90 Minutes with a Leica M246 Monochrom at Photoville
by John Ricard
Photoville is a yearly photography event in Brooklyn, NY held under the historic Brooklyn Bridge. It features dozens of trailers containing photo exhibitions. Amateur and professional photographers are everywhere and there’s a great spirit of community all throughout the exhibit. There aren’t many vendor booths and the event feels more artistic than commercial. Leica may be the only camera maker to have a booth and they offer a camera loan program where you can choose from a variety of bodies and lenses for a free 90 minute loan.
I chose a Monochrom 246 camera with 35mm Summilux and set about trying to find something interesting to shoot.
Within minutes I saw a young man taking a photograph of a young lady with his phone. I asked, “Are you a couple?” They both laughed and the guy, Tay’Von, said they weren’t. I said, “That’s too bad, because I’m looking for a couple to do a quick session with this camera I just borrowed.” Tay’Von responded, “We can pretend to be a couple if you like. And if you want, we can even do a gay couples session with my friend afterwards.” I jumped at the opportunity and did a 15 minute session with the 3 friends.
I have always been a photographer who sees the world in color. I never convert my Nikon (D810) or Leica (M10) images to black and white. I did however, own the M9 Monochrom for a few months.. And while I loved having a camera that forced me to create images that were different than the ones coming from my other cameras, there were 2 issues that caused me to sell the camera. First, I tend to take a lot of images when I shoot, and the buffer is so small on the M9 Monochrom, that I would hit it pretty much every time I used it. Second, the high ISO performance on that camera was not better than the high ISO performance on the M240 I was using at that time. So I didn’t see much reason to keep the M9 Monochrom. Using this newer Monochrom at Photoville, was a better experience since I did not ever hit the buffer with the M246 Monochrom and, I loved the files coming from the camera. However, now that I am used to the size and menu interface of the M10, I have no desire to go back to the M240 style body. So until Leica releases an M10 Monochrom, I will remain a color photographer exclusively.
For more of my photography, please visit my IG accounts.
Main account (featuring quite a bit of Leica images): @johnricard
Street Photography account that is rarely updated but featuring all Leica images: @cameraworknyc
Jiu Jitsu Photography account: @RicInAction
The pics do demonstrate the pleasing range of tonality that comes with the Monochrom. But my MM (M9 Mon) hits that mark too and takes more interesting pics that have that film quality that’s hard to describe. I also have an M10 that converts to B&W wonderfully with similar tonalities. I plan on selling the MM and will stick with the M10. To me, the M10 can do it all. Aside from that, I am tired of taking the MM on vacation with a Ricoh GR in my pocket as well.
Wonderful pictures. I normally prefer color images but here the monochrome tones show how you succeed to bring out emotions in every picture.
I like the gentle celebration of friendship depicted. :^)
Obviously a great camera and great lens.
I just can’t get past the way digital cameras map the tones of b&w images. And these Monochroms in particular. The response curve looks dingy to me, which I experience as uncomfortably claustrophobic (compared to well-exposed b&w film).
If they were my images, the first thing I’d do is open them in an editor and slap a Curve on them: I’d leave darkest & lightest regions alone, but brighten all the dark-to-midtone greys _way_ up.
Fully aware that I’m probably in a minority, though – my tonal tastes probably have a lot to do with my age.
I’m not used to processing Black and White since I don’t own a Monocrhome. For these I put in a bit of clarity in LR. Probably +5 and some sharpening, and just the tiny tiny bit of blue tint to make sure the images don’t feel as if they are Sepia toned.
A nice set of images, from a “new” camera..
I recently shot with a Pal’s Monochrom at an event in Toronto.
Recently back from a new sensor, a wait close to 10 months..
It felt like a Leica, the results nice but not special..
I was under the impression it would be light years ahead of my film scanned.
I guess it’s what it is. Slight disappointment.
I prefer shooting in color and using photoshop with filters..
Your concept using strangers, proves photos lie!
You definitely get more control over the tones by shooting color and converting to Black and White. But for me, I’d much rather have a camera that is Black and White only. My only fear when using the camera, was that my client would ask for a color version of a particular image.
Very nice & a great opportunity, the photos were very natural considering and captured the emotion well!
Best of the bunch that I like is the guys laughing with hands covering their mouths. full of imagination and stories… B&W even better… very nice!!
Wonderful images, you have a sensitive “eye”. Also. that Monochrom is a great camera which Leica had the courage to design and build. I have always wanted one but after years of M4 and M6 use I entered the digital age with a M240 which has basically the same chassis dimensions, viewfinder etc as the Monochrom. Long story short is that after a aching wrist and finger muscles, I now happily drive a M10…similar to M4/6. I am afraid using a Monochrome would bring back the discomforts brought on by its ergonomics. Keep taking those fantastic photos and thanks for sharing.
After owning an M10, I similarly am hesitant to go back to the larger M240 style body. But seeing something on Leica Rumors recently that suggested an M10 Monochrom is very far off, has made me decide to eventually get the M246 Monocrhom. As crazy as it sounds, I’m planning to use it with the M240 external grip that I never sold. I think that will make it feel like a small DSLR rather than a larger rangefinder, if you get my drift…
Cool. Really nice :-). Thanks. Amazing lens also.
Great fun. And pleasing images in their tonality, too. Thanks for sharing.
I add just a hint of blue to the Monocrhom images just to remove any suggestion of Sepia tone -which I hate.
Great fun! And pleasing images, too, in their tonality. Thanks for sharing
The photos are stunning. It shows, with the right equipment and photographer intuition, how gems can be created from mainstream situations. I too see the world in colour, but black and white images with this type of rendering, IQ, and heartfelt moments just take my breath away, and scream the advantage of owning a Leica. Thanks for sharing.
Really enjoyed the pictures.
The rendering of that lens is beautiful. Not scientifically sharp, blah blah blah, just really nice. This is one of the first times I’ve ever really seen what people refer to as the Leica look.