Mad or genius… Anyway, Leica is not a company like other camera manufacturers. You did not missread : the Leica M-Monochrom is a rangefinder camera fully dedicated to black and white photography. This digital Full Frame range finder camera, the Leica M Monochrom, is based on the M9-P, the revised version of the Leica M9.
Leica M9 Monochrom : B&W photography only
Leica’s engineers have modified the 24×36 sensor (18MP) of the M9 : they took the optical low pass filter away as the camera did not need it anymore due to the fact that it does not have to see colors. The BAyer matrix system does not apply to the M9 Monochrom that only needs luminance datas for each pixel. So, no OLPF blur, no moiré neither, expect high details and best-in-class local contrast with the M Monochrom. Either you will shoot in RAW format (DNG on Leica cameras, partner of Adobe) or you go for a JPEG image on which you can also add effects : sepia, cold, selenium… Today, on the market, we have the Nikon D800E which is a D800 DSLR without low pass filter but that leads to some moiré and chromatic aberrations, and the Fujifilm X-Pro1, which has no OLPF but has adopted a 36 pixels matrix to prevent moiré. The Leica M Monochrom in black and white is a world premiere.
On the M9 Monochrom, you can use the histogram to display clipping in a way that you can tune as you want and control the exposure very precisely. That is paramount in B&W photography.
Leica’s finishing touch
The Leica M-Monochrom is a M9 camera and offers the same premium built quality with a frame made of magnesium alloy, the upper and lower decks being moulded in brass. The camera is coated with a leather imitation fabric and the camera is made in germany, as a symbol f premium quality. As you have guessed, the M9 Monochrom is everything but a cheap camera. But still, Leica used the poor screen of the M9 : the 2.5″ / 230,000 dots LCD… no comment. The only good news regarding the screen is that it is protected by a sphire glass (scratch proof) like on the M9-P.
Soft shutter release
Leica cameras (analog) where known for being s-discrete. But the M8 and M9 changed that fact. Leica adds a quiet/smooth mode on the M Monochrom that will detect low shutter speed. Then, if you push gently on the release button, it will switch to smooth mode, preventing vibrations blur and allowing a more discret photo shoot.
Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro included
Leica is a partner of Adobe and promote the DNG (digital negative) format which they use on their cameras for RAW files. Along with the M Monochrome, photographers will get a free copy of Lightroom 4. And as this camera is a black and white photography camera, they also offer Silver Efex Pro 2, Nik Software plug-in for B&W photo editing, a wonderful B&W playground using U-points selective tools technology and offering some analog film effects.
Leica M Monochrom : price
The Leica M Monochrom will be available in July 2012. In Europe, it will be sold $8,000 or £6,120 and €6,800 incl. VAT… Leica…. It will be available with the new APO 50mm f/2.0 summicron lens.
Leica M9 monochrom : main technical specs
- Rangefinder camera
- Black and White only
- Leica-M mount with 6 pins for 6-bit encoding
- 18MP Full Frame sensor with no optical low-pass filter
- ISO 320 to 10,000 (ISO 160 available in push function)
- Shutter : 1/4000s to 32s
- Synchro X 1/180s
- TTL exposure metering
- Manual focus
- 0.68x magnification optical viewfinder with frames for 28, 35, 50, 75, 90 and 135mm
- Parallaxe correction in the viewfinder
- 2.5″ TFT screen of 230,000 dots
- 1900 mAh Lithium-ion battery
Today’s other Leica cameras announcements :