Leica Monochrom 1st Look Video and Sample – Review in July

Leica Monochrom 1st Look Video and Sample – Review in July



OK! I have had this PRE-PRODUCTION Leica Monochrom camera for about 18 hours and have only shot a few things around the park and my house but did manage to make a quick 1st look video. 1st thoughts on the Leica Monochrom? It looks like an M9, feels like and M9, works like an M9 and even smells like an M9! Yep, basically, this is an M9 with a modified M9 sensor. No color channels. Pure B&W. Monochrome. My 1st thoughts are…who would pay $7,950 for a B&W only camera? Well, I feel many of you reading this will in fact do so because it is a niche camera..a specialty item that you can not get anywhere else. For those who love and adore B&W film and shooting, this camera is a dream. Sure, you can shoot an M9 and convert to B&W but will you get the same results? I did this test, side by side, same lenses, same subject and there are indeed differences with some subjects, not so much with others.

I will show these results in my upcoming review (Review not until July when I have a production camera) but can say that the IQ from this sensor is beautiful. Sharp, detailed, rich in B&W tones. During my week evaluation with this camera (Thank you Leica & Steffen K.) I am going  to decide if I want to buy my own Monochrom. If I fall madly in love with it, and that is possible, then I will. That means I would then use my OM-D as my color camera and sell my M9-P. We shall see, but my decision will be in my review as well, and that is a huge decision to make.

Also the X2 JUST ARRIVED to me 10 minutes ago so I will be doing a 1st look video and review of that one as well but it seems i have more time with that one so I probably will not start shooting with it for a week or so.

Here is ONE sample I want to show you. I shot this as a test for DR, Sharpness and Tonality with the Monochrom. Click it for the larger view and 100% crop.

I am taking the Monnochrom with me to Chicago this weekend along with a 35 and 50 Lux ASPH and I may be shooting around Navy Pier Saturday night. My review will be up in about 10-12 days and will be full of samples and even comparisons with the M9 files converted to B&W. Should be fun. Enjoy!


  1. The Mono Leica is a wonderful idea and a clever marketing pitch as well.It is a camera that only Leica could have made for reasons of their history and niche appeal. It will appeal to Fine Art Photographers and more especially to Monochrome enthusiasts whose numbers seems to be growing as colour photography seems now to be percieved as ubiquitous and even a bit banal.Of course price will be a big barrier as ever with Leica. One of the previous contributors mentioned how he would like to see a comparison with a film Leica which I think is a very good idea. You may never recreate the look of film but I think Leicas seem to do this better than any cameras I have used or have seen results from.I am a street photographer who uses an M8 and had an M6 before that so I can say for definite that the M8 produces very film like results. I love colour and most of my street photography is colour but when you get that great street shot in Mono -it is really special. I reckon from what I have seen of the Mono Leica on the Web that it produces very high quality images which seem to have that film like appearance. So I better start saving….it would appeal to me more than a Leica M9 or M10! By the way Steve I think your Mono Photos are super so keep shooting and post processing or whatever in the future!


  2. Hey Steve, Sorry this is totally off subject but I noticed that some of the limited edition leica cameras require you to sign an agreement that you won’t sell them for at least two years. Does anyone else think that it would be nice if the lenses had similar selling arrangements (maybe only a year though). I just get sick of these scalpers buying up all the lenses and asking a 1-2k premium on ebay. If it weren’t for them I feel that most of us who are willing to pay retail wouldn’t have to wait 9 months to get our new lens. Feedback anyone?

  3. Could you please tell me what kind of strap you have attached to the Leica. Looks like the same one as on the Nikon V1, one of your other lead articles. Thanks.

    • If I had $1 for every time someone asked this in a comment…. I did a review of the strap and mentioned it about 8 times 🙂 It is a barton1972.com leather braided strap. About $79 – love it.

  4. Could you tell me which camera strap you have on the Leica? Looks like the same strap as on the Nikon V1 pictured in one of your other lead articles. Thanks.

  5. This is a very very sexy beast.
    There’s one thing though I have to comment on, and that’s this crappy LCD.
    How dare they to kick their customers in their faces like that. It’s like selling a Ferrari for a 200,000 bucks and putting in a 1980ies radio-casette player. Such an ignorant snotty act, it really makes me angry (even though I could never afford a camera like this anyway).

  6. As I have stated on other web site the M9 and this new Monochrome version are great Leica failures. I is not that the cameras do not have merits, they do. But they fall short of being advanced as their Japanese counter parts have made. Examples inculde that view screen in the back. That is just an easy fix. I dare say a Leica repair person maybe able to change that.
    Leica M, low light handling, great, CCD sensors not good. The new X-Pro is beter in low light then the M9. The Monochrome looks like a wash between them, but it stops at ISO 10K. Why? The Leica Monochrome only being a 18Meg. full frame should go higher then that. If Nikon or Canon made the camera, it would look good a 25K.
    Leica new 50/f APO is a little sharper then the 90/2 APO. At 8 grand, really. Leica should realize that none of their lens a bad and that there is liitle real difference in their lens.
    The M10 better be real great, but some how I see a 10K+ disapointment in the future. Leica should start on the road to autofocusing cameras on the Proffesional end.
    Sorry to say, but it is true, to me their best camera is the M7, M6 or MP. Flim is the best way to go with Leica.

