May 112012
 

My one hour  with the new Leica Monochrome by Steve Huff

Hello and here I am once again writing from my hotel room in Berlin. I just ordered room service as it is pouring rain outside and I just returned from an hour long walk Sean Reid who e-mailed me this afternoon asking if I would like to use the M Monochrome that he has with him since I did not get a chance to shoot one at all from Leica. Very cool of him. He did already post a review of the M Monochrome and the X2 at his subscription site if you would like to check it out. So I thank Sean for letting me use the camera for an hour or so. Without that, I would not even have been able to really check it out at all.

1st, MY thoughts on this Leica event and how I would have done it differently

I have to first thank Leica for inviting me to this event. I was invited to the 09/09/09 event but could not make it out that time but I always said that when they announce their next set of cameras, I AM THERE! So I was excited to be here and enjoy the whole “Leica-ness” of it all. As we all knew from the rumors there was a dedicated  black & white camera coming from Leica and possibly an X2. Both of these things were indeed true.

No WiFi at the event

When I arrived to the event I walked in and was asked for my invitation (glad I didn’t forget it)! After handing it over I entered the building and noticed that there were MANY people there. It was a packed house, full of suits, dresses, and a few people I recognized. After talking with a few of the Leica people I made my way to the stage area and had a seat. I pulled out my laptop as I assumed there would be wifi there for the bloggers and press that were in attendance. NOPE.

If this were MY event, I would have wifi setup. No questions about it. The fact is there were many of the big players here and it would seem that Leica would want the press and live coverage. I was all set to do live blogging and was disappointed to find out that would not be possible. Sure I could have paid for some sort of card but I was told there would be wireless there so I didn’t.

No cameras to try out at the event

If this were my event, or if I were in charge of it I would have made sure to have a few cameras to pass around to the blogger guys/girls. The thing Leica wants and needs is coverage of these new cameras. I would have handed out one to every major blogging person and said “use it for the day tomorrow”. That would have been great. We would have all been able to shoot with it, evaluate it and write about it. But no cameras were to be found. I was able to stare at them through a glass case though and did eventually get to fire off 4 shots with Jonathan Slacks camera he has been testing. I shot 4 shots only because I wanted to take a quick look and Jono kindly handed over the camera. (Thanks Jono, his photos from the Monochrom can be seen here)!

No real WOW factor

I hate to say it as I love Leica and the guys that work there but I have to say the event was a bit on the dull and lackluster side. Sure there were drinks, food and people to mingle with but the overall presentations were lacking. Not a big deal but I remember a few occasions yawning as it dragged on and on it seems. We were all there for the announcements and the way they were announced was also a bit on the dull side.

IS Leica HIGH?

OK. I have to mention it. $7200 for a Leica 50 Summicron ASPH APO. I have to admit…when I heard that I was like..”MAN OH MAN..I AM DONE WITH LEICA”! I thought it was ridiculous and borderline insanity to price the new lens like that. I mean, a SUMMICRON for more than the legendary 50 Summilux? Really? We all know how amazing Leica glass is. That is their main claim to fame. The GLASS! But pricing the new lens at $7200 US is really alienating 75% of Leicas new users.

I know for a fact there have been thousands of you who read this site, who are NOT rich, who went out and bought an M9 even though they really could not justify or afford it. Many of us, myself included, stretched our budgets to be able to purchase the camera and one or two lenses max. Why? Because while we may not have all of the money in the world, we have passion and we want to shoot with what our heart tells us to shoot with. For me, it’s usually Leica.

There were so many new Leica users over the past three years and Leica has been enjoying this success. When they release a lens for $7200 and it is a 50 Summicron ASPH APO..well, I am afraid they just went and priced MANY of us out of the market, which may be what they want.

I know for a fact I will never ever buy the new lens, no matter how good it is. Why? Because the 50 Summilux ASPH is astounding, and cheaper. The old 50 Summicron may have some character flaws to some, but you can buy them used pretty cheap. $7200 to gain some sharpness and micro-contrast?

On the other hand I have a feeling they need lenses like this for their M10 which I think is coming at Photokina. I think the sensor in the M10 will be so high res and so capable of crazy detail that they needed a new lens to showcase it. I also have a feeling many changes are coming with the M10. I have no inside info, Leica tells me nothing… but my crystal ball thinks so.

I get releasing a new lens like this for those that want absolute perfection and beauty. Those who can afford it, and there are many, will buy the lens. I just do not see them selling them in any kind of mass quantity, which again, is probably what they want.

I happen to know the lens is amazingly beautiful in its design, size, and rendering. The samples I have seen from it blew me away. I am just disappointed in the price point as they knocked so many out of the game here.

But I assume they know what they are doing and maybe they just want to go after a specific market for their new cameras and lenses. Either way, I can not deny the fact that the new Monochrome M and the new 50 are gorgeous and this lens may be the best lens they have ever made. I will give them that for sure. I would love to do  full review of it using this new Monochrome so maybe one day I will get to try it out and let you guys know how it is. :)

My one hour with the Leica Monochrome

So as I started this article writing about how I finally managed to spend an hour with the new Leica Monochrome camera I will now talk a little about this camera and my 1st impressions after spending just under an hour with it. The images you see embedded here were all shot with the Monochrome and the SLR Magic 50 T0.95 Hyperprime lens.  Click on any image for a larger view.

So it was raining, it was grey and it was all kinds of dreary but I headed out for an hour with the new Leica Monochrome in Berlin, which is a beautiful gorgeous place to shoot. The people also seem friendly as no one had an issue with me taking their images. Had a great time for that one hour for sure!

It’s just like shooting an M9

The Monochrome is just like shooting an M9 or M9-P except you have no color available. It’s all black and white. Monochrome (that sounds cooler). You can read the techie reviews for the details on the sensor but basically, in real world terminology this sensor will yield better dynamic range and high ISO capabilities over the M9 or M9-P.

If I can be honest, I am strangely attracted to this camera even though it is priced at $8000, the same cost as a Leica M9-P. I remember years ago people on various forums were asking for a dedicated B&W sensor Leica M camera. It made sense right? Leica has always been known for classic B&W photography. So many of us shoot B&W with our M cameras or even shooting B&W film. So why not a dedicated B&W sensor camera? With the Monochrome you get better high ISO and beautiful B&W capabilities.

I know that as soon as I knew this camera was coming, I wanted one. I even came up with an idea to travel for a few weeks and shoot only B&W. Do a huge project. Take my time. Just me and the camera as one. Ahhh, sounds so good huh?

It’s true. B&W has a way of tugging at your soul, your heart, your brain. It’s simple. It’s basic. It’s real. No, it’s not real as in what we see with our eyes but for some reason when I view classic B&W images I can see deeper into the image. It has more emotion and soul. I LOVE B&W. The problem has always been that traditional digital cameras usually sucked with Monochrome imaging. Sure we can use plug ins like Silver Efex Pro or Alien Skin but imagine a simple camera we could have that just allowed us to be pure. To be MONO. Yep, this new Leica allows us to do that and gives us superb IQ, great sharpness, and the ability to capture that real emotion that so many of us love to see.

Shooting B&W takes me back to the time when I had my M6 or M7 around my neck with a roll of Tri-X loaded. For some reason that camera inspired me to get out and capture people on the street. I lost my fears and was motivated to shoot. Holding that Leica Monochrome in my hand, knowing its potential, well, that was enough to motivate me and get me excited to shoot today. It’s a funny thing these Leica cameras. They almost are like some alien life form that sucks you into wanting to shoot. Always happens with an M around my neck.

I walked and I shot and shot and shot, maybe about 75 images total. Not too many really and I knew that I would not get any great shots or amazing artistic images but I knew that shooting this camera for even an hour would let me judge it’s capabilities. Again, it is the same body and menu as an M9 or M9-P with a couple of minor things added. So if you have shot an M before, you will feel right at home shooting the Monochrome. In a way, reviewing this camera is easy as it is only about the images, the tonality and the high ISO performance. Notice in the title image how many tones you can see in the sock. Gorgeous.

$8000!

When I found out this body was $8000 I immediately said “WHAT”??? I mean, many will see this as a crippled M9! No color? Well, those are the people who either are not really into B&W photography or just do not get what this camera is all about. I know for a fact that I can not afford $8000 for this camera, but maybe if I scrimp and save and save some more than maybe I would be able to swing it, though I’d have to sell my M9-P to do so. I am NOT a rich guy :) Yes, this blog gets loads of traffic but that also means much higher costs to run it.

So after my one hour with this lovely camera I asked myself…”would I sell my M9-P to buy an Monochrome”? Well, I wouldn’t want to… but yes I would. Because after viewing my sample images I do see a difference between this output and what comes out of an M9 with conversions. Yes, $8000 is INSANE and much to expensive (it really is) but damn Leica, you always have a way to get to my heart and soul, and I feel that the Leica Monochrome, even at $8000, will eventually become a classic due to its simplicity, design, feel, use, and beautiful output. I do not think they will have a problem selling this one though I also do not think they will sell as many as they did the M9.

When I get more time with this camera I plan on spending MUCH more  time testing it with landscapes, studio portraits, and more street photography as well as some travel stuff. So c’mon Leica, send me one along with the new X2 so I can get started! :)

A few more samples during my one hour with the camera…exif is all embedded. I hope you enjoyed  this quick one hour walk with me :) Also, I have to say that this SLR Magic 50mm t/0.95 Hyperprime is GORGEOUS. Be sure and read all about it HERE. (UPDATE: Funny how there have been NO MORE reports of lens failures of this lens after  the 1-2 who went on the attack? Yep my friends this was a Leica calculated attack on a lens they were afraid of (I know because someone high up told me). I know of many who still own and shoot this lens without issue in focus or build and they all call it a masterpiece in image quality and build. Remember, I had an $11k Noctilux fall apart TWICE while using it professionally. Never did the SLR Magic do this. Think about it for a few…)

BTW, you can now pre order the M Monochrome for $7995 at the following sites:

B&H Photo – M Monochrome Pre-Order, 50 Summicron ASPH APO Pre-Order, Leica X2 Pre-order

PopFlash Photo – they are all on the main page!

Ken Hansen has a list going as well – E-Mail him HERE - he will ship worldwide

and a higher ISO with crop

and an ISO 10,000 – yes, it’s got grain

 

  285 Responses to “My one hour with the new Leica Monochrome by Steve Huff”

  1. Great quality, but very expensive.
    Congratulations on your report.
    Saludos

    • it has good dynamic range, BUT you still need to use Silver Efex Pro to edit the photos and get your desired outcome.. $8000 for better dynamic range..? I don’t think so..

    • Leica, Leica, Leica!!! Enough already, your M9 was introduced in 2009, we are now in 2012, and you are still trying to sell another iteration of the M9.

  2. I have an M9 and do mainly black and white………..would I buy this new camera………..NO, because it won’t make me a better photographer and I doubt anyone would ever be able to tell the difference at normal print sizes between the two.

    Save your money folks and use the savings to travel and take pictures.

    As for the cost of the new lens…….don’t get me started!!

  3. first

  4. Too expensive for niche photography. what i want is that SLR Magic lense.. when will it be available??

  5. Some very nice images, Steve. More importantly, I appreciate the fact that you recognize Leica prices its gear out of range of most photographers. That sort of understanding is why I enjoy reading your reviews.
    As for Leica, I recognize that it costs money to manufacture quality. But I cannot understand pricing the Monochrom well beyond the budget of the average user. If it was reasonably priced I would have one on preorder already. As it is I will have to live long enough to afford to buy one second hand.

    • “As for Leica, I recognize that it costs money to manufacture quality. But I cannot understand pricing the Monochrom well beyond the budget of the average user.”

      Our pricing policies are intentional. It appears the message is lost upon you, though.

      Know your place, pleb.

      “If it was reasonably priced I would have one on preorder already.”

      Our customers want exclusivity, and for this they pay handsomely. You are not our customer.

      • Lol.
        A troll pretending to be Leica.
        It’s a felony to impersonate someone, but how about pretending to be part of Leica when you’re not? Online anonimity gives you lot’s of confidence eh “Leica”?

        • Not too used to irony, are you?

        • Kurt ,you need a sense of humor. Knock knock. Who’s there? Leica. Leica who?
          Leica virgin, touched for the very first time! Leica a viiir-irrr-irrrr-giiiinn, put your heart beat, next to mine!oh oh oh oh- woah oh oh oh…oh.

  6. It creates some nice output that looks really close to old HCB images. It is a tough call to make. I like the color that I get from an M9 and I like the option to use color or to convert to monochrome in post processing. But the detail of this thing may be really nice. The question for me is if I can get something closer with the M10. I don’t think I would buy this M9M without knowing what the potential M10 has to offer. But I have to say that the look of the camera is what I want from Leica. Just a black camera. I never liked the big engraving on the top plate of the M9P and mentioned that a while ago that Leica should have done a really stealth camera by just making it fully black. Now they have. I just wish a M10 would come in that look. ;-) Can’t have everything. D!RK
    PS I agree with you on the lenses. I bet the Summilux with still have some great performance on whatever the M10 can offer. And I like the shallow DOF.

    • Disagree. The classic lenses were not as sharp and thus has what ppl would call “charm.” all I see are ultra sharp pics without character. Even the look of nikon V1 images is better.

  7. Why does all the shots look like they are from 50 years ago… Maybe I should just convert my D40 sensor to black and white… that might be cheaper

    • ? You serious? They don’t really. And yes, why don’t you choose the cheaper option; go buy an old film camera, load a roll of b&w, and you’ll see they look nothing like the photos above.

