Leica New Leica M-E (Typ 240)

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
Don't want to go back to anything smaller than FF, and the lack of high ISO performance puts me off too much.
Ahhhh don't let the M8's ISO performance put you off too much. I took that shot above with an M8.2. Here are some other shots I took with my M8.2 in the middle of the night, handheld:

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christilou

Legend
Jul 13, 2010
164
Sunny Frimley
I take far fewer photos with an M camera but even if focus isn't always spot on, I like the results usually! These are the M10 and 50mm Summilux ASPH but it's not much different to the M240 (which I still have).

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mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
If you are battling GAS and want an M, Overgaard's pages are the very last place where you want to be. :D He writes so romantically about the M.

I'll add my comments and replies in red below.


Thorsten von Overgaard, a self-declared Leica-freak, wrote an article on focusing with a rangefinder as part of a series on the Leica M 240. I'm continuously agonizing over getting me a Leica M, mainly because I like the small lenses and because I remember how it felt to use my father's Contax rangefinder with a 50mm; my wife effortlessly made a perfectly sharp picture of me at that time, and she never managed that with an SLR. I now have a Sony A7R2 which serves me well but I feel I must have tried to use a rangefinder camera at some point in time.

The article is long so I picked some highlights from it, that got me thinking if a Leica M really is for me.
  • A rangefinder forces you to focus and recompose. I often use large apertures combined with placing my subject in the corner, and I'm worried that focus and recompose will degrade sharpness to an unacceptable degree in such a scenario.

    Yes, there are two factors which play to quality degradation here. First, the F&R action itself but it's not actually that often that you foul up an image because you moved too much while recomposing IME.

    The greater issue is that due to small lenses with size constraints, many of the M mount lenses exhibit some degrees of issues, a big one being field curvature. This bugs me considerably with the 35 Summicron ASPH which is supposed to be the very best but actually has issues with soft mid-2/3rds. If you plan on shooting 50mm or use Zeiss offerings, you will get solid performance though.

    And one more added point: because you gotta focus in the middle, the subject you're shooting at might realise it way easier than if you shot a wide angle lens just by placing your AF point on the edge.
  • A rangefinder enables you to see outside the frame for all but the widest lenses, seems like a bonus in street photography. Although the author thinks that it isn't all that important.

    I don't think this matters much either. If you like 35mm or wider, you won't see any outside frame anyway. Even less with glasses! If you like shooting 90, perhaps maybe.
  • Leica offers an extensive range of high-quality and relatively small lenses.

    True, very true. The lenses are super small for being FF. But with small size comes some design compromises. The modern DSLR lenses or modern FF mirrorless lenses aren't huge for nothing!

    It might be a tough pill to swallow, to pay big money for lenses that don't actually perform that well wide open as everyone exclaims.

  • Leica M cameras don't offer autofocus, so for that I'd have to keep my Sony FE system.


  • Rangefinders are delicate instruments, that can go out of alignment and must be treated with care. Hate that, to be honest.

    I'd hate this too. But if you're not shooting 50/0.95 at minimum focusing distances all the time, chances are your focus mechanism will be just fine. Besides, newer Leica bodies are pretty resistant to going misaligned (M240 and up).
  • No preview of depth of field; not all that important to me, I often bracket apertures anyway to select the best result in post.

    This is one of the things you would learn over time. Leica M leaves a lot of decisions for you to make (and learn).
  • Quote: Can be hard to see the focus center in dark.

    So it's just like a CDAF camera in that regard. Can't see any contrast to lock focus on.
  • Not suitable for telephoto. Another reason to keep the Sony FE system.

    True.
  • Wider than 28mm lenses necessitate a separate optical viewfinder. Or use the display or EVF, which is probably what I would do.

    External viewfinders are kind of cool to be honest. Not entirely practical though. I have a 21mm lens with an optical accessory viewfinder and I lost my cool with it, started using the screen to compose. Still focus via RF because it's absolutely the quickest, smoothest and most accurate way with wide-angle lenses..
  • Quote: You will realize that you will never have 100% of your images in focus. For static scenes I have a hitrate over 99.9 % with the Sony A7R2.

    With static scenes you'll get a similar hitrate I guarantee you. With moving subjects, it's a different thing altogether.
  • Quote: Children is one of the major reasons many Leica M users give as the reason to look for a small quality camera. That surprised me. If and when I'll have grand-children, I'll know.

    I don't know why every shot (out of thousands) of ones kids has to be in perfect focus. You don't have to practice long until you get a very nice hit rate if you don't recompose after focusing. And even with recomposing you can be pretty sharp about it.
  • The author states that you won't have a 100 % hit rate with moving subject, autofocus or not. From my experience he's right.

    Both approaches are imperfect. But to be honest, autofocus camera in manual focus mode with back-button focus would cover the best of both worlds.
  • The lens can be visible in the frame. Wouldn't bother me.

