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Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Review - Viewfinder, Screen and Features Review


Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) – Viewfinder and Screen

The Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) is a rangefinder camera. Some consider this type of camera should be resigned to the past, now that we have a host of fast CSC cameras from which to choose. However, the M Monochrom (Typ 246) operates quite differently from the system cameras to which is bears a resemblance.

When using the optical viewfinder, you actually see a double image, which is made up of the view seen by the sensor and the image seen straight through the viewfinder. The sensor’s view is fired up to the viewfinder using a series of mirrors. In order to focus the image you need to make both views line up. This is achieved through using the focus controls on the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246)’s compatible lenses.

If you haven’t used a rangefinder camera before, it takes some getting used to. Plus it can be slow work, especially if you’re shooting at wide apertures. However, it provides a specific feel that some of you will love.

Leica Monochrom 5
If you find the process too fiddly, however, then there’s always a slot-in EVF. The Leica EVF-2, which costs £360, fits into the hotshoe. It’s a 1.4m-dot model and therefore not the most advanced available, but it’s popular among Leica M users. You can also side-step rangefinder focusing using Live View, but doing so feels like you’re missing out on a core part of what the Leica M Monochrom is about.

Using the EVF or Live View, you get both focus peaking and magnification focusing aids – but to be clear: there’s no autofocus in the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246). Whether you’re using the rear screen or the viewfinder, you’ll still be using the focus ring on the lens. This, as much as the monochrome sensor, calls this out as a specialist camera.

As with other rangefinders, you use frame overlays on the viewfinder screen to compose your shots, although we found that these are best treated as an approximation. 
Leica Monochrom 3

The screen has been hugely improved since the first Leica M Monochrom. The 2012 original sports a small 230,000-dot screen, but this one has a 3in 921k-dot panel that’s on par with other high-end cameras currently.

The anti-reflective coating makes the panel usable on brighter days, but we found its refresh rate low compared to the screens on more current cameras. Once again, this is a sign that for the majority of the time you should really be using some form of viewfinder, rather than the rear screen. For those who struggle with rangefinder focusing it’s a godsend, however, and its presence complete with focus peaking is a big upgrade since the original Monochrom.

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) – Features

There are few other features to talk about in the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246). Its style means Leica gets away with leaving out now-standard features such as Wi-Fi, GPS and NFC. While not an old-fashioned camera in terms of its core tech, it does its best to try to feel like one.

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