Why I prefer the Leica M 240 over the M9/M-E

Why I prefer the Leica M 240 over the M9/M-E

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(ATTN: I wrote this while on a flight and apparently when I grabbed the images from other areas of this site, it grabbed low res versions of them which is why they look pixelated and “off”. I will fix this when I have time, but am currently traveling. To see M 240 images, click here)

With today’s post from Photographs By Peter causing some conversation, I wanted to chime in with why I personally much prefer the Leica M 240 (my review) over the M9, but hey, this is my personal opinion for my tastes. For some enthusiasts out there (Like Peter), they are wanting Leica to create an M 240 style body with a CCD sensor. In my opinion, this will never happen, as the sensor for the next M is already in development, or at least it better be (and I would wager $20,000 that it is not CCD)! But with hundreds wanting a new M with CCD, I feel if Leica did this they would lose money, in a big time way, and here is why…

A new M body with a new CCD sensor would spell disaster for Leica. First, ISO would be crippled. In a world where cameras of today have ASTOUNDING performance in almost any light, and the cost is  1/10th that of a Leica M or M-E, well, Leica would get trashed, smashed, bashed and the camera would maybe sell 2-300 bodies but Leica is not interested in selling hundreds of bodies. They need to sell THOUSANDS of bodies and if they released a new M with CCD and something like a Micro 4/3 Olympus E-M1 beat it for ISO performance, then we would have a problem, and it would be disastrous for Leica.

Sure, the hardcore enthusiasts WANT this but it is an unrealistic WANT. Leica needs more than a few hundred enthusiasts to BUY into a new M, and let’s face it..if 2000 signed a petition saying they want a CCD, in reality only 10% of those would actually buy one and spend the money on it.

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I have done many side by sides with the Leica M 240 and old M9 and M-E and in EVERY single case I strongly preferred the M 240 files for color, depth, DR and well, just about everything, but to be honest, the difference is minimal when each file os processed correctly from RAW. The old M9 files has a tad more “snap” but it loses out in many other ways…well, all other ways. There are serious limitations to CCD sensors and me, I do not want to go back to that after being spoiled by cameras such as the Leica M, Sony A7s, Sony A7II, Olympus E-M1 and so on.

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Some who shot the M9 for 3+ years (myself included) moved to the M 240 and were disappointed immediately (My 1st day with the 240 was disappointment), but there is a reason for that. The files. When shooting the M 240 in RAW the workflow is 100% different fromwhat you would use with the M9. Many were using their tried and true workflow from the M9 on the M 240 and it was not jiving. It took me 2-4 weeks to really get down with the M 240 files, but once that happened, there was no going back for me.

debby1s

First things first, the body..no contest. Yes, it is a little thicker but it gives us SO MUCH more than the M9 body did in regards to function. AMAZING best of class battery life. Quieter shutter. Much nicer LCD and RF VF. Much nicer feeling construction and controls. Live view (though this needs improving big time) and a host of other features that made the new M body 100X better IMO.

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Then the files..rich, meaty, full, organic and full of Dynamic Range and soft color transitions. No more harsh blown highlights or offensive noise when shooting at ISO 800 or even 1600. Sure, they look more like full frame Nikon or Canon files (not really like either due to color signature) but they are easier to work with and rewards with more of everything. There is a reason EVERY camera manufacturer has stepped away from CCD. When the M9 was hot and THE IT camera, so many were saying “Leica needs a CMOS sensor”!!

iso 3200 on the M 240

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For me, the M 240 was and is a beautiful camera capable of so much more than the M9 and I will 100% predict that there will never be a full production M with a CCD sensor again. They may continue the M-E but a new M 240 with a CCD would eliminate so many buyers due to limitations. Leica would lose, and they do not like to lose.

Today, in 2015, sensor technology is still being pushed and we are not even close to what CAN be accomplished, but we will soon start to see some advanced sensors coming down the road for advanced cameras. For Leica to go back to the old CCD sensor would be “business suicide” as they are not in business to lose money, they want to make money. They could do a “Limited Edition CCD M” but that would mean a $15,000 camera.

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I “get it” that there are some enthusiasts who love their M9 CCD sensors, and I have massive respect for Peter as I feel he is one UBER talented photographer who really knows how to capture life, soul, emotion and those precious things many of us just do not “see” when looking through the camera. He is a talented guy who could use ANY camera and get results, but yet he loves his CCD M9. That says a lot right there and tells me that I am not “right”, I am just stating my “personal opinion” which is based on MY prefs, not everyones.

Another great friend of mine, Ashwin Rao, also loves his CCD sensors. So to be clear, what I am writing here is just opinion…my personal tastes. When I have done side by sides with the M and M9 at base ISO, the differences are minimal. More DR with the M, different color signature with the M and a teeny less “bite” which means the M9 puts out more contrast by default.

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What I Feel Leica Needs in 2015 and beyond…

In 2014 and 2015 other camera companies have been creeping into Leica’s territory. By that I mean SONY. When we talk of FULL FRAME sensors in a smaller mirror less body then we have to look at Sony. The sensors they use in the A7, A7II and A7s are phenomenal, and can better the M 240 in just about all areas besides the M color signature, which is unique with the M9 (more slide film like) and M 240 (more print film like). See my huge Sony A7II review here.

