Leica launches the M10-R... with a massive 16 million pixels more than its predecessor

Leica M10-R
(Image credit: Leica)

We were blown away by the image quality of the Leica M10 Monochrom, with its amazing black and white 40-megapixel sensor, so the question was bound to be how long we would have to wait for a color version... and here it is!

Leica's classic M-series camera design seems to have as much appeal today as the original Leica M, back in 1954. The design is about as un-modern as you can get, with a separate direct-vision viewfinder and manual rangefinder focusing.

Until now, Leica has been using 24-megapixel sensors in its Leica M cameras (with the exception of the M10 Monochrom) as the world moves on towards higher and higher resolutions. Now the Leica M series has moved on with it.

The Leica M10-R will be available in both black and silver versions. (Image credit: Leica)

The continuing appeal of the Leica M

Leica also makes D-Lux compact cameras and the very modern-professionally orientated SL2, both with technical input from Panasonic, together with its legendary SL3 medium format camera (legendary like unicorns – try finding one!)

But the Leica M series is different. It looks like a throwback to a different era, perhaps a toy for wealthy auteurs or collectors, but actually it remains remarkably good, if different, to use. Leica M cameras and lenses are far smaller than other modern-day equivalents, and once you've learned the manual focus 'muscle memory' needed to shoot quickly, the Leica M is very effective at street and documentary photography.

Leica will hope that the M10-R's big boost in resolution, not to mention the famed quality of its lenses, will extend its appeal into architectural, fine art and other branches of photography.

Leica says the M-10R has the same super-soft shutter action of the M-10P, another famed Leica quality, along with the marque's reputation for design, quality and engineering finesse. 

If you like your cameras manual, you've come to the right place. There is an aperture-priority mode (if you must) but otherwise it's down to you to get your shots right. (Image credit: Leica)

Leica M10-R key features

Inside the Leica M10-R is a full-frame 40-megapixels sensor which we assume is basically the same as the sensor in the M10 Monochrom, but with the addition of a CFA (color filter array) for regular color photography.

This gives an image size of 7864 x 5200 pixels and the camera can capture JPEG images or raw files in the DNG format. It can shoot continuously, but at a relatively modest 4.5fps and with a similarly modest 10-shot image buffer. The M10-R is not meant to be a quick-fire camera, of course, but a considered manual tool.

Images are stored on a single SD/SDHC/SDXC card, though the M10-R does come with 2GB memory built in too.

Despite the big leap in resolution over previous 24-megapixel Leica M models, Leica is confident enough in this camera's performance to offer a very broad ISO range of ISO 100-50,000. The maximum exposure time has been extended too, to no less than 16 minutes.

Video specs? It doesn't shoot video. If you want video, you need to look at Leica's D-Lux series (for amateur photographers) or the SL2 (for professionals). The M-10R is for photography pure and simple.

The rear screen is fixed and the viewfinder is an optical direct vision type that doesn't show you the view through the lens but does have automatic parallax correction, brightline frame markers for different focal lengths and a coupled rangefinder focusing system. (Image credit: Leica)

Leica M10-R price and availability

The Leica M10-R goes on sale on July 20 2020 at an expected price of $8,295/£7,100 body only, which is in line with the existing M10 Monochrom. Expensive? Of course, but the Leica M models are not ordinary cameras, and this one is the best yet.

Pre-order the Leica M10-R from B&H
Pre-order the Leica M10-R from Adorama
Pre-order the Leica M10-R from Park Cameras

Read more:

Leica M10 Monochrom review
Best Leica cameras
Best professional cameras
Leica SL2 review
Leica S3 hands on

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at fotovolo.com but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at lifeafterphotoshop.com