Maybe I Need to Rethink This

Leica M8

The M8. I Had a Love/Hate With This Camera for Many Years

As you know, I’ve been, at best, ambivalent about Leica in the digital age. I’ve taken a lot of cheap shots at their digital cameras over the years, M digitals included. I’ve been skeptical that the Leica M film experience could be transposed to the digital age. Part of the problem is digital capture simply doesn’t lend itself to simplicity – it requires electronics and LCD screens and nested menus and all the afflatus that gives rise to digital bloat, and Leica isn’t immune to it in spite of their best intentions to keep things simple.

It seemed, at least in the beginning, that Leica’s continued emphasis on simplicity had become less a design ethos than a marketing slogan, or worse yet, a cynical way of attempting to paper over inferior product. It’s not like Leica, as anyone selling a widget, isn’t above self-serving puffery. Let’s face it: the M8, pleasing to look at and fondle like previous film Leicas, arrived with some serious issues: buggy electronics, color capture issues, battery problems, dismal ISO capabilities, a shutter that sounded like a construction-grade staple gun. The M9 fixed some of it, but I couldn’t help but think that Leica was over their heads in the digital age, where quality had less to do with traditional Leica hand-craftsmanship and more with technical expertise, technical expertise being the forte of large manufacturers like Nikon and Canon.

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Leica M3

And then there was the Leica ergonomic, the felt experience of operating one that was so seductive with their film M’s. The film M’s just feel right. Refined yet simple. No intercession of electronics to do things for you (before the M7 at least). Radically minimalist design, uncluttered viewfinder, big bright mechanical rangefinder. Simple wind-on, imperceptible shutter click, rewind. Advancing the film offered just enough throw and resistance to make the act pleasurable as its own experience. Many Leicaphiles carried our M’s around the house with us – why? because they stimulated that part of the lizard brain connected to the hand. Film M’s made you a gearhead.

I’m not sure that ergonomic simplicity transfers over to the digital M’s, or at least I was skeptical at best. While my M8 looked like an M it didn’t feel like one. Whatever magic they packed into the M4 was simply not there in the M8. Where the M4 felt fluidly effortless and simple, the M8 felt clunky and convoluted. Where the M4 shutter whispered, the M8 sounded like it was shooting high-velocity projectiles. Figuring out how to format a card or change ISO invariably devolved into multi-thumb fumbling of wheels, buttons, and menu options, all while your subject fleeing as if from a school shooter. Efficient it wasn’t.

But …. if your interest was traditional B&W photography, as opposed to digital hyper-realism, in spite of what sensor rankings and 100% cropping geeks declaimed, the M8’s output was astonishing. B&W from the M8 just had the look, a function of the CCD sensor and its increased IR sensitivity which produced thick, film-like B&W files. All you needed to do was add a bit of grain. I was willing to put up with the quirks – the random freeze-ups, the glacial boot-up times, the god-awful swack of the shutter – to get that B&W output. It was that good, a monochrome camera to rival the Monochrom.

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Leica M240

This is all prelude to the fact that I’m having to rethink my opinions these days [shock!]. I bought a used M240 a while ago, not expecting much, and found that I really liked it, as in really. Wanting a digital camera to compliment my aging GXR and my exasperating Sigma SD Quattro (another love/hate thing), I’d thought of the usual alternatives – an X100, X-Pro, D4s – and then decided against them. It was time to buy a digital M.

To make a long story short – I liked the M240 so much I splurged and bought the camera I’d always really wanted – the Monochrom, the original CCD version based on the M9 platform. Found a nice one with an updated, non-corrosive sensor. I’ve totally fallen in love. It’s a digital M4. It’s got the feel. Hell, it even looks just like a black chrome M4. As for output, I’m convinced there’s a roll of Ilford HP5 rated at 800 ISO hidden in there somewhere.

An M5 w/ HP5 @ 800 ISO, an M240 DNG Run Through Silver Efex … or a Leica Monochrom?

So, going forward I’ve decided to go all Steve Huff on you, amusing you with various posts about the Mono and the M240 and how they compare to an M5 with HP5. This weekend, I’m going out with the M5 and a 35mm VC loaded with HP5, the Mono and the M240 and see how they each render the same subject. If you’ll indulge my geekiness, I promise no 100% crops or duplicate shots of fence posts. I’ll try to keep shots of the wife and cats to a minimum.