Leica needs a FIRECRACKER of a sensor for the next M (which should be a 2016 camera going by their timeline)  – they need ISO up to 12,800 USABLE. They need NOT more MP but to refine the color and quality that they started with the M 240. If they can get a super sensor for the next M as well as 100% improve the live view AND put in a hybrid EVF (RF and EVF with the flick of a switch) then they will have a hit.

If they do anything LESS they will not, and I fear for their future.

debbyat095

It’s funny…I love my A7s and A7II so so much that after using them non stop since each one was launched I stopped using my Leica M. I still use the M lenses on the Sony bodies but the M ended up sitting there being lonely.

I sold my M a month ago or so.

Do I regret that? I can honestly say, YES I do! I miss my M. I have been using them since the M7 and have never been without one during those years.

So for me, I possibly see another M-P in my future and even if I use the Sony’s more, it would be great to have the M again for those days when I get the rangefinder itch.

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Again, not taking away anything from CCD fans, but the reality is that in every single comparison between an M9 and M 240 file, the differences in “look” were minimal. The differences in ISO tests were not so minimal. Comes down to the M9 and ME having more contrast, less DR and this is where we get the extra “Bite”.

The M8, M-E, M9 and M 240 are all fantastic rangefinder cameras. Are the the best you can get today? No, e can get better for much less, but what we can not get is the Leica M experience in ANY other digital camera, period. For me, experience is part of the process just as much as getting the quality.

Only time will tell but if you want to sign the petition to bring back CCD, click here to go to Peter’s site and PUT YOUR NAME DOWN! I say it will never happen, but I could be wrong as anything is possible in life. 😉  Also, Leica TAKE A LOOK AT IT!

All images above are from the M 240 except for one, which is from the M9.

Steve

85 Comments

  1. Having shot both Leica, Canon, Sony and many many (too many) others, I can only say that Leica is not a better camera, it is a finely made expensive camera. Photos that are remarkable come from great photographers. There are plenty of awesome non M lenses and the mystique or magic of Leica is not real. Rangefinders in general are not inherently better than EVF or SLR OVF systems. its a delusion that these cameras make better photos. As far as the Leica experience goes, just shoot an older one with film. You can get all the punch you desire and latitude too. Better yet, shoot a Mamiya 7 with velvia and be amazed.

    Digital cameras create a sense of urgency and anxiety from the constantly changing technologies. My old Leica sits patiently waiting for me to want to use it and I never worry that it will be surpassed or need to be surpassed. These days if I want to shoot an amazingly sharp well composed digital image I will use something other than a Leica. If I want to shoot with a rangefinder for all those reason, I use an older rangefinder camera that does the job perfectly. The camera is really just a box to carry emulsion or sensor. Get one that is reliable and you can see through well.

    If Leica wants to survive then it should make great digital camera bodies and lenses that are not sold on Gilt value alone. Make a high quality, ergo dynamically superior, technically great camera for professionals and price it for professionals. We will pay a premium for it. Those that wanting to emulate the look of the past with digital, are missing out on the future.

  2. Hi steve, thank for your sentimental review on M240.
    surprised to learn that you have sold it, are you going to get one in near future?

  3. Most people buy Leica cameras for the prestige, experience, and feel and not really outright image quality. So Leica can implement a new CMOS sensor to compete with the rest, but unless it’s better than than the likes from Sony and Nikon I don’t really see a point. It will just be another “me too” product.

    A CCD however, is unique. It gives images with a tremendous amount of bite with minimal amount of processing. The fact so many are clamouring for a CCD is proof that Leica should at the very least offer the option alongside a CMOS in a flagship camera (not the M-E or something). Granted, high ISO IQ can be improved with the CCD, but I vote to keep dynamic range the same, or at least in a way that won’t change the tonal response into something more akin of the CMOS.

    To that end, A true M9 successor with a CCD, at the M9’s original MSRP will sell very well in my opinion. It will essentially be a simplified, “pure” camera that offers personality in spades and puts the emphasis on an unique experience. For everything else, you have Canikon/Sony.

    • I photograph with an M9-P CCD Leica, because it gives me the best image quality IMHO. I put 4000 plus actuations on my brand new M240 trying to convince myself otherwise, which was a costly experiment.

  4. According to what I read years ago, the switch from CCD to CMOS had little to do with picture quality at the CCD base ISO. At that time it was acknowledged that CCD was still superior at it’s base ISO, I don’t think that has changed. Even cameras like the the Olympus E-1, Nikon D200, Epson Rd1 and Fuji S5 are still great performers if you’re willing to shoot at their base ISO. Of course, I am generalizing. But, enough has been written in the past about the movement away from CCD to CMOS. For the most part it was about improved picture quality at high-ISO, not about improved picture quality over CCD at the CCD base ISO. The question became what were we willing to give up for improved quality at high-ISO. I seem to recall that the CMOS sensor was less expensive to manufacture.

    • Yes, that is largely correct. CMOS sensors became the preferred sensor in lower end products, because the sensors were cheaper to manufacture (although not to initially design, as they are more complex). They could also be made in a much smaller size, such as a mobile phone camera. They are also a lot more power efficient than CCD sensors, which is great for things like video and live view.

