May 132012
 

As requested: Full size Leica Monochrome samples

Many of you requested full size out of camera samples from the Leica Monochrome so here you go! These were shot during that one hour walk and they are RAW conversions without ANY adjustments whatsoever, so these are out of camera from RAW – what you see if what you get and this is about all I have :) This is NOT a review, just giving you guys the images you requested in full size, without editing. EXIF is embedded in the images. As stated in the previous article all images were shot with the Leica Monochrom and the SLR Magic 50 Hyperprime T0.95.

It appears I should be getting a Monochrom and X2 for review REALLY soon and if so I plan a long road trip for 2-3 weeks to review them both – The M for B&W and X2 for color. Stay tuned!

CLICK ON IMAGES FOR FULL SIZE FILES

DOG  - T0.95

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BUS LADY – T/1.4

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RAIN – T/2

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T/0.95

  120 Responses to “As requested: Full size Leica Monochrome samples”

  1. Thanks Steve! thats great news! looking forward to comparisons with the M9 shot in BW with same lenses and same pics, to see what this baby can do!

    Would also be awesome if someone could make comparison with film cameras since i’ve been hearing a lot about how film is the best, no doubt but lets let the pictures do the talking! =)

    • …don’t listen to them — they are just happy, and perhaps a bit evangelical, works-for-me advocates. What’s “best” for you relates to a context, and subjectivity is part of it.

      Don’t underestimate the traditional camera though. It has got plenty of time to mature. I personally think digital cameras started to mature with m4/3.

    • Haha!! and the war begins… Part of the hype is caused by the exorbitant pricing and i think a lot of people want to know if they are going to pay for better discernible quality, or different “character”, or maybe even both!

    • The only reason I kept my M4 since 18 years old and my 2 M6s (Silver & Black) since 45 years old is to shoot B&W film, I have a whole bunch of color filters to get the effect I want.

      The Leica M9M is a poor effort by Leica to put something out as a “New” product. The Leica M9 which was later slightly improved by the Leica M9P is a similar ploy, nothing really new.

      The marketing guys at Leica must be laughing all the way to the bank, the M9 which is almost 4 years old, has been their work horse, just tweek it a bit, and call it a new product. I guess that is why the M9 did not the sapphire screen to start with, so the birth of the M9P was possible.

      I have to say that both the M9 and later the M9P are fine cameras, but a B&W M9 is really the last squeeze Leica can get out this model.

  2. These are great Steve. Could you provide the actual raw files? It would be useful to see the kind of adjustments that can be made versus normal m9 files.

  3. Hey thats good news!! Thanks for these great images, from memory these were shot with the Hyperprime 50mm f/0.95 which also continues to impress…..

  4. The tones look marginally better than conversions. I’m not seeing that “100% sharper” mumbo jumbo they were talking, or the extended dynamic range…

    Also, one thing the Leica Monochrome will never succeed with: the tangible nature of a silver gelatin print. I like the camera, I wish Nikon, Canon and Fuji would make their own versions of monochrome digital cameras, but it’s not for me, and I don’t think it’s for gallery walls either. (Also that’s because real working artists who are still young and relavant can’t afford Leica).

    • When I think of this camera I think of Sebastiao Salgado and what he will be able to do with it. In the end though this camera is for photographers who are invested in both a digital workflow and black and white photography. Some can buy it with no sweat others will max out 4 credit cards and 5 years from now a kid who always wanted a Leica will buy one off eBay and take some amazing pictures with it. This Leica more then any should be used by those who have their heart and soul invested in photography.

      • Or, like Salgado, one could use a Canon instead.

        • Yeah, I’ve seen some exceptional B&W conversions from 5DII’s. Frankly, I feel it is likely that the MM provides a wee bit different character rather than any real improvement in IQ vs conversions.

          It’s likely down to preferences and finances like it nearly always is with Leica.

          -Bill

        • Well I would have preferred Helmut Newton but he is dead. I only brought up Salgado because he switched to digital and DxO therefore I thought it a camera for him.

          Don’t worry you’ll still get those clever points for pointing out a mistake I made in witty fashion.

        • Don, right. Well said.

      • except for the little detail that “Salgado uses Canon” ahah

        Leica WAS a field camera…now it’s just men’s jewelry….sad but true: while i can still bring my mp everywhere i doubt i could do the same with a digital M….i really doubt ^^’

        that’s why i was outraged by may10th…we need a tool durable as a tank who can withstand real world use…not a new apo 8k lens and a monochrome camera….w/e…

        take a look at this link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCT-YMgjm9k&feature=player_embedded this what a camera should be able to withstand…ok maybe not so extreme ahah….

        kist of things i’d want before reconsidering an upgrade from film to digital:

        1. Real Pro body with Tropicalization!
        2. Real Pro body with Tropicalization!!!
        3. Real working anti-glare LCD
        4. Usable ISO 6400
        5. 14 fps burst-shot
        6. Faster image writing processors

        Those would be REAL IMPROVEMENTS….

        • Good points. The true value in a camera soon ends up in how realiable it is, and today, I also feel that the optics themselves have been caught up fairly well. Well enough to not matter much anymore for even pro photography.

        • Those would indeed be real improvements for the professional sports/wedding/pap/commercial photographer. However, I think Leica realises their opportunity to take a share of those markets against Canon or Nikon is long gone.

          Leica *is* now a luxury brand, and appealing to collectors, rich people, and others who lust after luxury items is how they make their money. If Leica attempted to compete with Canon and Nikon, they’d lose. Nobody wants that.

