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Thread: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

  1. #51
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Quote Originally Posted by chrism View Post
    Well, I will confess to using SFXPro v1 on the first of Jono's examples, then rushing out to buy v2 even though I will get a free download in August. On my Mac, v1 opened the DNG's with no extra step in between. Perhaps it is a Mac/Windows thing? I think there is a time limited download of v2 available from Nik so he can see if it makes the difference. I just opened one of Jono's files that is in LR4 with CS5, and it shows the 'mode' as being RGB Color without me doing anything to it. So there may be some difference in the way a Windows system treats these files?

    Chris
    Chris, thanks for posting your observations regarding this. One thing that still confuses me is whethernon a Mac or PC, how could the MM DNG files open in a color space when they I believe are In the working space "gray scale", from what I understand....and that's the way they open in Bridge/CS5 on a XP PC. Hard to imagine that a Mac automatically coverts them to a color space upon opening unless their post processing software is instructed to do that upon opening these images.

    Let's assume the MM DNG's are originally in gray scale out of the camera (I think Jono mentioned this somewheres)...then that brings me back to my original question if the Silver Efx program that will come with the MM, is simply an off the shelf version or not, since all Silver Efx programs so far need the image in a color space to work. Thanks again.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Quote Originally Posted by skimmel View Post
    I've seen good examples of the extra speed, and I've seen good examples of extra resolution (Sean Reid's review being the best in my opinion). But, I keep hearing about increased dynamic range -- why is this and are there examples to demonstrate the increased dr?
    Dynamic range decreases as ISO increases. You can measure this by doing a set of test exposures at each ISO setting.

    Since I don't own an MM, I made an exposure on similar subject matter to Jono's ISO 10,000 bookshelf shot and in similar light levels with the M9 set to ISO 2500. I also made a reference exposure of the same subject at ISO 160.

    Looking at the images with Lightroom and Photoshop after trivial rendering to B&W, what I see in the two high ISO exposures is virtually identical detailing and dynamic range. Examining my ISO 160 image of the same subject, I see two stops more dynamic range. Looking at another of Jono's images at ISO 320, the MM's native sensitivity, I estimate about three stops more DR.

    So as a first order approximation, 2 stops of speed and a stop more DR seems about the right ballpark to me. It's an interesting tradeoff to have that rather than full color capability.

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    I surprised myself by bringing it up. Maybe it was because the OP started the thread by demonstrating processing alternatives that allowed for a true black. With no offense meant to any of the contributors, I couldn't help but notice that in most of the examples shown, film would have done a better job.

    I can see the attraction for more speed and I completely embrace the digital workflow. However, I've yet to see a photo from an MM that justifies the cost.

    Since you seem comfortable providing your opinion on any matter as the "end of story", I'll be bold and simply state that given the examples shown to date, the Leica MM is tantamount to the "Emperor's New Camera". The more people talk about it, the more they convince themselves of its magnificence.
    You can give your opinion as an "end of story" too. It simply is not a fact, it's an opinion. Just like the opinion that "film would have done a better job" is also just an opinion and not a fact. If it's a fact, you better find a way to prove it.

    The MM is a niche camera that provides an interesting set of advantages in trade for other capabilities. The sneer that it is "the Emperor's New Camera" is another of your opinions.

    I'm not ordering an MM, nor do I think it's some odd kind of magical camera device that I must have. I've used monochrome digital cameras before and found them interesting, fun to work with. The MM piques my curiosity. An XP2 Monochrom would pique my curiosity more as it would be a much less expensive niche camera.

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post

    for me, though, as a b/w shooter, i don't think i can expect better (nor am i quite so fickle)... still, i'm really going to need to shoot this in darkness and process my own images before i make the final call.
    Cam: In your hands, the MM will have its best possible chance to be magnificent. I look forward to seeing your images!

    Best,
    Tim
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    I surprised myself by bringing it up. Maybe it was because the OP started the thread by demonstrating processing alternatives that allowed for a true black. With no offense meant to any of the contributors, I couldn't help but notice that in most of the examples shown, film would have done a better job.

    I can see the attraction for more speed and I completely embrace the digital workflow. However, I've yet to see a photo from an MM that justifies the cost.

    Since you seem comfortable providing your opinion on any matter as the "end of story", I'll be bold and simply state that given the examples shown to date, the Leica MM is tantamount to the "Emperor's New Camera". The more people talk about it, the more they convince themselves of its magnificence.

    Tim
    Tim, you touch on many good points, that in turn can touch a nerve or two

    For the most part, I agree with you. B&W film hasn't been equalled or beat to date, and I seriously doubt this camera will be the one to do it either ... no matter who's hands it is in. However, this is a brand new camera with a very different digital discipline which no one has had all that much time with yet. I'm sure with more use, more will be forthcoming as it comes into its own, not as a comparison to film ... into its own.

