Just for fun Part 2: Spot the Monochrom!

Just for fun Part 2: Spot the Monochrom!

If you missed part 1, it is happening HERE. That post featured a shot of a wall in daylight using the same lens, same aperture and same tripod position. One with a Leica M and one with a Leica Monochrom. Both were converted from RAW without any PP at all. You can vote on which one you think belongs to the Mono and which one the M and I will reveal the correct answers tomorrow morning.

I had a few e-mails asking me for a portrait test using both cameras, so here you go. Part 2!

The two images below were shot with a Leica M and Monochrom. Both used the Noctilux wide open and both were set to ISO 320 and the same shutter speed. The M image was converted to B&W using Alien Skin Exposure 4. Can you spot which one is from the Monochrom in this sample? Again, NO processing at all here (besides the conversion of the M file). EXIF has been stripped as well and I will give the answer in a new post tomorrow morning. Should be fun.

Click on the images to see larger with 100% crops embedded. Focus was on the center of the glasses rim on both. Vote in the poll below the images! Answers to BOTH polls/comparisons will be up tomorrow morning in an all new post.


UPDATE: Answers and more comparisons HERE



Final poll numbers 52% to 48% with most votes going to image 1 being from the Monochrom

ANSWER: Image 2 is from the Monochrom

See updates and more comparisons HERE


  1. MM sucks. Unless you process its images heavily –what Ashwin did succesfully– there are always burned highlights and that watercolory effect. X100s sucks too, seems to always overexpose plus the watercolor nuance. Lack of depth and overexposure too. There’s no really digital satisfactory camera. Maybe RD1?Just kidding. Really kidding? And thanks Steve for these really fun reviews.

    • It’s funny how people make their assumpumtions based on their belief that the Monochrom must be better.

  2. I believe #2 is the Monochrom. BUT what do I know? I have never used a digital camera that is over 4.2MP and never even thought about affording a Leica digital…

  3. IT’s so close………. The real question is why buying a MM for more money over the M240 ??
    The M240 make everything better even things that the MM can’t do like color for example !!

    I still much prefer the look of b&w films over digital even with tons of software solutions.

    • Especially with tons of software “solutions”. B&W digital should look digital, not film “like”.

  4. Dunno, only that the 1st one has better sharpeness(resolution?) if it is the same lens.. as the second one is softer. It was the opposite way in the fun test before πŸ˜€ Other than that, I can not make much of a difference.

  5. This (as already spotter by Kevin) is easy.

    MM has 18 Mpix and M240 has 24 Mpix – the crop in the first image is slightly larger than the second one – so I say it come from the M240 and second is MM.

    The difference in the rendering has been affected by different light conditions and Noctilux is not too sharp wide open either so it hides the differences the camera make.

  6. Man o man – this one was more difficult to tell. The Noct wide open makes it a challenge to judge sharpness and the changing light made it tough with the bright hair in #1. But I have to give the sharpness edge to #1 this time. The bokeh is a draw. #2 seems a little smoother in the skin tones in the nose closeup as #1 shows more grain. I’m going with #1 as the MM – because of pixel resolution.

  7. I can’t tell the difference and anyone who can must spend way too much time PP.
    Also, this test is kind of stupid. If there were any marked differences, they would be shown over 10MP, not at a measly 2.1MP. This is all just stupid, nearly as stupid as me for clicking on this and posting! Just sayin’…

  8. Cool poll Steve,

    Pretty well stuffed toybox you have at present.

    What the wall tells me is that the 50 Apo Summicron is an incredible resolution beast, but also that you would need, perfect technique and a pretty huge enlargement to see where that extra 6 grand went. Very much medium format material. If wall #2 is the MM, then it shows that that sensor also comfortably out resolves the 24mp on the M240.

    What the second shot tells me, is that for anything less than perfect technique and a perfect high resolution lens at sweet spot aperture, we will not be challenging the resolving power of these modern sensors. With the wide open Noctilux in #2 , (maybe handheld, as you only mention the tripod with the wall photo), the difference is nothing I can spot.

    The density range of the two sensors appears very similar in these photos, at least on my monitor.

    May I recommend a third poll option in case you do more of these (please do).
    Option #3 – I honestly can not see any difference.

    The law of dimishing returns is hard at work here. My M8 and M2 can’t deliver the ultimate resolution of the MM + 50APOcron, but can stay for another year πŸ™‚

  9. To close to call :-)……..having said that, I like 2 better…..but that is within the limits of the shot anyway…..the answer here is aperture Steve. You shot the 50 Noct wide open and the 50 Noct is a great lens but wide open it has a plane of sharpness of centimeters (about 2) not inches. Now since you didn’t go to a taxidermist to prepare your girlfriend for the picture she will move never mind the tripod.

