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Leica MONO Technique - Filters

glenerrolrd

Workshop Member
My photography never seems to improve by discussing gear ..even thou its fun . In an effort to actually learn something I will be posting questions about technique not gear .

My first subject as a test . Do you really benefit by using color filters (red, orange,yellow or green) when using a MONO camera ? Conventional wisdom has always been ..you just can not duplicate the tone mapping of a MONO file created with a color filter . Post processing capabilities from Adobe, Capture One and NIK have improved so much ..do you think this is still true . If so why?

I will save my POV until after we have had a good discussion .

This is test to see if we have any interest outside of gear discussions .
 

tcdeveau

Well-known member
Yes. For example I found a noticeable difference in adding contrast to cloudy skies (and details to clouds) when using an orange filter on the M10 Mono. Same with the IQ4 Achromatic. Maybe it’s possible to duplicate the effect in post but it’s nice to do it camera too.
 

glenerrolrd

Workshop Member
The downside is that you lose a few EV(stops ) in exposure . So your F1.4 lens comes an F2-2.8 for exposure purposes . Plus you have to buy color filters for every filter size in your kit . I have done this 34,39,43,46,60 and 67 just for my M lenses (yes I could use step up adapters ). Yellow,orange,red for each size. As they say No free Lunch .
 

tcdeveau

Well-known member
Yep this is the downside for sure. When I had the M10M I kept it simple and only used a 50mm so it wasn’t that big a deal. The high iso performance was good enough for my uses I found the M10M more or less ISO invariant for my purposes and just it to auto and let it go, so the light loss didn’t bother me too much. The IQ4A I pretty much only shoot on a tripod so the light loss doesn’t matter. The filters are a PITA, but that is part of the fun (esp infrared). I do really like filter panel in Nik Silver Efex though where you just click on a color filter of choice (for color non mono files). 4CF75D02-3255-4B5F-A73E-7F91D90B8E3F.jpeg
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
I just did this test with a Q2 Mono. Unless there is blue sky, I didn't see much advantage to the yellow or orange filters. Red was too strong. Green was interesting, but I wouldn't leave it on the camera - maybe useful for portraits. I could see using a regular yellow. Or none. I got a lot of local contrast using brushes in LR and was very happy with "no filter" cityscapes.

I was comparing the results to what I could get with color conversion of S3 files. The Q2 M with no filter did a GREAT job, which was not what I was expecting, as I always use color response adjustments on my S conversions.
 

stephen.s1

Member
FWIW, I have never seen much of a need for filteration with my m10M. Nothing that I can't bring up in post.
 

glenerrolrd

Workshop Member
Conventional wisdom ..unlike a color file you do not have the ability to edit a MONO file using the color channels . You can not darken the sky with channel adjustment because it will pull down all mid tones . This leaves you with a lot more tone mapping (local contrast adjustments) in post processing .

If you are photographing seascapes/landscapes with a lot of clouds ..color filters make sense for MONO files . However if you are doing environmental portraits ..you may find that filters are a burden . You can get the same results with local area adjustments . And you do not lose the exposure values you may need in low light .

You can get good results either way . I will continue to use filters with the MONO in good light as it reduces the post processing effort and provides for consistent results .
 

algrove

Well-known member
As many know I use red filters on all my Mono cameras (M11 and Q2M) with the results I like. Sure if shooting in extremely low light it hampers low ISO shooting, but that never bothers me as much as it bothers others.
If shooting in total darkness I will have to make a judgement call which probably means no red, but I still might opt for orange if the scene warrants any filter at all.
 

alajuela

Member
As many know I use red filters on all my Mono cameras (M11 and Q2M) with the results I like. Sure if shooting in extremely low light it hampers low ISO shooting, but that never bothers me as much as it bothers others.
If shooting in total darkness I will have to make a judgement call which probably means no red, but I still might opt for orange if the scene warrants any filter at all.
Has Leica released a M11 Mono?
 

glenerrolrd

Workshop Member
No the last M MONO is the M10M .

Proves my point that GETdpi is much more about gear than photography . Did anyone learn anything about best practices that they could apply ?
 

glenerrolrd

Workshop Member
Another aspect to consider . themathphotographer.com is a very good YouTube channel . He recently tested the M11,M10M and M10R . My takeaways were that the M11 clearly bested the M10 versions in resolution although the M10M appeared to have greater sharpness . The real difference was in the higher ISO performance ..the M10M appeared without noise at least 2 EV better than the M11 or the M10R .

So how can we apply this information ?

If I was shooting seascape with large white clouds ....not sure it matters which M you used . At base ISO all three produce low noise ,high dynamic range and superb sharpness . If you are not on a tripod you are losing way more to camera motion than the. difference between the sensor performance ,

However ...if you are shooting street at dawn ,dusk or night ......where an ISO above 3200 might be nice to work with .....the M10M blows away the two color bodies . Two extra EV available to work with . Now consider what going form F1.4 to F2.8 would do for your hit ratio or stepping up from 1/60 to 1/250 would do for your ability to stop action or avoid camera motion .

Those are the trade offs that should be discussed ....even if they are about gear .
 

algrove

Well-known member
Another point to consider do we go out with B&W cameras only and also going out with color cameras only ? Or do we take both color and B&W cameras on the same stump? Yes it gear but directly applies to image captures.
 

glenerrolrd

Workshop Member
Each photographer develops their own shooting techniques ..there is no right way . What is important is that a certain rhythm is developed such that the photographer can put their full attention on the subject . That means no fiddling with f stops, exposure compensation etc. Even magnified focusing can break a rhythm . For me switching between B&W and Color ..on the street ..is a big problem .

I need to see and compose for B&W or color . Color involves dealing with color contrasts etc . B&W must rely on light and composition . So I want to shoot only B&W or only color thru an entire shoot and hopefully during the entire project . This does not mean that you shouldn't t use a color camera and then decide later which aesthetic works better . I have switched mid project ..when the photographs were just not lining up with my vision . (this obviously means I was using a color camera).

But I would not walk out the door with one b&W and one color camera ..intending to use both . Never found Tri X to mix well with Kodachrome .
 

Godfrey

Well-known member
My standard tactic for years with various B&W films has been to set up a Pantone chart in sunlight, shade, and interior light and photograph it with the range of filters (red, orange, yellow, green and blue) that I have. After processing the film, I can see exactly how the film's spectral response changes with various filters. Each film presents a slightly different set of changes, so if you're fussy about it, you have to test for each film. Once you can see how the filter modifies the spectral response, you'll know what filters to use when.

I can't imagine this being any different for a monochrome sensor. It's a little easier because you're working with a single 'film', single spectral response situation.

I have a Pixii coming, which has a monochrome capture option. I'm very curious to see how this works and whether I can manipulate the spectral response by some alternative means as well.

G
 
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