Leica M 240 – Learn to Love

Leica M 240 – Learn to Love

Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom

May 2016

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Leica M 240

Having owned my Leica M 240 camera now for about 9 months I thought I better share my latest thoughts.  I wrote a review in January 2016 titled “Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed” (linked below).  Since then we have started to get along quite well and have learnt to live with each others quirks and flaws.  I am now happy to shoot both colour photos and black and white photos with the M 240 without commenting “It’s nice but it’s not as good as the Leica M9”.  I now like the M240 photos as they are and i’ve started to shoot much more colour digital photography even if my film photography remains mostly black and white.  I made basic Lightroom presets to apply to images, a few for colour photos and a few for black and white and that lets me quickly batch edit all images for models.

I used to shoot mostly wide open and in black and white and normally with a 50mm lens.  My current taste is to use 35mm lenses stopped down so the little Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens has lived on my Leica M240 for the last few months.  I used this setup for the Poland model photography trip and Ukraine model photography trip and am still using it now i’m back in the UK.

Here are a few digital sample photos from the Poland and Ukraine trips ahead of the film photos to follow, and also a few photos in the UK.  All photos shot with the Leica M 240.

Polish Models

Leica Fashion Photography
Leica Fashion
Leica M240 6x6
Greetings from Poland! :)
Poland Model Photography
Polish Girl
Leica M240 Fashion
Leica Fashion

Ukrainian Models

Leica M Fashion
Ukraine Road Trip
Ukrainian Model
Ukraine Model Photography
Leica M 240 - Learn to Love
Leica M240
Go Green!
Leica Fashion
Killer Smile
Light and Shadow
Loving the 35mm view

British Models

Leica Summicron 90mm f2
Leica Fashion
Leica M 240 in Colour
Leica M 240 Model Photography
Model Photographer

Conclusion

There is no digital camera currently on the market that I think would suit my needs better than the Leica M 240.  I love rangefinder cameras and I continue to enjoy the quality of Leica M mount lenses and the overall small size of the Leica M camera range, whether digital or film.  I don’t really lust after any digital cameras or lenses.  If I ‘need’ something new to buy to explore / test / experiment with I buy old analogue film cameras.  I am happy to use the digital photos for posting on the likes of Flickr, Facebook and Instagram but for me if I want to take a ‘proper’ photo I will always shoot it on film.

The Hasselblad 501C remains king (for me) until I find something that can ‘beat’ it!  See my last post comparing the Mamiya 6 vs Hasselblad for more detail.

Thanks

Matt

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Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed

Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed

..(& my Photography Journey so far)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

#excited 😁 I just found out that the Leica Summicron 50 DR with its close focus goggles will fit on my Leica M Typ 240! It doesn't fit on a M9 or M8. #result! #leicam #leicam240 #leicacamera #leicacraft #leicasphere #leica #summicron #summicrondr #ra

January 2016

My photography journey is now perhaps into it’s 8th year.  I started with digital cameras and worked my way through a Lumix G1, Nikon D90, Nikon D700, Nikon D800 but still wanted something more.  I tried my late Grandad’s Yasica MG-1 35mm film camera and then started looking at other film cameras. I bought a Contax 645 medium format film camera, ARAX-CM (Kiev 88), Mamiya RZ67 to name a few and then I bought a digital Leica M9.

Leica M9

The Leica M9 Kodak CCD sensor produced filmic looking images straight out of the camera without any need for hours of Photoshop or efforts in the dark room.  The Leica M9 pretty much killed my film photography journey for perhaps 12 months.  I then slowly started getting back into film cameras and new camera purchases included vintage 1950s Leica cameras like the Leica M3 and Leica M2. I also bought two large format 4×5 film cameras, a Pacemaker Speed Graphic and Sinar F2. I find I cycle between 35mm film, medium format and large format. Each format have their strengths and drawbacks.

Leica M 240

The next chapter in my photography journey was when my Leica M9 started to fail me.  The rangefinder became misaligned, it was quite bruised and battered from so much use anyway and the sensor needed replacing. I decided to say goodbye to the M9 and part ex’d it in for a new digital Leica M Typ 240. Initially I was excited by the M240.

