Leica M240: More thoughts.

Leica M.

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I continue to be underwhelmed with M(240) images.

[See: M240: Final Verdict.]

[See:  M9, M(240), DXO... and smoke and mirrors.]

I know, I know, the shutter is quieter, and the buffer is larger, and the LCD is better than what we had with the M8/M9/Monochrom.

But… who cares, if the images all look like Canikon… sorry, like Canikoleica?

Oh yes, I forget, we have to wait for updated firmware, for the correct raw converter “profiles”, for people to get used to working with the new files, etc.  The problem I have with these sorts of statements, and other statements from many M owners, is that it all sounds like mass rationalization.

Yes, the new “box” is shinier, the new box is newer.

But… I prefer to let the images do the talking.  So far, they are inferior to anything I’ve seen out of the M9 or M8 (not to mention the Monochrom).

Sorry, but I’m calling it as I’m seeing it.

Perhaps my long-held view that CCD has something that CMOS lacks is simplistic.

But it appears to summarize things nicely.

—Peter.

If you haven’t already done so, please consider signing my open letter to Leica.

Prosophos Open Letter to Leica

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48 thoughts on “Leica M240: More thoughts.

  1. Michael Sin says:

    Hello Peter,

    Here you go again! Your thoughts on M240 is always provocative and it does not seem mainstream. Nevertheless, I find it quite true and it is exactly how I feel after testing it out at the shop. I like your expression, “Canikonleica”. This is what I concluded in my heart after seeing many images over & over again. Your comments echoed. My only need for M240 is the higher ISO as I really think that M9/M9-P isn’t too capable in this area. M240 has great operation & I love the EVF and muted shutter sound. It is fun to play with. It has great image & colour rendition with excellent dynamic range too. It is a good RF camera that may provide a revolution in RF photography. I would say Leica is bold in its decision on CMOS for such an important flagship. I cannot deny that to many, these improvements are important and one can use so many different lenses in his collection. I was in the waiting line to replace my M9-P since last year. It seems right to do.

    To me, I just enjoy simple photography. I was attracted to M9 type of images & the Leica M simplicity. I sold all my Nikon & Zeiss gears for M9 & M lenses. And your blog had helped me in this transition.

    To me, the M240 images does not have that Leica “wow” factor. The images (so far) does not provide the same excitement I had for M9. So I decided to hold on obtaining one even though I was offered the chance. I have to blame you again because of your Monochrom write-up, and to my surprise, I got myself an MM instead. This is a route I have never thought of as I have never really done much B&W. So far so good for the MM as it is not easy to create very breath-taking images without a strong LR adjustment workflow. And a lot of more attention might have to given spotting the right lighting & contrast. But I am enjoying it.

    Like you have said, “I am old enough not to say never ever.”

    Best regards & thank you for the guidance, Peter.

    Michael Sin.

  2. Andrew says:

    The images certainly appear much “warmer” than the M9. The images I have liked from the new M all seem to have one thing in common…they were shot in warmer colour environments, where I think it plays to it’s strengths.

    They seem to not display as much contrast as far as I can tell and subsequently look more like most current camera outputs than the M. Which is to be expected given it’s a CMOS sensor. I have no doubt it will be an improvement in many ways though different.

    I have all my options open at the moment in considering my first digital RF across the second hand M9, an ME, taking the big step and going with the Monochrom only or even the new M. I have a friend receiving theirs soon so going to have a look at some of the files and take it from there.

    The Monochrom is actually top of the list atm!!

  3. gagemanning says:

    Peter,

    I always enjoy your thoughts and opinions. Owning the M240 for over a month I would have to agree that the images are more canon/nikon like. I don’t fiddle with the technical side too much but I think the increase in dynamic range is what separates the M9 from the M240. The M9 dynamic range is in my opinion inferior to the M240. Most would say that that means it is not as good of a camera as the M9 but they are not taking one important thing into account. Leica is known for optics that have the ability to be used at very low apertures (i.e. f.95, f1.4). When shooting wide open like this, the part of the image that is out of focus has less dynamic range and thus causes an increase contrast between it and the subject. I think this is what we call “the Leica look”. I’m sure people will disagree with my assessment but so far that’s been my non-technical opinion.
    Personally, I think almost everything with cameras and camera sensor quality that I hear “experts” say is subjective. How can one make an objective opinion on a camera sensor when there’s too many variables. Besides the photographer himself being one of the variables, the most important variable is the viewer. Most viewers can care less what equipment was used to make a shot.
    I’ve been following you for a long time now and what distinguishes you from the rest is your ability to catch “natural” moments that most only dream of catching. Your post-processing and more importantly your words only add to your already god given gift. For you it is not the camera. I bet you could tuck your 2 Leica cameras in the closet and all their lenses and only shoot with your Apple iPhone and would produce shots that most viewers on your site would think far exceed others. Oh, and if you asked them what camera you were using, they would all say a professional grade a camera.

    gage

    • andygemmell says:

      Interesting point Gage and thanks for sharing your thoughts. You have some very nice photos on your site btw!

