Leica’s M Monochrom (Typ 246) features a full-frame black & white-only sensor. See if it justifies its huge price tag in our Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) review. By Callum McInerney-Riley
Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Review – Our Verdict
Mention the Leica M Monochrom and the question most people ask is, ‘Why would you want to limit yourself to shooting black & white only?’ Well, aside from the personal preference argument, the big advantage comes from doing away with the colour filters.
This means no colour noise or artefacts which would be present in images shot in colour and converted to black & white. Also, the removal of the colour filters make the sensor more sensitive to light and help the sensor achieve a better dynamic range.
With black & white photography it’s certainly an advantage to have this brilliant dynamic range and tonal depth. Noise starts to become visable in shots at the sensitivity ISO 1600 but as it’s soley luminance noise, it gives the image a ‘filmic’ quality and rather than become burdensome it often adds character to the images. I would happily use images right up to 6400 without being fazed about the level of luminance noise.
The image quality on previous Leica M cameras has never been of class-leading quality, but the new CMOS sensor has brought Leica forward a lot. It’s on a par with the best full-frame sensors available deliverying a fantastic dynamic range and it can resolve a very impressive amount of detail. Coupling this sensor with the strong lens line-up and the small, discrete body of the Leica M Monochrom makes this a serious piece of kit, but you’ll certainly pay a premium for it.
Although the M Monochrom is ludicrously expensive, it has some real character to it and that’s what you buy into. When you buy a Leica, you buy into an ethos about photography. The button layout and the build of the camera have a traditionalist quality. There’s nothing else quite like it and you either subscribe to it or you don’t.