    • Karl, they might be failures to you but to Leica they are obviously very sucessful as they cannot make enough to keep up with demand. No sooner has a new batch of M9’s arrived and they are out of stock again.

  7. If Leica is expensive is because it is handmade !
    You do not pay the same price between à Rolls Royce and a Cadillac !

  8. I’m going to make a prediction here……Leica will sell these Monochroms as fast as they can make them for the first year or so….then things will change. Photographers who bought the camera will quickly tire of it as the novelty of the B&W only sensor wears thin….with the realization that they spent $8000 on a one trick pony…and that just maybe it would be nice to have a Leica to shoot colour too….

    Of course collectors and the uber rich will just buy a M10 for their colour needs as they don’t care about the money. On the flip side, there are a lot of people who sell all their Canikon gear, scrimp and save to be able to own Leica and I bet many of them will feel they made a huge mistake buying the Monochrom.

  9. Imagine shooting the best photo you have ever shot but with that camera and some one sees your shot and says this is the best thing I ever seen but can I see the raw color version.

    (You look at him with a horrified yet stupid experstion on your face.)

  10. Hi Steve,Im sure that youre capable of doing a serious review of this camera,especially as youre taking the M9 with you as well.Lets see some real evidence of this cameras superiority.SHOW those leica guys that they should have given you a camera months ago!! Let your obvious intellect shine through and dominate that chirpy pesonality,dont be afraid,…..its time.

  11. Nice remarks here…all opinions wether it is wise or not to have a M-M..

    so what … who cares…

    Who ever likes it, will have a lot of joy with it.
    If it is a 1 dollar or a 8000 dollar thing, it’s all the same, if it’s please you, enjoy it

    And what other people think of it in their wisdom….. just smile and go out with your passion

    For me….. i like everything Leica ever made….. it’s that what Leica’s history build

  12. A Different Perspective on the MM’s Cost and on It’s Look….

    The Digital Look: ??!!??

    For me the biggest question is simply, do the images look digital. Forgetting price, etc. At the end of the day, do these images from the MM look like digital black and white images or not ? The goal and the hope is that they look like film. From what I’ve been seeing though, they still feel like digital images to me and lack the movement of blacks to whites and that film “glow”.

    As Steve and others begin to compare, I think rather than lining up the MM images against the M9-P’s images, he ought to line them up against traditional film images. In the end, isn’t that what we (traditional black and white film photographers) will want to see ?

    On Price: !!!!!!

    I’m an old school traditional black and white street photographer who’s still shooting film with an M6. The idea of shooting digital only appeals to me in terms or saving money. The 8000 price tag for the MM is a deal when you consider that I am shooting at least 1000-1200 rolls per year. That’s 5 per roll and another 12 to process — and that’s dip and dunk w/o a contact sheet. Yes, doing it at home (if you have the time and the room is cheaper – and yes, there will always be someone who knows a place that develops for less)… But across the board 12 a roll at a reputable NYC lab is reasonable.

    1000 rolls times 17 per roll is 17,000 per year (give or take)…

    The MM in Terms of Cost: It’s a no brainer really.

    The MM in Terms of Look: This is where, to me, it still looks like a “digital image”.

    I’m not the best black and white photographer out there, but I still feel like my images have that film “glow” to them and as of yet, I just don’t see it with what i’m seeing thus far from the MM.

    And I do agree, 320 as a base ISO is unacceptable. No question it should have been 25 or 50/100.

    My film images: http://www.damonpablo.com

    Thanks Steve.

  13. Hi Steve! Thank you for your video! Great camera! I love it! Can’t wait to have it in my hands…

  14. Steve. This camera is perfect for continuing your homeless project you once did with a Leica MP. That project remains to be a very powerful set of images.

    • Taking pictures of homeless people with an $8000 camera + $4000 lens is the essence of bad taste.

      • So you are saying that you should not interact with the homeless if you are rich? Its a perfect opportunity for Steve to help raise awairness for homeless people through portraits like he once did and that I found so powerful. You should use what ever equipment you like to use. (sorry for my bad english)

        • What are you doing reading this post about a expensive camera? Im glad Sebastiao Salgado did not have the same atitude and limited his abilities to his consious. A photographer takes pictures of the world around him and make others aware of the condition of it. Faces has a soul and makes a impression.

          • Salgado contributes a large percentage of the revenue from his work to local charities in the communities where he works. And that’s a lot more money than any Leica.