    If you like 35mm and you like accurate framing, it could be a problem with some of the lens options out there.
  • The author said he used the EVF-2 in a situation when he had to be absolutely sure that he'd be able to focus reliably. That remark made me cringe.

    I shoot lenses like 21/3.5, 35/2, 50/3.5, and 90/4. With these depths of field I find the rangefinder to be absolutely perfect. No missed shots really. But Overgaard, he likes his 50/0.95 very much.
  • The author's plea for going easy on perfectionism doesn't really resonate with me.

    I'll give it to you straight. If that is truly the case, Leica M is absolutely not for you. Humans make mistakes in focusing, the rangefinder mechanism can be off, the small lenses have their optical compromises, etc. Leica M is about the shooting experience from out of which you still get crazy good shots. Sure, shooting static subjects with well calibrated lenses give you amazing output that easily rivals the best of the systems. But there's too many "imperfections" in the typical output. It sure was a tough pill for me to swallow, pay all this money just to get to learn not to pixel peep :) (But it's a good lesson.)
And some musings of my own.
  • Focus shift impacts rangefinder focusing, whereas it's irrelevant for manual focusing with an EVF/display when the lens is set at the working aperture, like I always do.

    Well you may know that most modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras also focus wide open and then close down only to take the picture. But these lenses that have focus shift, have the errors corrected in the firmware.

    But I agree, focus shift is just another prick in my flesh when considering the overall system and the cost.

  • I'd hate to have my camera's rangefinder calibrated at (ir)regular intervals. Leica's service is not known for its speedy turn-around times, to say the least.

    With M240 and up, it's not likely you'd have to do this very often. Of course, bad luck can happen and the service sure is not the greatest, I've heard.
  • Leica is expensive.

    Tru dat! I splurged on a body and now I don't mind that much, but I still like the idea about two-bodying and the cost of a second body is starting to seem too much for me.
  • I might want to wait until a Leica M would also feature a high-performance built-in EVF and would carry a state-of-the art sensor. The present sensors in Sony and Nikon cameras are operating near the theoretical limits of dynamic range and noise performance, so such a sensor would be a boon in a Leica M.

    Leica is known to travel their own paths, when it comes to processing the signal from the sensors.
  • I'd miss the sensor stabilization I have now, I can get away with hand-held shooting in a way inconceivable before that.

    Leica M bodies have that weight to them it's not actually too bad. Of course it won't be Olympus-tier image stabilisation.
  • I'm basically a one-system guy, even a one-camera guy. Maybe the Leica M and Sony FE systems are sufficiently different so that I don't have trouble switching between the two.

    In my experience it's difficult to be a two-system guy if you have all the focal lengths replicated in both systems. But on the other hand ,if you shoot wide angles up to 50mm with Leica and go for Sony on everything narrower, it would be rather easy.
I already read all posts in this thread, just curious for more thoughts, so get your flamethrowers out :).


I'll add some of my personal grieves about M.


- Not the best support for "nonstandard focal lengths". Something like Voigtländer 40/1.2 could be perfect, or the Nikon(?) 58/1.2 but you have to say good bye to accurate framing.
- The EVF/LV experience is not topnotch with M240. Too laggy and slow to be smoothly usable. I'm not sure what M11 brings us, hopefully something good.
- No TTL composing. I like rangefinders as a tool of manual focusing, ain't nothing like RF. But the parallax error is nasty at close distances. This bugs me surprisingly often. (I guess I should learn to press that LV button more often.)
 
Last edited:
Oct 20, 2012
104
The Netherlands
Ad Dieleman
If you are battling GAS and want an M, Overgaard's pages are the very last place where you want to be. :D He writes so romantically about the M.
Already calibrated myself for his non-rational enthousiasm :).

As to your comments:
  • Because you gotta focus in the middle, the subject you're shooting at might realise it way easier than if you shot a wide angle lens just by placing your AF point on the edge.
    Oh my, that's a very good point. I often focus by scale or focus near the sides to avoid just that!
  • The lenses are super small for being FF. But with small size comes some design compromises. That's not hugely different though from small lenses for Sony FE, except for price :(.
  • Besides, newer Leica bodies are pretty resistant to going misaligned (M240 and up).
    That would be a reason to get a newer body.
  • (The author's plea for going easy on perfectionism doesn't really resonate with me.)
    I'll give it to you straight. If that is truly the case, Leica M is absolutely not for you.
    You may very well hit the nail on the head with that remark! My wife thinks so too.
  • Not the best support for "nonstandard focal lengths".
    It just so happens that 40mm is my favourite focal length, so I don't know how much I'll miss more or less accurate frame lines for it.
  • The EVF/LV experience is not topnotch with M240. Thorsten von Overgaard mentions it too. Isn't a problem because a Leica M is intended to be used with its rangefinder, there's no point otherwise IMHO. But it sure would be nice if it worked really well.
  • The parallax error is nasty at close distances. That might be a problem for me. That reminds me that close focusing with a rangefinder is limited to mostly 0.7m, and I'm pretty sure I'll find that annoying.
Thank you very much for your extensive comments, very helpful! I discussed with my wife over lunch and my conclusion is already that I only will try a Leica M if I'm sure I'll spend the money to get one if I like it enough. And I'm not sure yet, your comments add some very real concerns. For the record, my wife would support my decision to get a Leica. Yep, I'm a lucky guy.





