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Charles Morgan

M10 Monochrom Highlight Recovery question

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I'm thinking very seriously about buying a digital Leica M. Most of my work is black and white film, and while I do a bit of colour, it is very much a secondary consideration. That said, I have been tremendously impressed by the M10R's ability to recover a huge amount of highlight detail. It may sound odd, but I have a real dislike, bordering on a phobia, of blown highlights. Even in film - I develop in PMK Pyro to ensure as much highlight detail is retained as possible.

Obviously an M10 Monochrom would be a brilliant thing to have - just a question of those who use one, does the sensor have a similar capacity to recover highlight detail - or is the term a wide dynamic range? I appreciate much is about original exposure choice. Any help would be much appreciated - the one thing I cannot currently do is any testing, I am too far from a dealer!

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There is no information available as there are no adjacent bayer filter sites, so highlight recovery is not possible on the monochrom cameras.

M10M shadow recovery is good and banding almost non existent , so expose for the highlights and pull the shadows.

Edited by FrozenInTime

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A camera uses the not-yet-clipped colour channels to extrapolate and create highlight detail. As a monochrome camera has no colour channels this process is not possible.

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I was happy slide user for decades, so the "appreciation" of hight light was natural when I began to use Monochrom in 2015.

The main "learning curve" was NOT to blow hight light, but Leica took care of that in calibrating the Monochrom.

I don't have the M10 M but using my two earlier Monochrom tell me to be precautionous when metering "tricky light",

when in doubt I just bracket, and if time allow me, I look at the histogram on LCD to redo if required.

 

With some practice, I use manually set ISO, shutter speed not relying on the auto features, even with the M246's sophisticated meter pattern.

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Speaking of highlight phobias is understandable with photography being such a perfectionists art. I wouldn’t dare suggest a true phobic to do something that they fear most unless it has something to do with exposure therapy. 
 

My advice is to get the M10r. 

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Learned something new, thank you! One reason I rarely use my existing Fuji XH1 is having to underexpose, with all the joys of dark EVFs (that and the noise)

If life is about chimping and histogram watching, I might just stick to film for black and white where such things really matter, and try out the M10R. The resolution/sharpness is obviously less for B&W at higher ISO, but it's not exactly lacking in it...

 

 

Edited by Charles Morgan

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Regard the histogram as a precise  21st century version of an exposure meter. Although the problem with a RF viewfinder is that you cannot use it real-time. As for Monochroms, just imagine you are using slide film and expose for important highlights. You have more DR than the average B&W film so it is easy to balance the shadows. 

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4 hours ago, jaapv said:

Regard the histogram as a precise  21st century version of an exposure meter. Although the problem with a RF viewfinder is that you cannot use it real-time. As for Monochroms, just imagine you are using slide film and expose for important highlights. You have more DR than the average B&W film so it is easy to balance the shadows. 

I got the Visioflex 020 for my M10M and have just started exploring shooting dark/night images with it.

 

It does help with exposure when it's tough.

 

But yes, so far, I've been mainly exposing for the highlights and with this sensor's capabilities, I can readily bring up the shadows as needed.

I kind of think of it like Film....with color negative film, I tend to expose towards preserving my shadows, and with color reversal film, I tend to shoot to preserve my highlights...

(I think I got that right?)

Two different slants depending on how the film reacts with light and what gives you a thin negative.

 

Kinda the same with color vs monochrom cameras in digital....with color filters on the camera, you can often restore some somewhat blow highlight due to the image being split into 3 colors worth of information....you may blow out 2 channels, but if you still have data on one of them, you can recover some of those highlights.  But in general, you have a bit of trouble recovering shadows without too much noise if you crush them too badly on your exposure.

 

With the monochrom, with no color channel as a safety net, you need to CYA on your highlights...but you have room with it on the shadows with much more leeway to recover them if a bit crushed.

 

I hope I got this right...I'm still learning this myself.

;)

C

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I think you've got it :)
On highlights: if you have the histogram activated, just flatten the spike that is crushed against the righthand side of the histogram, either using full manual or A + EV compensation.  If there is a gap on the RH side, close it in the same manner. Don't be afraid of specular highlights. Who cares if a street light is blown?
Avoid Auto-ISO. It is the main cause of badly exposed photographs.
It has its uses, for instance with rapidly changing light, but in general it is best to set ISO to the lowest value that allows you to handhold reliably in the light of your shoot, for maximum DR.
The dial,  if pulled up, will allow you to change rapidly with the camera at your eye, should the need arise.

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As side note for " non-recoverable high light", on Monochrom and M246,

I'm exploring (learning to use by practicing ) the use of "opposite color filter" to reduce the "whiting in that color".

For example, when the blue sky "can blow", if the subject other colors (= converted to mono of course ), I use strong yellow filter or orange

depending on the main subject colors.

Saying that most of time, underexposing or careful metering can save the picture.

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2 hours ago, a.noctilux said:

As side note for " non-recoverable high light", on Monochrom and M246,

I'm exploring (learning to use by practicing ) the use of "opposite color filter" to reduce the "whiting in that color".

For example, when the blue sky "can blow", if the subject other colors (= converted to mono of course ), I use strong yellow filter or orange

depending on the main subject colors.

Saying that most of time, underexposing or careful metering can save the picture.

I pretty much am keeping a yellow filter (not very dark) on my camera 24/7....at least so far.

C

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4 hours ago, jaapv said:

For film shooters this is basic, for digital users brand new. ;) 

Now imagine when Q2 Monochrom is in the hands of forum members. There will be lots of repeated explanations on the Q2 forums as well :).

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It's a bit surprising that the people who splash out on these cameras - Q2, M10M - aren't completely aware of these things in advance

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It is vintage lore. ;)  But you are right, they are probably not aware of the essentials of B&W photography vs colour. Colour including conversions as those are computer simulations. Either they find the cameras excellent teaching tools or there will be mint trade-ins at the dealer. ;)  Present company excepted of course. 

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21 hours ago, SrMi said:

Now imagine when Q2 Monochrom is in the hands of forum members. There will be lots of repeated explanations on the Q2 forums as well :).

There's a Q2 Monochrom coming out?

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24 minutes ago, Cayenne said:

There's a Q2 Monochrom coming out?

In November 2020, or so they say. Check the Q2 forum for a discussion of the rumor.

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2 hours ago, SrMi said:

In November 2020, or so they say. Check the Q2 forum for a discussion of the rumor.

Interesting!!

 

OH well, I got my M10M....I'm good with this!!

;)

C

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On 10/26/2020 at 5:47 PM, jaapv said:

I think you've got it :)
On highlights: if you have the histogram activated, just flatten the spike that is crushed against the righthand side of the histogram, either using full manual or A + EV compensation.  If there is a gap on the RH side, close it in the same manner. Don't be afraid of specular highlights. Who cares if a street light is blown?
Avoid Auto-ISO. It is the main cause of badly exposed photographs.
It has its uses, for instance with rapidly changing light, but in general it is best to set ISO to the lowest value that allows you to handhold reliably in the light of your shoot, for maximum DR.
The dial,  if pulled up, will allow you to change rapidly with the camera at your eye, should the need arise.

A live histogram is one of the biggest advantages that mirrorless digital cameras have over DSLRs and rangefinders.  It takes almost all the guesswork out of getting proper exposure the first time, every time.  Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.

Also, I'd like for jaapv to explain how auto-ISO causes poor exposure.  That has not been my own experience with it, but then, I always keep my eye on the histogram.

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