The 2013 Leica M Typ 240

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Previously in October 2012, I had a chance to handle the M Typ 240 (I’m going to call it the M 240 from hereon in) back at the Kuala Lumpur launch event, and produce a quick preview (that can be found here). At that point, the camera was a very early functioning prototype – yet the improvement over the M9 was clear. There was of course no way to get images onto a PC for review; the SD card was glued in and the grip had no USB ports. Frustratingly, things appeared pretty good on the new (and larger) rear LCD. But we all know that such small and limited-gamut monitors are not a good way to determine image quality at all; I was thus itching to get my hands on a camera, or at very least, some good files to play around with. I’m not really a fan of long waits to availability – whilst it’s nice to know what’s in the works, I’d rather not have to wait six or more months before I can actually buy one. By then, the world might just have moved on.

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In the meantime, we were given a bunch of rather ho-hum samples to which the internet community at large has been at best ambivalent, at worst, downright unimpressed by – I’ve even had multiple emails asking me if I thought it was a hoax, and expressing outrage – not that I have any influence over the camera makers. The bottom line is that the photographers weren’t amateurs, and thus the fault could be either of two things: the camera, or lack of familiarity with it. I’m not going to blame or defend either man or equipment, but I’ll say one thing: it would only be fair to use it myself before drawing any conclusions. I’m quite pleased with the output achieved here, even if there was some fiddling required in the process (more on that later). This was the mystery ‘extra camera’ I carried on my last trip to Yangon, in addition to the Ricoh GR1v and Sony RX100 (which wasn’t used at all, actually).

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Yes, I do my own product shots. No, you can’t use them for free for your site. I’ve had enough people ripping me off that I’m spending a lot of money on cease-and-desist letters.

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Disclaimer/ objectivity: I was involved in the testing process for the camera – thank you to Jesko Oeynhausen, Sunil Kaul, Mathieu Musnier and George Wong at Leica for the invitation. What follows are my detailed observations and thoughts from my period spent testing a near-final prototype. Whether any of my dozens of observations and suggestions were incorporated or not, I can’t say until the final firmware is out, but I do know that plenty of attention was given. Sample images in this review were shot with the Leica 50/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH, Leica 28/2 Summicron-M ASPH, Zeiss ZM 2.8/28 Biogon T* and processed via ACR (no profile) in CS5.5. I won’t be posting full size images as is my standard policy; there is just too little respect for intellectual property online and poor images are rather meaningless. Product images were shot with a D800E and various macro lenses. Note: please look at the original size images on Flickr (clicking through the images will get you there) – their resizing algorithm seems to introduce some haloes at smaller sizes. Original doesn’t show these.

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First off: the M 240 is an enormous leap forward ahead of the M9 in every area; in fact, it feels like several generations have been skipped. The shooting and usability envelope has been hugely expanded, and that doesn’t include the myriad improvements that have taken place everywhere else, too. We all know the core specifications – 24 megapixels, custom CMOS sensor collaboratively designed by both Leica and CMOSIS which is now capable of around 4fps, live view and 1080p25 video. The sensor also has an improved, flatter microlens array for both higher light collection and better cooperation with legacy lenses, especially wideangles. This becomes increasingly important at the edges as the sensor’s resolution increases.

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Aside from that, major changes – hardware/ ergonomic and firmware/ operational – include:

  • The LCD is now 3″, and has VGA resolution – color, detail and brightness are pretty much close to the OM-D and D800E, though not quite as good as the 1.2MP unit on my RX100. I’d say catchup with the competition rather than a huge improvement in this area.
  • The camera can now take an EVF via an accessory port under the hotshoe; it shares EVF units with the X2 (and some Olympus cameras, it seems). There are also other accessories that can use this port – notably an external microphone.
  • There are some extra buttons: LV to toggle Live View on the row under the viewfinder; ‘M’ to start video recording next to the shutter, and the focus assist button where the rewind interlock toggle was traditionally located on film Ms, under the shutter button on the front panel. Here, it activates peaking and magnification (adjustable using the rear dial); if held down while turning the rear dial, then it adjusts exposure compensation – which is also visible in the viewfinder information display.
  • The dial surrounding the D-pad has now moved to the back of the top panel, integrated with the new thumb grip.
  • The frame line illuminator window is gone, replaced by LED frame lines in either red or white (personally, I prefer white)

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  • The entire base area has been redesigned; the baseplate now attaches via a larger, more secure stud on one end, and the tripod mount is integral with the camera body instead of the baseplate. When mounted, the baseplate is thus sandwiched between the camera and tripod head, and is much, much more secure than the old solution (too many stories of the small metal flange breaking off). The baseplate covers battery compartment, SD card, and now also an I/O port that interfaces with the optional Multifunctional Handgrip M, which adds a GPS module for geotagging, AC adaptor socket, SCA hotshoe communicator, PC-sync socket and USB port. There’s also a dumb-handgrip which is purely ergonomic. Both handgrips have sockets to accept a similar finger grip system as was used on the M9 Titanium.
  • The M 240 uses a new, larger battery – it has double the capacity of the old one, charges much faster (new charger, of course) with a rapid charge function to about 80%; battery life is around 600 shots or so with the EVF or live view, and I was averaging close to 2,000 with moderate LCD reviewing and normal viewfinder use.
  • The shutter is massively improved: it’s crisper, quieter, better damped/ lower vibration and no longer has the buzzing rewind sound of the M8/M9. To match, the feel of the shutter button has now been similarly improved; it’s no longer notchy and ‘tight’. Instead, a half press activates/ locks the meter, and there’s a short but distinct break to a full press. The ‘discrete’ and ‘soft’ modes of the M9 are no longer available, nor are they required. This may not seem to be much of a big deal, but shutter feel matters: both to the photographer’s ability to handhold the camera at low speeds, as well as the enjoyment of using the camera.
  • The entire menu and firmware have been completely revamped; there are a lot more options, and as a result more closely resembles the X2 and S menus. You can still save profiles, have quick access to important settings via the SET button and a black screen, and check camera status with INFO.

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  • Oh yes, the D-pad now has a center button – it brings up camera status when pressed from a black screen, or serves as SET/ enter/ OK in every other situation except delete.
  • We’re no longer restricted to centerweighted metering: the M 240 has an ‘advanced’ mode that offers matrix and spot metering too. It uses the sensor to meter, which means both more precise metering, but lower battery life since the shutter is open and the sensor powered up and slight lag because it has to cycle the shutter – there’s no electronic first curtain. The matrix mode is excellent, but I found the spot mode a bit hit and miss – there’s no way to accurately determine the spot area in the optical finder. Works great with live view and EVF, though. The main centerweighted meter (that uses reflected light off the shutter curtain) still gets fooled somewhat by point light sources – though it’s nowhere near as bad as the M9 was. We’re talking 1-2 stops instead of 4-

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  • The frameline preview lever is gone – I must be one of the few people who actually used and now misses it.
  • There’s now a virtual horizon function
  • You can rename the filename prefix – very useful if you’ve got many files all titled with L-something from different cameras…
  • The M9’s left-side notch is gone; it’s now been filled in (presumably) by the microphone. Unfortunately, the placement of the microphone means that when you’re shooting with EVF and your right eye, the microphone picks up the sounds of your breath…shoot with the rear LCD or the EVF in the waist level/ 90deg position instead.
  • The camera is slightly thicker and heavier than the M9; presumably this has something to do with the new rear LCD or the thumb hook. You do feel it in the hand; it’s not quite as svelte as the film Ms (and probably can never be, given the sensor, board and LCD have to fit in the depth of the film, pressure plate and back.
  • For the DIY types, the vertical rangefinder adjustment now uses the same 2mm hex screw as the rangefinder infinity position (instead of the previous custom tool). People tell me I’m making far too big a deal of this.

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I think it’s safe to say that when you have to put in several images to visually break up the huge column of text, this is not a trivial number of changes. The overall feeling is not so much evolution as a completely new camera. Sure, the controls are mostly in the same place, it looks and feels the same in the hand, you use the viewfinder and rangefinder to frame and focus, but oh boy – the impression given in use is completely different. The M9 felt like a film camera that was missing a wind lever, but instead made a buzzing sound and produced an image on the back; it also wasn’t the most reliable of cameras (the well-known SD card issues, for instance). I suppose defenders will claim that’s a bit like the unpredictability of film, too – it’s not, film never cost me a large job. In contrast, the M 240 feels like a mature, complete, competent camera that can both be operated like the M9 – set everything once and just focus on the main controls, ignore the LCD if you desire – and feels like it integrates well with the rest of your camera systems. The good news is that it no longer eats cards; the bad news it does have an odd startup lag – up to several seconds – that seems related to capacity, speed and how full your card is – small, fast cards are best to keep this to an absolute minimum. You can of course turn standby off and leave the camera on, which speeds things up at the expense of battery life.

