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Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range

  
 
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


Photonstophotos has just released the Photographic Dynamic Range data for the Leica M11 Monochrome. This data confirms what was already expected: there's an improvement of nearly one stop in dynamic range compared to the regular M11 camera.

However, according to Photonstophotos measurements, it's noteworthy that the lowest ISO setting of the bayer filtered sensor M11, ISO 64, outperforms the minimum ISO setting of the M11 Monochrome, which is 125. Also there is not much difference in DR from ISO 200 until about 320.

https://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/PDR.htm#Leica%20M11,Leica%20M11%20MONOCHROM








Apr 15, 2024 at 01:25 PM
flash
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


No it doesn't. There's gobs more detail available for recovery in the M11M. Even at low ISO's. I suppose that when you downscale everything the 8MP they all look about the same.

Just another chart that doesn't correspond to real life usage.

Gordon



Apr 15, 2024 at 03:41 PM
mark1958
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


when you go to photoshopphotos and look at the chart what are the values listed for low light iso and low light exposure values referring to


Apr 15, 2024 at 04:21 PM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


flash wrote:
No it doesn't. There's gobs more detail available for recovery in the M11M. Even at low ISO's. I suppose that when you downscale everything the 8MP they all look about the same.

Just another chart that doesn't correspond to real life usage.

Gordon


I compared M10-R and M10-M files side by side at various ISO settings and observed around a 1-stop improvement for the monochrome version, although this varied slightly depending on the ISO setting. My hands-on experience with real-world files supports the findings above, but I haven't yet compared the M11 to the M11-M directly.

Clearly, there is an advantage to removing the Bayer filtering, but I believe it may have been exaggerated by some reviewers.



Apr 15, 2024 at 04:22 PM
highdesertmesa
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


Fred Miranda wrote:
I compared M10-R and M10-M files side by side at various ISO settings and observed around a 1-stop improvement for the monochrome version, although this varied slightly depending on the ISO setting. My hands-on experience with real-world files supports the findings above, but I haven't yet compared the M11 to the M11-M directly.

Clearly, there is an advantage to removing the Bayer filtering, but I believe it may have been exaggerated by some reviewers.


The biggest thing overlooked is most of us shooting the monochrome cameras are also using color filters. Depending on the filter, it can either completely remove any DR advantage or put the monochrome at a several stop disadvantage. So for me, the big advantage to the monochrome sensor comes when shooting without color filters in situations where high ISO is needed. Worth noting that when photon count is extremely low, the noise character of the monochrome is nicer even if the DR/ISO advantage is technically cancelled out by using color filters.

Looks like the M11 uses "scaling" at ISO 18K and over. Not sure what that means for the resulting IQ.



Apr 15, 2024 at 05:05 PM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


highdesertmesa wrote:
The biggest thing overlooked is most of us shooting the monochrome cameras are also using color filters. Depending on the filter, it can either completely remove any DR advantage or put the monochrome at a several stop disadvantage. So for me, the big advantage to the monochrome sensor comes when shooting without color filters in situations where high ISO is needed. Worth noting that when photon count is extremely low, the noise character of the monochrome is nicer even if the DR/ISO advantage is technically cancelled out by using color filters.

Looks like the M11 uses "scaling" at ISO 18K and
...Show more

SNR advantage becomes clear to see on a true monochrom sensor under candle, tungsten or sodium lighting, where the noise under the bayer filter from non-white, unbalanced or missing spectrum pulls down image fidelity.

Why a Ricoh GR IIIx Monochrome pocket camera would be an absolute winner.
Meantime I will suffer the weight of a M10M ; M11M plot looks identical, so need to 'upgrade' there.



Apr 15, 2024 at 05:34 PM
zhangyue
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


Remove RGB filter will increase light/photon pass to the sensor. in theory, this will increase DR assume M11 and M11M share the same read noise.