          Many want to turn Leica into the company they want it to be, but Leica needs to be the company that keeps them in business.

          • I don’t know if that would be the case…a pro body made in Leica would appeal many reporters or travel photographers in search of a tank-llike instrument….

            to approve recent leica marketing decisions just means to be blinded by love…

        • Rudolph,
          Thanks for the link. An hilarious product test! Should not this be “want number 7″ in your selection criteria for any digital camera! :-)

          But behind the hilarity, there is a serious comment here: compare the body price of the Canon 7D and the M9-M. Canon have achieved this robustness in a product costing less than 1/4 price!

          • ahah Indeed…i would love to see the same test done on a M9…what kind of results could they get?

            jokes aside i’m not against hand manufactured brands to put out expensive high end products…but this is no more Leica’s case.
            I’ve alway bought german product (be it TV such as lowe or cars….) and i was able to sense the difference in the build compared to the higher price…and it’s the same when i look at my MP and how i can put it extreme weather conditions….but now? Is leica really offering an high end product made to last trough intensive usage?

            Oh and btw “made in germany” my ass lol….they are actually manufacturing in Portugal

            Anyway let’s see what happens at photokina…i have the bad feeling i will have to wait for the day Zeiss manufactures a digital Ikon to port my m lenses kit into the digital world…sigh :(

        • What in God’s name does 14 fps shooting have to do with rangefinder photography? A rangefinder, digital or not, is not a DSLR. One does not shoot with a rangefinder the way one shoots with a DSLR. Real-world moisture and dust sealing? Sure. A modern LCD? Sure. Live view? Sure. But you want to shoot Olympic diving? Do it with your DSLR.

        • I’ve had excellent luck with the M9 in the field. Took it to one of the harshest venues around, and it worked without fail (Black Rock in Nevada.. http://www.jcollum.com/burn1/ )

    • Mark, you must mean silver gelatine film not print because as you know there`re printers exposing with laser or led light digifile onto silver paper that`s wet developed.

      • No I still think a hand made darkroom print will always trump a lab made one for value.

        Don’t get me wrong I think this is a really cool camera, I just think its sad that only 1%ers will be able to use it. Yeah maybe down the line someone could pick it up cheaper used, but I have a feeling this will hold value.

        • It didn’t take too long to bring up the 1%ers making ths thread quite lame. Maybe the 1% of the professional photos who get 99% of the recognition should be rationed on their assignments and gallery representations.

    • I’m not sure which gallery walls you look at, but digital printing has become widely accepted in the fine art world. Cindy Sherman, among others, has been printing digitally for several years.

      Now, we can decide on whether we prefer a print made in the darkroom over a digital print, and I generally do prefer a darkroom printed b&w photo, but this is just a matter of taste, at this point.

      With this being said, I’m not seeing anything from the new Leica that is jumping out at me in terms of b&w tonality, but, if I were a b&w only shooter interested in Leica, I might as well go ahead and get the b&w only model.

      • I suppose it is a matter of taste, but in my experience, people who find ink-jet black and white acceptable are people who have not seen a lot of really good silver prints.

        Eventually the darkroom craftsmen will go away, and “OK” black and white prints will be considered “awesome.”

        Cindy Sherman’s color prints are a different deal. A color print is good if you like the colors, and darkroom color printing was mostly just OK.

    • You’re not seeing the “100% sharper” because of the Hyperprime lens, which is Hyperfast, but not Hypersharp.

      • The HyperPrime is tested to be sharper than the legendary Noctilux so it is not 100% sharper. It is 103% sharper!

        • Noctilux is sharper wide open. Hyperprime is sharper at f8.

          You don’t buy one of these lenses to shoot at f8.

          • Not true at all. Hyperprime is sharper wide open, Nocti is sharper after f/5.6. Opposite of what you have stated. Ive shot both side by side and Hyper is sharper every time. Nocti has warmer colors usually. I find the Hyperprime beat the Nocti in everything except barrel distortion which is slightly higher in the Hyperprime. Sometimes you have an M body which is not 100% perfectly calibrated, actually, it is rare to have one that is 100% perfectly calibrated. When you do have one, the Hyperpime is scary sharp wide open, and it is the equiv of f/0.91, a bit faster than 0.95.

            • From what I have gleaned from reading technical reports in general, and from Leitz themselves when they introduced their first Noctilux, it is wrong to think that it is the camera that needs calibrating, but rather a specific lens needs to be matched to a specific body,or vice versa, whichever way you prefer to approach it. This is not quite saying the same thing as the body “is not 100% perfectly calibrated.”

              If the Noctilux was purchased at the same time as an M body, Leitz matched them before delivery to the customer, I understand. If the lens was purchased subsequently, then Leitz offered to retro match the lens/camera for the customer.

              Even were the camera to be 100% true, only valid with lenses of more sensible apertures as the mismatch is likely to be covered by DoF, it could still leave the user with less than satisfactory results with these extreme wide aperture lenses. And the reason is very simple: all lenses have a focal length tolerance. Some are marginally shorter than their nominal focal length, whilst others are longer.

              This variation is permitted in an ISO standard. Leitz even went to the trouble of engraving a small digit near the infinity focusing mark on some lenses which indicated the actual focal length of that specific lens.

              So unless this calibration is carried out, users can experience different degrees of sharpness, depending upon the synergy of the body/lens combination. In my opinion, this easily explains why some say the lens is sharp, and others criticise it.

  5. Most “film like” digital grain I’ve ever seen but at the same time still not in the ballpark of film.

    I think this camera is awesome and as much as I love shooting color if someone did give me this camera I’m pretty sure I’d be obsessed with it for a good while.

