LEICA M MONOCHROMATIC IMAGES By Michael Nemlich

LEICA M MONOCHROMATIC IMAGES

By Michael Nemlich

I gain so much from yours as well as others posts, so I would be honored to contribute some in revenge. These days I use the M (240) following M9, M8 and Digilux 3. Since I do a lot of B&W images, before I moved to the 240 I considered the attractive and tempting MM; but my left side brain resisted, for one and only (good) reason, as follows:

According the phrase: “a picture is worth a thousand words”’ let’s talk (4) pictures:

The image “A” is of a scene in Manasseh-Heights. The image is chromatic, as a standard human eye sees it.

If this scene would have been taken with the MM it would be seen as image “B” with very close tones of both fields. No much can be done to distinguish between them.

Nevertheless, converting the original (color “A”) image to monochrome IN PP has the inherent option to influence the grey tones via the color channels; so lightening the oranges and darken the greens yields the image “C” and vice-versa results the image “D”. For me this was the one and only – but crucial – reason to stay with a ‘color’ sensor for B&W photography. Some short experience with the MM encouraged this theorem.

I hope this short essay helps.

All the Best. Nemlich

nemlich.leicaimages.com and www.beshumma.com

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B

C

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33 Comments

  1. Thanks for the illustration. Makes a lot of sense especially if you want to manipulate the tonality of different shades of color which is much more reasonable in post on a color image than trying to stack odd color filters on the MM.

  2. If convenience is more important its easier and more flexible to do the “filtering” in software from the M.
    If max. IQ is your goal and if you don’t mind to make a decision in the moment you take the images the same can be achieved with a color filter.
    It can be more flexible to do it in post, on the over side its not an disadvantage if equipment forces to you to think before you take the image and not afterwards.

  3. You can use the Monochrom to make colour pictures. Make three exposures (using a tripod) one using a red filter over the lens, one with a blue, one with a green, and combine them in Photoshop. It is best not to use screw on filters to avoid moving the camera, or at least use bigger ones to hold in front of the lens, and it is a pretty easy technique reminiscent of the early Tri tone Autochromes images.

  4. Michael has given us a very nice, concise illustration of the use of color channels in color to B&W PP. There are some readers who may never have done this and now will be encouraged to see what it can do. Bravo.

    In regards to cameras: the MM and the M are two very different beasts with different workflows to get the best out of each. Does the MM have special qualities and undeniably better IQ? Yes. Is the M more versatile? Absolutely.

  5. Another useless debate over what one and only single camera is the best for all purposes. In an era when most serious photographers already own more than one. I also made great b&w conversions with my M9, but had sell it to buy the MM. No further comment required; just look at the images posted online. So, what about color? Simply add an $800 sigma dp2 Merrill around your neck or a $1300 OM1 with a telephoto zoom lens and tell your spouse that they were all paid for by the sale of the M9. But how I miss that M9! A great camera. As is the new M.

    • I fail to see where the contributor incited a debate. This is an enlightening comparison for someone who doesn’t own both of those $7000 cameras.

  6. As always, I appreciate the exchange of ideas and images here – but I’m not really getting the point of this post. Regardless of whether you’re shooting with an M240 or MM Monochrom, I believe you can achieve beautifully rendered black & white photos with both cameras – simply by manipulating hues and tones, and adding digital filters (red, orange, yellow, green, blue) in post production.

    I routinely convert color images shot with my M9 to B&W, and alter the tones in the foregrounds and backgrounds of my images through use of the filters made available in Aperture 3 and Nik Silver Efex.
    Post-production was important to the masters like Ansel Adams 90 years ago, and that has not changed today – even with digital technology.

    Here are some examples of the color-to-black&white conversions I’ve taken recently with my M9.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mauiholiday/sets/72157629815521688/

  7. For me, shoot raw and if I want b&w, convert it as post-processing. In most case, I can control how I want the b&w looks like in < 5 minutes as this article points out. You cannot convert B&W to color, so why bother unless you like to throw away your hard-work $.

  8. B&W film shooters have been using filters for decades just this reason…. i.e. you miss out on the wheel invention award.

    • I also shoot the MM frequently with filters, much the same as shooting my M6 with B&W film and choice of filter.
      See no reason for the catty and unnecessary “wheel invention” comment.

        • I did. Still no need for the catty remark. And the article makes no mention of filters. And it is not even clear that he shot image 2 with a Monochrom, so I don’t know what you are talking about. I think we all know what filters are used for with B&W film, and they do approximately the same thing with the Monchrom.
          I have Monochrom and know what it can do and what can be done through processing of raw Monochrom files. And what can be achieved with filters.

          • Clearly you didn’t read it properly. The OP is posting this as a reason for choosing a colour camera over a B&W one, when clearly you can achieve the above with a B&W camera also. As to “catty remarks” – have you read your own posts lately. Meow.

          • Well, Duh. You seem to think you are a genius who sees what others do not. The Monochrom is a tool that creates images that are superior to color conversions to B&W. My experience, through use of the M9, the M240 and the MM, demonstrates this to my satisfaction. M9 and M240 conversions are good. MM files are better and can be extended through post processing beyond anything possible with the other two. With the MM you start with a better capture of fine detail and all the shades of gray.

          • ‘M9 and M240 conversions are good. MM files are better and can be extended through post processing beyond anything possible with the other two.’

            No one is denying this. But you do seem to have trouble understanding the point of the article, which was to point out that the MM is less versatile.

            Yes, you can use filters, but unless you are going to carry a box of them for every colour permutation for each filter size, then it will not be as versatile as the colour conversions of the M9, M240. It is a simple point really.

          • I think I “get it” and always did. Raised a new point about the MM, that’s all. You seem to agree. Many agree with the author’s idea about the merit of M9 and M B&W conversions. And I like them too. They can be very special. Enough said. ?

    • I read the article. I think the point is that only with a color sensor can you choose which filter effect to use in PP, hence the alternative outcomes. I think we can safely assume that the poster has heard of filters and is not claiming any revolutionary inventions.

  9. This is interesting. Maybe I am missing the point, but as a MM shooter, I am pretty sure I could end up through post processing with either 3 or 4.
    Nice article. The M240 is a great camera.

  10. On MM you need to look at the world bearing in mind what effect colored filters have when taking the picture. I’m torn between a MM and a M, knowing that the latter would be more versatile. Still when I look at night shots taken with MM, its limits being almost a trade off to achieve the highest level of bound, between the photographer and the camera, my hands turn sweat. 🙂

  11. OR if you have a static motif like this, I would guess you could take 4 pictures(or 3) with MM and color filters and and have all of them more detailed, and even create a more detailed color photo from the files in software 😉 Maybe someone could custom make a filter set up to quikly shift between filters? some rolling device??

  12. Thanks for taking the time to do this! Very demonstrative. For a second there, I saw the post title and the first picture, and I thought you were going to be instructing us how to colorize a monochrom shot 😉

  13. This is the best example and demonstration I’ve seen so far on the benefits of using a color sensor.
    It goes straight to the point. (I’m saying that while I’m going to receive my MM in few days)

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