Leica M video reviews

A new video review of the Leica M just got published by The Camera Store. If you are interested in the video capabilities of the new M, check also this post by Cinema5d:

Leica 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?.

To my opinion, the video quality coming out of the camera is very disappointing and its operation in video mode is nothing but easy/logical. I hope features/video quality can be enhance with a firmware update.

Let me start gentle and highlight the M camera 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)

Camera weaknesses:

-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
White balance set to Kelvin values

Picture profile: “Film Mode off” (for the entire video but sec 2:01-2:12 when I used smooth color film)
Contrast: Low
Saturation: Low
Sharpness: Off

Firmware version

Equipment used:
Leica M type 240
R-lenses with R-to-M adapter:
Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmar-R f/4.0
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95
Leica 90mm APO-Sumicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0
Macro footage was done with the Leitz M-to-M macro adapter “Oufro” and Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95

Visoflex EVF2 electronic viewfinder
Olympus external mic adapter EMA-1
Sennheiser G2 wireless set
Sanken Cos 11 Lavalier
Litepanels Sola ENG kit
Various Kata bags
Mini skater

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