    Thanks for the full size Steve, I maintain the images from your hour with the camera are amazing. Hope you get a chance to shoot with it gain.

  6. Full size, right. What ISO, what aperture? And wouldn`t it be better for evaluation of the sensor if pictures were taken with f.ex. 35/1.4 at 5.6? My 5 cents. Cheers

  7. We have got so used to colour,that when I first read about the Monochrom release on 10th. May, I really thought Leica had lost the plot….. But after seeing the output from this camera, the charm of b&w has reappeared to me. Still I feel this will be a niche market at best.

  8. Good news Steve about getting the MM and x2, can’t wait to read about the road trip.

    One thing I would like to see would be a side by side shot from the MM and x2 of same subject in same light shot at the same ISO and settings, but then the x2 converted to black and white. That would help prove or disprove the difference in character and tones.

  9. What I like most in these: the fine and very pleasant grain, and the atmosphere from having photographed in rain. B&W seem to lend itself particularly well to that weather condition. The advantages to B&W is highlighted, and the disadvantages with dull colors are minimized.

    As for the Leica Mono, well, I’d go for vastly different equipment for the price, but that’s me. I guess that if you are at the end of the road in camera equipment and specializing in B&W photography, as well as having a load of money to spare, this one is for you.

  10. nothing special!

    • The world is full of dime-a-dozen APS cameras and DSLR … just for boring little people like you.

      • Maybe some buy a Leica to appear less boring than they are :-)

        • I’d say colour in an image can be a huge distraction. Using a Leica might be an anachronism where in this day and age you have auto this and that, it doesn’t make you a better photographer, only equipped with the current technologies. Taking a good photograph is more than mega-bytes; more about what you ‘see’ when all the elements in your viewfinder create a pleasing scene. Maybe I’m a sad man owning only an M8, but who can’t wait to get his hands on an MM.

  11. Flat light and it still gets these tones, I call that more than special

  12. Thank goodness Leica did not just roll out yet another mirrorless-APS camera or bulky DSLR.

    This camera is unique and without peer.

    A Full Frame, Pure B&W, Range Finder … the holy trinity!

    • Gear turned into religion…i love this new wave of “photographers”….

      • Yeah, we’re real “new wave” photographers … B&W, Full Frame, Manual Focus Rangefinder.

        • No, it’s due to the fact that you care too much about the tool…personally i use w/e suits my needs… i’m not an oblivious fanboy whoe yells at anyone who dare to point out cons of the gear he uses :)
          I also use leica film…just not leica digital because is not an usable tool: while i can drag around my mp in w/e place/weather conditions, i couldn’t do that with an m9….so no thx. A pro camera needs pro tropicalization and there’s no arguing about this :)

          • Sorry that angle is rubbish. It’s like saying I don’t like women I just have a need to make babies. You may as well just use your hand? that surely suits your needs? Well it sounds like you do anyway!

            Eggleston was obsessed by Leica cameras. He owned dozens if not hundreds. Just because you like cameras doesn’t make you an amateur. trust me on that!

        • wow!!! welcome to 21st century full of devices with features you mentioned (apart from ‘pure’ B&W sensor – every sensor is colour blind and RF) plus all other features on top, and guess what, they’re cheaper!!!

          comments like this one always amaze me, have you been people living under a rock?

  13. I’m no Leica fan, but I really like the tonal range in these pics. Looking at them on a monitor is one thing, you’d want to see a print to really get an idea of what this camera will do, but it does look good. I thought I was looking at FP4 in the one of the dog.
    Now, I’m curious. My EOS 40D has 3 custom settings. I’m going to set all to monochrome, C1 at 400 with a red filter, C2 at 400 with a green filter, and C3 at 3200 with no filter and go shoot far a couple of days and see what it ends up looking like.
    I’ll enjoy it, and lest we forget, isn’t that the whole idea?

    • I, for one, will be interested in what you get, Harry. While I agree with you on the tonal range of the images, it is not something that get me to give up my antique D2H bodies. As most of us that visit Steve’s blog, it is not about the gear but about the images. A camera is just a tool. Too many people here talk about Leica and its sharpness/bokeh/etc. but I see nothing technically that would persuade me to let go of the aforementioned D2H’s that I have had since 2003. I feel comfortable with these cameras and they suit my style of photography. I shoot manually (both focus and exposure) almost as much as I suit on autofocus and aperture preferred.

      Go shoot with you EOS 40D and send some images to Steve for us all to see!!!!

  14. Men’s jewelry, never heard but probably very true. I use Iphone/Instagram lately and I am very happy with that. Leica is exploring where their customers are prepared to follow and where they stop buying.
    It is not the gear, it is the guy who presses the button… and more important, when he presses the button.

  15. Gear seems to be more important rather then to take pictures…. That said, I’m curious about the results of shots taken with a Leica M9m and let’s say Camera X from the same subject. Both processed with Silver efex pro 2. Would you recognize the M9m one….?
    If not…. well spend your $$$$ 7K somewhere else IMHO. :)
    - Tim Z -

  16. These files look good but I can see that exposure will be critical with this camera. Clipped highlights are not recoverable so shooting to the right, as with most digitals, doesn’t quite apply. That’s where film still rules and nothing can quite give the dynamic range of Tri-X and proper development. It remains to be seen how much good shadow detail can be extracted by exposing properly and not clip those highlights. Yes, the histogram on this camera will apparently be actually useful (unlike the M9) but again, in certain situations (and especially street), chimping only results in lost shots, wasted time and opportunities. Personally, I think this camera will not be easy to master when it comes to exposure and it will lead to a good amount of frustration. For as good as it may be, still isn’t a film killer.

