M&M in a bathroom, or Me and my Monochrom. The first pic of my quick hands on Leica’s latest offering: a terribly expensive body only capable of shooting b&w photos. I won’t post the full review in english, because it would be too much work for a week-end. But, in a nutshell, let me say I really enjoy this expensive tool.
Would I recommend it? Well, it depends. If you’re a nightshooter, it’s a no brainer. The pics are almost grain free until 1600-2000 iso. Even better, the grain still looks very “natural” (film like) up until 2500. Around 3200-4000 iso, it requires some processing (and requires shooting DNG). But, practically, you can shoot in any situation at night with good shutter speeds and/or more depth of field. It’s great and it opens up new possibilities for sure. It’s up to you to see if it’s worth the “in your face” price.
If you’re not prone to stalking people at night and wandering aimlessly in your neighborhood when the moon is high, the call is tougher. Sure, the files are amazingly sharp because they are true b&w. (The signal is not translated in colors and then reverted in b&w using a processing software.)
Sure, if you’re a b&w aficionado, you can now shoot without worrying about processing costs, getting your film to a proper lab (some, like me, do enjoy to shoot film from time to time just because of those peculiarities but 90% of people don’t) and getting your prints back to finally scan them. But, all things considered, the M9 was already pretty good at that, as long as you didn’t expect too much of it in high isos. And were ready to put some work in the post processing, to turn your color DNG into a glorious b&w JPEG.
So, if you have the cash and are tempted, what to do? Succumb to the fantasy only if you really dig b&w, love to play with filters and think that in a perfect world we would still shoot loads of Tri X. You won’t regret it. The files need a bit of work (more on that later) as they seem, by default, rather greyish. But they are astoundingly sharp and with great dynamics when properly processed.
If you are afraid to do the leap of monochrom faith, wait for the upcoming Leica M. The reviews will help you make up your mind. But it will be damn hard to wait for it looking at that gorgeous looking Monochrom, won’t it? :-)