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Third article on the Leica M 246 on overgaard.dk "The Monochrome goes to Paris"

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I've finished the third article on the Leica M 246 where all sample photos are taken in Paris with the 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 on the Leica M 246

 

It might be an interesting comparison with the previous article made in Munich with the Noctilux. And I look at adjusting images when over-exposed. 

 

Also: A slideshow with music, lyrics and Leica M photos!

 

 

Enjoy!

 

http://www.overgaard.dk/leica-M-Monochrom-Type-246-Digital-Rangefinder-Camera-black-and-white-sensor-page-28-The-Leica-M246-Goes-to-Paris.html

 

 

 

 

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Interesting and informative article. 

 

Just one thing. In the photos with the light meter and the book on you are saying, that overexposing ruins the overall image quality. Just to make sure i understand your conclusion from your tests.

 

If you were to shoot in a concert, where the spotlights are several f-stops brighter than the musicans and the scene itself, or during the night, where some lightbulbs would be several f-stops brighter than the street/environment, you are concluding that it still would ruin the overall image quality if the photographer exposed for the scene and not the light sources?

 

In other words: How little does it take before the overall image quality suffers?

Edited by BjarniM

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Interesting and informative article. 

 

Just one thing. In the photos with the light meter and the book on you are saying, that overexposing ruins the overall image quality. Just to make sure i understand your conclusion from your tests.

 

If you were to shoot in a concert, where the spotlights are several f-stops brighter than the musicans and the scene itself, or during the night, where some lightbulbs would be several f-stops brighter than the street/environment, you are concluding that it still would ruin the overall image quality if the photographer exposed for the scene and not the light sources?

 

In other words: How little does it take before the overall image quality suffers?

The overexposed image just is overexposed all over, so that's what ruins it. 

 

I would never expose for the light source, always for the subject (which would deb someone on stage, not the light source or the background). Often the light source is not in the image, but some times if it is you can use it to create effects as background or exploding light.

 

 

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Thorsten, I think you miss a lot of the capability of Lightroom, particularly using local adjustments.  Global adjustments rarely suffice for me, particularly in contrasty situations, no different than in my darkroom days.  And I vastly prefer using the most up-to-date LR iteration and processing engine for the utmost flexibility, including split toning and many other techniques as desired ...  Different strokes.

 

Even using older iterations of Lightroom, there are many ways to deal with 'zones' and tones, as illustrated by Charles Cramer's article…  https://luminous-landscape.com/tonal-adjustments-in-the-age-of-lightroom-4/

 

There are myriad tonal possibilities with any given image, and many possible PP techniques to get there, for those who want to take the time to treat each image individually rather than try to achieve a 'batch process' work flow.  The camera is merely a starting point, just as film type never led to a singular look…as evidenced by the link below.

 

Regarding Ansel's Moonrise, it's noteworthy that he, too, depended greatly on local adjustments, and significantly changed his print interpretation….notably the darker skies…over a 34 year period….  http://www.andrewsmithgallery.com/exhibitions/anseladams/arrington/arrington_adams.html

It's not the film, or the sensor, it's the photographer's interpretation.

 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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That's a big box to open up, Jeff, but you are right in many ways.

 

I don't know what Ansel Adams would do today, but he would be an avid Photoshop user (and he would love it). If you look through history there would be many different ways of dealing with Lightroom and Photoshop if some of the things were to be done today. HCB would have somebody else do it. Some of the glamour photographers of Hollywood would use a lot of Photoshop. 

 

My take on editing is that if it takes more than 30 seconds to 3 minutes in Lightroom, it isn't a picture. I will very rarely go into local adjustments, and when I do it's usually Graduated Filter to bring a larger end of the photo up or down. I used to do dodge and burning in Photoshop but I am happy that I don't "have to* do that anymore. http://www.overgaard.dk/100000-exposures-later-III-dodge-and-burn.html

 

I actually had a photo yesterday from 2010 that I found and adjusted with graduated filter en re-edited. I hadn't used it back then. I am sure I could fix several photos I did if I had the time and intention. But generally a picture for me has to work with a quick general adjustment or it is not a picture.

