The New Leica Monochrome Typ 246 has Arrived!

The New Leica Monochrome Typ 246 has Arrived!


Just arrived! My new Leica Monochrom Typ 246! Above it was after I shot 10 frames on it. Attached my JB Grip, a 50 Summarit lens and it’s a stunner. A beauty. A unique Niche camera that many do not understand, and I admit, even I do not understand it fully but for those who crave, live, eat and sleep B&W, this my friends is state of the art in B&W photography when it comes to digital.

After an hour of checking it out, I have already noticed an extended DR over the previous MM, a richer file, no blown highlights (as the old MM had a tendency to do) and high ISO is on another level, even y 25K iso shots, that are pushed, look very very good. ISO 12,500 is pretty clean.

The files from the new MM 246 are creamier, richer, deeper, and to my eye, nicer. Not as harsh or crisp. But many will prefer the older rendering of the previous M9 based MM. To me, this MM 246 is MUCH improved as the body is the incredibly good M 240 body which has a much better feel, battery life, LCD, etc over the old M9 style.

I will have a 1st look video and photos on Monday, and will start with my long-term review as I use the new MM 246 for the next few weeks. Oh, and yes, this one is mine, not a loaner. It came from Ken Hansen, who is a legend when it comes to Leica dealers. E-mail him if you need anything Leica related. 

More soon!

Two quick test shots right after unboxing. The 1st with the 75 Summarit at 2.4, 2nd with an old 1930’s Elmar at ISO 12,500. CLICK for larger and to see 100% crop!




  1. I am having banding issues with my 246 on skies when any post production is done, I have tried working with a few different programs but with no solution. I know that I could add noise to resolve the problem but with such great files it really would defat the object. Any thoughts????

    • This doesn’t sound right. With excessive post-processing maybe, but not with normal exposure. I don’t own the M246, but I have heard of people having issues with certain SD cards as strange as it sounds. I would try a slower, and smaller capacity card that other users recommend and see if the problem persists.

    • Any lens that you like 🙂 Some like wide angle, some like a 50. Some prefer a 35 and other like a 90. Me, I am a 50mm guy and would choose one of the many great 50’s available.

      Voigtlander 50 Nokton
      Zeiss 50 Planar ZM
      Zeiss 50 Sonnar ZM
      Leica 50 Summilux

      or a good 35

      Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon ZM
      Voigtlander 35 1.2 II
      Leica 35 Summarit, Summicron or Summilux

      ANY of the above lenses will be amazing on the M 240 or Monochrom.


    Steve – and others – beware: Leica has apparently issued a warning on the Red Dot forum ( ) – though I don’t see anything on Leica’s own website – saying that, at present, loading Leica DNG files from the T246 Monochrom into the ‘Photos’ app on a Mac running OS X Yosemite can, or will, cause the app to crash ( mention of whether this happens with the old ‘iPhoto’..) with the possible loss of all pictures in the ‘Photos’ Library!

    (..This happens only with DNG (RAW) files, apparently, and there are no problems with .jpg files..)

    Leica and Apple are apparently working to resolve it, but until an Apple – or Leica – fix is downloadable, Leica warns NOT to try loading MM 246 DNG files into ‘Photos’.

  3. The High-ISO (12,500) shots show banding in the form of horizontal running lines, most easily seen in the shadows. I’ve seen this on the original M Monochrom as well, corrected by using slower (less noisy) SD cards and, I’ve seen this in the Nikon Df at ISO 25K, found using the slower cards helped improve things with it. Would be interesting to see you try an older 4x card to see if the lines go away.

    • Lenshacker,

      This is the first observation I’ve come across of image quality issues based on the speed of the memory card. What do you believe could be happening here, and could it be true across camera brands/cards? I’d be interested in your views as I’d hate to think that my images may not be as good as they could have been because I’m using fast cards.

      • With my M8, M9, and M Monochrom- I found banding issues when using fast memory cards. The root cause has to do with power draw and electrical noise generated. Remember- the signal is analog for about 1/2second to 1/3rd second. In this domain, electronic noise can creep into the image. 35+ years of working with digital imaging and A/D converters, this is how they work.

        I’ve seen M240 images at High ISO show “fixed pattern Noise”, and see some of it to a lesser extent in the M246 images available as DNG downloads. If there is any chance that using a slower memory card can reduce it- would be nice for people to know up front.

        At the lowest level, computers are analog devices that work with thresholded voltage levels. I’ve used PRBS tests to run cross-talk “into ground” to fix enough bit-errors to last a lifetime. So yes, computers DO work this way.

  4. Good to see the camera and the photos. Good to see Brandon again!
    But that horrible grip! – sorry!

    • I LOVE the grip, it stays. The wood is darker than the photo as that was an instagram shot with some filter applied. Its a rich dark wood and it looks stunning and kills the Leica grip for looks, feel and price. Sorry 🙂

    • +1, and it seems like it adds more height to the body. Especially if you use a tripod on a regular basis, the Really Right Stuff plate, with vertical plate and grip is the way to go.