  8. BTW Did you talk to anybody from Leica why you did not receive any cameras for reviews. I see all the reviews out there right now and don’t know why they overlooked you. Maybe you just love other cameras as well too much or your site is not exclusive enough. Or they just reserve the big one (M10) only for you. ;-) Would be interesting to know. D!RK

  9. Leica Monochrom (no e at the end)

  10. Fabulous sample pics Steve.
    Very impressive quality.
    The M Mono is a monster M that can produce ART.

  11. i think you would really see the difference in the prints it produces as computer screens are not worthy of this camera…probably. I got to see the event via blackberry shots and posts from LeicaMayfair…about as live as it got! hope you had a good time anyway…safe journey home

  12. Steve, in my mind you already have some redundancies in your current lineup of cameras. The OM-D with all those lens should cover your color. I mean what can’t you do with your current setup in color? Maybe one might conclue that you can’t do stellar black and white……. So sell the M9-P get the monochrome, and keep like two lenses. One path to nirvana.

  13. These are great pictures, but candidly, they are not pictures worthy of spending this kind of money on the camera.

    Leica, Your excellence proves that Fuji, Olympus, Canikon and Sony are tremendous values. They offer 90% of what you do at prices photography enthusiasts can afford.

    It’s a free market and you can charge what you want, but you will continue to cede market share to your more nimble competitors. Pity.

    • Disagree. Can you ALMOST get this kind of quality with all the cameras listed..sure..but that is the question this camera poses. Are you after excellence or almost excellence?

      Obviously the price answers the question for most of us but that doesn’t change the fact that there is a new standard bearer of excellence out there.

      I think the shots Steve posted are excellent and I challenge anyone who say they can reproduce the look of the shots by Jacob Aue Sobol on the Leica AG website with a color sensor.

      • The problem with your “standard of excellence” is that %99.999999999999+ of the greatest black and white photos ever taken in history were taken without this camera, including everything by Cartier-Bresson, Erwitt, and on and on.

        Do these photographs represent “almost excellence” to you?

        The truth is that a Hasselblad MF film camera loaded with Delta 100 will still trump this camera with ease, resolution-wise, since MF film carries more than 50MP of data. And forget about 4X5. This camera only represents a “standard of excellence” when compared with the B&W output of other digital cameras — and it may not even trump the D800E for that.

        I’m not against the camera per se — for some people who shoot B/W exclusively it might be exactly what they want — but the idea that this represents the “standard of excellence” is silly.

        • So for using the word excellence 2 too many times that was pretty bad.

          I do want to be clear I’m not defending this camera against film. There is no substitute for film and I do not think there ever will be for the simple fact one is analogue and the other isn’t.

          Also I’m not trying to cross reference film size as that too is well defined in terms of what is possible and what is not.

          When I mention this is the best camera for b/w period I speak solely of it’s direct brethren which is 35mm sensors and the like.

          • I doubt the MM will match the D800E for B&W IQ at any ISO.

            Similarly, my M9 IQ generally falls short of my D3x IQ in a purely technical sense but I often prefer my M9 images.

            However, it is unlikely that I will be queuing up for a MM or a new 50 ‘cron as the Leica price/performance ratio seems to be trending in an unfavorable direction.

            -Bill

            • Tomato – Tamoto .. I was just looking at D800 images and I saw some really beautiful b/w images but it’s a DSLR. I don’t use those in any aspect in my work. So for me if I were to only shoot B/W the MM would be the camera I dream about.

      • Excellence lies upon the photographer not the machine. If what you are saying is true then why is it that not all Pulitzer prized photos are shot by Leica. Quite a few are taken by almost excellent Nikon and canons.

        “excellent tools are only as excellent as the person using them”

    • LOL so what kind of pictures would justify the price tag of the camera?

  14. Steve, When I came to read this review, I’ll be honest and expected the usual gushing about the newest Leica offerings.
    You can imagine my surprise then, when I read your refreshingly neutral (perhaps even bordering on negative) review of the new Summicron. It was nice to see a level headed and sensible opinion, not weighted by wanting to remain in with Leica just so they still send lenses and bodies to review.
    I enjoyed that part of the review :-)
    And then I came to the MM mini review and I was a little deflated, as it just appeared to be the usual gushing about the most minimal of tweaks to what is essentially the M9P. List of new features include clipping warning and new leatherette (!) I mean, come on! Blown highlights on DPReview’s sample pictures abound have cause for concern.
    You’re right – it probably is good, but personally, do I think its worth its retarded, pretentious price tag. Nope. Leica are definitely aiming to be a luxury brand – they not hiding that, but when that comes at a cost of alienating hundreds, if not thousands of faithful customers, then thats the time to call it a draw.
    I still love the older Leica stuff – I cherish my M6 body and will probably replace it with another film M body at some point, but I’ve already sold my M8.2, because, quite simply, it wasn’t all that.
    And lenses at $7000? Pfft to that, I say. I’ll continue to buy Zeiss ZM lenses with equal, if not better IQ for far less money.
    The New Leica can kiss my pasty white, worrying hairy ass.

    • It’s already been pointed out that you need to learn how to shoot with this camera properly as it does not have color channels to save overexposed areas. I do not see why needing methodical practice to master a camera like this is a bad thing.

  15. If I had not purchased an m9p and the M mono was out. I don’t know for certain which way I would go but I am guessing the mono. Enjoyed the report.

  16. I will not be able to afford this…
    … but man ‘o man, you can’t fault that IQ! :D

  17. Hi Fuji, how are you doing? It’s going to be nice to get to know you.

    Or if you must have a Monochrome camera:

    Hi Leica M6, how are you doing? Let me introduce you to two lovely ladies named Ilford and Kodak.

    • Zeiss, your time has come, surely. The market is now mature enough if we are seeing products like the M9M. Give the man-on-the-street a simple and affordable digital back to your Zeiss Ikon for your lovely Zeiss lenses. Democratise the digital RF.

      • Better yet – a new Digital Ikon body at a reasonable price. I wouldn’t buy it, but I’d champion the gesture at two fingers to Leica’s belief in their self importance!

      • I’ve talked to Zeiss sales reps, and they said they have no interest at this time. They’re killing it with Cine lenses right now. Their M system is becoming an after thought to them. We should be thankful it’s still in production!

        To be honest, there isn’t much market for a Leica clone at a lower price. Fuji as made 2 cameras that fit this bill well enough. Get yourself an Xpro1 or an X100 and call it a day. I have an Xpro1 on my desk now (borrowed) and I am quite impressed.

    • As beautiful as that sensor and camera is, it’s still a digital sensor that will someday go obsolete by the future M10 Monochrome. I cannot afford a Leica (or a Zeiss) but I can afford to put Ilford, Kodak, and Fuji B/W film in my Minolta X700, and those sensors will never got out of style!

  18. Get an M8 for $2000 and set it to B&W. The performance is directly equivalent to B&W film, including useable but grainy images at ISO 800+ (actually I thought it’s ISO 800 was just fine).
    Spend the remaining $6000 on a series of life affirming travel trips shootng great images.
    In fact, what the heck, get a backup M8 body as well and still have $4000 for travel.

  19. Great images, Steve. Looks like you had real fun with that camera.

  20. Don’t chase ultimate image quality as you will be eternally disappointed as something better will come along after.

    Iconic pictures generally have nothing much to do with image quality.

  21. I’ve no need to stump up the high cost Leica is asking for this latest offering, I simply load my M6 with film, and, in the words of the famous advert “It’s the real thing”. And, I get to chose which type of film I want, and my M6 can do something else, and it’s really magical: it will shoot colour if I want! No need at all for two expensive bodies, or really restricting myself to a totally mono world.

    I can’t believe that Leica doesn’t have an M9 replacement as the M9-M is a cul-de-sac and, as some have conjectured, wait for Photokina.

  22. While the price is way out of my league, i don’t think it’s ridiculous if you think about it like this. When you shoot a typical Bayer sensored color digital you’re interpolating information for each pixel. For example, for an 16mp, you’re actually looking at 4k blue pixels, 4k red ones and 8k green ones. Now, if you make each one only sensitive to illumination, your actual resolution goes WAY up. You see the same thing at the molecular level for film. So you’re really probably getting double (or so) the sharpness. If I think back to my Sigma SD14 and it’s puny 4.7mp sensor, it resolved at the level of about an 8-10mp camera. I’d bet that this thing will out-resolve the D800. So that justifies the camera…

    About the price… This is a custom sensor that’s being manufactured at low volume. How much demand do you think there is for a full frame B&W sensor. This is a niche within a niche. Acrordingly, a digital product with this low volume is going to have really high manufacturing costs end of story. You want something truly special (read unique), it costs money.

  23. Is Leica HIGH? – LOL Steve!
    I’ve been reading a lot of grumbling about the price of that new lens. Lots of people think it’s crazy. What it tells me is, unfortunately, I’ll likely never own another Leica digital rangefinder or modern lens… I was priced out the market long ago. Until and unless these cameras show up on the used market as really old beaters, I won’t be able to own one.

    Two things concern me about this announcement yesterday.

    With a 50/2 prices at such a high price, the used market it going to inflate. I have a feeling all the wonderful f/1.4 are about to take a price leap. Buy them now folks.

    I also fear what it means for the M10 pricing. When I bought the M8 new, it was $5K (and I had to sell a whole lot of other gear to afford it). The M8 ended up price at $7K. This Mono-M is at $8K on release, same as M9-P. I have a really sad feeling the M10 is going to end up priced at $12K.

    Enough about pricing… The Mono-M seem like a neat idea. I’ve got very mixed emotions about it and really could argue it either way. I’ve got similarly mixed emotions about the photos I’ve seen from it. I think seeing a very large print from it in person might swing me more to it’s positive side, but personally, I’m better off sticking with B&W conversions and Film (as if I have another choice – LOL).

    One positive is that the announcement finally got me to download Silver Efex Pro ;)

    Anyway Steve, it sounds like your trip has been a mixed bag of excitement, adventure and frustration. Continue having a good time, enjoy Germany and safe trip home! And thanks out to Jono and Sean for giving you a try on the Mono-M!

    • Amy,

      I tend to think that faced with the shortage of product available in the market, Leica could decide to go one of two ways. Either ramp up production to meet the demand and thereby make lots of people happy, but dilute the exclusivity of their products, or just put up the price to reduce the demand and maintain their exclusivity, thereby pricing many people out of the market. I think that they have chosen this second route by the pricing of these products.

      I bought the M8 and M9 new, but I fear that the M9 may be the last M that I will be able to buy new.

  24. Very, very nice, but I would choose to shoot film and save a lot of money. But Leica doesn’t care about me. This is a “fashion” camera that normal photographers would not buy anyway- I’m sure even HCB could not afford it if it was available when he was around. But IQ is really great no doubt about it and fantastic high ISO capability.

    • I’m certain Cartier Bresson could afford it – he came from a very wealthy family. That’s how he could afford a Leica in the fist place – Leicas have always been crazy expensive. ;)

      • Well, I guess you are right that he could afford it. I just think the Leicas at that time were maybe relatively cheaper ( but of course still expensive), but I may be wrong. Tried to find some information about prices in 1950 but were not able to find anything useful.

  25. although the samples look a little flat the quality is superb

  26. Phase One’s monochrome camera was $40,000 (for the back alone) — 5x the price of this Leica, and as a medium format camera, not ideal for street photography. Costs aside, I think cameras like this give new attention to the beauty of black and white photography in general (even for us mortals who do their monochrome in Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.).

  27. Do the BW conversions straight out of camera on a M9 not even compare? If low light is not an issue, can you see a big difference in the way the sensor renders BW on this monochrome? I already love the BW jpg’s out of my M9 and with a few tweets in my photo editor, it seems comparable. Agree?

    • Agree – to a point. Sean reid has done a comparison and you will be hard pushed to see a difference between the MM and M9. Pixel peepers will see it but nobody else will – that doesn’t mean to say it’s not very tempting….

  28. Superb photos man
    a collage of instants
    shot in short time

  29. I’m probably in the minority here, I would get one, may get one……but

    I’m a little disalusioned with the choice of togs given the camera to try out, I don’t pay for reviews when the best ones get done here…..

    I’m frustrated with Leica, the cameras will soon become the play things of the talentless “uber wealthy”. Go on the social networks and look, the evidence is already there. This will ultimately weaken the brand IMO, I’m not talking financially of course, in that respect they will continue to sell, a lot.

    I’ve made a decision that I will allow myself one more digital M, with this in mind I await details of the M10, then I will decide on that or the Monochrome version. Beyond that common sense must prevail and I am out.

    Just looking for an M3 on ebay….I know I will have that forever

  30. All the reading I’ve done on this new Leica camera has got to me. No, I didn’t pre-order it, but my trusty D90 is now set to monochrome jpg output. Cool.

    For anyone wondering what’s the point of releasing a monochrome digital camera, Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer blog has a great essay on this very topic.

    Thanks Steve.

    PS. Enjoy the rain; it’s the same ol’ blue skies here in AZ.

  31. First off – hats off to Sean for the loan. Very generous.

    Second – One look at your shots show why it would be foolish for Leica not to loan you some equipment. Your shots are outstanding and really make the camera more desirable. I’ve seen the other samples so far and yours are the best. Although I must credit the DPReview samples for being some of their best yet.

    The monochrome is way out of my budget, but the X2 might have a chance depending on if you can get your hands on it.

