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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Comments

Brilliant camera but i can`t believe the LCD is only 230,000 dot resolution.

Mike, are you watching Hot Rod TV, too? They're talking about Superformance... . (A Superformance GT-40 owner is a regular customer at our local Panera Bread and I drool over it every time I see it.)

Many on the Leica forum preferred to have an M10 announced instead. Digital has corrupted the masses, I fear.

There are already reviews of the new camera posted today. I'm still not clear if/how Lightroom controls will (or will not) affect results compared to the other digital Ms.

Hmmm; 18 megapixels, claiming to be 2x more resolution than a Bayer-filter color camera of that resolution, meaning it claims to match the D800. I didn't see any mention of presence or absence of AA filter in the announcement.

I did see one little interesting thing: It said it has a true RAW histogram. I don't see why other serious cameras don't do that.

Mike,
Maybe the Nikon D800E, with no anti-aliasing filter is your solution. I assume that, like my D7000, it offers a monochrome picture control setting. And, apparently the new software provided handles any moire generated by the lack of an AA filter. Or, possibly just convertng to B&W in Pshop would do. It may be worth a try. And its a hell of a lot cheaper than Leica!!

Why should you worry?
Sample images show how mediocre this camera is.
I wouldn't want one for more than $1000.

The other emotion typical of the average adult Northeastern American (and average middle class person everywhere) who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture, is angst.

It's not enough to be able to buy stuff you like, it's just as/more important to buy stuff that makes you look discerning, successful and cool.

At least until you hit 50.

Now I am finally free, knowing I will never be cool no matter what music I listen to, what I drive or what I shoot with.

I do not really want a B&W camera for myself, but I have long seen the need for one. I appreciate the work of the guys who would use one. When the D800 and D800E came out it seemed to me that Nikon could have made it a D800 family with a D800L low light 16MP model and a D800b black and white model with a missing Bayer filter. The resolution with that 36MP sensor would be amazing. Everyone would have been happy.

Hope, as they say, blooms eternal. I just sent an email to them asking for sponsorship. Snowflake, meet the flames of hell.

Edie
Jesus, I'm *still* considering a Holga. Talk me down, dammit!

P.S. You did call it, Mike.

Mike,

Out of reach? Bet that new Subaru for $20k
is within reach. Just a matter of priorities!

I also know that MX5 of yours provides as much fun as a new Subaru, so keep the Mazda and go ahead and treat yourself to the Leica.

P.S. A couple of tweaks to the Mazda's suspension, tires, wheels,some engine goodies and your good to go!

"Out of reach? Bet that new Subaru for $20k is within reach."

Joe,
It's more like $26,000, and no, I can't afford that for a second car.

And anyway, a car dealer will let me buy on monthly installments, and the residual value of a car is a lot more predictable.

Mike

Leica made a monochrome version of the wrong camera: a monochrome X2 would help justify a premium price over the competition while still remaining (relatively) accessible.

Mike, just a personal note. Good to see you quote Walker Percy. A poet friend and I created a POD book of poems and images in the tradition of Percy. I also included an essay considering repetition in photography on the website - "He had the strongest inkling that back there, not ahead, lay the thread in the labyrinth he had lost" (Walker Percy's Message in the Bottle). By the way, all of the images are in black and white. Take care.

"... and the residual value of a car is a lot more predictable."

yeah, and if it rains on your Subaru it doesn't cost you five G's.

If Olympus made an OMD-BW they would likely sell a fair amount of them for a specialty camera. I could see lots of black and white lovers deciding, finally, here's a camera that works for me, and some folks would even get one for color, one for black and white.
I'm curious if color filters over the lens have nice effects on the Leica as they do with film...

After looking at quite a few photos and reading about this camera, I'm not sold on the alleged advantages of this new Monochrom camera in terms of b&w tonality. Sure, removing the Bayer array increases sensitivity and improves resolution, but these aren't really b&w improvements, and how big is everybody printing to really take advantage of these improvements? Throw in the fact that you loose color channel control in the raw converter for your b&w images, and I'm just not convinced.

