Aug 142012
 

The Leica Monochrome is already outdated, therefore it will never be obsolete.

Huh? What did I just say? The brand spanking new Leica Monochrom that is going to be hitting the streets in just days or weeks is already outdated? Well YES I did just say that because it is 100% true. But I am not saying this in a negative way…I am saying this in a GOOD way. It is so outdated that it will NEVER be obsolete. It will always be relevant and a camera you can use when you want to be pure, magical and yes, dare I say classic. The Leica Monochrom is outdated simply because it can not and never will shoot in color! It’s only a black and white sensor (and a damn good one) but for me, after thinking about it more and more over these past couple of months and after being able to shoot one for a while…well…it has made me realize how special this camera really is.

The more I think the more I know that for me, the combo of M9 and Monochrom would due my dream setup. No, not the rumored and upcoming M10…the M9. I love the M9 as it has given me the best memories of my life. Other cameras can do the same things in many ways but in some ways they just can not. Unless you have been a Leica M lover or rangefinder shooter then it would be very hard for you to understand that statement.

As much as I love and adore my Olympus OM-D, and as much as I am impressed by the $650 Sony RX100, nothing has ever come close to giving me the experience of a Leica M. Not even the Leica S2.

The digital M is a lifetime companion for many shooters and while it may not give the best performance in some areas or be a camera for every situation it is not really about that at all. To me, shooting a Leica M is like being out of my body and being free from the “digitalitis” of most cameras. Yes, the Leica M9 and Mono are digital but they do not feel like digital. They still feel and operate much like the classic M film cameras (though the film M’s are built even better and feel better) with the rangefinder window, the familiar M body shape and the confidence the camera gives you when you take it out. It is about simplicity, knowing what to expect each and every time you press that shutter button. It is about quality and using the most amazing lenses in the world. The results from an M9 or Monochrom using a 35 Summilux FLE or 50 Summilux ASPH is and can be breathtaking.

I have purposely avoided shooting an M for many months because I wanted to see if I could be 100% happy in my photographic life without one. With the new mirrorless cameras being so damn good these days, and the Olympus OM-D being my favorite of them all, why do I need a crazy priced M? The answer to that is simple. I do NOT need one. No one really NEEDS one but in life we have those moments where we WANT and we WANT because it makes us happy and fulfills us in some crazy way. The WANTS in life are the things that bring joy and happiness. While we may not be able to get all of the wants we want due to various reasons, buying something you truly have passion for and excitement for can really add  to your life. I am not telling you to go out and buy an M9 or M10 or Monochrom as that is all up to you but I am speaking for myself when I write about the passion and feeling and inspiration that I GET from shooting Leica.

With me, I give up many things in life just to own a Leica M. I have a basic car (Kia Soul), a basic house (worth about $90k), and I do not go overboard with anything in life. Basic clothes, basic computer, basic furniture and I admit, a huge ass TV  :) Running a blog such as this does not in any way make me rich or even well off so I have to live simple, but I am a fan of simple and really do not need much in life to be happy. Friends, family, love, passion, energy and happiness is all that is needed for me. Part of that happiness is enjoying my hobbies as well.

My passion in life is photography, plain and simple. So to buy a camera that brings me so much happiness and gives me my fondest life memories in return is a no brainer. I do not buy boats, I do not buy RV’s, I do not buy expensive jewelry. The most expensive thing I own besides my modest house is my Leica camera and lenses and I have never in my life been happier than I am right now and no that is not due to me owning a Leica, it is due to my simple life, my family, my new family and additions to my home and my “Drama Free” rule to life.

So with all of that blabbing and ranting out of the way let me get back on topic. The Leica Monochrom is almost here and many are undecided on it. The best thing I can say to anyone thinking about it is to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Do I live and breathe to shoot in Black & White and do I want just about the best B&W results I can get digitally without the cost of film?
  2. Am I ok shooting ONLY B&W, even if it means missing shots that scream for color?
  3. Can I afford a Monochrom and an M9? Or a Monochrom and something else that shoots color?
  4. Am I 100% sure I do NOT want to shoot B&W film (you can do this much cheaper with an M6 and Tri-X)
  5. Do I enjoy shooting with a Rangefinder/Leica M? 
  6. DO I already own Leica M mount glass?
  7. Am I ok with a low res crap LCD on the back of my camera?
  8. Do I want to shoot my M at ISO 3200 or 6400 and get great results?

If you answered YES to ALL of the above then it is a no brainer. Buy a Monochrom and be happy. It may be outdated because it only shoots B&W but it will never be obsolete as there is absolutely nothing out there like it and probably never will be. As long as the camera holds up it will be relevant as it does indeed give the best B&W results I have seen from ANY digital or any converted digital. I have been viewing Monochrom images every day for the past month and they have been gorgeous. I hope to have a full review up as soon as I can but I have to get a hold of the camera 1st.

