I am in Berlin and in a Black and White kind of mood…

I am in Berlin and in a Black and White kind of mood…

Well here I am in Berlin..here it is now officially May 10th 2012 and today is the big event from Leica. Today  I have already met Eric Kim briefly in the lobby and tomorrow I plan on meeting quite a few more website guys like Sean Reid, Michael Reichman, Thorston Overgaard, and an old forum acquaintance from my DPreview forum days, Jonathan Slack. Some of the coolest blogging/website guys around, and they will all be here. So cool!

I just returned from a very cool bar/restaurant here where I had a chat with some guys from Leica. It’s always fun to hang out with them and I did my best to pry out info from them but they wouldn’t budge, lol! BTW, Thanks for the invite Boris! 🙂

Later today I will be heading to the event and will hopefully be blogging live from there (as long as there is internet available). If not, I will be posting all about it when I get back to my room. I’m hearing rumblings about many new product announcements so should be an exciting evening. NEW Leica products…what is there NOT to like. But, I really do NOT think an M10 is part of the announcement. I get the feeling that one will come later, so for those waiting for an M10, I do not think it is going to happen tomorrow.

We all know the rumors so will be cool to see if they pan out and i am hoping there is a surprise in there as well. Keep your eyes peeled to this site for all of the news and photos from the event.

In a B&W kind of mood…

In any case, I have never been to Berlin but this looks like a place I could really dig. VERY VERY cool and as I took a walk around today near the hotel I was all of a sudden in a black and white kind of mood…I started seeing in monochrome and while I only snapped 4-5 shots I had a nice walk.

I am here in Berlin through Saturday and have most of the day Friday to walk around, explore and take photos. If anyone local wants to join me let me know!

BTW, these were all shot with the little OM-D and Voigtlander 17 f/0.95 ands I have to say that this lens has won me over. As I shoot more with it I am finding it pretty damn good even wide open at f/0.95. $1249 at B&H but this is a super fast 35mm equivalent for your M4/3 camera. I like the 25 0.95 as well but have to say the 17mm would be my choice if deciding between the two because there is no other alternative for this system. In the 25mm (50mm) department we have the $550 Panasonic which I think may be a bit better than the Voigtlander 25mm, and it is half the cost. Still, it is not an 0.95 nor does it have the build of the more expensive lens but it is smaller and sharper.

So if you have been looking for a fast 35mm equivalent, the 17mm comes highly recommended by me and I may just keep it if I can swing it with the $$. More photos below with the combo of the OM-D and 17mm.

Maybe in a few hours I will be shooting Monochrome with something else 🙂 If the rumors are true that is…



  1. Maybe I missed something but I couldn’t find any mention of how these nice black and white photos were achieved. Was this with an art filter? Or was it accomplished later in Lightroom?

  2. I’m truly gutted by Leica’s attempt at an ‘X2’ – which is, as far as I can see an X1.1 – it’s basically the same as the X1. They have done the absolute minimum – they would have done better not to upgrade it all as they would have escaped the scathing criticism that is about to ensue – people would have just been disappointed. I’m almost angry at their lack of effort! All I can hope for is that they are saving all the proper upgrades until next year for their big birthday. At the moment however Fuji must be laughing and rubbing their hands together. I’m only talking about the X1/X2 as this is all I was interested in. I don’t know much about the M9 although it seems to me that bringing out a B&W M9 is going for the smallest possible market – are they so fantastically wealthy as a company that they don’t actually need or want to sell anything? Steve – I have a quick question – in your opinion is the X100 a better camera than the X1 – I read your review and you seem to be saying that it is, that’s the conclusion I’ve drawn anyway.

  3. I reserve my criticism to when I see what the monochrom can do. Specs mean zilch, or even less than that.
    I’m surprised at the amount of criticism the Monochrom is receiving by people that know close to nothing about the camera. I have no idea if it deserves them or not, but I am pretty sure that neither does nobody else here.
    Overpriced? Yes, aren’t they all? Will it sell? If it delivers, it will sell A LOT! Last I’ve seen it’s the only one in the world with a B&W full frame sensor. I’m absolutely sure there will be huge demand for it, the only question is if it’s any good.
    I’m sure a lot of people were expecting something else, but by itself it doesn’t mean that this camera is garbage. I can’t wait to see the reviews and real life photos taken with it.

