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 – Focusing
Image: In low light, with the fast M-mount lenses, the Leica M is great to use
As with its predecessors, focusing on the M is an all-manual affair, so there is nothing we can say about autofocus performance. With its live view mode and electronic viewfinder, however, the M does bring with it some new options in the form of focus peaking and focus magnification, which blows up the central portion of the image by 5x to 10x.
While this is the least Leica-like way of working you can think of, it’s an approach that works well and we found it useful for establishing accurate focus when shooting wide open with our 35mm f/2 lens – which, it turns out, is not well calibrated to the camera’s conventional rangefinder (something that can be adjusted by Leica).
Back in the more traditional world, using the M’s rangefinder focusing is still a nice way to work, especially with some of the system’s better-handling lenses. It’s fast, too, once you get the hang of it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that a seasoned M user wouldn’t be that far behind the AF systems in modern DSLRs, although you wouldn’t want to follow focus in this way.
As we’ve already mentioned, Leica lenses sport a depth-of-field scale, which makes zone focusing easy and highly effective. The principle is simple: preset the distance on the focus scale and rely on depth of field to ensure that everything between the two f-stop markers is in focus. For instance, with the 35mm f/2 Summicron, it’s easy to see that at f/8 everything from approximately 1.5-3m will be in focus when the lens is focused to 2m. I was soon able to estimate distances correctly when shooting, meaning it’s possible to shoot more quickly than any AF system allows.