The Leica Monochrom M has arrived!
By Jon Barker
The MM arrived a bit less than a couple of weeks ago. I had been going to order an M9 until I saw the sample monochrom files on the web. I’ve spent 3 months wondering if I had made a huge mistake, but the quality of the monochrom has not disappointed. (The quality of the photographer is another matter of course). There are birds in some shots I hadn’t realised were there when I pressed the button. I can zoom in to 1:1 in lightroom and identify them as pigeons. It has really quite astonishing resolution.
I’ve attached some pictures for you to look at. All taken in the wilds of Leicestershire, UK. All shot with an MM plus Zeiss Biogon 35mm f2 and B&W 22 Yellow filter. (The split toning is, hopefully obviously, not that serious an attempt…) The light today was not hugely inspiring, but it hasn’t been for weeks to be honest and I had to get out today when I had the chance.
The two big realisations for me today were that I have a lot to learn, but also that this camera will allow me to learn. It’s so very easy to use. Now that I have genuinely direct access to aperture and speed adjustments and can see the results of changes I make in real-time in the meter I have finally twigged how the zone system works. I knew all this technically before, but it didn’t make intuitive sense until I was shooting with such a transparent bit of kit. Transparent is definitely the word for it. My OM-D is lovely, but I hadn’t understood quite how many decisions it had been making for me (and all the other modern cameras I’ve owned have done this too). For me, until I have to do it I don’t learn it, and now I am doing it. I also finally understand what people mean when they say the camera gets out of the way. This one certainly does. Negatives? Well, yes it is easy to clip highlights irreparably. But it’s not hard to check the histogram and take another shot. It’s only monochrome, and although I am currently deliberately taking out only this camera until it’s become familiar it is likely that I will carry the MM and an OM-D in future, particularly when all the red berries come out in a month or two. Can’t think of any other negatives to be honest, and I can’t think of many things that an OM-D and an MM wouldn’t be able to handle. However, I could see my OM-D being traded in for the next model in a year or two. The MM is looking like a companion for life.
Erwin Puts recent review of the Monochrom:
Part 1 http://www.imx.nl/photo/leica/camera/styled-8/M%20Monochrom.html
Part 2 http://www.imx.nl/photo/leica/camera/styled-9/M%20Monochrom.html
An extract for those that doubt the capability of the Monochrom and say that it’s exactly the same as the M9 – it’s not….
“”The test situation is as follows:
Cameras: Monochrom and M9-P, both fitted alternately with the same Summicron 50 mm lens, stopped down to 1:5.6, distances from the test chart are 1.5 meter, 2 meter and 3 meter. Cameras on heavy Gitzo tripod. Exposure is bracketed with 0.5 stops and the focus has been bracketed by 1% of the distance setting. The best result has been selected, but care has been taken to ensure that results can be compared within reasonable margins. If the best focus for one camera is within 1% of the manual focus setting, it would not be very helpful if the other camera would get the best result at a 3% deviation. In that case the adjustments are not within tolerance. Both cameras worked within the 1% limit, so the comparison is valid. The limiting resolution for the M9-P has been established at 53 linepairs/mm. This is the expected result: the Nyquist frequency is 73.5 linepairs/mm and the useful limit has been found in previous tests to be at 70% of that value (= 51.5 linepairs/mm).
Under identical conditions (same lens, same test chart, same distance and same lighting) the Monochrom reached 68 linepairs/mm. In both cases the average between the just noticeable and the good visible values has been taken. The Monochrom then has a resolution that is 25% better than the M9-P (or the M9, M8, Titanium). This is consistent with the observation that the Bayer pattern reduces the maximum resolution by 30%. This improvement is significant, but one must add that careful focusing and a stable position are required. “” © 2005 – 2012 Erwin Puts
Does that add to the controversy over the camera (discussed here) or clear it up?!
best regards Richard
I just want to add…
I enjoyed your post Jon, I liked your first clicks as well. Enjoy your new camera and may to get to know it as you do yourself.
I do understand the pull to the monochrom and posts like yours reinforce my want for one… i will have to wait though. one day i will pick up a used one and i am certain i will love it as i do my M9 and it will be a great tool for me to take the photos i enjoy.
There’s quite alot of vitriol I have read here about the Monochrom, there are some of us that feel colour in an image is sometimes (nearly always) distracting. Taking monochrome photos forces me to really concentrate on the shapes and framing, sometimes it’s more the negative spaces in the image (not trying to be too pretentious/arty). It might involve taking very many images, but these days you don’t need to spend hours locked away in a dark(-ened) room! This camera has been a long time coming, and I, for one, can’t wait for it.
Wow, so much “controversies” regarding this camera…makes me think twice to dare to own one….
Hopefully when I finally own one (finger crossed), nobody on the street would stop me and telling me all the negatives rant about using one.
John, congrats on the new M9M, enjoy it. I envy you
Biggest fraud by a camera company ever!, why anyone would be stupid enough to fork out for this is insane, Leica must be laughing to themselves that people actually pay through the nose to buy this!, if you want to shoot black & white get an M9 & set the preview to B&W jpeg, it’s the same thing!! then just convert the file in to B&W in RAW, seriously get real people, stop falling for the Leica lust and WAKE UP! they are having you over. If you truly want to get the B& experience from a Leica, but a M6 or M7 and shoot that stuff called B&W film!!! no digital sensor comes close to the look of film more than the stuff itself. Just think how many rolls of film & processing you can shoot for the amount of money you have blown buying this joke!
Clearly it”s not the same thing (as any MM and M9 user will tell you – and I don’t mean Leica)….go try one and work on the images and you will see. Amateur Photographer in the UK did a good review (in print only I think) to try and unlock the mystique…. The B&W comment one can’t fault but it’s two different things – some of us like to shoot in digital for the freedom it gives. No doubt many shoot in both formats. Still I’ve only got 40+ years experience with photography both with B&W film and Digital so what do I know – I will let the experts and those with more experience debate this one;-) Regards from a humble and rather poor MM user in Poland – even here it’s popular and still in demand- work that out!
Also it’s not at all insane – Leica made very few as far as i know and those that purchased were on a waiting list and no-one coerced them to buy the MM… they all went willingly ….at least I did!
see http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/ for the recent analysis of the MM – it may not be online – rather in print.
What continues to amaze me is how much Leica manages to polarize the photographic community.
I saw the intro post on Steve’s home page and I cracked a wry smile, not because I am genuinely interested in the OP’s comments and pics, but I just knew that following the article there would be a huge slew of comments , some overly generous because the images were made with a Leica, and some overly critical because the images were made with a Leica. There would be comments, as one poster rightly pointed out, that would just re-hash the same old arguments going over the same old ground and the there would be comments grounded in merit and comments completely irrelevant . I even suspected there would be some camera vs car analogies in there somewhere…
Its the same on any photography forum (outside dedicated Leica forums) on the internet, you mention the word Leica and off it goes – completely polarizing a community to the extent that if the discussion was based in a pub and not on line you could see perfectly rational men coming to blows!
I get the passion , and for some lucky few photography literally is their life ( livelihood ) but in the end it is not inequality in society , repression of minorities, climate change or world hunger we are talking about …it is a CAMERA !, a tool , nothing more, nothing less , to be used to achieve what , as photographers, we should all be focusing on – the photograph .
If a guy , rich or not so rich, pro photographer or amateur , enthusiast or fashion follower , whoever it may be can afford to buy- and wants to buy- a Leica then so what ? Let him , its his money . Just remember it is only a tool. Every visitor to this site that would rather attend an exhibition of outstanding iphone photos than an exhibition of mediocre Leica photos.
I bet there’d be much less negativity if the M was a $300 camera with the build quality of the Nex 5n.
Jon, like most of those who have commented on your article – I am green with envy. The Monochrome seems to be a fantastic camera. The resolution and tonal range are astounding. It must be just wonderful to enter the deep woods and valleys with just a few controls and the mind entirely focused on rendering shapes, contrasts, lines in a gamut of monochrome, everything else just cut out.
if camera = car, then
fully automatic dslr = porsche (fast with lots of electronics, reliable)
point and shoot = toyota econo box (cheap and reliable)
leica = lotus (ask you want you don’t need in a car/camera)
medium format = ferrari (very good at the track / studio, lots of work arounds required for daily use)
strokes for folks / course for horse
I was thinking of picking up an om-d and ended up with an m8 instead…it really depends on which part of the photographic journey you are in, and where do you want to go.
