Leica M Typ 240 firmware update 188.8.131.52 brings us an improvement in white balance, which now seems to be more neutral than before. Auto ISO in manual mode is still stuck at the latest used ISO (i.e. doesn’t work) and EV override is still stuck on the impossible to use two-button setting. Ergonomically this is unacceptable and I may just need to buy another M9 get used to it.
I initially thought, the Fujifilm X-Pro1 would be a great supplement to my aging M9, but as it turns out, the Fuji just doesn’t suit my shooting style… Image quality is very good and it smokes the M9 in the high ISO department (where I was most unhappy with the Leica M9, and I shoot *a lot* at ISO 1250 and higher). Well, high ISO performance is somewhat important, but the Fuji’s handling just drives me insane – there are too many levers and buttons for too many useless functions. Is it useable? absolutely! is it a good camera? absolutely! is the image quality good? absolutely. is it affordable? absolutely! I don’t know… after shooting Leicas for so many years, I just can’t return to shooting anything else (besides my Canon for some jobs and certain styles).
So, today, I met Fred for our second one-on-one street photography workshop and he lost his soft release, which is the most crucial piece of equipment on any camera to have –in my opinion– and we worked our way to photovillage, where we chatted a little bit with Will and I inquired about the new Leica M (Typ 240). He said, there was a waiting list, but he’d gladly sell me the demo camera they have, and I replied that I’d think about it. Man, I did the numbers right that second already – sell the M9 for going rate (4k), sell the Fuji with lens and accessories for $1,400, sell the 28mm Elmarit that I don’t use at the moment, add a little cash and there we go… well, I went home after my workshop, called photovillage and bought the Leica M (Typ 240).
I didn’t get a lot of shooting done while carrying the box around, but I do like the smooth shutter and sound, I hate that I don’t have a grip yet (they don’t even sell it yet, and a GPS grip will cost like $895 – Leica, we’ll need to have a talk – I really only need a regular hand grip). Auto ISO seems a little wonky so far, but I didn’t dig into the settings deeply, or firmware updates yet. The files that I have thus far, look very promising and I’m sure I will report how the new M performs for me. I’ll say this much – ISO 3200, shot on the subway, looks pretty damn good on a first glance.
P.S. The Leica Monochrom was a joy to use for a day, but I’m not willing to give up the versatility I gained by shooting digitally anymore and the new M seems to fit the bill quite nicely.
The first thing I question about the M Typ 240 – there is no exposure compensation dial and I have to dig into the menu, or press two buttons (one of which is in a really awkward spot!)? Seriously, who designs this @#$%??? LESS IS MORE!!! That’s why I love my Leica cameras!!! For example, it’s really convenient to use the rear dial and auto ISO with the M9, using a flash and -1EV quickly dialed in or out as needed… Leica could easily program the thumb wheel only for EV compensation in this 240 camera… what’s with the extra button??? Safety for knocking it by accident, I suppose – please, please make it a one-handed operation type of thing… press-turn could be perfect, for the M 240-2 in 2015. In the meantime, give me EV compensation on the thumb dial, asap!
Auto ISO doesn’t work in manual mode(?) and seems to remember the last fixed ISO used… not only weird, but plain unusable! The engineers probably had a few too many Bitburger beers while designing this feature.
Look, Leica users may be purists, but some features *with* override *do* come in handy a lot, if one wants to be quick shooting “rangefinder style”, and that’s one of the main reasons I hesitated about the M240 at first – in my book, they tried to cram too many features into an M camera. Sure, Leica will argue that there is an M9-E, but in essence that’s a three year old camera that sucks in the high ISO department.
Make of it what you will – so far I really like the M240’s image quality and will probably stick to it, and I really hope that Leica listens to their customers, just like Fuji does!
In fact, I emailed my contact at Leica today (09-06-2013), and he said that he’ll pass on the info – I really hope they fix the EV override and auto ISO!
The M 240 feels much heavier than it actually is, especially using it without a grip (plus, I carried the lightweight Fuji all day long)
M 240 30.9oz (874g) w/ 35mm Summicron and Domke gripper strap
M9 28.5oz (826g) w/ 35mm Summicron and Domke gripper strap
X-Pro1 21.9oz (620g) w/ 18mm f2 lens and Domke gripper strap
All these numbers mean shit, except that the Fuji feels like nothing (or like a pointless point-and-shoot) in my hands, the M 240 feels super heavy without a grip, and the M9 feels perfect after 3 years of using it with the original Leica grip.
In advanced metering mode, the camera uses live data from the sensor and acts as if it is in “live mode”, which makes the camera unresponsive for successive shooting. From the sound of it, it essentially leaves the shutter open for a while after the exposure and then quits live view, which then in turn locks the camera up for a split second. Essentially, advanced metering will not work for my shooting style.
The camera locked up on me after shooting sequences numerous times today, a wait period of seconds _which will feel like an eternity while shooting a job_ is unacceptable. Believe it or not, for some shots I went back to my (5 year old?) Canon 5D. I am not so happy about the M 240 at the moment.
I used a SanDisk Ultra for the shoot, rated @30MB/sec… camera performs *much* better with a faster SD card, SanDisk Extreme Pro, rated at 95MB/sec
I should start making vanilla M 240 grips
The shutter sound is fantastic compared to the M9, or Monochrom… very rich, solid, yet very subdued and quiet. image quality, even at ISO 3200 is kick-ass. Even shooting RAW, I noticed that the Leica M 240 errs towards the warmer, saturated side, and I think Leica built this in to “match” the rich colors of the M9, but I don’t think the CMOS is a match to the rich tonality of the M9’s CCD sensor. I may need to hold on to my M9
Photography continues to be a driving force in my life and my One-on-one street photography workshops are going really well with participants coming from all over the world… For blog readers who don’t follow my regular site, here a testimonial from another happy customer:
It is now about 2 weeks since I completed a 3-hour New York City street photography workshop with Markus Hartel; what a great experience!!! As someone who has been taking photographs for many years, I felt I was stuck in a creative rut. I wanted and needed, to quote the great chef Emeril, to “kick it up a notch”…. The workshop with Markus was just the way to do do this, and was inspiring, informative, and extremely entertaining. Markus is one of those gifted teachers who is able to convey his passion and ideas in the most simple, clear way. He has a relaxed and patient approach that immediately puts you at ease, and allows you to become uninhibited and focus on learning. Markus is able to adjust the pace and discussion to your needs and desires, and covers a wide variety of topics including composition, lighting, and the use of zone focussing. Equally or more importantly for me, was the awe I felt by be being close to someone who is so excellent at his art and craft. Almost immediately you will see the subtle economy of movement- the quiet almost imperceptible motion of the leica coming up to his eye and then back down to his side. That he can get so close to people without them noticing or caring, and that he is willing to teach you about this, and be so generous with his pearls of street photography wisdom and experience is one of the great joys and advantages that come with this workshop. How to approach people, who not to approach, how to be a good observer, what sort of places to anticipate interesting shots at- the list goes on and on. As well, Markus conveys his appreciation and knowledge of design and architecture, and how to capture these in your images. The 3 hours passed far too quickly, but with a one-on-one approach, I feel I took away a tremendous amount, and I look forward to doing this again in the not-to-distant future. Markus would be a fantastic teacher for any level of photographer, and i regret I did not do this sooner! The workshop and experience was completely rewarding and enjoyable, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to both learn something and experience street photography at its best. Fortunately for me, his passion for photography is infectious, and I have come back home with new skills and a renewed interest and enthusiasm for going out and capturing images of the world around us. By the way, Markus really does own the streets!!! Joe Reisman, Ottawa Canada