Leica Monochrom
Leica M9M

45 thoughts on “Maybe I Need to Rethink This

  1. Keith Laban

    Tim, if it wasn’t for a serious eye problem I would have done exactly what you have done and buy a used M9 CCD Monochrome. Now the only way I want to shoot mono is to see in mono and unfortunately that limits me to the Leica Q monos.

    Once this crazy mess we live in is over and personal health issues allow, I may well get myself one. I blame Rob for planting the seed.
    😉

    Reply
  2. Rob Campbell

    Thank God that seed is only a photographic one; in my opinion, menopause has lots going for it!

    CCD. As far as I remember without pulling out the manual, my D200 is of that type too, and I sometimes wonder whether I used it in preference to the more modern D700 exactly because of some unconscious feeling that the old camera allowed me snaps that I felt more happy looking at and working up.

    That said, though I do have a sometimes frightening fascination with the Q2 Mono, there is always the thought that it can’t do colour if I want to do it. Of course, the Q2 (Standard) exists, but then it sucks, I read, at high ISO which is where the D200 is poor too. I think the only way to be happy is to have both the Qs. But then we face the one-lens issue, and the game starts rolling all over again.

    For me, the best bet would be a simple Nikon Mono dslr because I have all the lenses I could realistically expect to find myself using. If they threw in a split-image screen… I suppose it’s a dream, a yearning for when cameras were simple and didn’t require thick manuals.

    Dpreview had a good video on that Q2 Mono that I watch far too many times. I’d post a link to it here, but on this iPad, trying doing things like that means I can lose the post which I am writing, so the risk is too great to tempt.

    My total lack of incentive to shoot anything continues apace. I wish it would pass. I find a degree of self-absolution in arguing that it either boils down to going out to make some pix, or of going out to buy food and then make it edible.

    🙁

    Reply
    1. Dan Newell

      I don’t know Rob, there’s a lot going on, what with the 6th Great Extinction, fascists on the march, new homeless camps opening up, an epidemic, 1928 level unemployment, forced and unforced migrations…and the traffic is lower than I’ve seen since 1975.

      It’s a monochrome world now and you’ve got a rig that will damn near shoot in the dark, seems like an opportunity. Chianti before or after, just don’t run out.

      Reply
      1. Rob Campbell

        You may be right – I even had some sea fog come invade the field across from my hedge recently. It was back again when I got up this morning, and I shot a couple of trees before breakfast that await processing some time when the urge returns, which is usually morning, and conflicts with making lunch! So yeah, a grey world awaits…

        http://www.roma57.com/glimpsed-parallels-remix.html

        The image above is from the first morning with fog; it’s from the D200 with a manual 2/35mm Nikkor. Today’s fog was gone quite soon, and it became unseasonably hot at lunchtime, so I sat out gazing at the field, remembering when it was a working farm back in the 80s, as I eat my spare ribs, peas and roast potatoes, all washed down with some Viña Sol. I say some, but that means just one glass because of heart problems. I recall the days when a bottle never saw the fridge twice; but there were two of us then. 🙁

        Reply
  3. Stephen J

    I don’t s’pose I have had as many Leicas pass through my hands as you Tim, but I have had a good few including M2/3/4 (stunning!)/5/6(085), my first Leica was an M8. Indeed I remember feeling as though I was about to crap myself (easy for a Chrony) when I spoke to the Leica shop in Manchester to order it.

    A camera that was several times more expensive than any that I had bought before. I accompanied it with a new 28mm Elmarit and rather liked it. The thing that really got to me was the crop factor and I yearned for a “full frame” Leica almost from day one. I kept it for less than a year, and lost a packet when I sold it back to them.

    I moved on to an MP 240, that I bought from Mike Evans, we had a number of exchanges on his blog, wishing that Leica would introduce a version of the M60 but made out of traditional materials. I am not well off at all, I have not had paid work since 2000 due to my affliction, so every new purchase has to be from the proceeds of a sale. When the MD 262 was introduced I felt sick at the £1000 price hike over the standard M/MP240 and decided to wait for the used ones to appear.