Thank you for the article John
Full Auto DSLR = Lexus
leica = 993 TT
I enjoy your comparisons!
quite logical comparison rick 🙂
DSLR = 4WD offroad
Leica = convertible
Funny comparison – here are my “cars”:
Dslr (D4 etc.) = Formula 1 car
Leica = Old Rover
Medium format = Roll Royce
Point and shoot = Fiat 500
Are you here for photography? If not the drama queen blog is on the next site over.
Must suck that Leica doesn’t favor you enough to give you one to evaluate? Wang-Lee got one before you did. Must suck. Is that why you spilled what Seal told you about the m10? Burned bridges for pageviews. Dumb.
Leica sent me a Monochrome months ago, same as they did with many others. To this day, all that was sent out was pre-production samples. Elizabeth received a pre-production sample as well. Again, my “preview” with this pre-production was done MONTHS ago on this site so maybe you missed it. Leica did not send out production samples for review to anyone. As for your rude M10 comment, I never spilled any info that anyone told me as no one told me anything. The rumors of the M10 were out before I even mentioned what I thought it would be and Leica Rumors spilled this info before I wrote my feelings. Get your facts straight before writing such nonsense. No one knows what an M10 will be like or if one will even be announced. What I write is what I THINK from inside ramblings I hear from MANY people. When you run a site such as this with 300+ emails a day MANY rumors, tips, and info come in. I ignore most of it until much of it starts to add up and I hear the same thing over and over. I also heard about the new smaller camera being announced but I wing post any thoughts on that one. Have a good day and again, get your facts straight before posting nonsense as that my friend is the only DUMB thing going on here.
Mr Giambardo, it’s hard to comprehend the overpowering need you display (note I didn’t say “seem to have”) to infuse a perfectly civil, informational and generally very useful discussion with spillover from your obviously lousy day (or night?). It makes not one iota of difference to most readers if Steve … or anybody else with a brain … has received his “m10” sample before or after anybody else – what we’re after is INFORMED OPINIONS from all of them. Why don’t you contribute something positive, as I’m sure you could do, even if purely by accident, before using “must suck” repeatedly, rudely, and DUMBly?! Please don’t take this personally, unless you want to – I actually read the drivel before reading the poster’s (i.e. your) name! Cheers! 🙂
Hey, that is totally unwarranted. Back off. Steve generates a lot of value here for a lot of people. I have made purchase decisions worth thousands of dollars based on what I have learned here.
Your comments are insulting and irrelevant. Critical comments are fine, but insulting comments are totally unjustified. I am amazed that Steve even let this comment stay visible, instead of simply deleting it. That alone should demonstrate to you that Steve is big-hearted and suffers no insecurity.
I think you owe Steve an apology, and I hope you are man enough for that.
hmm.. now its a Competition ?
I thought we all here are sharing our same passion…
no matter the gear.. the nationality..
we are people who love photos… ( I dont dare to consider my self a photographer) 🙂
chill up mr Marco
Just a quick heads up..I googled this Marco guy and the only thing that pops up are abusive shots he takes at Eric Kim on his blog. I don’t don’t know if you can block IPs but I wouldn’t waste your time with this clown, he’s only looking for a reaction. We all know he would never have the balls to say anything to anyone’s face.
Thanks for sharing. I like no1 and 3. Enjoy the MM 🙂
The M Monochrom produces beautiful files. I’m interested in one, but I’m not rich so my next Leica purchase I’m going to have to be satisfied as my only digital camera for a very long time. I’m probably saving up for an M10 or maybe the Leica ME instead (if it is a real camera).
My Leica Monochrom arrived two weeks ago and is the M6 loaded with Tri-X, what i’ve find so far is the way i photograph with a rangefinder is different then any other camera i own or used. Still on the first roll of film and must shoot some more to get the feel for the camera!
It gives me the same fun in photographing i get from the Holga 120 and the Fuji X100(but i get to much out of focus images with it).
I need to get used to focussing with the Leica as i’m used to see the image in my SLR appear sharp where i needed it be sharp and wasn’t using the recompose trick much!
Seeing these images of Jon, they give me the feel i got with some TMax100 in my Rolleiflex! The grasses where the same light tones and the sky looked the same.
So this new MM can give you this feeling without the process of shooting, developing and scanning film. So maybe when my favourite films aren’t being made anymore i can look for something like the MM
As for the discussion about Leica vs any other camera, these are all just tools to make an image that forms in our mind and you use the tool that makes it the most easy to get that image!
Only a fraction of the Leica shooters on here post anything interesting. The best photos I’ve seen posted on this site comes from people shooting with sub $1000 cameras.
That’s all subjective though. The next guy will say all the best photos are taken with a Leica. I don’t think there is a correlation between skill and camera used.
surely variety is spice of life and take your pick leica m3-m9m/m10
that’s what should be celebrated
can’t wait to see what the leica m10 offers….no way for me at the moment. get all my photographic pleasures via the m9.
looks like the m9 and m9m will hold their own alongside their baby brother “more functions” m10….
i think the m11 will/should be all 3 combined
btw jon…you are lucky man…enjoy!
Though reluctant to post and be ridiculed, I would like to pass on a thought. Once asked what I
had against the super wealthy, I could honestly only answer, “I am not one of them.” Though tongue
in cheek, I sometimes think others mistake their envy for faulting an expensive product. For a
number of years I drove only Mercedes diesel cars which were more expensive than American cars.
I found them to be reliable and long lived. Others saw my car as an act of being a snob. My cars
lasted over 12 years or more with three hundred thousand miles on the clock, and still ran well.
While I cannot afford a Leica M9, I certainly would like to have one. In the meantime, I congratulate
those who can afford such and hope they get great photographic pleasure from your purchase. In
the meantime, thanks to advice from Steve’s posts, I have an OM-D with Leica glass and am most
satisfied with it, until, or if, I ever purchase a Leica M9 or M31.
Contrast seems to be good in the shots. What’s going on in the second photo?
Number 2 is my dubious attempt at split toning in lightroom, for which apologies…
I’ve adjusted levels and curves and burnt the sky slightly in all the shots, and boosted the clarity in the shot of the hill with the straw bundles. Give me a few months to get more familiar with the processing and I’ll submit a couple of sets of ‘unprocessed’, ‘processed then’ and ‘processed now pictures’ (which hopefully will show improvement over time…)
Jon.. I would love to patiently wait for all your photos 🙂
once again.. dont be discouraged by any comments..
keep shooting and enjoying everything comes in life
Monochrom compatible Leica batteries and cards…
I have checked with Solms today on these two issues. I gather its advisable to not fit any old M8 or M9 batteries. Indeed older M9 batteries should also not be used. The dealer may exchange some M9 batteries depending on the date purchased and local policy. Best in my humble experience so far to fit only brand new M9 batteries to avoid damaging the camera. In any event lithium batteries deteriorate after three years and should not be used. I have a picture of old and new Leica batteries which can be identified by date if anyone is interested. there are three types. M8, M9 new and M9 old.
As regards cards I gather its advised to use only up to 32GB with 15 to 30mb per second. there is no advantage to fit faster cards due to the way the buffer works. My camera worked with a 16GB 45 mb.s card but froze with a 32GB 95 mb.s card.
As far as I know Sandisk, Lexar and Samsung cards .. I have used all three .. and possibly other manufactures cards should all be ok.
I hope thats useful.
My dog reckons that the m9 was a waste themm is great
Has anyone tried a color capture using the Leica Monochrom (using filters and later compositing the images)? Theoretically it should give 3x resolution over an M9, if you could hold the camera in place using a ultra-sturdy tripod. Maybe in a studio.
You that ole saying cant even please all the people some of the time 🙂
No price can be put on something which helps us towards feeling free, creative, joyous …
taking us away from depression.
If the M9M is the one which does if for you Jon that’s all that matters.
Please have a lovely time where ever you are with your M9.
maybe you could add any Leica glass soon, so you could see the full power of the MM; e.g. 50 cron Asph
congrats on the camera, and nice to see that the yellow filter is doing a good job on the sky tonality. have you tried using a red filter yet?
also, my two cents for those discussing/bashing about Leica prices and such trivialities: live and let live people! I won’t buy this camera because of finances, but if I could I would definitely like to try it (and the same applies to every piece of equipment except those huge, heavy and vulgar zoom lenses 🙂
Buying an m6 and lenses will give you the ability to shoot only b&w at a fraction of the cost and I dare say will last infinitely longer. Seriously how much film could you buy and process for that sum, the processing costs are minimal and it’s not overly difficult trix, hp5, fuji et al, there’s also a host of developers to utilise.