    • I think people are disappointed because there is a lack of innovation. If you think about it any brand that makes their own sensor and better than what Leica is using can just remove their color filter and have a b&w sensor. Then what happens to them? Probably people won’t make such a fuss if there wasn’t a significant increase in price from the current m9

      • True, however a lot of the criticism posted yesterday in several forums was directed at the camera. I think it’s more about frustration than anything else. People were expecting something more, so they lash at whatever… I’m not a Leica user- too rich for my money- but would love to have a shot at a Monochrom, just to see what it feels like. I think that inovation is not just developing new sensors. Sure any company can do a BW sensor, but none of them did, by lack of guts or lack of vision. Leica was the first (as far as I know) and if it does well, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else (like Fuji) will do one too.

        • But don’t you think this becomes a disadvantage to them also? Because now they are the ones testing a new territory (monochrome) that can easily be replicated by other company at a fraction of their price. If it proves that there is a strong market to that segment they may find themselves in the same situation as the x1/x2 and x100. If you look at lenstip’s review, the x2 af is at par with the x100 based on firmware 1.13 but fuji’s 1.21 firmware is far better than the 1.13. It seems even at ISO test fuji still beats them.

          Now with the OMD also on the picture, the x2 will still be a tough sell. All, they are banking at right now is the brand. They should have at least made the lens faster like f2. Then people might take a second look at it.

          Believe it or not those that are griping are actually hoping for Leica to succeed. They want to make sure that there is actually a future for the company. If they keep on doing this, they might just paint themselves in a corner.

          • There is an argument to be made pro and against being the first, but we can’t really complain about leica not being innovative enough and at the same time that it’s a bad idea to be the first to come up with this BW camera. We can’t have it both ways. It’s a gutsy move, and I support it. I wish more brands were this gutsy. On the other hand they are very conservative in other aspects of their business, like the LCD’s for example. They probably have a gazillion of those in stock and have to get rid of them.

          • Well, in terms of being gutsy, I’ll give it to them but in terms of innovation try looking at what fuji is doing. Sure, a lot will say that it’s quirky or not there yet but look at what they did.

            Introduced the hybrid vf, totally unheard of since they introduced it. There hasn’t been any significant vf system in the last 30 or 40 years since the slr was introduced. Probably one day another brand will come up with something similar but it’s not as easy as removing a color filter. Second, introducing an x trans sensor, with new color pattern totally unheard off and unexpected again, a lot are raving about how good it is ( although not in this forum, but that’s ok because to each his own) and it’s potential hasn’t been optimized since there isn’t a credible raw support yet. All of this are more gusty and innovative as it can easily make or break the company depending on how they develop it to a more mature system. Now, that’s what you call a clear foundation that will and can carry the company to the future.

            In a way Leica and fuji is in the same boat, fuji since the start of the digital cam isn’t really to be considered a power house (you don’t see people lining up and raving about their cameras before the x series, right? But the difference is that fuji came up with a long term vision that will make its customers look up and take notice.

          • Btw, did you know that Kodak was actually the first to introduce the bw sensor cam? Look up the 6mp kodak DCS 760m? So not very new idea don’t you think.

  4. Help us out here, Steve. Who is going to spend $8000 on an M Monochrom when $79 will get you brilliant results with Silver Efex 2? And placing an Olympus style EVF on the X1 and installing a new sensor only gets it up to X1-1/4, not X2. The price should have gone down. I want to love Leica. I enjoyed the time I spent with my M8, MP and M6. But I think the corporation is more about fleecing its small customer base than innovation.

  5. Steve, is 11 pm CET – where are your updates? I know that german beer is good, but we all are waiting to hear YOUR take on the X2 and mono-M!

    • he should be passed out by now ahahah this “revolutionary announcement” this “new cornerstone of photography” was just too much to handle ahahah

      “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche !” cit.

    • German beer is good, but Steve is probably crying in it. Really dissapointing Leica. Just checked the price of the M9-M. 800 quid more to shoot b&w. yeah right.

  6. This is what private equity owners do to a brand. Just launch whatever crap in the hope that some die hard fans will part with their hard earned cash and dont worry about substance. If leica cant better the M9 fine, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as the camera is awesome. But trying to charge more for such marketing scam is deplorable

  7. I’m not a hater but gotta say I’m really disappointed in the X2
    230k LCD on the Back, really… in 2012??
    Could they not build in the EVF/OVF?

    • I have to overshoot a bit to make myself clear – I would go that far that todays presentation has destroyed all of the efforts LEICA made since Septemer 2009 as they announced the M9, X1 and S2.