An outdated sensor with Bayer filter removed is still an outdated sensor.

The contrast between Apple and Leica over well designed practical products with form-follows-function philosophy backed by serious and useful innovation looking to the future couldn't get any more pronounced than this latest joke on the collector community.

I was well on my way to giving this blog post the brush-off (as I have done with too many such posts lately) ~ it is, after-all, just more hype to fan the flames of hysterical consumerism...

But, then I read the Leica New Product Literature (to which, Mike linked above) and discovered that this camera will produce "True black-and-white images...".

Well now, that changes everything!

Normally, I would insert some sort of winking/smiling emoticon at this point. However, there is nothing funny about this blog post...just flabbergastedamazement!

Cheers! Jay

Yes, you're right especially about unrelated aspects counting against the concept. This is one of the annoying misfeatures of evolution...

However, browsing randomly last week I came across Elphel, whose pricelist says: "Optional equipment for NC353L camera series... At your request, we can mount a 5 Mpix monochrome sensor instead".

So there you go, non-Leica pricing and you're set.

Go get a K1000 & some Fomapan...

I wonder if it would be possible to mod an existing camera to do the same thing. Isn't the coloring on pixels done by a filter? Does anyone know if it's possible to remove the filter? Then maybe a firmware modification to remove the interpolation... maybe that could be done with the cannon CHDK project. Just a thought. Would be a great community hack project.

I agree with you. I'd love to get one. I actually have a set of very nice Leica lenses, and a couple film cameras (none of which I could afford new). I just can't bring myself to pay that much for a digital camera. B&W or color. I'm thinking of just selling it all and getting a different camera system, but maybe, just maybe, someone will come out with a full frame M-mount camera that is price competitive with a D800/5DIII.

I'd totally go for a monochrome camera. But not for $8k.

Now I see the point of children. You could just sell the firstborn...

I have heard that, in real terms, Leica M cameras have always cost more or less the same since the 1950s - it just so happens that everything else has become cheaper. From memory, the Leica M6 was around twice the price of a Nikon F3. I also remember when the Nikon D100 came out retailing for $4500.

Personally I am very excited by this camera and have already started thinking about what I can sell in order to buy it!

I don't think photographers have had things this good for a while. So many wonderful cameras and lenses which would have been undreamt of just five years ago.

Just another application of Murphy's law; and Murphy was an optimist.

I'm happy with this announcement! I think it shows that there is demand and that some other manufacturer will rush into the fray with one and I bet within a year or two they will offer one!

Instead of fretting over the price, just start calling for Fuji to make an X-Pro1 B&W. I'm sure they could do it under $2000 sans lens.

For some strange reason, I see Ricoh following with a monochrome version of their Leica GXR module (or with some fixed lens).

A monochrome-only camera for students is, conceptually, a good idea. In reality, college students are lucky to be able to afford one camera, given the cost of college, required printing at the college printing shop ($4.95/page for an 8.5x11-inch print: OUCH!), and all of the other college expenses. My recent exploration of formal photography education resulted in the first 3 assignments purely B&W, with the last 3 either B&W or color. My Canon 7D performed admirably, but so did the Rebels and low-end Nikon DSLRs for teaching/learning photography. So, even a Nikon, Canon, Pentax, etc. B&W camera would still require a second camera. People in my photo club are going a different route: converting old DSLRs to infrared and they're having a blast!

$8000? A small price to pay to only have to deal with one histogram.

Dear Mike,

The price, in uninflated dollars, of a Leica M4 jumped substantially in the 1970's, so an exact comparison depends upon the year you look at.

Bracketing the range, an M4 **WITH** normal lens was about $5,300 in current dollars in 1969 and about 7,700 in 1979.

It's very difficult calculating an accurate correction to the consumer price index over such a long time span, so take the absolute numbers with a grain of salt (the relative increase in price is pretty accurate). I used a relatively conservative average of 1%/annum, but some economists will argue for 1.5% or even more. So, the above absolute numbers could be 25-50% low.

pax / Ctein

Please gimme my digital B&W Olympus XA2 for $300, Universe.

