Nov 182012
 

Far Rockaway New York after Hurricane Sandy in Photos by Tom Poole

Hi Steve,

I was recently asked by some friends of mine to document the dire situation in Far Rockaway, NY, post Hurricane Sandy.

These friends of mine have been extremely active in volunteer relief efforts and raising money to help local people with the clean up (Which will take a very long time).

Please feel free to check out their amazing work on their site:

http://www.rockawayrenegades.com

I shot everything with my M9, mostly opting for the 50mm Summilux, but occasionally using the 35mm Summicron.

It’s very easy to forget about the lasting effects that an event like Sandy can have on a community. I only hope that the people of Rockaway (and the other areas affected in NY and NJ), bounce back stronger.

Thanks so much

Tom

Nov 162012
 

New Camera Friday! Sony RX1 arrives!

The Sony RX1 has arrived to me today, and I am excited about this one. It has been a few weeks since I shot with it at the Sony event and when I opened the box today I was reminded why I fell for it in the 1st place. SIZE and BUILD and QUALITY! I plan on a huge review for this camera but it just arrived so I will need some time with it before I can do that. For now I made a new video below showing some size comparisons with the RX1 alongside the OM-D, D-Lux 6, NEX-6 and the Leica Monochrom. You can hopefully get an idea of how small it is. I also gave a quick example of the AF in my living room. It is quick as in faster than the Fuji X cameras. About on par with the NEX-6, etc.

Watch the video below…just press play :)

I also took it outside to test the crop feature with a quick and dirty test shot because that is one of the most asked questions I have been getting about the RX1. 

The crop mode is basically a crop mode. You do lose resolution and size but quality stays. Also, this is only available to use in JPEG mode. I have an example below of a quick test shot showing what to expect with the crop modes. Basically the camera has a built in 35 f2 Zeiss lens. With a press of a button you can switch to a 50mm crop mode. One more press and you are in a 75mm crop mode. This can come in handy if you are shooting JPEG and you want more reach.

But you do lose resolution as it is like cropping the photo yourself though Sony does some kind of processing in camera to keep the IQ up there which I can say it does very well.

 

1st shot is the native 35mm shot, then the 50mm crop, then th e75mm crop – straight from camera JPEG.

 

So look for a full review of the RX1 soon along with reviews of the Sony NEX-6, Olympus 60 Macro and a quick review of the NEX-5R with it’s new features. You can pre-order the RX1 at Amazon HERE if you like.

Just a few of the RX1 images I may or may not have posted previously…

ISO 2000, JPEG

ISO 8000 at night with 100% crop (click image)

Speaking of the new Olympus 60mm Macro..WOW!!!

This lens is the best Macro I have ever shot with, hands down. Now, I have not shot with them all, nor am I some Macro guru, not even close. BUT I do know quality when I see it and this Olympus 60 2.8 is razors sharp even wide open, getting surgical when you stop down. One sample before my review…click it for latger. BTW, this was handheld at f/2.8. The 5-Axis IS works well with this lens. You can order this one at B&H Photo or Amazon.

So stay tuned everyone for much more on these cameras and lenses! Have a GREAT weekend, I will be out shooting!

One more from the Leica Monochrom and Zeiss 50 Sonnar, which is gorgeous on the MM!

My soon to be Stepdaughter. She had a clay mask on and still let me snap a pic :) 50 Sonnar wide open at 1.5

Nov 162012
 

The Crazy Comparison Returns! The $999 Olympus OM-D vs the $7995 Leica Monochrom!

TONALITY TESTS – This is not a comparison of sharpness, detail, or anything else but B&W tones. 

So as I was going through all of my recent e-mails I found more than 10 asking me for a comparison between the Olympus OM-D and Leica Monochrom. Some even asked me to shoot the OM-D in Monochrom mode with the Orange filter applied and to shoot my Monochrom with a real Orange filter applied. So I did just that.

Before anyone freaks out let me say that this is called “Crazy Comparison” for a reason. I am pitting an $8000 camera body against a $1000 camera body and using the KIT ZOOM on the $999 camera and a $5000 35 Lux FLE on the $8000 body. So in reality, this is a $1100 combo vs a $13,000 combo.

Also, almost all of these are just snaps in my horribly barren backyard. NOTHING scientific goes on in my Crazy Comparisons. I just shoot both images using the same ISO and aperture and equivalent focal length and compare. Anyone who has seen one of these before knows they are done mainly for fun, but sometimes they can be eye-opening.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE LOOKING AT THE IMAGES BELOW

These have all been shot as JPEG to compare out of camera JPEG B&W files. The Olympus has a feature where you can set it to “Monochrome” and apply colored filters in the menu. I chose to use “Orange” because this is my fave filter on the Leica Monochrom. You can not shoot RAW with the Olympus and have these settings applied so these are straight out of camera JPEGS only! There is absolutely NO DOUBT that the Leica would trounce the Olympus here for detail and ability to print huge, but what I wanted to see was if the Olympus, using its own Monochrome mode and filter could match the Leica in tonality and character. Even using a dinky kit zoom!

So before the complaints start keep in mind this is a just for fun comparison as I have ALWAYS done for years now just to see out of camera JPEG results in Monochrome from each camera. One specially made boutique hot rod and one jack of all trades that the masses in the digital photo community can more realistically afford.

Take a look at the images below and click on them for larger views. Can you tell which camera took what image? One of them will be especially easy (set#2).  I can see the differences but it could be only because I know what image came from what camera. Can you? The answers will be at the very bottom of this page as to what image took what.

If you guys MUST see full size images because you are interested in sharpness and detail then be patient. In 2-3 days I will update this page with a couple of full size files from each. I am taking a little photo trip this weekend so I can get some real images :)

 

SET#1 – One of these is from the Leica, one from the Olympus. Click to look closer and see what you think. Images have been resized to 1500 pixels wide. ALL are OOC JPEGS with no tweaks at all. BOTH are using Orange Filters. The Leica with an actual filter and the Olympus with in camera processing. 

 –

SET#2 – This one is easy so I will give it away. The Leica can not focus as close as the Olympus. Same 35mm focal length equivalent with the Oly but I was closer in.

 –

SET#3 – Which is Which?

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SET #4 – The tones look similar to me in this one. Can you spot the Leica?

 –

SET#5

SET #6 – These were shot at ISO 1250 and 50mm (50 equiv. on OM-D) and f/4

ANSWERS:

SET#1 – Top Leica MM – Bottom OM-D

SET#2 – Top OM-D  – Bottom Leica MM

SET#3 – Top Leica MM – Bottom OM-D

SET#4 – Top OM-D – Bottom Leica MM

SET#5 – Top OM-D – Bottom Leica MM

SET#6 – Top Leica MM – Bottom OM-D

UPDATED by request:  Shadow Recovery Quick Test – Click each of the recovered images for FULL SIZE files. BOTH were from RAW this time.

