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 – Metering
When it comes to TTL exposure metering, Leica rangefinders have always been a rather basic affair: light passes through the lens and bounces off a mid-grey spot painted on the shutter curtain onto a sensor. In the viewfinder, left or right arrows indicate which way to turn the aperture ring while a steady circle indicates correct exposure. In aperture priority mode, the calculated shutter speed is shown.
This minimal viewfinder information (loved by many) is still the case in the new M, and if you remove its lens you’ll still see grey patterns on the shutter blind in the pattern of centreweighted metering. However, two new metering modes have joined the party: spot and evaluative.
Since it’s not possible to change the painted pattern on the shutter blinds, the M uses its main sensor to provide the extra two metering modes. It is a method that’s almost like live view, but without actually showing the image. Spot and evaluative metering are available to choose once the advanced metering option is chosen in the camera’s menu, and if this is the case you will hear the shutter opening to expose the sensor when you turn on the camera.
The evaluative metering is more accurate when faced with tricky situations, such as backlighting or overly light or dark conditions, and spot metering behaves as you might expect, covering an area roughly the same as the rangefinder patch in the middle of the frame. Yet for all its sins, centreweighted metering is predictable: yes, it gets confused occasionally, but always in the same way, so problems can be anticipated. Leica should be applauded for finding an innovative way of bringing new metering options to the M, however. Just be warned that powering up the sensor to perform advanced metering will affect responsiveness and decrease battery performance. No wonder the M Typ 240 has a new larger battery that is much better than the cell supplied with the previous M9 and M8 cameras.