However, M11 ISO64 vs M11M ISO125 means M11M can't take advantage of increased signal level at low ISO. Put it in another way, without RGB, M11M have more signal pass through. However, ISO64 of M11 means it can take one stop extra light/signal to offset its RGB filter loss. Hence we see similar DR for both which make sense.

At low light condition, (high ISO). Less signal loss due to no RGB filter clearly show M11M advantage. Due to less light loss, the exposure time can be reduced for M11M, read noise will be reduced so that M11M have about 1 stop DR benefit.

Having said that, I feel M11M benefit is more to the pixel level fidelity (if you pixel PP) than DR as I feel modern cameras's DR are really good enough for a while now.



Apr 15, 2024 at 08:14 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


Fred Miranda wrote:
Clearly, there is an advantage to removing the Bayer filtering, but I believe it may have been exaggerated by some reviewers.



My experience with monochrome vs. BFA has been that the difference is even greater when you are NOT in full spectrum light. As you get into significantly warmer / cooler lighting conditions, the quadrants of the RGBG / RGGB BFA reduce your signal more so than when you are in full spectrum light ... which is likely the lighting used for standardized testing.

I'd be curious to see the response difference in very cool (blue hour) or very warm (incandescent / sodium vapor) of the mono vs. BFA. I think these kinds of limited spectrum, lighting conditions are where folks are anecdotally reporting "better than one stop" difference vs. BFA counterparts.



Apr 15, 2024 at 09:18 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


zhangyue wrote:


Due to less light loss, the exposure time can be reduced for M11M,


This ^ ... like paying for a Summilux to get an extra stop of light over the Summicron.



Apr 15, 2024 at 09:20 PM
thrice
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


ISO is a representation of apparent brightness, it is not a setting of the sensor.

As you can see the sixth gain setting has a DR jump on both cameras as the sensor switches to its other gain mode.

There is no such thing as increased signal due to gain setting. If a sensor records more photons at base iso (compared to another at base iso) it has a higher quantum efficiency and thus higher signal to noise ratio if the noise produced by both sensors is identical. If the noise introduced by equivalent gain is less then the snr is likewise higher. ISO 125 on the M11M is the exact same gain setting on the IMX455 as ISO 64 on the M11.

At ISO3200 (for example) both cameras will produce an image of similar brightness, but the M11M is effectively using a lower gain mode due to higher quantum efficiency from removal of the CFA.

The reason the exact same gain setting on the M11M produces less DR than on the M11 is because of minor benefits to noise introduced by Bayer interpolation.

The reason the M11 is so close to the M11M at ISO200-320 is because of the coincidental overlap of the best SNR of second gain mode on the M11 with the worst of the first gain mode on the M11M. This is pretty clear on the graph.

zhangyue wrote:
Remove RGB filter will increase light/photon pass to the sensor. in theory, this will increase DR assume M11 and M11M share the same read noise.

However, M11 ISO64 vs M11M ISO125 means M11M can't take advantage of increased signal level at low ISO. Put it in another way, without RGB, M11M have more signal pass through. However, ISO64 of M11 means it can take one stop extra light/signal to offset its RGB filter loss. Hence we see similar DR for both which make sense.

At low light condition, (high ISO). Less signal loss due to no RGB filter clearly show
...Show more


Edited on Apr 16, 2024 at 10:18 PM · View previous versions



Apr 16, 2024 at 04:05 PM
 


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qdbp
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


Dynamic range goes from saturation (white) to floor (pure noise). For a CFA camera to max out dynamic range, each color must be equally bright -- like when shooting a clouds or a gray card, assuming each color filter is equally dense. But, if any color exists in the image, it means that one or two channels are meaningfully dimmer than the other(s). The noise in those parts of the image will be higher than the technical optimum. In contrast, monochrome sensors have the same noise level regardless of color, depending only on amount of light captured. So, recovering shadows on a red subject will have a substantial advantage for the monochrome sensor because the blue and both green pixels in the color camera will be dramatically underexposed and thus have higher noise. Of course, the CFA camera has the advantage of being able to render that subject in red.


