Monochrome M - Silly Idea?

Started May 1, 2012 | Discussions
photoshutter
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 1, 2012

I'm ready to buy it.
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archaiesteron
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 2, 2012

Peter Sills wrote:

The problem is that without the color channels you can really not work with the file, even if your final result is going to be B&W. Programs like Silver FX Pro need the color information in order to create the stunning B&W conversions it does.

I am not claiming the idea is good or bad, but I am surprised that nobody tells about traditional filter. What you are speaking about is not absolutely new: for B&W film shooting you would choose some physical color filter in order to achieve some special effect. Most digital conversion rest on mixing the channels in given proportions, which is a kind of equivalent of applying some color filter.

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Godfrey
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 2, 2012

Yes, it's a silly idea. I would not buy a camera limited to a single spectral characteristic.

Digital B&W photography should be a photographer's intent and a rendering process, not a capture constraint.
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sillette
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 6, 2012

You could put a filter on the front of the lens prior to shooting; assuming the sensor is all colour (panchromatic) sensitive.

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photomeme
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 7, 2012

build the color filters into the camera.

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snake_b
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 7, 2012

Despite the fact that most people shooting with M cameras are using them, often to endless jokes, as a black and white camera, this idea is fairly silly.
I guess this thread brilliantly displays the joke.

Peter Sills wrote:

Now what I am hoping for on May 10 is an M10 with a mode "optimized" for B&W images. It could do this easily by increasing the DR and throwing out the Bayer data (storing only luminance values) and thus giving more access to the sensor direct data.

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Austin101
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 7, 2012

on the face of it it does seem like a silly idea but maybe by creating a sensor which processes tonal range rather then colours a better image could be captured.

who knows but it would be interesting if they did

Peter Sills wrote:

Isn't this a silly idea?

I mean there is already no AA filter in the M9, so there will be no increase in sharpness from a color filter being added.

The problem is that without the color channels you can really not work with the file, even if your final result is going to be B&W. Programs like Silver FX Pro need the color information in order to create the stunning B&W conversions it does.

I am unconvinced that this is a good idea.

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Irakly Shanidze
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 7, 2012

Gee.. How did we manage to "work with file" shooting Agfa APX 100, or Ilford HP5+?

It is not the sharpness they are after, as you rightfully pointed out that Leica M delivers enough sharpness. It is all about dynamic range.
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xtoph
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more like a silly question
In reply to Peter Sills, May 7, 2012

Peter Sills wrote:

I mean there is already no AA filter in the M9, so there will be no increase in sharpness from a color filter being added.

this is wrong (and i don't mean your slip of 'added' for 'removed'). resolution differences for non-bayer sensors are nowhere in the order of aa filter + or -. without a bayer color filter array, you gain serious spatial resolution--in practical terms, less then the x3 which foveon aficionados claim, but easily on the order of what you expect to see from a sensor with 1.25~1.5 times the megapixel count. you don't seem to grasp the effects that bayer interpolation has. granted, demosaicing algorithms have gotten phenomenally good at presenting an appearance of fine detail (it is really only an appearance ; the finest details are interpolated, that is, made up, which is why for some technical and scientific purposes bayer sensor cameras can't be used), but doing away with the filter array does away with all the attendant problems (moire, etc), while delivering actually higher resolution. (fwiw, no, you cannot get the same results as an unfiltered sensor by just 'throwing away the bayer data' and looking at the luminance values.)

on top of this, existing bw-only sensors confirm expectations that designing the sensor without a color filter array 1) increases sensitivity 2) increases dynamic range 3) improves tonal gradation. go read about the kodak 760m, for example:

"the images are truly outstanding to view directly. The image quality certainly beats the pants off of anything I have seen on film in medium format and often what I have seen in large format in terms of resolution, gradation and dynamic range." --pete myers, re: a camera that was sold a full decade ago . cf phase one achromatic, quite a clever beast in its own right.

The problem is that without the color channels you can really not work with the file, even if your final result is going to be B&W. Programs like Silver FX Pro need the color information in order to create the stunning B&W conversions it does.

obviously, a bw sensor camera wouldn't need programs like silver fx to deliver excellent results in bw. that's kind of the point.

