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View Poll Results: Would you buy a B&W only M9 ?
Yes, absolutely. 70 14.23%
Yes, but only if it performs like B&W film. 59 11.99%
Yes, but only if it costs 15-20% less than the standard M9. 60 12.20%
No. 303 61.59%
Voters: 492. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-23-2010   #41
kbg32
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Kodak made a very high end b & w only digital. It was quirky and failed miserably.
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Old 01-23-2010   #42
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The Monochrome Digital Kodak was no quirkier than the color model, it was done over 10 years ago. Mine still works.
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Old 01-23-2010   #43
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Despite the fact that 90 percent of what I shoot is in B&W, there is no way I'd buy a B&W only camera. I just don't agree with the notion that digital cameras are incapable of producing stunning B&W images.
It does require a bit of work on the processing end. But then that's just life with digital photography. I'm not aiming this at anyone in particular, but I believe that too many get discouraged by digital B&W (and color for that matter) because they aren't happy with the results straight out of the camera.

But anyone who's spent any measurable time in an actual darkroom knows that great images require a certain amount of work there as well.
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Old 01-23-2010   #44
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why would anyone in their right mind buy such a thing when you can get an m6 and 1000 rolls of b&w film (self processed) and then perform a 16 bit scan. you get your digi film, and a negative.

and i haven't figured out how to put a digican into my durst d659 enlarger yet!
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Old 01-23-2010   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney View Post
The Monochrome Digital Kodak was no quirkier than the color model, it was done over 10 years ago. Mine still works.
Do you still use it?
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Old 01-23-2010   #46
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Yes, on occasion. I mostly use it for Infrared. I keep a Win 95B machine running for the SCSI interface. I also wrote my own Raw converter, which picks up more dynamic range than the Kodak Twain drivers. Hence the statement that software for Monochrome cameras is fairly trivial. Less to do than with color images requiring interpolation.



I can even put the reference portion of the CCD into the image. Of course, my software is written in FORTRAN and Assembly.



A Monochrome M9 would likely be $9,000+ to cover the custom run of the CCD. That's just a guess. It was an extra $4,000 over the standard $8,400 price of a DCS200 in 1993 for the custom run of the CCD. It was a zero-defect sensor, a real accomplishment back then.

I guess the question I have is: why would a monochrome camera be quirkier than an identical model that has a Mosaic filter with it? The level of quirkinessis less, no worry about white balance, 2x increase in sensitivity, and 4x increase in spatial resolution (worse case: blue or red objects being photographed), no aliasing problems. So unless you use a monochrome camera with a color wheel to make color images, no extra quirks.

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Old 01-23-2010   #47
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NO.

Not even if:
  • Leica were interested and actually did make one,
  • It sells for half the price of the M9
  • It is full frame with all the features anyone could ever want
To me, as a hobbyist, the appeal of shooting b&w film is the entire process, including post-processing. If I absolutely MUST have a B&W image from digital capture, I use Photoshop.
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Old 01-23-2010   #48
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I'd buy one if I could afford it, but the regular M9 costs more than I have earned on some years and you know the BW version will cost twice as much. I'll stick to my M4 and Tmax 400 and 3200
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Old 01-24-2010   #49
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What would be required to make this camera: leave the color dyes off of the Mosaic Filter, leaving all of the sites clear. That would allow the sensor geometry to be preserved and would be a minimal intrusion on the fabrication process.

More images from my Monochrome DSLR.

Hand-held. The spinning media (2.5" notebook SCSI disk) in the camera helps stabilize it for hand-held photographjy.



100% crop.


Hand-Held, wide-open at F2.8 with the Micro-Nikkor 55/2.8.



Full-crop


You can see the hot-pixel that the CCD picked up on its 15th year.



This camera is almost 20 years old. Some advances have been made since then. A Monochrome M9 would yield some incredible Black and White. "Just Desaturating" is "okay", but it is more accurate to add the sensor output in each 2x2 Bayer site to yield a monochrome equivalent detection.

Has anyone else on this forum actually used or owned a Monochrome Digital camera? I suspect I'm the only person here that has called the Kodak factory to have one custom made.

Last edited by Brian Sweeney : 01-24-2010 at 04:28.
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Old 01-24-2010   #50
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Brian,

Thank you for sharing your pictures and knowledge in this field.

I do think there is a real economic issue for Leica, that would cause them apprehension. I still believe that the best way to see this product come to be, is a financial commitment by a group of buyers. I think a small company like Leica would be receptive to a special project if the right monetary incentives where in place.

