The Leica Monochrome has been announced! 1st shots!

The Leica Monochrome has been announced! 1st shots with the camera in low light!

Hey guys! Sorry for not updating live but there was absolutely no WiFi or internet at the event, which I found odd but what can I do? The Leica event started at 6:45PM and is actually still going on right now at 11:30 PM (but I am back in my room).

As you all know by now Leica introduced the Leica Monochrome. A black and white ONLY sensor in an M camera. What does this mean? Well, long story short it means that you will gain amazing high ISO capability and huge dynamic range. Sadly, Leica did not give me a camera to test (though I am the largest Leica review site on the internet) out but I talked with others who did and have had one for months and they were floored by it.

They all said the same thing..amazing quality unlike what you can get with an M9 and conversions. For starters, the ISO capability is flat out amazing. Up to ISO 10,000 and usable at 10,000. The finish is a matte black and it looks great. Many will wonder why Leica would release this camera, and even so, at a more expensive price than the M9. Well, for those who want to shoot B&W this appears to be the real deal. But, I have not yet thoroughly shot with one though I have seen many shots from the camera and have been floored at the results.

I hope to get an Monochrome before I leave Berlin so I can review it but who knows. Have no idea why this would not be possible but you never know.

I shot some video of the event and took some shots and will have those up later but wanted to throw this quick post up showing some high ISO images that I snapped with the Leica Monochrome.

Keep in mind these were quick grab shots in darkness so I am not evaluating anything until I get to use the camera in daylight and while really concentrating on using it.

I literally grabbed a camera from Jonathan Slack and was able to get off about 4 shots, so here are three of them. Thanks Jono! I will soon have more info on the event, more photos and my thoughts on the new M and newly announced Leica X2, which looks like the X1 but is much faster to AF and has an external EVF (from Olympus).

Oh, and BTW…Leica has announced the new 50 F2 Summicron APO at a cost of about $7200 US – the M9 Monochrome will set you back about $7500-$8000 US. Wow. Shipping in August 2012.


ISO 6400 – from RAW – no editing

ISO 10,000 – from RAW – no editing

ISO 6400 – from RAW – no editing


  1. Gee there are some sad people with massive chips on their shoulders. There are wealthy people who buy canon, Motorola and drive expensive cars. There are working men and women who buy Leica and use them for all they are, superb glass, beautifully made DIFFERENT cameras. I don’t get those who bitch about the small pixel count displays, (I’d prefer not to have anything but histogram display – if that) those who want greater burst speed (I’d be happy with a manual shutter recharge) and those who bitch about the lack of auto focus. (get of your butts and learn how to manually focus). If you want a device that dulls your senses, does it all for you and turns your images into mannered copies from others, shoot with whatever you like. But for Jesus sake – stop this pathetic mindless criticism of a brand that has found its place and does what it does. If you don’t like expensive f2 glass, stuff off and buy whatever you need. If you don’t like a limited iso – stuff off and buy something that enables you to shoot f22 at midnight, without moon and @ 1/1250. But the sheer unadulterated crap that largely fills these volumes is just stupid. If you don’t want, or can’t – don’t. If you do want or can – do. It’s simple. No one from Leica seems to be distressed because you bitch like banshee because you want but can’t. Shuffle off, buy what you can and make some beautiful pictures. But this – f**k me. Pathetic.

  2. this is the camera that may finally move me from my IIIf and M3 and Tri-X/Diafine – saw 24×36 prints from 10,000 ISO @ Dale’s in Ft Lauderdale – amazing.

  3. What about Filter factor, if it is just Black and white i would say filters would be needed to get certain contrast in certain scenes. Would this negate the advantage of the Higher ISO?

  4. I agree with a couple other of the people here. The good days of Leica catering to the best photojournalists is coming to an end with them only catering to those rich guys that have no idea how to take a proper photo. This is why the press and media market is turning to SLR photography. It’s not just kids running around with bad cameras taking bad photos, it’s rich people buying good cameras taking bad photos…

  5. Monochrome Leica M9 is wonderful but we do live in a very colourful world. There might be times when I take a shot using M 9 monochrome and then wish I had taken it in colour. So, I feel if I need that option then my M 9 will do for me.

    Wonder how M 9 Monochrome quality will compare with Nikon D 800 Monochrome?

  6. I really don’t understand why people moan and groan all the time, and at the worse end of it is the hating. What’s there to hate? And more importantly, why?

    I’ve never heard of people screaming bloody murder over the way Louis Vuitton or Porsche or Jaeger-LeCoultre price their wares or for whom their catalogue is catered to. They’re for the more affluent, luxury items you know? So if Leica wants to cover that niche, I say good for them. There’s always a luxury brand or professional brand to cater to every type of tool/object in this world.

    Bags, cars and cameras are just the tip of it. Even keyboards for your computer have a luxury brand, they’re called Realforce(or HHKB) and they use Topre switches. I don’t see people complaining about a $250-400 keyboard when keyboards are readily had for $5 at Walmart. That’s a similar price ratio for any luxury item vs. their regular counterparts. And we haven’t even brought up the Optimus Prime one at that!

    Long story short, if you have nothing positive to say then please don’t say anything. If you want to vent, do it in front of a mirror. If there’s one person you have to blame for being so hateful and perhaps not having enough disposable income to afford a Leica. It’s yourself, and your choices.

    • Thank you. I never understand why people sit and post umpteen negative comments about something they a.) don’t like b.) don’t understand c.) probably wouldn’t buy anyway.

      I’m reminded of two years ago when all the Apple haters said the iPad was stupid, useless and nothing but a big iPhone. Yet today it is the number one selling portable computing device.

      I’m probably going to get in line for this camera. I think the potential has yet to be realized.

      • He does have a kind of valid point though aadb in all fairness to Brian. Some of Leica’s pricing & product launch strategy these days seems to be coming straight from planet Mars! And I say this as a long time Leica user.

  7. I’ve been racing bicycles since I was 12 and this to me seems really similar with what has happened with high end racing bikes. Most brands release a “halo bike” that. Oats a bloody fortune and is usually bought by a really well heeled dude. When you go to the races, there are tons of nice bikes, but they all look like well used tools, and there is not a “halo bike” in sight. On the rare occasions that some joker does show up on a 15k ride, they usually get smoked out of the beginner race, and that is the end of their cycling career.

