Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ashwin Rao on a Year With the Real (Digital) Leica Monochrom

Image Source: http://us.leica-camera.com/photography/m_system/m_monochrom/
As you know, I'm playing around a lot with black and white these days, specifically in my Leica M4-2, which I'm using to emulate the modern Leica digital Monochrom rangefinder.
Ashwin Rao, frequent contributor to Steve Huff's excellent photography blog, has written up his thoughts after shooting a lot with the new Monochrom. He made over 15,000 exposures with it last year.
(Click Here) to read Ashwin's full report on Steve Huff Photo. He includes many, many excellent images.
Ashwin writes how constraining himself to monochrome imaging, thinking only in black and white, was at first a major challenge. He says he realized what he had given up by using a camera incapable of rendering color. But then, this challenged turned to "inspiration and motivation."
Ashwin prefers to use older rangefinder lenses with his Monochrom. Sound familiar? I happen to love old Leica and rangefinder lenses, so this only bring the Monochrom closer to my heart. Ashwin feels that modern lenses tend to give a surreal look, and that modern aspherical lenses suffer from loss of shadow detail. He feels that maybe the coating of older lenses, which were developed in a monochrome era, are better optimized for black and white. Clearly, color was not the main consideration fifty years ago. Or maybe, he admits, he is drawn to images made with older lenses because he learned to love the look of images he knew from the past.
Ashwin reports that the Monochrom is pretty much infallible at up to iso 3200, and 5000 in good light.
He also reports that there is so much dynamic range that images can have an overall gray look. This invites lots of post-processing, and leaves plenty of opportunity to fine tune the images to get exactly what he wants.
So, after a year, the Monochrom is still his favorite camera. Ashwin commits to continuing to explore this special camera, and share more results as he goes. Onward, Ashwin, and thanks!