      The benefit of CMOS sensors can also be seen the further you go from base ISO, as the falloff in image quality is much more progressive than a CCD sensor. This is because noise reduction can be applied at an individual pixel level, a each pixel is active in a CMOS sensor. It’s also the main reason why CMOS sensor images look smoother than CCD sensors, as a small amount of noise reduction an manipulation is required, even at base ISO. Camera manufacturers have gotten a lot better at this though, and plasticky images are now a thing of the past with CMOS sensor cameras. It used to be very bad though.

      Greenly speaking and if all else was equal, a CCD sensor would resolve more detail than a CMOS sensor from the same generation. There hasn’t been anywhere near as much development though in 35mm CCD sensors for cameras over the last few years, which I personally feel is a shame. I do see why they are much more appealing though for the majority of camera consumers and professionals that require a camera that can shoot as well as possible in a lot more lighting situations, than absolute ultimate image quality at base ISO.

      Pick your poison. For me, a CCD sensor is the perfect mate for a digital Leica, because I don’t want video or live view. If CCD technology was still being developed in a big way and Kodak were still around, then we could have a CCD in a future Leica with a similar ISO performance to the M240 for the next camera, but out performed it at base ISO.

      • …that should say ‘generally’ and not ‘greenly’ (predictive text ) and I am talking about CMOS sensors when I say “I do see why they are much more appealing for the majority of camera consumers”

        • Photographers were willing to give up the opportunity for absolute picture quality to be able to shoot at the higher ISO. If, when it all happened, photographers spoke up then CCD development might have gone forward. It happened with audio, audiophiles were tossing their vinyl and turntables when the CD first came on the scene. Audiophiles believed they were really hearing something better. Those first CD players were truly awful, but the “golden eared” reviewers embraced the technology from the start. There were a few that noticed, didn’t fall victim to the reviewers; and they kept the fire burning for vinyl, others eventually caught on. As there are those that came in with digital cameras, but were serious enough to give film a try. Those photographers and audiophiles who will inconvenience themselves in search of the best sound and photos. I’m not making a judgement on what is better, just saying that there are those who will leave no stone unturned, those trying to keep the CCD fire burning. Also, thinking of those that undermine the Sigma Foveon cameras because of the small inconvenience of the PP software. Or the inconvenience of scanning film. I’m guessing the majority of photographers started with CMOS and that is their reference, never film or CCD. And, on it goes, those that use a tripod and those that don’t, etc… Then we look at photos from digital that were converted to black and white with Silver Efex Pro or similar software. If we like it enough, do we go out and perhaps buy the same camera and lens, or is it the software? No right or wrong, mostly just priorities and enjoying what we are doing.

  5. I know of a few people now that have sold their Leica M240 and purchased a Sony A7 camera. Their reasoning being that they can get the same, if not better, look from the Sony camera with their Leica lenses. In fact, some of them have even sold off their Leica lenses now for the Sony Zeiss offerings. A lot of people are saying they prefer the look of the M240 over the M9 CCD, however a large number of these same people could now and are, moving away from Leica to the Sony cameras.

    Regardless of which look you prefer, the Leica CCD camera produced/produces a look that was all its own. Yes this camera looses out hugely to other full frame CMOS cameras when comparing the stats on paper. To those that own the cameras and love that look though, the Leica M8/M9 camera was always giving them something different to the masses and you could see it in the photos.

    If you liked that look (and I know that not everyone does) then that justified the cost of a low production, beautiful hand crafted camera. I’m obviously only talking about one type of Leica customer here, but it is an important one IMHO. I really do feel that a small company like Leica needs to hold on to its USP, now more than ever and that can’t simply be its rangefinder mechanism. Continue with a CMOS offering by all means, but please don’t stop producing a pure, CCD camera that stands out more than ever in todays market place.

    As a side note, when I replaced my M9, I purchased a second hand M9-P over an M-E, as I prefer the classic Leica look. If Leica were to offer an M-P style CCD camera with a better battery, shutter and buffer in chrome and black, then I would certainly put in an order. I think others would be tempted back to Leica as well. If Leica could somehow squeeze in a second SD card for back up without changing the size of the camera, then that would be absolutely fantastic!

  6. Maybe you can make a single M240 raw file to be as close as possible to M9 image by process it carefully in lightroom. But can you make that process into a preset so that we can turn instantly every M240 photos to look like it come from M9?

    This maybe will solve many people’s problem here (including me) 🙂

    • Not possible. You can imitate a style but you cant get the exact same look. You can get very close though, so people with less than perfect eyesight dont see the difference. But that is why some spend so much money on cameras or stereos. That little extra that can make such a big difference if you are able to appreciate it.

  7. Thanks, I found all the comments above interesting -but I think in the world of electronics it is very difficult to do the retro thing- but not impossible -an example would be valve technology amplifiers which I am told have a strong following from enthusiasts.
    Leica need to be so different that they cannot be compared to the opposition so that they can deliver a quality but different option.
    So I would love a completely different sensor in the next Leica -I think they must be seriously pissed off with the Kodak sensor and it’s well documented issues -so I cannot see them going out on a limb but it would be interesting if they tried a special edition Leica M with an oddball sensor to gauge the reaction ?

