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The Camera With A Black And White Sensor

Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/08/2013 - 10:50 AM

Did you know that Leica has a digital camera that only shoots black and white? Got $8,000??

See image search on Flickr:


Oldest Reply

Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/08/2013 - 10:57 AM

Here is a better Flickr search, had a space in the last search keyword:


Posted by: John Rizzuto on 11/08/2013 - 10:58 AM

I have been looking at this camera for a while now. Awesome b&w images they take. I think haseelblad or phase one also have MF digital cameras that shoot only in b&w. I am thinking about this as a 2014 purchase to add to my toolset.


Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/08/2013 - 11:00 AM

Very impressive, John, the images remind me of the AGFA black and white film that I shot thousands of roll with when I shot film. Figures, Leica and AGFA are both German.


Posted by: John Rizzuto on 11/08/2013 - 11:02 AM

So true Frank. I think the images are outstanding and plus the time saved in not having to convert a color image to bw. Obviously, you better be a big bw shooter to get this camera.


Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/08/2013 - 11:06 AM

I agree, you have to be a big B&W shooter ... which I was in my hay day, if you want to call it that.

Look at this beauty:


Posted by: John Rizzuto on 11/08/2013 - 11:09 AM

Wow that is a beauty. Does remind you of bw film. I have always been partial to bw images myself.


Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/08/2013 - 11:10 AM

Okay, I have to get back to work but have to share this one too. I think this would sell on FAA don't you?


Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/08/2013 - 11:16 AM

Searching the Flickr members profiles I found the M Monochrom group on Flickr.


Posted by: John Rizzuto on 11/08/2013 - 11:17 AM

Another great one. I am sure it would find a home.


Posted by: John Ayo on 11/08/2013 - 4:24 PM


Posted by: Philip Sweeck on 11/08/2013 - 4:32 PM

Kodak used to have a digital b&w only camera too, the DCS 760 M dslr. There are definitely advantages to having only a b&w sensor camera.


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 11/08/2013 - 4:48 PM

It's a tremendous price to pay for something that you can probably do with film at a fraction of the cost.
Photography Prints
Pentacon Six with Biometar 80/2.8 and Fomapan 400 (approx value $200).
If someone is specialising in high-fashion B&W photography then I''m sure the Leica will knock spots off the Pentacon Six, but if you want to shoot black and white for "art" then film seems to me to be the best option. Nik Filters' Silver Efex Pro will do something similar, of course, if you don't want to go back to chemistry.


Posted by: HW Kateley on 11/08/2013 - 5:24 PM

I was thinking this as well. A person can shoot a lot of film for 8K.


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 11/08/2013 - 5:46 PM

About 16,000 frames of medium format and maybe 50,000 frames of 35mm, at a rough guess.
And let's not forget what Leitz lenses cost (nothing against them, they're great, I've got an R4s Mod P with a couple of old Summicrons, for 35mm).


Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/08/2013 - 5:55 PM

Philip - Interesting you say that Kodak made a monochrom sensor, They also have their color CCD sensor in the Leica M9. On the Monochrom M group on Flickr they have a discussion how the M9 makes just as good black and white images for half the price of the Monchorm M.

Paul and HW - Yeah, I've shot thousands of rolls of film and I'd rather invest in that and make pictures than save up for this Leica and not make pictures.

I just posted this because there is another thread on the specialty camera by Nikon, the Df, and, well, I LOVE the images this Monochrom M makes.

People on the web are comparing a Pentax D5IIs and a Pentaxe Limited pancake lens to the Leica M9. Look at the images on Flickr and see, here is a group where most of the images are that combination:

But .... I would still like to get my hands on the Leica even just to take it for a spin!!!


Posted by: John Rizzuto on 11/08/2013 - 6:01 PM

Here's a question, take money out of the equation. Would yo want to shoot the leica monochrom or a film camera? And why.


Posted by: Philip Sweeck on 11/08/2013 - 6:22 PM

I'd rather shoot with my Leica MP. Works without batteries, all mechanical, no electronics besides the light meter. The thing that's great about the Leica monochrome is that it truly commits you to only see in b&w and stick with it. Limitations like that can make things simpler and can even work liberating. With film, you still have the choice to change between color and b&w film.