NOW both files with the shadow area recovered. BOTH were 35mm Equivalent, BOTH were at f/4, BOTH were at ISO 320 – Shutter speed of Leica was 3000, OM-D 3200

CLICK THESE FOR FULL SIZE FILES – THESE ARE FROM RAW

1st one is the Leica – 35 Lux, f/4, ISO 320, 1/3000s

Now the OM-D with Kit Zoom – 35mm equiv, f/4. ISO 320, 1/3200s – This is where you see the weakness of the kit lens with softer edges

Nov 142012
 

Why The Leica M Could Be The The Best Digital Rangefinder Or Mirrorless Camera Ever

by Scott Wyden Kivowitz

I have learned a lot from the Leica community, and specific Steve. I had some thoughts on the Leica M and posted it on my Google Plus page, and then my Facebook page – in order to see what others thought. I then realized that what better way to share my thoughts than to ask Steve if he would share it on the blog. Once Steve agreed to publish my thoughts, I decided to write more in depth about it. Thank you again for having me Steve – here goes…

At the 2012 Photokina conference, Leica announced the new M digital rangefinder. I personally believe that the Leica M is the best digital rangefinder (or mirrorless camera) ever, and this is why.

I’ll start with the specs, and compare them to the Leica M9, my current rangefinder of choice.

  • It has a 24 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor with fantastic high ISO performance at ISO 6400 where the M9 is an 18 megapixel CCD with bad ISO noise over 800.
  • It has live view capabilities with focus peaking for precise framing and focusing where the M9 was a pure rangefinder with no live view.
  • It boasts a high-resolution, 3 inch, 920k dot LCD screen where the M9 has a small low resolution, almost useless LCD.
  • It unfortunately has a new battery, but it does have improved battery life where on the M9 the battery would get a photographer anywhere between a half day to a full day depending on the situation.
  • Unlike the M9, and its center weighted meter, the Leica M now offers an option of multi-patter and spot metering.
  • Most rangefinder users will not care much (I’m guessing) about video, but the Leica M offers high-definition video. This is nice for video fans because now recording with the amazing Leica lenses is a possibility.
  • Unlike before, the Leica M is now weather resistant.
  • The new Maestro image processor is not only faster than that of the M9, but it also uses less power.
  • The new 3 frames per second shutter is faster than the M9 (not by much) and quieter.

Optional Accessories:

  • Electronic viewfinder (with 90 degree viewing) if a great accessory if you’re doing studio work, need electronic view, or just have the extra cash to spend on fun accessories.
  • Leica R lens adapter is great for nature photographers who need the R zoom lenses, already have lenses or again, have the extra cash to spend on fun accessories.
  • Stereo microphone is for those who are using video. Although I am not a videographer, I know that external microphones offer a much better audio quality than typical built-in microphones.
  • There is a small finger grip, which I personally do not like, but apparently it is very comfortable.
  • There is a new bottom plate accessory that provides AC power capabilities (great for time-lapse or product photography), a GPS, USB (because there is none on the camera because it is pointless), a hot shoe capable accessory port and a PC port.

Now, the Leica M9 is an amazing camera. I switched to the Leica M9 for a few reasons, which you can read about at Japan Camera Hunter. Since making the switch, I have been very happy with the camera. I very rarely use my Nikon gear anymore.

Having a compact camera is something that I have wanted ever since injuring my back years ago. Having a compact camera with the image quality and full frame sensor like that of the Leica M9 is even better. With that, I am able to use the camera for my paid work and not just for myself.

Now, the Leica M also has a full frame sensor, but it is a CMOS instead of a CCD and includes a few more megapixels (not a huge deal but beautiful results are beautiful results). The LCD on the Leica M is dramatically improved over the useless M9 LCD. The reason I say the M9 LCD is so bad, is because it is only useful for reviewing the histogram. Now, rangefinder purists might say that the LCD is useless anyway because it defeats the purpose of a rangefinder so “stop chimping”. For me, it is not about chimping. It is about guaranteeing that the exposure is precise so when I leave a client, I am confident that the job was done perfect.

The weather resistant body means a photographer would no longer have to worry about every day weather conditions. Although many Leica users don’t both covering their cameras anyway, but even so – I am a big fan of weather sealed cameras.

The live view features means I can compose landscape or product photographs using the LCD instead of just the viewfinder, which I enjoy on the Nikon D700. With the new focus peak feature, I can clearly see when the subject is in focus without having to look through the viewfinder. Again purists, live view can be useful for professional work.

The new image processor is faster, the shutter is stronger and the buffer works harder. Even with all the new improvements, the battery life has not decreased. In fact, with the new CMOS sensor, processor and battery, Leica says a photographer can shoot for a week before recharging. In addition to the new CMOS sensor comes a new sensor cleaning feature. Knowing that interchangeable lens cameras are dust magnets, this is great to have.

I think of the Leica M as the Nikon D4 of rangefinder cameras. Of course, it doesn’t have the speed of a Nikon D4, but if you need speed then Leica cameras are not for you. Add all of the new features together and the Leica M really is the best digital rangefinder ever. In my article about switching to the Leica M9, I mentioned how I was tired of the frills of so many cameras. I believe that Leica includes the necessary features for a modern camera and more specifically, a modern rangefinder. They did not add too much or too little, but just the right tools to get jobs done.

So will I be picking one up? When I win the lottery, sure. Steve has an article about the new Leica M so check that out and preorder yours if you so desire.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,

Scott

Scott Wyden Kivowitz is a New Jersey Photographer sharing his passion for photography any way I can. Scott is also the Community & Blog Wrangler at Photocrati, teaching other photographers on how to increase business with their website.

Scott Wyden Kivowitz
New Jersey Photographer | Twitter | Google Plus | Facebook

 

Nov 102012
 

The Leica Monochrom Sample Image Gallery, updated every week!

Be sure to check out this page I posted yesterday which will house all of the review images that I like taken with my Leica  Monochrom. It will be sort of like my old Leica M9 Diary but only with the Monochrom. This way I can post new samples without making a new post every single time. I still have a few comparisons coming up with it between NEX-5R and the OM-D for B&W but this page will be dedicated to photos taken with the camera. There is quite a bit of interest in the camera so you can find the gallery link under the “About Me” tab above (Monochrom). The shots on the sanple page are all images taken during my review time with the camera, they are not shots from any personal project or serious venture :) Just images taken in all ISO, using filters and not using filters, images that show Bokeh, detail and sharpness as well as a few with software filter enhancement. Review images :)

The filter holder in the image above is a great accessory for anyone shooting a monochom with filters. It holds 6 filters and is of fantastic quality, made by B+W. You can see it here at B&H, and it is cheap. 

