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Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

fotografz

Well-known member
I have placed my order for this camera after some concern about the relatively flat looking files being posted which I've now resolved ... as the Beatles song goes ... "With a little help from my friends" :)

Thanks to Jono for supplying native MM DNGs of various subjects at a full range of ISOs in different lighting conditions. :thumbs:

Jono was also kind enough to supply a still life shot with the M9 and the MM at ISO400/320 respectively which allowed conversion to B&W and a direct comparison to the MM file with no variables except sensor type.

My good friend Irakly came by and we sat down to figure out how to process the MM files to achieve that "Leica Snap" (for lack of a better word) with B&W images ... the immediate observation was that true blacks were missing, which is what contributes to the over-all flat look. Our initial investagative process was not dissimilar to the approach needed when we went from B&W conversions of M8 files to the initially flatter looking converted M9 DNG files ... only this time the propritary MM processing technique was even more aggressive.

We began our effort by playing with the various B&W presets in the left dialog column, selecting the appropriate starting point for any given lighting scenario and/or ISO file.

Then we dealt with further assuring True Black, and fine tuning the other tonal areas.

Fortunately, LR4 has vastly improved the exposure controls to deal with it. By increasing the density with the black slider, then relieving the shadows (done to taste), plus increasing clarity and often contrast to different degrees, we were both satisfied relatively fast. Note, the adjustment of the "True Black" slider in LR4 was usually pretty aggressive, and to our surprise and delight, lifting of shadows did NOT result in increased noise ... such seems the nature of these MM files. True Black is far less affected by shadow adjustments in terms of degree, and remains true black even when shadows were restored. That is why they are separate controls I guess :rolleyes:

I then processed the M9 color file, and the MM file of the same static subject ... Jono's famous "shelf pic".

Using best practices for M9 B&W developed over a couple of years use, I set about trying to match the over-all tonal spread and "snap" I expect from a Leica B&W image ... which was now easy to achieve with the MM file.

Interesting observation was how much sharper the MM file was when pixel peeping @ 100% and 200% ... the noise pattern on the MM file is much tighter and actually allowed some sharpening by increasing amount a lot and keeping the radius small (depending on ISO). The MM easily out resolves the M9 in these conditions. What percentage I'll leave to others to debate endlessly, but it is visibly sharper looking and cleaner by a good factor even without any additional sharpening.

I have a meeting in a few minutes, and when I get some more free time I'll post some results (thanks to Jono), in a SmugMug file and provide a link.

In the meantime, anyone with a DNG file, try playing around using some of the insights we discovered.

Hope this helps a little. :)

-Marc
 

Double Negative

Not Available
Awesome work, guys. This was something I wondered about as well in looking at the posted samples. Looking forward to seeing your results.

Jono's seashore shot was more along the lines of what I'm thinking. That looked great. I assume a filter was used also.
 

D&A

Well-known member
Fantastic! This is exactly what many of us were hoping for. Truly appreciate Marc and all those that supported your effort which of course includes those you kindly thanked. Looking forward to your posted results and also hope in due time, some MM DNG"s will be made available for publically, so others can work and develop alternative processing schemes.

Dave (D&A)
 

fotografz

Well-known member
Here ya go ... Remember these are courtesy of Jono, bless his heart for being so generous!

Had a big meeting today so couldn't fuss with these all that much ... just used the basic stuff I mentioned in the opening here.

Each of us has a different way of processing ... but this at least demonstrates that the MM files are malleable and can be done in many different ways. So, coulda, woulda, shoulda isn't the point.

The color M9 shot with a B&W conversion is there with a 320 MM shot ... AND a MM 10,000 shot ... check out the 10,000 ISO!

The titles below the large preview spell out what is what. Basically, direct untouched originals followed by edits.

I think I made the China Girl (C MM Edit) a bit to crispy and forgot to exercise a bit of selective noise control on the MM 6400 group shot ... but coulda, woulda, shoulda :)

I think there is still a lot of learning to do with this camera ... and I'm sure MM Lightroom Presets will materialize once the camera is out and about. Plus, we won't know what shooting techniques may produce more (if anything) until we have it for good while.

Jono's MM files - fotografz's Photos | SmugMug

-Marc
 

ashwinrao1

Active member
Great stuff, Marc, especially edit 2 of the covered young female face...stunning, really! Great work capturing, Jono, and great image editing, Marc!
 

ustein

Contributing Editor
Marc, could you please make some screen shots of your Lightroom settings (e.g. for the cormorant fisher shot).
 

jlm

Workshop Member
looks like there is a temptation to increase the contrast, bring up a pure black; but one of the appealing things is the soft gray tonality of the originals, something that is quite subtle in sharpness, crispness
 

D&A

Well-known member
Great stuff, Marc, especially edit 2 of the covered young female face...stunning, really! Great work capturing, Jono, and great image editing, Marc!
+1...very impressive Marc and of course Jono's originals are a great platform of images to work with.

