Leica M 240 Review — My second Leica in less than a month.

Reviews

Previously, I purchased and returned a Leica M8 (article here). I concluded that I needed to spend more money and get a newer model Leica M camera. The Leica M10 at the time of this writing is largely unavailable unless you want to buy it from a third party that has jacked up the price by thousands. I honestly believe it will be a year or more before the M10 cameras are readily available. So I figured I’d buy a newer model than the M8, specifically a used one, save money on the depreciation, and sell it when the M10 comes available. I really wanted a used M262, but all I could find locally was a used M240 in chrome. Everything I read about the M240 and M262 was that the M262 is just a stripped down version of the M240, so I decided to go with the M240. The price I paid was fair, but I ended up returning it to the store due to mechanical problems (it was used after all). Finally, I spent even more money and got the camera I’ve actually been eyeing for months which was the M262 (see my other Leica reviews). For this article, I’ll focus on my experience with the M240, but you may read more about my experience with the Leica M (Typ 262) here.

There’s quite a few reviews out there with regarding the M240, but here’s my take on it from a May 2017 perspective.

Pros:

  1. Image quality is great for a 24 megapixel sensor. It has quite a bit of dynamic range and you can recover quite a bit from an overexposed image. Compared to the current generation of Fuji X-Trans sensors, the M240 renders a better image — sure the lenses and the full frame sensor help too. Are Sony’s A7R II and RX1R II files better? Yes, they are. So are Canon’s 5D Mark IV files, but they aren’t a Leica. They don’t shoot like a Leica, and the lenses will perform better on their native mount.
  2. Simple menus — a refreshing change from other camera makers.
  3. Long lasting battery.
  4. Very accurate focusing system. I’m surprised at just how accurate a rangefinder is. No, I don’t use zone focusing. I shoot wide open the majority of the time.
  5. Fun to shoot with!
  6. Stable shutter — no shutter shock. I was able to handhold and get in focus images down to 1/15 or 1/30 of a second depending on the focal length.

Cons:

  1. Live view and the EVF — they flat out stink. The electronic image wobbles and jitters. It’s actually harder to focus with the EVF and live view than just using the rangefinder. Honestly, my old Olympus E-P3 has better live view.
  2. Movie mode — horrible! It’s absolute garbage. The video is jittery, but on top of that, the actual video quality is awful.
  3. Very heavy.
  4. Locks up and takes a while to come out of sleep mode. I’ve had to turn the camera completely off and on for it to start working again.
  5. No modern dust cleaning system.
  6. It feel like there is a delay with the shutter. Not big, but it sounds and feels like there is one. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it feels like I might have missed an expression or two due to it.
  7. Camera kinda feels sluggish, can’t put my finger on it, but it’s there.
  8. LCD colors aren’t accurate. The LCD is OK, not great, just OK.
  9. JPEG film presets are over contrasty and look awful.
  10. Regular JPEGs are nothing special — I recommend shooting RAW.

All of the cons being said, the image quality is lovely, and it’s a camera that enables you to take great shots. Personally, I stopped using live view, the EVF, and movie mode after only one day of shooting. I also turned off the playback of images after each shot. If it weren’t for the mechanical issues with the shutter release from this used unit, I would have kept it. As it stands though, I upgraded to a new M262 and am glad I did (articles regarding the M262 here).

Now, on to the images! One caveat though, let me preface these photos by acknowledging that I’m probably using the Leica wrong. That is to say that I haven’t taken any street photos with it and I keep processing the majority of my images in color…

This first set was edited using VSCO Cam on the iPad. They were shot with a Leica 28mm f/2.8 ASPH E39 lens:

The next four images were edited using Lightroom. The first two images were shot with a Zeiss 50mm f/2 ZM lens and the last two were shot with a Leica 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit E46 lens.

Would I recommend the M240? If you can get a lightly used one in near perfect quality with no mechanical issues, for a good price, then yes. However, I do believe the M262 is an upgrade from this camera. Given the choice, I would recommend getting an M262 instead.

 


Noah Bershatsky

Noah Bershatsky

I was a nerd before hipsters were cool.
https://bershatsky.com

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