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Friday, 14 October 2011


I voted "ain't interested", but had I voted "Yay", I would've picked the mirrorless option. Now, despite not wanting a B&W camera, I would certainly want to TRY it if one were released, and I would be open to having my mind changed. After all, I am mostly a B&W photographer, so I should be the target market.

Cannot vote in this poll. The option for a pro level or even a FULL FRAME DSLR was not offered... Given these choices I would have to vote for the last option - NOT INTERESTED... If I could get a D700 (with a 100% viewfinder) optimized for B&W I am there!


If it had been me doing the poll (but of course it was not) I would have included a second column with the same selections headed, "What kind of camera are you currently using."

what I really want is a B&W only digital pentax ME. I could have say a digital K1000 (the very well known name might have helped the marketing), but I would miss the Av mode.


I've been thinking about this (potential) camera since your first post about it. As far as the marketing goes, it's not hard to imagine this camera having enough cache to make it a hip thing to own. I can see a lot of artistically inclined young folks wanting to have the black and white camera, because it's different, thus cooler than your normal, average camera.

I know of lot of people (myself included) are enamored with the x100 because of it's looks. If you made B&W sensor version of the x100, I think it would do very well - maybe even better than the color version is now.

Yikes! Are there THAT many mirrorless users, or are they just predisposed to vote? Why would a nube like me, with a cupboard full of lenses for SLRs and DSLRs want to consider a mirrorless camera, where an adaptor is needed and the lens dwarfs - and upsets the balance of - the camera? Am I part of a soon to be extinct species?

Should I change my name from Mr T Rex by deed poll?

maybe this might sound silly to some - as an old B&W medium format film shooter, loved it then and still do today, ...but please don't neglect today's finer tool options to shoot in color ( max data ) and converse in PS, as opposed to fiddle with color filters on a lens/film set up - handle it post exposure with amazing control....or let a company preset your B&W thing.
The techniques and results are outstanding with a strong sensor/glass, why give up YOUR creative powers to some sensor engineering!?
A good RAW file hides excellent color and B&W imagery, pending on the training of one's eye.
These are magnificent days, indeed, if you are standing on one leg in film and one in digital experiences. Tools are tools and always will change, creativity is another thing all together.

What i would really like is a B&W Ricoh GRD IV with a quality OVF in place of flash.

I can't see the voting options on my iPad; however if you click to see the poll results, there is a tab which allows you to vote.


Well I voted for "ultra compact digicam" but that's just for the imaginary world where I have more disposable income, for the moment if the B&W mood takes me I'm happy with chromogenic B&W film, a rangefinder or SLR and my film scanner.
The most realistic option for the real marketplace would surely be a B&W sensor version of the Ricoh GXR.

Dear Mike,
although I picked up 'enthusiast DSLR', but I have to say I'm not quite sure it's the variant I'd like to vote for. If the poll can be re-played then please add something like 'old school' or 'niche camera' or whatever words you find that describe it the best:
(highly desirable) - optical viewfinder (whenever of SLR- or rangefinder-like)
(very highly desirable) - one-button-per-function controls
(a must) - no extra goodies like digital filters, creative programs, face recognition and so forth: only P, A, S, M (+B and what Pentax calls 'TAv'). In-cam jpg processing may be permitted (e.g. to simulate different film types). Video mode can be considered an appropriate option to make the sales, but can be dropped off.


The results appear to suggest that M4/3 evf cameras have made very impressive inroads into the enthusiast market.

I'd like to try a mono M9 - not sure if I would want to pay for it in addition to the colour one. Otherwise a mono 1Ds3 would be nice.

I've followed your mono oddessey and understand where your coming from. It's the key reason I shoot film as digital largely equals colour for me.

I think I've checked out on SLRs, so I voted mirrorless enthusiast, I figure that covers everything from the X100 to a rangefinder.

considering the question, option 6 is not valid.

Voted "not interested" as I know I won't spend the money and I'm not focused enough to only do B&W when I'm out -if I won the lottery and gave up work it might be different!

To answer the question of why so many mirrorless voters, I think it's because we're the ones who don't mind buying into things that don't really exist yet.

P.S. I'll have a mirrorless version please, but I'd like my mount of choice (Samsung NX).

For me, a D700m is missing in that poll.

Why did't you include "semi pro" or "pro" DSLR in that poll as well?


I voted for the Enthusiast dSLR option, but I would have really preferred an option for a higher level camera. Still, I'd take anything that arrived; I'd even pay a premium for it.

I want a more minimalist/retro B&W digital camera, like a Leica M9 only a lot cheaper. With knob dedicated to setting the shutter speed (with an "A" on it, don't want to be too minimal) and the aperture set with a ring around the lens.

I wonder what kind of votes a B&W digital Leica M would get if you put it on your list. Aren't you curious?

I cast my vote for mirrorless system, but I could be equally or more interested in a fixed lens model (Fuji X10).

I, too, vote for making TOP viewable on iPads and iPhones. I'm reading it late at night in my favorite chair with a glass of Scotch. No flash.

Come on... we've known about this limitation for YEARS.

