Leica M (Typ 240) rolling review

February 2014

(More images to come)

There are a lot of online Leica M (Typ 240) camera reviews, considering it was announced at Photokina 2012, and started shipping at the end of February 2013. Therefore I’m a bit late to the game, but hopefully my impressions can provide value to those still undecided about the new M. I should also note that my intention is not to touch on every feature of the camera, rather, to discuss how I’m using it and how that does, or does not, suit my needs.

Having been a Leica M9 user since the end of 2010, I finally made the decision to upgrade to the M (hence referred to as M240).

I’ve debated the merits of this upgrade for some time, as the feature set over the M9 is not considerably different. A consequence of major Leica announcements is that product is often backordered for a long time. With the M240 it has taken about a year for dealers to finally have stock on shelves. Not wanting to commit to a pre-order, it gave me time to keep an eye on early developments with the camera and determine if it indeed lived up to its on-paper specifications.

This rolling review will concentrate on my reasons for the upgrade and my experiences with the camera as I use it over the coming months and years.

I’m currently in the ‘honeymoon’ phase with it; everything feels very fresh, new and positive. But inevitably, with every camera, these feelings wane as familiarity sets in and underlying ‘wrinkles’ become apparent.

Initial impressions:

Silky
Smooth
Quieter
Faster
Better

One of my biggest gripes with the M9 was its sound. I clearly remember my disappointment the first time I clicked the shutter after unboxing it. It just didn’t instill confidence or live up to its price tag. While this comes across as superficial, it’s part of the ‘user experience’ – an annoying reminder accompanying every shutter actuation – and my M9 is at over 143,000 frames. So yeah, I’ve heard its annoying clunk-buzz more than I’d like. And it’s not just that I hear it – people I’m photographing hear it too. I’ve been stopped on busy, noisy streets by individuals wondering why I photographed them because they heard the clunk of the shutter. Makes it difficult to be inconspicuous. Or during wedding ceremonies where the drawn out buzz of the shutter recocking system is too distinct.

Despite the pretty much bogus complaints picking on the M9’s image quality as it’s primary deficiency vs. ‘modern’ DSLRs, it’s the immediate user experience that is it’s greatest drawback. After post production, M9 images will compete favorably with the best cameras of similar resolution. It just takes a bit of time to become familiar with its characteristics. Interestingly, the color rendering and supposed lack-luster look of the M240’s CMOS sensor is a common complaint about it. But for me, it’s the operational side of the equation that is currently the biggest differentiator between the M9 and M240.

Compared to the M9’s clunk-buzz, the M240 makes a much lighter, more dampened click-swoosh sound. Because the frames per second rate has been upped to three vs. two, the shutter recocking action is much faster and sooner forgotten, also making it possible to fire off two frames in quick succession if the subject suddenly becomes more animated. At ISO 1000 and below, the buffer is deeper at 12-13 frames, and shooting compressed DNGs, clears relatively quickly. With a decent Class 10 SDHC card, it seems to take about 20 seconds to fully clear. Shooting just a frame or two, or a few, and you’re only waiting a couple seconds per frame, if that. At ISO 1250 and higher, unfortunately the camera drops to one frame per second, though the buffer doesn’t seem to take much longer, per frame, to clear. This is somewhat regrettable as I foresee myself using the M240 a fair amount in darker situations (such as available light weddings), where it would be nice to retain 3fps at higher ISOs… So, despite it’s apparently improved higher ISO performance, it looks like a collection of Summilux or Summicron lenses will still be a necessary investment in order to keep ISO at 1000 or lower, whenever 3fps performance is required.

DNGs are now losslessly compressed, rather than the lossy compression used by the M9, and M8 before it. Though truthfully, having shot both compressed and uncompressed on the M9, it’s debatable whether any image degradation is visible from the M9’s compressed DNG output. Compressed DNG definitely sped up clearing of the M9’s buffer, making it a useful option for faster paced situations.