I think that this camera will be bought by those with a huge passion for B&W photography as this is what it is all about. In my eyes there is a beauty to B&W (though not everyone agrees) so this is a niche camera, but one that will do well for Leica I think. The Mono with a 24 3.8 and 50 of your choice will make for a great two lens kit.  Same goes for a 35 and 75.

The next wave of Leica is coming so get ready for the onslaught. Leica fans will be pleased for the most part I think, and Leica haters will always be haters. The good thing is that for those of us who enjoy shooting with our rangefinders is that we now have many choices. The M8, M8.2, M8, M9 and Monochrome are now all choices we have in the Leica digital arena. All are great in their own way. Expensive as hell, but really great cameras. :)

Steve

  101 Responses to “The Leica Monochrome is already outdated, therefore it will never be obsolete.”

  1. Great post, Steve. I’m debating item #4 in your list right now.

  2. I would be interested in an Leica M comparison with other cameras in its size, e.g Sony NEX, Fuji X-Pro1, and maybe an Olympys OM-D for a m4/3 contender. :) All shooting in B&W of course. It would be especially interesting to see some “demanding” shots. Situations requiring a high dynamic range, and perhaps some ISO 6400 shot too.

    I have to say I have very little info on my hands on how this camera actually compares. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen this far, but is that mostly due to the photographer or the camera? ;-)

  3. Well said Steve ! B&W isn’t for everyone. I too wouldn’t like my world to be b&w.
    However lately I’ve been seeing some lovely monochrome shots on your site including Simon Cross’s OMD ones and I’ve come around to thinking that there are certain situations , ( although limited,) when colour just won’t do.
    BTW I’ve been visiting your site 2 to 3 times daily since November 2009, when after getting my Pana GF1, I came across it on the net.My love affair with small cameras started with the GF 1, which I still use very often and now I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my black OMD EM5 with it’s 12/50mm kit lens, which should be homing in next week.
    My obsession with the OMD is almost entirely your doing ! Regards and please do MORE reviews and Crazy Comparisons !

  4. Steve, well to the point. The M Mono will be my next M – that’s what I thought right after the presentation. And the M10 will not be my next M – that’s what I thought after thinking about the probable specs it might have and which you have dicussed here as well recently. A M9 + Mono – to me this is the current dream team.

  5. Steve,
    You forgot a question on your list of things I should ask myself while contemplating buying the Monochrome:

    “Am I happy with the B&W images created by converting the RAW color files?”

    In other words, could I be happy with a ‘multi-talented’ M9 and a copy of Silver Efex? :-)

  6. thanks for this reading Steve

    I know it is not for me… But it sure is an interesting camera. But if I feel like pure B&W, I’ll put some Ilford in my M3 :)

  7. Nice article Steve. I’m holding onto my M8 for now until I hear how much the M10 cost and what kinds of features it will have. I had an M9 breifly and loved it but the shutter stopped working within days of owning it so I had returned it to the seller. I’m loving the results I’ve seen from the M Monochrom and will be considering that if I can’t justify the M10.

    Worst case scenario I pick up another used M9 :)

  8. Just put some RGB filters in front of the camera, and make color images out of it. Or, get a Sigma DP1 Merrill, or a DP2 Merrill. Those do a great job with black and white, and cost a fraction the price of the Leica Monochrom:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1027&message=42259907

    • I would love to see one of those “crazy comparisons” Steve is famous for.. between the M9 “Monochrom” and the Sigma DP-2m with Fovean Sensor.

      To be fair, maybe the Sigma SD-1m and Sigma 50mm -v- M9 Monochrom with Leica 50mm.

      Use LR4 (yes- it works with Sigma cameras now) and then PP to B&W.

      Are you up to the Challenge? I’m sure B&H can loan you the Sigma SD-1 and Sigma lens.

  9. I know some may disagree but it sounds like sound reasoning to me. I mean can you name any other digital camera other then the M8 (and maybe the RD-1) that people still clamor for years after they have been dated?

    I think the Monochrome will go down as a classic and at the same time will maybe be the most divisive camera ever made. Pretty cool stuff.

    • I think that might be more of a comment on the immaturity of the digital market as a whole, and also the fact that most digital cameras are incredibly boring. I say that as a Nikon D7000 owner, it’s a great camera, but boring as all hell and will obviously never be a classic like a Rolleiflex, Leica, Hasselblad etc.

      • This is off topic but since we are on the subject of Leica I had a question I’d like to ask. Besides the obvious differences can anyone tell me their experiences with a R8 or R9 vs. a M6 or M7 and how they differ in their metering & output if at all.

        Thanks

        • Had an R8 for a while John and it’s a great camera, heavy and very simple – maybe even more simple to use than an M in practice.