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At present, the M 240 is the only full frame mirrorless camera available; its short back-flange distance (the M mount is about 28mm, compared to 45mm+ for most SLRs) means that it’s compatible with just about every other lens out there via an adaptor. Of course, the M 240 with EVF and suitable adaptor is also Leica’s solution for legacy R-system users; not having any investment or experience in the R system, I was far more interested in how the camera would do with my Nikon F mount glass. The way I use my Nikon system now tends to be mostly tripod based with live view for critical focus; sometimes I shoot reportage with a lower resolution body/ body pair and/or an OM-D for more reach. You can see where this is going: it would be nice if I could condense my multiple systems and backup bodies down to just one or two.

I suspect that if the pricing is right, there will be a lot of pros taking a long, hard look at the Canikon flagships and wondering if this might make an interesting alternative: with the D4 and 1Dx being within 10-20% of the price of the M 240 – at least in Malaysia – it becomes a viable option. I know it’s something I’m considering. Lens cost may skew the equation somewhat, but then again perhaps not – you can use your legacy lenses via adaptors, and just get native M-mount glass (Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander) for the one or two critical focal lengths. Unfortunately, due to lack of time, location work, limited subject material, assignment schedules etc. – the one thing I didn’t get to test was the way the camera worked as a studio camera – and specifically, how it would fare for horological work with my Nikon flashes slaved in SU4 mode – can’t think why it wouldn’t work, though. I suppose that will have to wait for next time.

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The M system now has the advantage of being able to serve as both a backup location or studio camera, as well as an excellent travel setup. For precise framing and focusing with longer lenses, there’s now the EVF and live view – there is no longer any need for a visoflex or second system body. I plan to streamline my systems – or at very least the backup bodies – down to just one M now that it’s a viable alternative. On the subject of live view, the M’s implementation makes a lot of sense: for viewing, it shows a clean image; when the shutter is half pressed, it previews the shooting exposure. (Of course, you’re always looking at the lens stopped-down as there’s no mechanical connection between lens aperture mechanism and the camera body.) This is a very clever, useable implementation and begs the question: why do I have to choose between viewable image or preview only with my Nikons?

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I was left with mixed feelings from the EVF experience, though. On one hand, it’s great to be able to focus anywhere in the frame and have a magnified centre zone (apparently technical limitations with the sensor mean that live view magnification is restricted to the centre portion of the image only, which may cause issues when shooting fast lenses with field curvature wide open) – but on the other hand, it just feels wrong. If I use my right eye with the EVF, my nose goes into the optical finder window, which means that it becomes dirty and hard to see through afterwards; and then there’s the previously mentioned issue of microphone placement. (Why didn’t they just put it at the front of the camera where the RF frame line illuminator patch used to be?) Don’t get me wrong – the EVF itself is excellent; high resolution, of reasonably natural contrast and dynamic range, and with a pretty good refresh rate (though nowhere near as fluid as the high-speed 120fps mode of the OM-D).

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There’s also a bit of a wonky bug in the way the camera picks a display – it’s the last one used, not the last one used for a given mode. So if you were using live view on the EVF, it’ll playback there too unless you manually switch over., which can be rather annoying at times. Focus peaking works, but it could probably use a bit more customization – more or less sensitive, thicker outlines, the ability to change colors etc. Note that the sensor does not have an electronic first curtain, which means there’s a small but perceptible lag whenever you shoot in live view or use advanced metering with the rangefinder (it meters off the sensor) – for this reason I prefer to use the normal optical finder and classic metering (which is restricted to centre weighted). In short, there’s nothing wrong with it other than my preconceptions that this should still be a rangefinder camera. Fuji’s Hybrid Optical Finder would probably feel right at home here. Assuming of course that either party would play nice with technology sharing.

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I actually wonder if the appearance of the EVF on an M camera means that the rangefinder’s days may be numbered; the reality is that the system requires very precise calibration, is prone to drift, is limited when it comes to zoom lenses, long lenses or off-center subjects, and is manual focus only. It made sense back in its heyday, and personally I think there are enough advantages to it to make it preferrable – the size and clarity of the view, the ability to see outside the frame, and the responsiveness of hyperfocal/ zone/ manual focusing – but what we really need is something that’s the best of both worlds. Perhaps Fuji is going in the right direction after all. More interestingly, it seems that the idea of cross-system compatibility as a whole is coming of age; first with Micro Four Thirds and the other mirrorless cameras, and now with the full-frame M 240. We are no longer restricted to lenses from one manufacturer on one body – it’s great because it means we can cherry-pick the best of everything, providing you have the right adaptors and a short enough flange distance on the body you’re mounting things to.

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Of course, the idea of full cross-system compatibility and backup would be uselessly impractical if the non-system lenses – especially wides – didn’t play nice; I’m pleased to report that isn’t the case. Edge performance is acceptable for most lenses, and fairly close to the lenses on their native mounts for the more telecentric designs such as the Zeiss Distagons. I tested the Zeiss ZF.2 2.8/21 and 2/28 Distagons with no issues; the 2/50 and 2/100 Makro-Planars were also excellent performers. Out of curiosity and in the interests of science, I’m pleased to report that the Hasselblad Zeiss CF 4/50 FLE, CF 2.8/80 and CF 4/120 Makro-Planar all work well too…even if they look rather ridiculous due to their size and the need to use multiple adaptors (Hasselblad V to Nikon F, Nikon F to Leica M). This says that the redesigned microlenses are working: legacy M glass looks great, too – the images in this review were shot with the 28/2 Summicron-M ASPH, 50/2 APO Summicron-M ASPH (reviewed here) and Zeiss ZM 2.8/28 Biogon. Incidentally, the 50 AA really shines on the M 240’s sensor – if anything, it confirms the mastery of this optical design (if not justifying its very high price). Other lenses don’t appear to be any poorer, but it could also be because there’s very little difference in real linear resolution between 19 amd 24 MP.

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It’s only natural for me to want to compare this camera to the current benchmark in its sensor class: the Nikon D800E. I don’t think anybody would argue about that camera’s resolving power, color accuracy or dynamic range; it’s also a camera I’m very familiar with as it’s been my workhorse since it went on sale in April 2012. In short: the M 240 compares favourably. In fact, I think it outresolves the other 24MP DSLRs thanks to its lack of antialiasing filter; there’s a crispness present which certainly isn’t there on my D600. There’s of course no way it can beat the D800E due to sheer pixel count, but the reality is that the linear difference in resolution isn’t quite as much as you think – about 22% linearly. Far more important is the pixel-level quality of the files.

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The good new is the M 240 does very well here. It’s pretty close to the D800E in acuity; perhaps both cameras are pushing the limits of what can be squeezed out of a Bayer-type array. ISO sensitivities run 200-6400, with a PULL 100 mode. At base native ISO – 200 – I think useable dynamic range matches that of the D800E; depending on how you process the DNG files, you’re looking at somewhere in the neighbourhood of 13-4 stops. Rarely did I have situations where I clipped highlights or lost shadows, and this is shooting in bright tropical sun where ‘Sunny 16’ should be more like ‘Sunny 32’. Recoverable dynamic range from the raw files is definitely shadow biased; you might get 2-3 stops there, but only 1 (or less) out of the highlights, which clip with a moderately harsh transition if you pull the recovery sliders too far. Needless to say, there’s easily a gain of a stop or two on the M9, and you don’t get the abrupt ‘tearing’ or ‘bleeding’ artefacts seen when the M9’s CCD saturates – sun in center frame is a good example.

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ISO comparison series. Click here for the full size screen capture made up of 100% crops.

It’s a different story at higher ISOs, though; it seems that you’re basically losing one stop of dynamic range for every stop in sensitivity gain, and a bit more at the 3200 and 6400 settings because the noise floor increases dramatically; by the time you hit 6400 I’d say there’s no more than 6-7 stops of useable dynamic range. There’s also some faint shadow pattern banding at 3200 and 6400 settings. ISO 6400 is still useable if you expose properly – highlights remain clean – even if the shadows turn into a murky mess and must be crushed to reduce visibility of banding. Pixel-level performance is roughly comparable to the D600 and D800E (minus the banding), and about 2-2.5 stops ahead of the M9. Not bad at all considering the pixels got smaller, too.

_M240_L1000044 copy Might not look it, but it was in a dark corner – at ISO 4000.