 

I think it also has a lot to do with the intention to begin with. Ansel Adams knew the whole workflow from the moment he measured the light and knew how he wanted the negative to be in order to be able to do the adjustments in the darkroom later on. 

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I think it also has a lot to do with the intention to begin with. Ansel Adams knew the whole workflow from the moment he measured the light and knew how he wanted the negative to be in order to be able to do the adjustments in the darkroom later on. 

I hope you read my link….Adams dramatically changed his print interpretation of that Moonrise negative as he printed it over 34 years.  And, as far as making the negative, he rushed to take another shot, but the light went down too fast.  I'm sure he would have adjusted technique if the negative had required and was salvageable.

 

Yes, we have far different takes on making a picture.  For me, an image is 'print-worthy' or not based on many different criteria, but if so, then whatever it takes to make the final print 'sing' is just fine.  Nobody, including me, cares how much...or how little... work it takes to get there.  After decades of darkroom use, I consider the efficiency and flexibility of software like LR a miracle….most work takes very little time…the devil is in the details, since that is often the difference between a magical print and a pretty darn good one.

 

Given our extreme differences in this regard, I would hesitate to conclude that a camera (or sensor) is not good in such and such light….instead, I think it's the photographer that's generally responsible, assuming he/she takes advantage of common and disciplined shooting and PP techniques (or gets the help from someone else to address the latter).  So, for me, a key conclusion of your article is problematic.

 

Different strokes, indeed.

 

Jeff

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He did play around a lot with the Moonrise. Technology changed, and I think he had different and changing opinions about it. At least he made many different editions. And he didn't measure a lot when he did it but relied on that he knew what the light intensity of the moon was, giving that as the reason why he didn't bracket (I think there was not time for it anyways).

Generally he knew the workflow very well and planned for it I'm sure. The Moonrise was not a normal shot for Ansel Adams in terms of planning and preparation. 

 

What is your own opinion on your M246 photos?

Edited by Overgaard

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What is your own opinion on your M246 photos?

After comparisons, I generally prefer the PP flexibility the M240 offers through the use of color channels.  My print sizes don't warrant the extra resolution, and I don't shoot at extreme ISOs, which is where I think the M246 distinguishes itself.  

 

As in the darkroom days, I find most incremental improvements in my prints through what happens after I push the shutter button, provided of course the camera is capable to start, and virtually all the Leica Ms are.  There are many variables in the back-end workflow to address….software (continually improving, often for free), printers, papers, profiles, inks, various display factors (lighting, glass, etc), and techniques (always learning).  For me (and probably for Adams), it's about the final print...the camera is only a start….plus a nice lens that complements the workflow and intent.  And most of all, of course, a great image to start….lack of IQ hasn't been an excuse for most folks for quite a while now, and not just for those using Leica.

 

For people who don't print, there are loads more cameras that can suffice.

 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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I agree that blown highlights are the bane of digital photography.  The Q's sensor is better than the M240's and we hope that the M250s will be better still.  What your article should probably address more directly is how being able to adjust the luminosity of colours, when converting to b&w, allows you to separate tones in the way that you have been able to do in the photo above.  To me, that is much more important than having slightly higher resolution and is why I stick to the M240, even when shooting for B&W.

