Leica M-P (Typ 240) Digital Rangefinder Camera: A Taste I Just Can’t Acquire
Leica M-P (Typ 240) Digital Rangefinder Camera: A Taste I Just Can't Acquire
Leica M-P (Typ 240) Digital Rangefinder Camera: A Taste I Just Can’t Acquire
Leica Camera AG introduced the M240 in August 2012. It was a full-frame digital rangefinder camera that succeeded the Leica M9-P. Notably, it was Leica’s first digital camera to use a CMOS sensor. Leica improved the M240 body with a “P” version in 2014 called the M-P (Type 240). As an avid fan of the Leica M9 and M9-P, I had accepted the flaws of the CCD sensor.
The Leica M240-P marked a significant change for Leica as their first camera with a CMOS sensor after years of using CCD sensors. In this review, I will discuss the pros and cons of the Leica M240-P based on my personal experience.
To provide some background, I sold my Leica M9-P for a Sony A7II in 2017. Shortly after, I sold that for a Fujifilm X-Pro2 to gain autofocus capability and adapt to changes in my photography style. The X-Pro2 is a great camera that allowed me to capture all the images I wanted. However, I found the photos did not really represent me. My search for the right camera restarted in Fall 2018. I switched from Fujifilm back to Leica and bought an M240-P. I chose the black paint model because of its attractive, luxurious finish compared to the Leica M10’s black chrome.
Why the M240-P? Simply, I did not want to worry too much about the CCD sensor. At the time, the Leica M10 was unavailable, so the M240-P seemed the best option for a rangefinder enthusiast like myself. Sony’s skin tones also put me off. I prefer spending more time shooting than editing. Before purchasing, I briefly tried a friend’s M240-P, which gave me confidence in acquiring one. It is a vastly improved M9 with live view, higher ISO capability, and nearly everything I want in a camera.
Leica M240-P: Design and Build
The Leica M240-P retains its classic, minimalist design. It has more buttons than its predecessor. The top of the camera features only the shutter wheel and buttons for photo/video recording on/off. The mechanical shutter offers speeds from bulb (60s) to 1/4000s with options for single shot, continuous shooting, and self-timer. It has a bigger viewfinder than the Leica M9 but smaller than a Leica M10. Viewfinder magnification on a M10 is 0.73x while 0.68x for the M240.
It has a 24-megapixel sensor compatible with most M-mount lenses except some like the Summicron 50mm f/2 Dual Range and other collapsible lenses. Check the manual before use. For most amateurs and professionals, 24MP should suffice. For extreme detail and texture, consider the 60MP Leica M10-R or M11.
On the back, a 3-inch LCD screen offers decent quality and a structure specifically for the M240. Buttons for live view, playback, delete, ISO, and menu settings are on the side, with a shortcut to important settings. The M240-P is solidly built, comfortable, weather-sealed, and has a traditional removable bottom plate for accessing the battery and memory card.
The Leica M240 offers stunning image quality with sharpness, rich colours, and accuracy. Its larger LCD eases reviewing and adjusting shots compared to the M9. Adding video allows shallow depth of field and 1080p footage. The M240-P improves the 2GB buffer, avoiding freezes during continuous shooting that the M240 experiences. It has scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass, unlike the M240. Aesthetically, the discreet screw replacing the red dot is too big for my liking.
The M240-P retains the essence of Leica — simplicity, quality, and no-nonsense photographic experience. It produces excellent images and suits those seeking a streamlined digital rangefinder. The improvements over the M240, though minor, make the “P” version worthwhile if budget permits. For its combination of classic aesthetics with contemporary capabilities, the Leica M240-P wins my recommendation.