  8. Samsung has an APC-C Back-Side Illuminated (BSI) sensor, I’m sure a full-frame sensor will not be far behind. The CCD’s in the M9 and M8 are made in halves. BSI sensors have high-fill factor as do CCD’s, and have the photosensitive area close to the surface of the chip. They have the advantage of on-chip A/D conversion and signal processing of CMOS. High-ISO performance is better than traditional CMOS sensors.

    It will be interesting to see if Leica pushes a BSI sensor into the next Leica M.

  9. Thanks for your honesty, Steve. I think you hit the nail on the head when you compare the M with print film and the M9 with slide film. In fact the initial color profile of the M9 was based on (or tweaked to look like) Kodachrome 64 by Leica and Kodak. M 240 photos definitely have a color print film look with their highly saturated cyan as seen in photos with lots of skies. It is a look and a style. But I think I like the Kodachrome look of the M9 better. However, after one sensor replacement already, there is no doubt that a M240 or M360 will be in my future – if and when Leica runs out of sensors for the M9.

    • Personally I think the M is like slide film, it reminds me of Velvia. I don’t remember pumped up but well defined greens like you get from the M240 in anything other than Velvia.

  10. I don’t think Peter was arguing for Leica to ONLY produce a CCD M. I saw it as a petition to remind Leica that a lot of photographers still really prefer CCD and to not discontinue that option. Hasselblad and Phase One offer multiple CCD backs and recently CMOS backs. I doubt their CCD offerings will disappear overnight as not every professional has high ISO as their no 1. criteria. Significantly Leica S is still offering a CCD model even though the new CMOS model is coming out. If Leica can produce a sell a CCD black and white only camera that sells then surely a colour CCD camera has just as good chance to get reasonable sales?

    • The problem is that if Leica are expending R&D on a new CCD, they aren’t spending it on improving or replacing their CMOS sensor with a new CMOS sensor. That’s the route to becoming the world’s best horseshoe manufacturer…

    • I agree. Leica is not likely to get back to CCD with a replacement for the M240 (but who knows) but they might listen to people who prefer the CCD sensor and bring out an M-E2.

  11. Peter says we have no need for high ISO. Well I would love to shoot a Leica digital camera at night at f5.6. Using the Sony A7s I can do this. I don’t want to shoot EVERYTHING open at f1.4 just because I need to. I would like a choice depending on the shot. A high performing ISO Leica M on par with the A7s would for me be stunning.

    As for the differenced between the M9 / M240, well having done side by side comparisons there is not that much in it. They both produce stunning images. If you are taking good photographs, the picture will overtake any slight differences in camera performance.

  12. To make the point one way or the other, you need to shoot both cameras at the same time with the same lens at the same subject and show those examples. Otherwise how can you compare?

    The M240 is better at high ISO than the M9/M-E, but Canikons are much better than the M240 at that too, and they have a similar CMOS look. So if that is your goal, go with one of the Japanese brands.

    The whole point of the Leica M series is to mimic the film experience as close as possible. Which is why they are so pared down compared to others. Optical rangefinders, manual focussing, basic controls.
    Film like CCD sensors. High ISO is not the point here at all.
    Stating that Leica is in trouble if they don’t chase the current technology shows you have missed the point completely. Leica gave up on that a long time ago as they knew they could not keep up with pixel peepers, nor wanted to as that is not the experience Leica photographers are looking for.
    And this not keeping up has been working. Guess who out of this group is actually making a profit selling cameras? Leica, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Fuji?

    Answer – Leica.

    Steve, I know you’ll say you know all this already. But then when you mention

    “Leica needs a FIRECRACKER of a sensor for the next M (which should be a 2016 camera going by their timeline) – they need ISO up to 12,800 USABLE. They need NOT more MP but to refine the color and quality that they started with the M 240. If they can get a super sensor for the next M as well as 100% improve the live view AND put in a hybrid EVF (RF and EVF with the flick of a switch) then they will have a hit.

    If they do anything LESS they will not, and I fear for their future.”

    That really misses the point of Leica entirely. All those firecracker sensors that the other mfgs are using are losing them money. Spec chasing is not a good business model. Drawing on the experience and the passion for taking photos is.

    • Well spoken 😉
      Not to forget that a Leica is pure craftmenship handmade by real people (which means jobs not to forget that) and not by robots and totally different for so many other reasons. They will always have their friends.

  13. Can anybody tell me which manufacture is still produce a new generation of CCD and can supply to Leica in small quantity without customer need to pay US20,000 for the camera?
    What I think here is that Leica have no choice but to use CMOS.

  14. I prefer the CMOS sensor over the CCD sensor. The colors (including skin tones) look pale and washed-out with the CCD. Colors from the CMOS sensor look richer. Orange-ish skin tones are no longer an issue with the M240 CMOS.

    In either case, I think there’s way too much emphasis on technological advances. I suppose it’s necessary to continue advancing the technology in order to keep up with the competition. But, ironically, with all the technological advances, there’s way too much bad photography out there these days. I keep going back to the old photography masters during the day of grainy black and white film. Composition was virtually everything. Give me the old masters (and a few of the modern-day ones) over cutting-edge technology.

