LeicaRumors is reporting a crazy Leica rumour! The luxe German camera firm is rumoured to be readying a B&W-only model. With no LCD screen. That's right: no colours, no screen, just black and white shots forever. Brilliant or moronic?
Is it true? Who knows? People at Leica, that's who. They know if this is true or not. But for the sake of something, let's say it is. Let's say they build a typically gorgeous camera that, with a black-and-white sensor, can take spectacular black-and-white photos. It's not as crazy as you might think! Camera maker PhaseOne already does it and says their shit is black-and-white bananas:
The process of reproducing original black and white prints is extremely difficult with a full colour process. The Achromatic+ back can reproduce original black and white with extreme accuracy that requires little or no post-production. The lack of filters on the sensor also provides the advantage of higher resolution. To take advantage of the extra resolving power, high-resolution lenses are required. Reproduction lenses are typically higher resolution thereby allowing the Achromatic+ back to provide the best quality possible. Improved optical performance can be achieved with special spectrum illumination systems, which have been developed for use with this imaging device.
So, sure, let's assume Leica can pull that off.
There's something to be said for a camera that forces you to shoot in a certain way. We're living in magnificently indulgent times -- the digital dilettante has never had so much company. Filters and effects are bountiful and accepted -- expected, even. You take your picture, and then, like a trip through the Chili's salad buffet, you dump all sorts of jazzy crap all over it. Vintage blowouts, contrast spikes, oversaturations -- the bacon bits of digital photography. The image isn't the purpose, but rather the freewheeling experience of messing around and sharing. Which is fine and fun, but some might say, not the goal of photography.
None of that would be possibly with this Imaginary Leica. You can't do much of the pixel muckery without colour -- or at least without the same satisfaction. So instead, we'd be locked into just taking photos that stand out on their own. Is that a bad thing? Maybe techno-draconian, but honest!