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Icons of the Exchange: Leica

The Leica M10-R encompasses all the fundamental principles of this iconic camera manufacturer

Leica M10-R

With a long heritage as optical experts, Leica first established itself as a pioneer of the camera world when it released the compact 35mm Leica I in 1925. Since then the brand has continually evolved the functionality and capabilities of its cameras and lenses to meet the requirements of modern-day photographers, never deviating from its founding principles of precision engineering and ergonomic design.

‘Leica has a very good design team and there’ll always be that Leica aesthetic,’ says Jason Heward, managing director of Leica UK. ‘It harks back to Bauhaus, which is about keeping everything essential — both the design and functionality of the product — but at the same time making sure it stands up against any other technology and innovation. In fact, many of the innovations [in the camera industry] come from Leica, not just in terms of megapixels but from stripping down the core elements that a photographer needs and producing cameras that perhaps other brands can’t because their product is mass manufactured.’

Leica’s M-System of cameras and compatible lenses was first introduced in 1954 with the Leica M3, which featured a combined viewfinder/rangefinder and a bayonet mount that enables interchangeable lenses. To this day, any Leica rangefinder camera is backwards compatible with any Leica lens built since 1954.

The Leica M10-R embodies the fundamental Leica M principles of ‘fast, discreet and compact’

The M3 was characterised by its compact design, silent shutter and simple, intuitive controls. Designed to enable photographers to feel at one with the camera and keep their focus on the composition and timing of their image capture, it remains the reference model for every evolution of the Leica M-Camera. ‘The letter ‘M’ is one that means a lot to Leica, and has done since 1954 and the launch of the M3,’ says Heward. ‘It stands for timeless design and an iconic camera.’

Leica’s reverence for simplicity is attracting a younger generation of photographers to adopt its legendary M-System as their photography gear of choice, just as it retains the loyalty of longstanding advocates of the brand. ‘There’s a new wave of young, up-and-coming photographers who love the Leica aesthetic, love the focus of the brand on the real essence of photography and who don’t necessarily want to buy one of those cameras that has 32 programmable buttons,’ says Heward. ‘They just want to connect with the fundamentals of photography, and Leica’s a good way to do that.’

The Leica M10-R camera is the newest member of the ‘M’ family of view and rangefinder cameras. It embodies the fundamental Leica M principles of ‘fast, discreet and compact’, combining manual controls and a silent, steady shutter with cutting-edge digital technology, which makes it perfectly adapted to meet the multi-disciplinary demands of today’s photographers and videographers.

Leica M10-R assembly The Leica M10-R camera is assembled by hand in Germany

The M10-R’s full-frame, colour sensor has been developed to capture the finest details in a dynamic range of lighting conditions ­­– with a high resolution of over 40 megapixels and an extended maximum exposure time of 16 minutes – while its powerful Maestro II processor boasts lossless compression of raw files into more manageable file sizes that contain extraordinary levels of detail.

Naturally, the complete range of Leica-M lenses are compatible with the M10-R, allowing users to explore and invest in Leica’s vast portfolio of world-renowned lenses. This includes Leica’s newest generation of handcrafted APO lenses, which offer unparalleled sharpness and true-to-life colour rendition.

Hand assembled in Germany, the M10-R comprises more than 100 individually engineered components, crafted from the highest quality materials, to create a powerful and robust camera that encompasses decades of camera-making expertise. ‘Designing a Leica M requires a different approach from any other product,’ explains Christoph Gredler from the Leica design team. ‘The M is the most central product of the company’s camera range. This calls for sensitivity as well as a sense of respect and responsibility towards a design tradition that has been passed down for more than 60 years.’


The Leica M10-R camera body retails at £7,100. It is pictured top in black chrome, with the APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 APSH. lens in a black anodized finish, £6,500. Learn more about the Leica M-System and how it revolutionised the world of photography here

The Royal Exchange celebrates its 450th anniversary this year. Our Icons of the Exchange series pays homage to the exceptional array of retailers that call The Royal Exchange home, with a look at the heritage, design and craftsmanship of products that epitomise the essence and excellence of our celebrated brands.

We look forward to welcoming you to The Royal Exchange during 2021, for a considered shopping experience in spectacular and historic surroundings. Please visit our boutiques page for regular updates on our retailers’ opening information and hours, as well as details about virtual appointments and click and collect services.

Visit our heritage page to learn more about the history of The Royal Exchange and keep an eye on our 450 Years site, journal and Instagram for more fascinating facts and insights about its past and present as we commemorate this special milestone throughout the year ahead.