    Leica is a “halo brand” now, catering to a group that places exclusivity and materialism well above substance and function alone. This is distinctly different from the vision Herr Barnack had…a sad reality for a company that, for a stretch, accomplished something worthwhile.

  8. X100 updated Vs. X2 i think fuji won again. X100 remains one of the best buy in his category for the quality and also price. First for the great fujinon lens F 2.0. With this “New” model, in my opinion, Leica proves to be another manifacturer interested, mainly, in its niche (in this case represented by the series M). I expected more in terms of innovation mainly.

  9. Never would buy a B&W only camera. makes no sense to me. I do all my black and white conversion in Nik Silver Effex 2.

  10. Let’s face it- lots of us who bought Leica M are just buying the myth that’s attached to the brand. There’s nothing wrong to it. I play guitar and despite there are many guitars that are built better, I still try to own a Fender or a Gibson for their historical significance- just like many other guitar player.

    I am bringing my M9 to a coming trip to L.A. but I will also spend some quality time with my Sony NEX-5N with Novoflex M adapter because it surpasses the M9 in lowlight but more importantly, it is just a different camera with a different look.

    Bottom line- always enjoy whatever tool that you OWN at the moment and try to make the best of it. And don’t take yourself, and your “Leica photography” too seriously.

  11. Fuji X-Pro1 anybody? :-). I was thinking about buying into the Leica M series. Very glad I didn’t now. I am absolutely loving my little Fuji’s and with the money I have saved I’m going on courses to improve my photogrpahy and travelling further-a-field.

  12. You guys have to be a bit more realistic. Leica is a business. Yes, many would love to have this new camera for $2000 but that’s not Leica’s business and it can’t be, because they are not Nikon/Canon or Sony. As a photographer, I am thankful that they are not. You want an M10? Why? What does anyone think will be different or improved there? IT IS AN M CAMERA! More MP? Okay, then what? Electronic viewfinder? Video? Will any of that junk instantly turn you into Bresson or Winogrand? Good luck.
    I am no Leica fanboy but I applaud them for not listening to all the fools and dish out an M10 yesterday, which essentially would the same as an M9 in capable hands. That’s right, capable hands. For the most part, most of the work I have seen with the M9 is absolute garbage. Why? Because the camera is being bought by wealthy amateurs without a clue and flooding the airwaves of Flickr/Facebook with their junk, thinking that buying a new Noctilux and shooting everything @ f.95 is just so cool. I wonder how many of their prints are in galleries and selling.
    I say this: stop moaning about Leica’s prices because the best cameras, lenses and all you need to take magical images and make great prints is already out there, having been produced over the last 50 years. You just have to learn how. If you just want to play, an iPhone is plenty. Camera manufacturing is a DEAD END business. The sooner you guys figure it out, the more money you will save and the more time you will have to spend on what really makes a great image.

    • That’s the comment I wanted to read !
      NO ONE needs a Leica and those who think that a Noctilux will make them a Gregory Crewdson are pathetic.

    • I had 2 Leica lenses : 28 & 50 Summicron, latest version. I sold them for their Zeiss equivalent. I prefer, by very far, the rendering of a Planar to the Summicron one…
      Leica lenses ARE overated.
      Last month, I tried the 35 Lux Asph II : nothing special in therms of contrast and way too much CA even stopped down to 2.4. I bought the C-Biogon 35 instead and this lens is a gem of its own !

      • I use mostly older Leica lenses, which cost me a mere fraction of new ones, years ago. Doesn’t matter. Cameras and lenses don’t make successful images or great prints. We do. Much better to put money into vision/printing workshops and time in the darkroom instead of wasting it all chasing gear that never does anything to improve the work.


  14. i really don;t think there is a market for this camera.! are you going back to a yellow filters? No way, i prefer to get my picture in colors and made my conversion later !


  15. Amazing B/W images from the M9 and I’m not particularly a Leica fan, but these images looks fantastic.

  16. so basically what they’ve done is:

    M Monochrom vs M9-P – remove colour filter, remove few colour related settings form menus and charge more – it’s the same sensor, the same body, the same everything

    X2 vs X1 – new sensor, support for external EVF – the rest is the same

    how can this be called research and development? did it take more than 30 minutes to come up with these ideas?

    sure, results are good, but you’d get the same from pretty much all other sensors out there if you remove colour filter (every sensor is colour blind) and low-pass filter.

  17. Excuse me while I put a $3.69 roll of Fomapan 100 into my $170 Contax IIa and laugh my ass off!

    Seriously though, for $8000 you should be able to get a nice M2-6 with a decent lens ($1000?) and about 1000 rolls of B&W film including processing. That’s more than I personally will be likely to shoot in the rest of my life. Plus, you get the option of running a color film through it once in a while!

    PS: Steve, excellent blog!

  18. With the $8000 M9P you will still need the complementary Silver Efex plugin to emulate the soul of a B&W film with the major downside that the absence of color information limits your post-processing capabilities (such as exposure correction). Purpose defeated ?

    Still, it would be interesting to see a comparison of M9 vs. M9-M raws post-processed smilarly in silver efex.

    Of course, one will argue that the £€ica M9-M will get you more resolution and less noise. But if these are really the most important criteria one could be much better off with a D800.

    For $8000 a monochrome purist could buy rolls of tri-x, have spare money to take his M6 for a trip around the world and come back with genuine chemical based monochrome images (not fake disguised pixels). If anything, the M9-M makes me like my M6/7 + BW film even more. Stick to the real stuff !

  19. I have changed my perception of photography thanks to steve huff. Lots of respect for the man! i really like his blog and Leica should very, very grateful to Mr Huff. First time in my life ever writing something in public in the net but i had to said it loud and clear, keep on with the good work!!!. His reviews are by far the best in the net for those not aimed at technical jargon …thanks a lot
    pedro medina

  20. For most or almost of us….

    Well….the Leica company is in the winning mood…selling tons of M9’s for 3 years now for a nice price

    The M9-M is nice… but honestly, with my M9 and with or without Silver Efex results are more than ok.
    Sure there will be here and there some people who really need the extra EV step of the M9-M, but for the most …nope…. leaves it to the distinction factor…”Hey I was able to pay 6800 euro for just monochrome’ !

    The summilux 50/1.4 fle isn’t that bad ..right? But a summicron more expensive?…. ok, ok APO is the final frontier of physical achievement in optical glass ! But here again…for most of us it will b not relevant, even if you are a Leica branded Pro !

