Leica M10 for Weddings
As the 2017 wedding season draws to a close, I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on using the Leica M10 for weddings all this year. I wrote a review of the M10 earlier and everything I said still stands, but after being asked lots of questions by fellow wedding photographers, I thought I’d share some more words (and photos) specifically about the M10 for wedding use.
I’ve been using the M10 alongside my Leica Q (still probably my favourite camera of all time), with a combination of the 35mm + 50mm summicron. However I’ve also been using my Fujis (and now Sony A9) for a 85mm focal length and instances the M10 couldn’t be relied upon (more details coming up).
I love this camera. Although heavier than my fuji’s, it feels perfect in my hand and I never feel weighed down by it at a wedding. Plus it’s super sexy. To carry, I’ve recently started using a Peak Design Leash, after initially using a gordy strap attached via the tripod mount. I prefer the gordy strap, but unscrewing it from the baseplate when changing memory cards and batteries was a real issue halfway through a wedding ceremony!
The files, ease of focusing (when not wide open) and small size are the main positives of the M10, I won’t go into any more detail here, it’s all covered in my earlier review. Some further details on features and quirks that may interest wedding photographers are below…
I tend to shoot at fairly large apertures, which really helps layering my images to give them depth as with my street photography. On a bright day outside I’m often shooting at f/16 and using zone focusing. I never miss focus, and its quicker than any AF camera. I love this method of shooting – it is where the rangefinder focusing system is perfect.
I only really use wide apetures (f/1.4 or f/2) when light is low. If subject is static, I have no focussing issues. But a bride walking walking towards me in a dark gloomy church, or a fast first dance late at night is a real challenge, my hit rate falls way below what I expect. I’ve restored to not using the M10 during these moments that I know will be tricky (using the Sony and Q) – I just can’t risk a bunch of completely out of focus shots for an important part of the wedding day.
ISO / Dynamic range
I’ve been hugely impressed by the high ISO performance. I don’t mind noise in my images, and seem to deliver images at a higher ISO than many other wedding photographers, regardless of that camera system I am using. But the Leica noise has a real filmic look to it. Lots of websites that provide scientific testing on ISO performance, all I can say is many of the shots below were taken at high ISO’s, including two at 20,000.
The dynamic range is also covered in more scientific detail in many reviews. Once used to how the Leica handles, I found it really good. I tend to underexpose when shooting, as the ability to recover the shadows is amazing. Recovering highlights not so much so, anything blow out is generally lost detail.
Buffer / memory cards
I’ve never hit the buffer limit, it’s a refreshing change from my Leica Q in that regard. I never fear of the M10 freezing during moments such as confetti throws or the first kiss where I shoot in continuous burst mode, often for a few seconds.
The M10 only has 1 memory card slot, I do miss out on the reassurance of the dual slots of SLR’s and most other mirrorless cameras. To minimise the risk of losing all the wedding photos, I’m back to shooting on small 16 + 32gb memory cards and use 7/8 cards per wedding.
The shutter sounds is satisfying, especially in single shot mode. I think mainly because it reminds me of my Leica M6! However there are sometimes in the day (especially during bride prep) where I wish the noise was a little quieter. I’ve been spoilt with the Q and Sony A9.
I don’t really enjoy the experience of using liveview on the M10. Its lightyears behind Fuji / Sony / Leica Q in this area. It’s super slow and clunky, blackout when taking a shot is soooooo long. The camera also often freezes up when shooting a large number of frames in liveview! Several times during the first dance, my M10 froze and would not work until I had taken the battery out. I bought a visoflex (typ 020) to see if this improved things, but it didn’t – I quickly sold it.
I find live view unusable for most parts of the fast paced wedding day. But its much easier to get focus spot on when shooting wide open and something I use during the slower bride prep and portraits.
When using the rangefinder and manually exposing in tricky light, I find liveview perfect for quickly checking my image is not overexposed. However, if shooting in Aperture priority mode, the exposures are sometimes vastly different between live view shooting and optical viewfinder shooting (without any change in lighting or composition). I eventually found out this is because live view can only use spot metering, whereas metering when using the rangefinder is a wider area.
Some of this may have come across as negative, but I really do love the M10. Most of the points are very minor, with many quirks that firmware could fix (I wish Leica were quicker at firmware upgrades). I very much doubt it has made me a better wedding photographer, and at times it has been a frustrating experience. But the M10 is a joy to use and I still love picking it up to go and shoot, even after a whole wedding season….A feeling like no other camera I’ve owned.
Any questions or comments, just add them below. A few images from this years wedding with the Leica M10.