Photography

Leica M Monochrom - 18 megapixel digital rangefinder shoots only black and white

Leica M Monochrom - 18 megapix...
The Leica M-Monochrom will instantly look familiar to anyone who has ever lusted after a Leica
The Leica M-Monochrom will instantly look familiar to anyone who has ever lusted after a Leica
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Leica M-Monochrom is the world’s first digital rangefinder which only shoots in black and white
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Leica M-Monochrom is the world’s first digital rangefinder which only shoots in black and white
The Leica M-Monochrom will instantly look familiar to anyone who has ever lusted after a Leica
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The Leica M-Monochrom will instantly look familiar to anyone who has ever lusted after a Leica
The Leica M-Monochrom has a die-cast magnesium alloy body with brass top and bottom plates and a synthetic leather trim
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The Leica M-Monochrom has a die-cast magnesium alloy body with brass top and bottom plates and a synthetic leather trim
On the rear of the Leica M-Monochrom there's a sapphire glass covered 2.5" TFT-LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels
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On the rear of the Leica M-Monochrom there's a sapphire glass covered 2.5" TFT-LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels
Leica claims the M-Monochrom is capable of producing "true black and white images" that are significantly sharper than those produced with a comparable color sensor
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Leica claims the M-Monochrom is capable of producing "true black and white images" that are significantly sharper than those produced with a comparable color sensor
The Leica M-Monochrom will take Leica M mount lenses
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The Leica M-Monochrom will take Leica M mount lenses
The Leica M-Monochrom is a full-frame 18MP rangefinder which has no color filter array (CFA) in front of the sensor, meaning the camera is essentially colorblind
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The Leica M-Monochrom is a full-frame 18MP rangefinder which has no color filter array (CFA) in front of the sensor, meaning the camera is essentially colorblind
The Leica M-Monochrom boasts extremely low, fine-grain image noise and ISO ranges from 320 to 10000
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The Leica M-Monochrom boasts extremely low, fine-grain image noise and ISO ranges from 320 to 10000
Leica has also opted to omit a low-pass filter for added sharpness
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Leica has also opted to omit a low-pass filter for added sharpness
Because the M-Monochrom doesn't have to split the light into colors and then combine information from adjacent pixels, it produces better quality images
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Because the M-Monochrom doesn't have to split the light into colors and then combine information from adjacent pixels, it produces better quality images
The Leica M Monochrom includes digital workflow software, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and black and white image processing software, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2
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The Leica M Monochrom includes digital workflow software, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and black and white image processing software, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2
Buyers also get exclusive access to the "Leica Monochrom Print Service" which sees images from their Leica M Monochrom produced on premium quality baryte photographic papers
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Buyers also get exclusive access to the "Leica Monochrom Print Service" which sees images from their Leica M Monochrom produced on premium quality baryte photographic papers
Leica set out to create the monochrome camera after noticing that black and white photography was becoming more popular
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Leica set out to create the monochrome camera after noticing that black and white photography was becoming more popular
The Leica M Monochrom is said to offer photographers "the opportunity to explore black and white photography with a product that is unique in the digital world"
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The Leica M Monochrom is said to offer photographers "the opportunity to explore black and white photography with a product that is unique in the digital world"
View gallery - 14 images

When you think of Leica, you probably think of cameras which are built like a tank and feature that famous red dot. But if you were to take a photo of the iconic red logo with the latest rangefinder camera from the German firm, it might not come out as you'd expect … because the Leica M-Monochrom is the world’s first digital rangefinder which only shoots in black and white.

The Leica M-Monochrom is a full-frame 18 megapixel rangefinder which has no color filter array (CFA) in front of the sensor, meaning the camera is essentially colorblind. However, this also means that because the camera doesn't have to split the light into colors and then combine information from adjacent pixels, it produces better quality images. Leica claims the M-Monochrom is capable of producing "true black and white images" that are significantly sharper than those produced with a comparable color sensor and that it has the ability to capture more light.

Leica set out to create the (presumably somewhat niche … even for Leica) monochrome camera after noticing that black and white photography was becoming more popular and reflecting on the legacy of iconic black and white photographs which have been shot on the Leica M-System. It's not the first monochrome digital camera (we still remember the Kodak DCS 760m and there's always the Phase One Achromatic+) but it's being billed as the world’s first digital rangefinder with a full-frame black and white sensor.

The Leica M-Monochrom has a die-cast magnesium alloy body with brass top and bottom plates and a synthetic leather trim
The Leica M-Monochrom has a die-cast magnesium alloy body with brass top and bottom plates and a synthetic leather trim

"Black and white photography has become more popular than ever before, with photographers continuing to be fascinated by it as an expressive medium," said Jesko von Oeynhausen, product manager, M-System, Leica Camera AG. "With the Leica M Monochrom, we are offering photographers the opportunity to explore black and white photography with a product that is unique in the digital world, producing consistent and authentic results."

Only shooting black and white with its 23.9 x 35.8mm full frame 18-megapixel CCD sensor means the camera boasts extremely low, fine-grain image noise and ISO ranges from 320 to 10000 (rather than the M9's 2,500 limit). Leica has opted to omit a low-pass filter for added sharpness and while it's only capable of 2 fps, there are various toning effects for outputted JPEGs (sepia, cold or selenium). 14-bit uncompressed RAW mode yields 36MB DNGs and users benefit from a raw data histogram for the precise control of tonal values.

Physically the 5.5 x 1.5 x 3.1 inch (139 × 37 × 80 mm) and 600g camera will instantly look familiar to anyone who has ever lusted after a Leica. It has a die-cast magnesium alloy body with brass top and bottom plates and a synthetic leather trim. It obviously takes Leica M mount lenses and on the rear there's a sapphire glass covered 2.5" TFT-LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels.

The Leica M Monochrom is said to offer photographers "the opportunity to explore black and white photography with a product that is unique in the digital world"
The Leica M Monochrom is said to offer photographers "the opportunity to explore black and white photography with a product that is unique in the digital world"

Available in July at a body-only price of $US8000, the Leica M Monochrom includes digital workflow software, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and black and white image processing software, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

Buyers also get exclusive access to the "Leica Monochrom Print Service" which sees images from their Leica M Monochrom produced on premium quality baryte photographic papers resulting in prints said to be "hardly distinguishable from their analogue counterparts printed from negatives."

Source: Leica Camera AG

View gallery - 14 images
2 comments
2 comments
Bill Bennett
$8000.00 USD? Sticking with my Olympus Stylus 7040 only 14 megapixel COLOR camera that I bought because of a Gizmag review
docrob
At $8000.00 USD I'd describe this camera's market as a niche, within a niche, within a nichelet. What's next by the way of clever inventions? A top loading ice-box like my granny had because ice-cooled food tastes better than refrigerated food? Sending mum down to the river to beat the family washing on rocks? If I want authentic black and white picture I'll stick with my mum's box Brownie.