    I could never get used to it, my pudding fingers continuously pressing the wrong buttons at random. I never really settled with it and shortly after I decided to get into film photography and learn to develop at home.

    Meantime, I tried a digital CL and got button fatigue again, but stuck with it for around 18 months until one day, I saw a nice MD come up for sale. Again as is often the case with dealers, I lost a packet in the process, gave far too much away for the MD body.

    However as things stand, “I’ll give you my MD shooter when you pry (or take) it from my cold, dead hands”. It is more like the traditional M cameras than an M5 for instance, and I love it.

    Just recently sold my M3 and my 1932 iii, kept the Nikkor l39 50/F2 that I had been using, as it is a beauty.

    As for film and its processing, I am reasonably competent at B&W and colour, I even mix my own chemicals from base components, but reserve the medium for my Rolleiflex T, and my various MF/LF pinholio’s. The only frustration being that I have yet to build a decent darkroom…

    … the next thing on my todo list, proper wet printing, I sold the scanner and I am totally peed off with the concept of scanning with a digicam.

    Pssst… Anyone want a Sigma DP3? What a waste of space marvellous toy that thing is… not.

    Reply
    1. Rob Campbell

      You have my sympathy. Cropped sensors are a pain if you have grown used to knowing your focal lengths as they were meant to be on the cameras for which they were originally designed.

      This has hit me a lot with my 2/35mm Nikkor that I bought used (being manual and from Grays of Westminster, I reckoned I was safe); it gave me one look to my shots on the full-frame D700 – since paralysed – and quite something less on the smaller sensor of the surviving D200. (I refer to the look of the images, not to the quality of the files.) Oddly, I find that I am fairly happy having the longer focal lengths altered due to camera format, than the same happening with my two wides, the other being a 2.8/24mm. I suppose I’d have to buy a 16mm if I wanted to get a 24mm effect out of the D200, but not going there. Anyway, I guess that thanks to Brexit, I have lost access to Grays of Westminster: Nikon now refuse to honour guarantees outwith the country of purchase, and also, Mastercard is going to raise the fees for sales from Britain to Europe. Throw in likely import taxes, and it no longer makes sense supporting a British company from abroad. How bloody inconvenient; I liked that camera shop a lot, and better yet, trusted them.

      Actually, having spent some more time daydreaming about a Mono Nikon, I have concluded that it would be more likely to happen with a Z format body than one on the lines of the F bodies: more of a future for the selling of new lenses.

      Reply
      1. Dan Newell

        I faced the same thing with having older Nikon glass. Bought a DF and desaturated and it turned out to be a sweet setup. There is an outfit here in the states that will machine off the Bayer filter but it was a bit much for me.

        Reply
      2. Stephen J

        “Anyway, I guess that thanks to Brexit, I have lost access to Grays of Westminster: Nikon now refuse to honour guarantees outwith the country of purchase, and also, Mastercard is going to raise the fees for sales from Britain to Europe.”

        Wow, missed that one Rob….

        When did UK and Japan enter full political union, or even sign a free trade deal?

        It might have escaped your notice that Nikon are Japanese, even if they do make most of their product in Thailand.

        I like you Rob, but your (throwaway) comment, is gratuitous and irrelevant… Just like the folk that claim that the NHS is free, when it would be closer to the truth to recognise it as a communist outfit hiding in plain sight.

        Reply
        1. Rob Campbell

          The post to which you refer comes in two spiritual parts: one relating to the Nikon decision which of course has nothing to do with Brexit but, apparently, does have a lot to do with avoidance of having to service grey imports, another little ploy to screw the world.

          However, the second factor, where Brexit comes into play, was the decision by Mastercard which was to do with the imposition of customs controls etc. which, I suppose, affects them especially if they become liable to claims against them from cross-borders users/buyers due to problems with either supply or the conditions of goods with which the purchasers may have problems. And don’t forget the vagaries of currency fluctuations these card companies face: they can’t always win those bets, though they always try. Insurance that cards offer doesn’t come free, and no, I do not see any reds under that particular bed either, only big business realism. Imagine having to pay back a few notes more on a claim than you lent out at its purchase!