    And the X2 …. we all know that Fuji change that game last year and X2 is not the answer to that….sure like the M9-M and Cron there will always be people who will buy it just to say…’I’m not one of you’

    But Fuji change the game and they will go on with X-pro2 etc… and I can’t wait for the X200. And mind you Fuji, as a long appreciated partner of Hasselblad (Xpan, Fujinon lenses) and a well respected 6×6 and 6×45 camera manufacturer itself is no Sony or what soever. No Fuji has the knowledge and quality for that…

    By launching something like the X2 …Leica is reacting towards Fuji’s game changing in a arrogant way.

    That saying…the time is near for the rebirth of Epson RD-1 in a RD-2 by mr Kobayashi of Cosina or even just under the Bessa Voigtlander brand. He has the heritage and the lenses. Look at recent Nokton 35mm f/1.2 asph II…sure maybe the new cron and the summi 35 are better, but 1200 euro vs 5000?…

    Don’t think here, hey he’s not a fan o f leica…NO i own M9, 18, 28 cron, 50 summilux and 90 and I love it
    But also a 1955 M3 and Epson RD-1….

    bust For most or almost of us…. there’s more

    • Remember, these were in the dark, at ISO 10,000 and 6400 and my 1st and only shots I could snap. I literally grabbed a camera from someone who has had one for a couple of months so these shots really are only showing that I snapped some in darkness at high ISO in Aperture priority mode at f/1.4. If I can get a hold of a camera I will do a proper review called “My big badd ass Monochrome review” – LOL

    • I think they are outstanding at that high ISO. You can probably pull some detail in the blown highlights in post processing.

  21. The smaller images in the article look good, but seen full-sized I have to say I’m not all that impressed with the supposed amazing high-ISO performance. The ISO 10000 photo is distinctly fuzzy in the details, although what noise there is present is pleasing and “film-like”, quite similar to the X-Pro 1.

    I’m not saying that it’s bad, but certainly no better than the X-Pro 1 that can get that sort of performance in colour – and at a significant amount cheaper too!

    • As Steve mentioned these were just pickup shots and he had no real time to work with the camera. It’s already been said that this will not be a forgiving camera and that you really need to work with it to get the best results. After seeing the test shots on the AG website I understand what the fuss is about…the images are jaw dropping in terms of what comes straight out of the camera. It’s still a polarizing piece of hardware though and it will be debated for some time to come.

  22. I guess Leica is now spending more money on convincing (rich) photographers that they need a M9 without the Leica logo or a M9 that is taking B&W pictures (crazy technology!) than on actually creating the product. The word “innovation” has just disappeared of Leica’s values, and that is shame. One question Steve : did people who were at the Leica event look actually surprised or even satisfied with this “announcement” ?

    Leica should focus both on creating NEW products and improving their current products, through software updates, etc. I have a Leica M9 – the real thing – and I still have so many problems with the software that are unsolved because Leica doesn’t give a sh*t about consumer satisfaction. What I hope today is that nobody will be stupid enough to buy the Monochrome or their new expensive lens, and that Leica will eventually realize that they are not on the right path.

  23. A good photographer doesn’t need a Leica. Period. Clearly, the institution that is Leica has forgotten what photography is all about. Greed will eventually backfire in their face.

    • I’m not sure it’s just greed but also a bloody-minded insistence on assembling all their lenses and cameras in Germany where the labour prices are through the roof. If they moved some of their production to say, Greece or Portugal then they’d be able to price much more competitively. I’m sure their would still be the the arrogant red dot tax on all items though. They did do it before when most of their lenses were manufactured in Canada.

      Look at Zeiss, they produce fantastic lenses at reasonable prices by outsourcing the production to Cosina in Japan, and only producing the exotic lenses in Germany with the inevitable giant price hike.

  24. I hope you do get a review sample to take home, just out of respect for the many Leica buyers you have helped create!

    I am surprised by the m-mono, I’m not surprised its more costly, I said it would be when it was rumoured, I’m surprised they included an LCD at all, I think that missed a trick there. I’m not being sarcastic here, I think they should have left it off! With the M9, Leica learned that all publicity is good publicity. The more people who criticized the M9 for its many omissions (when compared to the marketplace) the more people aspired to have one!

    Undoubtedly this new camera will appeal to the collectors who just fill display cabinets, and to the many rich people who just want the latest exhorbitantly expensive toy. But this M-mono will appeal to many good and great photographers too. It’s a highly specialised tool which will be used to produced some stunning work in years to come. I’m not sure if it’s for me. I love the flexibility of being able to use the colour channels to bring out the elements of each black and white conversion. I doubt a few extra stops of noise-free shooting could come close to compensating for the loss of that artistic freedom. Adding Silver Effex Pro (which I use) to the M-mono is all very well but your only going to get a fraction of its functionality without colour data to play with.

    The price is not unreasonable for such a specialist tool but I’d have to be printing large exhibition pieces to justify buying one.

  25. I think the fact that there are only 44 comments on the day of a major Leica release speaks volumes. Compare that to the recent Xpro and OM-5 reviews and it shows where peoples attention has now turned.

    I can only imagine most people saw what was being offered and felt no resonance. The MM is one of the boldest cameras ever released and from the test shot it looks like it was made for Magnum photographers. That said you look at the pulse of the average Leica user on the web and they shake their head , not because they think the camera is worthless but because there is no way they can justify spending 8k on what is basically an M9. Most of these people had to sell all their gear, save up or empty their savings for the M9 they already have so the MM is not even in their wheel house.

    Then you release maybe the finest lens ever made and price it 4x what most people paid for their current 50 cron, again disbelief.

    For dessert you follow up the groundbreaking X1 with what amounts basically to a X1.3. If the X100 did not exist you could make an argument for this camera as it stands today, faster focus, more megapixels and an option for external electronic viewfinder. But the X100 is alive and well and many photographers consider it the best digital camera ever invented.

    It’s as if Fuji launched a hard cross to the jaw of the X1 and Leica counters with feigning a jab. It doesn’t make much sense. In a vacuum the X2 is an awesome camera, but unfortunately thats not where the average consumer lives. So again I ask….who is this camera for?

    Thats my take…total disconnection from todays news from the average Leica user. Amazing gear…YES…but in this day and age of inflating prices of everything with a red dot it doesn’t seem like that is good enough.

