Some forum members were asked by Leica to test the new Leica M(240). Here is the first report by Jonathan Slack including several sample images in full resolution.

© of all images by Jonathan Slack

The Leica M(240)

It’s been exciting testing the new Leica over the past weeks; trips to Venice, Copenhagen and the Italian Alps have given lots of opportunity to try the camera out with traditional M lenses, and also with Leica R lenses and a couple of Olympus OM lenses.

For me it’s easiest to talk about the camera as two distinct entities.

The first is a revolutionary new step forward; the very first full frame mirror-less camera: Whilst the internet photographic community have been expecting such a camera from Sony or Pentax, Leica have quietly come up with the goods.

The second is the latest iteration of the rangefinder camera – a deeply traditional way of making images which, since the advent of the digital M8 has been more and more appreciated as a way of avoiding the equipment getting in between the subject and the image.

The Full Frame Mirror-less M(240)

This is a fascinating camera – with the correct adapter it allows the use of almost any lens with an aperture ring. With the Leica R adapter it allows use of a range of R lenses, with proper support in the firmware. It’s a positive joy to use a lens like the 28-90 R lens on a full frame sensor without an AA filter.

Of course, being revolutionary it isn’t perfect – there is a little shutter lag, and the slower refresh rate for the EVF means that it isn’t really suitable for action photography. But a dSLR with AF is always going to be a better bet for sports photography.

For Macro photography, travel photography (where a zoom is desirable) and for nature and wildlife it’s a wonderful camera. The well thought out Focus Assist, with the optional magnification and focus peaking makes it possible to focus incredibly accurately whilst the well damped shutter mean that shooting handheld at 200mm is quite feasible in reasonable light.

The EVF is also great for use with wide angle lenses – and the longer M lenses where focusing can be more difficult.

…. and then there is video – it’s quite an experience shooting full frame video with a noctilux at f0.95!

The Successor to the M9

This is the really good news – Leica have listened to their user base. The M9 was (and is) a wonderful camera, however, there was room for improvement in a number of areas. The new M has addressed almost all of these:

  • Faster processor
  • Larger buffer
  • Higher resolution LCD
  • Weather sealing
  • Quieter shutter (without re-cock pause)
  • Less shutter lag
  • Better high ISO
  • Better image quality
  • Higher Resolution
  • Integrated thumb grip
  • Improved ergonomics

I’ve long felt that 24mp represented just about the perfect compromise between high resolution and manageable file size; allowing very big prints but still making it possible to process lots of images in a reasonable time.

There has been much discussion on the internet about the benefits of CCD vs CMOS sensors. I really feel that a look at the files from the M will dispel those worries. For me, the colour is slightly better than that from the M9 at base ISO and much better at higher ISO. In most circumstances the results from a well exposed 6400 ISO are completely useable (perhaps equivalent to 1600 ISO on the M9).

Rangefinder photography is what I love most, and this new camera is a worthy successor to the long line of Leica M cameras. Throw in an exciting and revolutionary full frame mirror-less camera and it’s quite irresistible.

Jonathan Slack

February 1st 2013

Image Download Data
Leica M Sample 1 © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 50 mm
  • ISO 2500
  • 1/250
Leica M Sample 1 © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 50 mm
  • ISO 2500
  • 1/250
Leica M Sample 2 © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 60 mm
  • ISO 2000
  • 1/90
Leica M Sample 3 © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 75 mm
  • ISO 1600
  • 1/60
Leica M Sample 4 © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 35mm
  • ISO 2500
  • 1/30
Leica M Sample 5 © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 35mm
  • ISO 2500
  • 1/30
Leica M Sample 6 © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 60mm
  • ISO 5000
  • 1/60
Leica M Sample © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 90 mm
  • ISO 200
  • 1/125 sec
Leica M Sample © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 99 mm
  • ISO 9999
  • 1/99 sec
Leica M Sample © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 135 mm
  • ISO 200
  • 1/360 sec
Leica M Sample © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 90 mm
  • ISO 200
  • 1/2000 sec
Leica M Sample © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 90 mm
  • ISO 200
  • 1/360 sec
Leica M Sample © Jonathan Slack
  • Leica M (240) – pre-production model
  • 50 mm
  • ISO 200
  • 1/750 sec

About the Author

Andreas is Photo Enginer and lives in Bonn, Germany. He runs the international Leica Forum, the Systemkamera Forum (about CSC cameras) and the Fuji X Forum. Google+

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28 Responses to “Leica M (240) Sample Images – Jonathan Slack”

  1. Godfrey says:

    Thank you, Jono. These are the first good samples from the new M. I will presume that this means Leica is nearly ready to roll it out … :-)

    Godfrey

  2. Well done Jono, great images and an honest hands-on appraisal of an excellent camera.

  3. jason gold says:

    It’s a big step forward for Leica.
    The images presented are good, not spectacular.
    Strangely i saw sharper, more detailed and nicer color on Ken Rockwell’s site,
    using a Leica using a very old, pre-war50mm Elmar lens..
    Truth will be in it’s usage and users.

