My first serious try with the Leica M Monochrome
This is my very first photography blog ever. I hope to share with you all my passion in photography and photographic gear.
It’s been a year or so since I first purchased the Leica M Monochrom. There’s no shred of doubt of its image quality while able to understand what Leica has done to the sensor. On paper there’s nothing special about its specs. Some might even question if there’s a need for a camera that only produces Black and White images. We all know there is some decent film simulator software like SilverFlex Pro, DXO Film Pack, VSCO cam….etc or even some fairly good LR presets out there will do the job for converting color images into black and white with great detail. So, is there a need? If you are a massive black and white photography fan, often make large prints for appreciation and are a LTM lens user then this is the camera for you. I am not going to go through any A&B tests or spec comparisons because they are widely available on the web. What I am going to do is walk you through my first serious try with the Leica M Monochrom.
On the evening of the14th of February 2014, I started to pack my gear for my trip to Paris, this being the second time visiting (family trip the first time, couldn’t get any good shots at all) my intent was to focus heavily on photography. I struggled with choosing what gear would accompany me when you know they can all produce incredible image quality. The Monochrom has been sitting in my drybox for at least a year, I blame myself very much for that but greed is the nature of humans when you get to choose from colour and have the ability to convert to black and white later on versus to strictly black and white from a colour blind sensor; of course the choice will be colour (M9-P). However, my love for black and white photography has always been strong and constantly growing. Finally I had enough courage to take the M Monochrom and left my M9-P behind for this trip. What lenses then? This was an even harder task than choosing which camera to take. From what I heard the Leica M Monochrom works very well with vintage Leica screw mount lenses. Not long before this trip I managed to purchase the Leica 28 f/5.6 Summaron from a collector. Wide angle? Check., What about a standard lens? Leica 50 F/2 Summicron Collapsible Radioactive. Right. I am good to go!
First day, Eiffel Tower. Pre-booked to skip the line – Eiffel Tower package from easypasstours.com* which was very useful. The queue was scary and learned a lot more about the history of the Eiffel Tower (tour guide was being very informative). I spent the whole afternoon there until the sun went down and the view from the Summit was incredible and weather that day was in full cooperation! Seeing the sun setting with amazing colour I once again felt if I had brought the wrong camera but after taking a few shots and being able to see how amazing the light falls on Paris without the disturbance of colour was just incredible! The Leica 28 F/5.6 Summaron did an awesome job for capturing every bit of detail.
*A warm reminder regarding the Summit, it has a metal net surrounding it for safety reasons, therefore large lenses cannot be used effectively.
This has been mentioned many times but I had to repeat – there are a lot of people complaining about how flat the M Monochrom files look, but being flat is a positive thing because those RAWs give you massive freedom to do postproduction! However, please remember not to overexpose too much for the highlight as I found the recovery of the highlights wasn’t on par with most of the top CMOS sensors out in the market, like the Sony A7R. So is this bad? Not at all. You just have to go with the character of this sensor, treat it like a slide and try to expose accurately for every frame. There are so many details / information you can recover from the shadows. Sometimes the shadowed areas can get a bit grainy but hell, I love the grain; it looks nothing like Digital Noise (disgusting). Just unbelievable!
The Leica 50 F/2 Summicron Collapsible Radioactive batch I owned has average glass with hairline scratches and cleaning marks in the middle but surprisingly none of those factors affect the images. Images are very solid. This particular combo is my current favourite due to its compactness. I would agree more sharpness / detail / resolution can be achieved with modern lenses like 50 F/1.4 Asph or 50 F/2 Asph APO but the resolve power which the The Leica 50 F/2 Summicron Collapsible Radioactive batch is more than enough (this comment also applies to the Leica 28 F/5.6 Summaron) and to be honest, I prefer the optical characteristics from vintage lenses. I have the Leica 50 F/2 Asph APO on order. When it arrives I will share a few samples and possibly AB tests.
I am no stranger to black and white photography but the M Monochrom has allowed me once again to focus and explore even deeper without the distraction of colour. You can never get enough from this camera. Some say Monochrom is the new colour and I very much agree with this theory because there is so much to see in monochrom!
I hope you all enjoy the images. Please be sure to leave any comments and feedback by either emailing me or leaving me a message on my Facebook page! Thank you!
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