Well, I don’t do this sort of thing, but I have been asked, so I thought I’d do a simple (hah!) comparison between different Leica cameras at different ISO values in black and white. I’ve included:

  • Leica M9
  • Leica M Monochrome
  • Leica M-P (typ 240)
  • Leica Monochrom (typ 246)
  • Leica X (typ 113)

I’ve made a real attempt to keep everything as equal as possible. It seemed to be worth including the X, although it’s an APS-C camera, the 16mp at 23mm is very roughly equivalent to the 24mp at 28 mm full frame.


All pictures were taken at f8 (except the Leica X which was at f5.6), and with the Leica 28mm Summilux on the M cameras, and with the 23mm lens on the Leica X. The tripod wasn’t moved between shots, and the camera’s white balance was set to daylight.

The DNG files were imported into Lightroom and cropped – there was no revolving of the files to straighten lines, and no adjustments to noise reduction, colour, white balance, exposure or anything else. The X files were cropped to the same area – which gives about the same amount of pixels – the M9 files are slightly smaller because of the lower resolution of the sensor.

Colour files were converted to black and white in Lightroom with no changes to the channel mixer.

The cropped images were exported to Photoshop CC in groups (as 16 bit tiff files) and combined into one file and saved as a jpg with maximum quality.

Of course, there are lots of different ways one could approach this, but this way seemed to give as level a playing field as I could imagine.

I felt that using a 28mm lens at f8 reduced problems with focusing, and I’ve only used the middle of the frame. It has been suggested that diffraction has set in by f8 (thank you Sean). In fact I used f5.6 on the X for this reason, I also realise that the camera is not perfectly straight on to the dresser – however, as I have used the middle of the frame, and the situation was the same for each camera I feel that it’s good enough to give one a pretty good feel for the high ISO characteristics of each camera.

The image used is shown below (sorry it’s a bit untidy).


Below that you can see the combined cameras at each ISO value. NB – the image strips are fewer as the cameras run out of available ISO – for the last image there are two MM 246 images.



Sean Reid at and grEGORy Simpson at have done lots more thorough comparisons.

On the other hand I do feel that the images here show a pretty clear distinction between the cameras. The new camera seems pretty good at 12,500 ISO and useable in most cases at 25,000.

Just a final note – these pictures were taken in low natural light – I’m never very happy with high ISO tests taken in good lighting. The exposure at f8 at 200 ISO was about 2 seconds.

Help: Cancer Research

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My wife, Emma Slack, is doing the 12th Annual Pink Ladies Tractor Road Run in aid of Cancer Research.

It’s worth mentioning that Jonathan Slack does not get paid by anyone for writing these articles, which is great for everyone, and fine by him, however, once in a while he adds a link to a favourite charity.

People have been extraordinarily generous in the past, and this year Emma (his wife) is fund raising again. It would be lovely if you could see your way to making a small donation to what is a wonderful cause.

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  1. Very fascinating. No doubt in my eyes about the clarity of the 246, but what really interests me is the X, which presumably uses the same sensor as the X-Vario. Would have liked to see that in the comparison, too, as it continues to impress me even in lower lighting.

  2. I can’t tell the difference when I look at tests like these. I think the only way I could tell is to see high quality prints. So I just accept the majority verdict, which can be taking a risk at £5,700 or very expensive lenses.

  3. John. The X is included!
    Badger I take your point, but have you downloaded the files? It should be clearer the

  4. Hi There Badger – glad you sorted it out!

  5. 23mm on APS-C gives angle of view like 35mm on full frame – not like 28mm one

  6. Hi There Hexx – it does indeed, however, the shot was taken from the same position (so the angle of view is the same) and the fact that the X is 16mp rather than 24mp means that there is almost the same number of pixels in the crop (actually 15mp at APSc and 35mm is the same as 24mp 28mm cropped)

    So that there is actually a very close correlation to the angle of view and the pixel density – apples and apples.

    All the best

  7. To Jonathan. Thanks for replying: I must have expressed myself badly. I saw the X images, of course, and meant that I should like to have seen some from the X-Vario, too (which you did a very good review of by the way!) Am I right in saying it is the same sensor?

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