I am unconvinced that this is a good idea.

and i expect (if it turns out to be true that leica has a bw only camera up their sleeves) that the vast majority of people will agree with you, even if not for the (mistaken) reasons you suppose. probably the ability to play around with the conversions post capture would be a big factor.

but:

leica seems to be touting the concept of a 'back to basics' camera, which obviously fits their overall aesthetic anyway. not everyone actually likes the "fx" which post-capture bw conversion seems to encourage. me, i sometimes exploit the opportunity to emphasize some or other detail through manipulating the conversion of its color, but mostly i prefer to stick with subtler techniques, and with basic dodging and burning. i doubt i would buy a bw leica, but there are definitely times i would want one. at the end of the day, though, my own work is almost all in color, even in film. that doesn't mean i don't appreciate the work other people do in bw.

if leica did a bw digital camera right--by which i mean don't screw up royally, to start with, and preferably also do some thoughtful optimizations of the capture system, possibly even including a checkerboard nd-filter array over the sense-cells, they might come up with an absolutely unmatched tool for a very specific, but nonetheless very useful, purpose. i hope they do it, personally, though not at the expense of developing the m10, which i would care more about. it would suit both the leica legacy, and a small but significant number of photographers who would do amazing work with it. i'd call that a win, and i look forward to seeing some of the pictures it makes.

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Aaron C Greenman
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Re: more like a silly question
In reply to xtoph, May 7, 2012

"

if leica did a bw digital camera right--by which i mean don't screw up royally, to start with, and preferably also do some thoughtful optimizations of the capture system, possibly even including a checkerboard nd-filter array over the sense-cells, they might come up with an absolutely unmatched tool for a very specific, but nonetheless very useful, purpose. i hope they do it, personally, though not at the expense of developing the m10, which i would care more about. it would suit both the leica legacy, and a small but significant number of photographers who would do amazing work with it. i'd call that a win, and i look forward to seeing some of the pictures it makes.
"

Very well said, and I agree.

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sillette
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Re: more like a silly question
In reply to Aaron C Greenman, May 7, 2012

supposing, instead of a panchromatic sensor, they decided to go back to ground zero and had am ortho or ordinary colour response sensor. No....that would be too silly.

But, on an almost serious note, it would appear, from the way B&W is talked about, that there are some people out there who don't realise how hard we worked to find an emulsion, a developer, a procedure of increasing or decreasing film speed and eveloping to suit; just to find the combination which gave the contrast, sharpness, resolution, allowable grain size for the particular job in hand. B&W isn't just B&W, it was far more complex than colour where you just shot a roll of Kodachrome and sent it off to be processed and the only real problem was colour temperature. If they (Leica) did introduce a Black & White only camera, could it offer all the varibles needed to allow truely creative B&W photography or would it be down to post-processing, in which case, why not stick with a colour sensor and allow us to shoot the odd rolll of Kodachrome.

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naturalefineartcom
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 10, 2012

If it was cheaper @ around $3000 I would get one. But at $8000 or 9000 forget about it! THAT IS A BAD IDEA!!! AND TOTALLY WRONG PRICING, TOO!

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Skipper494
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 10, 2012

Works for me. Too bad I can't afford it.

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Truman Prevatt
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Re: You raise a good point... but...
In reply to DRabbit, May 10, 2012

You pay a huge price for a CFA. The max resolution is based on the Nyquist frequency the channel with the minimal spatial frequency, which is the red and blue in the Bayer CFA arrays. Every digital camera has Moiré unless they have an AA filter. However, in a Bayer this results in color Moiré since the Nyquist frequency of the green channel is twice that of the blue and red channels.

Granted the current algorithms are pretty good but they can't defeat basic physics. The upper bound on resolution of best for a B&W converted from a 18 MP CFA camera like the M9 is 9 MP (which is the resolution of the green channel). Strip off the CFA and shoot monochrome - you get a true 18 MP image. BTW that is the maximal resolution you can get in B&W from a 36 MP CFA such as the D18.

