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Just Posted: Leica M-Monochrom hands-on preview with image samples

By dpreview staff on May 10, 2012 at 19:04 GMT
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We've prepared a hands-on preview of the Leica M-Monochrom 18MP black-and-white rangefinder. The M-Monochrom has no color filter array in front of the sensor, meaning it captures more of the available light but cannot perceive color. It also means there is no need for demosaicing (the process of combining color information from adjacent pixels), so higher levels of detail are retained. Our preview includes real-world samples we shot with the M-Monochrom, to show just what that means in-use.

Click for a 100% crop from the M-Monochrom
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Leica M-Monochrom

Comments

Total comments: 484
1234
schorscho
By schorscho (May 10, 2012)

I love the idea and I really appreciate the bravery of Leica but I won't buy it.

2 upvotes
Febs
By Febs (May 10, 2012)

Why are most of you guys so hostile in your comments? This is a tool for photography that nobody else dared to make.

1 upvote
Priaptor
By Priaptor (May 10, 2012)

WHY???

Because people hate those with money. Class warfare. It is everywhere. Just turn on the tube, you will the President espousing for all with lesser means to hate and vilify those with more.

The Human Element. People can't enjoy what they have without putting down someone else or something else. How can the dolt with a D800 enjoy his camera unless of course, he bashes the EOS 5D Mark III or vice versa.

7 upvotes
brujo74
By brujo74 (May 10, 2012)

...and fewer will dare to buy...

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (May 10, 2012)

@Priaptor So when the President talks about fairness it's "class warfare"? And when the right calls him a Socialist because he knows that the disparity between the rich and the poor is a huge wedge issue for Americans, and they again try to lay the blame at him when in reality they are the ones who are most comfortable with this huge income divide.

Remember the financial crisis was started because Wall St was betting on the poor not being able to pay their mortgages. And that happened on the watch of the party that loves to through around the word "class warfare". It's just another buzz word used for political gain and to try to maintain the status quo.

Have you ever thought that people dislike this camera because unlike a normal M9, it is extremely limited and extremely expensive for what it is. Sure the images are lovely, but you can get the same goodness in LR. By the way, I have a D800 and couldn't possibly care less what you shoot with.

1 upvote
sgoldswo
By sgoldswo (May 10, 2012)

Without wanting to talk politics I agree that part of the reason people hate Leica is that the cameras are expensive. I'm not an american but I do think Obama (like every other politician in the world) plays a risky game blaming the rich for the financial crisis. IMHO that has more to do with failures of government and "light touch" regulation than it has to do with the banks but I know many would disagree with me. It's a bit like blaming a weed for the fact no one mowed the lawn.

I do think the price is crazy, but only because it costs more than an M9-P. The exceptional resolution and DR is amazing, it just isn't worth the extra $$££€€. The concept however is brilliant.

2 upvotes
Priaptor
By Priaptor (May 10, 2012)

sgoldwo,

You are 100% correct. It is nice to hear from an intelligent person instead of the class warfare envious types. Of course it is the Government's fault, worldwide for the crisis we are witnessing.

The real dolts (particularly on this board) are those who are so easily swayed by our politicians, both left and right, to believe their nonsense. After all, lets promise to take from the rich and give to the poor, will always get you votes, of course, until their is total chaos, which we are beginning to witness happening.

1 upvote
CFynn
By CFynn (May 11, 2012)

Class warfare? Funny thing is Leica has recently produced a couple of special limited editions for the Chinese market commemorating Mao's long march and the Chinese Communist Revolution.

Comment edited 58 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Scott Eaton
By Scott Eaton (May 10, 2012)

I'm sure we'll get the typical goose stepping approval by the Leica crowd, but I have to agree with most of the comments in that the images are under-whelming. Anybody owning the latest Nikon / Canon and knowing how to use something like SilverEFX will simply mop the floor with this thing - per pixel sharpness aside. However, one thing that might be worth experimenting with is Tri-Color exposures with still lifes. Net results should surpass an SD-1 with ease.

8 upvotes
TomCreek
By TomCreek (May 10, 2012)

dpr should outsource sample images to pros.

0 upvotes
Gothmoth
By Gothmoth (May 10, 2012)

tomcreek it´s not the motivs.... it´s the flatness and tonal contrast that make the images blah....

even a jay maisel would not change that without photoshop.

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
1 upvote
james laubscher
By james laubscher (May 11, 2012)

This should be called a Polaroid, based on how it has polarized the views of the readers!

I can see fine grain/noise in the clouds of the full size crop, otherwise, the image has the finetoned gradation of greys that one expects from $7k+ camera.

