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Leica Monochrome vs Black and White Film


Anthony MD

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1 hour ago, IkarusJohn said:

I have the large format books (they came with their own easel).  I agree on the images spread over two pages - they’d look fabulous, but for the gutter.  I rest my SWC in the middle to get a better view of the images.

I’m of two minds about Salgado.  Some of his work, I love.  He’s like a serious Erwitt.  But then there are others that leave me unmoved.  The idea with Genesis is you’re suppose to turn a page a day.  I’m insufficiently disciplined, so I just flick the pages over at random.  Like you, I’m suspicious over some that appear filmic and others I think have been over processed.  I like and use Tri-X, but I find the digital conversions a little too contrasty - reminiscent of Jacob Aue-Sobol’s Russian photos with the Monochrom.

It’s nice, however, having the book open and displaying changing images.

So I decided against the large format book when I found out that it too had double-page spreads  😔

I

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19 hours ago, nicci78 said:

Easy answer :

Under 30 : B&W film is better

Over 60 : digital monochrome is better. 

In between ? Whatever. 
 

😌

I don’t fit in that classification and I think there are quite a few who don’t. I’m over 70 and from a generation who has the analogue process still in its muscles. And there are  60+ers who do have the vitality and patience to do some work for a photo. Under 30 there are also a lot who just feel more at home with the digital working process

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I was recently asked if I'd do a print swap, by a photographer I know. He's a good landscape photographer, and I picked out one of his images of a bothy in the dusk, against dark mountains. He asked for this one of mine, that he'd seen on my Instagram page.

I dug it out from the hard drive, and sent it off for printing. I'd never made a print of it before, and I was really pleased with how it looked. Made me realise that I should print more of my work. I shot it in 2013, on my trusty M Monochrom mk1, and the EXIF data says it was on 1600 ISO, and 1/90th of a second exposure time. Try doing 1/90th hand held on an M11!

Anyway, the print is technically not a patch on an expertly hand-made darkroom fibre-based print from a film negative. But several things strike me about that. Firstly, I don't think I could have got as good an image as this from 35mm film. I love shooting film, and that's what I favour in good light. But when it gets dark, the M9M set to 1600 ISO has a look all to itself, that I find quite beautiful. A slight veiling grain, but losing none of its tonality. 1600 is the sweet spot for that camera. I can't get that look with any other camera, film or digital.

Secondly, it's possible to produce a true negative from a digital file, and make platinum palladium prints. This guy is a big advocate of the process, and he makes stunning-looking prints from his Q2 Monochrom. With modern digital sensors, it's pretty difficult to hit the limits on how good an image be.

And thirdly, it's amazing what you can get away with when you have an image of something striking, something with great light or composition, an amazing moment captured. In a case like that, the audience scarcely notices whether the image was made on film, or on a digital sensor. But, of course, beautiful tonality is always a the cherry on the cake, so to speak.

 

 

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On 10/4/2023 at 5:49 PM, DadDadDaddyo said:

I'm pretty sure I can't, or won't, resolve this to anyone else's satisfaction. 

What I can do is to say that for me, photography is a process that I use to produce an object, that is, a physical print; a print viewed under reflected light, not a digital file viewed under transmitted light.

And no sidetracks about transparencies here: a tiff or a jpg is not a transparency. The Kodachrome or Ektachrome slide is a physical final product too. A tiff or a dng or a jpg is an image captured in a storage medium, not finalized in a presentation medium; an lcd is not, to me, a final or satisfactory presentation medium: maybe for a video, but not for a photograph intended as an archival object. 

A well-produced print can engender in me, as the producer, a keen level of satisfaction - if my goals have been achieved. The born-digital image rendered to physical digitally-produced print does not lose out to the analog/chemical print in any respect in this regard. I say this as a person who's been producing analog/chemical photographs for more than 60 years. 

How do I judge? Well, does it work as a final image? Does it achieve what I set out to accomplish? Does it look right? Does any visible aspect of the print detract from what I intended in making the print?

The differences in the final product between digital and analog photography are really, really subtle. They're more like the differences between C-minor and B-Minor than like the differences between oil paints and watercolors. For that matter they're much more subtle than the differences between a print produced from a 35mm negative compared to a print produced from an 8x10 negative. 

In the end, it's the print that counts. 

Spot on here. Maybe modify the distinction between the C-minor and B-minor to something like: the difference between the cluster of tones called "C-minor" that appears in a tonal composition from the same cluster of tones that appear in an atonal composition? 

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6 hours ago, colint544 said:

I was recently asked if I'd do a print swap, by a photographer I know. He's a good landscape photographer, and I picked out one of his images of a bothy in the dusk, against dark mountains. He asked for this one of mine, that he'd seen on my Instagram page.

I dug it out from the hard drive, and sent it off for printing. I'd never made a print of it before, and I was really pleased with how it looked. Made me realise that I should print more of my work. I shot it in 2013, on my trusty M Monochrom mk1, and the EXIF data says it was on 1600 ISO, and 1/90th of a second exposure time. Try doing 1/90th hand held on an M11!