      How have you found the B&W output on the M vs. that of the M9 and MM?

      • gagemanning says:

        Thanks Andy. I’ve only converted a few images to black & white from my M240. My opinion, the MM is a lot better. In the next few days I’m going to post a picture of the George Rogers Clark Memorial taken with the MM. It’s not the same angle as the shot taken with my M240 and its with a different lens. The post processing for it was much easier in my opinion because of how good the sensor is in that camera.

        Gage

    • Michael Sin says:

      Hello Gage,
      I have to thank you also for discussing with me MM & M240 in your blog. It is really helpful & also helped my decision as well. I also appreciate your great photography of your daughter.
      Cheers,
      Michael.

  4. gunston says:

    Convincing me to get a mint M9?
    Yeah, saving $

  5. AG says:

    I have owned an M240 for 2 weeks now and I am left underwhelmed. To me the only improvements over the M9 are increased ISO, larger LCD, illuminated framelines & nicer shutter sound. I would have been thrilled with a new M9 having increased ISO only – the rest is just cosmetic improvements. Also for some reason – & it may just be my imagination – the M240 seems much larger than my M9 when I use it – even though I know it is not. What I find fascinating about most reviews and reader comments is the never ending obsession with how many megapixels a camera is – I own a D800 and find it less enjoyable than my D700 – the pictures are so sharp they are “unsharp” unless everything is perfect. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of those who comment on megapixels never ever print any of their photos larger than 16 x 20. Somehow if a camera doesn’t have more megapixels it is considered a piece of junk yet EVERY camera that has existed before now had LESS megapixels (both digital & film) – yet the entire history of photography is not somehow considered defective. Sorry for my rant.

  6. Dannybouy says:

    The thing I’m most aware of with M ownership is the need to spend a little more time in post to give the files slightly more contrast to achieve that “Leica look”. The increased dynamic range removes some of that blown highlights/black shadows. I’m looking forward to owning an M. I can use the files for commercial work as the improved DR will allow more detail and if I want more of an M9 look I can just shift the contrast slider a little :-)

  7. sgoldswo says:

    I don’t know, I tried an M240 last week, the files were different from the M9 (mostly in the colours, which look closer to the fuji x cameras to my eye) but they still looked like a Leica to me. I note I was underwhelmed when I originally downloaded M240 DNG files from the Internet, but processing the RAWs through LR 4.4 doesn’t give results a million miles away from an M9. Just my thoughts…

  8. Godfrey says:

    Peter,

    Have you used one yet? Or are you opining based on seeing other people’s photos on the Internet?

    (I’m still quite happy with my M9 too. But I’m looking forward to renting a new M for a week when become available enough so I can see the differences for myself. I might or might not want one .. I just bought another Hasselblad to do more 6×6 film, and a Sony NEX 6 to do some video with, using my M-mount lenses.)

  9. Prosophos says:

    In reading the above this morning, I’m struck by the wisdom contained within all of the comments. It seems we have each made our decisions as informed photographers, and – more importantly – are able to articulate our positions in a civil manner. It’s very heartwarming to see, because in all of the fora I’ve visited, this sort of discussion inevitably degenerates into personal insults.

    Gage I’m particularly thankful for your response, because you own an M(240) and are not at all offended by my viewpoint (and Aaron, I didn’t realize you picked up a new M… ).

    I write all this because I was about to respond to each of you, but realized there wasn’t much to respond to. Each of the comments stand on their own merit and make for good (and informative) reading…

    I’m beginning to feel like a broken record on this topic, so I won’t be posting any more views about the M(240). I still firmly believe that none of this really matters to good photography, anyway, and that I’m essentially nitpicking.

    —Peter.

  10. Sam Choo says:

    Thanks Peter,

    I am Sam Choo. First, I got the 0.95 a few days ago, instead of Noct4. Your advice is one of the reasons.

    I would like to say a million thanks. 0.95 is much more than a gem. After playing for a week, the way it control the DOF via aperture, emphasizing the subject while keeping a dreamy of bokeh. I like the way it tells the story and its possibilities. It makes a real different amongst its peers.

