Ricoh GXR vs. Leica M-240 as a mirrorless EVF camera?

Started Mar 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
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F Stop Fitzgerald
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Ricoh GXR vs. Leica M-240 as a mirrorless EVF camera?
Mar 12, 2013

Yesterday morning I stopped by the Miami Leica Store in order to check out the new Leica M-240 body. The knowledgable and friendly sales staff allowed me to spend as much time as I wanted to examine and test the new M body. As I have mentioned in previous posts in this forum, I certainly respect those that prefer DSLR's and rangefinders. But for my documentary photography, I like to used manual focus lenses on mirrorless cameras and as such, I primarily use a Ricoh GXR with a combination of about 20 lenses (m-mount and vintage SLR glass). With that in mind I brought a selection of my own lenses to the Leica Store to experience the M body as a mirrorless camera. The staff showed me the basic handling of the camera and kindly allowed me to put my SD card in the $7000 Leica body and I attached the $700 Leica EVF and with my lenses I gave the focus assist and Live View a try.

Overall this is my basic impression. The M body seems to be a bit bigger and heavier than the older Digital and Film M bodies. As expected the Leica is a real beauty to behold. The LCD on the back is FAR better than the M9 and M8. The EVF is well built but like the Ricoh GXR EVF, the 90 degree hinge on it worries me and if I owned it I would tape it down with black gaffers tape like I did with the Ricoh EVF.

The Leica focus assist settings are in the menu, but the focus assist itself is activated by a button on the front on the camera. The assist indicates the areas in sharp focus by illuminating it with the color red. Overall it works well, but to be honest I much prefer the "mode 2" on the GXR, but that's probably because I'm so accustomed to the Ricoh. The Leica allows you to blow up the center of the frame either 5x or 10x so that it fills the screen in order to assure accurate focus, but it activates it in a different way than the GXR. On the GXR you have to press the "Menu/OK" button to do that. On the Leica you twist the focus ring on the lens. Which then automatically activates the center zoom (provided you set the zoom to "ON" in the menu). I absolutely loved this feature!!! But interestingly this auto zoom feature DID NOT seem to work when I used my Zeiss Contax SLR lens (via an C/Y to Leica adaptor). The auto zoom only worked when I used my m-mount and LTM lenses! So I assume that the auto zoom is probably activated by means of a sensor in the bodies rangefinder lens coupling.

On the Leica I loved the fact that the full-frame sensor was not hampered by the crop factor. So my wide lenses, were truly wide and to me that was glorious!

When I examined the .DNG files from the Leica I had the following thoughts. At first glance I was not blown away by the Leica when I compared the images to the photos I had taken with the GXR. In other words, the GXR Mount can make excellent images. The real advantage of the Leica was that it seemed to have a greater dynamic range, much less noise at high ISO and the 24 megapixel sensor gave me twice as many pixels to manipulate in post. So if you've made a perfectly exposed shot on the GXR and you are printing a 19" X 13" print you are OK. But if you want to make a very large print the Leica is much better and with the Leica files you can do FAR more in post before the image begins to break apart.

Overall the experience made me really want a full-frame mirrorless even more than before. As I understand it, at this time there are only about 50 Leica M bodies in the entire USA and if you put your name on the waiting list today, it would take 6 to 12 months to get one in your hands. I am thinking about getting an M as my mirrorless, but will probably wait until the end of the year to decide on ordering one as I am hopeful somebody else will make a full frame mirrorless that is less than $7000.

So that's my impressions of the experience, no doubt other might have a different opinion.

This is an iPhone shot of the camera that I tested.



This is a test shot of one of the salespersons taken with the M and my Tele-Elmarit 90mm f/2.8 set at f/4. Notice the Bokeh of the full-frame even at f/4!

 F Stop Fitzgerald's gear list:F Stop Fitzgerald's gear list
Ricoh GR Digital III Ricoh GXR A12 50mm F2.5 Macro Ricoh GXR GR Lens A12 28mm F2.5 Ricoh GXR Mount A12 Sony Alpha 7R +3 more
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