I am assuming we are talking a sensor without a bayer array that sees luminace values only and hence is black and white RAW, not jpeg, with which we can tinker with to our hearts content, or not, in post… otherwise i ain't innerrested

I think I voted for the mirrorless option , but it's hard to tell if you are using an iPhone,

I think one reason that the mirrored option comes out ahead in this poll is that a lot of photographers have always thought of the ideal camera as being a dumb lightight box that holds a lens on one side and film on the other with maybe a shutter in between.

Photographers who eschew all the stuff you don't need like meters, viewfinders, grips, and all the other junk that is superfluous to a box with a lens and a place to keep film are likely to want to use black and white film.

Mirrorless cameras like the NEX are the closest you can get to the idea of a dumb box with film and a lens in digital photography , so it should be no surprise that photographers who would want to pay extra to have less camera would want to also get rid of a lot of other features along with the ability to use color..

I'd vote for a digital B&W adapter for a TLR If that was on the list

There ain't gonna be no full frame pro level dSLR with b&w only sensor. Just forget about it. There's no market for it. Would you pay twice what you paid for the D700 for the b&w only version? I really dobut it.

If any sane company would test such a technology, they would test it in a digicam first. That's because smaller sensors are less expensive to manufacture and the risks of the product failing on tha market are lower.

Can I have a multi-spectral B&W camera with separate IR and visible pixels in a GXR module with an extended APO wide angle lens.

Since color output can be filtered to black and white shouldn't there be some advantage that a black and white only camera offers?

I'm going to assume that advantage is ultra-high ISO output...and so I voted for ultra compact digi-cam where high ISO would be great.

What I would have liked was something the size and form of an E-410 or E-620 (definitely not for the standard DSLR form), but I still voted for the mirrorless category as the next best thing.

BTW, Mike, what is the number of voters?

I voted not interested for lack of options. Like others, I'd have voted for a full frame SLR or a full frame M mount rangefinder.

I'd definitely be interested in a B/W-only digital camera, but none of the options above applies to me. I'd want a rangefinder.

(Nah, that's not the same as a "mirrorless system camera." I want a decent way to focus manually.)

Current BW conversions give enormous advantage when it comes to converting specific colours into BW, and these can be applied with great sensitivity and potentially be achieved in combinations completely impossible with traditional filters.

You would lose as much as you gain.

What I'd really love is a Canon AE1 with a B&W sensor tucked inside. Keep the FD lens mount, allow users to use their legacy lenses, but manufacture a load of flashy new ones too. Total pipedream, and makes no financial sense for Canon, but that would be a camera I'd by on day 1.

Hm - a hybrid would be my choice, with removable plug-in sensors, which you coud switch in 10 seconds or so. If that all would come in the shape of a FM-2, but the format of 4/3rds, that would be an additional plus. Or a MF, but those exist (sadly, the costs are above a nice Mercedes or so)...

I voted no because at the stage I am I find B&W only is too limiting (and I don't want necessarily two cameras). I prefer the ability of getting a color image when I want it. And it's not quite clear yet for me what would be the real advantage of a B&W only sensor, a bit more resolution? We have 24MP sensors already, a bit more tonal range, etc? Why not a bigger sensor?

What would interest me would be an option to interchange sensors in a camera. That would be THE idea if it was technologically feasible. A B&W sensor, one optimized for high-res low ISO, another one for high ISO, another one for low-res fast fps (for sports), another one for video, etc etc.

I suspect that, like me, a number of people may have voted for the mirrorless camera not because this is what they have and use but because this is what they may have chosen if it had been available when they were making the transition to digital.

Fixed prime lens, good quality, maybe a little smaller than the x100, price around 500 euros (so I think I have to vote mirrorless) then it would make a change (for me). In some way it has to be beter than a color camera.

I am happy shooting film. For digital B&W I use my Nikon D1 menu set on black and white.

I voted for the mirrorless option for the sensor size and lens options, but I would prefer it to be a more minimalist/retro approach. If a B&W-only camera were introduced as an enthusiast compact, I'd still be interested. That means a Canon G12 or a Fuji X10 with B&W sensor would still work for me.

Interesting that mirrorless is pulling so many votes, at least to a mirrorless user like me. I had to check the last box -- just really not interested in B&W these days -- but if I were looking for a B&W camera a mirrorless full-frame would be my choice. Probably not what the others are thinking, though.

FWIW, I have read this whole series and most of the comments, even though B&W no longer interests me. For all my years in film I thought I was a B&W photographer, but once digital gave me full control over my color I never looked back.

I, too, would have liked a higher-end option, but I think an ability to prioritize might have been interesting. I would have voted for the higher-end model first, but then have put the micro 4/3, NEX option next (I think--might possibly have put them in the reverse order).

I'd like a B&W version of the M12 (Leica M) adapter for a Ricoh GXR, so I can stop feeling guilty about not using my M4 lenses. I'd still feel guilty about not using the M4 body, of course!

Dear Heinz,

Please read Thursday's column and comments. You'll find them interesting.