Just curious. Why you commented here almost every last camera that appeared last months but never mentioned something about the Fuji X Pro 1. The image quality appears excellent. Can I propose a review or something. This new camera, the bw leica, would be impractical for a professional photographer since, for the price, how can afford to purchase two digitals leicas bodies?

Honestly, I'm quite happy about this announcement, even though there's a snowball's chances in hell of me ever owning one. Why? because my gut feeling tells me it's very likely to succeed, if only on nostalgia alone, and my gut feeling also tells me if the Leica M-monochrom(e) succeeds there's a very good chance Fuji will release a monochrome variant of (at least) one of their X-series cameras if only to try to cash in on its popularity.

Monochrome sensor + Fuji EXR technology + no AA filter + Fuji X10 body + (price < $1k) = the stuff (my) dreams are made of.

Now if you excuse me, I've gotta find my piggy bank so I can start saving up my pennies.

"Dear Mike, The price, in uninflated dollars, of a Leica M4...."

Ctein,
No need to calculate for inflation. What I'm looking for are relative prices for contemporaneous comparables. If a Leica cost $450 in 19XX and a comparable-level Nikon cost $300 that same year, then the metric I'm looking for is 150%.

Of course, one does have to be careful of what "comparable-level" means.

Mike

How is it better than a Foveon for monochrome photos? (just asking for explanation)

My initial reaction was that although I work in b&w 95+ percent of the time these days, I'm not interested in a monochrome-only version of the M9 for all the same reasons I haven't been able to convince myself to buy an M9.

Upon reflection, though, I may be starting to waver slightly, although with an $8,000 pricetag, it certainly will not be an impulse purchase like my X-Pro1.

From a die hard Leica fanboy......

Leica is the perfect company for this camera. It, along with Fuji, are the specialists in niche camera products. There are two significant differences between the M9M and Sigma in the mirror less market. Leica have those simply staggering lenses and 30 years of them and they have a client base that is used to the high costs of purchasing a niche product. The M9M will sell. It's not aimed at the 99% who are panning it, without ever holding a Leica. It's for the 1% who have to have it and even then they won't be able to keep up with demand. Remember, this is the company that thought a production run of 10,000 M9's would see them out (now at 40K and counting). This is the company that specialises in small run cameras, where the R&D costs are paid for with a high purchase price.

Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus can't sell a camera like this. They're like a fast food chain. Everything is super sized with more and more features, buttons, bells and whistles. They're too scared of each other and narrow-minded to make a leap of faith like this. Canon can't even make the leap into the mirror less market, even though the Japanese are 60% mirrorless. And the Pentax Q and Nikon 1 are curiosities that they sell to protect their core DSLR business. The only chance you have of getting another manufacturer to make one is if the M9M is a raging success, just like the M9 is. Then Fuji may make one that has incredible high ISO quality that doesn't focus where you can use it.

Gordon

Just returned home to see the news of the Leica announcements.

Monochrome M9: Utterly silly, completely out of step with the century.

And students do not learn "composition and tonality" from a black and white camera. Students learn through good guidance and instruction...so extremely rare today. And anyway, students won't be buying this monochrome camera. The market is squarely old retired men trying to recapture b&w youth memories.

The X2: Are you kidding me?

Not at all surprising from Leica but still stupefyingly ridiculous "new product" in this day of digital imaging. The real world has moved on, Leica.

"How is it better than a Foveon for monochrome photos?"

Implementation is always half the battle (if not more), and I don't know anything yet about the implementation. It's always possible I just won't like it at all. In which case all this is moot for me. (Of course I don't just care about me.)

Mike

As Mies might have said of the M Monochrom:

LESS IS MORE!

Less choices, more money.

Today, Leica only survives as a camera maker because there's one born every minute...and some of them eventually make some money.

I would like somebody to explain to me why you can't manipulate a color photo in Photoshop to get the same result as you could from a B&W camera. And don't tell me it's because you can "see" or "visualize" in B&W only with a B&W camera, because (unless your eyes are missing the cones) you *never* see in B&W except on a tiny LCD, until the print pops out of printer. Everything else is in color. So, if you put the color shot in PS and desaturate, and manipulate, why isn't that the same as shooting in B&W, except for that 5-second time period when you push the desaturation button?

