Entry 219 : Review - Leica M (Typ 262)

Hey, everyone!

I've been meaning to get this review out sooner but there has been delays with the video so I've been holding out but I guess I can just update that later when it's actually finished. Anyway, the fine people over at Leica Camera Malaysia and myself had collaborated again for another review, this time of a more "pure" Leica camera.

Leica M (Typ 262)

This was one of the best cameras I've ever gotten for a review and I was super stoked that they had agreed to lend it to me. I initially had a few shoots in mind, including editorials, portrait sessions and of course, street photography. But due to illness and time constraints, I didn't get to shoot everything I wanted. But that didn't deter me from grinding out some photos for this review.

The M 262 is a digital rangefinder and was introduced in 2015 as a simplified version of the even more premium M 240. Leica, much like Apple, has a knack for removing things more-so than adding features, and with the M 262, they took away the live view; subsequently removing ability to shoot video. The M 262 is also lighter and has a quieter shutter sound (which I loved). Although the act of removing stuff may seem unorthodox, their decision to do away with those (personally) unneeded features made this camera one of my purest experiences of photography.

You will see the word "pure" come up a lot in this entry and it will get a little annoying but bear with me, it's not without reason. There's just so many cameras out now whose sole purpose is to beat out its competition until an inevitable newer one comes out a few months after. The fact that some manufacturers chug out cameras every year goes to show how little care and affection is taken into creating the camera. I agree that technology requires rapid evolution and constant updates, but what a tool needs isn't really a glossier finish, a beefier grip or an oversized ego with nothing to show for. What a tool needs is a soul, a sense of zen and singularity, and an independence of time.

Timelessness - the true essence and objective of art

That is where the M 262 shines. With the original rangefinder design with no hand grip, a viewfinder with bright frame lines, manual focus, and a shutter curtain smoother than silk; the M 262 screams timelessness. The handling of the camera was very welcomed and suited my style of casual portrait and street photography. I have grown to hate lugging around heavy gear and am actually considering changing my path from an event photographer to become more of a casual portrait and street shooter because the difference in load is so huge!

Beautiful large viewfinder

One dial = best dial (?)

With the M262 and Summicron lenses, I attain increased mobility and the added benefit of ultra sharp photos with creamy dreamy bokeh.

Shooting with the M 262 is pure bliss and immense fun. Learning hyperfocal focusing, anticipating the right frame and seeing the world through a rangefinder is so different and much more fulfilling than shooting an SLR or SLR-style camera. I was reminded of my time with the Olympus PEN-F on how easy and free-flowing photography was, and how unobtrusive it felt to be capturing candid moments. Shooting the M 262 felt less like work and more like meditation. I guess this is where my friend Robin Wong came up with the term "shutter therapy". I had not understood the term until now.

I wouldn't say the M 262 has a "lack" of features, but there really isn't anything else to talk about regarding the camera, itself. Sure, it has a full frame 24MP CMOS sensor and a dedicated white balance button, but those aren't important anyway.

I do like to point out the fact that the ISO button is placed at a random place on the back of the camera, which made it difficult to change ISO on the fly. Moreover, I haven't had any complaints with the sensors in Leica cameras, but the one in this one captured the reds a little too much.

You can see in the following photos that there is an oversaturation of the red color. Usually, in post processing, I would bump up the reds just so that it stands out more but the photos here become too saturated. If I don't bump up the saturation, the reds become a bit too muted and I don't like that.

On the other hand, the dynamic range and color rendition is still very solid. There aren't issues with moire or tint, and the auto white balance is one of the best I've ever used, especially in the photos below where the camera captured golden hour in its purest, purely unadulterated form.

There is one other thing that the camera doesn't have that I wished it did have: WiFi connection. I would have loved it if the M 262 came with the ability to directly connect to my smart devices for easy and instant photo transferring. I know this contradicts my whole thesis of "purity" and "timelessness", but it's just a feature that I have always appreciated in modern cameras. It would've been super cool to update my social media with photos from the M 262 just like how I did with the D-Lux. I also think it would benefit Leica in terms of increasing brand awareness, but I guess they're just hipster like that.

Would have been easier and faster to share this on Instagram

All in all, I had a wonderful time with the Leica M (Typ 262). It was a great call back to the days of pure photography; no specs, no exaggerated autofocus speeds, no unnecessary sprays or infinite actuations and whatnot - only the camera, the lens and the frame. I was reminded of the times I used to take pictures for the fun of it, where I didn't struggle and stress out to get that one super awesome shot. Instead, I only focused on capturing the things that I saw, the colors of the streets or the geometry of everyday scenes, and the expressions of loved ones.

It has to be said that the M 262 is definitely not for us ordinary people. The price alone (approx. RM21,000 body only) falls out of most photographers' budget and with its only use as a photographic tool, many will opt for many other options that have more features and "bang for the buck". But the M 262 isn't about what it can do, but what it stands for - pure photography; M-Photography.

Immense gratitude goes to Leica Camera Malaysia for hooking me up with the Leica M (Typ 262), 50mm Summicron and 28mm Summicron. Please check out their Facebook and website (as linked), respectively! I would also like to thank Starbucks Coffee Country Garden for letting me shoot the product shots and video at their establishment.

Thanks a lot, everyone, for dropping by! Until the next one, take care.

DISCLAIMER: I do not represent Leica, or any other brand that might be showcased in this review. This review is written for THE FEAR and is delivered with utmost honesty and sincerity.