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 – Build and handling
If you’ve never picked up a Leica before, then your first impressions of the M are going to be similar to those of other photographers who are used to plastic-bodied DSLRs. For its size, the M is a heavy piece of kit. It’s made mostly from metal and feels like something so robust that you could cheerfully hand it down to your grandchildren. However, Leica has gone one step further, adding water and dust-resistant weatherproof seals to the M to make it even tougher.
As one gets used to the camera’s heft and somewhat boxy shape, the simple nature of the M’s classic design shines through. Inspect an older Leica rangefinder, such as the M6, and you’ll find there are really only three controls that can be adjusted on the entire camera: aperture, shutter speed and focus. While the nature of digital photography means there is more to the M than this, the new camera does follow in these minimalist footsteps. The top of the camera features just four controls: a shutter-release button, a shooting-mode selector (single, continuous and self-timer), a dedicated movie capture button, and a shutter-speed dial featuring speeds from 1-1/4000sec plus B and an automated A setting for aperture priority.
The rear of the camera is dominated by its 3in, 920,000-dot screen (a vast improvement over the M9’s 2.5in, 230,000-dot affair), which is used to navigate the camera’s menu options, review images and compose in live-view mode. To the left of the screen are six well-labelled buttons that bring up the main menu, allow playback and deleting of images, and provide access to ISO adjustment. On the right-hand side of the screen is a silver control dial and a four-way joypad.
All these controls fall nicely under the correct thumbs and fingers when the camera is held to the eye. The way in which you focus the camera depends on the lens in use: the 35mm f/2 Summicron we used in this test features an excellent finger indent making it very quick and easy to use. We also used a 50mm f/2 Summicron that has a more traditional focus ring. Leica is one of the few manufacturers that puts a good depth-of-field scale on its lenses, too.