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Thread: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

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    Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Can a 45.7mp Nikon Z7 CMOS with IBIS and channel mixing hold up to a 18mp Leica Monochrom CCD for black and white? The design of the Bayer sensor removes resolving power while the non Bayer sensor with the same pixel count has up to 2 times more resolving power. Lenses are obviously an important consideration, but with Nikon's new 50mm 1.8S this might not be so obvious from prints. Hopefully, someone smarter than me or who has both cameras can shed some info on this.

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Quote Originally Posted by jdphoto View Post
    Can a 45.7mp Nikon Z7 CMOS with IBIS and channel mixing hold up to a 18mp Leica Monochrom CCD for black and white? The design of the Bayer sensor removes resolving power while the non Bayer sensor with the same pixel count has up to 2 times more resolving power. Lenses are obviously an important consideration, but with Nikon's new 50mm 1.8S this might not be so obvious from prints. Hopefully, someone smarter than me or who has both cameras can shed some info on this.
    I don’t have a mirrorless Nikon, but I compared my 18MP Monochrom and A7r2 pretty carefully and found no significant difference in IQ or resolution for 17x22” BW prints. Given similarity of sensors, my guess is this would hold for Z7.

    An advantage of the color file is that in post-processing you can make use of color sliders to balance tones and contrast, as if you were switching through a whole set of filters on the MM. (This is what you’d use, instead of the old tools for channel mixing.)

    For me, this control in PP was more important than any difference in resolution. So I got rid of MM and made a habit of using Leice MATE and WATE on a Sony body. (Because these are retrofocus lenses, they don’t smear the corners.)

    Another problem with 18MP/original MM was lack of EVF. You can’t previsualize on the screen and have to accept some parallax and uncertain framing from the viewfinder. OK for street and snapshots, but clumsy for careful work on tripod.

    Kirk

    (BTW, re: other options for high-quality BW files: I’m now using GFX 50s with 32-64 zoom for BW conversions, and this is a definite step upa d in IQ beyond Monochrom or 42MP FF. The Fuji zoom is sharp but a little less ‘clinical’ than primes, and GFX sensor retains more highlight and shadow detail.)
    Last edited by thompsonkirk; 19th January 2019 at 20:41.
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Kirk hit some important points:
    • Most Leica M lenses perform better on M bodies. There are exceptions, such as the Tri-Elmars that are essentially zooms.
    • The MM is a rangefinder without live-view. The Z is live-view-only. The interfaces are very different. This may be more significant than minor IQ differences.
    • Neither option provides the ultimate image quality. They are both fairly close, so it's down to personal preference.
    • The next step up is medium format. A Rolleiflex and a roll of T-Max will do.

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Quote Originally Posted by thompsonkirk View Post
    I don’t have a mirrorless Nikon, but I compared my 18MP Monochrom and A7r2 pretty carefully and found no significant difference in IQ or resolution for 17x22” BW prints. Given similarity of sensors, my guess is this would hold for Z7.

    An advantage of the color file is that in post-processing you can make use of color sliders to balance tones and contrast, as if you were switching through a whole set of filters on the MM. (This is what you’d use, instead of the old tools for channel mixing.)

    For me, this control in PP was more important than any difference in resolution. So I got rid of MM and made a habit of using Leice MATE and WATE on a Sony body. (Because these are retrofocus lenses, they don’t smear the corners.)

    Another problem with 18MP/original MM was lack of EVF. You can’t previsualize on the screen and have to accept some parallax and uncertain framing from the viewfinder. OK for street and snapshots, but clumsy for careful work on tripod.

    Kirk

    (BTW, re: other options for high-quality BW files: I’m now using GFX 50s with 32-64 zoom for BW conversions, and this is a definite step upa d in IQ beyond Monochrom or 42MP FF. The Fuji zoom is sharp but a little less ‘clinical’ than primes, and GFX sensor retains more highlight and shadow detail.)
    Great input, thank you. I was also impressed with the Sony A7RII's resolution and ability to print big. So much, that I sold my MFD gear for the weight savings of a mirrorless. Being that the Leica MM records pure luminance levels do you also find the tonality and gradations similar on your Sony A7RII? I mostly shoot with just an orange filter on the MM. The MM files are very forgiving when you've determined middle gray and even underexposing a few stops to retain highlights.
    I currently shoot with a Leica Pre ASPH 50mm 1.4 and 28mm Elmarit. My guess, is that the 50mm should be fine on the Z7, but the 28mm might not be as good. The 24mp of the Z6 might yield better results with M glass due to the less dense array.

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Yes, similar. I had a little more trouble retaining highlights with MM. used it with medium Y filter and usually -2/3 exposure.