I agree with others, that in some instances there might be a bit of high contrast in some of the post processed MM images that were worked on and in a few instances, I prefer a slightly lower contrast version, even though blacks might not be true blacks. It's all subjective, just as it would be with regards to selecting film, developer and paper type. Clearly the files are very mailable and this is an important consideration with regards to this new camera. In the future, it will be interesting to take the same MM RAW DNG's and immediately apply one of the Silverfast presets, as a start and see what they look like when compared to the images that were worked on via yoru (Marc's) protocol.

What a excellent start and much food for thought. Again I'd like to thank you Marc for posting these.

Dave (D&A)
 
Y

yong.s

Guest
Here ya go ... Remember these are courtesy of Jono, bless his heart for being so generous!

Had a big meeting today so couldn't fuss with these all that much ... just used the basic stuff I mentioned in the opening here.

Each of us has a different way of processing ... but this at least demonstrates that the MM files are malleable and can be done in many different ways. So, coulda, woulda, shoulda isn't the point.

The color M9 shot with a B&W conversion is there with a 320 MM shot ... AND a MM 10,000 shot ... check out the 10,000 ISO!

The titles below the large preview spell out what is what. Basically, direct untouched originals followed by edits.

I think I made the China Girl (C MM Edit) a bit to crispy and forgot to exercise a bit of selective noise control on the MM 6400 group shot ... but coulda, woulda, shoulda :)

I think there is still a lot of learning to do with this camera ... and I'm sure MM Lightroom Presets will materialize once the camera is out and about. Plus, we won't know what shooting techniques may produce more (if anything) until we have it for good while.

Jono's MM files - fotografz's Photos | SmugMug

-Marc
Marc these are really good edits! (and Jono you rock!) Like the A-MM-edit 2 and MM 6400 Edit in particular. In fact I just placed an order on MM! =) Do you mind sharing your settings in LR?
 

m_driscoll

New member
Marc:

Nicely done. I went to your site to see the photos.

What's really good to see is how "malleable" these files are to reflect different techniques in processing and aesthetic tastes in final output.

My processed versions of these files, to suit my 'tastes', are quite a bit different from yours. Ashwin's been working the same files. We're getting together this weekend to compare results. I bet his versions are, also, uniquely his.

Thanks again to Brother Jono for leading us into the light

Cheers, Matt

Zenfolio | Matt Driscoll
 

fotografz

Well-known member
Yep, no two set of eyes see the same. Probably true for our screens also ;)

I do tend to a bit more density because I don't process for screen, but instead prints. I have printed some of these already because that's the test most important to me.

I usually use a double weight fiber based Ink Jet paper like Crane's Museo Silver Rag which requires a bit more contrast to the file ... this paper isn't quite pure white, nor obviously as reflective as a rear lit computer screen.

Once I go through that printing process a few times, I'll be able to make minor adjustments to the black density to account for any gain.

I also want to experiment with laser silver prints ... which are slightly different because silver prints produce better true blacks than typical inkjets ... so the files might need backing off especially on the bright white paper my lab uses.

Lots to learn, but one thing is becoming clear ... the files are delicious, and thanks to Jono, with Leica's permission, we have something to learn with before punking down a "Leica like" small fortune :)

-Marc
 

pophoto

New member
looks like there is a temptation to increase the contrast, bring up a pure black; but one of the appealing things is the soft gray tonality of the originals, something that is quite subtle in sharpness, crispness
I think what Marc has shown, despite increase in contrast, how much isn't blown out of whack, as some would call it! I think you can continue to push/pull until your hearts content and maintain a lot of original tonality. Something I would want from any sensor, color and B&W.
 

RF_Licks

New member
Marc, thanks for examples.

I am very impressed with the output of MM. The 6400 ISO shot also looked really nice. Jono's sample DNG file work really well in Nik SEP2 and I can imagine why Leica will include the software with every camera sold. Finally, a digital RF for B&W Leica shooters. My film Leicas are probably going to be upset with me for sometime.

Joe
 

Godfrey

Well-known member
Great work.

The MM is truly a B&W specialist's dream camera. I'll hate you all soon for piquing my curiosity. ;-)

(I hope that before I can afford an MM, Leica produces an X2-M. Something about the X2 has been calling to me; the simplicity of the X1 is what originally drew me down the road to the GXR. Sigh.)
 

jlancasterd

Member
Marc

Have you investigated whether the electronic monochrome filters in LR4 will work with M Monochrome RAW files? There's a full set from yellow to deep red and infra-red in this software and they could be extremely useful if they can be made to work as if the files were monochrome film.
 

Tim Gray

Member
Have you investigated whether the electronic monochrome filters in LR4 will work with M Monochrome RAW files? There's a full set from yellow to deep red and infra-red in this software and they could be extremely useful if they can be made to work as if the files were monochrome film.
Doesn't work. Those software filters require color data to work.
 
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