  26. R I D I C U L O U S……so much hype and anticipiation, like they were REALLY going to announce something REALLY revolutionary to compete with other brands and we get “this”….REALLLY all they announced was just a bunch of new s2 lenses, a “i’m just hype camera” (wake up! EVERY camera out there can go up in high iso if you shot bw…and this lack of color filter will just mean you will have to bring with you a bunch of filters..) i don’t know if i have to laugh or what…lol…

    oh and i forgot the “new and innovative” x2 and a 6/7grand 50f2….cool….REALLY?!?!?!

    c’mon! where’re the REAL innovations we were drooling over?

    – an x2 with manual focus and ragefinder functions (maybe 2 versions of i: a 2k one and summilux luxury version at 6k)

    – a new M model with REAL ISO capabilities, resolution and…FINALLY a damn waterproof body…Leica was meant to be an “ON THE FIELD CAMERA” ….

    – a resume on the old R series maybe?

    -a mirrorless perhaps?

    well even a new “Leica bratwurst special edition” would have sounded less ridiculous than this…..

  27. Leica has jumped the shark with the 8K summicron. It is just unreasonable. I love my current summicron, but they have priced themselves out of me and I believe that I am their core market. The core market is now asian millionaires.

  28. The M Monochrome is just another special edition to keep the already at introduction outdated M9 body alive until M10 arrives at Photokina in September.

    As for X2 it is for the moment topping Fuji’s X100 with faster focus and more MP. But when X200 comes with even faster focus and the 16 MP sensor from X-Pro1 it will kill X2 sales just as X100 did with X1 sales.

  29. Bugger me, I have to get out of this system. I think the skyrocketing prices, even by Leica standards, coupled with the biggest practical review site of Leica products on the net not getting a look in points to only one conclusion. As others have stated, Leica is heading towards a purely luxury brand as opposed to a serious competitor in photographic cameras or optics. Shame.

  30. How can Leica put the cost of the 50 summicron asph at US$8000?? That is outright robbery.
    They have completely lost the plot. They aren’t obviously listening or taking notice of the competition releasing camera systems that are rivaling anything they are doing.

    I feel these updates are going to help them lose a lot of customers.

  31. I’ll pass on both cameras as well as the other new Leica products. I will stick to my M8, X1, Pentax K-01 and Fujifilm X10. Simply because… I can’t afford all this stuff and, to be honest, don’t need it to take good (and sometimes great) photos. Come to think of it, Leica has the best marketing strategy of all brands. Make your products nearly unaffordable, they become even more desirable. At least, for many of us. I do think it’s a bummer Leica does send an invite to Steve to attend the whole hoopla in Berlin, but didn’t give him the products to use and review in advance. I think it might be because of us being able to comment. Reid, for instance, doesn’t allow comments and perhaps that’s why he and a few others got the products. But I don’t know for sure because I don’t know other people who were allowed to test this über expensive stuff. Steve: have a good and safe trip back! P.S.: I’ll continue saving for the X-PRO1 with the three lenses. Can’t be too bad… 🙂

    • I think it was because Steve’s site was getting so many hits it was starting to bog down, I assume he switched to a blog layout to streamline it a bit.

  32. Steve, (and evreyone else) please note the name of the camera is NOT the Leica M9 Monochrom, it’s the Leica M Monochrom. Can you correct the blog post?

    Also, did anyone notice the claim from Reid reviews that it’s “only” 1 to 1.5 stops better noise than the M9? There is no way. The samples I’ve seen look closer to 2.5 or even 3 stops better noise on the M Monochrom! There was a iso 3200 photo that showed almost no noise and on L Camera Forum’s review.

  33. Well, all I can say is i’m glad I got my 50 1.4 and 35 lux fle a few weeks ago and they will remain in cold storage until photokina in September. This has been a pilgrims progress with tad bit of madness thrown in. If the M10 is $12,000; I may have to settle-in on a M9-P and call it a day. b&w only is too limiting for that kind of outlay, as incredible as it may be. If you are on a waiting list for Leica glass. Stay the course, there will be other options down the road. Diminishing returns past a certain point as I have learned with high end audio!! Nothing goes to infinity and certainly not my wallet.

    • $12k for a M10????? Dream on.

      Now that they’ve announced a 50 Cron for 8k I predict the M10 will be closer to $15k…….I would put money on that.

  34. Also, let me add something to my above comment. This camera will effectively weed out the people with lots of cash and no clue. Why? Because it will be a b*tch to expose properly with and will demand attention to exploit all its capabilities. Not for the casual shooter or the show-offs.

  35. Steve,

    I’m bummed you didn’t get to tryout the M9 Mono beforehand. I know Sean Reid got it. I don’t have anything bad to say about him (well, except for his site’s design and functionality being bad and you have to pay to access it!)—but I always consider you to be more of a normal guy when it comes to cameras (and I really like and value that). So I think Leica should have pulled you into the fold (so to speak).

    Can’t wait for your appraisal of the camera, though it won’t be in my future. Still can’t believe the price of the APO Cron 50. Heck, the Cron 50 was a great deal beforehand; now, it’s the steal of the decade!


  36. Thats bananas!! $8K for a cron is mind-numbing but it’s not like you have to buy it. Love my 50 lux and now it seems like a bargain (I jest!). Seriously agree with others, this makes owning future new Leica products seemingly impossible. I love the black and white jpg’s that come out of my M9 now so I can only imagine how nice a raw BW file would be, but at that price tag, I’ll stick with my color DNG and BW jpg’s!

  37. A little bit of an anticlimax following all the hype. Who holds an event like this and doesn’t cater for those invited to blog from it live??

    The M9M for me is a brave decision and a positive one, perhaps the only positive from this event. I don’t agree with the pricing but nobody can have been expecting it to be less……ultimately we don’t have to buy it.

    The performance looks really promising and I’m sure like many I’ll be really disappointed if I’m not able to read a more thorough review on my favorite site in the next day or so!!! Come on Leica

    I’ll be honest, I would buy this, but with the M10 coming I won’t be jumping in until I’ve seen the spec for that first.

    • You’re right about the monochrome sensor possibilities, even it sounds like buying a camera that could use only one film brand, even at different ISOs.
      But, can you understand such a LCD definition?
      Ok, some people can pretend it is not necessary and they would even prefer a camera without one, but is there any advantage if you ignore all the tech developments? If it is there and in a camera at this price tag, shouldn’t it be an updated one?

