Moving On: M9 to M-P

Jan 9, 2015  By Brian Bower


Like so many M users I was delighted with my M9. At last here was full-frame digital in a traditional M body with all the quality, easy uncomplicated handling and superb performance that we expect from a Leica. It fulfilled my needs perfectly. So when the M 240 first became available in 2013 I found it very difficult to justify a need to change.  In any case my first impressions of the M240 were coloured by some disappointment with the shutter lag when using live view and, irrationally maybe, some irritation with the lack of the traditional viewing frame preview lever. Even accepting that the lag with live-view is normal, the essential R to M adapter was not available immediately so any idea of a change went on the back burner. There were also nagging doubts in my mind about the change from a CCD to CMOS sensor.

Last year I was loaned an M240 complete with an EVF and M to R adapter.  I used the kit intensively on a range of subject matter.  There were many things that I liked about the camera.  In particular it was quieter than the M9, the shutter wind-on was faster, the high ISO performance was one and a half to two stops better, image quality was excellent and there were other useful improvements and clever features that had been included. Despite some earlier reservations I liked the brightness of the illuminated viewing frames – once I got used to having to switch on the camera to see them! Nevertheless in regular use I really did miss that frame preview lever. Probably a hangover from many years of using a succession of Leica M models but given the lack of a zoom lens it allows a quick check on the most suitable focal length for the occasion.  The shutter lag in live view was definitely a problem for action subjects, including my favourite aircraft photography.  The problem is about being unable to reframe the image during the short delay between shots. Panning is impossible. However for more static subjects particularly close-ups, especially when it is possible to use a tripod, the M240 does offer a very reasonable  “R solution”.  Live view does also provide additional metering options.

I concluded that the time had now come to seriously consider moving on from the M9 but thought it wise to first see what was coming along at Photokina.  Surprisingly it became clear that no major changes were scheduled for the M240 but an upgraded version called the Leica M-P model 240 was to be available.  The changes did not include any improvement to the shutter lag but the upgrade did now include the missing pre-view lever!  There was a useful increase in the buffer capacity to 2Gb and the inclusion of a sapphire screen.  I am a traditionalist and I always like to see the traditional Leica script on the top plate. So for me the M-P is a much more attractive looking camera than the standard M240. The decision was made and I sold one of my M9s to help fund a M-P.

After over 6 months regular use I am delighted with the M-P and thoroughly enjoy using it.  For me the upgrades of this version over the standard M240 are worthwhile. The frame preview gives me back a valued old friend, the extra buffer size is definitely helpful when shooting a sequence of action shots or when using extensive bracketing for HDR or other purposes and the sapphire screen means that I can be a little less fussed when taking the camera in and out of a tightly packed Billingham.

Above: The M model 240 is very marginally larger and a mite heavier than the M9 but you would be hard pressed to see this.

Above: The M model 240 is very marginally larger and a mite heavier than the M9 but you would be hard pressed to see this.

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1 Comment

Great read Brian. I’m shooting an M9-Monochrome & honestly it’s wonderful, but I can’t help but feel the upgrade in my future at some point.

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