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View Poll Results: For an ongoing photo project in black and white, I would choose to use -

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  • A film M with black and white film

    5 17.24%
  • The Monochrom version 2

    12 41.38%
  • Other (please elaborate)

    12 41.38%
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Thread: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

  1. #1
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    Question Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    So here's my question: If you are doing an ongoing photo project in 35mm format black and white, would you do it using a film M camera and film or the Monochrom v.2 (assuming that the price of the M/M is not prohibitive)?

    Also, please tell us your reasons for choosing whichever of the two cameras you would choose. Also: If you would choose a film M, please let us know which B&W emulsion you would use.

    The M/M would undoubtedly be more convenient, but does the fingerprint of your favorite B&W film trump the M/M's ease of shooting and processing?

    I am looking forward to the responses this poll will generate - thanks in advance for participating!

    "It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I would use MM. I just had an exhibit last March that was shot entirely digitally and 95% was shot with the MM. The reason I would shoot with the MM is I can shoot one frame at 320 and the very next frame at 3200 and 3200 on my MM is so much cleaner that any 3200 ISO film emulsion.

    I shot film for decades. Had 2 semesters of the zone system in college. Yep 4X5 and 8X10 format and did all the tests. Still love film but the control I now have with files from the MM I never had with film. And the quality from a 135 format especially at high ISOs for me and hte way I now work is a no brainer.

    I had to downsize and lost the darkroom some time back and I would still be shooting film in some capacity if I still had a darkroom but even if I were still shooting film I would have picked up an MM and I would be using it for the very reasons i mentioned above. Control....

    My fingerprint is with the way I compose and see as well as the way I process my files.

    I voted other. The original MM for me...
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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I shoot in low light conditions currently, local bands in small clubs and venues. My cameras are the MM v1 and Fuji X-T1. The convenience and flexibility of digital trumps film for my needs. If I didn't have the MM v1 I'd consider the v2, but honestly the little Fuji gives me very fine results.

    I use B&W film for low iso shooting or when I want that grain-on look from Delta or TMax 3200. Which is less than I wanted five years ago.
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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Best of both worlds I'm afraid, I would use both film and Monochrome v1 since I just bought one.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Quote Originally Posted by seakayaker View Post
    Best of both worlds I'm afraid, I would use both film and Monochrome v1 since I just bought one.
    Congrats, Dan!
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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I think the answer rather depends upon the specifics of the project. Nor should the use of one medium necessarily preclude the use of the other. Salgado is a high profile example of someone who has successfully mixed up different digital formats and film over the course of a long term project and presented the results as part of a unified whole.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Just a contra thought but why not B&W conversion from a colour camera and leverage the extra filtration options in PP vs at shooting time with the monochrom or B&W film?
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I am lucky to have an MM and an A7s. Not missing film at all.

    I do wish the MM had liveview and atleast a tilt LCD as in the A7s. To me cameras/lenses are tools. The more sophisticated/versatile they are the more useful. The "process" of capturing a moment is minuscule so there is absolutely no value attributed to the shape/form and such of those.

    If a an A7sII shows up with higher pixel count and equally impressive performance of the A7s, I will be getting one. Easy to use, maintain and very reliable.

    I do have film cameras (a few are RF). Not used nowadays at all.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    The M246 will be cheaper in the long run. I shot 2 film weddings in 2014 and it cost me $4,000 to do so. Well, it cost my clients that much.. but still, you get the idea.

    Even if you get a steal of a deal (I'm selling my M7 tonight for $1650, and it's chrom and mint).. Then add around $4,000-$6,000 for this project of yours (unless you're not shooting a lot in which case lower like $2k). Anyway, by the time all is said and done, you'll have spent XXX on film/develop costs that you can't recoup. Though if you don't like the M246, or don't need it.. You can resell it for not as much of a hit as you'll take on film processing.

    HOWEVER, if you have to LR your images, and time is money.. Film might be the easier option. Though keep in mind, you can change your ISO on the fly.. Which is very useful.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Like wattsy, I think it depends very much on what the project is. It also depends upon what the ultimate imagery need is... Prints (and, if so, how large)? Commercial publishing? Web images? Something else?

    Are you going to wet-print film, or digitize it? If you're going to digitize it, how?

    There's a lot to it, in other words. Trying to choose a tool without a clear idea of one's ultimate goal can get you very far afield pretty quickly.

    Speaking very generally, I like the MM because of its superlative image quality (akin to 4x5 film) and ease of processing. I frequently marry that with medium format film (typically TMAX 100 or PanF+), scanned with a Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight X1, and printed large using Jon Cone's K7 Piezography ink sets.

