Should I Upgrade to the Leica M10 Monochrom from the M9M? By Dan Bar

Should I Upgrade to the Leica M10 Monochrom?

By Dan Bar

My name is Danny and I love Leica M camera for over 20 years, I have used almost all Leica M cameras from the M6 through the M8,9,M9M, 240, 262, M10.

A few months ago I sold my M10 and bought the M9 again the M9  and the M9M. I tried to shoot colors but found myself attracted more and more to the black and white so now I hardly use my M9 anymore.

Two weeks or so ago the M10M hit the market and from what I see it is a very nice camera with fantastic ISO.

So my question to you my friends is: would you sell the M9M ( to cover the cost) and buy the M10M instead?

I know that the M10M is a much better camera than the M9M but I love the M9M results and the CCD.

I currently use the camera with the 35 Summicron and the 7 Artisan 28 1.4 which I find a great lens, ( I can never tell the outcome difference).

I would love to hear your opinion

Thank you

Danny

A few photos with the M9M:

58 Comments

  1. Nice pics, but their tonality inspires a compulsion to pull up a Curves dialog, and yank the midtones violently upward/rightward!

  2. As I have explained many times what makes a street photographer is his eyes to see the visual instantly, the camera, film, lens are only tools, if you do no see it the camera either. I was born with the gift of being a street photographer in the most difficult country in the world, North Africa … Tangier, I was a teenager using only two cameras Minolta 101 with only one lens each, Rokkor 100mm and Rokkor 35mm B/W film 200 asa. Developed in Bake & Mayer Promicrol developer to obtain better shadows details without blocking the highlights. The details in the blacks were beyond beliefs. Also my cameras set ups were set for the weather and ready to have a good depth of from infinity do about 2 meters …I was a natural born Cartier Bresson without knowing it, pictures were perfectly framed full frame and I NEVER cropped my images but printed full frame when using 35mm or Square film with the famous Bronica and its Nikon lenses with a sharpness beyond belief … to avoid shutter vibration I used the close down shutter release under the release button. I have images to prove it to the most sceptical photographer. With 17 years old I was the first photographer to import Japanese made Cameras including the famous forgotten Walzflex a cheap copy of the Rolleicord that had a lens better than those on the Rolleiflex. I still have the tests I did over 60 years ago to prove it.

  3. I start to wonder why the most expensive the camera the less warranty … sensor not to be replaced free due to corrosion? 50 years ago I was invited to the Leica company and I noted how lenses were assembled like they were probably 50 years earlier. But the way the black was applied to the diaphragm blades with black charcoal diluted in “water”, by hand. The same year after Photokina I dared to buy the Leica 300/2.8 sealed in a plastic bag. I never used but a few years later I tried to sell it through a local seller but he broke the plastic bag to inspect it …. he called me and told me that the lens had fungus in the middle element? I asked Leica to replace or fix the it? They refuse alleging the warranty was over. I told them that that I noticed how lenses were assembled during my visit and that was caused because they were using tap water in their black blades assembly and that was the cause of all Leica lenses since day one. They promptly replaced or repaired my lens free of charge. At that time the assembly line was quite primitive to say the least. But a one single observation by me resolved the fungus issue that have plague many Leica lens for years past. I am not a genius but observation can resolve problems that technician failed to notice for years.

  4. Hey Dan! Nice, atmospheric shots (as usual)! If your M9 has a replaced sensor it is still worth a bit of money. You could sell it and put the money aside for buying or renting an M10M when you travel to someplace in Europe or Asia with a Leica store. With your choice of dark-ish look you can go for a long time with your M9M and just accept the fact that you will not be able to capture some night or interior shots to your satisfaction. Life, as you well know, is always filled with choices: M9M with a look you love – and a camera you already own, but lower ISO ceiling (and missed opportunities) or, M10M with the ability to capture more night shots but (maybe) more post-processing to get your signature look and the expenditure of money to buy the camera and extra batteries. I have the M246 and have not (really) given thought to the M10M: if it ain’t broke, don’t attempt to fix it! Cheers & Happy Shooting in whatever you decide!

  5. Hey, Danny!
    Mind explaining why you switched from an m10 back to m9? I found myself tied up in a dilemma where an M9 fell into my possession recently. It’s a beautiful camera and I love its images, but it turns out that the sensor will need to be replaced due to the infamous corrosion issue. It’s still useable at the moment, but sooner or later either the sensor will need to be replaced at a cost of $1,600 USD or I’d need to get another camera. The issue is that the sensor replacement is almost as expensive as getting a used m240, so I’m wondering if it’s worth it.

    I would really appreciate if you could share your reasoning for returning to M9. Thanks in advance!

