The Leica M – Has it lost that magic of the M9?

The Leica M – Has it lost that magic of the M9?

With the website I run here I am able to hear from people on all sides of the fence when it comes to new cameras. I get opinions all day long and I have never received as many e-mails about a new camera as I have with the new Leica M. Well, almost had this many with the M9 launch but this new M takes the cake. I have been getting e-mails telling me the new M has lost the M9 magic. I have been getting e-mails telling me the new M kills the M9 in IQ. I have been getting e-mails telling me to just buy a D800 for less money. Sometimes my head spins in amazement at all of the ruckus a new camera can create! But hey, it’s loads of fun and I always love a good old fashioned debate 🙂 But in reality, there is no reason to debate anything when it comes to the M and M9. Both are beautiful and capable cameras.

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The bottom line is that the new M is it for 2013-2016. It is Leica’s new flagship digital M and it is here to stay for at least 3 years. The cool thing is that Leica has kept the M9 around in the form of the ME because they knew the new M would be putting out an all new “Leica Look” and that look would not be loved by all M9 owners. So the ME stays in the stable for those who prefer that M9 look and feel. That is pretty cool of Leica to do.

But I have to be honest. I remember the M8 and I loved that thing. When the M9 came out, the first two months were filled with those bashing the M9 for “losing the M8 magic”. Forums were filled with comments about how “the M9 has lost the Leica look” and  “the M8 had a film like look with Leica color”. The M9 had different color and was getting attacked from tons of people saying it was no longer special and to top it off, the sensor sucked (not me saying this but some people out here in internet land). I was even attacked by those telling me I was wrong in my M9 review and that I should be honest and say the M8 had better output. Funny stuff. All true.

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It did not take too long until all of that changed and the word on the forums was that the M9 was a huge improvement over the M8 and had “the real Leica look”. It all of the sudden became the definitive digital M and those who loved it said they would never ever need another M. This was it. Then the M8 started getting bashed left and right and the M9 was “special”..”magic”…”beautiful” and the M8 was flawed, awful and a beta at best.

Well, no one had to convince me because I knew from my 1st use  that the M9 was better than the M8 and pretty special. Of course the Leica haters hated it just to hate it but those who owned it, shot it and really used it knew it had something about it. But this was 3-4 years ago, before many of the really good cameras started getting released. There was no D800, 5DIII, Fuji X or any of that. Basically in full frame land it was the M9 and Nikon and Canon. The M9 had plenty of advantages over the DSLR’s for size, weight, the fact that it was an RF and oh…the lenses. Ask any Leica person what they love most about the brand and they will most likely tell you…the lenses.

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So now we have the “M” and it is starting all over again. Forums are filled with some people claiming it has lost the M9 magic, is just like any other camera, and that  it is the end of the road for Leica because who would buy one when you can get any FF DSLR and have the same output? There are also those who own the M (very few at this time) and those who have shot it extensively and have the opposite opinion.

So what is it? What is the real deal?

Well, I stated my rather long opinion on this matter in my M review but the bottom line is this…The M produces a different image than the M9. Like I said, the M will offer more resolution at 24MP vs 18MP, the M will have more Dynamic Range (and this is very evident when shooting), the M will have richer but different color and the new M will have a smoother less hard rendering.

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Different. To some this is better. To others I guess not. To me, it s better. No longer do I have limited DR. No longer do I have to worry about shooting indoors or at night, no longer do I have to worry about my RF being off, no longer do I have to worry about funky colors or WB  and the shutter is so nice and quiet now 🙂  The M files are smoother, richer, deeper, and quite lovely and pleasing to the eye. Are they the M9 files? NOPE!

There are many who ask “Why not get a D800 for less”. To me the answer is quite simple.

If I bought a D800 and 3 superb lenses for that D800 it would never leave my house. I am not a fan of having to buy a huge bag and lug around massive gear. I did that in the early 2000’s and it was a pain in my ass. I had a huge backpack with a Nikon D2hs, 700-200, 85  1.4, 24-70, etc. It weighed a ton and when I would leave the house I would look at that backpack 90% of the time and say..nope, not today.

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The D800 is a fantastic camera, one of the best available today. But I would just never use it. Once you get used to shooting with something like an M9, M, RX1, Fuji, OM-D E-M5…there is sort of no going back. Ive been shooting Leica M since the M7 so I love the size, wight, form factor and lenses. I now love the new M as it gives me everything I could ask for in a camera. The M9 was close, but for me the new M is it. Besides, there is no 50 Lux for Nikon mount and nothing (for me) beats the 50 Lux when it comes to a 50mm lens. There is also no 35 Lux..or Noctilux…you get my point 🙂

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I am one who feels the IQ of the M is a step up over the M9  but like I said, if you prefer the M9 output, there is no shortage of those around 🙂 Shoot with what YOU like and enjoy as that is the only way to go. Do not worry about what others think, go with what YOU think. No need to stress over a camera when there are so many amazing camera models out there to choose from.

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So while there are cheaper cameras out there, some of us shoot Leica because we love to do so. I in no way shoot it for any kind of snobbery (some do), I shoot Leica because it is the best camera for me to get me motivated to shoot and I really enjoy it. That my friends is always what it is all about.

As for the M9 magic..no, the M has not lost or gained any magic. What it can do is create beautiful images just as well as the M9 but with more versatility and capabilities and that is a fact jack! Mark my words..one year from now forums will be filled with comments about the new M much like what happened with the M9 a few months after its release. The cycle repeats itself.

Steve

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180 Comments

  1. Hello,
    I know it’s an old post. I was just hoping to find out what lenses were used to take the window picture (the first one) and the lightbulb picture. I assume both are taken with Leica M.

  2. Right on Steve, as usual. I got to play with the M quite a bit at a Leica Akademie weekend alongside my own M Monochrom. Until recently I hadn’t used an M9, but used to own an M8.2 (and just recently purchased a used M9). Oh, I also own an M5 and use it when the mood to shoot film strikes.

    The point? Leicas are a delight to shoot. Doesn’t really matter which M, they all have the magic.

    As for the new purchase, I thought about the M, but chose to go with an M9 because it has the same control layout, feel, batteries, etc. as my M Monochrom which is my primary camera. Image quality wise, the M is probably better, but where the improvements matter most to me (low light, high ISO) I’ll always be shooting the Monochrom anyway as black and white is my passion, especially in low light situations where I enjoy painting with darkness.

  3. I’d love to own a Leica it seems like an engineering marvel… but I really can’t justify it given it doesn’t seem it would offer me anything over the 5D Mark III.
    Which is a camera I really love using, not just for the image quality it provides but the great experience shooting it. Solid feeling body with controls in all the right places, and it’s AF system, I feel like it’s an ever obedient and dutiful butler that does everything exactly how I want it done and never lets me down.

    Canon EF platform also offers some kick arse lenses, the 24-70mm II is a high contrast lens that seems to equals the sharpness of a Leica Summicron ASPH, which is all the more incredible given it is a zoom. Plus there’s the 85mm L, probably the best portrait lens in the world and 35mm from Sigma.

    I have no issue with the size of DSLRs, I also have a 6D which I always keep on me. I take it to work, to the supermarket. Just incase I’ll need it. I’ll slap on a 40mm pancake and leave everything else at home if I need to cut down on the weight. It’s a mere 900 grams. 770g body + 130g 40mm lens. Compared to a Leica M, which is 680 grams for the body and 190 grams for a 35mm F/2 Summicron for 870 grams. That’s a mere 30 grams difference!

    I would love to own a Leica I’m very allured to the quality and engineering of the M platform, the Leica is indeed pure technological art especially the lenses. I can understand the appeal. But can not find a reason to justify owning one given the lack of advantages over alternatives.
    The problem is I’m already in love with the EF platform and I’m not willing to cheat on it with Leica. Well not at these prices anyway.

  4. Different technologies, CCD vs. CMOS, CCD is old school design with better output than CMOS seven years ago, but the current CMOS design has improved greatly, so Leica has to rumble on with a more efficient sensor with the M. I guess when the M9 came out in 2009, CCD was a better design at that time for Leica.

  5. Wow, after reading a few comments – especially the obviously unexperienced rant/spam just above my post, I realised that too many people care about gear and not enough about the experience and the end files.

    Steve, I agree with your last few comments and Surge obviously has not been on a whole day shoot.

    I shoot in the hot sun for sports and events and I have never used my Leica M3 on a Black Rapid, but I definitely use my 7D on a Black rapid. Weight plays a BIG part if you end up holding the camera all day.

    In terms of size, I have to use a Backpack for my 7D. I have to use a small Billingham bag for my M3. So to reinforce my initial point, I really found it either rather desperate for the obvious spam and the “nit picking” I see when people are negative to the M. As a happy owner of a VERY old Leica and lenses and a happy owner of a 7D, and as a professional who also uses gear as a High School teacher for school events, if I can FF quality of a D800 in a compact body (yes, its classified as a compact) and about half a kilo to 1 kilo of weight difference, Im sure Id get fit, but having a whole dumbbell of weight on my wrists for 9 hours? Then arguing over “oh its a small difference” shows little experience from my perspective.”

    • I’m stunned by the gross lack of accuracy when it comes to some of these posts, especially the above. Where does anyone get the facts to claim that there is ANY significant difference in weight between the M240 and the D800?? Pick your lens and do the math. There are some combinations of lens for the M that are HEAVIER than the comparable D800 combination. Try carrying around the 50mm Noctilux, for example.

