See yesterday’s post on the new 24-megapixel Leica M240 as well as Details on the new 24-Megapixel Leica M240 from Photokina. And of course my Guide to Leica.
The new 24-megapixel Leica M240 is a game-changer, a breakthrough.
No, I don’t meant that it’s going to change the marketplace much— I mean rather that the M240 makes the M platform accessible to a far wider customer base, and now applies to many more usage scenarios, as it addresses the key fault of the M9/M9P: Live View. I made several key points in my Guide to Leica way back in 2009 when the M9 first appeared— the lack thereof was a very serious limitation.
The Leica M240 is a far more significant product than the M8 or M9.
Better yet, at about $6950, Leica has actually brought the price down over the M9/M9P. Now that’s a first.
No one in their right mind should be buying the mid-range M-E (which has no Live View), not given the $1500 price difference, which is less than the cost of one Leica M lens (hedge: certain lifelong rangefinder users or those who for some reason want the 18MP CCD sensor might find a few specific reasons, but they are rare cases).
Am I enthusiastic about the M240? Hell yes. I want one ASAP.
The M240 will carry some irritations and disappointments (all cameras seem to have such flaws), but basically Leica has hit a HOME RUN with the M240.
With the addition of Live View (and an EVF), consider the following:
- Focusing — a huge swath of users (particularly eyeglass wearers or older users) who could never focus an M camera accurately to save their life can now use the Leica M240 with Live View with the rear LCD (and if necessary, a loupe) and/or with the optional EVF (electronic viewfinder). Over the years, I’ve heard from many readers who simply have had to abandon any idea of using Leica M, simply for focusing limitations (eyesight).
- Composition — composition on a rangefinder especially with certain focal lengths was a complete joke, being way off of what is seen. I literally have the habit of shooting 4 or 5 frames of the same thing just so I can capture the composition I intended (and it still isn’t quite right)! With Live View, that problem vaporizes. (Recently on a trip, I had to shoot 15 frames to get the composition just-so— #$*#$*#$* ridiculous).
- Focus check — assuming that Leica has fixed the actual-pixels-zoom bug present in the M9/M9P, the new 920K pixel LCD along with proper zoom should allow post-shot checks for pinpoint focus. We shall see if it has been done right (always possible for Leica to screw it up with a pixellated JPEG view, a high-res screen is only half the equation).
- Handgrip with built-in GPS — a solid grip with built in GPS is slick. No external goofy widget as with Nikon or Canon— built into a grip that the camera really needs anyway —perfect and awesome and a real solution for some types of documentary photography. See my article on GPS for Nikon and Canon in the Jan/Feb 2013 Photo Technique magazine.
- Explosion in lens options — the lens selection just exploded by a factor of 10 or perhaps 50. Seriously. It is now possible (via adapter) to use Leica R lenses, Nikon lenses and presumably just about any other DSLR lens with an aperture ring, at least once suitable adapters are made. That’s because the flange focal offset for DSLR lenses affords ample space to mount a lens adapter. Leica 'glass' is unrivalled, BUT there are many good DSLR lenses out there, especially longer focal lengths, that could heretofore not be used.
- Ultra wide — the Zeiss ZM 15mm f/2.8 Distagon and similar lenses now can be focused on the M240; it is not rangefinder coupled so focus was always guesswork on the M9/M9P. This is only one example.
- Telephoto — Even though Leica had and has the 135mm f/3.4 APO-Telyt-M, this lens was never really usable on the M9 because there was no way to reliably focus it accurately (even Leica acknowledged this directly. The 90/2 APO and 75/2 APO were always “iffy” in this regard also. But now, one can shoot all those lenses with perfect focus (and a little patience) using Live View. Or the new Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar (with adapter), or the Leica R 90/2 APO, 180/2.8 APO, 280/4 APO, etc, etc.
- Macro — macro was always a masochistic exercise on the M cameras. With Live View and any mountable macro lens (e.g., Leica 100/2.8 APO or Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar, etc), one can now do macro work on the M240.
- Video — lots of photographers don’t need video, but some do, and having the feature is a huge plus for those photographers, since they won’t need to carry another brand camera and can use the wonderful Leica M lenses.
Portability and size/weight
Think about that— on a plane, on a hike, wherever size and weight matters, the M240 now makes a complete kit possible in a very compact form factor— outstanding optics on a 24 megapixel sensor that all fits into a small hip pack and is under five pounds. Now that is a game changer for me, over carrying 20 pounds of DSLR and Zeiss glass.
Scott S writes:
With regards to your question on the Leica R to M adapter, the adapter has a tripod mount on it so it will not put any stress on the M body when heavy lenses are mounted to the adapter.
DIGLLOYD: this is good news. We shall have to see if an appropriate Really Right Stuff mountain plate can be attached.
You wrote: "I would not want to tripod mount the Leica M given the weight of some R lenses and thus stress on the lens mount."
I use a pair of Burzynski Macromount Leica Universal Lens Collar ring mounts (tripod collars) for my two somewhat large Leica R 100/2.8 APO and 180/2.8 APO lenses that allow the tripod to attach to each lens instead of to the camera body. (It is not difficult to attach this ring mount to the lens, but inconvenient enough that I would not want to share a single collar that would have to be swapped back and forth between two lenses.) That Burzynski collar is made of metal, and its foot comes with an Arca Swiss style dovetail. (The larger Leica R 280/4 APO lens is manufactured with a built-in tripod foot so no accessory ring collar is necessary, just an Arca Swiss plate for that lens foot – for example, a Kirk LP-42 Lens Plate which has a pin to prevent rotation.)
"BURZYNSKI Macromount LEICA Universal for Vario-Elmar-R F 4/80-200, Leica Apo Macro f2,8/100, Leica Apo-Elmarit-R 2,8 180mm" (€131.09 without VAT):
It might be possible to save on the shipping cost by ordering from their affiliate store in France, Photo and Nature Camera, as the $110 German shipping charges are absurd.
I don't believe that the manufacturer sells directly to customers, but the contact information I have is Rainer Burzynski, Naturfotografie, Spezial-Zubehör, Am Hufeisenstich 1, D-16792 Zehdenick, Telefon: +49-330 80/4 05 70, Telefax: +49-330 80/4 07 70
There is also a hard to find Leica STA-1 tripod collar #14636 which I have not seen, but understand is made of plastic.
DIGLLOYD: I am quoted from my original post on the Leica M240.