Apr 032013
 

 DSC02613

The Leica Monochrom vs the M 240 for B&W Photography, both rock it!

So I  shot all day yesterday in my own backyard trying to figure out how the M 240 stacks up against the Monochrom when it comes to B&W photography.

Before I go on let me state that I adore the Monchrom and I also adore the M240. I feel more than ever that the M240 is the best Leica digital M camera ever made. The files are quite amazing with a rich tonality that the M9 does not match and this is a fact.

What is especially interesting is that the B&W conversions are superb from the 240, even without using software to convert them. I posted  two comparisons yesterday and I have an update for everyone on those right now because many of you voted on which images you thought came from the Monochrom.

Post #1 of the brick wall from yesterday is invalid because I found out last night that the 50 APO Summicron that was lent to me by I-SHOT-IT.COM has become wobbly and a little loose in the focus barrel without any kind of mishandling whatsoever…in fact, I have babied it. This may have caused misfocus or issues in the 1st shot, which was taken with the Monochrom. Yes, the least sharp shot in that test/comparison was taken with the Monochrom! I knew something had to be wrong as I could not believe that the 240 would BEAT the MM in sharpness/detail! No way, no how!

I re-did the shot with a 50 Lux at f/4 and the results are much more even Steven as you can see below in the crops. The MM comes out ahead for super fine detail though as you can see in the crop. The corners were just as sharp on both bodies as well.

newwallimage1s

wallmonocrop

wallm240crop

As for post #2 from yesterday, the 1st portrait with the Noctilux wide open was taken with the M 240. The 2nd one was taken with the Monochrom. The voting ended up at almost 50/50 which says that there really was no clear-cut answer. If those were shot with the MM and M9 there would have been more of a difference. Also, keep in mind that comparison was done with a Noctilux wide open and focus is TOUGH at that aperture up close :) So take it for what it is. Two shots at 0.95 with two different cameras. Again though, they were close.

I also shot more comparisons that show the 240 holds up with the Monochrom in detail, sharpness and tonality. In these next images all I did was turn down saturation during RAW conversion for the M 240 shots. No Alien Skin, no Silver Efex, etc. Trying to keep it as clean as possible.

Click the images below for larger versions with 100% crop embedded. 1st one is the Mono and 2nd is the 240 with Saturation turned down. What do you see in this example?

monoplant-

The M240 shot..more DR it seems. Same settings, same ISO of 320, etc. 

m240plant

-

and the M240 in color

colorplant

Let’s try another side by side…

Leica Monochrom – 50 Lux – click for larger and crop

monoground

-

Leica M 240 – click for larger. Same lens, same settings – desaturated during RAW conversion

m240ground

I am aware many own the Monochrom and love it to death. I love the camera as well and appreciate it for what it is. A pure, simple, and straightforward camera that has huge capabilities with B&W photography. All of the samples here are untouched and unedited. When you start to edit these files they get even better, with the MM and M240 both. I do see some differences of course but what are these differences exactly? I do not even know sometimes. Both have good DR with the edge going to the 240 IMO. Both can be sharp, but the edge slightly goes to the MM in my experience. Tones are different as you can see in the image below, but slightly.

One more with both straight from camera. The M 240 gives me a slightly different skin shade (brighter/whiter) over the MM but both are superb. Again, I just desaturated during RAW for the M 240 shot. You can click for larger.

mirror

This goes to show just how good the new M 240 is. You get all of the improvements, you get the more stable body (over the M9), you get the live view capability if you want it and the amazing battery life (plus all of the other improvements) over the M9. You also seem to get 90% of  the MM B&W capabilities with a slightly different flavor of B&W. The MM kills the M9 for B&W conversions but not so much the 240. They are very close with the edge going to the MM in the fine details and tonality.

I will say shooting with the MM feels different from any other camera. You go out knowing you only are shooting in B&W and that changes your perspective on the way you see things. The MM is sexier looking, slimmer, and has one job and one job only and it is very good at that one job. The new M is a powerhouse capable of all kinds of treats. I am 100% keeping the M 240 for the long haul just as I did with the M9, that I know. I love BOTH cameras equally though, even though the $1000 less expensive M has more bang for the buck. The MM is special. Those who own one can confirm this.

Bottom Line on the M vs the MM for B&W

Here are two more files..one from the M and the other from the MM. Which is which? Can you tell? Both with the same lens, same aperture and both have extremely amazing detail at 100%. Neither has more than the other. Both are unedited, just resized. You can click for larger. I can now see the differences because I have been working with the files of each camera. How about you?

debbybwconv1

debbyb7wcon2

The 2nd shot is from the M240, converted just by sliding down the Desaturation slider during the RAW conversion :) Want the color version? It is also here:

debbycolor1

It is time for me to tell you a story…

I had one of the first Monochrom cameras on the market. I was 1st on Ken Hansens list and I loved the camera when I had it. I shot it, tested it, and finally started to get to enjoy it after all of the testing was done. But the new M was coming and I did not have the money to buy one (I am far from rich) so I clenched my teeth, shed a tear, and sold my Monochrom because running this site, I HAVE to buy new cameras so I can review them, it is what I do. In order to get a solid long term review of the new M, I had to buy one. The only way to do that for me was to sell the MM. Boo hoo.