            He also sells his gear after he’s used it and gives the money away. For instance, Leica gave him a special “Salgado ediiton” camera and lenses, and he sold the entire set and gave the money away. Unfortunately, none of the money you pay when you buy a Leica MM goes to help the poor or homeless.

            BTW, Salgado shoots Canon now.

        • That’s just using the homeless as an excuse to buy yourself a $13,000 camera + lens combo so that people can admire your bokeh. Why does anyone need a Leica to photograph homeless people? It’s like saying you need a Ferrari to so that you can look good waving at the homeless as you drive by.

          If you really care about the plight of the homeless, $13,000 will feed a family for an entire year — maybe more. Give the $13,000 to a homeless shelter and shoot a regular camera if you want to call attention to their plight.

          • “That’s just using the homeless as an excuse to buy yourself a $13,000 camera + lens combo so that people can admire your bokeh. Why does anyone need a Leica to photograph homeless people? It’s like saying you need a Ferrari to so that you can look good waving at the homeless as you drive by.”

            Not even close. Driving by homeless people waving, while in a Ferrari doesn’t PRODUCE something (a tangible item). Using a camera does. I get a representation of what happened. That representation can then be put in front of other people that CAN’T do the same thing (photography). Many will be moved to make donations. So for your (1) $13,000 donation, a photographer can elicit hundreds or thousands of such donations. I’m not even going to bother with examples, go find them on your own, Google is your friend.

            Next your B.S. (which is what it is) would require that I use a free digital camera to record the plight of the homeless. How good of a picture am I going to get from something that costs nothing? Once recorded, how do I get the picture OUT of the camera? Still need a computer for that, or is that supposed to be free too? How much did the computer you use for photo purposes cost anyway?

            David, If I’m the photographer, I have a right to use the tool that -I- decide will do the job. If I was photographing a Bar Mitzvah, should I feel guilty for using a Rollei (German equipment)?

            Should I feel guilty about using a camera manufacturers equipment if they only make cameras for right handed people, and the subject is left handed? Is that a little too insensitive?

            Am I even supposed to photograph blind people?

            Please, stop. Just stop.

      • +1 Leica’s product/pricing has become ever more decadent and tasteless. All the fanboys talking about ‘if you’re serious about photography etc..’ completely miss the point. If you’re serious about photography you don’t need a blatantly overpriced technically retarded camera. You do if you see camera’s as a fashion-statement, a snobbery-item or an investement iso a photography tool. To each their own, of course, and this feeling is not completely logically defendable but; as a pro photojournalist who regularly has to work among the poorest people on our planet I find it very hard to respect fellow photographers who think they need to spend this obscene kind of money on an inferior product.

        • The cost of film lets say kodak Tri X and a Leica MP and five years of constant use. That will be more expensive than the Leica M9M in that time span. Don’t say its not a real tool at least don’t judge others on what you consider ” too expensive”.

  15. Ridiculous concept and a retrograde step IMO.
    Like Ford making the Model T in 2012. How many will buy this dino from the past is anyone’s guess !
    A toy for guys with the ” MMTB” syndrome.

  16. I prefer to wait for the Super Special Limited Edition at a higher price: the M9-I “special INFRARED sensor” with an unbreakable sapphire crystal covering LCD display and… “Leica” engraved on the top!… and of course a Leica sticker for my car or kids… would be nice… :::))).

  17. For me, the monochrome doesn’t make sence, at all. I love B&W photography. I really enjoy film photography. Both wide open. But first, i just can’t see the point of getting Monochrome with the gorgeous 50 F1 lens, because of the camera limitations. the lowest ISO is 320, fastest shutter is 1/4000, i have hard times shooting my f/1,2 canon prime at ISO50 and 1/8000, so i just can’t imagine working with monochrome – playing with filters, i guess.

    And, as about filters, few people said about post processing – todays B&W photography is all about color. If i have nice coloured, properly exposed photo, with good white balance, apps like Silver Efex Pro, VSCO or Alien filters are making GREAT job. I rarely miss the film Velvia, Provia, TRI-X or Ilford films, because i can emulate them in front of my computer. And the effects of Silver Efex Pro 2, Color Efex Pro 4 and VSCO pack are just stunning.

    Digital photography is about speed. So you can grab 100 shots, throw away 80 of them and process 20 in couple minutes. You like Provia? Two clicks and done. How about TRI-X? that takes three steps. I love the flexibility of digital photography, just one camera and my ideas. And monochrome? You can’t develop the files properly, you need to remember about the filters, the camera really slows you down, and it gives you better files for pixel-peeping. I can’t see the point, for pixel peeping you have Canon and Nikons, Leica has too much of beautiful glass, that is not perfect for pixel-peeping. It’s great for achieving stunning images.

    Excause me for bad english, it’s not my main language, and i’m still learning it 😉

    • “..i have hard times shooting my f/1,2 canon prime at ISO50 and 1/8000, so i just can’t imagine working with monochrome – playing with filters, i guess..”

      Yes, a neutral density filter. That’s what I use on my Canon, Konica and Olympus f1.2 lenses.