The argument that hcb and others would use one is a little disingenuous it’s not just the camera cost but also the cost of the computer able to deal with the files one has to factor in. Compare that with a basic enlarger and associated kit needed to produce a bromide print it’s a no brainer.
It might be herecy to say it but I actually think hcb, capa, et al may have plumped for the Olympus micro four thirds had they dipped their toe into the digital age. From a cost and quality perspective it’s a winner all ways round.
No, no and no. hcb, capa would opted for the RX100 🙂
Who cares what HCB or Capa would have used now….I don’t. I doubt they would have cared either.
You are so right – great photographers don’t care about equipment – or do they?
I think they care for the right tool for the specific job ? 🙂
Whenever I read declarative comments about what people feel someone from 1950 would use if they were here today, I wish they would actually understand hindsight bias. The only fact is, they would use what they liked, what felt good to them, and what they personally felt was an aid to them achieving their photographic vision. It’s not as though HCB had a lack of choice back in his day; there were lots of cameras. But if you read HCB’s comments about the Leica, he simply really loved the camera, how it felt, and he mastered it completely so that it became an extension of his eye. Are Leicas the only nice camera? Absolutely not, then or now. If HCB was BORN in the last 20 years, who knows what he would have used? Impossible to say. He’d have been a different photographer.
However, if you put him in a time machine from the 1950s and he arrived here today, as the HCB we know of from the historical record and his own writings, and you said “digital is the way”, he’d most likely have grabbed an M8 or M9, or even more an MM. Genuine rangefinder (i.e. not evf, etc. etc.) was what he was used to and liked, and given that the MM has high resolution files, there’s no reason to pursue something else or enter into debates about extra electronics features or the ability to use R lenses he never cared or knew about. Note that he also had the option of using color, which was ‘the big thing of the day’ but throughout his life chose to shoot B/W. So it’s highly unlikely he would have wasted even a second of his time with the silly forum debates on ‘why it’s better to have a color file because of the options and then convert to B/W, blah blah blah’.
I completely agree with you….my comment regarding how HCB would view this was meant to be a piece of English humour to lighten up the comments. However having studied HCB (and having the original “Decisive Moment” book) I can only concur with your comments. It’s obvious he would have reached for the M9 or more probably the MM with a 50mm Summicron. Can you imagine how much freedom shooting digital without the restriction of 36 shots they would have had? I don’t mean this would multiply their work by 1000’s of shots rather it would avoid lost shots through ruined film* (as in Capa’s 1944 Normandy invasion shots) as well as giving them the chance to be more creative and having less limiting factors. HCB wouldn’t have changed his style at all he would still have caught the moment with one shot (bang!) not 100’s. I still do that now despite being able to reel off many if necessary. I’m sure anyone else on an MM would think in a similar way. The camera causes you to think back to the halcyon days of B&W photography and film. Anyway HCB would have picked the MM or M9 just for the feel of the camera and the familiarity with the lens – that’s totally obvious.
* I appreciate its also possible to lose or ruin the cards too!
Enjoy your Leica M9-M.
Amazing how a Leica gets people talking. Love the dialogue.
But don’t you find it is always the same arguments going around, just like a stuck groove in an LP record! Just how many times can people post the same comments on this site?
I honestly would love to own one. But can’t but imagine how when I go out with my friends on trips, and ask me to take a picture, they would ask me why the picture is in Black and White, and I will have to tell them my 8000 dollar camera can only take black & white. Then, they will laugh at me, swinging their 500 dollar point and shoots as they go around shooting the beautiful colours in the city, mocking me at my stupid purchase.
And I do think it is overpriced tbh, yea it will probably never be replaced as there is no other camera that will ever exist that will really replace it. Still, it can only take Black and White, and during birthday celebrations, fetivals where balloons and everything has colour. and proper portriats, where the subject dyed her hair beautifully, tried her best to put on her best lipstick and powder, and you cant portray everything with it.
So, i really do think that a M9 is the smarter choice, but then, in the end, I think a used M8 is the better choice to the M9. But really, you dont buy a Leica camera, because it is the smarter choice. If you did, you would have a OM-D and a Fuji X100 and a Leica M6……. like me…
I certainly enjoyed reading this spirited discussion. Lest we forget, the aforementioned and very satisfying simplicity of shooting with Leicas can also be had with the quite affordable, and very satisfying to me, Fuji X-100 , and the image rendering in mono or color ain’t too shabby either. Hits the sweet spot in the quality/affordability spectrum for this guy.
For some 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds is good enough. To others it means the world if theirs can do it in 4.7 seconds and they are willing to pay a fortune for the incremental improvement. Although the difference does not really matter in real life, or does it?
Actually my Fuji X-Pro1 is magnificent and the closest thing to Leica color I’ve found. I know folks carp about its AF but I just use the assist where necessary. In low light it is very impressive and kills my Leicas and Sony. In fact I carry it now far more often than the M.
There is no perfect camera, or film, or sensor…
HDS….I respectfully disagree with your statement that the colour out of the XPro is anything like an M8/M9. Doesn’t matter what film simulation you use, or even just RAW out of the camera…..the files are nothing like an M8/M9 except for the sharpness and level of detail.
I’m not saying the images out of the Fuji are bad, I too like the colours but honestly I liked the ‘look’ of the colours I got straight out of the M8 much better.
Clint – I agree and disagree!
As I said, the XPro is “as close” as I can get. Here’s what I mean;
First, the S2 is just other-worldly. When I’m running through a group of photos those images are just arresting. I don’t show my photos to many folks since they are very very personal and mean little to folks outside my small circle. But when they come up, even non-photographers have asked me “what camera is that?”
The M8/8.2/9 photos are extremely nice. Nothing so deep as an S2 image, but blows my Canon and Sony images away. The XPro, while not quite as much pop, still blow the Canon and Sony away. That is until ASA 400 and above…
I crop ruthlessly since most of my photos are candids and I’m very main-subject oriented, and at 400 the Fuji is far less grainy than the Leica, and to my eye I can’t even look at a Leica image above 800, M or S. The Fuji holds together so well that I rarely set it below 800 and often use 1600 unless I’m trying for shallow DOF. As you may have guessed, I detest flash. I’ll bet a doughnut that Leica’s next offering will have serious ASA power.
As far as folks like evjen and Just pass by… I think I understand. You don’t like something about Leicas. But it isn’t the images. Methinks you haven’t used them. You have to imagine all of us are wrong or delusional. And we are not.
Finally this digital vs. emulsion thing. I think it’s in the printing. Flat monitor images of film look … digital to me.
When I finally save up enough cash to buy an MM, I hope Ibraar will spitefully deride me as a rich boy too.
I’m seriously considering buying an electric bike for USD 5000. I guess I will be called a rich boy too. Imagine, riding a rich boy’s bike with rich boy’s MM.
Retow: No one will call you a ‘rich boy’…nerd maybe, but not ‘rich boy:) Just giving you a hard time, don’t think I have ever seen someone use ‘electric bike’ when trying to make a point:)
Mainly a lurker here, so…
It never ceases to amaze me about Leica-haters who won’t stop claiming it is a “toy” for the rich. I’m no pro. But a lifetime picture taker. My S2 and M9’s jump off the screen in a way the Canon and Sony do not. Just do.A depth and balance. I know it’s not just the extreme sharpness but it is color balance too. Not that it is necessarily truer, just very pleasing.
One more thing; ALL photography, and indeed all light is “digital”. From the source to the brain. Could someone who truly loves the “film” look explain their preferences in some other terms. Is is smoothness of dynamic transition (smaller digital intervals)? Just not sure I understand. Please don’t say “you just have to see it” since I saw it for almost 50 yrs before I saw digital.
I think it would be less a problem to make a digital image “look like film” than the opposite. But perhaps someone has done this study?
Again, don’t mean to argue, but have viewed many sides of the media, and occasionally came up with a shot I’m proud of. Leicas didn’t make the shots. But the ones with the Leica look different. In fact, to my eye the Leica difference is much more noticeable in digital than emulsion.
I think the others above me are trying to say “Leicas are overpriced” in a pretty mean way.
Dont judge me as I am not a Leica hater (I own and love my Leica M6), but do you really think that a Leica isn’t overpriced? I mean 8000 dollars for a camera, that doesnt do proper continuous, doesnt require a AF system, doesnt have many of the features other WAAAYYY cheaper cameras have? Yea… and I dont understand the argument of the “Theres the pop and Leica magic” that everyone mentions.
I understand what that magic is, cos that is why I love my M6, but here’s the thing, the magic all lies in the lens. In an age where all cameras use the same sensor (film), Leica stood out with its images. Why? cos the lens itself stood out from the rest, giving something special that all other lens system don’t.