      Other combinations have the M system a bit less, but we are talking about a less than half pound difference.

      I included some examples in older posts above.

      Seriously, throwing around ‘facts’ that are completely erroneous discredits the entire medium.

  6. Dear Steve,
    I think of your Leica reviews to be more than fair. I personally have some reservations regarding the Monochrom capability compared to the M, but as I know only the Monochrom and not the other I cannot say anything further.
    It comes natural when a new model, especially a Leica, is launched to be a lot of chatting in general. The fact is that there is not an issue of Magic in the digital era any more. Leica is the only traditional looking camera around and the best performing full frame RF system camera. Either you like it or not. No one is obliged to buy it if there is no need to do so. All the other things are stories.
    Regarding the M apart from the additional video capability where it surely might be lesser that Canon and Nikon as Leica has not a great experience on to the matter and the overall design of the camera does not promote a serious video use, the two main points are the EVF and the R adapter.
    It is said that the EVF is just adequate and you say that it is sufficient for the purpose. It remains for the R adapter and the combination of both to prove adequate on the field. If that proves to work and the new sensor delivers what Leica promisses then a new Leica system is born.
    If not then M9 or the ME will remain the workhorses for the ones seriously involved in rangefinder photography.
    Let us be fair and sincere. Leica is not a camera to replace a top of the range DSLR. It is a camera for a special purpose and a certain kind of photographic job, mainly street photography. Even with the live view and the R adapter on, I do not think that I will ever used it for special photography like architecture, macro and scientific. Leica Camera AG thinks right marketing wise trying to attract more non Leica users to the new M concept. But even so if somebody is not a seasoned Leica user I think she/he will be dissapointed as even today Leica takes a lot of tricks in order for somebody to be efficient with it.
    Best regards,
    Dimitris V. Georgopoulos
    Photographer at Large
    Athens, Greece.

    P.S During my forty years in photography I have used and worked with nearly all the systems Leica being one of them since 1994. No camera can be the Jack of All Trades and there is not something like an all around lens.

  7. Almost forgot – adding the Leica handgrip – which I consider a necessity since there’s nowhere to really curve your index fingers around the body when shooting, and there’s another .65 lbs.
    So now the Leica setup is HEAVIER than the D800 setup.

    SO, STOP SAYING THE LEICA M IS LIGHTER THAN A DLSR LIKE THE D800.
    IN PRACTICAL TERMS, IT’S NOT!

  8. How about this – body + 28mm + 90mm… a nice all ’round kit that should cover most scenarios when you’re traveling.
    Well now the Leica setup is only 0.48 lb. lighter. Not even half a pound!

    What’s my overall point and what does it have to do with the original topic of this post?

    The M240 hasn’t lost the magic of the M9, it’s lost the magic of the entire M range!

    There was a time when the M series had superior quality (due to its lens optics… then the others caught up), in a superior form factor (the M bodies were considerably smaller pre-digital… the reviewers today kind of gloss over that).

    So where are we today?
    Picture Quality – no difference vs. the D800E (Steve says it himself above)
    Weight – if less than half a pound is going to break your back and cause you to whine and complain all day, then sure, the Leica is “far” better
    Size – again, the M doesn’t fit in your pocket, so doesn’t really matter
    Price – no contest. The setup of body+28+90mm is going to cost you about $11K more… no surprise here
    Operating Pleasure – manual, aperture/shutter dials, etc… yeah, the Leica is nicer, but then a Fuji X100S comes close, and see Price…

    This is why I contend that the M series has lost its magic.
    I have the ability to drop the money on the M. But why?? To save less than half a pound in weight?
    Because it’s nicer to use?
    But then we haven’t even talked about what you give up – AF, weather sealing, time lapse, etc…

    You get my point! Think objectively.

  9. Steve, I generally like your articles, but you need to stop grossly exaggerating the weight differences between the D800 and the M240. It is less than 1/3 of a pound difference. Does 1/3 of a pound = ‘lugging massive gear’ and does 1/3 of pound = a pain in your ass?! Actually, with your beloved Noctilux, the M is the exact same weight.

    Do the math. Compare the weight of the bodies, then look at the Nikon 28mm and for the Leica the 28mm (f/2) and the 50mm (f/2… want to add the Noctilux instead, better add another 1 Lb!). Why two lens for the Leica and just one for the D800E? Well because the D800E has 50% more pixels… it will out-resolve the Leica till the cows come home. So you don’t need to carry as many lenses. Personally, I carry just the 28mm, and I can crop easily to ~60mm.

    So if you compare the weights, you’ll see the Leica is only 133g (0.3 lb.) lighter.
    Oh wait… you need a bag to carry the 2nd Leica lens… I wouldn’t walk around with a $3K+ bulge in my pants all day. Even a small bag will weigh about 300g, so now the Leica kit is +167g (>1/3 lb.) heavier.

    Umm… there goes that ‘D800E humungous kit vs. Leica is so small and light’ argument.
    (BTW, I love Leica, I owned an M6 TTL and loved it.)

    Of course, we are not even talking price, but it would be $10K MORE for the Leica, or 3.5X. And that’s without the Noctilux.
    I have the means to buy the new M240, and as I said, I love Leica. But I just cannot justify it. There simply is not enough of a difference in quality anymore. And if I really want to enjoy the range-finder process and form factor, well I can just add a Fuji X body to my D800E (which is what I did).

    Think everyone. Don’t just take reviewers’ comments verbatim. Save your money!

    • I need to stop? Lol.

      What I state is fact. Let’s look at weight:

      Nikon D800 and Nikon 35 1.4 Lens – 3 lbs 5 oz
      Leica M 240 and 35 Summillux ASPH 14 – 2.1 lbs.

      Not only is that quite a difference in weight, and using one of Leica larger lenses, it is also a huge reduction is size and bulk. I used both side by side but with the even heavier 35 1.4 Zeiss on the Nikon. It was a beast and no fun for me after 5 hours in teh field. The M9 I had at the time was no problem, barely felt it around my body. So there is absolutely no “gross exaggeration” on my part. GOOD lenses for the Nikon system are huge and heavy. The Bodys are bulky, fat and heavy. Oh, that weight is without the battery in the D800 btw.

      So yes, it is a fact, the D800 is a much larger and heavier kit than a Leica M kit. Go with the Summarit lenses on the Leica and they are about 1/5th the size of the NIkon equivalents. I’d say take out those two kits I mentioned for a day and tell me what you think then. Over the course of a day that over 1 lb difference is huge, as is the size benefit. As for D800 vs Leica M files, I have seen them side by side – damn close depending on lenses used. No difference in a print or online image.

      http://www.wallsfeed.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Cameras-Nikon-Leica-Nikon-D800-Leica-M9.jpg

      • Well I don’t have both cameras, but I find it hard to believe that the 50% more pixels are just ‘wasted’..? Have you tried a large format (> 50″) print? I initially bought the D800E just to print huge wall ‘drape’ posters, but now I’m enjoying it as a travel camera as well.

        Anyway, back to the weight comp.:
        comparing body + 35mm f/1.4 the weight difference is 600g. 1.3Lbs.
        Hardly huge.

      • And with a 28mm f/2 lens the weight difference is only 370g (0.8 Lb). That’s with the f/1.8 G AF-S Nikkor, recommended for the D800/E.

      • As for the ‘big & bulky’ size argument.
        A camera either fits in your pocket, or does not.
        If it does not, then who cares if it’s a few inches bigger?! It may actually make it easier to hold steady if its size/shape is larger.
        Point being, it’s not significant unless it fits in your pocket.

  10. I am not a photographer, but I like technology and the end results that can be shown with a photo. A couple months ago I bought a D600. I was not satisfied with the quality I returned and purchased the D800E. That was not good enough either so I returned this one too. Yesterday, I briefly tested the M240, It is an amazing camera.

    Comparing pics with the D800E; it does not even come close. A photographer once told me do not buy a Nikon, or Cannon buy a Leica. I thought that he was exaggerating. He was right. The end result is so much more pleasing. I am not sure that I will buy one. Too expensive and I am not sure that I can wait 6 months before I can get one. You are lucky you have one.

  11. I haven’t been in the market for a camera for a few years, but I still like to keep up with the latest news. It’s kind of funny to read all these different opinions and see people getting all worked up about the latest thing… M Monochrom, M Typ 240.. etc. all the while I’m still sitting here happy as Larry with my M8 & 50mm ‘Lux that I bought used a few years ago (a “bargain” by Leica standards).

    You don’t miss what you’ve never had.

    It seems like more & more people are being conditioned to be compulsive consumers, when really they just need to remember the above fact.

  12. I have an M9 and it is much better than the M because it has that “Leica” magic. That is until I trade in my M9 for an M when the new M will be superior. I just wish Leica would stop making new models so I can simply not worry about having the best M. It is expensive to keep up.

  13. I like your logic. Weight is a major factor to pick up a camera, get out, and shoot. As Richard M. Burson said: “The Best Camera is the One That’s With You”, what’s the use of a top notch D-SLR, when due to it’s size and weight you already left it at home. Me myself kind of had the same experience. With D-SLR I find myself unconsciously “planning” when and how I should take D-SLR and some lenses with me. Dilemma! Yes?! It’s an stupid comparison but I never “planned” to take out my cellphone.