  5. New M246 is better, but not $3000-$4000 better (difference between used value of MM and new M246).

      • I bought a silver QM2 MM two weeks ago for $4,650. I am very happy with DR and richness of the files. I still shoot with an M9 because I am in the old contrarian CCD camp with some other people that like the M9 colors. I enjoy using the same batteries, which I own plenty of. Live view sucks because of the horrific shutter lag, and the LCD on the M9 and MM is good enough for checking framing and histogram. The $2,850 I saved compared to the M246 will hopefully go toward a 50APO in the future.

        • $4200 with no warranty, no history of use, not knowing if the RF is 100% aligned, etc. Have a sensor issue and it will cost you a pretty penny. I never buy used Leica’s as I have seen way too many issues with used ones. Some get rid of their Leica’s due to constant RF drift, others have issues with lock ups… buy used, and you have no warranty. Repairs are COSTLY. Id rather spend the extra $3k for a new MM 246, have a full warranty and peace of mind along with the better camera. When you get to the $4200 range, $3k more is not really that much to worry about. If you do buy a used leica, be very careful and try to shoot with it before buying if at all possible. Test RF accuracy, fire off 10 quick shots to make sure there are no lock ups, and make sure there are no issues in operation.

          • Leica has officially announced that they will cover corroded sensors regardless of warranty status.

          • Lenshacker, Thanks.

            I’ve had to open Steve’s indoor shot at full res and then even zoom in on that quite a bit, but I can see the feint banding you refer to. However, I’m having difficulties in seeing it at all the shot of Brandon.

            The effect is not as gross as I assumed it might be and probably will go unnoticed by the majority. However, it is one of those things that once you know it is there it will constantly bug y

  6. New one is definitely better, just not enough to matter to me.

    EVF, focus peaking, video and live view may be “Must haves” to some, but to others they fall solidly under “couldn’t care less”.

    • Improvements are many over the old MM:

      HUGE HUGE battery life improvement
      MUCH better LCD, as in night and day
      More mature menu system, quieter shutter, more stable
      Better DR and richness to the files
      Better high ISO, ISO 25k is usable.
      Body feels VERY solid, and very nice, same as 240
      Colored frame lines are more pronounced and easy to see

      and the things you mentioned, the EVF, Live View, Video…those are not really going to be used by me and many, but the other improvements are very welcome and very nice to have in this camera. Overall it will give you a more mature system as the 240 did over the 9. The IQ is stunning, the colored frame lines are nice to have, and the feel and usability is also improved. I love the battery of the 240 and now 246 as I shoot all week on one charge.

      • I have six batteries for M-E/MM, non-issue for me. Never had a problem with visibility of traditional frame lines in MM, or even my old M5, another non-issue. Never had any issue with my MM over last two years and over 20k exposures, so. I reliability issue other than potential sensor corrosion, which I am sure Leica will fix, that is my ONLY issue with M9 generation.

        Yes, the new ones are better, but then the MO is “better” than my M5, but I’m not interested in upgrading that one either.

        Leica and every other company would love for we consumers to lust after the new tech and stay on the continual upgrade wheel, but I’d rather sit out a generation or three and master what I have, which other than sensor corrosion, which hasn’t affected me yet, still does everything I can ask of it and more.

  7. I managed to try the MM246 at the Leica store Mayfair a couple of weeks ago, and made the leap. Im part exchanging my beloved MM9 for it (something I genuinely thought I would never do) based on seeing the samples I took with my 50 lux. Very nice indeed! Looking forward to reading your review Steve.

  8. It was inevitable that Leica was going to come out with a better Monochrom sooner or later. I love my 1st gen MM, but the Type 246 really is next level in every way. And live view, EVF capability and focus peaking are long overdue must-haves, IMO. Now all I have to do is find my hammer so I can give the old piggy bank a good whack.

    • I sold my M-E, bought an M240. For all those who say live view, EVF, focus peaking are a must have.. Here’s the deal. The EVF is crap. It is an outdated Olympus piece – the VF2 – which they no longer use for a good reason as it is very coarse. So.. Live View and focus peaking is relegated to the LCD panel on the back of the camera. I used Live View once to check the focus accuracy of my lenses – and found my Sonnar 50 1.5 front focussed, while the Nokton 35 1.2 back focussed. So it was handy for that. Never used it again. But I could have done the same thing by taking a test shot of a straight edge, then examined it in on my computer to see where the actual point of focus was.
      The deal with buying an M240 or an M246 is that you are getting a more reliable camera with a better shutter and higher ISO range. I miss my M-E as it took better pics with more snap at base ISO. But I do not miss its sensor issues which is why I sold it.
      The beauty of using any M camera is the workflow using the optical rangefinder.

      • Leica should do like Fuji with the hybrid finder, but better: a OVF with all the infos from the sensor displayed into it to replace the mechanical RF. I am still not happy with all EVFs. Nothing beats the clarity and connection through a OVF.

      • Huss I agree the beauty of the M is using the optical rangefinder….BUT, I find the EVF an awesome feature for when you want 100% accuracy in your composition, and especially for using wide angle lenses which the rangefinder is useless for (21mm, 15mm etc).