Steve also did a recent post with the OM-D and NEX-7 with Leica glass, and it pretty much shows that 90% of the magic lies in the protruding part of the camera. So, you telling me that a 16MP full frame sensor, with no AF system, a rangefinder system, no video, no continuous, BODY only, costs the about the same as 2 D800s with all the tech it has?
I might sound like a hater halfway through but I really do love Leicas, and understand that it is a camera about soul and passion and simplicity. But in the end, the M9 really is a well-built full frame box with an M-Mount.
Some good points Harry.
Essentially it is and always has been mainly down to the glass. If anything to focus manually Leica M glass on the NEX-7 is better than ANY rangefinder if you want perfect focus period. Especially Leica digital where so often throughout the range at wider apertures perfect focus is a complete lottery on many lenses as anyone who has ever used an M8/M8.2/M9 will testify even if everything looks better at the point of capture looking through the lovely & large Leica RF.
As you imply at the end though, it really is crazy money for what is just a light tight box. But hey, if somebody can afford and wants to buy a MM fair play to them. My only issue is with Leica and their frankly immoral pricing these days.
My experience with the Nex7 was exactly the opposite. Focus peaking was far from exact and I had tons of missed shots due to it. I did a photo set with the Nex and some Leica lenses. They all looked good in the finder, both live and playback, but when I got home 75% were missed focus. That was the end of the Nex for me. Rarely do I miss focus while using a M and it is the fastest way to manually focus a lens bar none. I’m so use to how fat the M is when I started using the R8 it took me forever to find the proper focus and I still ended up missing a bunch of focus points.
“My experience with the Nex7 was exactly the opposite. Focus peaking was far from exact and I had tons of missed shots due to it. I did a photo set with the Nex and some Leica lenses. They all looked good in the finder, both live and playback, but when I got home 75% were missed focus. That was the end of the Nex for me. Rarely do I miss focus while using a M and it is the fastest way to manually focus a lens bar none.”
I concur !!!
Focus peaking esp in good light is i find unhelpful.
I go straight to manual focus assist.
But when photoing sports, concerts i often didnt have time to manual focus assist. Relying on focus peaking about 40% were just slightly out of focus.
Hence my NEX5 has gone to a good home and i hope this week to get a J1 + 10-30 & 30-110 just for concerts & sports.
Well I can only speak for myself obviously and how I’ve found it. Only shot M mount lenses for a week and mainly on two occasions. 1) In between shooting a job at the recent Chelsea v Reading EPL game…. and 2) A garden party.
EVERY single shot nailed on for focus. And when I say nailed I mean – N A I L E D. I used a £9 Chinese LM-NEX adapter and a Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 Skopar M. Just been checking over the files yet again in Phase One Media Pro and can’t fault one single shot for focus accuracy and many of the shots were taken wide open.
As I said, I can only say what I have found and do not doubt your experience with the same at all. I use “Yellow” peaking colour and set to “Strong”. For me, faultless. For me, more than happy even if I do prefer shooting my M2 or M6 far more. 🙂
Maybe I was lucky and had an M8 that was well calibrated…but I found manual focus with it quite easy and accurate. In fact I used to get more sharp images wide open with the M8 and fast glass then i do with Canon using AF….
I had long written out comment about he differences between film and digital but for some reason it didn’t go through. It was probably a sign that I’m full of crap. In the end I think there is simply an aesthetic difference and from there its personal preference. Here are some photos shot with film and digital. Can you see the difference?
Sorry the link doesn’t work like that. Try this instead:
What an absorbing website you have! I have gone through it twice and am still wanting to look at it again. Some really fascinating and amazing work – clearly you have the passion and the results you are getting with both film and digital rangefinders truly show it. That, to me, is the important thing – the engaging images, not so much what you shot it with… just keep it coming.
I have an MM on order not because I can afford it – it ain’t cheap and it will burn me a big hole in the pocket. I want it so as to fully explore this “new” digital B&W sensor.To experiment more with B&W in low light – something the M9 and (worse) M8.2 is just not that good at – I max mine at 640 and it would be cool to be able to get two more stops out of the MM.
It has captivated my mind for years when I thought to myself that if Leica ever made a dedicated pure monochrome camera I would be the first to buy to one. To be honest, I never thought they would be crazy enough to make one. But they had the cojones to make one and now we have the crazy wish come true.
Besides my family, my passion and joy in life is image making. The thought of dedicating time and effort working and developing digital B&W images with this new sensor has totally absorbed my current photographic interest. The M9 and M8.2 are amazing tools that I love and cherish they have given me great joy and rekindled my interest in stills.
So I see no way we can say that real B&W film is better or worse than this MM. This baby seems to me to be a different kettle of fish according to samples and the many who have used and commented on its virtues and quirks. Its early days I think and I think it will take some time to tame this beast and truly explore its full potential.People like Sobol (that you mentioned above) have been making amazing images – close looking to his analogue work, but different in a way that I can’t quite describe in words, but even on a monitor seems to have something different about it.Something about the materiality of the images that is interesting.
Having shot and continue too shoot both film and digital, i often wonder why we ( me being a big culprit) try so hard to make the two media be or look the “same” through PP and plug-ins. Each is what it is and perhaps we should explore the look of digital for its own character and personality.
This is what really excites me about the MM. The possible ways of exploring a different B&W rendition or different digital emulsion look that is not Silver Efex Pro reliant or the M9 conversion to mono. Not to mention the forced discipline of thinking purely in monochrome, which again goes back to the Leica philosophy of simplicity.
Can’t wait to get my hands on one.
Be well and keep shooting your personal vision with both film and digital.
Thank you for your thoughtful note and kind words regarding my work, they are really appreciated especially coming from a professional such as yourself! Your work is next level amazing with such a discernible style.
I’m really happy for you that you were able to get a Monochrome, I know how much of an investment it can be especially for mere mortals such as ourselves. I look forward to seeing what you can do with it. I’m sure after some hard work you will get the most out of what it has to offer. I don’t know when I’ll learn to just keep my mouth shut on these forums, but I’m convinced this camera has so much potential that no one has had the chance to explore yet and I’m sure you will be one of the first.
I’ll always straddle that fence between the two mediums because just like you I’m spending all this time trying to make digital seem more analogue until I get to the point where I throw my hands up and go back to shooting film. Then eventually the pendulum swings back to a digital workflow and so on and so forth.
I love my M8 but I rarely shoot above 160 and thats a big handicap especially when I compare it to the Fuji X Pro which handles low light without breaking a sweat. I’m sure the MM and M10 wont have these issues and will finally offer a complete alternative to shooting with a M6 and TMax. I still think film will always be impossible to copy digitally but thankfully I think it will be around for a few more decades.
In the end for me photography is all encompassing. I love the way film smells, the solidness of a Leica M against the palm of my hand, catching that perfect exposure at the perfect time of day, staying up all night with a pale light washing over me from my computer screen while I edit photos, scrolling through Tokyo Camera Style endlessly checking out all the different cameras, researching equipment and its implementation and of course pouring over photography, design and architecture books finding food for my eyes.
Great photos are not about the camera but I think they deserve more credit then they sometimes get. It would be ignorant to think Hiroshi Sugimoto could do what he does with a P&S or even a Leica M for that matter. Cameras should be the extension of ourselves so that we may use them like a third appendage.
I enjoyed hearing your thoughts Jorge, please keep in touch and definitely show some of the work you do with the Monochrome!
Will sure keep in touch, John. Will send you a link to the experiments with the MM.
I also swop from film to digital and back in endless circles. What has happened recently is that I have dusted off my film cams and have been exploring 4×5 B&W as well as120 Hassie and Roleiflex TLR for BW portraits… just to see again what “real” B&W is/was all about – my fond memories of that time way back then seem to have been too romantic and vague as to how great film was/is. Film is great and it is something that I too hope will never die. But, as you say, the images should firstly stand out as images,not as analogue or digital. or this or that camera.
Looking at the more recent files of the MM on the web I see a certain quality that I am not able to get out of even the 4×5 work… not better not worse, just so different – and of course, in a small package as opposed to the bulkier film formats. I recently took the 4×5 kit to the Gulf with the intention of doing a landscape/people project in between my “real” work (film/commercials director) and it was such a pain in the butt to lug around with the limited down-time that I didn’t shoot one single sheet of film in three weeks. So for me, the M9/MM form factor is a blessing for the convenience of weight/bulk and discretion in those often photo-hostile countries I work/travel in.
