Silver Efex TMAX 3200: Nikon D200, Sigma SD15, and M9 CCD Monochrom

Nikon D200
Sigma SD15
Leica M9 monochrom

Same comparison as before, except this time using the TMAX 3200 emulation.

Again, I think the D200 with its 10MP CDD sensor and 80’s era Nikkor optic does the best job of replicating the classic film look from a high-speed film like TM3200. Nice gritty grain, somewhat flat accutance and muddled tonality. I’ve written about this before, both here and here.

The SD15 with its 4 MP Foveon sensor is more grainy because of the lower pixel density but definitely holds tones better and has a rounded 3D look as opposed to the flattened look of the D200. This combo would be perfect for a sequel to Car Sick. Grainy, gritty, yet tonally interesting photos that ‘pop.’

The M9 Monchrom just looks weird. Irrespective of what Leica says (remember, they gave you a copy of Silver Efex when you bought the M9 Mono new), Mono files don’t take to Silver Efex or dumbed-down film emulation. M9MM files are meant to be processed natively, at which point they rock:

M9 Mono ISO 800 Straight RAW Processing in LR


Bottom line: 1) The Nikon D200 along with Silver Efex is a great B&W film camera, everything Leica meant the Monochrom to be but was not. The beauty of it is that you can pick a nice D200 body up for next to nothing, mate it with an old film-era manual or AF Nikkor lens, shoot it at 400 or 800 ISO and get what looks to be the equivalent of the 35mm B&W films you used to shoot with you M6 or F5; 2) The 4MP Sigma SD15 is a Killer B&W film camera; and 3) The CCD Monochrom isn’t meant for film emulation software. Shoot it natively and it’ll give you beautiful, clean files, but don’t mistake them for film era output. Dumbing it down with grain and film curves ruins its uniqueness.

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2 thoughts on “Silver Efex TMAX 3200: Nikon D200, Sigma SD15, and M9 CCD Monochrom

  1. Hank

    The Silver FX TM3200 treatment on the Sigma looks like Tri-X. Really like Tri-X in Rodinal, shot with a Zeiss lens.

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      You may be right. Super grainy with a lot of acutance. That being said I just do not get the Rodinal fetish. It makes everything too grainy. Tri-X should not be that grainy Hank.

      I’m assuming you threw in the reference to the Zeiss lens because of how sharp the Sigma renders. I never thought of the Foveon sensor that way – as a digital Zeiss lens. Then again the modern Sigma lenses themselves are all very sharp and ‘technical.’

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