  32. Steve – I love your site but you’re hillarious!

    You write “If I can be honest, I am strangely attracted to this camera even though it is priced at $8000, the same cost as a Leica M9-P”

    When has the price of any Leica anything ever stopped you from being attracted to it?
    When was the last time you were not attracted to any Leica anything?

    Seriously.

  33. Lovely set of images Steve, you were inspired!

  34. Very intriguing camera, hell.. the images are stunning! I think I’ll be shooting with my Lightroom 4 B&W preset with my NEX7 from now on! :D

  35. Hi Steve,

    It’s lovely as a lovely thing, as your samples amply show. I’d imagine one of these, a small set of lenses and a very, very good B/W printer would be able to produce dazzling prints.

    I can appreciate what it represents, in much the way I can appreciate the engineers’ work when the Murciélago adds forty-five horsepower and sheds seventy pounds. Alas, both are pleasures I’ll only experience in my fevered mind.

    My sole question for you: Why didn’t you hop on Das Bierbike and extend your test?

    Prost,

    Rick

  36. Very interesting camera. I think the cost is a little steep but what I’ve seen so far, the quality is phenomenal. Also, the ability to easily shoot at night with ISO greater than 1600 and at a speed greater than 1/250 second is real enticing.

  37. Sometimes Love make us blinds eheh this is clearly Steve case ^^’ …Seriously maybe it’s time to invest in a b&W pp editing workshop instead of this over-hyped camera….

    Leica this is an ultimatum (ahahah): you better give me back an R system for photokina!

  38. is it normal to see some white faces looking too black in some of the pics?

  39. More than happy with my gf2 and x100 :)

    Thanx Steve for your honnest report !

  40. Love these shots Steve.

  41. I like the M9. I also like the M9M. But which do I prefer? There’s only one way to find out. FIGHT!

    Also isn’t it called the Monochrom without the e?

  42. If I had huge amounts of disposable income I’ll fully admit I would buy the new M9 Monochrome. However, since I don’t, and probably never will, I’ll just stick to the film rangefinders I have and enjoy the heck out of them. The absolute wonderful thing about film is it doesn’t take a lot of money to use quality equipment. Just a willingness to learn.

    I don’t know, I’m not in any way shocked or even disappointed with the latest Leica announcements and the resulting price tags. For me it’s pretty much expected. Thankfully thanks to their amazing quality the used Leica market will be alive and strong for the rest of my lifetime.

  43. I don’t know why Steve is moaning about the 50 Summicron ASPH. It is a trophy item for rich guys, to go along with their $350 Hermes ties. So what. Get the regular Summicron, or a Zeiss Planar, and go have a good time.

    If you wait a while, you’ll be able to get the M10 in monochrome. That might be nice. Or a Fuji XPro-1M.

    • Because the 50 Summicron is suppose to be the workhorse of Leica photographers, a lens that has made it’s name with it’s many incarnations. You would be hard pressed to find a long term Leica guy that didn’t shoot with one. So for the new model to approach Noctilux pricing levels it definitely brings a stiff cough to ones throat.

      • But you’ve answered the reason for the pricing right there….. “you would be hard pressed to find a long term Leica guy that didn’t shoot with one”.

      • I’ve been wondering for awhile, what do those Leica lens names mean? summilux, summicron, noctilux, perhaps, you or someone else could tell me.

        thanks

        Jeffrey

        • It refers to the maximum aperture of each lens:

          Summilux : 1.4
          Summicron: 2.0
          Noctilux: .95
          Summarit: 2.5
          Elmarit: 2.8
          Summaron: 2.8 or 3.5
          Elmar: 50mm 2.8 Elmar-C 90mm: 4.0

  44. I remember mortgaging my soul in 1987 to buy my first Leica, an M4-P, and I shot thousands of rolls of tri-x in it. I love b&w photography. But this is such a niche camera… Almost no pros can afford to spend $8,000 on a camera that will not make them money, so it is a product for the rich enthusiast and artist only. Quite disappointed that Leica chose to spend its time developing this camer when they could have spent the time and money to develop a better M for the people who depend on the camera to make a living. I would love to have this IQ, but my clients demand color.

    • It seems to be an interest for some here to start experimenting to shot B&W straight out of the camera. That’s what I use my X100 for, nothing else, just black&white jpegs. Fun. Makes you think differently. My recipe/settings is Monochrome with green filter and leave it on 1 full stop under exposed. Seldom any smaller than f2 and compensate with the ND filter if to bright.
      If you have a X100 try it out. Kind of creamy.

      • Zand, is that done just to save time , or is there an image difference when you shoot with the camera set for B&W versus changing it later in PP?

        Best,

        Jeffrey

        • Jeff, nah, you can achieve the same result in PP but with these settings I very seldom do any PP at all, I really like the outcome. But, again, I think the difference is when you know that you shooting b&w only with no fallback on a color or a raw version is that you are thinking differently. Approaching your target with another mindset. Fun. I seen some shooters also advocates to set contrast to a higher level to mimic tri-x.
          Anyways, I, for one think the Mono-M is a great idea even if I can’t afford one.

      • The X100 is a black and white master!

    • I think the MM shares much a product platform with M9, meaning Leica didn’t need to spend much on the R&D for the MM. Honestly, it is a modified sensor which simply with the color arrays taken away. The manufacturing may not be as expensive as to product a color sensor. Leica should actually release MM at a much lower price tag, say $5000 which is still expensive enough, a lot more people would be willing to pay for it!

  45. I think Steve should thank Sean by buying a subscription to his site!

  46. Steve, thanks for your wonderful efforts during what must be a stressing and frustrating time. To not give you a MM for your stay is unforgivable.
    Looking at the few shots you took during the brief session you had, they are far better than the others I’ve seen as B&W demands interesting content.
    B&W photography is nostalgic for many of us older folks (I’m not THAT old) but more importanlty colour often distracts us from the overall story in the picture.
    If we set our own cameras to B&W or convert them with software we are not even half way there as we need content, composition, texture, good lighting and more to make a good picture.
    Now if we can shoot like Robert Doisneau we will never need the MM. However we all know most of Liecas customers who will buy the MM can’t shoot for crap.

  47. Nice set of photos Steve! Enjoyed them very much.

  48. Wow, I’d shoot at 10,000 all the time! Bring on the ND’s!

    I like the look of the noise, better than the grain of my film after going through my crappy scanner.

  49. Steve! These are some of your best photos! I love the one of the girl on the bike with the phone to her ear..that is what a Leica image is all about and it reminds me of a 21st century HCB. The first image has so much subtle emotion to it and the photo of the dog just pops off the screen. You say you didn’t expect to capture anything special in one hour but I believe you did the exact opposite and these photos rank up with any I’ve seen come from the camera so far. I know my opinion is just one of many but I do research photography as part of my work so I definitely speak from experience.

    All the politics aside this is obviously a special camera in the digital age and while I’m concerned Leica seems to be aiming for a tiny market I cannot fault the tools they are producing (maybe the X2 excluded).

    I said before I feel like there is a disconnect between the products offered and 75% of their customer base but who knows maybe there will be that $3500 mirror-less camera that will be for the every-leica-man. So until Photokina comes around I will hold off judgement.

    I really hope you are able to review this camera but until then congrats on the pictures, I think they are really special.

  50. a few months ago i was planning to break the bank and buy a leica …
    Now with this announcement i’m done with leica….
    this brand is no more about photography …. it’s pure snobbery ….

    - $7200 for a Leica 50 Summicron ASPH APO … who said photography is about microcontrast
    - A monochrom sensor ???? The best black and white photos are post processed … a few years ago it was in the chemical lab , nowadays it’s in lightroom … a MONOCHROM IMAGE CANT BE POST PROCESSED no matter how sharp it is….

    very very very disapointed by leica.
    all these new russians rich guys are going to be the heart of their new user base …. i can’t imagine how good the photos they gonna take with their HERMES special edition leica are gonna be good.

    good luck leica i’m done with the idea of buying a leica …

    • “The best black and white photos are post processed … a few years ago it was in the chemical lab , nowadays it’s in lightroom … a MONOCHROM IMAGE CANT BE POST PROCESSED no matter how sharp it is….”

      So photos shot for dozens of years on Tri-X (or TMax or PanF…) can’t and weren’t post processed eh?

  51. the monochrom is not a niche camera, it’s a hyper-niche camera.
    ditto for the 50 cron asph. let’s not forget the hermes edition!!!
    the x2 upgrade is a joke, can someone tell leica the pixel wars are over.

    steve, you said leica needed to hit a homerun. this was like an infield single.

  52. “$7200 to gain some sharpness and micro-contrast?” many say that about the entire Leica line. I think it is the law of diminishing returns but as long as there is a return there is place for Leica, pushing the envelope of what can be done with metal and glass. That said I wish I could afford one someday.

  53. Thanks a lot to you Steve for giving such a good feel of the atmosphere of your Berlin trip, the people you met and the b&w mood. Great for someone like me who’s known the city through many visits since the sixties and met my wife at Check-point Charlie 48 years ago. (Photographically irrelevant but part of the scene for me!) Sorry you had such a hassle with the net.
    The technical and artistic point of the M9M is quite clear, and if someone gives me one, I shan’t be saying no. In the meantime I’d settle for an X2M if one were made – I might even think it worth saving for! (Though I think there’s a certain arrogance about sticking with a 230K display.)
    For now I’ll go on enjoying my newly acquired NEX C3, which I am very enthusiastic about (resolution, low light high ISO performance despite f3.5 limitation) and enjoy Leica fantasies and other people’s pictures.

  54. Are Leica’s becoming jewelery? Prices like these make me wonder. This sounds like a fantastic camera for what it is, but I wouldn’t want to carry this in a lot of places that I wander through. Thanks Steve for your usual balanced reviews, a pleasure to read.

  55. Hey Steve,these are the best pics you have posted on the site.Even the bike has SOUL!!
    In contrast [no pun intended] the OMD shots looked clinical to me.

    Agree with Ian above.Content is everything,not elusive technical perfection.

    If Leica don’t do the sensible thing you could always borrow your buddy S***s Mono M.

    Kudos for saying what’s on your mind,heart on sleeve kinda guy like myself,even if it means pissing off the industry types.

  56. Dear Steve,

    So after my one hour with this lovely camera I asked myself…”would I sell my M9-P to buy an Monochrome”? Well, I wouldn’t want to… but yes I would. Because after viewing my sample images I do see a difference between this output and what comes out of an M9 with conversions. Yes, $8000 is INSANE and much to expensive (it really is) but damn Leica, you always have a way to get to my heart and soul

    I like the way you try to “save the day” but this post and the previous ones just ooze disappointment to me; not only about the Berlin event but also about the releases that were announced.

    For that past 10-15 years (or more) Leica has been targeting a niche (=rich) market which is their right to do so and they have been quite succesful at it and to much of my surprise they’ve even been able to snatch some other (poorer) enthousiasts along the way too. Remember after things went autofocus and digital Leica was pretty much dead in the water… So kuddos to them for that!

    But seriously, a MONOchrome camera?? What brainfart of a marketing guy/ girl came up with that one? And at a pricetag that most of us have to save a half a lifetime for? At first I almost wet my pants when I read this news but on second thought I thought “this might actually sell” since it IS a Leica and there are enough fools falling for this kinda marketing because that is what it is really.

    I’m not gonna dispute the quality of Leica glass because that would be futile, I’ve always enjoyed their quality on all levels (ex R user) but I’m glad I walked away from that. Not because of the quality but because of the price-tags and the realisation that you can achieve great pictures with other equipment as well and there are more than plenty examples to prove my statement. Apart from that the fact you walk around with an Olympus OM-D and a Voigtlander in Berlin right now just proves my point as well ;-))

    Photography is emotion, mere equipment is NOT…

    Have a great time in Berlin, it is a fantastic city and I will be visiting it again as soon as I get the chance.

    • You are right photography is an emotion but I do not think using a MM in any way degrades that and in most cases probably enhances it. If this camera came out instead of an M10 I could understand the widespread unrest but that is most likely not the case and the M10 will come out as planned.

      There are some stances I understand when it comes to this camera the most glaring being that everything about the camera is 3 year old technology so when the time comes for the M10 this guy will automatically feel dated. Then again it won’t mater because as you said it’s about the image taken with the camera and not the camera itself.

  57. How about using this M Mono and an Olympus OMD for color?

  58. I wonder if Leica will offer a conversion package from M9 to M9Monocrome? EG swap the sensors and software. This would be a way of getting the new quality without the huge cost. I only shoot B&W and would be happy to dump colour.

  59. Sigma dp1M (28mm) dp2M (45mm)
    30MP bayer equivalent
    NO CFA

    If Leica M9M ease of use is not a factor
    & ok with fixed lens
    Foveon sensor gives unique B&W
    which Bayer cant
    not even M9M

    • We will have to wait to see the results. The DP1 and DP2 Merrill, as of yet, are still not available. But… they seem to be very exciting new cameras.