Anyway, the print is technically not a patch on an expertly hand-made darkroom fibre-based print from a film negative. But several things strike me about that. Firstly, I don't think I could have got as good an image as this from 35mm film. I love shooting film, and that's what I favour in good light. But when it gets dark, the M9M set to 1600 ISO has a look all to itself, that I find quite beautiful. A slight veiling grain, but losing none of its tonality. 1600 is the sweet spot for that camera. I can't get that look with any other camera, film or digital.

Secondly, it's possible to produce a true negative from a digital file, and make platinum palladium prints. This guy is a big advocate of the process, and he makes stunning-looking prints from his Q2 Monochrom. With modern digital sensors, it's pretty difficult to hit the limits on how good an image be.

And thirdly, it's amazing what you can get away with when you have an image of something striking, something with great light or composition, an amazing moment captured. In a case like that, the audience scarcely notices whether the image was made on film, or on a digital sensor. But, of course, beautiful tonality is always a the cherry on the cake, so to speak.

 

 

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Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Even better IMO when you can do your own printing, experiment with papers, and control the details to your liking….and to your lighting/framing (glass type) conditions, which can affect  tonalities. 
 

Jeff

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  • 2 weeks later...

Catching up with this thread, as I’ve moved in and out of B&W film and digital for the past 10 years after starting shooting film again and dark room printing a decade ago. What got me back into it was using my Olympus OM gear and the physical print being way above my results with an Epson R2400… However I can process a digital image and make it look pretty much like Tri-X (I made a book of New York street photography matching the aesthetic). 

spot the MM ones here? 
https://www.brendandelaneyphotography.com/121eb6f785-gallery

I want to try the current generation of pigment printers as I believe the results can be very good, especially as I simply don’t have the time at the moment to set up the darkroom and fiddle with wet printing. 

I agree the MM had a very special look at 1600/3200 when 35mm Tri-X would be starting to lose most of its resolution. If the MM was more like the M10 in handling I would be tempted to get one again… 

Edited by newtoleica
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On 10/24/2023 at 7:01 AM, otto.f said:

Mostly named MM1, M9M or Monochrome1. There are two other "MM's" in the meantime. Thanks 

Well, the original Monochrom was called the M Monochrom; hence “MM”.  The M240-based Monochrom is typically called the M246.  The following two are the M10 Monochrom (typically M10M) and M11 Monochrom (typically M11M). So, really only one MM.  

But somehow I think we all get the point across when discussing the variants.  At least better than for those who insist on truncating lens names, e.g., “lux”, “cron”, etc.

Jeff

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  • 5 weeks later...
Am 7.10.2023 um 11:56 schrieb colint544:

 

Anyway, the print is technically not a patch on an expertly hand-made darkroom fibre-based print from a film negative. But several things strike me about that. Firstly, I don't think I could have got as good an image as this from 35mm film. I love shooting film, and that's what I favour in good light. But when it gets dark, the M9M set to 1600 ISO has a look all to itself, that I find quite beautiful. A slight veiling grain, but losing none of its tonality. 1600 is the sweet spot for that camera. I can't get that look with any other camera, film or digital.

can be. I saw amazing prints shoot on TMAX 3200. Ans saw awful prints on M9M at 1600 with a lot of bending. 

it all can be, depending on the skill of the person..or the absent skill of a person---

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On 10/2/2023 at 2:05 PM, Anthony MD said:

Do Leica monochrome digital cameras compare favorably with black and white film...!

Back to the original question: I'm not sure what you mean by "compare favorably". Film images, *any* film images, have a different look compared to a digital capture and rendering. If you like the look of a particular film in your favorite developer, shoot that film and process it to get that look. 

Personally, I don't care one way or another. If you want to "compare favorably" on technical aspects, I haven't seen a 35mm negative on a film rated at ISO 50,000 (or even ISO 1600 for that matter) that can hold a candle to the quality of such an image made with an M10 Monochrom. And yet I shoot a lot of nice film images and I like how they look. Despite that, the digital captures I make with the M10-M are easily rendered into beautiful B&W photographs that I've never been able to achieve with any 35mm film camera, and compete seriously on technical quality with what I get from my Hasselblad 500CM and slow B&W film. So does the M10-M compare favorably? 

I think if you're falling down this rabbit hole, you're a little too close to Wonderland and are off the track. The whole notion I want to achieve when pursuing photography is to make photographs which satisfy my eye. I can do (have done) that with both film and digital Ms, and the M10 Monochrom, and tons of other cameras. I don't try to obtain a "film like look" in my photos; I try to obtain an aesthetic that works for whatever photograph I'm trying to make.

The key, to me, is that the M10 Monochrom works so well, so seamlessly and consistently, that it disappears in my hands and lets me see what my subjects are doing, saying, and lets me capture that with effortless ease and consistency. It's a rare camera that does that, and I'm happy to have found this one. In that respect, the M10 Monochom more than "competes favorably" with black and white film: it surpasses it handily. 

G

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Both. Guess who's who down there? Tow of them were taken by Barnack camera. One of them was taken by M10 Monochrom.

 

 

 

 

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