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Moving from MF B&W to Monochrom


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A most interesting thread.

 

Yes, it's turned out well.

 

The aesthetic is precisely why I asked the question. I can already see that the resolution is a match, or better, than MF in terms of resolution and clarity. But that doesn't make it the equal in all aspects. Now my pursuit is to find the post-processing actions to provide a more rounded result.

 

Fully accepting Steve Barnett's comment about square for square as a way of working, but I'm completely open to a tool, the Monochrom maybe, replacing all other tools having the same purpose; in this case b&w images taken in the range of WA to medium telephoto.

 

Thanks to all for sharing their opinions and a special thanks for not going off thread title. Refreshing.

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Just to chime in , I am one who has lived from his personal work for the past 30 years. We will pass over the first camera I worked with -- a primitive 1926 Kodak Panoram -- but I shot 8 x 10 for a long time, then with Noblexes ( I still have 4 of them), wide angle TLR Rollie, Mamiya 6. The M9 and now the Monochrome have completely converted me to digital. I was talking recently with Richard Benson, one of the great craftsmen in photography and photographic reproduction -- he is using Ni

My two cents: I had a Hasselblad and shot with Acros 100 for years.. worked great, but the scanning became a hassle when I started printing with a Epson 3800. Next I had a Phase One P20 and after that P40+... worked very well for Black and White.   In my opinion the Monochrome performs so well that for 20" prints you will be super happy. I have sold all my medium format gear (have a few Mamiya lenses that I need to list). Between the Monochrome and the 240 I feel confident with the resul

In my opinion the real advantage of medium format is not how sharp it is, but how soft it is. A 16x20 print from a 35mm negative can be very sharp, but it is different from the "round" or "soft" look of a medium format print. The Monochrom can almost be too sharp. You are either in focus or you are not, and the fall-off is very sharp with 35mm lenses compared to MF lenses. It is hard to quantify bokeh, but this is what it ultimately comes down to. The MM is definitely capable of matching the qua

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Its been useful but has it really proved anything beyond recording lots of peoples opinions?

 

Don't think I set out the OP with the intention of proving anything.

 

The question was: "Have you, as an ex-discerning MF B&W user been completely satisfied with the Monochrom to the point where you no longer use MF, or indeed have sold it all ?"

 

An overwhelming "I sold it all, never needed it again", might have proved a point, but I never expected that.

 

I'm really pleased that others have shared their thoughts and experiences and that's the area that Forums work best for me. Even my old mate Ben, now puzzled, just turned up and that's always welcome. I hope there's more to come.

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Its been useful but has it really proved anything beyond recording lots of peoples opinions?

 

People's opinions can be very important in being able to think outside your own box. The key here is, in fact, how people relate to the cameras rather than the capability of the equipment itself which is so often the subject of these threads.

 

I found this thread interesting, having just contemplated exactly the same course as the OP and come to my own conclusions based on the kinds of work I like to turn out and the differences in process rather than being concerned with the "absolutes" of the sensor-film arguments that normally dominate these kinds of discussions.

 

And I think the reasons people cite for using the gear that they choose is enlightening, often moreso than the debate over which is "best." "Best" is very subjective and depends on many, many factors and is truly different for each of us.

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The OP didn't mention what MF film setup he's using, but you can have a pure B&W no-bayer-array digital back for most MF systems, for just about the cost of 5 or so Monochrom's. PhaseOne makes a special back in conjunction with Bear Images of California: Achromatic+

 

Also see: Phase One Achromatic Plus Review

 

Yes, it would be cheaper to get the MM and new lenses, but if you really want the quality of the larger sensor, the Achromat+ will do it. Even though Bear Images is near where I live, I've never seen one of these in real life.

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The OP didn't mention what MF film setup he's using,

 

Early on, I didn't want to make the question more complex. My MF film kit is a Hasselblad 203FE, 503Cx and an SWC/M. I have 5 lenses, 4 backs and an Imacon scanner.

 

I also have an S2 with two lenses and a V adapter to accommodate the Hasselblad lenses.

 

At least one of these two will go if the Monochrom delivers what I expect.

 

Thanks to all for your comments.

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Just to chime in , I am one who has lived from his personal work for the past 30 years. We will pass over the first camera I worked with -- a primitive 1926 Kodak Panoram -- but I shot 8 x 10 for a long time, then with Noblexes ( I still have 4 of them), wide angle TLR Rollie, Mamiya 6. The M9 and now the Monochrome have completely converted me to digital. I was talking recently with Richard Benson, one of the great craftsmen in photography and photographic reproduction -- he is using Nikon 800 e now-- and we are agreeing that we are in a golden age of image-making. The technology is mature and liberating in terms of time -- something I particularly appreciate at this point of my life. The Monochrom is great -- I don't I need anything better. The only limitations are one's talent and passion. There is a tendency in many threads to obsess about trivia -- which bag, which strap, which colour dot. I bite my tongue because the folks who photograph their cats and their gear are probably the ones who are keeping Leica afloat. Certainly not thousands of working professionals, for whom the Leica is no longer their main working tool and source of income.

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I was a diehard film users, shooting 35mm Leica, Canon and MF Mamiya 7 II kits.