          Lenses are every bit as good as M glass, I had a Summicron 50mm and apart from costing 1/4 of the price compared to a used M version is every bit as good. Metering is better in the R8 IMHO, but that said trying to compare an RF camera like the M6 to an SLR is a bit like comparing apples to oranges really. Output is great obviously due to the glass.

          To sum up I’d say – It’s big, heavy but so easy to shoot. I regret selling mine but for *me* I’d use my M6 over it anyway so wouldn’t find much time to shoot it if I’d kept it. A good cheap entry into Leica and my favourite SLR …. just …. over the Nikon F5.

        • I had an R8 for a while, and honestly did not like it at all. Bit too much electronics for me, and the way exposure compensation work was terrible design IMHO. It’s a shame as I think it *looks* beautiful, but it’s operation left a lot to be desired compared to a Leica M, in my opinion.

          I think Leica range finders are worth the pennies compared to the competition, the SLRs are not. Just my opinion of course.

          • Thank you Cider & Gary

            I already shoot with an M6 but I was curious about the R8 to supplement. I think I may end up going with a Pentax LX instead so I can get some use out of my Super Takumar 50mm on a film body. After some research I found you cannot adapt M42 lenses (or it seems like any lens for that matter) to an R body. I already have a good collection of M lenses and it seems like it would be a bit redundant to spend all that money on the same focal lengths when you can’t really beat an M in the first place.

            I appreciate your feedback and I’m all ears if anyone has anything else to add.

  10. Hi Steve for the new car I have an idea. I bought a Mercedes W124 260E which costs me 3000 Euro. And this a hell car. THis car gives me the same feeling as my old Leica IIIf.

    Great post

  11. You forgot a small but important question (number nine in the list):
    9. Do I happen to have $ 8k lying around and nothing better to do with it?
    No problem for some (and may they enjoy the camera), but totally out of the question for me.

    • That was question 3 on his list.

      • No, that was “Can I afford a Monochrom and an M9?”. What I am getting at is that Leica has really gone way off the charts with their prices – at the risk of becoming luxury toys, but no longer relevant to photography…

        • For me the question would be how long it would take my partner to kill me. However, if I were rich, the Monochrom is the Leica I would buy. Because it is clearly the best at what it does and I can’t say that about the M9.

        • Actually, Zlatko is right. Read #3 again. The question also includes, “Or a Monochrom and something else that shoots color?”

        • I’m sorry to point this out to everyone who feels this way, but camera price has absolutely nothing – whatsoever – to do with relevance to photography. Leica has been relevant to photography since the 1920s, arguably one of the most relevant photography manufacturers that has ever existed, and their cameras in those days were the equivalent of thousands of dollars today. Just because the Monochrom is expensive, it has nothing to do with things like the Hermes special edition (for example). I’m so tired of people wishing Leica was more like other brands….why don’t people who feel that way just hurry up and buy those other brands then, instead of complaining and waiting for Leica to build a new M for the same price as an X100?

  12. When I bought the M9 and later the M9P I converted most of my images to B&W immediately. Over time I started working more in color and I really like the color output of the M9 sensor. I own Sony Nex 5 and 7 but none have the crispness and color that the M provides. It is still the best, ‘small’ digital camera out there. My problem is that it converted me from being a B&W shooter to a color shooter. So while I love the Monochrom I think I would miss the color that its sibling provides. D!RK

  13. Really nice Letter. So true what you saying i have m8 and summarit 2.0 and thats the cheapest combo but i really like it. When i shoot with m8 it feels like its the first time.

  14. Great article as ever Steve and I agree with all the points you raise. My own favourite photos that I take and display are all black and white, so that answers the main question. Now I just need to save like mad to afford the Monochrom!

  15. I agree entirely, but also Steve’s words can be applied to any camera, or almost any other device. Until it stops serving it’s purpose acceptably well, then it’s not obsolete. My Leica M3 takes better photos now than it did 50 years ago when it was made, as films have improved in that time. It’s ancient, but it’s not obsolete. The same can be said for any camera, if it’s still taking good photos, it’s not obsolete.

    Sometimes we all need to take a breath and get what is best for us, and not give a toss about model numbers, mega-pixels or what a manufacturer thinks we should do.

  16. He Steve….

    I agree on this one with you

    Choosing an Leica M is about having a Soul Mate

  17. If I had enough disposable income (20k to get it and a 25/1.4 and 50/1.4) I would in a 1/2 of a heartbeat.
    I love shooting B&W film, so a dedicated B&W “M” would be really cool. My OMD-E-M5 is my Color camera still. All B&W is with my Nikon FE and Ilford HP5. but 20k is 3/4 of a year of income…Not gonna happen.

  18. “My passion in life is photography” Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.

    I long for the day when I can hang a digitally processed silver gelatin print on my wall of an image that has been taken with an M.

