Leica has introduced an updated version of its black-and-white-only digital rangefinder. The M-Monochrom Typ 246 uses a full frame 24MP CMOS sensor that, like its predecessor, has no color filter array. The previous Monochrom used an 18MP CCD sensor, so the upgrade to a CMOS chip provides several improvements such as live view and video recording capabilities.

Essentially a monochrome version of the M Typ 240, the M Monochrom Typ 246 offers an increase in ISO range up to ISO 25,000 (up from a maximum of 10,000), a more modern 3" 921k-dot monitor (as compared to the original M Monochrom's dated LCD specs) and all of the benefits of live view shooting including focus peaking and 10x magnification. Full HD video recording is also offered.

Because no light is lost to color filtering (usually all the green and blue light would be blocked to give red pixels, red and blue light blocked for green, and so on), the camera is effectively more sensitive than the color-capable Typ 240. This sees the minimum native ISO jump from ISO 200 to 320. The top end sensitivity jumps from 6400 to 25,000, the larger, 2EV increase presumably being because the M Monochrom's noise won't have a chroma component, so is likely to be more visually pleasant.

The Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 will be available in May for $7,450.


Press release:

Leica Unveils Its New M Monochrom Camera, Taking Digital Black-and-White Photography to New Levels

Fresh Features Focus on Unsurpassed Imaging Performance, Rich Details, Peak Low-Light Capabilities, HD Video Capability and Live View Options

April 30, 2015 – Leica Camera introduces the new Leica M Monochrom (Type 246) today, the next step in its hugely successful digital black-and-white photography concept for the Leica M rangefinder camera system. The new Leica M Monochrom, the first and only digital camera to enable a real black and white image – still or moving – without image processing or filtering, will be available May 2015.

“With never-before-seen imaging performance, outstanding low-light capabilities, and richness of detail, the new Leica M Monochrom surpasses the high standards set by its predecessor,” said Roland Wolff, VP of Marketing and Corporate Retail for Leica. “At the same time, it keeps its primary aim sharply in focus: black-and-white images with top quality across the board.”

Thanks to its high-capacity 2GB-buffer memory and Leica Maestro processor, the new Leica M Monochrom captures sequences three times faster than its predecessor. The new processor also enables extremely fast display of the captured images in review mode, making the new Monochrom even more versatile.

The Leica M Monochrom follows the successful route taken by the Leica M and captures decisive moments with 24-megapixel resolution. The monochrome CMOS sensor produces exceptionally sharp pictures at all sensitivity settings up to ISO 25000. As the M Monochrom has no  color filter array over the sensor, it requires no interpolation for the calculation of luminance values. The result is 100% sharper images with brilliance and detail contrast that far exceeds what color photography can do.

The new Leica M Monochrom can also capture high-quality full-HD video in black and white. The optional Leica microphone adapter set, comprising an adapter and a stereo microphone, ensures perfect sound. The high-resolution 3" monitor with 921,600 pixels ensures that photographers have complete control of composition, exposure, focusing and depth of field.

Moreover, the camera now offers full visual control with its Live View function, which provides two focusing methods: the up to 10x magnification of Live View Zoom mode, enabling full control of the sharpness of details in the image on the monitor or the closest focusing distance; and Live View Focus Peaking mode, where sharply focused edges in the image are highlighted by colored lines.

 Another advantage of the new CMOS sensor is that, in addition to the M-Lens portfolio, almost all lenses of the Leica R series can now be used with an optional adapter on the Leica M Monochrom to expand the creative capabilities of the Leica rangefinder system, as is also the case with the Leica M. Additionally, all equipment and accessories from the Leica M series are compatible with the new Leica M Monochrom. 

Other new features include:

  • Nearly unbreakable sapphire crystal cover glass for the LCD monitor, treated with an anti-reflection protective coating to ensure precise assessment of images in any lighting situation.
  • A body manufactured from high-strength magnesium alloy, with a top- and baseplate made from solid brass blanks and finished in black chrome.
  • New yellow, orange and green filters, available in July.

Specifications

Price
MSRP$7450
Body type
Body typeRangefinder-style mirrorless
Body materialMagnesium alloy
Sensor
Max resolution5952 x 3968
Other resolutions4256 x 2832, 2976 x 1798, 1600 x 1072
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels24 megapixels
Sensor sizeFull frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorMaestro
Color filter arrayNone
Image
ISOAuto, 320-25000
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
File format
  • JPEG
  • Raw (DNG)
Optics & Focus
Manual focusYes
Lens mountLeica M
Focal length multiplier1×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3
Screen dots921,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (rangefinder)
Viewfinder magnification0.68×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed60 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Program
  • Aperture priority
  • Shutter priority
  • Manual
Built-in flashNo
External flashYes (via hot shoe or flash sync port)
Flash X sync speed1/180 sec
Self-timerYes
Metering modes
  • Center-weighted
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (25p, 24p)
MicrophoneNone
SpeakerMono
Storage
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes
Microphone portNo
Headphone portNo
Remote controlYes
Physical
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionBP-SCL2 lithium-ion battery & charger
Weight (inc. batteries)680 g (1.50 lb / 23.99 oz)
Dimensions139 x 42 x 80 mm (5.47 x 1.65 x 3.15)
Other features
GPSOptional
GPS notesvia multifunctional handgrip