Three Days with the Leica M Monochrom (Type 246) in The New Forest

The New Forest is full of wild ponies. (Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH.)

I picked up the new Leica M Monochrom Type 246 right before heading to the airport for a quick trip to the UK for MINECON planning, and decided to leave the M-P 240 and just shoot black and white. Normally I like to shoot black and white in the city, and color photos outside of the city. I'm not sure why that is, but it's what I like. This time I'd be in The New Forest, home of the ponies... but without color. I thought I'd share some thoughts on the camera, though this isn't a review. 

Epic pony shot. I love this lens so much. (Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH.)

I'd owned the first Leica M Monochrom for over a year. I shot lots of photos and really was in love with the image quality. What I wasn't very much in love with, unfortunately, was the camera itself. Based on the Leica M9, it was too slow, too clunky, and sadly far too buggy for me to enjoy using. I love the images, I mean LOVED, but despised the process of making them. So I sold it and bought an M 240 (and had an M6 for Tri-X).

Lydia at Rhinefield House Hotel. (Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH.)

Why a black and white-only camera? It may sound silly, when you can convert a digital color image to black and white literally with the click of a button, to purchase a camera that can only make black and white images, but there are actually some distinct advantages. The first and perhaps most tangible is that by removing the Bayer filter which basically makes it so that a sensor can take color images (most sensors themselves don't distinguish colors, they are actually monochromatic and use a filter and the processor to separate colors) you're raising the resolution of the details in the final image, because each pixel is representing a value of luminance instead of just 1/4 a value of color (so to speak).

Lydia and Lisa at dinner. (Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH.)

Another reason, and perhaps for me the more important, is that it takes away the distraction of color and allows me to focus on light and form without even the ability to change my mind later and keep the image in color. It's partly that limitation of knowing, as when shooting in black and white film, that you can only shoot a monochromatic image that connects me more to the process of thinking and seeing in black, white and greys.

Also, it's kind of cool.

Stewart, looking friendly. Noctilux, when you get the focus right, is an amazing portrait lens! (Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH.)

The images in this post were all shot on the quick trip. There aren't many, as it was a work trip and I was pretty busy most of the time, but I had Saturday to get from the forest to London and we took our time and shot when we could. I didn't try to shoot this as a test or review, I just shot photos as I could and as I saw them.

Stonehenge was way cooler in person than I expected. (Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH.)

There isn't really all that much I feel the need to say about the camera itself other than that it is an amazing machine. It's fast, it's responsive, and to me it might be the perfect still camera for certain types of shooting. Some of my types of shooting. Gone are the limitations of the old M9, and they are replaced by the fantastic features of the M 240. I did notice that it's way easier to blow things out than to lose them in shadow, which isn't surprising. I am also not so great at focusing the Noctilux yet, and miss focus quite often. Going to need some practice and some steady hands there!

Lydia in front of a pond. Even though I missed focus a little, I still love this photo. (Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH.)

I don't shoot video with my Leicas, I have proper video cameras I use for that. You CAN, of course, shoot video with a Leica M camera... but I'd say it would be when you have no other option. These days I say the same thing about DSLRs though. That being said the one MAJOR benefit, if you decide to shoot video on a Leica M, is that you're shooting through an M lens. To me, they are the finest lenses available.

Ponies like to eat. (Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH.)

Speaking of fine glass, I haven't had much of a chance to dig in yet and really look at things, but from first glance it seems the images I shot with the combination of Leica M Monochrom Type 246 and the 50mm APO-Summicron M are the sharpest I've ever shot.

Brick wall details. This really shows off just how sharp this sensor/lens combo is. (Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH.)

Lydia in the forest. I love how the bokeh changes from the center to the edges. Technically this is a flaw, but it's a beautiful one. (Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH.)

This shows off the Noctilux bokeh perfectly. (Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH.)

Baby pony. With unconcerned mother in the background. (Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH.)

Epic pony shot. This one just stood and patiently posed for me for a bit. (Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH.)

As I shoot more, I'll be posting more. Likely lots on my Instagram, which has strangely now become the easiest place to share and view photos, even though they are at tiny resolutions! I suppose some of these ponies will even make it on there!