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Good article, informative and thought-provoking (even if a little bit too wordy for my liking - as usual, and I read most of your articles). I have been shooting with the M246 since early May (I think I was one of the first people to get one in Europe). I do share your observations about the 50 APO - it is a great lens on the M240 but I find it too harsh/detailed/uninteresting on the M246. In fact, I have been using the M246 almost exclusively with old lenses, specifically the Summicron 50 v2 (Rigid) - a lovely lens, very sharp and mellow at the same time and the Summicron 35 v1 (8-element) - similar look but even sharper than the 50. As for processing, I don't use Lightroom so much any more (I do for colour images, but I don't find the controls sufficient for B&W). What I do instead: (i) locate image in Bridge, (ii) open in PS CC, (iii) basic edits in ACR, (iv) open as Smart Object - so that I can come back to ACR to change basic edits, if necessary, (v) use multiple Curve adjustment layers, in the masking mode - paint in the image with a black or white brush to restrict the edits to selected areas only, (vi) fight with PS CC a bit to bring the image into 8-bit/Grayscale mode without rendering/flattening the image and then (vii) go into Duotone mode and apply my favourite Quadtone preset... which usually makes the image too dark/contrasty, upon which I go back to ACR and play with initial brightness/contrast settings, until the image looks to my liking. Below is a portrait of my lovely wife, shot with the 50 v2 processed as described here. The second picture is a photo shot at the DOX modern art museum in Prague, with the Summicron 35 v1 and processed as above, minus the Quadtone treatment. The files require/are suitable for a lot of PP...the M246 is not a "snapshot camera"; more like large format - every image requires work, work, work (and then can be beautiful).

 

 

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/applications/core/interface/imageproxy/imageproxy.php?img=https://farm1.staticflickr.com/361/19871919191_c860d37b39_o.jpg&key=2671a46c6aaf5f402cac5dd9b0f6bb862fc4e9bc43d717fcb664124059a7c33d"> Edited by albireo_double

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I remember way back when, upon reading Thorsten's early M9 techniques regarding shooting DNG's in color and jpeg in B&W. That worked for me and also convinced me to buy the first MM.

 

M240 images converted to B&W via SEP work fine for me. Sometimes small PP adjustments in PS, but not very often needed IMHO for my images and what I want to project. I do agree many overprocess B&W images with myself included from time to time. Now that I have the M246 I find myself using the M240 less for B&W conversions unless I captured something on it and not on the M246 that I want to look at in B&W. Also for me the final print is what I endeavor to make the best I can. Still learning plenty about that, but seemingly progressing. For sure, no one can tell by viewing anything on their monitor.

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Thorsten - you are really a wonderful teacher, and as generous in your writing as you were in person in the workshop I took with you in 2012. (Also extremely generous that you link to my pieces, exposing my writing and pictures to your large audience -- thank you.)

 

I've just come back from spending a good amount of time shooting the M-246 with the 50 APO, and I find what you write about not liking that particular look very interesting.  I checked and, interestingly, most of the images that I took that I like were made either with the 28mm Summicron or the 35mm Summicron v. IV -- and I don't think it's just because I was shooting landscape and those focal lengths were the right ones.  So: fascinating that a lens made for just such a sensor is lacking a bit of romance and life found in the Nocti and the old Bokeh King...

 

Your analysis using the Zone Method as a frame of reference has really gotten me to think.  I mostly agree with you, though I have found some images (one is below) where there are a lot of blown highlights, yet in my estimation, the Zones IX and X portions work with the 246, and have more life to them -- I believe -- than I would have gotten out of the M9M. I don't think the issue you've identified is an M-246 issue -- I think it's a black and white vs. color issue.  To me, a monochrome image is simply less interesting in bright, harsh light, though certainly there were 70 years of photography when spectacular images were captured in such light because color wasn't really thought of as an alternative.  Depending on the hour of the day, I think in color vs. thinking in black and white.  (Zone X would be noon and I wouldn't want to take anything in monochrome at that hour...)  I don't think what you object to in those Zones VII - X situations are a function of the M-246's capabilities, so much as the limitation of monochrome photography.

 

If I were in one of your workshops and you dismissed Silver Efex Pro, I'd push back, I think, using your own criteria as argument against your point of view.  You and Jeff had a good exchange on whether laboring over an image in post-processing renders an image "not a picture."  But what I have found with both the M9M Monochrom and the 246 is that files come out of the camera so flat and malleable, in order to maximize the life contained within them, you have to spend a good deal of time in Lightroom tinkering.  Or -- and this is my typical workflow -- I make minor adjustments in exposure in LR, and then send them over to Silver Efex Pro where, 90% of the time, dialing up Structure a bit, I can get the look I want in about... a minute.  So, all in, I can spend a minute or two on an image and get the look I like -- which I think is in the time frame you would allow for it to "be a picture."  But, it's faster for me if I use SFX Pro -- I find it an easy, quick tool.