What I am wondering is the feasibility of an aftermarket conversion of the M8 & M8.2? What would one expect for the image quality with this size sensor? What size of production numbers are needed to make the cost marketable?

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Old 01-24-2010   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney View Post
...Has anyone else on this forum actually used or owned a Monochrome Digital camera? ...
I've got though four DCS's since the monochrome 420 in 1993. I did mostly B&W portraits with a 50mm Nikkor. For products, I got round the small format thing by stitching 3 verticals most of the time. Two odd-ball Proneas did web animation. The last full-frame DCS billed about 100k euro doing watches; either mounted upside-down with a pcNikkor (the lever won't fit over the tummy) or with a 60mm macro nikkor, vertical stitched.

Last edited by downstairs : 01-24-2010 at 06:24. Reason: detai
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Old 01-24-2010   #52
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Downstairs- very nice use, would love to see some of the images posted.

Biggambi- it is not possible to substitute a different CCD for the one in the M8 as the KAF-10500 is not available without the color Mosaic Filter. The cover glass is cemented in place, and it is not possible to remove. Removing the cover glass would be required to bleach the Mosaic Filter. The CCD would be destroyed.

A semi-custom run of the CCD would be required to skip a step. Kodak did a custom run of 50 CCD's to leave off the IR blocking filter for the KAF-1600 to create the DCS200ir. I talked to them about it, and a little while later they called back and said they would do it. They had a second request for the same modification and told me they were doing a custom run of 50 CCD's.
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Old 01-24-2010   #53
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3-Stitch monochrome Kodak DCS 420.



DCS 14N converted to monochrome. Not the same tone range!

Last edited by downstairs : 01-24-2010 at 06:54.
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Old 01-24-2010   #54
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That is really nice.

The only Image stitching that I've seen was a custom sensor using multiple 25Mpixel CCD's. Four were used, for 100MPixel monochrome images. One of my mechanical engineers assisted on the project, loaned to another group.
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Old 01-24-2010   #55
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Brian: If I am following you, it is possible to retrofit a new sensor. But, it would require a custom run by Kodak. Is this correct? Would the current electronic architecture support a custom CCD? Would you expect to see results that would make such a conversion a worthwhile endeavor? Let's set aside the cost for now and look just from the perspective of benefits gained.
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Old 01-24-2010   #56
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The current electronics of the camera would support a custom run of the KAF-10500 that left the color dye out of the Bayer filter. I think that the easiest "hack", just use a Mosaic Filter layer that does not have any color dye in it.

Again, I'm an engineer. When we needed something made for a procject, we approached the company, stated the need, and got a quote. Often, we paid the NRE.

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Old 01-24-2010   #57
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I have only sporadically used B&W since I could afford colour in the 1970s. I do not have the eye for it somehow.
Electronics are inherently much more reliable than mechanical devices, but microelectronic parts may become no-longer-available, whilst some unavailable mechanical parts can be made by a good technician.
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Old 01-24-2010   #58
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Brian: This still begs the question, would you expect the M8x converted to produce an image that would be worth the endeavor? Again, setting aside the cost, and looking just at the quality of the image.

Regards,
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Old 01-24-2010   #59
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For b/w, the M9 will never achieve the quality of the M8.
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Old 01-24-2010   #60
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Quote:
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For b/w, the M9 will never achieve the quality of the M8.
could you explain why?
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Old 01-24-2010   #61
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In terms of "pure quality", a Monochrome sensor picks up 1 F-Stop of sensitivity, as it gets rid of the color filter in front of the sensor. It picks up 4x the resolution for red and blue objects, and twice the resolution for green objects. Subjective difference? It's just better, but if people are comfortable with desaturating the image from the color sensor, hard to say. If I were going to buy an M9 for professional B&W work, I'd spend the extra money on it for work. For home use, probably not.

The M9 will never achieve the quality for Infrared Work of the M8. And if you get into the IR range, the M8 is essentially a Monochrome camera. All three color dyes used for the Mosaic Filter fail to absorb IR. So in the IR region, the M8 is a good Monochrome camera. Take that DAMNED IR absorbing glass off the Sensor, it would be a GREAT IR monochrome camera.