    The aesthetic qualities of B&W film/analog printing set the standard, and either we accept a different but equal standard, or accept that B&W aesthetic can never be beaten, and move on. Personally, the latter is what I did ... but I went out on a high note shooting a 203FE and B&W film before selling the whole kit.

    To be perfectly honest, I feel digital and all the technological rubbish is part of the dumbing down of photography to its lowest common denominator ... being too lazy I've gone along with it, and I don't feel all that bad about it either. It is what it is, so make the best of it rather than longing for the good old days ... which usually involves a lot of selective memory

    I'm not completely convinced about this MM camera yet. I have one on order for the same reasons as others ... mainly shooting in places where using a M rangefinder (film or digital) was a no go. Whether that it is worth it or not is the $8,000 question.

    -Marc
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post
    Tim, i totally get where you're coming from and agree on a lot of your points, but...

    is the camera magnificent? lol! i promise i will take it into absurdly low light situations and prove that it is merely mortal. however, i will get a lot more than what i have now, whilst not having to buy new lenses.

    i know i am in a distinct minority, but i need this camera because 2500, f1, -EV is still not fast enough for the situations i want to use it in (not to mention the extreme and ugly noise, blocked up shadows, etc. i get with it).

    by the time this comes out, i'm sure the M10 will be announced and many will jump ship.

    for me, though, as a b/w shooter, i don't think i can expect better (nor am i quite so fickle)... still, i'm really going to need to shoot this in darkness and process my own images before i make the final call.
    Cam, you are very much echoing my thoughts on this camera. One of my biggest frustrations with my M8 and then my M9 was an inability to spend more time in the shadows. When the sun sets and light gets to a certain point, I walked away from endless black and white shots that I wanted to take with a digital M. The night has a life of its own as the interaction between people and light and dark become more exaggerated. I've always wanted to explore that place with a digital M and M lenses. Hello ISO 10,000 ... I'm excited about the possibilities that are calling.

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Hey guys,

    Late to the discussion. I was called early in the morning last Friday by our Leica Rep for Northern California that I have also taught a few Leica Akademies with, Tom Brichta. He stated excitedly that Leica had overnighted him a Prototype M that he would be bringing to a camera shop in Palo Alto along with X2 and a S2 he always has with him.
    He asked if I could stop by and answer peoples questions on the M9 and at the same time I could use the camera for a while.
    Unfortunately, I got there a little later than planned and by that I mean a lot of people had had their hands on the camera. So I think some things had been set in the menus that I forgot to reset. I did however figure out I was shooting in JPEG after a while and got to DNG. Also, someone had increased EV by almost a stop. Anyway, by the time I was figuring these things out I had a bunch of people over my shoulder as I was trying to shoot my wife outside. My reason for this long tirade is that I couldn't just relax with the camera and do a complete reset. So the shots that I got off were not my best work.

    I was confused by some of the posts earlier on and have not had time to download Jonos shots. What I did find was that SEP2 worked fine for me including the presets and control points. Remember SEP2 is an external editor and will create a DNG not a TIFF and that may be some of the confusion I'm seeing.

    Now I have to go back several weeks ago. I was lucky enough to have Nik software (who makes SEP2 along with a bunch of great plug-ins) flew me down for the day to San Diego from San Francisco. I was picked up at the airport and in the office by 9:30AM and trained for the entire day by their chief educational presenter Janice Wendt. You can see her on many of the videos they have on the website. It was an amazing experience.

    This was the day after M launch. so she could tell me that the engineers had the M files for quite some time. The software, SEP, will be shipped with the cameras. But what is odd is that the whole educational development team told me that the control points would not work with the M files. However, having just got my hands on creating my own files this last weekend, I can verify that the U-Point technology DOES work on the files. However, we have all been shooting with the Prototype. I think the Nik team said that Leica had decided to change the DNG files at the last moment. Unfortunately, Janice went out for surgical leave the week after I was down there and will be out for another two weeks. No one seems to know anything about this at Leica NJ, especially with Christian having left his position.

    So anyway, I would love clarification on this matter. And to cut to the chase, I would share DNGs but they are crap.
    Regards,
    william
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Sorry, wanted to add one other thing. Janice suggests that if you are going to use one of the Nik filters, be it SEP2 or anything that has a "Structure" slider. She suggests you use no "Clarity" in ACR or LR, as their team feels the algorithm is much smarter in the Nik filter, when looking at the specific camera file and achieving a similar result.
    Regards,
    william
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    WPalank: Thanks for the information. The 'u-point' technology does seem to work fine in SEP2 with the MM file ('selective colorization', excepted).

    "Remember SEP2 is an external editor and will create a DNG not a TIFF and that may be some of the confusion I'm seeing."
    In LR4, when I edit a DNG in SEP2, the options are to change it to a TIFF, PSD, or JPEG for editing in SEP2?

    Anymore information re: this statement: "However, we have all been shooting with the Prototype. I think the Nik team said that Leica had decided to change the DNG files at the last moment." How would changing the DNG files affect processing in SEP2? Isn't a 'DNG' file a fixed standard?