So I put the funds aside until the M shipped, which was a couple of months later. When the M came it grew on me more and more each day. But even so, guys like Ashwin Rao were making me miss my Monochrom. Even though I knew the results were close, I wanted that MM back!

Then one day I came into a few extra bucks and splurged instead of doing what I normally do (put it into Savings). I contacted Ken, told him I wanted a MM again and he said “It’s on the way” and the next day..it was in my hands.

So now I have the MM once again and since I was able to do this true side by side I am thrilled as well as confused. Did I just spend all of that cash for just slight differences? Just the pleasure of shooting with a B&W only camera? Not really…

As I sit and think more..some of my fave shots of the past year have been with the Monochrom. There is indeed something there in the final product after editing and processing those files, even if I cant put my finger on it.

The Monochrom is already a classic. It is timeless. The new M 240 is a beast of a rangefinder and I adore it.

I have said before that owning both would be a dream. Here I am..living the dream. :) Now time to go put them to use.

Steve

The Monochrom image sample gallery is HERE

The M 240 image sample gallery is HERE

  95 Responses to “The Leica Monochrom and the M 240 for B&W Photography, both rock it!”

  1. Well, you convinced me that the M can keep up with the MM in these tests. Glad you verified that the 1st test was null – I was in shock that the difference was so big with those. Your retest really shows how close they are. Each camera would be fantastic as a pure mono body and each really holds their own ground. Thanks! Now, unto the M and ME compares!! LOL

  2. “There is indeed something there in the final product after editing and processing those files, even if I cant put my finger on it”

    Pure cognitive dissonance.

    • What makes that statement cognitive dissonance?

      • Have a read of this excerpt from Seth Godins seminar book – All Marketers are Liars! It’s worth reading through. I think the same thing is happening with Leica.

        Look at all the people saying that the MM does B&W better than the M. Yet in a blind test the result is 50/50. You might as well flip a coin

        If you’ve spent a lot of money on a B&W only camera – how do you justify it to yourself? – by claiming it has some magical quality of course. If you spend more on a camera and then found it was no better than a much cheaper camera – how would you feel?

        The latest claim is that the Monochrom forces you to think differently – what complete bullshit. The same effect is achieved by turning your LCD to B&W and telling yourself you are only going to shoot Monochrome images. You don’t need a B&W only camera to shoot in B&W.

        Anyway enough of the sermon…..here’s the extract

        Robert Parker, Jr., the king of wine reviewers, said, “The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes are those made by Riedel. The effect of these glasses on fine wine is pro­ found. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make.”

        Parker and Matthews and hundreds of other wine luminaries are now believers (and as a result, they are Riedel’s best word-of-mouth marketers). Millions of wine drinkers around the world have been persuaded that a $200 bottle of wine (or a cheap bottle of Two-Buck Chuck) tastes better when served in the proper Riedel glass.

        Tests done in Europe and the United States have shown that wine experts have no trouble discovering just how much better wine tastes in the correct glass. Pre­sented with the same wine in both an ordinary kitchen glass and the proper Riedel glass, they rarely fail to find that the expensive glass delivers a far better experience.

        This is a breakthrough. A $5 or a $20 or a $500 bottle of wine can be radically improved by using a relatively inexpensive (and reusable!) wine glass.

        And yet when the proper tests are done scientifically— double-blind tests that eliminate any chance that the subject would know the shape of the glass—there is ab­ solutely zero detectible difference between glasses. A $1 glass and a $20 glass deliver precisely the same impact on the wine: none.

        So what’s going on? Why do wine experts insist that the wine tastes better in a Riedel glass at the same time that scientists can easily prove it doesn’t? The flaw in the experiment, as outlined by Daniel Zwerdling in Gourmet magazine, is that the reason the wine tastes better is that people believe it should. This makes sense, of course. Taste is subjective. If you think the pancakes at the IHOP taste better, then they do. Because you want them to..

        Source: http://www.hlcpe.ac.in/admin/study_material/All%20Marketers%20are%20Liars.pdf

        • You raise some fair points. You can probably make the same assessment about different camera related technologies – AA vs no AA filter, Bayer vs X-trans. I think some people have an eye to pick out certain differences in image quality and under which photographic conditions these differences are more prominent.

          Ultimately, cameras/wine are for people’s enjoyment. Can’t blame Leica for giving their consumers a product that they genuinely enjoy.

        • I think the interesting point is that the M240 can take photos indistinguishable at base ISO’s. The nature of the MM also ‘forces’ one to think in B/W – and you are correct – the M240 can be set to show a monochrome screen with the same effect.

          However what each camera captures is completely different. The fact images can end up looking similar shows the versatility of the M240.

          Shoot at ISO’s of 3200 and above, (or enlarge to 20×30 or greater) — selecting the correct camera would be “no contest.”

        • Paul ,

          Fair comment , and solidly grounded in objective fact . But are you telling me that if you went to restaurant and bought a nice bottle of wine and then they served it in a mug you would be indifferent because the impact on taste is none?

