The New Leica M Typ 246..or “The New Monochrom”

The New Leica M Typ 246..or “The New Monochrom”

Seems the rumors were all true! The new Leica M 246, or “New Monochrom” has just been announced by Leica and it is basically what we all thought it would be..an M 240 body with an all new 24MP Monochrom CMOS sensor. No more CCD as with the M9 to 240. This new Monochrom appears to be a beauty. Me, I ADORE and LOVE my M 240 body. For me it kills the Leica M9 body in so many ways from feel, shutter sound, LCD, battery life. quality of controls and the way they feel, menu, RF frame lines and so much more. It is for me, the best digital M body ever designed so I am thrilled to see it make its way to the new Monochrom.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 8.33.58 AM

The big question many have is “will this give the same amazing B&W as the previous CCD version”? That remains to be seen as I haven’t seen one, tested one or tried one. I should be able to soon. Expected to ship in just a couple of weeks, around mid May the new Monochrom 246 comes in at $7,450 and as before will be a niche camera that users will cherish and adore. Many do not understand the concept of a B&W only camera but it does have its benefits for sure. The previous M Monochrom put out B&W files that no other camera could match for B&W purists. It was truly the digital version of film, but instead of being stuck with one film, you could get the looks of many types of film. Of course, NO DIGITAL will ever replicate real film, but we can get in the ballpark.

You can see some 1st samples over at the Red Dot Forum, and to my eye, they look fabulous. 

m240

Some specs:

Outstanding imaging performance with low noise up to ISO 25,000
Live-View and focus peaking
Large buffer memory and Leica Maestro processor
High quality full-HD video function
Easy to use – reduced to the essentials
Body made of high-strength magnesium alloy and solid brass top and base plates finished in black chrome
Sapphire crystal glass cover plate and 3” monitor
Access to a wide range of M lenses from 16 – 135 mm
New filters solely for the Leica M Monochrom widening creative possibilities
Compatible with all accessories for the Leica M (Typ 240)
Access to R lenses with Leica M-Adapter-R for pictures and video
Adobe Lightroom available as a download
Made in Germany

I think the new M 246 Monochrom will be amazing, but I love Leica. I love their cameras. I love how they work, how they feel and that they are the most beautiful cameras made today for 35mm full frame.

Expensive, yes. Worth it? Maybe, that depends on you. Oh, it also now shoots video..only in B&W of course 🙂 

mono3

You can pre-order the new Monochrom from Legendary Leica Dealer Ken Hansen by e-mailing him at [email protected].

You can also pre-order at the Pro Shop for Photographers, PopFlash.com and Leica Store Miami. 

I wil not be able to buy one but I should be able to test one as I have already spoken with Leica, so look for info soon from me with samples. How soon? Probably a couple of weeks.

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:

Leica Unveils Its New M Monochrom Camera,
Taking Digital Black-and-White Photography to New Levels

Fresh Features Focus on Unsurpassed Imaging Performance, Rich Details,
Peak Low-Light Capabilities, HD Video Capability and Live View Options

April 30, 2015 – Leica Camera introduces the new Leica M Monochrom (Type 246) today, the next step in its hugely successful digital black-and-white photography concept for the Leica M rangefinder camera system. The new Leica M Monochrom, the first and only digital camera to enable a real black and white image – still or moving – without image processing or filtering, will be available May 2015.

“With never-before-seen imaging performance, outstanding low-light capabilities, and richness of detail, the new Leica M Monochrom surpasses the high standards set by its predecessor,” said Roland Wolff, VP of Marketing and Corporate Retail for Leica. “At the same time, it keeps its primary aim sharply in focus: black-and-white images with top quality across the board.”
Thanks to its high-capacity 2GB-buffer memory and Leica Maestro processor, the new Leica M Monochrom captures sequences three times faster than its predecessor. The new processor also enables extremely fast display of the captured images in review mode, making the new Monochrom even more versatile.
The Leica M Monochrom follows the successful route taken by the Leica M and captures decisive moments with 24-megapixel resolution. The monochrome CMOS sensor produces exceptionally sharp pictures at all sensitivity settings up to ISO 25000. As the M Monochrom has no color filter array over the sensor, it requires no interpolation for the calculation of luminance values. The result is 100% sharper images with brilliance and detail contrast that far exceeds what color photography can do.
The new Leica M Monochrom can also capture high-quality full-HD video in black and white. The optional Leica microphone adapter set, comprising an adapter and a stereo microphone, ensures perfect sound. The high-resolution 3″ monitor with 921,600 pixels ensures that photographers have complete control of composition, exposure, focusing and depth of field.
Moreover, the camera now offers full visual control with its Live View function, which provides two focusing methods: the up to 10x magnification of Live View Zoom mode, enabling full control of the sharpness of details in the image on the monitor or the closest focusing distance; and Live View Focus Peaking mode, where sharply focused edges in the image are highlighted by colored lines.

