Original M Monochrom Still a Good Buy?
Old 04-18-2016   #1
Nathan King
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Original M Monochrom Still a Good Buy?

I have been photographing with film Leicas for several years but am looking at a digital Leica. The obvious choice for me is the Monochrom since I can't remember the last time I took a color photograph. My budget would require me to purchase a used original model. Does this seem like a smart idea given that digital models probably won't age as well as a film body? How likely would it be that I would run into the sensor corrosion issue? Having "only" 18 megapixels is a complete non-issue given that I only print up to 16x20.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 04-18-2016   #2
pechelman
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one should be so lucky as to run into sensor corrosion issues. gets you a new sensor.

the only reason to consider not getting an M9 based camera would be the old LCD screen, loud shutter, and generally slower more awkward feeling operation.
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Old 04-18-2016   #3
johnwolf
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Nathan, no one really knows the odds of encountering sensor corrosion. From the web you'd think it's most of them, but who knows? But Leica will repair it, regardless of owner, so the only concern would be time without the camera.

Granted, the LCD is old tech, but the size doesn't concern me because I don't use it much. If it had LiveView, that would be different.

I think the thing I'd be asking is, would it be better to purchase a used M240? They don't cost much more and you'd have no sensor issue, more pixels, LiveView, and the option for color. At least this would be my thinking. Not sure what I would do.

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Old 04-18-2016   #4
Vince Lupo
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I think it's still a fantastic camera, and you could probably use it for many more years to come and not be disappointed with it.

That said, I personally found the camera good to about ISO 400 -- above that, I wasn't too crazy about the image results (but that might just be a personal thing). My prints are generally 11"x16", and anything that I printed from this camera's files looked great.

The other thing about this camera is its relatively small buffer -- about 8 frames if you're shooting in quick succession, then it's a doorstop until it 'processes' all the images (that is if you're shooting RAW). Screen is basic but works fine. You have to shoot with this camera like it has slide film in it -- in other words, expose for the highlights.

So there are some things about this camera that will cause you to shoot differently, but nothing that you can't quickly get used to. All in all, still a great camera, and I'd gladly have another.
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Old 04-18-2016   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post

That said, I personally found the camera good to about ISO 400 -- above that, I wasn't too crazy about the image results (but that might just be a personal thing). My prints are generally 11"x16", and anything that I printed from this camera's files looked great.
Please elaborate on this. 400 is nearly base ISO for this camera. One of the reasons I want the Monochrom is because of the difficulty in making a decent sized print in low light with film. The Monochrom appears to have legendary low light capability.
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Old 04-18-2016   #6
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I've always found this comparison to be well done.
http://www.reddotforum.com/content/2...-vs-m-typ-240/

Some folks on here prefer the High ISO output from the M9M vs the M246, others like Vince prefer the opposite. While I've never used an M9M, from the comparisons I've seen, I too prefer the M246 in terms of the amount of noise and the retained detail. To some extent, I might even prefer the output of the M240 converted (up to ~2000) to the M9M. The M9M might look more filmlike, I guess, in the regard however. For my own use, and again, basing this only off comparison I've seen, I'd probably be fine using the M9M up to ~5000, whereas I'd go another ~stop to 10k on the 246.

I wonder if Vince meant ISO4000, though?
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Old 04-18-2016   #7
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I was in more or less your position not so very long ago and ultimately bought a used M240. The main drivers for me were 1) weather sealing -- I live on a sailboat in a very damp part of the world and I ran through three overhauls of my Fuji X Pro 1 before deciding to move on to something else; and 2) Shutter noise -- I take a lot of photos at small gatherings and performances and the M9 shutter was enough louder to matter.

The most helpful comparision of the M9 Monochrom, the type 240 and the type 246 I found was here:

http://www.ultrasomething.com/photog...d-sensibility/

I kind of wish I'd got the 246 really -- would have been a stretch financially but I might have been able to do it with a slightly longer wait.

But what I drew from the linked article is that the M9 Monochrom is very good -- better than the type 240 converted to black and white unless you use noise reduction and even if you do maybe even still better. So it's hard to see it as an obsolete camera.

As other people have said, Leica has been good about repairing the sensor corrosion problem at no cost to you other than the time spent without the camera. I don't see any other reason it shouldn't last as long as, say, an M7 if you used it the way you would use an M7. Of course, you probably won't -- digital is so much cheaper you'll likely take a great many more photos and therefore put greater strain on the mechanism.
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Old 04-18-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan King View Post
Please elaborate on this. 400 is nearly base ISO for this camera. One of the reasons I want the Monochrom is because of the difficulty in making a decent sized print in low light with film. The Monochrom appears to have legendary low light capability.
Sorry, I made a mistake (maybe I haven't had enough coffee today). I meant to say ISO 800, not 400. Above 800 I wasn't too crazy with the results. Here again, this is just personal preference, but I'm not doing low-light photojournalism/street photography. And when I mean 'results', I'm talking about prints.

BTW there is a 'pull 160' option with the Monochrom, so you can go below the 'base' ISO. There is no 'pull' option with the 246.

As far as which high ISO I prefer (M9MM vs 246), the 246 by a mile.

BTW this is probably the most 'film-like' shot I've taken with the Monochrom (the original one), ISO 320. The print is easily mistaken as a darkroom print:


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Old 04-20-2016   #9
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I always shoot at 1600 and 3200 on the street and my last exhibit 13 X 19 prints were outstanding and I am very picky. If I want a film look I would shoot film. The original MM at 10,000 has a film look. Tri-x in rodinal.
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My Vote is for the Original Mono
Old 04-20-2016   #10
Dektol Dan
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My Vote is for the Original Mono

CCD sensor makes it. I usually shoot at 640, but then I do mostly street and event photography.