Apr 16, 2024 at 07:45 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


qdbp wrote:
So, recovering shadows on a red subject will have a substantial advantage for the monochrome sensor because the blue and both green pixels in the color camera will be dramatically underexposed and thus have higher noise.


+1

RGBG ... with 1/4 at R, 1/4 at B, 2/4 (1/2) at G.

Thus, for a pure red or pure blue ... only 1/4 signal vs. monochrome at 4/4 of reflected light being captured. Two stops. Same for blue.

Whereas green would be 2/4 (1/2) or one stop.

Actual colors aren't usually pure, so it'll be portions of each, but that's the base / root relationship(s), AIUI.



Apr 16, 2024 at 08:01 PM
retrofocus
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


This resembles kind of my own experience using M 240 and MM 246 cameras. The MM 246 is about one stop better in DR visible in better highlight and shadow recovery. Makes sense that something similar is seen when comparing both of these M11 cameras.


Apr 17, 2024 at 07:15 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


retrofocus wrote:
This resembles kind of my own experience using M 240 and MM 246 cameras. The MM 246 is about one stop better in DR visible in better highlight and shadow recovery. Makes sense that something similar is seen when comparing both of these M11 cameras.


Monochrome shooters should not be disappointed. Achieving an additional one full stop of dynamic range (in the shadows), or even slightly more depending on the scene and ISO setting, can be highly significant. Depending on the sensor technology, it's comparable to the difference between shooting with a Full Frame and an APS-C camera.



Apr 17, 2024 at 11:28 AM
highdesertmesa
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


Random thought of the day: the unedited DNGs from the monochrome sensors remind me of Ilford XP2 printed at a 1-hour lab back in the day. XP2 was/is a C41 process color film that you could have developed at any color lab to produce b&w negatives. I always liked the smooth tones and lower contrast of that film and how it looked when printed to color paper from the lab. It was also great for darkroom printing to high contrast gloss b&w paper.


Apr 17, 2024 at 11:29 AM
Fred Miranda
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


highdesertmesa wrote:
Random thought of the day: the unedited DNGs from the monochrome sensors remind me of Ilford XP2 printed at a 1-hour lab back in the day. XP2 was/is a C41 process color film that you could have developed at any color lab to produce b&w negatives. I always liked the smooth tones and lower contrast of that film and how it looked when printed to color paper from the lab. It was also great for darkroom printing to high contrast gloss b&w paper.


Perhaps because the XP2 is known for its wide dynamic range and smooth tonality. It's convenient that the XP2 can be developed using the C41 process.

One of the distinctions between using XP2 film vs a monochrome digital camera is the level of latitude in the highlight area.

It's interesting that you mentioned this, as I read an article a while back that discusses this topic:

"Scanned XP2, especially when dust reduction or grain suppression software is applied, can look somewhat 'digital', i.e. very clean, almost 'waxy'. The behaviour of the grain mentioned above plays a part here too. If you dig into and lighten those shadows too much unpleasant textures can emerge (of course, all this is subjective, you may want to do that). Economical Leica Monochrom anyone? One could get a second hand Leica M6, a Nikon Coolscan film scanner, a couple of rolls of XP2, and satisfy both digital and darkroom black and white yearnings. "

https://www.richardpickup.com/blog/tag/xp2+vs+hp5






Apr 17, 2024 at 12:18 PM
highdesertmesa
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


Fred Miranda wrote:
Perhaps because the XP2 is known for its wide dynamic range and smooth tonality. It's convenient that the XP2 can be developed using the C41 process.

One of the distinctions between using XP2 film vs a monochrome digital camera is the level of latitude in the highlight area.

