Wedding Photography with the Leica M Typ 246 Monochrom

Black and white is beautiful. It has the ability to remove all distractions and allow you to focus on the subject.

Let me just preface this post by thanking Matthew David Studio for bringing me to enjoy their work alongside them. I thoroughly enjoy shooting weddings, and without you, I would be missing out on something that I truly enjoy. 

In all honesty, I am not as busy with photography as I would like to be. Being the Operations Manager at Camera West Rancho Mirage is a full-time job that does not leave any time to work on marketing and building relationships to further excel my photography business. So having the ability to show up and shoot is a miracle in itself. 

Having a smaller camera allows moments like this to be captured. I knew after I captured the image above that I loved the Monochrom. The ability to have a camera in a discrete form is essential for me. First off the smaller form factor of the Leica M series cameras does not attract the attention of the guests like a DSLR camera would. Secondly, the M camera allows me to shoot all day and not be worn out by heavy camera equipment. Since I have switched to a lighter setup, I no longer leave the wedding feeling absolutely drained. Lastly, the monochrom is a rangefinder camera, it allows you to see everything going on around you and because of this, I feel that you miss fewer moments.

You will notice that I did not specify the apertures on any of the images posted here. This is due to the Leica lenses being completely mechanical with no electronic components. All images shot were taken with the Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux Asph. Lens. With the lack of electronic components in the lenses, Leica has been able to keep their lenses much smaller. 

The bride pinning the corsage onto her grandmother.

The bride pinning the corsage onto her grandmother.

Having a smaller camera allows moments like this to be captured. I knew after I captured the image above that I loved the Monochrom. The ability to have a camera in a smaller package is essential for me for a few reasons. First off the smaller form factor of the Leica M series cameras does not attract any attention of the guests like a DSLR camera would. Secondly the camera allows me to shoot the day and not be dragged down by heavy camera equipment. Since I have switched to a lighter setup, I no longer leave the wedding feeling absolutely drained. Lastly, the monochrom is a rangefinder camera, it allows you to see everything going on around you and because of this I feel that you miss less things.

You will notice that I did not specify the apertures on any of the images posted here. This is due to the Leica lenses being completely mechanical with no electronic components. All images shot were taken with the Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux Asph. Lens. With the lack of elecontronic componets in the lenses, leica has been able to keep their lenses much smaller. 

The Leica Monochrom has the ability to produce extremely beautiful and unique tonalities with a sharpness that is unmatched by any other full frame camera. This is accomplished by removing the color filter array and AA filter on the sensor. By doing this, it allows the monochrom see light differently. According to Leica the benefit of removing the Color filter array means there is no need to calculate luminance values by interpolation. Another benefit of all of this is the low light ability of the camera. With max ISO of 25000, you have the ability to keep shooting once it's dark. 

With this comes a price though and I am not talking about the price tag. The camera lacks the ability to autofocus, which can scare a lot of people. I find the rangefinder system enjoyable to use and honestly, it's something I love about the M cameras. Acquiring focus can be more difficult when shooting with larger apertures and longer lenses, this can be eased by adding an eyepiece magnifier which essentially zooms in the rangefinder to better see the focus patch. 

The new monochrom has a few technology boosts over the original M9 Monochrom With the screen being the biggest upgrade on the exterior. The screen is hugely improved with the original screen being only good for getting an idea of your composition with its 2.5" 230k dot LCD screen and on the new 3" 921.6k dot sapphire glass screen you are able to accurately check focus and get a good idea of what your image looks like. I do find that the screens are generally more contrasty than when you view the images on the computer screen.

The Leica Monochrom has the ability to produce extremely beautiful and unique tonalities with a sharpness that is unmatched by any other full frame camera. This is accomplished by removing the color filter array and AA filter on the sensor. By doing this, it allows the monochrom see light differently. According to Leica the benefit of removing the Color filter array means there is no need to calculate luminance values by interpolation. Another benefit of all of this is the low light ability of the camera. With max ISO of 25000 you have the ability to keep shooting once its dark. 

With this comes a price though and I am not talking about the price tag. The camera lacks the ability to autofocus, which can scare a lot of people. I find the rangefinder system  enjoyable to use and honestly, its something I love about the M cameras. Acquiring focus can be more difficult when shooting with larger apertures and longer lenses, this can be eased by adding a eyepiece magnifier which essentially zooms in the rangefinder to better see the focus patch. 

The Monchrom Typ 246 is a nice improvement over the oringal M9 based monochrom. There is an increased sharpness in the overall image with the M246 over the original. 

The shutter sound in the M246 is significantly more discreet than its predecessor. The shutter sounds less like a film advance and more like a soft click . This can be significant for when you are trying to stay quiet during the ceremony or walking around capturing candids at the reception.

On the interior, the Monochrom Typ 246 receives the upgraded 2GB buffer which can be handy for when you need to capture those candid moments. A good example of this is when the first kiss happens and then the bride and groom take their celebratory walk down the isle. It can be difficult to hit the buffer limit of 30 images with the camera having a max 3 frames per second, but it does happen.

The build Quality of the Monochrom Typ 246 is phenomenal like all The other M cameras. The exterior of the camera is made out of a brass and magnesium alloy body. The camera in your hand feels solid but not too heavy, you can truly appreciate the build quality when you hold the camera in your hands. The ergonomics are nice but are improved with the addition of a Thumbs up with is recommended but not a necessity. 

The sensor has been upgraded from the 18MP CCD sensor to a 24MP CMOS Sensor. The upgrade to CMOS raises the max ISO from 10,000 to 25,000 and improves the overall noise performance of the camera by a significant amount. With the addition of the CMOS Sensor comes the ability to use live view. This can be handy for when you need to use lenses that are wider than the 28mm frame lines in the rangefinder such as the 21mm Super Elmar or 16/18/21 Tri-Elmar. There is an increased clarity in the overall image with the M246 over the original. Another benefit to live view is the ability to use focus peaking. When in live view the camera can automatically zoom in up to 10x magnification and provide focusing peaking to ensure that your subject is in focus.

There is a drawback to the Monochrom while at a wedding, there is only a single SD card slot. The biggest fear I have is having a card corrupt and losing all the images. I make sure to backup my cards to my iPad Pro or laptop using the lighting to SD card adapter as the day progresses. From there I can create a new collection in Lightroom mobile and add the files. If I have wifi available, I will let Lightroom Mobile sync the images back to my home workstation via the cloud. I will be creating a separate post all about this at a later point. In the end using a high-quality card such as the Hoodman RAW steel card which is both fast, and back by Hoodman's lifetime warranty.

Using the rangefinder system is easy to use during the day, but when it gets time for the reception things can get a little more tricky. This is when I bring in a small little LED light to help illuminate my subjects. This little addition of light is enough to bring out enough contrast so I focus properly.

All in all this a beautiful tool. At this price point, you can pick up a Nikon D5 or Canon 1Dx Mark ii. Yes, they are considered some of the best tools for the job, but I believe I in shooting what makes you happy.  If you are happy in what you shoot, your work will be a reflection of that. And if you aren't enjoying what you're shooting, then the real question is why aren't you doing what make you happy? 

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