  60. Leica is fighting two issues: the technical reputation and supplying the niche markets with great working tools. Back in the 50s-60s the Japanese companies came out with products that tarnished some of Leica’s technical reputation, and Leica responded with great products for the (then) top professional shooters, like the M3-M2, Summilux 1.4, and of course the Summicron. The Summicron was always held up as the best practical performing lens that could be made.
    Today Leica’s markets are more limited, but they still have serious gear for serious “old-school” photographers. They also sell “bling” and a fighting to keep their claim to be tops in optics.
    Their top optical performers are now so sophisticated and hard to manufacture that they will always be low production / high price items. But for serious photographers they make gear that (although expensive) is within reach and does great work. The current Summicron 50 (not asph) is as good a lens as 99.9% of photographers will even need, At around $2K it is worth it for many of us.
    Notice they didn’t discontinue it. The new lens would never be produced in high enough quantities, even if the price were in the $4K range, as it’s too hard to make, So they offer it at a huge premium to prove they can still make the best.
    The M9M is similar – outstanding performance, but for a very limited market. With low volume it will be expensive, but within reach of those who would consider a Leica M for serious use.
    I won’t be buying either on my retirement income. The new Summicron would be wasted on me – the old is good enough. But the M9M would be nice, as I love B&W work. But my M4 and Tri-X are still working after 44 years!

    • The new ($7000) Summicron isn’t available yet. Do we have a statement from Leica that the current Summicron will not be discontinued when the new one starts production?

      • The Technical data sheet on the Leica website for the new APO summicron (on the very first line no less) explicitly states the old Summicron is still available.

        People getting worked up over this lens need to realise the APO isnt a replacement for the 50mm Cron workhorse. This is basically Peter Karbe and Leica creating a “halo” lens, absolute optical perfection, simply to show that it can be done. Those who can afford it will by it, but the old cron will soldier on for those with unlimited budgets.

  61. I got my M9M, I got my M9M!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/30154250@N06/4147161627/sizes/l/in/photostream/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/30154250@N06/4216717634/in/photostream/lightbox/

    Oh, crap, wait…that’s my poor man’s digital leica…a CL and a summicron with scanned film.

    The announcement of this camera really just makes it apparent that shooting black and white film is where it’s at.

    Jay

  62. It’s a shame Leica didn’t allow you to test the monochrome more :(
    After all, I bought Leica equipment because of your Internet site-and I’m sure many others have too!

    • So right Alex. I’m saving for a M9-P due to Steve’s site. Do Leica not realise the influence of Mr Huff.

      • You’re so right. I’m sure that tons more of people have gone out and bought Leicas after reading this blog than after seeing photos of Cartier-Bresson, Salgadao, Winogrand, and obviously dozens more of great photographers… Leica should definitely pay a tribute to him.

  63. I didn’t notice the first time I looked at “buslady,” but having a second look at that image I realize you photographed her at the moment she exchanged glances with the person at the foreground right edge of the frame. Maybe it’s her look, maybe the “video” sticker on the left, not sure but that image has the soul you mentioned. Great image.

  64. I hope all the success for Leica but the M9M and apo summicron is not for me. Silly product really.

  65. Steve some of the best images I think I have seen from you, pretty impressive given 1 hour.

    I like the M9M but am more than happy with my M9, nice having the option for color even if the monochrome is not up to the standard of the M9M.

    Berlin is a great place to photograph.

  66. maybe the new 50mm is to address the size issue of the noct?

  67. Nice shots Steve, but the B&W Leica … meh. I’ll take a Nex5n, a few adapted Rokkors, the CV 35/1.2 and Silver EFX. The DR of the 5n can easily match anything a Leica puts out. Now that SLR magis 50mm OTOH, I love the rendering of that lens, must resist….

  68. For all of you who are saying that the high prices will do Leica no good in the end take a look at cars. Ferrari, RR, Bently, Maserati. Those are all brands that ask insane prices for there products and are doing well. And the average Ferrari consumer is no Schumacher. Leica is making the right choise in creating an exclusive brand for a nice market they only cater to. Unfortunately it’s not the best choise for us who want a leica.

  69. I won’t buy a digital Leica M until the 2004 vintage rear display is updated.

    • You should never look at that thing except for menu adjustments and maybe histogram. Why do you need more resolution? For what? Boy, I did all the great photographers of the past survive and thrive with film, without looking at a stupid image 3 seconds after it was taken, on a tiny little screen.

  70. The rear LCD is no better than my 2004 Digilux 2.

  71. Several of your higher contrast images are among the best samples I’ve seen on the internet. For some reason other samples are rendered very low contrast.

  72. Just a comment on the 50 APO ASPH Summicron. It’s price reflects manufacturing cost plus development cost plus demand. Leica didn’t set the price on a whim. And they are not going to sell this jewel at a loss. The lens probably costs more to make than the 50 Summilux ASPH at the dealer price. Add 30% for Leica’s profit and another $1,500 dealer markup and you have a $6,200 lens.
    Leica makes several lenses that I’ll probably never buy – like their 50 Nocti or the 24 Summilux or even the new 35 Summilux – but I’m glad they make them. Same goes for the S2. Someone has to have the drive to create the best possible product.
    However, I’m more than happy with my 1969 50 Summicron and my 1993 35 Summicron and I’m not tempted by the new glass… but I may start buying lottery tickets again.

  73. if the new 50mm lens that is designed for the M10 is $7200, how much is the M10 gonna be 12k??
    I’m scared!

  74. “I know for a fact there have been thousands of you who read this site, who are NOT rich, who went out and bought an M9 even though they really could not justify or afford it. Many of us, myself included, stretched our budgets to be able to purchase the camera and one or two lenses max. Why? Because while we may not have all of the money in the world, we have passion and we want to shoot with what our heart tells us to shoot with. For me, it’s usually Leica.”

    Thank you so much for this Steve! Pricing these people out of your future products is… Leica must be HIGH!

    It is unthinkable that without these people Leica can enjoy the success they have today. But it’s their product and their marketing department, however Leica wants to game it is up to them! Or so they thought! For now, I’d keep what I have and quit the the Leica game if it’s heading to where I think it’s heading.

  75. I still don’t understand why the M9 Monochrome is considered too expensive but the M9-P, which is only cosmetically different from the M9, is not.
    I really don’t get it. At least the Mono version is functionally different and offers something the stock M9 does not.

    Anyways, I may try to sell/trade one of my M9′s for the Mono version… I guess I’ll have to dig my coloured filters out of the closet as the unfiltered images look as bland as b&w film without contrast filters.

    • Me neither. The monochrom as I understood is the M9-P with a B&W sensor: same cosmetic features (shapphire screen cover; black chrome), so same price.

  76. Steve:

    I’m not in the demographic for an eight grand camera, but thanks for the link to the bier bike, dude!

  77. I too made an investment in Leica when the M9 came out, but lately I’ve been seriously considering packing it in and selling my M9. Like most people here, I too enjoy keeping up with technology and advances, but the Leica “ecosystem” may just not be people like me with limited resources. The sad part is that I don’t think the Leica people could care less. I can hear them now: “So what? If you can’t afford it, then get lost.” And frankly, I’m not sure I am getting a $4,000 photo quality difference from my Nikon equipment anyway.

  78. Nice shots Steve I still think you can get just as good shots on an m9 and much better on film m6 or m7
    Really a waste of money don’t sell your m9p buy an m7 if you don’t have one already Leica should really give you the dam camera for all the interest you have created for them which in my opinion is worth big bucks man I posted one shot on your site and got way over a million hits wow thank god it was flickr and not my site heavy traffic that is power Steve that’s worth bucks I say we all send emails to Leica telling them to give Steve something for all the dam business he has generated for them lol I really do think that is worth something it wouldn’t be like a bribe or make Steve bias just happy c’mon Leica appreciate key people people all over the world read this site get with it don’t be so Austrian

  79. Steve, Thanks for the images and narrative. While this camera is quite simply not feasible for me to purchase until at least 2014, at the soonest, it certainly has my attention, and I hope it remains in the Leica production line. I believe in the merit of a sensor dedicated to, and optimized for, monochrome images.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip to Europe!

  80. Why not a Fujifilm X100M Limited Edition…

  81. NEW LEICA ANNOUNCEMENT!

    Today, Leica has apunveiled yet another camera that have been working on since 1998.

    The new Leica P: Photographer.

    Features of the new Leica PP include:
    - no LCD, no preview, all controls from top dials.
    - spring driven, electronically uncoupled, shutter release with hand crank
    - shutter speeds up to 1/1000
    - ISO up to 2000

    Just as the new Leica MM will train you to be a better b&w photographer (comma) the new Leica PP (comma) with no LCD preview and mandatory down-time between shots (comma) will train you to become a better photographer (period)

  82. Well I was told that, decades ago, a then brand new set of Leica camera plus a lens sold for almost the same as, if not higher than, a brand new relatively up market car. If that’s correct, we would to thank Leica for being so considerate and generous in the way they price their products nowadays, for US$15,200 these days can’t buy you much of any relatively up market car;-)

    Joking (or venting) aside, the IQ in Steve’s photos above is indeed pretty awesome. Thanks Steve for sharing the photos. Hm… just wondering what the results can be when this M9M is paired with the cron 50AA…

  83. I enjoy reading your “reviews”. More personal impressions, which I find far more valuable than the charts and graphs.

    Price: Leica is clearly a premium brand and seemingly successful in selling their products at a premium price. Not for everyone but if you can make the entry point and find value in what you get for the money spent, then buy and enjoy.

    For me, I like the concept of getting the images I want without compromise: no Photoshop plugin, no tinkering with more software. That the value aspect in my decision process.

    Will I buy an MM? Yea. I’ll wait for the second batch off the assembly line. Don’t want to debug an $8K camera.

    As for the $7200 lens? No. I’m still trying to learn how to get the best I can from my Noctilux.

    Anyway, thanks for the effort to travel to Berlin, keep this web site operating and your insights.

  84. Steve, I am glad that you were able to experience Berlin and a Leica product release. I’m sure the opportunity to meet so many of your colleagues and compare notes and equipment was worth the trip, even if the new products (and several of the previous sample images) left you a little flat.

    For me I will pass on the MM, as it’s trying to solve a problem that I don’t have. I’m very happy with my M9-P, and my conversions in Silver Efex Pro do not leave me wanting. Yes, a majority of my images are B&W, but that doesn’t mean I want to give up the option to capture something wonderful in color, and carrying around two M bodies does not appeal to me.

    I do think the SLR Magic Hyperprime lens was more than up to the task of showing off the MM. It’s a lens that continues to amaze me every day, and alongside my 50 Summilux ASPH is a winning combination, which is why I will also not be ordering the new APO Summicron.

    I am a little concerned about Leica at this point. I am not a buyer for any of the three items that were released in Berlin. But as someone who owns two M9s (primary and backup) and nearly every modern Leica lens from 18mm to 90mm I have to ask myself, “If I’m not Leica’s target demographic then who is?”.

    Be safe traveling and hope to see you in China sometime soon.

    Stephen

  85. Leica is becoming more and more of a luxury cult and less and less of a camera company at all concerned with utility of their products.

  86. Hi Steve!

    Thx for your clear statements to

    a) the really sometimes boring and unprofessional presentation on May 10th…
    b) price tags set by LEICA

    I already expressed my sadness about LEICA going back to its old behaviour and outmanouver themselves on the market.

    I really do hope they will make a meeting and talk and reflect honestly about all the negative feedback and start to be more reasonable – else they will be kicked out of the market and nothing less.

  87. I remember shooting, processing, printing contact sheets, and printing in a red light dark room. Plus X, Tri X, Ilford, Agfa, and Polaroid Negs 35 mm, 6X6, 6X7, 6X9, 6X12, 9X12 and so. When we loaded the camera with a film, we chose what we wanted to get, B&W or Color. Digital media, today, gives us more choices after the shot. The choice is ours, as always has been. Do not criticize those who want to decide before shooting. We did it for many years and the arguments were long for either side. It is only a matter of choice and likes and dislikes. If you want to choose between the Monochrome and the M9-P is a mater of taste and budget. I wish I had the option to choose. Others have. Let them Be. I would like you to let me be if had the money and I am pretty sure you would feel the same way…. I wish we had the chance, if only for 1 hour…..

  88. Hi guys,

    I fall in love with the X 2, I think it is absolutely beautiful.

    Never had the desire for the M 9 (14 times the price of my Nikon 5 100 + 18-105 and cannot even shoot children running around in the dark, same weight with 2 lenses), even less for a M 9 M with LESS for more money.

    Let me get it right, I am not jealous that I cannot afford the M (I could, my former hobby was hifi, 10 Ks buys you some cables).

    X 2: obviously has a LCD outdated for years. Today I went to the en.leica-camera.com website to download the manual for the x 2 – it was the one for the V Lux 40. So I tried the Dutch version – it was the French one! Later I found out that the Dutch version came after the French one.
    Big improvement: EVF!!! It is obviously an Olympus for more than twice the money ($ 525 to 249, free shipping!!). Olympus is available in black AND silver (10 bucks less than the black one) , will check out if the silver one looks better on the silver/black x 2.

    V Lux 3: nearly the double price of the Panasonic! Ok, you get some kind of a software that I don’t need. No better firmware, NO extra lens coating. They not even have a brochure as they had for the V Lux 2.

    M 9 Hermes: has this anything to do with photography? Double the price for some already overpriced gear only to be one of 100 or 300? Ever saw some kids in the Third World looking for their only meal of the day?

    I always had the attitude to buy less things but with better quality and use them for a long time but with Leica I don’t see any commitment for excellency any more.

    I am German but have been living in Thailand for 17 years. I should be proud that Leica still produces in the country where it was invented, we lost TV, hifi etc long time ago to China. You can ask a lot of money for excellent products as Benz, Porsche, BMW and Audi do – it works! But these companies are still at the top of innovations regarding fuel efficiency, safety etc.

    Now you will really hate me: yesterday I went to Ken Rockwell’s page and read what he thought about Leica in the Fuji x 1 pro review.

    I hope my rage will settle before the X 2 arrives in Thailand.