Nice to see that luxury products for the seriously well heeled crowd are still being made. There is no doubt that if you have the money, you should waste it.

1 upvote
ThePhilips
By ThePhilips (May 10, 2012)

LOL

My first recollection about photography is my father complaining that: he has to shoot in B&W because color film and its processing costs too much and the only place which can develop the film is on the other side of the city.

I think somebody had to release B&W digital camera, if only to remind people why everybody went to color and haven't looked back much.

B&W and vignetting this days are art filters - not compromises one has to live with.

1 upvote
DMillier
By DMillier (May 10, 2012)

Speak for yourself. B&W isn't a technological compromise, it is an art form in its own right. In the right hands of course.

2 upvotes
pdelux
By pdelux (May 10, 2012)

The compromise is no colour where "modern" cameras have both.

3 upvotes
starwolfy
By starwolfy (May 11, 2012)

Now you can open an art Book, have a look at the current best photographers in activity today...and start wondering why you see so much Black and White photographs.

0 upvotes
Jeff Seltzer
By Jeff Seltzer (May 10, 2012)

A case of "a solution looking for a problem" or "the answer to a question no one asked."

Nice job.

7 upvotes
DMillier
By DMillier (May 10, 2012)

Thom Hogan (Nikon guru) has been preaching that camera manufacturers need to stop copying one another and look also at niche markets. He says that the market has been crying out for a dedicated B&W camera and that need has gone unfulfilled since the demise of the Kodak 760m. I don't think a high priced Leica is the ideal solution as it will beyond most people's pockets but perhaps now that Leica has broken the ground, mainstream makers will follow?

3 upvotes
Vince876
By Vince876 (May 10, 2012)

Well. Now Panasonic or Olympus can make a copy of a m4/3 camera without the color array. It should not be expensive and puts a good idea at an earthly level.

Even further, without the IR-UV cut filter.

Not the hi-end cameras, something like the GF2. They could be not expensive and maybe cheap. With very good lenses ten times better than the Leica ones in terms of rendition/cost.

7 upvotes
The Silver Fox
By The Silver Fox (May 10, 2012)

Hear, hear. My thoughts exactly.

0 upvotes
PeterPrism
By PeterPrism (May 10, 2012)

Excuse me, i can't see nothing of PURE black in this Gray and white pic. There's a problem with exposure meter or it's the sensor fault?

3 upvotes
raoul821
By raoul821 (May 10, 2012)

maybe I'm wrong, look too fast, but exposition seems really tricky.
I guess CCD just don't have enough DR (it's quite impossible to clip a Tmax for example)

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 10, 2012)

Exposure is difficult. Leica's product manager points out that you have to treat it like slide film - anything you clip is gone for good.

0 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (May 10, 2012)

Oh my.

0 upvotes
Damo83
By Damo83 (May 10, 2012)

Impressive but not $8k impressive.

10 upvotes
citizenlouie
By citizenlouie (May 10, 2012)

They Stole My Idea ! ! !

ARGH!

Though my original plan is to implement a B&W only camera, but I would allow people to extract the color version if they shot RAW.

Now I hope Kodak doesn't steal my idea of making film-specific camera.... Wait, Kodak doesn't make digital camera anymore.

0 upvotes
slncezgsi
By slncezgsi (May 10, 2012)

I am not going to discuss the sense or price of this camera. I would only say that the detail in the 100% is just amazing - only something I have seen from hight end (and low resolution) scans or HEAVILY scaled down digital captures. Maybe one does not really need it, but it is impressive.

No more, no less.

1 upvote
ljmac
By ljmac (May 10, 2012)

The ultimate poser's camera: it combines the wankiness of monochrome with a red dot! As it is a (what used to be) Kodak sensor, you can be certain the ISO performance is way behind current standards (in spite of the theoretical advantages of no colour filter array), just as you'd expect from Leica. And oddly, that seems to be just what their users want to spend thousands of dollars on!

5 upvotes
Viramati
By Viramati (May 10, 2012)

there is no red dot!!

2 upvotes
Damo83
By Damo83 (May 10, 2012)

Lack of red dot = minimalism.

2 upvotes
villagranvicent
By villagranvicent (May 11, 2012)

They remove the red dot, that´s why they charge $1000dlls more... The money goes to the German engineer who is taking-off one by one the red dots of the M9 bodies...

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Lea5
By Lea5 (May 10, 2012)

I think I can sell my old Rolleiflex TLR and the film in the fridge too. Finally!
This is a dream for a photographers who shoots mainly black and white.
I need to order one.