One of the bigger debates raging across the internet is whether anything will be lost in the transition from CCD to CMOS architecture; the former tends to have a much more filmic response than the latter. I know that the raw tonal response of the M8/ 9/ Monochrom – Kodak CCD based with the same architecture – is definitely more pleasing than the D800E, especially in the quarter tones, which just seem somehow richer. The D800E of course has much more latitude for adjustment, but it does require some work to get similar tonal quality. (As a result, output tends to look a little flat.) I’m definitely not a fan of the relatively unforgiving latitude and poor signal-to-noise ratio at higher sensitivities, though. It appears that the M 240’s new sensor sits somewhere between the two camps, even if the architecture is ostensibly CMOS.

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We have a sensor that has some of the tonal response – i.e. nonlinearity – of a CCD, which means it produces nice quarter tones; but some of the latitude and low noise of a CMOS. The tradeoff appears to be a similarly nonlinear decrease in dynamic range as the sensitivity gets turned up. In some ways, the rendering quality of the sensor reminds me of the Nikon D2H’s JFET LBCAST sensor – which itself was supposed to be a hybrid design – right down to the way you can have four perfectly clean highlight stops at high ISO, acceptable midtones, and then the shadows turn to mush. Fortunately, the usable ISO ceiling isn’t restricted to about 800 or so – on the M 240, that’s the point at which you start to notice there’s some noise in the shadows. It doesn’t actually ever become objectionable because the highlights remain clean, but it’s definitely there, and not always monochromatic, either.

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Saturated reds: a bit hot.

The jury is still out on color, for the main reason that Adobe has not yet released a set of profiles for the camera; as such, I’ve been looking at DNG files which have truly ‘raw’ color output with no grading or profiling whatsoever. In the course of testing and reviewing, I created my own color profiles to address this – the native response of the camera is to have strong yellow response and saturated reds that shift slightly towards pink. It’s not at all accurate, and requires some considerable work to correct. I can only hope that this improves once we have official and properly calibrated profiles to work with; I’ll reserve final judgement until then. Bottom line: as it stands, the M 240 doesn’t have the same color response as the M9, because my profiles for that camera produce slightly strange results when used on M 240 files. I would describe the M9’s files as ‘cool’ and ‘light’, with colors that tend towards richness when saturated. The M 240 is warmer and more saturated overall, but without the flatness of the D800E’s raw files; the tonal map is closer to the M9’s CCD.

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Interestingly, the M 240’s files are very good candidates for black and white conversion; straight desaturation of a raw file results in nice quarter tones and smooth tonal ramps. In fact, it’s not far off the M Monochrom in this area; although the Monochrom will still hold a slight advantage in resolved detail due to the lack of Bayer filter, the high ISO advantage it previously enjoyed over the M9 is gone: top ISOs of 6400 on the M 240 and 5000 on the M Monochrom look pretty much the same, both in terms of noise and dynamic range. Unless you’re a real low-ISO black and white connoisseur, I’d venture as far as to say that the M 240 can match the M Monochrom for the vast majority of situations, and with the added benefits of all of the other usability improvements and being able to shoot color . It also does no harm that it’s a bit cheaper, too.

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I’m not going to comment on video performance because it’s not my area of expertise; I’m going to leave this to others who are more knowledgeable about these things.

I admit that I was initially very worried about dilution of purity with the new M, which is admittedly a rather nebulous concept. I’ve always thought of the M cameras – film or digital – as the last bastions of pure photography, in that the electronics and extraneous features/ controls/ bits were always kept to the bare minimum. The M8/9s were perhaps the only cameras that retained manual focus only, mechanical aperture dials, and a direct shutter speed dial – you could shoot them without ever entering the menu more than once, if you so desired. My initial reaction to the M 240 was a slight queasiness and feeling that the line had somehow been bastardized by the addition of video and electronic finders (it’s a rangefinder camera! M stands for rangefinder, in German! What on earth were they thinking? Etc.) – live view I can live with, and is especially helpful for determining if a lens is soft or if it’s merely your rangefinder that’s out. After using the camera for some time, I think this is simultaneously true and untrue: I don’t like the EVF experience, but I suppose it makes sense and you have the choice to use it or not.

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In that respect, the M 240 delivers on a level that’s at least one, if not two, complete generations ahead of the M9; it finally feels like the M system has come of maturity into the digital age. Unlike the earlier digital Ms, the camera no longer feels like the limiting factor – barring startup delays – it really does feel like the time when Nikon went full frame all over again. Leica has come under a lot of fire for the limitations of the M8, continued limitations of the M9 and somewhat stopgap means of addressing high ISO performance with the Monochrom; I freely admit that QC issues with the M8 and lenses at the time forced me to abandon Leica at the time, and I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the M9-P – loved the tactility and experience of shooting it, hated the unreliability and high ISO performance. I am as impressed with the image quality as I am with how much difference all of the little changes make towards overall usability. Yes, there are still things to be improved – ergonomics (that damn right strap lug!), microphone placement, EVF behaviour, colour – but for the most part, the M 240 shows Leica are firmly back in the game. MT

I will be posting plenty of additional test images from the camera over the course of the next few weeks to my Flickr page – there’s a dedicated Flickr set for the M 240 test here.. Note: please look at the original size images on Flickr (clicking through the images will get you there) – their resizing algorithm seems to introduce some haloes at smaller sizes. Original doesn’t show these.

Update (23/2/13): Fellow testers Sean Reid and Jonathan Slack have also published their thoughts – you can find them at their respective links.

The Leica M Typ 240 is available here from B&H here in black and chrome, and Amazon here in black and chrome.


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  1. As a previous M9 user most using 35mm lenses, now upgraded to the awesome Sony RX1, I was considering buying an M240 to continue my love of M lenses, however I keep seeing, even in this very enthusiastic review, merely a catchup in sensor performance to the mid of the latest generation. The DR and ISO performance is not at the same level as the latest Sony sensors, although lapping at their feet. The banding is certainly last generation and all the evidence I have seen from owners is that ISO 6400 is not really usable in real life and 3200 is good but not as clear as a D600 or D800.
    Given the price, I am wondering whether its worth it, or whether I should buy a D600 for the 50mm and 90/100mm FL. The picture quality would be better or as good with a zeiss or nikon 85mm lens.
    This might sound strange from a former M9 user but IMHO the extra 100g of M240 weight has eroded somwhat that weight augument over the 6D/D800. Its a much more interesting world now of choice, but obviously more confusing 😦

    • I’m actually enjoying my 50/1.4 ASPH on the OM-D as a 100/1.4 of all things. It was supposed to go on the M 240, but that hasn’t shown up yet. I’m actually not too bothered at this point…

    • +1
      When I tried the new Leica, I was shocked to see how heavy it was, definitely comparable with Canon 6D. Of course lenses for Canon are bigger than the Leica lenses, but if you just want to use one or 2 prime lenses, a 6D with those sounds better. – or maybe even an OMD with a few leica lenses.

  2. Sascha Sorbo says:

    Thanks a lot for this valuable review!
    I am (unfortunately) not yet a user of Leica M gear. So I am not interested in defending this “M” or that “M”.
    I played with the M, MM and ME at photokina, that’s all.
    But to my eyes, and not just slightly, the shots I’ve seen so far from you, or other bloggers, deliver results not even close to base ISO shots taken with the M9.
    Even with your skills in post processing that I admire since I follow your thoughtful blog. So, I don’t want to “blame” anyone, it’s just my eyes and certainly not basing on technical facts.
    To me it seems as if there is nothing comparable to the M9 up to ISO 400 with the right lens. With your skills in pp I would dare to say up to ISO 1250. The M 240 files look “sonyish” to me, what does not have to be a bad thing. But I clearly did like the look of the M9’s sensor more.

    Thanks for the best reviews out there!
    Best wishes from Germany


    • I don’t think you can form conclusions looking at small web jpegs…

      • Sascha Sorbo says:

        Sure, on the one hand you’re right, on the other hand I am just comparing small web jpegs from the M9 with small web jpegs from the 240. And again, to my eyes, 240’s files show lack of “gloom”, where the M9’s don’t (at base ISO).
        And I really don’t want to glorify the M9, as I don’t even own one. Well in the end you are the professional, and you shot with both cameras – so you know what you’re talking about. But still …

        • There’s obviously something to it, because you’re not the only person to say something similar. What do you mean by ‘gloom’? Is it a stylistic or processing choice, or sensor related? The Myanmar images are brighter than my normal style because of the amount of sun in that physical location…

          • Sascha Sorbo says:

            This is very hard to describe and obviously very subjective. Maybe it’s focus transition. It is definitely not to be influenced by post processing, I even saw it from Leica-shooters doing nothing but ooc jpeg candy-shots on Flickr.
            It could be the lenses, maybe the coating, as I owned a Zeiss Ikon Rangefinder with excellent zm lenses some time ago, and although I loved the setup and the “Zeiss-Pop” with slides or bw, I could never achieve such gloom. And, shame on me, I don’t think Leica lenses are optically any “better” than Zeiss lenses. But they definitely deliver something unique. What to my eyes appears to be gloomy, I did see very often with the 28 summicron asph, but never with the 50 cron for example. But certainly this could be coincidental.
            Now something weird: The only camera from which I saw files that remind me a tiny little bit of that gloom is … my Ricoh GRD III. Could it be the combination of a CCD with a special kind of coating and a wide-angle lens? I don’t know.