 

Forgive the indulgence, but here's the picture (taken with the 50 APO...) I had in mind when, agreeing with virtually everything you wrote about avoiding Zone VIII and above, I was reminded: sometimes it is good to let a little bit of Zone IX and even X sneak into a picture.  Down razzing it to post here makes it fuzzy and takes away much of the romance -- as a print, the light sparkles -- even where the highlights are completely blown! Cheers to you.  JB

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Thank you fort he kind words John 

 

I generally don't use Silver Efex Pro but I recognize that 50% or so does this or photoshop or other filters. That's what I see in the photo competitions I judge. I think whatever one need to do to get ones own look is what you do.

 

The only thing I ask is that you make it your own. You have to take ownership of a software or plugin to make it your look. I know some who does nothing but use the JPG from the Monochrom. 

 

And also, as I write several places, aesthetics change and will change even more. As it is already different between age difference in photographers, cultures and so on (Arabic photographers use different aesthetics than Asian, and Scandinavian have they own aesthetics). Not to mention that Leica M photographers often are 70% black & white, which is a different than for Canon dSLR shooters for example.

 

So basically one shouldn't have strong opinions about other photographs than ones own. You can like or not like others, but you cannot tell how they should do it. You can make you own and some will like them and others will disagree. But you make them for your self and the ones who like them. So I think that gives a lot of freedom as to what is "allowed" or not allowed.

If Ansel Adams did my workshop tomorrow, I think I would tell him he should look for a natural look made in the camera rather than in the darkroom. As a possibility to make things simpler and easier. And I would mean it. Which is laughable when you have history to prove that the way he went was right for him. It shows that one shouldn't tell others what to do. (I hope that people notice that I usually try to write what I do, not what they should do). 

 

I like the photo. Sparkling highlights are totally beautiful, just as blown out bokeh.

I am looking through lot of older photos in b&w made with the M9 currently and it is interesting to see how the aesthetics change even from that relatively young camera five years ago till now. I may try to include more on this in the next article about the Leica M 246 from Rome and Berlin. 

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Very informative article. Much appreciated for the considerable time this must have taken.

 

Ignoring the body and technology/functionality differences if you had to pick up the M246 or MMI for a shoot indoors and then outdoors which would you choose ?

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If Ansel Adams did my workshop tomorrow, I think I would tell him he should look for a natural look made in the camera rather than in the darkroom. As a possibility to make things simpler and easier. And I would mean it. Which is laughable when you have history to prove that the way he went was right for him. It shows that one shouldn't tell others what to do. (I hope that people notice that I usually try to write what I do, not what they should do). 

 

 

Adams' interpretations are not my cup of tea, but rigorous darkroom...or 'lightroom'...processing is often required by photographers seeking what you call a 'more natural' look, if the goal is making a print that truly 'sings'.

 

It's often all about the very fine details, not necessarily about turning an entire twilight sky dark. It could just be a 3% exposure adjustment that turns a highlight or texture from something ordinary to something special.  And even then, putting the print under UV glass, or changing the display lighting, can require another very subtle fine tuning to bring things back to life.

 

Great printers (people, not machines) are harder to find than great photographers IMO, and that's where meticulous processing is often required.  Printing for display has never been 'plug and play'….I think that's mostly an internet approach.  Do you make prints?

 

Jeff

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 Do you make prints?

 

Jeff

 

I have a printer making them for me, for exhibitions. I have some certain formats and materials I have chosen, all in C-Print. Some very large, some normal size. 

 

For my own walls I buy prints and drawings by others. 

 

 

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And if there both easy and smooth ?

I never tested and compared. 

 

Then again, you could say that I tested and compared M240 and MM and I ended up using the M240 also for black & white.  

 

It is my impression that some of the die-hard MM users and black & white only photographers I know of have decided not to move onto the M246 simply based on the look of the tones. 

 

But you can't really tell after having used it a lot, if it works better for you or not than the MM.  

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