          James

          • That’s different James (but you knew that :-). The tactile quality of the product does matter. I used to love holding my M9. It was just so solid. The Kinesthetic difference between cameras is a very subjective but discernible quality.

            My point relates to the visual. So much crap is spoken about ‘the leica look’. People swear they can see it. I understand that different lenses have their own characteristics and sensors have a signature – but a ‘brand’ having a ‘look’ – pure nonsense. Are people really saying that if you took an M9/M8/M240 with a range of lenses and mixed up the images amongst those from canon/nikon/nokia (with equivalent focal lengths/apertures) that one could pick out the ‘Leica’ images because of ‘the Leica look’. I would bet the price of an MM that the result would be 100% inconclusive.

            • Most of the fun from a Monochrom comes from the pure fun that it is to use it. Not because of some magical IQ difference. Nothing needs to be justified it is a personal choice. I have an MM and an M9P and enjoy them both. Can’t justify it on IQ grounds but it brings me personal satisfaction and that’s what it is about. Shoot what you like, and no need to piss in someone’s cornflakes!

              • “Not because of some magical IQ difference.”

                “Can’t justify it on IQ grounds but it brings me personal satisfaction and that’s what it is about.”

                But his point was that Steve DID claim that there was something special about the IQ of the Monochrom’s files… He never attacked the statements about the fun of using it.

          • James,

            In Spain they serve wine in mugs..or better small cups, reason being that eathenware cools wine better then glass. You should try it on a hot day, it tastes great.

            What Paul is refering to is true. At the high level of performance of todays digital cameras the difference between them is entirely a matter of taste. Not even debatable. And completely irrelevant to the viewer of the finished work. But never to the photographer. But photography consists of so much more then IQ.

            A german photo professor told me (when oogling my work) that I would be so much better of with a technical camera. So I bought an analog technical camera and learned to use it to the point that I can guess the correct exposure of a Velvia positive based on sunny 16. But never the less, my pictures didn’t improve (they lost some spontanouity I had when shooting my GF1). So I sold the whole lot and bought an OM-D and forgot about the wise and well meant words of the professor. IQ wise an OM-D can’t compete with a 4×5….no way. But what good is IQ if the photo sucks.

            Shoot with the camera that lures you out into the cold in order to get another great picture (or aspire to it) that you are fond of. Or shoot because you have to, you can’t do anything else.

            Wether a Leica Monochrome has better IQ in black and white over a M240, who cares (I think is has BTW). If you are happy with it. It’s like the wineglass. If people find that their wine tastes better in a Riedel glass let them, it is their personal private (entirely imagined) but never the less wholeheartedly perceived truth. If you now think you cannot shoot B&W without a Leica MM go ahead. If you can foot the bill, why not. And if it gives you the confidence to shoot in a way you wouldn’t have without it, it might even be wearth it’s money. For the rest…..G.P. Fieret shot pictures with a Praktica and these are selling for 9.000 dollar up these days, so in the end, who cares about truth.

            Greets, Ed.

        • Paul,

          Tank you for this comment. I work in marketing and can confirm described pattern from my own work experience. If there’s just little difference between your and your competitor’s product, there’s a requirement for unique selling points. The more similar competing products are, the stronger the tendency of marketing departments to let value appear in their customer’s minds. This value could be generated by strong brand awareness or status, some would also put design on that list.
          So a unique selling point can be a real-world advantage (extrinsic) or it can be an idea that was planted in our heads by a good marketer (intrinsic). There’s really not a huge difference between the two in terms of the result: it makes us happy, and happiness emerges in our brains, independent from the origin (intrinsic or extrinsic). I really have a hard time seeing a difference but I’m sure moral philosophers would be able to dissect the implications.
          Short conclusion: enjoy life your own way. ;)

        • This is what Apple does wery well on theyr products :)
          Yes, what it does is make people feel special.
          And at that point they dont care about the price.
          If You could make Yourself feel 200% better by paying only 20% more, wouldnt You?

          • I don’t really agree.

            I bought my first Macbook 8 years ago if I remember well.
            Before that I only had Windows based computers. I had several computers from several brands. I even managed to build my computer myself in the past (I mean buy all parts and they assemble them myself, processor etc.). I was a kind of computer geek.

            At what point I tried Apple computer and never never never looked back since.
            8 years after, my second Macbook is about to be changed by a new model (even though it doesn’t really need to be changed). In 8 years I had only two Mac (which I changed on purpose every 4 years because I wanted and not because I needed it).

            That is the first time is my all life that I have two laptops, heavily used on 12-11h /day basis, that do not fail after 12-14 months of use.

            I feel a bit same with Leica. It’s the first brand with whom I’ve never had any issue !
            My Fuji X100 failed, my NEX5n Failed, my NEX3 failed, my Sony compact failed…

          • My macbook does make me feel better! After 5 years, it still runs almost as fast and just as smooth as the day I bought it. I’ve had no issues with it, nor have I put any money into it in the 5 years I’ve had it. I’m not an Apple fanboy (I use a Samsung phone and have a PC desktop), but I’ve never heard of a Windows computer running almost like new after 5 years. When this thing finally dies, I’ll happily shell out the extra cash for a new macbook!.

