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Digital Leica M8 / M8.2 / M9 / M-E /Mono / M10 aka "M" Discussions about the Leica M8 /M 8.2 / M9 / M9-P/ M-E / M Monochrom / M10 aka "M": Leica digital M mount rangefinder cameras. Naming the new digital M the "Leica M" is VERY unfortunate as it will only confuse newbies with other Leica M cameras of the the past. Happily there is room for confusion with only the past 59 years of Leica M production ... since Leica introduced the Leica M system in 1953. All Hail for the Leica Marketing Department learning Leica M history!

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Monochrom: Love or Not?
Old 11-07-2012   #1
boomguy57
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Monochrom: Love or Not?

I can't make up my mind on the MM. Is it genius, or is it as the following reviewer describes it:

Quote:
So then, what is the real reason that someone would spend eight thousand dollars on a digital camera that only shoots black and white? The real reason is that it's an eight thousand dollar digital camera that only shoots black and white. It's the same reason anyone would shoot with a rangefinder at all these days: it's obtuse to the point of cool. Or, more charitably, limits breed creativity (a topic about which I've written before). Of course historically there were actual advantages to rangefinders, but the advent of digital obviated most of those advantages to one degree or another. DP Review recently tried to articulate the appeal, but basically these days it boils down to, "I am a bomb-ass photographer, and a baller to boot; I like my exposure controls physical, my focus manual, and I'll be goddamned if I'm going to shoot in color. Check out my sweet Leica man-jewelry. Yeah, they left the "e" off the end of "Monochrom" on purpose. Less is more, man."
(You can see the article here.)

Or is it something that really does give you more by giving you less, as this essay argues:

Quote:
It's the same with B&W. Taking a color picture and converting it to B&W is trivial. What's not trivial is learning how to see in B&W.
(Full essay here.)

Thoughts on the idea of the MM, and its usefulness? Can someone help me decide if this really is the M3-and-TriX solution for the digital era, or if it's just another step in Leica's evolution to a luxury brand that is out of touch with most hobbyist photographers (like the ones on this forum, for example)?

Or is it both?

Anyway, I'm just trying to have a conversational thread that isn't full of rants (or politics, for a nice change for those of us in the USA). So...discuss!
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Old 11-07-2012   #2
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I want to see what the Monochrom does in an average photographer's hands. The images I've seen here are really impressive, but so much of that is skill on the photographer's part.

It's moot to me, though, because there's no way I could ever afford one. I do hold out hope for a Fuji dedicated B/W camera, though.
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Old 11-07-2012   #3
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The pictures I've seen so far are very impressive to me. I won't buy one, because I don't know enough even to shop for a digital camera much less buy one, but it seems to me that in the hands of really expert artists, some very fine work is being done. As for the "average photographer," and I'm one of those, I don't think many MM's will sell in that market.
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Old 11-07-2012   #4
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I shoot a lot of film, but getting a MM for me is a separate medium, and that's O.K.

What pushed me over the edge is that hopefully I can get some of that medium format look in a small M-package, but also realize that I have no digital skills.

I'm sure I will love my MM. Currently number 11 on my dealer's waiting list.

Also know that I will not be culling down my film cameras and will continue to use them.

Cal
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Old 11-07-2012   #5
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I think the writer doesn't appreciate using a brightline finder with a patch for focusing. To me that's the advantage of using rangefinders, whatever the brand. But not everyone cares about brightline finders.

The idea that it has to do with Leica or being a 'baller' comes from the writer, me thinks. And physical exposure controls, manual focus, and the ergonomics not getting in the way are not Leica or rangefinder specific. My Pentax Spotmatic also stays out of my way of taking photos.
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Old 11-07-2012   #6
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If you're interest is B&W photography in the manner of doing photography with B&W film, the Leica M Monochrom gives you more of that experience than any other current digital camera. It's net gain for giving up color capture over the M9 to which its sensor is most closely related is two stops more sensitivity ... in other words, you get the same dynamic range and detail resolution at ISO 3200 that the M9 delivers at ISO 800. You need to use B&W filters the same as you do with B&W film to adjust tonal relationships in the color spectrum, etc.

It is expensive because it is a niche camera based on an already expensive camera. If you want what it has to offer, it's the only game in town. If you don't, just move along and buy something else.

