Leica Launches 18MP M Monochrome Digital Rangefinder with Black-and-White Sensor (New Photos)

May 10, 2012

By Dan Havlik

Leica launched its latest digital rangefinder in Berlin today with a special “monochrome” CCD sensor designed to shoot images in black and white. Called the Leica M Monochrom, the newly developed black-and-white-specific CCD has a native resolution of 18 million pixels.

“It has a sensor designed exclusively for black and white photography. It has no color filter,” said Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Leica’s Chairman of the Supervisory Board at a special product unveiling event in Berlin today.

“This allows twice the amount of light to reach the sensor. So we combined this special sensor with our rangefinder system and we present you the M Monochrom with the maximized image quality available with Leica lenses.”

Kaufmann later added that the new Leica M Monochrom “doesn’t mean the death of black-and-white film.”

The 18MP Leica M Monochrom will have an estimated retail price of $7,950. It will go on sale at Leica dealers beginning in late July.

In addition to capturing digital images in black-and-white, the Leica M Monochrom will let photographers convert those shots into classic monochrome toning effects such as sepia, cold or selenium toning at the touch of a button on the camera. The Leica M Monochrom comes with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, a black and white conversion and processing software, if you want to further tweak your already monochrome images.

The design of the Leica M Monochrom is very similar to the 18MP Leica M9-P rangefinder from last year, with a matte-black finish and chromed top deck for a more discreet look. In fact, the only product name on the new camera is in engraved script on the accessory shoe. The camera also includes a leather carrying strap.

We are in Berlin covering this Leica news and will be meeting with Dr. Kaufmann and other Leica product managers on Friday. A followup story on this camera and on Leica’s other product announcements in Berlin will be posted soon.