    • Completely agree. Do we really need more MegaPixels? I mean, really, really need it. Do we need ISO 1,000,000 🙂 I too love to look back at the work created by the “old masters” who were shooting with film. What ISO did they shoot at? And look at what they gave us with that low ISO film.

      In my opinion, Leica needs to keep doing what it does – creating wonderful RF cameras and awesome lenses, both of which have great build quality.

      To be honest, I don’t even care about taking video with an M. They can take a step backwards and remove the video feature 😀

  15. Why the need for everyone to lavish praise for making an opinion? Isn’t that what’s done here every day by you? There are a few sensor types out there – CCD, CMOS, Foveon…btw, Sony is also flirting with Foveon, lest everyone get too cozy with the idea that CMOS is a ‘necessity’. I could see a day where we might have interchangeable sensors in some cameras, to achieve different looks like film did, and we can finally put these debates to bed. A camera, whether Leica or not, with a CCD mono and CMOS colour would be brilliant. Did you sell the Mono Steve, ie. totally done with Leica now and firmly nesting with Sony? Or will we find ourselves with another post about a re-purchase with the next model they have – which I’m sure won’t be ‘as good as the Sony a7/a8/a9X etc.’. Which of course needs ‘useable’ ISO of 100,000 or more…since every new benchmark seems to be set by technological capabilities rather than those of the photographer. Whatever did we do back in the days of ISO 800? Thank goodness now I can take those photos I always wanted to of a black cat in a coal mine at 2 am in Siberia with an f4 lens. I’ve been severely limited without it.

    I disagree firmly with the thesis that a camera company’s obligations are to ‘whatever makes them money’. It’s actually to what their customers want, and they either make money on that or they whither and die. Leica’s job isn’t to build us an a7ii…they’re not a multinational corporation that also sells insurance like Sony does. You’ve made your choice, clearly, to suggest it’s the finest camera in the history of photography, until the next one comes out. If most of you had your way, Leica wouldn’t make film cameras either. Peter’s point was that he likes a CCD sensor. Are you going to post a response to the next Film Friday, where someone talks about how they love using Portra film, about how film is dead for you, and all the ways in which digital workflow is superior, and alienate those people too?

    I feel it was un-necessary to formally challenge Peter’s views with a manifesto to re-clarify your obvious love for Sony’s sensor (trust me…we get it already…it’s in every camera review you do now), how and why for you the 240 trumps the M9 (we get that already) and why you’re personally done with Leica, simply because he isn’t. Sure, it’s your site so you can do what you want; I’d suggest using your opinions and influence a little more judiciously. Yours isn’t ‘another opinion’. We all have bias – it just shouldn’t be so blatantly obvious.

    • Are you saying that he should not make his opinions known? I’d rather that he did, for it’s better to have a declared bias than an undeclared one. BTW, making a camera that customers want is effectively the same thing that makes them money.

      I find it odd that you think that Leica wouldn’t be making film cameras if Steve and others had their way. What, so Steve is going to lead a torch-carrying lynch mob to Germany (with included photo tour and café lunches)? And Steve alienating readers – are you quite serious? Did Steve not advertise Peter’s petition on this site, even though he disagrees with it?

      If you’re going to disagree with someone, at least read what they wrote. You did read this article, I hope.

      BTW look up the ‘strawman argument’.

      • Yes, I’m very familiar with straw man argument, thanks. I also read the entire piece, several times, thanks also. If you’re going to disagree with me, you can read what I actually wrote – I can have an opinion too. I didn’t say he shouldn’t make his opinions known…rather suggested that his opinions have more weight. I’ve been on this site for a long time and it’s not been very often (if at all) where I can recall Steve formally challenging someone’s opinion which originated not actually on this site. If you actually read what I said, you’d also realize at no time did I suggest he did it in a hostile way.

        So, by the way, I suggest you spend some time and look up confirmation bias. And other forms of bias too. Also heuristics, and the other things that play out.

      • Yup, well aware of that…nice try at pointing out a perceived incompetence in the matter, but it’s a completely different tech, not a Bayer-styled arrangement (otherwise they’d just call it CMOS…right?), different rendering, some inherent specific limitations (currently) – it might as well be a different sensor for all intents and purposes so my breakdown of CCD, CMOS and Foveon was completely relevant. And besides, is the argument about the details of how a sensor is made, or rather is it about the rendering and the ways it responds?

        I have the 240 and the M9. There is a difference – whether people agree with Steve or Peter is the fun of basement dwelling, checking corner sharpness at 300%, etc. Note I like both cameras. It is, however, pointless to argue things based solely on ‘what needs to sell’ or ‘be aligned with other companies’. That might be the reason…but it can never be proxy for an argument which is based on what someone likes in terms of handling and rendering. Same as with film – regardless of whether someone can buy 3200 film doesn’t mean they might not always like to shoot film of 125 ISO. The ease of shooting digital is great – these constant ridiculous consumer electronics and equipment arguments have nothing to do, at all, with real photography…just for endless hours on the internet reading opinions comparing 13.4 DR to 13.6 and how ‘important’ this is. Sadly, most people don’t realize this.