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Old 01-24-2010   #62
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Quote:
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In terms of "pure quality", a Monochrome sensor picks up 1 F-Stop of sensitivity, as it gets rid of the color filter in front of the sensor. It picks up 4x the resolution for red and blue objects, and twice the resolution for green objects. Subjective difference? It's just better, but if people are comfortable with desaturating the image from the color sensor, hard to say. If I were going to buy an M9 for professional B&W work, I'd spend the extra money on it for work. For home use, probably not.

The M9 will never achieve the quality for Infrared Work of the M8. And if you get into the IR range, the M8 is essentially a Monochrome camera. All three color dyes used for the Mosaic Filter fail to absorb IR. So in the IR region, the M8 is a good Monochrome camera. Take that DAMNED IR absorbing glass off the Sensor, it would be a GREAT IR monochrome camera.
Thanks Brian, I now understand a bit better. BetterLight was on the same track last year.
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Old 01-24-2010   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney View Post
In terms of "pure quality", a Monochrome sensor picks up 1 F-Stop of sensitivity, as it gets rid of the color filter in front of the sensor. It picks up 4x the resolution for red and blue objects, and twice the resolution for green objects. Subjective difference? It's just better, but if people are comfortable with desaturating the image from the color sensor, hard to say. If I were going to buy an M9 for professional B&W work, I'd spend the extra money on it for work. For home use, probably not.

The M9 will never achieve the quality for Infrared Work of the M8. And if you get into the IR range, the M8 is essentially a Monochrome camera. All three color dyes used for the Mosaic Filter fail to absorb IR. So in the IR region, the M8 is a good Monochrome camera. Take that DAMNED IR absorbing glass off the Sensor, it would be a GREAT IR monochrome camera.
O.K. Brian,

Let's get into the actual spec we would want to approach Kodak to create the optimum B&W system via the M8x. What are the chances that Leica would give us the source code in a co-operative engineering program? So, that the system may be optimized as you have pointed out in another thread. I am thinking that the M8x is the target camera. They are going to be attainable at a greatly reduced price, and people see them as an inferior product to the M9. Leica has moved on and they are not going to be looking back.
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Old 01-24-2010   #64
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The "DNG" file format should not have to change. It would be nice to have true 16-bit values stored rather than the 8-bit "square-root-of-whatever" algorithm that cuts storage in half. You also recover about 12 columns and rows of the edges of the frame as the color-interpolation scheme is not required.

Leica could modify the source code easily. I've been in the position of getting source code delivered with systems in order to implement custom features.

Optimal CCD would leave off the entire layer for the Bayer Filter, rather than just having a layer without Dye. But then the sensor geometry changes.

SO: if Kodak were to make a run of CCD's without Dye on the layer, and you use DNG, not much else changes. Leica would have to calibrate the Meter for 1 Stop, or you would use -1ev all the time.
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Old 01-24-2010   #65
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For b/w, the M9 will never achieve the quality of the M8.
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Old 01-24-2010   #66
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but if people are comfortable with desaturating the image from the color sensor, hard to say.
I'm sure you are aware that desaturating is just about the very worst way of converting an image to B&W. If that is your yardstick, I can understand the need for a dedicated B&W camera - it cuts out pilot error....
If you simply desaturate you throw away everything but the luminance channel and you lose 67% of the image. However, if you convert properly, you actually use the colour infomation and can tweak the curves per colour, giving you better tonal separation than any monochrome sensor could ever hope to produce. A B&W sensor would be a step backwards and I would never buy a camera with one because it would impair the results I get from a full colour system.
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Old 01-24-2010   #67
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The proper way to convert from color to monochrome is to add the values of the elements from the 2x2 Bayer site and divide by 4. You also get 1/4th the resolution. That is the correct way to do it.

Now- as an engineer, if you want better monochrome performance, you get rid of the Mosaic Filter. If you want something that looks like monochrome, there are a lot of ways to do it. The results look nice, even if they cannot be used for radiometric and other technical applications. But they "look okay" to the eye, and it alright for some people.

> it cuts out pilot error....

Yes, it cuts out user errors that are made by just "eyeballing" it, rather than capturing the image as it should appear.

Has anyone else on this forum done conversions to watts/steradian using their digital cameras?

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Old 01-24-2010   #68
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Definitely, especially if camera will be with 36x36 sensor.
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Old 01-24-2010   #69
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Definitely, especially if camera will be with 36x36 sensor.
How are you going to handle the vignetting? The square that fits into a circle defined by a 24x36 rectangle measures 28x28 mm
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Old 01-25-2010   #70
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The proper way to convert from color to monochrome is to add the values of the elements from the 2x2 Bayer site and divide by 4. You also get 1/4th the resolution. That is the correct way to do it.