Well done Leica! Many thanks!!

0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (May 11, 2012)

It will be better at high iso - but I really don't see anything in the sample pictures taken in good light that is superior to photos taken with a Rollei TLR or Hasselblad 500 CM with a good lens and some B&W film.

The digital Leica pics look rather flat.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Jim Evidon
By Jim Evidon (May 10, 2012)

What a great camera innovation. I guess I'll dust off my M4P and just tell folks it is the latest in Leica technology.

7 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (May 10, 2012)

Hand made exclusive cameras

I think I'm gonna paint red dots on all of my cameras and everybody should be happy ever after, no envy anymore, and no "class warfare" that I hear now is the reason for some of us thinking that M9 is not that impressive piece of tehcnology. Except that the calf- or snakeskin is still missing if I'm not going to glue that too.

Better than the original, my hand made all exclusive cameras.

0 upvotes
seta666
By seta666 (May 10, 2012)

This is a street photographer's dream. A true rangefinder ( not like the Fuji's) for B/W photography with no filter whatsoever destroying information.

No filters means more light reaching the sensor, the ISOI performance must be very good.

I wish I just could afford one!!!

1 upvote
sno1man
By sno1man (May 10, 2012)

Hmm...

Interesting idea. I'd like to see someone like Nikon try something similar...

Nikon FM3dm

16 MP FX, Manual focus, manual exposure, manual film advance ,ISO 102000

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Viramati
By Viramati (May 10, 2012)

That has always been my wish either a Nikon FM3-D or an Olympus OM4-D. exactly as they were but with digital sensor. Will probably always only be a dream

0 upvotes
steveh0607
By steveh0607 (May 11, 2012)

The new OM-D, EP-5 (silly long name) is pretty close. Nikon will never do this because there really isn't a reason to do so.

0 upvotes
Kodachrome200
By Kodachrome200 (May 10, 2012)

dust off the old back white filters. looks like weve got to start doing that in camera again

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (May 10, 2012)

In M10, they will replace the shutter with a lens cap. One less button and dial to deal with. A sensor with ISO 1 should be easy to produce.

5 upvotes
brujo74
By brujo74 (May 10, 2012)

lol, keep it going, mate! nice comments! i'd also suggest using magnesium powder and potassium nitrate for flash powder !

4 upvotes
iforum
By iforum (May 11, 2012)

The ultimate irony our brains spend all this energy converting a black and white world into colour

0 upvotes
iforum
By iforum (May 11, 2012)

But good on leica their consumers docs dentists etc asked for such a camera and they have delivered

0 upvotes
DD
By DD (May 10, 2012)

And the milking continues .......
Lol, what's next? Sony will release a new VHS video camera?

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (May 10, 2012)

DIGITAL VHS video camera!!!

1 upvote
DD
By DD (May 11, 2012)

with 640x480 resolution and 15 fps

0 upvotes
pcblade
By pcblade (May 10, 2012)

Will the price be one third of the RGB version :-D ?

4 upvotes
tonywong
By tonywong (May 11, 2012)

So you think the colour filters to make a bayer sensor costs 2/3 of the camera?

1 upvote
keysmith
By keysmith (May 10, 2012)

at least there is no "chrominance noise".. lol
Who buys these cameras?

2 upvotes
chrisnfolsom
By chrisnfolsom (May 10, 2012)

It is a bit strange to "limit" yourself - the foveon CCD will give you the same resolution with color (I wish they could put that CCD with another manufacturer..). I know this was easy to do - just remove the RGB filter, but perhaps a CCD like Fuji's with a high/low sensitivity area could give them better dynamic range - that would sell.

Perhaps another idea - put the color filters in there and take three pictures (I believe some of the med format cameras do this) - some of the CMOS chips take 10fps so you could do this like a high dynamic range mode but add color - great exposure, dynamic range and color.

Wish them the best, but the market is a tough mistress.

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (May 10, 2012)

The same resolution with three times as many detectors. And try to put a Leica screw mount lens on your Foveon.

And the market? $16,000 for one camera and one lens is an insane amount of money - still this is tempting.

0 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (May 10, 2012)

Hm, yea but Foveon tend not to work much over base ISO. Even color version of Leica works decent at higher ISO (not too high ofc).

0 upvotes
chrisnfolsom
By chrisnfolsom (May 11, 2012)

As with any solution - except perhaps religion - there is no perfect solution. I was referring to the processing and interpolation of the CCD data in a "normal" CCD - the Foveon may have 3 times the sensors, but not three times the sensor locations as they are all vertically stacked - as is allowed with the BW usage of the sensor here - yes, the price is outrageous which of course in our capitalist societies means there is an opportunity for others - any takers?
Yes sensitivity is an issue....