    K

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    The primary difference is that one is a manual focus rangefinder and the other is an autofocus mirrorless. They are completely different in the way you use them, and those differences outweigh any difference in resolution.

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    But that’s not jd’s issue/question - he’s trying to obtain high BW IQ w/o returning to MF.

    K
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    I have no experience with the Nikon, however, I have compared Monochrom 246 to Leica M-P 240 and Leica S 006.

    With medium format, the larger sensor and different signal processing gave me the best results.

    In general, using digital filters with a color image is inferior to filters on the Monochrom. I tested with yellow, orange and red filters. The detail and tonality of the Monochrom was close to the S, however, the S was still better. That does not mean one cannot get good results with a color image and digital filtering; it means that the Monochrom results are cleaner, smoother and more detailed.

    As background, I transitioned to medium format digital from large format film. It is quite impressive how good the Monochrom is.

    Jesse
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    I did a quick comparison between the Z7 and M10, using a Summilux 50. See my thread in the Nikon forum. Bottom line from my point of view is: the Nikon offers more dynamic range and visible higher resolution shows in 1:1 views on screen. Compared to the Mono the difference in resolution is probably negligible. These cameras are too different in my view. If you do a lot of landscapes in changing weather conditions, I would put my money on the Nikon with the option of using some M lenses (28mm and above), where applicable. Compared to a Z7 the M9 feels archaic. There are so many things in terms of handling difference.

    As to lenses: the 1.8/35 is extremely good and the "kit zoom" is a fantastic lens as well. Both are larger than Leica M lenses, but easy to handle and not too large compared to other AF lenses. I am starting to get the impression that Nikon really puts out some high quality stuff. There is a 14-30 f4 announced for 1H 2019. This lens along with an existing 50 and 90 would probably do for a while, if you do not need a wide angle for low low light indoor shots.

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    The loss of resolution with demosaicing a Bayer array is greatly over stated. I used to shoot scientific cameras that could shoot with a single shot Bayer, or four-shoot pixel shifted true color image. You really needed to look hard at the files to see an difference. And that is not the way we look at images, at least not "normal" people.

    The advantage of the monochrome sensor is that there are no filters to block light. They are going to have less noise at any given exposure/ISO.

    You are also going to have a very different spectral response. Once you convert into a color space, then you need to deal with psychological colors rather than simple luminance values. For example, blues will be darker in a black and white conversion from a Bayer camera then with a monochrome sensor. Our visual response to blue is limited and so blues appear darker than their actual luminosity would suggest. So when mapped onto a color space, blues are darkened, relatively speaking. This is basically the difference between radiometric units that simply measure the intensity of light regardless of wavelength (monochrome sensors) and photometric units that convert the intensity based on the human response to wavelength (Bayer sensors).

    I guess that science degree in imaging is paying off...
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Interested to see Nikon Z B&W conversions? Here is a pretty standard as opposed to high contrast subject matter from original MM.




    and here is a shot showing of shadows from MM



    here is an example of a commercial outake - edited to chop off clients heads...

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    Yes. great BW. Can the winter please stop here. I want to ride my Softail again

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    I would assume in regards of resolution at lower ISO yes, where the Monochrom should shine is at noise at higher ISO and dynamic range at higher ISO.
    If you need that is another question.

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Quote Originally Posted by dj may View Post
    I have no experience with the Nikon, however, I have compared Monochrom 246 to Leica M-P 240 and Leica S 006.

    With medium format, the larger sensor and different signal processing gave me the best results.

    In general, using digital filters with a color image is inferior to filters on the Monochrom. I tested with yellow, orange and red filters. The detail and tonality of the Monochrom was close to the S, however, the S was still better. That does not mean one cannot get good results with a color image and digital filtering; it means that the Monochrom results are cleaner, smoother and more detailed.

    As background, I transitioned to medium format digital from large format film. It is quite impressive how good the Monochrom is.