  17. Would love to see Nikon coming with a F3 version with this b&w sensor, so i can use my lenses i have and still want for my D700/F100. The only thing this F3 digital b&w camera must have is AF-S coupling so i can use my PC-E lens(es) on it.

    Somehow landscape and street photography benefits from b&w and i still love these images more after i transformed the color images to b&w. And i think Ansel Adams would have liked this camera as he could be photographing the way he is used, by using filters for b&w photography in the field to get the best images as he visualized it and then tweak it on the computer. But i think he would have already had the Phase One b&w back for his Hasselblad!

    If i had the same collection of glass for a M6 and wanted to go digital the Monochrom would be difficult to resist!
    I think you have to grow into a system and that is more easy when you can start without selling your kidney first, so i hoped this camera would be cheaper.

  18. Well, sharp and all, thanks for upping. However, price / performance with this camera is seriously questionable.

    We all know Leica wants a premium but when I dont see much better performance than out of my 200$ (used) NEX 5… what can I say?

    Leica seems to be more and more for the kind of people who actually do not care about a few thousand dollars. I have my doubts this strategy will be vital for Leica in the long run.

  19. They look exactly like images from my M9!
    I fear this ‘mono’ version is a marketing gimmick and a way to squeeze extra bucks out of the M9 before the M10 is ready for release ;)

    • To me it looks like Leica listened to customers regarding limitation of maximum ISO of 2500. So what’s the best solution without too much work? Well, remove colour array from there and that should allow us to have maximum ISO 3 stops better (10000) and ehm.. yeah, let’s market it as Monochrom, that’ll do, oh and while we’re at it, let’s price it a bit higher than M9 so there’s some exclusivity surrounding it.

  20. I think Steve is right when he said in the previous article:

    “I am afraid they just went and priced MANY of us out of the market, which may be what they want.”

    Luckily there are cameras for us mere mortals which can and will satisfy our needs and some of them have their own unique souls (X-Pro1, OM-D, PEN series…)

    • and even NEX has unique soul, there’s something geeky about it my friends loves a lot, not my cup of tea though ;)

  21. FYI. It is not allowed in Germany to talk photos of people on the street without permission.
    So most kinds of street photography is forbidden.

    • Yes, I heard about that before shooting but I found everyone to be friendly about it so I had no issues.

    • Not true.

      It is not allowed to PUBLISH those pictures without permission. And street scenes – not close ups of single persons – dont need permission at all.

  22. Sorry but looking at those full size images I’m still not convinced that this camera isn’t just Leica trying to pull a Jedi mind trick on really wealthy collectors. I’ve seen spectacular BW conversions from FF Canons and Nikons, resulting from factoring the full color spectrum captured. Looking at recent Nikon 800e shots from Nat Geo photographers, they look like they were shot with medium format film.

    I truly love Leica, but this feels too much like the Louis Vuitton model, something to keep the wealthy buyers occupied. I hope their Photokina announcements will have more appeal to those who are interested in factors beyond expensive neck jewlery.

    • Derekdj,

      You may wish to try out the link I left for Max in his posting #14 above.

      • Ooops. Should have been #16.

        • Thanks for sharing, the craft of film shooting is something else. I like to equate darkroom skills with contemporary digital post processing. There is a great french documentary on Henri Bresson showing his processes, where he’s dictating to his printer how much to push and “enhance” (one of the big reasons why I’m not overly precious about creative photographers doing BW conversions in post), even the great Bresson “sweetened” and pushed grain his prints in the end.

          I would use a pure digital to digital analogy with the Monochrom, especially since the on board software has various film emulators (like REALLY expensive, high end version of Instagram).

          • I agree with your last paragraph regarding the appropriate digital comparison. No doubt if you check out Andy Hearn’s site further you will see his b/w images from his digital Nikons. And this is where I see image quality far superior than I have seen, SO FAR, from the M9-M.

            I’ve had to qualify what I said, as the images I’ve so far seen from the M9-M haven’t exactly been that inspiring and have left me distinctly underwhelmed. I should say that before going digital about 10 years ago, I spent slightly over 40 years doing my own film developing and enlarging. Inevitably, for old-hand film users, it is against film that the M9-M will always be judged.

            • Yes, the MM will certainly be judged against film but the print is where it all ends. For me, judging from the few snapshots online, makes ZERO sense. It’s good for forum traffic and arguments but it means absolutely nothing from a practical standpoint. Like I’ve said in the other posts, the MM, for me, could have its place using a hybrid workflow, meaning outputting for digital negatives to be printed in a darkroom, using a variety of processes. For online posting, an iPhone is plenty, and for inket printing…well, good luck to anyone trying to sell those. There are a lot of experienced guys still using medium and large format, using a hybrid workflow, doing carbon, platinum/palladium, etc and I see this camera maybe appealing to such crowd. From a working standpoint, aside maybe a handful of photojournalists, I really can’t see benefits for many other photographers. If course, the “want” and “need” factors will play a bigger role.

  23. Serious (non-troll) question here: Why would someone purchase this over a M6 or M7 and run B&W film? The only thing I see is the ability to rapidly switch between ISO’s, and the ability to immediately retrieve and process the images.

    My thinking here is once you decide to go B&W only, you are making a deeper step into the art photography world (or so I think), where the typical advantages of digital become less compelling.

    Steve and others, what say you?

