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 – Our verdict
In updating the Leica M9 with more current features, one can’t help get the feeling that Leica has slightly missed the point with the M Typ 240. Yes, the additions of live view, an EVF and full HD video are welcome (especially for Leica R-mount owners), but these features have handling snags that smack of a product that hasn’t been thought through properly, and this impacts upon the M’s performance as a rangefinder camera. What Leica photographers really wanted was higher ISO performance and a sensor that could gather more detail, and here the M doesn’t deliver as much as expected. Maximum ISO is only a 1⁄2 stop more than the M9, with a boost to take it to ISO 6400. Also, the sensor doesn’t record as much detail and sharpness as competitor cameras.
The compromises made while adding new technology to the M have slightly spoiled the experience of shooting with a rangefinder. Leica M photographers choose their equipment because they want something different that offers an alternative way of working and superlative image quality. The new M is still a very enjoyable camera to use, and one that makes you feel like you are really creating a picture and observing the world. However, as a serious photographic tool, the M Type 240 is something of a sideways step from the M9, rather than the step up that Leica undoubtedly meant it to be.
Leica M Typ 240 – Key features
Traditional rangefinder focusing and bright framelines in a large optical viewfinder. Parallax correction moves the frame as the point of focus is changed.
Shutter speed dial
Easy to find and use with the camera at your eye. Set to A for aperture priority mode.
Starts capturing high-quality full HD video without having to swap modes or change camera settings.
Activate live view with the touch of a button. Focus peaking outlines sharp areas in red and focus enlargement magnifies the central part of the image by 5x to 10x.
A 920,000-dot display reviews images, shows live-view composition and the camera’s menu system. An optional EVF can be used in the M’s hotshoe.
Zoom into images during review, quickly adjust ISO sensitivity and so on, and set exposure compensation when used together with the silver Fn button on the front of the camera.