0 upvotes
nicolaiecostel
By nicolaiecostel (May 10, 2012)

Absolute, 100% sharpness. Perfect BW look, great looking grain, perfectly usable high ISO's. What Leica is doing with this camera is what other manufacturess only dream that they could have the courage to do. This is the esence of photography, no VR, no AF, no silly nanny-state between you and creation.

This is a punch in the throat to a world that thinks in megapixels, video mode features and frames per second, a world that ushers in a new generation of cameras every year, each manufacturer competing for the bells and whistles award. But is thia photograpy all about ? Leica has been about that decisive moment, anticipated and prepared, not machinegunned at 10 fps. If Leica will go down after this, if these really are it's last decisions before it is consigned to the history books, it will go down with one last show, like Zidane headbutting Materazzi in the chest, in the World Cup final. They may have lost the game, but he defended his honor.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
18 upvotes
darkref
By darkref (May 11, 2012)

"£6,120"

1 upvote
Ariston
By Ariston (May 12, 2012)

what?

0 upvotes
Tee1up
By Tee1up (May 10, 2012)

The good news for Leica is they will not have to sell too many of these to recover the 20-30 minutes of engineering that went into this decision.

22 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (May 10, 2012)

Looks like the death throes of Leica camera manufacture...

2 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (May 10, 2012)

Naive thinking. :D They just opened new fabric recently. :D

1 upvote
Michael49
By Michael49 (May 10, 2012)

Silly, Silly, Silly. Leica really has lost it.

4 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (May 10, 2012)

No - its not silly. For Leica this is dirt cheap. Just take an ordinary Leica and put the B&W version of the same chip in it and then some simpler firmware. They have not even written monochrome on the camera. Just on the flash shoe. This is brilliant!

If you look at industrial cameras they almost allways comes in a color and a B&W version. Any color chip can also be had without Bayer filter I assume.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Mescalamba
By Mescalamba (May 10, 2012)

You can actually remove CFA/AA from any camera, but getting that pure photo from it will be bit harder, as there isnt much ways to avoid de-Bayering of image from regular camera. Which is main issue with BW converted cameras.

So far Leica is second camera for "normal ppl" with monochrome sensor. First was medium format Phase One digital back. Which is made on order I think.

0 upvotes
DMillier
By DMillier (May 10, 2012)

You forget the kodak 760m

0 upvotes
kb2zuz
By kb2zuz (May 10, 2012)

Mescalamba, while you can remove the AA filter from many sensors, the CFA is very difficult to remove on most sensors and has to be manufactured without a CFA at the sensor foundry.

1 upvote
tonywong
By tonywong (May 10, 2012)

Kodak 760m never made it into regular production.

0 upvotes
nsng
By nsng (May 11, 2012)

The CFA can be removed by this company, http://www.maxmax.com/b&w_conversion.htm

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (May 11, 2012)

I repeat. My point was that industrial cameras very often come in two choices - with and without Bayer filter. And many industrial cameras actually use the consumer sensors. This means that it is not unthinkable that Nikon, Canon, Pentax, whoever just can order the same sensor without filter - and then make a slight fix to the firmware. And voilla, you have a B&W camera. Almost without any development cost.

To remove the Bayer filter yourself is an adventure. There exist companies that do it for you - for a very premium price. And I doubt they give any absolute guarantees that it will be well done.

EDIT

OK - maxmax does it for $2000.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
AV Janus
By AV Janus (May 10, 2012)

Nice addition to the stable.
Keeps Leica in the "special" camera maker league.

4 upvotes
fengyboy
By fengyboy (May 10, 2012)

A pure B & W camera is just not for me, especially at this price range. I'd more than happy to buy a M9-P though, when I've got enough money :)

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (May 10, 2012)

Gotta hand it to them. It does look a lot like high quality black and while film. But with film you at least had the prospect of shooting color film in your Leica. This time it is a one time $7000 decision. Unless of course you can afford two Leicas.... :)

2 upvotes
Kodachrome200
By Kodachrome200 (May 10, 2012)

lovely black and whites for an in camera conversion. but am i mising something isnt it better to have the RGB images so you can do your own?