The M240s 920K dot LCD display is another obvious improvement over the M9. It shows a much fuller tonal range, allowing easier detail sharpness and tonality assessment. With the M9, one could basically see the image, but had to take a leap of faith, confirmed in part by an image’s histogram, that the high contrast image with blocked up shadow detail displayed on the LCD wasn’t actually an accurate representation of final image quality.

I’ve shot some paid work now with the M240 alongside my DSLR kit (Canon 1DX) and it’s a much nicer complement to the DSLR. First of all, as mentioned, the M240 feels and operates faster. It will keep up with a faster shooting pace facilitated by the DSLR, whereas with the M9, it felt much more resistant to any attempts to work faster, requiring a much slower pace. And if one pushed it too hard, it could flake out by introducing banding in images, or even lock up and lose the buffer contents, requiring a ‘reboot’ by pulling the battery. Sometimes the M9’s slower pace was acceptable, but when in a fluid situation, I often felt like I was a half-second behind.

I can appreciate that for some, or many, M system users, the speed might not be that critical for ‘deliberate’ and ‘thoughtfully’ paced work. The M240 can do that too, of course.

Viewfinder:

I like the LED illuminated frame lines. They’re always visible in all lighting conditions I’ve yet to encounter with the M240. There are reports by many of improved rangefinder accuracy and ease of focus with the center rangefinder spot. So far I haven’t noticed a difference compared to the M9.

The frame lines are calibrated to 2m vs. 1m in the M9. What this means is framing will be more accurate and not as loose at farther subject distances – something I’ve definitely noticed. The tradeoff is that the actual image area captured at nearer distances than 2m will be inside the frame lines. I’m still getting used to this. Thus far I’ve frequently and inadvertently cut off near distance subject content…

I miss the frame preview lever, removed from the M240 and M-E (a stripped down M9). I actually do/did use this a fair amount with the M9… but I will live without it, in exchange for the M240’s improvements.

Live View:

I know this feature, and the accompanying video capability, is somewhat controversial in the Leica M community. My DSLRs have had live view since 2007 and I use it from time to time, primarily for tripod work. But I usually prefer the optical viewfinder. This is also true for the M240, though somewhat surprising to me, I’ve been using its live view more than I thought I would.

It has a couple benefits: precise framing, particularly with wide angle lenses; precise focusing with longer lenses.

With lenses wider than 28mm I long ago gave up using accessory viewfinders with the M9, instead just guesstimating framing and usually being fairly close. Thus far with the M240, I have to remind myself that I can actually see the precise framing with live view. I rangefinder focus wide angle lenses, because it’s faster, and in my opinion, more precise than live view, but use live view for framing. With longer lenses I’m pretty comfortable framing with the frame lines, but live view does a better job for finding precise focus, particularly at or near wide open.

While the electronic viewfinder (EVF) currently available for the M240 is OK, it could be a lot better. But before I delve into its weaknesses, I do believe it’s a mandatory accessory if one anticipates use of live view. The problem with the rear LCD is that its not bright enough in even relatively bright conditions, such as overcast and snowy (where everything is white around you), nor does it tilt to facilitate use very low to the ground (which would have been immensely helpful for the reflections-in-water image above), or held overhead. At least the EVF addresses two of these problems. As a viewfinder, it effectively blocks out ambient light for a bright enough view of the composition and allows for a more steady shooting position compared to holding the camera out at arms length while using the rear LCD. For low level shooting, it tilts up to 90 degrees up. I also find this useful for a pseudo waist level shooting style which I’ve found allows me to cradle the camera in a manner that appears to consistently result in better image sharpness at lower shutter speeds than I was capable of consistently getting with the M9 when shooting through the optical viewfinder. It’s also good for pointing the camera up without having to tilt one’s head back uncomfortably (or look like a tourist while photographing tall buildings).