          You really must try to get over your residual McCarthyism; it’s discolouring your life and probably not helping the churnings down in the tummy; I am not joking there: I have often experienced direct links between the state of my nerves, anxiety and my bowels. During some stages of my wife’s illness there were times when the added minutes of my frequent visits to the hospital loo were greater than the time she was on the operating table.

          The only way to avoid these things is to keep away from the source wherever possible. Creating or perpetuating political monsters for oneself is a prime candidate for such problems. They can ruin the health if not brought under control. Frankly, concerns such as that were partly instrumental in my leaving a photo website I had originally enjoyed. There was little pleasure in opening it up wondering what the hell I was going to have to defend myself over next. If you want to find this phenomenon at full strength, try making sensible conversation with radical Scot Nats in newspaper spaces – impossible: they simply repeat over and over again the catechism learned at home. As with Trumpism, impenetrable minds locked unto death. Same with civilians owning battle guns. I fear that where that one is headed isn’t over yet.

          The NHS could never be free; it gets paid for by taxes and contributions as everyone who has paid their stamps/contributions clearly understands. It’s value lies in the acceptance that a fellow human should never be left to die in the gutter because he cannot afford private insurance. But you knew that, and are simply playing ping pong as am I. Communism isn’t socialism though it is a common ploy to try and link them in order to demolish the value of socialism. It’s what Corbyn was trying to do with Labour: change it to that extreme level where it becomes indistinguishable from any other form of dictatorship. It’s what this new bunch in power has done to the Conservative Party in Britain, a party which I once used to be proud to support.

          🙂

          Reply
          1. Stephen J

            I s’pose it is possible that Mr Ulyanov mis-spoke, but it was a corker if he did mistakenly refer his new communist state as the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”.

            I think we should be told.

  4. Stephen J

    … Moreover (as Bernard Levin once wrote), I have been, despite my earlier rant here about the Mono, been eyeing them up… In particular the CCD version.

    Reply
  5. Larry Cloetta

    Will be very interested in seeing where you go with this. I’m a sucker for CCD sensors, absolutely convinced I can see the difference in a positive way, no matter the pushback I get from others who say it’s not there. Have thought about an M9 Monochron or the CMOS later iteration for a while, due to the extreme love shown by owners, but never been able to pull the trigger. I’ve used a regular M9, so I understand that much, but as much as I look at Flickr shots from the Monochroms, I’m just not seeing results that match the praise. But, then, Flickr pix viewed on an ipad is not a fair sample from which to draw a final judgment. I’m getting results from monochrome conversions of Nikon Z7 and Fuji S5 Pro files that more closely match what people say the Monochrom delivers than I see from Monochrom pix posted on the internet, generally. But, never having owned one, I can’t really say.
    Looking forward to your thoughts on the comparisons. Not that I need another camera.

    Reply
  6. Fiatlux

    Looking forward to the next steps.

    I loved the rendering of the B&W JPEGs from the M8 and M9. I recently got a Typ 246 Monochrom (too good to pass price), but haven’t used it much yet. A lot more potential but also files that require a bit more post-processing, the default rendering being a bit flat.

    Reply
    1. Rob Campbell

      The flatness is the beauty.

      I have had but two real digital cameras in my life, both Nikons, and I set both up to be as devoid of Nikon’s in-camera ideas of how thing should look as I could make them. The resulting flat NEFs are able to be manipulated to quite a degree, and allow for the fulfilment of the idea of the original file being the score and the end product the performance, a performance that the original flatness allows, if only because being flat, you haven’t permitted the highlights to burn out in the camera. Or that’s how it seems to work with me.

      The processing is the key to putting your stamp on your work instead of settling for the factory’s branding; without processing, where the satisfaction beyond the original click? Cherish and enjoy it as an essential step along the way to your identity.

      Reply
      1. Stephen J

        Perhaps there is some special fairy magic in the Nikon recipe Rob.

        Never had a Nikon digicam, but I did have one of their scanners, it was slow and clunky and it had to be driven by WinXP or a Risc Mac. I persuaded the owner of Iridient Developer to add that particular camera’s .nef files to his package. I loved it until it broke, really nice files… I am not so stuck on B&W as some.