      • Quite right, I said that yesterday on FB, if you are going to include the LCD screen on the camera the quality of that screen should be the best available, surely. Although I tend to use it less and less beyond reading the histogram. I don’t think the focus has been on anything other than the sensor though which is a little arrogant I think.

        I’ve just been on the L-Camera Forum, interesting that Steve has not been given a camera yet and other less high profile persons have……(No disrespect…)

  38. Nice results on high iso… grain looks good. Anyway M9 never had great colors.
    M9M seems like a perfect camera for street and Nu, but those who can afford it shoot mostly trash and just play with bokeh. Another toy for rich guys.

  39. Thought they were announcing a camera kit for students and real people… I can’t understand that a black and white only digital camera should cost more than the colour version which is the exact same camera in fact… Really, I’m disappointed.
    These are no jewels, cameras are tools and they should know that! Why didn’t they made a digital Minolta CLE? A Zeiss quality digital rangefinder? I don’t understand their strategy and I don’t think they will survive with prices like these.
    There are just not enough rich fetishists out there to justify the existence of this camera.

  40. Really!? This is it? New camera with modification to old CCD sensor. A ASPH APO Summicron 50 that is more expensive than the current Summilux 50 AND 35mm FLE!?

    Where is the rational thinking that is the traditional stength of the Germans?

    If I run Leica, I will introduce a new M10 at USD8k AND provide a sensor and LCD upgrade for M9 users at USD3-4k and I will bet that the M9 owners will still save up for the M10 (just to have 2 digital M bodies). So Leica can make money from both M10 sales and sensor upgrade. LOL

    • absolutely. at their most basic cameras are computer with a hunk of glass attached. if you can update your mac why not your digital m. imagine how many m9 users would upgrade ? all of them and probably wouldn’t mind saving up for it either. then after a bit release the m10.

  41. Steve…I sense a small bit of bitterness in your post re: Leica snubbing you with the M9M 🙂 Guess I don’t blame you though….all the free press you give them…you fly all the way to Berlin and they don’t even hook you up with a demo. Sucks.

    • I am bummed for Steve, too. As I said below, I really value his approach to photography and camera equipment reviews. In my eyes, he’s the “everyman” … much more knowledgeable about this all than me, but not so different in some ways I suspect, too.

      • Ramrosa, maybe that’s the problem…..Steve caters to the ‘everyman’ but as evidenced by the $8000 Cron…Leica doesn’t care about the ‘everyman’. Regardless, Steve gets a lot of hits based on his Leica reviews, and speaking for myself it was Steve’s reviews that got me interested in Leica to begin with.

  42. Ok, anyone who follows my work knows I am a devoted film guy, and also do love my Leicas. Having said that, I am no fan boy, but just a photographer with some tools for the job, so here is my take.
    I do have to give Leica lots of credit for few very good reasons. Let’s leave price alone for now because the reality is that Leicas will never be cheap and that won’t change. No point in bitching and moaning about it.
    From a photographic standpoint, Leica hit it out of the park with the Monochrome. Why? Because they know who they are and understand their limitations. They know that an M is an M and the best M was produced 50 years ago. Can’t do much to today’s M versions until they become something else and give in to silly requests only to be mixed with the sea of complicated crap that is Nikon/Canon/Sony, etc. Leica is much like Apple. They understand that a camera is in essence a simple device that allows capture, and simplicity rules, always. By giving us the Monochrome, they have actually given committed photographers a better tool to produce better images in a simpler way. Leica IS black & white. Always was and always will be. They understand that and they’ve acted upon it by going where no one has ever gone before. That’s because no one else could and actually make it work. Do you think anyone would ever buy a b&w only Nikon or Canon? Of course not. But Leica? Yes! For those who still print in the darkroom, the Monochrome could be a dream come true. A small camera with HUGE capabilities, to rival or equal medium format (or even large format) and output incredible digital negatives to contact print. Even a devoted film guy like me is getting a bit excited. From a business standpoint, Leica now has two cameras that won’t necessarily cannibalize each other and appeal to different people, and again, there is much to admire in the fact that they did not make the pathetic move of releasing an M10 with 25MP and some other gimmicky crap that no one really needs anyway. There is no innovation left in photography and Leica knows that re-inventing the wheel is not possible. But, to change the game, still is, and I believe that they have done it with the Monochrome.

    Now, $8,000 for the new 50 Cron is just stupid 🙂 Of course collectors and speculators will flock to that lens but I hope that most REAL photographers understand that it won’t make any of their pictures any better.

    • Totally agree!

      I LOVE the realization of the monochrome digital M even tho I can’t afford another digital M body. But I almost fell off my chair when I saw the “sticker” price on the new cron…

    • Max,

      I generally agree with your assessment of the M Monochrom’s technical brilliance except for the part where you decide to set aside the pricing. It is the pricing that separates this wonderful technology from many of the
      “committed photographers” you mention. In addition to their commitment to creating wonderful, creative images, they have to be wealthy. No way around it. I know it costs money to create quality but I am not convinved Leica needs to charge an entry level to this quality of $8000 before you even put a lens on it.


      • Ron,

        Trust me, like I’ve said, I have only set pricing aside because there is no point in arguing about it, as it won’t change anything. The price is indeed high but is it worth it? To a working photographer who may make four gorgeous platinum/palladium, lith, gravure, prints from it and sell them for $2K each, yes. Anything else is relative I guess. As far as entry level, well, like I always say, pick up an Olympus XA and a few rolls of film for a total of $200 and learn how to see, shoot, and mostly, print. I’ve sold lith prints for $1,000 and shot with an XA and Kodak TMZ. Cameras don’t matter and never did. But, to justify $8K? Different story. I can only justify such expense if I can make it work financially by selling prints. Anything else is meaningless. But of course, to each his/her own.

      • I am glad I bought a Summilux years ago when it was available and affordable. Actually Kodak onced offered a monochrome DSLR. That was when cameras had 6 megapixel max. I liked the idea but it was expensive at that time. While I do take a lot of b&w shots I am really enjoying the Ms colors as well. Having two bodies is not an option, so I would stick with with a standard M9 and accept the limitations but enjoy the freedom of using color and b&w. With the monochrome being available in August and the Photokina coming up in September I would wait to see if any M10 shows up and then decide. Yes, the price for the Cron is mind blowing and it makes me wonder about the future price structure of their lenses. So far I have a 35 and 50 plus a beautiful Zeiss 21 and that covers it for me. May the Cron be fantastic, I don’t care. D!rk.