I'd love one, but whether I want it enough to spend the money for it I haven't determined yet. I think I'd prefer to reserve that money for a new Leica M first, and then see if I feel the MM's difference and niche advantage is worth selling my M9 to fund.
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Old 11-07-2012   #7
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I'm Torn on the MM ...
there are Moments I'm totally Smitten and other Times So what

What I Love about it is the Rich Inky Blacks. There is a 'stylized' Feel to Quite a number of the Photos
which tend to have a Tres Atmospheric, sometimes noirish look which I Do Like

What I do not like is perhaps there is Too 'Stylized' a Look
and it seems to Lack a Sense of Light pervading thru the overall Photo...as if we Live in an overall Dark Apocalyptic World
It also seems to have a Limited Tonal Range

I think I might prefer an M9... (have no Idea about M-E/M10)
simply because I Adore the Colours that it portrays...very Painterly with a Touch of Sophistication in Palatte
and Stay with shooting B&W Film

In the End, Kudos to Leica for coming out with It...on some Levels its Quite a Marvel
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Old 11-07-2012   #8
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I am a bit more into portraiture these days, and I shoot a lot of lenses wide open on not so sharp film, yet, if anything, I find, that the resolution (in 35mm) is still slightly too high. Thinking about putting a Summilux ASPH on the Monochrom for portraiture makes me shudder. On the other hand, when I want to shoot landscapes, I really prefer to take a look at my image on the ground glass, and take it easy, so the Hasselblads work great for this. I wouldn't really know what to use the Monochrom for, because in the street, it's inability to handle strong highlights makes it useless in my eyes. However, for a more gritty look in B&W, the Monochrome certainly has a lot of appeal, and being always a Leica, it retains the appeal of composing through the VF, and the Leica nimbleness and pleasure in the handling.
Someone, who compares a digital Leica to a computer with a lens like Canon, doesn't even understand the difference between a Lamborghini tractor and a Lamborghini Miura.
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Old 11-07-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
I'm Torn on the MM ...
there are Moments I'm totally Smitten and other Times So what

What I Love about it is the Rich Inky Blacks. There is a 'stylized' Feel to Quite a number of the Photos
which tend to have a Tres Atmospheric, sometimes noirish look which I Do Like

What I do not like is perhaps there is Too 'Stylized' a Look
and it seems to Lack a Sense of Light pervading thru the overall Photo...as if we Live in an overall Dark World
It also seems to have a Limited Tonal Range

I think I might prefer an M9... (have no Idea about M-E/M10)
simply because I Adore the Colours that it portrays...very Painterly with a Touch of Sophistication in Palatte
and Stay with shooting B&W Film
Helen,

I think I know what you mean. For me the images look a lot like Fuji Arcos which some people say looks digital even though its film.

I'm very curious about using old glass for some retro character. I own a 35/1.8 Nikkor in LTM that I'm hoping is a "magic" lens on my MM.

I like the clean look, and it is what it is: a digital camera with outstanding resolution in a small package.

Cal
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Old 11-07-2012   #10
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Like many, I don't own an MM, nor could I ever justify it. But if you can afford it - and it is small change to many wealthy (whatever that means) people - then why not? No different to buying a Rolex that costs the same - it still tells the time, just as the Leica captures the image. It seems to be the user experience that is often important. Simplicity, functionality, quality engineering all add to the experience, if that is what you want.

As to an M3 + Tri-X solution to the digital era, I would say 'no', purely from a personal perspective. I'm sure a lot of RFFers would say that using film in a manual camera cuts back to the basics of photography, free of histograms, RAW vs Jpegs et al, and that is the attraction to many, not to mention the feel of holding the real image, tonality etc etc.

I think the real watershed will come when someone makes a digital rangefinder that combines the some of the simplicity and purity of the M3 with scaled down firmware that appeals to film shooters, all at a price that hits the middle market. The X-Pro 1 seems to get close by all accounts. I think it is just a matter of time - if a big enough market for such a camera exists, of course.
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Old 11-07-2012   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
I'm Torn on the MM ...
there are Moments I'm totally Smitten and other Times So what

What I Love about it is the Rich Inky Blacks. There is a 'stylized' Feel to Quite a number of the Photos
which tend to have a Tres Atmospheric, sometimes noirish look which I Do Like

What I do not like is perhaps there is Too 'Stylized' a Look
and it seems to Lack a Sense of Light pervading thru the overall Photo...as if we Live in an overall Dark Apocalyptic World
It also seems to have a Limited Tonal Range

I think I might prefer an M9... (have no Idea about M-E/M10)
simply because I Adore the Colours that it portrays...very Painterly with a Touch of Sophistication in Palatte
and Stay with shooting B&W Film

In the End, Kudos to Leica for coming out with It...on some Levels its Quite a Marvel
All of the points you make are a matter of image rendering and have little to do with the MM itself.
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Old 11-07-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calzone View Post
Helen,

I think I know what you mean. For me the images look a lot like Fuji Arcos which some people say looks digital even though its film.