Leica’s live view and EVF implementation is usable and useful, but it’s not perfect or ideal. Focus magnification is limited to only the very center of the frame. This is usable, but as many rangefinder shooters likely know, many rangefinder lenses exhibit field curvature where off-center subject placement makes achieving correct focus at wider apertures a challenge. Here live view would seem to be the ideal solution, but the inability to move magnified focus away from the center forces a less than ideal focus and recompose solution. Then there are the problems of EVF refresh rate, lag and rolling shutter effects. In my opinion, the low refresh rate combined with lag is fairly annoying if anything is moving and you’re trying to keep up with it. Probably better to switch to the optical viewfinder for focus and framing instead. 1.44M dots resolution is not bad, but the EVF’s (nor LCD’s) image isn’t crisp enough for easy on the fly sharpness assessment. In most cases, it’s my initial finding that 50mm and wider lenses will be easier and faster to focus with the rangefinder. And likely more precisely too.

A nice touch is the option to initiate magnified focus assist automatically when the focusing ring is turned. This only works with rangefinder coupled lenses because the camera senses rangefinder cam movement to trigger magnified focus assist. Pressing part-way on the shutter release reverts to full image view for composition. This saves having to press the focus assist button on the front of the camera, which some find difficult to feel or access.

Another downside to live view is image capture delay. It’s necessary for the shutter to be open during live view, then when the shutter button is fully depressed, it causes the shutter to first close, then open the first curtain to initial the exposure, then follow with the second curtain to end the exposure. This is like the implementation found in the Sony a7R – both cameras depend on physical first and second shutter curtains for exposure. As a result, there is a slight delay before the actual exposure begins. To avoid this, it’s best to switch off live view and compose with the optical viewfinder. Another consequence of this implementation is added vibration caused by the initial shutter closing and opening – vibration which carries over into the exposure time, potentially degrading image quality (a lot has been written about this, particularly related to the Sony a7R). A better solution would be an electronic first shutter curtain, as found in the Sony a7, and likely various other live view capable cameras, including the Canon 1DX. But I suspect there was a real limitation that required Leica use the physical first shutter curtain.

Battery:

The M240’s battery is about double the thickness of the M9’s, with much greater capacity. This was necessary in order to effectively support power hungry live view and video. But the benefit for those not intent on using live view or video is the promise of many more images per charge than was possible with the M9.

It’s still probably too early to judge my M240 battery performance, because according to the instruction manual, several charge/discharge cycles are required for the battery to reach optimum performance. But so far, without the use of much live view, it’s looking very promising. One recent indoor event resulted in about 350 images and the battery dropping only 20%. In contrast to this, several outdoor excursions in sub-zero temperatures (not below -10C), with fairly heavy live view/EVF use, have trended about 200 images requiring 50% of battery capacity.

With the M9 I found I could get about 300-350 uncompressed DNGs per charge and often replaced the battery at the 50% capacity, or at the latest, 25% level, lest the camera might start acting up due to power management issues (supposedly addressed in the latest firmware version, which I have yet to try). With the M240, I’m hoping to get at least 1000 frames per battery without much live view and use of classic light metering. Perhaps worth noting here that the advanced light metering options read directly off the sensor, thus essentially using live view the entire time and draining the battery more quickly (and introducing a slight delay before exposure).

Not battery dependent, but an annoying aspect of the M240 is its relatively slow start up time before first exposure is possible. This appears to be card dependent – both card speed, capacity and remaining capacity – but unfortunately can’t be completely eliminated. This has been extensively discussed on the forums and there are a couple solutions to mitigate the problem. The first is to format cards with the SDFormatter application – an initial formatting with it seems to be sufficient, with subsequent in-camera formatting not resulting in start time degradation. My collection of cards all benefitted from this, essentially halving the start up time to about two seconds for 16GB cards and under four seconds for 32GB cards. This problem also affects wake from sleep. As a result, I’ve set the camera to the maximum sleep delay, but for critical situations when I always want the camera on and ready, I will disable sleep entirely. This is where the much greater capacity of the new battery will come into play. Forum derived information indicates, the M240 will drain the battery at about 5% per hour with sleep disabled, which seems quite reasonable.

