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M9 Monochrom vs Fuji X-Pro


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#1 slackercruster

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:39 PM

Anyone do tests with the M9 mono comparing it to the Fuji?

 

OK, M9 has a bigger sensor. But is there a benefit to the BW translation?

 

Why did Leica disc it? From what I could see, the camera sold.


Edited by slackercruster, 28 February 2013 - 04:44 PM.


#2 Alan7140

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:25 PM

Can't comment on the Leica Mono itself because I don't have one, but must point out that any Leica will sell regardless of whether it is actually any good or not. There's a very large group of well-heeled people out there who don't apparently know that there are any other cameras on the market except for Leica and Hasselblad. The same people who keep Ferrari, Rolls Royce and similar car companies in business.

 

I'm not hanging it on Leica - my first pro camera was a 3rd hand Leica, but compared with operating the X-Pro1 even the latest ones really are a bit of a fossil in mirrorless design these days. They still produce superb result in the right hands, though, but oftentimes it is the case that given its ownership base those hands are less than proficient, which tends to unfairly dent opinion.

 

If not for the fact that I can buy an entire Fuji outfit including lenses (plus the ability to adapt and accurately frame and focus my Nikon AI-s lenses), accessories and even a spare body for just the cost of a Leica body alone I'd probably still hanker after a Leica, but given value for money handling and straight out performance the choice really is a no-brainer for "normal" people if a mirrorless camera is your choice. However that red disk envy is a hard thing to shake....



#3 magicaxeman

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:35 PM

But is there a benefit to the BW translation?

 

Firstly the M mono isn't an M9, in fact it stands on its own as though it has similarities to both the older M9 and the newer M (240) its a very different beast from what I've seen not least of which is that there is no mono conversion as the sensor itself only records luminance, ie its a black and white only sensor.

Obviously as it doesnt have a bayer array it doesn't need or have an anti ailiasing filter either the same as the X-Pro1, this amongst other things has apparently allowed them to really push the ISO's through the roof, even further than Fuji.

Lets face it its kind of like an X-pro owners dream, a full frame camera without the AA filter, its just that its mono only and for some thats a huge turn off.

 

Not for me, I would love a FF mono only camera, but thats just a lottery dream.


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#4 Viv

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 04:22 AM

The Monochrom is too specialised for me. I am sure that in the right hands it will be capable of producing great b/w images, but whether these will be significantly better than X Pro output is open to debate.

 

I have sold my Leica M9. its output was of very high quality, but I prefer the X Pro 1.

 

However, if Zeiss ever produced a digital version of the Zeiss Ikon I would be first in line to buy it.


Edited by Viv, 01 March 2013 - 04:23 AM.

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#5 paul szilard

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 06:28 AM

For me the X-PRO1 produces beautiful mono AND colour. I don't think that the Fuji lenses are any worse than the Leica's (bring on the arguments LOL), and Fuji is way more versatile.

 

Anyway, what ever stirs you. Just enjoy...


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#6 AsylumPhoto

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:23 PM

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#7 Steve Turnbull

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 05:24 AM

The M9 Mono sensor is black and white, it's not converting colour to black and white. As well as the lack of a need for an anti aliasing filter, each pixel only has to deal with two colours - black and white! This allows for much more light and contrast awareness and therefore the claim to have film-like capabilities  The tones are, by all accounts, quite beautiful straight out of camera, with a great natural dynamic range and so on.

 

Note - I understand the technology/theory, but don't have the cash to say I'm speaking from experience :-)


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#8 JPHL

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:45 AM

well, having XPro 1, M9 and MM on hand and even though I never made a real comparison it it absolutely obvious that while the Fuji can play in a similar league with M9 in some fields or even exceed it, it does not so in B&W compared to MM. Anyhow, both M9 and X-Pro1 are excellent cams, for color and bw!

 

It is the eternal question about using a bw only cam versus a color cam.

 

 

One thing is certain, both M9 and Fuji see virtually no use anymore. So to say, bw is MM and color is Canon 5DIII now.

But that is just me and my prefs...

 

all the best

 

JP



#9 JPHL

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 11:21 AM

As we still have a bit of daylight I just took the Fuji with the 35mm and the MM with the 50 2.0.

 

Both set at 1600 ISO and F 4.0

 

at 100% that the wayit looks when compared quick and dirty... and please remember, its only a tiny jpeg... but it is already obvious.

 

 

All the best

JP

 


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#10 magicaxeman

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 06:38 PM

That highlights my findings JP, not that I'm fortunate enough to have an MM to hand, but more that the fuji benefits from a contrast boost in post.

