Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed

..(& my Photography Journey so far)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

50mm Summicron Dual Range

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.


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.


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).

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16 thoughts on “Leica M 240 – It Wont Be Missed”

  1. Hi Matt,

    I feel like you and I share a very similar sentiment when it comes to this topic and the equipment we’ve shot with and or have owned. With that being said, I know this seems ridiculous, but have you tried or even considered going Fuji X for digital? Full frame? Don’t need it….don’t miss it. The X-trans sensors in the the X-T1 and I suppose even now the even more advanced X-Pro2 do exactly for me what you experienced with the M9. They give you usable images form the camera. And with the different film stock profiles built in, the JPEGs are phenomenal. The XT-1 allows me to send stunning Jpegs out for review….literally instantly with amazing results. Check it out. Shoot film for everything else. 😉

    1. Thanks Mike. The thing that keeps me Mr Leica is I LOVE rangefinder focusing. I’m into it so deep now I really struggle with my Nikon D800 DSLR. I use non-RF cameras ideas as close as I can to the subject so I can see accurately but for everything else RF are my thing. As the M240 is the only real modern optical RF camera I know of I just need to learn to love it and like many others have probably done setup some JPEG profiles for LR. Thanks for the message though. Matt

      1. The X-Pro2 does produce great JPEG’s (I have one), but the manual focus is really poor, certainly compared to one of my M3’s! To use an M3 is a pure joy, it disappears, leaving one to concentrate on the moment.

  2. Great post, I’m in my 6th year of digital photography, tired out a lot of systems, even went back and forth with Leica, Leica M8.2, then Nikon D3S, D800, D4 (miss rangefinders), then went back to Leica M 240 ( slight drop, rangefinder alignment was super off), went back to Nikon D4S, and settled on two systems Fuji X-T10, and Leica M9P.

    I love my Leica M9P more than the M 240, your right, the CCD colors are amazing very little for me to do / edit after a model / portrait photoshoot. Leica made the M typ 262, basically an “upgraded M9” with a CMOS sensor, and better screen. If Leica can make another 18MP+ CCD sensor with a better high res screen, and quieter shutter, they will surely have something on their hands. At least give the Leica customers a choice between CCD and CMOS 🙂 Also did some reviews with some M mount lenses on the M9P shooting models link should be within my name (shameless plug) lol, Thanks again for the great post!

    1. Thanks agreed. I guess the dream camera going forward would be a modern CCD high res sensor with all the great features and filmic look of the M8/M9 but modernized to meet the current market demands. I’m not overly hopeful we will get it though! I have no needs for a new digital camera as yet. I just need a decent rangefinder I can rely on for client requests then shoot film for my own needs. Happy shooting!

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  5. The CCD/Cmos war is over and ccd lost.
    Had two 240…and now a Leica MD. coupling with the latest ultron 35/1.7 it give me creazy image.
    you just have to find the lens wich fit the sensor…summicron were excellent on m9, average and flat on the 240 but small 35 Zeiss is good…find your combo is the key.

  6. hello leica fans
    I have used olympus m43 for many years but my photography changed when I bought a nikon df last year which I really like. Now I would like to buy a rangefinder as a 2nd camera and am hesitating between a leica 262 and m10
    – live view isn’t so important for me
    – I do use iso 6400 occasionally but not above
    – I read some reviews about the 240/262 (reid, …) giving too much noise above iso 1600

    But I like the fact that the 262 is so light + cheaper. Battery will also hold longer.

    Any advise? thx

    1. Hi Filip, I meant to write to you sooner but ran out of time. My M240 ISO is ok to 3200 for my taste but yes I try not to use above 1600. If you need more get the M10. M240 battery is good but the M10 had nice advantages too like a bigger viewfinder. I guess you will have to compromise somewhere

  7. I think the “boringness” of the 24MP CMOS sensor arise from its relatively (compared to the Kodak CCD) wide dynamic range, which makes images look somewhat flat and bland. With the M262, I find myself pushing the black a lot of the time.

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Thanks Boris, Yes I really struggled with the M240 for a long time. I think I eventually managed to develop LR presets to convert the flat RAW files into something more visually interesting (to my eyes). I had the same problem with the Nikon D800 before the M9 so you can imagine how much I loved the M9 when I found it. Cheers Matt

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