I totally agree with you that gear does deserve more credit than the slagging it seems to be getting – mainly for its price/value.I think the value of cameras like the MM is about giving us photography lovers the opportunity and the choice of what is possible with the current digital technology. Sure its a lot of bucks to pay for a limited use body, but then again it is a unique camera that Leica has made because they saw a need/lust for it. The fact that one can’t purchase an MM on demand testifies to the small but definite market demand there exists. It also testifies to Leica’s response to photographers who, like me, wanted something like this (though not the damn price – Leica !!! can’t we pay for it in “passion” ?).
As you so well put it the MM is new, unexpected and unexplored. I see the camera as yet another emulsion to explore and to discover new territory – as many who have received it seem to be doing right now. It is a camera that deserves the hype and criticism it is getting here and in many forums. But surely it must also get some respect and acknowledgement within the photo world – be it just for Leica’s trying to think differently and putting out such a daring tool for us to explore and create with.
I always thoroughly enjoy hearing your honest thoughts and comments, so keep “opening your trap” – certainly opens up thoughtful discourse and exchanges.
Of course there is a difference between film and digital. Just went to see a large exhibition with Steve McCurry – taken with film of course – and I can say one thing: wow – wow – wow. Have never seen anything taken with digital that was this good.
Also all this crap about lenses, sensor types, Bayer or Foveon, CCD or CMOS, with and without AA-filter etc. is completely irrelevant. The equipment we have to day for let’s say something like $1000 is plenty to make incredible images by any of the great photographers around (take a look at Ming Thein, he takes great photos with anything).
The problem comes with amateurs that believe that the day is saved with this or another camera, lens etc. But sadly new equipment will only make you happy for a while and you’ll continue taking the same boring photos even with the most expensive cameras.
Congratulation on the decision.. Have fun exploring the Grayscale world 🙂
I myself cant justify myself to acquire such Camera ..
since I really really enjoy grayscale world (as a radiologist .. its my world)..
I dedicated a pocket cam to do BW alone 🙂
Wish someday I could try out and enjoying Leica Monochrome
Thanks for sharing Jon I am really interested in seeing the reports on this camera as it is
So new just keep shooting and enjoy thanks again
Don’t know about the camera, but there’s nothing special on any pictures up there for sure. Skill doesn’t come with a pricey toy, and this camera is nothing but that. It’s just something who has money to waste and be happy to own one will buy. A real great photographer won’t be needing this camera to wow someone, and can even use a cheap one to do. Just like Da Vinci can use any paint brush to create his artwork and would still blow people’s mind.
Violin players would still prefer to play on a Stradivarius, even if they would blow people’s minds by using a more affordable violin. I have used many different cameras in my life and the M cameras have been the most joyful so far. Actually I hide them most of the time because I get embarrassed about the “rich people toy’ image that they have. Something that to me just came up in the last few years. Before that they were just expensive tools, which I think they still are. Tools that change the way I approach a photo. Looking back at my journey I would rank my M6 on top as my all time favorite and trusted cameras, followed by the Mamiya 7, and the M9. The M6 files were often grainier, less detailed but they have a beautiful tonality that I never got from the M9. The MM may get a bit closer but digital made me do more in color and it would be hard to give it up again. D!RK
I’d say that saying something like this is tantamount to saying to an violinist that any ‘ole violin will do. If the guy wants to play a Strad, why criticize? The mm is a Strad. And it has been demonstrably the best available digital b&w camera available ever. Virtuosity in the performer vs. the instrument? I can see and hear a few good notes. I’d certainly enjoy the mm.
No one is saying skill comes with this camera. No one is saying skill comes with a Canon or Nikon either. If rich people buy this for a toy it shouldn’t be a surprise, thats the way life is. WHy should the photographer who sells a bunch a gear and saves his or her money to buy this camera be lambasted for doing so? Why should the rich photographer who actually shoot be scoffed at? I will never get why people who choose to shoot with Canon or Nikon feel like its their duty to tell Leica owners their camera sucks. Its just a matter of preference. Why cant you just accept its an interesting camera? If you don’t like digital rangefinders then talk about what you do not like about them technically rather then making vague biased statements.
I got news for ya, the people who say Leica sucks is because many-a-leica owners keep trying to sell the leica myth like some sunday doo to door preacher. Second, you talk about people making vague biased statements yet you make very clear biased statements when you say you ” don’t understand why Canon or Nikon users feel like it’s their duty to tell leia owners their camera sucks.” Uh…so I take it you NEVER heard of Leica owners telling Canikon owners their camera sucks? That’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Third, the Leica mono isn’t new, it’s blatantly going backwards to make money off the fanboys. Why can’t YOU just accept that the Leica mono is a POS? You seem to get so defensive over every citicism of Leica I’m starting to wonder if you work for them or not. Are you in love with a camera or it’s brand? I can tell you that no camera ever made is worth human love.
Yes yes I work for Leica…I’m very emotional about it all sitting here in my underwear with disheveled hair…practically crying in my coffee. You know what they say though…one mans trash is another mans treasure.
Well, at least this time you aint saying that all nikon and canon users are sitting there with disheveled hair and crying into their coffee pots. The leica i quite a very expensive piece of trash. You should tell Leica instead of makinh a BW camera, next time make a BB camera followed by a WW camera, that way, when you buy two and take two photos at one time, you can stitch them afterwards and have double the tones! LOL
Love the last photo; good luck on your photographic journey!
love love love that third image. Telephone? Power Poles?
They were buzzing, so I guess power. In the RAW shot you could zoom in to 1:1 and read the warning triangle on the near pole.
Nice article. Congratulations on the new camera. Have fun with it and I hope you give us an update after you have had it for a while. Don’t worry about the people who are giving you a hard time. Whatever you do or say there will be somebody who doesn’t like it, especially on the internet.
Wish I had one. Sigh.
Jon, enjoy your new camera. I’ll bet you will enjoy it even more over time when it becomes your oldest camera and you have learned it’s habits and unexpected strengths. Every camera teaches you something new and helps you see something you missed before.
I think this camera will perform awesome in street photography, because of the mid-tones and razor sharpness. I would love to see citiy shots with a polarizer filter.
I couldn’t agree more with John, “The reality is you cannot judge the camera and its potential by looking at images on the internet. I think only people who own the camera (or use it) will be the ones that get the WOW factor when they print out an image or look at an image on a properly calibrated, high quality monitor.”
Ibraar, if you are wealthy you are no less deserving of the camera…..ability is the true judge!! No doubt the internet will be awash with nondescript images taken with this camera by individuals who believe owning it will make them better togs!! Wealth is not a factor in that, ignorance is.
I’m still on the fence, I’m thinking keep the M9 and make this my last foray with Leica digital…..we’ll see.
Thanks. This is obviously going to be a cool camera capable of great stuff. Jacob Aue Sobol has already shown us that it can be a craftsman tool in the right hands. If rich people buy it just to buy it then welcome to the way its always been since the dawn of time. There will be plenty of photographers that will trail blaze with it.
Excellent article – I think the Mono is very demanding but very rewarding….It absolutely takes you to the next level if you can master it’s wonderful idiosyncrasies (1000’s shots in B&W and then with an M8 or M9 prepares you well.) It’s a truly beautiful discreet piece of marvelous engineering…The best comment i had this weekend was “Wow – how old is that camera!” They were shocked to discover it wasn’t 20 years old – i guess I shouldn’t of spoilt the illusion…….Will try to work on an article too and see if my humble shots bear scrutiny. I hope to take it to Venice/Verona on a weeks shooting shortly – will try and report back..;-) Take care which cards you insert – I discovered to my cost that 32GB/ 95mb/s don’t work properly yet (faster than the famous buffer I guess 😉 .. I think best to stick to 32GB/30mb/s or lower. Sandisk suggests up to 32 GB/ 45mb/s. Hopefully Leica should offer some new guidance on cards and a software upgrade to not disappoint new users/early adopters! best Richard
Thanks very much! And fortunately I only have slow SD cards!
congrats with the new toy 🙂
However I don’t really get the point of this new MM. If it was only for the higher resolution, I would probably wait for another M to come out with more resolution than the current M9-series. Further, it is possible the set the other digital M’s in a mode whereby you only see a b&w image on your screen. That in combination with manual mode makes shooting not different from that with an MM I suppose.
Further, If indeed providing bigger resolution and files, we probably won’t get to see the benefits of an MM on a web published photo.
