Elliott (New Leica Monochrom M246) High ISO Test by Jono Slack


Well, I don’t do this sort of thing, but I have been asked, so I thought I’d do a simple (hah!) comparison between different Leica cameras at different ISO values in black and white. I’ve included:

  • Leica M9
  • Leica M Monochrome
  • Leica M-P (typ 240)
  • Leica Monochrom (typ 246)
  • Leica X (typ 113)

I’ve made a real attempt to keep everything as equal as possible. It seemed to be worth including the X, although it’s an APS-C camera, the 16mp at 23mm is very roughly equivalent to the 24mp at 28 mm full frame.


All pictures were taken at f8 (except the Leica X which was at f5.6), and with the Leica 28mm Summilux on the M cameras, and with the 23mm lens on the Leica X. The tripod wasn’t moved between shots, and the camera’s white balance was set to daylight.

The DNG files were imported into Lightroom and cropped – there was no revolving of the files to straighten lines, and no adjustments to noise reduction, colour, white balance, exposure or anything else. The X files were cropped to the same area – which gives about the same amount of pixels – the M9 files are slightly smaller because of the lower resolution of the sensor.

Colour files were converted to black and white in Lightroom with no changes to the channel mixer.

The cropped images were exported to Photoshop CC in groups (as 16 bit tiff files) and combined into one file and saved as a jpg with maximum quality.

Of course, there are lots of different ways one could approach this, but this way seemed to give as level a playing field as I could imagine.

I felt that using a 28mm lens at f8 reduced problems with focusing, and I’ve only used the middle of the frame. It has been suggested that diffraction has set in by f8 (thank you Sean). In fact I used f5.6 on the X for this reason, I also realise that the camera is not perfectly straight on to the dresser – however, as I have used the middle of the frame, and the situation was the same for each camera I feel that it’s good enough to give one a pretty good feel for the high ISO characteristics of each camera.

The image used is shown below (sorry it’s a bit untidy). Below that you can see the combined cameras at each ISO value. NB – the image strips are fewer as the cameras run out of available ISO – for the last image there are two MM 246 images.


ISO 200……………………………………………….ISO 400


ISO 800………………………………………………ISO 1600


ISO 3200………………………………………………ISO 6400


ISO 10,000………………………………………………ISO 12,500 – 25,000



Sean Reid at ReidReviews.com and grEGORy Simpson at ultrasomething.com have done lots more thorough comparisons.

On the other hand I do feel that the images here show a pretty clear distinction between the cameras. The new camera seems pretty good at 12,500 ISO and useable in most cases at 25,000.

Just a final note – these pictures were taken in low natural light – I’m never very happy with high ISO tests taken in good lighting. The exposure at f8 at 200 ISO was about 2 seconds.

If you enjoyed this article you might like to make a donation to Cancer Research

My wife, Emma Slack, Is doing the 12th Annual Pink Ladies Tractor Road Run in aid of Cancer Research

It’s worth mentioning that Jonathan Slack does not get paid by anyone for writing these articles, which is great for everyone, and fine by him, however, once in a while he adds a link to a favourite charity.

People have been extraordinarily generous in the past, and this year Emma (my wife) is fund raising again. It would be lovely if you could see your way to making a small donation to what is a wonderful cause.

Here is the link to Emma’s Just Giving page:


and here’s the link to the Ladies Tractor Road Run Page













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