You can click on over to it HERE and be sure to check back weekly as there will always be new photographs added.

Nov 082012
 

From CL to M6 to M9 to Leica Monochrom by Alexander Getty

Dear Steve,

As you know, I have been an avid follower of your brilliant blog for a couple of years now and I have to say, your “real-world” approach to equipment and techniques resonates better with me than highly technical reviews.

I’m a long time Leica shooter was taught to shoot and develop by my mother who was an amateur and very talented photographer when I was a teenager. Leica’s have always been my favorite cameras and in late 2010 after a 5 year gap, I decided to pursue photography seriously again, I bought myself a Leica CL and a 50mm Zeiss ZM and began rediscovering what I love to do most.

Well, it’s now nearing the end of 2012 and I’m still mostly shooting on film. Your recent three-part review on the Monochrom spurred me to pull the trigger and I am glad to say, I’m so happy I did.

I did own an M9-P for a short period of time but found myself defaulting back to my M6 more as the end result was normally better. I am primarily a black and white photographer and find that there are just too many steps to convert a color image into a decent B+W one. White balance is now a thing of the past! In my mind, metering is far easier as my mind works in B+W (I’m severely colorblind). And finally grain, yes, real native grain, what a relief.

Cutting to the chase, I am a Giants fan and when they won the world series, I had just received my Monochrom, the timing was perfect. San Francisco was having a huge parade for the victory at the Civic Center. For the first time ever, I left my film camera at home and just brought the Monochrom with a 90mm Summicron-APO ASPH and a VC 35mm 1.2 v2 both with medium yellow filters.

The combination worked a treat and the results speak for themselves. You were right, the Monochrom is as good as B+W film and in many ways, even better.

Sincerely,

Alexander Getty

www.alexandergetty.com

www.facebook.com/alexandergettyphoto

Nov 072012
 

The best camera bag for any Mirrorless or Leica M system! Think Tank Retrospective 5

So I was looking back at all of the camera bags I have tried over the years..from cheap but functional Crumpler bags to fancy Billingham bags to very fancy FOGG bags. Artist and Artisan has also been around my shoulder (and still is) but there is one bag that was just made in a way that reeks of functionality and quality when it comes to small mirrorless or a Leica M system. Plenty of room for a camera and up to 3 lenses along with accessories and an iPad mini. The bag is small, discreet, looks cool and has a comfy strap.

This bag is NOT new and most sites wrote about this one a loooong time ago (even me) but just wanted to give it some love again as it is a fantastic bag that does just about everything right. I made a new video for it below so you can see it on me and hear my explanation as to why it is such a deal at $137.

You can go direct to Think Tank for one, or B&H Photo.  It is also available in Slate Blue.

Below is the new video I posted yesterday to my YouTube channel! Enjoy!

Nov 052012
 

A Film Legacy by Jason Howe

Hi Steve

I’d really like to share a recent discovery with you, I am posting the full version on my blog HERE but I know this will reach far more people if you show it so thanks so much for helping me achieve this.

I’ve featured my own work on your site several times before but on this occasion I’d like to present the work of a deceased doctor and amateur photographer from New Zealand called Roland G Phillips-Turner who in the 1950’s and 60’s travelled around remote regions of New Zealand’s North Island doing medical research and documenting his travels with his Leica M5 and Hasselblad 500c.

A Film Legacy

I clicked on the email attachment, whilst the image of assorted camera equipment wasn’t the best the list was clear enough….. Leica M5, 35mm Summicron f/2, 90mm Elmarit f/2.8 all caught my eye, words that meant nothing to me only a couple of years ago were now very much etched in to my photographic brain. Other lenses in both M & R mount were listed amongst a myriad of Leica equipment. The email arrived via the father of a friend, word of mouth regarding my fondness for all things Leica had ensured it found its way to me, good fortune indeed. I phoned the contact number and made arrangements to view the items at the earliest opportunity and in doing so acquired not only a wonderful collection of vintage Leica equipment but also the opportunity to show the world the photography of Roland G Phillips-Turner, his film legacy so to speak.

As I carefully packed away the equipment, the daughter and I began to chat about her late father and his photographic exploits, as I listened intently my connection to this newly inherited equipment grew stronger with each spoken word. All vintage equipment comes to you with a history, more often than not it’s imagined on the part of the new owner, to actually know the story behind it makes it very special indeed. With this history comes what I would almost describe as a sense of duty, one I would come take very seriously, lenses have since been serviced and as I write this the M5 is at DAG in the US receiving the attention it deserves. Indeed, upon its return from CLA the 35mm Summicron f/2 (Pre Asph) v.1 made its debut for me HERE.

I’d describe myself as a rational person, I don’t believe in such things as fate and destiny, but I have to admit it has crossed my mind when it comes to this equipment. From opposite sides of the world, separated by two generations and via a huge slice of good fortune this equipment has landed in my possession, the survival and continued use of this Leica equipment is now ensured.

In addition to the equipment I was also entrusted with his slides, these have only been seen by the family prior to this post.

 

Image 1 – Hasselblad 500c – KODAK EKTACHROME

I was so pleased to find this amongst the negatives, after some research I’ve been able to establish that it was taken at Marokopa Falls in the Waikato, New Zealand. It was also fascinating to discover that the photographer used the Hasselblad 500c for the medium format work. I had also purchased a 500c from the USA a month or so before coming across the slides, just another wonderful coincidence.

Image 2 – Hasselblad 500c – AGFACOLOR DIA

Kuia with a moko – “Kuia” being an elderly woman, grandmother or female elder and the “Moko” is the Maori facial tattoo.

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Image 3 – Leica M5 – KODAK KODACHROME

Image taken with the Leica M5 and most likely with the VISOFLEX that was also included within the set of equipment.

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Image 4 – Hasselblad 500c – KODAK EKTACHROME

Deer Hunters in the Urawera’s, a rural scene that is no doubt still repeated in the present day.

Image 5 – Hasselblad 500c – AGFACOLOR DIA

In this image Mount Ngauruhoe appears to be active. You may recognise this volcano as Mt Doom from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

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Image 6 – Hasselblad 500c – AGFACOLOR DIA

Traveling amongst the indigenous people in these rural areas whilst doing his research must have been the most incredibly rewarding experience. Add to that the opportunity and ability to photograph them and it really must have been a joy on many levels.

