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Monochrom Sensor Corrosion... opinion needed
Old 11-21-2016   #1
Chemophilic
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Monochrom Sensor Corrosion... opinion needed

I just got a used Monochrom at a decent price over at the Bay and despite the sensor was replaced in 2015, I saw those dreaded corrosion problems on the pictures. Now I need to decide.. should I return it back to the seller for a refund... or should I brave the sensor replacement system with Leica?

What would you do? Thanks for your input.
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Old 11-21-2016   #2
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2015 would be the original, corrosion-prone sensor replacement. As I recall, the corrected MM replacements started in early 2016. But are you sure it's the corrosion problem? Can you post one to show us?

If the price was good, the camera is otherwise in great shape, with reasonable actuations, and you're OK waiting a few months, I'd be inclined to keep it and get the goodwill fix.

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Old 11-21-2016   #3
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Do you have proof that the sensor was replaced?
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Old 11-21-2016   #4
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The camera has 50k actuations and it comes with a service invoice dated back to June 2015 that the sensor is replaced and the shutter mechanism is repaired. I paid about 3.5k for it.

Here is a picture of sky.. some look like dust, but there are a bunch with halo around them.

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Old 11-21-2016   #5
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Looks like dust to me. I had what I thought was sensor corrosion and sent it back to Leica. They cleaned the sensor and sent it back good as new.
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Old 11-21-2016   #6
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I really hope you are right. The sensor was replaced in June, as far as I know that would be right before there was a permanent fix on the sensor based on what I read. I have a sensor cube coming in on Wednesday and hopefully that will clean that up.

Here is another cropped portion of the picture:

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Old 11-22-2016   #7
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Unfortunately, this^ is positively sensor corrosion and not just dust.
Send it in to Leica for inspection, confirmation of the corrosion and consequently replacement. Contact them first and try to get a date to send it in. You can still use it when you don't shoot a lot of sky stopped down. In case you send it in and they can't work on it right away, it'll be just sitting on the bench. Once you get it back it will be as good as new with new leather cover fully serviced and all. Good luck.
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Old 11-22-2016   #8
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Are you living or does the camera come from a humid climate like Texas? I have noticed that when relative humidity is high in certain areas, this may happen more often. I though Leica had found solution to the sensor corrosion and that the new ones did not have the problem. Mine was changed two years ago (no the corrosion-proof sensor) and it is fine so far.
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Old 11-22-2016   #9
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Klaus, Mine looked just like that.
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Old 11-22-2016   #10
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Mine sometimes gets white ring spots like those in the second file above. But they always clean off and don't reappear in the same location. I think only Leica can tell you if it's really the corrosion problem.

Mine is in NJ now being inspected. Now that it's cold out, I don't mind parting with it for a few months, and I've got other cameras I enjoy. They said if it needs replacement, the process will take 7 - 8 weeks.

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Old 11-22-2016   #11
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I am on a waiting list and expect perhaps later this month to be contacted to send in my Monochrom. This allowed me to enjoy my camera.

I am an early adopter and got my Monochrom about 5 months after the initial release. This February it will be 4 years old. I only have trace amounts of what I believe is corrosion like in your example. I live in NYC where it can get rather swampy in the summer.

In my case it is doubtful that it is dust or dirt because I am not a lens changer, and wet cleaning does not remove the defects. Over the 4 years I have only had to wet clean my sensor perhaps three times, and most other times I can remove any dust with either a blower or Artic Butterfly.

The wait for the call to send in your camera is about 4 months I was told, and then the turnaround is 4-8 weeks.

My Monochrom is heavily used and displays a silvery "brassing" on the edges of the top plate. The covering is worn smooth from the use of a grip from my fingertips.

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Old 11-22-2016   #12
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Spots like the OP's wouldn't bother me too much. After dealing with dust on negatives for years, the healing brush seems miraculous. Magnify, scan, a few clicks, and presto!

John
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Old 11-22-2016   #13
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Originally Posted by johnwolf View Post
Spots like the OP's wouldn't bother me too much. After dealing with dust on negatives for years, the healing brush seems miraculous. Magnify, scan, a few clicks, and presto!

John
Like John says, not so big an issue. Only effects some shots, and pretty easy to eliminate.

Cal
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Old 11-22-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwolf View Post

If the price was good, the camera is otherwise in great shape, with reasonable actuations, and you're OK waiting a few months, I'd be inclined to keep it and get the goodwill fix.