As quickly as the Leica M9 had killed my film photography I think the Leica M 240 has killed my digital photography.  I would describe the M240 as producing equally unexciting photos as my Nikon D800.  Both are good cameras with many positives but neither make me want to take a photo for enjoyment.   The Leica M 240 is now only used on my model photography shoots for test shots and to warm up the models.  The photos are fine and the girls use them for their portfolio images but I may only use one or two as preview images until the ‘proper’ film photos are developed.

Upgrading

At roughly the same time as my Leica M 240 purchase I was experiencing a string of frustrating film camera issues.  The Leica M3 rangefinder also needed recalibrating, the Mamiya 645 was misfocusing, the Rollei SL66E film back was not taking the film, the Fuji GS645 had a sticking shutter, the Mamiya RZ battery always seemed to be flat. The list went on.  I decided to get a more modern 35mm film camera, a Nikon F4 SLR. I liked the photos and camera to use but wanted more resolution.   That lead me to buy another more modern film camera, a Fuji GA645.  The Fuji GA645 images were excellent but the camera is not that exciting to use. The search continued.

Hasselblad

During all the time I have been buying and lusting after different cameras I have not once considered a Hasselblad.  I’m not sure why,  I think I always wanted the greatest shallow depth of field so went for cameras like the Contax 645 and Mamiya 645 using faster lenses. Many Hasselblad lenses are f4 widest aperture and I was used to using  f1, f1.2, f1.4 on the 35mm Leica cameras.  I already had four 6×6 film cameras, ARAX-CM, Rollei SL66E, Fuji GF670 in 6×6 format and the Mamiya RZ with a 6×6 film back attached. Again, all nice cameras but none were perfect and I think it is that that lead me to a 500 Series Hasselblad.

If the Leica M 240 killed my digital photography then the Hasselblad 501C hammered home the final nail in the coffin.   The Hasselblad has single handedly transformed my photography for the better.  Of all the cameras I use I think only the Leica M9 had such a positive impact on my photography.  So what changed?

I enjoy composing the 6×6 Hasselblad square format and the Zeiss lenses give me the high resolution film images I like.  At f4 the subject detail is super sharp yet the background can still melt away.  The camera size makes it portable for location shoots yet slow enough to be selective about the photos I capture.

After experiencing the quality of a Hasselblad camera I then bought a 35mm Hasselblad XPan rangefinder.  (Blog post to follow).

The Leica M 240 wont be missed

So I started by saying the Leica M 240 wont be missed so where is it you may ask?  If you saw my recent New York (II) workshop blog post you may have noticed I took a digital Leica M8 (and my new Leica M6 film camera) not the M240.  Well in addition to losing all interest in the Leica M 240 images (due to the flat and uninteresting photos that require far too much time in post processing to create something worth sharing) I also noticed the M 240 rangefinder was out of alignment.  My M240 is currently with the engineers in Leica Germany and so the Leica M8 has stepped up to the mark as my digital camera for model photoshoots.

I think for the first 6 months of using the M 240 I ignored the fact that the photos looked like the Nikon D800 CMOS sensor photos.  Photos took a lot of work in Lightroom but I could usually get something from it to share.  I then recently went back to shooting B&W JPEGs (plus RAW) in the Leica M8 and it brought back the amazing memories of how I used to shoot when I first bought the Leica M9.  I could shoot 200+ photos with a model and have them emailed to her within an hour of her leaving the studio.  That alone shows how good the Leica CCD sensor is, whether Leica M8 or Leica M9.  Photos just come out the camera ready to share without hours wasted in front of a computer.  When I am using a digital camera to test the last thing I need is to then waste hours editing before I can give the photos to a model when I want to spend my time developing and scanning film.

You might say at this stage well stop moaning about it and just buy another Leica M9 and sell the M 240 or better still sell the Leica M 240 and buy an enlarger to start printing my own film images with!  The problem I face is some clients want modern digital photos in colour and for that the Leica M240 does a better job than the Nikon D800 in my hands.  Until I can persuade all wedding couples to request only film photography images I plan to keep the Leica M 240 for wedding photography as the camera does have some advantages over the M9.  The M240 is a nice camera it just has a very boring sensor.