        The replacement scanner was not a patch on it, even though it cost an arm and l… I could have bought a Nikon 9000 for less, and I should have..

        Reply
        1. Rob Campbell

          Mine (scanner) is a CanoScan FS 4000 US; I remember it as being pretty expensive at the time, but it does work nicely. I think that it, too, requires I use my old XP computer in order to scan anything, which then has to be transferred into the later Win8.something machine; I’m pretty sure that it also worked with my long-gone Windows Vista system, but it’s all a bit of a bother. However, for as long as the freezer still has a tray filled with film, and the F3 still exists in its safe, I may as well keep it. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the F3 will function: still almost new, but it’s been years since it had an affair with a battery. It may be as dead as my seldom-used D700 turned out to be when I felt the urge to use it again one day.

          One sure can waste a lot of bread in photography.

          Reply
  7. Andeas Leemann

    In addition to my two film Leicas (M2 and M6) I own both the CCD-based Leica Monochrom and the M240. I love how the files of the M look like after applying a S-curve in Photoshop. The grain structure, especially between 800-1600 ASA, fits my taste perfectly. The main draw back of the camera is the danger to clip highlights. A lot of care is required here. In this regard, the M240 is the more forgiving camera. Both bodies benefit from the addition of a thum rest. Still, I prefer the handling of the M240 to the one of the M. Therefore, I use it more often. Usually in combination with the M2 or M6 loaded with HP5. In regard to the output, I prefer the darkroom prints to prints obtained from the scanned film. The prints from the digital cameras on the other hand stand on their own. They are just different than the darkroom prints. But I love both.

    Reply
  8. Henry Joy

    I don’t think this represents an epistemic shift at lecaphilia.com, even if Tim has recently alluded to instagram. Leica are trying hard to disguise their digital cameras. Obviously, they now need to release a digital camera which shoots in monochrome AND is missing a rear screen.

    Reply
    1. Rob Campbell

      Bad suggestion, Henry: rear screens are there for when they might be employed as useful aids to your photography. The perceived problem arises with those who are incapable of shooting their picture in normal lighting situations and forgetting about it until they see it again on the monitor.

      They, the rear screens, come into their own when you have to make difficult shots such as against windows from inside rooms. Sure, before screens one would bracket and think nothing of it; is bracketing in some way less a sin, a confession of doubt, than consulting a screen? And doesn’t simple bracketing render less certainty at the best of times, especially if you have to use additional lights to balance exposure inside with expose outside? Chimping is cheaper than Polaroids ever were.

      With Mono-style cameras, it appears that it is very easy to suffer unintended overexposure that kills highlight detail; all the more reason to have the safety net of a rear screen, even though an EVF offers some good infomation too.

      I may be mistaken here – but I believe that part of the anti-rear screen society is made up of folks who think there is some implicit superiority to be had in the art of guessing correct exposure, which itself, is very dependent on the purposes of the final image, and does not have to hold to some standard concept of rightness. It’s often remarked that some of the early greats such as HC-B didn’t use exposure meters but claimed to “know their light” and didn’t need such devices. Usually, those same people did not have to print their own negatives, and their subject matter didn’t require any specific attention to accuracy. Not knowing how difficult their negs might have been to print would obviously lead them to imagine they were doing just fine with their guesses. Their careers probably owe a lot to the darkoom guys who helped save their ass.

      I did a lot of work on black/white film and also on colour transparency material; only an idiot would have attempted critical professional work without an exposure meter. I remember, once, shortly after buying my pretty new F2 Photomic, turning up on a shoot having forgotten to pack my Weston. Using the camera’s metering system was far from perfect and the resulting negs were all over the place. I never forgot to pack my meter again.

      As I suggested when I came in, if screens are a problem it’s only because people don’t use them as tools but as pathways to immediate gratification. And is that really a problem, and might it not perhaps just be another part of the buzz photography gives them?

