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Monochrom future?


andyedward

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Andy, Bo

The MM is something that Leica developed in hard times. I can't see any possible reason why they wouldn't continue with the concept as long as it sells.

Mind yo

u, selling an upgraded MM might be a bit of a mission!

 

Some dealers are now selling the monochrom at slightly less than the original retail price, so I'm wondering if sales have dropped, which I suppose is inevitable since the initial interest has died off

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Leica of course has previous in mis-forecasting sales; the Digilux 2 was sold out and Leica over-compensated with the unloved Digilux 3 and couldn't move for the things. IIRC, they were giving one away with an R camera at one point.

 

I expect the MM is similar in that they have likely under-estimated demand for the camera, priced it to recover development costs and are now sitting on good profits after the camera proved more popular than expected.

 

It's a purist camera though and it's difficult to see a monochrome version of the M sitting happily alongside LV and video, so I think there's a danger of them over-estimating the sales potential of a CMOS MM.

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I can't imagine development costs were great for the Monochrom. Assuming they've recovered those costs, I think it would be cool if they offered the M-E in B/W for the same price as color.

 

-Robert

 

Leica of course has previous in mis-forecasting sales; the Digilux 2 was sold out and Leica over-compensated with the unloved Digilux 3 and couldn't move for the things. IIRC, they were giving one away with an R camera at one point.

 

I expect the MM is similar in that they have likely under-estimated demand for the camera, priced it to recover development costs and are now sitting on good profits after the camera proved more popular than expected.

 

It's a purist camera though and it's difficult to see a monochrome version of the M sitting happily alongside LV and video, so I think there's a danger of them over-estimating the sales potential of a CMOS MM.

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As an MM owner and, incidentally, I am quite happy with it. I mean I am not lusting for technical improvements in it and will live with it for quite a long time. IMHO MM owners and, more importantly, keepers - not those who just want the latest and greatest - will probably not be lusting for bigger screens, or even better ISO.

 

Monochrom's sensor records luminosity and quite accurately, no? the physics of interpreting color correctly on sensors continues to improve and consumers will expect the next Ms to improve on color rendition, so 2 models into the future Ms will be significantly improved. I can't see how the MM would be, apart from ISO? In this case, I can save for a f/0.95 if I am desperate for the light ;-)

 

Monochrom will probably continue as a limited run and will evolve to have a cmos, maybe even video (not that I would ever ask for that) and, through the drive to improve color sensors, ISO will naturally improve.

 

It came out as niche from the starting gate, even for leica users, so why would the line end...

unless their beyer matrix technology included dedicated luminance sensor areas! I guess that might make the monochrom redundant if the 'mono' mode in an M was true non interpreted luminance.

 

2 cents

Michael

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I expect the MM is similar in that they have likely under-estimated demand for the camera, priced it to recover development costs and are now sitting on good profits after the camera proved more popular than expected.

 

I also think Leica may have underestimated how much their market is subject to the 'latest and greatest' syndrome. I wouldn't be surprised if Leica extended (or ramped up) production of the Monochrom into 2013 when they found out how popular it was proving to be only to find the "buzz" quickly switch to the M. Not only are most of the dealers now sitting on stock (at least here in the UK) but some seem to be selling at a slight discount to RRP. I've also started to see mint Monochrom bodies appearing for sale in online classifieds (presumably the owners' interest having moved onto the latest camera).

 

As far as development of this camera goes, I think, if it is to have a long term future in the product catalogue, Leica will need to migrate the Monochrom over to the new M design. Not just for production reasons (same body chassis, etc.) but so that accessories like the battery and grip are common to both colour and B&W bodies.

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I also think Leica may have underestimated how much their market is subject to the 'latest and greatest' syndrome. I wouldn't be surprised if Leica extended (or ramped up) production of the Monochrom into 2013 when they found out how popular it was proving to be only to find the "buzz" quickly switch to the M. Not only are most of the dealers now sitting on stock (at least here in the UK) but some seem to be selling at a slight discount to RRP. I've also started to see mint Monochrom bodies appearing for sale in online classifieds (presumably the owners' interest having moved onto the latest camera).