I'm very curious about using old glass for some retro character. I own a 35/1.8 Nikkor in LTM that I'm hoping is a "magic" lens on my MM.

I like the clean look, and it is what it is: a digital camera with outstanding resolution in a small package.
Cal
couldn't AGREE more about using RETRO Glass with the MM
I think it would Add the Perfect Softness when shooting Portraiture and hopefully some Old Style Glam !
the nikkor 36/1.8 sounds Wonderful
and so does the 1930's summar
Menos used for one of his Portraits

I'm still a Big Fan of the Summar which many People tend to Dismiss...
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Old 11-07-2012   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
All of the points you make are a matter of image rendering and have little to do with the MM itself.
Sorry Godfrey but I Disagree....

on some Level PP is Involved if One Chooses
but I do Believe their is an Inherent 'Look' to the Camera's Sensor and what it Produces

Each Digital out there has a Certain Character
and then its up to the Photographer to Enhance or Minimize that Vision

Actually the more I think about it
Choosing your Film and the way You Develop gives You a 'Look'
I am sure that Sensors and the way they are Tweaked have a Look as well...
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Old 11-07-2012   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
I am a bit more into portraiture these days, and I shoot a lot of lenses wide open on not so sharp film, yet, if anything, I find, that the resolution (in 35mm) is still slightly too high. Thinking about putting a Summilux ASPH on the Monochrom for portraiture makes me shudder. On the other hand, when I want to shoot landscapes, I really prefer to take a look at my image on the ground glass, and take it easy, so the Hasselblads work great for this. I wouldn't really know what to use the Monochrom for, because in the street, it's inability to handle strong highlights makes it useless in my eyes. However, for a more gritty look in B&W, the Monochrome certainly has a lot of appeal, and being always a Leica, it retains the appeal of composing through the VF, and the Leica nimbleness and pleasure in the handling.
Someone, who compares a digital Leica to a computer with a lens like Canon, doesn't even understand the difference between a Lamborghini tractor and a Lamborghini Miura.
I strongly disagree with the point about highlights. It is not hard to control the exposure. Any blown highlight on any digital camera looks sh!t ( and on slide film, for that matter), even if it can be extrapolated from a color channel.
Have a look at my Africa article - there is street type work there in the harshest of light.
Actually the MM is perfect in those conditions because of the extended dynamic range in the shadows - just expose for the highlights and pull the shadows up.
If you blow a hole in your image in the sun it is simply exposure error. I know - I learnt the hard way.
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Old 11-07-2012   #15
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I have a real affinity towards rangefinders. This site is partially to blame. Their operation, it's simplicity and effectiveness is the big draw. And I've been trying to replicate that in digital with a NEX-5N and Ricoh GXR, M mount lenses and such. It's not the same experience at all. And thus, I've ordered the Monochrom. I have above average skill with post processing, but still am an "average" photographer though. So we'll see how it goes!
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Old 11-07-2012   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by segedi View Post
I have a real affinity towards rangefinders. This site is partially to blame. Their operation, it's simplicity and effectiveness is the big draw. And I've been trying to replicate that in digital with a NEX-5N and Ricoh GXR, M mount lenses and such. It's not the same experience at all. ...
I agree completely. I still have and use my GXR ... it's a fine camera in its own right ... but it is not a rangefinder camera. Plus it is a different format.
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Old 11-07-2012   #17
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Quote:
"I am a bomb-ass photographer, and a baller to boot; I like my exposure controls physical, my focus manual, and I'll be goddamned if I'm going to shoot in color. Check out my sweet Leica man-jewelry. Yeah, they left the "e" off the end of "Monochrom" on purpose. Less is more, man."