  14. Statements that the M has lost that magic of the M9 leave me confused. From what I have read so far about the M, it is the first Leica which seems to have no “issues” like the ones Steve described (which I summarized for myself as “Dynamic range could be better, colors maybe a little off”), so in summary the files seem to look “neutral” or similar to what you get from Nikon or Canon. As both brands are very good at that I am not sure what’s not to like. To me the M is the true coming of age of digital Leica and the first one I would buy, if I had the money to spend.

    • Michael, is it “magic” you’re after, or “solid, top of the game” potential for the images you want to make? If it is the latter, you can’t go wrong with the M it appears. If you want to spend less money and/or don’t wat a rangefinder, look somewhere else. You’ll find something you like.

  15. The review by the Camera Store has me worried.

    They claim that the Sony RX-1 can out resolve the M + 35mm ASPH.
    That’s the new $5K lens on the new M (without AA filter) being beaten by a camera with a AA filter and a fixed lens (albeit a Zeiss one)?

    The video performance sucks but I have a 5D MK3 for that.
    The low light sucks but I have a 5D MK3 for that too.

    Now the image quality in good light isn’t up to a $2500 Sony (there’s a $180 rebate) ?
    Sean Reid claims the M is better.
    Steve Huff claims they are about the same.
    The Camera Store claims the Sony is better.

    Which one to believe for your hard earned $12K ?

    ET

    • No need to worry. In my use, the M meets or slightly beats the RX1 in real image taking when it comes to high ISO up to 6400. Low light capability in real use on the new M is just as good as the RX1. Period.

      Also, the 35 Summicron is $3000 not $5000 – So yea, this would be a $10k combo vs a $3k combo. The RX1 is a beast and goes to show all of those complaining about the cost saying it should be $1200 were way off base. It is well worth the cost for the IQ and everything else it brings. Is the M worth $7K? In all reality, no it is not. If we think with our brains we know it is overpriced. Problem is many of us speak with our hearts 🙂

      I will be putting up a three camera comparison with full size from RAW files hopefully later today from the RX1, X100s, and M with 35 cron. Should be fun. Who will win? I am not so sure but I do know the differences are minimal between the RX1 and M. M has nicer color, RX1 may be a little sharper. DR is about the same between the two in real use.

      But for all of those with a stockpile of Leica glass, an RX1 will not do anything for them. You can not shoot a 50 Lux or Noct or 28 cron on an RX1.

      So they are different cameras. One is a rangefinder, one is a P&S style. One can take lenses, one can not. One is tiny, one is normal sized.

      I am looking forward to my comparison today and am heading out in about 20 min to go take the shots (same aperture, same focal length, same composition and subjects)

      • You are right it is a 35 Cron not a Lux, my bad…
        Looking forward to the comparison 🙂
        I’d be curious how the RX-1 compares against the best Leica glass too…

        ET

  16. Hi Steve.
    Adore your site, enjoy the openness and honesty.

    As you say its more about taking great photos that the camera, and like all things everyone has different views and priorities. I’m still looking to get my Leica M and then make up my own mind, worst would be I don’t like it and will sell it and buy the M9.

    Any chance you could shoot some images on the Leica M with other lens rather than the uber new Leica Summilux 50mm. Like the Elmarit 90mm f2.8 and older 50mm classic glass, perhaps Zeiss classics also to see if they produce the creamy images every Leica fan loves. Be interesting to see if this is the case, just as one of your readers prefers older lenses on the Leica Monochrome.
    Here’s hoping.

    • I have shown samples from the 35 cron, 50 lux, 75 lux, and upcoming 50 Noct 0.95. I do not have a slew of lenses at my home and i do not own any old glass. If I did I would take some shots with them but I do not. Sorry!

  17. I hear the video sucks out of this camera, so who needs that option? Who wants an EVF (because we all know they suck compared to real glass), especially when you buy a Leica? Isn’t this all about the RF focusing, isn’t that part of the draw? Not really appealing to me, I have the $$ to buy this, but not interested so far. IMO, just stick a Leica M lens mount adaptor on an NEX body and have at it for much less 🙂 My thoughts might change, but right now at 10:54 mountain time I feel its bang on. Will stick to my my M9, MP, M3 and soon to arrive Fuji X100S.

    • Now see that’s what I’m talking about! They made some nice improvements just not where the sensor is concerned. The more samples I glean, the more I say “ok but nothing really special – not Leica special” could live with it as a gift but not going out of my way to get it. I’ll stick with my RX1, RX100 and when the new NEX 7n comes out with three new Zeiss lenses, I’ll grab it and an adapter for a 50 Lux.

      Steve: you’ve done a yeoman’s work on the new M. The boys in Oskar-Barnack had better be rolling out the red carpet for you at the next event. 😉

      • As I have said before, I do not even have a contact at Leica. They do not send me review items. They do not email me. They do not give me preferential treatment for repair or calibrations. They do not do anything for me. I write about the M as there are tons out there that wants samples and thoughts. That is what I give, and they are all 100% honest. The sensor in the M is just as good as the one in the D800, RX1, etc in real world use. To me that is damn good and much better than the old M9 sensor. Fact of life..things get better. 😉

        • Steve, this is the non-contact at Leica thet assured you about the 3 year life cycle of the M, not someone else?

          • Guess I was not clear enough for some of you… During the M9 launch I did have a contact at Leica (remember when I reviewed the M9, S2, etc I would say “Leica sent me the camera to review”?) When I needed a review sample I would ask this contact and if they could send me a review sample (again, in 2009-2010) they would for 7-10 days, then it had to go right back. This is how I reviewed the S2. It was in 2009 that they told me about the 3 year life cycle of M and X cameras. Hope this is clear enough for you.

            Thanks

        • I think I struck a nerve…let me be clear(er); I WAS NOT implying that you are in ANY WAY on the take. It was merely an observation I made and that I appreciate how thorough (as always :)) you have been with the new M. And that Leica should recognize you for what you have done for them with regard to the new M (and every other Leica product for that matter), especially without ANY remuneration whatsoever. I thought it was classless of them to exclude you last year.

  18. So there we have it; Steve’s final words of the review suggested it: Leica is now a midget Canonikon with all their focusing aids in addition to rangefinding. But still it happily lacks all the many bells and whistles those cameras come with. (Would you go to a restaurant which had proportionately huge menus?)

    Now we are in the sensor wars that will never end; but one cannot get a new sensor every three days, the way one might buy this or that film du jour.

    And I have to say that reading through I have become a tiny bit squeamish about giving up my M9 for the M240. Will the thousands of us who have pre-ordered the M be able to take both cameras for a bit of a walk to figure out which one best suits his or her style and aesthetic?

    But why Leica anyway, despite the sensor issue which is a very serious issue? Well, It is still the only full frame camera of a reasonable size built like a battleship that also happens to be wed to the best glass made. It now is a bit more user friendly—heresy of heresies for some whose pain I feel, but may have a sensor not worthy of the the Leica name. Sensors—the curse and sperm of digital photography.

  19. I would love to buy this new M body and a few Leica lens… but… I just can’t afford it. Well, I’ll just continue to enjoy the Leica X1 demo that I got at half the price of a new X2. I still love the colors that the X1 can produce in its images.

  20. Very interesting read. Yeah, people often confuse different with inferior (or better, with some people) and the fact that it can be both, depending on who you are and what you want! Thanks for sharing this info. Not that I can afford a Leica anytime soon anyhow!

  21. Steve, when you get the chance, I’d love to see some true landscape shots to showcase the large DOF capabilities of this sensor.; a weakness of the RX1 & Fuji series, imho. This leica is a bit out of my price range at present, but the files I’ve seen thus are really incredible; amazingly crisp and warm, but not as clinical as say the D800. Thanks for all of your great reviews.

  22. The privilege of Leica users is they now can choose CCD or CMOS.
    No other system camera has this option.

  23. A Hasselblad 500 / H series or other medium or large format (Alpa) plus one lens plus phase one IQ 280 (colour) and 260 (b&w) backs (well we can all wish) makes having both the Leica M and Monochrome and some lenses look like the very restricted budget option… And I suspect the scientificly assessed image quality from the phase one is better, as would the the 3 metre by 3 metre print… So if £60K to £80K seems a bit steep remember photographers do buy / hire / lease them…. and I suspect trade in their 60mb back for an 80mb one… So if you want the best just upgrade whenever anything new comes out and keep the second hand market thriving for everyone else…. but speaking from experience the best camera to use to take a photograph with, and which will produce the best results, is the one you have with you at the time: not the one stuck in your cupboard at home!

  24. Leica`magic. How many of the award winning photographs of the last 6 years were shot with a digital Leica cmaera, again (in percentages)? Just a little reality check.

    • I believe 90% of professional digital shoot is still being done with Nikon, Canon or Phase One.

      • Your reply assumes that pros are the ones winning most awards. I don`t know whehter this is true. LL has shown that a Summilux 50 on a NEX7 produces an output at leas as good as the M9 and in some ways even slightly superior. There is no magic in the USD 7000 body. The mchanical RF with its large VF is a joy to use, but obviously not magic. And the M240 sensor and electronics are far from being magic. Magic are Leica`s marketing skills, which allow them to charge USD 7000 for an M, a textbook example for placing and pricing emotional consumer products. The relabeled Olympus EVF or EVF for the Panaleica speak volumes.