      Reply
    1. Des McSweeney

      can you tell me which body and lens that was please – this is a wonderful and warming photograph. I am spending endless hours on this Friday lockdown evening diving down the M9M/246 rabbit hole. I have spent good time considering (yes I would) an M10M (but no I cant, as I would like to continue living with my long suffering partner in life). CCD or CMOS in mono? – heavens the debate was hard enough when it was only colour in question. Toss a coin for me and say which. If I sell my love M3 plus a bit of pocket money I am nearly there ;-). The both more or less cost the same which is interesting.
      Des

      Reply
  9. Rob Campbell

    In the case of this particular shot Keith, I think you might have picked an image where it was colour (sari) that attracted you to shooting in the first place. For me, the lost clothing colours are what I’d have preferred to look at and enjoy. (Clearly, I have no idea how they actually looked in life.)

    In that sense, indeed, you retain the ability to go back to the original, offering, as you suggested, the best of both worlds.

    The above is the sentiment I had often expressed during the period where I was simply unable to get why anybody would intentionally cast aside the luxury of choice in every shot made. However, on learning more about the advantages of no colour on the ability to work well at far higher ISO ratings, it starts to make sense if you have that kind of workplace. I seldom did – the few times that were different were when I used the D700 to shoot musicians at the local spots. A fondness for shooting at wide apertures also mitigates against the advantages of a Mono for me for “normal” work: I don’t often need higher ISOs.

    Converting from colour obviously allows the use of native filtration possibilities that, naturally, don’t exist in a Mono sensor. I made good use of this in my little series on the abandoned electricity plant, where I managed to extract a misty look, with tonal separation visible in some images that, without filtration, couldn’t have been achieved:

    http://www.roma57.com/project-1-outage.html

    I must also add that I never used filters when shooting my black/white fashion pix. In that sense, digital has been the opportunity for me to use a new mechanism towards a special effect I couldn’t have achieved without filtration. Yes, one can stick filters in front of a Mono camera’s lens, but trying out the effects on the monitor is far more productive and controllable.

    All this said, I would still love an inexpensive digital Nikon!

    Reply
      1. Rob Campbell

        Thanks, Tim. I love shooting in bad weather as it gives a more interesting sort of atmosphere – at least, it does to me because of the contrast with the normal blue sky we get, which was, contrarily, one of the reasons we moved here: easy, permanent location for glam shots on beaches. How one’s desires shift with age and needs!

        I think that a Mono camera might be very good with skin tones; I don’t suppose I’ll ever find out for sure, but if and when that money ship comes sailing in…

        🙂

        Reply
        1. Rob Campbell

          Thank you; I just wish that there were more industrial ruins around here to play in, but even this one is guarded and everything was shot from the car or pavement. (Funny how rain always comes in from the same direction as your opened window!)

          It probably wouldn’t make a great deal of difference in my case: I have developed a real fear of wandering around similar places and falling through into cellers or underground water tanks and rotting away there, out of range of cellphone help. That Blair Witch Project really spooked me out; to this day I have a fear of woods. I used to enjoy them when I was young, and made a few model shots in them too. All it took was one brilliant bit of cinema to change everything.

          Reply
    1. Keith Laban

      Rob, India – Rajasthan in particular – was of course a riot of colour. I was in my element and captured many images that relied heavily on those colours.

      I happened upon this frenetic scene and was transfixed with the girl’s determined efforts at the pump. Imagine my disappointment then when downloading the file only to realise that mum’s sari and kid’s clothes were garish, clashed, and not in the least attractive. As much as I liked the composition no amount of manipulation improved the situation and the image was left unresolved. Thankfully I never delete anything. Some months later I decided to try a B&W conversion and this time was transfixed by the movement the patterns and tones created within the Sari and also the textures on the stonework, all of which became more obvious for the conversion. A happy accident, perhaps?

      I was indeed grateful for the choice!

      Reply
    2. Thomas Rink

      Rob – I like the series about the abandoned power station a lot. The pictures really stir my imagination! In their subjective approach they stand well apart from the usual “lost places” ruin porn. Usually, it’s a pain that everything remotely interesting is fenced off, but you put it to good use. The pervasive chain link pattern keeps the thing together.

