Leica debuts the Q2 Monochrom, a super high-res B&W street shooter
Clearly there are some photographers out there who love black and white images and have cash to burn. Following the launch of the M10 Monochrom in January, Leica has stripped its full-frame Q2 camera of all its color for the $6,000 Q2 Monochrom.
Yes, you read that right, the Q2 Monochrom sports a rather boutique price tag of US$5,995, which is a thousand bucks pricier than the color-capable camera with which it shares its name and much of the same feature set.
It has the same pixel count, for example, though the full-frame CMOS sensor in the Monochrom model isn't covered over with the usual color bayer array. The resulting naked luminance sensor receives light unfiltered, and delivers super-sharp 47-megapixel images with a 13-stop dynamic range and an uncanny ability to resist noise when you crank up the sensitivity for low-light shooting. Thus, compared to the regular Q2, light sensitivity rises from ISO50,000 to ISO100,000.
Like the Q2, the camera is capable of 10 frames per second continuous shooting, and it shares the same fixed Leica Summilux 28 mm f/1.7 ASPH prime lens. The camera offers electronic "zoom" modes by cropping to emulate 35, 50 and 75mm focus lengths, with drops in resolution to 30, 14.7 and 6.6 megapixels respectively in the JPG output files. If you're shooting in RAW, these crops are non-destructive, and you can re-crop all the way out to the original image size in your RAW editing software.
Naturally, it runs a fast, quality autofocus system, but Leica has put extra effort into the manual focus system as well, expecting that the kinds of creatives that'll be drawn to a camera like this will appreciate the ability to shoot old-school. Well, old-school with a twist; the 3.68-MP OLED electronic viewfinder pops up a zoomed-in window as you work the focus ring, with focus peaking highlights to help you nail the shot.
Should you want to make ultra-high-definition Keystone Cops remakes, the Q2 Monochrom can record 4K (3,840 x 2,160) video at 30 or 24 fps, or Full HD at up to 120 fps.
Elsewhere, there's a 3-inch, 1.04-million-dot touchscreen around back, built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE for remote control and wireless data transfer and sharing, and the magnesium alloy body is sealed against dust and water splashes to IP52 standards.
The Q2 Monochrom is available now in black only for $5,995. Like the M10 Monochrom, the body is a total stealth machine without the iconic Leica red dot – but it still comes with the "Made in Germany" quality guarantee.
Clearly this is not one camera to rule them all, due to its single-minded, almost obsessive rejection of color. But there's a theory out there that total freedom is the enemy of creativity, and limitations are its savior. Plenty of incredible photography has been done in black & white over the 194-year history of photography, and a machine like the Q2 Monochrom forces shooters to look at the world differently. And if the company's expanding its B&W range, it's clearly catching on.
Product page: Leica Q2 Monochrom