It's interesting that you mentioned this, as I read an article a while back that discusses this topic:

"Scanned XP2, especially when dust reduction or grain suppression software is applied, can look somewhat 'digital', i.e. very clean, almost 'waxy'. The behaviour of the grain mentioned above plays a part here too. If you dig
...Show more

Good point. I remember it being nearly impossible to ruin an XP2 exposure even with the cheap point-and-shoot film cameras of the time.

I wish Leica would offer a more aggressive and more accurate version of Highlight Weighted metering. For example, Nikon's highlight weighted meter is extremely aggressive on the Zf, but it also is not easily fooled into underexposing by too much. And in combination with that, Leica needs to add a robust dynamic range tool like Nikon, Fujifilm and others have. Fujifilm calls it D Range Priority with settings of Auto, Strong, Weak, or Off. That would go a long way to making the Leica monochrome exposures looking better on the LCD and for the JPEGs. As it stands now, many scenes taken on a Leica monochrome look terrible as JPEGs when exposed to retain the highlights. I know it makes no difference to the final image, but it sure helps evaluate the shot on the LCD.



Apr 17, 2024 at 01:16 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


highdesertmesa wrote:
Good point. I remember it being nearly impossible to ruin an XP2 exposure even with the cheap point-and-shoot film cameras of the time.

I wish Leica would offer a more aggressive and more accurate version of Highlight Weighted metering. For example, Nikon's highlight weighted meter is extremely aggressive on the Zf, but it also is not easily fooled into underexposing by too much. And in combination with that, Leica needs to add a robust dynamic range tool like Nikon, Fujifilm and others have. Fujifilm calls it D Range Priority with settings of Auto, Strong, Weak, or Off. That would go a
...Show more

Highlight weighted metering with a -1 EC ... Voila, you're there.

Way simpler than a bunch of menu changes / mode changes / program adjustments for diff scenarios.

That's how I've got mine set. Depending on scene contrast, I may adjust my EC if it is inherently low DR lighting / scene.
Set EC to taste for how much you want to offset things.


Also, it's easier to train your brain to take control, than it is to get Leica to setup their gear like Nikon or Fuji.

The root of ALL (in camera) metering is predicated on ASSUMED REFLECTIVITY. But the camera doesn't know the difference between a white reflection, a specular highlight or source illumination. Neither does it know which of those is your intended / desired target highlight. THAT resides between our ears.

Edited on Apr 17, 2024 at 01:38 PM · View previous versions



Apr 17, 2024 at 01:31 PM
highdesertmesa
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


RustyBug wrote:
Highlight weighted metering with a -1 EC ... Voila, you're there.

Way simpler than a bunch of menu changes / mode changes / program adjustments for diff scenarios.

That's how I've got mine set. Depending on scene contrast, I may adjust my EC if it is inherently low DR lighting / scene.
Set EC to taste for how much you want to offset things.


"Yeah, but"...

The Leica implementation is easily fooled, so I have to futz with the EC regardless of where I set it by default. Not much of a problem with an EVF camera, but it's a pain when using the rangefinder.

Nikon's highlight weighted metering is no more complicated than Leica's. If you're referring the DR function as a complication, it's something separate completely. I would find such a feature useful simply for giving a better preview on the LCD. It's not needed to achieve the correct exposure.



Apr 17, 2024 at 01:37 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Leica M11 Monochrome Dynamic Range


highdesertmesa wrote:
"Yeah, but"...

The Leica implementation is easily fooled, so I have to futz with the EC regardless of where I set it by default. Not much of a problem with an EVF camera, but it's a pain when using the rangefinder.

Nikon's highlight weighted metering is no more complicated than Leica's. If you're referring the DR function as a complication, it's something separate completely. I would find such a feature useful simply for giving a better preview on the LCD. It's not needed to achieve the correct exposure.


Yes, they all can be fooled ... thus the need to think your strategy to outfool the foolable.



Apr 17, 2024 at 01:41 PM
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