Going back and forth on Monochrom typ 246 purchase
Old 06-29-2016   #1
noisycheese
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Going back and forth on Monochrom typ 246 purchase

I am doing research on the Monochrom typ 246 camera, thinking that sooner or later I will be in a position to acquire a copy. I have an M-P 240 which I use for color work and an M4-P which I currently use for black and white, shooting Kodak Tri-X and developing it myself.

Looking back over the past few years, it seems like I will shoot either color or B&W for months on end and then switch to the opposite for months or years on end. I have been shooting color for a couple of years now and I am feeling the pull of black and white again. Since I have the M4-P and a newly purchased brick of Tri-X, that's what I'm going to shoot with for the present. However... I still find my eye wandering to the Monochrom v.2 - the typ 246 - as a possibility for shooting black and white.

I am not an indecisive person, nor am I afraid to spend a large chunk of cash on Leica M gear. When I make a major purchase such as a new piece of Leica kit, I do my due diligence before parting with thousands of dollars; to do any less would be folly IMHO.

To further complicate matters, there is the fact that I do currently have other options for shooting black and white: (1.) Tri-X and my M4-P, and (2.) convert color files to B&W that have been shot with my M-P 240. Each of those two paths will produce its own unique fingerprint, as will shooting and printing from Monochrom B&W files; given the different options for B&W shooting and printing naturally opens the door for second guessing the decision to acquire the M-M typ 246 when the opportunity arises.

For anyone else who has been through this thought process on B&W photography and is willing to share their own experience, your insights would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 06-29-2016   #2
Luke_Miller
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My Typ 246 arrives tomorrow. I shipped my Monochrom last Friday to Leica NJ for sensor replacement and the empty space it left in my bag compelled me to fill it with the 246. I haven't shot B&W film in probably 35 years so I can't compare the Monochrom to B&W film, but it was a dramatic step up from B&W conversions from my M9. It also holds its own with those from my Typ 240. I anticipate the same big step up from the 240 when the 246 arrives. If you have not shot with either the Monochrom or Typ 246 I think you would be amazed with what they can deliver. The amount of detail they resolve is just unbelievable and compares favorably with B&W conversions from much higher resolution cameras.
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Old 06-30-2016   #3
noisycheese
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Originally Posted by Luke_Miller View Post
My Typ 246 arrives tomorrow. I shipped my Monochrom last Friday to Leica NJ for sensor replacement and the empty space it left in my bag compelled me to fill it with the 246. I haven't shot B&W film in probably 35 years so I can't compare the Monochrom to B&W film, but it was a dramatic step up from B&W conversions from my M9. It also holds its own with those from my Typ 240. I anticipate the same big step up from the 240 when the 246 arrives. If you have not shot with either the Monochrom or Typ 246 I think you would be amazed with what they can deliver. The amount of detail they resolve is just unbelievable and compares favorably with B&W conversions from much higher resolution cameras.
That's what I have read from numerous commentators, and it is a compelling argument in favor of investing hard earned $$$ in the typ 246.

My philosophy regarding cameras, lenses and emulsions has evolved over the years. Nowadays, I think in terms of a specific camera, lens and/or emulsion being used for a specific project.

Given the vast differences between the way the M4-P and Tri-X compared to the Monochrom typ 246 renders, you get two distinct and very different fingerprints in the printed image. Each of the two cameras has its purposes for specific applications and each will optimize its fingerprint for given subject matter. Each can be used for all-around B&W purposes but each will optimize certain subject matter when making printed images (that's my take, at least).

Given the above, I would not consider owning - and shooting - with both the Monochrom and the M4-P to be redundant. That's just me, though.

Black and white photography and printing both seem to me to be more specialized undertakings than color photography and printing. I would consider the M240 as an "all-around" camera while the Monochrom is a more specialized tool.