    • I much prefer the M9 over the M240. The M240 tends to render colors very warm, which requires a lot more correction in post. Also, the startup time of the M240 is much slower than that of the M9. On the flip side, with the M240, you will get a better LCD screen, live view, a stop and a half advantage at high ISO.

      • Thanks for the reply. I might as well get the sensor replaced on the M9 at least for its sentimental value. Haven’t shot with an M240, but the tones I get from the M9 are indeed very special and require very little editing.

      • I also thought M240 has a slow start, But it’s because of the advanced metering, Which needs to have open shutter all the time. Just configure Classic metering and the M240 will start immediately.

    • I really love my M240 and didn’t like the video-gamma look of the M9. The 240 files are so pliable that you can easily output how you previsualized the scene you shot. It seems like the M9 has much more of an assigned look. Also, low light ability is so much better with the 240, due to the CMOS sensor. The operation is much faster than the M9, but it is also heavier.

  6. Danny,

    Your pics are amazing! The biggest reason to think about the M10M is the amazing 15 stop dynamic range at base ISO. To re-state the obvious(which most of us overlook)is that your camera is a tool(patently in the hands of a master smith), do you need more dynamic range?

    Jakes

  7. I had the M9M, and now own the M10M. Looking at your photography style I think you’ll be happier with an M10M. Differences I noticed:

    M9M: brings out the character of old lenses in a way I’ve never seen other Leica do.
    M9M: the rendering feels closer to film (if you choose to edit the files in such a way, which does not seem to be your preference).
    M9M: at higher ISOs, when trying to pull shadows it always has some weird rendering / artifacts which really annoyed me, this was the only thing I didn’t like about the camera.
    M9M: oh one more thing I didn’t like in the M9 series is how easily dust gets in the sensor; in the m10 series this is not an issue

    M10M: amazing cropping abilities
    M10M: makes lenses look sharper (I only shoot 1950s lens and can definitely say they never looked as sharp wide open as they do on the M10M)
    M10M: to make the files look like film requires more editing (I try to get close to film as possible). With the M9M this was super easy.
    M10M: ISO is great, but to be honest M9M is too, if you have issues with the M9M you’re spoiled ahah for most situations I never go above ISO 3200 if I have a Summicron mounted.
    M10M: most beautiful digital body Leica has produced and more reliable than the M9M in the long term.

    In the end, I was thinking about going back to the M9M, especially in the first week of using the M10M…but after getting used to the new rendering / editing, I think I will stick to the M10M. You can see recent pics I took with the M10M on my instagram @kuro.camera if that helps you decide.

  8. To me this kind of question always ends up with, “If you can afford the M10M, then buy it.” Once you use it, I’m sure you won’t want to ever give it up from what I’ve seen of its output. I had the M9M until the sensor corroded, then opted to take Leica’s upgrade to the M246 monochrome at a very good price difference. The original retail price was just too high. So, is the M10M, especially if you can get get a brand new monochrome camera that’s now one model behind. It will last a long time. I’m very happy with the monochrome images that it creates and plan to keep it. However, I still think the M9M images were spectacular and cannot be matched by any CMOS sensor, nor can the M9M images match the type of monochrome image that the newer CMOS sensors produce. Having both is better than forced to chose one. But the old camera itself became a pain to use once modern features of CMOS cameras became available. In your situation, I see no reason not to buy the M10M and keep the M9M until the sensor gives out. Just use the one that seems right at the moment. If the price is too high (higher now with the new import duties), others should just grab a new M246 monochrome at 40% of the original cost.

    • Forgot to add. I looked at the images you posted with the M9M. They are all of very high quality. In terms of the images themselves, I don’t see why anyone would want anything better than these. Just as I remembered my M9M images.

  9. I own both. The M9M has sat on the shelf though since I’ve had the M10M. The M9M will remain there. The M9M has been at my side for so long I doubt I’ll ever part with it. The M10M though – wow. See the thoughtful review on here previously. Yes the rendering is different, how could it not be? It’s got a new sensor, and boy is is great.

    If you think you need a sensor to get soul out of an image though, you’re doing it wrong.

  10. Having owned the M9M and tried the M10M, my advice is if you need 2 more stops of sensitivity and more resolution for even larger prints than you’re doing now, then consider upgrading. I found the M9M to be great up to ISO 5000 and 10000 in a pinch. I never needed to print larger than the M9M would support.

  11. Enough with the madness! Get a Leica MP/M-A/M7/M6/M5/M4/M3 and shoot Ilford or Kodak 3200 ISO B&W film.
    It will give you better results than the M9 at 3200..
    And it is film which looks much better than digitized pushed files.

    • While I agree, film has a different feel, but don’t they all just end up digital files when it gets scanned?

      • Digital in storage format but not in image quality unless you start messing with it in photoshop etc

        If you are unsure about that just look up film images on the web. It will be very clear how different they look to digital.

