Leica M-240, all images taken with the the 50mm Summilux, 35 mm Summilux, or 21mm Summilux. Please click on the pictures to examine them in greater detail, though remember, they have been seriously down-rezzed for Internet posting.
The first thing to know about graduating from a Leica M9 to the new Leica M is what a huge step up it is in taking pictures at night. The M9 was usable in the dark of night, the M-240 is blissful. During a recent trip to Mexico, we found it as much fun to use after the sun went down as it was during the day. This is a big development.
In tricky, mixed lighting conditions, you have the same problems as with the M9, but the files are sufficiently malleable that you can recover shadow detail (to the extent you wish to), and the files — even without benefit of a color profile in Lightroom — can be made useful. This is true even when you don’t quite get the shot.
It is still very much a Leica M — discrete, a perfect street camera. We also discovered that, when we screwed up and somehow, as in the above picture, recorded the image as a Jpeg file, not a RAW file, there was still much to work with.
The joy of being able to shoot at ISOs above 1250 makes this a game-changer for Leica users. Yes, we have these fast lenses, but there are times when you really do need to shoot at high ISOs, and at last we have a camera that is as good, in color and at 3200 ISO, as the Monochrom is in black and white.
This is a camera that, to our eye, still delivers that Leica magic. We’ve followed some of the commentary that is negative on Leica’s switch from a CCD to a CMOS sensor, but honestly, we think this is a camera that still renders images very similar to the M9 in the look and drama of what is in focus, and of course, the Leica lenses deliver a unique bokeh.
As a reportage camera, it is still as fast to utilize as an Leica since the M3. Yes, we missed this shot, a bit, but it was because we were looking elsewhere when El Jefe came marching into the view. The camera very quickly activates as you raise it to your eye. If you are using the EVF, of course you would miss this. But the Leica manual focusing process, through the viewfinder, is with practice as fast as you need it.
As a street camera, it is unparalleled, simply a better version of the M9, in our opinion. We could spend an entire day shooting without worrying about battery drainage — each day would end with the camera not even dangerously close to having used a full battery. A good thing, since we traveled to Mexico without a spare, which Leica is just now getting into dealers’ hands.
We did use the EVF with the 21mm Summilux, and found the focusing to be easy and effective. Yes, it would have worked to have used the external viewfinder. But we liked using the EVF in these circumstances.
Purists might not like the look of a file like the above, but we were very pleased to be able to do basic adjustments in Lightroom and then process this in Color Efex Pro 4 to get a traditional film look. To us, this looks like something we would have shot with our M7, using Fuji films.
And even though, again, we weren’t able to nail the above shot, missing Mr. White Hat, processing the images with a film preset makes it a perfectly acceptable image, to our eye.
We will post more pictures in the days ahead, but here is the bottom line. After a month, and after a week of travel, we find the Leica M-240 to be every bit the equal of, and we honestly believe, superior to the Leica M9 in terms of image quality. It is much more reliable — we never had to eject a battery after the camera jammed or balked at taking a picture. We got a day’s use out of a battery. It was amazing to shoot with at night.
After one month with our M, we honestly believe this is a complete winner. We look forward to using it in many different conditions in the years ahead.
Update: For observations on Five-Months Use of The M As A Multipurpose Tool go here.
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