wonít get an answer. Just kidding. Itís not one vendor, because weíre dealing several companies. So it would become a bit confusing because the pixels are made here, the glass somewhere else.

Q: Could you share a little about the innovations that enabled the reduction in the size of the camera?
Jasko:
The principle of the M Typ 240 was the sensor, the sensor board, and the main board, which made up the size of the camera. So there were three layers. With the M10, our engineers succeeded in taking this large main board dividing it into two parts, so that we can adjust into one layer with the sensor board. This is how it got thinner. This is now possible because components get smaller. Memory and all these components have higher capacity, and with this, it was possible to shirk the size.

Q: Is the battery an entirely new battery?
Jasko:
Itís an entirely new battery. It has to be smaller for the smaller body size. It is a smaller capacity, but still at a very good level. On everyday shooting, if you are a rangefinder shooter, not liveview, you can take 400-600 pictures per charge.

Q: How did the ISO dial come about? Was it from customer feedback?
Jasko:
Yes, definitely. We figured out that the analog M camera is the iconic camera, also for the workflow, so that you have everything under control, so that you can adjust all photographic parameters before you take the shot. So we figured out that ISO speed was the only thing that you really need to change a lot in the daily workflow, and this was the thing that made you use the screen, this is why we have chosen to give this feature a dial. The M-D was the one that showed us this workflow.

Q: On the ISO dial, why not 1/3 stops? And why is it made so difficult push up?
Stefan:
On the point on full f-stops, itís just because they dial should be very small, and there would not be enough space for 1/2 or 1/3 f-stops. But there is a solution, there is a M position. At the M position, you can have even 1/3 f-stops in all ISO. So if you really want it, there is a solution to change it.
Jasko: On the second question, we had a lot of discussion from the beginning on the ISO dial. The most important request to the engineers from us was to make it safe against accidents (changing ISO setting). And they found a solution, it is only possible to push it up using two fingers. If you use one finger, then it really doesnít work. It was really intended to be a little difficult to pull out, so that it doesnít happen by accident.

Q: Is uncompressed RAW still available for the M10?
Jasko:
The option is not available any more. We decide to offer only compressed DNG, because we do know that it is lossless. Not just like lossless, there is really no loss of quality. And the performance of the camera is much better because the files are smaller. We figured out that customers used uncompress because they donít trust the compressed, then they donít use the full capacity of the camera. You want to have the best quality, but as there is really no loss of quality with compressed, and you get more performance, we decided not to offer this function.

Q: In future, would you consider building a second card slot into the M?
Stefan:
That may be an improvement if weíre able to further shrink down electronics.

Q: Do you think that thereís too much product overlap between the M and the SL?
Stefan:
We positioned the SL as the daily workhorse with very versatile functions, such as 4K video, the fast autofocus, etc. I think thatís more a replacement for a DSLR. A M is so special from a product point of view that you might want to use both according to the situation. The M is for a certain style of photography or when youíre in a certain mood, but I might not photography sports with a M, thatís why we have the SL. But there are still overlaps, you can do a nice landscape on the M, SL, and the Q as well.

---

I would like to thank Leica AP (especially Sunil Kaul and Gracia Yap) for the invitation to the Leica M10 launch event and the Celebration of Photography at the Leitz Park in Wetzlar.

| Press Release and Technical Specs | First Impressions |

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Updated 25th January 2017 at 08:05 PM by Cactus jACK (edited list of interviewers)

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  1. loper's Avatar
    Nice! Thanks Cactus JAck!