Test results: Leica M10-P vs. Leica M10 Monochrom side-by-side ISO comparison

Here are results from a side-by-side comparison of the Leica M10-P ($8,795) vs. the new Leica M10 Monochrom ($8,295) by Onasj (see all previous posts by Onasj):

  • M10P firmware =
  • M10M firmware =

Test conditions:

  • Leica 75/1.25 Noctilux @ f/5.6, which together with the 50 APO @ f/5.6 offers the highest MTF performance of any Leica M lens at any aperture (according to Leica’s data)
  • M10P ISO: 100, 400, 1600, 6400, 12500, 25000, 50000
  • M10M ISO: 160, 400, 1600, 6400, 12500, 25000, 50000, 100000
  • Auto shutter speed
  • 2-second delay before capture (to eliminate tripod shake)
  • Both cameras were mounted to the same tripod and aimed at the same spot on the subject. Live view at 100% was used to confirm that the optimal focus setting of the lens was the same for both cameras.
  • All DNG files were imported into Capture One 20, desaturated, processed with identical settings, then highest quality JPGs of each image were exported.

You can download all the files (JPGs, DNGs, 100% enlargement matrixes) here.

Summary: as expected, for monochrome images the M10M handily beats the M10P in terms of much lower noise AND much more detail.  In terms of background noise, after scaling the M10P or M10M images up or down to the same size (41 MP or 24 MP), I see about a 1.5-stop noise advantage for the M10M.  In terms of “usable” high-ISO image quality for monochrome images, I would set my personal threshold around ISO 18,000 for the M10P, and around 50,000 for the M10M (also a 1.5-stop advantage for the M10M).  But the surprise, for me, was that in terms of capturing subject detail, the combination of higher resolution, lack of a Bayer CFA, and (my guess) a better sensor even on a per-unit-area basis together resulted in the M10M at ISO 25,000 capturing as much or more detail in the subject than the M10P did at any ISO.  Of course, if you are shooting street photography, kids running, dreamy portraits, etc. the subject detail capture level difference probably won’t matter.  But if your goal is to capture subject detail and black and white is acceptable, this is the most capable M body to date in my opinion.

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