The Leica M 240 sensor captures lots of information in a very flat way making images great as a project to work on for hours in Photoshop but not the instant gratification of the Leica M8 / M9 I desire. I like to create images in camera not in computer.  The M240 is a camera where perhaps 50% of the image is created in camera, 50% in computer.  The Leica M9/ M8 B&W JPEGs can be created 95-99% in camera and I would say my black and white film images are 88% in camera/film developing, 2% scanning, 10% in computer to remove dust and do any basic darkroom style adjustments.

I hope Leica can release a digital camera in the future that excites me as much as the Leica M8/ M9 do but at the moment the future for me is looking like film.  As probably expected I have not missed the Leica M240 being away for repair.  When I had the Leica M9 I don’t think I could have imagined not having it with me. (That is why I used the M9 for over a year with a faulty sensor).  Big difference!

(Leica M8 images blog in the pipeline to show what M8 black and white JPEG looks like).

Polish Models & Leica Cameras

Polish Models & Leica Cameras

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica.com

December 2015

I wrote this on the plane out to Poland a few days ago..

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On my last trip to Poland in October I took my newly purchased Hasselblad 501C camera and shot with available light only. In New York I used my Hasselblad but this time I used  speedlights (mostly). I think overall the Hasselblad photos from Poland are still some of my best model photography images to date despite a few nice ones in New York. After getting used to the not so portable Hasselblad camera on it’s monopod together with off camera lights I wanted to get back to what Leica cameras do best and that is simplicity and in small package.

When using the Hasselblad I noticed I pack my best camera equipment regardless of the size and weight. With my Leicas I find I usually forego the better (and often heavier lenses) for my smallest possible setup. This was the case in New York when I packed my three smallest lenses for each focal length (Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5, Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 and Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5). It is worth noting that all 3 lenses are good in their own right but I have ‘better’ but they are bigger. By better I mean they can do something more. Obvious examples are the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 that is one stop faster and has less flare and the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH that is a little faster and sharper vs f1.4 version.

My potentially best or most expensive Leica M mount lenses rarely get a trip out. Lenses that come to my mind are the aforementioned Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 and Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH. I then have the longer Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO and Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH. The Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 v2 has been out a few times!

The recent purchase of my Leica M6 has rekindled my Leica interest and now the competition is on to try to beat my best Hasselblad photos when shooting on 35mm film. Not an easy task but worth a try I think!

Leica camera gear

    • Leica M 240 (digital camera body)
    • Leica M6 Classic (35mm film camera)
    • Leica M3 double stroke (35mm film camera)
    • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens
    • Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens
    • Leica close focus goggles for DR lens
    • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens
    • Billingham Hadley Digital Camera bag

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(please excuse iPhone photo in bad light!)

35mm film for the M3 & M6

      • Kodak Portra 400 & 160
      • Cinestill 800T & 50D
      • AGFA Vista 200 Plus
      • Kodak T-Max 400 & 100
      • Kodak Eastman Double-X
      • Ilford Delta 100

I normally shoot mostly black and white film but every so often I get a real urge to shoot in colour. Now was that time. I had read good things about Portra 400 film yet have never really fell in love with the film so I wanted to give it another go. I also wanted to shoot more Cinestill film but this time in mixed light conditions to try to make it really come to life. I packed a few small continuous lights and coloured gels so I can’t wait to get started!

A fellow Leica shooter also gave me a few rolls of home rolled Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 film to try. This is black and white movie film bought on a big reel then loaded into 35mm film canisters with a bulk loader at home. I may look at getting a bulk loader for 2016 as it can be a more economical way to shoot 35mm film.  I need to do the sums first!  The plan was to use one Leica film camera to shoot colour film and one to shoot black and white film. I hope to use both the Leica M6 and Leica M3 bodies to shoot both film types as I will keep the Summicron DR on the M3 and probably the Leica 75mm APO on the M6. As usual digital Leica M 240 will merely be used for testing and warming up the models.

Poland Trip

The visit was going to be different this time as I had booked an apartment in Gdansk rather than my usual hotel in Sopot. I planned to work with more new models to keep it interesting and try to change my photography style a little if I could.

After reviewing my New York portrait images I noticed that trying to place models in the perfect beauty light for every photo is starting to become a little dull. This is what I do automatically now so I need to think more when shooting and not go into auto pilot.

Wish me luck!

Follow up post-trip conclusions to come together with resulting images.

