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Around 4 years ago, when I was creating the review of the Fuji X100T and I didn’t ever dream about having a camera with the red dot. Things changed quickly and in 2018 I owned 3 Leica cameras. I think it is a good moment to write my Leica M240-P review which will be rather my honest opinion. I treat my gear as tools which must do a specific job. If they don’t, I simply sell them, certainly. End of the story.
How it started?
After having the Fuji X100T which is a very good camera (my particular one faced the AF problem) I decided to sell it and the next move was toward the Leica Q. It was not an easy swap as we sold most of our gear including the workhorse Nikon D700 with couple lenses. Finally, we ended up with 2 cameras (luckily, we didn’t have weddings on the horizon).
My lovely wife bought me a fantastic present for my 30th birthday – the Fuji X-T2. It was an absolute shock for me! Another great camera in the bag! Fuji did a great job with the X-T series but direct comparison with the Q was a knockout. I know it sounds bad to sell the present, however I made the decission with my wife and the X-T2 went for sale. Unfortunately this was end of the romance with Fuji system (especially when I saw the X-Pro3 announcement). After all the gear moves and having founds I was waiting for the occasion and bought a mint M6 with the 35mm Summilux pre-asph. Yup – an analog camera and just before the wedding season the second hand M240-P. The M10 was out of my financial range. This is how the digital M is in my bag everyday for about 2 years.
I am aware that there are people who hate the company from Wetzlar by number of reasons. Apart of prices, paper specifications, look there is a philosophy and heritage. I don’t want to convience anyone to buy a camera from this brand but rather present my point of view. As I have written here, I am very demanding from myself and look for very specific solutions. I felt tired when used X-T2 due to amount of functions and focused on camera than on scenes. Moreover, I even changed some setting and didn’t know what I pressed. It ended up with restoring factory settings and losing my customized buttons! There were too many distracting options. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time with the X-T2 to be familiarized with it. But hey – I remember my first touch of an M in 2017- that was the M9. I didn’t have any rangefinder camera in my hands. I took good pictures immidiately with no digging in the user manual! That camera gave me control over the functions I really need. That camera was an extension of my eye and all operations were intuitive.
So, let me start the Leica M240-P review. I begin with the list of bad things that all the haters will be content with and can really stop reading this review after finishing the punch list below:
- 1 slot for SD cards – as you know SDs are not so reliable as XQD, CF and others so it is a big flaw. I haven’t lost any thing and didn’t have ANY problems with it, but I treat it as the major cons.
- Buffer – 2GB but it is super easy to overload and camera gets a freeze. I had it twice during weddings so it is another big flaw.
- Filming function – yes it is implemented here – I don’t know why but it is useless. Possibly Leica wanted to add something extra to look better in papers.
- Focus peaking – it has no functionality to change the region of the magnification. It forces to recompose the frame. Then you nail focus when use f.95-1.4 lenses wide open. I asked Leica R&D if future firmware update will fix it. I got the answer that the team look closer to my query, however I have a feeling that they won’t improve it and push for an upgrade to M10, where this function works.
- Design – I know many people who hate Leica for their look.
- ISO – far behind nowadays standards
- RAW files are not that flexible. +2eV is an absolute maximum for shadows enhancements whilst my Sony a7m3 can go up to +4eV!!!
This and the next chapter of the Leica M240-P review should answer many questions. Firstly, is it worth buying in 2020 and beyond. What I will gain buying this camera? What papers are not saying and make an M better choice?
- It is a rangefinder. Simple. Easy. If you know what a RF camera is and accept the concept there is no better camera than Leica M. Focusing with a rangefinder, via zone focusing or pre-set distance is much faster and precise but need lots of practice. I am shooting 90% with M240-P and use 1.5-3m distances. It is not hard to set the lens to 2 meters and practice this distance to feel it.
- Battery life – unbeatable. I did a wedding and used 1 battery for 2200 shots. I have 2 batteries in my bag.
- Camera is always ready to release the shutter. It measures light only. No link to AF or other functions. Just press the shutter and you have a frame. No lag!
- The finishing – black painted brass. It is ageing in a distinct way.
- DNG raw files – the workflow is much easier and faster especially when using Adobe.
- Sensor colours – I know it is not the M9 but the colours in raws are so saturated. Comparing to the Sony a7m3 the difference if unbelievable. Sony is totally washed from colours and I spend much more time to get the look from the M & Q.
- Leica lenses fit to Sony via adapters
- Easy to hold longer shutter speeds 1/24 is my best, Natalia’s best is 1/12 on M9 during her first try in the Manchester Leica Store
- Build quality – there is no better camera in terms of materials, build quality, accuracy.
I decided to add this section to mention quirks related with the camera which are not that obvious. First of all, the purchase must be argued and you have to be sure you need an M. Rangefinders are very specific and because of their nature many people hate them. There is a lot of moaning especially looking at the pricing. Yes, they are bloody expensive. Yes, there are much better cameras. But, this is not the caset. You can buy a second hand one or ME with very attractive price tag. Lenses? Sure go for Voigtlander 35mm f2.5 pancake for £350,- (new one)… You don’t have to buy a Summilux straight a way (but would be awesome to have one).
The last thing is related with the spec. and philosophy. Leica took me from my comfort zone of AutoISO, AF-C, high frame rates and thrown into a completely new environment. It was only me, the M and my skills, knowledge & imagination. What’s more it inspired me so much and gave tough lesson as well. My brain was limited due to some invisible barriers I cannot even describe. I don’t want to sell a story that Leica is the best and make you a better photographer. What I can assure you, any M will be a pain and forces to think about scenes. An M is definitely not ideal, I ask myself… Do I miss AF? Of course, I do! Sony’s face detection is phenomenal. Dual slot? Yes! Flexible RAWs? Indeed! So why the hell I still have this brick? I can’t answer… maybe I am a victim having a Stockholm syndrome? Who knows? But I can tell you one thing. The best pictures I took were shot with my M.
Leica M240-P review – conclusions
All in all, we are not ideal and cameras aren’t as well. Certain solutions work better for sports, events, fashion etc. The only thing which matters is a picture which becomes the photograph. Your camera is a tool which must allow you to make this picture. I shoot street and weddings where M is a good choice, however when situations are too densed and a burst mode is needed I take my Sony. What might be suprising for most of the people, I am keen on shooting M with Nikon’s SB700 in the manual mode during dance floor action.
At the end, I hope this Leica M240-P review was helpful and your decision will be easier now. If you have any questions, need high-res. samples, drop me a line or leave a comment below.
Post Scriptum – to assure you that I am not Leica biased I use Sony A7m3 and think about buying a different format camera which is not equipped with a red dot.