Left front view

Left front view

Some users think using a Leica M will guarantee pictures captured in good quality. This is a fallacy that a valuable camera makes you feel like a great photographer. We must admit Leica is now synonymous with luxury and prestige. But vanity does not improve your photographic skill.

This sounds like when people have nothing to say about your photos: they claim your photos are REALLY sharp.

Sharpness is not the criteria to judge a good photo. Some people complain their portraits are too sharp in focus exposing their age. Reducing “Clarity” in Adobe Lightroom may help to smooth the wrinkles of your clients and let them look younger.

Photography is all about light and good photos count on accurate exposure. Accurate exposure is the basic but the key to a good picture. The dated Leica M9 has only one metering mode: the classic. On the body of the Leica M (Type 240), there is an additional advanced metering mode. In Advanced mode, we can choose among Spot, Center-weighted (similar to Classic) or Multi-field metering.

There are some discussions on shutter vibration on the Leica User Forum as a result of using the advanced metering mode or using the Live View. In fact, in the user instruction manual, Leica has mentioned that using the classic mode is a shutter metering whereas in the Advanced mode the camera uses sensor metering. For the metering methods based on image sensor, on page 180 of the manual it reads:

“the shutter must be open and it is then closed and re-cocked when the function is cancelled. Of course, this is audible and may result in a slight delay in the shutter release.”

Slight delay could cause an issue, if you consider you have to capture the decisive moment. It also mentions that if used frequently, Live View mode will result in more power consumption.  So that explains why other than hearing the shutter noise, you will hear other noises as well. Some says the shutter noise on the Leica M is softer.  I have not done any scientific measurement but it is true that the noise of the Leica M shutter differs from that of the Leica M9.

The minimum ISO sensitivity on the Leica M is 200 (you can see an option of pull ISO 100) whereas on the Leica M9 is 160.  This may give a bit of advantage on taking pictures in an environment of low light.  However, there may be a need to use ND (neutral density) filter to reduce the amount of light on a bright day for example. Thorsten Overgaard mentions the choice of filters when he writes the review of the Leica M and it well deserves a look. Of course some may find it hard to buy the filter that fits right on the lens because some of the M lenses have smaller diameters. I often wonder where to get the filter with the size of 39 mm for my Elmarit-M 28 mm and Summicron-M 50 mm.  Some camera stores have them in stock but it is only 3-stop or more reducing almost 80% of the light.  Just too dark for still photography. 1-stop or 2-stop should be enough.

My choice of metering is still with the Classic.  It is simple, like that in the Leica M9. If I am going to take videos using Live View, I will switch it back to Advanced mode and Mulit-field metering. In case you have a handheld external light meter and a grey card to check the white balance, you will not fail in most of the light sources.  Follow this video by Thorsten Overgaard to easily set up the White Balance manually on your Leica M. You will then set the colour right for any occasion. So far I find in most cases the white balance is accurate.  However, in times of sunset, the colour temperature is slight over to the yellowish. I need to adjust the colour temperature by using Adobe Lightroom.

Bottom cover locking point

Bottom cover locking point

The Leica features a similar bottom cover like the Leica M9. The design of it (the whole cover is made of metal with the exception of the small card area is probably in plastic) seems allowing the transfer of files through some WiFi SD storage cards. On the camera body of the M Type 240 the USB connection port has been removed.  Unless you attach the Mulitfunction M hand grip (there is a USB port) or use a WiFi SD card, you need to remove the bottom cover first, take out the SD card and transfer the files to your desktop through a card reader. This sounds inconvenient if you house the Leica M in the protector M case.

The pictures so far I have taken are very close to what I have got in the Leica M9. The colour is true to what I see. The war between the CCD (the M9) and the CMOS (the M Type 240) seems pointless. At least the Max CMOS does not disappoint me. Some users found the newly CMOS sensor does not deliver the colour rendition they used to achieve from the CCD sensors. Would post processing in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop handle this? Sometimes the difference could probably depend on whether you have calibrated your monitor successfully. I discover that on a Mac calibrated monitor, you always get more vibrant colours.  And the most important point is: never trust the colour on the rear LCD screen of your Leica M. It is merely a reference for viewing your pictures, not the answer.

Featured image: A quiet street in Darlington.  The Leica M with Summicron-M 50 mm, ISO400, f/16, 1/45sec

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