 

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
(The author's plea for going easy on perfectionism doesn't really resonate with me.)
I'll give it to you straight. If that is truly the case, Leica M is absolutely not for you
This is part of what is attracting me to more classic methods of photography, I think. I'm getting tired of all the attention around absolute image quality. I mean, I do use a Ricoh GR III, which has great IQ, and maybe 50% of its DNA is about the sharpness, but the other half is about the freedom it gives you to carry it anywhere and take snapshots effortlessly, and that latter 50% is what is really speaking to me lately.

My other system, really my main system, is M4/3, which has served me well, but I am starting to feel like the cameras and lenses lack character. They are all designed to be good all-rounders, and it's hard to get a setup that you can grow really attached to. I want to focus more on the process than the results, because I have no interest in selling my photographs or being seen as "pro" in any way.

I suppose some of the old 12mp M4/3 bodies have character, but that also comes with pretty bad dynamic range, and I've said elsewhere that the digital crappiness around low-DR highlight clipping really annoys me. I don't mind limitations in gear, I like working around them if they have a corresponding reward for nailing difficulties. That's been a source of minor dissatisfaction with recent M4/3 bodies, as they tend to have a "jack of all trades, master of none" character about them. I've actually been seriously considering a Foveon sensored Sigma but I really don't know whether that's just giving up too much utility for a very narrow band of reward.

Anyway, I'll stop since I'm not really adhering to the point of this thread, but that is just a snapshot of why I keep looking at rangefinders. The risk/reward nature of working to get the results you want is actually quite interesting to me, as I get more focused on process and less on measuring stats.
 
Oct 20, 2012
104
The Netherlands
Ad Dieleman
In my opinion "character" is often a euphemism for defects, that support the intentions of the photographer. Example: the Zeiss Loxia 35mm wide-open has spherical aberration, which I used to my advantage in one particular situation. "Character" is often more related to properties of the lens rather than the camera. My Sony A7R2 has a state-of-the-art sensor and I'm fine with that: I can make it do what I want and not be limited by dynamic range or high ISO performance, it gives a lot of freedom. I readily believe that for instance a CCD sensor lends a special touch to pictures, but I don't seem to need it.

I think using a rangefinder will have more to do with the kind of pictures you make than with properties of lenses and cameras. As @TraamisVOS said, only way to really find out is to try. I have noticed that I simply like photography more when I switched to manual-focus primes after having started with AF zoom lenses; the process has to be as much fun as possible IMHO and maybe using a rangefinder instead of an EVF will add to that.
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
The Epson R-D1 was, essentially, a digital Bessa R. People who own them swear by them, but not many were sold I believe.
I know - but it was an APS-C camera. Not to put it down in any way - it was/is a stroke of genius; it's lasting appeal proves that. But I'd really love a FF Bessa R ... Maybe at half the price of a Leica? That said, I'm actually no longer in the market for a new M mount RF - I own what I want.

M.
 

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Jul 9, 2010
124
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Antonio
I know - but it was an APS-C camera. Not to put it down in any way - it was/is a stroke of genius; it's lasting appeal proves that. But I'd really love a FF Bessa R ... Maybe at half the price of a Leica? That said, I'm actually no longer in the market for a new M mount RF - I own what I want.

M.
You are, of course, absolutely right.

One thing that must be kept in mind is that, in my experience, if you want a Leica rangefinder, nothing else will do. I briefly owned a Bessa R2a before picking up my M6TTL and while it was a good camera in its own right, in terms of feel and user experience there is IMO no comparison.

I suspect the same would be true if Voigtlander came out with a full frame digital Bessa.

The one camera I would have absolutely loved to have seen was a digital Contax G. Although not a rangefinder camera, I think it would have transitioned very nicely to digital. The lenses were also absolutely wonderful. Alas, it was not to happen.

Cheers,

Antonio
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
124
Lexington, Virginia
Steve
It does drive me crazy that the two mirrorless styles are RF (rectangular with a side EVF) and SLR (rectangular with a central EVF mounted above the body). Neither names describe anything that is actually in those cameras. At least for Olympus Pens, the original body actually had that shape and no RF. Don’t get me started that the whole camera type is called “mirrorless”. “ Carotless” is just as applicable . . .
 

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