    Now be a honey and shoot your honey a F8 and ask this question again.

    Greets, Ed.

  10. I would say 2nd image is MM, judge by two reasons.

    1st reason – By looking at the tonality of dark area and bright area. CMOS and CCD sensor that make that different between the two. CMOS tends to be more brighter than the CCD. That’s what I thought, CCD is more warmer.

    2nd reason – I looked at mirror image on the sunglasses. Steve was looking at the VF on the second image, while on 1st image, Steve was looking at the LCD screen for focus peaking. Gotcha … haha

    Love this comparison!

  11. 1 is a better image, so I will say the Mono is number 2 because it is harder to process and it has not been tweaked enough yet.

  12. On screen, I doubt that most ppl could tell which cam took which shot.

    Big prints may be a different story.

    But if the shots from the Monochrome are not substantially better, then why buy it?

  13. Hi Steve,

    Just hoping you might be able to answer a question. I know that in your M240 review, you compared bw bird pictures using the MM and M240. In that comparison, you indicated that the M240 conversion had more pop, which I don’t necessarily disagree with. However, you also noted that the M240 pic was converted to bw using Alien Skin. Have you ever done a comparison using Alien Skin on both camera files? And if you haven’t, would such processing allow for a more apples-to-apples comparison?

    Appreciate your thoughts.


  14. The vote on both posts is pretty close to 50-50, i.e. folks who like to think about these things cannot tell.

    Folks who don’t think about these things definitely cannot tell.

    Strikes me as pretty good evidence to buy the color option and Alien Skin software.

  15. I am not well-educated in the differences between the Monochrom and M, but I know that I prefer #2.

  16. This image comparison is blowing my mind. Image 1 is SO much sharper it’s crazy, look at the 100%. Top there is an individual hair crossing the left eye glass….invisible in image 2.

    Her sunglasses look far superior in image 2….her hair…far superior in image 1. It’s VERY VERY obvious.

    What I love, is that this shows you more than any other test I’ve seen….resolution isn’t everything. I find image 2 much more pleasing and clean….image 1..on it’s own is fine….seen by image 2…to much resolution in microdetail for a portrait. I mean it’s fine, but if you were going to blow it up huge, that hair in front of her glasses might be a problem…photoshop that out please says the client.

  17. p.s in 3 years that M3 would be worth at least $1000. Zero depreciation.
    In 3 years the M would be worth ?…

    If the quality is the same, this could be very interesting.

  18. I think Yorkshire Mike makes a very good point.
    You can buy a really nice Leica M3 for $1000. Put a roll of 100-200 ASA B&W film through it, using the same lens as the new M/MM and have it scanned professionally. NCPS in Carlsbad does that for $11.95 high rez (not like your home scanners). The files open up at 48mgs!
    Compare that $1000 film B&W shot with the $7000 M or MM.

    And see how far we have come.

  19. How about a –

    Spot the HP5 or Spot the Pan F 50 vs M monochrome ISO 50.

    Lets have a proper monochrome test/ review. One that asks if dedicated B&W photographers (silver), should now consider switching to a B&W dedicated digital sensor.

    Feel.. Passion….style…

    Who really cares that the M9M can nearly match the output of a nikon D700. Thats not the intended target audience.

    Is it time to give up silver?

    Thats who the Monochrome is aimed at.

        • Film is a completely independant media art form. Deciding to give up film for digital is like giving up brush and oil for Corel Painter 12. It is ridiculous and pointless to compare the two.

          • One does not need to give up analog “silver” to appreciate digital “monochrome” nor vise versa. The two cannot even be compared. They are completely different and do not converge on any level.

          • You want to give up “silver”? Try Potassium Ferricyanide. But don’t forget to ventilate- you might oxidize some synapses here.

            Better ventilate.

            Wait. There’s a good reason to go digital!

    • Steve only uses the cameras and lenses he wons or gets on loan. So all the reasonable (like this one) or unreasonable comparo requests fall flat on their face, unless some reader steps in.

      I could do the Nikon/Nikkor/Contax/Zeiss/D700/Nikkor/Zeiss b&w comparo routine, but I can tell you right now: the differences are huge.

      Developing/scanning practice, film (Tri-X vs HP5+ anyone?) make a huge difference. Lenses do to a lesser extent. Digital will always look digital (unless you apply the forbidden-in-my-book film filters), which is no bad thing. Digital at the same ISO value looks way sharper, not necessarily better.

  20. Too easy. Momochrome is #2 here and #1 for the brick wall. That monochrome is really something special. But this comparison really shines a light on the resolving power of the 24mp M.

    Still…the Monochrome is way mo sexy!

  21. Steve: Is this your own Monochrom or a loaner? Do you see a value of keeping both the M and Monochrom?

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