        • Maybe it’s a case of “perception is reality” or “there’s one born every minute”.

        • Anything–and its opposite–can be proven. You can’t prove that magic exists, nor can you disprove it. Some things have magic: that’s why Apple has more adherents than the Catholic church. That’s why when someone says the MM is magic, all your arguments to disprove this are a waste of time. Seth Godin and his munchkins are trying to sell you the same kind of BS they are arguing against: Godin is a marketer–of himself; so he is a liar, too. You’ve bought into his “magic” just because he uses numbers and faux objective language.

          • This has been one of THE MOST interesting exchanges I’ve read on a blog. Not sure how beneficial is to Steve, but an awesome read. Thanks to all who participated!

        • Okay Mr Smarty Pants. I took pictures of my (relatively inexpensive) wine glasses with my Leica kit, then the same exact photos with my Canon kit. When these images were shown to a random sampling of Leica owners, all agreed that the glasses shot with the Leica must be more expensive and better tasting.

          So there.

    • Reminds of Steve`s comparison of the Leica X1 and the Fuji X100 and the result of the blind test inlcuded in on of his reviews. Leicaholics would insist that the X1 produced a leica look which the Fuji could not compete with, yet the blind test showed a 50:50 accuracy in picking the right camera. So much about the Leica look myth.

    • “There is indeed something there in the final product after editing and processing those files, even if I cant put my finger on it”

      Pure cognitive dissonance.

      Actually, not quite. Though I completely agree you are v likely correct RE the blinding etc, that statement in itself might not be.
      They very well might look different but Steve simply doesn’t know what it is that’s different about it that makes him like it more. (e.g. might be slightly more contrasty or something which is subtle to describe but impacts a bit better for him).

    • Great conclusions! I Couldnt have said it better.

    • I have to agree. Personally, I shoot an X-Pro1. I chose it, in a side-by-side comparison with an Olympus OM-D, because the lenses felt nicer. I liked the metal. I was under no delusion that the image output was worth the extra $700 (at the time).

      I think Leica owners operate the same way, and if they are honest with themselves, can acknowledge that the tools they use are very important to them, piss-poor photographer to master artist, the tools must matter, because there are “better” cameras out there as far as output goes, but it would be hard to find a better built tool.

  3. Oh, and since you don’t need the MM anymore, I’ll send you my address to send it. ;)

  4. As much as I love the whole spartan nature of Leica M shooting, and the Monochrome being the ultimate of this aesthetic, I feel I would have a hard time jettisoning the ability to manipulate color filter affects on full color RAW files. To tweak the tones of a blue sky… To do the same with skin tones. All lost for the sake of the extra resolution and density that the Monochrome supposedly offers.
    Again, there is that word “spartan”.
    And then the word “limitation”.
    Most every image I produce ends up monochrome, but I would difficulty putting restrictions on my creative process.

  5. Hey Steve,

    Two questions:

    1) Do you find that the BW conversions in the RX1 files are just as good as the M240?
    2) MM + RX1 (with the intention of getting Sony’s FF in 2014) or no MM and just an M240 now?

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks, and always appreciate your insights!

  6. To append to my previous comment, I assume that Sony will release a compact FF with a refined equivalent of the sensor they put in the D800E in 2014. I can’t see them releasing just another 24mp camera given they have been pushing the envelope with their prior releases.

  7. Steve – I just received my new M yesterday (love it) and also own a MM. To me the biggest difference between the 2 cameras is the max ISO – with the MM you can shoot under almost any light condition and the results will look fantastic – also the singularity of purpose that the MM brings allows for a shooting style where all you think about is the image.

  8. I would hesitate to suggest that the M can keep up with the MM. One of the huge advantages of the MM is the flexibility of the files to handling/post processing, and adjustment. The base files are nice and carry incredible detail, but the files have a unique structure that require their own work flow and processing. I have not shot with the M, but I have converted files provided by a few friends, and the adjustments and flexibility to work within the mid-tones and shadows is subjectively different, if not objectively different. I find the MM files to be incredibly robust through ISO 5000 (in adequate light). The M files are quite rich as well, but they handle differently.

    I continue to feel that the M will serve most peoples black and white purposes admirably and in most cases, one will not be able to tell the difference between what is an M file and what’s an MM file. However, the photographer may well have the freedom to create more within the black and while ‘scape with the MM, due to the richness of the greys, robustness of the files, sharpness, etc….

    From personal experience, using the MM has been my most satisfying camera experience to date. The file processing takes some effort in getting it right, but once one has done this, it’s hard to go back….I am sure that using the M will be a marvel for most if not all of us, and I look forward to a day that I can own and use one myself. I enjoy Steve’s posts about this, as I do think this question is on the mind of many photogs. I just don’t want people to feel like what’s coming out of the camera is the whole story. It’s just half of the story….but it’s reassuring to know that both the M and MM produce nice files straight out of the camera…the rest of the image is up to the photographer’s discretion.