Here is a taster – Leica M 240 + Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO. Model – Ana

Leica M 240 + Summicron 75 APO

Leica M6 Classic

Leica M6 Classic

Matthew Osborne Photography
December 2015

For Christmas I treated myself to a Leica M6 Classic 35mm film camera. It is one of the older versions with the Leitz red dot badge. It is black with the 0.72x viewfinder and looks in pretty mint condition for its age. The base plate still has the plastic on and it has the plastic bumpers on the edges. It came with box and I collected it from the private seller so I was able to see it before I paid which made a nice change to eBay!

I shot a test roll through the camera and the Leica M6 rangefinder seems spot on with my fast lenses shot wide open.

Why did I need another Leica film camera? The Leica M3 has been my favourite Leica camera since I discovered Leica but the camera only focus to 1m closest focus and my most expensive modern Leica glass work to 0.7m. It seems crazy I am not using my Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 or the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO.

The Leica M6 has 75mm frame lines so interested me straight away. The M6 will also let me use and compose 35mm lenses (like the Leica M2) whereas the Leica M3 has 50mm frame lines. For events such as a wedding it is useful if a film camera has a built in meter. I normally use a handheld Sekonic light meter or spot light meter but when I want to travel light it is nice not to need to carry one. The Leica M6 uses a lithium LR44 battery to operate the light meter but the camera is fully mechanical and can operate without a battery (just no light meter).

I am looking forward to using the Leica M6 for wedding photography and with my modern fast and sharp lenses. I will share some results as soon as I get chance!

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Leica M3 & Ukraine Girls 2015

Leica M3 & Ukraine Girls 2015

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
November 2015

Leica M3 + Kodak Portra Fashion

I booked two model photography trips to Ukraine this year, in July and then again in September. Here are some of the film photography highlights shot with my 1950s Leica M3 rangefinder film camera and a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 lens. For July I used a 1950s Leica Summicron DR lens and for September a more recent Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens.  In July I lost a lot of photos as the Leica M3 needed recalibrating.  For the September trip I had had the M3 rangefinder recalibrated but took less film photos.  For both trips I shot with various film stocks and different models so please click any image for more details.

Leica M3 Models, Ukraine – July 2015
Leica M3 + Ilford Pan F 50
Window Light Portrait
Ukraine Agency Model
Ukraine Model Fashion
Ukraine Agency Model
Delta 100 in Xtol
Leica Summicron DR
Top of the World
Kentmere 100 film
Ukraine Fashion Model
Ilford Pan F 50 Classic Portrait
Ukraine Photoshoot
Start of the film
https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/21381005359

Leica M3 Models, Ukraine – September 2015
Ukraine Model Photography
Ukraine Girl
Leica M3 Ukraine
Leica M3 Ukraine
Film Boudoir Photography
Leica M3 Tri-X Portrait
Ukraine Model Photography
Agfa Vista Film Fashion
Agfa Vista Film Fashion
https://www.flickr.com/photos/32681588@N03/22733088089

A big thanks to all the models featured here. Hope to see you again in 2016! 🙂

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Leica M3 Bridal Session – Ukraine

Leica M3 Bridal Session – Ukraine

Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com

October 2015

Leica M240 Wedding

Bridal Photography

Bridal session photography is quite possible my favourite type of photography.  A mix of model photography, wedding photography and fashion photography with the best bits from each.  By that I mean a nice model in a beautiful wedding dress and where we have all the time we need to create hopefully beautifully crafted images without the pressures and time constraints of an actual wedding day. To then shoot it all on a film camera is then icing on the cake for me.  I prefer the look of film and hope to shoot a higher percentage of film at every wedding I cover going forward.

Bridal Fashion

Leica Wedding Photography / Film Wedding Photography

If every couple allocated at least one hour of their wedding day for me capture stylised wedding photos like this I would be a very happy man and I think the resulting images would result in a happy bride (bride and groom too depending who was in the photos).  Posing two people is often easier than one and a real bride and groom are on their wedding day high so that normally results in nice smiley natural looking wedding photos. Posing does not need to be a dirty word. It merely lets me place my bride and groom in the best possible light.

