The Leica Multifunction Handgrip M (Part Number 14495), as its name suggests, is an accessory which adds useful functions to the Leica M. It is exclusively designed for the Leica M Type 240 and cannot be used on the M9. Unlike the camera body, the base and handle section of the Leica Multifunction Handgrip M are fiber-reinforced plastic and the upper cover is no doubt brass. When it is attached, you feel it is flimsy and not as solid as the camera body. I am sure if the choice of the material has to do with the GPS receiver. This resembles the design of the Canon 6D which is equipped with the integrated WiFi and GPS because its top plate is not made of metal. Of course I would like to see the Handgrip M cosmetically made with a more durable material just like the Leica M Type 240 body. But it aesthetically looks better than the Handgrip (Part number 14486) for the M8 and M9.
The approximate dimension of the Handgrip M is 139 x 68 x 55 mm (W x H x D). The weight is approximately 149g. The total weight of the camera body mounted with the Handgrip M is almost 729g. This is no longer a light-weighted camera in use even if you only mount a tiny Elmarit-M 28 mm f/2.8 on it. The Leica M Type 240 has finally added some weight to your daily arsenal. I am in doubt whether the Leica M is as compact as it used to be.
The built-in function on the Leica Multifunction Handgrip M is the GPS receiver module which saves image shooting data in the Exif image data (geo-tagging). In the Camera Menu, we can turn it ON or OFF directly under GPS. If you see the selection is grey out, that means it is not successfully connected. I have no trouble setting it to ON once the Handgrip M is firmly attached by the big knurled tripod screw. To get more relevant information of how to use it, the Handgrip M instructions remind the users to read the camera body instructions.
If you want to make sure the GPS is in operation, press the INFO button at the back of the camera and check the satellite symbol. In the image above, this symbol means active and the last position was determined up to one minute ago. If you see a cross on this symbol, it means there is no reception at that moment. If you are close to windows or just have just switched on your camera, you probably need to wait for 1-2 minutes before seeing the satellite symbol is in active status. In theory it won’t be too hard for many parts of this world, except in some countries where using GPS is not legal such as China (exception: Hong Kong and Macau) and Cuba. The GPS function is therefore deactivated automatically in these areas.
Australia is obviously not in the exception. In the camera instruction manual, it mentions that the GPS aerial is located at the top of the handgrip. So it is important not to cover it with your hand or rest your finger when you press the shutter. (I believer for a photographer, your finger should always be resting on the shutter button.) On a rainy day, I took several shots with the Handgrip M. I was pleased the GPS was active and when I reviewed the image on the camera monitor, the GPS satellite symbol was also displayed. Then you can view the information in image processing applications such as Adobe Lightroom.
Besides the GPS module, the Leica Multifunction Handgrip M also supports the transfer of files or control the camera (using the required software called Leica Image Shuttle) through the USB 2.0 mini-port , external power supply for extended time using the DC in-socket. You can find these two sockets on the left at the rear of the base.
On the right of the base, you can a standard flash connection socket and a stable 4-pin mini socket for SCA cable connection. Both the SCA adapter and AC adaptor have to be purchased separately. The total price of these adaptors are not so affordable, almost 80 percent of the Handgrip M.
You can attach the finger loop (sold separately) to the thread on the right. But I am not sure if you can hold the camera more securely through it as I have not tried it. The finger loop for handgrip-M is offered in three sizes: S, M and L.
The Leica Multifunction Handgrip M is not a cheap investment. However, if you take thousands of photographs in your travel, it is more convenient to geo-tag the images this way instead of using other tools. It is more versatile if you are also taking studio shoots.
Any dissatisfaction? Yes, a small disappointment when holding the Leica Multifunction Handgrip M for a longer time. The issue is probably due to the contour of the handle. It is undoubtedly true that it helps greatly in grasping the M camera firmly and safely. But it is far from feeling comfortable.