    Noct will be my dat-to-day lens and M240 is the camera I want to get as I am missing so many focus with M9. But I personally not “used to” the color. I would love to buy M9P if I can focus better. What’s your thought? Love to hear your view.

    Cheers
    Sam

    • Prosophos says:

      Hi Sam, thank you for letting me know that you’re enjoying the 0.95.

      There is no difference between the M9 and M9P, with respect to focusing. The differences between the two cameras are cosmetic only.

  11. As always Peter you have an article that draws everyone’s attention. We all make choices in our desire to make the best images we can. There are so many great choices today but of course only one company making a true digital rangefinder. And now we have 3 different choices that produce 3 very different results.

    So what’s to complain about other than finding what you want in stock.

    • Prosophos says:

      Thanks Duane. I’m not trying to be inflammatory, just truthful with my opinion. I hope the distinction is obvious to most people who have followed my comments for some time. And yes – you are quite correct – we are spoiled by our choices these days.

  12. Ian says:

    WOW Peter what did you have for breakfast anyway keep having it because you are spot on, and I am so glad you mention the M8 I am amazed at that camera, I mostly use 35mm cron ASPH, Zeiss Sonnar 50mm and Summarit 75mm all these for those interested can be purchase secondhand for the price of the M. What you will get is Leica magic and great creativity. Yes the M is good but so is 5D3 and 800e that’s the issue they are good but not special.

  13. Dave says:

    I recall the days when I was using the Fuji S3 and S5 DSLR’s with their unique sensors and shaped pixels that resulted in extremely expanded dynamic range (DR), compared the the NIkon and Canon DSLR’s available at that time. Needles to say out of camera RAW files were extremely flat looking and it took a good amount of post processing to bring some life back to the files. By doing so, some DR advanatge was lost but it still benefited from its unique sensor. Still when all was said and done, I felt these Fuji DSLR’s had their advantages with some types of images and lighting senarios and at other times lacked something that the other brand of DSLR’s had at the time.

    I feel that the M240 due to its increase of DR over the M9 also exhibits this somewhat flatter look and as a result less punch. What is compounding this is the color bias of the camera is “warm” ( seems almost done intentially to partially overcome ghe flatter look)’ and when these two factors are quite evident in a file, it has not always been the most attractive look. I too have often seen the some advantage to M9 files vs. the M240, but also feel that as time goes on, new profiles and firmware may address some of these concerns, Time will tell.

    Dave (D&A)

  14. Luiz Paulo says:

    Color and contrast I don’t see as big issues on the new M. But the lack of micro details (the cmos look) no one can recover it.

    As for esthetics — why a giant lcd on the back? It seems unproportional to the camera body.

    • Prosophos says:

      “…the lack of micro details (the cmos look) no one can recover it.”

      Precisely!

      —Peter.

    • Godfrey says:

      I can’t make the evaluation of acutance until I experiment with a particular camera. Reading specs and reviews doesnt tell me anything. Have you actually evaluated an M against an M9 for acutance and micro detail in person? Or are you responding to other people’s presented files and evaluations?

      If no one answers this, I’ll assume the answer is no.

      • Luiz Paulo says:

        Hi Godfrey. I see no problem evaluating from other people’s files — there are plenty over internet.

        • Godfrey says:

          Difference of opinion then. I find it impossible to do that. Just like reading reviews typically tells me little about a camera (a lot about he writer).

          • Luiz Paulo says:

            For sure, each one has his own opinion. Agree reviews might not the best way to evaluate a camera. But there are plenty of raw files available for download, one can test by himself — for evaluating quality per se it’s enough imo.

            • Godfrey says:

              I’ve not seen ‘raw files available for download’ that in an explicit way show me an M9 exposure with a specific lens and an M exposure of the same scene with the same lens such that I can make a definitive evaluation.

              If you can point me to a couple of such pairs, I’d be happy to look at them.

                • Godfrey says:

                  Best pair of comparison images I’ve seen yet. The author who posted them says:

                  “…Here are Raw files for a daylight photo I took with the same Noctilux lens on both cameras at 1/350s f8 fixed daylight white balance.

                  Observations in LR 4.4RC:
                  – M has much warmer tone than M9. Facing the real scene I would say that M9 is closer to reality than M is
                  – M looks less prone to moiré
                  – M has more resolution due to its 24Mpix sensor
                  – M produces a smoother and cleaner image than M9 which shows more jaggy contours.

                  But the best thing is that I let you check by yourself:”

                  Loading the two images into LR 4.4, at the raw processing defaults, and comparing them side by side, he’s right on the money in his evaluation. The M file shows warmer (more pleasing to my eye) color calibration, better acutance and detailing, less moire, and a more pleasing image. I can adjust the color balance on either to match the other, but then the moire on the church steeple with the M9 becomes much more exaggerated and ugly, difficult to clean up.