            • Hmm, if it’s focus transition, it shouldn’t show up on images that have no OOF areas. I didn’t use any overlapping lenses with the M9 and M 240 – could be the cause…

              The Ricoh GRD III has quite a uniquely ‘dark’ rendering amongst compacts. The tonal range seems to favor long shadows. My guess is it might be something to do with the way they’ve set up the A/D conversion.

              • Sascha Sorbo says:

                You obviously do not have much time to play with; but if you’re curious about that gloom, I think this setup could reveal it: A set of portrait shots with both the M240 and M9 with 2 different 28mm lenses, the 28 cron asph would be a must, and then let’s say the biogon. Distance not directly at close focus range, but maybe at the double. I’d say the first half of an hour after heavy afternoon rain would be ideal, but that could be a little exaggerated … :o). Maybe this could be something for the history books – the Leica-Gloom finally revealed … ;o)

  3. Niall Maguire says:

    Detailed review worth taking the time to read. It should now be possible to fit circular polarizer filters and judge the effects on live view. The microphone openings on the top of the camera by their nature cannot be waterproof.

    • Thanks. I raised the same points re. Microphone openings, but apparently there was no other space to put them. I don’t think that location was well thought-out at all; it picks up your breath when you use the EVF too.

  4. Excellent review work, and wonderful images. The images here are sharp, but when I view the original size in your Flickr, they look normal like any other good camera.

    _M240_L1002618 copy

    _M240_L1004639 copy

    So I assume the pictures here are already sharpened by Flickr, and the original ones are not ? Thanks, just want to confirm. I was thinking that they should be a lot better than that, at least come a bit close to a Sigma DP2M quality. Or maybe because it’s a prototype …

    • All of the images are reduced web-size. Too many issues in the past with image theft and full size images. Can’t say how they’d compare to the DP2M as I haven’t used one, but at the pixel level, they’re better than the D600.

      • Thanks, Ming, just wanted to clarify, as the “original size” are actually very small sizes, shot at high speed, and f/4 and f/9 and yet they show such average quality, I thought something was wrong. Of course, I am looking at the technical side and not the pictures themselves (which are great, I wish I was there) … I guess something got lost on the way to Flickr.

  5. Dirk De Paepe says:

    Hello Ming,
    It’s really a shame that I read your review only now. It was not before yesterday evening that I found time to read about the 240, so that was pretty nerve-racking to me. 🙂
    I found your writing to be very interesting: systematical and really to the point, in depth and yet not too “laboratory-like”. And your pictures really add to the story – in a fascinating way. Always love them so much.
    Now it’s pretty clear to me: there are many important improvements to this camera, also in IQ. But finally it comes down to only one question IMO: do I really like what I see.
    Like for so many, also to me the first pictures that I saw from the 240 were really disappointing. I saw an “average” tone character, not at all popping. Bit by bit better pictures appeared and reading Steve Huff’s review yesterday evening already put me in the right direction. But I have to give you this credit: it was only when looking at the colors in your pictures that I experienced a kind of quiet waw-feeling. They are so well balanced and, yes, there’s a kind of “rich peace” to them. I think that everything one could be longing for is in those files. So I’m really believing that I can come to love those colors a whole lot and I’m experiencing a learning process here.
    Still, with the M9 colors, it was love at first sight. Blown away. I don’t know how this comes and one really doesn’t need to be blown away, especially when getting somewhat older… 🙂 But still, I miss that feeling a bit. Nevertheless, should I have to decide now, I’d definitely go for the 240 and it’s the IQ that’s decisive in this matter.
    Also to your credit: reading your review really added to Steve’s. Yours is more in depth, his is more “common practice” like. I love both.
    Thanks a lot for the review and the magnificent pictures. Some of them I find really outstanding, the others are just very very good… You do a wonderful job here, Ming, and I hope to see much more in the future.

    • Thanks Dirk there’s plenty of older but still relevant material in the archives. I evaluate from the point of view of a working commercial photographer, so my requirements are a bit different and more demanding to other reviewers. As for color…I was dealing with a beta camera and I profiled files/ converters, so I can only imagine it’s even better now. In any case, I have to get color accuracy and consistency above all for my work,so everything is run through my usual workflow (there are videos available in the teaching store link on the header bar).

      • Dirk De Paepe says:

        You know my time is very limited, so I really can’t follow too many blogs and sites. Still I will explore yours more in the future, and indeed also the educational stuff. Knowing you better and better (in a way of speeking) I’m convinced to find really interesting stuff there for a through enthousiast like me.

  6. Ted Covey says:

    Hi Ming,
    What lens adapter were you using with the Zeiss 28mm zf.2? Thanks.

  7. Hello Ming,

    I must offer congratulation and commendation for your diligence in providing this review. It is extremely well written and I personally appreciated your decision to trust your experience in not discussing video.

    I am presently an M9 owner, dependent upon Zeiss ZF glass, and a long ago user of an M4P. I like my M9 very much as it brings the feel of my long gone and much missed M4 to digital. While I shoot a variety of formats including 4×5 film still, my carry it camera is the M9. I have been disappointed by the noise level above ISO 800 and the poor display quality of the LCD, but have accepted these as part of the price of having and using the M9. Since the announcement of the M, I’ve been giving consideration to a trade up to the M when it is generally available here in Canada. I cannot say that other reviews were particularly helpful and the Leica site is not particularly useful. You’ve made the decision simpler to achieve, and I will be in contact with my dealer to be put on the list for an M.

    I would solicit your opinion on finish choice if you don’t mind. The M4-P and the M9 have been both finished in black. I have never owned a silver bodied Leica believing that the dark finish was less obtrusive when making candid images. In your opinion and experience will one finish outlive another? I am very careful with my gear, but a camera carried everywhere will pick up marks. I had other black over brass cameras in the seventies, and the black would wear off revealing the brass in relatively short order.

    Beyond those elements raised in your review, are there any cautions you might offer against trading my M9 towards an M?

    Thank you in advance for your consideration.


    • Thanks Ross. Would be great if you could use one of my referral links when you do eventually get the camera 🙂

      Not having seen the silver in person either, I can’t really say – I liked my chrome M9-P, but not the gray paint on the M9. I don’t generally like black paint either – I must be the only person who doesn’t think brassing looks good – but the M 240 (at least the one I had) appears to be some new finish between the glossy black paint of the MP and the anodized black of the M8 and MM. I’m going with black, personally.

      Do it fast before secondary value of the M9 drops further 😉

      • drchevalier says:

        Thank you for your amazingly rapid response Ming. I will do what I can to support you. I appreciate your perspective on the finish, and I will be following up with my dealer when they open tomorrow to get on the M list.

  8. John Robert Fulton Jr. says:

    Hi MIng–I’m a bit late to the party here. I am assuming, since it’s never mentioned that there is NO automatic sensor cleaner as almost every DSLR has today including Nikon’s super cheap, but great little D3200? Confirm or not. Also, I have yet to see a review that gives an idea of how large the cache file is. How many RAW files fill the cache and thus the camera stops to empty the cache. My M8.2 is about five or so. I don’t believe the M9 was any better. Thanks for your most interesting review.

  9. The very first (and so far the one and only useful) and comprehensive review / preview of the new Leica baby.
    Thanks for the effort!
    I just would have loved to watch the ISO comparison image at 100% level. But as long as it might be on par with the D800E (useful up to ISO 800 in RAW mode) the new Leica seems OK to me.
    Kind regards and thanks for the article!

  10. Thanks Ming!!
    I placed an order for the M 240 a while back. After seeing a few of the original samples from the camera, I had that sinking feeling like I had made a huge mistake. (I had already purchased 3 Lens while waiting for the new camera). Going with a camera like this is a big change for me as I have been shooting Canon dslrs for over 10 years.
    This article has given me back the confidence that I have made the right decision, and for that I can’t thank you enough!
    Well done!

  11. Christian Roth says:

    Hello Ming Thein,
    EXCELLENT review, thanks a lot !!
    I have one question regarding the quality of focus peaking implementation.
    what do you think of the Leica implementation versus e.g. the Sony implementation?
    thanks a lot !!