Another advantage of the new CMOS sensor is that, in addition to the M-Lens portfolio, almost all lenses of the Leica R series can now be used with an optional adapter on the Leica M Monochrom to expand the creative capabilities of the Leica rangefinder system, as is also the case with the Leica M. Additionally, all equipment and accessories from the Leica M series are compatible with the new Leica M Monochrom.

Other new features include:
• Nearly unbreakable sapphire crystal cover glass for the LCD monitor, treated with an anti-reflection protective coating to ensure precise assessment of images in any lighting situation.
• A body manufactured from high-strength magnesium alloy, with a top- and baseplate made from solid brass blanks and finished in black chrome.
• New yellow, orange and green filters, available in July.

About Leica Camera
Passion for creating perfect pictures. Leica represents a union of craftsmanship, design and experience. It is a beautiful collision of art and engineering, and the future of form and functionality. Leica Camera is an internationally operating, premium-segment manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products. The legendary status of the Leica brand is founded on a long tradition of excellence in the supreme quality and performance of cameras and lenses, and the iconic images that artists and photojournalists everywhere captured with them. Leica Camera AG is headquartered in Wetzlar, Germany.

For more information about Leica visit www.leica-camera.com

So what do YOU think about the new Leica Typ 246 Monochrom? Leave your comments below! 

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70 Comments

  1. Hope they have tackled the issue with light leakage during long exposure using ND filters…
    Btw, still just 4 minutes maximum exposure time? (Bulb and self timer)

    Leica Monochrom was my first Leica, and after 10+ Canon SLR/DSLR bodies I was kind of shocked when I experienced light leakage on my New Leica Monochrom… The light leakage was worse using my Zeiss lens due to position of lens mounting screws, but even with my Summilux attached the mounting was not as light tight as expected(but ok in use). The biggest problem though was the light leakage from the viewfinder, especially from the frosted window. The main problem is poor light seal between viewfinder and sensor “box”… Leica was unable to correct the problem.
    I had to make my self a portable cover to attache to the camera during long exposures (ND10 or -13 during 4 minutes exp.), but the wind that day….! it’s gone, the cover that is!

    • Noise on the sensor doubles for about every 5degrees centigrade; how hot does the CCD get in 4 minutes? I would not be surprised if this buckles the coating on the cover glass and even cracks the sensor. You might want to consider a camera with a cooled sensor that exposures of that duration. Cameras made for astro-photography typically have a thermo-electric cooler (TEC).

      • Never thought about that since I’ve been doing long exposures for years without problem, longest above 40 minutes.

        So I had to check:
        The CCD in my Monochrom increase by 4°C in four minutes (camera temp inc. 1,5°C).
        My Canon EOS 5D mkII CMOS temp increased about 1°C in four minutes (camera temp inc. about 1°C).
        Tested in uncontrolled environment at room temp of 24°C, average of three tests.
        Simple test, but the temp do increase enough that it may be the reason for that time limit.
        The temp do not increase that fast, so that should not be a problem other than increased noise, but for astrophoto during long exposure of faint objects, you need cooling to avoid noise.

    • The light leakage does NOT come from the viewfinder but directly through the mount especially where the screws securing the mount on the camera or lens thin the depth of the mount. It is most prone to light leak at the flange below the viewfinder but not through the viewfinder.

      A simple black hair scrunchie of my daughters fitted around the base of the lens mount prevented long exposure llght leak on my digital M cameras. This should not happen but is easily fixed.