 

As far as development of this camera goes, I think, if it is to have a long term future in the product catalogue, Leica will need to migrate the Monochrom over to the new M design. Not just for production reasons (same body chassis, etc.) but so that accessories like the battery and grip are common to both colour and B&W bodies.

 

I'm not sure how much it's to do with latest and greatest exactly, but certainly compatibility.

 

I was vaguely considering getting a MM to go with my M9, but now I won't - the M's B&W output is nearly as good, and the shutter and other controls are a lot better.

 

I'm keeping my M9 as a backup body, but a CMOS MM, with the M's controls which took the same batteries etc. would be very tempting in a year or so.

 

- Steve

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I can't imagine development costs were great for the Monochrom. Assuming they've recovered those costs, I think it would be cool if they offered the M-E in B/W for the same price as color.

 

-Robert

 

I think it's probably quite a niche product - even people that shoot a lot of B&W aren't necessarily going to want one. Having got used to doing colour filtration in software, going back to physical filters is going to seem like a backward step - the advantage being the extra image quality and high ISO performance of course.

 

- Steve

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I think it's probably quite a niche product - even people that shoot a lot of B&W aren't necessarily going to want one. Having got used to doing colour filtration in software, going back to physical filters is going to seem like a backward step - the advantage being the extra image quality and high ISO performance of course.

 

- Steve

The need for physical filters is a bit overstated. ND for sure but that's no different for shooting wide open on a sunny day with an M. Maybe a yellow. Orange for landscape. Red for those dramatic scenes if you like but mostly just a yellow or yellow-orange for daily use is fine. Even clear is just fine. The simplicity of workflow is very nice though.

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It won't be long until the bloom is off the M240 rose.

 

Not surprising if there's a lull in MM purchases, with the M240 coming early and surrounded by 'fog' -- widely divergent reviews coming out about the M240 and considerable anguish on the forums. The significant price premium doesn't help.

 

When things shake out, I suspect there will be disappointment at the small incremental resolution, ISO and dynamic range upgrade (given the move to CMOS) relative to the M9, continuing questions about the color and 'look', and frustration with the '1.0' or beta flavor of the added electronics.

 

With a maximum ISO of 3200 (before dynamic range crunching "push"), and according the Sean Reid, in-camera noise reduction (destructive of resolution) at ISO 1600 and above, the M240 has some serious IQ issues.

 

Putting aside the evident cheerleading, it can't be seriously compared to the MM for B&W, particularly in its rendition of midtones and at higher ISOs where dynamic range is important. Arguably, the MM has all a photographer may need for many years.

 

When Leica announces the M360, with a higher resolution 36MP CMOS imager, with recent generation instead of 3-4 year old CMOS ISO and dynamic range performance, the camera may play seriously in the MM league. Perhaps, at that point, they will offer a simultaneous MM360 as an upgrade. With Blackstone calling so many of the shots, that might be just 18-24 months away, if CMOSIS can close the technology gap or Leica switches to another sensor provider.

 

(It is also possible that Blackstone will shut down any future MM initiative, as too far from the 'mainstreaming' they're aiming for).

 

With what we're seeing from the M240 CMOS sensor, there wouldn't be much point in an MM240. And for many Leica photographers, IQ is king.

Edited by photomeme
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It won't be long until the bloom is off the M240 rose.

 

Not surprising if there's a lull in MM purchases, with the M240 coming early and surrounded by 'fog' -- widely divergent reviews coming out about the M240 and considerable anguish on the forums. The significant price premium doesn't help.

 

When things shake out, I suspect there will be disappointment at the small incremental resolution, ISO and dynamic range upgrade (given the move to CMOS) relative to the M9, continuing questions about the color and 'look', and frustration with the '1.0' or beta flavor of the added electronics.