      The aperture stays wide open, and gives blurry backgrounds, but lets in light as if it’s f4 or f5.6.

      (With the advantage, on a rangefinder camera, that you’re not looking through that darkened lens, so focusing is still as easy as without an ND filter. That’s pretty much the only advantage of a rangefinder over an SLR, for me – though it’s a disadvantage when using a polarising filter!)

      So, use a simple ND filter, and your “problem” is no problem!

  18. “In other words, the Monochrom will not respond to color filters placed over the lens in the same way as B&W film would. I would expect the results to be a little dissapointing if you are used to how they affect film.”
    And for moi, there is the problem. It;s NOT B&W, it’s monochrome.One color and contrast. The beauty of B&W was the potential for manipulation at the beginning of the photo with filters and other exposure techniques to alter all or some of the existing colors into contrast.

    • I’m not too worried about that. The spectral sensitivity of the sensor may not be equal to B&W film but then what B&W film do you compare it with? How big are differences in spectral sensitivity between the zillion different types of B&W film ever produced? And there the slightly different effect of color filters have never posed a problem. It’s part of the things which have to “grow on you” as you get familiar with your camera.

      Even without the bayer filter on the sensor, it’s still the same sensor which was designed to cover the full color spectrum. The effect of color filters will roughly be the same. Yellow will still darken a blue sky and red will still make skin tones lighter.

  19. It’s a niche camera for only a small group of buyers, not photographers but with it’s price and without any innovations like a better display or sensor cleaning or even a better battery it’s way overpriced, just my opinion. I prefer a used or new M9/P and try to convert it into B&W using SilverEffex or VSCO Film if I would start taking pictures only B&W but for me the future is still in color as my daily life is. No need to throw all that away and restrict my photography to shoot only B&W. If you can afford it, maybe no need to think about getting the new M Monochrome but I think it will stay only at small numbers of produced units…
    Martin (http://www.pholux.com/)

    • Best summary so far IMO Martin.

      I fully understand why it is included but I really do feel Leica should be highly embarrassed by including a copy of Silver Effex 2 with the M9 Monochrom. 😀

      A lot of people talking about *sharpness* but when has clinical sharpness ever been what photography is about? The best BW photos I have enjoyed from the greats were rarely ever sharp. That said I do appreciate the output from this camera and I do get it, it’s just the package that Leica are offering for the price is frankly insulting when there are no improvements to the CRAP LCD screen, higher shutter speed than 1/4000 for BW use etc, etc.

      • “but when has clinical sharpness ever been what photography is about?”

        Well, actually, right from day one. Lens manufacturers have always pursued the quest for ever and ever sharper lenses (higher resolving powers) and at wider and wider apertures. And film manufacturers strove to provide faster and faster emulsions with higher and higher resolving powers and less grain.

        Seriously, though, I understand and support the thinking behind your question. One’s enjoyment of an image does not revolve around sharpness per se. An image does not have to be sharp for it to be enjoyed. But equally, there are images where a lack of sharpness works to its detriment.

    • Clinical sharpness has nothing to do with photography but you’ra talking about leicafanboys here.

  20. Hi Steve

    Looking extremely forward to your review – it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

    Am a little bored with my D3 so went for a walk around the local camera dealers – some lovely Leica stock (2nd hand) to be had, including an f0.95 Noctilux! I wonder if they do trades……….


  21. Steve, thanks for putting yourself out there with this and I’m looking forward to your review. I made the decision to switch to the M-Sysyem at the beginning of the year and then decided to hold off making a purchase decision until after May 10. I recently placed the order and, as an obviously recent convert (I suppose you could call it unrequited something), so what do I know?. Having said that, I do want to say that this feels like the best of times from Leica in terms of the choices they are offering! We are now presented with so many wonderful options: film; digital colour (and black & white); and now digital black & white only. I’m not trying to be cute by not saying which M I’ve decided upon for me as I’m trying to make the point about personal decisions/options rather than adding my humble (and probably hopeless) opinion about the virtues of one camera over the other. The decision has been a very personal (and difficult and expensive!) one: in the end it came down to which medium(s) do I really want to focus on and which camera will work best for me and what I hope to achieve? I’m glad that I only had to choose one and not decide whether to give up one for the other. Now that would be one very tough decision…

  22. Hi Steve,

    Most important is a test that compares M9 against the Monochrom. How much better is the Monochrome against the M9 coverted to black and white ?
    No review ever showed this comparison up to now.


  23. Huge limitation spotted, how can I tweak the color mapping in LR with a camera which cannot provide any information about colors?

    Deal breaker, not even talking about the price, which is a plain joke.

      • Bob’s right…..can’t speak for you Mo but 90% of my shots have at least some degree of PP….same goes for a lot of others including Steve himself.

        Put it this way….on one of my trips to New York I saw the Ansel Adams exhibition and they had a side by side display with one of his scenics straight out of the can…and the other with some of his darkroom magic…..the difference was night and day.