  16. Honestly if you think even the colors form the M240 are better than your eyesight is off. After reading that, i lost interest in the rest.

    I would also be very careful with betting. Leica does not make the sensors, they buy them. So they have more than one option for an upgrade to the M240. But i also think they will go with Cmos again. They had a hard time to replace countless defectice CCD sensors and could not cope with the demand because Kodak did not deliver. For a small Company this meant real trouble.

    But with the M-E still existing in the current model line-up who knows if there might be an M-E2 someday ? The idea of an updated CCD sensor in a puristic M i think is just great.

    • Mark my words…the next M – CMOS. The one after that? CMOS. And yes, the M 240 color is much better. The M9 has a cast that you can not get rid of but some like that yellowish cast, I do not after experiencing what the 240 can do with color.

      • I guess the way we see color is changing like how we taste food. The new Cmos sensors are able to easily impress people but i feel they are like fastfood. No denying that they have their advantages in some areas but i thought if someone would be able to see the beauty of the richness and tonality of the M9 files than it must be you 😉

        And yes, i agree that Leica is not going back to CCD for their M240 but for other reasons than a superior IQ. That is why i still think they will come back with a CCD sensor camera one day.

  17. I think that Sony’s challenge will make Leica stronger with their next M.
    Personally I still prefer my M240 as to me it just feels right but each to their own.
    Great to have many choices.

  18. i still prefer the M9 color. However, since finding the A7S, there’s no way that the M9 or the M240 is worth the extra investment to me.

  19. Thank you for your honest opinion Steve. Even though I am a fan of the CCD sensor in a Leica, I agree with you entirely, that Leica probably needs to stick with CMOS sensor cameras moving forward. They now have a product that appeals to a wider group of people (only Leica will know for sure based on their sales figures). Going back to a CCD sensor in a new M240 replacement would be highly risky.

    On the other hand though, Leica are a small, low volume company without the R&D of the bigger players. They are producing cameras in the 10’s of thousands a year, compared to say Sony’s 100’s of thousands a year. Trying to compete with them head on, could well be a disastrous move for Leica also. This next generation of camera will be a really important one for Leica and will determine the direction Leica takes as a company moving forward.

    I also agree with you that producing a newly developed CCD sensor M in a limited run would make it an incredibly expensive exercise. There will be though, a large number of M9 owners whose cameras are starting to get a bit long in the tooth (myself included) and don’t want a CMOS sensor camera. Based purely on their personal preference, they want something unique and don’t have options available to them. If they wanted a CMOS camera, then there are great, cheaper cameras out there like the Sony’s. They could do what you have done, and use their Leica glass on what is likely to be a better sensor. If Leica were to continue with the M240 line for their next camera, but also release an M240-P body with the old CCD sensor, then that could be doable for Leica, and would allow them to really see what the future potential is for a CCD sensor camera. I say M240-P as they already have the body, and these customers are more likely to want a discreet camera in chrome or black. The real important things to them will likely be the battery life, shutter, improved buffer. If it were successful, then Leica could bring out a CCD version of their ‘P’ cameras in future models. They wouldn’t need to reduce the price and make this an entry camera like the M/E. By the same token, they could hopefully keep the price in the same ball park as the M240-P. If they did this, I would have one in chrome please!

  20. I’m wondering if there any sense to compare cameras with 3 year gap between them….the same manufacturer but two different products. Is the same like comparing M8 vs M9…

    • I don’t know… didn’t Leica say they are selling 1,000 M-E cameras per month? Brands like Sony will always sell more cameras, of course. I think Leica is okay with that 🙂 They don’t expect to outsell. If Sony released a RF camera with the same build quality as a Leica M series… then Leica might be a little worried 😉

      • In an interview dated September 2014 the Leica CEO said 300-350 per month… and he was very pleased with that… he expected sales to become insignificant within a year after the introduction of the M, it didn’t happen… IMO there is still a market for a CCD based Leica M.

        • I would hope there is a market for the CCD. Haven’t motivated myself enough to sell my M9P after the purchase of the 240. Guess I secretly can’t let it go.

  21. Note that, while CMOS is currently the state of the art and even starts making its way into MF backs, CCD technology still has some advantages today. Predicting what will happen tomorrow is impossible, another technology breakthrough could improve CCD, CMOS or maybe even bring a whole new technology to the market.

  22. The A7II looks like a nice camera but for me the Sony isn’t an alternative to an M as long as it doesn’t play well with wide angle M mount glass….

  23. I agree with your take on Leica sensors, Steve, especially since the M240 CMOS sensor is already long in the tooth in regard to low light performance. At some point many Leica enthusiasts will likely jump ship for other brands if Leica does not improve the high ISO performance of its CMOS sensors, which is clearly inferior to that of currently available Sony, Canon and Nikon CMOS sensors. Going back to CCD sensors would be a disaster for Leica. While I love my Leica M240 and Leica glass, I think Leica should also hear the truth about their products from their users and customers. Please make — or license — a better CMOS sensor.

  24. Can I ask a question:

    Is anyone else seeing these images as really pixelated? I thought it might be an intriguing problem with my Mac, but I just checked them on my Macbook, and they all look the same–frankly, BAD. (Sorry Steve!)