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Colour and Picture Quality
In my opinion, the Leica M240 or M240-P has a rich colour depth that produces a file with more depth than the Leica M10. When comparing files from the M240 and M10, the former tends to have more black clipping while the latter captures more details in shadows but also has more clipping in highlights. Additionally, the M240 has a pinkish and reddish colour hue that differs from what I experienced with the Leica M9. However, the skin tone reproduction is not as great as the Leica M9 or M10, often requiring correction. When dealing with Asian skin tones, the M240 tends to produce a yellowish tone that becomes more intense at night or indoors, rendering the images unusable. Additionally, the white balance of the Leica Typ 240 can be quite off at night or indoors, as it is sensitive to different light sources and their temperatures. Some of my friends have also complained about this issue, which prompted them to upgrade to the Leica M10 or M11. It is possible that the M240 produces images that are similar to colour positive slide film, which often has a serious colour cast in these environments as well. Overall, I find that the Leica M10 produces more neutral and pleasant-looking photographs than the M240. I am generally happier using the M10 in terms of response time, picture quality, and controls.
Black Paint Finish
The black paint finish on the M240-P is no longer available in the M10 or M10-P models, except for the M10-R. This gives the M240-P a unique and classic look and also it might be the reason for beginners or new joiners who would like to get their first Leica camera.
Unlike some of its predecessors, the M240-P offers a video function, adding versatility to the camera. I didn’t try making videos with it and this camera already has a certain age for now that video function could be quite outdated compare the latest equipment in the market like Panasonic S5 which is a full frame camera and a video camera and cost less than a Leica M240-P.
Slow Response Time
The M240-P is not designed for speed, with a maximum of 3 frames per second in burst mode. This makes it less suitable for action or sports photography. And the response time when you preview photos also get affected. But it is a lot better than the Leica M9 which features a very old school menu setting and controls.
Inaccurate White Balance
The camera’s white balance is prone to inaccuracies, which may necessitate additional adjustments during post-processing. When using this camera at night, the lighting conditions and environment can lead to imbalanced tones. For instance, shooting in low-light conditions or even in a restaurant can result in serious color shifts.
Build in Wifi
The Leica M240 lacks a built-in WiFi feature, unlike the Leica M10, which is a convenient tool for previewing and transferring photos effortlessly. There are times when I prefer not to edit my photographs on my laptop, and instead, I transfer them to my phone and share them on Instagram or with my friends. Unfortunately, this function is not available on the M240. It’s worth noting that, even during the M240’s era, Fujifilm had already developed a pretty good WiFi transfer application for our phones.
ISO and Noise
The usable ISO range of the M240 is higher than that of the Leica M9, but it still falls short compared to the Leica M10. In comparison, the noise in the M240 is more noticeable than in the M10. When I was using the Leica M9, I would typically limit my ISO usage to 800. However, with the M240, I’m comfortable pushing it up to 1600 or occasionally 3200. Although I don’t mind the presence of grain or noise, as it is part of the camera’s performance. That being said, the Leica M10’s noise performance is even more impressive, delivering excellent results even at 6400 ISO.
The M240 has a wider camera body compared to the M10. Despite its broader build, the M240’s width has never been a concern for me. However, I do appreciate the slightly slimmer design of the new M10, which is also slightly lighter than the M240.
No Touch Screen
The M240-P lacks a touch screen, which may be a drawback for some users.
Some users find the screw design unattractive and prefer the look of the Leica M9-P.
Skin Tone and Size
The skin tone produced by the M240-P is not as great as the M9 or M10, often appearing yellowish. Additionally, the M240-P is bigger and heavier than both the M9 and M10.
Personal Experience and Conclusion
After using the Fujifilm Xpro-2, I found myself missing the full-frame sensor and the joy of using a Leica Noctilux lens for that shallow depth of view. The Leica M240-P was a natural choice for me, and despite some of its drawbacks, it still delivers the Leica experience I crave.
Overall, the Leica M240-P is a solid option for those who appreciate the classic Leica design and image quality. Its limitations, such as slow response time and inaccurate white balance, may not be ideal for all photographers. However, for those who enjoy taking their time with each shot and want the unique Leica experience, the M240-P is a camera worth considering. If budget is not a concern, I would recommend you to get the Leica M10 more than the M240. Leica M11 default has the shutter curtain open, that has a time lag on every single shot otherwise it will be one of the best alternative out there in the market.