    • meaningless comment…Leica has very little market share. All of these cameras can make good images.

      • Meaningless reply I`d say. As the percentage of award winning photographs shot with a digital Leica will be significantly below Leica`s market share. Which proves at least one point: The talented and skilled photogs know better than beleiving in the Leica magic. To experience “magic”, one has to compare the files from a USD 800 Sigma DP1/2 Merril with the ones from a USD10000 M9 with Leica lens.

  25. These pictures speak! I personal think M8, M9 and the new M has its own characteristic. I am new to the digital Leica and I just owned my first M8. Even with the 7 years old technology it still better than a lot of today cameras; I should have say it has different character! I am happy and very impressed with the quality of the pictures and files.

    Thanks Steve! Because of your open mind, you are ahead of a lot of people. Keep it up 🙂

  26. I’m interested in the M, but I’d be sold if I can use my Zeiss 4.5/21 without the reddish vignetting. I don’t know if it’s due to the CMOS vs CCD issue. I know I could use Cornerfix, but I’d rather not have to deal with that. Steve, have you tried using wides/ultrawides on the M that aren’t Leica coded?

  27. Hi , Steve. Your reviews encouraged me to buy the M9 and the Monochrome (which I love ) , and emboldened me to buy an M240. I headed for the store, picked it up, and was shocked …. Leica have ‘porkified’ the M, fed it fries, and shakes, and built a lardy Leica more rotund than the M9. The M2 was a svelte extension of eye and limb, always in the hand ready for the moment, a sports car of a camera, as opposed to the sedan wallow of the 240. The M9’s obesity was redeemed by being – for a while- the smallest full frame digital camera Of course there will be those who say that every Leica since the Ur has got fatter; true , but the 240 is beginning to have the lumpen chubbiness of a DSLR. Steve before image quality there is the desire to take a picture, and the 240 lacks the encouraging joy of ‘clickage’ that so imbued the early M’s. If you think I protest too much, then shut your eyes and let your hands compare a well serviced M2/3/4/6 with a 240 . I am told the digital innards make this bloat inevitable, but the Sony RX1 makes me wonder if this true, and I suspect the RX1 is the real successor to the M2. So I may well follow another of your reviews and instead of the 240, head towards the RX1.

    • It is 0.6mm thicker. NOt much at all but it is noticeable at first. It still feels, shoots and produces like a digital M. Not a film M, but even the M8/M9 felt like cows after using an M6 for a while. The M is in no way DSLR like..not even close. The RX1 is much smaller, mini in fact and also highly capable. Ive been shooting them side by side with the X100s as well and the best color of the lot for me is from the Leica. Then X100s, then RX1 (talking color). The RX1 is one sweet camera and the lens on it is gorgeous. Can’t imagine anyone being disappointed in it.

  28. I’m still on the fence about the whole CCD vs CMOS and m9 vs M thing.
    I think the m9 files have a certain “spark” or “glow” to them that I think lacks from the 5d mkIII, Nikons etc. Maybe even from the new M.. But the more I think about it; isn’t that just lower contrast in a lot of cases? I’ve upped the “clarity” and “contrast” in Lightroom on Canon files and it certainly approaches the m9 look.

    I think we’ e just gotten used to thr limited DR and high micro contrast that gives the Leica files that pop.

    Remember how everyone said the Monochrome files were flat, dull and gray? Well, Ashwin’s latest article certainly proves that all wrong…

    Just my two cents..

    • That is exactly what it is. The M9 has more contrast, less DR and more bite. I can get this with PP if I want but I prefer the richer files the M puts out as is.

  29. I’m paying close attention to the fact that for those who have used the 240 it is the preferred choice, while those who have merely looked at the M240 images via the internet seem to prefer the M8 and M9 image quality. This may be due to sharpening effects for web-sized images, I don’t know; there is a chasm that exists. For the record, I love the dynamic range of the new M – this was evident at the outset, even in Ulrich’s pictures. I respect the increased ISO capability and am excited by the way the reds appears more realistic. I also see the Canon-like plasticity in the images offered on the internet, and dislike that very much.

    • Jeff – you may have a point about the lookers vs. users observation. I may be one of them. But the thing is that from a commercial point of view, it is the lookers who will judge, buy, and promote your photographs, so they should not be dismissed that easily. What they think matters at some level. However, I do agree that even as an M9 user, I do see a lot that I like in the new M (metering choices, dynamic range, and improved ISO functionality), and which most likely make a difference in the hands of a skilled photographer. Perfect? No. But to ignore its improvements is to ignore the march of time. Life, and technology, do move on in spite of what some folks would prefer.

  30. Steve,

    I normally do not comment on web sites! I had to construct a short note for this one. I like this article a lot, the balance of words punctuated with some very nice images tells the story so well.

    With your help, and many others, this photographer is spending a lot more time with smaller cameras. I get the rangefinder ethos and extreme quality of the Leica brand. While it may not fit my style or my means this article highlights a bright spot in a long and ongoing story of Leica. Thank you for telling it and keeping all of us up to speed on this part of the world of equipment.

    I do worry sometimes that we forget that this is about art and not about equipment. I have suffered from G.A.S. which has taken away from my art! This article is about a single piece of high end gear but it really is a story of your art. You have a job to do and balancing the “sales” side of your work with your art is hard. It is hard to attract readers, get toys to play with and have fun at the same time.

    I have found a nice place to land and I am comfortable with my OM-D EM-5 cameras. There is something just right for me in this hardware. I think it is freedom of movement and the extreme power of the computing systems in our cameras that help free us to Just Take the Shot.

    The world seems to overrun those of us who do not do photography full time. It is really hard to carve out time for our passion and our art. Reading your web site and the stories is very inspiring. Many of the photographic examples help me to think more about My Art.

    I could go on but will stop here. Thank you again for your insight and your images.

    Bob

  31. I DID buy a new D800 last Novermber, a SB910 flash and 3 killer lenses. They stayed in my closet a lot and I took either my D-Lux 5 or my X2 instead, and my shoulder said thank you. Sold the D800 and all my other equipment last week and am waiting for a new M. Just to make sure I made a non reversible decision, I purchased a 50mm f2.0 Summicron and a 28mm f2.8 Elmarit for the future!

  32. I’m not so sure any camera has even been “magical.” Sounds like the same type of BS as film haiving “soul.”

  33. Hi Steve.
    What can we say; I love your site and your comments from a real life photographer. No, I do not have a Leica, but the site made me tests the X100 and I was back to basic, and I loved it. No I have moved to X-Pro1 with all the primes, my DSLR is out (sold).
    My point is that I start loving taking pictures again with the best camera in my opinion, I do not agree on all statements, but why should we agree? We have a person do a lot of work on a site and he is honest in his statements.
    Thank you for the site that made me love taking pictures again, and in my opinion the X-Pro1 is a much better camera over the Leica M, did I test a Leica, no 😉
    Thx

  34. Thank you Steve for providing us with your first-hand experience as one of the few Leica M owners out there currently. As one of many who are currently on a wait list for my own M, I love reading about your early experiences shooting this new Leica.

    I also would like to thank you for giving some praise to the often much-maligned M8. Despite its flaws I still really love that camera. The image quality and color rendition of the M8 is spectacular, in my opinion.

    I don’t think it’s just the Leica glass that gives the images from Leica digital Ms their “magic” quality. Over the past several months I had stopped shooting with my M8 in favor or using my Leica lenses on a Sony NEX body. I’ve been really impressed with the Leica lens/NEX body combination, shooting with that setup for the past six months and being very happy with the image quality I’ve been getting.

    A few weeks ago I decided to shoot with both my M8 and the NEX together, shooting the same subject using the same lenses on both camera bodies. Afterwards, when I looked at the images from both cameras I was blown away by the M8 images. What a difference! The M8 images had a beauty and elegance to them that the NEX images lacked, even though they were shot with the exact same lens.

    I had been debating whether to wait for the much-rumored upcoming full-frame NEX or bite the bullet and buy the new M 240. That side-by-side comparison made it an easy (but still scary!) decision. The M240 it is! I’m now one of many on the Leica M wait list. In the meantime, I’ll still enjoy shooting with my old M8!

  35. More than anything else, I think Leica’s “magic” comes from their glass. The M9 is a nice camera in some regards, but I never felt that the image quality it produced was equal to the best that Leica’s lenses had to give. On the other hand, some of the work I’ve seen from the M Type 240 really impresses me.

  36. Hi Steve,

    In general terms you’re right. But there is slightly more to it. Yes the new M is technical superior but in photo terms not really. More DR? Yes. Better ISO? Yes. However from the photos I’ve seen so far it looks more like the common highend DSLRs from Canon and Nikon…. A me too camera in a rangefinder body. The M9 is different which did set it apart. Yes there are the lenses but they are not only responsible. There is just something with the M9. It has limitations, but I really don’t care as it produces Photos like no other… Well…. actually no. The same happened with a other manufacturer as well and I have a good hands down experience as I still have that special camera: it’s Olympus and the camera is the legendary E1.

    Every new Olympus DSLR and mirrorless is technical superior, has more DR, more features and better ISO. But and that’s the important but they just don’t have the magic, the final photo IQ. And you will see it, read it in the Olympus forums (dpreview for example) and its there to stay. The E1 is just a special camera that will ever have a successor and as package will have unique place in the DSLR history. By the way it is still the DSLR at dpreview which has the best user rating .