Now- as an engineer, if you want better monochrome performance, you get rid of the Mosaic Filter. If you want something that looks like monochrome, there are a lot of ways to do it. The results look nice, even if they cannot be used for radiometric and other technical applications. But they "look okay" to the eye, and it alright for some people.

> it cuts out pilot error....

Yes, it cuts out user errors that are made by just "eyeballing" it, rather than capturing the image as it should appear.

Has anyone else on this forum done conversions to watts/steradian using their digital cameras?
Dear Brian,

I'm not sure about 'should'. There's too much of the psychology and indeed physiology of vision involved. 'Eyeballing' is almost certainly a better solution than physics, when it comes down to what we see/ think we see/ want to see.

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Old 01-25-2010   #71
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How are you going to handle the vignetting? The square that fits into a circle defined by a 24x36 rectangle measures 28x28 mm
Dear Jaap,

Wasn't that the format of 126 Instamatic?

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Old 01-25-2010   #72
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Roger...the fatal flaw, as I see it in the M9. Goes to the very root of rangfinder concept. That is rangefinders are instruments..in all areas of industry. To measure a distance with the utmost accuracy. The M9 Fails....period. it has an inferior rangefinder system. It goes directly against the idea that a step forward means...better results. The results must start with a focusing device that give greater accuracy that the previous model....not less. You can not get better accuracy with M9. The rangefinder base is less accurate.

Now here we have a full frame camera that does not have the ability to out perform an original M3 !! That is not progress.

As for the sensor...why do we need the million dollar solution for the same problem that Nikon & Canon have deliver for less. Is the Nikon sensor inferior? No.

A special BW sensor...is again proving that they blew it when they delivered the original concept for a better product over the M8.2

So you really have to come back to an even greater problem..the people who decide what is best for us! M9 is flawed from the "clean sheet" of paper is was born. Sad but true...remember. All Inferior M3, 4 , 5, 6, and 7..with even a .72 , 85 or 92 can deliver a better image by virtue of superior focus accuracy. So while would have wished they had actually gotten it right on the M9....a miss is as good as a mile.
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Old 01-25-2010   #73
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So you really have to come back to an even greater problem..the people who decide what is best for us!
Why "us". You can't speak for me. But I don't have a problem with it, that you don't like the M9.

Quote:
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All Inferior M3, 4 , 5, 6, and 7..with even a .72 , 85 or 92 can deliver a better image by virtue of superior focus accuracy. So while would have wished they had actually gotten it right on the M9....a miss is as good as a mile.
How is it possible that people are able to get sharp photos with M8/M9 even wide open when it's so inferior?
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Old 01-25-2010   #74
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The M9 is the best full frame digital rangefinder in the world. There is no real way to declare it "good" or "bad." There is nothing to compare it to. It's not the camera of choice for 99.9 percent of the people who use cameras. But there is no debating what it is.
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Old 01-25-2010   #75
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Well Shoot, I had this nice response just waiting but no one has queued me.

So I'll just post it anyway.

I'm bringing in Digital Sensor Fabrication Expert Jack Nicholson to explain the issues with fabricating a Monochrome Sensor.

Take it, Jack.

Well, I used to like my Digital cameras to be Monochrome and without that damned IR cut filter. I want it all back, and will filter when I want. Don't want some weenee cutting in on my light. It's just like a Tomato and Lettuce sandwich, no bacon. But today, nobody leaves off the Bacon. At first I got mad, but then took a peek-sy into the Kitchen. A whole line of cooks making that BLT- yumm, yumm. First guy takes a plate, next cook puts the first piece of bread, next cook puts on Bacon, next guy lettuce, next cook puts on the annealing Mayo, next cook pops a few slices of tomato so the annealing Mayo will not seep into the bread, next guy puts on the top piece of bread and pushes down. Finally the taste tester takes a bite, and if it ain't a BLT out it goes. I SAW what happened to the Lettuce and tomato sandwich- stopped after the slice of bread was put on the plate and had no way to get to the lettuce cook.

Oh well, BLT for ME! Whenever I want monochrome images, I just learn to ignore the taste of bacon.

