Leica M9 B&W JPEG vs DNG

Leica M9 B&W JPEG vs DNG
MatthewOsbornePhotography – Leica Photographer

Leica M9 B&W JPEG vs DNG

When I first bought my Leica M9 I was used to using my Nikon D800 in B&W JPEG mode. I shoot mostly black and white for personal work and model photography / fashion and it was just easier to upload say 200 images from a fashion shoot, delete a few blinks, maybe tweek the contrast and sharpen a little, watermark, export and send all images to the model just a few hours later. This was my Leica Lightroom workflow at the end of last year. I then read more and thought maybe I should shoot DNG format then convert to black and white in post processing. I have been doing that for most of 2014. I couldn’t understand when looking back at old Leica M9 images why I couldn’t match that magical Leica M9 look. I tried a few things and thought it must just be down to me using different glass. The DNG files look more CMOS sensor like, smoother with finer detail yet if you add grain it doesn’t improve the image.

Here are a few sample B&W JPEG images taken with my Leica M9 last year

Leica M9 6x6

Leica Portrait

Leica M9 B&W Portrait

Leica M9 Film Look

So what has changed?

Yesterday a did a Leica fashion photography shoot with model / photography student Ellie and we headed out to the countryside. I took my Leica M9 + Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 plus two film cameras (Mamiya RZ67 Pro II loaded with Ilford FP4+ and Leica M2 loaded with colour Kodak Portra 160).  Normally if I want to see B&W tones when I shoot I set the camera to black and white basic JPEG + DNG then normally bin the JPEGs after and process then DNG files, converting to B&W. Today however I started looking at the M9 basic JPEG files first and I was blown away. It was those JPEG imperfections that had been making my previous Leica images so perfect for my taste. Couple this effect with the image making ability of the Noctilux 50f1 shot wide open and suddenly you have medium format film looking images straight from the camera. The look is a cross between 35mm film and medium format film in my eyes (depending on the image) but a look that I am over the moon with. More than 200 images can be sent to the model without any editing work though that is not why I am over the moon! 🙂 . I fear that editing them to try to perfect the flaws will kill that imperfect look that makes them so perfect. I was trying to describe what I was seeing to the model and I said they look like a series of still from a Lana Del Rae video. If you have not seen any of her music videos look her up and that is what the images remind me of. I love the style her videos are shot in so I guess this is why I like the images.

I will post more images as I get chance. Add me on Facebook or Flickr to see them sooner.
Sorry for the gushing post!



Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

5 thoughts on “Leica M9 B&W JPEG vs DNG”

  1. I agree with you Matt ,the look is genuine in JPEG with Leica M9.There is fashion now to over manipulate with Lightroom/Photoshop , and the end result is a photo similar to the ones that you see on calendars hanging on office walls!At the moment I am even leaning towards JPEG on D800, with very little editing alterations , they are sharper than the RAW ones.

  2. This is curious indeed. I finally got around to looking at lots of pictures I shot with my M9 during a trip to Japan. The jpegs look great and the DNGs have a kind of muted almost dingy quality that requires tweaking in Lightroom (mores than I recall doing before)…exposure, contrast, black settings mainly. I thought it might have something to do with a whack the camera got when my strap came loose. It seems counterintuitive. Guess I’ll compare jpegs with DNG/PSDs when I print.

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