      • I’m aware that the Leica EVF is actually a re-branded and outdated Olympus VF-2 viewfinder. But I already have one from my old E-P2. I’ve tried it on a friend’s M240 and found it useful, despite being crude by today’s standards.

        • EVF use is about as crude as it gets, which is why the majority never use the live view or EVF with these cameras. Whatever replaces the M 240 needs an integrated hybrid VF – part real RF, part EVF, without the lag and slowness of the current EVF solution.

  9. Steve, there is not a single comparison that demonstrates higher dynamic range compared to the old MM, and there have been a few good ones. I’m assuming you are basing this on memory not direct comparison?

    • Well, the DR is indeed better, and those who own it, that I speak with all agree. It is obvious from the 1st snap. The old MM had a tendency to blow highlights, rather easily. This new version does not. This is much less harsh as well. There is NO WAY I would go back to the old MM, just as I would never go back to the M9 after the 240. Both the 240 and new MM are superior in every way to the old versions. Of course there will be die hards who will never admit it, but it is true. Just as the M 240 had superior DR over the M9, this MM has superior DR over the old MM. I have thousands of images from the old MM, and only 30 from this one so far but there is a pretty big difference in all areas.

      • Please compare this camera to the new a7ii converted to see how they compare

        Good luck and have fun as always

      • Yes, the old one blows highlights, but it is easy to avoid. I have mine set to default underexposure of -0.3 stops, sometimes I under expose further, but usually a third stop under protects the highlights and there is a wealth of detail and tone in those shadows.

        I see less noise (by about a stop and a half) in the new M246 files and a higher level default contrast, but nothing earth shattering (why should there be?). Very impressive, and definitely an upgrade, but nothing that makes the original Monochrom in any way less impressive than it was two-weeks-ago.

        I’m skipping this entire M24x generation and sticking with the M Monochrom and M-E, both of which remain fantastic digital rangefinders with stunning image quality.

        • I was asking because better DR gets thrown around whenever a new digital camera comes out, and blown out highlights on a camera do not necessarily mean low DR. I have been looking at correctly exposed files without blown highlights on Sean Reid’s website, and I do not see any additional shadow or highlight detail in the new M246. Now there is less grain in the shadows, which I guess could be referred to as better DR.

          I am not attacking you or trying to rain on your parade and I am not suggesting you go back to the older camera, but I would like to see some side by side comparisons. I said this in another place: the M246 is much closer to the previous MM than either are to TriX as far as grain and dynamic range are concerned.

          • There is a very good article from Gregory Simpson at the Leica camera site that makes comparisons between cameras and clarifies on the advange of the 246, and how to expose right.

        • Hey Andrew, that’s my standard D800E treatment these days! -0.3 for almost anything. -0.7 might be better sometimes, but is a bit dodgy most of the time.

          Know your camera and its exposure peculiarities. It takes practice.

  10. I’m really looking forward to one of Steve’s signature “Crazy Comparos” between this and the A7s!

    I’m not sure black-and-white is just a niche any more… it seems to be making a comeback in popularity even with people who aren’t especially “into” photography. Maybe a few more manufacturers will take a crack at b&w-only cameras (including more-affordable ones, I hope!)

  11. Very impressive!I already own an M240 and Id love to see tests comparing the same image converted to Mono on an M240 compared to one from the new M246!.Will there be much difference?Cant wait to see! All the best Steve.

  12. wow the second one looks very film like to me very tri-x
    cant wait for a full review as i’m considering this camera and want to know how it compares to the old monochrom and how the files are compared to the a7ii when converted to bW

  13. The tonality of the pictures is really quite something, very nice indeed. Looks like very wide dynamic range, almost like film without the grain. Second picture at high iso also has that tonal range, irrespective of the higher noise level, something the original Monochrom didn’t have I think, most of the pictures that came from the original were overly contrasty with little highlight detail, this new Monochrom is much much better.

    I’m a B&W film lover and still shoot film. I can’t afford either or any of the Leica cameras/lenses combinations but never really minded or hankered after them as I’m happy with the results I get from film or converting digital colour images to B&W when I think the subject needs that treatment, but the tonal quality of these pictures has me hooked. IF I only could afford it!!!!

    Best wishes and happy picture making with your new camera.

    • Wow, I’m always surprised at how differently people see things. To me, these shots look pretty different than well-processed and printed B&W film. Same goes for the 1st gen. MM, to my eye.

      What I see is a whole different way (than film) of mapping the tones across the dynamic range. Traditional B&W film has a snappy way of separating highlights from shadows (without blowing the highlights). Most of the unprocessed MM shots I see are very heavy on the mid-tones.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’d have a blast with one of these. But I’d be spreading out the mid-tones in almost all my shots.
      I sure wouldn’t argue with anyone who likes this kind of native tonality, though; it’s 100% personal taste.

  14. Looking forward to your long term review with actual use Steve. I’m on the fence as to what to do with my M-E as I have been putting it off for some time in sending it to Leica NJ to replace the sensor for a bad column. I know I might be offered an opportunity to upgrade to the M240 or MP but the new M246 looks very attractive as I’m shooting musicians indoors at a couple local nightclubs. The higher ISO would be great!

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