Today Leica announced the M-Monochrom, a black and white only camera with the same body style as the M9. It’s hard to believe that Leica’s niche consumer base could shrink or get any more specific. The very special sensor inside the new camera is 18mp and is said to offer fine grain images up to its max ISO of 10,000.
The camera offers a couple of hardware features unique to its B&W sensor that allow it to have sharper images than its equivalent color brother. This sensor will also allow the camera to capture more available light than a color sensor. A quote from the Leica website about the B&W sensor.
“With a full native resolution of 18 megapixels, the Leica M Monochrom delivers 100% sharper images than with colour sensors. As its sensor does not ‘see’ colours, every pixel records true luminance values – as a result, it delivers a ‘true’ black-and-white image.“
For the price I feel the camera should be the top of the line in every aspect. The 2.5′” screen on the camera is still 230,000 dots which to me just doesn’t cut it. The screen may work great for just checking exposure but I don’t think the owners of these cameras will even care about the lcd. They aren’t the chimpers you get when you compare them to someone buying a entry level DSLR.
I respect Leica for continuing its legacy of a true photographers camera. They aren’t worried about the naysayers or the mass market who can only dream of affording one. Even with the pressure of Sony, Fuji and Olympus making great cameras that are considered “Leica Killers” they keep doing what they do best. My worry for Leica is that they already have a small (compared to other companies) consumer base and now with a B&W only camera that circle of available buyers shrinks a bit more.
I love B&W and how it looks and I do see myself purchasing a camera made for that soul purpose but not for the price. I think you are going to hate the idea of the M-Monochrom if you are someone with limited funds or maybe someone who has never held a Leica. I know a lot of photographers but few have the heart that I have for the art of street photography.
In forums online people are talking about how to emulate B&W film using this and that slider in lightroom but they are missing the point. Those photos in my opinion are lacking soul. The camera is either for you or its not. The B&W camera isn’t simply a camera, its a way of thinking and shooting. Ironically the camera does include a free copy of Nik Silver Efex Pro so you can fine-tune your monochrome images.
The camera is priced at the “If you have to ask, its too much” price of $7,950 and will be available late July. B&H Photo has it listed.