    Best regards
    Heiner

    • “..I should be proud that Leica still produces in the country where it was invented..”

      No; the M9 body and rangefinder are made in Portugal, at the plant which Leica has operated there since 1974.

      The final -a-s-s-e-m-b-l-y- (inserting the sensor and screwing in the rangefinder and then testing) is done in Germany. The cameras are produced in Portugal, and then calibrated and put into a cardboard box (for shipping) in Germany. The engraving on the back “Made in Germany” is a lie. It should read “Assembled in Germany”, like the old “Monté en Sarre” Leicas after the last European war: they were manufactured in Wetzlar, and then the pieces were sent over the river into France, where they were assembled (“monté”) in Sarre (just across the Rhine).

      When you buy an M, it’s designed, and the final assembly is done, in Germany ..but (apart from its sensor) it’s made in Portugal.

      • Hi, yes, this is correct. I’m a Brit living in Portugal and Leica cameras are indeed made here and just screwed together and tested in Germany. They should really be labelled ‘Made in Portugal’. About this mono variant – I’m a pro photog for 30+ years and would not buy one, what for? If I wanted top notch mono images I’d just switch back to film for black and white and print it myself.

  89. steve,
    great pics …hope your enjoying unt dauchland !!!

  90. This is a camera which is the most desirable to every photo-enthusiast, but my only doubt, if more than a few have the money and guts to buy it. Simply, you’ll get an M9 (god) in this same price and shoot colour and b/w at the same time. At this present day, when all are going digitals, there is none left who does not post process the data after clicking. My point is, you can get similer (or better) b/w result out of your M9 after a process. Plus, you can get the option of shooting in colour and more RGB data to toy with. Simply an M9 owner won’t buy it as he already has the power of superior image quality, and a newby won’t buy a b/w sensor with so much price and lew lens with even more moolah.

    But don’t I want one? Sure. And of course like Steve, if Leica provides me one. :)

    Lastly, b/w sensor is seeming to open a new genre of future pro-cams (serious). I can see Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic joining it with their offerings by 2014. And any one of them will work superb as a second cam in my kit.

  91. Wow
    I looked and relooked at your pics, looks like film camera, meaning beautiful.
    And WOW it is expensive , inorder to buy it i need to sell my M9 ( which i love) and that is not easy as i i will get a 2nd hand price for it and loose money
    On the other hand the B\W is beautiful
    Shit

  92. I can’t understand why they’ve released this M9-P b&w at this point now — so close to M10. The best move is to hold up until the M10′s announcement. The new gear can kill this monochrom having best iso capabilities and more resolution (which have to be expected at least) with a bonus: colour. Or it might be a foreshadow of a huge increase of prices?

  93. It’s strange that people somehow feel that they have the right to be able to afford a camera. Most of the negative comments I see here and everywhere is about its price. Disregard that for a second, would you want the camera? I would. I would also love to drive a Farrari, but I wouldn’t be whining at the manufacturer for not pricing it in my budget. The people who really want it will find a way to own it, and the rest of us will watch them in envy, such is life.

    Interesting thought on how the new ‘Cron is made to satisfy the need of the new M10 sensor. I believe Leica has once said that they looked into improving the old ‘Cron design and found it to be too cost prohibitive to do it. I guess they were right! Back then, they must have thought that people wouldn’t be willing to pay for such an expensive Summicron. But times have changed, and I bet there will be a small amount of buyers for that lens, and Leica will price it and limit the production so no one lose.

    My inability to afford these gears is my own problem to deal with. I’m still glad that Leica is out there pushing the boundaries and raising the bars so everyone still benefit from it.

    • I’m not sure I would compare a Leica to Ferrari as all parts of a Ferrari is optimized to perfection to make it a great driving machine. This clearly not the case with a Leica which has so many compromises even though the main part which is IQ is luckily not compromised.

    • Spot on, David.

    • David,

      I think it’s more of a perception of value for money. Like say your example-Ferrari, imagine that it runs as fast as it does right now and cost as expensive as it is but It uses synthetic leather or at worst velour for seating, plastics galore panels and dashboard like what would see typically on a Toyota or honda. Do you think as a buyer you are getting your money’s worth.

  94. Pentax K645D Medium Format. Same price somehow, cheaper though good lenses. Only Drawback would be size. But sorry folks. Leica is overdoing it with prices. If it would not be for Panasonic there would bei no Leica Kamera AG. They saved Leica with their Know-How for digital photography. It is the same with Leica like with Coke, Apple. Selling a myth on an arrogant basis.

    I appreciate the idea of a monochrom camera. But not at that price tag. Interesting enough that those weird expensive lenses are not good enough for the resolution of the M9M that eeven more expensive lenses need to be crafted.

    Hope Leica’s sales will decrease to get ‘em grounded. The body is overpriced. Nobody can tell me that the price is justified even if it would be all crafted in Germany where wages are high.

    • Apple is where it is right now because it is constantly innovating like no other, and it is selling premium products at moderate prices. In a way, Apple is like Ikea. Or Ford. Leica on the other hand may have been like this once, but these days it’s more like a German luxury car maker: Expensive as shit, but with aging technology under the hood.

      Regarding the lenses I think it’s kinda funny that Nikon seems to feel their current lenses are good enough for their crazy-high resolution D800. This makes you really question Leica’s statements about the neccessity of those APO lenses.

  95. Interesting that on other sites (dpreview) people disagree about the high quality of the M9M. So is it about Voodoo?

  96. I think Leica has jumped the shark with this one. Photographer Josef Hoflehner uses a digital back on his Hasselblad that uses a color sensor and his images are some of the best ever made, film or digital. I think Leica is confusing great engineering with great photography.

  97. Hi Steve
    Great review. I feel that most will wait and see what the M10 is all about, but black and white fine art photographers have probably died and gone to heaven with the Monochromes announcement. What interests me is wether or not the non Apo Summicron will stay in production. This is still a fabulous lens and although very expensive is with a good amount of scrimping just about obtainable. The new Apo on the other hand will be beyond the pockets of most (including professional) photographers. Will the new Leica factory produce a broader line of lenses at different price points or produce less but more exclusive products? Interesting times ahead in the next couple of years for Leica and it’s current customer base.

  98. If Leica can give me that same ISO2000 performance in the coming M10 at ISO800, they have my vote..
    Great low light option for the M shooter, which it was a bit cheaper.

  99. Hi Steve,
    Great article. i took the time to read all 86 replies to your post. I too have some mixed feelings. But let me ask sth first, which I do not understand yet: in our colour-DNG shots, we are used to adjust the black and white conversion using the simulated filter settings in silver efex pro. Using a yellow filter, green, …

    How do you do this in the M9-Monochrom…? If using DNG, how does the system interpret settings? I guess we can pre-set a color filter in the menue. But if shot in DNG, can you adjust afterwards??

    Concerning my mixed feelings: i do somehow understand a monochrome camera. Pure. As pure as a picture taking high-end machine can get. Pure and simple. At the same moment, the release of the Hermes-M9 proves the contrary: an heavily fashion loaded collectors item, not pure and simple, and definetly not made to take pictures… How moch is that thing anyway? I am sure, there will be collectors, who happily buy one of them, and who put the original box into a soft clothing, to not only keep the camera in original conditions, but also the box, in which it came with. This I think is contradictory to the idea to produce pure and minimalistic picture-taking-machines.

    I own the original M8, with a new WATE and a used Noctilux. And i am currently saving for the M9. I will stick to my plan and get the M9-P, but the current direction of the decisions of Leic make me thinking a bit. The purpose for me having a Leica is, to have quality, and simply the best lenses. I do not consider the camera as a toy. The fashion-approach takes away some seriousness of it, i think.

    Again, Steve, great and very interesting discussion here,

    Falk from Germany

    • “..in our colour-DNG shots, we are used to adjust the black and white conversion using the simulated filter settings in silver efex pro. Using a yellow filter, green, …

      How do you do this in the M9-Monochrom…?”

      You have to think first, before taking the shot(s), and fit a filter onto the lens before you shoot: red, yellow or orange to blacken, or boost, the darkness of a blue sky compared with white clouds; green filter to darken red lips, etc. That’s how it was done in the days of b&w film..

      The b&w sensor doesn’t “know” what colours it’s receiving, so you have to pre-filter the light which reaches the sensor: red to filter out blue (thus giving a darker sky) and green to filter out red, thus giving darker lips, etc.

  100. No one likes a naked king.

  101. Hi poppop,
    ;-)
    … Good point!

  102. Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

  103. NO WIRELESS, NO CAMERAS TO PLAY WITH?

    Do these guys realise that it costs to go to an opening/product release unless it’s in your home city? Seriously, Berlin is a great place and I hope you enjoy it BUT do you think it’s a tad obnoxious to have people travel to hear some monologue and then go home?

    So there was food and drink, cheese sandwiches and cordial, weak cordial for that matter I’m guessing. What did they have to offer considering the expense and time one goes to, to be present at this event? I really hope you enjoy Germany, I’m so sorry to hear the lack of appreciation Leica had for their guests.

  104. It is Leica’s right to price their product whatever the amount. It is not my duty to buy, no one forces me to make a purchase. If their price is higher than I can afford, then I just simply bite my nails and live without it. One day if I had the money, I’d buy whatever product that interest me……regardless the price, and would laugh at rants many people made simply because they couldn’t afford it.

    Thank you Steve for the brief review, great pictures.

    • Hi Anton,

      Well said! Cannot argue with that and totally agree about the meaningless whinin’ about the cameras intended purpose or lack thereoff + too high a price, too little this and too much of that;o) – The fact remains; if You want it enough and can ‘afford’ it; You’ll get it…. And that being said I just got ‘rid of’ my lovely M9-P and preordered the M9-M. And NO, Im NOT ashamed – hahaha – however I just barely managed to squeeze out every amount of cash possible from ‘older’ gear to make this happen. For me its a dream-camera come true as was the M8.2+M9 when those came around…. I even wanted this more than an M10…. (Well, the future is offcourse yet unkown – obviously…)

      Best Regards
      klehmann

    • Your point is fair but can be argued if you are invested in the Leica system!

      I swapped over to Leica 10 years ago, presently proud owner of the M7 and M9 with 21, 50 and 90 which I make do. Problem is, it’s my profession and there is no advancement in any respect to the camera, it’s just different. More alarmingly, the price of the new lens is a warning of what is to follow.

      So my point is, for us who have been loyal to this company, which is not easy to do financially, are being held to ransom. I’m thinking now as I’m sure others are, can I continue with a camera manufacturer which increases price year after year with little to no improvements?

      The lens is over 100% increase of the old version.

      • Stefan — your point about being held at ransom is a really good one, and drives home the point why many people feel frustrated with Leica in the last 48 hours. Well said!

      • Thanks for the kind respond Stefan, really appreciate your point

        I think all Leica glasses were made with its own distinctive perfection. The classic and the aspherical, each has character of their own, some love it, some loath it. But both are a lifetime investment (IMO). I invested in some aspherical 50mm lenses, the favorite is still my 57 years-old summicron rigid.

        This new summicron is meganfoxly irresistable, I can’t afford it….but I’m not gonna push the red button and send Leica a complaint letter, just biting my nails and be happy with whatever I’ve got.

        Cheers.

        • Hi Anton,

          Can’t argue with the fact that the lenses are an investment but there is a problem with cost.

          I’ve been to over 40 countries in the last decade on work. The problem faced is that when costs go up, where the writing is on the wall, so does insurance.

          Press photography puts you in some horrible places and this includes your camera. Most of my competition will be seen with a Nikon D3, indestructible, heavy and obvious… did I mention heavy? The Leica lets you get shots not possible due to it’s not an intimidating tool and also you’re not fatigued nearing the end of the day as a kit weighs less than 1/3 of the Nikon.

          If anything happens midst shoot/objective, the camera, lens etc need to be replaced quickly, so no time to put in a claim, you deal with that later. As petty as this is sounding, if Leica products rise 50% which is on the cards, so does insurance.

          So sure, the lenses will last a life time (not camera) and photographers in the field might have an exciting life, but it’s not lucrative. Im sure Leica are well aware of this, they’d have the research numbers on income etc so I’m now convinced this is company is the Patek-Phillipe of the camera world.

          I come to this site as I like Steve’s reviews but equally, I like the fact that it’s a site where real enthusiasts come and share their views. Since the release, the lack of real advancements in the last 3 years, the price hike and considering the global economic woes, I’m convinced that Leica has left photography and have entered fashion… this has left me very sad indeed.

          :(

          • Spot on analysis but people who are not professional photographers do not understand these things and as you mentioned, people at Leica surely do but just don’t care, I think that what also points to the fact that they are moving towards being boutique brand is continuous emphasis that everything is hand assembled, has amazing feel etc which is fair enough, cameras are really beautiful but then they don’t bother to acknowledge for example the issue with memory cards for ages, so you have beautiful camera that can loose your days work, this also implies where the priorities are

  105. You guys are so funny complaining about how the leica M is expensive; nobody is putting a gun to your head and demand that you buy it… it’s not their fault if you suffer from GAS. Save the money and go see a shrink.

  106. Leica is funny…..so a bargain basement discounted price of 15K for a 50mm lens which is not a Lux and a camera which basically is a M9 – which just had a vasectomy.

    There is absolutely no doubt that leica images look really beautiful so I come to Steve’s blog everyday to look at and appreciate the beautiful lenses and cameras Leica makes and pictures Steve takes with these feats of engineering.