      This has been discussed extensively here and I’ve run a number of tests on it
      http://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/212964-monochrom-long-exposure-issue/
      http://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/218866-risked-life-and-limb-to-get-this-shot-and-the-7000-piece-of-crap-let-me-down-again/
      http://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/224551-lee-big-stopper-and-zeiss-21mm-light-leak/

      • MarkP, the leak is from both lens mount and viewfinder as first described, you might not have this problem, but I do. The leakage from the lens mount is not a problem when I use Summilux, the Zeiss lens mount on the other hand is bad due to positions of lens mount mounting screws (easily fixed by cover screw heads).
        As for the leakage between viewfinder (primarily from the frosted window), this is demonstrated on this video https://youtu.be/QONQaqVWX-0

  2. M9, M240 and M246 are what the M5 was in the 1970s. Clunky attempts to incorporate mainstream technology (TTL meter, digital sensor) into the Leica M concept.

    I still wait for the “digital M6”, i.e. a digital sensor in a Leica M body with strictly “classic” dimensions and appearance.

    • The M5 is considered by many (Sherry Krauter for one) to be the best M body ever made. I agree with her.

  3. So what you’re saying is once you have zoomed in using liveview, you can only zoom into the middle of the frame? and cannot move around to finefocus an off centre composition?

  4. The camera is clearly better than the original, but it just doesnt raise the same “whoa, wanna have” reaction in me.

    I think Leica should really, urgently fix the sensor corrosion issue of the M9 and cameras relying on the same technology (M-E, original M Monochrom) and then publish a M-E Monochrom.

    Even better would be if they gave us the new M Typ 240 technology, but with the old CCD sensor. So no lifeview, no EVF, no video, no fast fps, “only” 18 instead of 24 Megapixels, and less battery life, but better monitor, more silent shutter, better controls, WiFi etc.

    • Its clearly better than the original in terms of features, not necessarily in terms of output. Its only go 12 bit DNG files compared to 14 bit on the previous model. The CCD also has a different look. I’m sticking with the old model.

  5. Just about every review forgets to mention an very important function of both Leica Monochrom cameras. That is that when shooting DNG (is there any other way?), the Monochrom displays the histogram in DNG. First it displays a jpeg rendition and after about 15 seconds it then switches to show the actual DNG histogram. The histogram is also divided into 11 sections a la Ansel Adams.

  6. I wonder if the Leica Monochrom users and potential buyers of the M246 realise that with no bayer array present, filtration can’t be done later at post processing. So front of lens filters have to be used to darken skies etc or change color rendition into how you want ie lighten greens, darken blues. Would anyone who owns the M240 really swap the convenience of post processing to perform B&W conversion for the aggravation of using filters again with the M246.

    I believe Leica are going to introduce some filters in 39mm but probably you could get them on Ebay.

    I guess in some types of photography like street, nobody would care too much about how the colors are converted to gray in camera anyway, but I would be interested to know whether this is any kind of an issue with Leica Monochrom users.

    I guess Henri Cartier-Bresson never used a filter in his life!

    • We M Monochrom (and film) shooters have been doing that from day 1. I always use a yellow indoors and either yellow or orange outdoors.

  7. Hmm. What about the “highlights”? Is it the same as with the older model – do you need to expose very carefully or are the hightlights now more saveable?

  8. Wow.
    It will be a wonderful camera: I may be looking for the second hand MM: but then I love my Bessa R and M6. If the MM lasts as well as the M8 has they should be around for a long, long time.

  9. So, what do we know so far, Liveview again without moveable Focusloupe when zoomed in (so useless more or less in combination with a screen that has only 921K, BaseISO only 320 and 1/4000 shutter time, good luck when shooting wide open with your Summilux at day time, 12bit instead of 14bit like the M9/MM/M240, ok, kind of back to the roots, my 20 year old Kodak DCS had 12bit as well, no 4K video (don’t care here), and for those who own a 240, they can expect the same banding at HighISO, so no change here, same with the brick size of the body. What stays behind, a former wonderful system has been modernized until death without being up do date. Really sad Leica.

  10. Looks really cool. I own a MM and a MP (film). Oddly, I prefer shooting in color on slide film and BW for digital. I feel digital hasn’t caught up to slide film for color, while the mm is on par with tmax 100. Love that Leica has the guts to keep pushing digital BW photography forward.

  11. I’m surprised that the M246 uses 12-bit pixels; the M8, M9, M Monochrom, and M240 all use 14-bits. It will be interesting to get some DNG files to work with to see how they compare with the 14-bit images from the M Monochrom. The Kodak DCS760m used 12-bit monochrome images 15 years ago, was not a success.

