Chinatown textures

Chinatown textures, black and white street photography by Markus Hartel, NYC

Comparing the M Typ 240 to the Leica Monochrome, the MM does indeed have more detail in certain areas, but the 240 gives me a larger file and a little more wiggle room for tonal tweaks and I don’t think that anyone would see the difference in prints smaller than 40″… The Leica Monochrome seemed like a strong contender for a black-and-white street shooter like me for quite a while, and if I had the cash, I’d probably get one… however –and I think I had mentioned this before– I really do like the ability of shooting color and black-and-white in one camera at the same time, and the M240 wins for me. Compared to the M9, and my shooting style – not so much.

In my day-to-day shooting I’d still prefer if the M240 had the handling of the M9 with a thumb-activated rear dial for EV compensation, and this kills me… i.e. when using the Leica M9 with a flash (manual at 1/32 or 1/64), I’d pretty much lock the camera at its highest sync speed (180th/sec), set the aperture at f11 and use Auto ISO with EV -1 and most of the time it’d work like the bomb, well, minus backlit situations… And guess what – I’d just flick the rear dial as needed. Now, with the M 240 that’s not possible at the moment, as there is no Auto ISO, or EV override in manual mode. Of course, I can shoot full manual and keep fiddling with the settings, but that’s annoying as hell for decisive shooting and secondly, when switching the ISO around, the display doesn’t even read in sun light. In essence this takes me five years back to my M6 TTL, where my ISO was locked in by my film choice. Guess what – with digital cameras I have grown to LOVE the ability of switching the ISO, and even -gasp- Auto ISO, which (I think) is the least intrusive automatic control in the creative department.

Essentially, what I’m gaining in image quality with the M240 vs the M9, upwards of ISO 800 or ISO 1250, is thrown out of the window (at the moment, until we may see a firmware update) by ergonomic quirks of the camera. After using the M240 for a little over a week now, the truth is, that I’m sitting on the fence about the new Leica rangefinder flagship… on top of that, I’m sitting on a bunch of gear at the moment.

On a side note, the original full-frame Canon 5D, which by now is 7(!) years old, holds up surprisingly well in between these new marvels of technology and still is my go-to tool when autofocus comes in handy (street photography it is not)…

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