The future of black and white photography: Leica M Monochrom


New M Monochrom

The world’s first digital rangefinder with dedicated, full-frame black and white sensor for true monochrome photography

Leica Camera AG has today presented the world’s first digital camera designed exclusively for full-frame, 35mm black and white photography: the Leica M Monochrom.

The Leica M Monochrom is a pure black and white rangefinder camera, using a newly-designed 18 million pixel CCD specifically created for the capture of light in its purest form. With this new sensor, there is no Bayer Pattern filter (colour filter array), which means it never separates the light into colours, and subsequently there is no need for complicated colour algorithms.

The 18 megapixel image sensor of the Leica M Monochrom is also perfectly matched to the superior performance of Leica M-Lenses. As the sensor does not ‘see’ colours, every pixel records true luminance values – as a result, it delivers ‘true’ black-and-white images that are significantly sharper than comparable exposures from a camera with a colour-sensitive sensor, and images that require very little or no further image processing.

The Leica M Monochrom continues the successful story of the Leica rangefinder system, which has written numerous chapters in the history of innovative photography.

Features at a glance:

  • Newly-developed monochrome CCD sensor with a native resolution of 18 million pixels
  • 100% sharper images thanks to the direct processing of RAW data with no interpolation
  • Extremely low, fine-grain image noise up to ISO 10000
  • Raw data histogram and configurable clipping display
  • Classic, iconic Leica M series design with black chrome finish and leather carrying strap
  • Includes Nik Silver Efex Pro™ 2 and Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom®
  • Exclusive access to the Leica Monochrom Print Service in cooperation with Whitewall
  • Includes an original fibre baryte print of a Magnum photo from the Leica M Monochrom campaign
    by J. A. Sobol

Jesko von Oeynhausen, product manager, M-System, Leica Camera AG, commented, “Black and white photography has become more popular than ever before, with photographers continuing to be fascinated by it as an expressive medium. This is confirmed by the numerous monochrome images presented to us by members of the Leica M community, with whom we are in constant contact. With the Leica M Monochrom, we are offering photographers the opportunity to explore black and white photography with a product that is unique in the digital world, producing consistent and authentic results. The camera’s exclusively black and white sensor brings an enormous technical benefit that is reflected in the outstanding image quality it delivers.”

The classic, iconic design of Leica M-cameras is also continued with the Leica M Monochrom. With its matt black chrome top plate, the camera is unobtrusive, with just the engraved name of the product on the accessory shoe revealing its identity. The camera features a particularly soft leather trim, ensuring a positive grip, and perfectly complements the camera’s discreet character. The camera package also includes a black leather carrying strap in premium full-grain cowhide.

To allow precise control of tonal values, the Leica M Monochrom offers a RAW data histogram display. This is different from conventional histograms in that it displays original, unprocessed and unmodified RAW data. The combination of this with a configurable clipping display allows precise correction or optimisation of exposures.

At the touch of a button, images captured by the M Monochrom can be converted using characteristic toning effects from black and white film photography (sepia, cold or selenium toning). The user simply saves the image in JPEG format and selects the desired tonal effect, and with no need for post-processing.

From photojournalism and available light photography to discreet, artistically aesthetic, creative compositions – the Leica M Monochrom adapts flexibly to every situation and enables the expression of personal photographic style and consciously creative composition. The enormous potential performance of the current M-Lens portfolio, with focal lengths from 16 to 135 mm, is also fully accessible. In line with Leica’s renowned commitment to extreme system compatibility, almost all the lenses in the Leica M range built since 1954 can be used with the M Monochrom.

Furthermore, all the characteristic properties of the Leica rangefinder system are also present in the Leica M Monochrom. For example, it includes the system’s intuitive and discreet handling. Its manual focusing, based on the combined viewfinder and rangefinder concept, and aperture priority exposure mode, is an aid to the photographer’s creative freedom. In combination with the LCD display, the simple menu navigation needs only a few controls to enable rapid access to the entire range of camera functions.

Together with its compact construction, the camera’s almost silent shutter ensures discreet and unobtrusive photography. Photographers can even select the appropriate moment for re-cocking the shutter. If longer exposure times requiring a steady camera stance are required, slight pressure on the shutter release button in ‘soft release’ mode is sufficient.

All components of the Leica M Monochrom are constructed with extreme durability and a long working life in mind. The one-piece, full-metal housing, made from a high-strength magnesium alloy, and the top and bottom plates machined from solid brass, provide perfect protection for the camera’s precious inner mechanisms. The digital components and shutter assembly of the M Monochrom are similarly constructed with a view to a lifetime of endurance. For photographers, this amounts to absolute reliability over many years of use. The experienced hands of Leica technicians at the factory in Solms are responsible for the assembly and calibration of M Monochrom bodies and the precise testing of all mechanical and electrical components. Leica Customer Care has decades of experience, and even today, maintains and repairs M-Cameras built from 1954 onwards.