 

Your images also show the increase in sharpness from no colour overlay on the sensor, I've noticed that before in astro cams, and even now a large portion of astrophotographers prefer to shoot with the B&W (luminance) only sensor, use filters in a filter wheel and post processing to convert the image to colour, the resultant images are not only sharper but the b&w sensor even using a filter seems to grab more light.



#11 Liam

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 08:07 PM

Any possibility you could post the raw from each, or even the X-Pro1 only?  The site would accept them zipped.


X100S, X-Pro1, 18mm, 35mm, and 60mm.

#12 Steve Turnbull

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 08:17 AM

I would never doubt the M9M being far superior at black and white than the X-Pro1 - it seems an odd comparison to be fair - different sensor design altogether; M9M = 2 bit b&w sensor and X-Pro1 16 bit colour sensor. This means there will be far greater light tolerances and tonal preservation.

 

The test above (and I appreciate they were just a quick demo) also serves to represent the camera's interpretation of light - X-Pro1 says 1/160 and the whites on the house look very close to, if not, blown and the M9M 1/250s and the whites of the house are well inside. That is unless the light changes a stop between takes?? Either way, the Leica's blacks look better...


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#13 Steve Turnbull

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 08:19 AM

That highlights my findings JP, not that I'm fortunate enough to have an MM to hand, but more that the fuji benefits from a contrast boost in post.

 

Your images also show the increase in sharpness from no colour overlay on the sensor, I've noticed that before in astro cams, and even now a large portion of astrophotographers prefer to shoot with the B&W (luminance) only sensor, use filters in a filter wheel and post processing to convert the image to colour, the resultant images are not only sharper but the b&w sensor even using a filter seems to grab more light.

 

What is the colour overlay? The Fuji has an X-Trans sensor with no anti-aliasing filter, which the M9M doesn't need in the first place as it is purely black and white... 

 

EDIT: - I think you meant the 'colour filter array'... i.e most CMOS sensors have the bayer array design, where as the x-trans uses a different pattern and thus no requirement for a low pass filter in front of the sensor.


Edited by Steve Turnbull, 21 March 2013 - 08:25 AM.

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#14 mc5

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 10:14 AM

I would never doubt the M9M being far superior at black and white than the X-Pro1 - it seems an odd comparison to be fair - different sensor design altogether; M9M = 2 bit b&w sensor and X-Pro1 16 bit colour sensor. This means there will be far greater light tolerances and tonal preservation.

 

i doubt the M9M has only a "2 bit" sensor.

 

IMHO the sensor is just missing the color filter array, taking the full range of (16 bit ?) gray scale with each pixel.



#15 Texchappy

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 12:09 PM

i doubt the M9M has only a "2 bit" sensor.

 

IMHO the sensor is just missing the color filter array, taking the full range of (16 bit ?) gray scale with each pixel.

 

It sure costs more than a shave and a hair cut - more's the pity.



#16 mc5

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 12:24 PM

think about D800 v.s. D800E or K-5II v.s. k-5IIs (;

 

doh - they make us pay for taking the AA filter away - leica just did the same with the color filter array.

 

can't remember, but have b/w films been ever more expensive than color films? (;



#17 mouren

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:18 PM

At least from the above example, the M seems to have a nicer, to my eyes at least, gradation, particularly the area below the roof. 

But I wonder how much of it is that due to the lens. Maybe you can try a shot using Fuji + Leica Lens? 

 

Also, Fuji being a color sensor, I wonder how similar the two can be after some post. 



#18 Larry N. Bolch

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 01:33 PM

think about D800 v.s. D800E or K-5II v.s. k-5IIs (;
 
doh - they make us pay for taking the AA filter away - leica just did the same with the color filter array.
 
(;


The D800E actually still has the filter in place, however it is toggled off. An extra step in manufacturing it.

#19 JPHL

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 10:41 AM

Hello again

Finally I had a moment to continue - this time I made a quick comparison:

X-Pro1 with both Fuji 35mm & Leica Summilux 35 FLE

Leica M9 with Summicron 50 (current)

Leica Monochrom with Summicron 50 (current)

Canon 5D III with both 50L and 50 Zeiss ZE 1.4

 

All shot at 320 ISO, f 8.0, exposed at the goodwill of the cameras meter, handheld, all at 100%

I am sure one could optimize each shot further - and the subject proves not to be ideal to show the subtle differences...