  12. Nice review! Looks like the EVF refresh rate and battery usage is a done deal, right?

    Were you able to track (fast) moving object with the EVF ok? How long does the battery gave you while you’re fiddle with all the options?

    • Thanks. Not sure what you mean by EVF refresh and battery usage being a done deal, but they’re definitely linked. I was able to track moving objects fine with the EVF (didn’t have the opportunity to shoot anything really fast) but I still prefer the optical finder – the same goes for any EVF. Shooting normally – viewfinder, moderate review – I could get nearly 2,000 images per charge. Can’t say for sure with everything on because I never shot configured that way for an extended period, but I’d say 5-600 or more should be easily doable based on extrapolation.

  13. Amilcar Alzaga says:

    Great review, I love your photos, it’s really nice when there is somewone who not only knows technical aspects and how to write but more importantly knows how to make a good picture.

  14. Thanks for the thorough analysis. Some sticking points, you say the new M gains 2 to 2.5 stops in high iso performance, and that the color is strange, not quite like that of CCD, yet you conclude that the improvements are not 1 but two generations ahead of the M9? Pardon me, it doesn’t make sense. Also, metering in the M9 is off by 4 stops?

    Clarification here is important, specially for M9 owners who like me see the improvements in IQ as evolutionary, with other more marked improvements in areas that aren’t important for rangefinder use (i.e. video, EVF, use of R, F or V lenses on an M body). The main reason for using a rangefinder camera is simplicity, reading your review confirms that the new M is no longer simple, and also not substantially better than the prior generation.

    The new M now competes with DSLRs and will be appealing to DSLR owners, perhaps for the first time. I hope that the new strategy works Leica and that this move isn’t dilutive. A much better M to use with Leica’s superior M glass will continue to be a destination that I am interested in.

    • Please read the text again carefully.
      1. There are no final color profiles so I didn’t draw conclusions.
      2. It does gain 2-2.5 stops over the M9, and it’s on par with the D600 and D800E for noise performance. Considering the M9 was that far behind, this is a 2-generation leap especially when taking resolution gains into account.
      3. Metering on the M9 is fooled under certain circumstances. Point an M9 at anything at night that has a bright point source and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve encountered this problem so regularly on my M9-P that I go to manual at night.

      • Oh but I read your text carefully. You do draw a big conclusion, even in your reply text here where again the M is qualified as a 2 generation leap over the M9, a conclusion that compared to other reviewers (Reid, Puts) sounds over-enthusiastic. And the point on giving the M9 4 stops off in metering to make a point vs the M sounds also a bit hard sell. Look the new M is a leap forward in functionality and many are going to like and want this, but it is hardly better than the M9 from an IQ perspective. In fact not until final production version with final firmware will one be able to discern.

        • Again, you’re missing the point. Firstly, I’m going by what I see under similar shooting conditions to how I used my M9. There is a known and replicable issue with metering under a specific set of circumstances – which I encounter often due to my style of photography – where the M9 completely drops the ball. The M 240 doesn’t. And you’re looking at websize jpegs, which tell you nothing about file quality. My iphone images look the same, too.

  15. Nice solid review! And nice pictures from Burma. That’s the place where I gave my Fuji X-e1 a first try.
    I didn’t write a review but on my website and blog are some pictures. (scroll down for the fuji X-e1 photo’s) (and some old rolleiflex photo’s aswell)

  16. Dear Ming, I did enjoy the review on the new Leica M 240. In 1983 I fell in love with my Minolta XD7 and I still use my Minolta, which is still in great condition. After holding the Leica M 240 at the Photokina I did preorder it. I already did buy the Novoflex Minolta MD – Leica M adapter. I want to use the new Leica M with my Minolta Rokkor MD legacy glass. What do you think, is that a sensible choice or should I go for new Leica M lenses? Are the Minolta Rokkor lenses good enough to be used on the M 240? Is contempary Leica M glass much improved compared to my 30 years old Minolta lenses?

    • Honestly, no idea as I’ve never used those lenses before. It seems that digital plus legacy glass is a mixed bag – some lenses still impress (Hasselblad-Zeiss V glass on a D800E, for instance) and others don’t work well at all. It’s got a lot to do with how well the optical formula of the lens and the sensor microlenses interact. That said, modern Leica glass is for the most part excellent, especially if you get a good copy.

      • Dear Ming, Leica lenses are famous, and I am considering at least one of the fine Leica M lenses to use with the new Leica M 240. If you had the choice which is your preferred option: 35 or 50mm? And to make the question even more difficult, What would you prefer: a set of Summarit 35mm + 75mm or one Summilux i.e. 35mm or 50mm?

        • Depends on what you shoot. Personally I’m going with 28/2 ASPH and 50/1.4 ASPH, but if I had to pick one, I’d probably go with the 50/1.4 ASPH. Both 35/1.4 ASPH FLE (review coming soon) and the 50/1.4 ASPH are outstandingly good. I’d rather have one than two in this case. Or, I suppose you could go Zeiss and get a set of three (28/35/50) for the price of one Leica lens, without much compromise in quality…

          • Dear Ming, Just got my M 240 with 28/2 ASPH, 50/2.5 and 90/2.5. I did test some of my Minolta lenses. Mostly they disappoint, Leica lenses are so much better. Thank you for your advice!

  17. I think you meant 120hz instead of 120fps for the Olympus OMD viewfinder. If the camera could do 120 FPS, I’d probably have purchased 5 of them by now 😀

  18. Nice photos, Ming!

  19. Mike Butcher says:

    Thank you for a well structured, detailed and very readable review. Please could you tell me whether it is going to be possible to use the Nikon Tilt/Shift lenses on the M240?

    • No problem. Only the older 85 PC (non-E) will work fully because the newer PCE lenses require electronic coupling for aperture control; the diaphragms are now electromagnetic. If you don’t mind shooting at f2.8, then the newer lenses will work fine, too.

      • Mike Butcher says:

        Thank you Ming for the quick and helpful reply. My main interest in the T/S is to photograph wild flowers and get more of them at different levels sharp by using the DOF flexibility, so I would want to use a smaller aperture than 2.8. Also I understand that the Nikon T and S functions can not be de-coupled and so if you change the T the S is automatically changed with it and vice versa. Do you find this a problem? And at the risk of overstaying my welcome do you have any idea whether Leica may introduce a T/S for the M as they have for the S? With many thanks for any thoughts you may have, and best wishes Mike

        • The T and S axes can be decoupled, but they’re not on independently rotatable axes. Not a problem for what I do because I seldom use S for watches, and usually find a better perspective for buildings. Still waiting for that 17 TSE equivalent though. For your needs, look for a second hand older model of the 85.

          No idea on new M lens introductions…I know about as much as the next random guy!

  20. Best Review I have ever read. And your colour photos must be the sharpest I have ever seen. Agree not quite Kodak colours. I am waiting for the “M” so that I can retire my D300 and 24mm F1.4 ( too heavy for me ) and anyway when I started with photography, we were using rangefinder cameras those days. Now fiddling with a Canon EOS M till the real “M” is available. Thanks again for your very fine review.
    p.s. I know what they meant by the “Doctor” ….. 🙂

  21. Haakon Wahl says:

    Dear Mr. Thein. I have been reading your blog from Norway for quite some time now. A lot of www-reviewers these days produce reviews clearly biased by their in-the-moment exitement of a new camera, thereby often contradicting what last week may have appeared as their main criteria for recommending a product. Your in-depth insight to the photographic process in general, and various equipment, however, is of a higher standard. Therefore, at least to me, your input is far more credible. Maybe redundant to say, as I suspect this has been observed by most readers, I´d still like to take the opportunity to acknowledge this. Now, last but not least regarding the new M, will you be buying one yourself?
    All the best 🙂

    • Thanks Haakon. I think some reviewers may be motivated by the need to shift product for referral fees – I’ll generally only review something if I personally find it interesting enough to consider, otherwise it’s a waste of my time and a waste of time to read. There are always exceptions to this, of course.

      I will most probably be getting one, but it depends on when they’re actually available and my commercial/ artistic needs at the time – I just bought a second Hasselblad V-series body 🙂

  22. Could an OM-D user pick up the camera and use it as a mirrorless camera? Or put another way. If you do not use the optical finder does the camera work as a mirrorless camera with full functionality?

    • Of course. It IS a mirrorless camera. But there won’t be AF, and why would you want to hold it at arms’ length to shoot and give up that nice optical finder? There isn’t much reason to get the OM-D over the E-PL5 if you’re not going to use the EVF.

  23. Thiago Medeiros says:

    As usual, marvelous write-up, Ming – you covered pretty much all the bases here. I may finally take the plunge and go Leica M in the near future, as soon as financial conditions allow.