  4. Greetings Jono, Lovely pictures and mouth watering camera, but the linen texture in the shadows of the raw files would worry me, or might that just be a characteristic of the pre-production camera? It appears on the ISO 200 [loaf still-life] if lightened but is not so evident at ISO 1600. Now I’m slapping my own wrist for being picky, as, I guess, one should not have to push the exposure that much in the first place!

  5. Scott says:

    Leica should have cleaned that sensor as the winter scene with the blue sky has oil or dust blobs. And they approved the shots!! I see quality control is right up there again.

  6. Terry Clark says:

    I’d rather see the spots, it shows they (Leica) allowed for an honest evaluation of their camera over putting on a “perfect” face. It’s digital, dust happens, just a fact of life.

  7. Sam Kanga says:

    Great to read your impressions. My only concern is that you mention there is shutter lag. I have not used an M9, however, I use an M2 & M4-P. How would you say the lag compares to the film Ms?

    Thanks
    Sam

  8. Tuananh says:

    VERY DISAPPOINTED!! As an M2, M8 and M9 owner, I was very optimistic about the new M, but if the sample images continue not to render the unique Leica colors and characteristics then I will definitely remove myself from the wait-list. Maybe Leica shouldn’t have spent so much of its efforts on adding video, LiveView, and even GPS to their M system….they should have put more of that energy foremost into creating a camera that was historically built for people who worshiped image quality above all other gimmicks. Perhaps it was cursed from the beginning when they removed the numerical sequence from the M, maybe they lost a little bit of that Leica magic when they lost that perfect “10″. A few more weeks and we will all find out if the “elves” still have any magic left to share. Good luck, Leica!

  9. Briar Dill says:

    The Images:
    The Yellow Flower (on the web) downloads a pikish-white flower in the DNG. It has a delicate beauty within the color.

    The blue jeans pants of the person bending over the dog, has a realistic impression in color and detail though it lacks deep detail. Background OOF boke is digital smooth but not the worst, yes I’d call this about half of what film gets which is a great complement given digital’s normal mostly mechanical representation.

    In the trees-with-snow picture, the snow is typically digital in the overly smooth presentation of snow. The same ultra smooth of digital blue sky is seen though it is missing noise (varied dis-colorations) thus giving a better realism for the basic sky rendition than noisy digital (A+ here). A few small lines of light strip clouds adds some realism thus showing that decent detail (for digital) has been captured. Thus, overall presentation is good for digital.

    Dog is endearing with jet black hair which is rightly lacking reds and other color aberrations. You can make out the woman’s fine hair detail very well and her light use of makeup which adds to a sense of realism. Yes she is endearing too…
    Digital Reality Check
    I guess that these are just the facts of life even at 24 meg, good focus plane detail, fake smooth boke OOF areas so the historic look of the Leica lenses is unlikely to fully show up or will be totally missing (I’ll wait to see), and video’s color limitations which Leica somehow fixes somewhat with organic looking
    “realistic” colors. I assume that Leica has done the digital technology as well as it can be done.

    Taking pictures is an option to life not a necessity. When the shift to the harsh looking digital happened I lost interest and quit shooting. This camera may start me out new. The color is good and the overall digital choices are best ones as made by Leica. Time will tell as reviews and other pictures roll in.

  10. John Brewton says:

    Great material, Jono. I liked being able to download the DNG’s. Strange, the ISO 200 shot of the reflection in the water has noise though easily cleaned up in ACR, but the shot of the fruit hanging from the branch at ISO 5000 has none!
    However, this looks to be an awesome camera with so many lens options.

  11. Richard says:

    Thanks for the pictures. Is it me or I see plenty of arctifacts in a few of the pictures. It’s particularly apparent to me in top left of the winter scene (the blue sky)

  12. DanielS. says:

    Could someone please clarify for me whether shot #4 in the slideshow (girl and dog in the snow) was shot with an M or an R lens?

    Thanks, Jonathan for giving us our first quality glimpse of the m/240 IQ. I’m impressed.

    Daniel

  13. Tre Nelson says:

    Great samples Jono! These are clearly more representative of where Leica and M users were hoping the M would go. Consider at least one M Type 240 sold on these shots. :)

  14. Howard Cummer says:

    Jono,
    Thanks for the review. The images are very impressive. Would appreciate your posting some ISO 6400 images as well – with some dark backgrounds so we can check the noise. Looks like I may sell my M9 after all.

