Daily Inspiration #395 by Olivier Morgand

Hi Steve,

As I said last time, I was planning to get the new Leica M.

But, you know, will it even be out some day 🙂 ?

Anyway, I decided to give a chance to the MM, seen so many wonderful shots with it…

Here are my first images made with the MM + Summilux 50 ASP (amazing lens!).

I had it for 3 days now, and, after first being a bit on doubt (god, how will i manage to use this thing ?), I got over it and found my place with this phenomenal camera.

Coming from DSLR (5D II) wasn’t very easy for me as I had never been able to make good manual focus with them. Here, the RF made me love again manual focusing. I need to spend more time with my new friend, but here are my first shots.

Hope you’ll find them interesting enough.






  1. Answering John Nicholson’s question about my process…

    It’s just not possible to explain here what i do (!) but i’ll try the basics.
    First, choose the right lens and the right stop… for what you intend to do.
    F1.4 will pop up things that f8 won’t for ex.
    Then go on LR4, where you will manage the basic settings : finding back whites/blacks, balance, contrast, general luminosity, focus, de-noising, adding or not vigneting aso.
    Then up to Silver Effects where you will manage the structure/filmlike grain.
    Film grain is the important thing to me, it gives life to your image, so i really check the structure of the grain, the amount i will add, the thickness of it…
    You have to be very soft on the first process on LR4 because SE is very powerful and you’de better come there with very well exposed digital negative, more gray than too contrasted.
    Then after SE, i go back to LR4 or CS6 (depending on the needs) where i might get the portions of images that need to clear up, pop up things that are too dark (i often check the eyes to get them really alive -> see #2), adding shadows or even subtle gradings, adding temperature to my gray scale.

    The thing is, as good as you think my process is, it is mine, i developped it for my pictures and change it from pictures to pictures. You need to run the softwares by yourself, moove cursors, see what they do, what they don’t and don’t be afraid, you’ll alway be able to come back to your original RAW.
    Trying is understanding…
    And, last, i have never obtained such results with my 5D mark II, even working at best. Only the DNGs from this MM are powerful enought to go that far. I believe it is a fantastic tool, needs to be tamed but will deliver.
    Hope it helped.

  2. Sorry i don’t remember exactly and it doesn’t get on the exifs. I believe #1 might be f2.8 (and was actually at 3200 iso) and #2 should be f2.8 or f4, those are the stops i mostly use (1.4, 2.8 and 4)…
    Huss, no i don’t use filters yet. I bought myself B+W ND filters (3 stops) this last saturday and will try later. I also plan to try colored ones for portraiture. I’ve also ordered an Elmarit 28 ASP lens as i really love working with those two focals.

  3. Hi everybody,

    It’s very special to get its work shown on the eyes of so much people, so much connoisseur to be more precise. I wasn’t expecting this and so i feel very “deeply moved” by all the comments made on my work. I feel really lucky to get so much encouragement here. Those are my “tests shots”, they’re not definitively leading to my future in photography. I’m quite at ease with heavy processing but will certainly go different ways, lighter, less symmetric, more blowed, maybe abstract, or reportage style, i don’t know. The MM makes me feel everything is possible, it’s just my choice to go one way or the other. I have been working hard the last years to get a good technical background and be able to get rid of it when i would feel ready. I need a bit more time to get in “phase” with my new tool, to get to know so much each others that we won’t have anymore secret to each others, and then, i’ll start really doing photography the way i want it to be. I shall come back to you when the time will be right. Thanks to all !

  4. Very nice work Olivier!

    One question, did you use any filters for these shots (red/yellow/orange etc)?
    Or can you just get that effect in PP by selecting those filter colours?

    Best regards.

    p.s one thing that amuses me about B&W digital photography are those who complain that the images look digital. Yet for some reason no-one has that complaint about digital colour photography!
    Personally I just look at images and judge them by whether they look great or not. Yours do.

  5. Excellentes images Olivier! J’aime beaucoup les tons tout en subtilité, la composition et bien sûr la séparation des plans.

    Je crois que le MM te conviens parfaitement.

    • Je croit aussi que le MM lui conviend parfaitemens (pas facile de faire des fôtes avec ce fichu correcteur d’ortôgrafe).


