Leica M 240 [Best Rangefinder-Type Camera]
Leica M 240 goes without a shadow of doubt.
The wheel has come full circle. The company that introduced the original 35mm rangefinder has topped the charts again (so what else is new) with its 24MP CMOS sensor. This full frame powerhouse even takes movies. Any way you look at it, this camera breaks fresh ground, even for Ernst Leitz, Wetzlar, makers of the legendary Leica cameras.
Able to use both M as well as R Leica lenses (and a host of other makes, via adapters), the M has a new Maestro processor that delivers speed, precision and brilliant, true-to-life color images, backed by low power consumption / long battery life — a real boon for the professionals who are the likeliest target audience for this superlative camera.
The new 3″, 920k LCD features live view for more precise framing, making shooting with macro or telephoto lenses perfectly possible. Live view also offers a 10x magnification for precise manual focus.
Despite remaining true to the legendary Leica design simplicity, the M does incorporate a few updated specs such as HD video, a 100 – 6400 ISO range, 3fps burst shooting and compatibility with the $465 EVF2 viewfinder, which plugs into the hot shoe. There’s no built-in flash, however.
For around USD 7,000, you don’t get all that much on paper, it seems. $7K gets you a Canon 1DX, remember? So, is it really worth it?
I don’t need to resurrect Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa or even Oskar Barnack to answer that — the answer is a resounding YES!! There is no substitute for the ‘Leica experience’ (I would often use my friend S. Chib’s Leica M3, way back in 1977 and it was an awesome experience).
I recall some lines I read over three decades ago, written by the famous Professor Jason Schneider in his The Camera Collector page in Popular Photography magazine (of which he was Editor for a number of years). He wrote (and I quote from memory):
Using a Leica is like driving a Ferrari on a winding road; the sheer excellence of the machinery creates the overwhelming illusion that one’s modest capabilities have been vastly extended.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
However, the consensus is that beyond ISO 800, the M’s IQ / DR falls off disappointingly. Not too much of an issue, actually, given all those superfast lenses made for this fine instrument. Still, one wonders…
Maybe the magic is in the glass. The roll call of Leica lenses is also a roster of some of the greatest lenses ever made, for any format. Try these out on your tongue: Hektor, Summicron, Summarit, Summitar, Elmar, Elmarit, Super Angulon, Noctilux, Apo Summicron, Apo Telyt… all with a vast number of variants as regards maximum aperture and focal length. Goosebumps have come up on my forearms as I type these legendary names.
Leica M 240 Specifications:
|Weight||24.0 oz (680 g)
|Weight With Batteries?||Yes|
|Weight Includes Kit Lens?||No|
|Size||5.5 x 3.1 x 1.7 in.
(139 x 80 x 42 mm)
|Sensor Size (dia.)||1.69″|
|Focal Length Multiplier||1.0|
|Color Filter Type||RGBG|
|Image Resolution||5952 x 3976 (23.7 MP, Other),
4256 x 2823 (12.0 MP, 3:2),
2976 x 1984 (5.9 MP, 3:2),
1600 x 1080 (1.7 MP, Other)
|Image File Format||JPEG, .DNG RAW (14-bit, compressed or uncompressed), RAW+JPEG|
|Movie Resolution||1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480|
|Movie Frame Rate||25p/24p, 25p/24p, 30p|
|Movie File Format||QuickTime Motion JPEG (MOV); built-in mic is mono, but external stereo mic adapter available|
|Lens Mount||Leica M bayonet|
|Focal Length (35mm equivalent)||Yes|
|Zoom Ratio||Depends on lens used|
|Aperture Range||Varies with lens used|
|Optical Image Stablization||No|
|Digital Zoom Values||Nil|
|Filter Thread||Varies with lens|
|Auto Focus Type||N/A (Manual focus with OVF/Live View with magnification, focus peaking)|
|Auto Focus Assist Light?||n/a|
|Optical Viewfinder Type||Non-TTL bright-line frame rangefinder w/ automatic parallax compensation, 0.68x magnification; Optional Visoflex EVF-2 Electronic Viewfinder|
|LCD Size (inches)||3.0|
|LCD Resolution||920,000 dots|
|Max Playback Zoom|
|ISO Settings||Auto, ISO 200 to 6,400 in 1/3EV steps, extendable to ISO 100|
|Auto ISO Mode||Yes|
|White Balance Settings||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent warm, Fluorescent cool, Flash, Kelvin Setting (2000-13100K), Manual|
|Shutter Speed Range||60 – 1/4000|
|Exposure Compensation||+/- 3.0EV in 0.3EV steps|
|Metering Modes||OVF: TTL Center-weighted with working aperture; Live view: TTL Multi, Center-weighted, Spot|
|Full Manual Exposure||Yes|
|Creative Exposure Modes||Film Simulation Modes|
|Self Timer||2 or 12 seconds|
|Flash Guide Number (ISO 100)||n/a|
|Flash Range Description||n/a|
|Max Flash Sync||1/180|
|Flash Exp Compensation||+/- 3.0EV in 0.3EV steps|
|Ext Flash Connection||SCA-3502 compatible hot shoe, with center contact|
|Usable Memory Types||SD / SDHC / SDXC|
|Memory Included (MB)|
|Composite Video Out||No|
|Video Usable as Viewfinder||n/a|
|HD Video Out||No|
|HD Video Connection|
|Remote Control Type||Threaded cable release|
|Other Connection||Accessory port|
|Battery Form Factor||Proprietary 7.4v 1800mAh|
|Usable Battery Types||Lithium-ion rechargeable|
|Batteries Included||1 x Proprietary Lithium-ion rechargeable|
|Battery Charger Included||Yes|
|Included Software||Free download of Adobe Lightroom for registered owners|
|OS Compatibility||Windows, Mac OS|
|Notes & Features||24MP CMOS sensor, Maestro processor, Live View with 10x focus magnification and focus peaking, 1080p Full HD movies, 920K-dot LCD with Gorilla Glass, optional EVF-2 electronic viewfinder.|