The Leica M10-P White Edition
So here it comes. After months of consideration and deep soul searching, the day has finally arrived. Ever since my last endeavour with rangefinder photography, I knew I would return to the Leica M System at some point. Little did I know that it would happen in white. And yet, here I am sharing my first in depth encounter with a marvellous piece of German engineering and product design, the Leica M10-P White Edition.
Even though I unpacked various Leica cameras before, it felt considerably different this time. It was almost a meditative process. It resembled the feeling from unboxing the first iPhone back in 2007. The process also incorporated an at the time unparalleled shopping experience at the Apple Store. The new Meister Camera Leica Store in Hamburg is also certainly one of its kind. It is the most impressive Leica Boutique in Germany. Also, it is reasonably close to my favourite sushi restaurant Matsumi, but that is another story.
When Leica announced the M10-P White Edition in December 2019, I thought this was the most beautiful M ever. I did not consider ever going on any polar expeditions where it would blend in perfectly. Yet, the M10-P White appealed more to me than other special editions released around the same time. Recently, Leica released the Ghost Edition created in collaboration with HODINKEE, the LEITZ WETZLAR Edition of the Leica M Monochrome (Typ 246) and even the astonishing Leica M Monochrome DRIFTER Edition designed by Lenny Kravitz released in May 2019.
“The all-white design of the current M10-P camera takes its cue from the extremely popular Leica M8 White Edition released in 2009: The top and bottom plates are finished in white paint and are colour matched with the camera’s high-quality, genuine leather trim in white. Silver control elements with engravings picked out in white ideally complement the design concept of the Leica M10-P ‘White’.
The Leica M10-P ‘White’ comes as a set with a silver chrome version of the Summilux-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens. The engravings on the lens are also picked out in white to match those of the camera. A genuine leather carrying strap in white with Leica embossing and a white leather case for the lens round off the set. The set is available in a worldwide limited edition of only 350 examples. All Leica M10–P ‘White’ cameras have their own unique serial number.”Source: Leica Camera AG
Despite any rationale or criticism that this camera cannot be used without suffering from severe decolorisation or that it is not stealthy at all despite being advertised as a P model, it ended up in my hands. I am considerate of the unique requirements and circumstances that might come with a white camera. Still, I took it out of its box without gloves and did what one should do with it: use it.
M10-P White Edition
It is a magnificent camera, same as the regular M10-P, and actually shares the absolute identical technical specifications. The differences are cosmetic but yet, they create an entirely different experience. Also, I want to highlight, that in contrast to the 2009 Leica M8 White, the M10-P White took this approach to another level of detail and polish. The color finish and leather feel considerably more premium that the previous version. Additionally, the white approach was taken all the way this time. The only down side for me is that Leica added the red dot to the front. It makes this camera the only P model with a red dot as far as I know.
Starting from colouring of all indicators on dials and buttons, to lens markings and focus tap, the white finish can even be found on the camera’s inside. When removing the bottom plate to access the battery and SD card slot, the M10-P White is all white in and out down to bottom of its inner heart. All of this might not be necessary for this edition to be as special as it is, but it certainly shows the incredible amount of attention on detail that went into the design.
Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH
The M10-P White comes with a custom Leica SUMMILUX-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens with a silver finish. Even though not advertised as a different color, it slightly differs in color from the regular solid chromed brass version in addition to its white markings and focus tap. Solid brass is a very dens material and subsequently the lens is quite heavy. It carries the same weight as the regular silver version at 16.2 oz./460g (compared to just 11.8 oz./335g for the black version). It is an outstanding lens, even though it might not be my number one choice from the M lens lineup. It certainly ranks among the best lenses for the system, or as Ken Rockwell puts it:
“The LEICA SUMMILUX-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH is a remarkable lens, being the world’s only aspherical 50/1.4 with floating elements. This SUMMILUX-M ASPH has the best bokeh of any LEICA lens, and it is LEICA’s best 50mm f/1.4 ever”Source: Ken Rockwell
To protect the lest surface from any contact with sharp objects – or any objects for that matter – I added a Leica UVa II E46 filter to the lens. Some may say this is not longer necessary with todays lenses’ super hard glass, but I went for it anyway. At this point, the support by Leica for the White Edition – and also other special editions – ends. Even though this is a neglect-able detail, I want to highlight that the silver UVa II filter from Leica is made of regular silver chromed brass. It is not available in the titanium like silver as the Summilux 1.40/50 White Edition. I also just call it titanium like silver as Leica’s titanium silver lenses are also slightly different. In practice this is hard to even notice, but it is a clear visible difference.