If the guy misses the point, why would anybody waste time trying to make him understand the point? And those silly non-English words, they should learn more to be less different and more English-writing-like. Because anything that is off from English spelling is just marketing. In an everybody-ought-to-speak-English-and-nothing-else world, of course.

w0rd.


I wonder if people who think this way find non-automatic cars that cost more than $20,000 "worse" than a $3,000 scooter that does "everything" as far as getting from point A to point B. Because it's all about the practical things that can be done in one's mindset and none about the things that could possibly be applicable to somebody else.
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Old 11-07-2012   #18
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Interesting thoughts on the MM...

I have to say that I agree with Helen to a large degree. On some days, I'm like "I need an MM!" and on other days I think "meh...that price buys a lot of nice lenses and film". One thing that I abhor is the sound these digital Leicas make. The shutter/cocking sound is hideous.
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Old 11-07-2012   #19
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I don't think us non users can really know what the MM is really like. If you search the internet for output from any camera you will find bland examples and beautiful examples. You have to stop worrying about if a digital camera is like film. It's not. Just keep using film if that is your thing. I'm pretty sure the MM is a hell of camera once you learn to use it.
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Old 11-07-2012   #20
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Many of the images posted from the Leica MM are really outstanding. It is different. The "Kodak" sensors were way different from the Japanese. Are they better? No different. Many folks carry Leica as a statement. i use mine. Is a Rangefinder no longer required? Well i see so many auto focus miss the focus point or pick the wrong point,, it's nice to do one's own. Metering is easy.Film as well as digital has tolerances..
Nobody is forcing folks to buy an M camera! If a person prefers his Nikon, Pentax or Canon, enjoy. I use all 3 plus my Leica.
Would i buy the MM? No. Too expensive.. If i won it or was donated, it would be turning red with heat from usage...OK! where's my MM?
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Old 11-07-2012   #21
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what i want to know is can you readily tell the difference between b&w images printed at 11x14 taken with the MM vs. the M9? (or are the differences really only seen when you print larger?)
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Old 11-07-2012   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogberryjr View Post
I want to see what the Monochrom does in an average photographer's hands. The images I've seen here are really impressive, but so much of that is skill on the photographer's part.

It's moot to me, though, because there's no way I could ever afford one. I do hold out hope for a Fuji dedicated B/W camera, though.
Why? An average photographer will take average pictures, regardless of camera. I want to see what a GOOD photographer can do, so I have something to aspire to.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 11-07-2012   #23
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i had a chance to try the MM for a day ,and found it to be a truly inspiring camera
but what i did not like is the amount os PP that goes in to the files afterwards
in order to emulate a film Tri-x fuji agfa or whatever one likes
felt like i was cheating on my film camera
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Old 11-07-2012   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
Sorry Godfrey but I Disagree....

on some Level PP is Involved if One Chooses
but I do Believe their is an Inherent 'Look' to the Camera's Sensor and what it Produces

Each Digital out there has a Certain Character
and then its up to the Photographer to Enhance or Minimize that Vision

Actually the more I think about it
Choosing your Film and the way You Develop gives You a 'Look'
I am sure that Sensors and the way they are Tweaked have a Look as well...
Hello Helen,

I'm not sure if you are the Helen from the Oct. meeting at Puck's Fair. ... Bloody Mary?
If you are, then you handled my Monochrom (blue Tom A. Softie & Sling finger loop).

Whatever get's shown on the internet is heavily processed and downsized for posting. Unless you have a raw file on your own calibrated monitor, you will not be able to properly judge what the MM can do.
Postprocessing in e.g. LR4 will determine the look. Depending on the exposure you have certain freedom to achieve whatever you like. Smooth tone and very subtle differences or bold contrast with rich blacks. It is up to your preference to tweek the raw file as you have decided to print you negatives.

In the Monochrome "best pictures" thread I posted a shot without any post processing, I am not sure if you have seen it.
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/phot...59&ppuser=6650
This is just an example what comes straight out of the camera. You can call that a certain look if you will.
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Old 11-07-2012   #25
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I like the Monochrom, although I don't use digital at all at the moment. I won't get one, but I do admire Leica for making it in the first place.

It serves no real practical purpose, but why does it need to? It's $8k or whatever, but one man's $8k is another man's $100.

Nice camera, I think Leica has balls for making it, but I could spend $8k differently.
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