This, by the way, is a real question.

"Dear Mike, The price, in uninflated dollars, of a Leica M4...."

I think we also have to take in to account that here in the US income levels for the vast majority of the population has stagnated for the past 20-30 years...

Mike,

I remember in one of the older posts, you were saying something about you would buy the first B&W only digital camera that came out...

I couldn't find that article anymore, you must have deleted it!

Mike, I have shot Leica M cameras since I finish my degree when I was 23 years old. I got the first M camera, an M4, from my dad who very seldom used it, it was allmost new. Then, several years later, I was rich enough to buy a new M6. In parallel during all that time, I got an Olympus OM-1, then an OM-2 and finally an OM-4T. Now I'm 60 years old, and looking retrospectively, It would have been better if I should have been with Olympus all the way. Although I got very good shots with the Leica, such us the steam locomotive print I sent you, in general my best photos are from my Olympus cameras. Focusing through that split image rangefinder has been f...g pain in the ass through all my photographic life. I know, its a delight for many photographer, but not for me, I have lost many opportunities because of that damm rangefinder. If you wear glasses is even worst. Yes, many will say this stupid don't know how to prefocus and preadjust the apperture, yes I know that, but the chances your subject is in the best plane of foucus is tini. Today I'm enjoying very much my Olys E5 and E-P3 and most of my photography is B&W.

Be patient, some other camera maker will come with a much less pricy alternative, then jump on it. In the meanwhile, enjoy the beautiful E-M5.

By the way, here is another shot I like that I got with my dads Leica M4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/42632173@N08/7174185240/in/photostream

Best regards.

The importance of this to me is that if it means that niche digital products are now viable, we could be in for interesting times. Digital x-pan anyone?

Of course with that definition, there is no such thing as a Velben good. Why not price it at $100,000? Would Leica actually sell fewer at $4000? Demand curves always slop downwards, an upward sloping demand curve (which is what that definition implies) would mean that as the price got higher, they would sell more. Clearly once you got to the GDP of a decent sized country the demand would start to taper off.

Some would argue that over a small range, the status of a higher price does make something more desireable but that's not the same as how many they sell. A better concept of a Velben good would be one in which the manufacturer can make more money by appealing to status even if the overall number of items sold isn't as high. Upward sloping demand curves do not exist, at least for non-unique items.

Dear Mike,

Ah, OK. Looking up...

In 1969, a Leica M4 was $500, a Leicaflex SL was $650. A Nikon Photomic FTN was $400. A Canon FT QL was under $300.

All with lenses, of course, and some offered a choice of lenses, so prices could vary from this. I picked a plausible average figure.

In 1979, it got complicated, because you had the relatively new category of "automatic" SLR's-- ones with full auto exposure. The Leica M4-2 was $1,600, the Leica R3 auto-SLR was $1,300. (Yes, that's right; the rangefinder camera cost more.)

Meanwhile, the Nikon FE (auto) was $700, the Nikon F2AS was $1,200, the Canon A-1 (auto) was $600, and the Canon F-1 was $850.

There were lesser models of Nikons and Canons, of course, but I only looked at the top tier, since that was a more meaningful comparison.

It's hard to find any rangefinders to compare to. In '69, there was the Canon 7S, an interchangeable lens rangefinder, which was 2/3 the price of the M4.

(For them what wants this in modern dollars, multiple the 1969 prices by about 10X and the 1979 prices by 4X.)

pax / Ctein

Even setting the price aside, the monochrome idea is at best a mixed blessing. If one is resolution-crazy, then the added resolution w/o the Bayer pattern is a plus. But if one is in the habit of using the conversion sliders in LR/ACR/PS, then the loss of an infinite range of 'filters' for BW work – filters that can apply separately to different parts of the image – substantially offsets the gains.

Loyal as I am to Leica, I won't for a moment consider the monochrome sensor as an alternative to BW digital conversion.

