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wilfredo

Leica Monochrom CCD, Who’s Selling? Why?

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And who is not selling, why?

I paid full price for my Monochrom when it first hit the market, and thankfully had the sensor replaced free of charge by Leica when that became an issue.  When the camera came back I noticed my highlights weren’t as severely blown out as in the past. Nice surprise.  Now you can get the Monochrom CCD for a bargain price of $3500. on EBay.  There are many for sale.   I would love the advanced features of the M10 Monochrom, but it’s the CCD sensor rendering of a near analogue  effect that I love about this camera.  I sense that B&W photography sensitivities are changing; CMOS sensors are much improved, but for my taste, the “new look” often seems sterile and over processed.  This “new look” seems to be in keeping with our “brave new world.”   My other camera is a Sony A7RIII, and I am able to get very good B&W conversions from it, but that analogue feel is gone, the photos are just too perfect.  I suppose we all want technically perfect photographs, but are we losing something in the process? The Monochrom CCD images still take my breath away, especially when shooting people, I love the more natural looking skin tones.  I'm attaching one of my favorite portraits to illustrate what I mean. Any thoughts?  

Edited by wilfredo

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For analogue feel shoot film. All digital cameras will eventually become history footnote when electronics and/or sensor cant be repaired any more. Arguing analogue feel coming form one type of sensor over other is fanboy-ism.

Efforts by MaxMax and Kolari to repair & convert older sensor is welcome but there are other electronic components inside any electronic device just waiting to fail and make cherished camera a door stop.   

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3 hours ago, mmradman said:

For analogue feel shoot film. All digital cameras will eventually become history footnote when electronics and/or sensor cant be repaired any more. Arguing analogue feel coming form one type of sensor over other is fanboy-ism.

Efforts by MaxMax and Kolari to repair & convert older sensor is welcome but there are other electronic components inside any electronic device just waiting to fail and make cherished camera a door stop.   

No one is arguing anything here, just making an observation and welcoming comments.  Nothing is permanent. I question whether in general our sensibilities towards B&W photography are changing?  That question is what motivated this post.  Perhaps it will generate some polite discussion?  BTW, I have three film cameras.  I have the option of shooting film. I can't bring myself to use these cameras  as door stoppers, or paper weights, and probably never will, even when they stop working. 

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I still think that for me, the MM1 photo thread has the most consistently high quality images.  (The Q2 thread is also superb with some great recent B+W additions from Snoopy).  I don’t own a MM1 (or Q2) and I can’t decide if it’s the camera or the nature of the person who buys it, that generate those great images, but there appears to be a something there.
 

I have a M10M and an APO 50 - with them I can create a photo which looks like a technical drawing and I have taken softer photos of my sons which allow their characters to somehow reflect through.  The range goes from clinical to atmospheric, I think it is an ‘interesting’ pairing.   I am lucky to also have a ‘Lux 28 although I am still near the foothills of that learning curve, however I would not attribute the words clinical or sterile to that combination either.  
 

I don’t want a film look, I could get that by using film, however I do enjoy the twilight zone between the historic realism some of us, me included, (wrongly?) attribute to film and the look Leica digital cameras create. Not because it looks like film but because it is the look I enjoy.  I can appreciate, but do not enjoy, photos which make me think ‘is it a photo or an exquisitely drawn cartoon’.  (I am exaggerating to make the point - but  I do think some other brands pull their users towards that,).
 

[I have a film camera (it takes two small coin batteries) which needs repaired as the electronics fry the batteries - it is over 30 years old.  Even that will never be a door stop, at worst it will be a beautiful display ornament, suspect my Leicas will also end up that way however I will have enjoyed using them for many many years before that.]