    Hope the first one is mine and hope maybe one day you offer one up on the site for sale.

    Barry

  19. Leica – king of the outdated.

    • Sure….and those that complain incessantly about Leica features and prices, caught in the consumer electronics games of weekly upsmanship who should instead just buy something else – kings of the broken record.

  20. I guess I’m censored now.. not the first time and certainly won’t be the last time.

  21. Just a quick side note! Sorry Steve, for posting an unrelated question. If any of you have a chance to buy a m4 super mint as in never been used and a 50th jarhe edition. How much would anyone pay for it?

    Thanks in advance

  22. Opinion pieces that contain absolute terms such as “never” inevitably turn out to be wrong. It’s just a question of time.

    • Well, I still say cameras like the M6 and M7 will never be obsolete as you will always, and I mean always be able to get B&W film (while all of us are on this earth anyway). Same with the monochrome. As long as it is working, it will be relevant and useful.

  23. Awesome post. Not just about a camera. Life and hapiness. Thank you, Steve!
    I can’t afford a Monochrome, but will carry on shooting my M6 and Tri X. And very happy about it. :)

  24. It’s the first Leica I’ve ever seriously considered. And 75mm to start with.

  25. what you described is a pure form of objectophilia and has little to do with photography. imho.

    • “IMHO”..those are the key words in your comment. Everyone has their own honest opinion, and that is exactly what it is. This article, for me, IMHO has plenty to do with photography. Thanks :)

  26. Yup I’m seriously considering selling my minty m9 and getting a monochrome and using
    My Nikon d700 for color I will wait till it’s out and the reviews and picture samples but it
    Would suit my needs perfectly portraits and street go for it Steve

  27. Steve,

    Thank you for your sharing. I choose a life without an M but with other else you have to give up for those M sets.

    :)

  28. My dual cam kit is an M9P for color (well, I shoot a B&W JPG plus DNG color) and an MP Tri-X for my Monochrom M. Although limited to ISO 400 and not 10,000, that MP is sure a blast to use!

  29. Why would you need a better screen? Just as in the days of film, the image was always a latent image until you had developed it. Back then you were hopefully a good enough photographer to know if you’d captured a decent image, you might shoot a couple of extra frames as back up. Often you’d find the first image was what was wanted. Might consider a 90mm as well.

  30. Having started to use an M8 in mono, this looks a lovely camera, and I think colour can detract from the tones, shapes and use of negative space.

  31. “The digital M is a lifetime companion for many shooters ”

    the ones with
    circuit board gone awol
    cracked sensor
    sd cards mashed up (firmware “fix”)

    will Leica keep repairing for a life time

    M3 is a lifetime companion
    easily serviceable (in UK) by Peter at crrluton or Malcolm Taylor in Hereford.

    • Oh, I realized that I wrote basically same thing below as what you did here. :)

      It would be OK if one can afford to buy M9 or Monochrome, but not for me.

      My lifetime companion would be M2. :)

  32. The MM intrigues me but I’m looking forward to you posting some contrasty shots once you get it. Much of what I have seen on Flickr is, in some cases, very sharp, but pretty flat.

  33. Steve I loved your article about being happy with a simple humble life ;)

  34. I like you attitude about keeping life simple, it shows wisdom.

    I am also a M9 lover and find the same reasons as yourself to enjoy using it.

    I am going to keep my M9 and add a Monochrom within the year.
    I initially bought my M9 after following your site and it has ignited my passion for photography again and looking back at the images I have taken since getting the camera I am thrilled with them.

    i also have noticed that over the last year have been converting many images to monochrome with SilverFX pro 3.
    Well done and keep up the great work.
    Ross

  35. I love B&W.. but I also love color. Not the camera for me… and too expensive.
    M9:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28346880@N05/7783028550/lightbox/

  36. I was flirting with the idea of selling my M9, using a XPro 1 for color and getting the Leica Monochrome for B&W. But then I figured out that buying the Fuji with its native lenses, adapters, flash unit, will almost cost me as much as I might get for the M9. So back to the basic question: Do I want a Leica Monichrome? And if the answer is yes, will I want the new Apo Summicron 50 as well? Leica owners know where this will be heading…….. a very costly ride.

  37. The “already obsolete” argument is exactly why I love my M6. There is nothing that will get old about the camera and it will look even better after a few decades of patina.

  38. If you truly had a simple life, you wouldn’t have owned a Leica. That would be like the Dali Lama owning a Ferarri. LOL

    • I don’t think anyone is saying Steve lives like a monk, merely that he forgoes many things that most of us consider important to have more money to spend on his hobby/passion.

      • it’s kind of a contradiction, ins’t it? To forgo other things to spend money on a luxury camera system. It would be like saying that I saved a million dollars by not spending on one kind of luxury just so i can to spend a million on another form of luxury. Just saying…no offense to Steve though.

