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.
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?
The M240 shot..more DR it seems. Same settings, same ISO of 320, etc.
and the M240 in color
Let’s try another side by side…
Leica Monochrom – 50 Lux – click for larger and crop
Leica M 240 – click for larger. Same lens, same settings – desaturated during RAW conversion
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.
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?
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:
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.
The Monochrom image sample gallery is HERE
The M 240 image sample gallery is HERE