Final Thoughts

In years to come will people have similar experiences to the one I have just shared with you? What is the likelihood of my photographs being rediscovered 40 or 50 years from now? You would have to say, highly unlikely! Film has made this discovery possible, it has preserved these images beautifully and ensured their survival to date.

Boxes of slides, stored in an attic, a garage, who knows where, you open it, hold it to the light and instantly you can see the magic, will people recover digital images from old hard drives in this way? I can’t see it myself……..only film can make this possible. I already had an affinity with film, this experience has strengthened that bond still further, I never say shoot film over digital, I always say shoot both. There is true value in both media.

The images posted here are indicative of the collection I have been entrusted with and I will continue to share them over the coming weeks and months, I hope you’ll join me and follow these posts with interest.

Cheers

Jason.

Nov 032012
 

From Steve: Wow, look at this B&W quality from the old tried and true and quirky M8. The M8 always ha da great B&W quality about it and if you think about it, you could find a used M8 and use it as a Monochrom camera if you never want to shoot in low/dim light. The only thing holding it back is ISO and lack of full frame but the results from the M8 are always….classic. Thanks Vincent!

Hi Steve,

It’s been 13 years since I’ve welcomed our daughter to this world. Ever since that moment I am in a constant awe. Maybe that sounds a bit exaggerated to you or the many readers of your awesome site, but I can assure you that it’s a genuine statement. As your life is in a constant flux everything is impermanent, so is your parenthood. It’ being confronted with a new-born that you realize how fast it’s changing. A dear friend of mine gave birth to a beautiful baby boy recently and she not only gave me the opportunity to take photographs of their 5 days old child, but also asked me to use them for their birth announcement card. Obviously, that has been quite an honor to do. As I was taking pictures of their child, I had a flashback to the time that our daughter was a baby. Words cannot describe how your life changes when you become a parent. It’s not about being more happy or having a more fulfilling life. It’s just different…..and just….awesome.

The pictures are shot with my ‘old’ but trusty Leica M8 with the Voigtlander 75mm 1,8. Processed from RAW in Capture One and used with the Rollei Retro preset in DxO Filmpack 3. Hope you like it and good and inspiring enough to publish it on your site!

Regards,

Vincent van Kleef

 

Nov 022012
 

The Leica Monochrom – My final words and samples and comparisons…for now.

So here I am, a few weeks in with my Leica Monochrom and still loving the damn thing. I was hoping I would see it as a camera that is a gimmik..a joke..a camera that is no different from any other Leica M digital but that has not been the case. Yea, I love Leica. Always have. I have also criticized them when it was warranted and when they released sub-par products that was beaten by the competition at a much cheaper price.

The Monochrom is a tricky beast. The price leaves it well out of reach for most yet there are so many photographers who lust for one. Others have the opinion that it is crap..an overpriced camera without features or…COLOR! But I see it as a unique one of a kind tool that does indeed beat the Leica M9 for tonality and high ISO capability.

“Little Man” – Leica Monochrom – 50 F/2 Summitar  – cropped  – Click it for larger version. BTW, this has not had any Photoshop work.

In case you missed them, you can see my previous entries in my ongoing Leica Monochrom review below:

Part 1: Understanding the Camera

Part 2: Low light, High ISO and using Filters on and off the camera

Part 2.5: More thoughts on the camera

GALLERY: The Leica Monochrom Gallery – New images added weekly

 “Zombie Jake” – Monochrom with 35 1.4 – ISO 320 – You must click this to see the detail in the larger version! 

The Monochrom is a real tool..for real photographers..for those who adore B&W photography

I have said this before but not everyone will understand it. Those who refuse to even think about spending this kind of money will instantly bash the Mono on that alone. Others will bash it because they want it but can not afford it and others will bash it because they will say their camera is just as good. Others will say “NOTHING will ever match film”, which is 100% true but why would I pay $8000 to match film? I personally feel what comes out of the Monochrom beats film in many ways. The ones who bash this camera are the photographers who do not get it, and therefore not the target market Leica was aiming at when they released the Monochrom.

The beautiful Zeiss Sonnar f/1.5 on the MM

katieflame1

and a $250 Canon 50 1.8 LTM

debby1take2

I have already stated that I feel the camera is overpriced but the reason for this is because it is indeed a “one of a kind” product. No one else makes a camera such as this and yes, there is a difference in the B&W quality between this camera and a Leica M9 converted file. Is it better? Well, not everyone will agree but I think so. In part 2.5 I posted three images. One from the M9 that was a converted B&W and two from the Mono. I saw the difference in tonality and I will show more below. But is it enough to fork over this kind of cash? No, not really.

What makes this camera worth it to many is because of what it is and that is PURITY. How can a digital camera be pure? By being a simple, old school, B&W only camera. That is how. It is just as pure as film and has capabilities that surpass film. Many film die hards will disagree and I am not bashing film because I also love film, I just do not shoot it these days due to cost and time.

 “In Flight” – Monochrom with 50 1.5 Zeiss Sonnar – ISO 320

L9811569

As I walk the street with my Monochrom I sit and think… What am I doing owning a $8000 Leica camera body when I am not in that upper income bracket that Leica is so marketing this camera to? Why should I own this beauty when there are other more deserving photographers who can make better use of it?  Why do I NEED this camera? Then I think some more..and the answer is clear. Because you only live once and if I can say anything about life is that we all need to LIVE IT in a way that makes us happy. We do not get a 2nd chance, life is not a dress rehearsal. We are here and then we are gone and if this camera makes me a happy man then I deserve to have it and use it and adore it.

That is basically the attitude I have with all Leica gear. I certainly should not be spending cash on Leica lenses and cameras but at the same time I do not own anything else extravagant. So why not? :)

The fact is that I love the Monochrom. I have shot it all over the place and what I see coming from it are results in B&W that are “different from any other camera I have shot with and converted. It has a look and a feeling. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and truth be told..when you start shooting the camera it takes some getting used to. The 1st few weeks I always saw shots I wanted to shoot in color. Today when I go out with the Monochrom I do not see color. I see only in black and white.

“Fresh Pie” – Monochrom and 35 1.4 – direct from camera on a harsh bright AZ day

Compared to the Leica M9 – Tones

Many have wondered why on earth they should buy a Monochrom when they may have a Leica M9 already. Let’s forget about other cameras for the moment because if you shoot an M you want to shoot an M. You want that experience of shooting with a rangefinder, a hand-built work of art. If you love Leica then you want a Leica.

