Leica’s first full frame HDSLR – M240 video capable?

Dress designer: Maibritt Kokholm

Camerawork/picture editing: Johnnie Behiri
Camera assistant: Claudia Würtl
Additional camera work: Thorsten Overgaard
Camera assistant: Joy Villa 

Music kindly provided by The Music Bed.
Title by Holley Maher

Photos by:
Thorsten Overgaard, Claudia Würtl

Leica M240Leica M type 240- video review.
(Non of the written here is relevant to the photo section of this camera)

Deep into the 4th year of the HDSLR revolution Leica released the M 240, their full frame camera costing $6950.

Spending a day with the camera left me wondering, was Leica ever talking to any professional cameraman before implementing HD recording for this unit or just decided to “join a trend” without really meaning this camera to be a capable working video tool?.

In my opinion the video quality coming out of the camera is very disappointing and its operation in video mode is not easy/logical. I hope features/video quality can be enhance with a firmware update.

L9058485-970w-LR-2L9058495-970w-LR-2Let me start gentle and highlight the
M camera’s strengths:

  • Great battery life
  • Nice LCD screen
  • Useful good quality electronic viewfinder
  • Ability to control audio levels during video recording
  • Minimize moire and aliasing
  • Peaking (although not always very visible when you need it)
  • 4:2:2 color sampling

Leica M 240 videoLeica M 240 video 2DSC04021DSC03999Leica M 240 Olympus EMA-1Leica M 240 picture profilesDSC03991Weaknesses:

  • No dedicated video mode. Camera is always in photo mode looking at the 4:3 sensor.
  • There is no way to correctly frame your subject BEFORE hitting the video record button, only then the 16:9 bars will appear
  • Video compression is very visible without the ability to choose higher bit rate
  • Video quality is very disappointing. Fine details are lacking resolution
  • Up to 4 Gigs video files. Camera will record to the max file size limit OR 29 min. what ever comes first (In practice, there is no way to know when your recording time limit will hit as the camera is using variable compression encoding rate).
  • Limited frame rates, up to 25p in HD mode
  • No HDMI connector
  • No headphone jack
  • No mic input placed in the camera body
  • Severe rolling shutter
  • There is no way to connect the dedicated electronic viewfinder and the dedicated external mic adapter at the same time. They are both using the hot shoe mount and electronic plug. In practice, if you want to shoot with a viewfinder and connect external mic at the same time you can’t
  • No “flat” picture profile
  • Users who needs to use “shutter 50” will find out that the shutter wheel has none. They will have to place the shutter wheel between “30 to 60”. The LCD screen will then show S45 and only when hitting the record button it will change to s50…..
  • While working with the supplied EVF there is no way to adjust its brightness when looking inside it. The changes will happen in the menu only so you can not compare the differences within the finder.
  • Camera exposure in video mode is always “automatic”. You need to press the shutter release half way to get the “correct” exposure and then play with aperture on the lens.
  • No way to judge the correct exposure in video mode. The lack of HDMI and ability to connect an external monitor to overcome or help is not possible
  • Only the center of picture can be zoomed in as focusing aid. No way to “travel” inside the picture
  • No way to zoom-in while recording to check focus

 

Camera settings for this short test feature:

ISO: 800 indoor, outdoor 200 (native)
White balance set to Kelvin values
[email protected]

L9058546-970w-LR-2Picture profile: “Film Mode off” (for the entire video but sec 2:012:12 when I used smooth color film)
Contrast: Low
Saturation: Low
Sharpness: Off

Firmware version 1.1.0.2

NO color correction / sharpness applied.

Watch it on Vimeo

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George Furst
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George Furst

I really enjoyed the M 240 video. The focus, colors and saturation looked excellent to me but then I am no expert in this field. I also thought the theme and music fit the message being shared, some one in love with their profession and with a human face too. No pretention here. Well done. Since I live in Korea, this is a relief from the cold spring we are having here. Thank you for the wonderful show.

Tom Vantorre
Guest

Altough the video looks very nice, I really wonder if anyone would seriously consider buying this camera to shoot video with it. It’s like buying a Rolls Royce only to drive backwards with it, a boeing only to fly from Paris to Calais, a Rolex for a blind man.
Let’s face it, this is a fantastic stills camera, but nobody will use this as a video camera.
Why did they ad the extra feature? Why does a Porsche have a rearview mirror?