John
Forgive me for asking... is this camera worth a few months wait? Is any camera? I mean you want to shoot camera, you buy it for very substantial money and wait for a few months... do you see nothing wrong here?

I don't mean to troll or offend anybody, just curious how does one justify something like that...
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Old 11-22-2016   #15
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Forgive me for asking... is this camera worth a few months wait? Is any camera? I mean you want to shoot camera, you buy it for very substantial money and wait for a few months... do you see nothing wrong here?

I don't mean to troll or offend anybody, just curious how does one justify something like that...
I don't think you are trolling. When I bought my M-E brand spanking new, I only had it for 6 months before the sensor needed to be replaced due to corrosion. And that took 3-4 months before it was finally done.
Looking back in hindsight, I would never have bought it if I knew that issue was out there, especially since Leica already knew about it but was still selling cameras with that defective sensor.

As for the OP, that looks like dust to me, and seeing you bought it used at a pretty good price, I would hang onto it because when it does need a new sensor, he will essentially be getting a new camera.
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Old 11-22-2016   #16
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I recently posted about such spots on my M9, and the opinions here were mixed on whether it was sensor corrosion or dust. I had many many such spots. They went away after several cleanings done by me. If they had been due to corrosion, the dust spots would not vanish quickly.

One option: Buy it, and mail it to Leica "for sensor cleaning". If they tell you it is a corroded sensor, Leica will replace it for no charge. Right?
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Old 11-22-2016   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIkhail View Post
Forgive me for asking... is this camera worth a few months wait? Is any camera? I mean you want to shoot camera, you buy it for very substantial money and wait for a few months... do you see nothing wrong here?

I don't mean to troll or offend anybody, just curious how does one justify something like that...
One word ABSOLUTELY.....

Does it suck yeah but it is what it is and Leica is taking care of the problem.
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Old 11-22-2016   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIkhail View Post
Forgive me for asking... is this camera worth a few months wait? Is any camera? I mean you want to shoot camera, you buy it for very substantial money and wait for a few months... do you see nothing wrong here?

I don't mean to troll or offend anybody, just curious how does one justify something like that...
I don't mean to rationalize what I agree, on the surface, would be a silly proposition. But it's a one-of-a-kind camera in a peculiar situation. You'll get it back from Leica after a few weeks as essentially a new camera, and likely enjoy its unique capabilities for many years.

It's not so different than buying an old Leica film body and sending it right away for CLA. Your patience is rewarded with something really sweet. Except in this case the service was free.

And then there's the fact that, like many things Leica, common sense sometimes does not apply.

John
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Old 11-22-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIkhail View Post
Forgive me for asking... is this camera worth a few months wait? Is any camera? I mean you want to shoot camera, you buy it for very substantial money and wait for a few months... do you see nothing wrong here?

I don't mean to troll or offend anybody, just curious how does one justify something like that...
M,

You ask a very good question.

I waited 12 weeks for Harry Fleenor to overhaul a Rollie 3.5F. Harry is simply the best and worth any wait. Waiting for repairs is part of ownership of some cameras.

In regard to the Monochrom it is a bit of a cult camera being the first B&W only digital camera if you discount the B&W backs say built by Phase One. It also features a CCD sensor that offers a rather unique rendering, CMOS has replaced the CCD sensor as an upgrade in the new M-246, and it is highly unlikely that the more costly CCD sensor will ever make a comeback.

Despite many limitations (limited High ISO performance, less Mega-Pixels, small and slow buffer, and lack of frills) it is a very artful camera that can print mighty big and can display resolution and tonality of a larger format camera.

Anyways not for everyone but for the few that are cult followers that basically can't live without the camera, likely worth it, but unlikely for most or the masses.

For me the new M-246 is a marvel with its high ISO performance, but I love the tonality of the original Monochrom better. For me my MM has the vast midrange of medium and large format film, and the new M-246 while it has more shadow detail and a smoother rolloff in the highlights the mids are kinda scooped.

For me the original Monochrom renders more like film than any digital camera. Sometimes it is the size of the pixel verses how many pixels. In this regard my MM is only 18 MP but is 14-bit for files that are 252 MB, but understnd the M-246 , although 24 MP is only 12-bit for 288 MB.

Leica limited the bit-depth on the M-246 to limit file size due to processing speed, and for me I went to a Leica SL that is 24 MP and 14-bit for 336 MB of data, but realize that Leica utilized the processor borrowed and adapted from the medium format "S" on the SL.

