Leica M-Monochrom Hands-on Preview
Leica has long been a manufacturer happy to exploit niche markets - its M9 may be a fascinating camera to shoot with, but the company's adherence to the near-obsolete, manual focus rangefinder design, coupled with its distinctly exclusive pricing ensures its cameras will only ever be enjoyed by a few. However, we can't think of any of its products that combine 'fascinating' and 'niche' as well as its latest creation - the Leica M-Monochrom. As the name suggests, the Monochrom is a truly black-and-white camera, with no filter array to allow the capture of color information.
Just as any discussion between former film photographers will eventually come 'round to the idea of a dedicate manual focus digital camera with the large, bright split-prism viewfinder they remember from their film-shooting days, it was almost as inevitably touch on the idea of a black-and-white digital camera. But it's not just nostalgia that makes the idea of a monochrome camera sound appealing - especially on a system famed for its (expensively achieved) high quality lenses.
Removing the color filter array from the front of a sensor has several advantages. There are certainly benefits in terms of noise, mainly because all the light hitting the sensor is available to be captured, rather than just one color being allowed through to each sensor location. But also, because noise isn't spread by a demosaicing process, the noise pattern doesn't appear to muddy detail. These two factors see the camera's maximum ISO increase to 10,000, rather than the M9's 2,500.
However, the biggest advantage is resolution - each captured pixel gives one output pixel, with none of the detail-blurring combining of neighboring data that demosaicing inevitably brings. As a result, the M-Monochrom immediately trumps even the low-pass-filter-less M9 for sharpness. Given the reputation of Leica lenses, this has immediate appeal.
There are drawbacks, of course - the 'headroom' found in Raw files comes mainly from the fact that bright regions have usually only over-exposed one of the three color channels, with usable data still available for the other two channels. With a true mono sensor, any overexposure is absolute - once the channel has clipped to white, there's no chance of recovery. Equally, anyone who has got used to producing mono images by converting color images, with all the selective color mixing that brings, will have to get used to pulling the correct color filter out of their camera bag at the point of capture.
And that is a challenge - the best black and white images are the result of a tonal response that is perfectly matched to the subject, usually as the result of extensive darkroom or post-processing work. With only five contrast settings to select in the camera, even with perfect exposure, it'll probably take a bit of Raw processing to get the best out of each image. The M-Monochrome shoots 34.7MB DNG files (there's no compression option), for users willing to make the effort.
The challenge of getting correct exposure are somewhat reduced because the histogram is not influenced by color or white balance. Leica says the histogram is based on Raw data (rather than the preview JPEG, which many cameras use), to give a clear understanding of what has and hasn't been captured. Still being based on a revised version of the M9's 18MP Kodak CCD means the Monochrom still can't offer live view, so this histogram is only available after you've taken your shot.
Beyond this, changes to the existing M9 interface are minimal - the saturation and colorspace options have been removed from the menu, and white balance has been excised from the 'Set' quick menu but otherwise it's almost unchanged. The camera has slightly more sophisticated highlight and shadow clipping warnings than the M9, it also gains three 'toning' options, each with two intensity levels, but those are the only additional options. The toning options are Sepia, Cold and Selenium.
Given the cost of buying into the Leica system, it's not surprising that Leica expects most buyers to come from the pool of existing M owners. However, in addition to M8 and 9 users, Leica clearly also hopes some film shooters who haven't embraced digital will appreciate the apparent simplicity and quality that native mono shooting brings. When explaining the camera to us, Leica repeatedly returned to the word 'authentic' and it's this desire for an 'authentic' shooting experience that we think will sell this camera.
Leica M-Monochrom specifications
- 18MP CCD monochrome sensor (24 x 36mm)
- No anti-aliasing filter
- No color filter array
- ISO 320-10,000 (with a 'Pull 160*' option)
- 2.5" 230,000 dot rear LCD
- Supplied with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2
*Pull 160 is essentially the ISO 320 setting given 1EV extra exposure, with a different tone curve to give the correct final image brightness. The result is a reduction in highlight dynamic range, compared to the full ISO settings.
M-Monochrom - color sensitivity
It may seem odd to think about the M-Monochrom's sensitivity to different colors, since it can't distinguish between them. However, as with mono film, the best results from the Monochrom come from adding colored filters in front of the lens. For this to work, the camera needs to be fairly similarly sensitive to light from all across the visible spectrum (it needs to be panchromatic). We asked Leica whether it had needed to add any color filter to the sensor, to balance-out its sensitivity to different wavelengths of visible light, and were told it hadn't.
