A Year With The Leica M246
Why The M246?
The journey from the M240 to the M246 has been an interesting one. I was more than happy hitting the streets with my M240, paying attention mainly to interesting streets scenes, checking the light and shadows and that was about it ! Sounds simple, does it not? Well it was, however something was missing...what about Black & White photography?
Well, common sense was telling me, go home, and convert the photos to B&W in Lightroom and voilà, there you go! However, all of you reading this blog, know the truth, we often convert images that don't quite look right in colour to B&W, hoping this will save the day and present us with the winning shot we have spent years looking for, so enough was enough, time for a B&W only camera, i took the plunge and picked up the Leica M246 from my local Leica Dealer.
The Thought Process
The first thing you realise when roaming the city streets with this camera, is that the beautiful colours are not helping you anymore. The bright red dress of the lady crossing the streets, with her French Bulldog in tow, normally i would up my pace and try capture this scene. Well, i was not "seeing" the array and contrast of colours exciting anymore. I needed shadows, tones, dark clouds, textured walls..... i needed to think differently, i need to think in B&W. Sounds simple, think again, arduous is more like it.
I reside on the sunny island of Cyprus, often shooting f8, enjoying the sunshine and clear skies, this allowed me to build interesting layers. The M246 was now restricting me to late afternoon, twilight zone performance. As Thorsten Overgaard has pointed out, once the highlights are clipped with the M246, they are gone, not coming back. So it is recommended to underexpose by a stop or two or three.
A year on, and i must be frank, i have almost mastered the skill to shoot the M246 in bright light, basically stopping down to f11 or f16 and allowing for the sensor to capture all the underexposed detail. Once home, download into your "darkroom", proceed to make a cup of coffee, and get ready for the long night ahead.
My first upload was nightmare, i downloaded into lightroom, took a sip of my coffee and look at the photos, to my shock, all images were flat, dead, basically rubbish ! Compared to the first Leica Monochrome (from what i have read) those photos possessed some contrast, blacks and tonal separation, well not with the M246.
After much playing around (about a month), i managed to work out a workflow, and it goes like this:
Lightroom - Drop blacks
Silver Efex Pro - Move photo here, mess around with Brightness and Structure
Tonality Pro - Back to Lightroom, and then drop photo into Tonality Pro, play with Shadows, Structure and Micro-Stucture until happy
Lightroom - finally, Exposure and Whites adjustment (don't forget the Whites!) then done!
Quite a laborious process, but once mastered the results are so pleasing.
I would say it has been a hard year with the M246, mainly because i am not a huge fan of Post Processing, or as i call it, dragging photos through the modern day "Dark Room". However, once you have a workflow in place, bouncing between Lightroom, Silver Efex and Tonality Pro, the net result, (which should be the photographs hanging on your wall) will have you smiling from ear to ear...
The Leica M246, a poignant brute, however once tamed, it could be your best camera ever.
A mixture of photos taken with the M246, please enjoy.
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Brian JC Osborne
Thank you !
Brian JC Osborne(non-registered)
Hi Mr. dv
Yes, took me time to adapt to an evening of post processing, however once you have a workflow in place, the net result, a beautiful picture, makes it all worth it.
I totally agree, sometimes i think i was crazy getting this camera, as i can convert photos later, so what is the point. All i can say is i felt empowered and nervous when packing my suitcase to go on holiday (my last trip Berlin - Germany). So it became simple, iPhone for "tourist" photos, the Monochrome for more creative stuff. I took her everywhere and perhaps only shot 100 photos in 4 days.
Similar to shooting film.... a slower process, and a procedure that requires more thought.
Keep well, great photos by the way
Nice review and image, i m enjoy to read it. Yes! There are no free lunch and still need lot of progress which like d traditional darkroom.
For some reason the web link does not show. Here it is:
I'm still at a loss. I have M240, my B&W conversion is done with Alien Skin Exposure X with more than satisfactory results. I'm a pro Canon shooter and picked up Leica for the reasons similar to yours: it requires a different mindset and a whole lot of discipline! The thought process while shooting Leica is more elaborate and moves me away from mere grab-shots. Which is exactly what I needed for my own development as a photographer. (My serious gripe about Leica is cleaning the censor - a problem that was solved by Canon a long time ago. I do change the lenses a lot, using Zeiss 35/1.4, Leica 50/1.4, Zeiss 85/4.)
The modified thought process aids me to think ahead and know at the time of shooting whether this will be converted to B&W or remain in color. Of course it changes everything! So I see little reason spending another $7500 for M246.
Here's a portfolio you might find of interest: 25 diptychs B&W and Color side by side, I think all of them are using Zeiss 35/1.4.
Thanks for the input and sharing the M246 experience!
Hi Naomi - sorry i should of mentioned, most of the photos are take with the 35mm FLE, amazing lens.
Hi Jono - The M10 is great! i am tempted, however forcing myself to be a B&W photographer, still not 100% comfortable. I heard a rumour, Leica will release a high contrast Monochrome M10! Meaning out of the camera, photos will have pop. lets wait and see
Hi Nick - Yes it is hard work, but rewarding at the end. The M240 is still amazing, you can also shoot video.. hahaha
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