Monochrom v B&W conversions from M9

Posted on by Mike Evans

Since I got the Monochrom last Saturday everyone asks why buy a black and white camera when monochrom conversions from colour cameras are "just as good". I might have agreed before I tried the MM for myself, but I am now convinced otherwise. In this article, Nelson Tan compares the MM with the M9, its spiritual ancestor and to which it is almost identical apart from the naked sensor. Worth a read:

If you are happy with the Leica M9, and you shoot a mixture of color and monochrome, then by all means stick to the M9. There is a definite advantage to converting the M9 files to black-and-white, which gives you color channel control. The Monochrom on the other hand delivers fantastic ISO capability that is way out of the M9’s league, making it the Leica to go for if you are a dedicated monochrome photographer shooting in challenging lighting conditions.

I agree with this, but I also feel that the MM produces overall more satisfying imagines with greater presence than I am used to with conversion from colour cameras, including the M9, M240 or Sony RX1. Perhaps it is subjective, but it is definitely there. As Nelson says, the MM isn't as forgiving as the M9 with its colour channels to fall back on. In particularly you have to be careful about blown highlights which can be unrecoverable on the MM. Satisfying, though, it certainly is.

Chairs in waiting, Caffe Nero, Soho. Photo Mike Evans, Leica M Monochrom and 75mm APO Summicron in street mode, f/11 @1/125s

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