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Leica S3 vs M10 Monchrom for BW


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S3 provides for use of color channels in post; a Monochrom does not, but might be benefit from colored lens filters.  Other obvious difference is sensor size, which might provide benefits in terms of tonal transitions, print size, etc, but a good photographer/printer can mean as much or more than the gear...as always.  These superb cameras will rarely be a limiting factor.

Jeff

 

Edited by Jeff S
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1 hour ago, stump4545 said:

Any thoughts on to which is the better Black White Machine?

Bigger sensor on S3 vs no Anti Aliasing filter on monohrcom M10.

007 vs M10 Monochrom?

S3 or 007 do not have AA filter neither. The difference is lack of Bayer filter in M10-M.

If I want to shoot B&W, I prefer M10-M.

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What do you want to photograph, and how? I think that is the more important difference. The S and M are totally different tools, which I think is more significant than which one does better black and white. The M10 monochrome will likely do better from the noise standpoint, but worse in resolution. Personally, I still think Tmax 400 in 6x7 or bigger still looks a lot better than any digital conversion to B&W...if I have an opportunity to shoot it on film, I find that almost invariably gives a better image. That is personal taste, however...I do not have the M10 Monochrome, but I have tested it, but I do have the S3.

Edited by Stuart Richardson
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I have a 007, and realizing how often I did B&W conversions I decided to get an M10M. I have posted a comparison of the two elsewhere. It’s a luxury to have both.

the M10M is good enough that I regularly use it for B&W, but for your decision, it depends on what you shoot and what lenses you need vs have.

Too bad there isn’t an S3mono.

if you want to discuss in an side message let me know.

jack

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57 minutes ago, Herr Barnack said:

Now THAT would turn the world of black and white digital photography upside down!

Hardly, considering that Phase already has a 150MP monochromatic camera, with an even bigger sensor. But an S3-M surely would be more affordable.

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S
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3 hours ago, Jeff S said:

Hardly, considering that Phase already has a 150MP monochromatic camera, with an even bigger sensor. But an S3-M surely would be more affordable.

Jeff

Seeing as how the Phase One  XF IQ4 back alone goes for $54,900 American ( 😵 ), I guess I will make do with my M10 Mono.  I would expect most other b&w photographers in these environs will do likewise. 

Edited by Herr Barnack
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  • 2 months later...

I'm curious about the highlight roll off.  The one thing I really dislike about the Monochrom line is how they hit a wall and clip in the highlights.  With film, and to an extent a bayer color digital chip, the highlights roll off more gracefully.  In all of the demos I've done with the M9M and M246, I've been turned off by the highlight handling.

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2 hours ago, yeeper said:

I'm curious about the highlight roll off.  The one thing I really dislike about the Monochrom line is how they hit a wall and clip in the highlights.  With film, and to an extent a bayer color digital chip, the highlights roll off more gracefully.  In all of the demos I've done with the M9M and M246, I've been turned off by the highlight handling.

The M10-R has been praised for its highlight control by Jono and others.  I suspect the b&w conversions can be superb in the right hands, but I don’t have experience with it or with the M10 Monochrom to see how they might perform or compare in this regard.  For me, highlight rendering and tonal subtlety (skies, etc) is one area where digital, at least the cameras I’ve used, is lacking compared to film. 
 

Jeff

 

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I don't know if I am just getting cranky, or spoiled by shooting large format, but I agree with Jeff. It is really hard to beat how film translates light into tonality. I think the natural rolloff that you get from the photochemical processes tend to smooth out most of the extremes in tonality, in a way that is closer to the way that people see. I can make beautiful black and white conversions from modern digital cameras, but they are not AS beautiful as big film. There is a lightness to the tonality, a life. I know this kind of statement drives people who prefer digital mad, as it is difficult to quantify and difficult to "prove". I don't think it is a matter of proof. But I can say that as a professional printer for more than the past decade or so, as one who is very at home with a whole host of digital cameras, inkjet printers, scanners as well as the black and white and color darkrooms, that I have not seen more beautiful images than those made by talented photographers on 4x5 and 8x10. That most definitely includes Phase One right up to 150mp. Of course, this is said with the understanding that film is inconvenient, impractical and expensive in those formats, and that in most cases it is translated to digital at some point anyway (which does not cause it to lose its charm). But if you put a gun to my head as to one camera to use the rest of my life, no exceptions, it would be my Ebony 4x5.

Edited by Stuart Richardson
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You're both right.  

 

Whenever I get frustrated processing, printing and scanning, with the surge marks in the negative, dust, scratches, uneven enlarger illumination, etc, etc, I'll look at used Monochrom listings.  But then I always force myself to browse Monochrom images on Flickr and the forums and there is always this plastic, artificial undertone to them.  Sometimes it's super subtle, but I almost always feel it.  Even in small image Facebook posts, when scrolling I'll know a digital b/w conversion versus a film scan.  

 

So yeah.  I hear you.  I will continue this abusive relationship with film photography haha.

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To be more helpful and less curmudgeonly, I guess I would say that I would say that the highlight behavior is best tamed by shooting differently. With black and white film, your shadows are usually more of a problem than your highlights. With the monochrome cameras, despite them being black and white, they are better shot like slide film. Preserve the highlights at all costs and then push the shadows in post. In general the monochrome files that I have seen tend to look very flat at first. In this sense, they remind me of older style film like HP5 or FP4, though without the grain or highlight compression. So they basically look kind of monotonous by default, but that is really what you want...something you can add contrast to and manipulate. This is one of the few cameras that I think it might be helpful to create a kind of still camera version of a LUT...some sort of preset to juice the files a bit on import. Even people who are used to editing tend to get a bit frustrated when they see bland images coming in, even if they know that those images can easily be made great. I see this a lot with providing scans to people who intend to work the files later. I specifically ask people first if they want flat scans, as they are far more flexible, but of course they look pretty poor without adjustment. The monochrome cameras seem to tend to the same. I do not have one, so I cannot give any super specific recommendations, but those are my general thoughts.