      Best, Thomas

      Reply
      1. Rob Campbell

        Thank you, Thomas; the structure has been around for a long time, and I get the impression that nobody quite knows what to do with it – leave it alone or demolish it. As far as I can see, it looks as if there have either been half-hearted attempts at that, or it was very poorly built in the first place. Some say it still stands “just in case” it may ever be needed, but how that could be implemented I don’t know: cheaper to start from scratch!

        Regarding the treatment I gave it: it was inspired by the graphics/titles for a French tv cop drama series that I watched a few times. At first, those put me in mind of Peter Lindbergh’s early fashion pictures in old industrial places. So things affect other things in rather roundabout ways!

        Glad you got some pleasure from them.

        Reply
  10. stefano aldighieri

    Amen. I went through a similar path myself; still own an M4, but rarely use it now, as much as we love it, film IS a p.i.t.a.
    I had the M8 and LOVED its converted B&W files, superior to most other cameras I have had. Did not enjoy the crop, and that was the reason to sell it (although once in a while I still feel the urge to pick up another one). The M8 came right after my beloved Epson R-D1 (of which I had 3, at different times), possibly the best digital interpretation of a film camera. Far better ergonomics than Leica’s digital RFs, with the gorgeous analog dial to check all functions at a glance, the fantastic flip screen (so you only use it to set up the camera, flip it back and forget it ever existed), and the mechanical shutter … nobody believed it was a digital camera when they saw me shooting with it. Eventually, the 6MP sensor showed its limitations and I had to move on. After a couple of CCD M9s, i finally got the Monochrom….and wow! For my shooting, this is probably the best camera ever made. If there is one issue with it, is that files are just “too perfect”, and give away the digital nature (oh, and without Silver Efex, images are hardly compelling). I curse the day when I sold it to get an SL (I thought i “needed” more flexibility). Now of course I am regretting it and I am trying to correct my mistake by selling the (excellent) SL and return home to the MM.
    I will not comment on the Sigma, been there repeatedly myself too …

    Reply
  11. Keith Laban

    Going off topic for a moment, but I’m transfixed – seems to be my word of the week – by the wonderful banner images at the top of the pages. I’m wondering how you feel about them, Tim? I take it they’re hard crops, are they something you would consider publishing in their own right, or do you consider them to be simply a means to an end for the blog?

    Either way they are compelling.

    Reply
    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Keith: I’m going through my LR catalog and printing up limited edition “magazines “ through Magcloud. As such, I’m running into all sorts of photos I forgot about. Some of them I cropped and used for the header.

      Magcloud offers a cheap way of organizing and printing for posterity. I think my 60 pager with wire binding cost $16 a copy. I ordered 5. I’m doing a whole series. Maybe I’ll offer them for sale through Magcloud.

      Reply
  12. George Feucht

    Thanks for your honesty down this journey. I’m not there yet and I’m following closely.

    I’ve demoed both the M9M and M246 and just didn’t fall in love with them. Also, it was your comparison a while back of the female model that solidified that I saw the Monochrom results as just a bit waxy and artificial. Whatever that means.

    But goddamn it I’m sick of the skyrocketing Kodak prices, the time it takes to process just a few rolls, the battle against dust in scanning or darkroom printing, etc. I love silver prints but right now, there are very good methods of digital negative output for contact prints. I could be talked into doing all the precision dodging and burning ONCE on my monitor and then making perfect silver prints every time from the burned-in adjustments on the 8×10 negative I print.

    Can I ask a crazy favor? Throw in a converted M240 photo that used a yellow or orange b/w filter. (Obviously you’ll be using manual white balance). I love my M240 and I’ve been playing with this. One of the huge advantages of b/w conversion from color is that you get highlight roll-off from the color array. The Monocroms just clip across the board at a certain point, but the color sensors clip one color at a time. And the artificial color filter simulations in the camera or in Lightroom just stress channels with severe curves.

    Again, I’m super interested in this journey of yours, because I was in the same boat of not loving the Monochrom compared to film, but I’d much rather shoot more than process and scan. I’ve got a 5-year old and a career… not much free time.

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  13. Rob Campbell

    I note that London has now been officially overtaken by Amsterdam as leading European share market due to Brexit not permitting particular shares to be traded in London any longer. Apparently, no jobs will be lost, only money and pride.

    Who just yelled “Told you so!”?

    🙂

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