    • M9/M9-P + Silver Efex Pro 2 is still a cheaper and wiser solution for most of us.

      If M9-M is that good, why does Leica still include Silver Efex Pro 2 in the package?


  43. What a disappointing announcement, makes no sense overall. I see Fuji and Oly laughing all the way to the bank!

      • Herme’s bag toting Leica shooters honestly probably never actually put a SD card into the camera to take a photo. Thats not why they buy it

  44. The lowest ISO setting (320 or 160 pulled) will probably sell a lot of ND filters for street shooters 🙂

  45. Those high ISO shots weren’t what i expected. i expected way less noise. The noise doesn’t have the same crappiness as noise from color sensor (due to color of noise) but really?

    • I agree. The 6400 shot looks great of course, and the 10,000 slightly noisy. But that is what I get with a traditional sensor in a modern FF camera today! I guess I expected something truly revolutionary here. The greatest advantage is slightly more pleasant noise? Is that it? What a sacrifice for the price and mono limitation. Wow.

      • Exactly!! Glad to know i wasn’t the only one thinking this.

        If i had the money id rather spend it on nex-7/Fuji/OMD and some good glass, or the vanilla M9

  46. the ‘cron is $7195 every place I’ve seen it for preorder (Adorama, B&H, Dale, etc). That’s insane. Someone will buy it.

    • I purchased a brand new 50 mm Summicron (Titanium) – beautiful lens for $1,450 about 2 years ago and a brand new 50 Summilux for $3,300 also about 2 years ago. Both lenses are superb. Can’t image a 50mm Summicron (f/2?) will now be sold by Leica for $7,200! Not too many will jump on this bandwagon! The prices are just outrageous. And, the M10 black and white for almost $8,000 is far too much. Looks like I invested well when I bought my Leica cameras and lenses. Thank goodness I didn’t listen to my complaining wife. I get beautiful black and white shots using my M7 or my M6 TTL with ISO 100 film. ISO 100 is just fine for outdoor photos. Who needs ISO 10,000? Leica might be preparing us for the future decreased value of the dollar in the certain inflationary environment that we will have to live with in the near future.

  47. Wow wish I was a billionaire then I could get a Hermes bag to carry all my Leica gear Leica should be careful and really start developing some mid priced products I have seen a slow down in the Leica craze of late and more lenses available (older lenses) I think this means moneys are drying up in the world don’t get me wrong I love my Leica gear but at some point I have to say uncle to these prices oh and by the way Steve high iso looks great but I really don’t care about high iso my artist photographer friends general shoot everything at about 160 because they actually print there work and i too will just shoot in film for B&W
    Really disappointing announcements especially price wise just my 2 cents

  48. Oh, and the Leica Posers will rejoice, there’s also a new Hermes edition M9-P for $50,000. Disgusting.

  49. The pricing of the new cron is completely not what I expected LOL, I heard rumors that it would’ve been priced slightly higher than than 35mm ASPH cron… and I was willing to pull the trigger for one if that turned out to be true… but… haha… 8k for a cron? I’m sorry Leica, I don’t care how good your lenses are but for me, they are still lenses not jewelry!

  50. Maybe it’s the money but there are just so many other options out there! I shoot only in B&W but all my pictures start in color!

    In the digital world they should all start in color! Adjust your photos later in RAW!

  51. I am SOOOOO glad I never went down the Leica path. Were I to suddenly win the lotto, I STILL would not give that shameless company any money. It is sadly beyond my words to truly express how woeful these new products that Leica have unleashed are. It is profoundly good to see many people all across the forums give Leica the stiff and hearty bashing that they truly deserve.

    Leica should be truly embarrassed for what they have become.

  52. I’m sorry. I just cannot bring myself to drink the cool-aide! $8000 for a lens? I mean, I know there is the Noctilux, but seriously, Leica is getting out of hand. What are we doing?

    You can fool some people, some of the time, but…

    • Bingo! If I ever spend $8,000 on a camera lens, it’d better be a Nocti! (Darn, wish I’d picked up a Nocti several years ago when they cost about $3,000 or so.)

  53. I’m pretty disappointed with the announcement actually, it seems like they’re going down the “Sony” mentality thinking that high price points will sustain their business in the luxury market. But, I fear they’re going to quickly lose what gains they’ve made in profitability by shutting out the prosumer folks. Coupled that with their recent drunken spending in opening flag ship stores, I’m not really sure what they’re thinking.

    Personally, I think they should’ve created a successor to the M8 line for the mere mortals. Now that the M4/3 space has matured and is reasonably priced, why would you drop 2k on a Leica PS?

    • Exactly, make items that while not cheap, are within the reach of the typical enthusiast.

      One might argue that you could sell 20 low prices cameras or 1 Hermes edition and make the same profit, so why not take the easy route and sell a few really expensive items, HOWEVER, there are probably several thousand times more enthusiast buyers they are missing out on for every 1 lawyer/doctor/weekend enthusiast (and Seal) who is in the money isn’t an object market.

      • Don’t know what king of money you think doctors make, but this humble Er doctor is nowhere close to thinking of Leica as a possibility (unless you count my used CL, 40 from and my dads scanner).

        • Jay: Well, you have to get your priorities straight. Consider switching to Thoracic Surgery. 🙂

    • Canon and Nikon (and others) can sell 20,000 high-end cameras for $5000 because they also sell 20 million low-end cameras for $500.

      Leica feels they are above that kind of trashy money-grubbing. They’d rather sell 2000 $9000 cameras and make it up by selling a whole lot of $5000 lenses. Except, oops, they aren’t actually building any lenses…..

      Leica has flirted with bankruptcy before, and they will again

  54. I still love my x1, carry it everywhere with me and use it every day. Selfishly, i’m pleased the upgrade was only incremental as I now have no desire to upgrade and if ever I do, the re-sale value of the x1 won’t be too adversely effected.

    These announcements are just tweeks, the big game changes will be in September for photokina. M10 and mirrorless solution. The x2 doesn’t need to set the world on fire. That’ll be the new systems job.