    And from what I have seen, used etc so far it is exactly the same now with Leica.

    I’ll keep my M9P and will watch from the sideline. And if I would have spare money I may would buy the M……. Monochrom.

    B

  37. I shot all day yesterday with my oldest dslr, olympus e-1. The fact is this camera produces gorgeus 5mp pictures. Thats the same fact which camera manufactures want you to forget and want you tobelieve your camera becomes obsolete the moment new one (usually marginally upgraded in cases of canon and nikon) comes out. Well its just not true.

    P.s. e-1 is olympus’ first dslr introduced in 2003.

  38. Nice article, however, I think there’s a little room for everything.

    I bought a Canon 5D MK3 when it came out.
    I bought a Fuji X-Pro1 3 months later for my wife.
    The Fuji became my camera and the Canon sat in the house.

    I loved the Fuji so much, I bought an XE-1 and while I love it, I miss the OVF of the X-Pro1.
    Recently I bought a 1957 Leica M3 + 50 cron, 35 summaron and loved the feel and street experience.
    I tried a second hand Leica MP and loved that too, but ultimately remembered film to be a big PITA due to waiting and expensive to scan.
    It was returned.
    However, I’d been bitten by the Leica bug 🙁

    I almost bought a M9-P a couple of times, tried to buy a Monochrom twice too, and eventually said the hell with it and prepaid for the new M and got on a list.

    The more I looked at the images coming out of the M on sites such as yours, the more they reminded me of the Canon 5D MK3.
    Yes, they have lost that Fuji, M9 look, but that doesn’t bother me so much as others.

    What am I doing while waiting for the M?
    I’m shooting the Canon 5D MK3 on the street with a manual focus Zeiss 50mm F/1.4 using hyperfocal focussing, just like I do with a Leica.
    It’s taped up like a ninja and doesn’t seem so big and heavy.
    I’ll let you know if I cancel my M order in the coming weeks 🙂

    ET

      • Well the other reason to keep the Canon 5D MK3 is for the low light ability.
        It stops ahead of either the new M or the Nikon D800…

        It’s also very good for video, something apparently the new M isn’t 🙂

        ET

  39. I think the actual Leica look is created by the lens, (in my business, there is something called the “Cooke Look”, doesnt matter what camera you are using, Cooke look comes by using that particular lens) I am not scientific and geeky on this, but the picture in the URL (http://500px.com/photo/2778660) on 500px I shot, is of a pet bottle, so obscure from the back ground and it pops. It was shot using the NEX-6 which I love BTW.

    After recently using a business associate’s M8 with a Summicron 28mm (http://500px.com/photo/27526397) on a shoot while I was using a 5D with Canon L lenses. The pictures I got were so awesome, that I decided to created a Leica Lens kit for my discrete shoots on my NEX-6 (even though I hate those sony colours)

    Lux 24mm ASPH
    Lux 35mm ASPH
    Voigtlander 40mm
    Lux 50mm ASPH
    Lux 75mm (Germany)

    Now there is no stopping me, I keep these on my all the time, I am eager to try out the new M once its available here in Dubai.

  40. Reading these comments :

    “the M9 has lost the Leica look” and ”the M8 had a film like look with Leica color”

    “It did not take too long until all of that changed and the word on the forums was that the M9 was a huge improvement over the M8 and had “the real Leica look””

    makes me think that most people have no idea what is a “Leica look”… if there is even such a thing….

    • The “Leica-look” can be seen in the photo of the shoes in the crazy comparison of March 21. Notice how the Leica image sparkles with much more life than the other photos that look more or less dull.
      But as commented that look can in some ways be imitated with post processing.

  41. Steve,
    Let me be straight and say that I haven’t visited your blog much over the last year. For me there was too much emphasis on gear, too many sensationalist headlines, and the writing drove me away – too much use of text message type shortcuts.

    I found this post via Zite.

    It’s a very good post. Useful information. Very reasoned. Opinionated yet fair. Supported by interesting photographs.

    Refreshing. Good for you.

      • “…Mark my words..one year from now forums will be filled with comments about the new M much like what happened with the M9 a few months after its release. The cycle repeats itself.”

        That.

        • The more I look at your shots I’m starting to see that it is still Leica. It’s taken me a while but your pics are starting to make me a believer.

  42. Sir steve im always following your web since ever i found it.. I was wondering what do you think of the nikon d600? Since that is the only thing closest to my reach of having a full frame. Though i would like to capture anything like the leica does but compare to the d600 the m9 has the range capability which is awesome to use in manual. I was just thinking if you where to choose from a nikon d7100 dx and a d600 which would you go?

    • D600 has the same sensor as the RX1 so I am sure it is fantastic. I have not used it but the Nikon FF line is superb and I believe the reviews are great for it. Id take D600 over 7100 for me.

      • Well,

        Sort of……check Nikon D600 and oil/dust on sensor problems. But that was a problem for the predecessor of de D7100 being the D7000 as well….all these reports sort of put me of Nikon. Personally I wouldn’t worry to much about sensor size. If you don’t need absolute low light performance, you can get there with a D7100. DxO focusses on low ISO performance in there score, but I would consider dynamic range and bit depth much more important, and size and weight of the camera of course. Since a camera you have lying at home, well does not take that dearned good pictures (sold an excellent GWS690 III for that reason).

        The D7100 has not been tested by DxO but the D600 has and the D7100 does not have the same sensor as the D5200 (that’s a Toshiba sensor)…..but I don’t think their will be to much in dynamic range (any above 13 goes) and bit depth (24 is a okay)….between the D7100 and the D600 (why build a top model 7100 over a 5200 with a worse sensor).

        Advantage of the D7100 is that its somewhat smaller, lighter, it’s optics are lighter as well….(DX tele zooms are smaller due to the crop factor)…..Advantage of the D600, somewhat better absolute low light performace (if you need it) and better glass especially at wide angle. Now I know a lot of wildlife photographers that need long tele, that use a DX and a FX….Nikon has responded by giving the FX bodies DX modes……but then you suffer resolution unless you use a D800…..considering this, I would opt either for the D7100 or the D800 and leave the D600 out of the equation (it is a compromise between DX body and FX sensor and feels a bit like a camera designed by a commite).

        But in the end I bought an OM-D…….and the reason being that an OM-D with a 20 mm pancake fits in my coatpocket….a Nikon D600 or D7100 did not.

        Greets, Ed.

  43. First shot is superb, Steve.

    This is an old fashioned feminine window, no doubt! Colours and detail bring out a delicacy which seems to suggest something pleasant about whoever arranged it.

    Nice work.

  44. Thanks for sharing… Nowadays, many question the relevance of Leica in the digital age… If it is for the ergonomics, the interaction with the device, the touch… IQ is there too, not crazy about many of the pics I saw but hey… Who am I? I think the Nex system, especially When they get THe FF will let me use my fabulous M lenses once again… But the darn RX1 seems to be the one full featured package that may take it all away. The développement of the Rx2 will have to be followed closely

  45. Steve, love your review on the new Leica M. Now i`m trying very hard to save enough cash to buy the camera which I had dream for the past 1 year…

  46. hey Steve – great follow-up and really nice shots. the new sensor definitely has a warmer, more seductive feel. a lot of what you have posted is shot wide open; when you have a chance, would be curious to see some more shots with deeper depth of field. thanks!

  47. Hi Steve,
    You should run a test asking readers to spot the M-240 images against other camera files – like you did sometime ago. Include in the mix some good quality Zeiss-lens based images (maybe a loaner canon/Nikon shot with Zeiss glass).

    We can see if readers are really able to spot the Leica files.

    Mo

    • I have no way of getting any Canon or Nikon DSLR without buying one..and will not be buying one. Only way to tell the difference in the files is lens character and color. It’s not about that though, it is about having that quality in an RF with the smaller body, smaller lenses, etc. The color from this Leica is not Canon or Nikon like or RX 1 like. Shots I took with the D800 and Zeiss 35 1.4 were nice but like I said, no way I would use that as a daily camera due to size and weight. Thanks for looking.

      • I’m sure if you ask on your site to lend any gear, you will have whatever you want to make any test !
        DS

    • I’d love to see an ME vs M240 with the Lux 50 side by side – let the readers pick which is which after you remove all the EXIF. That’ll settle it. Maybe an image like the window frame you posted yesterday.

  48. I really dig that light bulb photo.
    “M9, M, RX1, Fuji, OM-D E-M5…there is sort of no going back”: amen. When I (have to) pick up my 5dii it feels like travelling to the last century.

  49. Dynamic range is the key

    I have a Leica M9 with 90, 50, 35 and 21 lenses. Now I have a Leica M on order and hope to take delivery in June. Why am I changing from M9 to M? One reason: Dynamic range. Let me explain.

    Last summer I shot pictures for a book “Spring Water Colours” (you can see it on blurb.com/books) which features a swimmer in a sea with colour patterns created by natural focusing (caustics and diffraction rings). Capturing these colour patterns pushes photographic technique to the limit of what can be achieved with today’s cameras. Post processing was essential to bring out the water colours without harming the skin tone of the swimmer.

    The images in my book were captured on two state-of-the-art cameras: a Leica M9 and a Hasselblad H3DII-50. The Leica was much easier to handle. But the poor dynamic range of the M9 images meant that they were seldom robust enough to survive the post-processing needed for this project. By comparison the dynamic range of the Hasselblad images was more than sufficient. The results are clear in the book. In fact the only M9 images to be used we’re those taken in a sea state that was essential for the story but for which I had no Hasselblad images.