        • Missing the point entirely everyone….’simplicity’ doesn’t always have to do with price!!! If someone buys an M9 right now (or if they bought an M3 back in the 1950s, which, I’ll remind everyone, was the equivalent of THOUSANDS of dollars in its day) and they love it, and don’t buy another new digital camera every couple of months with the “latest great features, ISO 20,000…no wait this one’s better at 25,000…no wait for the iPhone 6….”, I think that represents simplicity. And a longer term economical choice. Rather than having a drawer full of cameras over the years I have an MP for film, and an M9 for digital, plus a few lenses. Love using them, plan to use them for a very, very long time. They’re expensive, but also hold their value. I find it fascinating that Leica digital Ms are the only digital camera out there that still have value used. Most computer products are worthless within 2 years, regardless of what you payed for them. Yet M8s still sell for a minimum of $2000….all these years later. It’s because most people view, buy and use Leica digital Ms the same way they do an M3 and Leica glass…an investment and a joy to use. It’s commonplace to see ebay sales of old Ms that the owner, now dead and an estate sale, has had since the 1950s. Is Leica the only camera you can do that with? Absolutely not. But I really, really doubt ten years from now there will be people actively using and collecting Sony Nex 7s….they’ll be on the Nex25 and the Nex7, like all of the consumer electronics crap we upgrade every other week, will be in a landfill somewhere. Huge companies that constantly turn over products win some people’s hearts on the features argument…but just because they cost less, don’t fool yourself into thinking they represent some sort of simplicity….if you buy four Nex over the next 5 years or one M9 (with a lens that will probably be worth MORE at that time), and hone your craft with that instrument alone, I think it represents the ultimate in simplicity. Simplicity has everything to do with constancy of purpose and being the best with what you’ve got, and nothing to do with cost. If any of you are still using a digital camera from 2006 and haven’t bought anything since then, then we’ll talk….

          • First of all, I started with film long before digital came in…so you can throw out your assumption. Second, enjoy “photgraphy”, Iam not a “COLLECTOR”, Iam also not a “SELLER” so I dont really care how much a leica m8 resells for. I dont care if ppl have to upgrade their nex 7 cameras, because invariably, ppl upgrade modern cameras to get faster and newer tech. ppl upgrade their pcs to get newer and faster tech. What does Leica have to upgrade? Faster manual focus? LOL/ Also, i don’t believe in camera myths. Your notion that a leica makes one shoot more simply is just that…simplistic. There have been other rangefinder made, even fixed lens rangefinders to disposable film cameras. I doubt that Leica can shsoot more simplistic than a disposable camera, eh? Your notion is that if a camera is expensive and you dont get an upgrade then somehow it must be doing a better job. The work is done by the person, sorry to burst your bubble. I think of cameras only as tools. Either its a cheap or expensive, modern or old tool, it is just that…a tool. I also don’t believe in collecting resolution, or low noise, or sharpness or contrast. I believe in the qaulity of the photos.I don’t blame you for believing in cameras as I was once a gear head, and I say this, the best thing that will happen for any photo enthusiast is if one day gear becomes meaningless to them.Once you are liberated from gear and all things related, you can;t imagine how much simpler photgraphic life can be…even much much more simpler than any Leica can give you.

            • I made none of the assumptions you’ve listed. At all. I never said Leica makes one shoot simply…I simply said that there is no connection between cost and simplicity.nuts a ridiculous claim to suggest that someone who spends more on a camera isn’t leading a simple life.

              I shot with film for DECADES prior to digital and never assumed we were talking about you simply being a film user. But this was, after all, a thread about a DIGITAL camera…the Monochrom…and everyone’s groaning about its price, limitations and features. I have no “bubble” about upgrades….just a position that cost and simplicity are a bigger myth than the ones you’ve tried to attribute to my response.

              If you believe the ultimate in simplicity is to shoot a cheap Holga for $50, comments on a digital discussion are rather moot. If you feel that “Leica can’t shoot more simply than a disposable, eh?” which is not at all, anywhere….at all…what I wrote about then perhaps you should buy one and move along. Eh?

              • “Missing the point entirely everyone….’simplicity’ doesn’t always have to do with price!!!” THAT’S YOUR FIRST ASSUMPTION. GO SCROLL UP AND READ IT AGAIN.YOU EVEN PUT 3 EXCLAIMATION MARKS AFTER ITTO “EMPAHSIZE” THAT POINT. YOU MAKE POINTS ABOUT HOW A LEICA IS A BETTER CHOICE BECAUSE OF THIS AND THAT AND ALL I DID WAS TO POINT OUT THE WRONGS OF YOUR SATEMENTS SO DON’T GET ALL BENT OUT OF SHAPE BECAUSE I DISAGREE AND BECAUSE WHAT I SAID IS TRUE.IF YOU DON’T LIKE MY RESPONSE, DON’T RESPOND TO MY COMMENT TO BEGIN WITH. DON’T CRY WHEN SOMEONE ELSE HAS A MORE TO OFFER THAN YOUR ONE SIDES OPPINION AS TO WHY A LEICA IS BETTER THAN THIS OR THAT.
                holga?… What I believe in? I believe it’s the PERSON who makes the pictures.You should keep COLLECTING Leicas and move along.Talk about a fanboy, jesus. Collectors.