    • Are we sure mirror-less solution really exists? I know Andreas Kaufman hinted at in an article but I think a lot of people are discouraged right now about the direction of the company. I know a lot of loyal Leica followers went through dark times in the 90’s and early 2000 when the company was concentrating on selling Hermes editions rather then innovating and i think some people are skittish about a return to that.

    • Leica is good at hardware: lenses and rangefinders and metal bodies. I don’t think they have the technical horsepower to design a mirrorless camera. Their lcds, evfs, and sensors are purchased off the shelf, and their jpeg software is years behind the market.

      If there is a Leica mirrorless, it will be designed by Panasonic or Olympus.

      • I think you are right, leica make the (great) cameras and lenses, electronics are store bought, but I think a new mirrorless camera is a very realistic proposition. They could borrow Panasonic guts and make an original body around it.

  55. I am sure the B&W images will be great, but lack the warmth and character of Ilford and Tri-x… @$8000 I don’t think I will be parting ways with my M6 any time soon.

      • Spot on. 8k for a bw only digital!? Bonkers! Digital tech is (and has been) moving forward at pace for a while now and will continue to do so. Who in there right mind would spend 8k on a digital body that will be superseded by Leica or a another in the not too distant future….I say it again…bonkers! Leica lenses will in my opinion continue to hold value/worth but the bodies they are providing are just not worth it….it makes no long term sense. Leica film bodies still make perfect sense through, bargains actually!

  56. Have Leica been fed a healthy dose of LSD or something?
    A Monochrome Digital Camera? Are they serious? What a load of Tosh!

    Sorry, but this is an expensive TOY and get’s the thumbs down from me regardless of how well it performs.

    • The monochrome digital camera is the only positive thing from this announcement, as far as I’m concerned. If you’re really into B&W, you will get much higher image quality and per-pixel sharpness from a monochrome sensor than you would from any Bayer filter sensor. This is exactly why Foveon sensor cameras have such high IQ, every pixel on the sensor is a pixel in your image instead of being an average of the nearest pixels.

      But let me get this straight, people are outraged at the price of a specialized monochrome version of the M9 that will deliver higher IQ B&W files, but everyone lusts after the M9-P which is even more expensive and havs the exact same imaging abilities as the vanilla M9, but with some cosmetic differences? This is what makes me embarrassed at times to be walking around with my M9, I don’t think many actual photographers use Leica’s anymore, mostly just people with more money than talent or brains. “jewelry for men” I’ve heard it called and I’d have to agree. That’s why there’s so many used M9’s on the market, people buy them thinking they must have the very best and realize after a couple of months that they can’t even get a shot in focus. There is so much crap out there from “Leica photographers”, I mean people who don’t even know how to compose a image. Centre composition with far too much head room. THOSE are the people that will buy that new Summicon and M9-P. The real photographers will buy the M9-M or stick with their current M9, depending on their preference.

  57. Sadly, Leica seem to be moving further and further way from us mere mortals. Every product they release is considerably more expensive than the last.

    They are beautifully built, and the results when used right are stunning, but they’re more and more unobtainable, and more and more niche. I’m sure the M9-M’s sensor is excellent, but charging so much extra over an M9-P and still having such a poor rear LCD, for example, in 2012 is bordering on farcical. Leicas used to be the ultimate photographic tool, but now they are simply becoming the ultimate photographic luxury.

    I dread to think how much an M10 will cost (or how much something like the eventual 50mm Summilux replacement will be).

    I think that my M9 may be as far as I’ll ever be able to afford to go on my Leica journey.

    • Likewise. After splurging on the M9 two years ago, and finally splurging on the 50 Lux last month, I just don’t see myself being able to afford any more Leica M products. It was already a huuuuuge stretch for the M9 and 50 Lux. With the 50 Cron at $8K, I’m assuming everything else is going to skyrocket exponentially as well. I hope I’m wrong, and that the $8K for a 50 Cron is just a mistake. If not … thank goodness for Zeiss and Voigtlander!!

      • “I think that my M9 may be as far as I’ll ever be able to afford to go on my Leica journey.”

        That’s how I feel about the M8. I’ll be shooting with it until it dies, hopefully a long time from now. The monochrome looks interesting (good-interesting and bad-interesting both), but at $8K I won’t be able to play.

        What I find more interesting is that Olympus built the EVF for them for the X2. This makes me wonder what other “partnerships” we might see at Photokina. If Leica were to jump in and do something like the OM-D but with their own spin (and realistic prices), that could be very tempting…

        • Given the EM-5 is already a $1000 camera (and a good one for the money) would you really want to buy one with a red dot for $2000 ?

          Though just like the Panasonic compacts, or “Leica” compacts rather, I’m sure you will get a free copy of LR and unfounded “software tweaks to the JPEG engine”, which given how amazing Olympus JPEG ouput is, might not actually be such a good thing

          • I hear what you’re saying Jeff, and I wouldn’t be interested in just a rebadged OM-D.

            But if it had the OM-D guts and new Leica m4/3 lenses with a body somewhat like a Fuji X100 (lots of external controls)… well then… it might be a tad more interesting to me…

            It’s all just speculation at this point 😀

        • Yep, and the Leica Electronic Viewfinder (by Olympus) is, wait for it, $575.00!!!!

          That would be the same item that Olympus sells for $250.

          I’m guessing that Leica buys them retail from B&H and sprays on that nifty logo in Viet Nam or Kenya or someplace.

          What was once the greatest manufacturer of photographic equipment in the world has made itself ridiculous. Once again.

          • Ming Thien’s review of the X2 is very interesting. He discovered that the Leica/Olympus EVF fits and works on the Olympus OMD.

            More that likely, that means the ($325 cheaper) Olympus version will fit and work on the X2.

            Dumb move on Leica’s part, if true.

        • Don’t feel bad Amy. The M9 is great and all but I really think I would have been best off staying with the M8.

    • The prices are so high that if I were able to save for an M13 I couldn’t leave the house with it for fear of dropping it. All I could do would be to gaze at it and marvel at how hard it was to save up that much money.

  58. It has been a weird day on the Leica message boards. Universal derision as well as praise ( I guess it can’t be both so lets say it’s half a universe). It has become obvious to me the X1 is not considered a serious tool to most Leica photographers because not many people seem to care that the X2 didn’t make much of an effort to compete with the x100 with the exclusion of a VF of some sort built it. I am not in that camp and I was really hoping for a real VF as I see the X series as a great tool.