I bring up the SL because although the SL and M-246 are both 24 MP the files of the SL are really a big jump and are amazing. You really can't compare a SL to a M-240 or M-246 IMHO. I'm not so sure the M-246, although a great camera, was the right camera for me. Know that I print big so big files get exploited and you can see the extra detail. If you only print 13x19 then all this extra data kinda goes wasted because the print size is unlikely to reveal all the extra detail.

I still love my Monochrom, warts and all. The CCD has a unique rendering, and to me it is the most film like. While only 18MP I sometimes get large format results in my prints (20x30 on 24x36 paper).

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Old 11-22-2016   #20
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I bring up the SL because although the SL and M-246 are both 24 MP the files of the SL are really a big jump and are amazing. You really can't compare a SL to a M-240 or M-246 IMHO.
A big jump in math or in real IQ?
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Old 11-22-2016   #21
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Well the 246 MM has no color so it actually compares more to a 48 MP color sensor when talking IQ.
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Old 11-22-2016   #22
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A big jump in math or in real IQ?
John,

I think a noticable difference, but perhaps that only gets distinguished via mucho enlargment (croping in) or printing big. Maybe not noticable on a 13x19, but evident on a 20x30 for sure. In comparing a M-246 file against a SL file the size difference is 48 MB: not a small amount (16% more data). How visible and to whom is a very good question. I think I could see a 16% difference, but it might go un-noticed by many.

I think with the SL maybe/perhaps 20x30 could be the normal print size if one has the big enough printer, and the money to print consistently big.

I think it is more than math. Know that I'm gauging all this against my Monochrom which I have done extensive printing large. I am also utilizing inputs from people I respect on this forum that suggest in they see little difference between 13x19 prints when comparing MM, M-246, and SL B&W prints.

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Old 11-22-2016   #23
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Well the 246 MM has no color so it actually compares more to a 48 MP color sensor when talking IQ.
Thanks for mentioning an important fact, but some would gauge the effective comparision to about a third more resolution, not double. Perhaps a 36MP color sensor, which is a lot.

I just want to make clear that the M-246 is a remarkable camera, and it is mucho more advanced in many ways over my MM. I have no intent to bash someone else's camera. In fact I wouldn't mind owning one, but there are limits...

What is good for me, likely is not good for others...

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Old 11-22-2016   #24
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One option: Buy it, and mail it to Leica "for sensor cleaning". If they tell you it is a corroded sensor, Leica will replace it for no charge. Right?
I would not want to mail the camera somewhere four times a year. Of course I wet clean the M9 like any other sensor and if it has to be replaced, camera will go to Wetzlar.
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Old 11-22-2016   #25
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Corrosion will only get worse over time. The changes may be slow, but once moisture reaches the IR filter layer, the filter film reacts wth water. Game over.

Eventually all first generation IR filter layers will corrode. Again, this will occur at different rates (so anecdotal reports can be confusing). But even in dry climates moisture will eventually reach the IR filter layer.

A 2015 sensor replacement probably used the original, water labile IR filter layer.

So, either return it and find an example with the improved IR filter layer or keep it and wait in the queue.
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Old 11-22-2016   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calzone View Post

I think with the SL maybe/perhaps 20x30 could be the normal print size if one has the big enough printer, and the money to print consistently big.

I think it is more than math. Know that I'm gauging all this against my Monochrom which I have done extensive printing large. I am also utilizing inputs from people I respect on this forum that suggest in they see little difference between 13x19 prints when comparing MM, M-246, and SL B&W prints.

Cal
Not to derail the conversation even further from main topic... I can see the difference in resolution and sharpness, yes. I just fail to see the need for super ultra sharpness that people sometimes willing to sell a family farm for... I have seen original prints of André Kertész, for example, that were not sharp at 8 by 10, let alone larger size. Yet they are remarkable pieces of art...
On the other hand, who looks at 20 by 30 print with the magnifying glass? I have several prints of this size that look wonderful on a wall as one stands couple feet away. Taken with Canon 10D and L-lens, as well as 35mm something.... And that's how people stand when they look at them...
In fact, maybe to my twisted brain only, something in size 20x30 looking bitingly sharp on a wall would be un-natural.
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Old 11-22-2016   #27
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Quote:
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Thanks for mentioning an important fact, but some would gauge the effective comparision to about a third more resolution, not double. Perhaps a 36MP color sensor, which is a lot.