The Leica M-System has played a significant role in the improvement of the company’s financial position in recent years. Since the launch of the Leica M9 in September 2009, Leica’s annual results have been correspondingly positive, and the company is now reporting record revenues.

Included software and Whitewall Printing Service
The Leica M Monochrom is supplied with Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom®, a professional digital workflow solution. The software is available to M Monochrom customers as an online download after product registration. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom offers a wide range of functions for the management, processing and presentation of digital images, for example the creation of simple print layouts, slide shows and photo books. A full-version of Silver Efex Pro™ 2, the world’s leading black-and-white image processing software, is also included in the package. Silver Efex Pro 2 offers an impressive collection of unique and powerful, darkroom-inspired tools for the creation of high quality monochrome images. Silver Efex Pro 2 emulates more than 20 different types of black and white film to recreate the glory of classic black and white film photography. The emulation of each film type is based on the analysis of many rolls of the respective type and guarantees perfect reproduction of the characteristic look of many popular films from ISO 32 to ISO 3200.

For the production of high-quality black and white prints, Leica Camera AG is also offering a unique service in collaboration with Whitewall. Following registration of their Leica M Monochrom camera on the Leica web site, customers can have their digital images from the M Monochrom printed on premium-quality baryte paper and can order copies from Whitewall by means of a personal link.

Pricing and availability
The Leica M Monochrom (black chrome) is scheduled to be available in the UK from the end of July 2012 from authorised Leica dealers including the Leica Store Mayfair: www.leica-storemayfair.co.uk, tel: 020 7629 1351. A full list of authorised UK Leica dealers is available at www.leica-camera.co.uk. The suggested retail price of the Leica M Monochrom is £6,120 inc. VAT (camera body only, not including lenses).

Leica warranty and added value services
The Leica M Monochrom comes with a two-year warranty and a one-year Leica UK ‘Passport’ (complimentary accidental damage cover). UK customers are also welcome to visit the Leica Store and Akademie in Mayfair, London, for a complimentary demonstration or training session on the features of the camera. Technical support by telephone is available via Leica’s London-based Client Care department.

Notes to Editors
For further information or high resolution images, please contact one of the following:
Jenny Hodge, tel 07920 291920, email jenny.hodge@leica-camera.co.uk
Clare Lingfield, tel 07881 587186, email clare.lingfield@leica-camera.co.uk
Simon Wittenberg, tel 07867 804471, email lcpr@sidhuandsimon.com

Media contact details for Leica North America
Evins Communications, Ltd., Tel: 212-688-8200
Julia Covelli, tel 212-377-3593, email julia.covelli@evins.com

