Is the Original Leica Monochrom still a good buy in 2019? By Dan Bar

Is the Original Leica Monochrom still a good buy in 2019?

By Dan Bar

I have been shooting Leica M cameras since the appearance of the Leica M8.

Before that I owned a Canon 5D first edition and a few large lenses, a combo I felt was always too heavy and too conspicuous ( I mostly shoot people in the street) for street shooting, people feel intimidated.

Since I first started with the Leica M cameras I kept buying and selling lenses as I never found the right lens for me. I read a lot of articles and reviews , many by Steve who seemed to like the all ( I can understand why) and could never decide which was the right one for me.

I soon realized the 90 was not what I liked, it forced me to back off my choices + too heavy

I tried the 50 APO, the 50 Summilux , the 35 crons and Summilux and never really decided. So lately after a long time I finely made a decision, the lenses I get along best with are the 35 Cron and the 28 Elmarit

I also bought and sold the M cameras thinking new was better, so I sold my M9, my M9M and got the M10 which no doubt is a great camera, but not long ago I started missing my M9 Monochrom again,

Yes I owned the 246 but sold it , it is a great camera but I missed the CCD which I felt was unique unlike all the other CMOS cameras , so when Leica Wetzlar told me they had a great M9M ( with the new sensor) I did not hesitate and bought it.

It is silver and although I prefer the black version I knew it was hard to find an M9M which was practically new directly out of the factory.

This Leica in my opinion is the best digital Leica ever, yes it is noisy, it’s ISO is 6000 tops, very slow, the VF is not as good as the M10 VF, but the result is simply astonishing, the photos are so much film like, the feeling is like holding an M6 or any other film camera, and that in my opinion is a great advantage, One of the Leica store directors ( a friend) told me : the M9M is going to stay with me forever, and that is how I feel today, I might sell my M10 if and when the will come out with a new M equipped with a CCD sensor again, something i know is the desire of many of Leica M owners.

I have been asked how do I use the M9M? I only shoot JPEG with maximum contrast and maximum sharpness, the result is amazing, very much film like.

So do I like my M? YES I DO

Do I think it is worth buying today? YES IT IS

Not easy to find a good sample( with the new sensor, i wouldn’t touch the old version as of all my old sensors had corrosion issues.

Leica M9M & Elmarit 28


  1. A Fuji X-Pro2 with appropriate lenses is just the ticket. One can get an entire outfit for less than the cost of the Leica body alone. Image quality is excellent and once printed you won’t be able to tell them apart

  2. As an ex Leica user, I understand the reverence the marque holds for some. I have been considering buying a Mono version and was interested in reading this article. However I was not so impressed with the supporting pictures. I make no reference to the subject matter, only the rather somber dark images. Surely something was wrong with the post processing. There must be better examples of the performance of this iconic camera .I intend this as a constructive comment and would like enlightenment about the true performance of this camera.

    • Dan Bar has contributed a number of articles and the images are always very dark – reminds of “day for night” shooting in films from the 40s and 50s when they used heavy dark filters to replicate the night when filming during the day!

  3. Hello
    I’m as new Leica user with Dan suggestion had bought my first leica M9 , very soon I realized that the quality of the CCD sensor is sensor to none , as wildlife pro photographer using those tiny Gems is both joyful and practical , very soon I aimed to the CCD Monochrom and there is no happier then me , camera is amazing and for me also can’t and wouldn’t be replaced , Dan it’s easy to see that you don’t only write but also photo from your heart , so pleasing to read your articles here , continue with your great work my friend !

  4. Those files look quite rich, for sure. I have heard that the M9 also creates really nice b&w JPEGs.

    I’m amazed at the skepticism about monochrome sensors. It’s as if people have no curiosity. Perhaps it’s safer in the peanut gallery.

  5. I took delivery of My M Monochrom 12/2012- had the sensor replaced under warranty. My favorite camera. When the M9 came out, I called Kodak and asked if they would do a Monochrome version of the sensor. 3 years later- Yes they Did! My processing is very different: custom DNG software to add a Gamma curve and convert to 16-bits per pixel. This takes care of the “flatness” of the images that typically need post-processing. One command converts all of the files on the media. For the best results at ISO 10,000- try a slow SD card. I use PNY and SanDisk 4x cards. This eliminates system noise in the image.

  6. I have the original M Monochrom. I had the sensor replaced and the camera is absolutely splendid. I pretty much use a standard medium yellow filter on it all the time to initially increase the contrast in the files. I would say if you can find one, get one!

  7. I would say that after any Leica film camera & the M-D it’s the best Leica camera. An ideal world would be a Monochrom M-D (one can dream :p). I don’t have this camera anymore because I mostly shoot B&W film now, but I especially loved the rendering of old lenses with it. You can literally throw any lens in there and it will give amazing results, I even tried with a 1937 Hektor 5cm f2.5 and still amazing. This camera truly shines with old lenses and gives B&W results no other digital camera does in my opinion.

  8. Great camera and one that might become iconic.
    I like some of the images here very much but not the pp.
    But we all have our own style and taste.
    The MM with these two lenses is razor sharp even without any sharpening and i love the tonality you can get with the MM. Thank god, the images dont appear oversharpened but i guess that is due to the high contrast that destroys all that beautiful tonality the sensor has to offer. Sad to say, but if thats the style you are aiming for, the MM is wasted. My opinion solely of course.

  9. The Photographer makes the photos, and a great camera can only enhance this, like in your case 🙂 🙂 🙂

  10. I’ll never sell my M-Monochrom. Images are so unique… there will never be another camera like it. Can’t believe used Monochrom’s go for so cheap. Leica’s best digital camera, period.

  11. W’ve traveled a similar path. I have no idea how many M-mount lenses I’ve bought and sold. For the past nearly 2 years, I finally settled on my M10 paired with the Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Asph. lens. A terrific combo. Despite owning three other cameras and two remaining Leica lenses, I always reach for this combo.
    I owned an M9M. It was a terrific camera. Superior b&w compared to converting color images in Photoshop. Accept no substitute. However, I sold it due to the likelihood my sensor would corrode since it was from an early batch. If I could get one today with the sensor replacement, I think I’d jump at that. Especially if it was in the silver finish. You did well!

    • Thank you, I think so too. I am so happy with this camera, never sell it again.

      I know Zeiss 35 1.4 ASPH is a great lens but call me crazy I love Leica lenses,

  12. M9M is CLASSIC. When I visited Leica SoHo in January 2019 they had a few used copies in stock, with replaced sensors, averaging about $3250-3500. They also appear regularly on the buy/sell forums for around the same price.

    I also have an m10 and an SL, which are wonderful cameras but the M9M is absolutely unique. Limited, yes, but isn’t that the point?

    • Yes this is the point. My friend Shay owns an SL and a Q, he never stopped dreaming about an M9M, he now owns one

    • Dan I always enjoy your posts

      Particularly, I have enjoyed reading some of the agitated responses regarding your style! Although those folks seem to have faded away with time. I still would not attempt to mimic the style that you use….maybe because I probabaly wouldn’t be any good at it, but as soon as I see one of your posts I immediately MUST look at the images.

      Thx for the post and the pics

      Enjoyed both

    • Thank you
      I tried the DNG vs JPEG and decided on the JPEG, unlike the M10 where I only shoot DNG.
      Try the JPEG its wonderful

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