    • Hi Ashwin,
      – so very precise put and straight to the point! Now i dont have to wrench my brain for the words needed – thanks;o)

    • “From personal experience, using the MM has been my most satisfying camera experience to date.”

      And that folks…is all that is important. You can stop reading now.

  9. Unrelated to cameras: I like your watch. I bought a wristwatch recently since I wanted to be able to know the time without having to fish out my cellphone and thus interrupt my shooting. So, yes, I guess this is related to cameras. :P

  10. Not my intention to be a boring guy but I told many times yesterday the first wall shot was blurred probably because shaking — as couldn’t suppose the lens was off…

    • Not boring at all, but it wasn’t shaken :) I agree it was odd which is why I worked all day redoing tests and that is when I felt the 50 APO being loose in the barrel sort of like my old Zeiss 50 planar got after a while. I can only assume that this would affect focus. I have packed it back up already as I do not want to use it and have it get worse so it is heading back to the owner for repair. I feel awful that it happened while I was using it.

      • It was a bad luck I suppose. Odd occurring that on a so expensive lens. Hope not have this kind of issue on my 50 summilux. :)

      • Ah,

        That is a “can happen”, but not a “should happen”. Probably a simple warranty fix and not a design failure. Had the simmular problem with a 300 dollar SamYang FE (decentered lens element in this case). SamYang replaced it without a problem. Now my guess is that Leica will be able to match SamYang in there customer department :-)…..and it happening to you, well they should send you a nice big fat letter of apology.

        And fairs, fair mentioning it here means you are as objective as you claim (ah true love can stand critique anyway :-)), kudos….

        Greets, Ed.

  11. CH3M0

  12. Hi Steve
    At first i was very suspicious, I must admit you changed it and i deffinitely like the 240 too now
    The b\w of both cameras is simply fantastic, and to be honest i could’nt tell which is which
    I am glad you are enjoying the 240 and looking forword to seeing some more of it
    Danny

  13. I hate to be a cynic, Steve, but these suble differences would be completely masked by the most minor post-processing. Not sure the Monochom is exactly necessary now that I think about it. But what a lovely concept.

  14. Thanks for updating the test and the only thing I can say it what wonderful camera choices we have to mount the great selection of M lenses that are available.

  15. I picked the files both right, but I wasn’t looking for sharpness at all. Maybe that’s why the blur on the first didn’t deter me. I am with Ashwin on this. I have picked up some old lenses to play with on the MM that I would never use on my M9. It’s the shades of white and gray that hook me. I am an over the top sharpness freak, but if the MM is teaching me anything, it’s that sharpness is just one aspect. If I ever master the whites it’s capable of (I’m just starting to get comfortable with the shadows) maybe I’ll give it up, but right now it’s still got a lot to teach me.

    Personally, my reason for wanting it is I love color TOO much and once I’ve seen a color shot, I can’t bring myself to desaturate it. Not a problem with the MM. One mans limitations is another’s liberation.

  16. Good test – no doubt that M 240 is doing it well, both color and b / w, quite on a par with MM.
    The reason I chose MM over the M240 does not have as much to do with the quality of the end result, but more with the workflow. Love limitation in MM, and the approach to the image, which will be about the motiv, light and contrasts.

  17. I’m living the dream just like you Steve, MM + M240(waiting list) + M9(backup) and believe this is the ultimate package.

    Now my concern is the build quality of 50mm APO as you pointed out…I hope it’s just an isolated case not something that needs to be recalled.

  18. Great post. I have been following your blog for a couple years now. I finally made the move from film to digital. I wanted an M9. I couldn’t find a camera and lenses to save my life, so I got a Nikon D3s. Great camera but I still wanted to return to Leica. Then came your posts on the M9P. I thought that was what I wanted. But then again the availability of lenses and camera came into play. Just couldn’t find them together when I had the funds. Then came the reviews for the Monochrom and the M-E. I had been using Silver Effects Pro converting my D3s files with decent results. Nicest darkroom I ever worked in. At first I wasn’t that impressed with Monochrom. Then I started looking closer and decided that was the way to go. I got on the waiting list at a couple of places but nothing. Finally someone wanted my street rod more than me and I sold it. Called everywhere to find a Monchrom to no avail. Then it came to me, you had said the M-E was a M9 at a reduced price. I could get an M-E and start shooting and sell it when I could find a Monchrom. Cool, I picked up an M-E and a couples lenses and I had returned to Leica after a 40 break. I was amazed at the results with the M-E. The amount of post compared to the D3s was nothing. Then came the curve ball. Two weeks after purchasing the M-E I got the call. My Monochrom was in. I had shot the M-E just long enough to realize I couldn’t part with it. I needed it for color. So now I have both and have never been happier. I’m using the Leica’s more than I ever did the street rod. You pointed out the most important part of shooting the Monochrom. You think and shoot differently when using the Monochrom. You shoot thinking B&W. You think in tones, textures, contrast and filters. Basically you are thinking B&W film without the darkroom. And once again the Monochrom cuts post way down. Keep up the great blog. Also, add my name to your list of people that purchased Leica’s because of your reviews.

