Leica M (240)'s identity crisis
Ever since I first went on Leica M9 briefly two years ago I've been smitten. The elegant design. The beautiful glass. The smooth click of the shutter. It's an incredible experience. But since the the new M '(240)' model has been announced I've worried that the M9's days are limited - and also the M system.
image via www.blogcdn.com
The M9/M9-P are incredibly special. The ethos of the M system is simple; to have you (not the camera) create amazing images with a small packages with a Rangefinder camera which you can take anywhere. Simplicity is unique to any modern camera. The IQ/Size is almost unmatched. But particularly the Full Frame Digital Rangefinder (FFDRF) and old school tech makes creating the image just feel so special. It's a challenge but, in my opinion, it is definitely worth it. Sure, there are cameras like the Fuji X100 or X-Pro1 but the temptation to use the auto settings - for me anyway - is too much. I'd use auto focus. I'd use Auto Exposure. But then I hate myself for looking at the image and thinking, I wish I made the shutter-speed slower. Sure, there are amazing editing suits available but that takes the fun out of it. And that's why I love to use these slow, manual, 'old-fashioned' cameras; it's fun. In addition to other the 'DRF' cameras being automated (the Fujis aren't technically Rangefinders), the image quality and lens availability isn't nearly as vast as the M system. Plus, the crop factor for me is something I want to avoid with my next camera as I find 30mm lenses - with a 1.5 crop factor - don't produce the best image quality, for me anyway (though I do love my 30mm Sigma despite a massive amount of softness). Anyway, I'm waffling. Back to the point that the Leica lenses and image quality is beautiful, dreamy almost. The 50mm Summilux f/1.4 has the best IQ of any lens I've seen and best character.
image via www.stevehuffphoto.com
So you may ask, 'Why do you care about a three and a half year old camera? It's been replaced by a better model!' Well the M9 has stood the test of time and it's been many photographers camera for many years whereas with other photographers, they're constantly changing their equipment for the 'best', the 'fastest'. But the M9 cameras aren't trying to be the best, they're trying to make you think. Make you consider what you're taking a photo of. You don't have any fancy gadgetry to help you. It's just you and your photographic tool. My problem is that the new M (240) has that fancy gadgetry. With new focus assist and video mode the M (240) has gadgets while removing some old charms such as the shutter re-cock or the frame-line selector lever. Sure, there's the M-E but it's still lacking the frame-line selector and the colour of it churns my stomach. To me, the little things matter.
image via www.stevehuffphoto.com
Why does this matter; to me at least? I've got a film Rangefinder: A Voigtländer BESSA-R. But sometimes digital is more convenient and it allows you to be more involved in the moment. I have a Sony A77 for things like that but it's a DSLR style camera (DSLT technically). Rangefinders provide that raw shooting experience as there's no AF, no AE. To me the Leica M system is perfect but I feel the Leica M (240) is a departure from the ethos of the M system. To provide a more discreet, more connected shooting experience. I can imagine with the M (240), people would use the screen and the EVF accessory. With the M9/M9-P being discontinued I'd better get saving. It's worth the investment I think. The M9 is a timeless camera but I can't see how the M (240) can be a classic digital M. The M system Leica Lenses coupled with an M9 produce some images with character. That fun experience of Rangefinder combined with excellent IQ is a must for me and I'd be willing to pay the cost of that. The size and weight is a bonus to all this. The M (240), nope. It doesn't appeal. And the M-E's looks aren't appealing either.
What do you think? Is it a backwards step for Leica or is this worthy replacement of the M9 series of cameras? I know what my next camera is.