    I hope this is just a limit of the early firmware, and that a 14-bit version of firmware is introduced. Having the extra depth to the M Monochrom image allows incredible detail to be pulled out of the image in post-processing. It would be difficult to step backwards like this.

  12. It’s simple I would love one ! Hope it does well as it is a boon for black and white photography. I love film and black and white photography but digital has a major place in black and white as well as film even for luddites like me.

  13. I love the fact the Leica doesn’t put a “trash can” icon on the back of their cameras. I have always felt that this icon cheapens the look of every camera that has done so.

  14. If you go to Gregory Simpson’s excellent site, Ultrasomething dot com (the article is called Sensors and Sensibility) he does a fantastic comparison of the original Mono, the new one (M246) and the 240 files. He was a bona fide tester for the camera. It’s a real discussion and comparison and a very worthwhile read…not just for the content, but the way it’s done, both practical and quite rigorous. Jono Slack also has done an article, and talks about the way the sensor works. With the new (and old) Mono, it’s all about the sensor of course; not just that it’s black/white, but what that actually means. The M246 is simply an M-P (240) with the mono sensor…a lot of the other stuff that Leica talks about in their marketing (“larger buffer” “better screen” “live view”) is old news.

  15. Not to sound too cynical, but $7,450 for something that only ‘gets us in the ball park of BW film’?

    Can you imagine how many rolls of real BW film you could shoot with that sort of cash…

  16. Would be nice if they fixed the sensor corrosion issue on the current model 1st! My monochrome has been with Leica Australia for some months with no indication as to when replacement sensor will arrive…..Still it’s a beautiful thing I look forward to its return. Prefer the smaller lighter body compared with the Type 240 and can live with the wierd shutter noise and crappy monitor.

    • The CCD’s are still in production, currently sold out (guess who bought them), the next batch is ready in 12 weeks. CCD itself will for sure not die so fast, as they are used for medical stuff and they need the better contrast and color accuracy of the CCD’s. I try also to get an old MM, I like the CCD much more than the CMOS, need the screen only for settings (who buys an RF to use LV???)and the louder shutter was never an issue for me. I also prefer the smaller body which is much closer to the original M than the new 240 body.

  17. I took my old M Monochrom out today and was shocked to find that it is every bit as incredible as it was yesterday.

    I think the original Monochrom and I will have a long and happy relationship. I know the first two years have been fantastic.

  18. One reason more to buy the old MM. Smaller body, smoother look of the files, no stupid 3rd class video,and half the price. Steve, good luck with RF-focussing in conditions for ISO25600.

    Leica becomes more and more a brand for rich people only, no longer for photographers. It really make me sick as a loving Leica User since 30 years.

    • Seems rather unfair to me? I’m by no means rich, but have decided to stick with my old car, forego a newer/more exciting one and instead invest (the key word) in a new Monochrom, Noctilux and a Cone Ink equipped print system. I think that will enrich my life more than a sports car… we’ll see. Few other camera manufacturers could make me decide this way, barring perhaps Alpa or Linhof.

      • Some people would be surprised at how many Leica users are not ‘rich’. They are the only cameras which are both beautiful and workhorses at the same time. I wonder if that is allowed?

        I don’t own a Leica simply because they don’t suit the type of work I currently do. It has nothing to do with being rich or not rich.

        Great cars don’t necessarily cost a lot, so we can have both. 🙂

  19. Nice! Will they continue to create the original M with CCD, like they’ve done with the M9 to the M-E? And give it a $1500 price drop? I hope so!

  20. Wow – they did everything I was hoping for (fixing the few things I didn’t like about the original MM: low-resolution LCD, clattering/noisy shutter, and no ability to use an EVF with my temperamental Noctilux). I’m waiting for the inevitable comparison between black and whites taken with the 246 and those taken with the 240. Will the differences be enough to justify owning both?

  21. I didn’t see this page on Home page, but searched it through Google. But when I logged in, I could see pages posted after Apr 27. Interesting. It seems it’s not related with cookies in my computer, though.

    • I have the same issue in my computer since January. I have to go to the index and refresh it. Then I get it. Uncomfy.

      • Dear jp,
        I regularly remove cookies, so it’s not a cookie issue. Do you happen to use Firefox? I found the latest update has some conflicts with some info portals sites, but I never had any trouble with this site.

