Unscientific (M240 vs. M9).

Inspiration, Leica 35mm Summicron ASPH f/2, Leica M Type 240, Portrait, Q&A, Teaching point, Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 Nokton

Please don’t write to me and tell me this comparison is not scientifically valid —  I’ve named this post Unscientific for a reason.

I will, however, acknowledge that the M240 was at a significant ISO disadvantage vs. the M9.

However, low light shooting is the main reason I bought the M240.

Perhaps those with better post-processing skills could have done better with the M240 file.

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t.


Unscientific (M240 vs. M9 Prosophos comparison)

31 thoughts on “Unscientific (M240 vs. M9).

  1. You’re preaching to my choir Peter! I see no reason to give up on my M-E. I am emotionally attached to my camera and the “modern” day plastic look of the CMOS sensor does not give me the same feeling inside. I’d rather push ISO640 two stops than give up the look my M-E’s CCD rendering.

    Lightroom’s latest noise reduction is a bonus and I prefer having fast lenses not only to combat the light but the artistic look wide open gives me.

  2. Out of curiousity Peter, do you know if the processing software you use has been updated for the 240. I use lightroom and for a very long time, the aperture information on MM files could not be read by lightroom. The recent update changed that. I wonder if all the different pieces of software have been update for the latest 240 firmware update?

  3. There are so many variables here that a comparison is absolutely impossible. But what I see is a green cast to the M9 image while the M seems accurate. The truth is you are trying to justify the relevance of the M9 in the face of an immutably changing digital universe. Digital progress is not the issue but perhaps your confidence is.

  4. Peter,

    I also just read Hugues comment in your other posting and looking at your post today, and it seems to me that his comment about the colours of the M240 (with the caveat that I’m looking at them from my not so great monitor at work) has “hit the nail on the head”. I can’t comment on what you and others have referred to as “sharpness” based on the pictures you have posted as they are really too small for me to properly assess. However, to my eye, it seems like the M9 file is tinted more towards the greens as opposed to the M240 files and while I’m sure you have experimented rigourously will the processing, to my eye that appears to be a major difference between the files.

    1. In this case it’s not the sharpness I’m looking at (by the way, the M9 shot is actually less sharp because of the lens/aperture used), or even colour (although the colour does bother me!). It’s that the M240 looks so “digital” whereas the M9 seems to have a better hold on tonality.

      This is all subjective, I understand, but that’s what I see and I just can’t shake it.

      1. Based strictly on these two pictures and recognizing that the lighting conditions under which the two pictures have been taken are certain to be different, I would say that the tonal transitions are definitely more harsh with the 240. I would add, however, that in my experience with processing MM vs M9 files, I have found that the M9 files are more amenable to global adjustment as opposed to the MM files. Perhaps this is also the case with the M240 files in that you can get better results with isolated adjustments. Just a thought….

  5. there is no doubt that while the M240 images you have post have shown some extended dynamic range, they lack the “life”, or “it”, or whatever you want to call it of the M9 images. it’s not even close.

  6. Gents,

    I have been a silent visitor for sometime and am an admirer of Peter’s art as well as the civility of the conversations that take place here.
    Please take my comment with a grain of salt as coming from someone who is very faithful to his M9P and who sees no reason to part with it for any other Camera (M 240 or otherwise) although also owning and shooting several mirror-less cameras.

    From what I was able to both experience myself and witness on this site and elsewhere, the M9/P/MM/ME in the right hands/with the right eye creates DRAMA that is unmatched by any other modern sensor yet. This is what the pictures above show. And the reddish cast that affects faces drawn by the M 240 is also clear.

    If Peter is the constant, and the camera is the variable, there is no mistaking what he feels and is describing.

    Although not drawn one bit to the M 240, I remain open to changing perceptions; I have pre-ordered the Sony A7r and intend to use it with my Leica lenses to see if it is a worthwhile “addition” to my M9P which will remain with me for my lifetime.

  7. Light coming into the room are different in two cases. On M9 light is diffused by white curtain, on M240 direct and not diffused. That’s because M9 image has a better tonality.
    I don’t think these differences are coming from camera characteristic.

    1. The light in the M240 shot didn’t need to be diffused… it was quite weak, hence the need for a higher ISO — above and beyond that required to make up the difference in apertures.

      Take my word for it, or not.

  8. Peter,

    I hear ya. To me, regardless of WB differences, it’s got that waxy muddied CMOS look, but not just this one also the previous M240 images you’ve posted so far (composition aside). When I started shooting with the M9 after many years of CMOS I immediately could tell a very real difference in image output, so much of it was the tonal rendition and ‘perceived’ sharpness. M9 was more natural in the transitions of tones, almost like a curve than linear. When I convert M9 files to B&W they look much closer to B&W film than CMOS ever has for me. In fact I’ve all but given up on using CMOS for B&W (even with Zeiss lenses) because the tones and waxy look were unappealing. Not to mean that good B&W images cannot be produced with CMOS, but I can usually tell it was CMOS and far from a film look. I would imagine this observation also applies to color, but in a more subtle way. We forget how much tonality likes in color images as well.

  9. To me the issue is the m240 picture seems “colorized” — almost like was shot in bw and colors painted before. Hence this digital look.

  10. Personally, I’m not a fan of the way most Voigtlander lenses render color, I find they lean on the yellow/green side so to me, that is distracting in this comparison (that’s a personal thing though). To me though, the M9 does have better tonality and I find it produces softer transitions from one color to another, more reminiscent of reversal film I suppose.

  11. Just hang on there, Peter. I had the same concern when I acquired my M240. I was hoping to get a better looking images OOC but what I got is different. Is it better? I don’t know. It’s different. But it’s just matter of getting your workflow adjusted to the new M. Based on the few images you posted, I don’t think I would have known that’s its from the M240 if you did not call the camera out. I myself will always be biased to the M9 as I’ve bonded with it. But as long as other people (especially my wife) can’t tell the difference between my M9 and M240 images, then I know I’m on track. The high ISO, LV and EVF are all added bonus.


  12. Peter, you are an artist and you see things that many probably won’t see. And I believe I know what you are talking about. Dwelling into technicality difference would be very difficult to explain what you see. Maybe I can summarize it like this, the M240 is more of Picasso while the M9 is Rembrandt

  13. >>>Maybe I can summarize it like this, the M240 is more of Picasso while the M9 is Rembrandt<<<

    Not really, Salim. Just look at the M9 and M240 color pictures starting on the page the following link takes you and the following couple of pages — and you'll have a very quick and clear indication of the obvious differences in color rendition between the two cameras. (Also, keep in mind that the M240 pictures are probably substantially more belabored in the post-processing than the M9 ones).



  14. Why not look into getting some custom profiles made to emulate the look of the M9. The differences between the IQ are very subtle and shouldn’t not be difficult. The M9 files have been around for years. I remember how horrid they looked in Lightroom and Capture One when it first launched. The raw conversion has been continually refined to get the look you’ve grown to love so much.

    I bet you could probably even sell the profiles after it’s been perfected.

  15. To conduct a meaningful comparison that makes some sense, you have to use on both camera the same lens, the same aperture, the same focus distance, the same composition, the same lighting, the same ISO, the same white balance (use grey card on both), the same post processing workflow & settings.

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