Until now I find the photo’s taken with the MM’s that have been published in the different blogs a bit harsh ,especially if we look at darker areas. Btw there have been published comparisons with b&w conversions from M9-s where the M-9 was a bit more pleasant to the eye with respect to the dark areas of the picture. But perhaps these differences show up because of the lack of good post processing of the MM files….
I think you answered your own question. It’s all about using the camera and not looking at web shots. People will need time to master this camera just like they need time to master B/W film.
Oh please. I hear Leica is also making a new BW televison set as well, one that is better than all the old BW TV’s ever made. LOL
Try one and I think you will get the point – it’s not obvious until you shoot with one for a while…. for me i’m totally thrilled!
really convincing….thrilled about what…that it can’t shoot color -:)
Well like all of us I’m sure you have plenty of other camera’s that do shoot in colour – this one is unique and time will show if Leica was right to “pioneer.” For me they are spot on….but I only have 45 years experience (mostly on B&W) so who am I to judge…. let’s leave that to those that will use it in exacting circumstances – let’s see what they can produce in the extreme circumstances where Leica’s always excelled….
Capa and HCB would have been thrilled…. I’ll bet they got the only two demo versions…(English humour from Warsaw…)
I meant what I said about enjoying going walking with a genuinely simple camera and one lens. The OM-D is a stunning bit of kit, but when I shoot with it I am thinking :
1) which lens to use
2) should I shoot aperture priority or put a digital filter on and what metering mode and what focus mode and…..
3) a bit about composition
Having had the MM for a week, when I shoot I am thinking
3) will it post-process (mainly, can I dodge and burn this)
The thinking with the MM is much clearer and much more, well, photographic, because that’s all it does. There is no more to think about. I have no doubt shooting with this camera for a while will hugely improve my abilities with the OM-D as well.
I think you absolutely touched the crux of the matter in your posting. It changes the way you think completely back to the halcyon days of using film – all one thought about was composition and exposure… clear thought as you mention. I cut my teeth (after starting on a Rollei twin lens) mainly on three Leica’s over a long period of time 111 F R/D, a CL and an M5, an odd grouping perhaps and then after a long gap a year or so with an M8 and a few weeks with an X1 (not my cup of tea). The Mono. immediately captures the essence of working with the earlier film camera’s and you frame, compose shoot and bang! One shot and you capture the moment to steal part of a phrase from my hero… No wonder the nickname/working version of the Mono. as I call it was “Henri” I think that Leica intended us to work this out – it’s rather subtle – and some will get it and some won’t. It’s like drinking a fine wine or champagne or driving an antique classic… you need some experience to appreciate what it is you have in your hands. It’s nothing to do with money or having “toys”. The experience is not so different from meeting the woman of your dreams and fulfilling all your life’s ambitions. For some the M will take you there (from the photography point of view (!) For others they will never spot the potential. If we are blessed enough to get one shot a year to match those who proceeded us with the Leica I, II and III and then the M 2,3,4,5,6 and 7 we will be very, very lucky and I think that’s the aim – at least it is for me. For those who haven’t been go see “Another London” at the Tate Britain……it’s all in B&W – no colours in sight ….and these are truly extraordinary images of London and the best from all the masters of the trade. We will be lucky if we even get close to emulating their achievements if that’s at all possible….. I will bet that many of those images were taken on Leica’s.
P.S. Can someone work out what percentage of average income (or the price of a car) the Mono. represents v.s. the earlier M’s in the 50’s – 90″s? Could be an interesting comparison…. I would be surprised it is relatively more expensive….
The camera produces very, very neutral files, which need some pp work. I think this was the intent. I am going to need time to work out how to get the most out of them though. I agree that some posted images have been excessively contrasty. At the moment I am deliberately only working in lightroom and avoiding silver efex – it’s such a powerful tool that I’m sure I would be tempted to overdo things and I want to stick to curves, dodge and burn and maybe a bit of clarity for now and see what I can get.
Steve. Will you ever receive a test version of the MM? Or did I miss that review? If not, how come Leica is really slow in sending you test equipment?
Leica has not sent ANYONE a production version – looks like I will get my own Monochrom before they get around to sending one out for review. But they seem very slow lately in that regard. Unless they do not want me to review it for some reason. I was promised one in July but they never sent one or contacted me.
Strange. Maybe they are busy getting them made for sale. Still, chances are high that you would give it a good review. If I would do B&W only I would buy one in an instant. I am still tempted but I will wait to see that they will unpack in less than four weeks from now. D!RK
OMG- the biggest Leica “fanboy” of the interwebs, and they just stone-cold dissed and dismissed you?
Say it ain’t so, Steve.. =8^)
I actually think it’s better that you lay out the shekels so that you can honestly say whether it was a good buy or a massive expenditure without merit.
Well I would say that anyway if it were fact, and it may be…$8k is a load of cash but I am still intrigued by the camera. I will either love it or think it’s a waste. We shall see.
Leica have become very sloppy of late.
Slow production and some of the QC issues of some of their brand new bodies and lenses have to been seen to be believed. Really poor when that much money is being spent. It is not about being ‘handmade’ it is about sloppy QC people either neglecting their job or their is no quality at all anymore at Leica.
A couple of things I have seen on a couple of bodies, I have NO IDEA how it passed through quality control, unless they were all at a coffee break when that cameras rolled through.
Their QC has always been a bit off, but now, for whatever reason, it is atrocious.
Steve, come on buddy
how come they dont want you to review it..
Maybe they are preparing an M10 for you to abuse and enjoy 🙂
Rich Boys toy if you ask me.
No, great tool for those that do B&W only.
How very unkind and quite rude, IMO.
Jon, I wish you luck with your new camera. While it is not a tool I would choose to use, I hope that you drive a level of mastery with it that is unsurpassed.
I do like the pictures Jon, but I can’t understand why anyone would want to blow 1000’s on this camera. Pardon me if my comment appeared rude, it wasn’t meant to be and not focussed at Jon.
Mate, I’m sure you could do just as well with the OM-D.
The reality is you cannot judge the camera and its potential by looking at images on the internet. I think only people who own the camera (or use it) will be the ones that get the WOW factor when they print out an image or look at an image on a properly calibrated, high quality monitor.
It might make you feel better to say your OMD or M9 produce just as good BW images but the reality is this camera is made for this medium which no other camera other then film can claim.
absolutely – could not agree more…
“It might make you feel better to say your OMD or M9 produce just as good BW images but the reality is this camera is made for this medium which no other camera other then film can claim.|
I’m sorry, but that’s a fallacy. The difference bewteen film and digital is way over blown. there is a huge difference between paintings and a photos, but not much so between film and digital images. Digital is the natural progression of film.
If you were to take 10 of the greatest film photos in the world, then take a picture of it with a digital camera, reproduce it with even digital noise, the photos would still work. They would work because it is the photos themselves that speak, not whether it has the “look ” of film or digital. It’s not a matter of megapixels, the camera,the film look, or even how many shades of grey you can get..it’s the photo that speaks for itself. A bgreat photo isnt made any greater if the same photo was shot on a medium format camera or not. conversely, a shite photo isnt any worse if it were shot on a disposable camera either.
Throughout the course of photoraphy, there are many kinds of “collectors”. People who just value collecting low noise pictures, sharp pictures, low distortion pictures, film look in pictures. Then there are the ones who collect the most fastest camera, the most expensive cameras, the biggest lenses, the fastest lenses, the sharpest lenses.WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE PHOTO ITSELF? WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE “MERRIT” OF THE PHOTO? It seems that photgraphy is diverging into smaller tributaries where the primary concern ( the photo ) isnt important anymore. Someday, it won’t be whether it’s a good photo or not anymore, it will be about whether your photo looks like it was made by film or a digital sensor, whther it has low or high noise, whether it is sharp or not sharp enough, whether it has a certain “glow” or not. Someday and it has already happened in many schools of thought, it won’t be about your photo but whether your photo has 20 shades of tone, or if it has a film look, or if it is sharp enough, or if it is low noise enough, IT WILL BE ANYTHING BUT YOUR PHOTOGRAPH THAT WILL BE IMPORTANT.
Wow that was a long response especially considering that wasn’t what I was talking about haha.
I was saying the Monochrome is the only camera dedicated to b/w EXCEPT for b/w film (and a Kodak DSLR from years back lest anyone nails me for that) .
I wasn’t saying one is better then the other. I’ll let others argue that because I don’t really know the answer.
I will say that there is a “look” film has that no digital camera has been able to reproduce. It’s nothing to do with sharpness or grain only that one is different then the other. One is analogue and the other is..well…digital. SO if you want a true film look its better to shoot film. Nothing complicated about that.
