With no colour filter array, the 18-million-pixel sensor in Leica’s new M Monochrom rangefinder captures highly detailed black & white images. Richard Sibley considers the advantages of using the Monochrom and finds out if it really is like shooting on film. Read the Leica M Monochrom review...
There are two ways of looking at Leica’s M Monochrom camera. The first is that it is a £6,000 camera that only shoots black & white images. The second is that it is a highly specialist camera that is the only one of its type in production.
Much of the talk on internet forums is of how Leica can charge more for a camera that doesn’t shoot in colour. The fact is that it is a specialist product. To produce it means stopping production of other, more popular product lines for something that is by its nature going to be less in demand. That is what the cost of the camera reflects.
Although the Monochrom is a niche product, Leica has said there has already been a lot of initial interest. It is worth remembering that in return for taking away the colour shooting facility, the Monochrom gives sharper, more detailed images, and one of the closest experiences to shooting black & white film I have come across.
If I was fortunate enough to own one I would put it to a lot of use, particularly for landscape, documentary and portraiture, and even for performance photography, where the slight grain effect produced at high sensitivities would look great.
Disappointingly, you cannot escape the price, and for most photographers the Monochrom will be a camera to be admired rather than owned. While I was originally a little sceptical about the Leica M Monochrom, I am certainly a convert to the idea of shooting with a purely monochromatic sensor. It remains to be seen whether another manufacturer will introduce a DSLR with its own monchromatic sensor.