Leica's M-series rangefinders have been behind some of the 20th century's most iconic images, but they've never exactly been at the affordable end of the scale. Enter the M-E (Typ 240), which pairs its catchy name with a price tag more in line with that of a new full-frame DSLR.
The M-E (Typ 240) updates the original M-E (Typ 220) model, which was announced in 2012 and which was designed to be an affordable alternative to then-current M-series models such as the M9. While the original M-E (Typ 220) came with a $5,450 / £3,900 price tag, this new arrival shaves off a little to squeeze under the $4,000 barrier.
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It's priced at $3,995 in the US and £3,500 in the UK, which places it roughly at the same level as the recently announced limited-edition Leica CL Urban Jungle model. These are, however, body-only prices; adding an M-series lens will require an additional outlay, which may be as low as £1,300 or right up to a five-figure sum if you have serious dough to play with. Pricing for Australia is yet to be confirmed.
According to Leica, the idea behind the M-E (Typ 240) is a "stringent paring down to the most essential camera functions" to ensure "streamlined and intuitive operation". And so it arrives with a fairly uneventful feature set, although that seven-year gap between the two models means the new camera is a considerable step forwards in terms of its tech.
In place of the M-E (Typ 220)'s 18MP full-frame CCD sensor, for example, is a newer 24MP CMOS type that bears the same dimensions. And where video recording wasn't possible on the M-E (Typ 220), the newer Typ 240 model is blessed with Full HD capabilities.
The new camera's ISO range stretches between ISO200-6400, and it can fire bursts of images at 3fps, while the rear boasts a 3-inch LCD with a 920k-dot resolution. As we'd expect, there's also a viewfinder that allows for rangefinder focusing, and this has a 0.68x magnification.
Other features include a body that's resistant to dust and sprays of water, most of which is wrapped in a leather trim.
The Leica M-E (Typ 240) will be available from the end of July.