Apr 22, 2015
Feb 5, 2015
Apr 30, 2015
May 26, 2014
|Fascia walkie talkie building London by ian herridge|
from Abstract Architecture
|Global Reach by cjf2|
French President Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint against a paparazzo who snuck onto the president's private vacation property to take pictures.
Ever wonder what the difference is between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed Raw files? Photography Life's Nasim Mansurov breaks it down for you in this informative article.
The oldest known portrait of a US president was just discovered after over a century in storage. It's going up for auction in October, where it's expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
If you're using the popular Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens with Sigma's MC-11 converter, listen up: you'll want to update your lens and converter firmware ASAP.
If you've heard it once, you've probably heard it a thousand times: never check in your camera gear when flying. This shattered $11,000 lens is what can happen when you do.
Lensrentals just did its first Cine lens comparison, pitting five top-notch 35mm primes against each other: the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T2.1, Canon CN-E 35mm T1.5, Sigma 35mm T1.5 FF, Rokinon Xeen 35mm T1.5 and Schneider Xenon 35mm T2.1.
A team of Google researchers have found that slightly warping watermarks when embedding them into images can help prevent automatic removal.
You don't have to empty your savings account to take your photography to the next level. These cheap buys cost about $50 or less, and come with outsized benefits for your photography.
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."
The latest flagship phone from Asus combines a 12MP 1/2.55" Sony IMX362 main sensor with a smaller Sony IMX351 chip for 2x zoom and a background-blurring portrait mode.
The company behind popular photo editor Picktorial 3 just released the X-Pack: a preset package that allows you to add Fuji's in-camera film simulation profiles to your RAF files in post.
Photoshop. GoPro. Every once in a while a product emerges that defines a category. And sometimes, it vanishes just as quickly as it arrived on the scene. This week's Throwback Thursday remembers the Flip, the pocket camcorder everyone had – until they didn't.
The Nokia 8's dual-cam combines the image data from a 13MP RGB sensor and a 13 monochrome chip for better detail, improved dynamic range and lower noise levels.
The company behind retail giant B&H Photo has agreed to pay out $3.2 million in monetary relief and back wages to settle a discrimination and harassment case from 2016.
After a popular Facebook teaser and some studio portrait samples, Godox has finally officially released the Godox A1 smartphone flash and flash trigger. Cheap, versatile and innovative, color us intrigued.
Canon’s EOS 5D Mk IV has won the European Imaging and Sound Association’s Professional DSLR of the Year award, making this the third year in a row that the brand has beaten Nikon to the top spot in the professional camera category.
A photograph and quote tweeted out by former president Barack Obama has officially become the most popular tweet of all time, receiving over 1.3 million retweets and 3.4 million likes.
Edward Weston was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, and in this episode of Advancing Your Photography we learn the extreme technique he used to capture one of his most famous still life photos.
Instagram just released a small update that will make a huge difference if you're active on the photo sharing app: threaded comment replies.
Venus Optics has announced the price and delivery date of the second lens to join its Zero-D line up: the 15mm F2 for Sony’s E mount. A lens they've dubbed, "the world's fastest 15mm rectilinear lens for full-frame."
Cinnac is a new social network for photographers that will help you separate your good photos from your great ones through a Tinder-like community-based rating system.
The Canon EF 35mm F2 IS USM is an understated jewel of a lens, and one that we've enjoyed on a variety of cameras since its release almost five years ago. Its relatively small size and image stabilization make it a versatile tool for a variety of photography - check out our sample gallery.
You don't need a fancy studio or tons of gear to capture the kind of classic product photography you see in magazines. In this video, Dustin Dolby shows you how to do it with just a couple of speedlights and some know-how.
The life-logging camera is trying to make a comeback. Say hello to FrontRow, a live-streaming enabled life-logging camera from Ubiquiti that hangs on a necklace like a pendant.
When a prospective client approaches you, don't just say "yes" right away. Here's a useful list of questions you should be asking before you decide to take the job and name your price.
Samsung just revealed a blazing-fast new Solid State Drive capable of data transfer speeds of up to 540MB/s.
DJI has developed a 'Local Data Mode' that lets pilots fly without being connected to the Internet. The mode should calm recent fears over data privacy and security when flying DJI drones.
After 1.7 million downloads on Apple computers since the launch in November 2015, Aurora HDR will be available for Windows PCs for the first time with the 2018 release.
The company behind the new Meyer Optik Goerlitz lens manufacturing business has formed a new brand to bring back the Biotar 75mm F1.5 that was made by Carl Zeiss Jena in the 1940s and 50s.
The updated Qualcomm Spectra system is a dual-camera setup that is capable of sensing depth and motion in real time.