  19. “The MM is sexier looking, slimmer, and has one job and one job only and it is very good at that one job.”

    Aint that the truth!! I think my MM is really darn sexy.

    The truth of the matter is, the M240 is going to be just fine for anyone who wants to shoot black and white. Though the MM output is absolutely stunning, I think its true power is in the mind set it forces you to have and its simplicity. Strange that we have to pay a premium for simplicity, but hey, it is what it is.

    • You don’t have to pay a premium. Put any camera in black and white mode. Leave it there. Simplicity. Done.

  20. The self portrait shots show the silkiness of the MM images.

    • +1

      …and also i still find the m240 output ever so slightly ‘mushy’ – not critically so but charateristic still… and btw why is both the watch AND eyes sharp on the mirror-selfportrait from the MM but not so on the M240 – a little weird. Im really even more happy with my MM after this although no matter the outcome of this little ‘test’ theres more to it than ‘just’ the images for me when shootin’ the Monochrom… Whether subjective or not the whole Zenlike-trip with the Monochrom is a very seductive and satisfying one;o)

    • +1

      …and also i still find the m240 output ever so slightly ‘mushy’ – not critically so but charateristic still… ohh – and btw why is both the watch AND eyes sharp on the mirror-selfportrait from the MM but not so on the M240 – a little weird. Im really even more happy with my MM after this although no matter the outcome of this little ‘test’ theres more to it than ‘just’ the images for me when shootin’ the Monochrom… Whether subjective or not the whole Zenlike-trip with the Monochrom is a very seductive and satisfying one;o)

  21. Quite honestly, Steve, I guessed right every time, and as a potential never-will-be-owner of either (!) I like the M240 best for B&W every time. I know it’s a matter of taste, but there does seem to be a fashion for high contrast, high definition B&W at the present all the way from your intersting readers’ contibutions to yourself and on (?) to Thorsten Overgaard. It’s not that I don’t like them, but I miss the gentler tonality of an older style of B&W. Each to his own taste: this is not written in a spirit of controversy.

  22. I supppose if I were in your shoes, Steve, I’d take this experiment the next step and have BIG prints made by a master B/W printmaker, then decide whether I needed two similar, but not equal bazillion-dollar cameras. I can make out differences on a monitor, minor ones, but they’re frankly not sifting out in a way that favors one body over the other. They certainly all “pop” in a manner I’m not familar with from my own more modest gear, though, so I think I understand what you’re pursuing here.

    In this digital age I consider bodies to be commodities and lenses to be investments. The second is where I spend the most freely.

  23. I can understand when you and others mention the singular purity (my words, your spirit) of shooting only for black and white. I can’t afford any Leica, nevermind a Monochrome. Never will. But, I do miss shooting in black and white. Not just creating black and white, but SHOOTING in black and white. When I was a young guy and shot black and white film, I saw in tonalities, in shades of gray. Digital ruined that for me until recently. Recently, I decided to spent some time shooting my OMD in raw as I always do, but also selecting the monochrome mode so that what I see in the viewfinder is black and white. That’s even more black and white than I saw through my Nikon F2 LOL. This helped me to again think in terms of shades of gray. I guess this was a “training wheels” phase for me. Now that I’m once again thinking more so in terms of black and white, I don’t need the training wheels, but it sure did help. So, I may never have that Leica, but I sure do understand the allure of B&W. Just sayin’.

  24. Good to hear that the economy is nicely humming as there are people out there able to buy a Leica MM, M type 240, and M9!!! Just saw that the M type 240 was being listed on the evilBay for $8-10K and there are bidders/buyers!!! Whoa!!! Guess no room for me to talk since I paid the price of a really nice car for a wrist watch by Patek Philippe, but I feel there is just something different about genuinely handmade Swiss watch – crafted from precious metals (platinum) vs. a Leica digital camera body, which is just really fancy electronics that is already obsolete since Leica has not even equaled the technical marvels of CaNikon and Sony back in 2007. I enjoy the Leica shooting experience too, but certainly not to drop that much $$$ for the pleasure (I have my M type 240 on order too).

    But cool, I’m glad we’re all doing well economically. I took the $$$ that I was going to use to buy the M type 240 back in Sept. 2012 and dropped it in the S&P 500 so the longer Leica takes to fulfill the preorder, the less the actual camera costs me … gotta love TVM!!!

    • I have experienced the opposite recently. I collected Swiss watches for many years and have had the pleasure of owning AP , Patek , jLC , Blancpain etc , however I have found that photography has displaced my watch obsession and I have come to regard watches as nothing more than jewelry.

      I ended up selling a few of my pieces to raise the funds for a Leica M9 , M6 and a few lenses. The M9 aside I found that there are parallels between collecting watches and lenses in so much that if you source a used quality item from a reputable seller it will likely retain its value and even appreciate over time. Of course the ‘investment’ is not the reason why I am into either hobby but it helps me justify spending the large sums to myself and my wife!

      Obviously this is a completely personal experience but I find that owning the cameras ( incl the M9 ) much more deeply satisfying than the watches as they can be used to express yourself creatively and capture special moments in your life.