The M10-P comes with gorilla glass for the rear display. I added a premium hybrid class display protection provided by Leica anyway.
Using The Lens Hood With Filters
The Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens comes with an integrated lens hood. It can be pulled out and turned to be locked in place, which is quite convenient. There are reports of issues with the lens hood when filters are used. In my experience this is not an issue, as there is plenty of room for the hood to breath. It would even work with filters that have 1 or even 2 millimetre thicker outer rims.
Even when stacking multiple filter above each other, such as ND filters for long exposures or taking photos at open aperture in bright daylight etc., I did not have any problems whatsoever with this configuration. Obviously, if I would attach a larger filter setup to the camera, the lens hood might no longer be extendable. Yet, I would argue that it is not needed in those instances anyhow.
In regard to the lens’ size, I want to highlight that there is some moderate finder blockage. Many describe it as considerable with this lens. I think it is not that much of an issue in practice. Even though I cannot deny the blockage, I don’t feel this is a critical issue in composing and framing. With extended lens hood, the blockage increases of course, so this is something to consider with this lens.
Leica Fotos App
Leica added WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities to many of their latest cameras to connect to their suite of iOS app. Recently, they unified their mobile experience with the Leica FOTOS app, that all recent camera models work with. Of curse the Leica M10-P White Edition is no exception and falls under regular M10-P category. Lacking Bluetooth connectivity, only Wifi is available. This limits the use cases with the M10-P for this app in my view. It is convenient to connect the camera remotely to transfer photos etc. Yet, there is no support for sharing location data with the camera by adding GPS information to photos for example.
Still, I can say that the performance of the WiFi connection is decent considering the age of the M10-P camera from the technical perspective. In comparison to my experience with the Leica CL, the Leica FOTOS app is perfectly usable with the Leica M10-P White Edition and reasonably fast in transferring DNG files. This was not the case with the CL and rendered the app useless for me at the time. Transferring a 24mp DNG file only takes me few seconds (compared to minutes with the CL). The file can then be saved to the iPhone photo library or opened in Adobe Lightroom for iOS.
On iPadOS these features are only available with an In-App Purchase of Leica FOTOS Pro for $49.99. This seems like a unjustified price for limited features for such a premium product. I was told this is due to licensing costs by Adobe for integrating Lightroom in the app. Even if so, I don’t think this justifies making customers pay for it. In recent years a new Leica Camera only included a 3 months subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan. Previoulsy, a full licence of Adobe Lightroom was included. Following this trend, the FOTOS Pro option feels like another step in the wrong direction. It might add to the many reasons why people opt out of using Adobe Creative Cloud all together.
I am using Adobe Lightroom. But as a consequence of the commercial model behind FOTOS Pro, I am not using the iPad app. I rather transfer photos to the iPhone and sync them over the cloud. For large amounts of photos I use a USB-C SD card reader to directly import DNGs files to Lightroom on iPad.
The Best Leica M Camera Yet
In summary, this is the best M camera that Leica ever built in my opinion. This is already true for the regular M10-P. It introduced a new silent shutter, touchscreen and of course came with all the benefits of the M10 system. The camera seems a bit dated from a technical specification perspective. Yet, the M10-P White Edition feels like a true jewel to hold on to. It it Leica’s crowning achievement in rangefinder photography in an era where mirrorless cameras with EVF are the new paradigm for professional photography. Even though the M10 might reach the end of its cycle with the 40mp M10 Monochrome and expected release of an M10-R with a higher resolution sensor, it feels like the M10-P is still the best Leica Camera available today and the M10-P White Edition is just that.