Thursday, 10 May 2012

POV: New Leica M-Monochrom...Is It Mmmmm?

Ah, well...the Twittering with the Leica hashtags was alight with news of THE event! The announcement that Leica would unveil a new model!! The suspense so painstakingly built up by the Leica marketing/PR machinery was rather deflated by the Leica Rumors website, which a few months ago, had already made the prediction/announcement that the new model would be a black and white only sensor in an M camera...and so it was.

Don't get me wrong...I have a Leica M9 and M lenses (well, one of the two in a 40mm Voigtlander) and enjoy using it very much...As my readers know well, I also find it frustrating at times, because of many reasons. Most of these reasons are my own shortcomings...but a few others are due to to the M9's well known issues.

So that said, I scratched my head in puzzlement at Leica's chutzpah in announcing this model which still retains an old LCD screen and no auto-focus, and that can be pre-ordered at a number of retailers (B&H and Adorama list it for preorder) for $7,950 or about $1000 more than the M9!

The justification for the higher cost is the quality of the new sensor, a top ISO setting of 10,000, a rangefinder-type optical viewfinder and a 14-bit uncompressed RAW mode that yields 36MB DNGs.

I have no idea if this model will sell well or be a flop...nor does anyone else.  But I took a look at the dpreview.com hands-on review of the Leica M-Monochrom, and I read phrases which, to me, are smiling warnings. For instance, the reviewer uses sentences such as "there's a real pleasure to be found in having to think harder about the shots you're taking."...and "Getting the best out of the Monochrom takes practise (perhaps a lifetime's worth) and processing, but willfully embracing that challenge seems to be part of what this camera is about."

A lifetime's worth? That says it all. I'll keep enjoying my M9 and my new Fujifilm X Pro-1 with the knowledge that using the former will continue to frustrate me, and will occasionally produce exceptionally lovely photographs....and the certainty that I can, with a swift adjustment, have the X Pro-1 produce in-camera excellent black & whites should I want or need to.

For those who like that sort of thing...here's a video reviewing the new Leica M-Monchrom.