        My point is that there is nothing wrong with a bit of PS work in post if it improves on the original image out of the camera…and in this regard the Leica Monochrom looks like it might be one big fail.

        • Hi Clint,
          I process all of my images through Lightroom and without question it has made my life easier. My point is, Lightroom is not what decides which camera I choose. Photography has been alive and kicking since 1826 without the help of Lightroom.

          It looks like the Leica Monochrom produces fine b&w images that are only surpassed by the very best film cameras. For me Lightroom support would be an important factor but not the deciding factor. That was my point.


          • I think you missed the point, Mo. No matter whether you use PS, LR or any other raw converter, you can’t adjust color mapping for B&W.

          • You’re spot on. We’re dealing with a digital medium here. If this were film it would be a different ballgame, but it isn’t. The Monochrom removes a TON of flexibility in post by virtue of having a monochrome sensor. It’s an odd duck, with one foot in the digital realm and the other pretending to be in film. The problem is that it doesn’t do justice to either. A vintage film Leica would run circles around this thing.

          • When you choose a b&w film over another, you effectively choose a color map over another. The only way to influence the behavior is by adding filters. That would still be possible over the Monochrom. What Leica forces over you is a Leica-color-map that is unique from all other films. It is like getting married to one film for life. I understand that the convenience factor is lost. But since the ISO performance of the Monochrom seems to best all films available, it just forces you to better understand color and carry a pouch of filters.

            You win some you lose some. I do not see it as a deal breaker. I just see it as another hurdle to overcome. The low-light ISO alone opens a brave new world.

  24. I’m not crazy about the fact that this camera precludes doing a monochrome conversion in Photoshop, which means that Photoshop’s photo filters are of no use. So, for example, if you want to have a high contrast red filter applied to your shot, you would have to have an actual deep red filter on your lens when you took it. No filtering is possible afterwards.

    • I think those that are happy using the built in PS filters probably are not the target audience for a $8k specialist B&W only camera.

      Come to think of it, thats actually the whole point of what this camera is about

    • Photoshop’s built-in filters are only a starting point. I usually use custom settings to optimize the conversion for each shot. With the Monochrom, if you didn’t have the right filter on your lens when you took the shot you’re out of luck.

  25. The Monochrom WILL be sharper than the M9 in B&W (of course the M9 can also do color). The real question is to flexibility.

    The M9 will give you greater latitude in bringing out shadows and recovering highlights as it has the additional color channels to deal with. It will also allow you greater flexibility in B&W conversion as you have much better control over exactly how the tones are interpreted from the original image.

    The problem is that the nature of the digital sensor is very different to that of film, and as such the luminance response is going to be a bit more unpredictable. In other words, the Monochrom will not respond to color filters placed over the lens in the same way as B&W film would. I would expect the results to be a little dissapointing if you are used to how they affect film.

    In the end run, you are going to gain additional apparent resolution/sharpness. The real question in determining if the Monochrom is right for you is, “how large do you print?” I would think that less than 20″x30″ it would not make much difference at all in the final output.

    • Bingo, we have a winner!!! Peter….you have taken the words right out of my mouth. In prints of 20×30 or less I bet there is zero difference in detail…..certainly not worth the sacrifice of giving up color. Personally I dumped Leica (M8) for an X-Pro1, but if I could afford a full frame Leica I definitely would stick to the M9-P.

      By the way, for all you people who think street shooting has to be B&W…google Fred Herzog……

      • I had never heard of Fred Herzog so I Googled it and his stuff is mesmerizing. I think I’m going to buy a book.

        • Tyson,

          Yeah, his work is simply amazing. I have a book of his which is pure magic, and recently I saw a gallery exhibition of his work here in Vancouver. His work is especially compelling for me and others who grew up in the Vancouver area as he shot so much street content through the 50’s/60’s….it’s like a time capsule from the past; incredible to see how the city and local people have changed.

          Also, it is neat how Herzog shot almost exclusively in colour when most others were still doing street work in B&W. Anyway, enjoy the book if you buy it!

          • +1 on stunning colour images. There is something about 50’s/60’s photos that just speak to my heart, maybe it was the emulsions used back then. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the compositions are outstanding.

    • Peter,
      Can you please elaborate a bit more on the issue of filters?

      As a filter will affect the wave lenght of the light sepctrum corresponding to its color why do you say the sensor will “react” to the filter in a way the results may disappoint some users?

      If that’s true, shall we doubt about the sensor’s consistence when it comes to reproduce the same tone of a given color? For instance, the same tree leafs under the same light conditions will show different results if we photograph it several times?

      These are just some doubts of mine after reading your statement.


      • The issue is one of color linearity.

        The CCD in your camera responds to different wavelengths of light differently, much differently than film. When developing the Bayer layer for a sensor, care is given to how that sensor responds to various shades of Red, Green and Blue, and the color filter is designed accordingly to compensate. The other issue is the color curve for the response, after the Bayer filter, for each color. This is then also applied to the resultant data to reproduce the image. In other words, there is a lot of processing going on.