      James

    • Eh, a Leica is also handcrafted up to a point……it can also be seen as an object of beauty (I use an OM-D that is rather stylish as well but still no comparison) by some collectors. Personally I think neither a watch be it made with 28 stones and handcrafted or a camera, are trully collectables, if I wanna buy objects of beauty I would invest in prints (7000 buys you a real Dianna Arbus these days at Christies) or painting and not in any product that is essentially a functional product unless I use it. I own a little Aldo Rossi designed, Alessi coffeemaker and bought a new rubber sealing for it….the salesperson on the other side of the counter looked amazed, shocked and horrified, I responded “yeps it makes a damned nice espresso to”. But hey, whatever fits your ilk, right.

      Greets, Ed.

  25. Steve, having followed your site for a couple of years, I know you can take masterful photos. So I am puzzled as to why you so often put up, I’m sorry to say, rather dull examples. I know your purpose was to show the technical differences between the two cameras, but I would echo what many here have said: the differences are so slight, so who cares. Rather, if you are going to highlight the differences, show me how the MM inspires you to take unique photos that you maybe wouldn’t have captured using the M240, becaues you wouldn’t have been in the “B&W only” state of mind. Personally, if I am going to shoot a bush in my back yard, I am going to use a point and shoot.

    • This is a camera review blog 1st and foremost. Are you saying just to show test shots I have to travel to some foreign land to shoot portraits of the poor (like so many “experts” seem to do) and all test shots have to have artistic value? Just no way that is possible. You should try running a daily blog and see how that works for you :) This was a comparison, that is all. Same subject, same lens, same aperture. I have PLENTY of real world photos in the M 240 gallery and Monochrom gallery. “shooting a bush in my backyard” is for testing only. My reviews have all of the real examples you could ask for, 4-5X as many as any other M 240 or MM review I have seen. Besides, there are just about zero photo opps in Phx AZ :) – harsh bright sun, extreme heat, brown dirt and brown mountains. Oh, and cactus.

      To see what you are looking for, visit the reviews and galleries. Thanks.

      • ..” travel to some foreign land to shoot portraits of the poor (like so many “experts” seem to do)”..

        That is something that I too dislike. I’m done with looking at photos of disadvantaged people, where it seems the only artistic quality of the photograph is the fact that it is of someone less well off than the photographer. I can’t wait for this patronising trend to expire.

      • That’s fair to a point. I have no idea how difficult and how much work it must be to run your site, and I wasn’t trying to malign your efforts. At the same time, I don’t think travel to exotic lands is necessary. E.g. there are are some wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright houses in the Phoenix area, and within 100 to 150 miles of Phoenix is some of the prettiest country I have every encountered in the US.

        It’s your site of course, and you must run it as you want, but personally, I would prefer fewer posts with more interesting images.

        • In my opinion a photographic image of an interesting object does not at all necessarily equal an interesting photograph. It takes a lot of “seeing”, “visualizing” and effort to make an interesting image, and that can be done in any place ithe world. The rest is just postcards and family snapshots. Good in their own right and precious to the person that took them.

          I’ve been to AZ (Tucson area mainly) many times in the nineties, Billingham filled with FM2n, Fuji NPH and some primes, and I got frustrated by not being able to find or create an interesting image. That led to a virtual absence from photography for quite a number of years. But it came back!

          And oh, photographing the disadvantaged, be it in New York, Asia or wherever, is the new colonialism. I stay away from that.

        • Be careful when posting images of houses on a commercial blog. Frank Lloyd Wright has copyright on the design and even posting your own images can be considered infringing upon that copyright.

          • Thanks for the heads up. I haven’t attempted to sell my photos, but I have a few shots of FLW houses on my wall.

            Steve, again, I would reiterate, that I think you are great, and I appreciate your enthusiasm for the gear we use. Your reviews have been helpful, and I’ve bought a few grand worth of gear through your links. My critique should be taken for what it is: a viewer/reader who would like to see you exercising your artistic chops more, knowing that you have them.

      • Steve no need to assert you photographic talents. Youre testshots are real world testshots, bringing out the pro’s and con’s of each tested system (therefore the Noct at 0.95 and even then I spotted the MM you dirty little scoundral :-)). You could make them even duller….does anybody need an oil and vinager bottle and couple of crayons :-)……or a shot of the houses of parlement…..again, and again, and again to name a few examples.

        Greets, Ed.

        P.S. examples are randomly chosen…..and can be expanded at will.

  26. What I see is that the transactions in grey areas are more full spectrum with the MM. For my eye the M240 is more contrasty, but looses some of the middle tones from the MM. In PP you could probably go from either direction and find a common denominator, or?