    Photographing seascapes with swimmer is a long- term project that will run for years. I shall continue to use both Leica and Hasselblad cameras. I hope that the new Leica M (240) will achieve a dynamic range that will overcome the limitations that made the M9 barely adequate.
    Goff

  50. This was great Steve – love how you put this together and boiled it down to, “Shut up and shoot what makes you happy” – more or less. Though I am one of the ones in love with the CCD rather than CMOS, I totally hear where you are coming from on this post and love that you were able to relate it to the M8->M9 days (a boat I missed as Leica was a mere dream back then and I never tempted myself to look at reviews – but similar battles were going on in the Nikon camp with the D3x-D4 and D700->D800 transitions – just not as passionate as here). So, this is my first time as a Leica user in a new model cycle and love to see all the fiery passion on both sides of the M9->M240 camp. Being brand new to Leica, I am just happy as a pig in… to have my M-E and Lux!! And I am happy for you to have your M and Lux. 😉

  51. Today I have a photo assignment. My equipment options are (a) a DSLR body, four lenses and one flash stowed in what amounts to a small suitcase on wheels, or (b) my M9, five lenses, one flash packed neatly into a Little Bit Smaller Domke shoulder bag. And the haters will hate our choice of RF with their cries of too expensive!, antique technology!, blah, blah, blah. Last year I had two back surgeries. Believe me, that was expensive. If using a Leica eases my back due to their lighter weight and allows me to continue to make a living then it’s not expensive, it’s priceless.

  52. Thank Steve for you passion for Leica, like you Iove leica and I keep my M9P and I will buy when I can my new M with my beutiful lens I have , again no stop , keep you passion for leica and you beutiful post and photos .

  53. Just another camera, and that’s all it is. Shoot what you want, what you like and what you can afford. At the end of the day, if you are an amateur, enjoy your pictures. If you are a pro, make beautiful prints of great images and rest assured that no one, (museums, gallery curators, buyers, collectors), cares about which camera or lens you’ve used, except of course a bunch of other photographers who still think the camera or lens makes a difference.

  54. Steve: I feel you are spot in, in this regard. Pro. shooters like myself who need to do other than documentary work absolutely need to know that the lens your using on the front of the camera is in sharp focus. In practice this means for lenses longer than 90 mm or for macro shooting distances. The new M ticks both of these boxes, has more megapixels yet with better high ISO performance, and the full frame as well.

    I shot documentary, dance, and theatre photography in the 70s and 80s with Leica Ms and this new M is the first Leica that I would ever seriously consider in the modern era.

    Kudos to Leica, this is definitely the direction to go on from here I feel. One last comment: in the era of the raw processor any colour can become any other colour, so the native colour out of the sensor is nowhere near as important as it used to be in the era of film, when the look was set in camera. I have shot thousands of Kodachromes in my career and the capacity to know with accuracy what the camera was going to produce was essential in the previous era. This era has passed.

    Cheers, Kit

  55. Well Steve, I totally agree. You write: “…the M will offer more resolution at 24MP vs 18MP, the M will have more Dynamic Range (and this is very evident when shooting), the M will have richer but different color and the new M will have a smoother less hard rendering….” and can see all that, observing more and more M240 pictures. I can perceive all of it. I think it’s normal that many of us held on to the M9-character, which is indeed very flattering. But I have to say that I in general tend to chose a more serene character, like for instance in speaker systems, because they stay more natural and offer more nuances. Indeed they are in a way less spectacular, but one learns to appreciate them more and more. I already feel this process going on with the M240 image quality. I surely can image that it’s more pleasant to work with, that the files give you more possibilities and I’m also sure that I will love it’s character more and more. Already at this moment, should I have to decide, I wouldn’t doubt for a second and go for the M240.

  56. What I took away from this piece is “shoot what works for you.” I could care less about what brand (although I still, at times, miss my OM-4T and its fantastic spot metering system) and more about what gets and keeps me motivated to shoot. I was glad to see you once had the Nikon D2Hs as I STILL have a pair of D2H bodies I use because they work for me. I still love the capabilities of my D2H’s and, even though I have a Fuji X100S coming (first new camera in 10 years), I just can’t seem to give up my D2H’s. Are there higher rez, extended ISO’s cameras out there that blow away my cameras? Absolutely! But, like the NRA says, “from my cold, dead hands!”

  57. Steve your pictures speak volumes and for me have the Leica look. I’m wondering if next time you get your crystal ball out if you will see an M zoom lens, I notice that the S system will soon have one. Interesting to see how Leica are going to develop the M system when their new factory kicks in. Thanks for bringing us the best M pictures on the web!

      • You know you’ve opened up a can of worms, Steve…
        Forums are gonna be filled with people wanting a 21-90mm-constant-1.4-the-size-of-a-35-Summicron-for-less-money-than-a-used-R-lens-zoom!
        Haha!

  58. this is all so true , I am an M9p shooter as well as the Nikon D3s/D800 , however just recently my M6ttl is my favorite camera of the day , yeah what a joy to handle & shoot.
    Actually my wedding work has gone from 100% dslr to about 65 Nikon –35 Leica (m9) with my goal at this time next year a reversal of those numbers maybe even more so.
    There is just a certain magic when shooting Leica that needs to be experienced in order to understand, & yes I’ve been eagerly awaiting my M , be it silver or black.

  59. Insightful and passionate as always, Steve.

    I don’t beleive the new M has lost the magic of the M9, Whatever the M9’s ‘faults’ (and there are many compared to more modern cameras), the M9 was a groundbreaking camera that still produces absolutely wonderful images right up there with the best.

    The release of the M has done nothing to change this, rather, in my eyes, it enhances the M9’s qualities, much like the M9 does in respect of the M8.

    I own and use a Nikon D90 with a 18-200 – it’s my only digital camera. But most of my photography is done with a 1977 Olympus OM2 with 50/f1.4 and 28/2.8 Zuikos.

    The camera always in my bag and by far used the most is my beloved thirteen year-old M6TTL black paint and black paint 35 cron ASPH.

    If ever Leica stop making their film cameras – currently the M7 and MP – and bow to the domination of the electronics manufacturers by going completely digital it’ll be just about the saddest day of my photography life, and one I hope never live to witness.

    If and when this happens I’ll know for sure Leica have lost their magic and passion, regardless of them making the finest glass in the world.

  60. The images I’ve seen so far,from the M, have a warmth and seduction that I’ve not seen before in a digital image.I see them as film like,more so than my current ‘object of desire’,the monochrom where the results have not really matched what I’d hoped to see.(I’ve not used any digital leica,but have 30 odd years with film leica’s).The results from this new sensor look neutral,not adding or taking anything away,allowing what’s real to live its life and explain itself.To me that’s what film is all about and this is the first time I’ve seen this from digital.
    My one negative at the moment is the reported increase in size as the M6 has always felt just right,believe it or not I’ve never even picked up a digital M so maybe it’s not that different.
    However ,at the moment I’m encouraged that this might be viable crossover for a film dinosaur like myself.

  61. Mark my words..one year from now forums will be filled with???

    One year from now a new sensor Sony NEX fullframe will be out. The RX1 could almost compete with the Leica M240 files. So a newer generation Sony sensor will surpass the RX1, and surpass the M240. New generation Sony sensor, while the M240 will remain unchanged for 3 years.

    You will be able to mount all of the Leica lenses on the Sony mirrorless fullframe.

    The Leica M240 is just NOT advanced enough over its rivals to last for 3 years unchanged. Unlike the M9’s CCD.

    • Yes I agree with you.
      The M10 a digital then can’t last any longer than the digiatl progress … 6 months ? little more ?
      DS

  62. Hi Steve!

    Cool statement and it goes da core with what I am feeling right now. I “love” my M9 but I’ll sell it to have to money to buy a chrome version M.
    The M240 seems to have the two things I would have been glad the M9 already had:

    useable iso over 1250
    even more silent shutter

    So, I believe the M240 really could rest in my hands for at least 5 years, if not 10.

    😉

  63. “I in no way shoot it for any kind of snobbery (some do), I shoot Leica because it is the best camera for me to get me motivated to shoot and I really enjoy it. That my friends is always what it is all about.”

    That is true, you have to trust and know your system in order to get the best shots you can…..a great camera is the on that you have by your bed at night, wake up with in the morning and that motivates you to get of your lazy you know what and endulge in the art of photography. And wether that is a Leica or a Holga, in the end it does not matter. BTW, Steve to me a Leica would stop me from taking pictures altogether. Much to expensive to take on the road. I would simply not feel safe with it. How do you manage that fear especially since Leica put a rather conspicuous Red dot on the camera face, which I would chip off in store when I bought it.

    Greets, Ed.

  64. M8, M9, M….with a 35 cron or a 50 lux… they are all capable of registrating what I see with my eyes..

    There is no real argument to bash any of them..

    Lately I bought a D600 + 24mm 2.8 af-d, 60mm (micro) af-d and 105mm 2.0 af-d DC…
    All and all this set isn’t much heave than a 3 lens M set (at least cron/lux), so Steve I don’t agree
    on that with you, especially you put in your D800 set these 24-70 zooms.

