The M-E (Typ 220) ($5,450 list)($7,999.00 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window) is not by any stretch of the imagination a low-cost camera, despite the fact that it is the digital rangefinder model from Leica with the lowest price tag. It utilizes the same 18-megapixel full-frame CCD image sensor that is found in the M9-P ($7,999.00 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window), and the only variations between the two cameras are cosmetic. If you want a digital Leica but don’t want to buy a used M9 or M8, the M-E is an alternative worth considering, despite the fact that it doesn’t have the most up-to-date technology available. If your budget is tight but you still want a digital Leica, the M-E is a good choice. If that is what you are looking for, you will need to look a little bit farther for the M (Typ 240), which can be purchased for $7,999.00 on Amazon (Opens in a new window). Even though it is a full $1,500 more expensive, we chose to give it the Editor’s Choice award since we were so thrilled by it.
If you’ve worked with an M9 or M9-P, then you’ve already worked with an M-E. It’s the identical camera on the inside; Lightroom even recognized the photos as having been taken with an M9 when it imported them. It takes its influences from film Leicas that date back to the 1950s in terms of its design. There is a large optical viewfinder in one of the corners of the camera, a shutter speed dial on the top, and a scattering of buttons on the rear of the device. The camera is both straightforward and sophisticated. The lens is responsible for controlling both the aperture and the focus. There are three on positions on the power switch, and they are all connected to the various driving modes. You have the option of shooting in single, continuous drive, or self-timer mode with this device. Since there is not a clear demarcation point between the continuous mode and the self-timer like there is with the M (Typ 240), you will need to exercise some caution so that you do not activate the self-timer inadvertently. Since the M-E utilizes the same shutter button as its more costly brother model, you will need to spend a few more dollars on a replacement soft release button if you want to make advantage of that feature. (Opens in a new window)
The M-E has dimensions of 3.1 inches in height, 5.5 inches in width, and 1.7 inches in depth, and it weighs 1.3 pounds. Brass is used for the top plate, while the magnesium chassis used by the M9 and M Monochrom (which can be purchased from Amazon for $7,999.00) is used for the body of this device. Only an anthracite gray paint finish is offered for the M-E, and it is expected that this finish will wear away with time, revealing the brass below. This is not the case with the Monochrom; its black chrome finish is more durable, but it does not develop the desirable brassed patina that occurs with the passage of time and continued usage.
There aren’t many discernible variations between the M-E and the M9-P in terms of their bodies. Leica removed the USB port from the body of the camera; in order to unload photographs, you will need to use a memory card reader. Additionally, you will need to utilize the frameline preview lever. This button, which is found on the front of the M9-P, enables you to manually adjust the framelines that display in the finder, which enables you to see how a scene might look when captured with a different lens. It’s a function that I’ve made use of on occasion, but not with the kind of consistency that caused me to miss it while I was shooting with the M-E. The M9-P’s back LCD screen is shielded from damage by a covering of shatterproof sapphire glass. Because the M-E does not provide this advantage, you will need to purchase a screen protector made of Schott glass if you are concerned about damage to your device; Giottos makes such a protector for the M-E for around $20.
The viewfinder is identical to those that can be found in other digital rangefinders manufactured by Leica. The design features a 0.68x magnification and is located in the upper right corner. When you look through the finder, you will notice that there is a bright square in the middle of it. This displays a double image, which shifts as you focus the lens; when the images align, it indicates that you have successfully focused the lens on the subject of your photo. If you have never used a rangefinder before, this may seem a bit unusual, but with a little experience, you’ll discover that it’s a quick and precise manual focus approach; much like the other M cameras, the M-E does not have support for autofocus.
Because you are not viewing the photos via the lens, the finder will offer a bright outline that serves as an approximate guide for framing. There are three different sets of lines that transform depending on the lens that is now attached to the camera: 28mm and 90mm, 35mm and 135mm, and 50mm and 75mm. A frosted glass is located on the front of the camera and it is responsible for lighting the frameline pairs. If you want LED framelines, you’ll need to upgrade to the M (Typ 240) or scour the secondhand market for a limited edition M9 Titanium. Both of these options are expensive. If there is very little ambient light, the framelines on the M-E will be rather difficult to detect; nevertheless, these have just been introduced very recently and are easily discernible even when shooting in the darkest of environments.
The M-E features a restricted number of control options. On the top of the camera is a dial for the shutter speed, a switch for turning the power on and off, and the shutter release button. On the back of the camera is a collection of buttons for playing back images and adjusting the menu settings. ISO control is the only button on the back of the camera that can change a shooting setting directly; however, the control wheel on the back may be programmed to modify exposure compensation instead.
Text-based and quite easy to understand is how the menu system works. You are able to manually inform the camera what lens is attached, change the JPG resolution, and tweak the shutter advance mode; but, once the camera is configured, it is unlikely that you will spend a significant amount of time digging through the options. You don’t need to do anything if you’re working with newer lenses that have 6-bit coding; these lenses have a series of white and black dots on the inside of the mount, which the camera can read to determine the focal length and the maximum aperture. If you’re using these lenses, you can simply leave the lens detection setting on automatic.
Leica M-E (Typ 220) Specifications
|Body type||Rangefinder-style mirrorless|
|Max resolution||5212 x 3472|
|Other resolutions||3840 x 2592, 2592 x 1728, 1728 x 1152, 1280 x 846|
|Image ratio w:h||3:2|
|Effective pixels||18 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||19 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Full frame (36 x 24 mm)|
|ISO||Auto, Pull 80, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600, 2000, 2500|
|Boosted ISO (minimum)||80|
|White balance presets||6|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, Standard|
|Lens mount||Leica M|
|Focal length multiplier||1×|
|Screen type||TFT color LCD|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (rangefinder)|
|Minimum shutter speed||4 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000 sec|
|Manual exposure mode||Yes|
|Subject / scene modes||No|
|External flash||Yes (Hot-shoe)|
|Flash modes||Front Curtain, Rear Curtain, Slow sync|
|Continuous drive||2.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 12 sec)|
|Exposure compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC card|
|Battery description||Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery & charger|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||585 g (1.29 lb / 20.64 oz)|
|Dimensions||139 x 80 x 37 mm (5.47 x 3.15 x 1.46″)|
In continuous drive mode, the M-E can shoot short bursts of images with only a 0.6-second delay between shots, and it can start and snap a photo in roughly 0.7 seconds. There is almost little shutter lag, and given that it is a manual focus camera, the maximum shooting speed is only constrained by the user’s ability. The maximum number of images that can be taken in rapid succession is seven; if you shoot in raw+JPG, it will take 38 seconds for all of the files to write to the memory card, but you’ll be able to take another picture as soon as the previous one has finished processing and cleared the buffer. For Raw images, the figure falls to 15.4 seconds, while it remains at 21.5 seconds for JPGs. It is possible to shoot at 3.4 frames per second with the Leica M (Typ 240), and it can maintain that pace for 11 photos in raw or JPG mode with reduced recovery times. The Leica M (Typ 240) is a bit quicker from shot to shot. It takes around 1.7 seconds to start up and get a shot off, so it is a little bit more cumbersome. A SanDisk 95MBps memory card was utilized for each and every one of the experiments.
- Full-frame picture sensor.
- Excellent picture quality.
- The factor has a compact shape.
- A viewfinder with a bright optical image.
- Software from Adobe called Lightroom is included.
- No live view or video support.
- Only the manual setting will do.
- Outdated LCD in the backside.