  6. Merci Olivier, for sharing these! #1 looks too much like a demonstration shot too me, but the other two are great.

    For this type of image I would look for 3D separation of subject and foreground/background, and good contrast. It’s all there.

    To touch on a delicate subject: the images look digital, not filmlike (that’s not a problem at all IMO), but they come come close in contrast gradation. Certainly a lot better than my D700 can hope to achieve.

    Digital offers so much more than film. Tempting…

    • Hi Michiel,

      #1 was the first time i tried to take a picture at night, or almost night… i wanted to see if the camera was producing bad noise or awerage usuable one. In fact, i find the MM to be quite good till 3200iso for me. #1 shot was done at 4 or 5000iso i think, it goes quite alright but i needed to correct the noise quite a bit.
      As for the digital look, there is a wonderful link provided by Steve here :

      It explains how you can manage to get more “film like” results by using more vintage Leica lenses…
      The Summilux is very sharp, even wide open (#3 was shot at 1.4) and i use a lot of processing LR4 + SE + CS6 + film grain added to the images to get my results. It’s kind of a cooking job (you know we french people are good at cooking) 🙂 What is amazing with the MM is the wide range of possibilities you get. The DNG from the MM are quite flat and grey, you’ve got to do the job after to get your picture the way you want it (as we did with film before)…
      But, if you are quite soft on postprocessing, it really is very sweat and film like.

      As for John Nicholson, a friend of mine (very talented photo reporter with M9) told me he always added a certain % of colour on his b&w pictures, making them a bit warmer. That’s what i did in #2 and #3, just added a bit temperature to my final process on LR4 (you can add this on CS6 too if you prefer)…

    • Why do we expect a DIGITAL medium to be FILM like? They are two different things. Film is readily available. if that is the look we want

    • It would have been better though if the shot was framed so the bicycle on the left was included. All your images have the point of interest right in the centre. Generally some asymmetry gives a more dynamic shot (rule of thirds). The image quality is lovely.

      • I would also crop the second image much tighter to delete the clutter at the top and move the subject into the frame.
        PS: I plan on submitting a Daily Inspiration in March as I will have had the X100 for 2 years by then!!

      • Yep, good point you’ve got here.
        I’m actually working on symmetry at the moment, so that explains.
        As for the bicycle, well, during the shooting it was really cold, snowing and i had cars coming from my back. Add to this that i’m not used with the frame you get with a RF, i missed the bicycle a bit, yes, definitively noticed. Remember i only had this camera for 3 days… I hope to do better in the future 🙂

  7. Am always intersting in learning more about B&W PP. Your super pictures have the very, very slightest hint of a (sepia?) tone to them. Would you like to share what you did?

  8. very nice work Olivier . . . & congrats on making a real smart move .
    Understand, our studio shoots both Canon & Nikon ( flagships) , my biggest satisfaction- however, comes from my M9P & by early 2014 , I plan on doing hopefully 75% of my work with it.
    When you own it & shoot there is a magic that occurs , buying the dslr equipment to me . . .is like buying a dishwasher – not very sexy anymore.

  9. Thanks to all for your encouraging comments. This is indeed my firt M and i feel i rewarded with my
    reckless moove. I’m gonna work hard and try to get the best results this camera deserves. Thanks a lot Steve for your concern, love your site, love the way you share other’s work. Keep on !

  10. Great images with your new M, Oliver – well done on taking the plunge. High quality b&w digital images like these help reverse the popularist misconception that b&w photography died, except for in the fine art sector, back in the 1990s.

  11. Am I missing something… £8000 + to take B & W pictures …. this surely proves these cameras are wants rather than needs !
    My tip would to be buy a £1000 camera and spend £7000 on training / travelling / project setting and go take some amazing pictures and have some amazing experiences

    • Maybe you’re right, maybe the trip doesn’t even need to moove…
      I have recently been very touched by this man’s work, seen him in Paris.
      He spent 4 years shooting at his window and it was just so beautyful…

      • having just seen this webpage I must say that it looks more like some sort of sickness to shoot 2000-4000 photos from his window. nice view, no doubt, and nice photos too, but that nice? imagine the effort to sort out those 200 photos from 2-4 million!! it is bloody outrageous! the amount of work! for what! for some nice landscape photos? I don’t get it, really. As I said, the photos are good, and its remarkable that they are all taken from the window, but after 2-4 million. oh my god… they guy should move on. let it go. do something else. I don’t see the results as being any close to WOW. maybe I am wrong and I would have to see the prints. but as far as I can see on the web…
        He could just leave all his camera recording 24/7 in different directions.
        besides, the whole concept of ‘all natural’ ‘unprocessed’ is not true. you are processing by choosing the digicam that you use because each one has its colour signature, there is no such thing as neutral.
        the guy should shoot film, see if he continues to shoot 3000 times a day.