Dear rdp,

Past experience has shown that a substantial number of readers are prone to posting comments to the effect of "that doesn't interest me," even when the topic of the poll makes it clear the question's only for people who ARE interested. Or they vote and then leave a comment to the effect that they voted for X, but they're not really interested in it at all.

Giving people a place to vote that way, along with initial admonition, helps get rid of that noise (and reduce Mike's comment-vetting load).

Also, it gives you a measure of what percentage of people don't care, which you don't get if they simply don't vote.

pax / Ctein

I'm with Speedy on this. A D700 B&W would be great. No idea why you didn't include FF DSLRs in your list.

I agree with above. Something minimalist with some form of optical viewfinder. Fuji seems like the right company for the task.

The categories feel odd to me here. Perhaps I'm too stuck on the idea of sensor size, but I think I would have organized it as

[1] small sensor
[3] mirrorless, m4/3 to aps-c
[4] aps-c dslr
[5] full-frame

I guess that leaves out the idea of a 4/3 dslr and a mirrorless full-frame camera, but I can't help but think that any B&W-sensor camera will be of an "enthusiast" quality since it's a niche market anyway.

As a personal opinion, please let it have a lens mount so that we can pick the lenses we want to use with it

I voted for "Enthusiast SLR" but I would have chosen "Pro SLR" or "Leica M9 or equivalent" if the choice had been there, due to the fact that viewfinders in "Enthusiast SLR"s tend to be problematic for old-fashioned by-eye focusing.

"BTW, Mike, what is the number of voters?"

You can find out everything I know at the link.

I've found our polls usually draw between 2k and 4k responses, although one drew 6.5k once.


I shoot 95% black and white - but the 5D2 does it well enough for me.

I wouldn't use a crop frame camera because I know exactly what my 3 lenses (35/1.4L, 85/1.8, 135/2.0L) will do, and I've no interest in using a different set of focal lengths.

Now give me a metal full frame manual focus Canon F1N or a Nikon F3, and I'd sell a car to buy it.

I'm surprised to not see any mention of the Phase One Achromatic+, which is a 39MP black and white only medium format digital back. Granted it's a little pricey, but it does exist.

Dear Craig,

It's been commented on many times over the past several columns in this subject, and it is so pricey that it doesn't even bear on the discussion. It's like taking about a Rolls Royce when someone wants a recommendation for a good family car.

pax / Ctein

Mike, found the link to the numbers almost immediately after I posted. :-/ But they are messing with the geographical distribution. When I checked the first time, there were three votes from Croatia. Now there isn't a single one. And since I voted, it obviously isn't true.

I really don't see the point. A decent black and white mode - with filter emulators - is/would be sufficient. There really isn't any need for a manufacturer to go out on a limb and release a camera which _only_ shoots in black and white.

None of those forms, but I'd buy a digital Canonet tomorrow with cash.

I picked enthusiast APS-C DSLR because I view that category as the first step towards consciously building extra control AND fewer excuse-making opportunities into the photographer's hands. It implies more direct-action controls, faster hardware/software responses, a more robust build that encourages regular use in a variety of environments, and a more aware approach to image-creation. The sensor size and aspect ratio are fine for me (but Pentax KAF2-mount, please!) and I know I am capable of spending $900-$1300 on a camera body.

However, unless I took this seriously enough to spend $1800-$2600* on a camera body (and I'm not), I'd be just as happy with a normal Bayer APS-C DSLR (but Pentax KAF2-mount, please!) with an integrated monochrome system with a dedicated monochrome shooting mode that does the following:

--RAW+JPEG small file mode
--Canned and custom monochrome image conversion presets (color filter variation, noise reduction, toning, contrast, sharpening, etc.) for JPEG review and quick tests
--Unless changed via custom menu, shot reviews are always monochrome on the camera display
--Custom conversion presents can be created on a computer and imported with a memory card like a firmware update
--RAW and/or JPEG file contains the camera present information so RAW conversion and post-processing software can automatically create a RAW conversion to roughly match the LCD review
--Image review contains toggle options at all magnifications for basic & full shooting information, luminance & RGB histograms, adjustable alerts for blocked highlight & shadow areas, etc.

I'd buy that custom shooting mode for any camera, but especially an enthusiast-style APS-C DSLR.

*Guesstimated from the Apochromatic+ being essentially twice the price as the P40+

So mirrorless it is then. By a huge margin. The "not interested" response is surprisingly low IMO. Maybe if the question had been phrased to the effect of "would you buy" then the "not interested" might rise above 50%.

So as far as unscientific market research goes, all the big camera makers should be putting everything else aside right now to concentrate on building and marketing a B&W mirrorless camera. Those are actually huge numbers in favor of that option. I'd better not hold my breadth for a B&W K-5...

Thanks for that poll (and not pole) Mike ;-)

I voted no to a B/W only sensor. I really fail to see what that would accomplish, especially as we already have colour sensors that give us 14 stops of dynamic range (see Nikon D7000 and Pentax K-5). If colour sensors were severely limited in dynamic range and going B/W would increase this, I could concede the point.

I personally value the flexibility of shooting in colour and then converting to B/W at my leisure.

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