I decided, since I was toying with the idea of selling my M240, to take it to London on a day with sun, to see what I had been missing.
As it happens, I had been missing a lot. The M system is simply unparalleled in terms of optical performance. The A7r with 55mm mounted may well exceed the performance of the M240 with 50mm F2 mounted. Frankly, I don’t expect to ever find out!
However, whatever quibbles some may raise about CMOS vs CCD (sorry lads, it does seem in the realms of insisting that ford bring back a car without synchromesh for gear changes as far as I’m concerned…) the optical performance of the M240 with Leica or Zeiss rangefinder lenses mounted is simply staggering.
The design compromises in the sensor still tend towards absolute sharpness at low ISO vs high ISO performance. I still don’t rate the sensor above 1600 ISO – but it takes stunning pictures at base ISO and frankly lovely ones at any ISO.
I looked at some pictures taken with my M9 in 2012 the other day, and sometimes I do regret selling it. It was a special camera. But so is the M240, and for me, it is more so. The live view implementation creates a world of possibilities around use of wide angle lenses that are frankly a faff on the M9.
The real question is the extent to which the A7/r system catches up with the M system. But to be honest I think it will always be a mix of DSLR style lenses (like the 28-70 and 24-70) and the much better primes (like the 35 and 55). The 55 certainly loses nothing in comparison with Leica lenses, but the other lenses in the system aren’t quite in that category. However, in many situations an A7/r wins merely by having AF.
Nonetheless, for wide angle street and candid photography, nothing beats a Leica M.
Taken with my Leica M Typ 240, Zeiss ZM 21mm f2.8 and Leica Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH FLE