So let us say you have an M9 and you have been itching for a Monochrom but you are not sure if there is even a difference between the files when at the end of the day you can convert a color M9 file to B&W.

I have been shooting with both the M9 and Mono for a couple of weeks and comparing results. What I have noticed is that the main things that set the Monochrom apart from the M9 is the fact that you will get MUCH less noise at higher ISO’s and you have the capability to go up to ISO 10,000 with the Mono when the M9 goes up to 2500. The Mono also gives you the Sapphire screen of course but in regards to noise and B&W tonality, IMO the Mono takes the prize when it comes to B&W photography.

It appears that ISO 2500 on the M9 is pretty close to the Leica Monochrom at ISO 6400. Even ISO 10,000 is usable on the Monochrom. 

and just for fun, and ISO 10,000 crop on the Mono vs the OM-D in Mono mode – NR off.

It has never been a doubt that the Monochrom is good enough in low light to take images in just about any situation. Since there is no ugly color noise we get a nice looking noise pattern, even with a high ISO setting such as 6400. 10,000 is grainy but some may like this look. Sort of like shooting Delta 3200.

TONES

How about tonality? Can the Mono deliver results that look better than the M9 when an M9 file is converted? Well, maybe not better but the images are certainly different.

1st shot is from the Monochrom – 35 1.4 – ISO 320 and 1/4000s – this is the full size file so you can click it to see it full size.

When I focused the M9 shot I realized after I was back home that the focus was off a bit so this is not to compare focus but to compare tones after the B&W conversion. I used Alien Skin exposure. Same camera settings. See a difference?

One more to check for tones – 1st the Monochrom…BOTH converted using the same preset…

And the M9 converted…

I’ve noticed the whites with the Monochrom are a bit more grey. The grey tones are darker grey than what you will get from the M9 converted color file. So is it better? Possibly, for some yes. For some no. I think what it all boils down to is if you want to get into the “Monochrom Mindset” and only shoot B&W. If so, the Mono will force you to do it. With an M9 you will sometimes keep the color file and therefore you may not start seeing in B&W as much as you would if you were shooting with a Monochrom.

“Kids 1st Zombie”  – Monochrom with 35 1.4 – noise added via filter in Alien Skin

“Beat the Drum” – 35 1.4 – filter applied in Alien Skin with grain. EXIF is embedded.

So what is my overall bottom line conclusion on the Monochrom? Well, there is nothing like it. Period. To have a Leica M body in all stealth charcoal black without markings that only shoots in B&W is quite the conversation starter. It is a camera that you really can’t get until you use it…hold it..press the shutter. Is it worth $8000? To me, no. To you? Maybe. The files that come out of this camera when a shot is properly focused with a good lens are mind-blowing. Prints..I can only imagine (coming soon..big prints from the Mono).

There is a richness and tonality to the files that come out of the Mono that are very pleasing but do take some getting used to. You can get results that are very grey and flat but you must have that eye in B&W mode to find the right situation for a good B&W photo. Once you get that down as well as the processing and filter use then you can start to feel comfy with the camera.

The Monochrom is not for everyone but for those who dare step into this territory then I feel you will be happy knowing you have one of the most different cameras on the market. A full frame Monochrom only sensor camera with classic beauty, classic handling and even classic usability. Mixed with the ultra simple controls of focus, aperture and shutter speed and you have a winner for those of us who want to shoot in a pure way. The Leica Monochrom gives us that.

Only you can decide if it is for you. B&W only, Superb ISO performance, Gorgeous files in a Leica M body. $8000.

“Hey Brother can you spare some Brains”? – Mono with 50 Summitar

L1003075-3

Where to Buy the Leica Monochrom?

If you want to buy one of these and are prepared to take the heat from your significant other about it then you can buy from one of the following dealers, all of whom I recommend:

Ken Hansonemail at [email protected]

B&H Photo

Dale Photo

Pop Flash

The Pro Shop  – 561-253-2606

The only problem is that this camera is back ordered and usually dealers have wait lists going on. Be sure to check with all dealers to see where they stand on stock and tell them I sent you!

Zeiss 50 Planar at 2.8

mrcatintherain

debby6400

What else can I say?

After 3 previous parts to this review and several other posts prior to these I feel that everything I could say about the Monochrom has been said. It is what it is and you know if it is something for you or if you would benefit by owning one. All I know is I am in love with mine and will continue to use it during those times where I feel B&W would suit. I may even be inspired to go out and start a new series like I used to do when I had more time. Maybe pick up on my Homeless Project where I left off a few years ago. The Mono motivates :)

Zeiss Sonnar 1.5

katiehqs

mike

HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

PLEASE Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site (and the cost these days to keep it going is pretty damn high), so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

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Nov 022012
 

Leica Noctilux f/0.95 in stock! 50 Lux ASPH in stock! 

Just an announcement for those of you looking for these lenses! The 50 Noctilux is now in stock at B&H Photo HERE. They go quickly so if you have been waiting, it is there right now!

Also, The Pro Shop for Photographers has the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH in stock in BLACK or SILVER! Best to call them at  561.253.2606 if you want one. 

 

PSAs I have done for 3+ years I post when hot lenses and cameras are in stock, with links..as a service to you. Sometimes I will get a small credit for this which is what keeps this site alive as I cant run it and pay for it on my charm alone :) Both B&H and Pro Shop are sponsors of this site and I recommend them highly along with Ken Hansen ([email protected]), Dale Photo and PopFlash.  

Nov 012012
 

1st image samples from the new Leica M have been spotted! 

There have been some sample images posted on a Hong Kong forum from the new Leica M taken with the Noctilux. So what do you think? You can see them by clicking HERE. There is also a peek at the new meaty battery on page 3. Looks like several higher ISO samples as well are posted. I can not wait to get my M..again, I am #1 on my dealers list so can not wait to get it and review it and see if it beats the M9 in overall IQ :)

READERS: Thanks for the 8 e-mails this morning to alert me to this site that had the samples! You guys are awesome!

The new Leica M will be shipping in the 1st part of 2013. Some say Feb, some Say March and a fe Say January. At a cost which is the same as the old M9 price, $6950 Leica has kept it in range for most M users. What do we get for our $7 grand? A weather sealed digital M! Live view so when our RF goes out of whack we can still focus, a super crazy 24 MP SENSOR with up to ISO 6400 capability, new Maestro processor, 3″ high res LCD, 1080P video, and R lens capability with an adapter. Unlike any other M that has come before.

Dealers are now taking pre-orders..

