The Leica M Monochrom, as its name suggests, records still images in only Black and White. It is believed to be the last model in the M9 series because the rumoured long-awaited M10 may be released later this year.

The M Monochrom is not a brand new design, it obviously follows the form and many of the features of M9, the pros and cons. Its exterior, only in black chrome, with a body form basically the same with M9-P (no red Leica logo at the front and model name), featuring the disappointing 230,000 dots (I think it is deliberately done but some found the resolution seems better!) sapphire glass rear LCD display. From its unique name M Monochrom (found only on the hot shoe), Leica does not associate it with other M9 members lineup such as the original M9 and M9-P. The M Mononchrom is a departure of the M9 with a unique black and white sensor in its heart and the removal of the Bayer-filter-layer. As Erwin Puts states, this is an evolved rangefinder without losing its DNA.  His reviews of the M Monochrom is written from the perspective of a true Leica professional.

Other special features including a 18 megapixel sensor, auto ISO and the highest ISO 10000. Due to the Black and white sensor, the M Monochrom offers a ISO160 pull, that means ISO360 is the optimal setting, great for indoors. For bright outdoors, you may need a ND filter.

Those who love Leica will love the M Monochrom, those dislike its name will continue to dislike this new model.

Who are the users of the Leica M Monochrom?  The answer is simple:  if you can afford it and if you only shoot in Black and White. If you own a M9 or M9-P, would you consider M Monochrom as a upgrade? I would say no. It is not easy to own a second body of Leica M.

Setting at a price higher than the M9-P, Leica obviously has in mind a special group of photographers.  Or the worst scenario is that most of these fine M cameras will be in the hands of curators or connoisseurs.

This is partly true you cannot justify the pricing of M Monochrom, same as the pricing of the other Leica products. Leica’s products are always in great demand and uncompromising. But many users have cited the cameras made from the partnership between Leica and Panasonic.  For example, the new Leica V-Lux40 resembles the Panasonic DMX-TZ30/ZS20, but the price difference is a double. This is not the first time Leica has re-branded the Panasonic cameras. Think of the car models shared by the same wheel base made byFord and Mazda, Nissan and Renault.  Leica has done this for the consumer level products.  The M and S series has no compromise.

The Leica M Monochrom is a milestone in digital photography.  I disagree with some people who vented their dissatisfaction without knowing the engineering behind this camera because what they most concern is the price.  It is not reminiscent of the film camera and the age of using Kodak Tri-X.  This Black and White sensor is a replacement of film, providing an answer to those who claim Black and White has nothing to do with digital. The approach to innovation is a state of mind we should all appreciate.  If a manufacturer can produce this new sensor, a better colour sensor is not far from now.

Featured image: The broken fence.  Summicron-M 50 mm f/2.0, ISO160, f3.4, 1/1500 sec

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