Back to the Leica M9 Monochrom by Dan Bar

Back to the Leica M9 Monochrom

by Dan Bar

I have a problem with my M10. It is not calibrated and most of my photos results are out of focus.

So recently, when I went to the old Flea market in Jaffa I took my M9 Monochrom + 50 Lux and left the M10 at home.

When I got back home I started thinking which LEICA camera do I like most, and I owned a few.

My first Digital Leica M was the M8. It was a beautiful camera with IR problems, bad ISO, bad rear screen, no full frame and very noisy. 

I sold my Canon SLR and my Canon lenses for it and bought a UV\IR filter which was a necessity in order to get the right colors.

The M8 was a lovely camera that produced lovely photos especially in black and white.

Kept it for a few years until the M9 came out, so I sold my M8 for the M9 with its FULL FRAME  and a better ISO ( max 800 ) although i many times arrived up to 1200.

I loved my M9 which is not a perfect camera and yet produces wonderful photos, and then they introduced the M9 Monochrom which was something I never saw before. I loved this camera but sold it for the newer 246 Monochrom. I never forgot my M9M though.

Right now I own the M10 which is a great camera but what i really love is my new\yes i bought the M9M again.

The M9 Monochrom has a better ISO up to 6000, and produces fantastic black and white photos,

The rear screen still sucks but the camera simply makes you feel you are using a film Leica M, i can not explain it but it is easier for me to pick up the camera and shoot with the M9M than with any other Leica M.

Yes i love my M10 but not a I love my M9M, this camera stays with me, I will never sell it again!

Last week I took my M9M to the flea market…



  1. The great thing about the MM is that you can draw out so much detail from the shadows. Why on earth would one leave so many dark shadows with no detail whatsoever? Sorry but I have an MM and that thought prevails when I view those photos

    • In art photography the aim is to create an artistic photo, pulling detail from shadows is good from a technical perspective but does not serve the purpose of art photographer. Notice how all his images have dark shadows? This is on purpose, even lit areas in one of his photos are symmetrical diagonally. In another photo he clearly include the shadows cast by people walking.

      • Yes, I have an M9 and it seems that that sensor dumps shadow detail as a default. I set my exp. comp up to compensate. The camera always seem to have that underexposed look and I don’t think it’s an esthetic choice.

  2. I seem to have been through a similar transition as yourself
    Recently purchasing an M9 MM again and its great to see the images it produces again.
    Good work Danny.

  3. Lovely Images. I am also a fan of the M9 monochrom but guess what…
    even if it is not quite the same output, shooting the M10 with b&w jpg setting gives wonderful results. I left the other jpg settings at standard but set sharpness to maximum. Something i would not do for color. You should give that a try. Best b&w look from a “regular” digital M yet in my book.

  4. For Leicas I still have the M6, Q as a quickie to have on hand at all times, and the SL…. but when I shoot the M9M I feel at home. Plenty of M and SL glass on hand when I choose a particular lens but the M9M with the Dream lens on it is my fave combo. There’s just something about the M9M when I shoot with it. I like your images…. makes me want to go out and shoot with it. My goal is not perfection but the feeling in an image. The M9M delivers.

  5. Magic images by Dan!
    Beautiful dark I think better than with color..
    I honestly prefer BW to color.
    I used a friend’s Leica Mono soon after sensor replacement,
    I used the Zeiss 35mm lens with hood, which had a veiling flare as does my Collapsible Summicron built 1954~55.
    In spite of all the “hoopla and applause” of high end digital,
    my results were not any better than my film scans..sigh!
    Yes it was quicker to share.
    My use also borrowed of a M8 was spectacular.
    I am still pissed off (1967) when my M3 new in box arrived without a working rangefinder lacking parts!
    IT was final assembly in South Africa.
    Get your M10 sorted out or replaced..

  6. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since buying my M Monochrom. Sent in for a new sensor, replaced free of charge- I’ll use it until Leica can no longer repair it. The sensor is amazing in it, the uniformity is amazing.

    Your shots are beautiful, the dark regions are obviously intentional. The sensor records an amazing amount of shadow detail, almost a latent image. I wrote a custom DNG processor to apply a gamma curve to the 14-bit pixels, rewrite them as 16-bits. It also changes the “black” level set by the M Monochrom firmware to bring out the latent image.

    A nice side-effect, as the image is brought up- the noise level appears to be reduced. One trick- I turn off image sharpening in Lightroom, which for the monochrome image seems to accentuate noise.

    Hope you don’t mind the “techno-stuff”, I enjoy my M Monochrom on two levels.

  7. Not just dark, but in this instance too dark. As I have commented in previous posts, I am a fan of the way you make colours appear out of the darkness, but for me it doesn’t work with these shots in B&W. There is detail in the blackness which I was able to draw out, and which contributed to the impact of the images. Thank you for sharing.

  8. The images really do look dark. As if you are afraid of highlights and whites showing.
    In using the monochrome body – shot head to head with others and converting the images to B&W – is there an actual difference you can see in finished prints?

      • Actually, he did make the comment that the M9M has a better ISO than the M10 up to 6000. So, the question is somewhat validated in light of what the ‘final image’ appears as. But, in this kind of light, and with how under exposed each image is, I imagine high ISO was not a factor in the majority of these images.

  9. I couldn’t agree more. I love my M9M as well. I hope to use it for as long as Leica can keep it up and running.

  10. I love my M9M also and believe me I have a huge number of leicas

    I haven’t had mine long but I completely agree with you that it’s like a film camera

    I almost never look at the back screen so live view is not an issue for me.

    The images are superior to the cmos version but it’s hard to define. I think the ccd looks more like film.

  11. I feel the same. After M3, M4, M6, M7, I finally bought a M240 and a M9Monochrome. This one gives me the feeling of the argentic. The rear screen sucks ? Not a problem, I keep it off and I use my MM as the M-D or, if you prefer, as my M7. Well, I love your b&w !

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