      I fully understand that the R&D team of LEICA is not the largest in the industry but to advertise for months “May 10th” as “THE essence” (of photography) with the same old camera houses, same old technology as way back in 2009 – as they already then have not been state of art – just puts shame on LEICA.
      I am really in fear that this financial period (until March 2013) and the next one will be horrible, a debacle for them IF not a technical “wonder” happens at PHOTOKINA 2012 with the M10, mirrorless solution and whatever else…


      • Well said. To me this is a return to the bad old days. A smug, pretentious, bloated, self-congratulatory event selling nostalgia (Project Henri, I ask you). Oh dear.

  8. The M Mono is a great idea for those people who work in mono for much of their output. Wait to see the cameras output before you shoot it down as crazy or stupid.
    The X2 is, for me, a great flop. Hoped for fixed lens with aperture ring, focus ring, viewfinder in built. The camera should be capable of impressive output though and are very easy to carry for a long time. For the money you can buy a M8 body in great condition so i think the X2 UK price of around £1560 a bit out of touch.
    ISO is extended quite a bit on X2 over X1 so that should be interesting when Steve checks it over.

    Damp Squib of a Launch Event.

  9. Wow, this must be the first camera ever to be able to render black and white raw-files(oops, auto-correct wanted “bland and shite”)! Hehe

  10. Looks like Leica’s R&D have been really working hard to pack these tiny amount of improvements into new models!

    Faster AF on the X2.. How can they do it!!

    • shame on you and your easy irony! ahah 😀 there is for sure something that justifies a 6k price tag for a 50 f2 lens….like they say “it’s the cornerstone of a new era” rotfl ahahah yeah w/e….

      i was hoping for something more appealing…..B O R I N G

    • By teaming up with Olympus, just look at the evf for x2 it’s the same as the oly. Now, it makes more sense that Steve is all praise with new oly products that he even used it in Berlin as posted above. Ha!

  11. Hi Steve!

    Oh boy…what a disappointing show in Berlin…as “feared” – really just an updated M9 with monochrome only sensor and the X2 – just a little more Megapixel – same body and both with still the old LCDs with 230.000 dots resolution.

    Best to sum it up what dpreview wrote:

    “The M-Monochrom has the same button layout as the M9 but also sadly has exactly the same disappointing 230,000 dot rear screen.
    This puts it on a par with contemporary $100 compact cameras. For reference, the first 920,000 dot screens started to appear on DSLRs around 5 years ago.”

    So – it really seems LEICA does the same mistakes as in old times before the release (and huge success of the M9) again – “falling back, technically, even more then 5 years!


    So I really do see that LEICA needs a HUGE surprise for the PHOTOKINA with its M10, the mirrorless, interchangeable new System or it again will come in financial troubles.

    WITH THAT products of today – M9-M and X2, for sure NOT a X100/OM-D/X-PRO 1 killer, they can’t make the necessary money!

    Can’t await how you will (honestly) review this show in Berlin Steve.

    • It’s no wonder Steve sudenly starts felling an B&W mood, bet he will be now pining for his heavily discounted M-Monochrom.

      Watch him get excited about it..

  12. I guess we need to wait and see what the new sensor can do, but my initial reaction to the X2 is a giant yawn. Does anyone else get the feeling that, in the face of mounting competition from other APS-C cameras from Fuji and Sony, Leica completely missed the target with the X2?

    • I feel your disappointment about the X2. After all the FF rumors, the summilux, the built-in viewfinder… this feels like a slightly upgraded X1 where only the sensor was changed. It;s never been the sensor people complained about. We wanted all the other things: viewfinder, aperture ring, focusing ring, faster lens, ff, etc. This is a big yawn and if as the leaks describe, quite the flop. Not different enough from the X100 or nex. But so much more expensive.

      • In all probability, they just borrowed some tech from oly since the evf attachment seems the same as what oly has.

  13. If the Monochrome one is at the price shown, I predict the old film Leica will have a price increase soon. For me, I rather shoot B+W film instead.

  14. Surely not even Leica can be this dumb to release a $8000 black and white camera, right?

  15. very well done, Leica engeneerings, Thanks to this smart move (black.white sensor?!?!?! for what?!?!?!)
    I suppose that the prices of the M9, wont drop down so easly!, 3 years for this crap.
    At least there where violins playng, while all europe is collapsing!

    • I don’t know how much improvement will the new APO-Cron do. Current one is already up to the best level. For that price hike (if it is true), it is insane.