        Now, let’s go to a B&W sensor implementation. Since the sensor is not linear to color response, changing the informaiton it receives through the use of a color filter will potentially exaccerbate this issue. A good example was brought out in one review I have read already on the Monochrom where color filters were used (I hope Steve tries out several to give an idea as to how they perform). One user working with B&W film used a Yellow 12 to darken the skies. When using the same filter on the Monochrom, it also darkened the clouds, an undesirable effect. This could also be caused by the processing of the image in the Monochrom as it tries to put its known curve on the B&W image, which it assumes is un-filtered.

        Nonetheless, I think this could be a very exciting camera. The only issues I have are that:

        1) It is not going to be the same or similar to shooting with B&W film.
        2) It is not going to be as flexible or forgiving as the Color M9.

        Those two things understood and taken into account while shooting, should allow the photographer to get some very good images from it.

        Keep in mind, this is a specialized, and not general use, camera.

        • Thanks vm Peter

          Surprising the effect of that yellow filter as it was supposed to darken the sky but also to increase contrast between the blue and the clouds, as it wasn’t supposed to affect the whites. This way it seems the filter is “telling” the sensor to “see” yellow allover the image and not just the yellow and its complementary blue.

          I also expect and look forward for Steve’s experiments on this issue.

    • Peter,

      You are absolutely correct, BUT, a better question would be: how many owners of the M9, and will be Monochrom, actually print?? My answer would be: VERY few. It seems that most of these cameras are obviously bought by wealthy amateurs who are perfectly happy displaying their “art” on Flickr and Facebook. If printing is indeed the final output (and preferably silver gelatin or other viable alternate processes that actually require skills way above photoshop proficiencies), then the choice of camera is, was, and always has been absolutely irrelevant. I would dare anyone to tell the difference on even a mural size print, from a digital negative made from either an M9 or MM. The real question is whether one finds this choice justifiable, from a monetary and personal standpoint. I have made great prints from shooting a $100 Olympus XA and TMZ, which sold for $1000 (11×14) and it has always been obvious that buyers do not give a damn about which camera the photographer used. It’s about content and the print. Buying another $8,000 camera and not even print, for me, is a game for fools who love toys and are simply addicted to buying gear. Of course, to each his/her own, as always 🙂

      • Max,

        I have a lovely little XA as well. You will have to show me where I’m going wrong so I, too, can make £750 c.$1,000 a pop! 🙂

      • You seem to be implying that there is some inherent value to prints which is lacking on Flickr, as if a photo must be viewed on paper to be relevant or appreciated. I suggest you grab an iPad 3 or other high-res display and take a look at the photos on Flickr. To dismiss the photos there because a gallery owner has not designated wall space to them is to be willfully ignorant. 🙂

        • Tysons I get your point but I respectfully disagree. Yes the new hire res screens are brilliant…..but a well done print, especially 12×18 or larger…..well it’s really a thing of beauty.

          With that said, I post my work too but if that’s all you do is post on the Web…..let’s just say you could save a lot money on camera gear….

  26. All I can read hear is about cameras, hardware… not too much about photography. It is a pity that the main worry is always which camera are you using, it was only some months when you bought Leica M9-P (which that stunning saphire crystal that gives that personal touch to your photos huh) and now you are planning to sell it 🙂
    Do you really have time to make photographs and take care of what really matters?

    • Thats what this site has always been about Antonio, you should know that if you have been coming here for amy length of time. It’s a mix of reviews, gear talk, photo talk, sharing, community, etc. Thousands of posts exists here and it’s 3 years going. Of course I take photos, it’s my passion and has been for most of my life. I also like to feel a connection with my camera which is why I have used Leica for many many years. The question is, do you have time to take photos or do you just read blogs and complain when they talk about gear? Enjoy life, it’s short 🙂 As for the M9, I have shot it since it was released. I did not say I was selling my M9-P, I said if I wanted the MC, I would HAVE TO sell my M9- as I am not rich nor can I afford TWO digital M’s. Would have to go with my heart. Thanks!

      • Incredible that Leica doesn’t give you the MC, but maybe it is lucky for all of us coming here, because maybe you would start thinking that you owed them something in return like overly positive reviews etc.

  27. Can’t wait to see a detailed review. I saw the LFI comparison and it’s beautiful. But I want to see more comparisons. Hopefully Steve will do this with his M9-P vs M-M

  28. I’m very excited to see a monochrome Digital camera being produced again, especially with a mount that can use lenses going back over 80 years. It’s great to have a choice again.

  29. I still find it really strange that a camera made for a photography-style that so emphasises shooting wide-open, doesn’t go higher than 4000th of a second…

        • I think Leica should get rid of the screen entirely. It’s an unnecessary betrayal of the simplicity of a Leica, and a crutch.