Bridal Fashion

For this bridal shoot in Ukraine I shot with available light only to be able to work quickly. I was using both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica M3. For the second roll of film in the M3 most of the photos were taken within a space of five minutes.  It was my fastest roll of 35mm film shot to date as I wanted to make the most of the situation.  Beautiful and willing models, the flowers, the dress, the location all in a remote woodland clearing one afternoon in Ukraine after a mini road trip.  The bride(s) spoke little / no english but we still managed to get some nice photos with me directing with my hands and using body language. The first of two bridal shoots was with model Evgenia and I used AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film (below).  I then did the shoot again with model Olga in the same dress using Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film (not all scanned yet). Here is an example photo with model Olga in black and white.

Black and White Bridal Shoot

Hasselblad Wedding Photography

The Ukraine trip was pre-Hasselblad era so I had my Leica M3 35mm film camera, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens and was shooting 35mm AGFA Vista 200 plus budget film.  I really like AGFA Vista film at the moment and prefer the more saturated look to that of Kodak Portra that can look a little flat.  I wish there was a 120 AGFA Vista film for me to use in my Hasselblad as there seems a real gap in the colour film available for 400 speed saturated film.  I need a Kodak Ektar 400 film ideally as I love the saturation from Kodak Ektar 100. Going forward my new Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera will be with me at all my weddings. It is not as fast to use as the Leica M3 rangefinder for film photography but the results are just amazing.

Bridal Photos

Without further ado here are the AGFA Vista colour film photos from the first bridal photography session shot with my recalibrated Leica M3 and model Evgenia.

Related Posts

Ukraine Model Photography (II)

Leica M3 Calibration

Leica M3 Calibration

Matthew Osborne Photography

September 2015

Leica M3 Calibration

This is is photo from last weekend – me having coffee with my trusty Leica M3 Double stroke after it was recalibrated by the amazing guys at Aperture Photographic, London. I think that they are probably not the cheapest repair option but they do go the extra mile when it comes to customer service. I admire the in house technician and he’s a good guy, as are the other staff. For example there was a tiny part of the black leather ‘wrap’ missing when I bought the M3 yet when I got the camera back it was repaired and looked as good as new. They tested the M3 on their calibration machine (I forget the correct name) and checked the camera accuracy at infinity. I tend to shoot most my photos up close so I was hoping the camera would be accurate for my film portraits. I won’t know for sure until I shoot another roll of film. I took some photos with the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens and the images are still not as sharp as what the lens is capable of. The Summicron 50 DR seems fine when focusing using the close focus goggles at less than 1m distance but at 1m or more it looks soft (unless I just took a sequence of poor focus images!). I then tried the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens wide open at f1 for a self portrait in a mirror and it was sharp (as sharp as the Nocti can be when used wide open!) . I took the same photo with my Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens and the photo was also sharp (sharper being at f2) so I am hopeful that the camera is back to its former accuracy / glory. I need it to be.

Following on from my above statement about the Aperture Photographic service, they also looked at my Leics Summicron 50f2 v5 lens while I was in the store. I have not used my Summicron 50mm f2 v5 for a long time as I thought it was mis-calibrated. I say this as when the aperture was set at f2 for portraits the resulting images were too soft to accept. Such a shame as it is the perfect 50mm lens in terms of size/aperture ratio so I miss it. I asked the Aperture guys to to test it for me so the technician took it out in the street and returned with sharp photos at f2. Hmm. I tried again and soft! He thought it was my eyes until I explained that I normally use a Noctilux at f1. He looked how I took the photo and diagnosed that I have a tendency to focus as close as I can and at 0.68mm on this particular lens hence it was always soft. We tried at 0.8m and hey presto it is perfectly sharp. Soo happy!

I returned the Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm lens I recently re-bought for the M3 as that was too soft (compared to the previous version I owned) so now I will use the Cron 50 v5 instead of the Cron 50DR on the M3. I have the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 but it is just too long and upsets the handling of the camera (for me). My favourite lens on the M3 ergonomics wise is the tiny Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens but I often pick faster f1.4 lenses for my work.

I plan to pack the Leica M3 DS and Leica M240 cameras for my next overseas trip so fingers crossed it is sharp this time. On that note and slightly off topic I weighed my new Hasselblad 501C with 45 degree prism finder attached plus the new (and preferred lens of choice) Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens and it weighed 2kg! Not a camera for a week away when I only have 8kg hand luggage. 10kg hand luggage however and it is already packed!

New Leica M3 images coming soon!

Example test photo with Leica Noctilux –

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