  16. FWIW, f.95 on m4/3 is only equivalent to around f1.9 in terms of depth of field on full frame, so calling it super fast is probably a stretch, in terms of real world usage.

  17. Holy cow! I can’t wait to get to Best Buy and buy a Hi-Def B&W TV! Well, I still don’t get the point of spending big $$$ on a cam that can’t do color…. Maybe some day I will see the light. :-/

  18. I love Berlin!

    It is such an historical place for everything. And the special history has left it with so many different areas and the most different groups of people…
    Have a free look over the city from Reichstag, and if you have the time, the queue for Fehrnsehturm am Alexanderplatz is totally worth getting up in this monument of DDR!


    • It has been that way, but different areas and people? Unfortnately these are disappearing day by day.

  19. Really hoping for, but not expecting, an M10 announcement today.

    However, if there is an M9-M announcement, really looking forward to your take on it, and how it compares to the current M9/M9-P.

    Enjoy a Bier on me!

  20. Very nice photographs! Your “black and white” eye serves you well here.

    I’ve honestly never been able to do very good black and white work in the digital medium. I’m sure it has a lot to do with poor post processing skills but my black and white digital images just seem flat. I still shoot film whenever I want to do black and white work. I shouldn’t complain really, it’s a great reason to pull out my older cameres and in turn spend some quality time in the dark room.

    Anyway, this is just a long round about way of saying thanks for the post!

  21. There will not announcement of M10, I just talked with my country distributor, there are problems in production process of m10.

  22. Have a great time in Berlin, it is a wonderful city. It is one of those places that seems hard to understand the appeal of at first, it is not a particularly pretty place. But it has lots of parks and green spaces, lakes etc, and as the place reveals itself you grow to love it. It rewards regular return trips.

    It is a major party town too with an amazing night life.

    I don’t want to be the resident grump and throw negativity down, but I call it as a see it – and I am not digging the OMD EM5 IQ, Steve.

    No pop. Out of focus areas are ugly. Flat and no depth. I just don’t see it. Maybe its just me.

    Have a great time playing with new Leica’s !

  23. Steve,
    Monochrome is the way of the future! Good work! What software are you using for the borders on the shots?

    Best Regards

  24. Enjoy Steve – the black and white theme matches the cold weather, doesn’t it! Looking forward to getting your impressions. Again, enjoy Berlin!

  25. Black and White mode… If you like to read, buy one of the Philip Kerr novels about Bernie Gunther — they are great (similar to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe stories) — many of them take place in Berlin in the 1930s and 1940s; you will definitely strengthen your black and white mode — as well as getting a guide to Berlin.

  26. Hey Steve – I’m in Berlin right now too and would love to see you on Friday if you get a chance…which email should I reach you at? Have fun at the Leica announcement.

  27. Have a great time. I am staying here in Zurich. May be there is such an event somewhere in Switzerland.

    I myself am not at all exited about a B&W only Leica. M10 is a different story.

  28. Gee…a black and white mood just as Leica will introduce their $$$$$B&W only camera?

  29. Hello Steve,

    Have a good time in Berlin (Europa).

    Is Berlin the only Europian city you visit?

    Cheers, Robert ( The Neterlands)

  30. Why the May 10, M10 if tis not a M10 that will be announced
    09,09,09 gave 3 new cameras X1, S3 and M9 so clearly the date meant something .
    So whatever you say I will be surprised if we will not see a M10 now.

  31. HI Steve best wishes from spiegellos.de which is near Wetzlar. Greetings to Boris from me. I think it was Boris Bender from Leica Sports optics ;-)) A friend of mine.

  32. Isn’t this a silly idea?
    Monochrome M – Silly Idea

    I mean there is already no AA filter in the M9, so there will be no increase in sharpness from a color filter being added.

    The problem is that without the color channels you can really not work with the file, even if your final result is going to be B&W. Programs like Silver FX Pro need the color information in order to create the stunning B&W conversions it does.

    I am unconvinced that this is a good idea.

  33. Hey Steve,
    you are in my town – great!
    If you like, we can meet too 🙂
    Hope you will get in contact with me.


  34. Hi Steve!

    Wish you a pleasant stay @ Berlin…visited it last summer – as you posted some of my pictures here too.

    As for the announcements – as already written – I too do “fear” no M10 (despite May 10th) but gossips say just:

    1) X2
    2) one or two M-lenses
    3) M9 monochrome only version
    4) V-Lux or maybe even D-Lux
    5) ?