 

I love film and still love film.

 

I made and make prints from tiny to 40" and the finished print matters to me a lot.

 

I now shoot almost entirely digital and it was the Monochrom that convinced me to move over for my B&W work. I can achieve a tonality I love and all the resolution I was used to with MF (for the most part). The challenge, in terms of achieving the right 'look' is experience with PP. Only very, very rarely do I find myself thinking, 'if I had shot this on film I would be able to make it look much better' but it does happen.

 

A lot of this comes down to processes, personal biases and skill and a few years ago I know I would have been quite 'Hmmm, leave behind the 120 film for digital?.... I think NOT', but that was because I hadn't the experience I have now.

 

Perhaps find a way of seeing Salgado's digital capture digital prints from 'Genesis'. They are not the same as film, no, but they are very good in their own right. Only a couple remind me of the things I do not like about digital.

 

Whether you see yourself making the leap will depend on how much importance you attribute to the nuanced differences and the workflow. One cannot dismiss workflow, because it is part of the experience; however, for me... trying to be objective as someone who LOVED my Mamiya 7 output, I would be lying if I claimed to be looking back. I don't. There are some things I prefer about film, but they are few. There are many things that are possible with a camera such as a Monochrom that film cannot approach IMO, but that said, when everything comes together perfectly for film, IMHO it has the edge. The problem, however, is in the 'when'.

 

All this said, I tend to work quickly and, for my ends, tend to produce much better work this way. I try to avoid tripods at all costs and the amazing base ISO quality of the MM allows this most of the time. YMMV.

 

PS. MM files can look clinical and super clean at base ISO, but this is something that vanishes if you know your way around PP and/or use older lenses. Modern asph or Zeiss lenses, base ISO and straight out of camera files is not a look I care for with the MM, but I would not dream of showing SOOC files from the Monochrom any more than I blindly made G2.5 straight prints for exhibition in the darkroom....

 

You'll be surprised what can be done with a MM file. Just throw on an old lens, shoot at ISO 1600-3200, remove all default sharpening, tweak the noise/grain... and you will be about as far from clinical as digital can be.

 

The MM is not the same as film. It is not better either. Only you can evaluate the things you will gain and what you will lose, but for me, the balance was clearly in favour of the MM. I have not sold my film kit, however

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I am not sure whether the OP has made up his mind -- there has been quite a lapse on this thread -- but for what it's worth, I have in the interim published a book about a Canadian prison in which the majority of the images are with the Monochrome and the rest with M9. It has already gone out of print but here are a couple of links: Time Served · thewalrus.ca

Geoffrey James photographs a Canadian maximum-security prison in his book, Inside Kingston Penitentiary.

The more I use the Monochrom, the more I like it. They are coming out with something new in June, but I will probably forego, just as I did with the M. They are both good enough for me -- the limitation is in our own talent.

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I used to use Hasselblad exclusively for Black & White, initially processing in the darkroom but for the last few years using a Minolta Multi-Pro scanner and then using an Epson printer with Lyson B&W inks.

 

However, since getting the Monochrom I haven't used any film at all. I'm really happy with the results I get from the Monochrom although most of my prints are only A3 now. I would have no hesitation in printing to A2 and beyond though.

 

Although I haven't used the 'blad for the last couple of years I still haven't sold it. I think about using it from time to time but then when I think about the lengthy processing I shy off.

_______________

Regards, Tom

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The original back sold enough to convince the manufacturer to release a second version, the Phase One IQ260 Achromatic.....

Nick

 

Appropos the Phase One Achromatic Monochrome back;

I had a chance to try it out to compare with my Monochrom (and with scanned 8x10 film). I did 40x50cm prints and could not see much difference.

 

My money went on an Apo Summicron 50mm instead. For what it’s worth at 72dpi, you can see the shots here - https://picasaweb.google.com/cjbroadbent/OddsSods?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCObD7cyDuYysag&feat=directlink

 

I do nearly all black&white with the Monochrom nowadays - with the occasional LF 8x10 just to make sure I’m not missing anything.

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I went through your same process - got the M9, sold it after a while, got the MM and ended up selling all my film gear (MF and 35mm). I now shoot the 645z and the MM, and I couldn't be happier

 

The Monochrom output beautiful images, with a great latitude in PP which allows you to make them look basically like any of the film stocks we were used to. Is it the same as film MF? No, mostly because of the different look of the lenses and of the format itself; but theirs are pretty much among the best digital B&W files I had the fortune to work with.

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Yes' date=' it's turned out well.

 

The aesthetic is precisely why I asked the question. I can already see that the resolution is a match, or better, than MF in terms of resolution and clarity. But [... forgive my snip ...']

 

I hope I may ask if you wet print MF? Are we comparing the Monochrom printed in ink to an MF printed wet, or an MF scanned then printed in ink?

 

There is a serious difference here. I'm a wet-print person, and I have made good scans (however rarely) of some of my original negatives and on a digital monitor the scanned images are 'sharper' in appearance, but graceless.

 

Certainly this opens up a lot of qualification, but I cannot possibly show the differences on the 'net.

.

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