Jump to content
dfarkas

B&W ISO Showdown: Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) vs. M Monochrom (M9) vs. M (Typ 240)

Recommended Posts

Advertisement (gone after registration)

I shot these test images a few weeks back but only recently had the chance to compile them into a meaningful article. Up for your viewing pleasure is a comprehensive comparison of the MM246 vs. the M9M vs. the M240 converted to B&W, using the 50 APO, on a static still life subject under controlled conditions. 

 

I know I'm a little late to the party as others have been putting out some interesting and well-done comparisons. For my version of the test, I aimed to compare optimized images from each camera at each ISO level against one another. I like to take a real world approach and in my world, I don't look at out of camera results. Part of the evaluation of a camera should be how it responds to post processing and the final result, no?

 

B&W ISO Showdown: Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) vs. M Monochrom (M9) vs. M (Typ 240)

 

Have a look and let me know what you think.

 

Thanks!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, at least you have a more varied taste in food than Sean

.. Seriously - interesting and a meaningful comparison imo. One thing that springs to mind as an old film photographer who has been struggling with grain- reducing developers for a considerable part of his life, is how blindingly good each of these cameras is at high ISO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally would have liked to see the M9M shots adjusted for contrast, because now it is somewhat difficult to judge, in your own words " how it responds to post processing and the final result"
Now that the contrast is lower on M9M they look really lifeless, quite bad actually already at ISO5000. Raising the contrast to equall levels would change the perceived sharpness and amount of noise, increasing both, but OTOH perhaps pushing dark parts' noise down to more acceptable levels.
 

But then....it is pretty easy to see that there is nothing left in M9M ISO5000 shot that could be used to recover it to the same quality level as MM at ISO12500.

Edited by Hannes Lummes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally would have liked to see the M9M shots adjusted for contrast, because now it is somewhat difficult to judge, in your own words " how it responds to post processing and the final result"

Now that the contrast is lower on M9M they look really lifeless, quite bad actually already at ISO5000. Raising the contrast to equall levels would change the perceived sharpness and amount of noise, increasing both, but OTOH perhaps pushing dark parts' noise down to more acceptable levels.

 

But then....it is pretty easy to see that there is nothing left in M9M ISO5000 shot that could be used to recover it to the same quality level as MM at ISO12500.

 

This was another decision that I had to make in editing the files. In the end, I applied the same tonal adjustments to all ISO levels for each camera model. I matched the various cameras best as I could at base ISO, then let any tonal changes happen as the ISO ramped up. I did adjust the noise reduction and sharpening levels variably for each ISO level, though. The flattening out of the M9M images at the highest ISO settings was due more to the prevalence in white speckled noise, along with the dynamic range dropping. You are correct that I could have helped by dropping the blacks and pumping the whites in the ISO 5000 and ISO 10000, but at the possible expense of image detail. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 In the end, I applied the same tonal adjustments to all ISO levels for each camera model.

 

I can see what Hannes means and equally see how you have tried to be fair. But even at base ISO the M246 file is much more vibrant in the mid-tones than the other two. I can appreciate that in 'real life' we could apply contrast corrections to suit the file, but perhaps the more lively mid-tones of the M246 is what we should be seeing and being fair in applying adjustments (to make the files look similar) is masking the real differences between the cameras? And of course applying similar adjustments to each could just as easily mean you are making one file look worse than it does out of the camera as well as making another look better?

 

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Showdown? Really?  Will only one camera remain standing?  This is getting comical!

I fail to understand why people are so defensive. Your existing camera suddenly doesn't become worse when a new model is released.

 

There are quite clearly some major improvements in handling, rangefinder, battery life, screen, sensor reliability, resolution and file quality in the M240 series of cameras, but it doesn't make the M9 series any worse a camera. NOTHING changes for you.

 

It just means that those of us who either upgrade or buy into Leica with the new model have those advantages.

 

It also means Leica make sales to new or existing customers due to the improvements they make, which in turn allows them to continue in business and therefore continue to improve their products and engage with even more customers.