B&H Photo

Ken Hansen – Email to [email protected]

PopFlash

Dale Photo 

Oct 282012
 

Zombie Apocalypse! My weapons of choice? Leica Monochrom, M9 and Olympus OM-D!

Halloween is just about here and what better way to celebrate it than to attend a good old-fashioned Zombie Walk? I went out yesterday in Phoenix AZ strapped with my Leica Monochrom, a borrowed Leica M9 and my Olympus OM-D and a few lenses to see if I could snap any images of the undead without them eating my brains. The images below were all shot with one of those three cameras.  I also had the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye for M4/3 and LOVED using it at this event. I am writing up a review of that lens so will only include a couple of images here from that lens but it is great fun as fisheyes always are, even with their limited use.

This is just a quick Sunday post for fun as well as a quick POLL to see how many of you can spot the Leica M9 image below when mixed with two Monochrom shots. This site is always about the fun and passion in photography over the technical stuff and besides..it’s Sunday so I am not going to get to involved and sit at my desk for 5 hours :)

Zombies in Monochrom 

A few of the images in this post are from the Leica Monochrom which made me think of the original “Night of the Living Dead”, which was shot in B&W. Zombies really pop in color but they can also look pretty cool in B&W.

BTW, One of the three images below was shot with the M9 and converted to B&W. Can you spot which one? HINT: The M9 converted to B&W will give off a different look to the Greys/whites than the Monochrom.

#1

#2

#3

Can you spot the M9 image? Vote in the poll below and cast your vote: WHICH IMAGE IS FROM THE M9? 1, 2, or 3?

[polldaddy poll=6644440]

10/29 – ANSWER: The M9 shot is #3!

Be sure to click the images for larger versions! In my upcoming part 3 review on the Mono I will have some full size 100% files for you to check out from the Zombie walk. It was loads of fun shooting with the Mono though I have to say..these walking undead zombies POPPED in color!

Zombies in COLOR

While at the walk I was blown away with some of the make up and effects some of the “walkers” did on themselves. There were zombies everywhere! Teenage zombies, old zombies and even kid zombies :) It is amazing how popular the whole Zombie genre is these days. There were entire families showing up as zombies and it was super cool to see and interact with everyone. The cool thing is that everyone there LOVED getting their photos taken. Take a look at just a few of the shots I snapped below using the various cameras and lenses.

The M9 and 35 1.4

The OM-D and the Panasonic 8mm Fisheye

OM-D and 12mm f/2

Leica M9…this guy wanted to eat the camera and then feast on my brains!

OM-D and Fisheye

The OM-D and 75 1.8..this lady had the hair but no makeup so she resembled a troll doll :)

Leica M9 and 50 Summitar 

The OM-D and 75 1.8

M9 and 50 Summitar

I have to say that if there is a Zombie Walk in your neighborhood  next Halloween then GO! It is loads of fun, there are a gazillion photo opps and everyone is friendly and having a great time, which makes for some great image making possibilities. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Steve  

Oct 252012
 

My Camera

by Ofri Wolfus

Hi Steve, I thought I’d share with you the story of my cameras. It turned out quite long, so feel free to post it if you like (I’ll be honored :). Also, English is not my mother language, so sorry for any mistakes.

The Nikon D90

I started being interested in photography about 5 years ago. Having no experience at all, I started doing my homework before deciding which camera to buy. At this time my only experience has been with phone cameras and P&S, and I didn’t even know what a DSLR was. Scanning the universe of the internet taught me about DSLRs, lenses and so on, but it was all theoretical. I never used one, and had to base my decisions about what other people say, having no self preference. Finally, after a lot of hours reading reviews, I got my very own, brand new, Nikon D90 with the a 18-105mm kit lens, a nikon tripod and a small camera bag that fitted the kit.

I remember taking my first shot with the D90 – I was absolutely blown away! I never experienced shallow DOF before, and the quality compared to my old P&S was simply stunning. Soon I started to learn anything I can about this camera. I learned what the Shutter, Aperture and ISO are. I learned about different lenses, RAW, JPEG, saturation, contrast, etc, and the more I learned, the more I wanted a wide-angle lens. It turned out that my favourite subjects are landscapes, and so I bought myself a Tokina 11-16mm. Other lenses came in as well, but this Tokina has been (and still is) my favourite by far. It is sharp, really fast for its focal length (f/2.8), takes regular screw in filters, and most importantly – ultra wide. It’s also worth to note that I quickly found the joy of using primes rather than zooms, and didn’t touch the 18-105 ever since.

I had a lot of my best shots taken with the D90 and the Tokina. They served me well in almost any situation, from long trips to late night shooting (it’s amazing what you can shoot handheld with an f/2.8 ultra wide). The problem for me was that the more I used this combination, the more I suffered. I really liked the shots that came out, but the actual picture taking experience has been a pain. The D90’s interface has tons of features that I don’t use and don’t care about, and together with the Tokina it’s a pig. It’s heavy, big, and doesn’t fit in my bags (I became a hater of dedicated camera bags, and use only “regular”, unpadded, bags). Also the fact that I always carried an extra normal fast lens (either the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D or the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX) with me didn’t help. And so my search for alternatives has began.

The Zeiss Ikon

IIRC, this search is what had led me to your site, Steve, and your passion about Leica made me spend many hours reading about rangefinders. Unable to afford a digital Leica, I realized I’ll had to use a film camera if I wanted the best possible combination of price, quality and compactness. This was not an easy choice. I never shot film in my life before. At some point, I finally made my mind and decided to give it a shot. I bought a new silver Zeiss Ikon together with three lenses: Voigtlander 15mm, Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 MC, and a Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f/2 (the last two thanks to your reviews! :).

I started by getting a bunch of films like Tri-X, Velvia 50, Provia and more. It was such an alien feeling after the D90, but every time I held this Zeiss with any of these lenses I simply had a huge smile smeared on my face. I can’t explain it. It’s such a unique feeling shooting a film rangefinder.

This part of my story sadly has a sad ending. Before I got a chance at being any good, the only store in my area that developed slides stopped doing it. This was a major problem but I hadn’t given up yet. I bought myself a Plustek OpticFilm 7600i from B&H together with a bunch of tools for home development. I also went to a local store, and got myself a kit of E6 and BW chemicals. Now all I was missing is actually knowing how to develop… :)

The more I learned about E6 (which was my main interest), I realized I’ll have to somehow control the temperature of the development tank, but I couldn’t find a reasonably priced solution. That also didn’t stop me, and I sorta built my own. I took a big polystyrene box and filled it with a mix of hot/cool water until I reached the desired temperature. Now in order to maintain that temperature, I took a big resistor and connected it to a variable transformer. I then threw the resistor into the water and varied the voltage in order to control the heat produced by the resistor. This was mostly a trial and error, but after playing with it for a while I was able to keep the temperature constant enough for about an hour or so.