    I have now started buying lotto tickets…..in hope that someday I can buy a Leica of my own and stop drooling at Steve’s leicas. Until then I will use my perfectly good DSLR- which was state of the art in 2008 :) now worth next to nothing. ( what a great time to be a photographer)

    Sigma should clone a Leica and leave it with a M mount and not attempt to make a better “rangefinder” camera like Fuji did with X1 Pro.

    All I want is a second best camera….and no it does not need AF. Just a good old fashioned RF will do.

  107. Stunning images no doubt, however I think it comes down to the photographer and not the camera. I think Leica is starting to get down to Apple’s level now with the pricing/appeal/marketing strategy. It really is a shame. I respected them for making some of the best tools of the trade (although I could never afford their equipment), but not anymore. This just proves the old adage that if they sell it, someone would actually buy it. Okay, I think I’m going to sell ice-makers to Eskimos now.

  108. Andre, (#98), and Cartier-Bresson are both exactly right. I recently read a book about the formation and history of Magnum, including in-depth looks at the main personalities. I’d bet anything they didn’t sit around discussing their M3′s, or whatever. They talked about photography.
    Excellent pics, Steve. Anybody who can come up with that quality in an hour is fine photographer in anybody’s book.

  109. Man, this is a cool camera, way out of my price range, particularly as a 23-year old Army lieutenant, but the GAS attack is hard to ignore. Fortunately my M3 and M6 are sitting there eyeing me down to prevent me from getting too carried away. Digital black and white is good, I don’t have an issue with it, but Acros 100 just stands above for me. Still, my lust for all things Leica, my Veblen good of choice, is definitely there.

  110. Steve, you had the camera for just ONE hour but looking at the shots, I really think these are some of the best I’ve seen you take. There’s something really atmospheric and intriguing about them, including the bicycle shots. I think you had better buy that M Monochrome…somehow. You were made for each other.

  111. It’s just us poor people having a debate here. Leica wouldn’t care, the people who can afford the camera wouldn’t care either.

    The fact that there is so much debate going on proves that it is a very desirable camera. Everyone wants it, but perhaps only 1% of us could afford it.

    I guess this is what the name ‘Leica’ is all about.

  112. put a Ferrari 70′s engine in a 2012 body……yeah, ferrari body and engine…BUT, MEH!!!
    really want to shoot B&W (purist)…shoot film

  113. I think Leica advertising this camera for its high-ISO performance is pathetic at best and dishonest at worst. Sure, it may well be better in that area than the years old M9 – but the M9 isn’t competitive on noise to begin with. Even a NEX with its crop sensor(!) offers far better high-ISO performance than the M9! And now look at Canon’s and even Nikon’s newest full frame offerings, they are in a league of their own – despite their bayer filters! And I’m very skeptical if the M9M really stands a chance against the D800 in [em]any regard.

    Leica just reuses its years old sensing technology, leaves out the Bayer filter (for better or worse) and touts that as something revolutionary. It’s not. It’s still old technology, priced not just at a premium, but this time even more expensive than ever before. It would be perfectly acceptable if Leica had priced the M9 series cheaper, maybe as an entry model next to the premium M10. But this kind of technology, in 2012 and at that price, thats just too little, too late.

    That’s even more pressing with the X2: Basically that’s a Fuji X100 without the viewfinder at double the price. Sure, it’s got a Leica lens – but the Fuji X100 has a very good reputation, too, and a much better LCD (which is all the more important in the absence of a viewfinder on the X2). It seems like a joke that the Vlux, a relabeled Panasonic camera, has a better LCD than the X2!

    I understand that in this economy it’s tough for a company like Leica. Especially when they clearly can’t keep up with digital technology. But instead of going into even higher luxury spheres I think it would be smarter to appeal to more customers rather than less. Cosina Voigtländer is doing pretty good with high-quality but not too expensives lenses. SLRMagic just released an M-mount lens that rivals Leica’s Noctilux at less than half the price. I’m not saying Leica should lower the quality of its lenses, but it should offer a wider variety of price-ranges and it should think about whether margins of 200% or more are really a good idea in the long term, because that in turn means less revenue. Also, I think it is really time for Leica to partner up with a hardware manufacturer for all their cameras. The Vlux is completely made by Panasonic, the X2 has a Sony sensor and an Olympus EVF. They should do that with the M line as well.

    • You misunderstand the selling of a luxury brand: the point isn’t to have the latest and greatest technology or bleeding edge fashion; rather it’s to instill in your (niche) market a sense of exclusivity and the ability of the buyer to feel they are making a statement with their purchase.

      I’m not advocating this is good. This is just how luxury brands are sold.

      Leica claims (and I have no doubt) that they sell all they can produce without breaking a sweat. They’ve just broken ground for a new office and manufacturing complex so they really don’t have to compromise their plan.

      Their competition is not Fuji or Olympus but rather the mindset of those that buy luxury items. So long as there are several thousand people on a planet of 7 Billion who can afford and don’t mind spending $8K for a camera body and $11K for a lens and these people believe in the value of what they are buying, Leica will do just fine.

      • I’m not good at history, but I believe there was a time when Leica was an innovative premium company rather than a bland luxury brand, no? Their lenses are still the best money can buy (well, most of them, anyway) – it’s just that their cameras aren’t anymore. And it stands to question if the lenses are really worth their (ever increasing) prices when compared with competing products. I just feel that at some point Leica stopped trying to be the best and settled with making the most money with as little effort as possible.

        • Competing products?

          Please name all the other companies that offer a full-frame, rangefinder camera?

          • This is not a competition in the sense of Canon vs. Nikon or Leica vs. Fuji. This competition is to incrementally advance your product to sustain interest amongst your premium buyers. That’s it. You only need to look at the success of LVMH to understand this.

            Based on the comments on this thread (pro and con for the MM), Leica has done a superb job of incrementally advancing the M-product, creating a buzz of desire (despite the protests otherwise) and producing just enough “specialness” in the MM that they’ll sell every unit they can make over the next 12-18 months. I know I’ll get one once the second run off the assembly line hits the streets.

  114. I have a bad feeling reading all the posts… Now, I’m just wondering if I really want to continue take my Leica camera for shooting in streets. Perhaps Leica is loosing its saoul, perhaps Leica became suddenly too bling-bling and to hype for me… Perhaps Leica forgets its origins… Perhaps it’s me who changes… Perhaps I will sell my Leica and buy, for eg. a lumix gx1 or a nex-7… yes, just for the fun to shoot or perhaps an alpa 12tc…

  115. Third thought; if it can do less, it should cost less…

  116. The cameras does not only boost dynamic range.

    What is really making a difference is that it will be able to deliver true photo site to pixel sharpness, 1 photo site = 1 pixel, meaning there is no interpolation and no demosaicing, resulting in much more accurate micro-contrast.

    Basically it’s the same that Foveon does, accurate photo-site to pixel recording, absence of AA filter, and it’s true that Foveon has always been able to deliver stunning results in B&W, so both technologies have very similar underlying physical properties. So you might as well just get an SD1 and put Leica glass in front of it with an adaptor, it will get you very close to the Monochrom’s performance, minus it’s huge ISO performance.

  117. I am an avid b&w shooter. I use ISO 100 b&w Ilford film and my M7, two M6 TTL (one is a .85) and a Voigtlander R4A. I think my outdoor shots at this low ISO speed are excellent. However, I’d love to have the new Leica M monochrome camera for enabling indoor high ISO shots. I think I can probably do some nice indoor wedding shots with this new monochrome leica camera. Could turn out to be a unique and very different wedding photo shoot. I have too many cameras and more Leica lenses than I can use (including all the latest great lenses. May start to liquidate some of my photo assets and spend whatever money I still have before the government taxes it all away anyway. Will be lining up my “ducks” to raise cash. As a photographer addicted to b&w, I think I need to get my hands on the new monochrome Leica. I’m not impressed with the b&w shots that I get with my Leica M8.2. The higher ISO shots are poor.

  118. Leica. aRe indeed high, on LSD or Crack. What a waste of money for flat digital crap. Give me a MF camera with somw bw. It thrashes this TOY

    • Hi Ibraar,
      Purveyors of absolute photographic quality will actually fix their own rig – large format with tilt shift and all its glory. Leica is all about street photography and the power of small. They do not compete with medium or large format. For 35-mm format in such a tiny package, I think it is the best. The Foveon guys don’t seem motivated enough to make their package better.

  119. Hi Steve,
    Amazing snaps for a 1-hour play time. It is a testament of the fact that the camera inspires people. Your photography shows that you are quite enamored with this camera.

    The question is will it provide the same inspiration day after day? I guess yes. Looking at the sample shots, there is nothing to fault in the technical quality of the camera. And knowing Leica’s reliability, it would last ages. This camera would hold its value better than the M9 in 5 years time. I think it is quite cheap compared to the M9 for b&w shooters.

    Mo

  120. I am not so concerned with LCD size and resolution. When shooting with my DSLR cameras at work, yes, it is good to be able to verify I have recorded a good image, as I shoot evidentiary images for official purposes. During my personal time, however, with film I cannot review the images, and with digital, I may well not review the images with the LCD, other than perhaps to verify exposure.

    To be clear, I am not trying to convince anyone to change their opinion.

  121. This is the first Monochrome Digital Camera being offered in over 10 years, I’m happy to see it on the market. It’s interesting to read on other forums that some users of camera equipment from other vendors are hoping to see monochrome cameras make a comeback.

  122. Sorry,
    I have a M7. Just load it up with Tri-X, or Fugi, or Ilford. The camera cost tooooo much for want it is. B&W camera, onlly. Even from Leica that is just too much. I dare say the M10 maybe 12Gs. When I bought my Leica lens, I paid no more then three grand. I have the 35mm asph f1.4, 24mm asph f2.8 and the 90mm APO f2. I frist bought a 35 asph f2, when I traded it in on f1.4 I did a little sharpness, very little. The best example for me is that I bought 90 APO thinking I was buying a God lens, to date the sharpest lens in Leica line up. I saw little real difference in two lens. Beware Leica buyers. You can only make’em so good.
    As far as my 35mm f1.4, I am not getting the new one.
    Bottom line. M9 Mono too much money for what it is. Awise person will wait for all fools that buy this camera and realize they cannot live with out color. A year or so from now the will be cheap.Think of all guys that just have to get M10. Also if they go for high res and not low noise. Ms are for low light.
    Grasshoper, a wise Leica user is patent and understands that the Leica Co. is unwise in making their lens, in that they are all good and will last you a life time.

  123. To be honest. Much as I love Leica especially the quality from my M lenses, I think of Leica as a camera for film.For digital ( and any digital camera is a disposable product with a limited lifespan, not usually exceeding three years before it’s out of date), I’ll get an OMD, which I think is the first digital camera that makes the grade.And…well Leica is being Leica, and in some ways producing cameras like the MM when everyone really wants a digital CL. In this context, the X2 is a bit insulting. As expensive as it is, at least the MM meets the needs of the photographer that would buy it,..but the X2? Come on Leica. Your expensive suit begins to look a bit silly next to the Olympus wardrobe.
    Yes, in 2012 we got digital but we still got film.
    Probably the best of both worlds.. so if reason prevails..as others have said
    get a good film Leica for monochrome. Buy film! Shoot that lovely black and white with the real stuff
    and continue to support film. It’s good for you.
    and get whatever flavor of digital camera you like for everything else.
    And save huge money with no sacrifice in quality and enjoy photography without having to sell your
    car, house.dog every time a new Leicalux hits the market!
    For the past six years I haven’t bought any new digital cameras though of course I’ve taken an interest in them, read the reviews etc.But still using my M6 TTL, drop my film at the store, scan it to disc and make digital prints. Quality of the results is more than good enough. This set up works just fine.Free from the tyranny of having to upgrade every month, free to enjoy making pictures.

  124. Love it: only B&W, no postprocessing, no time spent in the silly computer, and that leica feeling (it’s so good I don’t even need any name on it). I’ll engrave my initials, Leica style, on top. I’ll also get a smelly leather half case– italian. I’ll use the collapsible cron of my M3 to make it quirkier. At last, a worthy back up for my B&W-only Ricoh GRDII.

  125. Good point Foryx
    I was wondering when Alpa would start to get a mention, if you guys think Leica is a good camera producer then take a look at Alpa who do make the best cameras made by man. Different system for sure but if it’s about image quality and build quality then I feel Alpa represents better value for those sometimes saving up for years to get the best they can afford.

    • Thanks Peter for pointing that.
      Conceptually I find very clever to have a clear distinction between “mechanical-enginnering-lenses” world on one side (cf. the emotional and iconic part) and “electronic” world with a digital back on the other side (cf. rapid obsolescence but evolutive part). I like this kind of “thinking out of the box”. I would prefer Leica explores this kind of creativity, or other, rather than running after the train trying to put video in an M10 or exploring minor creativity like with this M9monochrome; but I agree that it’s a beautiful niche product. I would pre-order today, without hesitation a Leica M11 “M lenses” with a “full frame” digital back clearly distinct, with the opportunity to remove and change the electronic part when obsolet.

  126. I do not understand all the complainers here. Leica issues a new camera and everyone thinks it is crazy because it is not made/priced for them. Is it niche ? Yes, so what ? It is their prerogative to launch as many niche products as they like. If you don’t like it, move along.

    What about the new lens ? Its price is huge. So what ? If you cannot afford it then it is not made for you. Were you waiting for this lens to upgrade from your existing one ? The Nocti is not particularly cheap either yet they cannot seem to make enough of them (or they are on purpose keeping production low to maintain prices)… so pricing this one below the Nocti surely will not be a big problem for Leica.