    • I would absolutely choose this over film. FOR ME. Why? Well, I can buy a used M6 rather cheap in the Leica grand scheme of things. Say $1600 for a nice one. That right there is thousands less than an M Mono. For me to shoot a good B&W film costs money though. I would be limited to 36 exposures per roll, limited to the ISO of the film unless I pushed it, and to get the film processed and scanned costs quite a bit of money. For one roll of good B&W it could cost me $35 per roll of 36 exposures. For me, that is high and i do not have the time to develop and scan my own these days so that would be out. If I bought and processed and scanned 100 rolls, that right there is thousands of dollars added to the cost of the M6. Over the years it would end up costing more. Sure, it is film and not digital but for me, I would prefer the Mono because

      A: Convenience.
      B: Straight RAW files do indeed remind me of HP-4 a bit
      C: editing the RAW files can yield many looks, even Tri-X
      D: ISO capabilities from 320 to 10,000, that is huge to me.
      E: No need to buy film, send it in or take it in/pick it up, pay shipping when buying film, etc

      To me it is a no brainer if you are seriously into B&W and want to commit to it. I know many serious photographers who only shoot B&W and they have already pre-ordered their Mono. I wish the Mono was $5000 but its $8000, same as an M9-P. I do feel you can get better B&W results with the Mono over the M9 and yes, when editing during RAW conversions you can yield quite a few looks. Once I spend more time with one you will see what I mean and I will be posting many articles on it (if Leica do in fact send one my way to do this).

      Yes, the film die hards will scream that no way digital can ever replace film but if you took a print from an M Mono and the same shot with film (say the dog shot I took) – 98% of people would probably have no idea which was shot on film. Maybe the 2% of the die hards would, but maybe not. I also plan on doing a side by side with film comparison at some point so should be fun.

      Thanks!

      Steve

      • I agree with most of your points, Steve. The only thing that intrigues me about a lot of the latest technology cameras that have hit since 2003 (when I bought my first D2H which is currently at almost 170,000 clicks and seems to be just getting broken in) is the ISO capabilities. I would love to have the extended range of a D3 but just cannot justify the expense. When one has a camera that just seems to work for them, why not stay with it? I still shoot film occasionally with an old Yashica Electro35 GS that takes care of my film-days cravings but I truly love the output of my D2H bodies. They work for me and I have had images from the cameras used for billboards. I recently shot my 14th Seabreeze Jazz Festival and gathered just over 4300 images over four days, most shot as singles not at the 8fps that the D2H is capable of. I also shot a lot of manual exposure images. I used a handheld Sekonic meter to meter the areas on the stage where I knew the artists would be and kept switching between manual and aperture preferred to suit my needs.

        As someone who shot film for over twenty years before getting my first Nikon D1, I truly see any camera as just a tool. As long as it suits my style and needs, I will just keep what I’ve got….

      • this is great stuff Huff!
        love your blog!

      • Steve

        I think you need to get your B&W film and processing in Seattle rather than Phoenix. I just did a price check and you could get Ilford Delta 100 (36 exp), processing with scan, tax and shipping for approximately $26.36/roll; assuming you did this in 20 roll bundles. Sources for the film and services are below.

        For Film: http://www.glazerscamera.com
        For processing: http://www.pandalab.com/

        Though, if we continue with your M6 comparison above, this means that you only need to shoot about 240 rolls to equal the cost of the Monocrom. Which seems to put the digital rendition in a different light, if you shoot a lot of images.

        PaulB

      • Hey steve, it was only 2 years ago you were pushing the virtues of film and a black MP…Hmmmm, how things change – nevermind.

        Not sure how many working pros that have bills, a family can throw 7000 on a monchrome only body body and art photographers wont be pre-ordering, just won’t happen, well NOT actual art photogs, unless it’s those art photogs whose husbands/wives work in finance.

        wonder if sally mann has her order ready to go, or salgado…

        this camera is strictly for the doctor,lawyer set to sit alongside their patek and IWC watches in the old glass cabinet and shots images of the kids, the dog etc.

        I get the M9, good for portraits etc..this, nah, unles it comes in pure calf skin white leather with gold plated dials, then i want one.

        all good.

        • I was “pushing”? No, I was speaking about my love for the camera and film. I also have since then, on a few occasions talked about how film has become much to expensive FOR ME and is not very convenient these days, again FOR ME. Also, 2 years ago this camera did not exist. End of story.

  24. Personally I like that they have launched the Monochrom. I may not buy it because of I like the versatility of color files, even with my majority of images being monochrome. Some shots I prefer in color and I don’t want to walk around with two cameras. Still, the files look better than most of the M9 converted files. I just don’t think that it will make me give up my color option. What I like is that Leica just made one. There are photographers out there who just do B&W and they have been asking for this tool for a while. Most other manufacturers would have ignored it because the market is not big enough. That Leica launched one is great for those. I bet it was a result of the collaboration with MagnumPhotos. Most comments I have seen trashed the idea. I think we should embrace choice and some photographers, even if a small group, just want this. For all others, including me, there is the Photokina, which hopefully will show a new M10. D!RK

  25. I own a Leica M9. I love shooting with it, but like many say if you want to nail the image get a Nikon DXXX ou a Canon Mk XXX. Shooting with a M9 is as much rewarding as frustrating as anyone that has ever handled one can easily confirm.
    You can go all day justifying what has no justification eg: a crapy LCD (this has no excuse), an image quality above 800/1000 that is probably inferior to entry level DSLRs from any brand, an now this: the only thing I see as significantly better is high ISO but even so far worse than a D4, D3s, MkIII etc etc.
    Apart from that it is just a marketing exercise of which , I am sorry to say, you and your site are a part.
    I will pass on this one and wait for a M10….maybe.