"This, by the way, is a real question."

John,
Try this.

Mike

The old Leicas were a better value. You got both the color and monochrome versions for the price of one.

Mike,

Perhaps, I'm missing something here about why a B&W camera is such a great thing. Yes, I can see the advantages of getting rid of the Bayer array and the AA filter. But if your raw capture is in color, you have much greater control over the look of the final product, since you have three color channels that can be selectively manipulated when you do the B&W conversion in Lightroom, Aperture, etc. I would much rather have a really good DSLR or mirrorless for 1/3, 1/4. or 1/5 the price and still have the option of color output.

Don't get me wrong. I do a lot of monochrome conversions. And back in the day I had my own darkroom and did my own B&W processing and printing. I shot a lot of Tri-X. And I think I still have the enlarger in a box somewhere in the garage.

Just my two-cents-worth.

Phil Service

"The old Leicas were a better value. You got both the color and monochrome versions for the price of one."

And they lasted a lot longer. So why aren't we using them any more?

Mike

I happen to have a 1960 E. Leitz NY catalog, in which an M3 with a 50 mm F2 Summicron is listed for $399. I also found this on the web:

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/nikon/nikkoresources/RF-Nikkor/RF-Accessories/Instructions/index.htm

which includes a 1960s Nikon price list. An SP with a 50 mm F2 lens is $329.50. So, the factor at that point was just 1.2.

My general impression from looking at old Leica catalogs is that the price of the bodies has not gone up a lot more than general inflation (at least until the digital bodies), but that the lens prices have.

Just using todays announcements as an example, compared to the 1960 prices:

M3 body: $270
1960 Summicron: $129

M-monochrome: $7,950
2012 Summicron: $7,195

(The 1960 Summicron is the standard rigid-mount model. The deluxe dual-range model was $168.)

David

Excerpt from "Explosion of the “Hindenburg” by Bill Jay (http://www.billjayonphotography.com/ExplosionoftheHindenb.pdf): "Sam Shere [...] became a photographer for the New York Evening Graphic for $50.00 per week. [...] After one transatlantic crossing, he visited Germany and bought one of the new Leica 35 mm cameras, for $42.00 "and spent the next few years on the other end of ridicule, enduring sarcastic remarks and innuendoes from American news photographers who regarded the Leica as a 'toy'."

Forget the inflation calculations above ... here's my equation: $8,000 M9-M = $1,000 M3 + at least 1,000 rolls TriX/Delta + some chems. No contest. I want silver bits, not 0/1 bits, in my B&W negatives.

David - 2012 Summicron 50mm = $7,195? That can't be right. In Switzerland it's listed at 2,340 CHF inc. sales tax, while the M9-P is 7,490 CHF. (Although exchange rates are all haywire, I always think that 1CHF = 1USD is a fair comparison)

In 1969-71 I was selling pictures and turning all income into "new" used cameras. At that point, M2's were being dumped and I had no trouble accumulating an M2, collapsible 50 Summicron, collapsible 90 Elmar, Canon 35/2.0 and later the Canon 19/3.5 for less money than any new F or FTN kit. Don't remember the prices (at Willoughby-Peerless in Chicago) but I do remember the comparison. Those were the days when a Leica student camera made a lot of sense.

scott

@Kenneth,

In fact not. In the 1972 a Leica M2 was used by Nick Ut (accompanied by two Nikons) to photograph Kim Phuc in the hassle of the Vietnam war. It was a tool, a good tool, a reliable tool, but a tool, nothing more.

In 2012 war is still rife around the world, but I think Leica misses out on those. Nick Ut now uses Canon I saw, and Canon and Nikon have outclassed Leica 100:1 in the professional field.

Leica has gone the way of Hermes, Louis Vutton and Gucci. It has become a fashion statement for most (not all) of it's users. That seems to be the only way to survive the digital age for a low volume camera like Leica. I like Leica's for their build quality, their lack of compromise and their high level of enginering.