Ergonomics:

Not much has changed in this respect compared to the M9. The biggest difference is the addition of a thumb rest with integrated scroll wheel, a redesigned four-way rocker pad under the thumb rest, revised button shape and configuration along the left side of the LCD, the loss of the frame line preview lever, and the addition of the focus assist and video buttons. Of these, the thumb rest has the greatest influence on the feel of the camera. It offers reasonable grip and handheld security, though I still use it with a Thumbs Up thumb rest, which provides much surer grip. The problem here is that the Thumbs Up can’t be used with the EVF. I’m still sorting this out, but the addition of Leica’s $300 grip might be worthwhile if I find I use the EVF a lot. But it will add considerable bulk to the camera.

The scroll wheel is positioned well and won’t be inadvertently bumped during normal use. It’s in an ideal position for zooming in during image review – much more naturally and comfortably positioned than using the scroll wheel around the four-way buttons on the M9.

The buttons flanking the LCD are fine. There are more of them and the order is sightly changed, but I’ve adjusted quickly to this.

As mentioned before, I miss the frame line preview lever, but it’s not a deal breaker either.

The focus assist button is fine so far. I have the camera set up to automatically jump to image magnification when the focusing ring is turned while in live view, and find I don’t otherwise use the button much. Some have complained the button is too difficult to positively feel and activate during use. A possible solution is to apply a soft plastic dome ‘bumper’ to the button, such as these from Lee Valley (the smallest size).

I’ve since picked up a pack of the above dome bumpers from Lee Valley. While using the M240 in the cold, I found it was difficult to find the focus assist button. The dome definitely helps, especially when wearing gloves. I’m not really a fan of screw in soft shutter releases, but can see their appeal as it lets one rest the finger over the shutter release when pushing it down, rather than needing to stab down with the fingertip, which apparently is less steady. The shutter release button happens to be about the same diameter as the focus assist button, so I stuck a dome bumper on it too. So far so good, particularly with gloves in cold weather. It does mean it blocks the cable release thread, but I never use one anyway… and it covers one more hole for water to access (though my understanding is the M240’s shutter release is electronic and sealed from the main camera, compared to the M9’s mechanical design, where water could seep in and get into the camera’s workings). Feeling lucky, I also stuck one on the info button because, again with gloves, I was finding it too difficult to get a positive feel for the central info button and often instead hit one of the side rocker buttons. This seems to be an OK solution, but might make pressing the left rocker button more difficult. While repositioning the dome bumper, I discovered that it’s adhesive is strong enough to pull off the black paint used for lettering the recessed “INFO” wording… oops!

Not necessarily an ergonomics issue, but so far the M240 has been reliable during cold weather shooting, such as above. My M9 has lately been consistently unreliable in the cold. It might be because I haven’t updated it to the latest firmware which introduced better power management. In the cold it seemed to lose ‘juice’ during the critical stage of processing and transferring images from the buffer to the card. So far only one ‘random’ ‘Leica-lockup’ with the M240, which didn’t result in any lost images.

The above images were from an outing spanning a couple hours during a very wet snowstorm, where the temperature was around freezing and the camera never became cold enough to shed the snow that fell on it. Rather, the snow melted, leaving pools of water on the top deck around the shutter dial and shutter release. Though I did frequently wipe off the accumulating water, the gear was constantly wet. And the M240 survived. As did the EVF, about which I was more concerned. The only problem was that by the end of the outing, the eyepiece of the optical finder had nearly completely fogged up. This was a problem I also had with the M9 in similar cold and damp conditions. Holding the camera closely to my chest made it worse – the heat from my body causing the viewfinder to fog more. But it wasn’t inside the viewfinder, rather between it and the eyepiece diopter. Whatever the case, it was a real problem that made rangefinder focusing very difficult. Here’s where the EVF and live view came in very handy.

