My Thoughts on the Leica M 240
by Brett Price
Had a few articles on here before. I mentioned in those articles that I’ve been on a waiting list for the Leica M(240) for over 6 months and had not received it. Well… It finally came! I now own a Black Leica M type 240 and oh man… Its good. On a side note, I was on B&H’s waiting list for around 7 months with no luck. I took a trip into london and headed over to R.G. Lewis to check out their Leica Boutique store and after talking with them for a while I decided to drop my name from B&H and get on the list with R.G.Lewis… Had the camera in a month! They are excellent guys and the whole experience (buying internationally) which scares the hell out of me, was handled in an efficient and top-notch manner. I highly recommend them.
I’ve written two other reviews on here about Leica cameras and gear related to that. I had images from the M9 with the Zeiss Sonnar f1.5 (a lens that I found ultimately frustrating) as well as images shot on film the with Summilux 50mm ASPH on film with my M7. I don’t own the M9 anymore but I still own the Summilux and my trusty M7 and I can tell you right now that the pairing of the 240 and the Summilux is nothing short of amazing. I know you’ve written extensively on this combo before but I thought I would share a few of my own that I shot this last week at my home in Nashville, TN & on a recent trip to NYC. I don’t know why but it seems like my purchase of new Leica gear is always accompanied by a trip to NYC, not on purpose, but I’m not complaining….
I personally cannot stand DSLR’s and they almost ruin photography for me as an experience. I’ve owned a D800 for my digital setup for the last 8 or so months and I frankly hate the camera. Not because it isn’t a good camera, it’s truly a fantastic sensor and perfect suitable to take good photos but I hate it. I hate it because its easy. I hate it because its big and bulky. I hate the way people react to it when I point it in their face. I honestly cannot wait to sell and be rid of it. End rant. I consider myself a film shooter, it’s what I know and have always been able to get the best results out of. Up until recently Medium Format was my favorite format to shoot because the resolution and detail that you can get from it is fantastic and in my opinion, lenses today just don’t have the look and pop like a Hasselblad or Pentax 67. But the Leica Summilux has that look. It has that pop and glow and sharpness, I knew that even when I shot 35mm with it…
But on to the 240. Wow. So a camera with a sensor like the d800 with none of the things I hated about the M9 but everything I loved? Yes please, sign me up. I’m not a pixel peeper or worry to heavily about how each individual digital camera performs on paper. Thats why I love this site and the reviews on here because they don’t pull a “ken rockwell” and analyze with graphs and pie charts. It’s all about the images, nothing else matters, if it looks good, then it looks good. I have been nothing short of amazed about how much I like “digital” files now. I feel like it’s almost blasphemous for me to say but I finally think I’ve found a digital camera that I like as much or equally to film. Thats a big statement and I think the 240 deserves all the credit. It’s wonderful to use. Its quick, responsive, quiet, the battery lasts forever, the files look gorgeous and have so much detail and pop, and with a little tweaking they look spectacular.
I loved shooting with the camera so much I never felt the need to pull out the film camera I brought with me. I wanted to test myself to see if it gave me the same satisfaction and it definitely did. It’s a rangefinder, it’s not something most people can pick up and understand. It takes practice and effort in deliberation to get the photos you want. you can shoot off the hip like you can with an autofocus camera at some guy on the subway and hope he doesn’t notice, you’ve got to get in his face, knowingly point a camera at him and take his picture hoping he doesn’t promptly beat you up afterwards. I love that. I think effort and getting closer to things with always trump autofocus and a zoom lens any day. I enjoyed shooting with it so much that I’m going to sell a few of my film systems to afford a Summilux 35mm ASPH v1. A lens I played with at B&H and really loved. (I also tried the FLE and didn’t love it. Aside from price I felt like the v1 had the same look as my 50lux and the FLE looked much harsher, to each his own…)
To sum this write up…up? I’ll say that for those of you who liked the M9, you’d love this camera, all the kinks have been worked out. Trust me. My only annoyances with it at first were WB issues (fixed with latest firmware) and the dumb M button. Just let me program it to be some other button please. I don’t want to auto shoot video. Ever. Actually, it would be hugely awesome if it was a temporary spot meter button… just press and you meter the rangefinder patch only. Are you listening Leica???
And for those of you who I’m sure will ask. I’ll never stop shooting film… but I might shoot it less now…
Anyway, I hope you all like the images with follow this post.
For all the tech-heads out there here are some details:
-Leica M240 w/ Summilux 50mm ASPH
-Processed in Lightroom 5
-VSCO film presets. Usually Portra 800HC/400 or Tri-X 400++ or Ilford Delta 3200