  15. Ricardo Araya Lobo says:

    Grandes fotografías, excelente. Las luces y las sombras geniales. Muchas gracias por compartir

  16. Martin Dixon says:

    No offense but I don’t see anything special here. I understand no one wants to put their best work on the web but I would never buy an $8,000 camera to take these pictures. I have been a Leica shooter for over 25 years and my cameras and lenses have served me well. This is the Ferrari of digital cameras and you’re showing me what it looks like putting around a golf course. I’ll continue using my M9 and M8 until they explode. And when that happens I’ll just but the less expensive ME.

  17. Geoff says:

    Hi Jono,

    Impressive images. Will we soon see some more examples with wider lenses? I hope that the shutter lag and leggy EVF don’t spoil the experience too much on the production camera.

  18. Michael Ward says:

    Thanks for at last publishing some ‘official’ M images I have been looking at these images on and off all day and if I flip back to my 5DmkII images these are better in many respects. However the shadow grid noise or linen as one correspondent described it bothers me. I think if these images printed out I have a feeling it would not be seen. The sensor certainly handles tone very well and I could well believe that there are an additional two stops of dynamic range but in twenty percent shadow that texture is a problem. After absorbing what Fuji have done with the most recent firmware update I feel sure that Leica has the competencies to get rid of this blindingly obvious issue. I have processed a number of the samples and the thing I like about them is that they can be made brilliant with no more than a dozen clicks or their pixels can be punished beyond recognition and they still hold up. So all in all I think Leica has a winner and my lens inventory now has a full frame option for the future. These are interesting times!

  19. Briar Dill says:

    These images leave me with these questions:

    1- Where’s the Boke OOF character of the lens? Answer might be: Even at 24meg digital won’t show it.

    2- Scans from film even at lower resolutions looked better than these images, why? Is this just the facts of digital life?

    3- Is this camera state-of-the-art? Any of you guys/gals know? Do the Canons and Nikons go to like a whole level higher in ability? It seems to me that they don’t. We are seeing the digital limit?

    4- Given the full features of this M camera it seems to be a “safe” purchase unlike the other Leica M digital bodies. Can use my M lenses and get state of the art… which is just the limit of any digital camera?

  20. paolo says:

    …it isn’t really suitable for action photography.
    I know that normally you don’t buy a leica for action photography, but I wonder if somebody will provide some action shoot with the new leica M in order to see where is the limit.
    In any case it’ s great camera and I can’t wait to touch it!

  21. vonZinger says:

    Hey Jonathan, just out of curiosity, is the women’s winter coat in the 4th from last image of your test series, mauve/purple in color? Is that the correct color rendition of the coat?
    I am just wondering if there is any IR shift in synthetic black materials, like the problem with the M8.
    (The scene where she is outside, in the snow with the dog bending over to clean the dog’s paws.)

  22. thebarnman says:

    There’s a pretty big color shift between the original and edited version of the girl with the black dog. Is this a case of improper white balance setting? At least with the edited image, you were able to render the dog black, though the image is much more blue.

    Overall, I’m very impressed with the color and detail. I think there’s a marked improvement over the M9.

    Now to test the new M with the MM. What one will have more detail with B&W imagery?

  23. Stuart Feen says:

    One question: Given the greater capabilities of the M Type 240 over the Monochrom, why is the Monochrom $1,000 more?

    Thanks in advance for your response.
    SF

  24. Chris Wade says:

    Hi
    The one question I have is your comment on ” Shutter Lag”
    how bad is this? Given a lot of people will want to use this for street photography. Same as M9? Do you think it will be improved by
    the release date.

    Thanks

    Chris

  25. Dexter Legaspi says:

    Re: shutter lag. The blog post was a bit confusing, it said the M has shutter lag but when the list of improvements was noted compared to M9, it lists “less shutter lag.” I presume there’s shutter lag only when using the EVF (and presumably Live View)?

  26. Hayden says:

    I too am interested in the shutter lag comment.
    I have the Leica X2 that uses the exact electronic view finder, and there is no lag or delay to take pics with that. It works the same as the LCD.
    It does however blackout when you take a pic like a SLR does.
    I use the X2 for some sports pics.
    I have an order placed for an M and I intend to use it at least some of the time for sports. I really hope that lag can be fixed by firmware…

  27. Keith says:

    Thank you Jonathan for loading up these images for us to see first hand.
    Is there any chance of posting any with the same image taken with same lens /ISO using an M-E or M9 ?

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