    35mm film has its place, but is much further distant from the MM.
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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Interesting comments so far.

    The M/M seems to be preferred for a number of reasons: Variable ISO, control in image processing, ease of use, cost (no film & developing).

    What about image quality, though? Many film users say that the image quality of a film print at reasonable sizes such as 11"x14" or smaller will trump digital every time. Is there an element of truth there, or is that anti-digital sentiment speaking?

    Or is film print IQ vs. digital print IQ just a matter of personal preference?

    "It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Quote Originally Posted by herrbarnack View Post
    Interesting comments so far.

    The M/M seems to be preferred for a number of reasons: Variable ISO, control in image processing, ease of use, cost (no film & developing).

    What about image quality, though? Many film users say that the image quality of a film print at reasonable sizes such as 11"x14" or smaller will trump digital every time. Is there an element of truth there, or is that anti-digital sentiment speaking?

    Or is film print IQ vs. digital print IQ just a matter of personal preference?
    Image quality is very subjective. In my view, they're both more than "good enough" for any work I intend to do, how I use the media is much more important than whether it is one or the other.

    (I feel quite the opposite, however. Film in my opinion can stand about 10-15x enlargement max before too much degradation sets in. Film enlargements always degrade on close inspection as they get larger.

    With digital capture, the curve is different ... it gets better as you make bigger prints until you run out of pixels at the effective viewing distance and pixelation becomes evident to the eye. A 13x19" print from the M-P @360ppi is down-sampled from highest resolution by a bit; 180ppi is sufficient at this size print due to viewing distance, which means I can print an M-P image at about 22x33 inch without any perceptual losses.)

    Which would I use? I'd use the camera that fit the intent of the project best. Sometimes I choose film because part of the project idea is to work within the creative constraints of the film media. Sometimes I choose a digital camera to work within whatever its specific creative constraints might be.

    Certainly, IMO, (based on the images I've seen so far...) an MM246 is going to rip the crap out of any 35mm film and nearly any 35mm digital format color camera at ISO 6400 and above, if dynamic range and detailing are important to the images. But is that the intent of your aesthetics in the particular project you're working on? Does it contribute to the project's statement?

    Only you can make such decisions, and only in the context of the specific project you are attempting.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I would use an MM if you want to print big or if you want to shoot in low light.

    I would use film if you are tired of digital and want the film experience.

    If I would shoot film I would probably rather shoot medium format (expect you dont want to print big).

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Film, for sure.

    If the point of the project is to show people that you can create sharp pictures then the MM has an advantage. Or if you absolutely don't want to deal with the film workflow. On the other hand, if you're even considering a film M then I would assume it's not all about forum-wonk IQ comparisons, otherwise 35mm would be off the table. 35mm film will not resolve all the detail that an MM would, and it will never be grain free, so you'd have to go into it knowing that, and appreciating that.

    If you want the most archival thing there is, you can't beat a properly developed and stored negative. Even if you lose the digital file to corruption or some other failure the negative can be scanned...oh I don't know, about 100 years from now and still produce a fantastic image. The scanning workflow is a good one and can yield rewarding results. In addition to this you have the opportunity to make more-unique traditional prints which to some buyers have greater inherent value.

    Some users also find the limitations of film rewarding. That's more personal though, so your mileage with that may vary. In that world one thing I do enjoy is the simplicity of establishing a look. Tri-X is going to look like Tri-X, Portra like Portra, Velvia like Velvia. Digital files for me never seem 'done.' There is always something else I could do in LR or PS. There are a lot of ways to work with films to change the look, but in a relative way you're more limited. I have always found that in limiting myself I produce better work. (ADHD perhaps?)

    I do all my personal and art projects on film. I generally have more fun with a Rolleiflex or an FM2 than I do with a D750 or M240. Speed doesn't matter at all, and it's been made so easy now that I can get scans from labs like Indie Film Lab or The FIND lab for a relative bargain. When it's time for exhibition or something requiring a better scan, I can have that made. For editing or sharing or prints from my R3000, the Fuji Frontier scans they provide are more than enough. It's a great time to be a film shooter in many ways.

    The B&W film I would choose would depend on the look you want. Tri-X for versatility. Though if you have the light Fuji Acros can be divine. The 3200 speed films for low light. Ilford FP4+ for a warm fuzzy feeling it gives me. :-) And finally Pan-F for high contrast.
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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Someone, else!!, had to vote for film
    Edit:Speedgraphic beat me to the post, well done.

