Leica M10-D vs. Leica M6 compared

The LEICA M10-D Almost Analog Camera

 It was initially hard for me to switch from film to digital. I had carried a Leica M6 film camera everywhere with me for so many years, the larger digital Leica cameras just didn’t feel right in my hand. I also didn’t like having a screen on my camera. Even if I didn’t look at it, I knew I could and that was a distraction. The film camera bodies, M4’s then M6’s, that I carried for decades fit my hand like a glove.

I could hold the cameras in one hand, my thumb securely behind the film advance lever, ready to shoot. The digital Leica bodies were close, but the experience just wasn’t the same. And being used to the film camera’s quiet cloth shutter, I found the noisy clank of the digital camera’s metal shutter grating.

Leica M10-D and Leica M6 camera backs compared.
Leica M10-D and Leica M6 camera backs compared.

Then Leica came out with the M10-D, a digital camera that solved those issues for me.

The Leica M10-D is essentially an analog camera with a digital sensor. There’s no viewing screen and the camera was designed to be the same size as the Leica M6 film camera. There’s even a winding lever on the camera. It doesn’t cock the shutter though. Its only function is to act as a swing-out thumb rest, a feature noticeably missing on other digital M camera bodies. And the newly designed shutter is even quieter than the shutter in Leica’s film cameras. I feel like I’ve come home when I use my M10-D.

Leica M10-D and Leica M6 top view compared.
Leica M10-D and Leica M6 top view compared.

The uncertainty of shooting “blind” gives me the same feeling I had when I worked with a film camera and had to wait until the film was developed to see the outcome. Suddenly, I have to trust myself again instead of constantly checking a screen for affirmations that I’m okay, and that feels good.

I’ve felt that a lot of photographer’s work, including my own, lost something with the switch from film to digital. It’s possible that since we couldn’t know for sure if we had the shot when shooting film, we kept shooting the situation longer, bringing better results.

The camera isn’t for everyone. Leica made about fifteen hundred of them, and they were expensive as hell, about $8,000 USD new for the camera body. Finding a used one now can be difficult, and still somewhat expensive because of their rarity. But they do show up from time to time on eBay. If you want an analog experience of shooting without the messiness of analog post processing, this might be the camera for you.