  27. What this demonstrates is that the M240 is perfectly stellar for B&W photography.

  28. The MM shots look “more alive” than the M240 conversions in my mind, if that makes any sense?

  29. Thank god my eyes are not equipped to see any difference

  30. Well I chose the 240 both times and thought it was the Monochrom.
    The 240 is way better than the Monochrom.

  31. I got both of your examples right….now here’s a thought, wat would happen if more camera brands would take over Leica’s BRILLIANT stroke of GENIOUS (<- pleonasm intended)……we would get ADOX CMS 20 film in the digital world….a bit less dynamic range but boy, drop you're yaw about the detail….same with an fovean sensor that Sigma is using. Their 15 Mpixel camera has the resolution of a 30 Mpixel Bayer array machine. To me fovean is the way forward from here……the benefit of extra pixels is victim of the airy disk theorema anyway. Now a 39 or 36 Mpixel fovean sensor…..think of the posibilities. SM anyone? (maybe Leica should think about the name first although Citroen also ran an SM).

    So DOWN with BAYER ARRAY
    Say NEY to the BAYER ARRAY

    add slogans as reequired and start rallying :-).

    Greets, Ed.

  32. How do they compare with high ISO?

    • With high iso the difference is obvious. the MM can easily handle high ISO and the noise is “nicer”. (even compared with the D800 and its awesome sensor)

  33. I dont see any difference :) (exept the High ISO capability off course) But I like the whole MM philosophy, that stands behind it. And that is awesome. It is all about the feel.

  34. Thanks for these comparison photographs Steve, I think they illustrate the capabilities of both cameras very well. The 240 crop certainly shows great detail and sharpness (all that I would need and more anyway) and the Lux sings, what a great lens!

  35. The Monochrom squeezes every drop of B&W goodness from an dated technology Leica at a premium, while sacrificing postprocessing potential. We are comparing it to a new technology Leica. While I congratulate Leica for offering us a choice, when will they or other manufacturers have the guts to offer us the latest technology cameras/sensors in monochrome versions, or even better–in full spectrum versions?

  36. Excellent camera.

  37. I took the blind test and it was a hard choice. Especially viewing on my Imac

    Does anybody know if there would be a much more noticeable difference in output if the pics were professionally printed at the highest quality?

  38. You may need help!

  39. Reading all of these comparisons are fun but they certainly do seem to totally over blow any differences that exist. I have a used m8 which is clearly the black sheep of the Leica line. It is early even mentioned any more. Only thing is, I have found it to produce amazing images and they will be no less amazing 20 years from now when we are all debating the new m5000 versus the Fuli x800. The shot itself and all that went into it is going to account for about 99.9% of the variance in a shot at this equipment level not the m240 vs mm.

  40. I cant believe that happened to APO Summicron. For that much money I would not expect that.

  41. Hi Steve
    Interesting comparison. Can the MM imitate the different types of B&W films or do you need third party software to do it? Is it an improvement of 400 Kodak T pan or Ilford Delta shot on Medium format cameras?

    To me the reason for buying the MM is the same as the reason for buying any digital camera. You want to take B&W photos without waiting for the film to be processed and without the limitation of the ISO film speed. You read the MM’s specs and you would be left with the impression that the MM’s sensor should blow the M away in dynamic range and image sharpness. Does it do that over the M? From what I read, it doesn’t. It’s marginally better but not overwhelmingly so.

    Is it possible your test photos do not have enough dynamic range to truly test the differences? I would like to see portrait photos with controlled studio lighting against a black background with shadow on the face shot with a 50 f1.4 to really see if there is a difference. Is the black well black and is the skin tone different? How do the details compare. Then I would like to see the same shot with a film M6 with Kodak 400 Tri X Pan to see the difference. If I have set out the shooting conditions incorrectly, then the point I am trying to make is take a photo of simple portrait but has each extreme of lighting condition.

    If I am asking too much, then I am sorry. You already do so much with the website and I understand.
    Good luck with it
    Noel

  42. I have a Leica M6 and an M7. I put B&W Kodak Tmax 400 in both and took identical pictures using the same 50mm lens. I then printed them on Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk paper. I cannot tell the difference between either picture or convert them to colour. Am I doing something wrong? Should I get a Leica M3 and see if there is a difference then? ;-)

  43. I’m a bit late to this conversation … but… I use a Monochrom to take black and white pictures in the same way I loaded FP4 film to shoot black and white.

    I just don’t like all of the algorithms that stand between subject and photograph. For me this includes b&w conversions … my blood ran cold when I learned that Sebastiao Selgado had shot Genesis on a colour digital – then converted to b&w, even adding in grain …

    If you could grow food in a lab that tasted and smelled ‘exactly’ the same, I’d still buy the stuff that grows on the soil …

  44. I’d really like to see how the M 240 does B/W with vintage class like a Rigid 50 mm Summicron v2 that Ashwin Rao uses. I have to say I don’t really like any b/w on modern lens due to the clinical look which to my eyes doesn’t make sense in B/W. My immediate reaction a clinical digital B/W photos is “this would look better in color”

    Considering everything the MM seems on the surface like a terrible buy when viewing this article. As someone earlier said in a blind test it would probably be a 50/50 in preference when choosing which images you liked.

  45. When looking at the pictures in the mirror the differences are HUGE! Look at the sharpness of the camera’s, the front end of the lenses. You call this close match??? It looks as if the pics taken with the M240 are taken at 1/15 of a second?

  46. Steve. I gave you five spot for the effort.

Don't just sit there! Join in and leave a comment!

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
21