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We’ve had this discussion before. I have an MM, an M10 and SL2, and create b/w prints using each. (My b/w roots go back to the 70’s, using 35mm to large format. I also collect vintage silver prints from many greats, so I recognize a fine b/w print that ‘sings’). Each of my current cameras is fully capable of producing excellent results, or not, with many different rendering options from each.  For me, the main benefit of the MM is the mindset it creates with an all b/w workflow, and in that regard it is somewhat similar to my b/w film days.  But there are far too many variables in a capture to print (and print display) workflow to narrow it down to one specific ‘look’ resulting just from the camera (including lens, editing decisions, papers, inks, lighting, and much more).  As I routinely say, the most important tools are between the ears.  Weston did well with modest equipment and a bare light bulb; others produce mediocre results with the latest and greatest gear (M10M and MM included). 
 

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S

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4 hours ago, Sjz said:

I still think that for me, the MM1 photo thread has the most consistently high quality images.  (The Q2 thread is also superb with some great recent B+W additions from Snoopy).  I don’t own a MM1 (or Q2) and I can’t decide if it’s the camera or the nature of the person who buys it, that generate those great images, but there appears to be a something there.
 

I have a M10M and an APO 50 - with them I can create a photo which looks like a technical drawing and I have taken softer photos of my sons which allow their characters to somehow reflect through.  The range goes from clinical to atmospheric, I think it is an ‘interesting’ pairing.   I am lucky to also have a ‘Lux 28 although I am still near the foothills of that learning curve, however I would not attribute the words clinical or sterile to that combination either.  
 

I don’t want a film look, I could get that by using film, however I do enjoy the twilight zone between the historic realism some of us, me included, (wrongly?) attribute to film and the look Leica digital cameras create. Not because it looks like film but because it is the look I enjoy.  I can appreciate, but do not enjoy, photos which make me think ‘is it a photo or an exquisitely drawn cartoon’.  (I am exaggerating to make the point - but  I do think some other brands pull their users towards that,).
 

[I have a film camera (it takes two small coin batteries) which needs repaired as the electronics fry the batteries - it is over 30 years old.  Even that will never be a door stop, at worst it will be a beautiful display ornament, suspect my Leicas will also end up that way however I will have enjoyed using them for many many years before that.]

I resonate with a lot of what you've expressed.  You have amazing options at your disposal!  You wrote: "I don’t want a film look, I could get that by using film, however I do enjoy the twilight zone between the historic realism some of us, me included, (wrongly?) attribute to film and the look Leica digital cameras create." I put myself in the same camp.  The "twilight zone" is what I usually aim for in my own personal photography.  Thank you for sharing these thoughts and insights. The tension between "clinical and atmospheric" is a balancing act, and depends on the mood or situation of the day. Lots of food for thought.

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2 hours ago, Jeff S said:

We’ve had this discussion before. I have an MM, an M10 and SL2, and create b/w prints using each. (My b/w roots go back to the 70’s, using 35mm to large format. I also collect vintage silver prints from many greats, so I recognize a fine b/w print that ‘sings’). Each of my current cameras is fully capable of producing excellent results, or not, with many different rendering options from each.  For me, the main benefit of the MM is the mindset it creates with an all b/w workflow, and in that regard it is somewhat similar to my b/w film days.  But there are far too many variables in a capture to print (and print display) workflow to narrow it down to one specific ‘look’ resulting just from the camera (including lens, editing decisions, papers, inks, lighting, and much more).  As I routinely say, the most important tools are between the ears.  Weston did well with modest equipment and a bare light bulb; others produce mediocre results with the latest and greatest gear (M10M and MM included). 
 

Jeff

I can't disagree with any of this, and it's why I also shoot with the relatively affordable Sony A7RIII.  Each of these cameras produce a different flavor, and I myself have softened my attitude  towards CMOS sensors in Black and White photography.  CMOS sensors have come a long way in that regard. The latest gear is quite impressive.   Thank you for sharing these thoughts! 

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5 minutes ago, wilfredo said:

I can't disagree with any of this, and it's why I also shoot with the relatively affordable Sony A7RIII.  Each of these cameras produce a different flavor, and I myself have softened my attitude  towards CMOS sensors in Black and White photography.  CMOS sensors have come a long way in that regard. The latest gear is quite impressive.   Thank you for sharing these thoughts! 