    Jesse
    I would second this. I have printed exhibitions for a client using the monochrome with up to 100x150cm prints, and I am an S user myself. We wound up making the Monochrome prints 100x67 instead of 100x150 as the images were too soft. The S images are significantly better. There is certainly an advantage to the monochrome, but there is also no substitute for brute force resolution, as long as it is backed by a lens system that can support it. I do not doubt that both the monochrome and Z7 would make excellent prints up to a certain size, but over about 50x70cm I would say the Nikon is going to start appearing sharper. Tonality is another issue, but I think that is much more related to how you process than to the cameras. I would also say that if you plan to use Leica lenses, then to stick with the monochrome. While I have not tried Leica lenses on the Nikon, I do have a Sony A7Rii and a Leica M10...the A7Rii does not use Leica lenses well until about 75mm and above. You can get acceptable results with wider lenses, but the edges are not nearly as good as they are on a Leica camera. The only lens I have used often and to great success on the Sony is the 135mm Tele-Elmar, which works superbly well. Strangely, the 75mm Summilux is better than the 75mm Summicron on it, which is the opposite on the M, so be aware that no matter how much you spend on Leica lenses, that does not guarantee that they will be better than a decent native lens.
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Just answering the OP here...Now that I have shot a Z7 I must conclude that they are two entirely different animals in handling. I like both but for different reasons. I prefer the Mono for itís simpler interface and controls. Since the Mono only shoots bw I would have to say I prefer its tonality. For landscape there is nothing outside of MF that can touch the Z7. I really liked that I can zoom in with the EVF to refine focus on the Z7. While I appreciate the flip LCD and certain usage possibilities, I never used it. Iím still on the fence whether I will buy one as the Nikon lens roadmap, for me, is less than thrilling. I certainly wonder what a Z7 and 46 mp with a M adapter coupled to my 90 Elmarit-M would do.
    Iíll let you know if I find out!

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Stuart Wrote>>>"We wound up making the Monochrome prints 100x67 instead of 100x150 as the images were too soft. The S images are significantly better. There is certainly an advantage to the monochrome, but there is also no substitute for brute force resolution, as long as it is backed by a lens system that can support it. I do not doubt that both the monochrome and Z7 would make excellent prints up to a certain size, but over about 50x70cm I would say the Nikon is going to start appearing sharper."<<<


    Although no getting around brute force resolution and its obvious advantages (yet being only one factor in producing B&W prints, especially at a given size), I suspect some of these observations might be shifted if the original CCD based Monochrom (MM1) was added to the equation. Some time ago I compared files emanating from it (MM1) and the M246, and the level of sharpness and acuity using the same lens on the same subject was substantially different (most noticeably in favor of the MM1). In this regard it is quite unique. With that said, I agree wholeheartedly about the advantages of medium format as stated in this thread. I have as of yet, no experience with the Z7 nor the Sony's, so in this regard, my experience is limited.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Medium format aside, It was the flange distance and thickness of cover glass (UVIR) between the Z7 and Monochrom (CCD) that piqued my interest. It seems that the Z7 would be a good match for M lenses 50mm and up. Better than any other mirrorless FF camera. As Stuart says, tonality might have more to do with processing and I agree with that assumption. I have a Novoflex M to Z adapter on the way, so I will upload a few pics soon to compare.
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    I ditched the original MM as soon as Leica M introduced a 24MP chip. The ability to control for each colour channel matched to the extra megapixels provided me with greater amenity and utility than the MM's native 18MP ccd chip. What Stuart says re more horsepower is true for my experience with Leica M. Nevertheless I do have some regrets not having the MM anymore- the BW straight out of the box as they say was spectacular - however if higher ISO shooting is requirement (above 1600) - not so good. As for straight out of the box excellent B&W Fuji's film emulation(s) are very handy across their camera eco-systems.

    Upon which ends my contribution and that is this - achieving a B&W 'look' which is consistent across different lighting conditions and different subject matter- can be achieved with a lot of fussing around in PP OR can be achieved very easily by using the BW chip ( which only required adjustment at times via curves/levels ) OR making use of emulation provided by camera manufacturers - some of whom also allow for in camera tweaking of colour channels to produce a favourite formula(s) in camera.

    Pete
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    A couple of thoughts raised by Stuart’s post:

    One is just a technical point about Leica M lenses on A7r2 and probably other FF mirrorless bodies: The Tri-Elmars, MATE & WATE, cover the 42mm sensor with no difficulty, because they’re retrofocus lenses. So you have 6 useful focal lengths from 16 to 50mm before you get to 75mm.

    The second is a question, or maybe just a matter of taste: I’d never print BW images in 100x150cm (40x60”) format, and I wonder who else would be interested in that? I’ve never printed BW as large as color, and my BW Piezo printer is deliberately a size smaller than my color printer. In galleries and museums, BW prints haven’t blossomed to the ‘corporate board room’ size of so many color exhibits. The only exceptions I recall are Salgado’s. So I don’t think 40x60” resolution is a particularly important parameter for judging usefulness of Nikon/Sony/MF sensors for BW.

    Just my two cents,

    Kirk
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    More than just emulating B/W, it comes down to Leica M lenses and whether the Z7 can make use of them in a meaningful way. The M is very tricky with highlights even when one takes care to preserve them. A 3 stop ND or more is your best friend in good light. Good technique rewards you with sumptuous tonality and clarity up to a certain size. An important benefit of the Z7 is that the MF and composition are taken right from the sensor with peaking and zooming. Especially, the 50mm Lux at f/1.4. The 28 Elmarit surprised me the most because my expectations we not too high, but from my quick, unscientific, pixel peeping opinion...it looks great.
    However, the M is a Leica. The source of an impassioned, sometimes unreasonable connection to its film heritage. There's no denying that emotional connection, something I don't think any camera manufacture has achieved.

