Leica Monochrom Thoughts
by Ben Miller
I recently attended a Leica Akademie Monochrom workshop in Chicago. My purpose of attending the workshop was to determine if I should upgrade to a Monochrom from my M9. I was curious to know if the extra tones from the Monochrom files would justify the upgrade. I was hoping that you would share my thoughts with others as they may be questioning this upgrade as well.
Here’s what I learned from the workshop:
Chasing after the extra tones from the Monochrom files may not be a good idea for me and here’s why. With the extra contrast that I add during post-processing I lose mid-tones. Some may say that I add to much contrast but it’s what I prefer. When I shot film I mainly shot HP5+ and would develop at home in my bathroom. I would lose mid-tones during scanning due to weaknesses inherent in the scanner that I used. The Epson V500 does an okay job when scanning medium format negatives but pretty much sucks when scanning 35mm. Next, I have a $300 laptop that is outdated. To really get the most from post-processing and to be able to view all the tones you should invest in a decent monitor. (I was told $1000 or so). It appears that I’ve never really experienced those great mid-tones from film due to my post-processing preferences, scanner, and crappy monitor. If I upgraded to a Monochrom I wouldn’t necessarily see those extra tones due to my on workflow. I can’t miss what I’ve never really had.
Now…… Here’s the good. When comparing the resolution of the files between an M9 and a Monochrom the Monochrom wins hands down. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I like to shoot in the evening when out and about. The high ISO capabilities of the Monochrom would be nice.
I’ve now decided that a Monochrom wouldn’t be a good investment for me as I wouldn’t necessarily reap the benefits of the camera. My wife and checkbook are happy to know that my connection to my M9 is solid as the benefits of a Monochrom don’t fit my style.
Overall I’m extremely happy with the experience and would definitely attend the workshop again. The instructor was extremely knowledgeable and held my attention. Meeting everyone was great. I really hope that I can cross paths with these gentlemen and lady again as I consider all of them new friends. I also had the opportunity to spend a few hours out on the street with a Monochrom and a lens that I have never shot with before.
I’ve attached some of the photos that I captured with the loaner Monochrom. All photos were shot with a 35mm Summicron at F8 using zone focusing. I post processed the raw files in Lightroom 4.
You can view more of my photos on my website www.photographsbyben.com.