I just want to make clear that the M-246 is a remarkable camera, and it is mucho more advanced in many ways over my MM. I have no intent to bash someone else's camera. In fact I wouldn't mind owning one, but there are limits...

What is good for me, likely is not good for others...

Cal
Allen,

I skewed the math. 36MP is 50% more not a third. Pardon my math/proportions.

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Old 11-22-2016   #28
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Not to derail the conversation even further from main topic... I can see the difference in resolution and sharpness, yes. I just fail to see the need for super ultra sharpness that people sometimes willing to sell a family farm for... I have seen original prints of André Kertész, for example, that were not sharp at 8 by 10, let alone larger size. Yet they are remarkable pieces of art...
On the other hand, who looks at 20 by 30 print with the magnifying glass? I have several prints of this size that look wonderful on a wall as one stands couple feet away. Taken with Canon 10D and L-lens, as well as 35mm something.... And that's how people stand when they look at them...
In fact, maybe to my twisted brain only, something in size 20x30 looking bitingly sharp on a wall would be un-natural.
M,

We live in a world where we can transcend formats. What I am saying is that one can reveal the detail and extended tonality of medium format and at times large format from a small format camera.

A point I was trying to get across is one can print crazy big if one wants to, not that one has to.

Some people would say that Fuji Acros looks digital, but I guess some people say that they don't understand large format photography.

As far as exhibitions go Sabastion Salgado printed really big wet prints that used a lot of large format aesthetic and utilized 4x5 digital negatives to print a stunning exhibition that was truely remarkable.

Not that it is inexpensive, but now that technology is within grasp of regular people.

Cal
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Old 11-22-2016   #29
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M,

We live in a world where we can transcend formats. What I am saying is that one can reveal the detail and extended tonality of medium format and at times large format from a small format camera.

A point I was trying to get across is one can print crazy big if one wants to, not that one has to.

Some people would say that Fuji Acros looks digital, but I guess some people say that they don't understand large format photography.

As far as exhibitions go Sabastion Salgado printed really big wet prints that used a lot of large format aesthetic and utilized 4x5 digital negatives to print a stunning exhibition that was truely remarkable.

Not that it is inexpensive, but now that technology is within grasp of regular people.

Cal
I confess, Fuji Acros to me does look digital, so does Kodak Ektar (I dont know why bother and in the end get results smooth as digital).
But I see your point- you don't have to but you can, that's why you want it. That's fine.

BTW, I saw the huge prints by Sabastion Salgado while in Florida last year... I did like his old work and did not his latest (Genesis) at all. For example this looks bad to me.
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Old 11-22-2016   #30
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If you got the camera for a decent price, bite the bullet and schedule the sensor replacement. The corrosion doesn't look too bad now, but it will get worse. My MM was in the shop for six months for sensor replacement, but it was worth the wait.
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Old 11-22-2016   #31
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I confess, Fuji Acros to me does look digital, so does Kodak Ektar (I dont know why bother and in the end get results smooth as digital).
But I see your point- you don't have to but you can, that's why you want it. That's fine.

BTW, I saw the huge prints by Sabastion Salgado while in Florida last year... I did like his old work and did not his latest (Genesis) at all. For example this looks bad to me.
M,

I do prefer his earlier work also. I think it is his best and his true legacy. I did see how in some of the vistas how the resolution worked very well like the shot of the mountain valley or the iceburg.

Your points are well taken. At times it all gets HDR like, and I do sometimes see that in my work where it likely crosses that line.

Back on topic: out of all the digital cameras the original Monochrom presents itself as being the most film like. In addressing your question I think this is why it kinda has the cult following. Also it seems that the files, especially when used with a light yellow filter, seems to need the least amount of post processing. It seems the best shots are as taken at time of image capture, and with these images the amount of post is the least.

Another charm is the original Monochromes lack of complexity. It very much shoots like a film camera and by my SL's standards is rather minimalist and primitive. Now especially fun to use because of its lack of complexity.

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Old 11-22-2016   #32
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Back on topic:
Well.... the original topic is sensor corrosion. Just saying.
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Old 11-22-2016   #34
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Well.... the original topic is sensor corrosion. Just saying.
To OP. My apologies.