    • It does not really matter if its a want or a need. Its a decision (to buy something). Oliver might also choose to buy a particular item over travelling……

      Or he just might have enough money to do both 🙂

      Either way…good luck to him.


    • Back in the early 1970s I was earning £1000 a Canon F1 and standad lens was £250+ – my first serious camera – Nikons were more. Today £8000 for the Leica is under a third of the UK average wage so fairly comparable. Yes you could just about buy a s/h M6 and a 50mm for your £1000 or a Fuji X-e1 and many would do that but there are many who will say that for them the investment in a digital Leica is worthwhile and worth forgoing other items. Yes training, a good collection of photographic books, and travel can all help to take your photography further, but if your heart would rather the Leica AND YOU CAN AFFORD IT, it is pointless going down a different route. ..and Oliver has come from a quality DSLR and understands what makes an image.

      • Sorry it should have been ‘Olivier’ … And he seems to have easy access to Paris.. And Paris and Leicas go well together…

        • I agree with Martin, if you can afford it and it is something that makes you happy then you should buy it. The images taken by Olivier on the MM are amazing.

      • Martin,
        I agree anyone who desires it and can afford it should buy it. And someone who can but decides to spend on holidays and courses but cheaper gear should do so as well.

        Re the average annual pay in the UK of GBP 26.5k per person – I don’t think that justifies the GBP 8k outlay in any way, nor do I think any of the average paid workers can truly afford this camera (other riches aside) … But maybe I misunderstsnd your point.

        Olivier, nice shots!

        • The point was that if the camera was really important and photography was your passion you would sacrifice other things for it. I went without when buying the Canon F1 at that time… but of friends later at photographic college there was only one who would sacrifice his last bit of money for a b&w film, everyone else would have eaten etc!

          • Oh, that was a blast from the past. I remember saving like mad for the Canon F1, and starving in my dingy small flat for that camera. At the time I remember reviewers of the day saying it was better built than the Nikon F1. I don’t know whether this was the case, but it was built like a tank. Oh! Happy days.
            Was it really £250.00 – a great deal of money in those days, and so long ago that I just don’t remember the price. Probably dates us a bit, Martin!
            Best wishes.


    • Ho yes you’re missing something.
      It’s not about money but if you can offord it or not.

      The Leica MM is not yet-another-Rangefinder, it’s the cheapest (yes, cheapest) B&W *digital* camera without bayer matrix, a “true” B&W sensor. The only other B&W sensor i know (for photographic purpose, there is some for astronomy too) is the achromatic+ : http://www.achromaticplus.com/Achromatic_Plus/Achromatic+.html around $40.000 for the digital back, add 10k for a body and 1 or 2 lens. and it’s not for street photo. (heavy, slow, low iso)

      I shoot B&W only, and i really really want the Leica MM, not because it’s a Leica but because it have a B&W sensor. Being a Leica RF is a bonus.

      Of course it’s a “want” and not a “need”, nobody truely “need” a good camera. But when you want a B&W camera with B&W sensor the choice is very limited.

  12. The Last image is stunning. It has almost 3D attributes because the man pops out of the background. Amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Oooh, great shots, dear Olivier!
    I wish you all the best with the MM – with the 50 Lux that is one-of-a-kind combo you got yourself there :)!

  14. You are very brave Olivier! I don’t know if I could do what you’ve done by going directly to the MM as your first M camera. Wonderful first images. Now that I have an M that makes color I would have no problem carrying the MM too.

    The 50 Summilux doesn’t hurt to be shooting with either. The two were made for each other!

  15. You need not worry about your ability to focus. You do very well with a new camera. Your composition shows you have been doing this for some time. Enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.