    Is it just me? Constructive answers please–this is very odd.

    -M.

    • Sorry about that! I wrote this while on a flight and apparently when I grabbed the images from other areas of this site, it grabbed low res versions of them which is why they look pixelated and “off”. I will fix this when I have time, but am currently traveling.

  25. I agree in every way, it has to and always will come back to the profit margins of companies. I enjoy hearing Leica is doing well, because their cameras give me so much enjoyment (I am on my 4th M) I will stick with them but they must go forward.

    There is a M240 user group on FB it has 8,500 users and is a public group, have a look the M240 is a great story telling camera.

  26. Love your blog Steve, but never felt the need to comment, to be honest never know if comments add anything to the conversation, but I feel strongly enough about this to say something.

    Man there’s a lot of very strong statements in here that really are just feeling and opinion. Granted you are allowed your feelings and opinions and you have a successful blog to use as you platfrom but I don’t see that your preference really warrants a lot of the big claims made here and the ardent use of CAPS to make your point. You obviously feel that Leica should keep going down this “also ran” path with CMOS, but to be honest I don’t see it myself. Leica lenses on the Sony A7(s) already give me all the CMOS goodness I could ever want and I am sure the next 50mp sensor will be amazing. Leica just can’t keep up and shouldn’t bother trying IMHO.

    What I want from Leica is their difference, the Leica feel, the big differentiation, and not just the colour palette. I have an M6, M7, M9, M Monochrome and M. The 240 get’s the least use, because to be honest, it’s nothing special when it comes to the images. I prefer what I get from the a7s for low light and the a7r for big MP. The wide angle issues never bothered me and my WATE is awesome on the a7r.

    Anyway, an interesting take and obviously you feel passionately but the petition is not just enthusiasts. It’s been around for a short time, it’s got a lot of strong support and opinion in opposition to yours and from a lot of very good photographers. I want to see the same CCD M body. How hard would it be to do both I wonder?

    Still love you bog, just don’t agree with you 🙂

    • I agree and it is no wonder that people who used the M240 dismissed it in favour of a Sony camera (or went backj to the M9). If you get the same results (or even better in a Sony) why go Leica many think. But no Sony camera can replace a M9.

    • You make a good point, and you have 7 cameras that help you choose.

      However, what if you don’t want to have 7 cameras? Or can’t afford it? Then the M240 starts to make a whole bunch of sense for rangefinder enthusiasts.

      It can be your only camera. It does well in low light, it has LiveView that allows use of lots of glass and shooting from odd angles, it’s weather resistant, has amazing battery life, and it feels 100% like a Leica.

      For those who want *one* great, versatile, rangefinder camera the M240 is the one.

  27. I believe we will already know a lot more when the new S Typ 007 (targeted for May) comes out. It most likely is going to build on the work that was done for the M Typ 240 and hopefully significantly improve it. If Leica fails to do that then I indeed believe they have a big problem…

  28. M9 liker are the ‘Purest’ and M240′ liker are the ‘Newest’.
    Todays both will keep exist as well as M6 users.

  29. Hej Steve again,
    I’m always tempted making comparison between Leica and Porsche?
    Like these ‘hard core’ CCD M9 guys, you are talking about, we have the hard core Porsche guys, always bashing the buyers of the other cars in Porsche lineup? Even worse, bashing Porsche Company making them? SUVs Cayenne and now the new Macan plus the ‘small’ Boxter and Cayman.

    For the hard core guys there is 911 variants available for a very high purchase cost. And thanks to the other mentioned ‘non-real Porsche’ these hard core guys can ENJOY their hard core 911s.
    Porsche cannot make a small number of 911s to a price affordable.

    I’m thinking? Why not Leica is doing the same, however give their customers a REAL Leica rangefinder or your suggested hybrid to an ‘affordable’ price. They have a range of small cameras which are for most of us as more like what the car industry call, BADGE engineering.

    And, finally, get RID of the RED DOT and do it as in the past, engrave Leica on top of the camera house. Most people with knowledge, recognize a Leica close up and most people having knowledge of cars (Europe) recognize a Porsche in distance. Says a former Leica M4 owner who regret that Leica is not producing a camera house of this size? For me it was perfect!

    • Isn’t that what the D-Lux, V-Lux and X cameras are? Also, the red dot is a big selling point for many, just like the Stuttgart shield.

  30. Thanks Steve.

    It is good to start some controversy for traffic to the website, but I am so glad you do give us your honest opinion: for some strange pshychological reason things always seem better in the past … but the world of digital cameras is not a thing of the past, but one of a fast forward moving future. Your description is pointing us in the right direction of the future.

    The other thing I’d add is that having these prolonged debates over which sensor in a Leica produces the best quality is a touch odd to me. Like you have shown us in your reviews of the Camera of the Year (2012 – RX1; 2013 E-M1 and 2014: A7II), there are many cameras who can do the same or more, easier, for a fraction of the money compared to the Leica M (8, 9 or 240). But none of these cameras have the Leica magic, the stuff that we can’t quite describe, but that makes us miss the M after we sell it.

    That in my mind will determine the future success of the Leica M series. It’s not about the sensor, the MP or any of that. It’s about keeping that magic experience that only the M can produce.