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Old 07-01-2016   #4
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Received the Typ 246 yesterday. Since I have the Typ 240 I felt right at home with it, but was not prepared for its high ISO performance. My test shot in a dark room at ISO 10000 was amazingly clean. In doing a head-to-head comparison with a B&W conversion from my Typ 240 - the increase in detail was readily apparent.
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Old 07-01-2016   #5
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The 246 is a very natural progression from the previous model. The battery life and buffer are well worth it. The high ISO is awesome too. Once you get past 10,000 you'll start to see some banding but that's already a crazy high ISO situation that you probably won't see too often anyways. Something else that's worth noting is that with the Monochrom you don't have any decisions whether you like the image better in black and white or in color. It just is what it is. For me, at least, the fewer decisions I can make the better I feel. Shooting film is still different enough to warrant owning both. If you can afford it, I'd recommend it.
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Old 07-01-2016   #6
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Yes. In addition to noisycheese's point about B&W films rendering differently than the M246's sensor, the M246's extended ISO range (even when compared to B&W conversions of M240 files) opens many creative opportunities, particularly for those of us who are available light shooters. It's nice having access to "Neopan/T-Max" 12500! If only Leica wasn't so far behind on its color sensors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke_Miller View Post
Received the Typ 246 yesterday. Since I have the Typ 240 I felt right at home with it, but was not prepared for its high ISO performance. My test shot in a dark room at ISO 10000 was amazingly clean. In doing a head-to-head comparison with a B&W conversion from my Typ 240 - the increase in detail was readily apparent.
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Old 07-01-2016   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke_Miller View Post
Received the Typ 246 yesterday. Since I have the Typ 240 I felt right at home with it, but was not prepared for its high ISO performance. My test shot in a dark room at ISO 10000 was amazingly clean. In doing a head-to-head comparison with a B&W conversion from my Typ 240 - the increase in detail was readily apparent.
Luke, I own an M262 and have only played with the MM246 for a small time at a show. I shot a few images from each camera and converted my 262 images to B&W. The images were no higher than 1600 ISO. In my admittedly limited testing, I could not see any advantage/improvement of the MM images over the converted 262 images. I've been impressed by the look of my 262 when converted to B&W.

It seems the real advantage to the MM over the 240/262 is at super high ISO's. Is that a fair assessment and am I missing anything else?
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Old 07-01-2016   #8
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I have an original MM and an M 262 and for B&W and high ISO the original MM is clearly the winner. No artifacts during conversion and the original is sharper. 18mp compares to a 36 MP camera because there is no color. I can only imagine what the files look like form the 246. I prefer by far B&W files from my original MM over conversions for the 262.
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Old 07-01-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim0266 View Post
It seems the real advantage to the MM over the 240/262 is at super high ISO's. Is that a fair assessment and am I missing anything else?
You are missing something - The Monochrom bodies do not have a Bayer Array in front of the sensor. That allows more light to reach the sensor photosites, so the improved ISO performance, but it also allows the sensor to resolve more detail. This is because the Bayer Array integrates the data from 2x2 photosite arrays to create the color image, which also tends to reduce the effective resolution. In the Monochrom bodies that reduction does not occur. To match the detail the 246 can resolve in a color body would require a higher resolution color sensor. I suspect my 246 is comparable to my 36 mpx Nikon D810 in that regard.
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Old 07-01-2016   #10
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I have an original MM and M9. I agree, apart from the high iso there is a real gain from not having a Bayer filter and demosaic requirement. The gain is partly resolution, but the perception is simply of a very 'natural' image. They are lovely files and make beautiful prints.

Mike
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Old 07-01-2016   #11
Richard G
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Noisycheese you have come so far you are going to do it. Your key statement is the one on specificicity of emulsion and project. If there was Tri-X 2 could you manage to not buy a roll? I have the original MM. Like few things in this life it exceeds the hype.
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Old 07-02-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
Noisycheese you have come so far you are going to do it. Your key statement is the one on specificicity of emulsion and project. If there was Tri-X 2 could you manage to not buy a roll? I have the original MM. Like few things in this life it exceeds the hype.
Guilty as charged. It's just a matter of time to get my cash together before I can pull the trigger.
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Old 07-06-2016   #13
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Good luck brother and I think you are going to love it once you have it in hand.
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Old 07-06-2016   #14
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I just made an 11"x16" print from my M-D (which I think has the same sensor as the M240), and at least at the lower ISO's (ISO 500), the prints compare favourably with the 246. I also have the 246 - and I love it - but at least from I've seen in print form, the M240 sensor is pretty good!
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Old 07-07-2016   #15
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Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
I also have the 246 - and I love it - but at least from I've seen in print form, the M240 sensor is pretty good!
I agree. Having just received my M246 I did a comparison with my M240. Shooting the same image with both cameras - the M246 resolved more fine detail, but the difference was not dramatic. Both are capable of producing superb images if I do my part.
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Old 07-07-2016   #16
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The MM246 forte is dynamic range and detail resolution at very high to extremely high ISO ... That's where it steps away from what the M240 or M262 sensors can produce in a B&W rendering.

The trade-off is that having a full RGB raw file nets more versatility with software filtering to adjust grayscale spectral contrasts ... The M240 or M262 DNG files can be post-processed to achieve the effect of a Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Blue filter whereas with the MM246, you have to know the spectral characteristics of the sensor and use an optical filter to alter your results the same way.