As for art collecting it is better to shoot film. Again there are a lot smarter people then me that can split hairs on this subject but the process using film in fine art is more desirable from a collectors stand point.
I’m not talking about content, I’m working off the assumption that if your photography is selling as art then you are good at what you do.
This isn’t a black and white issue (excuse the pun) but ask any collector what they prefer and I can guess their answer.
I’ll make my point simple and blunt. The Leica mono may have been made for BW but it is NOT neccessary. that is my basic point. If digital had been invented before film, you would NEVER see film. digital is the natural progression of film. There is no important difference between a photo in a gallery that was shot with film or digital and what difference there is, is not important. I know you were not talking abouit content,I never said you were. Again, when someone makes an oppinion it isn’t always about or towards you and what you do. It was a general point. Back to my point, the Leica mono is useless for what it is intended. And no, please don’t mistake my comment and think that Iam calling you useless or someone else useless.
Natural progression of film isn’t digital. Natural progression of photography might be, but like everything else in the world, there is always more than one way to get the work done.
I don’t agree with this statement either.
“There is no important difference between a photo in a gallery that was shot with film or digital and what difference there is, is not important.”
I also don’t agree with the comment, “Leica mono is useless for what it is intended.”
All your statements are opinions purely based on what YOUR needs are and what YOU believe to be true and not.
So why should people buy LCD/LED TV’s, expensive sound systems, etc? CRT TV’s work just fine, and we don’t need blue rays as video cassettes worked just fine.
Fact is Leica mono IS better than M9 in terms of B&W resolution. All it comes down to is whether the price is right for each individual, and THAT is where some folks are hung up on. That is it.
leica is playing on its heritage and using it to make it a luxury product as well as a photographic tool. I imho think that this kind of money should be spent travelling to art galleries of europe to study the paintings and art of the renaissance masters as well as buying loads of photo books of the masters, this would in turn help you to visualize pictures in your mind and develop the eye to see the picture before you cage it, not the typical argument that you need a rangefinder to anticipate the shot.
All the masters of painting or photographic world have studied an earlier generations work to develop their own. A good example is daido moriyama, the most celebrated photographer from japan who uses a ricoh gr1v as his only camera, do have a look at his photos and interview on youtube. He also studied under someone and then branched out to develop his own style and for him a camera whether cheap or expensive is just a tool to fulfill what his eye sees for the moment.
Nobuyoshi araki said that daido is the first photographer who enslaved the camera to do his bidding while others become the slave of the camera that they buy. Please do not consider this as a leica bashing. Buying a leica is expensive and would only be justified if anyone for themselves know that they have a really developed eye to catch the moments and not that you buy a leica and then start the process.
krishnil, you made excellent points. The camera should be the slave, not the photgrapher., I couldn’t agree more.I would also agree with you about spending money on things like seeing the great masters of painting that will help you in your own work. Today, many people are not interested in the journey or destination anymore but what kind of car one uses, or how much luxury is in the vehicle.
About the Leica, if someone can afford one and can use it well, then all the power to that person. It doesn’t matter whether one uses a gold spoon to eat so long as one can understand that the gold spoon does not make their eating any better.
What sets the Leica apart is the fact that the camera has a unique focusing sytem, the viewfinder is seprate and has framelines and you can see outside of those framelines…that is about IT. That is ALL Leica has over other dslr camera and most csc camera but the Fuji x 1 pro has all those excpet for the rangefinder patch. The benefits of rangefinder is not soley a Leica thing as other makers like , Nikon, Canon, etc have aklso made rangefinders.
It is important to guard against new trivial upgrades imo such as the Leica mono. There was nothing wrong with the m8 or m9. They shot nice pictures and you are always one click away from having BW. People should be more skeptical imo about what a company says or markets. I’m sure computer screens can be made to be solely BW but what’s the point?Leica may play to it’s heritage and I understand that some like the “romance” of Leica’s heritage but it is also neccesary that folks use some ratonale and realize that the “romance” in photography is in their minds, not the camera.
Fred – So you don’t believe in film but you also don’t believe in the Monochrome?
Basically all I’m saying is an interesting option for shooting black and white. It’s not worthless, because someone is going to take amazing photos with it. Someone who loves shooting with digital rangefinders in addition to only shooting black and white. Whats wrong with that? I’m confused how you can argue against someone being happy with a certain camera.
Film has been lapped by digital in terms of usability but thats not to say film should be given the death sentence. There are people who prefer it for it’s distinctive look and feel. Again I don’t see why thats a bad thing.
We can debate all day long on the differences between film and digital in collectors eyes. All I can say is I have experience in this as a collector and as an assistant to a serious collector.
Krishnil – I have no problem with what your saying. I have photography books and magazine stacked knee high all over my house and they are truly my most important possessions, more then my cameras.
I travel as much as I can as well but neither of those stopped me from saving up for an M8 and then an M6 . It just a matter of where one puts their priorities and whats important to them. There is no wrong answer when it comes to this.
William Eggleston shoots with multiple cameras including a Leica so where does he fit into that equation? I have to say I disagree with that quote and I disagree you cannot use Leica to help find your vision. I know because that quote is an opinion but it does not speak about me or other photographers I know or have read about. I also know my photography grew leaps and bound once I started shooting with Leicas. I can’t tell you why, only that it started to feel like an extension of myself.
My opinion is simple. I have no opinion on what is best for anyone other then for myself. So when people come up with all these reasons on why this or that camera camera sucks I don’t get it…seriously I scratch my head in confusion. The camera is not going away so why not root for the people that shoot with and at the same time hope they have enough money leftover to buy a book and take a weekend trip.
I couldn’t agree with you more re learning from the masters that came before and would like to thank you for introducing me to Daido Moriyama.
john, good to know that you can justify your leica since you have said that u are at a level where u think buying a leica justifies your passion for photography as well as your eye for capturing the moments. Your photo books and album are the really treasure and hope that you do collect more and if possible post some pics from the books since not all of us have access to all the books of the masters.
just a reiteration: HCB from his interview said that he wanted to be a painter but was too impatient so he took to photography. he said that the first thing he looked for in his composition was geometry, then light and the last bit being technical aspects of the camera. He emphasized that a photo with a great composition will always stand on its own merit and without the technical qualities and a technically good photo with a bad composition has no space for him.
HCB’s iconic photos has standard technical qualities compared to todays but they have transcended time and are timeless due to their composition qualities that were based on the 1/3rd rule, golden mean 1.1619 and so on. Daido’s photography was a real breakthrough since it really threw the technical qualities of the camera in the bin. His photos are mostly fuzzy and not at all sharp, no rules followed, barely able to figure out whats happening but this is the charm that intrigues the viewer.
All the photographers should heed to the advice of the masters and not the mumbo-jumbo of the camera companies. Masters were there for the passion while the camera companies are for the bottom line.
krishnil, just one other point about HCB. Bresson did speak much about geometry but that is only one side of the coin. there is something else in HCB’s photos that make them sing. Without giving out too many clues I will ay that to get what HCB got in his best works would be the pinnicale of a great photo.Geometry and design is only ONE side of the coin in art. Anybody can get one, but two at the same time is very difficult.
I have seen many good compositions and great geometry in a picture, but good composition or good geometry do not make for a good photo, it’s just good design. Any desinger can design, and all pictures or painting either have good or bad design but that’s not the only thing that is important. There is another side of that coin as well. to understand what isgreat art, one must underatnd what makes great art and why it is so difficult. It is more objective rather than subjective.
As for the painters, if anyone here thinks photography is hard, they need to pick up a brush and see what difficult creation is about.I have to agree with the old statement ” there are no rules in art” that is true to a point.the rules that stement implies is that there are no rules to what you can create or use, but there IS a mastery or craft to learn. There ARE elemets of design that one cannot ignore.For this reason, there are no rules in art but there are desing elements that one cannot ignore totally.
totally agree with you fred…….in leonardo da vinci’s mona lisa each and every aspect of the size of the nose to the hands and fingers are proportioned according to the golden mean, that is why it aesthetically so pleasing as well as the symmetry of the whole face.
I had previously watched a documentary on aston martin where the industrial designers spoke at great length on the importance of the golden mean to the aesthetics of any creation. anything in nature that is pleasing to our eyes are based on the golden mean, its just that we do not recognize it.
fred, it has been an immense pleasure to share and receive knowledge on these subject. it seems that you are more of a student of art in general than photography.
Yeah i was never into HCB too much but there are countless amazing photographers throughout the years.
Bill Henson is truly a master of light.
Guy Bourdin is the master of color and composition.