Wilbur Allen
Guest

Though Leica is excellent camera technology, this camera is totally illogical though logical in the camera’s progression. Secondly, there’s no mention on the camera’s sensitivity? I see 800 ISO in an image associated to the artical, but if this is the camera’s limit, for $6000, a Rolex would be my choice in the purchase between the two! D4

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[…] Cinema5D‘den Johnnie Behiri’nin çektiği videoda görebildiğimiz üzere Leica, HDSL devriminin üzerinden 4 yıl geçmesine rağmen olağanüstü fotoğraf makinelerine Video özelliğini ekleme konusunda sıkıntı yaşıyor. […]

Joseph CS LI
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Joseph CS LI

The video function is not needed by me; I just want a Leica digital full frame camera to use my R-lenses and take wonderful photos. I think I will wait for another real R-solution.

Bryan Campbell
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Bryan Campbell

It looks like a lot of the cons could be corrected (or added) by Leica with firmware updates. I don’t have a lot of faith they will be addressed but how hard would it be for them to add a “flat” picture style, and allow us to have far less compression at the expense of less time to record video? They could also have 16:9 bars show up by default in menu options somewhere. They could also some kind of indication of how much time or space you have left before the recording stops. I’m mainly buying one to shoot… Read more »

Chad
Guest

Well, regardless of your thoughts on the video capabilities I thoroughly enjoyed this short documentary piece. Goes to show video quality doesn’t matter when you have a great story to tell!

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[…] compact and impressive image quality. But what does the video look like? Johnnie Behiri over at cinema5D recently took the Lecia M for a spin. Check out his results as well as some other Leica M videos […]

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PeterK

Too bad about the camera but I really like the new Cinema5D look, and these review pages are laid out much better; especially with the information on camera settings and editing used for the video. I also liked the “behind the scenes” photos. Watching this for the first time on Vimeo I didn’t really pick up on the weaknesses (IMO it’s because it was filmed and edited very well, so good job on the content Johnnie!) but when reviewing I noticed the changed look at 2:00 (which I didn’t like) and some softness of the in focus portions during the… Read more »

Johnnie Behiri
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Johnnie Behiri

Dear Peter, thank you for taking the time watching the video and commenting.
Also, your warm wards regarding the new look and content of the “new” cinema5d are appreciated!.

The change of look is part of the test. It was recorded on a different picture profile.

All lenses used are stated on the article it self. The close up shots were done with: Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95

Thanks again!

Johnnie

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[…] are less than impressed with video quality on the first Leica to offer video. Johnnie Behiri put together a review of the Leica M Type 240 for video, and he's incredibly unimpressed with what Leica is […]

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[…] Spending a day with the camera left me wondering, was Leica ever talking to any professional cameraman before implementing HD recording for this unit or just decided to “join a trend” without really meaning this camera to be a capable working video tool? – Johnnie Behiri, Cinema 5D […]

ian londin
Guest

OK I love great equipment and would love a new Leica M, and a 5dIII or whatever great gear is out, it’s just not possible and cost effective to keep upgrading whenever these companies change. Love your review. It goes to show it’s the indian not the arrow I bet you can make a great video with an old super 8 from a garage sale a Leica M or Camera Red. I would still love to shoot with the Leica M after seeing your video good review or bad looks like a fun smallish camera.

Johnnie Behiri
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Johnnie Behiri

Dear Ian, thans for your kind warm words.

I hope Leica will firmware update the camera soon so it will become the fun smallish camera you (and me) are looking for…:)

Thanks again!!

Johnnie

steven
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steven

the price is way out,,i dont understang leica and there prices for there cameras,,i havent seen a leica camera in public in years,,,matter of fact,,i dont know anyone wo even owns one,,the prices for there subpar cameras are just far and away not real.sure they shoot good quality stills,,but so do cheaper cameras,,6 grand for a full frame camera with lousy video??they work with panasonic,,there is no excuse for the bad video on this 6 thousand dollar ordinary camera….

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[…] fällt halt der Mangel bei der Detailauflösung sowie der extreme Rolling Shutter Effekt auf. Leica’s first full frame HDSLR – M240 video capable? Gruß […]

foto auf leinwand
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sam james
Guest

I think the Leica renders video beautifully by your example. Compared to Canon’s slightly ‘intense’ colour rendering this looks natural and smooth. I use a 1DX with Zeiss primes and have a little trouble with oversharp images sometimes but this Leica M sensor seems to give a very workable image (looking past the assets of the lens advantage). It isn’t truly set up for pro video accessories but can definitely produce a gorgeous image at least in these low contrast and saturation locations. Great skin tones too.

バッグ 上品
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richard weiner
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richard weiner

very nice. I have a question. Do you hear a click at the end of a recording? When I have the recording sound on the mike picks up the sound of my depressing the button to stop the video recording. It seems that the mike is super sensitive to the click of pushing the off/on button (but only hear the sound at the end of the recording, not the beginning). thanks..