    Camera and film depends on the project, nightclubs/National Park Landscapes/ flash portraits/available light street portraits and you want a simple answer!!!

    Same for intended audience, web/small and jewel like prints (due a fashion comeback soon, trust me)/poster size (think Gursky) prints/book/even reverse process projection, no simple answer, again.

    Past experience? Would you start a new project on film with no prior experience same for digital, well you might depending on your intentions?

    So my answer is personal my ongoing projects are film, always have been, some new have been on digital, I'm not preaching film above all.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I only would use film if you print in a darkroom with an optical enlarger. As already mentioned here, you would probably be better off with medium format film. Although you can get very nice big prints from 35mm as well, provided a good negative. If you're planning to edit and print digitally, then shoot digital. I wouldn't bother with scanning film. In my experience scanning increases grain compared to optical printing. You need to think the whole process through, from the exposure to the end product (print/slide/file).

    If you decide to go with B&W film and scanning it, I would recommend Ilford XP2 @ 100 -200 ISO. It scans easier as you can use ICE to reduce dust in the scans. Otherwise Delta 100 and 400 are the films I use, developed in DD-X, printed in the darkroom.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Quote Originally Posted by herrbarnack View Post
    Interesting comments so far.

    The M/M seems to be preferred for a number of reasons: Variable ISO, control in image processing, ease of use, cost (no film & developing).

    What about image quality, though? Many film users say that the image quality of a film print at reasonable sizes such as 11"x14" or smaller will trump digital every time. Is there an element of truth there, or is that anti-digital sentiment speaking?

    Or is film print IQ vs. digital print IQ just a matter of personal preference?
    ??? Why is a smaller print suddenly "better" with one medium that is "worse" larger? Print size really is not a determining factor of quality--making something bigger does not change it.

    Anti-digital sentiment and a little bit of grasping at straws...

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    To answer your original question, I would not buy either (or buy both) until you know what you are after. I think you need to shoot more and gain some experience so you can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of both processes. It would be impossible for me to tell you what your vision is.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I have always thought that with proper care, black & white film would edge out others. However, I've found shooting wide spectrum/IR converted digital cameras give me a much better black & white file. So to answer the question posed, my answer is "other" and choose a converted body and shoot either 380 or 590nm depending on the circumstances. I wrote this before voting and was surprised to see the results...

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    At this point Other is way out in front in the Derby, but it's hard to tell what Other is.

    I wonder how many Others would use digital color and convert?

    Or how many would use the MM they already own?

    Kirk

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Kirk, For me, it is the MM for B&W. I have splendid set of lenses, filters and the doodahs for it. Hoping to get a back up (another MM if I find one cheap enough). The MM2 would call for a better set of lenses. While that would be a good thing to have, I can not afford them all at once. The original MM can take any beat up, old lens and still deliver (unlike what was claimed at its debut).

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I use B&W film if I need true BW
    For digital B&W, I rather shoot raw color then convert to BW (I can control the tone or digitally add color filters)
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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Quote Originally Posted by thompsonkirk View Post
    At this point Other is way out in front in the Derby, but it's hard to tell what Other is.

    I wonder how many Others would use digital color and convert?

    Or how many would use the MM they already own?

    Kirk
    I voted for 'Other' since the Monochrome (1st version) was not listed and there was no option for doing a project using both a monochrome and film which would be an approach that I would/could use.

    Converting color to B&W should be a separate option. So the polling questions, if expanded may produce different results.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Agreed! I asked bcz like you and Vivek, I'd just continue using my MM and wouldn't change in mid-stream.

    Kirk

    PS, unlike Vivek, I don't expect the M260 to be so much better in resolution as to require different lenses. My thoughts run in the other direction: with higher ISOs, can't I just use Summicrons and sometimes even stop down?

    If I upgraded to 260 I'd enjoy Live View for WA landscapes, for which I use WATE and MATE. For other work I'd just use my Mandler lenses and expect more shadow detail, and hopefully more headroom for the highlights.
    Last edited by thompsonkirk; 12th May 2015 at 16:49. Reason: PS

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    My "other" is primarily a MM-v1.

    I can't advise you on your project because I don't know what your intent may be or what aesthetics would be appropriate to accomplish that intent.

    I am currently doing an on-going B&W project with the MM for a few reasons: I prefer a rangefinder for what and how I shoot; a B&W dedicated camera helps me think with a B&W mindset; the MM v1 has some of the "gritty" attributes of 400 speed B&W film, or pushed B&W film.

    I'm not after 35mm that looks like MF.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Quote Originally Posted by thompsonkirk View Post
    Agreed! I asked bcz like you and Vivek, I'd just continue using my MM and wouldn't change in mid-stream.