    Porsche did it and people never complained (911 in 1965 cost $6,500, in 1988 it was $ 51,800, in 2011 $ 80,000). How is that for price inflation ??
    The Porsche speedster was launched in 88 or 89 at a base price of $ 65,000. Considering the roof was leaky and having considerably less head room, the car sold like hot-cakes because production was capped. They have also launched different, special models over the years and guess what, the car that people owned still did what it intended to do, get you around in very exciting ways, the Porsche way. Just not as fast or spectacular as the new special models. This is/was not the market Porsche was after. IF you want raw power, the GT3 RS might be more your thing. Comes with more power, bucket seats, racing suspension, bright orange or green… it was made for track racing, not for every day use. I.e. not for the ‘masses’ (if that is what you can call a limited a number of people who can afford a standard Porsche to begin with). Did 911 owners complain about the GT3 RS ? No, they went on and kept on enjoying their own 911, whichever model it was. Did some people buy it because they had the money and they simply had to have it and show off ? Oh yes. Have I seen people spend a fortune on this car only to be driven on tracks during weekends ? Yes to that too… everyone has a hobby, some people have more money than others to enjoy theirs in different ways. These people don’t even make money off pictures, in fact their hobby can cost quite a bit of money, extra insurance, new set of tires after the weekend is over, potential bumps/scratches/or worse… yet they keep on going and wait for the latest and greatest model to come out of the Porsche hands.

    Luminous Lanscape put it best: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/leica_m9_monochrom.shtml

    Quote: “Let’s get the poo pooing out of the way first. A lot of people simply are not going to get it. “It” being the need for an expensive digital M Leica that only shoots in B&W. That’s OK. This camera then is simply not for you. So lighten up, and recognize that there are people for whom the rangefinder ethos and the monochrome aesthetic is a passion and a calling. There’s nothing elitist going on, just a different mindset and sensibility than yours.

    Frankly, it’s going to be depressing to read some of the online forums over the next few weeks, where self-proclaimed experts are going to question the raison d’etre of the M Monochrom. So be it. But, as we’ll soon see, there is something special going on with this new Leica, and so if developments in the state of imaging technology interest you, though an MM may not be in your future, read on.”

  127. monochrom is cool but u r right its just too expensive for the common people like us.
    i would rather have best of both world and get an M9 ;-)

  128. monochrom is cool but u r right its just too expensive for the common people like us.
    i would rather have best of both world and get an M9 ;-)…hmm wonder when is M10 coming?

  129. Oh ha!
    You shot one of the most ugly things here in Berlin: the Bierbike. Drunken people on a monster bike in the crowded city.
    But I think and what we can see, great black and white photos with the new and too expensive M9M.
    Beautiful contrasts and very harmonic b+w.
    Thanks for sharing your photos from Friedrichstraße.

  130. The only reason why I use a digital M is that I can use the Leica lenses. It is the only value-add of the M9 body with its outdated sensor, LCD, buffer, electronics. The M9M does not really offer technical improvements and if I want real monochrome chemical emotion, I’ll use my far more reliable M7 loaded with tri-x, not an expensive digital ersatz.
    If resolution and noise are so important, you need a D800E : half the price twice the capabilities of an M9M.

  131. Wow – 125 responses , some real interest here .
    I agree with what # 11 had to say , I really need to see the hung printed images .

  132. For as much as I do think Leica does silly stuff with their designer cameras, etc, I don’t how they can be effectively trashed for releasing a camera that will ONLY appeal to real (and working) photographers, for $8K, when Phase One sells digital backs for $30K. The Monochrome, with some of Leica’s best lenses is a tool (yes, an expensive one) for serious photographers. Their market is not putting out a camera like that for $2,000 so every man, woman and child can buy it and flood Flickr and Facebook with their junk. This is the reality of it. I really don’t get all the cry babies who whine about prices. If you think you are so good (or want to be), get $1,500, buy a great camera, some film, and sign up for a good workshop. The tools to make great photography are out there, and cheap if you want them. Why cry about the latest $8K Leica and wish it was less. If it was, what would you do with it that you can’t already do with tools that are already available, and cheap, today?
    Once again, the working photographer, the ones who get paid for jobs and/or can output beautiful prints via alternate processes (carbon, platinum/palladium/gravure,) or lith and straight up silver gelatin, will be able to create gorgeous digital negatives. The cost can then be justified. As a toy, no, it can’t. If you don’t have $8K, shoot film get back in the darkroom and learn how to print. Nobody is paying anything for Flickr pictures and online junk. Pretty simple really. For everything else, use an iPhone and have fun.

    • Max – I see your point, but I think it needs a little clarification. It would seem to me that the distinction between the working and non-working photographer, while true to some extent, is not as accurate as the distinction between those who can easily afford this expense and those who can’t. After all, I would venture to say that even working photographers need to make a cost/return calculation when making equipment purchases.

      For example, the singer Seal is not a working photographer, but the cost of this camera would not concern him for a second. The very nature of luxury items is that they will cary a high price with them, and like someone else pointed out in the thread, items like the Porsche 911 will always cary such a price tag, even if mere mortals would like these items to be priced closer to a Toyota Prius.

      While working photographers can look forward to recouping the cost of their investment, so can non-working photographers who in their main occupation make over $100K a year. So it would seem that anyone’s position on the price of this new camera really boils down to some very basic things: do you want it or need it, and do you have the resources (now or in the future) to justify the investment. Cash flow and the old desire/need equation are at the center of this decision. Whether you are a working photographer or not don’t seem that important to the equation in the larger scheme of things.

      • My guess is that it is mostly non-pro photographers that buy Leica.

      • Ric,

        Yes, but the non-working, casual photographer, as wealthy as he/she, may be, will not get much pleasure out of the Monochrom. That’s doesn’t mean that will not buy it just because they can, or for the few other reasons why they may always buy a new Leica, but I frankly don’t see much of a point. The Monochrom looks to be a very specialized camera that will require some serious effort at exposure time, post processing and, more so, printing, to get results one can be proud of and commercialize. Does anyone need it? Of course not, and I am not even sure many want will want it either. Seal will buy it because he can and I’m sure he wants it, but so what? Will any of his prints be hanging in galleries, museums, or homes? Likely not. There will be few like him for the Monochrom but I don’t think it will be many. I could be wrong but I just don’t see this camera being purchased by those who can simply afford it and don’t need to justify its price.

        • There is a point in getting this camera if you like to shot BW most of the time and get better results OOC than was possible before and without the need to do post processing or only very little post processing (which to me seems to be the case). Also the high ISO capability is very good and very useful.

    • Max, as always, sense, to the point and your one post here has swayed my opinion and belief – to a certain extent.
      You’re quite right, what’s 8 grand to someone who’d buy a digital back?
      But then again, digital backs are used in a studio most of the time, I doubt a leica M will be – so it’s 6 of one half a dozen of the other..

      Ultimately, who gives a monkies? I don’t as this camera doesn’t interest me, I was probably bored and decided to start poking my nose in and commenting on this website.

  133. Does anyone know whether the new Summicron is intended to replace the current one, or will be marketed as a “special purpose” lens, with the current Summicron continued?

    If it replaces the current one then we can look forward to new high-dollar replacements for the Summilux 50 ($12,000?), the 35mm Summicron ($7000 again), the 35mm Summilux ($12,000), and the other “standard” lenses.

    If it’s special purpose, like a macro lens, or a technical demonstration, then you can just ignore it.

    Personally, I have a collection of older Summicrons, from the 1950′s to the 1990′s, and their value is increasing much much faster than my anemic retirement investment account.

    Other than that, I couldn’t care less about Leica prices, any more than I care about Vuitton luggage or Hermes scarves.

  134. All

    The MM and Summicron que has begun! Yesterday I was in my favorite camera store and another customer came in with a bag of Leica goodies as trading stock. This customer traded a Leica 50mm f0.95 Nochtilux for the MM body. He was their first money on the table customer for the MM. The first money on the table customer for the new 50mm Summicron happened on Friday.

    Concerning the listed prices of these new products, yes the price is a bit out of reach for myself, though price is the only method a manufacturer has of controlling demand. if the prices were not set high Leica might find themselves in the same boat they were in with the 50mm Summilux introduction, where demand far outstripped their ability to produce them. This gives distributors and manufacturers big problems, because in the United States and possibly elsewhere, there are laws requireing that an order must be filled within a certain amount of time or it must be cancelled. It is worse for a manufacturer to be unable to produce a product to meet client demand than to have the product priced out of reach for some customers. Not being able to meet demand means that customers will look to buy other products, and other manufacturers will look to meet the desires of the excess demand (i.e. Zeiss, Lens Magic, Fuji and possibly Sony). If the price is high enough to keep demand where manufacturing can keep up, the customers that really want the product will be able to get it; even if it means the need to save longer or sell blood to get it. When Leica’s new manufacturing capacity comes on line, or the competitors are sucessful, we might see some price modulation, such as slower price increases.

    PaulB

    • Paul

      I don’t think we’ll see much price modulation as I think this is now Leica’s strategy. If you can’t make enough to meet demand, make it expensive to reduce demand. For people invested into the system, it means a limited future for new bodies and lenses. I’m not denying that existing bodies and lenses aren’t just fine for continued use.

      Not being able to meet demand means that customers WILL look to others to meet their demands, and this takes business away from Leica. It’s totally Leica’s decision, but I am just disappointed that this is the way they’ve seemingly chosen to go. I think that I will not be buying many more of their products.

  135. In the UK the X2 price has risen by £200-£250 over the X1.
    That’s effectively $2500 for us!!!!
    Leica really taking the piss
    Rip off Britain factor strikes again.
    It was on my radar but that’s just an insult.

    • Why do you care? Ask yourself this question: will the X2 make you a better photographer, or even help you make better photographs? I know the answer already so instead of arguing about camera prices on internet forums, time is better spent learning to use what you already have. Do you think anyone on Flickr will ever notice the difference between pictures taken with a Canon S95 or a Leica X1/X2, in a blind (so to speak) contest? These arguments are as tiring to read as it is to witness the latest release to the latest digital piece of junk that does the same exact thing as the last one.

    • I think it is great that the X2 is so overpriced in the UK, as it will make me laugh even louder if you ever actually see someone with one. The X2 is part of Leica’s new ‘the king is naked today’ range of products.

  136. Thanks Steve for your review. I have no idea yet if I woud get a M9M but there is a chance. I am pretty sure I wont get one of the new Summicrons. I find it to expensive.
    But to all the guy saying “I am done with Leica etc etc” I woud like to mention that this is just an offer. Leica offers a nice 50mm Summarit, so nobody is forced to buy the new 50mm Summicron. It is our/your choice to do so. But for those folks who have the money and just want the best- they have the choice.
    I wish Nikon would offer even one 50mm lens which offers anything near the quality of a Summarit or Summilux.

  137. IS Leica HIGH? The short answer is Yes. But real craft these days is expensive. The good news is the alternatives are just getting better….and cheaper. Leica won’t make me a better photographer but having access to more affordable alternative tools won’t hurt.

  138. I’d like to see “film simulations” in the MM.

  139. Oh good grief. The quality is mind boggling.

    WANT. NEED.

    Really great pics by the way Steve!

  140. A few things that are either not being mentioned, or else I have missed it.

    1) If you already own Leica lenses and you shoot 2000 rolls of film, there could be an argument buying this camera. 2000 rolls of film would cost $8000.

    2) The beautiful results at the upper end of ASA/ISO settings create some stunning possibilities for low light photography.

    3) When will Fuji come out with a BW version of the xpro 1 ?

    • Photau

      If we look at the cost of professional slide (E-6) film and processing the number is really closer to 400 rolls of film, based on an estimated average cost of $20/roll for film and processing. If we substitute a C-41 process B&W film, the number of rolls will be a bit higher since the cost/roll will probably be a bit lower. Using traditional B&W film the number of rolls could be both lower or higher depending on if we are processing our own or paying to have the film processed. My personal experience has been C-41 process only is the lowest cost, and traditional B&W processing is a bit less than E-6 processing at a professional lab. Though this was quite a while ago and E-6 is probably much higher now.

      Paul B

      • Yep to your cost analysis. I would be shooting B&W film if I could afford to do so. £5-6 for a roll of film followed by £12 to develope. Thats only for standard lab processing, 6x 4 prints etc. If you want a high res scan done on a drum scanner then add £20 per photo.
        I find the on-going cost of film photography prohibitive, however having said that I tend to be very selective in what I shoot because of it. I would be saving money with the MM after I shot 344 rolls and would be getting better results, especially at higher ISO. Would I buy one though ?….not sure.

        • Zakk, is that true? If a roll of Tri-X is 6 GBP (US$9.49), then there really is a “Rip off Britain” program in play.

          It’s $3.99 in the US. (Single roll price)

          • Yes Parisi, I shoot Ilford which is generally £5+ and then of course it’s B&W devlopment either in a specialist photo shop or send to Ilford Labs. For top end camera equipment it would pay me to fly to NY to buy.

  141. Max,you completely miss the point of my post.
    In the States the X2 is the same as the X1 [$1995]
    Over here it is $500 more expensive than the X1 was.
    There is a known phenomenon called “Rip Off Britain” where prices are more expensive here than in other countries.
    Yet another example of raping the UK customer compared to other countries pricing for the same product.