Thus far I’ve accidentally started video a couple times during walks, usually while clambering over something and inadvertently bumping the button. I’m not yet sure this is a problem, but it would be nice to have the option to disable the video button, or assign it another function.

The baseplate is much the same, requiring its removal to access the battery and memory card. I don’t really hate this feature, as others seem to. In some respects its simpler and more durable than a pop-open door. My complaint with it is that the latch is too difficult to access with thin gloves. I’m giving thought to getting an M-Mate-M from Luigi at Leicatime, though his somewhat convoluted ordering process is a bit inconvenient. Also discouraging me is the current CAD-EUR exchange rate.

Complicating matters with the baseplate is that the tripod socket is now integral to the camera body itself, and not the baseplate. This means that any use of a tripod plate on the camera requires its removal in order to access the battery and memory card. Here the Leicatime M-Mate-M might work, with a short enough tripod plate… Another option is the RRS Arca-Swiss integrated baseplate. But it too is not ideal, in my opinion, because it attaches via the tripod thread, which means it takes longer to remove and reattach.

Image Quality:

It’s still early for me, but one complaint about the M240 has been that its CMOSIS designed CMOS sensor lacks the bold ‘look’ of M9 images, often credited to its CCD sensor.

Maybe there’s something to this line of thought, though my feeling is the apparent differences are more related to image tuning by Leica and how, or if, this is interpreted by various raw converters.

Any M9 user knows its files tend to be fairly high in contrast with compressed shadows, yet in post, it’s possible to pull a lot of information out of the shadows, if so desired. This higher contrast look was supposedly designed by Leica to mimic Kodachrome. In any case, it does have a ‘filmic’ feel to it.

In ‘contrast’ the M240’s files tend to feel more open in the shadow values and are generally flatter in appearance.

This may be due to the sensor’s wider dynamic range – about 1.5 stops greater than the M9 according to DxO Mark’s tests. And M240 files initially do remind me of what I’m accustomed to seeing from other CMOS sensor cameras from Canon and Sony. That said, the files I’ve worked with so far, primarily at lower ISOs, are robust and very malleable. My feeling is highlight recovery is somewhat better than the M9, though maybe not as amazing as with some of the Sony cameras (RX1, a7 series). It’s not necessary to push shadow values as far, which might be a good thing because others have shown through tests that there is a tendency for M240 files to shift towards a strong green tint at lower ISOs with extreme exposure pushes.

I haven’t yet run into this problem, or significant banding at lower ISOs (though it might be lurking deep within files). Nor have I sufficiently shot at higher ISOs… something to leave for future updates.

While I’m not sure this is a native M240 ‘problem’ or one due to Lightroom, but thus far, auto white balance tends to be skewed to the magenta side, often requiring about -20 tint correction in Lightroom. With the M9 the tint slider was typically in the zero range. I also find some underlying magenta ‘contamination’ of certain colors, such as blues. A forum suggestion I picked up was to set Lightroom calibration to +10 red hue and -10 blue hue. So far this seems to work fairly well.

In terms of image sharpness, another forum suggestion from someone apparently with inside knowledge about Leica’s sensor components, is that the cover glass material over the M240’s sensor is of higher optical quality, which will result in better image sharpness towards the edges. This is a critical factor for Leica’s rangefinder cameras because the exit pupil of most rangefinder lenses are fairly near the sensor (compared to SLR designs), resulting in strongly oblique light rays at the image periphery. This results in two problems: edge color shift (also referred to as the Italian flag syndrome) and loss of edge detail through smearing. Without going into the nitty-gritty specifics, I’ll refer the reader to the excellent explanation by Dr. Nasse of ZEISS in this PDF document. (starting at pg. 11)

With The Leica 6-bit coded lenses I’ve thus far used on the M240 show no evidence of obvious edge color shift. But that’s not the case for some other wide angle lenses, such as the Voigtlander 12/5.6 and 15/4.5 – more so for the 15mm.

