(Pocket-lint) - Leica doesn't do things like other camera makers. The German brand has a cult-like following of photographers who appreciate the brand's unflinching craftsmanship and pinnacle lens quality.
The champion Leica has always been its full-frame M-series rangefinder. Which, in 2017, returns in its M10 guise: a wilier, more advanced model that - ignoring its total shun of video capture (good riddance, eh?) - redefines the rangefinder's modern appeal.
We handled one at Leica's London base to get a feel whether this £5,600 body-only wedge of metal can continue to get Leica fans' wallets to open. On this brief inspection we're pretty sure that won't be a problem.
Leica M10 preview: What's new?
To look at the Leica M10 is visually similar to the M9, but has really taken on board usability. The rangefinder sits pride of place, of course, but it's the rejigging of button positions that makes the camera feel different to before.
The rear LCD screen in far larger, at 3-inches, with the accompanying d-pad no longer sitting quite so close to the screen in a better upward position for thumb placement. The left-side button arrangements are also limited to three rather than five - comprising LV (live view), Play, and Menu.
To the top of the camera is an ISO dial which juts out the side of the body. It's next to impossible to move, however, and takes a good two-handed approach to yank it upwards into its adjustable position to select between auto, M, and ISO 100 - 12,800 sensitivities.
At 33.7mm the camera is a lot thinner than the earlier M9, too. Indeed it mirrors the earlier M4 film model - short of the ISO dial on the back of that earlier film model the two cameras are like twins - to make for the smallest full-frame digital system camera on the market.
Leica M10 preview: What's a rangefinder like?
Leica sticks to the classics in the M-series, with its manual-focus lenses a principal aspect of the system.
Looking through the M10's circular viewfinder reveals outlined crop marks to identify the frame (these are dependent on your lens of choice), while the centre point is used to manually align the image into desired focus.
No autofocus, no messing about here. Interestingly, however, you can use the live view function to see the image on the rear screen - which zooms into 100 per cent scale to assist with pinpoint focus acquisition.
Leica M10 preview: New sensor
A new era needs a new sensor, with the M10 adopting a higher-resolution 24MP sensor compared to the 18MP chip in the earlier M9.
That's paired with the same Maestro II processor that you'll find in the Leica Q, including a 2GB buffer so that rapid shooting frame after frame won't clog up the camera. Leica claims 100 successive JPEG fine images can be shot without slowdown (at 5fps; raw files max out at 30 frames total).
Native sensitivity has shifted too, with ISO 100 now available proper. That's a full stop better than the ISO 200 starting point of the M9. At the upper end the M10 maxes out at 12,800 standard, or can be pushed to ISO 50,000 within the settings if you really want to push things in low light.
We've not had a change to shoot with the camera in detail, so can't comment on precise areas of image quality. Leica being Leica, however, we suspect it'll be mighty fine.
The Leica M10 is one of those cameras that looks back to go forward. It doesn't bring anything disruptive to the market, but it no doubt brings exactly what staunch Leica fans will want: more resolution, a slimmer build and better control.
It's mad expensive, of course, but this is the Red Dot brand we're talking about here. So while the £5,600 price tag sounds excruciating to mere photographic mortals, it won't stop customers snapping up an M10.