Introduced at Photokina, Cologne, 2012, the Leica M (Typ 240) comes with a new 24 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, and surprisingly for Leica, also introduced full HD video recording, and live view. An optional electronic viewfinder (EVF) is available and live view comes with focus peaking to aid manual focusing. The Leica M (Typ 240) is available for £4799.
Leica M (Typ 240) Features
Being a Rangefinder, the optical viewfinder doesn't show the image through the lens, instead a small central window is used to focus the camera. Due to the Leica M Typ 240 featuring live view, for the first time in the Leica M history, you can compose and shoot images using the actual image through the lens, much like using a Digital SLR in live view, on the rear 3inch 920k pixel screen. In addition with the optional Visioflex Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) you can use the camera as you would a DSLR or mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder.
The Leica M Typ 240, like other digital rangefinders from Leica, does not offer auto-focus, or even auto-aperture, with manual focus and aperture required. Auto shutter speed and ISO is possible. With live view there are two new modes available to aid focus, "Live View Zoom" gives you a 10x magnified live view display, and there is also "Live View Focus Peaking" which automatically highlights edges when in focus.
The weather sealed body is constructed from high-strength magnesium alloy with top and base plates machined from solid brass blanks, and rubber seals protect against splashes, moisture and dust. The rear screen features Corning Gorilla Glass which is tough and scratch-resistant, and is the same protective material used in the majority of smartphones. FullHD video recording is now included, and there is a dedicated video record button on the camera to start and stop video.
- 24 megapixel Full Frame CMOS sensor
- Leica M bayonet with sensor for six-bit coding
- Adobe DNG raw recording
- 3inch screen, 921k dots
- Full HD Video, 25/24fps
- ISO200 - ISO6400, extends down to ISO100
- 3-4fps continuous shooting
- Dual axis electronic level.
- Magnesium alloy body
- Splash proof camera body
- Available in black or black and silver
Leica M (Typ 240) Handling
The Leica M Typ 240, like other rangefinders from Leica, feels extremely well built, with a solid body and design. With minimal external controls, the top features a shutter speed dial, and the on / off switch doubles as the control for the drive mode, letting you choose from single, continuous and self-timer shooting. The shutter release also has a screw thread for screw-thread release cables, another "old school" way of shooting. With the addition of an 'M' button which is used to start and stop video recording. The camera has a noticeable weight feeling heavier than it looks. The bottom of the camera has a rather old fashioned bottom plate that needs to be removed to gain access to the memory and battery compartments, although this does provide good protection for these.
There is a metal surround around the optical viewfinder, which will not be ideal for people wearing glasses.
The back controls give you access to LV (Live view), play, delete, ISO, Menu, and set, along with a four way controller with middle Info button, and a scroll wheel. By default the cameras rear screen is off, leaving you to take photos using the viewfinder.
The camera is manual focus only, with just the centre of the frame being the focus area. You can focus through the optical viewfinder, then re-compose if your subject is off-frame. Or if you become familiar with your camera through practise you can get good at estimating the focus distance, set the focus on the subject and have the camera focused before you hold the camera up to your eye, so that when it is held up to your eye you can take the photo straight away, capturing the instant moment.
In live view manually focusing the lens automatically activates focus peaking, and it is easy to see when the subject is in focus thanks to the red lines on-screen. The screen refresh rate is a little slow although quality is quite good. The Leica M 240 is compatible with the Leica EVF2 electronic viewfinder, which was released with the Leica X2.
The top M button is used to start and stop video recording, and the front button can be used to enter focus peaking when in live view. Highlight / shadow clipping can be setup and you can choose between a standard and RGB histogram.
The menus are rather basic, but have been updated since earlier models, making them a bit clearer and easier to read. Once you are familiar with them you shouldn't need to use them very often, instead using the rear ISO button and set button to change the most regularly changed options.
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 500 shots according to Leica / CIPA test results. This gives a good number of shots before you should need to recharge the battery.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
||Leica M (Typ 240)
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
|Shot to Shot without Flash
|Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
|3.7fps (11 shots)
|Continuous Shooting - RAW
||3.4fps (11 shots)
Shutter response is excellent and shot to shot time is also very good. Continuous shooting is better than previous models, shooting at roughly 3.7fps when shooting JPEG images.
