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Leica Announces New M Monochrom (Typ 246)

By Anthony Thurston on April 30th 2015

The rumors had said to expect this, and they were right. Today, Leica announced their new M Monochrom and just as you would expect from the name – it only shoots black and white.


The new M Monochrom features a 24MP Black & White CMOS sensor, with a maximum ISO of 25,000, and a 3″ LCD. The camera is capable of recording full 1080 HD video though it is limited to black and white (Who shoots video on Leicas anyway?).

Leica M Monochrom Features

  • Leica MP body with 2GB buffer, sapphire glass
  • 3″ LCD screen
  • Only available in black
  • Body made of high-strength magnesium alloy and solid brass top and base plates finished in black chrome
  • New 24MP sensor
  • Live-view and focus peaking
  • Shoot video in b&w (full HD)
  • 25,000 ISO
  • 3 new color filters introduced

According to the release, the new Leica M Monochrom will be available in the US starting on May 7th, for a very Leica asking price of $7,450. If you are interested in learning more, you can find all the details over on Leica’s website.

Stay tuned and we will get you some pre-order links once they are available.

[via Leica Rumors]


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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  2. Paddy McDougall

    Thanks the comments regarding the tech advantages of the bw only sensor in reply to my rather flippant comment and I agree my hipster comment was unjust. I still think that personal prestige is a big factor for someone spending $7.5k on this camera and not just specs. Suppose it’s like buying a Porsche 911, each to their own…

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    • Lauchlan Toal

      Definitely, you don’t buy this camera for the specs. Leica’s are more about the form factor, the aesthetic, the streamlined manual controls, and the fun of using a rangefinder to focus. If I had the free change, I would love to pick up a Leica for joy of manual focusing – they’re cameras that make photography fun, for when you don’t need the features of a DSLR.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      I made more money with my M9-P at concert photography last year than I did with any of my Nikons.

      In an industry that has become saturated with people that spray and pray with a DSLR my images stand out more. I use older lenses specifically for the non-perfection. I wait for the prefect moment to shoot so my images are usually more compelling.

      I picked up the Leica at a time when I was so sick of shooting concerts because it was boring. The perfect lenses, the on-point AF, The moving AF points that allow you to compose and shoot. I felt like I was a button pusher. I was sick of all of my images looking similar to everyone else’s because we were all shooting essentially the same camera from the same point of view.

      The Leica allowed me to stop and breath. I feel more like a sniper than a machine gunner. Prestige didn’t enter into the equation. I tried using the Fuji XPro-1 a couple of times because I didn’t want to spend $10K on a camera system, but the Fuji isn’t a Leica. Only the Leica satiated my need to inject “zen” back into my photography.

      It may sound corny to some about it being zen (or whatever the German equivalent is), but that was my path. It may seem extravagant to some people, but I’m not rich, I quit drinking alcohol and eating out at restaurants for two years to buy the camera. I didn’t even own a car at the time. I went everywhere on my motorcycle.

      Shooting a Leica just FEELS GOOD to me. It made photography fun again, even though it was way more difficult. Yeah, I still have to use a DSLR for lots of stuff, but anytime I can, I use my Leica.

      And no matter what anyone says, The M9-P isn’t nearly as bad in low-light as people say. Check the March 12th issue of Rolling Stone’s Kid Rock article to see what an M9-P can do at a concert.

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  3. Rob Harris

    What purpose does a B&W only digital camera serve? If your camera can shoot in monochrome, and you shoot in RAW, you can have your images in B&W while also having the capability to see them in color if you want. Does anyone know if a B&W only camera has some additional processing or special algorithm which makes them different from a camera which can shoot in both? Not trying to be sarcastic (this time), just trying to see if there is a technological distinction.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      A B&W sensor has LESS processing than a typical camera because it doesn’t require any Bayer filter interpolation. This allows you to shoot JPG at a much faster rate (especially with the enhanced 2GB buffer from the M-P). The files are smaller as well because you have no color information stored, which speeds up the storage of RAW files as well by clearing out the buffer faster.

      It records only luminance value therefore it has no chrominance noise and no chroma noise reduction in the processing which gives sharper images at high ISO’s. You can download an ISO 12500 image from the Leica site and see how good it looks.

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    • Dave Haynie

      Shooting in raw will be identical from the camera’s point of view.. the notion of color in a raw file is just interpretation — your raw decoder knows that a given pixel had some kind of filter or didn’t, but that’s not information stored in the raw image itself.

      The big advantage would be noise. That Bayer filter we all use is cutting about about 66% of the light that would be going to any given pixel in your sensor array. No filter means all of the lights gets in. Also, none of the Bayer effects, like color noise, purple fringing, moire, etc.

      Shooting in JPEG, there’s no de-Bayering, no color decimation, etc… could technically be a bit faster, if processing would have been the bottleneck in that particular camera (guess it could be compared to the color M). Certainly won’t be slower.

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    • Rob Harris

      Thanks for the insights. Very helpful and interesting esp. about the noise reduction.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      “Shooting in JPEG, there’s no de-Bayering, no color decimation, etc… could technically be a bit faster, if processing would have been the bottleneck in that particular camera (guess it could be compared to the color M).”

      From people I know that have already worked with it, they say it’s definitely faster, especially shooting in JPG and even when shooting RAW, because the color M still has to demosaic the image into a JPG for the preview (even when set to Monochrome). They have said that it’s not as much faster than the M-P because the M-P also has the expanded 2GB buffer that the M240 doesn’t have.

