New Leica M Monochrom sees the world in sharper black and white

Every day is grey with this powerful, pricy update to the 2012 original

This camera came out three years ago, didn’t it?

Not really. That was simply the first Leica M Monochrom, while this is its replacement. It’s just not called the “Mark II” or anything like that, just to confuse you. Leica dubs it the “Typ 246”, but nobody’s actually going to call it that are they?

I’m guessing it shoots only in black and white, like the first one

You’re right on the money there, partner. The line of thinking is that colour digital camera images converted into black and white after the fact lose a little in the process, while the Monochrom’s sensor is designed for black and white from the ground up. That means sharper black and white images – at least, according to Leica.

It looks exactly the same as the original though…

That it does (aside from the removal of the built-in flash). It’s under that expensive-looking metal bodywork that the changes have been made.

The black and white sensor is an entirely new 24MP full-frame model with no low-pass filter and the ability to shoot with up to ISO 25,000 sensitivity, while the original’s was 18MP, had a maximum ISO of 10,000 and wasn’t full-frame. One advantage of the move to full-frame (aside from improved low light capabilities and the more scope for narrow depth of field shooting) is that almost all Leica’s R series lenses are compatible, in addition to the M series lenses you could use with the first M Monochrom.

The other big addition is a speedy new Maestro image processor, which adds extra briskness to general operation.

Can it record video?

Yep, unlike its predecessor it can capture 1080p full HD video with stereo sound in the Motion JPEG format, which means each frame is an individual JPEG and nicely editable.

Any other changes?

The rear screen has been boosted from a 2.5in 230,000-dot LCD to a 3in 921,000-dot LCD, which is a pretty huge leap (and what the heck was Leica thinking with that first screen?). So it’s all round a much, much better camera – at least on paper.

I suppose that means it’s much, much pricier too?

The Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 is actually cheaper than the original was at launch: £5,750 (RM31,320) as opposed to £6,000 (RM32,681). However, you couldn’t exactly describe it as affordable. But it’s a Leica, after all – with that pedigree it was never going to be something you might buy on impulse.