 

Why not simply recognise the improvements whilst retaining your enjoyment of a product you have and will continue to enjoy, instead of being quite so snippy about it...

 

I am more than happy with my M240P, but I know that the next model will outperform it in some way... maybe in every way. At that point I may decide to upgrade, but it is more likely I will keep it for another three years or so and replace it with the subsequent model...

 

Whatever happens, I know the camera I have today will be every bit as good as it is now...

 

It is good for everyone for Leica to go from strength to strength... So please, can we all just be a little less defensive and embrace progress and continuous improvement.

Edited by Livingston

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that the files should have been optimized separately for each of the cameras, versus applying the same tonal adjustments to each.  Especially if one is striving for a real world comparison.  And particularly because the M246, by all reports (I don't have mine yet), requires less PP than does the M9M.

 

The M9M images here still retain a degree of 'flatness.'  As if they're mostly, but not completely, baked.

 

That said, your testing was anything but trivial, David, and is much appreciated.

Edited by Jager

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

David, I think your methodology as presented shows one kind of comparison (and a meaningful one at that)...but at the same time I also think working on each cameras individual files at each ISO level in post processing to acheive the best possible file (subjectively) is equally meaningful and important.

 

If you could also post such results, it would round out the comparison files from each camera nicely.

 

Dave (D&A)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm. Interesting feedback.

If anything, I expected the opposite request, looking for OOC files. 

 

To clarify, I adjusted all the images so that all three cameras were a close match at base ISO. I then synced this adjustment for each camera. While I did not change the tone sliders or curves for each individual image, I did attempt to optimize sharpening and noise reduction on an image by image basis..

 

The reason the M9M files look flat as the ISO gets higher is the introduction of noise which is almost uniformly spread across the image, which NR could not fix, and the reduction of dynamic range in the file. Even if I increased contrast or dropped the blacks, the M9M images would not have any improvement in detail rendering. They would be more punchy, yes, but not contain any more information. 

 

I am traveling at the moment and probably won't have time to post any additional images for at least a week. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to demonstrate the effect of tonal enhancement for the M9M at ISO 5000 and 10000. I'll certainly take a crack at it when I get the chance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"One thing that springs to mind as an old film photographer who has been struggling with grain- reducing developers for a considerable part of his life, is how blindingly good each of these cameras is at high ISO."

 

Why should one confuse grain with high ISO noise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dislike both. I never was a Tri-X user. I tend to avoid grainy structures in my images, whatever the origin (except when I put it there deliberately, once in a while). Slow slide film was my most used medium.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I fail to understand why people are so defensive. Your existing camera suddenly doesn't become worse when a new model is released.

 

There are quite clearly some major improvements in handling, rangefinder, battery life, screen, sensor reliability, resolution and file quality in the M240 series of cameras, but it doesn't make the M9 series any worse a camera. NOTHING changes for you.

 

It just means that those of us who either upgrade or buy into Leica with the new model have those advantages.

 

It also means Leica make sales to new or existing customers due to the improvements they make, which in turn allows them to continue in business and therefore continue to improve their products and engage with even more customers.

 

Why not simply recognise the improvements whilst retaining your enjoyment of a product you have and will continue to enjoy, instead of being quite so snippy about it...

 

I am more than happy with my M240P, but I know that the next model will outperform it in some way... maybe in every way. At that point I may decide to upgrade, but it is more likely I will keep it for another three years or so and replace it with the subsequent model...

 

Whatever happens, I know the camera I have today will be every bit as good as it is now...

 

It is good for everyone for Leica to go from strength to strength... So please, can we all just be a little less defensive and embrace progress and continuous improvement.

I get the humor in this, but behind the humor is an implicit message that one camera is better than the other, and the older camera with "the crappy screen" (as some have metioned, etc.) is just about obsolete, devalued, and yesterday's news.  Some of us prefer the IQ of the MMI, and all the hype around the latest incarnation seems not to honor that.  I would be careful about the language we use.  Words are very powerful. 

