Leica M (Typ 240) - Overview

Purpose of My Leica M (Typ 240) Pages | How I Became A Leica M Owner | Now I Am A Leica M Owner... | Would I Recommend A Leica M to You?

Purpose of My Leica M (Typ 240) Pages

Actually, enough has been written about the Leica M camera - even the new type 240 (as of October 2015...). And every day, particularly in the Leica camera forums, more information is being added to this. Therefore, on my Web pages I focus on reporting on personal experiences with this camera. I hope that this way I will be able to offer one or the other useful tip to others, especially to those owners who switched to the Leica M (Type 240) from other cameras and to those who consider buying one. I neither intend to offer a complete nor a constantly updated source of information, because for such a project I simply do not have enough time. And, as already written above, there is already more than enough information about this camera on the Internet...

 

How I Became A Leica M Owner

My Leica story begins with the Ricoh GXR, which I purchased in late 2009 as a replacement for my SLR equipment. The Ricoh GXR is more of a "camera toolkit" than a "camera", because it can be transformed by respective camera modules into a wide variety of camera types. One of these modules is the M-mount expansion unit, which allows to use lenses with Leica M-bayonet on the GXR. Actually, at the beginning, I did not want to jump on this bandwagon, but - inspired by the photo forums - I finally did. Over the years, I have accumulated nine lenses: lenses from Voigtänder, Zeiss, and Minolta plus two inexpensive Leitz telephoto lenses. Since the M-mount expansion unit contains an APS-C sensor with 12 Megapixels, the lenses can not be used with the effect of their original focal lengths: The picture is cropped, as if it were photographed with 1,5 times the focal length. This makes telephoto lenses "longer," what is nice, but at the "wide end" it gets difficult, because you need lenses with very short focal lengths... That's why I always hoped to find a camera system with which I could use my M-mount lenses at their actual focal lengths, that is, as "designed." In other words, I was looking for a low-cost full-frame camera.

Moreover, my Ricoh GXR started to show its age, particularly the body and the viewfinder. In addition, over time, the M-mount expansion unit's resolution of 12 Megapixels appeared as being on the "low" side to me, and the high ISO behavior of the per se good sensor looked also outdated to me. And, last but not least, Ricoh let GXR the system expire without notifying its customers and without offering alternatives.

For a quite some time, I was thinking about this issue and asked myself, what I can do to change the situation. The Sony-A7 variants dropped out for me, because a lot of M-mount lenses created blurry edges when used at theses cameras (state: Series II). Fuji does not offer full-format cameras, whereas I did not want to go with Nikon or Canon DSLRs. And the Konost camera, announced in February 2015, will probably never materialize. Thus, only Leica seemed to remain as a potential candidate... I write on my X Vario introduction page, how I became a Leica owner. All in all, one might say, that I got there as an "abandoned Ricoh customer." The Leica M (Type 240), which was introduced in 2013, seemed indeed ideal for my purposes, because for the first time there was a Leica camera with an electronic viewfinder and with live view, which is exactly what I wanted. But the Leica prices were simply way beyond what I was willing to spend for a camera. That's why I went the price-wise more affordable X Vario route to own a "real" Leica (that is, a camera "made in Germany") and not a Panasonic Leica. With respect to my M-mount lenses, however, this was rather a dead end (or a supplement) than a solution. So my search continued...

In autumn 2015, the Leica M (Typ 240) was still the current M model, had not become cheaper, but had been supplanted and surpassed by an even more expensive "P" variant on top of the line. While people were and are still speculating about a new M (maybe with hybrid viewfinder), Leica announced an important event on October 20, 2015. There the SL (Typ 601), a system camera with autofocus, was presented. Since the SL sounded interesting to me, I eagerly followed the respective forum posts for quite a while. In these "speculative discussions" prices were considered to be only slightly below the M or even higher. So I decided to leave that track... The only way to acquire a full-frame camera in the form of a "cheaper" Leica M seemed to be to investigate the second-hand market. In the forums was speculated that prices for used Ms (240, 9, 8) would drop a little because of the expected new cameras. I looked into eBay offers for the Leica M to find out whether this was true. Some used M9 cameras were, after all, priced at about "only" 2500 EUR (buy immediately offers), the M240 was offered beginning from 4500 EUR (ditto). I was briefly tempted to buy a used M9, perhaps for a start.​​ I had to remind myself again and again that a pure rangefinder camera is not a good solution for me (and my lenses) to end these temptations.

Photo: Photo of my Leica M 240 from eBay

Then, however, I hin on an M240 auction that was going to end in a few minutes, and the price was at "just" 3550 EUR (or so). There was also an M240 from Italy, which was offered for 3750 EUR (Buy It Now). Exited, but without intention to purchase the camera, I watched the last minutes of the auction. The price seemed to stay stable all the time. but in the end it showed that the camera price had risen to 3900-4000 EUR within seconds. Thus, the initial price, that had appeared so low to me, had come to reality - and suddenly the Italian M240 appeared a little more attractive to me. Given the prices of other offers, I was now almost decided to buy the camera. But then I got qualms again, decided to sleep over it. The next day, I looked every now and then to see whether the offer was still there - and suddenly the camera was down to 3550 EUR (+ 30 EUR Porto). All dams broke with me - the rest can be guessed easily (and no one was faster than me) ...

 

Now I Am A Leica M Owner...

Since October 14, 2015, I am "officially" the owner of a Leica M (Type 240), which I bought together with a so-called "half case" made of leather. The camera arrived in good condition and safely on October 20, 2015 (the half case followed a few days later (10/23/2015)). I used the camera immediately without having studied the manual and knowing how to handle it (we had a visitor and were on the go to seeing Heidelberg - no time for reading manuals...). But at least, I was able to take a few pictures. Now it is time to deal with the camera seriously!

Photos: My Leica M 240 "naked" with Peak Design anchors (left) and "fully equipped" (right)

 

The photo below shows the status of my equipment end of October 2015 (with parts "borrowed" from the the X Vario, without lenses). The current status can be inspected on page My Equipment.

Photo: My Leica M equipment (status: end of October, 2015)

In the coming months (and years?), I will report here on my experiences with the Leica M (Typ 240).

 

Would I Recommend A Leica M (Typ 240) to You?

Definitely not - as least not as long as I do not know what your photographic and personal preferences regarding digital cameras are. I can only tell you what I like and what I like less or not at all. Nevertheless, I will certainly be able to say something in the future, after I have gained some experiences with the camera.

What's more, I cannot recommend any cameras in this price region to "normal" people - they would consider me as crazy anyway. Probably they are right, even if they sometimes forget what they spend for their own hobbies... Everyone has to decide on his or her own whether to spend a lot of money for a certain good or service. The other day, we had bought a very expensive Bresse chicken (a French chicken rotisseur spoke of "caviar" in this context) on our way back from France at the roadhouse "Poulet de Bresse." German campers saw this and asked us, whether this purchase would be worthwhile compared with a cheaper German "bio" chicken. We could only answer that we do not know and that everyone must decide such a matter for him- or herself. And the same accounts to Leica cameras. If you would like to dig into this topic, you will find plenty of discussions of "luxury product" and the pricing of Leica cameras in the photo forums...

Perhaps, Sean Reid's statement can be used as an argument for buying a Leica M: To date, the only full frame digital cameras that perform well with challenging RF lenses are the Leica M DRFs.

 

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11.02.2016