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Old 1st August 2018
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Re: A Monochrom(e) Oly?

To go back to Ian's original question, I think there are two reasons why we might want to use a mono-only camera - the technical and the mental.

We have already talked about most of the technical aspects, but there is at least one more that is important for shooting in low light. If you have a conventional Bayer matrix sensor, the colour filters throw away approximately half the light, so taking the filter away gives an immediate one stop increase in high ISO performance. This was very important to me a few years ago when high ISO performance of the Olys was not as good as it is now.

The mental side of it is arguably much more important. I can't speak for Ricoh but I suspect he will agree with me - if I am using a camera that will only give monochrome images, I compose and create the photos differently from how I would in colour. Even knowing - with the "thinking" part of the brain - that I can convert later to B&W doesn't really help, the "feeling" part of the brain continues to exert its influence. For this reason I sometimes used to take a 35mm compact loaded with B&W film on holiday, as well as a digital compact which would do the happy snaps.

I used a Monochrom a lot for gig photography in pre E-M1 days and loved it. The E-M1 brought such good high ISO performance that I have been rather lazy and pretty much switched to using it. A lot of people seem to prefer colour images anyway, although I think that for this application you can make either work well. I've tried doing mono conversions but never got any I was really pleased with, even from the E-M1 Mk II. Which may be down to my lack of skills in conversion, of course.

Here is an example from 2015 with the original Leica M Monochrom, pretty much pulled at random from the archives. We can't be sure without doing a controlled experiment but I really don't think the results would be as good from a converted RGB file.

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Ian (1st August 2018)