Just to be clear, Wilfredo, I get different flavors even with the same camera, not just by switching gear. This is where all the variables I mentioned come into play. If common gear dictated common results, we’d each produce similar renderings... how boring that would be. People looking at my prints have no idea what gear was used, as each picture demands its own look and feel and size, etc. And if I do my job well, I can generally achieve that with any one of my current digital options.
 

Jeff

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All new current cameras render the same "perfect" images, so if one were looking to buy something new it doesn't really matter what you get.  That's not the case with the CCD rangefinders tough which is why I have one and will continue to keep it alive.

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My biggest mistake was to sell my M9M for the M246. wilfredo is absolutely correct about the near film look from the CCD sensor, such that I stopped using film while I had it. 

It wasn't that the M9M made photographs straight out of the camera that were exciting, they could be dull and lifeless as witnessed by many posted in the forums when it was released. It is how they come alive in post processing and how like the M9 the tones merge into the highlights in a very filmic way. The M246 made a better initial image, but no amount of curves and moving sliders could recreate the magic. The M246 was in fact harder work.

In either case the image straight from the camera isn't as satisfying for a 'miniature format' as film with grain and I wasn't afraid to add some grain or use the M9M at higher ISO so it could create it's own grain (the M246 also didn't do 'grain' as well as the M9M). But I see no reason to buy an M10M because the images are just becoming increasingly bland and lifeless so why should I pay for 'perfection' when I'm just going to get that grain slider moving and spoil them?

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I must admit I was tempted by the M9M when it was released, but I've been a film user for far too long to be convinced by claims that the images are close to 35mm film in character and quality.  They are not, they are clearly digital as the OP's image above illustrates perfectly well.

There is no denying, though, that looking through the Monochrom forums here that M9M images usually have a more pleasing look than M246 and especially the majority of M10M monochrom images, which I agree with others, seem tonally flat and aesthetically dull by comparison.

I wish people would stop trying to make these comparisons with film.  If you want a film look, shoot film!

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I have just purchased an M9M, it arrived yesterday.

I have had 2 in the past and been forced to sell them (finances)

This time it's here to stay.

I got lucky I think, new ID53 sensor, under 5k shutter and in excellent condition.

No boxes with it but that doesn't bother me at all.

I have no problem shooting this camera at super high ISO, even 10,000, the images has a flavour that I really like, I was playing around with it yesterday and all those yummy feelings came flooding back to me.

This is my favourite digital M by a long way, I've only had M8 M9 M9M M240 so I cannot speak for all of them. My only issue is my bad eyes (like a few of us here) I think I will need to get a diopter at some point, does anyone know the thread size for the M9M? I would need a +1.5 I think, at the moment I'm shooting with my glasses on and it can be annoying.

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"I sense that B&W photography sensitivities are changing; CMOS sensors are much improved, but for my taste, the “new look” often seems sterile and over processed.  This “new look” seems to be in keeping with our “brave new world.”

That's an interesting take on things.

The idea that CCD has an organic feel which is more like film-shooting and CMOS produces more 'perfect' / 'sterile' (or whatever) is, I very much agree, a valid one but to think that this is somehow 'new' is very misleading. Let's go back to the days decades before Barnack revolutionised things.

Once the collodio-albumen process had been perfected the capabilities of the negatives produced had such incredible detail their like would not be seen again until the very finest-grain emulsions had been developed (Ho!) a century or so later. The IQ of photographs taken / printed back in the 1860's were limited mainly by the quality of the paper used at the printing stage (the highest quality writing paper was considered to be the bee's knees). The silver halide emulsions which followed on from the collodion plates were nowhere near as capable but, for obvious reasons, became de rigeur for photographers.

Vast generalisation but the introduction of 135 film and fast emulsions was, technically speaking, a retrograde step as far as IQ is concerned. Subsequently film manufacturers spent many decades in the quest for finer and finer grain emulsions and companion developers which could allow for - as in the case with 2415 / Technidol LC - near large-format quality in terms of nigh-on invisible grain structure from a 35mm negative. It could well be argued that the CCD to CMOS advance (for such it is) is merely taking us back on the route to where we were 60 to 160 years ago.