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 11/08/2013 - 6:25 PM

I'd like to have a go with it, to see what it does. Film and digital are different and there are a lot of aspects of film that I like. For me, digital tends more towards efficient, production line photography, whereas film is more contemplative, so in the end I would probably want to stick with film for B&W, whereas most of my colour shots are done with digital.


Posted by: John Rizzuto on 11/08/2013 - 6:34 PM

I prefer digital more for the instant gratification and the quicker turnaround times. I haven't used the monochrom. Just seen samples online. I really like the the look of the images. From a digital camera standpoint, I am not sure if conversion from color to b&w is as consistently as good. I have read the articles that some say their conversions from the m9 or other cameras are just as good. Maybe some images or certain types of images but not on a consistent basis. As for comparison to film, and I haven't seen prints so can't make any definitive conclusion, it comes pretty close. If price was equal I think I would go with the digital monochrom.


Posted by: John Rizzuto on 11/08/2013 - 6:49 PM

I just this on the leica blog from Andy Summers using the monochrom. Pretty decent read.


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/08/2013 - 8:50 PM

Actually all digital sensors are black and white. The digital technology of the sensor cannot see color. to get color the sensor is covered with a Bayer Array Pattern, of red green and blue squares. Software in the camera interprets the result of the sensor data through the Bayer pattern and comes up with color information.

By not covering the sensor with the Bayer pattern, the sensor can resolve detail it otherwise couldn't. Its the same as the newer cameras that don't use the low pass anti alias filter in front of the sensor, the end result is a much truer image of what the sensor was capable of capturing.


Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/08/2013 - 8:52 PM

John - I follow this Photographer on Flickr who shoots a lot of black and white either with a Leica M9, Nikon D800, or film with Nikon FM. The M9 color looks a lot like Kodak film ( from the Kodak sensor ). The M9 Black and White look pretty close the the Monocrom M wouldn't you say??


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 11/09/2013 - 2:12 AM

I suppose you could say that B&W film is essentially digital: either a grain is on or it is off, there are only two options, which is the basic idea behind digital electronics.

I understand that a key advantage of the Monochrom is that it has no anti-aliasing filter, so the images are much sharper than those converted from colour and there's no need for USM.

I agree with John that digital is quicker and, I would say more efficient, but as I wrote in the blurb for my B&W gallery: Using film frees me from the automation that is implicit in the digital process, forcing me to take control of image creation and to work within and around the limitations implicit in the medium. In most cases I handle the developing and scanning of the negatives myself, so any faults or flaws are my own, as are any successes. I feel a much closer personal connection with photos created in this way than with those I shoot digitally, where my main contribution has been in composition, while the exposure and to some extent the appearance of the photo draws on the computer skills of the camera's manufacturers. I feel that working with film is akin to the craftsmanship of an earlier age, while digital offers the impersonal efficiency of the 21st Century. The older I get, the more I appreciate the clunky and contemplative approach to the instant gratification and automated precision of digital

Concerning Andy Summers's comments about the cost of converting film to digital, if all you want is a digital file then it doesn't make much sense shooting film (though I find physical film files easier to keep than digital ones). You need a darkroom to get the best out of a negative - and that gives you the chance to make unique "art" prints which may have an enhanced value. For commercial work, digital wins every time: it would be foolish to spend the time developing and printing film and to take the risk of something going wrong in the process.

Looking at the flickr feed, I can't help feeling that very, very few of the people with that camera have the skill level to justify the cost of owning one.


Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/11/2013 - 9:25 PM

Speaking of black and white digital, images are now starting to show up on Flickr from the new Pentax K-3.

Have a look at the link, not bad for and APS-C sensor:


Posted by: John Ayo on 11/11/2013 - 9:53 PM

If you're willing to venture out of the realm of cameras made for photographers into more industrial gear, there are a whole lot more monochrome cameras to choose from. :)


Posted by: Frank J Casella on 11/11/2013 - 10:02 PM

Thanks, John, I may look into those as it seems people ( buyers ) are more interested in my black and white work than my color. I just posted the link with the pic for the K-3 because the last few posts where about has no anti-aliasing filter which as you know this camera has.


This discussion is closed.