Not to hate on digital, but why does the industry try to invent cameras that get you closer to the effects of black and white film photography when the tools to create film photography are already here?
By Will Greenwald, May 10, 2012 04:01pm EST
Black-and-white photography has long been considered a bastion of film photographers. It provides stark contrasts, looks unique, and can be readily developed by enthusiasts (unlike color photography, which is a much more involved process). Black-and-white photos taken on digital cameras are generally considered inferior for many reasons.
Leica is planning to change that with the M Monochrom, an 18-megapixel rangefinder that stands as the first digital camera designed specifically for black-and-white photography.
According to Leica, the M Monochrom’s sensor only records luminance values for each pixel, capturing light in a manner similar to black-and-white film, which doesn’t differentiate color. Leica claims these “true” black-and-white exposures are sharper than similar pictures taken on a color camera. The camera has a raw data histogram display that lets users see exactly how each picture exposes, and with a clipping display lets users correct exposures on the camera.
The M Monochrom uses Leica’s M system, so it’s compatible with all Leica M system lenses. Leica has not yet announced pricing for North America, but it will likely retail for around $8,000 when it ships in July, comparable to the company’s other rangefinders. This won’t be a camera for enthusiastic amateurs.
For other photography professionals, Leica announced the S-Adapter H, which lets users of Leica’s S-system professional cameras use Hasselblad H-system lenses. For context, Leica S-system cameras can cost over $20,000, and even the lenses for Leica and Hasselblad professional cameras are worth thousands of dollars.
On the other end of the spectrum, Leica announced a new compact digital camera, the X2. This 16-megapixel camera is a color fixed-lens camera with an APS-C-format sensor similar in size to the sensors found in most digital SLRs. It uses a 24mm f/2.8 prime lens, and features a 2.7-inch LCD screen. At approximately $2,000, it’s an attractive camera for rangefinder enthusiasts and photographers looking for a second camera that breaks from the SLR format.