    As for the “I’m not qualified to comment on video…” thing you usually say – I have a feeling that if you took some time and made a movie, it would be amazingly beautiful. You are a great storyteller and have an outstanding aesthetic notion; I bet there are more than a few people around who would love to see ‘un film de Ming Thein’ 😉

  24. Bruce Carl vonZinger says:

    Just a really good in-depth review, as best as can be expected given the limitations of what Leica has allowed you to do. (e.g. no profiles, etc.)
    Most of us interested in this camera come from the Leica “experience” and as such we expect something more than just a few snap shots of no real significance to composition and lighting. (I really appreciate seeing back-lit scenes and direct sun-lit skies … I want to see what the sensor can handle in the extreme dynamic range.)
    For the first time since it was announced, I feel like the M240 is a contender. That is all any of us we looking for, just some evidence of a marked improvement over the M9 (a great camera, if not a little flawed in some areas of performance … why wouldn’t they make the new M.E. with a better LED that you can zoom in on?!?! … that would be a totally usable “M9” then! … I would own both if I could just check my focus accurately …)
    So, Thank You for bringing this information home to us all!
    Well Done …

  25. Color is horrible to my eyes. Fuji-X would be the only choice for my next camera…. Sad.

    • I don’t agree. You’re looking at web jpegs (including compression issues, and no idea if your browser is color space aware or not) so I suggest going by what I say looking at the uncompressed original files, not the ones here that are for illustration only. The camera is as yet unprofiled so color isn’t perfect, but neither do I think it’s the disaster you make it out to be.

    • Yep and you’ll deal with other issues with that choice! I used to have fuji Xand felt the colours were over rated….sold if for an OMD and have enjoyed that experience far more, including how the colours render. But it’s all personal choice and no camera is a one stop shop.

      Ming do think it’ll be possible to get D800e, M9 and M file taken straight from camera in Raw file and compared? No PP work….is that a viable test?

      • Nope, I don’t have any direct comparisons, nor do I have the M8 or M bodies anymore. Sorry!

      • How about just with D800e and M? Would be interesting to see….

        • Nope, nothing comparable at all, I’m afraid. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one – and the 5,000+ files from the M 240 I scrutinized, plus the other 30,000 I’ve shot with the D800E mainly for commercial work…

      • Fair enough…..we’ll have to wait until it released I guess to see some of these comparisons…Cheers

        • Sorry about that. I honestly overlooked this one – had a long list of other stuff to test and a limited amount of free time with the camera, A-B direct comparisons weren’t on the agenda. But the ISO crops should give you a good indication, though.

  26. it is an amazing review, thank you ! LEICA has well done !

  27. Thanks for the review, and the work you put into it. Very helpful and informative. Well done!

  28. Hello, great review and nice pictures, as usual, finally nice ones on this new Leica M ! the one posted on other web sites, even on official Leica pages were quite disappointing.

  29. Finally, some M240 example photos from a great photographer. Your photos look so much better than the other examples I’ve seen. But then, that’s always the case with your work. You prove that, given reasonable hardware, it’s really the photographer (and post processor), not the camera. Of course in this case, the hardware is over-the-top :-).

    Anyway, great work. I guess I could sell everything I own (except for my R and M lenses, and I guess I’d keep my R8) and get one of these. I will await more examples and opinions, though.

    Thanks Ming!

    • Thanks Mike. All I can say is that I still need a minimum level of capability out of the camera: if it doesn’t deliver, then I can’t do what I do. The fact that I can produce work that I’m happy with – to my normal standards – with a prototype is very encouraging. 🙂

  30. hello, I’m writing from Italy, were expected months your review, it was logical that I had chosen as a tester 🙂 you’re really a great and I really like your blog.
    In your opinion the LCD screen fits the entire field of view of 21 mm or we still want the external viewfinder?

    congratulations again


    • Haha, well, I’m not sure about logical, but I suppose I’m flattered 🙂

      As far as I can tell, the LCD/ EVF show 100% coverage or very near to it. I can’t think of any reason to have an optical finder – with very wide lenses you can use the LCD just fine, otherwise the EVF will cover you for every possible situation in which you might need a separate optical finder – without the hassle and cost of having several. I don’t personally like either EVF or hotshoe optical finders as primary finders though; you really do need to focus carefully with the M 240.

  31. I like the black M240 more than the silver chrome, but I don’t like how the black paint smears off with use.
    Do you know if the black M240 has a different type of painting, different to that of the M9?
    Great review.

    • It doesn’t seem the same as the M9, but I’m not sure if mine was final production or not. The finish looks somewhere between the matte black chrome of the M8 and Monochrom and the black paint of the M9. I do know that I didn’t see any brassing on my camera, and that the body had probably been around a bit. I’m guessing it’s going to look like the M9 but have durability more like the M8, but I can’t say for sure.

  32. Great review (not to mention the inspiring photos) , definitely looking forward to delivery. Certainly alleviates my concerns that I had about the camera after seeing the first images released.

  33. Great review and stunning product shots of the M! I’ve only recently got on the M digital bandwagon with the M8, which I love using. Like you I fear that this may be the start of the demise of the rangefinder, only time will tell?

    • Thanks Gary! I hope not – to me, nothing will ever beat a good optical finder. I’m sure enough photographers feel the same way that they’d have a riot on their hands if they tried. I don’t miss the frameline illuminator window, though; the LED frame lines are much more visible.

  34. “On one hand, it’s great to be able to focus anywhere in the frame and have a magnified centre zone (apparently technical limitations with the sensor mean that live view magnification is restricted to the centre portion of the image only”…

    My hope was that the M could be a viable alternative to medium format and 35 DSLRs. I envisaged a new M that could expand the typical genre and applications associated with the M8 and M9 and become an accomplished tripod mounted system. Unfortunately your observation above has dashed those hopes. Focus confirmation of the central portion of the image only is such a handicap when working from a tripod.

    I am very disappointed but really appreciative of your excellent review.

    Many thanks

    Keith Laban

    • I think MF is pushing it, but 35 DSLR is certainly possible. I used the M 240 with my Zeiss ZF glass and LCD without issue on a tripod in similar situations to how I’d use my D800E. If you use global focus peaking, it’s usually quite easy to nail focus anywhere in the frame.

  35. Another Expensive camera!!!
    Would be consider to get a mint copy of M8.2 or M9, but it is still expensive for me. Eventually, got an Fuji X-Pro1 as Chris Weeks mention he had switched from M9 to X-Pro1.

    • Gather information and opinions, but ultimate use what works for you, not what works for somebody else. No denying it’s expensive, though.

      • Which Leica did you own and shoot the most now?
        I still remember reading your post about the beginner entry of rangefinder with M8

        • In terms of absolute # of images, the M8 – I had two, one which I purchased new as a kit, the other which was second hand. Probably close to 50,000 shots between the two of them in a year and a half. The M9-P racked up about 18,000 or thereabouts in about the same amount of time. Neither come close to my primary workhorse cameras – D700 hit just under 70k in 2.5 years, D3 about 40k in a year, and my D800E is at 30k in about ten months.

          • I guess when a professional photographer like you still prefer DSLR for work. I am a hobbyist who love photography since young.
            Very tempting to get a mint condition M8.2, yet I have no experience in checking its condition and thought of its old ccd sensor technology is outdated in this modern era which any mirrorless camera can easily crank up ISP while retaining necessary details.

            • You’re going to have a bit of a lottery in checking the rangefinder; if you get one that’s off it can be fiddly to repair yourself, or mean a trip back to the mothership. I use DSLRs because they make economic sense, especially in today’s commercial photography environment. Clients here don’t pay more for more expensive cameras…

  36. Great review… lots of details as usual…. Thanks MT!!!!! Love the sample photos….^^

  37. Calvin Chin says:

    I am still in doubt that the new naming system will be good for the M system. Anyway, time will tell.

  38. Excellent review. Sold my M9, the Monochrom collects dust and this new M240 just seems like another attempt by Leica to re-invent the wheel with an already proven design (M) that really cannot be modified until it becomes something else, to compete and stay in the digital rat race. I’ll stick with film, thanks!

  39. Thank you very much for this comprehensive and detailed review. You mentioned tactile aspects – can you expand on this a little more ? I love the touch and feel of the current M Leica cameras very much and I’m not talking the sheer size and shape of the camera bodies but the overall experience of handling them. I own a D800e and despite the fact that it is capable of producing excellent pictures it just doesn’t feel like a great camera to me. And again that is not solely due to the shape and size. Its the materials used and they way everything feels when handling the camera.

    • The M 240 feels every bit like its predecessors, but it does feel a little thicker and heavier than the M9 – it might be my imagination, though. Material and build quality is the same for the body, but the EVF is the same as the X2 – a little plasticky.