    Steve I sense a bit of frustration others were given the camera to test and you were not, which I can understand.

    What is there to say about the MM other then it looks like a real digital solution for Magnum photographers and the like but I have to say it is one of the craziest moves I have ever seen a company make. I think it deserves both applause but at the same time should be questioned as to what this means for the future M line and how far along they are to taking the next step forward technology wise to stay competitive with the D4’s of the world.

    May 10th wasn’t what I thought it would be but it is definitely something to talk about!

  59. The 50 Cron pricetag is a message that the days of cheap Leicas are over.

    If a 50 Cron ASPH is $8000, then a 50 Lux ASPH will soon be $10-12,000, and the M10 will be AT LEAST $12,000. There’s no way a 50 Cron is going to sell for less than a Lux.

    Good news for those of us who own a bunch of Crons already (used prices will skyrocket too), but this basically removes any doubt that Leica is finished with the pretense of being anything other than a rich man’s plaything. Particularly the disappointing X2 for $3000. They are simply not going to compete with Fuji or Nikon on quality — they are going to operate solely as a luxury brand.

    • Leica was operating as a luxury brand a long long time ago. Sooner or later, only movie stars and rock stars will be able to buy their products. Leica cant compete and their piece of the digital pie is so small with CSC cameras now trespassing closer and closer, day by day. Leica’s strategy is to price even higer into the stratosphere, catering only for the ultra rich. If Leica’s fanboys didn’t want to accept that their brand of choice is merely a status symbol, the new prices will bring them to their knees.. LOL

    • Yea, I can’t believe the APO Cron 50 price. More than three times the old one. I was influenes by Steve to pick up a Cron 50 in March and glad I did! (Not so glad about the Cron 35 asph, which I also picked up, because it remains unused and unneeded.)

      • Take a deep breath, take the 50mm Cron out of your Leica M camera, and mount the 35mm Cron on to you Leica M camera and shoot some pictures of your friend, pet or put it on a tripod and take a picture of yourself. Then you will start to love your 35mm Cron too.

        Or, if you insist on not using it, sell it on Ebay.

    • C’mon guys, settle down. The APO Summicron is a special purpose, technical demonstration lens.

      The Leica site says that the regular Summicron will remain in production.

      Probably would have been better if they had given the new lens a different name.

  60. The leica m9-monochrome is insanely expensive yet not surprising since, you know, Leica. Given that the sharpness and ISO will be crazy amazing it will sell well. I have a used leica m6 and is dreaming for an m9-p since it came out. The m9-m is really irresistable though, I hate it when i have to decide like this, I guess I will wait for Steve’s review of the leica monochrome. 

      • What an absolutely exorbitant price for a 50mm f/2 lens, I don’t care if it’s APO or not, I don’t know how they could possibly justify pricing this higher than the 75mm Summicron APO let alone $3600 more than the 50mm Summilux ASPH! Absolute, mind boggling idiocy. I honestly don’t care how good they think this lens is, it’s not worth that price. Period.

        Thankfully companies like SLR Magic and Zeiss exist to show just how over-priced Leica has become.

        • Wow, looks like my existing 50mm Cron just went up in value, thank God I didn’t sell it. $8000 for a 50mm f2 lens in the 35mm format is just ridiculous….seriously beyond my comprehension. The existing 50mm Cron was basically perfection anyway…..just how much better could this lens be??????

    • These morons at leica are clueless. Who the hell wants a black and white only camera. They have lost their mind. Old dogs in a new century. Destined for failure.

      • I heard someone say that ,Maybe it’s just suitable for the man’s pics hanging on the funeral.

      • It will be good for taking pictures of the pandas. Leica may be able to sell volume in China : )

    • Upon reflection, I think they are probably trying to make a statement with this pricing. They know it will be controversial and the pricing alone will attract attention.

      There’s a video and samples on the Leica site from this lens. They claim it essentially has a perfect MTF curve at all apertures — a perfect 50mm lens — and that they are using it to lay the groundwork for future M cameras, i.e. the M10.

      In other words, the M10 will have a sensor that is so high-resolution that it will demand a lens like this to exploit it to its fullest. Presumably this means they’re using the 36MP sensor used in the Nikon D800 — in which case both the lens + sensor will be approaching the practical limit of resolution capability for 35mm.

  61. M9M is great concept but priced wrong IMO. Can’t wait to see it on the hands of talented photogs.

  62. At least some move from Leica against the competition. Cameras have to be tried, it is too early to make any serious comment. I find the idea of a BW only camera interesting, but do not believe that the price is justifyable. As for X2 I believe that a real built in viewfinder would make a rwal difference but as it is presented now X2 has dissapointed me. I think tha an updtaed Fuji X100, probably X200 will kill Leica before it was born.

  63. Thank you Steve. I hope to see your comparison of mono-M to M9 in the future. Do you plan to review also the X2?

      • For all you’ve done for Leica via your blog, you should have had one delivered to you with cherries on top. Do they realize how much sales you have generated for them? Seriously, shame on Leica, you should have had one in your hands prior to today’s announcement.

        Truly disappointed!

        • Well, since the “Artist” won the Oscar, a B&W movie, I guess it is okay for Leica to think that a B&W M9 would be cool. The poor Leica R lens owners, left behind again, I guess it is time for them to buy a Canon and forget about a “R” solution.

          Steve, I think Leica is snubbing you, because you do such a good job reviewing their competition’s equipment. I guess they think you are not loyal enough.

          • True. One cannot admit that technologically-up-to-date equipment exists! Such a crack might bring down the whole dam 🙂

      • They must give you one for testing. At the moment, if you Google leica monochrome, this page is the third result, but in actual facts it is the first “real” hit (the first two are from news pages, CNET and
        Leica must acknowledge the relevance of your work. Keep it up!

        • Steve, your web site caters to the GENERAL public, regular guys who work for someone, or self employed professionals.

          What Leica wants as customers are the rich and famous, yes, remember the show, or is the current term, the “One Percent”. Anyways, the price point and the attitude is like saying, okay, buy me if you can. Like a beautiful girl who just walks right past you, as if you do not exist.

          • these comment simply have me smile and stay away for another year. These are banal comments to say the least. I am neither rich nor famous but love having a great set of tools to work with, no matter the cost.

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