Color I can live with from the Leica M-E

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After two years of shooting and scanning film, what I wanted in terms of skin tones and the general color look from my new M-E was something much different than what I settled for when I owned an M9 three years earlier. By living with the results of scanning analog film I came to accept that color would rarely if ever match the accuracy attainable with modern professional digital systems by Canon and Nikon.

Maybe if I’d had the processing and scanning done at a professional lab, and paid through the nose for some premium service, I would have seen markedly better results. But I opted for the much less expensive, and more satisfying, route of scanning myself.

So when I decided to go back to shooting Leica digital my desires and expectations for color and tonality had been changed. But also my aesthetic for the end result of the act of photographing something itself had changed.

I now looked at final images that I put online or show to people as the product of a process of ME applying those tastes and desires to all of my shots as opposed to just going with either the look of the RAW file, or, worse, going with the crowd and ending up with an image look that was consistent with what other M9/M-E shooters were choosing for their work.

The color that I go for now, what I’m shooting for in my post processing, comes as a result of dealing with film scans for two years. It may not be the same technology and the end result may look nothing like film scans to me or to anyone else. But what I want now from my images is informed largely from the experience of shooting and scanning film.

Bottom line. There are no rules. The camera produces a RAW image file. We owe no loyalty or fidelity to the look of the RAW file or to what other M9/M-E shooters are doing with their images. The color in these pictures pleases me. That’s a heck of a statement as far as I’m concerned because that has not always been an easy place for me to get to with this gear. I’m happy to be getting there with some frequency this time around.

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8 comments

    1. I don’t know, Ross. I honestly hope that the new M is an absolutely spectacular camera that produces accurate and vivid colors. Right now, however, everything seems to have a certain yellow or orange look to the images. I’m sure people will start showing great results as soon as they figure out that, just like the M9/M-E and Monochrom, you have to decide what you want from your files and take them there. People doing reviews and reading reviews want to see the RAW or least processed image as it comes out of the camera. I’m starting to wonder what’s the point of that with these Leica digital Ms.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      db

  1. As a Leica newbie, but retired professional videographer, I feel color is one of the most subjective aspects of image making. The images above are exceptional, but while the color is very pleasing, I think it is the framing, the depth and the connection that is made between the viewer and the subjects that pulls you in. The M9’s chip has been compared to Kodachrome slide film in its colorimetry, and having shot a lot of Kodachrome in my time I think that may draw me to the “CCD Leica look.” In any case these examples show how photography can become art when you put a great camera and great post production software in the hands of an artist.

    BTW I notice looking at the images again that 3 of the 4 feature glass as a background element. In video where even on the best HD monitors our images tend to be a bit “flat,” the use of glass can often help–check out “The West Wing” where they re-designed the White House as a fish bowl if you want to see what I mean. It appears to work in still photography as well–or maybe just to my video-fatigued eyes. Stunning images any way you look at them.

    1. Thank you, so much, David. Yes, I never really saw a Kodachrome/M9 similarity until lately. But you know, there’s something to be brought out from the RAW files that can look very Kodachrome. Again, thank you, so much for your kind appreciation for my shots.

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