LEICA M Monchrom: Technical data

Camera type Compact digital rangefinder system with dedicated black and white image sensor
Lens mount Leica M bayonet with additional sensor for 6-bit coding
Lens system Leica M lenses from 16 to 135mm
Image sensor Active area approx. 23.9 x 35.8mm, 5212 x 3468 pixels (18 megapixels). Infrared blocking filter for invisible light with wavelengths longer than 700nm, no low-pass filter
Resolution Optional resolution, DNG™: 5212 x 3468 (18 megapixels); JPEG: 5216 x 3472 (18 megapixels), 3840 x 2592 (10 megapixels), 2592 x 1728 (4.5 megapixels), 1728 x 1152 (2 megapixels), 1280 x 864 (1 megapixel)
Image file formats DNG™ (RAW), uncompressed, JPEG with quality-preserving compression
File sizes DNG™: 18MB (compressed), 36MB (uncompressed), JPEG: approx. 2-10MB
Colour spaces sRGB hardwired
Storage media SD cards from 2GB, SDHC cards up to 32GB
Menu languages German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Russian
Exposure metering Exposure metering through the lens (TTL), centre-weighted at working aperture
Centre-weighted TTL-metering for flash with system-compatible SCA-3000/2 standard flash units at f/1.0 / ISO 320/26°: EV 1 to 21. The left triangular LED in the viewfinder blinks when light levels are outside the lower metering range
ISO sensitivity range ISO 320/26° to ISO 10000/41°, selectable in 1/3 ISO increments
with aperture priority metering (A) and manual exposure settings, choice of automatic control or manual setting.
ISO 160 also available as a pull-function
Exposure modes Aperture priority (A) / Manual (M)
Flash exposure control  
Flash connection: Hot shoe with centre and control contacts
Synchronisation: Optional, on first or second curtain
Flash synchronisation speed: Metering range
Flash metering: Control by centre-weighted, TTL pre-flash metering (with SCA-3501/3502 adapters or SCA-3000 standard flash units, e.g. Leica SF 24D/Leica SF 58)
Flash metering cell: 2 silicon photodiodes with condenser lens in camera base
Flash exposure correction: ±3 1/3 EV in 1/3 EV increments, adjustable on SCA-3501/3502 adapter
Settings in computer mode for Leica SF 24D, ±3 1/3 EV in 1/3 EV increments, or from 0 to -3 EV in 1/3 EV increments / adjustable in all modes for Leica SF 58, ±3 1/3 EV in 1/3 EV increments
Displays in flash mode: Flash ready: constant illumination of flash symbol LED in the viewfinder, flash confirmation: constant illumination or rapid flashing of the LED after exposure, underexposure indicated by temporarily extinguished LED
Viewfinder principle: Large size, bright, combined bright-line viewfinder/rangefinder with automatic parallax compensation
Eyepiece: Adjusted to -0.5 dioptres; Correction lenses for -3 to +3 dptr. available
Image field framing: By projection of two bright-line frames with each lens attached: for 35 and 135mm, or for 28 and 90mm, or 50 and 75mm. Automatically displayed when lens mount locks. Any of the pairs of bright-line frames can be displayed by moving the frame selection lever.
Parallax compensation: The horizontal and vertical differences between the viewfinder and the lens are automatically compensated in accordance with the focusing distance set, i.e. the bright-line frame of the viewfinder automatically moves to cover the image field covered by the respective lens
Correspondence between the viewfinder and the actual image: At a focusing distance of 1 metre, the bright-line frame size corresponds precisely to that of a sensor size of 23.9 x 35.8mm. At infinity, and depending on the focal length of the lens in use, more of the sensor is covered than the bright-line frame actually shows, the opposite is the case for focusing distances of less than 1 metre, i.e. somewhat less
Magnification: 0.68-fold for all lenses
Long-base rangefinder: Bright rectangular spot (RF spot) with coincident and superimposed fields in the centre of the viewfinder image
Effective rangefinder base: 47.1mm (mechanical rangefinder base 69.25mm x viewfinder magnification 0.68x)
Viewfinder displays: LED symbol for flash status (on lower edge)
Four-digit, seven-segment digital LED display
Display brightness adapts to ambient light for: exposure compensation activation warning, display of automatically determined shutter speeds in aperture priority mode, reminder of activated exposure value lock. LED light balance with two triangular outer and one round central LED for manual exposure setting.
Rear display: 2.5” colour TFT-LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels
Shutter/shutter release  
Shutter: Microprocessor-controlled, particularly in low-noise, metal-leaf, vertical focal-plane shutter
Shutter speeds: In aperture priority mode (A), continuous from 32s to 1/4000s. In manual setting mode, 8s to 1/4000s in half-speed increments, B for time exposures up to max 240s, shortest shutter speed for flash sync, 1/180s approx. 2fps, ≥ 8 frames in sequence
Continuous shooting: Approx. 2 fps, ≥ 8 frames in sequence
Shutter release: Three steps: activation of metering – store metering values (in aperture priority mode) – shutter release. Standard internal threading for remote release.
Self-timer: Countdown 2s (in aperture priority mode and manual exposure mode) or 12s, menu setting option, countdown is indicated by a flashing LED on the front of the camera and a corresponding display on the monitor
Camera power on/off: Main switch located on the top plate, optional sleep mode for camera electronics after 2/5/10 minutes, reactivation by slight pressure to shutter release button
Power supply: 1 rechargeable lithium-ion battery, nominal voltage 3.7V, capacity 1900 mAh. Charge level displayed on monitor screen, when shutter locked in open position (for sensor cleaning), additional acoustic warning signal for insufficient battery charge
Battery charger: Inputs: 100–240 V AC , 50/60 Hz, automatic adaptation, or 12/24 V DC; output: 4.2 V DC, 800mA.
Camera body  
Material: Full-metal body in diecast magnesium alloy with synthetic leather trim. Top plate and base plate in brass with black chrome finish, sapphire glass LCD cover on the monitor screen
Tripod thread: A 1/4 (1/4”) DIN, stainless steel, integrated in base plate
Operating conditions: 0 to +40°C
Interface: 5-pin Mini-USB 2.0 high-speed socket for fast data transfer
Dimensions (W×D×H): Approx. 139 × 37 × 80 mm
Weight: 600g (including battery)
Software licences supplied with camera: Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® , Nik Silver Efex Pro™ (both available as a free download after registration. High speed Internet connection required)
Operating system compatibility: Windows® 7 SP1, Windows® Vista® SP2, Windows® XP SP2, Mac® OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) or higher
Package includes: Battery charger 100 - 240 V with two power cables (EU, USA), car charging cable, lithium-ion battery, USB cable, real leather carrying strap, original Leica M Monochrom print of a campaign photo, instruction manual, information on registration and software downloads