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Old 11-22-2016   #35
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To the OP, if you wait for it, I think it would be in your best interest to get the sensor replaced. At this point, it should only cost you time. Afterwards, you can likely then sell the camera for a little more (maybe?) than what you paid, since your investment in time is now no longer required for the next owner.

Or just keep it and use it. Definitely still takes amazing pictures.
While there probably is some special juju one sees when printing big, for me, I preferred the new 246 for ease of use and having the same ecosystem (batteries, baseplate, etc) as my m240. If that's of interest, Leica may offer you an option to upgrade the M9 to M246.

What Cal has written above already should hopefully be helpful if you need to make that decision.

Either way, keep the camera if you got it for a good price and send it in for replacement. The rest is up to you.
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Old 11-22-2016   #36
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Not to derail the conversation even further from main topic... I can see the difference in resolution and sharpness, yes. I just fail to see the need for super ultra sharpness that people sometimes willing to sell a family farm for... I have seen original prints of André Kertész, for example, that were not sharp at 8 by 10, let alone larger size. Yet they are remarkable pieces of art...
On the other hand, who looks at 20 by 30 print with the magnifying glass? I have several prints of this size that look wonderful on a wall as one stands couple feet away. Taken with Canon 10D and L-lens, as well as 35mm something.... And that's how people stand when they look at them...
In fact, maybe to my twisted brain only, something in size 20x30 looking bitingly sharp on a wall would be un-natural.
Dear Mikhail,

Where can you get a farm for the price of a Leica? Or are you exaggerating ever so slightly?

Cheers,

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Old 11-22-2016   #37
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Re: pepeguitarra - The camera was from Hawaii, but the seller said that the camera was stored in a climate controlled storage... so no idea if the weather makes a difference.

Re: Cal - No offense taken so no apology needed. I always enjoy your take on things in other threads too.

Thank you for all the responses. Even after using the camera for a few days, despite very much a beginner to B&W, I like what I see. I decided to keep the camera and send it in for sensor check and possible replacement. I am going to try to clean the sensor once, and if that doesn't improve, I will be sending it in.

Re: MIkhail - I think it's worth it to wait. Not a very logical decision, but buying a B&W only camera hardly seems logical either (to most people it seems!)

I don't know how to describe it, but there's something different about the images. I in fact read through all 120 pages on the Monochrom images thread (!) before deciding to try a MM myself. I am still learning how to control the tonality, and here are just two pictures:

With a Summicron 35/2


With a Nikon 105/2.5


Speaking of which, how does one learn tonality?
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Old 11-23-2016   #39
icebear
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Originally Posted by Chemophilic View Post
....
With a Nikon 105/2.5


Speaking of which, how does one learn tonality?
I really like the sky and seascape shot. Well done under pretty difficult lighting conditions. The surface reflection is delightful.

You will need to learn to optimize the histogram. I.e. shoot to the right w/o blowing the highlights. A light yellow filter (e.g. helipoan) will help with the MM. This is the capture part which of course is most important. If you screw up here, it's gone. Second part post production ... get a good monitor with a non glaring screen, have a calibration tool (and use it regularly). I only use LR general adjustments and I don't fool around with SFX film look settings or stuff like that but that's a personal preference. The beauty of the MM files is that they can be tweaked into whatever your preference is because they are so rich in mid tones to begin with. It's a learning curve but once you get there, you will love it. Congrats.
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Old 11-23-2016   #40
Calzone
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Speaking of which, how does one learn tonality?
Set up the clipping indicators at 1% and chimp the histogram to learn perfect exposure and to gain consistentcy. The histogram does not lie and it also quantifies the exposure, tonal range, and IQ at a glance. It should not take long to get consistent because you get immediate feedback by chimping.

Basically try to make a histogram as far to the right as possible without clipping. Also try to make ten-zone histograms for the broadest tonal range. Try to make histograms with mucho midrange to create medium and large format like results. Look to make/create histograms that resemble a profile of a Sperm Whale (Moby Dick) if you want to resemble large format tonality.

Use Heliopan 2X yellow filters marked "Digital" that have additional IR and UV filtering for lower noise, higher signal to noise ratio, and less clipping. Basically speciffically with the Heliopan filter it seems to hit the sweet spot of the sensor.

For me I shoot as if I am a large format shooter and try to make the best at image capture. Rescuing images with post processing is not the way to go, and the best images really only need tweaking in Lightroom. I never add sharpness. Think of how large format shooters make negatives for contact printing.

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