Leica M Monochrom Is For Those Who Only See In Black And White

Leica's Latest addition to the M series of cameras is a bit different from the ones which came before it: the M Monochrom only shoots pictures in black and white. The $US8000 full-frame camera is fully intended for enthusiasts and/or those with a bottomless bank account, and aims to explore the benefits of having a dedicated monochrome sensor (merely removing the colour from a photo after the fact is hardly the same).

The M Monochrom is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, complete with an 18MP, full-frame CCD sensor, ISO range up to 10,000, SD-based storage and a 2.5-inch display. Many photo nerds argue that a dedicated B&W sensor will allow for shaper, more detailed imaging thanks to the lack of need for a colour filter and ability to pick up more light. The camera itself is signature Leica design, with an all-black colour scheme to go with the rounded edges of the body. A 50mm f2 Summicron lens also appeared alongside the M Monochrom today, which, at $US7200, costs nearly as much as the camera itself. Those over on the rangefinderforum are in borderline disbelief, stating that it better be the greatest lens ever for that price.

But that's not the only announcement Leica had today. The Leica X2 is also here with a 16MP APS-C sensor and 24mm f2.8 lens. The compact camera will shoot photos in 3:2 or 16:9 aspect ratios, save to SD card, and display your shots on a 2.5-inch screen, in your choice of all black or black/silver, for $US2000.

Also announced was the Leica V-Lux 40, which packs a 16MP sensor, 24-480mm superzoom lens, GPS and 3-inch touchscreen into the body of a point-and-shoot. It's basically the same as the V-Lux 30, but with extra zoom (20x vs 16x). All cameras are available for pre-order now and should be out later this year. [DP Review, 2, 3, 4]



    Interesting. Obviously a very niche camera.

    You'd think they could of made a B&W only sensor a bit cheaper but I suppose it is Leica...

    Are Leica cameras really that much better than the likes of Olympus, Sony, Canon et al?

      The M9 coupled with Leica glass produces some of the best images from a full frame camera, but at about twice the price of a D800/5Diii , the image quality isn't really two times better than them.

      It's all about the law of diminishing returns, I guess..

      I've spent a bit of time with a Leica M9, and I semi understand the appeal despite them being a bit of a wank.

      The image quality is pretty damn awesome across the board, and the same goes for the lenses (and the images are pin sharp throughout the frame). They are super simple to use (by design) with particular attention paid to taking photos well, rather than whatever multiple face detect/movie mode/creative mode/marketing BS that other manufacturers make up to separate their product from the one next to it on the shelf. One thing that Leica trumps all other cameras on (IMHO) is build quality, its like a russian tank with the interior fitout by a swiss watchmaker.

      On the downsides, they are slow (everywhere, from fps, saving images, to startup), arent the greatest in low light (though their design makes it easier to hand hold at slower frame rates), the battery life sucks, and they are prohibitively expensive (including the body, lenses, accessories, EVERYTHING!).

      The experience of using (or even owning) one is pretty unique, and I think a lot of the appeal comes from that experience, rather than comparing it side by side with the latest offerings from Nikon/Canon/Sony/etc (where the Leica's technical specs will always come out second best).

        I agree with you on the experience thing, but technical specs don't really tell the whole story about image (or camera) quality.

        I haven't used a digital M, but my main camera is an M3, and for certain types of shooting they can be very fast if you have spent some time with the camera.

        Hey, I own an M8.2 myself. I wholeheartedly agree with you, the appeal of the Leicas come from their simplicity.

        It's certainly not as versatile as DSLRs, but my M8.2 is my camera of choice when I just want to go out and shoot. Using a rangefinder has a certain romance to it, and I reckon it's more satisfying to get a great image out of a rangefinder rather than a conventional digital camera, because it is YOU that shot the image - not the auto-everything feature from the camera :)

      The thing you've got to realise is that Leica are a rangefinder camera. If you're used to DSLR cameras, you may curse at a rangefinder. There is no autofocus, all camera operations are manual. Rangefinders are not for everyone, they have their drawbacks. But those who do enjoy using them, would probably never consider touching a DSLR again.

      The other thing is that Leica is not a consumer brand like Olympus, Sony, Canon et al. Leica is a luxury brand, that's how they've positioned themselves since their resurgence and will continue to do in the future. So I guess by definition you could argue that yes, Leica is a 'better' camera. In much the same way that a Lamborghini is better than a Nissan, or a Pagani is better than a Hyundai.

    I would expect the sample images to be absolutely mindblowing and "hardly the same" when compared to a current pro DSLR. Nothing less for that sort of money. Can't wait to see some samples that prove this to be true.

    Leica's defecate all over the competition. Wish I had the $$ for this, superb.

      i bet u $100 u will not be able to even tell the difference between staged DSLR shot vs Staged Leica shot lol

    I think 15k might be a bit far into second hand medium format territory for just a B&W camera.....
    But that's just me

    on top of it all
    "Leica M9-P Hermes limited edition - $50,000"

    Leica is becoming collectors camera and not the camera that one wants to use...

      So you've got to really have money or win big to love Leicas

        Or just take the third option and work your ass off, save your money and don't buy new clothes for a few years.

      I saw the Edition Hermes unboxing vid - that is a serious level of detail, definitely only a camera for collectors... I mean it even comes with it's own pair of white gloves in the box...

      Leica is definitely a luxury brand, nothing like Canon or Nikon.

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