 

X-Pro1 with Fuji lens

4988-xp1-xf-35mm.jpg

 

X-Pro1 with Summilux 35 FLE

4989-xp1-lux-35mm-fle.jpg

 

Monochrom with Summicron 50

4990-mm-scron-50.jpg

 

M9 with Summicron 50

4991-m9-scron-50.jpg

 

5D III with Zeiss PLanar 50

4992-5d3-ze-50.jpg

 

5D III with 50L

4993-5d3-50l.jpg

 

All the best

 

JP


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#20 AsylumPhoto

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 06:01 AM

Not bad. The Fuji combo could use a boost in clarity and sharpness and be relatively close. At least, close enough to where I don't feel obligated to buy the MM. ;)

 

What version of LR?


Edited by AsylumPhoto, 03 April 2013 - 06:02 AM.


#21 JPHL

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 06:56 AM

Version 4.3 - the Fuji is indeed doing very well (with this particular subject), but this is at low ISO, as soon as one brings ISO up as we had in the first comparison, the differences are getting much more visible.

 

Obviously, the XF 35 is a really excellent lens - but please keep in mind, they were all shot at f 8.0

 

I have made my preferences as follows:

MM is for all Black and white work

M9 is an add-on if I might need colour as well

5D III is used if I want to produce colour, where AF is a value-add or long lenses required

 

All the best

JPH



#22 jknights

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 07:35 AM

If we are discussing purely theoretically then surely for B&W only then you would chose a Leica MM, for colour a Leica M9 and the XPro1 doesnt figure unless you want AF.

If you must have AF then Leica is out of the frame completely.

 

So in reality you are comparing apples with eggs !

 

I would love a tool for every job so a Leica M9 and MM with a full set of lenses and of course the S2 with a similar set of lenses.    Now here did I put that winning lottery ticket that I thought I had ?   ;-)


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#23 jknights

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 07:39 AM

Hello again

Finally I had a moment to continue - this time I made a quick comparison:

X-Pro1 with both Fuji 35mm & Leica Summilux 35 FLE

Leica M9 with Summicron 50 (current)

Leica Monochrom with Summicron 50 (current)

Canon 5D III with both 50L and 50 Zeiss ZE 1.4

 

All shot at 320 ISO, f 8.0, exposed at the goodwill of the cameras meter, handheld, all at 100%

I am sure one could optimize each shot further - and the subject proves not to be ideal to show the subtle differences...

 

X-Pro1 with Fuji lens

4988-xp1-xf-35mm.jpg

 

X-Pro1 with Summilux 35 FLE

4989-xp1-lux-35mm-fle.jpg

 

Monochrom with Summicron 50

4990-mm-scron-50.jpg

 

M9 with Summicron 50

4991-m9-scron-50.jpg

 

5D III with Zeiss PLanar 50

4992-5d3-ze-50.jpg

 

5D III with 50L

4993-5d3-50l.jpg

 

All the best

 

JP

 

JP, Thanks for doing this comparison.  It must have taken a good deal of time and effort.

 

Very interesting to see how well the Fuji 35mm f1.4 compares with the Leica 35mm Summilux FLE.  I think the Leica is slightly better.  When you look at the cost then Fuji have done a great job to get so close!


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#24 JPHL

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:08 AM

If we are discussing purely theoretically then surely for B&W only then you would chose a Leica MM, for colour a Leica M9 and the XPro1 doesnt figure unless you want AF.

No, not really - there is one fundamental thing that the MM offers, and that is the absolute ease of processing the files of the MM. Compared to other cameras it is a pleasure to squeeze the tones and details out of them even at very high ISO. As around 80% of what I do is BW it is an absolute no-brainer. I think the biggest plus it has is the lack of Bayer filter array and the lack of AA filter.

 

My 3 1/2 year old M9 became the deputy when I travel and want to have a body for colour handy and a backup as well.

 

The DSLR is only required for some very specific tasks and the longer lenses that make no sense on a rangefinder.

 

The X-Pro1 I got a year ago offers a lot, but sits somewhere between the chairs.

 

For me it is not an apple/egg comparison - it shows that they all are on a more than decent level. Whatever one prefers, one can not go wrong.

The real challenge is anyway the person behind the gear...

 

Alle the best

JPH



#25 gobeatty

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:13 AM

Not bad. The Fuji combo could use a boost in clarity and sharpness and be relatively close. At least, close enough to where I don't feel obligated to buy the MM. ;)
 
What version of LR?


Do we know if these are Raw edited or out of camera JPEGs? X cameras using Std film sim and no adjustments produce flatter (but with wide latitude) images than other cameras, IMHO. Changing settings can change the JPEGs dramatically.