 

With a maximum ISO of 3200 (before dynamic range crunching "push"), and according the Sean Reid, in-camera noise reduction (destructive of resolution) at ISO 1600 and above, the M240 has some serious IQ issues.

 

Putting aside the evident cheerleading, it can't be seriously compared to the MM for B&W, particularly in its rendition of midtones and at higher ISOs where dynamic range is important. Arguably, the MM has all a photographer may need for many years.

 

When Leica announces the M360, with a higher resolution 36MP CMOS imager, with recent generation instead of 3-4 year old CMOS ISO and dynamic range performance, the camera may play seriously in the MM league. Perhaps, at that point, they will offer a simultaneous MM360 as an upgrade. With Blackstone calling so many of the shots, that might be just 18-24 months away, if CMOSIS can close the technology gap or Leica switches to another sensor provider.

 

(It is also possible that Blackstone will shut down any future MM initiative, as too far from the 'mainstreaming' they're aiming for).

 

With what we're seeing from the M240 CMOS sensor, there wouldn't be much point in an MM240. And for many Leica photographers, IQ is king.

 

For many, other cameras are going to be "good enough." I'd say though that for B&W the MM has no equal. It rivals the D800E and can use M glass. It's going to be tough as you say to improve on it as you can't get better before going to medium format and that's a whole different ballgame.

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Guest borge

The problem (for Leica) of the MM is that it mostly caters to users that don´t really care too much about technical mumbo-jumbo like EVF, Live View, high-resolution LCD, and stuff like that.

 

The people that end up selling their MM´s to get M240´s now probably just bought the MM because it was the only digital M that offered excellent high-iso capabilities. They bought the MM for the wrong reasons and actually purchased a camera that from the beginnign wasn´t the correct camera for them.

 

The people that love their MM´s and purchased it because it was THE camera for them will probably not upgrade to a newer MM with EVF, Live View, and all the utility that the M240 offers. These cameras now caters to two totally different kind of photographers and users.

 

Personally I got the MM because it is the least "digital" digital M that is available. I bought it because of it´s simplicity and for it´s limitations. I don´t want a bunch of crappy options to come between me and the pictures that I want to make. I am a firm believer in KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

 

So even if a MM2 was brought out in a few years with a CMOS sensor, live view, and all that stuff that I don´t want... Why on earth would I get it? To get a camera that is thicker and that has gained 100g in weight?... I would love the MM to be sized as the MP (film body) as I think it is just the perfect finish. I want a slimmer M not a chunkier and heavier one.

 

The IQ is so good on the MM. Most of it´s users really have NO benefit of any better IQ. The MM´s IQ and high-iso capabilities is so good that the camera is no longer an obstacle at all.

 

Also - remember: CMOS technology is inherently more noisy than CCD technology from the start. It is proven that the CCD in the MM without a CFA performs in medium-format territory, and it demolishes all of it´s CMOS competitors in regards to high-iso noise, crispness, level of details and dynamic range.

 

For a CMOS sensor to be on par with the CCD in the MM it would have to have a lot of on-board/on-sensor NR which will smoothen out the details... This happens on ALL CMOS sensors at high iso. The images loose lots of details and look plasticky. The MM might show grain it high-ISO but the details are there, and if you want to remove the grain you can do so in post at a much better and more flexible way than any on-sensor/in-camera NR in a CMOS based camera can offer.

 

So... with the MM Leica has a problem in regards to future upgrades. Most of the MM userbase DON´T want an M240 with all the electronic fluff that it has. All of it´s users are more than happy with it´s IQ performance... And nobody wants a heavier and chunkier camera.

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The problem (for Leica) of the MM is that it mostly caters to users that don´t really care too much about technical mumbo-jumbo like EVF, Live View, high-resolution LCD, and stuff like that.