The list goes on and on.
John, I dont where where I said I don’t believe in film. Film to me is essentially the same as digital, it makes an image when you click the shutter, the image is taken. They are essenstially the same thing, to be succinct. That is why I do not think the leica mono brings anything new. when i said that digital is the natural progression of film that means that instead of having to buy and load and develope film, you just need a memory card. Of course, you would have to prit pictures from both types of cameras but they are essesntially one in the same thing. It is like driving a car on gas or on gas free device. The driving is essentially the same, but of course you have to pay for gas.
As for cameras sucking, I dont think Leica sucks or any other camera. Frankly, all Iam saying is that even if the mono is slightly different, even if film is slightly different to digital, they all do the SAME thing, which is make a picture. The little differences to me do not make a picture and therefore is not important.
About arguing with someone not being happy with a camera, I don’t think I ever implied that as well. If my oppinion is that a camera is not neccesary, that is about the CAMERA, it is NOT an oppinion on a person who buys the camera or likes it or sells it. My oppinions were not based on someone rather than a camera.You must understand the difference between criticising a camera and a person. If I have made comments about photography, it is about folks in general, not neccesarily you or the person who posted the article. Because i don’t think a camera is no good does not mean I think the person using it is no good.
What is alarming in this world we live in ( and I dont neccesarily mean you) is that we have become worshippers of false idols. We don’t care about the journey or the destination anymore, just like we don’t care about trying to achieve a good photo anymore, we care about what camera we use, what name it is, what the look of the medium is, what lense we use, etc etc. Now, this is not a knock on Leica or its users…it is a knock on how many people forget the most important thing and focus on small unimportant aspects of photography.Instead of someone ( not you,it’s a generalization) worrying about how many tones they can get with a camera or medium, they should worry about getting a decent picture.It seems like a slippery slope that the hard to do things people ( not you, another generalization) forget while the easy things seem to intrigue them.
Can a person get good photos witht he mono? Yeah sure i have no doubt, and if the mono helps you get better pics then all the power to you ( not you, a generalization). But my whole point is, the Leica mono is something that does not add to what is already out there. Will the Leica mono or any other camera make one a better photographer? No. Wil it make one a worse photographer? No. Is the mono neccesary? No. That’s just my whole point.
Fred – I understand what your saying and where your coming from and you make valid points. We all have our opinions and to be honest we are all playing into Leica’s hand as this collective can’t seem to stop talking about the Monochrome.
My actual job is in advertising and I couldn’t convey enough how valuable all this debating is to Solms. Companies spend millions of dollars a year to try and get people to talk about their product, especially online. When we do it for free…good, bad or indifferent…it’s a huge windfall for them.
Maybe this camera is just that…a lighting rod for controversy, thereby keeping the red dot well in peoples minds.
I can’t speak for anyone else but when I defend this camera it is not at the expense of the human experience. It’s just a piece of metal unless you go out and use it. I don’t know people personally that worship cameras so I guess thats why it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when I think about this kind of stuff. I have opinions too…like for instance that new Canon mirrorless…it seems a bit bland to me… a little too late in the game… but I don’t begrudge anyone for using it and i certainly do not wish it was never made.
Scroll down and check out a comment by Jorge Rubia. He is waiting on his Monochrome and I think he explains the viewpoint of an actual user quite eloquently.
Have to totally “disagree” with Fred on the subject of Film vs. Digital. I shoot lots of B&W film and Digital pics in the same session. I just did a model shoot where I shot the same model in the same pose with the same light, Fstop, shutter and ISO in both film and digital. I processed the digital pics using Silver EFEX to produce the best B&W tonal range and look. I felt pretty good about the digital pics but when I got the film pics back they just had so much more feel and character. The digital pics were cleaner and sharper but despite lots of processing they were still too clinical. The B&W film pics right out of camera were just “it”. There is a huge gap between film and digital, each has its role and a great photographer can take great pics with each, but film is as different from digital as a painting is from a photo.
Makes perfect sense to me to buy a B&W camera if you only want B&W photographs.
Jon, I bet you’ll get some cracking photos of Bradgate Park when it’s covered in snow.
Looking forward to seeing more
Absolutely, I’m particularly looking forward to Bradgate this winter. I also need to start printing some files to see how they look too.
A lot has been made of the price of the camera. I am moderately well-off. I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as rich by today’s standards. I traded in all my Canon gear to afford this in the same year that I bought the OM-D. (And it was the brilliance of the OM-D made it possible for me to trade in all the heavy glass.)
This camera costs £6000, €7000, $8000 (roughly). What this means is that if you’ve ever spent £12,000, €13,500, $15,000 on a car then you could have bought this instead and had a basic car. You just had different priorities. If you have a new car every 3 years you could have this camera by waiting a year or two longer to change cars. I could have traded in my current car and had a new one this year, but decided not to, again for this camera. If you really want it, most people will be able to afford it if they prioritise. If it seems unattainable then, unless you are really on the breadline, you probably don’t want it.
In any case, you have no reason, or right, to be judging me for buying one.
Look my comment seemed childish and i retract it as it has caused offence.
however i did NOT judge you jon. It was directed at the leica and i am entitled to an opinion regarding an item am i not? If i think Leica are ripping people off thats all about Leica and NOT the buyer or photographer.
If you can afford it, buy it and enjoy it. If i could afford it and by afford i mean i had plenty of money for luxuries i would buy it if only for the cool factor.
you cant really compare cameras to cars though, to watches maybe.
ibraar, i really dont think that you need to retract your comment since it came out very honestly about leica and not jon personally. Its very pleasing to hear that he is one of the few who have got their hands on it very early and i do hope that he posts further pics from it and really enjoys his time. I had earlier posted a comment on this same post and it just came to my mind that you perfectly fit the bill of what i had described.
To me personally after going through all the postings on daily inspiration you seem to be the only guy who buys cheap cameras and shoots like a pro or better off a master. Your postings on hindu kush region is the best yet that has been posted on steve’s site and dont consider this as a praise since the sheer amount of good comments on that postings speaks volumes.
I was in london for the past three years for my studies and wanted to meet you but for some reason couldnt. I am totally fascinated with hindu kush coz of your pics and also imran your tour guide, i have subscribed to his posts on facebook.
I am venturing into black and white film photography and would like some advice from you since you do have a good history in it. Could you please give me your email so I could get some sound advice as well as comment on the moderation of my black and white collection.
Fair enough. Thank you, Ibraar. And I too love your Kush pics.
Krishnil, thanks man, I just love the art!
And I am a bit of a gear head too, so I can totally understand why Jon bought the Leica MM, as sometimes one wants to own and use something, not necessarily because it makes one a better artist, it’s because the fact that you own and use something you consider precious means your photo’s will be all the more lovingly created as the camera is lovingly handled.
I have a mechanical watch collection, with Japanese, Swiss and German pieces – and I love owning and wearing them, and they’re also an investment.
I also like to collect, own and enjoy Film cells, Vinyl, pieces of art and carvings and other such creations.
I also shoot Super 8mm and have a small collection of beautiful Super 8 Cine cams.
I’ve written a piece which i hope Steve posts soon, on my Rolleiflex SL35 Black, which is a remarkably beautiful work of art and a camera which I wouldn’t swap for any Hasselblad or Leica. It is mechanical, and will last me forever, and will be limited by my lens and film combination ONLY.
Hence I just find it difficult, personally, to have the same connexion with Digital stuff, computers, gadgets or anything electronic, hence I cannot understand why Leica charge such high prices for something which to all intents and purposes is electronic – and is limited by its electronics and micro chips – though I can understand that people are different and Jon in this case feels the same with his Leica MM as I do with my Rolleiflex, and for that reason I retracted my statement, and I hope Jon enjoys and makes use of his camera and I’d love to see more of his work.
As regards B&W, I’m no expert man, though you can contact me on my blogsite, just click my name (rolleiflexed . wordpress . com)
I think the quality question is sort of irrelevant here. Using the proper software and with some modest PP skills, one can get great B&W images out of almost any modern camera.
The cool thing about this camera is that it shoots only B&W, so you have to SEE in B&W when using it. The Ms are great because they take away all of the extraneous choices: no worrying over autofocus modes, PASM settings, extraneous menus or whatever. By limiting this camera to only B&W, Leica has removed another (debatably) extraneous option, and forced the photographer to change the way they view their subject. The camera’s a bit too rich for my blood, but if it were $5,000 cheaper, I’d have one yesterday.
Congrats on the Monochrom. Nice first shots, and keep posting. It looks like a great camera!