    • “The dalai lama owning a ferrari” is not a leica, it’s one of those digital medium format hasselblad :)

  39. Good review, wish I could persuade my good lady that a Leica is needed round here, she prefers a three week trip to India with her Nikon v1, fair enough, Steve would you buy a m6 or is it digital all the way now?

    Your views about life’s priorities are significant, wow, can’t stretch to a m9 but just ordered 35mm 1.4 AIS Nikkor for my trusty FM2…

    Love the website
    Ian

  40. HI Steve,

    you’re so right with that special M(agical) thing. Ibought the M9 a few mounth ago… and I love cameras – I live from doing photogaphy – but I’ve never been so close to a camera. Thanks for inspiring me to get an M9! I would like to have the Monochrom, too… but my wife (and my bank) would kill me ;)

    thx for your site!

    Joachim

  41. I will probably have one at some point, as I shoot with two M9s (primary and backup) and do a lot of my work in B&W. Still, I believe that the differences between the MM and the M9, when both are shooting DNG files processed in Silver Efex Pro 2, are not extreme, and mainly confined to pixel peeping. Yes, the MM has much better high ISO capabilities, but I have been disappointed that the dynamic range was not greater, and the inability to recover blown highlights and need to use yellow, orange and red lens filters to achieve best results will I believe have many new MM owners disappointed that this camera doesn’t produce better images all by itself. Of course that’s true of many things Leica related. I believe the MM is a tool which will require dedication and preparation from the photographer, but will repay with amazing images when everything is done correctly.

  42. Great post, Steve… and I pretty much agree with your sentiments regarding simplicity.

    It’s all a question of perspective, I guess. Over the years I’ve had friends who’ve commented along the lines when I’ve turned up with new gear:

    “Another camera?!”

    “What, you bought another lens?!”

    “What. It cost XXX!!”

    “How much? Are you crazy!”

    And this from people who didn’t see the irony in having thousands of pounds worth of fishing gear mouldering away unused, or spending thousands on customising a wreck of a car, or spending a small fortune, say, in cigarettes each week!

    I’m seriously thinking of making that last, big, bonkers fling and purchasing a Monochrome and 35. For the last 45 years B&W and a rangefinder and 35mm has been my all-time fave combo, and it’s this format I keep returning to. It’s the one that I feel most comfortable with and gives me the most pleasure.

    Would a Monochrome and 35 make my life utterly, ecstatically complete? Nope. Would my photography improve beyond measure and my wildest dreams? Er, no. Would it give me untold hapiness and a direct route to photograhic nirvana? Not a chance. Do I need a Monochrome and 35? No way…

    But boy, would I have some fun!

  43. …..”it is due to my simple life, my family, my new family and additions to my home and my “Drama Free” rule to life.”……..this, and whatever camera one could afford is all one needs.

  44. Steve, I read your post with interest, however I wonder about the premise that these cameras are classics. Not that they aren’t great cameras, but more that once an electronic component in them goes ka put, then it’s really just an expensive paper weight right?

    Isn’t this why mechanical cameras and watches retain their value, whilst an old iPod whose screen doesn’t work is pretty much useless…

    If you have a old M3 film camera, it will be better than a obsolete or impossible to repair m9?

    Cheers,
    Joe

    • There are still some of the 1st digital cameras ever working fine and shooting without problem. They may not last 100 years, but neither will we. There are issues with digital cameras though, and yes..anything can happen at any time due to the nature of electronics.

  45. I shoot my epson RD1 bnw only a monochrome M if I had the money yes maybe in a couple of years time I hope.

  46. Lots of good views presented here. I largely agree with Steve: the M9 is the only digital camera I enjoy using. I don’t have the latest lenses, I don’t care if the technical results are better than anything else. The process of using the camera just feels right, and it gives me the results I want. I’ve used Leica M cameras since 1968, so my habits are formed, and I don’t need to change. I still prefer to use my film Ms, but the M9 gives 90% of the effect, and digital has flow advantages.
    I also have a dSLR, but I can rely on the M9 results more, as it fits my habits and way of shooting.
    I recently found a LARGE box of B&W negatives from my college years 50+ years ago when we shot TriX 99% of the time, and just had a blast with B&W. Maybe adding a Monocrom isn’t such a crazy idea after all.