    • Well put antonio. Leica has always been pretty much about the lenses anyway, not the camera so much, and there has been far too much hype over how good the M9 is if we are being honest, M8 too. These cameras are far from perfect as you rightly indicate (as good as they are). The utter CRAP LCD screen on the M8/9 is enough to drive anyone spare in 2012. Moire anyone? :-) The list could go on of course, yes they are both very fine cameras but they are far from perfect and it gets very tiresome hearing they are the holy grail of digital photography.

      They have just become a rich mans toy (and I find the new Summicron 50mm ASPH far more insulting in price than the M-9-M!) and as Max so rightly continues to say you will get far more joy from shooting a film M than any digital M. I barely use my M8 these days as it frustrates more than it rewards for my use. A camera is just a tool, nothing more & nothing less and all of the immature “Stockholm Syndrome” style cult fanboy worship of one brand (Any brand!) over another is something I will just NEVER understand. Who cares what make your camera is??? Use what you find to be the best tool that suits your needs. Simple.

      And nobody has even really mentioned the vulgar new Leica HERPES version M9 yet either. {sheesh} – Yours – A frustrated Leica user. :)

      • I disagree with you, The leica M system isn’t about it good lenses, its about it being a rangefinder system.

        Looking trough the finder seeing the real world with a frame over it, instead of looking at a flat 2D projection of the real world is what makes the M an M.

        Now a day’s, because of the lack of competition (ttl full frame mirrorless) lots of people who else never bought a rangefinder because of its limitations now do buy one because they only see the excellent lenses and small body. And at the end they are disappointed with it because its not what they expected it to be, a small camera with all the benefits of a TTL camera.
        Thats why so many forums are written full of requests the M10 needs EVF, liveview and sometimes even AF….
        Instead of changing the M system there should be a camera those people want. Full frame TTL small body camera with all the gadgets like EFV ect.
        The M9 and M8 are perfect for what they are intended to be, a rangefinder digital.

        • I agree that the rangefinder system is a part of Leica and it should continue to be. However the quality SOME ASPECTS of the sensor (Dynamic Range, ISO for example) are not up there with the best – and this is objective just look at the tests or if you have one use it in difficult light conditions like high dymamic range scenes or low light. Not to speak of the bloody LCD.
          Having said that I have no camera that gives such pleasure using but when you aim at top quality (and premium….extra premium price) you should also take care of “the body” not just the soul (that everyone agrees it has).

          • “..not just the soul (that everyone agrees it has)..”

            I don’t agree that a Leica (M9, M8, M3, IIIf, etc) has a “soul”. It’s a piece of equipment, like a microscope, or a telescope, or a sextant, or a pair of binoculars.

            Some (misguided) people attribute a quality of “soul” to it, but I think they’re deluded. Does your TV’s remote control have “soul”, does a kaleidoscope have “soul”, does a Canon 5DMkII have “soul”?

            This phenomenon, of suggesting that an inanimate tool has “soul”, is what’s known, I think, in psychoanalytical circles as “transference” ..people attribute something which they’re feeling (“soulfulness”, or some kind of pleasure, satisfaction or whimsy) to some other thing which they think possesses that attribute.

            A camera is a collection of glass, metal, plastic and lubricant. The pictures you produce with it may make you, or someone else, feel “soulful”, but the camera has no more soul than my wristwatch.

        • Robert, I was referring to Leica as a whole and “not just” the M system and it’s rangefinder. Some of the R lenses are every bit as their M counterparts as indeed are the newer S lenses. So I reiterate my point that Leica has chiefly “always” been mainly about the glass.

      • HERMES edition, not HERPES. The Herpes addition would be a camera you did not intend to buy but cannot get rid of.

  26. Would you be so kind as to make available a couple of DNGs including one at higher ISO? Thanks you.

  27. Funny how people want to be able to check the files at 100%.

    Being Leica or not…time has changed and all manufacturers, even the under rated Samsung with its NX series, are capable of producing outstanding quality out of their cameras and lenses.
    Surely, thx to its amazing optics Leica is still able to produce one of the finnest quality among all manufacturers…but all brands are so good already that the difference are getting really really subtle indeed.

    Chosing a brand over an other…a camera model over an other…as more to do, in today’s standards, with brand image and personal choice/feeling/ideas/using experience than “real” and “clear” differences in Image Quality.

    Any time there is a new camera…people want to get the “wow” effect. I guess we just reached a time where there won’t be anymore “wow” since we hardly need more that what we currenty have.

    People wanted FPS, they’ve got it, wanted High isos, they’ve got it, wanted extrem IQ, they’ve got it, wanted Live View / Video, they’ve got it, want small package camera, they’ve got, wanted fast focusing cameras, they’ve got. What do they expect more now?

    Sure, Leica is none of that…and it’s what makes it charming to many (like myself). I think you need to think of something else than just IQ and Iso when you consider such camera. At such a price tag, it could be hard to understand to many that you pay more to get less. But it’s what make those little M’s so attractive.

