Leica crafts a monochrome camera, true photographers need only apply

Retro photography has become something of a “thing” lately, thanks in part to the return of Lomography and Instagram, but classic camera maker Leica may have a different approach to it all: a camera that shoots in black and white only.

Launched this week, the Leica M Monochrom is a new camera based on the company’s previous M series of digital rangefinder models, but with one obvious internal difference: instead of featuring a sensor able to capture photos in all their colourful glory, the Monochrom can only record things in shades of grey.

A sample image shot at ISO 320.

The first of its kind, the camera does this by including an 18 megapixel sensor that doesn’t actually see in colour, instead returning images in black and white that can be considerably sharper. Images can be shot in a RAW mode, taking advantage of Adobe’s open Digital Negative (DNG) format, as well as offering JPEG.

Because the sensor is vastly different to any other on the market, the low-light sensitivity doesn’t have to be as strong as other cameras, although that hasn’t stopped Leica from offering up to ISO 10,000 on the Monochrom.

Built like an old-school camera, you’re sort of expected to know what you’re doing on the Monochrom, and that’s probably why the only exposure modes here are Aperture priority (A) and Manual (M), so if you get by using your digital SLR on auto modes, you may want to steer clear of this model.

Like other Leica cameras, the design is classic, featuring a metal and leather feel, while also able to have most Leica M lenses built since 1954 used on the camera.

And just like other Leica cameras, expect to be charged an arm and a leg for the privilege of owning one.

The Australian distributor of Leica has told us that the Monochrom will retail for $10,999 in black or chrome at the end of July.

If you are considering this camera, keep in mind that this $11,000 camera is likely body only, and Leica lenses are among the most expensive in the world.

For most people, this will probably be one of those “too expensive” gadget purchases. This writer would love to buy one, you know, if he had the spare thousands of dollars, but like everyone else, will probably settle for shooting on a typical digital SLR.