Here are a couple samples with the Voigtlander 15mm showing edge color shift. This lens was also quite bad on the M9, but improved with later firmware updates. It’s coded as the Leica 21mm f/2.8 pre-ASPH lens:

If left uncoded, there isn’t that much difference…

The easiest solution is to crop a bit, as was done below:

The 15’s cousin, the Voigtlander 12mm f/5.6 however, seems to play quite well on the M240 when coded as the 11134 21mm f/2.8 non-ASPH, as seen in the full frame images below:

Image edge sharpness seems to be very good, especially with high performance lenses such as the Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f3.4 ASPH.

M240 files compared against the M9 generally feel slightly ‘relaxed’ to my eyes. There are fewer telltale signs of false detail generated by the lack of an antialiasing filter. Thus far this has been most evident in images with tree branches. They look a bit smoother and more lifelike. I suppose this may be due to the higher resolution of the sensor extracting just that much more detail out of scenes. The difference when coming from a few years of M9 use is not seeing the bold impact that camera’s profile generated. For M240 files I’m frequently pulling back on the shadow slider and using more clarity to impart more image ‘snap’ than with the M9.

As I found with my Sony a7R vs. M9 infinity test, the higher resolution of the Sony’s sensor greatly helped with more natural looking detail representation in a given scene. Thus, while the M240’s sensor is only about 15% higher in linear resolution than the M9’s, it does appear to make some positive difference and looks less ‘crunchy’ than the M9 with certain types of scenes.

Preliminary Conclusion:

If you value fluidity of use in a quieter package, with as good and generally better image quality, with a more modern electronics package that imparts greater confidence in the camera’s capabilities and functionality, then the M240 is a worthwhile upgrade from the M9.

For more casual and deliberate work, the M9 is very capable and in the current used market, it’s very easy to find a near mint copy for about half the price of the M240.

The last aspect was the most difficult for me to consider. A second M9 would mean a system in which I worked with identical cameras, the benefit being shared batteries and identical controls and image quality, making post production more streamlined.

That said, it would not address the frustrations I frequently encountered with the M9, such as the 7-frame buffer limit and slow buffer clearing times and the frankly annoying (to me) sound of the shutter and recocking system.

And I don’t typically work with the M system in isolation. It’s usually in combination with a DSLR, such as the 1DX, which tends to set the pace for the shoot. The M240 better keeps up to such fast-paced environments. Because I tend to dedicated wider angle lenses to the M system during such shoots, I’m typically much closer to the people I’m photographing when I use the Leica. The M240’s quieter, smoother operation is less bothersome, by far. Lastly, its out of camera file quality is a closer match to what I’m accustomed to seeing from my DSLRS, meaning post production is a bit easier too.

To be continued…

Mid-March 2014 update

After about 5000 frames, I’m getting a ‘clearer picture’ of the M240’s behaviour. First of all, it’s still a Leica, good and bad. The good we know, the bad, in my opinion, is that the software side of the equation is still somewhat buggy, which results in sudden freezes requiring ‘hard’ resets by pulling the battery. It doesn’t happen all that often, but so far it has always happened at least once during day-long outings with the camera. That said, so far it definitely holds up better to more demanding use than the M9 did. I have shot lots of sequences with it in good and bad weather conditions, without issue.

Things that come to mind:

Battery life can be great, or poor. It really depends a lot on how power management is set up and how often live view and/or the EVF is used. The latter definitely drains the battery quickly. With fairly heavy EVF use and in colder conditions, I seem to be averaging around 300 images. Having now shot one day-long wedding with it, including some EVF use, I was glad to have three batteries on hand. I probably could have gotten by with two by eking out the last drops of power from them, but with three, it left me with a spare while the other was charging. For the wedding I turned off the auto shutoff so that the camera would always be ready to shoot when I needed it. This naturally drained the battery faster because the camera was always on.