    M-Monochrom; 50mm f/1.4; 1/1000s; ISO 400


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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    @ marc, most pics available from MM are dull, flat, and sterile. but a better processing like in your samples makes them look much better.

    i also would like to have sample DNG files to see how they go in LR, please (Jono) :-)

    as black and white enthusiast, i use b/w film for all my art projects, knowing the qualities and the impact of the hand crafted b/w print. it is beyond the technical aspects of camera and film. a digital camera that records monochrome makes sense from several technical reasons as mentioned above, but the highest merit of such a camera is Print. does it have the impact of traditional fine print - in richness, organic feel, luminosity, tactility etc? the camera is a link in the chain with processing and printing (media, tech). if the new camera files do add to the impact of the print, whether equivalent to the traditional print, or some new qualities that are equally thrilling, then this is a really interesting craftsman's new tool.

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Jono already put many DNG images on various websites just after the time the Leica M was introduced on 10 May. He made them available for downloading.

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Hi there Victor
    The DNG files are still available for download
    Just go to my website and click on the download on the top menu and click on the writing under the image.

    Enjoy!

    Just this guy you know
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Alfred Weidinger has put together a series of beautiful images from Africa that have the rich tonality and depth that I wanted to see from the M9M. Here's a link to one of his images on flickr: Nana Yaw Daani II, Co-Ruler of New Juaben, Ghana | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Jono, thanks a lot, i have downloaded and tried to tune them in Lr. based on this very initial and limited impression, it doesnt have the plastic canon/nikon look, and maybe even "feel" better than sterile things coming from medium backs in monochrome (no matter how u tune them).
    overall, mixed feelings, i can see the point, maybe some time and experience is needed to tune the whole working process in order to find the "look" whether it is comparable to film or something new and equally appealing. maybe when printed on a good paper it will get some depth too. but i dont see at the moment how it comes close even to films like Acros or Tmax-400 (modern film with clean/flat character usually).
    then i should say that for a long time i didnt like these two films that were technically superior to classic ilford for example, but dull in character. at some point, ilford was not available in medium format, i had no choice but to use acros and tmax for several occasions and to find the engaging "look/character" which i like very much nowadays. it was done with processing (i do it myself), and otherwise with lighting etc. i still like ilford for the look im getting from it, and acros or tmax too for the different aesthetic appeal.

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Quote Originally Posted by jlm View Post
    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
    +1

    Woody

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Quote Originally Posted by KurtKamka View Post
    Alfred Weidinger has put together a series of beautiful images from Africa that have the rich tonality and depth that I wanted to see from the M9M. Here's a link to one of his images on flickr: Nana Yaw Daani II, Co-Ruler of New Juaben, Ghana | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    HI There Kurt
    Quite agree - these are lovely photos . . . he has, however, done some mid-tone contraction - which is likely what we will all end up doing, but it doesn't really show the mid-tone subtlety which is available.

    Thanks for the link though - lots of great stuff.
    all the best

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    I've got one on order, and late last week had a chance to shoot one for an hour with some of my favorite lenses. In reviewing the files there is a temptation to process to a "charcoal and chalk" look - getting the look right is going to take a fair amount of experimentation. What's clear to me is that the files look "muscular" as is and can tolerate a fair amount of manipulation. I only went as far as ISO 10,000 and it looks really good with a tight, pleasant "grain" structure.

    A large majority of my files end up being converted to grayscale so this camera is a natural for me - I've been waiting for something like this since the Nikon D1 or so.

    I shot some film on my recent trip to Italy (XP5 in an M3 scanned on my Imacon). Fun. Interesting. Different than digital. Many more keepers or near keepers per 36 exposures. But it would be hard to say that it's better than digital. Just different. The Monochrom's "grain" is finer at ISO 10,000 than XP5 at 400.
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Should be fun. Almost August, and I can't find any new information on a release date? B+H is the most definitive with "Expected availability: August 28 2012".

    Cheers, Matt

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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Quote Originally Posted by m_driscoll View Post
    Should be fun. Almost August, and I can't find any new information on a release date? B+H is the most definitive with "Expected availability: August 28 2012".

    Cheers, Matt

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    My very reliable dealer says August. No specific date.

  20. #70
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    My somewhat unreliable dealer says sometime between this coming Tuesday and October 15.

    My reliable wife says as long as a pair of 2-3ct diamond stud earrings arrive on or about the same day as the MM all is good.

  21. #71
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Only 2-3 carats? I explained that it was a no-cost 'trade' for my Nocti. No grief... she just looked at me like I was mentally defective.

    I'm hoping August and that they actuality made enough of them for the pre-sales.

    Cheers, Matt

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  22. #72
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    Re: Leica M Monochromatic Processing Insights

    Ah, but I was also instructed that the 2-3ct stones must be of the finest color and quality. Not the marginal middle of the road stuff.

    I guess fair is fair....

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