                  I’d much rather have the M for this photo.

                  Thanks for posting the links.

  15. Ian says:

    You don’t like it? No problem, let me take it off your hands…

  16. Kevin says:

    I’ve been on the fence regarding the M v. M9/M-E. One thing is the use of wide angles (Zeiss 21/4.5) and the red vignetting. I know this can be fixed with Cornerfix, but I was wondering if anyone knew if this vignetting went away with the M? Also, the live view feature is nice for the fact you can see what your filter’s effects are (as if looking TTL) in landscapes, and I’m not a fan of EVFs. As I travel, I don’t look forward to choosing between medium format SLRs and rangefinders, and although I like Leica for 35mm, I question 35mm scans for enlargement/tonality in landscapes. Seems maybe the Leica M will satisfy the portability and quality, with live view filling the composition area of an SLR?

    Thanks for any answers in advance, and thank you for a great site!

    • gagemanning says:

      Kevin,

      I am a proud owner of the Leica M240 and can answer a few questions. In regards to the red vignetting withe the Zeiss 21/4.5, it’s doubtful it has been corrected. I have no experience of using third party lenses (I’ve only used Leica) but I can’t see Leica spending the time correcting an issue with a third party lens.

      I own software to enlarge my digital files if needed (I think it’s “Perfect Resize”) but have not had to use it. I have a feeling you are not going to find a lot of people with experience using it with the M240.

      If you are a landscape photographer, in my opinion the M240 far excedes the M9. I know some will disagree but I think the increase dynamic range, increase megapixels, and the ability to use live view is enough to make any landscape photographer want to use the M240 over the M9. Also, you now have the ability to correctly use Lee Filters (see my webpage at: http://www.rangetraveler.com/?s=lee+filters) because you can use Live View to see the changes immediately.

      Hopefully this helps. I’ll be happy to help you more if needed.

      gage

    • Damien says:

      I tried the zeiss 21/4.5 on the new M and Red vignetting is still there.

      • Kevin says:

        Thanks for the info. As much as there’s the convenience of a digital M, I’ll probably stick to film. I’m sure it’s my post-processing, but I just can’t seem to get the skin tones right. With Portra or 400H, it’s done. Maybe I’ll rent one and try again.

  17. Dave says:

    I’ve worked with dozens of matched pairs of RAW files from both cameras in a wide variety of situations and strictly based on image aspects, I could make a good case for either. The increase in DR is real with the M240 and benifits certain forms of photography such as landscape work. The pleasing tonality and color output of the M9 I found worked extremely well for a wide variety of other types of color imagery, especially when people are incorporated in the frame. I well adapt at post processing and taking white balanc readings but the looks of M9 files for certain subjects is appealing. The better higher ISo performance of the M240 is very useful if required. Therefore choice of which camera is very subjective and certainly depends on the forms of photography you engage in. For myself, I chose to stay with the M9 for the time being.

    • Kevin says:

      Gage and Dave,

      The files do seem richer with the M240, compared to the M9, but this may be due to post-processing. Thanks for the responses, but still not an easy decision for me. Probably when it’s all said and done I’ll probably go with the M240, just for the flexibility of using ND grads and gold-n-blue polarizer for landscapes. I have fast glass and usually shoot around ISO 800 anyway in poor light if I have to and come away with decent photos (although I did push Tri-X to 3200 and developed in D76 1:1 and turned out pretty sweet). Just looking to consolidate, traveling with different systems gets tiring with weight, TSA, etc (Leica always goes with me, but travel with medium format film kit too if planning to do landscape). Thanks again for your input!

  18. Patrik says:

    I feel that the M 240 cross a thin line where the everyday captured moment is being presented in a too analytical way. Most pics looks sharper than what my eyes see in real life. The M9 presents the captured moments in a very eye-like matter of viewing the world.

    I fell of my chair when I saw ordinary shots of things like tools, furniture or cars taken with the M9. It was what made me get one. That the pictures looked human eye-real.

  19. Slomo says:

    I sold my m9 ordered the m240 cancelled then bought a new m9 end of story.This M240 looks like a good point and shoot I have looked at 100s of shots nothing has stopped me in my tracks not one shot i guess I’ll see what comes in 3 years or so

  20. […] visitor statistics on Prosophos.com tell me one of my more popular posts this year is:  M240: More Thoughts.   Moreover, if I type the search “Leica M240 vs CCD” on Google, that same post and […]

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