As you can probably imagine, this setup is far from ideal. I had to keep an eye for too much stuff simultaneously, and more often than not I’d ruin the films. I even got electrocuted at some point. Since the voltage was low no harm has been done, but it’s not something I’d like to do for fun :) That said, what finally made me give up on film was the scanning. It took forever and it wasn’t easy (at least for me) to get good colors out of the scanned files. At some point I found myself finishing a bunch of rolls and simply avoiding developing them knowing it’d take me a full day to get everything done. And that’s for 3 rolls at best.

The Ricoh GXR

At this point I was again looking for alternatives. Lucky for me, I found about the wonderful Ricoh GXR. At that time the M mount module was not yet available, but it has already been announced. Again, following your reviews I decided to get myself the 50mm module and wait for the M mount to arrive. Shortly after receiving the 50mm module I went on a two weeks trip, and took the D90, Tokina 11-16 and the Ricoh with me. During that trip I found myself using the Ricoh much more than the D90 for two main reasons – color and portability. The GXR produced so much better colors and was so much easier to carry. Even though I’m a landscape addict I kept using the Ricoh for these two reasons. Honestly, I had about zero keepers from the 50mm, but it was so much more fun.

Shortly after the GXR M Mount was available, and after seeing a bunch of reviews about it, I got myself one. It was probably the best camera purchase I’ve made. Using it is so much fun and the results are so rewarding that I always want to take it with me. I have three lens combinations that I use. My goto choice is only the 50mm Zeiss. Every time I use it I’m simply stunned by the IQ. However, 50mm f/2 on the crop sensor is sometimes too long for me. For these occasions, as well as when shooting at night or when feeling nostalgic, I pick the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4. It’s qualities are nowhere near the Zeiss but it has its uses. It’s also the smallest of all my lenses and so if I’m not sure whether I’m going to use the camera or not it’s a nice fit. Finally, there’s my trip configuration. When going on a trip I take the Voigtlander 15mm together with the 50mm Zeiss, and leave the 35mm at home/the hotel. For me these are the ultimate combinations that fit everything I do.

Finally, I’d like to talk a bit about the GXR body. IMO it’s a spectacular camera. It’s incredibly compact and produces wonderful results. It’s by far, the most capable and fun camera I’ve ever seen. There are, however a few things I’d like Ricoh to fix:

1. Take away all the junk menus. When I first bought the GXR it had a few simple menus with all the needed functionality and then some. However it was still focused enough that I could take advantage of everything I needed. Sadly with every firmware update they’ve been cramming more and more stuff into the poor menus and now I can’t find anything. It takes forever to get to the right option.

2. Somewhat repeating the above, Ricoh please remember we really only need shutter, ISO, exposure control and color control. Actually even color control is usually done afterwards on the computer. Personally, I leave shutter and ISO on auto all the time and only touch the color presets. Fuji seems to get it with their X100 (so I heard), so why can’t you?

3. There are way too many buttons on the body that have useless functions. Really Ricoh, how often do you use the self timer that you need a dedicated button for it?

4. Why is magnification hard wired to a long press on the OK button? It drives me crazy if I do it by mistake and now have to circle through all magnification ratios in order to get back to the full frame.

5. Finally, please add a full frame sensor. It’s such a shame to waste half the area of the wonderful M lenses, but it’s also incredibly annoying to work with the crop factor. Want a fast 35mm equivalent? Have fun finding a 24mm with f/2 or faster. AFAIK the only option is the Leica SUMMILUX 24mm f/1.4 which is way above my budget.

To sum up, I think there are three groups of people: those that only care about the final photos, those that care only about their cameras and their technical abilities, and then there are people like me who care the most about the experience. I may not take the best photos or own the best cameras, but I try to have the best possible experience and simply have fun :)
Yours,
Ofri Wolfus

His Flickr is HERE and he has some gorgeous photos so check it out!

Oct 242012
 

Leica Monochrom Ongoing Review part 2.5. More thoughts on the camera, on Leica in general and many more sample shots from this unique camera. 

Part 3 is now up HERE!

It has been about a week since I have last written anything about the Monochrom. In part 2 of this ongoing review I wrote about the low light performance of the Monochrom as well as touched on the use of filters on the lens and in software while processing. In part 1 of the review I spoke about understanding the camera. Since then I have been shooting with the camera more and more and finding out that even after a few weeks of almost daily use I am not tired of seeing the gorgeous “Mono” files that come from this already “classic” tool.

I say already classic because as you all know, this is a black and white only camera body. Even if you come across a super cool scene in color, you can not shoot it in color. With the Monochrom it is all about “seeing” in Mono, something that I admit I am not 100% trained on just yet. Even so, I am having a wonderful change of pace shooting with it. It is like I have been transported back to a time without color film, color TV or color anything. Shooting this camera just feels nostalgic.

I have also been having some fun shooting with a Hoya R72 IR filter, and yes, it works giving beautiful results. Finally, I have been really enjoying seeing what Kristian Dowling has been getting with his Monochrom so read on to see a couple of IR samples as well as Kristian’s breathtaking and amazing images with this camera.

Let me get one thing stated up front..this camera is indeed overpriced. There is just no way on earth it is actually worth $8,000 US dollars to me (to you maybe). Yes, it has the gorgeous and classic Leica build and styling and the solid feel as well as the feeling you get when shooting with a classic rangefinder but it is $8000 for a body only and at this price it is in reality reserved for those with an upper end income, and I get the feeling Leica wants to keep it like this. Kind of sad that there are so many who are lusting after this but know deep in their heart they could never afford it. When you add in the cost of a lens it gets really outrageous and beyond the scope of 90% of shooters.

But this is Leica my friends and it is who they have been for many years and they show no sign of changing their ways though the new M is actually reasonably priced IMO for a full featured Leica M, and that is one camera that I am very excited about because if Leica nailed the IQ and usability then for some it will be the last M they may ever buy. For others that camera was the M9 and for some it was the M3, M6, M7 or MP. I am not sure that the Monochrom is the last M anyone would buy just due to the limitations of shooting only in Monochrom. Then again a Monochrom and something like a NEX-6, OM-D or Fuji X-E1 would be a good combo as well if you do not want to break the bank.

