Leica M10: A weekend in Berlin WITHOUT the new camera
Perverse to take delivery of a new M10 before a long weekend in Berlin and then leave the new camera at home. The title of this article should and could have been "A weekend in Berlin with the new Leica M10". The fact that it isn't took a lot of willpower, I can tell you. But the main purpose of this visit to the German capital was already ordained; it is to celebrate in advance the introduction of two of Leica’s most iconic products of the 21st century — so far.
In May 2012 the city was host to the first of the now familiar “Das Wesentliche” events. The essentials in question were the Monochrom, the first modern black-and-white-only digital rangefinder, and the still-stunning 50mm Apo-Summicron-M ASPH lens. We are now approaching the fifth anniversary of this launch so I planned to bring my own Monochrom Mk.I and Apo-Summicron back to Berlin for a bit of photography in anticipation of the celebration.
Sadly, therefore, I was compelled to leave the new M10 at home lest I be tempted by its undoubted charms. Better to have one camera, one lens in the form of the Monochrom and Apo. I just allowed myself one extra luxury — the tiny Ricoh GR that goes everywhere with me and weighs less than a feather. Churlish not to slip it in the bag, as Bill Palmer says.
So here I am in Berlin and the weather gods are smiling — the first taste of Spring as the sun shines down. I’ll just have to beware of those blown highlights, something that the Monochrom, especially the first version, does with aplomb. I’ll try -0.3EV for starters, as I remember well from my original ownership of this groundbreaking camera.
Back in 2012 the Monochrom body cost a breathtaking £6,000 — expensive even by today’s standards — and the lens, which Leica claimed to have designed especially to complement the costly shooter, was just a few hundred pounds cheaper. The combination cost more than a reasonably motor car and had to offer much. Significantly, though, this camera body has lost only 50 percent of its value in five years while the Apo-Summicron has lost barely 20 percent. Buyung them now guarantees relatively minor future depreciation. And you'll have a lot of fun on the way.
This weekend I will be finding out whether the cost back in 2012 was worthwhile.