    But sadly – M10 and Leica’s mirrorless solution in September for PHOTOKINA – so the “hottest” products
    not before start of autumn.


  35. I am really curios – and just some 600km south – working will be as little bit harder today 🙂
    Have a nice day!

  36. EXIF Plugins are great!

    Camera: Olympus E-M5
    Exposure: Auto exposure, Aperture-priority AE, 1/400 sec, ISO 200
    Flash: Auto, Did not fire
    Date: December 31, 2011 11:00:00PM
    Color Space: sRGB
    Software: Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 Macintosh
    File: P1010034.ORF1,200 × 1,800 JPEG (2.2 megapixels, , 0.52 megabytes) Image compression: 92%

  37. Great! Just what we need! A crippled M9, a more expensive prime and an overpriced point and shoot.
    Anyway, enjoy the beer in Berlin, shoot with what you got, and hurry on home.

  38. Wow, they already gave you the new B&W sensor M? How does it compare to the M9P? 😉

  39. Hey Steve, not only are you in a b&w mood, but it seems from the post a “cool” one too!!

  40. Steve is in a B&W mood because the event is about Leica M with B&W sensor. Not only was he able to pry stuff out from the Leica guys, but I know the he (Steve) knows what’s going to be announced — much like when he knew about the M9. So when he says there’s no M10, I’m going to bet on it and just wait until he dusts his crystal ball again. Enjoy the event Steve! 😀

  41. enjoy berlin steve ! which camera did you use on the above shots..? ep3??

  42. Wonderful Oly Om5D shots! Great for B&W in Berlin in front of Leica guys.

      • Yes, or a very inconsiderate 3.45AM on what will actually be the 11th for us here in New Zealand……not that it makes any difference…

    • GMT does not include an additional daylight saving hour, so do they mean 4.45PM GMT + 2 hrs = 6:45pm Berlin Time?

        • Berlin summer time is GMT + 2 hours. So if they say 16:45 GMT it means 18:45 Berlin Summer Time (Not that such a time zone exists!)

          Andrew from Addis

        • There’s always 1hr between UK and Berlin time. Throughout Europe daylight applies between March and October. The UK is currently on BST, i.e. GMT+1hr. Hence Berlin is GMT+2hrs

  43. Man, this B&W sensor talk and innuendo is too much….I really want it, but just weeks after buying the 35 & 50 Lux will I end up being the first person to get divorced with “Leica” named in the proceedings….:-)

  44. Hi Steve

    So great that so many of you are in Berlin. I think you are right that there will be no new M but I feel perhaps a camera that will allow us to use all the wonderful R lenses. Fingers crossed 🙂


  45. In a B&W mood… I get what you’re hinting at, and if it’s true, I’m pretty excited even though I won’t be able to afford one!

  46. Hi Steve, im a Berlin Fotograph (Twitter:KD.Berlin) and want to meet you. Have you time? Mail or Phone me i would have fun if we can make some pictures together.


    • Hey Klaus, I will be around mostly all of Friday. I am staying at the Hotel Malia and looking to shoot some so if you are free Friday send me an email. Thanks!

  47. Nice moody set Steve, and I hope you’re enjoying your stay, I’ve never been to Berlin but would like to! Will you get a chance to visit the famous spots (from the Cold War era)?

    And I do look forward to the new Leica products, I wonder if a cheaper Fuji X100 rival will be on the cards? or any M4/3 lenses? or even a M4/3 camera, as correct me if I’m wrong, Leica are part of the 4/3 alliance?

    • ‘Cheaper’ and ‘Leica’ don’t really belong in the same paragraph. If anything it will be more expensive.

    • Sorry Ibraar but the X100 and X1 ere competitors so what ever comes next will be a leap forward both in price an quality. One thing is for sure…it will have nothing to do with m4/3 as it has been stated by the CEO Leica has no desire to enter that market. Possibly an X2 that takes M lenses with APS sensor…or a Digital CL as people say.

      • Hmmm, from what I can now gather about the X2 it seems that the X100 is still one of it’s main competitors, and from comparing pictures side by side as well as features, I think I would go for the X100 even if weren’t half the price of the X2.

  48. Have fun Steve! Very much looking forward to your first impressions of the new stuff announced. Getting very mixed reports/rumors of what the new X2 will be like… maybe most of all interested in that. FF or not? 🙂

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