 

To those enjoying their new latest best camera, all I can say is, enjoy it, but acknowledge the fact that for some of us, it really isn't a big deal (not $4K's. worth on top of the initial 8K investment).  I'm holding onto my MMI, there is no showdown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get the humor in this, but behind the humor is an implicit message that one camera is better than the other, and the older camera with "the crappy screen" (as some have metioned, etc.) is just about obsolete, devalued, and yesterday's news.  Some of us prefer the IQ of the MMI, and all the hype around the latest incarnation seems not to honor that.  I would be careful about the language we use.  Words are very powerful. 

 

To those enjoying their new latest best camera, all I can say is, enjoy it, but acknowledge the fact that for some of us, it really isn't a big deal (not $4K's. worth on top of the initial 8K investment).  I'm holding onto my MMI, there is no showdown.

 

I never once said nor implied that the M9M is a bad camera or in any way obsolete. In my conclusion I point to fact that I have made many images at ISO 5000 and ISO 6400 that I am extremely happy with, and I'm pretty picking about image quality. Some don't care about a nicer screen, live view, faster frame rate, etc. and just want a great black and white M camera. The M Monochrom (v1) is a fantastic choice. For around $4K for a used one, new users can get into the system (and are in decent numbers). There is nothing bad about this situation. Happy M9M owners can remain happy M9M owners. New entrants into the system now have two different price points to choose from. Those desiring a more updated feature set or enhanced ISO capabilities can upgrade to the new MM246. 

 

I'd be worried if the MM246 didn't offer enhanced features or improved performance in some measurable way. The fact that it does, means that Leica is continuing to support B&W digital M photographers and keeping pace with digital innovation. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get the humor in this, but behind the humor is an implicit message that one camera is better than the other, and the older camera with "the crappy screen" (as some have metioned, etc.) is just about obsolete, devalued, and yesterday's news.  Some of us prefer the IQ of the MMI, and all the hype around the latest incarnation seems not to honor that.  I would be careful about the language we use.  Words are very powerful. 

 

 

Too funny, coming from the person who routinely writes about the superiority of any CCD camera compared to its CMOS counterpart, as if it were a showdown to begin with.   Amusing now to see you on the defensive end, when in reality there was never a reason to consider one camera better (IQ or otherwise) than another….they're all just tools in a much larger workflow, with infinite rendering possibilities depending on the user.

 

Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took nothing inflammatory whatsoever from David's test or writing and say that as an owner of the MM1. I would not pay to upgrade, but I would swap for free so happily admit that the new camera is clearly superior for my purposes, just not superior enough to want to pay $thousands for that superiority!

 

Leica owners can be so incredibly sensitive. To pick on a nuance and declare the MM1 to be 'better for my purposes' strikes me as indicative of insecurity. Why is it so hard to recognise the improvements the M246 brings, even if they are not that important to you personally? I don't personally feel that recognition of the improvements with the M246 in any way reduces the photographic potential of my MM1, which will remain a potent tool five or ten years from now (after all, an immaculate A1 print is an immaculate A1 print)

 

While we cannot discount the value of subjective preferences, I can't see anything quantifiable superior about the MM1, perhaps aside from lower weight and possibly greater simplicity. The MM1 set the bar high, but seeing as we are measuring bar height, one can only conclude the MM2 bar is higher. One doesn't have to partake in the jumping, however.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never once said nor implied that the M9M is a bad camera or in any way obsolete.

And I never said you did.    I made reference to "what some have mentioned. etc." I have no doubt that your intent here is honest and sincere.  I personally would not have called it a "showdown," but that's just me.   Clearly this new incarnation has significant improvements, and for the record, I've never negated these improvements.  Enjoy!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clearly this new incarnation has significant improvements, and for the record, I've never negated these improvements.  Enjoy!

You mean as long as picture quality is not included in your list of considerations….for that, you're quite comfortable with using 'showdown'-type verbiage.

 

Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue., Read more about our Privacy Policy