  22. Wowee! But I love my old Monochrome so much, I have a hard time thinking of giving it up! 7450 makes my monochrome easy to keep!

  23. I’d love a b/w-only M body to shoot alongside my M240 but in the commercial world b/w is soooo specialized IMO, if I ever shot a job and the client said “let’s also see it in color”, I’d be sc – – – ed. I’m sure we’ll eventually see an identical scene side-by-side comparison from the “b/w M” vs ” b/w conversion from the color M” at base ISO, and at 3200 ISO. Will there be a huge difference in image quality to justify a camera this specialized, especially at this price point?

    • Good question. I guess the difference will be quite obvious both in more details and a better high iso performance compared to the M240. The “old” Monochrome (even though it is not a old camera) had its advantage over the M9 in both categories and it shure will be same with the new Monochrome.

  24. Leice: “The result is 100% sharper images”
    24MP in color is still 24MP in black & white. Color interpolation does not reduce resolution IMHO.
    However, the M is attractive.

    • They will be sharper as you will not have the glass of the Bayer Filter in the lightpath. Removing that filter has already been shown to increase sharpness.

    • In my extensive experience with the M8, M9, M240 and Monochrom the Monochrom’s ability to render detail and dynamic range far exceed the other cameras. Call that resolution if you want, but it’s true.

      • That is because there is no colour filter and, thus, no interpolation. 1:1 will always be sharper than that from one that requires interpolation. That is why the DP Merrills are so impressive at lower ISO settings.

    • Yes, it will be sharper. Older MM at 18mp compared with A7r and D800e in resolution. Removing Bayer interpolation means more accurate raw data (of course without color). Therefore, No. 24mp without bayer is more that 24mp with bayer. Practically almost twice more.

    • It has been demonstrated that Bayer filters reduce resolution by quite a bit. That’s why the RED EPIC MX sensor is 5K, not 4K. 5K with a Bayer filter resolves as much as 4K without. The end result is a true 4K camera.

      The difference between 4K and 5K is almost twice the number of photosites.

  25. even I will never own Leica …I read in 1 breath the M246 review …like the pics …just cannot judge if any other digital camera after PP can come enough close to it in B&W …maybe in one of next crazy comparison ? ..include m43 if you do it 🙂

  26. Will the LiveView lag be improved? I’ve gotten the vibe that it is terrible on the M240… true? Is the Fuji X-T1 the leader in the EVF lag department? Will this new camera offer red peaking? (Stands out against B&W composition.) I assume that rangefinder focusing is a total loss in darkness? Those are my questions… 🙂

      • Live view on my M240 is a great tool. New Monochrom will have red as a choice for peaking. Just read what’s on Leica web site.

    • @John: I am pretty confident about RF focusing in the dim; i.e. with a wide open Summicron 90mm mounted and ISO 10k dialed into my oMM, I get not handholdable shutterspeeds but can makeout things in the RF patch well enough. – If you are determined to handhold a Nocti at 1/15sec & ISO 25k YMMV, but I wouldn’t know which camera or concept might work better under such conditions. RF usage is fine for 1/125 f0.95 at ISO 25k. – Since my lens line is slower and RF focusing independent of lens speed, I wouldn’t mind to see some next model going up to ISO 400k at the same IQ, to shoot Elmars on it.
      EVF: I don’t know Leica’s. – I hope that Fuji tossed something laggier into the (still available!) X-E1, but TBH: I don’t care. – EVF and RF have different drawbacks but the odds that they might cut your cake in combination seem high enough to me. – Everything more responsive than chimping test shots is an improvement.

      @Steve: could you kindly comment on the experience of editing a mix of files from both MM generations, like after taking them out as a pair?

      On the usual shopping decission: right now a demo 240 can be had for 2000 Euro less than a 246. Used oMM prices might drop nicely and Leica promised free corroded sensor replacement to owners, not just customers. – The rest boils down to “how to pacify my insane mind?” Avoiding a few lens changes is a sufficiently great reason to own a 2nd Leica. And need for ISO might be a personal taste question? – Both MMs seem having an edge over the 240 in that field. – I hope my next wealth peak meets a demo 246!
      My biggest question is about the future: will Leica ever offer color models & MMs in sync? Or continue trying to sell color by procrastinating MM releases?

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