    And a D600 with a DC 105/2.0 is worth the extra grams….
    I have an M9 and Ilike it, but it’s not the only one and it doesn’t cover all my needs!

  65. i honestly feel the m9 pictures you/other photographers took were/are “punchier” than the m240. maybe thats the price of adding all that new tech/flexibility into an M body. what people forget though is that lighting is key!!

    • The M9 images ARE punchier with less dyanmic range. While technically the M9 has lower IQ, the images appear to have more contrast, like slide film, and that’s what gives the M9 images their punch. The M9 also has its own signature processing and rendering of color.

      While the 240 has incredible resolution / dynamic range / low light performance, it does not create that M9 look out of camera. However, two minutes in Lightroom can ‘dumb down’ the 240 images to something that approximates what you get out of camera on the M9.

      I will be glad to provide some samples to post if Steve would like. Also, the B&W conversions are incredible off the 240. The 240 images out of camera, in my opinion, are rightly criticized as somewhat flat (and in my humble opinion also a little oversaturated).

  66. I have to admit I was starting to think Leica had dropped the ball with the M240 when the first sample photos started circulating online. And by your own admission even your first thoughts on the new M seemed guarded and lacking enthusiasm during your first few days with the camera.

    But wow! I read every word of your review and love the images you have rendered with this instant classic. So, good on Leica … another huge success for them, and another great tool for rangefinder enthusiasts.

    As for me I’m going to stick with my faithful sidekick, my M9. I have lots of love for the new M240, but my photography interests (mostly scenic and landscape) don’t require low light, high ISO, or video capability.

    On any given day with average to good outside light, my M9 will outperform my D800. Every single time. No exceptions.

    Not sure who coined this quote, but I aspire to live by it: “An amateur photographer worries about equipment. A pro worries about money. A master worries about light.”

    Great review Steve, love your site, and keep up the great work!

    • Thanks, I like so much you quote : “An amateur …” !

      Most of my photos are taken at 60/F2 and ISO what is needed !
      And the people who ask for my pictures want colors !!! I prefer B&W.
      That is why I shall change my M9 for an M10, as soon as I can …
      DS

  67. Thank you steve,
    When The M10 was announced, I said OK not for me I have M9 it’s OK for me. I said also wait and see what Steve will say in REAL WORLD.
    Now I say I shall sell M9 and buy M10 because it is simply better and in digital aera it is better to follow, My M6 was never changed, it was buy for my life and I still have it …
    Of course I keep my old Summicorn 50and 35.
    DS

  68. I don’t know at what time of the year the M9 was released, but it dawned on me that from the photos intros article, it is not summertime with bright colours and motives. Is it just the subject matter that is the problem because in our minds we remember the best photos we have seen taken by M8 or M9 over the years?

    It is easy to forget that such an expensive camera can also take ordinary photos like any other camera. And looking at other camera releases we also see that the first images on the net are more focused on the abilities of the new technology than artistic expression.

    I’m sure M will be the new M, and time will show how it behaves at normal ISOs compared to the previous two.

    What didn’t help was the poor quality first sample images from Leica.

  69. The Leica is a fine precision instrument, capable of excellent images…in the right hands.

    The “magic” that everybody speaks of is, IMHO, too often erroneously conflated with the gear; it is almost always the photographer’s vision.

    I have seen some young, student photographers crank out stunning images with nothing more than a Nikon D3200 and a 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor. Stunning.

    • Robert, one look at the “endavours” depicted in the Leica M9 flickr group is enough…..you would think Leica would integrate a “no I won’t shoot that Scheisse, I’m not a P&S verdamt noch mahl” Otto Steinert* function in its camera’s 🙂 , but having said that I have seen dreadawfull shots in about any camera flickr group from D3200 to D4 and 1Dx, from Olympus Trip till (go figure) the 8×10 users group (and also some great once).

      A camera is only capable in capable hands and well it’s a bit like moi and saving weight while bying gear…..eh, 170cm and 105 kilo’s go figure saving weight, so if you (or others) are not happy with your pictures, improve yourself and THEN improve your camera gear.

      * Otto Steinert was a great German photographer and also a lecturer at the Essen Folkwang Schule….when he didn’t like a picture a student of his showed he took out a nice big stamp and stamped the word “Scheisse”** on the print.

      ** Scheisse is German for Shit*** but you had figured that out, right…

      *** Pardon my (or better his) French (to further complicate matters :-))

  70. P.S.: Always makes me laugh when people talks about their gears like if, if they don’t have the biggest, the latest equipment, their pictures are going to suffer, or else when there are improvement, they don’t want to hear about it until……!
    We, the professionals, should be insisting that it is NOT the cameras that takes the photos but the photographer, gears are just a mean to achieve photography. The eye is the thing !

    • I agree it is the photographers eye and technique that makes the photograph,but the camera plays an important part in the commercial world also. Without quality where would we be? Every one would be using a point and shoot and the likes of Leica, Canon and Nikon especially in the DSLR range will be a distant memory.

      • No one is saying you don’t need quality equipment or continued innovation. I could go out and buy the most expensive set of golf clubs available. Will those make me a better golfer? Of course not. So why do people think they have to go out and buy the most expensive camera to be a good photographer?

        • This topic has been discussed to death. Who says we need to go out and buy any camera? Use what you like and you will get the best results. But some cameras wil indeed give you better photographs. For example…give someone a cheap P&S and a Fuji X100s and the better pictures will be with the X100s because when a camera has no real compromises and you do not have to fight it your results will be better. Lenses, color, depth of field..all play a part in how a photo looks. BUt always shoot with whatever you like to use, that is the key. Some of my fave shots of last year were with the Nikon V1 which was on clearance for $249 with lens at one time. Now my son uses it.

    • We, “the amateurs”, know by now that it is the photographer, not the camera. However, we enjoy discuss these topics with you, “the Professionals”. And thank you, Xavier, for allowing us “amateurs” to talk to you “Professionals”.

      Ernesto

    • Xav’,

      Nice pictures on your website.

      Ernesto

      P.S. : heureusement qu’il y a des “gens stupides” qui permettent aux vendeurs de chez Objectif Bastille d’écouler les stocks d’appareils, objectifs, accessoires etc. Ton attitude est révélatrice de celle qui règne Bd. Beaumarchais : pathétique, car on y on prend les gens de haut s’ils n’ont pas une carte de presse.

  71. Uummm………..
    I must say i liked your pics, the colors, the tonal range
    The pics look sharp and crispy
    I am starting to understand your enthusiasm.
    I was pretty much against this camera- and i do use a Leica 🙂
    I guess its time to admit i was wrong!!!
    I would love to see more pics
    Danny

  72. An interesting article. I tried the M9 and gave up as the one I used never seemed to focus well, but last Friday I was able to spend some time with the new M and the 35mm cron. It seemed to focus perfectly and the results in low light were quite amazing. Although one picture I took and badly underexposed I tried to recover in LR had red and white vertical sparkling lines.

    I feel I am sold on this new model but when can I buy one Leica. Meanwhile I will carry on lugging around my D800 kit although for daily trips I find the Nikon V1 and the new len’s excellent. Almost ‘Leica’ look. The new 6.7-13 and 10-100 seem to have rendered a different look to the kit lens they were sold with. If any one would like to see the ‘effect’ with the new lens take a look at this one. http://www.pbase.com/mjlamoon/image/149267062

    I am returning to my local dealer this week to put a deposit down so hope I am doing the right thing!

    • Nice to hear that about the 10-100mm (not that I can afford it right now), because I absolutely adore the 6.7-13mm on my V1. Nikon has gotten no credit for the little Nikon 1 lenses, but they are mostly very good lenses, beautifully made, and tiny. Not quite Leica, but brilliant for those of us without deep pockets.

  73. Great response to the debate Steve I am a bit strange I still prefer the M8 properly because of that film look, my favourite camera is the M6 with the 35mm Summicron ASPH . But your right what ever M rangefinder you use it will be special.

    • Many posters here have had their M9 (the best thing since sliced bread when it came out) for less than three years now, and have already ordered the M, ” ’cause it’s better”.

      I personally really have a problem with selling off expensive, well-made, solid gear after only a short period of use, just because something new and better has arrived and they have the money.

      I’d rather use my expensive camera (D700; the primes last a lot longer btw) till it’s near dropping dead by the roadside. As a matter of fact, the thumb grip rubber has, of course come loose and the rubber door that shields the usb port etc cannot be persuaded to close anymore. The crucial parts just keep functioning as they should. My only improvement wish is a better focusing screen, the standard one is iffy at best. Oh, and a 24 Mp sensor might be nice (not necessary; nothing to complain about really with 12 Mp) but not in a D600 body.

      • At the end of the day what will make or break this camera is Sales. The M9 after the initial rush of sales sold well because of it growing reputation, will the M240 who knows. It has 2 options end up next to the M5 with a MEs or M10 as the next camera back with the M9 sensor, or it takes off with great sales there is probably a few Leica people wondering as well.