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Quote Originally Posted by thompsonkirk View Post
    A couple of thoughts raised by Stuart’s post:

    One is just a technical point about Leica M lenses on A7r2 and probably other FF mirrorless bodies: The Tri-Elmars, MATE & WATE, cover the 42mm sensor with no difficulty, because they’re retrofocus lenses. So you have 6 useful focal lengths from 16 to 50mm before you get to 75mm.

    The second is a question, or maybe just a matter of taste: I’d never print BW images in 100x150cm (40x60”) format, and I wonder who else would be interested in that? I’ve never printed BW as large as color, and my BW Piezo printer is deliberately a size smaller than my color printer. In galleries and museums, BW prints haven’t blossomed to the ‘corporate board room’ size of so many color exhibits. The only exceptions I recall are Salgado’s. So I don’t think 40x60” resolution is a particularly important parameter for judging usefulness of Nikon/Sony/MF sensors for BW.

    Just my two cents,

    Kirk
    Hi Kirk,

    My suggestion was not that anyone need print that big, in fact I advised against it for the M Monochrome. My only point was that the superiority of BW only sensor is primarily when compared to cameras of similar resolution. If you compare it to higher resolution cameras, it does not hold up as well. The person I was making the print for is a very talented artist, and it was a museum show. I think often artists are faced with filling quite large spaces during solo shows, and one way to address it is by printing larger as opposed to printing many smaller prints. For example, I printed a show here for the national museum last year which was 12 108x135 prints, 21 40x50cm prints, a 100x80, 7 50x60s a few more smaller prints...this was all for a single large room. All of it was work from a single project made in a few months. In order to fill the room without making it feel empty or crammed with massive numbers of prints, it can help to have a smaller number of larger prints. There can also be the issue of trying to show only the strongest work, and having good editing for a project, as opposed to filling the space with lots of smaller, lesser works that dilute the quality of the show overall. In this way, a solo show at a good museum or gallery can be a bit of a trap, as you need a lot of excellent work to fill it up. Some fantastic projects might be suited to fewer images...size is one way of addressing this issue.

    As for a difference in size between black and white and color prints, I have not really noticed it, to be honest, but it could be a difference in whom we are looking at. Even though I talk about large prints a lot, it is certainly not something I think is necessary or even always good. I love Robert Adams, for example, and his prints are often quite small. On the large side, however, I love Awoiska van der Molen's works which are often displayed as huge black and white analog prints, or for example some of Taiyo Onorato and Nico Kreb's works. Not so familiar with the boardroom stuff as the market for that is not so big here, and I am not often in one, for better or for worse!

    As for the Sony's for the Leica's for M lenses, I agree that at smaller sizes it is likely not an issue. I know that for my own work, I tried the M lenses on my Sony's and did not like either the handling or the results compared to an M, with the exception being the 90mm and 135mm lenses, which I really liked. I do not have the Tri-Elmars, so I cannot speak to them, but since they are retrofocal I have no doubt they are much more usable. The lenses I was mostly using were the 35mm and 50mm summilux asph lenses, neither of which did so well.
    Last edited by Stuart Richardson; 25th February 2019 at 02:20.
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Since retrofocal lenses work best on mirrorless cameras. Which Leica M lenses are of retrofocal design?

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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Quote Originally Posted by jdphoto View Post
    Since retrofocal lenses work best on mirrorless cameras. Which Leica M lenses are of retrofocal design?
    R lenses, and the tri-elmar Ms

    K
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    We invited a couple of LDS missionaries over for dinner, so I made sure to get some portraits. One is with the Leica Monochrom (CCD) w/50mm Lux (11 856) and the other with the Z7 same lens. Obviously, different apertures, one @ f/2.0 and the other @ f/4.8
    Last edited by jdphoto; 26th February 2019 at 15:18.
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Here's a few more comparisons...Obviously, nothing scientific, just for fun. The light is different and as a result one has a bit more contrast. These were taken about 10 days apart.
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    Re: Leica Monochrom vs Nikon Z7

    Quote Originally Posted by thompsonkirk View Post

    One is just a technical point about Leica M lenses on A7r2 and probably other FF mirrorless bodies: The Tri-Elmars, MATE & WATE, cover the 42mm sensor with no difficulty, because theyíre retrofocus lenses. So you have 6 useful focal lengths from 16 to 50mm before you get to 75mm.


    Just my two cents,

    Kirk
    Technically, you have 3 focal lengths on the MATE and infinite FLs on the WATE. Zoom zoom...
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