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    • Ralph Hightower

      There are other technical reasons for a B&W digital rangefinder as mentioned above. But if one has a color viewscreen, then one is still addicted to color.

      For the year 2012, I photographed the year exclusively using B&W film. I couldn’t review my photos in camera. It was about March when I started to visualize in B&W instead of in color. We are all aware of color, but removing color from the scene requires a different mindset.

      Sure, a crappy color photo can be made into a mediocre photo.

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    • Ralph Hightower

      When I saw the “Cliff Notes” of the new Leica, I saw “3 new color filters introduced”. I thought why use color filters on a B&W camera unless they are B&W contrast filter: yellow, orange, red, and greens. On Leica’s page, they mention yellow, orange, and green. When I shot 2012 in B&W, green was my less used filter; yellow, orange, and red were my more frequently used filters.

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  4. Paddy McDougall

    Not sure I see the point of BW only camera and I love bw images. Sure it will sell to well off hipsters who will love proclaiming to world ‘I only shoot Leica and BW’

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      The typical “hipster” response. I should have expected as much. Once again I have to say I have never seen a hipster with a Leica let alone a Leica Monochrom. And “well off hipster” is a bit of an oxymoron. It’s more likely that middle aged men will buy this, not millennial hipsters.

      And if you don’t understand why a black ad white only camera, then it’s not for you. Also keep in mind Kodak had a black and white only camera over a decade ago. Nobody complained it was a “hipster” camera.

      Seriously, the hipster comments are stupid.

      And, yes. It’s expensive. Did anyone expect any less from a camera that isn’t rolled of an assembly line? Leica cameras are always expensive. Get over it. If you want a cheap rangefinder lookalike there’s always Fuji.

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    • adam sanford

      I always think of Leica as a doppleganger of Apple — if Apple only sold products for the wealthiest people in the world.

      That said, their gear is well-marketed, well built, and does what it says it does. The fact that they are still in business says that they must be consistently delivering something special to command such high prices year after year.

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    • Dave Haynie

      I can see the main point is that you’ll get sharper images and less noise. Kicking out that Bayer filter means you’re getting about 66% more light per pixel… not too shabby. And of course, no interpolation. And while I kind of expected it to be a REALLY Leica move to charge you extra for basically just not including that color filter, and I suppose the color filters on the rear screen, it does actually seem to cost a bit less than the latest color M. Kind of funny that it still does JPEG, seems to me.

      That said, I guess, what I’d miss is the control you get with monochrome results when you shoot in color. Using post processing tools like DxO Filmpack, it’s easy to not just get good monochrome results from color, but your choice of good emulations of classic emulsions (ok, sure, some of the cheap plug-ins that claim to do this don’t do so well, but I’ve been impressed with DxO’s stuff). Even better, I have the ability to mess around with color filters in Photoshop before conversion to monochrome, just as if I had them on the camera.

      The Leica is going to have its own particular spin on monochrome as defined by the camera, with some controls but nothing requiring knowledge of color. And you’ll need the real filters.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      This is a camera for Sebastião Salgado.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Great discussions! Buying a Leica camera is like buying a Dynaudio speakers. High quality comes with a price.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      @Dave Haynie:

      It’s just like shooting B&W film. It’s a thinking camera, not a post processing camera. You have to know what you want before pressing that button.

      I for one would welcome the idea of not having color information because I’m always flip-flopping on color/B&W when I have the option.

      It’s not a camera for everyone, that’s for sure. Personally, I’d like to have an M60 Monochrom no-LCD version. Most people would hate the idea of not being able to see your images AND only having a B&W option, but that would be my idea of a perfect camera. Because to be honest it’s just like shooting film, but I hate processing film and I don’t trust anyone else to do it.

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    • Dave Haynie

      @J. DENNIS THOMAS Thanks for the first-hand info.. this is not one I expect to own, ever. I used own film Leica and Canon rangefinders, and they did get me approaching shooting in a little bit different way. Though at the time, my DSLRs were Olympus, not the monsters we have today, and you pretty always had to think your shots when winding film on a 36 exposure roll, of course.

      I rarely look at a shot on the camera. That goes back to film and back to audio recording… I trust my ability to make the best of a situation, to spend my time in the field capturing the best sound or images possible, not worrying about the shots I already have, and thus, not missing the next one. But like audio, I don’t have a problem spending time editing/mixing, where appropriate.

      Can’t you just turn the LCD off? Once nice thing about the back screen on my small camera, my new OM-D E-M5II, is that I can swivel it around against the camera and not be bothered by it, unless I need it for settings (which happens, though there’s a button for most things) or weird angle shots.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      @ DAVE HAYNIE:

      Of course you can turn off the LCD review. It’s always off on my cameras, but that option is always there and it can be a distraction when you know you have it. And I like to get it as close as I can i in-camera so I can do minor tweaks only when I need to.

      When I record I do the same. I don’t do anything on the editing end, but I know exactly what guitar tone I want and which combo of guitar/amp/pedals are needed to get the sound and there are a couple of different mics at the studio that I only use. The engineer I work with knows how I am and works with me like this. I’m always at the final mixdown and mastering so I know it’s right. I’m more lenient when I’m recording myself for the most part since it’s typically for demo purposes.

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  5. Thomas Horton

    If the price was right… and this ain’t. I think I would like to play around with a monochrome high MP camera.

    Probably would like to rent it vs buy it though.

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