    Regarding their new price…and as a Leica user myself, I have to say, even my etusiasm, that Leica has now gone totally insane.
    The current price was already amazingly high…but could be justified and reachable some how. No…I just don’t know what to say…

  28. btw: did you have a on the specs of the new cron 2.0 asph already ? the MTF are amazing; this is another excellent piece of glass especially made for the M9-M

  29. SO ALL of us photographers out there, we all have our likes & wants…. And to the point where our cameras and lenses almost define what we do and why….All of this is well known, that in fact it is the artist and NOT the tools…..And on the subject of Leica MM, Steve has his reason why he wants one, and I have my reasons why I do not care for one of these… The price is inconsequential, and just because Leica says it cost $XXXX… it does not mean it is worth the price of admission. There are so many choices out there, in terms of equipment, lenses, software, etc, etc… WHY ALL THE FUSS? Personally, I feel Leica made a business decision, knowing there are many B/W film shooters, and decided to cash-in. They need more sales and after all they are in it to make money. And for sure there will be an M10 coming soon… and we will have another high price of admission, but it does not mean we can’t participate. If Leica is too much, then go and buy Fuji XPro1, Nex7, or OM-D, or Nikon DXXX, or???
    One more thing….STEVE, great job on creating the BUZZ, social media does work and you have shown us on how to do it right… Thank you.

  30. I hope this Monochrom concept trickles down to the Leica X2 and the Ricoh GRD IV

  31. I think the real winner is the lens not the camera. The T0.95 shot of the dog has something magical.

  32. great thread!
    love the mm b&W’s, price wow! bit squeaky clean for me but when i start to like that look, i will pick one up for 3k! like i did my m8 years later!

    there will always be those who buy tech items at the bell curve, and will pay for it. good for them!
    there is something to be said about hand made inspected products. always a demand and they retain value. all that said, an artist can use any camera and take magical b&w photos!

    best leica deals out there are m8 mp. you can pick both up with a lens for a fraction of the price and shoot b&W. am shooting pentax k1000 canon 5 and leica m8 which i got for all under 3000 with lenses go figure!

  33. The shot of the cathedral interior on the Leica website is the typical example of where this camera will always blow it. Anyone looking to shoot that correctly in b&w, will always use film. Brightness range there is probably over 10 and the highlights of the windows and pipes are blow to smithereens. Any less exposure and shadows would suck. TMAX 400, properly exposed and developed will handle that in a heartbeat and a beautiful print would result. This digital file is close to useless. Granted, this is an extreme, but one that serious landscape/architecture photographers do encounter and look for and why film isn’t going anywhere. Tri-X developed for normal contrast @ 0.58CI has a dynamic range of 14 stops and T-Max 400 has 19.5 stops at the same CI. The Leica M9 Kodak sensor has 11EV of dynamic range and I would guess the Monochrom to be the same. The problem, again, is that lost highlights are non-recoverable. One of the biggest reasons Tri-X has been the benchmark is because of its forgiving nature and exposure latitude. Today, with all these wonderful technologies (and at these prices) we are actually stepping backwards. The Monochrome, in expert hands and well thought out exposure, will deliver great results I’m sure, but Leica has always been about ease of use, intuitive behavior and quickness. Blowing exposures when it comes to street/photojournalism, with no way to recover, will not be fun at all. All I can say, for whoever is buying this camera, go and buy a nice Pentax spot meter and a good incident meter because you’ll need it, big time!

    • The lightmeter built into the M9 (..and, presumably, the Monochrom – as it’s supposedly the same body but with a filter-less sensor..) has always seemed to me to be pretty hopeless. Not just that there’s no spot-metering, but the wide reading from those grey and white shutter panels catches the sun or sky when you turn the camera vertically into ‘portrait’ mode. And that under-exposes the centre.

      I chose to black-felt-tip the left and right edges of my shutter (about 1/4-inch on each side) to get the camera to ignore skylight when held vertically.

      Now it’s -f-a-r- better, and doesn’t give erratic readings. But this kind of nonsense in a supposedly “top-of-the-range” camera is just awful. So outdoors, I take a reading, set the shutter speed MANUALLY to that reading, and then I know that my pics will be OK, whatever extra highlights suddenly appear.

      But with every other digital camera, I set the meter to “spot”.

      The meter for the old M3 – or the current compact Cosina/Voigtländer clip-on meter – is more useful (..to me..) than the built-in travesty in the M9.

      • Yes, David, the meter in the M9 is easily fooled. It works well in certain situations and not in others, but of course, mistakes (unless gross), can be recovered. With the Monochrom there will be nothing to recover, so careful exposure will be key. The one thing this camera may well excel at, is flash photography with available lighting. With a bit of fill, shadows will be taken care of and then highlights don’t need to be pushed too far. For landscape, or work where timing is not an issue, a good outboard meter will take care of most problems. I’d say buy that SF58 now while it’s available :)

      • Oh you guys again, now you’ve got me started once more! lol :D

        The meter on the M8/M8.2/M9P/M9-M would drive anyone spare, I always use mine on the M8 as a type of spot meter and lock exposure by pressing the shutter 1/2 way down. Why on earth should anyone spending £5000+ on a supposedly top end digital camera in 2012 have to do that to get a decent exposure ?!?!?!?!?!?!

        It comes to something when, as you rightly suggest, you get a better reading from an ancient old clip-on Meterwat light meter! I tend to use a little Sekonic L-208 more often than not these days.

        Good point you make about the SF58 Max, when all said and done and putting all the usual sales guff to one side it’s not really come any further in that department than the M8 has it despite better images @ high ISO’s? I had to cover a Golden wedding anniversary party some months back wanting to cover it discreetly it was a choice of taking an M8 + SF24D or my M6 & pushing Neopan 400 to 1600 – Guess which one I took? A no brainer, no it wasn’t the digital Leica for anyone that wonders. :D

  34. So what you are in effect saying Max is that *in the main* an old 35mm camera something like an almost 60 years old Leica M3 for a cost of £600 say, a roll of Tri-X and a familiarity of the “Sunny 16″ rule will deliver better B&W images than spending £11,000.00 on a new Leica M9-M + 50mm ASPH? I concur.

