Leica Rumors has disclosed that a new version of the Leica M-D, the supposed to be the M10-D, will be announced in New York in the in the middle of next week.
After the success of the M240-based M-D and its premature withdrawal from the market, I was sure that a new M-D based on the M10 was highly likely.
In fact. I’ve been expecting an announcement for some months and was surprised we didn’t get the camera at Photokina. Now, however, we seem to be moving a little closer, and very plausible pictures have been published on the Japanese rumour site, Nokishita. There’s just the possibility this could be a hoax or that the pictures are doctored, but Nokishita has a good record.
The images clearly show three surprises, four if you include the M10 ISO dial which I wouldn’t class as a surprise (although the presence of an A option is something new). The leaked shots create the impression that Leica is moving well along the path towards offering a true digital version of a film camera, most likely of the M7.
First, the “advance” lever. Many Leica followers brought up this idea up at the time of the launch of the M-D. Why can we not go the whole retro-hog and have a “sensor advance” lever? If these pictures are genuine, this lever could be used to reset the camera after every shot, as with a film camera. Some will say this is retro chic gone mad, but I could warm to the idea. However, if you look closely, there appears to be no on/off switch concentric with the shutter release. That could mean that the “advance lever” is nothing more than an on/off toggle. In which, case, I imagine, there will be some disappointed bunnies. Surely they can give it some added function? Of course, it could be purely aesthetic, perhaps acting as a sort of thumb grip. All will no doubt soon be revealed.
Second: The electronic viewfinder. The pictured camera accommodates the Visoflex to provide a live view, something that was definitely not in the repertoire of the first screenless wonder.
Third: An exposure compensation dial on the back of the camera, mimicking the dial of the M7. This appears to include an on/off setting and a WiFi symbol. If it is a camera power switch, that explains the missing switch on the shutter pod. But it seems a little unlikely in my opinion. However, it would beg the question of what the “advance lever” is for.
Fourth: The M10’s push-pull ISO dial with the A, for auto ISO is visible. The original M10 did not have auto ISO. Manual settings were made on the rear dial which was a little awkward to set. And, as I discovered, after using a high ISO indoors it was all too easy to forget return it to a lower setting when moving to brighter conditions.
The rear control wheel remains, and this is most probably used as a more convenient way of adjusting exposure compensation than by using the (no-doubt) rather awkward dial on the back of the body. It could have an extra function, depending on features that may have been added to the camera over and above those found on the original M-D..
In theory, the presence of the EVF connection could allow a few simple menu items to be added, but this is highly unlikely since not all buyers will want or need the EVF. I expect the camera will continue to offer the two basic exposure parameters, shutter speed and aperture (on the lens, of course) with no possibility of JPGs or other functions that require menu setup. Auto ISO is clearly possible but without a menu system there is no way of adjusting the parameters for longest exposure and highest ISO. I suspect they will have to be fixed values, say ISO 3200 and 1x focal length.
In theory, the EVF could offer playback but, again, I think not on the basis that you cannot rely on an accessory for vital functions.
I was a great fan of the original M-D and sold mine only to finance the new M10. I like the concept, which is by no means as daft as it can be made to appear, and I suspect this new camera (if it exists, of course) will be as pure a digital rangefinder as you could wish to buy. It will be an excellent rangefinder alternative to mirrorless Leicas such as the SL, CL and any forthcoming smaller full-frame camera. It is a niche obeject that only Leica would be confident enough to produce.
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