The new Leica Monochrom (Typ 246) has been announced and will be available in stores on May 7, 2015 for $7450 USD. By the look of things it’s just a black chrome version of the Leica M-P with a black and white only sensor. Is this Leica’s next classic rangefinder that every street shooter will want to own? Hit the jump for more details.
New Leica Monochrom (Typ 246)
There’s no denying this is a sexy camera – especially when paired with the special edition Summicron 35mm black chrome finish lens (pictured above). Like the original Monochrom the new Leica Monochrom seems to be designed for stealth without any logos or painted script. Even the buttons on the back of the camera are black but there’s still that weird looking silver button on the front. When everything else on the camera is blacked out it would make sense to tone that down as well…
Leica has basically removed the RGGB Bayer pattern filter from the CMOS sensor used in the M 240 / M-P bodies to create the next generation of Monochrom. Of course, this means the new Leica Monochrom can’t produce color images, only black and white. But now each photosite on the sensor can be used to create a pixel in the image without any interpolation. The black and white images produced by the Monochrom (Typ 246) have more detail and dynamic range than images shot with a color sensor and converted to black and white in Lightroom.
The new Monochrom sensor lives up to the hype and the images have an almost three dimensional quality:
Apart from the cosmetic differences and the “Monochromified” sensor, the specs on the new Leica Monochrom seem to match the existing M-P right down to the gigantic screw covering the rangefinder calibration hole. Same increased buffer size, same frame selector switch and same sapphire glass covering the rear LCD.
They Made What Kind Of Who Now?
Old timey film photographers used color filters to modifiy the way black and white film saw the world. A yellow filter would darken the sky slightly and produce more pleasing skin tones. Orange would darken the skies even more and green would emphasize foliage in landscapes. A red filter was often used to to create dark and dramatic skies and was a favorite of many film photographers.
Well, apparently the new Leica Monochrom responds to light “slightly differently” than traditional black and white film. So Leica has created a series of “specially tuned” filters that are “just the right” yellow, orange and green and skipped the red filter entirely.
Gotta be honest here – sounds like a bunch of hype. You can grab a top quality B+W Medium Yellow #8 for under 40 bucks. Just do that.
Pre-Order The New Leica Monochrom
The new Leica Monochrom (Typ 246) will be available in stores May 7, 2015 for $7450 USD. You can pre-order one at the Leica Store Miami website:
However you look at it, the new Leica Monochrom is a top of the line experience and a worth successor to the original Monochrom. If black and white is your thing there’s no better choice if you want to shoot digital. But this doesn’t come cheap. At $7450 USD you could buy 1,568 rolls (56,448 frames) of Ilford HP5+ but you’d be hard pressed to get this kind of resolving power and low light versatility from 35mm film.
I’m not sure any digital camera will ever reproduce the look of black and white film – at least I haven’t seen one that does so far. But the images from the new Leica Monochrom have their own unique quality with clarity and crispness that almost lets your eye travel right into the frame. It’s going to be interesting to see what good photographers are able to do with a tool like this.
What’s your take on the new Leica Monochrom? The perfect black and white camera for the digital age? Or another questionable release from Leica? Post your ideas in the comments below and keep the conversation going!