The screen quailty means nothing to me, I have mine in case where the screen is not accessed. Considered your subject. I'm old school, sure it's loud, but I still shoot an ancient Bronica, now that's LOUD!

Go for image quality first. If you want a cheaper 246 image an aren't making wall paper, get a used X1 or X2 and use the B&W setting. You won't be able to tell it from the 246 in all but the fastest ISO. I'm not kidding!
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Old 04-21-2016   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dektol Dan View Post

If you want a cheaper 246 image an aren't making wall paper, get a used X1 or X2 and use the B&W setting. You won't be able to tell it from the 246 in all but the fastest ISO. I'm not kidding!
It's interesting, but when I first read this I thought 'no way'. But, after having looked at a few online samples from the X1, I have to say they look pretty good. Not sure how an 11"x14" side-by-side print comparison would be with the 246 (an APS-C 12mp sensor vs a full-frame 24mp dedicated black and white sensor), but at least online they look good. Of course, you'd have to be content with a fixed wide-angle lens and no built-in viewfinder (you could mount an auxiliary viewfinder on the accessory shoe), but it is an interesting camera nonetheless.
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Old 04-21-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dektol Dan View Post
CCD sensor makes it. I usually shoot at 640, but then I do mostly street and event photography.
Dan,

Plus one. I seldom go to 800 ISO because I want to print big and also because image IQ is very important to me.

Sometimes it is the size of the pixel verses how many, and the 18MP without an anti alias filter or Bayer Filter Array offers enough resolution for me to print 20x30 easily.

For me the CCD rendering has a vast midrange which makes it great for simulating medium and even large format tonality. For midrange detail the CCD sensor has other cameras beat.

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Old 04-21-2016   #13
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I have always used ISO 50 and 100 with slide film and for many years, so I am not at all looking for high ISO photography. Maybe I am lucky here. The M9 (in my case) is almost always set to ISO 160-200. These days I have been using the M9 also at ISO 400 at times.
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Old 04-21-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
I have always used ISO 50 and 100 with slide film and for many years, so I am not at all looking for high ISO photography. Maybe I am lucky here. The M9 (in my case) is almost always set to ISO 160-200. These days I have been using the M9 also at ISO 400 at times.
Raid,

I use a D3X for color digital, and the high ISO on this camera is kinda lame, but I never-ever go above 800 ISO.

We are old school and stubborn.

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Old 04-21-2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
I have always used ISO 50 and 100 with slide film and for many years, so I am not at all looking for high ISO photography. Maybe I am lucky here. The M9 (in my case) is almost always set to ISO 160-200. These days I have been using the M9 also at ISO 400 at times.
Yeah, but you live in f11-land! So not quite fair. Come up north to the world of perpetually gray skies and deep urban shadows, where 9 AM might look like 9 PM.

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Old 04-21-2016   #16
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I held off buying the MM until prices dropped well below 4000 USD. I purchased a low shutter count copy, complete with recent Leica service and the passport warranty.
If you go for a used MM, several vendors offer Leica serviced cameras with two year warranty. Popflash and Leica Miami often have these available. You could find a used M240 for similar or slightly greater price, but if the CCD sensor and a devoted monochrome camera are your preferences, the MM is still a good choice.
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Old 04-21-2016   #17
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Originally Posted by ellisson View Post
I held off buying the MM until prices dropped well below 4000 USD....
I've been unable to sell mine at just over $3K USD. And it's really excellent.

Even some dealers are now around $3.5K.

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Old 04-21-2016   #18
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I've been unable to sell mine at just over $3K USD. And it's really excellent.

Even some dealers are now around $3.5K.

John
That is a really good deal! And from an RFF member!
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Original M Monochrom Still a Good Buy?
Old 04-21-2016   #19
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Original M Monochrom Still a Good Buy?

Yes, dealers have MMs in minty condition at or below $4k. There also are still some new MMs from dealers in the mid-$5k range.
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Old 10-21-2016   #20
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original M-M still high on my wishlist.
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Old 10-21-2016   #21
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No complaints at all. I got an M9M that was heavily used but with a new sensor this year. I shoot it constantly and could not be happier with the files it produces. I often shoot it indoors at 1600, 3200 and with some experience opening the files I'm getting great results. As winter approaches and the dark times come to northern Vermont I'll be shooting this more and more I expect.

I too am a fan of low ISO films,and prefer shooting the M9 (color) at the base ISO or pull. I was afraid I'd dislike the relatively high base ISO of the MM, but it hasn't been a problem.
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Old 10-21-2016   #22
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short answer, hell yes

longer answer, only limits to the MM v1 imho are buffer speed and shutter noise. if you don't shoot rapidly and don't have need for more silent operation, do it. wonderful files that process and print beautifully.
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Old 10-21-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
Sorry, I made a mistake (maybe I haven't had enough coffee today). I meant to say ISO 800, not 400. Above 800 I wasn't too crazy with the results. Here again, this is just personal preference, but I'm not doing low-light photojournalism/street photography. And when I mean 'results', I'm talking about prints.

BTW there is a 'pull 160' option with the Monochrom, so you can go below the 'base' ISO. There is no 'pull' option with the 246.

As far as which high ISO I prefer (M9MM vs 246), the 246 by a mile.

BTW this is probably the most 'film-like' shot I've taken with the Monochrom (the original one), ISO 320. The print is easily mistaken as a darkroom print:


Untitled
by Vince Lupo, on Flickr
\

beautiful!
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