I say all this as a very conteted M Monochrom and M-D Typ-262 user so have no axe to grind in favour of either camp. They each do things in a slightly different manner and I enjoy the differences each exhibits.

The '35mm film aesthetic' might well be changing but to think that this change is taking us somewhere we have never been before is inaccurate.

Philip.

Edited by pippy

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2 hours ago, Marac said:

...

This is my favourite digital M by a long way, I've only had M8 M9 M9M M240 so I cannot speak for all of them. My only issue is my bad eyes (like a few of us here) I think I will need to get a diopter at some point, does anyone know the thread size for the M9M? I would need a +1.5 I think, at the moment I'm shooting with my glasses on and it can be annoying.

Hello Marac,

Welcome to Monochrom world.

I think that with diopter lens on your Monochrom would be good idea.

MM1 has same correction lens size as other M since M3 of 1954.

You can find diopter for M second hand, but the best way to obtain the right correction lens is going to Leica dealer to try out different correction lenses.

They are in + or - 3.0, 2.0, 1.5, 1.0, 0.5 .

In my experience, as Leica M VF is at base -0.5 d , we must see things well at 2m, so glasses must be corrected to see at 2m.

 

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I'm a hobbie photographier and just few years with leica. I'm not really interested and skilled in detailed technical specifications - so i will speak about feelings and total experience. My first camera was MM and i felt in love with it even before i got one. I just wanted a camera to go and take b&w photos and that what MM did for me. It increased my level of inspiration about phtography.

When M10M came out i was very curious about it and finally got one with a decision to sell one of the monochromes when i understand which one is better for me. M10M was as easy to use as a MM and also it had no limitation of what conditions you need to take a shot. But i found that it changed my photography experience and made it more "conveyor" like. When switch back to MM i felt again that perfect pace and harmony. Then i tried to imagine the situation when i sell the M10M and i felt ok with this. Then i tried to imagine th situation when i sell the MM and i felt sad. That made me a decision) While i found the silent shutter is a huge advantage, the other M10M bonuses - i just dont fit them as a hobbie photographier. I'm like a kid with an adult toy, while MM feels like a part of me. 

So this was my emotional expirience why i'm not selling MM and selling M10M instead.

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For me it was M9M > M246 > Back to M9M again (with the new sensor).

I remember the first time I played with some images from the MM.  Nothing before or since, digital image-wise, has made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up like those from the M9M did.  I am still in love with mine and will never sell it.

The 246 just didn't do it for me; I've had the chance to shoot with an M10M, and it's a formidable camera of course, but the magic of the M9M is missing for me anyhow.

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4 hours ago, Likaleica said:

I don't think this is a function of the camera.

You can blame the people who own it for bland images but I think it is more the camera that encourages rephotographing everything that has gone before all over again. 

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9 minutes ago, 250swb said:

You can blame the people who own it for bland images but I think it is more the camera that encourages rephotographing everything that has gone before all over again. 

Short of photographing space aliens everything on earth that is being photographed today from beauty to the beast and anything in between has been photographed in some form or technique since 1820s.

 

and gore and anything in between.

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15 hours ago, 250swb said:

...the image straight from the camera isn't as satisfying for a 'miniature format' as film with grain and I wasn't afraid to add some grain or use the M9M at higher ISO so it could create it's own grain (the M246 also didn't do 'grain' as well as the M9M). But I see no reason to buy an M10M because the images are just becoming increasingly bland and lifeless so why should I pay for 'perfection' when I'm just going to get that grain slider moving and spoil them?

How I would LOVE to take part in a discussion about these aspects with as many (intelligent) members as could attend down the local pub over a pint or three of Agfarsons 'Old Wetting Agent'.

SO many things to chat about in this post. It would be a fascinating prospect!

Thank you, Paul, for mentioning these points! Much to think about.

Philip.

Edited by pippy

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