#26 JPHL

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 12:06 PM

DNG, RAF and CR2 are the raw files - all made with raw and processed with LR 4.3



#27 apsphoto

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 12:33 PM

What is the colour overlay? The Fuji has an X-Trans sensor with no anti-aliasing filter, which the M9M doesn't need in the first place as it is purely black and white... 

 

EDIT: - I think you meant the 'colour filter array'... i.e most CMOS sensors have the bayer array design, where as the x-trans uses a different pattern and thus no requirement for a low pass filter in front of the sensor.

 

The monchrome sensor records a full 16bit levels of grey, it is NOT a 2 bit sensor, it has shades of grey, just a like a color sensor but without the filter array on top of the sensor. All camera sensors are monochrome with a color filter array added if that is the intent,  at the end of the chip fabrication. Supposedly the Leica offers the full 16 bit while most cameras are 12 or bits per pixel as the A-D converter is what is determining the amount of bits converted. A lot of chip manufacturers make color sensor and monochrom versions of the same sensor. Been using monochrome sensors in cooled astro cameras for years. If the Leica is indeed converting the full 16bit then the dynamic range will be much larger. Typical medium format sensors, like the ones from Phase use 16bit raw files and that is the reason they have more dynamic range than a typical dslr.

 

Alan


Edited by apsphoto, 03 April 2013 - 12:34 PM.

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#28 gobeatty

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:46 PM

For me, the joy f this thread is not 'Is the Fuji as good as the Leica' but rather getting to see images made with such a specialized camera and reading user reports from those fortunate enough town one. I'm a happy Fuji owner but it is fab to see what the MM (now discontinued?) can do.

#29 Alan7140

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:45 PM

The Leica mono records the image on an individual pixel-per-pixel basis, the Fuji requires at least three pixels (R,G & B) under the X-Trans array filter to make up one colour site, which is then desaturated for the digital version of B&W. The Leica is thus already well ahead in the potential resolution stakes.

 

Things are still as they were in film days - B&W film had one emulsion, whereas colour film three emulsions stacked and separated by colour filter layers, and looking or printing through these layers combined to form a colour image. As a consequence colour film was never as sharp or as high in resolution as was B&W film of the same ISO.

 

Anyone who tried to print B&W from colour negatives will know the quality problems encountered with that workaround - on B&W paper (blue sensitive emulsion) the cyan layer was disproportionately represented as the paper was almost entirely non-responsive to the magenta and yellow layers, which led to awful skin tones and freckles where none were obvious beforehand. Printing on Kodak Panalure panchromatic B&W paper was a solution to a degree, except that it had to be used in total darkness and the images, formed from the colour dye grains that make up a colour neg's image, was never as crisp as it would have been from a proper silver B&W neg (as opposed to "chromogenic" B&W negs - e.g. Ilford XP-1 which were formed from a single-layer colour film emulsion reduced to dye in the colour processing chemistry used to process them).

 

Given this, we would carry two or more camera bodies loaded with the different films, or for medium or large format carry the different films loaded into separate film backs or dark slides to be used as needed on the one camera (a lot handier if the camera is set up for a shot on a stand or tripod, for instance).

 

Leica is simply returning to this philosophy, that a bespoke camera (or film) for the required task be used, not one camera (or film) with the resulting image doctored afterwards to imitate that which it's not.

 

Digital B&W has always been crappy compared with film B&W, Leica are just pointing out why and what's needed to rectify that. Whether they succeeded or not will be revealed by people doing such comparos as this. The other trick would be to convince enough people beyond the usual dedicated badge purchasers that the concept is worth spending the money on to make its continued existence worthwhile for Leica itself.

 

Much and all as I love the X-Pro1 for its almost-film-like B&W renditions, it does get awfully grainy awfully fast in B&W (for the reasons already noted), and it's almost the case that I'm contemplating the Mono with a 35mm lens for any purist B&W work I might want to do. Given years spent in a B&W darkroom, the idea does make sense, despite my reservations as to the rather dated operational aspects of the camera itself. The decision is really down to whether I can get the former to override the latter, or whether I just keep doing as I have been doing, and using my RZ 67 & ToyoView outfits with proper B&W film for any specific B&W only task (though they really are heavy and bulky to the point of hate).


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#30 GaryMulcahey

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:31 PM

Thanks Alan,
I was on the fence about the Mono. Now it is a must. I just needed to hear that.
I will still get an X-Pro1 at some point in the near future. Maybe the next version of it. But now I'm after getting that Mono. Now for the financial part of it.

G
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