  31. HEJ Steve!
    For us non-nerds, please inform what is a CCD? All these abbreviations requires a glossary?
    Is it possible for you having this attached to all your articles?
    We are many enjoying your readings however not updated with ‘jargon’ language. Especially us foreigners with other language but English.

  32. You won’t get much disagreement, but alas you’re beating a horse/camera that is already dead! Moreover, Leica has already moved on and is making 2-3 cameras now with high quality CMOS sensors from Sony. I assume they will continue and finally build the EVF into their next camera and use a more advanced sensor. I used to have an M9 myself, and every time I see the images on monitor that I made with that camera I wish I still had it. Like many, I still think there’s a quality to the M9 images that cannot be obtained by any other camera. But I appreciate features of my Olympus OMD-M1 and great lenses, so there’s no way I’d go backwards.

  33. I hope Leica are listening to you Steve ….. ! CRAZY as it seems I would love a Leica with a Foveon sensor as I indicated in a comment on another post . Your opinions however are much more realistic.

    I do not disagree with anything you say about the Sony A7 as it is obviously a superb camera and I would love one with a Zeiss Loxia 35mm plus a Zeiss Zoom.

    I am however hooked on the Leica rangefinder experience and the rendering of the Leica lenses which IMHO are the best in the world.

    I know you are a fellow enthusiast like myself but I cannot understand how you can switch from one camera to another so easily –this is not a criticism -actually it is a compliment as I need years with a camera system to get fully in tune with it ?

    Best Wishes

  34. Steve – When manual focusing, do you find you can focus faster with the Leica body or the Sony body? I’m sure it won’t be too long before you have another M body in your stable of cameras. 🙂

    Off topic for this post: I tried out the A7ii for 10 days. I really wanted it to be the camera for me. In the end, I ended up keeping my EM1 and sending the A7ii back. For my personal needs, I realized I’m quite happy with the EM1. The cost to benefit ratio of the A7ii, again for my needs, didn’t work for me when comparing the results to my EM1. I can think of a couple reasons for this. Most of my shooting was done in daylight where high ISO ability wasn’t needed. I missed the touch screen of the EM1 too, for selecting focusing points when manual focusing with vintage glass. Plus, there really is a bunch of good native M4/3’s glass for my EM1. The EM1 really rocks (which I know you agree with). I may pick up an A7S in the near future for those times where I need extreme low light shooting capabilities.

  35. Spot on Steve. There’s a whole argument going on in the Medium Format world too – with Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad and Pentax all offering CMOS for the first time (the last three using the same 50MP Sony sensor). Here’s the thing for pro’s though (be they full-frame or medium format), show me one, just one, who has lost a job because they shoot CMOS not CCD. Thought so. This whole discussion on the pro-side at least, largely fails to consider things through the clients eyes – clients could not care CCD or CMOS, just use the right tool to deliver the job on time and under budget 🙂 In the amateur market, well this debate won’t go away for a while I suspect, and it’s a surely a symptom of collectors not photographers (OK, running for cover now!)

  36. Interesting arguments – but Steve as you of all people have sold your M in favour of the A7II and A7S – perhaps Leica do need to keep the M9 / ME with a CCD, with a much better screen, to go with these two gems…

    Clearly the current CMOS / M approach is now struggling to compete with Sony – on quality of image, flexibility and most definitely on price! But the A7 cannot do < 24mm landscape anything like as well as the CCD sensored M9/ME.

    I think I am getting the best of all worlds, keeping my much loved M9P and pairing this with the brilliant Sony A7II for all the other stuff – including street with both. I tried this with an A7R, but that sensor is just too sensitive and with no in camera stabilisation – just did not work for me in practice. But otherwise it was lovely to use. My A7II is due Saturday 🙂

  37. Not everyone needs high ISO and so just like there could be a need for a monochrome, there could be a market for the punchy CCD, alongside an M240….

    It is not OK to have to completely change a workflow, working it out for weeks, to get results which come close to the almost instantaneous results of the M9.

    The new sensor is good but has brought Leica closer to the competition and further away from it s roots. To compare: It is what Audi did with the second version of the TT, it s more modern but it is not a new classic like the Mk 1 was….

  38. It’s not clear to me that switching to a CCD in the M240’s successor would necessarily cripple high ISO performance. After all, the Leica Monochrom uses a CCD and it has terrific high ISO performance. It’s possible that that may be due to its lack of a Bayer filter, but I’m not sure.

    • Yes, that’s exactly it. The bayer filter takes away about 1.5 to 2 stops of light. That’s one of the reasons that the Monochrom gets away with its high ISO.

      The other reason is that people don’t tolerate the same noise level on a color image that they’re okay with on a b+w image.

    • The high ISO performance of the Monochrom is solely due to its lack of a bayer CFA. I imagine a monochrom based off the M240 sensor could easily surpass the A7S for high ISO, despite being 24mp.

      That said, I really do think high ISO is important and one thing owning the Df has taught me is that high ISO lower MP images can have wonderful tonality and definition. My most wanted sensor in a Leica M body is the 16mp unit in the D4/Df. I would buy a CMOS based lower mp/higher ISO rangefinder camera in a heartbeat.

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