  47. what a lovely article

  48. Great post Steve…

    Personally, i am not too impressed with the images i have seen so far from Leica Monochrome. I was also at the new DC store a couple of months ago to check out images from the Monochrome and have to say i was somewhat disappointed, though this was a pre-production unit, i doubt if the finished shipping units will be any better. However, i did put my name down for one but will definitely not be buying it after shooting my XP1 in B&W. To me it is close if not equal and that to me does not justify $8K.

    My Dream Team for now, M8.2, XP1, X100… Will wait for XP1-M : )

    Here are some images straight from XP1 B&W JPEGs ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/ki0001/ ) I am simply thrilled with the results…

    I answered Yes to all questions except for questions 2&3… Question 8 is Yes/No.

    Cheers!

  49. Haha, I can’t agree with you more, Steve.

    But one thing I cannot agree with you is that any digital gadgets can not be a lifetime companion.

    Unfortunately, sensors & LCD and other circuit boards have all limited lifetime.

    So digital Leica M is not for me.

    But I think, in my opinion, it would be all right if one buy best (many times expensive) camera gears

    within his/her budget.

    With my current income and budget situation, my Leica M2 & Summcron 35mm is THE best gears to me. And I don’t regret or envy other photographers’ gears at this moment.

    But if someone can afford to buy Leica M9 or Monochrome, then WHY NOT?

    I would recommend other people to buy best gears within their budget. Especially glass, the lenses.

    cheers, :)

  50. Enough already with the logical analysis, people! The Monochrom makes no sense from a dispassionate, value for money, logical point of view. But what a boring world it would be if every decision was made on that basis and how depressing would it be if photography was reduced to that bean-counter level. I may never be able to justify spending that kind of money on a Leica Monochrom and associated lenses, but Steve’s article nicely articulates why the world would be a poorer place if we were deprived of that choice. I look forward to seeing the results of those who do take the plunge. Show us what you can do and silence the naysayers!

    • So true, especially when black and white digital photos are just one button click away. Who wants color when we can have tone in black and white? There’s no point in spending less money when we can spend more to get less. It’s like wanting a color computer screen, who wants that when black and white screens are there for a higher price?

  51. Some of you may want to recheck the M8 bnw filles again these are still some of the best round and consistant in results

  52. If only M9M viewfinder was not 0.68x, rather 1.x as the Epson RD1

  53. When I bought my M9, my first digital, in 2009, if the MM where available I should bought it, because I used M6 and TriX for many years and before Nilon F and TriX.
    But now I am used to use color filter in PP to obtain B&W. And some people prefer color photos and I give them what they want !
    So I keep M9 even if my aestethic feeling is for MM.
    DS

  54. As long as any camera works film-digital depends on skill of photo and this is on ongoing learning craft I dont get hung up on brands i still love to shoot film pentax k-1000 2-various primes Nikon FG Nikon d200-Nikin D 3000 panleica G1 various adapters to shoot with rebranded ‘leica’ and obtaining a black M8.2 with latest firmware. But sorry due to cash Leica Monochrome is to expensive Great to here Leica M3 I have 1 SS and coming soon a refurb M3 to M4.
    My inspiration has been low light concert shoots and saving to buy second hand leica low light lens.
    Remember folks pentax late 60′s poor mans Nikon good enough for David Baily see Birth of Cool
    As for whats obsolete whatever works due to your passion experience budget Any artist can still produce fine results but for me Yes you cant beat Leica build along with optics but would it kill them to lower prices mid size company Dlisted Here’s hoping M10 will lower any pre model down for us lesser mortals. Happy shooting folks and dont be afraid to make mistakes. This is not an exact science getinging into home processing using coffee and Vitimen C Bye 4 Now…keep the passion going steve great site bro!

  55. Couldn’t have said it any better myself Steve!

  56. As is known
    Bayer colour sensor guess 2/3 of colour info (interpolation)
    so a B&W conversion from a Bayer colour sensor has that 2/3 guessing.

    M9M has no guessing (as it is not a Bayer colour sensor).
    As such M9M images will be truer than a converted B&W from M9, M8/8.2, Ricoh GxrM, Espson RD1.

    Only other sensor as true as M9M for B&W is Foveon.
    Foveon will have an advantage iver M9M of depth (due it its 3 layer) giving it a look closer to the depth of film.

  57. All I can say is shoot film. Save some $$$. Film Leicas will only go up in value. All digital cameras will outdate them selves eventually every year. I didn’t realize this. I was chasing a digital best standard until I realized that the best pictures that I have taken and had printed were done on FILM… I picked up a Leica M6 TTL and it is phenomenal plus it is 1/5th the price of a used M9… Than I picked up the M7 in chrome. Now I have 2 gorgeous film bodies that will just go up in price as time will pass by as they will never be obsolete as they already are and became the golden classics. No digital rot to worry about.