    Why do so many people these days in our modern throw away society seem to think that throwing loads of money at something is always the right answer and will deliver better results for them? It is because the marketing men tell them this guff and they daftly lap it up time after time and still come back for more. These companies need people like that, without them they would not exist after all. ;)

    Off out now with my 55 year old M2, no meter & a roll of Neopan 400. Real fun! :)

    • Did it sound that way? :) Yes, of course, but everyone knows that. Some just can’t come to cope with the truth. Kidding aside, photography is a funny business. Digital only breathed new life in an essentially stale market. Selling people what they THINK they need, is key to stay in business. Couldn’t do that with film cameras and that’s the reality of it. Personally, I see many pros and cons on both sides but it comes to choices and what is best for a given job, personal preference, goals, financial condition and overall happiness. What I don’t get, is the silly race to buy new cameras that basically always do the same thing, without ever learning about what makes a good picture and how to improve on much more important aspects of photography. That is the biggest waste of time and money..but people love toys and it’s just easier to simply buy more in the hopeless quest to make the tool the reason and the excuse for bad photography. Yes, film may be more expensive, but every photographer should experience it, because it brings you to think differently, learn differently, forces creativity in a different direction, which in turn can also benefit digital shooting and approach to printing and delivering a good image. I think I’ll go burn some Tri-X myself now! :)

  35. Hi Steve,

    I am a long time reader of your blog. And I don’t know if it is the camera, location, or the fact that the images are monochrome, but I must say these are by far some of your best images to date. In my opinion, there is a real old world charm and soul to these wonderful images.

    If this Leica sold for $2000 with lens, I would be all over it. But the reality is carrying an $8000+ camera in the streets is impractical and out of reach for most enthusiasts.

    BTW, I bought the OMD based on your posts and review and couldn’t be happier. Previously I had the Fuji X10 (lots of out of focus shots, poor quality images) and the Lumix GX1 (a solid camera, but without the great jpegs, swivel screen, or viewfinder), For me, the OMD does it all.

    Keep up the great work, Steve!

  36. Well, the camera is a marketer’s dream for all of those out there who also bought into the idea of the emperor’s new clothes. The price for this is nothing less than stunning and I am sure some idiot at Leica thought that they would sell hundreds of thousands of these to the color blind of the world. I for one, being a person who sees in shades of grey would just love to have one of these…oh, wait, I can do this with my $250 Nikon point and shoot and the black and white menu item in Photoshop Elements!

  37. As someone who works in photographic fine art world let me say this:-

    Shooting and printing color digital is OK, however medium & large format film images still generate more interest among collectors as it is seen as being an artisan approach as opposed to a more percieved “amateur” approach through simple digital photography. As long as it is recorded on film it is OK, even if it is digital print. Collectors DO like to know the type and style of image they are investing in. If it was shot on a Mamiya 7 sells alot better than, it was shot on my Canon 5D mark III or even Leica M9.

    Black and white is a whole different ball game. Ask around, photos converted from digital camera to black and white or photos captured with a black and white sensor simply do not hold weight with many collectors and dealers – it may upset you guys, but there it is. They want to align Black and white with printing making and painting. The process is as important as the final image and this is where digital loses big time.

    One main contributing harming factors to digital CAPTURES in the art world is the popularity among the public digital photography in itself – and instsgram, hipstamatic – throw away genres, through the use of easy filters. Being viewed as being EASY and something ‘anyone can do’ has hurt the digital photographer in the art field. Anything that is perceived to be easy holds very little weight. Digital photography is now seen as the brand of the masses, the amateur etc, and film has become niche, special, for those who are ‘artists’ and know how to do it.

    You may love your M9 or your Canon but your dealer and the collectors won’t.

  38. Who will come up with a digital enlarger that will project the digital image on the baseboard so we can enlarge on real Silver B&W paper in the darkroom? That – I would be interested in.

  39. Oh well. I’ve waded through buckets if not rivers of dribble on this site and so now will add my own. I earn an average wage and have kids. I save and save. I have an M9 and experienced the all too common cosmetic bruises. It gives it a kind of patina. It’s been flogged. As much if not more than a 5d – whose mirror fell off in outback Australian heat. The Leica lenses are superb up to say 10 meters but fine detail past that point at optimal apertures – go to MF. I bought a M9P after a family member passed on and left some money and it is cosmetically better of course. I’ve never had dust in either of them and I work outback and in the tropics. I get a great file from them but not as good as a MF, not as noiseless as a Nikon, and not as easily as a Canon. But I wouldn’t own another camera for quids. Balance, construction values, the fact that it requires me to direct it, rather than become a benign participant on auto. Who gives a rats about the histogram display. We never used them with film, and never will. 14 fps. Good to have. Along with 8-10 kilometre s of film. And scanners that no longer upgrade firmware with latest OS. Or wet darkrooms through which we pour rivers of water. These are questions of choice with implications to each. I’d say respect them all. They are what makes us anything but homogenous. But to dismiss the MM as a niche is like dismissing users of Tmax or FP4. It’s not about what we capture with. It’s about what is captured.

  40. Has anyone directly compared the new leica Monochom to one of the nice converted cameras at maxmax.com?
    I’ve more than curious about B/W digital. Being colorblind, I screw up color images pretty bad, and shooting film gives me SLOW shutters if I want silky smooth images. Since I shoot street & people, SLOW=BAD :(

    anyone?

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