EVF is useful for framing, though I think in general the RF is better for fast focusing. In many situations I’ll prefer to use the optical viewfinder and a problem with keeping the EVF attached is that it makes vertical image compositions uncomfortable because of how much it protrudes from the back of the camera, bumping against my forehead while viewing through the OVF. It makes it difficult to get my eye up against the eyepiece, which is necessary in order to see the 28mm frame lines (I shoot a lot with the 28/2).

We had another blizzard March 12th, during which I ventured out with the M240. Conditions were similar to those that were causing problems for me and the M9 -well below zero and strong wind. In respect to the M9 problems, I’m leaning towards it being a combination of older firmware prior to supposedly improved power management and older batteries. The problem was that during sequences the camera would freeze and stop writing images to the card. This time with the M240, no such problems, and I shot a lot of multi-frame sequences (hand held at marginal shutter speeds to show the blowing snow in motion) to improve the odds of getting at least one ‘sharpest’ frame out of a sequence.

With fairly regular EVF use during this outing, and using my right eye for viewing, it meant that my nose and mouth were positioned near the optical viewfinder’s eyepiece and that my warm breath frequently caused the eyepiece to fog up. As this continued during the outing, eventually condensation formed between the eyepiece and the diopter lens I have attached to it, making for difficult rangefinder focusing. I could have removed the diopter to clear the condensation, but was concerned about dropping it in the deep, soft snow and potentially losing it. I’d already dropped an SD card (though it was easily retrieved).

Due to the blowing snow it was difficult to change lenses in these conditions. I think at times it must have been blowing over 50km/h. As a result I experienced something new and ‘interesting’ with the M240… I was out for about 3 hours and eventually small amounts of snow got stuck in each lens’s RF cam and lens mount area. Also a few flakes likely got into the camera between the lens mount and shutter (by this time it was quite cold and the snow flakes became quite small and icy, not the big fluffy kind)…. As I used the camera after each lens change, and I tended to use the EVF a fair amount for framing, I noticed a gradual drop in image contrast. It wasn’t the EVF eyepiece fogging up… it was the rear lens element fogging up, I assume due to the warmth of the sensor and internal components melting the snow on the back of the lens and the resulting water vapor condensing on the cold glass of the lens…

Snow would also accumulate on the camera. It doesn’t help that the right angles of the body housing at the shutter dial acts as a snow trap.

Downsides were that both the on/off switch and the shutter dial would stick due to the accumulation, but gentle force would get them turning again. Afterwards I left the gear sealed in a bag to warm up to room temperature, then left it overnight beside a furnace vent to fully dry. A drying cabinet would be handy for this, but they’re difficult to find in Canada…

Mid-April 2014 update

I recently did a job that required filing a number of images within about an hour’s time of the event’s conclusion. Because I’m a prolific shooter at such events, I was concerned about being swamped with images to edit, and with the M240’s DNG files, the embedded preview images are very low-rez, making them useless for editing/evaluation purposes. While I could set Photo Mechanic to render previews from the DNG files on the fly, it’s processor intensive and really bogs things down. I instead chose to shoot the M240 set to DNG+Jpeg Basic, which generates a full rez, but more highly compressed Jpeg along with the DNG file. Since I only needed the Jpeg to determine focus and other details, such as whether a subject’s eyes were open, this seemed the best option.

A bit of testing before the event revealed it would reduce the number of images before hitting the buffer down to about seven frames from around 12-13 if set to DNG only. But because the M240 writes to the card relatively quickly, the time to clear the buffer was relatively brief. Maybe about 15 seconds.

My experience with this during the event was mixed. There were times I hit the buffer limit, but unexpectedly, I found the M240 to oftentimes be totally unresponsive as the buffer cleared. In other words, I couldn’t even shoot additional images and in a couple instances was left standing, waiting for the camera while I missed photo opps. Thankfully not key moments, but frustrating nonetheless.

I need to test this more, but I suspect a trigger for this lockup might be from reviewing images while the camera is clearing the buffer.

Therefore I will avoid using DNG+Jpeg unless absolutely necessary.

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