    • Sarig,

      I never came across the idea of shooting fast lenses wide open and in broad daylight and thus requiring 1/4000th sec until latching on to this site, and nowhere else does there appear such a preoccupation with out of focus imaging at the expense of the subject matter itself. Both of these seem to be saying “well, I can, so why not?”

      Extreme wide aperture lenses of today, and the so-called fast lenses of yesteryear – f2 to f1.5 – were intended for low level available light photography on relatively slow speed film. Film photographers for decades managed perfectly well with a top maximum speed of 1/1000th sec but more importantly, they needed a fast lens for the specific purpose they needed them: shooting in low level available light.

      And isn’t the raison d’etre of fast shutter speeds is to stop motion, not to permit an f0.95 lens fitted with a powerful ND filter to shoot in the noonday sun? I respect your view if this is what grabs you, but I find it odd.

      • Thank you for your reply! I don’t shoot with a rangefinder myself, and mainly get my impressions about them from this site 🙂

        • Hi, Sarig.

          And from reading this site myself, you’ve got a lot of different impressions to get to grips with. 🙂

  30. Yes this camera might last a lifetime, but I would hardly call it a lifetime camera. I would bet that most people purchasing this camera will not keep it for a lifetime. Rather, they will sell is in a couple years to buy the latest and greatest leica M. Leica should really start a leasing program to further increase their profit margins. BTW, I am a huge Leica fan so I’m not ragging on the company.

    • Let me “argue” with you hear a bit. LOL 🙂

      I bought the M8 in 2007. I still use it often (and it’s still my favorite camera). I sold a lot of gear to be able to afford it at the time. But now I’ve gotten 5 years out of is so far. $1000 per year. Most of us here spend that (and much more) in other cameras and systems. When you look at it that way, it suddenly doesn’t seem so crazy.

      Mind you, I could argue it the other way too. Shooting B&W film (that I develop myself) is cheap. Doing the math, I’d have to shoot something like 100,000 photos before getting to the current price of the MM. That’s 20,000 photos per year for 5 years. For some (like me) that would be a whole lot of photos. I’m not anywhere even close to that number in 5 years of ownership of the M8.

      Price and value, of course, are only one part of the equation here. It’s an interesting camera with lots of potential. I’ve seen arguments all over the web about it — some are impressed with the files seen so far, some not so much. It’s going to come down a lot to the personal choice of each photographer. I’d be lying to say I wouldn’t love to try one, but it’s just too rich for my blood at this point.

    • This camera, on the contrary, might be a near-lifetime camera. From the look of it, this b&w sensor seems to have reached a point where it can replace film. Any more improvement has to get to medium format levels (quality) where lens plays a bigger role than anything else.

      Investing in the development of another b&w camera would come only a lifetime later. If you see the history of b&w digital cameras, they have been few and far between. So my guess is Leica is not going to make another b&w camera in the foreseeable future. In fact, there would even be a possibility that this may end up as a short production run.

      Invest in this camera now!!

      • Well, if the other part, such as mechanical and technology problems, is improved, then it will be a lifetime camera. I just don’t see it so far.

  31. Can’t wait to see comparison images between Monochrom and M9 + BW Conversion and perhaps the OMD too?

    On another note, what is that wrist strap? Seems pretty popular but I have no idea what it is and where I can get it.

  32. Question:
    Do you really need the asph lenses, or the new Summicron, to make the best use of this camera? How does camera perform with other lenses? i.e. I like shooting with the zeiss planar and voigtlander 21mm on my M3.

  33. Coming from a position as someone having about 43 years of doing his own B/W D&P, before going mainly digital in 2002, I can see in this image, and having downloaded the four provided on the Leica website, why this camera will be in demand by proper photographers who like to work in monochrome and who can afford it! Sadly, I can’t, and it will have to remain a pipe dream, unless I win the National Lottery.

    When I first viewed Leica’s own images, especially that of the elderly gentleman, it didn’t initially appear to be anything that special. That is until I hit 1:1 in my editing suite. Then I was literally taken aback. There is definitely something special in the way this camera images.

    Still, I look forward to seeing and comparing the same subject taken with an M9-M and an M9 converted, to see just how close, or not as the case may be, the cameras perform.

    But what also interested me in Steve’s initial post is that he seems he is going to be able to accept the OM-D as a perfectly viable alternative to a camera he has been raving about for ages.

  34. I would rather use the M9 for colour and film M for B+W..I just looked through the recent analogue Leica master shots, just wonderful. I find film so satisfying.

    • No, it is an M9 with the sensor modified. No changes have been made at all to the camera besides the exterior appearance – matte black and no lettering.

  35. The OM-D has made my 5DII superfluous. I can get a little more resolution out of the Canon, but the weight is a real problem, especially as hand luggage will be weighed on the flights for our summer holiday this year. I plan to trade in the 5DII and lenses as part payment against an M Monochrom (and lens, plus COLOUR FILTERS, wow!) and, like you suggest, shoot colour (and macro) with the OM-D and mono with the Mono.