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On 12/7/2020 at 1:08 PM, yeeper said:

I'm curious about the highlight roll off.  The one thing I really dislike about the Monochrom line is how they hit a wall and clip in the highlights.  With film, and to an extent a bayer color digital chip, the highlights roll off more gracefully.  In all of the demos I've done with the M9M and M246, I've been turned off by the highlight handling.

AFAIK, in-camera highlight clipping is the same with color and monochrome sensor. Anything that is clipped is gone. Still, with color, some channels (RGB) get clipped earlier, and software can sometimes reconstruct/guess the clipped channel content using the data from other channels. That approach may lead to false colors, though.
With Monochrom, you cannot count on post-processing software. It is the user's responsibility not to clip channels. Therefore, those who rely entirely on automatic exposure often use EC -1.

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18 hours ago, yeeper said:

You're both right.  

 

Whenever I get frustrated processing, printing and scanning, with the surge marks in the negative, dust, scratches, uneven enlarger illumination, etc, etc, I'll look at used Monochrom listings.  But then I always force myself to browse Monochrom images on Flickr and the forums and there is always this plastic, artificial undertone to them.  Sometimes it's super subtle, but I almost always feel it.  Even in small image Facebook posts, when scrolling I'll know a digital b/w conversion versus a film scan.  

 

So yeah.  I hear you.  I will continue this abusive relationship with film photography haha.

You went far beyond my comment and sentiment, which was strictly about subtle differences in highlight rendering, in some circumstances, between digital and film, based on my personal experience.  
 

I disagree with your take on ‘plastic’ appearance and preferring scans to digital conversions (when executed well). I’ve exhibited silver prints and digital prints side by side (custom matted and framed under glass), and viewers generally cannot distinguish and don’t care.  The picture and print either resonates or not.  I’ve seen plenty of  crappy silver prints, and wonderful digital prints, and vice versa.  A truly luscious silver print, however, is something special, and often the highlight rendering is part of the equation.  Large format, especially, can at times shine with tonal transitions, textures and feel. But less so with 35mm, film or digital.  

Blown highlights are an entirely different issue, film (especially slide) or digital. User problem.

Jeff

Edited by Jeff S
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1 hour ago, Jeff S said:

You went far beyond my comment and sentiment, which was strictly about subtle differences in highlight rendering, in some circumstances, between digital and film, based on my personal experience.  
 

I disagree with your take on ‘plastic’ appearance and preferring scans to digital conversions (when executed well). I’ve exhibited silver prints and digital prints side by side (custom matted and framed under glass), and viewers generally cannot distinguish and don’t care.  The picture and print either resonates or not.  I’ve seen plenty of  crappy silver prints, and wonderful digital prints, and vice versa.  A truly luscious silver print, however, is something special, and often the highlight rendering is part of the equation.  Large format, especially, can at times shine with tonal transitions, textures and feel. But less so with 35mm, film or digital.  

Blown highlights are an entirely different issue, film (especially slide) or digital. User problem.

Jeff

I've found that these all tie in with each other.  There is no organic shoulder roll-off to clipping in digital.  You see this on reflections, specular highlights, etc.  This might be combining with the clean, sterile rendering of our new low-noise chips which leads to the feeling I get from it.  Do prints tone this down with their own tactile, analog, textured presence?  I think so.  I've seen some incredible digital prints.  But at the same time, you can't tell me that I'm not feeling what I'm feeling when I'm looking at a photo online.  Again, I WANT to simplify my life and buy a nice used 246, but the files always feel cold to me.

 

One example is the new lockdown Peter Turnley stuff.  I LOVE Turnley's work.  I own one of his silver prints.  But his recent NYC/Paris lockdown work has a tonality and feel much different than his analog work.  It's that hyper-real, clean, almost "plasticy" feel.  It's hard to put a finger on.

 

Maybe this isn't 100% the lack of highlight roll-off and clipping of digital Monochrom, but that definitely plays in.  When tones hit a wall of clipping instead of a graceful taper in analog, It feels cold and electronic to me.  I'm sure not everyone, but that's my personal experience and I'll be cursing while spotting dust for years because of it.

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11 minutes ago, yeeper said:

 But at the same time, you can't tell me that I'm not feeling what I'm feeling when I'm looking at a photo online.  

 

 

 

 

First, I would never tell anyone what they feel, or should feel.  None of my business or concern.

Second, I don’t make any judgments based on online viewing.  I make my own prints, and collect vintage silver prints from many highly regarded photographers/printers. As noted, I’ve seen wonderful and mediocre examples, both film and digital. Digital prints needn’t be hyper clean, nor plasticky. But they can be. There are myriad shooting and rendering styles and techniques. The user is the key factor, but as I’ve written, there does seem to be a technological barrier...particularly in subtle highlight transitions...in much digital compared to film.  But at the end of the day, I don’t spend time comparing film vs digital prints; they can be different but impressive in their own regard, and only when the picture compels in the first place.

More back on topic, I think either an S3 or an M10 Monochrom is quite capable of yielding fine prints in the hands of capable users.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if the S3 provided some advantages, in large prints, that come from the larger sensor in combination with those superb S lenses. But it’s not plug and play.

Jeff

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