When a new Leica M comes along it’s sure to raise eyebrows. As the German godfather of 35mm photography attempts to balance new features with traditionalism, Ian Farrell finds out if the M Typ 240 measures up as a serious photographic tool.
Leica M Typ 240 review – Viewfinder, live view, LCD and video
Uniquely for an M-series camera, the M Typ 240 offers live-view composition and the ability to shoot with an optional electronic viewfinder (EVF), as well as the traditional and much-loved optical rangefinder viewfinder. A press of the LV button opens the camera’s shutter, powers up the sensor and activates the screen, enabling photographers to preview more accurately how their images will appear and compose without parallax error.
It’s not a bad implementation of live view – accurate focusing is especially easy – but it’s not the most responsive technology, and working in this way does lead to some frustrating delays.
Sadly, the optical finder is not without its problems, either. AP has always been a fan of M-series viewfinders, which are typically large, bright and don’t distract from the picture-taking experience. The viewfinder on the M is certainly bright and clear, but the framelines, which show how much of a scene will be captured with the current lens, are only visible when the camera is switched on. This reduces spontaneity, since you can’t quickly raise the camera to your eye to see what a composition will look like, or if a lens needs to be changed, without first powering up.
What’s more, there is now no switch to swap between different framelines with the camera at your eye. This unique and innovative feature has been present on M cameras since the M3 in 1954 right up to the M9 in 2009, and is extremely useful for working out which lens you need. I’m not sure why Leica chose to ditch it now.
The M’s framelines can now be switched between red and white, but this a far less useful feature than being able to see and change them when the camera is switched off.