1 upvote
JackM
By JackM (May 10, 2012)

There is no conversion. The sensor only sees in black and white. There is no color filter array, so there is one less thing in the optical path, and there is no interpolation. Every pixel is an actual reading of light. And like the color M9, there is no anti-aliasing filter. This thing should produce very sharp, rich black and whites.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (May 10, 2012)

Poor B&W, because you can not control the color rendition like we can when converting RGB into B&W. Want to carry a pack of filters and experiment when shooting?

6 upvotes
Kodachrome200
By Kodachrome200 (May 10, 2012)

so yeah i get it is like a free foveon effect. but this means you cant control the back and white tones so is this really a win?

2 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (May 10, 2012)

Carrying a set of filter and experimenting when taking images - yummy!

0 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (May 10, 2012)

How quickly everyone forgets - or maybe you never shot with B&W film???

0 upvotes
tonywong
By tonywong (May 10, 2012)

RGB sensor has a bayer pattern. Each photosite on the MM represents a pixel in the final image, which should create a sharper image.

0 upvotes
Gerry
By Gerry (May 10, 2012)

My wallet is safe.

1 upvote
Nome_Alaska
By Nome_Alaska (May 10, 2012)

Same lackluster MP count. Same crappy low-resolution screen.

Buying this thing is a real "dumbass test."

11 upvotes
Superka
By Superka (May 10, 2012)

We don''t need more MP, We don''t need high-resolution screen. We need Leica.

3 upvotes
Superka
By Superka (May 10, 2012)

WOW! I Like it! Great resolution! Lovely noise!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Provia_fan
By Provia_fan (May 10, 2012)

I really might be missing the point, but why Leica? Why?

3 upvotes
random78
By random78 (May 10, 2012)

I only see thumbnails of the gallery images on the last page. Clicking on the thumbnails doesn't open the gallery

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 10, 2012)

Try refreshing the page - it should be working.

0 upvotes
km25
By km25 (May 10, 2012)

Well I do shot B&W mostly. The reason I still use my M7 is that the Leica digital cameras very from OK to bad. I just do not understand why the cannot come up with a killer M digital. I may buy the M Mono., but frist I would have to see some more extenive reviews. For now it looks as if the only way to stay with Leica is with film.
They make great lens and marginal digital cameras. I may leave the world of Leica for more down to earth shores. Maybe the full effect of this cameras will be good. Leica, it just isn't that hard.
Low light is best thing I like about rangefinder cameras. But the M8/M9 are very poor in low light. I do mostly shot in B&W in low light, for me B&W is low light photography. Leica why?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Jay Jenner
By Jay Jenner (May 10, 2012)

Why?
Because they can. And because there will always be people who buy this stuff.
Well, its a Leica isn't it? Bragging rights, smug points. You have to be a serious pixel peeper to want to buy this, and to justify it. Imagine explaining that one to the wife?
You can buy a really good camera for £1500. It will be fine - more than fine. There you go, and if you have money left to burn spend it on travelling to interesting places and take some nice photos.
I think the law of diminishing returns is kicking in here. This camera is the photo equivalent of those turntable cartridges that cost £2000
Cheers.

5 upvotes
Potemkin_Photo
By Potemkin_Photo (May 10, 2012)

"Because it's a Leica"? "Defending honor"?!
Haha. Leica apologists. They need to get with the program and realize that this kind of cam is worth a MSRP of $199. I will never get one of these overpriced fisher price lo-tech cams even if I have money like Buffett.

4 upvotes
Robert Hoffman
By Robert Hoffman (May 10, 2012)

Impressive statement

1 upvote
diogenisd
By diogenisd (May 11, 2012)

Superb Camera for those that understand how a digital camera works (basically ALL digital cameras naturally see in B&W).
1. Imagine the contrast without the filters and most importantly creativity without the limits.
2. Imagine the purity of the capture especially when using the newly apo sumicron 50mm. This is one of Leica's original goals: they want the image to be captured as pure as it can be, then do whatever you want to do with it.
3. There is basically nothing like this anywhere in the digital market except some very expensive medium format cameras that are also mostly for studio shots
4. And last imagine the price tag :D

0 upvotes
Jonathan Paul Jones
By Jonathan Paul Jones (May 11, 2012)

What you guys who slag off this new monochrome camera don't seem to understand is that for a lot of people who shoot B&W and who want the ultimate in B&W photography this camera is a dream.
Leica are not interested in what you think as you are not who this camera was made for, it was made for photographers who's main interest is in B&W and who want the ultimate in file quality and to that end it seems that they have more than succeeded.

0 upvotes
jmmgarza
By jmmgarza (May 15, 2012)

None to bright a statement by Potemkin_Photo. Please take at least one photo class before you say such dumb stuff.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 484
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