Leica M (Typ 240) Performance
The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Leica M (Typ 240) Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Detail is often excellent although there are some signs of moire in buildings. The camera shoots AdobeDNG raw images, and this means you can easily convert raw images to JPEGs. It's possible to get better results by converting the raw images yourself, rather than simply relying on JPEG images straight from the camera.
Leica M (Typ 240) Lens test images
Lens Performance - Using Leica prime lenses it is possible to record very good levels of detail in images. Some purple fringing is visible in areas of high contrast. Shooting raw also allows you to record additional dynamic range in images, rather than just shooting JPEG images. Exposure is generally reliable and the camera has a built in histogram that includes a clipping setting so you can see if you have over or under-exposed an image.
Leica M (Typ 240) ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - The Leica M (Typ 240) has an ISO range of ISO200 to ISO6400, which can be extended to a low ISO of ISO100. Noise is extremely low at ISO100, and ISO200, with a slight grain appearing at ISO400. This increases again at ISO800 although results are still good. This grain becomes more noticeable at ISO1600, and again at ISO3200, however this noise does not feature the red, green and blue dots that normally make noise unpleasant, and the noise does appear to be quite film like. At ISO6400 noise becomes much more noticeable, and colour saturation drops slightly, although results should still be usable.
Leica M (Typ 240) White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving an image with a yellow colour cast. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving an accurate result when using the correct setting.
Leica M (Typ 240) Digital filters
Digital Filters - Film options include vivid colour film, smooth colour film, black and white with contrast filter (off, yellow, orange, red, green, blue) and tone (neutral, vintage, blue). Automatic panoramic shooting isn't an available option on this camera.
Video - Video options include: 1080p, 25fps, 24fps, 720p, 25, 24fps, VGA 30, 25fps. Audio options include standard, concert, and manual setting with 23 levels for the mic, as well as wind elimination options of off, medium and strong. Moire is visible in the video below.
Value For Money
The Leica M Typ 240 is available for £4799 which makes it noticeably expensive compared to other cameras available, although the camera comes with 1 year membership of the Leica Passport Scheme that protects against accidental damage, and a 2 year warranty. Alternatives include the Leica M-E, or the Leica M Monochrom, both with 18 megapixel full frame sensors. There are no other digital rangefinders available, so the nearest after these would be the 24 megapixel Sony Alpha A7, 24 megapixel Nikon D610, and 22 megapixel Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.
Leica M (Typ 240) Verdict
In terms of a digital rangefinder there are very few options available, and the Leica M Typ 240 is the only one with live view and an optical viewfinder, giving those that prefer the rangefinder view the option to use that. For those that want to see exactly what they are shooting, then there is the 3inch screen, offering live view magnification and focus peaking to aid manual focus. The Leica M (Typ 240) has all of the traditional stylings of a true Leica M camera, with a solid construction and excellent build quality, making the camera feel like using a true analogue camera is so desired. Thankfully the camera is able to deliver excellent image quality with excellent levels of detail, good colour and good noise performance, with a film like quality to the images. For those looking for a digital rangefinder, the Leica M (Typ 240) is the best currently available, however it does come with a high price that will be off-putting to many.
The Leica M Typ 240 is the best digital rangefinder currently available, and for those that have an investment in Leica glass the M is worth serious consideration.
Leica M (Typ 240) Specifications
|CCD pixels||24Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Size||Full Frame|
|Sensor Size (width)||No Data|
|Sensor Size (height)||No Data|
|Screen resolution||920,000 dots|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/4000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||60sec|
- Centre-weighted - Average
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 6400|
|Viewfinder Resolution||No Data|
- 1280x720 720p
- 640x480 VGA
|Video FPS||25, 24fps|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Battery Type||Li-ion battery (included), 7.4V, 1800 mAh|
|CIPA Rating||No Data|
|Box Contents||Battery, charger with power cables for EU and USA (different in some markets), 12V charging cable, carrying strap, accessory port cover, body cap|
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