  40. Thank you for the interesting review.
    Would you say that Life View / Focus Peaking is an advantage when it comes to shooting wide open (e.g. Noctilux at 0,95)?

  41. Wing K Lee says:

    Well done, Ming. Hoping the colours will be improved in final firmware in conjunction with Adobe profile. Everything else sounds promising. Looking forward to mine.


    • Thanks Wing! I’m not too worried about color because all cameras require profiling to get accurate results. Leica haven’t got a final production one to send to Adobe yet (at least not at the time of writing), so we were literally flying blind.

  42. Edouard Chapuis says:

    Nice review, Glad I ordered it… now wait… 🙂

  43. Great review! I really like how you describe the tonality of the sensor output in comparison to CCD/CMOS and how Leica tries to find a good middle way between the good tonality look of the CCD but the more overall better capabilities of a CMOS sensor. Really insightful! I like the comparison to the D2H.

    • Thanks! If you’ve shot a D2H or played with its raw files, you’ll know what I mean. Though perhaps that camera is a bad example of noise control…

  44. Todd Lawton says:

    “Hmm, think I’ll bring a Ricoh GR1v, a Sony RX100 and……… M 240 ZOMG!!!!!!!!!1”

  45. Lubomir Boda says:

    Bravo! Finally something worthy about the new M. Thank you.

    Most probably I will not leave the film Leica M for this but still… very happy to know more about what this product may be about.

    Best regards.

  46. Thank you for this great review. I hope you can help me answer this question.
    1) Are the LED framelines distracting or too bright in low light? (I found a similar problem with the Fuji X100.)
    2) Do you think some of the extra features, like the EVF and metering, distracting from the simplicity that was the M9 or even the M3?

    I’m hoping this will be my first digital M. I currently use a M3 and fuji x100.

    • 1. They vary in brightness, and I’m told there should be an option to adjust the gain in the final firmware. You get white or red. I liked white, personally.
      2. Yes, and I said as much. But you don’t have to use them…

  47. Whether I like Leica or not, I have to admit one thing – it’s one pretty camera. Nice review, Ming! I’d love to own such a smaller FF camera for street photography, but I just can’t justify spending that much money on a camera that seems to offer image quality inferior to 2000$ Nikon D600. I know, Leica is a different story, but it just doesn’t feel right.

    • Thanks! Except…this time, it doesn’t offer inferior image quality. IQ is between the D600 and D800E, closer to the D800E. No denying it’s significantly more expensive, though.

      • Thank you for the reply, it sounds really promising. I’ve read that the performance is closer to modern Canon sensors, especially behavior in the darks. It it’s really somewhere between D600 and D800 (and I think they are damn close), it would be more than excellent.

        • Not having used a recent Canon, I can’t really say, but I do know that I’m not at all disappointed by the files – and that’s coming from somebody who makes his living with a D800E.

  48. Most thorough as usual. Thank you for the review. Not in my ballpark moneywise, but I love to see Leica thriving and would love to own one one of these days. Looking forward to experiences with the finalized version.

  49. Excellent job Ming — now how to resist the temptations raised?

    Beautiful backdrop with Myanmar, looking forward to further updates.

  50. Great review as always!! I’ll have to do some major schmoozing with the Mrs to swing a M240! Unless I add a 9 next to the M and pretend it’s a M9! I may have missed this in the write up, but what is the max shutter speed on the M240? Still limited to 1/4000? I long for the 1/8000 in the M8. Thanks again for the great review and blog!

    • No problem. They all look (mostly) similar anyway, you might get away with it if you have a black M9*. Yes, max shutter is still 1/4000.

      *I’m not responsible for any marital strife you might encounter afterwards.

      • Oh oh. Big problem. By your statement, it implies that the M240 only comes in black! I have the steel grey M9 … there goes the plan. Thanks for the disclaimer. Maybe I’ll get a “red” Fuji XF1 for my wife first. Is your wife using hers?

        • Huh? It’s available in black and silver-chrome – there are pre-order links for both at the bottom of the post.

          Yes, the wife is using and enjoying the XF1. It’s the first camera she’s used that doesn’t require extensive fiddling to make out of camera files she likes; they did a great job with the JPEG engine in that camera.

  51. Thanks Ming. Excellent preview/review. Helps get a better picture about the camera.
    Apart from not liking the EVF experience was it,at least, satisfactory enough to render fairly precise focus accuracy
    when working in macro applications?

    • Thanks Mark. I didn’t have the time or opportunity to do a proper watch shoot with it, but I think the EVF would definitely be precise enough – there’s magnification anyway, and I’d probably use live view anyway because I’d need the hotshoe for flash triggering.

  52. Fantastic job Ming, now how can one resist the temptations raised?

  53. Great review! Do you mind if I ask about your processing technique for the color shots above? Thanks!

  54. Thanks for your thoughts Ming. It is hard though judge or get a feel for the rendering with your images (some very nice ones by the way). Given you have workflow/pp method that produces images in a very very similar outcome regardless of MP, sensor, iso, etc. These could have shot with an RX100!

    This is not a criticism….just stating it is hard to judge on a base iso level how these files render.

    Thank you again and look forward to hearing more thoughts.

    • I agree – which is why I’ve got detailed commentary, too. However, put it this way: I’m not going to release any files I’m not happy with having my name attached to out of context somewhere in the distant future, so the fact that I’ve got another few hundred to upload after two weeks of testing should say something – that and the old adage of if it fundamentally isn’t there, you can’t put it in/ fix it afterwards… 🙂

  55. I enjoyed the article Thank you for taking the time to put it together. I’m getting ever more impatient to get my hands on an M240, which will in fact be my first rangefinder.
    The word ‘thoights’ however has provided you with a very New York accent as I read the article… Capische? 🙂

  56. Thanks Ming for a Wonderful Review! Fascinating to read!

    Best Wishes – Eric

  57. Mark Norton says:

    Interesting review, thank you. Sounds like you shoot with Zeiss glass on your D800E; did you try any of Nikon’s own glass or does the lack of aperture rings rule it out even if you have an adapter which allows you to adjust it to some degree?

    • I shoot with Zeiss and Nikon glass on the D800E. I’m sure you could use Nikon glass on the M 240, but I didn’t have an adaptor with G compatibility. In any case, those things never give you precise control because the travel required to move the aperture lever is so small.

  58. Thank you Ming, lots of great information. Which focusing method did you prefer, which framing method?
    If the evf is tilted up slightly would that help the nose in the viewfinder situation?

    • Call me old-fashioned, but I liked the traditional RF and optical VF for focusing and framing. There were exceptions when the EVF or LCD came in handy, though – precise framing with the 28, for instance.

  59. Superb pre-release review 😉

    So, as a conclusion and to make it clear: This new M can be used just as the M9 by purists, it’s almost as sharp as a D800 and gain 2 stops advantage at higher Isos over the Leica M9.

    Is that right ?

    • That’s pretty much it, yes. It doesn’t quite have the resolution of the D800E, but I can’t think of anything else that will outresolve it (other than a regular D800).

  60. “I actually wonder if the appearance of the EVF on an M camera means that the rangefinder’s days may be numbered.”

    oh gawd i hope not. to be honest, i was a bit disappointed with the inclusion of an EVF…I was hoping to have an advancement on the rangefinder mechanism…like embedding a small-ish imaging sensor to enable some enhancement on the rangefinder experience…or maybe even some electronic confirmation…also to make the rangefinder user-adjustable.

    The samples here (and the other samples in the wild) seem to have a heavy magenta/pink bias especially evident in the mid- to low- shadows…as well as overall skin tones. and for me, it’s hard to correct with the DNG samples I’ve played with (i have a calibrated monitor)…of course, this is with an understanding that no profile from Leica is available yet…and I have very limited RAW conversion skills…it’s not necessarily a bad thing (in some situations) as the M9 has this tendencies, too…given that it behaves (well, again, in my eyes) like a Kodak slide.

    I never say never with Leica…but at the moment I don’t have an itch for the M240…even with a lot of things gotten right with the new evolution…my gut tells me to wait for the next iteration (perhaps an M.2).

    Anyways…compliments to a good preview here (which I’m sure gives a bit more confidence than what some “doctor” has been providing on some other sites)…I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that larger examples are always welcome, but most readers know you’re not particularly keen on doing so as a general rule on your site, not just for this particular preview.

    • I suspect that Fuji might well have the patents on that type of finder sewn up, or perhaps there just wasn’t physical space to fit in both the RF and EVF.

      Yes, there is definitely a color shift: I tried to correct it as best as possible, but it’s still not perfect. Most of it is the lack of profiles, some of it may be your monitor, and some of it is because the camera itself wasn’t running final calibrations or firmware – all of this was noted. Didn’t see this in my M9 files though, there was a different, ‘lighter’ type of palette.