BTW, the M262 sensor is supposedly a different part from the M240 sensor, but just how different it is in practice I haven't sussed out yet.

G
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Old 07-07-2016   #17
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As long as you can admit that the only reason to get the new Monochrom is that you want it, I don't see anything wrong with that! You don't need it. It's not the higher ISO capabilities or the enhanced detail, you hear the Siren song and can't help yourself. I've been there.
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Old 07-07-2016   #18
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I think this is my first post here. Pardon me if it is too long.

I've had a 246 since late January, and am loving it - with one possible exception. I find it works best on grey days, a B&W shooters dream conditions perhaps. I find it tends to lose information in the highest zonal range, with whites being blown out and unrecoverable. So if you are shooting in harsh contrasts, expect some issues or define the shots to be high tonal contrast-type shots. Thorsten Overgaard published on this topic here.
As a result, I don't use the 246 during late-morning / afternoon, saving its brilliance for early morning, late afternoon/evening.
In low-light/night, it's brilliant.
Would I go back to film? Film and 246 definitely render differently, and the 246 certainly has a digital feel, but as others have indicated here, I find the 246 is closer to a film look than a colour digital shot PP'd to B&W. Ad I'm getting lazier with old age, I find I want to spend more time shooting than developing/scanning, so I'm almost completely moved over to the 246 in place of B&W film...almost...
Enjoy it if you buy it, you won't regret the decision.
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Old 07-07-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l9magen View Post
I think this is my first post here. Pardon me if it is too long.

I've had a 246 since late January, and am loving it - with one possible exception. I find it works best on grey days, a B&W shooters dream conditions perhaps. I find it tends to lose information in the highest zonal range, with whites being blown out and unrecoverable. So if you are shooting in harsh contrasts, expect some issues or define the shots to be high tonal contrast-type shots. Thorsten Overgaard published on this topic here.
As a result, I don't use the 246 during late-morning / afternoon, saving its brilliance for early morning, late afternoon/evening.
In low-light/night, it's brilliant.
Would I go back to film? Film and 246 definitely render differently, and the 246 certainly has a digital feel, but as others have indicated here, I find the 246 is closer to a film look than a colour digital shot PP'd to B&W. Ad I'm getting lazier with old age, I find I want to spend more time shooting than developing/scanning, so I'm almost completely moved over to the 246 in place of B&W film...almost...
Enjoy it if you buy it, you won't regret the decision.

As it's been said a number of times (and also applies to the first Monochrom), expose for the highlights and you will not have a problem with blown highlights. The files have more than enough information in the shadows so that they can be recovered in post.

I think this issue is 'blown' out of proportion.
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Old 07-07-2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l9magen View Post
As a result, I don't use the 246 during late-morning / afternoon, saving its brilliance for early morning, late afternoon/evening. In low-light/night, it's brilliant.
I typically dial in -0.7 EV exposure compensation in my M246 on sunny days. But I avoid sunny days even with my color bodies when possible. Nothing like cloudy or even rainy days for photography.
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Old 07-07-2016   #21
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I typically dial in -0.7 EV exposure compensation in my M246 on sunny days. But I avoid sunny days even with my color bodies when possible. Nothing like cloudy or even rainy days for photography.
Good point - in general, shooting in that 11am-3pm window on a sunny day in the summer isn't great light anyways, for any camera.
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Old 07-07-2016   #22
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noisycheese, since you mention printing, I'll share a recent experience.

I just completed an extensive printing project of 12x18" BW prints from a variety of digital cameras I own or have owned—MM1, GR, X-Pro1, Nex 7 and others. At that print size I sure don't see any difference, nor does anyone else I've shown them to. Actually, the prints might look a little different, but at that size at least, all are excellent and none jump out as superior.

I certainly get the appeal of rangefinders and Leica build and ownership. But if your interest is printing at modest sizes, I'd say lighting and picture content and post-processing trump anything a particular camera offers.

John
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Old 07-07-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwolf View Post
noisycheese, since you mention printing, I'll share a recent experience.

I just completed an extensive printing project of 12x18" BW prints from a variety of digital cameras I own or have owned—MM1, GR, X-Pro1, Nex 7 and others. At that print size I sure don't see any difference, nor does anyone else I've shown them to. Actually, the prints might look a little different, but at that size at least, all are excellent and none jump out as superior.

I certainly get the appeal of rangefinders and Leica build and ownership. But if your interest is printing at modest sizes, I'd say lighting and picture content and post-processing trump anything a particular camera offers.