    Kirk

    PS, unlike Vivek, I don't expect the M260 to be so much better in resolution as to require different lenses. My thoughts run in the other direction: with higher ISOs, can't I just use Summicrons and sometimes even stop down?

    If I upgraded to 260 I'd enjoy Live View for WA landscapes, for which I use WATE and MATE. For other work I'd just use my Mandler lenses and expect more shadow detail, and hopefully more headroom for the highlights.
    Kirk, It is more to do with the MM being an "ISO less" camera. I just keep it at base ISO all the time and can reach the highest ISO (when exposed "properly") in the post with ease. I think the transmission characteristics of the MM2's covergalss is different. I would like to see a transmission chart like they showed for the MM before speculating on the effects it would have on images.

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Kirk, It is more to do with the MM being an "ISO less" camera. I just keep it at base ISO all the time and can reach the highest ISO (when exposed "properly") in the post with ease. I think the transmission characteristics of the MM2's covergalss is different. I would like to see a transmission chart like they showed for the MM before speculating on the effects it would have on images.
    Since I rarely chimp, I think that's a pretty decent idea Vivek.

    Usually my shooting style is this: Indoors with no natural light 1600 ISO, indoors with lots of natural light 400-800 ISO, outdoors shade 200-400 ISO, sunny 200 ISO. I generally keep my lenses wide open, unless something specific requires me to change my setting. That allows me to focus on only changing my shutter speed to suit the light and look I'm going for.

    But back to your idea. With the M246, if like the M9 and M9M where there's no adverse effects to just setting one iso and pushing.. Then I think I would always leave the M246 on base ISO, and just shoot my desired aperture (usually wide open), and a shutter speed that's fast outdoors and moderate indoors. So maybe 4000th outside, 500th in the shade and 125-250th indoors. No green color shift to worry about, and then if I like something to really pop out of the background, I selectively lighten it using the brush tool. No overexposed highlights.. Perfect.

    Now I just need to decide if I want to be limited to black and white images

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I didn't vote since, by my previous response, my vote would necessarily be "other" given the current poll choices.

    I find the M-P240 raw files just as easy to manipulate, if not moreso, as the M9 files. Whatever is meant by ISO-less, I can bring up vastly underexposed image areas with the CMOSIS sensor just as easily and with the same quality as I could with the M9 sensor. I see no reason that the same characteristics will not apply to the MM246 CMOSIS sensor, albeit in monochrome only.

    I did a brief test of the ISO-less raw characteristics with the M9 a long time ago and the results were very good. I guess I'll repeat that test with the M-P, and the MM246 when I get it.

    By and large, however, what I'm finding is that the out-of-camera M-P JPEGs, when properly exposed, are FAR more to my liking than what came out of the M9. Of the last two sets of photos I posted, seven in total, four were processed from the M-P JPEGs with extremely little additional tweaking in LR. I could never do that with the M9 to my satisfaction. You can't use the ISO-less feature when making JPEG output. This makes using proper exposure for a sensitivity setting more useful as you can output both a full-fledged raw file as well as a reasonably well balanced JPEG in B&W simultaneously.

    I'm keeping at least my M4-2, maybe the CL as well, and when the MM246 arrives I'll have all these cameras as choices when working a project. To me, that's the right way to go as each camera and each recording medium has its specific advantages and aesthetic appeal—I just have to decide what the project's focus and intent are, and use the equipment appropriately to achieve that.

    G

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Kirk, For me, it is the MM for B&W. I have splendid set of lenses, filters and the doodahs for it. Hoping to get a back up (another MM if I find one cheap enough). The MM2 would call for a better set of lenses. While that would be a good thing to have, I can not afford them all at once. The original MM can take any beat up, old lens and still deliver (unlike what was claimed at its debut).
    Be patient my friend. You will be rearded as used MM's just might get to US$3k next year.
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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    I guess everybody knows there is a new FW for the M246 and that is before even one has been delivered!

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    Re: Film M or Monochrom - which would you choose for a B&W project?

    Quote Originally Posted by algrove View Post
    I guess everybody knows there is a new FW for the M246 and that is before even one has been delivered!
    I didn't, but it is academic. I don't honestly expect my MM246 order to be fulfilled before Fall at earliest. When I get it, I'll just look to see what version firmware is on it and what's then available for download and installation.

    There do seem to be a few near-final-production MM246s in the hands of reviewers and testers so I suspect that Leica posted the fw update so that they could easily obtain and install the latest for their testing efforts.

    G

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