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Old 01-25-2010   #76
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Roger...the fatal flaw, as I see it in the M9. Goes to the very root of rangfinder concept. That is rangefinders are instruments..in all areas of industry. To measure a distance with the utmost accuracy. The M9 Fails....period. it has an inferior rangefinder system. It goes directly against the idea that a step forward means...better results. The results must start with a focusing device that give greater accuracy that the previous model....not less. You can not get better accuracy with M9. The rangefinder base is less accurate.

Now here we have a full frame camera that does not have the ability to out perform an original M3 !! That is not progress.

As for the sensor...why do we need the million dollar solution for the same problem that Nikon & Canon have deliver for less. Is the Nikon sensor inferior? No.

A special BW sensor...is again proving that they blew it when they delivered the original concept for a better product over the M8.2

So you really have to come back to an even greater problem..the people who decide what is best for us! M9 is flawed from the "clean sheet" of paper is was born. Sad but true...remember. All Inferior M3, 4 , 5, 6, and 7..with even a .72 , 85 or 92 can deliver a better image by virtue of superior focus accuracy. So while would have wished they had actually gotten it right on the M9....a miss is as good as a mile.
What bollocks. The M8 and M9 focus more than accurately enough to be within the native DOF of the sensor even with the most "difficult" lenses -which btw, is far more narrow than the native DOF of film- All the leeway these historical RF magnifications give is good for one thing only - compensating for user error.
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Old 01-25-2010   #77
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It is indeed. Its like saying a 0.58 M is inferior to a 0.85, when you have no 28mm lines on the 0.85 and the 35s are hard to see. 0.68 is really no change from 0.72 with if anything a hair more room around 28mm lines.

The M3 does not even have 35mm lines so is 'better' if you want to focus a 90 but considerably worse for 35 and 28mm!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaapv View Post
What bollocks. The M8 and M9 focus more than accurately enough to be within the native DOF of the sensor even with the most "difficult" lenses -which btw, is far more narrow than the native DOF of film- All the leeway these historical RF magnifications give is good for one thing only - compensating for user error.
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Old 01-25-2010   #78
Andy Kibber
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pickett Wilson View Post
The M9 is the best full frame digital rangefinder in the world. [...] There is nothing to compare it to.
By that logic it's also the worst full frame digital rangefinder camera in the world.
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Old 01-25-2010   #79
biggambi
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Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney View Post
The "DNG" file format should not have to change. It would be nice to have true 16-bit values stored rather than the 8-bit "square-root-of-whatever" algorithm that cuts storage in half. You also recover about 12 columns and rows of the edges of the frame as the color-interpolation scheme is not required.

Leica could modify the source code easily. I've been in the position of getting source code delivered with systems in order to implement custom features.

Optimal CCD would leave off the entire layer for the Bayer Filter, rather than just having a layer without Dye. But then the sensor geometry changes.

SO: if Kodak were to make a run of CCD's without Dye on the layer, and you use DNG, not much else changes. Leica would have to calibrate the Meter for 1 Stop, or you would use -1ev all the time.
Brian,

So, now we are down to the nuts and bolts of this idea. It would be nice to have an idea how much the sensor would cost. Would you be interested in making an inquiry with Kodak for production? It would be nice to know where a price break would come into play with production numbers 50/100/250/500 units. Would you expect Leica to receive a better price given their relationship with Kodak? How is the sensor delivered? i am wondering what is involved in replacing the existing one? It would be important to have an idea of the cost and labour before approaching Leica, don't you agree? Also, if I were to try to raise capital I would need some specifics.

Roger Hicks,

Who would we approach at Leica to do a limited run project? I don't know if this is going to get past the drawing board, but I believe Brian has given a strong argument as to what can be gained. We are talking a very small market, and a difficult time to attain capital for such a project. But, stranger things have happened. I think the only way this is going to fly, is if enough people are willing to commit to orders monetarily.

Kindest regards to both of you,
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Old 01-25-2010   #80
Brian Sweeney
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I can send an inquiry to Kodak's sensor group. Sad part, it's not like it was in the early 90s. The sensor group in my Division "just makes their own". Sad part- the availability of a hand-held 18MPixel VNIR camera that can take a full range of interchangeable lenses, many of them APO designs, and allow use of filter banks without inhibiting the viewfinder would be interesting to the Technical community. It's a camera I could justify buying for work.

CCD's are not cheap, and I would expect the CCD to be in the $4,000 range or more even after NRE. The cost is to produce the Mosaic layer without color dye, and to modify the test and validation procedures. Just like a Lettuce and Tomato sandwich.

Last edited by Brian Sweeney : 01-25-2010 at 06:57.
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