The Myth of the Big Fat Leica M240

Leica M 240

“There’s no question: time to dump your old M240 while you still can. It was too big to be considered a real LEICA… Who were they kidding? Ditch your M240 while you still can. I never kept my M240; I sent it back and have been using my M9 ever since for its smaller size and much faster and simpler operation” — Ken Rockwell in his review of the M10

And You Thought the M240 was Big

Small dimension changes can feel quite different. When the M3 came out there were complaints about the size from IIIf users; Leica bragged the M5 was only a finger-width larger than the M4 – but people thought it was huge; the M9 felt too thick compared to an M6; etc. Then there are the people who complain about the size of the M240 and then add shit to it (half case, grip, EVF, thumbs up, soft release, etc.) And then there’s Ken Rockwell.

Yo, Ken: Leicaphiles bitched about the 2.5″ LCD of the M9. Leica put a bigger one in the M240. People bitched about the battery capacity of the M9. Leica fixed that with the M240. Those two upgrades take up room. The difference between the M240 and M9 can be attributed to the need to accommodate the larger rear display and the thumbwheel/rest. Even so, the 240 is virtually the same size as the M8/9 and only a few mm thicker (and the same width and height) than the M6TTL.

Here are some relevant numbers – M240: 139x80x42 millimeters – M9: 140x80x38 millimeters – M6: 138x77x38 millimeters. The M240 is 0.15748 inches thicker than the M9 and M6.  

If you’re looking for a digital M, the M240 currently a screaming deal, not much more than a ratty old M8 and about the same as the much inferior M9. You can buy two lightly used M240’s for less than the price of a used M10. I beg you to find any significant difference in their output (If you’re one of those insufferable people who judges a digital camera on its DXO score, the M240 and the M10 are basically identical in terms of claimed IQ, the M240 actually scoring better overall dynamic range while the M10 has marginal better high ISO performance).

The M240 isn’t bigger, it’s heavier. More weight can cause users to grip the camera differently, affecting the perception of size. The Barnack IIIf weighed 430 grams (.947 lbs), for instance, while the film M’s weigh in the neighborhood of 600 grams (1.32 lbs). The Leica M9 is 585 grams (1.28 lbs). The M240 is 678 grams (1.49 lbs). The ‘added weight’ of the M240 over the film M’s (.17 lbs!) is due to the larger battery, which is the first digital M battery that’ll last a whole day of shooting. The film era sized 2017 M10, while lighter than the M240, is back to the smaller, less powerful battery of the M9, and users are back juggling multiple batteries if they intend to shoot all day. But hey, it’s .15 inches less thick. One step forward, one step back.

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9 thoughts on “The Myth of the Big Fat Leica M240

  1. Keith Laban

    Rockwell is Rockwell.

    For some time I was using the M9 together with the M240 and wasn’t particularly aware of any difference in the heft or girth. I guess at the time I had more important things on my mind.

    I missed the CCD sensor of the M9 together with that utter simplicity, but the M240 was a more sophisticated and versatile camera. I admired the M240 to the extent that I bought two and used them exclusively for some years. Bought used they are a comparatively inexpensive way into the Leica rangefinder system.

  2. Stephen J

    I have fairly small hands and short fingers, at least for someone who is more than six foot tall and I have to say that after owning and driving several M cameras, the biggest imposition brought about by digitalness, has been the “chimp window”.

    I liked my MP 240, I didn’t like the duff pixels, but when I eventually got hold of the M-D (same body as 240) and found that even though it is at least 32,000″ thicker than an M3/4/6, doesn’t detract, even though our hands are extremely spatially aware.

    Having said that, the very biggest distraction is nothing to do with cameras, it is to do with unnecessary curfews.

  3. Rob Campbell

    Okay, with nothing better to do, I’ll bite.

    The chimp window is not an imposition. It is simply an additional form of access to the images being created. (In some cameras it’s the only way.) Whether you use it or not is optional. Buying a digital camera because it lacks a screen seems a decision based on cant rather than logic. It is completely different to buying a Monochrom which actually does offer certain physical advantages by not having colour possibilities too.

    My cheaper than your Leica, olde worlde D200 (priceless, today, in the sense of having no commercial value left) has one, and as most of my snaps employ the most simple of techniques, seldom requires consulting. That said, in certain situations such as extreme backight, it is a far better option than playing God and dialling in different, self-inflicted, unseen exposure compensation options that, at best, have their value in theory rather than in results. WYSIWYG has value. I see a connection there with those who refuse to wear masks in pursuit of the protection of others: at the very altruistic least, masks trap a certain amount of the wearer’s possibly contaminated sputum and bad breath, and offer a minimal disguise to shoddy accents.

    As for unnecessary curfews, I agree with you. However, the Corinna-connected ones are far from unnecessary. The wonder and the shame has been just how difficult it has proved to be for governments to grasp the nettle and introduce life-saving isolation measures because of fear it may make some voters unhappy that they can’t spend their time in pubs. This seems to be a preoccupation in Scottish newspapers, where there’s massive concern expressed for pubs. I have never met a poor Scottish publican. I have met only very wealthy ones. I produced six or seven calendars for the beer industry and a couple for the whisky and liqueur market too, I know some of these cats. If this pandemic subsides in a couple of years time, pubs will spring up again like deserts bloom after rain. It will become a bonanza for them. The prime source of contagion is from other people; what’s not to understand about masks, curfew, distancing and the ultimate, inevitable lockdown when some people have been too silly/selfish/macho to observe the easier precautions? That said and asked, it has surprised me to see so many young women in tv news spots walking down streets in the UK as unmasked as some of the males. I wonder why? Can’t they do their eye makeup well? There’s nothing as effective in making eyes hypnotically attractive as masks, as any Middle-Eastern lady has known forever. Well-dressed eyes are amazing to behold; talk about gazing straight into a soul!

  4. Dan Newell

    Weight? What Weight? You can carry two 240’s and still pirouette. Can’t say the same for the 1DX with a 70-200 doing the same thing, somebody is going to lose an elbow…..

  5. Carlos

    this influencer B.S. is what it is, a debate for time-wasters and click-baiters.
    it just doesn’t matter, one’s hand can grip a variety of forms and weights.

    It’s a special M camera, almost as special as the M246 (monochrom). They can shoot video, not great, but good occasional video and they’re more robustly handling larger lenses (i.e. R type). It has a fast ISO change capability without totally changing the way you hold the camera and the menue has one less line, allowing fonts to be readable for less than perfect eye sight.

    It’s a great camera – the M. yes, the type 240.

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