        • No, won’t happen and I guarantee it. The prices of the M9-P and Mono are at the HIGHEST end of what I would be paying for ANY camera. I have a feeling the M10 will come in at $12 – $13k and that is way out of my league. Even $10k would be. Anything over the current M9P price is out of my range so from here on out its M9P and under 🙂

          • I agree Steve, there is a limit unless of course you are making tons of cash shooting with an expensive bit of kit. Then it pays for itself.
            I think the M10 will cost even more. I also think the Leica – Kodak CCD relationship will end with the M10 and that the new Leica offering will have a C-MOS sensor at about 18-20mp and offer much higher iso than the 10,000 of the MM. Maybe even live view for portait photographers and other studio, landscape and architecture shots. That is if they upgrade the LCD to very high resolution.
            Back to the MM…If the IQ and tonal qualities are what Leica says then I can see a place for it, but not in my kit bag as it’s too expensive for me to commit all of my resources into one camera. If I could afford it and it’s really that good, yes I would have one.

          • I need to add for live view Leica would have to dispense with the current shutter mechanism of the M9.

          • Come on Steve…..if you buy a Mono you will love it and use it but when that M10 comes out in the fall and it (hopefully) is light-years ahead of the M9…..you don’t think you suddenly will find a way to stomach the $14k price tag??

            I predict a Monochrom up for sale along with some of your other gear to fund the purchase……just sayin’ 🙂

    • Sorry but that is a given. Of course there is no WB controls for a Mono camera. I meant that the menu system is THE SAME, as it is. No changes have been made to the menu system itself and all settings are just about the same except for the WB, the color filters and the clipping.

  36. Great, looking forward to both reviews. I really might be tempted by the Monochrom as upgrade of my M8, instead of the M9. Very curious to read what your imprsessions will be of it.

  37. Steve,

    I look forward to reading your evaluation, but personally have no interest in a B&W only camera, even if it was $800- and not $8000- It would be like buying a car that only drives in reverse.

    And at the end of the day, if you capture a raw image with a good sensor (like an M9) – I’m willing to bet the difference in image quality when converted to black and white in will be indistinguishable to most, and marginal at best.

    How about this for a crazy comparison: provide identical images, and see if your readers can identify the Monochrom vs M9-P file. I predict most of us will get it wrong.

    • Actually, the latest (printed, that is) issue of LFI contains comparison images between the M9 (converted to B/W) and the Monochrom, and the difference is stunning – the Monochrom at ISO 640 is way more detailed than the M9 at ISO 160. Much more of an advantage that I’d have ever thought.

      And both of them obviously trounce the results from my M3, but that’s a a different story 🙂


      • Leica M3 is not going to give you a wonderful IQ by itself, it gives you a wonderful quality of use. What gives you a great IQ with film is the glass. Personally, I don’t exchange my M3 with a 35 and 50 cron for this Monochrom, neither for an M9. Use good glass, Velvia or Tmax, meter well, take care of developing process and print, and you have the best, still. If you want more, use a Hasselblad, all this for under 2000 or 3000$. And don’t take millions of pics, it’s better to be selective. Digital is still video, and the feeling is video, specially if you print. Good glass hides this fact, but only hides it. Many of the discussions here are about image quality seen in pc’s, sounds like an obsession, feels like an obsession. Best pics of the past were taken with another mind set. Still best pics of present times are taken with that other mind set.

    • So you’re suggesting that only cameras that shoot colour are the ones that ‘move forward’? I guess all those landscape art photographers who shoot large format black and white, for example, just don’t get it….I’ll let them know that the next time I see their work hanging in a gallery…I’ll tell them they should have shot it in colour…

      My thought is the reverse…the people that complain about this camera shouldn’t complain. They just shouldn’t buy it. I for one thing it’s an excellent idea, and finally shows that there’s more to digital photography than the typical pointless consumer electronics game. Remember, this is a photography site…it’s all relevant – digital, film, small/medium/large format.

      • Jon,

        No need to get pithy. I love B&W photography, and if you go back and read what I wrote a little more carefully – what I take issue with is an $8K one trick pony that can ONLY take B&W photos. I also included the word “personally” because this is just my opinion. No complaint, just an opinion.

        I capture some pretty amazing black and white images with my M9, converting from color in post production … so for me, the Monochrom is much ado about nothing.

        And since you brought it up I am a paid professional in architectural photography; instead of gallery walls my work is featured on magazine covers and feature spreads.


    • I second this game! Let’s see if we can tell which is a Monochrome file and which is an M9 file. Whatever the results, the gap will be narrow enough to render this excercise mute; merely just another game of pixel peeping. I understand the obsession with technical perfection but at some point, I feel, this obsession takes away from what is really important, taking persuasive photographs. Technically great photos are a dime a dozen but it takes a very rare eye to create photographs that will stand the test of time.

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