  74. Very nice pictures and your article sums things up nicely. What bothers me most in 2013 with the M is the obscene price premium Leica is asking for a camera with a sensor and electronics already looking slightly dated. When the M8 and M9 were launched they were unique as far as IQ in a compact form factor was concerned. USD 7000 for a camera which does not better a USD 1000 camera`s IQ (e.g Fuji XE1) is a GAS killer. And neither does fact that competition`s offerings are more compact and lighter speak for the Leica. Yeah, yeah… I know, the unique machanical RF experience. It can be had cheaper. I expect FF alternatives from Sony, Fuji or Ricoh to be availale some day, which will allow to enjoy the stellar M optics as much as a Leica body does, at a fraction of the price. Sony will not slow down in developping better sensors and Fuji to innovate. I was an early adopter with the M8, X1 and M9. Neither the X2 nor M have any appeal to me as they lack technical innovation.

    • Leica optics, especially wide angle, because of their specific design require a specific sensor. So a full frame Sony nex or fuji X would probably give very average results with M lenses (magenta drift, etc.). What we need is a modern leica cl, a compact and cheaper M with an electronic viewfinder instead of the RF (I wear glasses and I am much more comfortable with an evf anyway).

      • To retow and Alain, I think you’re probably both right. For now, the “low angular sensitivity” of the CMOSIS sensor is perhaps the differentiating factor for Leica. By all accounts the Sony Exmor sensor has better ISO and dynamic range – admittedly these may be technical achievements, and nothing to do with whether you prefer the “quality” of the output of one system over another.

        But, stating the obvious, and more to retow’s point, give it a year, and I fully expect Sony to improve their sensor technology, (including low angular sensitivity, as that seems to be a good thing in general for a sensor to have,) and if they can provide a RX1-like body and sensor that’s a smidgen off the Leica one in terms of quality with Leica glass attached, at 50-75% of the price, then Leica may need to respond and change their pricing model.

        I don’t think that’s a bad thing for Leica though. They could probably still command a premium price, but at a lower margin, and would get to market lenses to two camps of photographers to make up the difference. More competition in the high-end lens market would be good for consumers, and I’m guessing that video capabilities (even if you think that’s heresy for Leica! 🙂 ) would drive more innovation as well.

        All in all, I’m happy with my decision not to be GASsing until Photokina 2014, and see how it plays out. Until then I’m just going to try to learn more about photography, and how to make better photographs. 🙂

  75. You see that’s the thing Steve…THREE years? Only three???.
    I actually don’t want to keep changing my camera. My M6 has been giving great results for much more than three years because it hasn’t been crippled by DDD ( digital dinosaur disease.) meaning it’ll be extinct in no time at all. Yes, every other digital camera suffers from the same flaw no matter how good it is. heck, even my iMac has lasted longer than that!
    If the camera is really so good and at that price I want it to last ten years! And that is exactly why i decided an OMD is enough. It has DDD and will be out of date anytime now but i won’t have invested all that money in it. Leicas do not have such great re sale value in my experience as we are led to believe.

    • Yes, three years until another new M but that doesn’t mean you have to buy it just as you do not have to buy the new OM-D that will probably arrive this year 🙂 Just like your M6, the M8 or M9 is not extinct..they still work the same as they used to. Leica bodies have OK resale, the lenses have amazing resale.

      • What would be wrong with four years? It took Nikon four years to present the successor(s) to the D700, I believe that is their product cycle for their top equipment. Why three years?

          • Maybe; doesn’t seem to have hurt them a lot.

            Anyway, what I meant was that a quality product like a Leica should not have a brief life cycle. Leica should not try to compete in that market (and I don’t think they do).

            In that sense it will be interesting to see how the progress the M 240 brings over the M9 will be viewed in three years time.

          • Their factory was destroyed by a earthquakes and tsunamis and then floods in thailand i guess it might have been 2 1/2 years if all that hadn’t happened
            And that’s all I have to say about that

        • Leica has told me personally they have a 3 year cycle for the M and X. Unless they changed this, and it is possible they could have, I would expect three years.

    • Just because a product life cycle is three years, does not mean you can only use it for three years and then discard it for the next one. This is exactly the type of comment Steve seems to be addressing above.

      • I guess that’s one of the reasons why so many of us love our RD-1. One and done. It’s as good as it ever was and will be.

        • Disagree but do love the R-D1. Today it has issues when compared to other camera from today. It can not compete with the M9 or M in mostly all areas. Still, its a gorgeous camera.

  76. wow Steve that third photo with the light bulb! What lens? the color and rendering is very medium format digital, the colors too, outstanding.

    I have a d800 and the zeiss 35mm f2 which is such a treat. The new Leica to me is more of a good dslr in a smaller body for those who have the money. The rendering are not so different from dslrs now like the M9 from what I’ve seen throughout the years and in a way I think they should of just made a 3 year newer cmos and really made it shine so it was still that rougher more filmic look BUT I can see how this M would be a treat to anyone with a DSLR that wants that digital more creamy look but in a Leica, with the nice body and tiny lenses, especially for street shooting or in between work/ commute etc.

    I think the new M from that I’ve seen is very appealing but much more of a much nicer build/size DSLR than its own unique piece like the M9. It would of been great for them to create a M10 with ccd AND the M, to have two new variants to choose depending on stye but I guess I’m dreaming :p.

      • The CCD system will (also with 3 years advance) always be limited in Low Light Performance against a CMOS system. But a sensor is much more then just a light gathering principle. The M9 sensor had/has some characteristics that are unique to that sensor. It’s a bit like Kodachrome 25 and 64….every photographer knew the tests that Fuji’s Velvia 50 was far superior in color rendition. But no photographer that shot Chrome would shoot Velvia until the boys from the Düsseldorfer Fotoshule (Thomas Struth, and mainly Andreas Gursky, btw Candida shoots Ektachrome if I’m not mistaken) adapted Velvia 50 for it’s ultra fine grain and changed the game.

        The Leica M240 has indeed a more DSLR like look to it…now is that a bad thing per see….no….but the look of the CCD M9 sensor set the M9 apart. The M240 is much more a run of the mill camera. Not a bad camera and lightweight compared to a Nikon D800 (with a 35 G 1.8 mm the Nikon weights about 1200 grams and the Leica weights about 950 gram and I wouldn’t like to compare both lenses qualitywise :-)), but with excellent glass it sure can compete with the best of them. In due time people will get used to the new look and well in the hands of a capable photographer the camera mearely is a tool, right.

        Greets, Ed.

      • There has been very little work done on CCD for consumer photography. For good reason: It’s far too expensive to produce reliably in small quantities. CCD happened in the M9 because it was likely the only reasonably-priced option Leica could access at the time for its low volume sales.

        Also, let’s be really clear here. Kodak (aka FillFactory) was NEVER known for producing a consumer (or even industrial generic) sensor that captured colour with any sort of fidelity. Kodak has always had a fairly skewed interpretation of “natural” colour in digital imaging. That’s surprising given the amount of photo-sensitomitry data they produced for their film products over the years precisely to guide photo-techno-geeks towards as realistic colour as possible.

        I think most of the complaining is coming more from people who realize they bought a camera for the price of a small car and now see it can be bettered for nearly the same price. That’s got to be a huge bruise to a lot of egos out there.

        Try this. Run around with your cellphone camera for a day and take pictures. Then come home, pick up your Leica and take pictures. I think you’ll find that magic you thought was there is still there – the magic comes from your inspiration. Inspiration doesn’t disappear with new camera models – only ego disappears.

        Take pictures!!!

  77. Thanks for sharing some more of your thoughts on the advancement of the Leica M line. We sometimes treat our fondness in the equipment we shoot as if it were a religion. I too can get a bit excited about my current camera gear and I’m sure I’m no different than the many who regularly read your blog.

    The digital world is not sitting still and for any company, just not Leica, to maintain any semblance that they are willing and able to compete in this world, new advanced products are expected. As many who have found the rangefinder experience their preferred shooting method there really is only one company that provides that experience, Leica.

    Sure the Nikon D800 costs less or for that matter the D600. Then there’s the Sony sensor that performs very well as we can see in the RX1 output. But neither of these platforms meet the shooting experiment one has with a rangefinder.

    I did not really know what this experience really meant until recently and now I’m hooked. I knew I was getting close with the Ricoh GXR-M with Leica glass on the front but not having a viewfinder was limiting at times even with an EVF.

    Then there is the glass. There really is something unique about the top end lenses made for the M mount rangefinder.

    I look forward to your continuing experience shooting with the new M and I hope to see one later this week as I attend a special function to celebrate a grand opening.

    Thanks Steve.

  78. It is photography. I know people here maybe sick of me by now, but I have A Leica M7. All my lens have no digital encoders on the back. I even have that old shift 35mm f1.4 Asph.. As matter of fact the only lens I have that Leica still makes is the 90mm f2.0 APO. These are old firends, partners in my photographic work. If you buy something new make sure it is something you really want and need. Chasing the ‘magic box’ to make you a photographer is a pipe dream. ‘The fault dear … lies not in ours stars, but in us’. In the right hands an old M8 would wonders, because the person using it makes it so.

  79. Stuff – everything you just said ..I love Leica whatever the Letter or number on it .. I do have M9, the Monochrom and I was a big fan of Nikon (own D3, D200 ..) and now my daughter (18 years old) shoot Nikon D800 .. big different with an DSLR is the Size, Lens and the daily exciting on going out and shoot.

  80. And so it is Steve. Shoot with what you like and convince others with your pictures. Lovely first and last shot, b&w has it owns character, but with a little color these stand out!

    jaap

  81. Excellent pictures Steve… article is a little wordy, but we get it. Leica M is not for everyone, but you should at least try it… life is the spice of variety. Thank you for your kind words.

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