Back to Leica. Over the past few years Leica has changed a bit. I have seen them go from a small struggling company who were making many bad choices in the digital age, even bordering in bankruptcy at one point, to a company enjoying huge success and growth. They went through many digital growing pains and if it were not for the M9, Leica would not be where they are today. The M9 was THE camera..it was their golden ticket. This camera, the “golden child” M9, changed the whole world of photography because it attracted so many new Rangefinder users, and this was good. The M9P that was released as a “new” old camera did not even come close to selling in the numbers that the M9 did, and this could be an issue for Leica. With so many happy M9 users how many will jump to this Monochrom or the new M? The new M could sell less than the M9 or blow it out of the water sales wise depending on user reports and experiences.

With the M9, It did not matter if you were a pro or hobbyist, the reason for shooting these cameras was clearly for the passion, the fun, the excitement and the pride you got from using such a precision and well made tool. It also happened to deliver the most gorgeous and unique image quality of any camera at the time  when you used  the right Leica lens. Lenses like the 50 Summilux ASPH, 35 Summilux and 90 Summicron. The Noctilux and even the classic 50 Summitar. Yes, it was expensive but it was more versatile than the Monochrom because it shot color or B&W. So many stretched their budgets to buy one, and many fell in love with the camera just as I did.

Leica came back in a big way in 2009 and I am a VERY humble guy but this time have to admit that my blog..THIS blog.. was at the forefront of the M9 rush. It was my favorite camera ever and it stayed by my side day after day. My M9 review has had over 3 million views and I have had THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of e-mails over the past three years from those who have bought M9’s just due to my review and were sharing their story with me. I have heard heart warming stories as well as horror stories. Many Leica users flock here due to the my love of Leica and the images and stories shared by the many who submit their images. But I am the first to admit there are many cameras that can shoot beautiful photos and no one “needs” a Leica to do so. No..we do not need a Leica M, but many of use get so much pleasure from using one that in many ways, for some of us, it enriches our lives.

A bold statement for sure but it is true. I have met so many of you at workshops, events and all over the world and the one thing I see is consistent. There is a passion in those who shoot Leica that I just have not seen as much with other brands. Even though we can make gorgeous images with ANY camera, there is just something about a Leica that gets our hearts beating. A Leica may not be any better at preserving those precious memories than other cameras but to those who own one, it gives us something..something we may not be able to put our finger on exactly but it has some MOJO that other cameras can not match.

I admit to being in this group which is probably why I also am in love with the Monochrom even though I can get great results with any camera shooting B&W. So, is there a real difference between cameras when shooting in Monochom or converting color to B&W? That is what everyone wants to know, including me. Shooting a NEX-7 or OM-D can give you fantastic results but for those who have that love and passion and desire to shoot Leica it does not matter as shooting other cameras is nothing like shooting an M. So what is the point of  doing such comparisons? Well, there will always be those who hate on Leica and those who hate on cameras that are NOT Leica. There is always a debate in life no matter what the topic of discussion which is always good to have. After shooting other cameras with the Mono I have no doubt that anyone could get an award winning B&W shot with just about any camera out today, but I will compare them so you can see what the Monochrom offers over the others as everything is not as black and white as it seems. But this will be in PART 3 next week :)

If you have not yet read part one and part two of this ongoing Monochrom review then you should :) This is officially “part 2.5″ because part three was supposed to be the comparisons. I am not finished with those just yet so I added this in as an in between review post. After a while with this camera I am seriously enjoying it because it does have some serious charm. In past installments I spoke about how you can get any look you desire from this camera. Contrasty, flat, or however you like it. I also went around the internet and looked up over a thousand film images and after seeing some of the work from Kristian Dowling and his Monochrom I concluded that yes indeed, for me, this camera can easily and does easily take the place of any 35mm film. I will have those yelling at me over that statement but look at the key words..”for me”..it is what it is and nothing will change my mind. 

Would I rather save $6500 and buy an M6 and hundreds of rolls of film? Me? No because that would limit me to whatever ASA is in my camera. It would limit me to 36 images per roll. It would cost me quite a bit of cash to have all of those processed and scanned. If I scanned myself I would have to spend money on a very good scanner and spend hours per roll scanning. Then they would need to be tweaked anyway. For what I shoot and my style I just do not have  the desire to go through all of that again. Film has a special place, and I enjoy it every now and then but with this Monochrom available and in my hands I just would not go back to film except to shoot the occasional roll here and there.

A Quick Sneak Peek – Leica Monochrom vs Leica M9 at ISO 320 – Click for full 100% crop. OOC results are scary similar but noise is where it is at. THIS IS NOT FOR SHARPNESS! This was hand held, indoor low light. This is to show tonality and ISO at 320. ISO at 320 on the M9 = ISO 2000 on the MM. 

Infrared with the Hoya R72 FIlter

Infrared photography is something I have always been interested in but never really tried it when shooting film. I experimented with it years ago with a Sony F707 digital camera and again with a Minolta Dimage 7 but was never happy with my results. So why not try it again? Not all cameras can shoot IR and many photographers end up converting their digital cameras so that can shoot like this.

Many have told me that you can not shoot IR with the Monochrom but I had to try. I bought a couple of IR filters and the one that gets me the results is the Hoya R72. I bought one to fit my 35 Lux FLE and gave it a shot. One thing to remember when shooting with these filters is that if you focus normally with your Monochrom your image will be severely back focused. It is a hit or miss and you will also need a tripod. The key is to focus a few feet in front of your subject. I have not shot too much with this filter yet but hope to do more soon.

Greens to white :)

So the Monochrom is basically a camera that will appeal to a select few. A few who have the funds to sink into it as well as the hardcore dedicated B&W shooters who salivate at the thought of a B&W only camera that allows them to concentrate on their vision more than anything else.

Part 3 will be up really soon with comparisons between the M9, OM-D, NEX, etc. The Mono with straight RAW files and the others with converted color files. The M9 is easily capable to shoot B&W but the main #1 difference between the M9 and Mono is the noise levels. ISO 320 on the M9 looks like ISO 2000 on the Mono. This opens up possibilities for night shooting but how will the new M be with noise? With ISO 6400 capability the new M may be really good at 3200 but the Mono goes up to 10,000 and is usable at that speed.

Those who are interested in the Mono just need to know it is a back to basics as  you can get.

Some amazing Monochrom imagery by Kristian Dowling

Kristian and I have been chatting through e-mail for quite a while now and after he wrote the article about the Noctilux I was blown away with what he could do with an M. Just so happens he was out shooting the Monochrom as well and he has allowed me to share some of his images here. I am so itching to go take a trip with my Mono soon but Kristian is one of those photographers I respect, admire and hope to be as good as someday. You can check out his website HERE. These shots below are all MASTERFUL photographs.

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