Leica has launched a range of new cameras. The most interesting of the bunch is the six grand Leica M-Monochrom, a black and white version of the M9.
Several factors instantly remove the Leica M-Monochrom from mainstream appeal. It is extremely expensive, bears the quirks of the M9 (such as the low-tech LCD display) and only shoots in black and white. But, in theory at least, the images it produces should be very special indeed.
The M-Monocrhom uses a full-frame sensor, and it isn’t subjected to the colour filters of the top-end M9. These filters laid over the sensor allow the original M9 to produce colour images, through interpolation of red, green and blue filter elements. Without the processing this requires, and the diminishing of light the filters cause, the M-Monochrom should be able to capture more, and more accurate, detail.
Stepping back to the specs, the Leica M-Monochrom has an 18-megapixel sensor, maximum ISO of 10,000, and its back features a 2.5in 230k dot LCD display. And, of course, it sports the charmingly retro Leica look. Its body is made from a magnesium alloy topped with real leather, and its bottom plates are brass. It’s operated primarily using chunky dials on the lens and camera body, rather than through the menu system. Such a mechanical approach can be deeply satisfying, but you do miss out on a few things common to almost all other cameras – such as video recording.
For your £6k or $8k in the US, you also get full versions of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2. They’re worth a couple of hundred pounds on their own, softening the blow about as much as particularly chunky bee getting in the way of a speeding bullet.