  12. Dan you should upgrade to 1999 Olympus C2040 F1.8 digital compact.
    This olympus will give atmosphere photos so filmlike
    far more than digital looking M9M
    and even more harsh sterile looking M10M.

  13. Hey Dan— My feeling is digital if fine for color if you like the look it renders but give me film for BW any day of the week. I’ve owned my fair share of digital Leicas in the past and in the end a M3 or M4 with 400TX souped in D76 just makes me happy– just my opinion.

    Cheers-
    Steve

  14. Break free from the upgradeitis, and use what you have and forget about what’s next. Your pictures looks amazing as they are!

  15. Bought my Leica Monochrom (M9M) as soon as it became available in the US. Still using it.
    CCD sensor in photography is akin to vacuum tube analog HiFi music – its soul cannot be reproduced by modern technological achievements.

    • I agree in the case if the M9M. It stands alone in monochrome rendering over all that have come after it. You will get better low light with the M10M but the rendering is not the same as the M9M when it comes to tones.

      • Interesting, Steve. In your M246 review, you praised it like no tomorrow compared to M9M. Now you are praising the M9M – so which one is it?
        I just don’t get your reviews, man. They seem to turn where the fashion lies. All the best, Mads

        • At the time I wrote the M 246 review I stated it was better in low light, and in operation. Has a much better LCD, better everything as it was based on the M240 body. Battery life, etc, all improved. It is technically a better camera than the M9M of old. But after years of comparing the images side by side, it’s always the M9M that just have a better look to the photos. Body wise the 246 and new M10M kill the M9M but if output is your only concern the original is the only one that renders in a way that can’t be replicated by shooting color and converting. It is unique. Also, that review was years ago..times change as do opinions. I appreciate the M9M IQ more than the 246 and from all have seen from the M10M. People buy cameras like these from excitement, passion and the love for the brand. Doesn’t mean it’s better than what has come before every time. The M10M is better than the 246 in low light and resolution but it still does not create the look of the M9M which was special. As always, I say go with what speaks to YOUR heart, not someone else, mine included.

          • Steve is a passionate guy. Opinions change frequently, and your wallet may not be able to keep up 🙂

            That said, if you take the passion for what it is, you can take away great info on his well written reviews.

      • To all praising the rendering of the M9M, can you more precisely describe what the differences are? I am hearing “it has that ‘je ne sais quoi’”, but I am not keen on basing $8000 decisions on “I don’t know what.”

        Seeing the difference between digital and scanned film is as obvious as that between photography and painting. I am skeptical, however, that we can see the diff between cmos and ccd if both images are processed to the same look by the same person (Assuming same lens, ISO etc.).

        I have never used an M Monochrom, so enlighten me (but with specific visual differences not feelings).

  16. I guess its a personal thing, but underexposure is quite pronounced. If you like it so, where do you draw the line? What meter setting do you use?

  17. I would not make a decision like this based on the advice of people on the internet. Your question also does not provide a detailed description of your photography requirements. If you need high ISO and higher dynamic range then the choice is clear.

  18. Hi Dan, I’ve enjoyed seeing your B&W work. As a fellow M9 user, the M10M is quite a camera. If you’re happy with your M9M’s ISO and file output in my “free” opinion I can see two reasons to upgrade. If you have issues with battery life that would be my first consideration. My second would be buffer capacity/speed. I’ve run into this issue photographing musicians and multiple bracket shots while shooting landscapes. Other than that be happy and save some coin.

    • Thank you. I never have battery issues as I always carry 3 batteries with me.
      Buffer is no problem, I never!!! shoot continue ,always single
      ISO is where I have problems sometimes

  19. Danny – I have used the M9M, the M246 and now I am the very happy owner of the M10 M. I loved the shutter “rewind” sound of the M9M and saw no appreciable difference in output between that and the M246. However, the very poor resolution of the rear screen on the M9M limited its usefulness to (just) being able to read the camera’s functions menu. The M246 was a “committee designed” M monochrom, with too many drawbacks for me – eg high base ISO, large and heavy body, superfluous video function to name but a few. The rear screen was something of an improvement over the M9M, though. Leica’s latest iteration , albeit somewhat late in arriving, is everything that this camera should be – most of the niggles of the previous models have been ironed out. What I do miss about the M 10 series, however, is the absence of the external time exposure lever – it is to be found in the camera’s menu – this takes time and effort and is, in my opinion, a serious mistake.

  20. I would stick to the M9M the new one from what I have seen from reviews although nice doesn’t offer anything unique (most CMOS sensors in the current market would come very close to matching) the M9M did. Also if on a budget get a M8 remove the IR filter shoot and then convert to B&W wow some of the best digital images I have seen. Saying all that Tri-x shot with a M3 nothing better.

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