 

True, although I don't get why this is a problem for Leica. It's more a validation of releasing the MM when and as they did. I'd say it's a problem for anyone inside the company lobbying for an MM240.

 

The people that end up selling their MM´s to get M240´s now probably just bought the MM because it was the only digital M that offered excellent high-iso capabilities.

 

Agreed, this motivated some purchases. But I think, with the disappointing high ISO and dynamic range upgrade from the M9 to the M240, many of these users will stick with the MM.

 

These cameras now caters to two totally different kind of photographers and users.

 

If you believe they hype about the new shutter, that's a significant upgrade for such photographers.

 

(Although at least one review and some associates dissent, noting there's no discreet mode on the M, and the pre-shutter recock noise of the M9/MM is about as stealthy).

 

Personally I got the MM because it is the least "digital" digital M that is available.

 

Another view is that it's the purest and highest form of digital available, without either antialiasing or bayer color filters getting between your image and the sensor.

 

Bayer demosaicing and interpolation not only raises the noise floor but also introduces more evident patterns into the noise.

 

The IQ is so good on the MM. Most of it´s users really have NO benefit of any better IQ. The MM´s IQ and high-iso capabilities is so good that the camera is no longer an obstacle at all.

 

Also - remember: CMOS technology is inherently more noisy than CCD technology from the start. It is proven that the CCD in the MM without a CFA performs in medium-format territory, and it demolishes all of it´s CMOS competitors in regards to high-iso noise, crispness, level of details and dynamic range.

 

For a CMOS sensor to be on par with the CCD in the MM it would have to have a lot of on-board/on-sensor NR which will smoothen out the details... This happens on ALL CMOS sensors at high iso. The images loose lots of details and look plasticky. The MM might show grain it high-ISO but the details are there.

 

Absolutely correct, about CMOS as inherently noisier. The prize for state of the art in on-sensor noise reduction tech goes to CMOS. There have been implementations both good and bad, in terms of 'plasticity', color rendition and character.

 

It's immediately obvious that the M240's CMOSIS sensor is akin to an early generation CMOS from sony/nikon/canon, in its high ISO and dynamic range performance, and that's unfortunate.

 

Sean Reid has noted some additional noise reduction in camera (probably median filtering destructive of resolution), which is a big surprise for a CMOS camera, if correct.

 

It suggests the on-sensor noise reduction didn't go far enough, and we're talking about relatively low ISOs (for CMOS noise reduction) beginning at 1600.

 

With limited comparisons and samples, and without a final official color profile, it's too early to tell whether the M240 suffers from early CMOS 'plasticity', color rendition and character.

 

Whereas, your conclusions about the MM are well supported.

Edited by photomeme
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The Monochrom appears to lose detail in the highlights with little overexposure. It would be nice if future versions had a more film like shoulder rather than hard clipping i.e., extend the dynamic range in a non-linear fashion to give a nice shoulder in the characteristic curve that provides for highlight recovery. Instead of having to shoot the camera like Agfa Scala film one would have the robust exposure characteristics of a film like Ilford XP2-Super.

 

Nick

Edited by Nick_S
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The Monochrom appears to lose detail in the highlights with little overexposure. It would be nice if future versions had a more film like shoulder rather than hard clipping i.e., extend the dynamic range in a non-linear fashion to give a nice shoulder in the characteristic curve that provides for highlight recovery. Instead of having to shoot the camera like Agfa Scala film one would have the robust exposure characteristics of a film like Ilford XP2-Super.

 

Nick

 

Maybe one of the physicists can help here. Isn't this a function of how digital sensors react to light and why there is the big ETTR debate? Always more detail in underexposed shadows than overexposed highlights. I'm not sure the suggestion of extending dynamic range in a non linear fashion is possible with a digital sensor- even one w/o a Bayer filter. Wouldn't Leica have done this if it were possible? I also don't want to restart the debate on " proper" exposure other than to note that digital is similar to slide film regarding highlight exposure. That is true whether color or not.

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