      Sorry, too little respect for IP these days: anything larger and somebody will lift them for something else…a sad state of affairs, but what can you do? I still have to make a living somehow, reviews are the complete opposite: they eat up time and don’t pay 🙂

      • Maybe you could select a small part of the overall picture and show it 100% ? Anyway, I understand your point of view and I know from my own experience that it’s pretty annoying to get its own work to be stolen by someone else.

      • Ming, about this quote:

        “I actually wonder if the appearance of the EVF on an M camera means that the rangefinder’s days may be numbered; the reality is that the system requires very precise calibration, is prone to drift, is limited when it comes to zoom lenses, long lenses or off-center subjects, and is *manual focus only.*”

        Isn’t the Contax G an autofocus rangefinder? Why should a rangefinder be manual focus only?

        (I wanted to post this as a first level response, but for some reason couldn’t find the button this time around)

        • True, the G is an AF rangefinder. I should have been more specific: the rangefinder in the Leica-gestalt. I don’t see that acquiring AF anytime soon due to mechanical/ electronic coupling and space/ size issues, but I could be wrong. It’s just that manual focus RF systems do require a huge amount of time consuming and very precise calibration. Unfortunately it’s also logical that to reduce costs/ increase profit, these assemblies will eventually go…I really hope this won’t be the case.

    • Hi Bubull, Never say never is correct with Leica- More years ago than I care to remember Leica actually invented Auto focus and sold the patent to Minolta. Canon and Nikon were tripping up over each other to try and reverse engineer ‘Minolta’s ‘ patent I would imagine that Leica has a whole slew of tricks up its sleeve otherwise I can’t see that Blackstone Group (US) would invest millions in a company with such a limited range of products in a fairly exclusive market. Japanese companies would do it for the ‘honour’ but not the Americans… A very good review Ming Thein and well written. My first impression when I saw the colour of your images was Agfa CT 200 Its purely observation and a bit of supposition on my part but I have often thought images shot on Leica’s with Agfa film and processed with Agfa chemistry have a distinct look of quality. Again I’m guessing that the gnomes in Solms may have had that in mind in the designing process. I could not help but chuckle when I read the ‘some Dr remark’…

      • Thanks Michael. I have to admit, I’ve never shot with Agfa film but I’ll certainly give it a try if I can find any (sadly next to impossible here, but I am going to Japan soon – maybe better luck there).

  61. Michael Mak says:

    Do you know whether this banding at higher ISOs is in the list of thinks to be fixed (or is it even fixable)?

    Thanks and great review (+ great photos as usual)!

  62. mydarkroom says:

    Very good review. The Photographs are simply fantastic! Any reason not to comment on the video capability of the camera?

    I share the same feeling about EVF and LV. I wish Leica had developed the hybrid viewfinder true rangefinder.

    • Thanks – on video, short answer is I don’t have the experience to make a meaningful comment; there were others on the test list who have far more video experience than I do, and will undoubtedly comment in due course. I’m a stills guy…I’ll stick to the things I have experience in 🙂

  63. Thank You. I have been waiting for a good review with pictures and I read one here.Bravo Ming.When is camera available ?

    • No idea – was supposed to be early March, but I heard that might be have to pushed back a bit…not a bad thing if they can get more of firmware fixes in.

  64. Andrew Chew says:

    Nice review. Have you tried the camera with some of the more problematic wide angles?

  65. I have read the whole thing Ming ; ) and enjoyed your analysis! As a new to Leica M user (M-E) and after reading your review, I’m still glad I’ve started with the M-E. I will wait to see how things pan out for the initial release of the 240 and by the time that I “may” be willing to consider the 240 all of the bugs will be worked out. Plus no telling how long the wait lists are. I assumed even if I had waited it would be a year before I’d have a chance to buy the 240.

    Thanks again for your honest opinions and in depth study of what time you had with the 240.

  66. The B&W pictures look amazing! Any post-processing besides just straight desaturation, eg. espresso machine?

    • Thanks. Other than custom profiling (for the color images, as no ACR profile exists yet) nothing other than my normal workflow – desaturate, curves, a bit of dodge and burn.

  67. Very good review!

  68. Idiot spammer. With the emphasis on idiot. And spammer

  69. Somehow this one got past the filter. Removed!


  1. […] even talk about the 50mms. It’s also the only full-frame mirrorless system, though until the M Typ 240 becomes widely available, none of them will have live view. The weaknesses of M rangefinders are […]

  2. The M240 says:

    […] Excellent review I saw this morning from Tim Ashley: Tim Ashley Photography | The M (Typ 240) – Leica's new baby reviewed Other reviews from Jono and Ming: Testing the Leica M (240) The 2013 Leica M – Ming Thein […]

  3. […] about the new sensor, it’s really good. Judging by what real reviewers like Steve Huff,  Ming Thein, and Sean Reid are saying and showing, this is rather redundant anyway. The images are […]

  4. […] article for me requires around half a day to produce, and a heavy review/ test like the Leica M Typ 240, a day and a half just to write up – that doesn’t include the time spent shooting, […]

  5. […] o.k. finde. Einige Bilder sind aber schon (nicht nur auf der Leica-Website) aufgetaucht, z.B. The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 – Ming Thein | Photographer __________________ […]

  6. […] Ming Thein, a Kuala Lumpur based photographer, reviews the new M: […]

  7. […] I just responded to another query about shutter noise with a reference to Ming Thien's review. He also has some interesting comments regarding image quality compared to an M9 as well as Nikon D800. The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 – Ming Thein | Photographer […]

  8. […] In the same boat as you, not having received my M, but you may find Ming Thien's comments interesting. He mentions the shutter noise somewhere in the second half as being very quiet: The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 – Ming Thein | Photographer […]

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  11. […] Previously in October 2012, I had a chance to handle the M Typ 240 (I'm going to call it the M 240 from hereon in) back at the Kuala Lumpur launch event, and produce a quick preview (that can be fo…  […]

  12. […] in the last week – I don’t know exactly when, because I busy replying emails about the Leica M 240 – we passed the 3,000,000 visitor mark. I certainly didn’t expect this within a year […]

  13. […] The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 ( […]

  14. […] have to confess I enjoyed reading Ming Thein’s working review of his experience with the M type 240. I could be wrong in saying this having never […]

  15. […] Previously in October 2012, I had a chance to handle the M Typ 240 (I'm going to call it the M 240 from hereon in) back at the Kuala Lumpur launch event, and produce a quick preview (that can be fo…  […]

  16. […] I’ve had a number of people email me today asking my opinion of the sample images provided in Ming Thein’s review of the new Leica M (240).  Thus far, I’ve been responding to the questions individually, but given my previous […]

  17. […] New M review The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 […]

  18. […] Re: Sean Reid's M9/MM/M240 Comparison Saw this to The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 […]

  19. […] Ming Thien's Review of M240 Has anyone seen Ming Thien's review of the M240. Seems quite comprehensive. The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 – Ming Thein | Photographer […]

  20. […] Link: The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 – Ming Thein | Photographer […]

  21. […] 3. Ming Thein — The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 Review […]

  22. […] moving subjects" gives me a pause. I get the impression from your and Ming Thein's write up (The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 – Ming Thein | Photographer) that the M 240 is the best digital rangefinder camera Leica is developing. It definitely seems to […]

  23. […] Previously in October 2012, I had a chance to handle the M Typ 240 (I'm going to call it the M 240 from hereon in) back at the Kuala Lumpur launch event, and produce a quick preview (that can be fo…  […]

  24. […] Previously in October 2012, I had a chance to handle the M Typ 240 (I’m going to call it the M 240 from hereon in) back at the Kuala Lumpur launch event, and produce a quick preview (that can be found here). At that point, the camera was a very early functioning prototype – yet the improvement over the M9 was clear. There was of course no way to get images onto a PC for review; the SD card was glued in and the grip had no USB ports. Frustratingly, things appeared pretty good on the new (and larger) rear LCD. But we all know that such small and limited-gamut monitors are not a good way to determine image quality at all; I was thus itching to get my hands on a camera, or at very least, some good files to play around with. I’m not really a fan of long waits to availability – whilst it’s nice to know what’s in the works, I’d rather not have to wait six or more months before I can actually buy one. By then, the world might just have moved on.  […]

  25. […] Ming Thein‘s review is up, not to miss! Besides posting wonderful images, he provides the most in-depth analysis of the marvel of a photographic tool so far. Take you time to read the whole thing. Conclusion: […]

  26. […] Ming Thein's review M240 …und hier ist der Link dazu: The 2013 Leica M Typ 240 – Ming Thein | Photographer __________________ Ein Herz für […]

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