Leica’s new M-E digital rangefinder camera still isn’t especially cheap, but it’s a whole lot more affordable than any of the current M models. The new M-E is a repackaging of the original Typ 240 M model (released in 2012) and replaces the older-generation Typ 220 M-E. Consequently, the new M-E has a full-35mm format CMOS sensor with an effective resolution of 24 megapixels and a sensitivity range equivalent to ISO 200 to 6400 (extendable down to ISO 100). It has a 2.0 GB buffer memory with a maximum continuous shooting speed of 3.0 fps.
You still get the classic Made-In-Germany Leica M build-quality with magnesium alloy bodyshell that’s sealed against the intrusion of dust and moisture. The top deck and the baseplate are made from brass and finished in an anthracite-gray lacquer that Leica says was specially developed for the new M-E. The body-wrap inserts are real leather too. You also the traditional optical viewfinder with a magnification of 0.68x, automatic brightline frame selection and automatic parallax correction.
Unlike some of Leica’s digital M models, the new M-E can record video, but only in the Full HD resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and at 30, 25 or 24 fps. The built-in microphone is mono, but there’s a standard 3.5 mm stereo audio input. The monitor screen is a 7.62 cm LCD panel with a resolution of 921,600 dots with a toughened ‘Gorilla Glass’ faceplate. Focusing is, of course, manual and the exposure control options are either manual or aperture-priority automatic. The shutter speed range is 60-1/4000 second with flash sync up to 1/180 second. Other features include up to +/-3.0 EV compensation, a dual-delay self-timer and manual colour temperature setting for white balance control (plus auto correction and seven lighting presets).
However, the big news is that the M-E (Typ 240) is priced at $6500 for the body only compared to $10,300 for the M10 or $8300 for the Typ 262 model M. This makes it the cheapest digital M to date and provides some food for thought if for, example, you were considering the Leica Q2 at $7700. Of course, the Q2 has a fixed 28mm f1.7 lens and a 47.3 MP effective resolution (plus it can record 4K video), but still, if you started off with one of the very capable Cosina-made Voigtländer M mount lenses (shhh, don’t tell anybody), the M-E 240 body gains you comparatively affordable entry to a legendary rangefinder camera system that delivers a unique photography experience. It’s worth considering if you’ve always hankered after Leica RF ownership. Available from July at authorised Leica resellers and the Leica Stores in Sydney and Melbourne.
Leica products are distributed locally by Leica Camera Australia and for more information visit https://au.leica-camera.com