    • Sorry, wasn’t aware that there was an actual “Rip Off Britain” phenomenon, but I’m not surprised with everything else going on there these days. Either way, I have a problem with every one of these guys releasing these silly little cameras at these prices and people falling for it. It’s a sad state of affair. Consumer should simply voice their opinion by not buying.

    • Is it possible for someone in the UK to order from Amazon US, or Adorama?

      Would the import duties make the total match the inflated UK price?

  142. Leica is brave in this economic environment. I get the point of the niche camera. I get the point of it being about the passion of photography. Some perspective here please and appreciation of the concept of Opportunity Cost.

    Leica, buy some cheap factory space in germany, train up some more people, quadruple your production volumes and get the price down. Either I am funding the R&D or I am funding the inefficient manufacturing process or I am funding someone’s ego (dare I say arrogance) that it’s called a Leica. Wake up and fix it.

    Please explain how a Hasselblad medium format lens that goes on an H4D is less expensive than a 50 F2. After all it’s a 50 f2. Is the engineering in that lens that much more complex than a medium format lens? It’s more expensive than many Leica S2 lenses. How do you work that one out?

    I do not accept its the volume because H4Ds or S2 bodies and even S2 lenses are not as common as Leica 50mm lenses. Further, will the cost of this system blow away medium format? For the price it would have to.

    Bad Form Leica. I think Leica are getting greedy and pushing it to see how far it will go. You are good but not that good.

  143. This only tells me the M-10 would not have high ISO capability. Just wait and see.

  144. I just don’t know how difficult it is to put a LCD like the one on D-Lux4 into M system….. Even though you put the whole price of D-Lux4 into M, it will not cost that much…
    We probably will not see the M10 when NEX-11 FF comes out…….. (highly likely). Or Fuji will come our some FF faster….

  145. Having got out of the red with the digital M8 and M9 in the last few years, Leica is again taking chances from a business point of view by pushing the envelope. The M9M although may not make much sense from some shooters point of view, it does make sense from a business point of view. How do you maximize profits from minimun investment in R & D? Take a camera already in production, replace the sensor, tweak the software, and then charge a higher price. Have we not seen this before? I cant help noticing history repeating itself. Fourty years ago, face with pressure from Japanese companies with advances in SLRs and RFs that were versatile, cheaper, leica came out with the M5, bigger, better, more expensive to produce than any camera in the past. Although all of you out there can argue for or against the merits of the M5 camera, the point is that under pressure from other manufactures, and in an effort to keep the RF alive, the M5 nearly put the company under and the RF to final rest. Are we near another peak and thus fall in the business cycle for Leica with the new M9M, summicron 50 and the soon to be M10? Is leica going to again alienate its loyal customers? Leica had counted on its loyal customers in the 1970s believing that people will go for the new M5, with is TLL metering, bigger bolder body, etc. Leica is again testing the faith and loyalty of its new customer base from the M8 and M9 the way it tested the M3 and M4 users in the past. Is this another M5 in the making? Time will tell. M5x2=M10, just kidding, but what a coincidence.

    PS I have a M5, MP, and a M9

  146. I’ll skip this kool-aid thank you, and let the real Leicaophiles get in line. I can buy an awful lot of Tri-X and processing for eight grand and the M6 works just fine. The good news in this announcement is that the
    waiting lists may not be too long. Now lets see what the M10 brings to the table. If it’s only an M9 with
    video and live view I won’t need one of those either.

  147. The entire mini test appears to me as moot,a Leica camera without a Leica lens ceases to be a
    a Leica,period.

    • Well, I’m not sure it “ceases to be a Leica”, but I agree in general. I think the pictures would have been more representative and more interesting if they had been shot with a Leica lens, even a “last-generation” Summicron.

      The Hyperprime is an odd lens, with its own characteristics and a limited market. The pictures tell me something about the Hyperprime, not so much about the camera.

  148. Lovely shots Steve. Even on a casual stroll, your photos always have soul. I can see why someone who likes B&W would drool over this camera – such luscious gradation of grays. And so sharp. Did you tone correct, or is that slight warm cast the tone obtained out of the camera? It is very nice, either way. Sheesh, Leica – I want to shoot with you, but your pricing is getting to be laughably stratospheric. The M10 will probably be the price of a car.

  149. What I’d like to see eventually is a shoot out between an M9 with good conversion to B&W (i.e., with SilverEffex) vs. the new M Monochrom.

  150. $8k is expensive, however if a camera can take one photo worth $8k it’s already made it’s money back.

    This camera takes some fantastic looking photos, however my personal opinion is that B&W can be a crutch for some (street) photographers – let’s face it: B&W is much easier than colour to get a decent photo, but ultimately if I’m going to be a better photographer I should be well versed in both B&W and colour, and with this camera – forget about colour, it’s B&W only…

    Granted if $8k is pants-cash for me one day then yeah it’s a definite “must-buy”, but only struggling artist days lay ahead atm.

  151. Hello Steve
    I have seen this samples in web:

    http://www.ephotozine.com/article/leica-m-monochrom-sample-photos-19223

    I hope they are not real… The quality of the pictures of the S2 and glass are a disaster…..

    What is your opinion…

    • Well of course they appear to be real :) They do not look so hot though, but who took them? Could be anything from exposure, to lens used, to focus being off, to lighting…. that appears to be at the Leica event so that site posted those samples with verity limited use it appears. Ill have some new stuff from the cameras this week.

  152. Hi

    I posted something… But does not show up…..

  153. I do it again:
    I saw this link with high ISO samples… They look very disappointing!

    http://www.ephotozine.com/article/leica-m-monochrom-sample-photos-19223

    Steve, what is your opinion?

    Best regards Alexander

    • Disappointing? You CLEARLY have no idea what 10,000 ISO means.
      I you don’t like the camera, don’t buy it. There’s no need for you to expose your ignorance without purpose.

  154. I like the tone quality, the contrast is just where I like it. That also means it has not got enough contrast for many modern B&W ers.
    You made the most of your hour. Well done. Sensible comments as usual.

  155. I think this is a great camera. I was in Berlin during the release (though not at the event) and it was the buzz amongst a lot of people, and for good reason. The bottom line is this – Leica has always been expensive, and always will be. Get over it. They’re like sports cars that way….complete with all of their limitations. If you have to ask why this camera is great, or if you want to spend internet hours proving that ‘for half the price you can get a Canon/Nikon/whatever that goes to ISO 250,000′ or whatever the consumer electronic hype of the day is, then you already don’t want one so stop wasting time. It’s like reading a review of a Porsche 911 and complaining that ‘yeah, but I could get 3 Honda Accords for that price, they drive better in winter, and they have bigger back seats and COFFE CUP HOLDERS too!!!’. You’re right….so don’t buy a sports car then. I’m not being elitist – it’s just a reality that certain products out there on the market have a high aesthetic value in addition to their capabilities. Buy a Toyota Corolla if you want a car that is consistently reliable, rates 4 stars in all of the Consumer Reports reviews, and is boring as hell. Buy a big Nikon or Canon DSLR if you want something for less money covering a wider range. As I write this, I realize that people I’m sure will argue with me now as to whether the M-M is a 911 or a Canon 5D is a 911….that’s not the point…the point is that accept, even seek out, products that fit with what we are seeking in terms of features, but also (and sometimes more importantly) the experience of use.

    But buy a Leica if you want to buy a Leica. They were always aesthetically appealing, finely crafted instruments. With some limitations you chose to accept or didn’t. It’s like complaining that you’re upset that M cameras ‘don’t let you see through the lens’, and ‘why don’t they make an M that lets me do that?’…..if you like looking through the lens, buy an SLR not a rangefinder. Simple. Don’t waste your time complaining that the rangefinder isn’t an SLR…the whole POINT is that it is not an SLR.

    Price….While the prices are certainly high, I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t make huge $$ who manage to find a way to buy one if they like it, and get constant pleasure (and sometimes frustration) from using one. It’s exactly – and I mean EXACTLY – the same as the number of musicians who end up owning expensive guitars….they’re usually as broke, or worse, as photographers. You can’t argue this point. Yet I know many who scrimp and save to buy instruments that are well over $5000. I know classical guitar students who are not trust fund kids in college who have $10,000 classical guitars. Or cellos. They seek the tone, the feel, and the pleasure of using it. For them. They could get a guitar for $1000 that ‘probably sounds almost the same for less money’. Both musical instruments and cameras are used for highly creative purposes and the analogy between them clarifies all of this baloney quite nicely and can’t really be argued.

    Get my drift? The M is not a camera that hands you anything on a plate, never has been, and creating good images can sometimes be a frustrating experience. It takes work. Period. Get over it. But if you like them – truly, as opposed to trolling the internet reading reviews and complaining about meaningless details – you’ll own them. Stop complaining that the M isn’t the camera that you want it to be at the price you wish it was….spend your time buying the camera that YOU actually like, and then learn to use it well and enjoy it. I love the idea of the M Monochrom, and celebrate the fact that Leica has listened to the needs of a very, very specific group of photographers and launched a product for them, rather than just making something that does everything for everyone at a price everyone likes. Nikon or Canon would likely never make this camera, but for people who love shooting black and white, see its potential, and are eagerly awaiting its arrival to get their hands on one, it’s a bold and welcome step.

  156. If taking fantastic images is your bag….leica cameras are probably not in your bag. If you are into name plates, looky at what I am wearing, blingy stuff then leica is right for you. They are collectors items to be coddled and salivated over. These are my generalities.

  157. Dear Steve, I work in the building with the musicians. It’s the most boring part of Berlin. Yes – for one hour with the Leica it was o.k.. It’s absolutely crazy, inviting People from all over the world without giving them a camera for testing alt least one day. I can’t understand Leica. When your next time in Berlin, I’m glad to show you the interesting places. Regards!

  158. You’re writing about a company who has out priced every one of their customers who would actually use the product in a productive way.

    The only people I see shooting new leica gear these days are bored old men who photograph their cats.

    I own and shoot an M2 but I can’t take a better picture with a 100$ nikkor 50mm f/2 than you can with a ridiculously priced Leica lens.

  159. Hi Steve,

    True, the M/M is a bit of a dream and the images it produces look pretty awesome.

    However, when looking across the board for a compact I was completely seduced by Olympus, who seem to be the only manufacturer offering what I see as very important for monochrome photography: a square image ratio and a grainy emulsion.

    I think Leica should team up with Oly on those two fronts, so that the needs of even more photographers can be fulfilled.

    Best regards,

    Denis

  160. Great review and impressive pics. Always yearned for the stealth, compactness, and quality of a leica. The romance of monochrome makes it sound even more luscious, but that price! Ouch.

  161. Doesn’t look like fil in terms of range/richness–not even close.

  162. Well done. I live in Berlin, you captured the area round S Friedrichstraße very nicely. There really is something to b&w, especially with the musicians.

  163. Some ideas on the Leica Monochrome, on Leica camera’s and lenses:
    I like the Leica M camera’s very much and when you like to work with them, buy them new or second hand. But the pictures Steve showed us, could be made with many other camera’s and lenses.
    I personally will never buy a camera that’s taking only black and white (or only colour) pictures.
    Nor would I spend a fortune on the latest Summicron 50 (admitted: technically brilliant) or on any M9 (of which the sensor is not brilliant).

    Once I made both B and W and colour with my second hand Leica M3, later M6 and other camera’s.
    I printed B and W, sometimes 1.20 x 0.80 cm, one could see the most minute details in the picture.
    Shot with the most wonderful lens Leica ever made (and one of the “cheapest”).
    Now I am perfectly happy with my B and W and colour JPEGS from the Sony Nex-5n.
    (Thanks, Steve, for your amazing website and useful information! on the Nex and similar camera’s).
    And as regards lenses:
    I think that many of you will not see the difference between A4 pictures, both colour and B and W, made with the Nex-5n with the very cheap kitlens or with M lenses. Because often I can’t see them either on my new laptop screen.
    Of course, you will see differences in brilliance and sharpness when enlarging, for instance printing A3 or using a full HD beamer. Then the differences are clear but still not very substantial. But how many times do you see A 3 photo’s or 2 / 3m wide pictures from a beamer? (I do, when making presentations).
    So when I put this most wonderful Leica lens on the Nex-5n, I do this for the fun of it; but for most practical purposes, I could use any other lens.

    The secret of the very good pictures from the Nex-5n is no secret at all: it is the superior sensor, combined with the Sony software. Who needs a full-frame sensor??
    The M9 sensor gives also very good pictures, for most practical purposes; but tests show that this full-frame sensor is outdated.
    I suppose Leica likes to sell some more of these (modified) sensors with the M9 Monochrome (giving somewhat sharper pictures?) before the M10 arrives; so this “new” Leica seems to me nothing more then a marketing trick.
    And when you like to use Leica “glass”, buy the wonderful 30 years old Summicron 50 or other second hand stuff; or when you want to buy new, look at the Summarit lenses (or buy Zeiss, or some Voigtlander lenses).

  164. All right, pass. The first Leica, which pictures I really like.

  165. Hi,

    I’m not a pro but I’m interested in photography in general and in the Monochrom and that people would take B&W only.
    I have the Canon 5D Mk III and the Fuji X100 which is small enough to take to work.

    In the last month I have set these cameras to B&W and taking photos.

    I know you can just change any colour photo to B&W with your favorite software but to take B&W in the camera is a commitment of some sort, where you know it has to work.

    I’m intrigued by a camera that only takes B&W and I’ve tried to understand that by doing it myself. I know the Leica would take better quality photos but I doubt that my non artistic eyes would tell the difference. Possibly, I should continue the research by downloading some high def photos from an MM and comparing them to my photos.

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