things

Leica M-P (Typ 240)

I’ll never go digital for rangefinders! Film forever!
— Brian Tan

And so I get to eat my own words... those fortunate enough to peek into my freezer no doubt has seen the reels of Kodak films being piled up for the zombie apocalypse also known as "end of film". I've always liked the way film looked - and the fact that we are limited to 37 frames at the most. But I've not been very religious about it. I have being doing digital for landscape since the turn of this decade, and I use a Sony RX1 for point & shoot. 

What I miss with my digital cameras is the ability to quickly obtain focus without multiple takes or manipulating focus points. Not to mention difficulty of contrast detection autofocus when there is not enough details or in the evening. Sometimes you think focus is correct but when reviewing the images you realise it's out a hair. Optical rangefinder helps. At least for me. When shooting rangefinders you need it to be ready when you need it.

I prefer the clean lines of the "P" versions of Leica cameras. Film MP cost close to a M9P at the time of writing. M9P, while a capable camera is not in my shopping list. And the dropping price of the M-P typ 240 after the release of the M10 made me do it. 

I prefer the clean lines of the "P" versions of Leica cameras. Film MP cost close to a M9P at the time of writing. M9P, while a capable camera is not in my shopping list. And the dropping price of the M-P typ 240 after the release of the M10 made me do it. 

And so one day I was visiting my friendly neighbourhood camera store in Seoul and found a reasonable M-P 240 for the right price (i.e. still expensive, but I can justify through a list of financial computations and obscure investment philosophies). It is used, so I don't have to worry about it being scratched or being used outdoors where it belongs. 

By the way, the EXIF will say that the camera is a Leica M (Typ-240). Which worried me for an hour until I emailed Leica Camera and was told that it is normal. So it doesn't say Leica M-P. Besides, there's no way (today) to upgrade a Leica M to a M-P with the buffer (not able to test), sapphire display (you can see the engraved diamond on the right of the screen) and frame select levers. So it is unlikely I'm sold a Leica M for the price of the M-P. 

Sapphire crystal logo

Sapphire crystal logo

Love this modern Leica font.

Love this modern Leica font.

Here are some notes about this camera:

Exposure: While the auto metering does a good job balancing complex lighting, I find that it is just a basic center-weighted meter when set to "Classic" - no experience with "Advanced" - I don't like the fact that "Advanced" mode uses the sensor for metering. You will hear the shutter opening every time you turn on the camera. There are also different ways to meter when you use live view. But for me, if the lighting is flat, I use auto and when it is complicated I bring out my light meter and do the usual incident metering. 

White Balance: Performance of the white balance is no where near what my Nikon D3s could achieve. I find that I frequently have to adjust the WB in Lightroom. Go manual when you can. 

Speed: I don't notice much lag between pressing the button and the frame being taken. However when turned on, there's a second or two when the SD Card read lights blinks and photo is not possible. To prevent it, I keep the camera on when shooting. Then again there are at least a few cases when the camera had to do a soft start and I'd miss my shots. I'd say its annoying when it happens but not a deal breaker. 

Depth of Field: On film I usually set my hyperfocal distance exactly as it says on the lens. This is a high resolution 24MP camera, so when you do that, you would find that infinity is sometimes a bit soft. Sure was the case when I was shooting with an Elmarit-M 24mm the other day in Suwon city. I'd dial in 1 aperture stop less next time. 

Battery: I'm still using just one battery. I find that it has enough capacity to go through one day of shooting with a few hundred shots. No real need to carry a second battery. 

SD Card: I used a relatively slow Sandisk Ultra 16Gb card (my spare card). I think it's even just a Class 4. Definitely not one of the faster cards of the day, and I don't see any hesitation in read or write. 

Lens Detection: Works well when you have a coded lens. Some of my lens are not, and when you forgot to manually set the lens on the camera body you end up without camera EXIF info. And if you have it on automatic detection and you have a lens that is not coded, you don't even get auto-ISO working. The recommendation is to always check Lens Detection in the menu to make sure you have the right setting. Or go full manual.