John
Yeah, I'll pretty much second this. I can personally tell the difference between my scanned film images, my 5Dm3, my phone, and my X100s when printed at the same size - but no-one else seems to know. I've had a few hawk eyed photogs be able to pick out the phone vs the real cameras and fewer still pick out the film vs the digital. None of them have been bothered by the minor quality difference AFAIK.
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Old 07-07-2016   #24
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I can definitely tell the difference between prints from my D4, my X100T and prints from my Monochrom (either the original Monochrom or the 246). Much prefer the Monochrom prints, but as others have stated, I might be the only one who notices.

But then again, never underestimate your audience!
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Old 07-07-2016   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
I can definitely tell the difference between prints from my D4, my X100T and prints from my Monochrom (either the original Monochrom or the 246). Much prefer the Monochrom prints, but as others have stated, I might be the only one who notices.

But then again, never underestimate your audience!
On 13x19.5 prints it is easy to see a jump in tonality, resolution, and detail between desaturated D3X files and my Monochrom files. Also the resolution and detail scales up to 20x30 on 24x36 to display the difference even more.

For B&W, I will add that the Monochrom files require minimum tweaking and the least amount of PP.

The difference to me is dramatic.

Cal
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Old 07-08-2016   #26
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Yes I agree with both Vince and Cal. The prints at 13 X 19 and larger are just spectacular from the MM. I have the original. I can only imagine the print quality of the new MM. It must really be spectacular.
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Old 08-06-2016   #27
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I am in the same exact situation (i.e. about to buy a Monochrome as my first digital leica).

Having the choice, would anyone buy the old MM (m9 ccd) instead of the new one (typ 246 CMOS) leaving aside cost differential?

(quite substantial though!)

i. e. film-like look, crispiness vs creaminess in daylight / street shooting, nicer unedited look of raw files, nicer grain, subjective taste?

Would be curious, because I tried them both yesterday and I was surprised by liking the look of original MM files better.

While I am trying to convince myself to press ahead and buy the better quality, newer, camera.




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Old 08-06-2016   #28
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I use the original MM. From what I see of both, neither looks particularly "film-like," although I'm never really sure what that means, given the variety of films and processing methods. The files from both look digital to me, meaning very clean and smooth. Personally, I've grown to prefer that look, as well as the consistency digital offers. Of course, you can beat them up like you would any digital file.
I'm really not interested in trying to simulate film, I'm just interested in making excellent prints. :-)

Regards contrasty days and such, I've found it a truism: long lenses on contrasty days and some effort to pick scenes that work within the available dynamic range, short lenses on days with softer light. Works for me...

G
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Old 08-08-2016   #29
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Regards contrasty days and such, I've found it a truism: long lenses on contrasty days and some effort to pick scenes that work within the available dynamic range, short lenses on days with softer light. Works for me...

G
Godfrey,

Thanks for posting this. I find it helpful.

Cal
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Old 04-08-2017   #30
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I am done going back and forth. Have decided to get the Monochrom 246. Now all I have to do is figure out how to pay for it.
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Old 04-08-2017   #31
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I am done going back and forth. Have decided to get the Monochrom 246. Now all I have to do is figure out how to pay for it.
Good for you. I don't think you will regret your decision.
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Old 05-07-2017   #32
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I am done going back and forth. Have decided to get the Monochrom 246. Now all I have to do is figure out how to pay for it.
Yea I agree that I think it is a good decision and one you will not regret.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #33
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I'm about to send my original monochrom in and I'm considering upgrading to the 246. I think I'll probably stick to the CCD and just get it back with a new sensor. Not having an extra $3500 in my pocket is definitely a big factor!

For those of you that have/have had both what do you think regarding iq only? I'm well about the convenience- battery, ISO live view etc.

I figure I can keep shooting with my CCD version until used 246s go down to the same as the upgrade price then I get to keep both.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #34
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I have both. I got the M-246 when I sent my MM1 in for sensor replacement. My thinking was I would sell the MM1 after it got back. I have not been able to bring myself to do that. Both are suburb in their own right. The M-246 is clearly the better camera, but there is something in the files from the MM1 I don't see in its replacement. So I keep them both. I think you plan is a good one. Shoot with the MM1 until you can get a killer deal on a M-246. Then you'll have the same problen I have.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #35
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How do y'all keep track of gazillion different M Typs and their peculiarities (read features)? Leica's naming scheme is doing my head in. Even the marketing material (website) does not make it very clear what is what. And I thought Nikon's naming scheme was confusing!
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