    • It is simply not accurate to state that digital Leica cameras will become obsolete. If you are the type of person who just simply has to have the latest and greatest, gazillion megapixels, etc. then yes you can upgrade every year, but I believe that my M9 will still be making incredible images and enlargements (I usually print A3 and larger) for the next twenty to thirty years with no problem. The M8 and M9 have proven to be amazingly robust, and as I come from an electronics manufacturing background I know that there is just as much likelihood of something breaking in my M2 as my M9, however if something does break there are sufficient spare parts to service the camera with, and will be well into the future. I feel much less confident that I will be able to purchase 35mm film in twenty years.

      • Replace a m8 ccd in 20-30 years!! It will be cheaper to buy a new camera.

        • Probably no more expensive than replacing a cracked shutter curtain on an M3 in 20 or 30 years. Digital Leica M cameras are not mobile phones, and their useful life will be measured in decades, as will the ability to have the cameras serviced and repaired.

  58. This is a rant, but I believe a reasonable one and I am very interested to hear responses from frequenters of this site.

    Developing and selling a camera that is capable of monochrome images only is certainly novel, but it is a very weak form of innovation. Overall, the Leica M line has not been the recipient of or benefited from much innovation in the last several decades. To be fair, the ergonomics, build, and function of the core M design are excellent, but it does make me think about what true innovation–rather than incremental advances for which dear prices are charged–would look like. The answer, in my mind, is modular and upgradable components. Just as the output of film Leicas improved with advances in film, so should the same be possible for digital-era Leicas. The build quality and materials of Leica are certainly of high enough quality to withstand a bit of tinkering from the manufacture to swap out a sensor, circuit board, or LCD screen.

    To be fair, I believe that upgradability and modularity should be built into other camera manufacturer’s products as well—especially at the pro-body level. In the case of Leica, however, the case seems more clear because of the extraordinarily high prices of admission and because of the minimal changes to the camera bodies through successive models. In addition, many would argue that Leica stands for building a life-long relationship with one’s camera gear and not jumping after the latest fashionable piece of gear. Both of those aims could be satisfied by taking a revolutionary modular approach.

    Leica might even be able to realize significant profits from this approach, including by drawing in a wider customer base who would be attracted to building a relationship with a company that took such a long view of its products and (more importantly) provided a significant new value proposition for its customers.

    As an aside, and farther down the market, the withholding of features through firmware in order to entice customers to buy entirely new cameras is similarly maddening and disrespectful of customers. Recently, I have been encouraged by Panasonic and Canon (the manufacturers I can remember off the top of my head) as they continue to release new firmware and “open” useful features for cameras years after their initial release, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

    • Anthony I am going to disagree with you in that Monochrom being novel but a weak form of innovation. And this is where it is: an ISO6400 image out of Monochrom looks like ISO800. This will give light gathering ability to a f2.8 lens that of the Noctilux. Also it will allow lenses to be stopped down. I would buy this camera for that reason not because it gives better tonal differences.

  59. Had to remind myself of M3 vs M9
    so i went into Red Dot Cameras London.

    Im sorry to say M9 felt functtioned as an elecronic (lightweight) gadget.

    I love b&w & M3 will be it.

  60. just watched expendables2 in cinema.
    stallone used a black lecia M9….

    classic actionstars, classic camera’s :)

  61. My 20 year old Digital Camera is monochrome. It was cutting edge, 1.6MPixel, zero-defect, cost as much as an M Monochrom with an APO Summicron.

    Still works, “Not Obsolete” as I keep it working, but I will probably not use it much more after the M Monochrom arrives.

  62. Carl
    The Monochrome would make more sense priced the same as the ME, yes? Perhaps Panasonic should release an M clone at half the price? (remember the CL?)

  63. Steve,

    I am trying to decide about spending my savings for old age on the Monochrom. I answered all your questions yes. And they are the right questions. There is an expression, live fast, die young and have a good looking corpse! To that I add, and leave a great monochrome digital camera to someone you love.

  64. Your post decided me to buy the leica monochrom, i’ll receive it next week.
    It will be my first leica, thank you :)

  65. Re-read this interesting article, but having read your article on expensive HiFi equipment, I don´t understand your claim of a simple life.No harm done!

    • I have a very simple and low key life. Small and cheap house (about $90k value), small and cheap car (valued at $10k), no fancy boats, no fancy furniture (Ikea). Nothing extravagant besides my ONE Leica camera and ONE lens that I now own and my Stereo system, which is considered entry level by many audiophiles. ;) My life is very simple and on the cheap but when it comes to things I enjoy in life, that is where I spend my money. I do not need a huge house, fancy cars or expensive jewelry but I enjoy photography and music and seeing that I have one life to live here on earth, I will enjoy it when I can.

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