Secondly, the color filters in a CFA camera cause a loss of sensitivity of the camera. In other words you lose some of the sensor sensitivity because of the array. The loss is between 3 and 6 dB. That is why the ISO of the Leica monochrome camera is quite a bit better than the M9. The dynamic range will also be better.

The Foveon fan boys are right about one thing - there are many compromises associates with the CFA and Bayer processing. If you are primarily interested in B&W - you should be shooting with a monochrome sensor.

Granted you will have to shoot the same way you shoot with B&W film, i.e., using a minus blue (12) filter or dark yellow (15) filer to even a red filter to darken the skies. However, at the end of the day what you get with B&W film is what you will get with a monochrome sensor.

Is there a market for Leica. Basically this camera was easy to build since it was already built. There will be some. I have been eyeing the D800E, but I am going to wait now to see how Leica camera fairs. While the D800E has 36MP, at the end of the day for B&W - the upper limit is dictated by the green channel with is 18 MP - the same as the Leica M monochrome. Plus with the Leica I have the use of Leica lenses and all the other advantages, weight, size, etc.

DRabbit wrote:

Peter Sills wrote:

Sure, would be great. But wouldn't I want access to the full color image as I am sure I could do much better and have many more choices if I were to work with the image on the computer?

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Zvonimir Tosic
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The idea is fantastic
In reply to Peter Sills, May 12, 2012

Leica was in an ideal situation to introduce something like this. They can reuse 99% of the current M design and components and plonk in a new sensor, rebadge all as a new product altogether. So very close to nil $ spent in R&D, which has already paid itself long ago.

However, I don't know how good the sensor really is, can it be better, so forth. I think they didn't want to go that far and introduce a really good beast of a dedicated monochrome sensor, or invest into a development of one. That, however, would not sound like Leica's approach anyway, because they don't innovate in tech.

So from grounds up this was a very conservative, calculated approach, which yielded in a new opportunity (M-P was another one too) to slightly expand the product range, and give them the opportunity to rise prices again.

Price rise now will better absorb the shock after the introduction of an M10 and the (obviously) much higher price than both M9 and M9M have.

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tinternaut
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Re: Great idea
In reply to Peter Sills, May 12, 2012

But it's even more niche than the normal digital M, hence the price. I see people who do nothing but produce black and white photos and this is the camera for them, if they can afford it! Value proposition? The 100% crops I've seen from the Monchrom are remarkable. Someone who sells large black and white prints of their photos for a living can probably buy the Monochrom instead and have a far lighter kit to carry round.

Of course, there's Nikon's 800lb game changer (excuse the pun) which will inevitably take some of the shine from what Leica are doing here.

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love_them_all
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I'm sold only if...
In reply to Peter Sills, May 12, 2012

I'm sold only if the b&w image would produce a wide range of greys ala 12-15 zones from solid white to solid black.

But keep in mind b&w film like tri-x or t max are not colorbind film. Different color wavelength would respond differently. They still "see" different colors but just don't reproduce them.

Also like ppl mentioned before, from a pure grey scale image you may lose the ability to fine tune contrast between different colors from the original scene. They might just show up as the same grey. Filters (glass) can only do one correction at a time.

I generally like the b&w only concept as I am a long time b&w shooter doing my own darkroom work. I really want to see the next gen sensor to have the wide DR and exceptional sharpness to it. Not to mention cleaner hi iso.

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justfine
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 12, 2012

not just a silly idea... all leika is a silly idea ,any camera in market is better than leika ..you just pay for red dot come on.... wake up....you freaks..( i dont mean leika lens ) have a nice day.

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justfine
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to justfine, May 12, 2012

we are not in 40s ...50s...60s....we are in 2012 you leikers fanaticers...please dont take as personal.....have a happy week anyway.keep smiling.

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vellocet
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Re: Monochrome M - Silly Idea?
In reply to Peter Sills, May 12, 2012

I won't buy one, but I'll admit it is an interesting camera, although I think it's a bit ridiculous that Leica didn't at least update the LCD screen. Lends credence to the idea that the M10 will probably land at $10k.

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