If I were Leica I would realise that Leica's are and were about glass. I would make that glass available for Nikon and Canon users as well. If Leica would want te make an impact on the real camera market again that would be the way to go for me. Voigtländer and Schneider have already shown the way. Leica only has to follow more wholeheartedly then they do today. How about that 7000 dollar Summicron with an Nikon bayonet on a D800e.

Greets, Ed.

One thing interests me. A lot of the negative comment is from people who are concerned to set the 'look' of the image after exposure in post processing.

One of the advantages of B&W film is that the look is largely set when you load the camera and expose (Gary Winogrand said that after exposure 'it isn't really very plastic').

A concern about the digital M is that you are still going to set the look after the event with Silver efex. This may or may not be a good thing. I'm not sure yet.

I'm pleased Leica have done it though. It could, potentially, save a lot of time processing film. If time is short and of high value, that might make it worth buying.

I'm happy they made it, and I hope someone else makes one cheaper.

I freely admit it, I like niche cameras. My last purchase previous to the X-pro was a Pentax auto-110, mostly for the lenses, with odd thoughts of making an adapter...my first serious camera was an Agfa Isollette, and most of my good storm pictures were shot with a Koni-Omega.

So, if Fuji would come out with a digital X-pan, say a double wide aps-c, or even my new favorite idea, a 23mp square format camera with the xf-mount, I'd be all over it.

No interest here in the new mono-Leica. Much better to shoot B&W film, have it processed and scanned commercially. Probably cheaper, too.

What I *really* want is camera/DAM software that takes B&W seriously. I want to be be able to shoot in B&W but have the file be RAW--but only show the B&W on the LCD. Then when I load the file into Aperture or Photoshop I want to see it in B&W. I want the color info to be there for "filtration" and other reasons but I don't want to see it in color unless I choose to do so explicitly.

If I want it in B&W why show it to me in color?

--Darin

I've had a final production X2 for a few days - enough to produce a full review, which is here:

http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/05/11/leica-review-1/

It's surprisingly good. I'd say image quality is on par with the best of the APS-Cs, actually.

Trying to get the M9M to review...

I'll get one when they come up with Lightroom plugins that colorize the photos... ;)

BTW What could be the reason for not having the red Leica logo on the B&W camera? I would think that the logo, and its prominence on their cameras, is an important marketing tool for Leica. Are they not proud of their new camera?

"If I want it in B&W why show it to me in color?

--Darin"

Darin,

Open Lightroom
Press Ctrl-A
Press V

Problem solved.

Any Canon DSLR will do exactly what you ask of a student camera in concert with Digital Photo Professional (DPP), Canon's free bundled software.

Set the camera to save RAW files (or RAW and jpeg if you wish), set the camera's image parameters to B&W, with such things as contrast, filtration (yellow, red, orange, green) and sharpness all independently variable. What you see on the LCD is B&W and what you initially see in DPP is B&W, with all of those B&W variables still available for further change. The RAW file retains all the necessary information if you wish to revert to colour. DPP does not convert a B&W image to colour when it loads it, unlike most other RAW converters.

Price of entry to this exclusive field? About 1/12th of the cost of the Leica (with AF, IS and a zoom lens thrown in).

While I sincerely doubt that the ultimate image quality will match that of the Leica, as a learning tool it has infinitely greater merit, surely?

Jeff

To extent on the Percy quote: Leicas seem to be intolerably dull and repetitive.

The Leica X2 looks to be the Everyman's Leica. I love to get my hands on the Leica Monochrom. But, the M8 will suffice, like the rest of humanity at the moment, I have no money for luxuries like this. holding something this expensive in my hands might sour if one of my kid needed an unexpected trip to the hospital. As for the 50mm Summicron, the price for this is astounding. What kind of print could be made to take advantage of it's quality? I have previously enquired with my retailer about getting the 50mm summilux when the next delivery arrives. But now, I think the 50mm Zeiss Planar might be the trick.

Long term reader, first time poster here...

Maybe Panasonic? A GF variant?

In terms of comparing price vs. time I'd look at it in terms of the salary of the target buyer. A Leica now would take me x months of saving - how long would it have taken 30 years ago for someone in a similar job?

Without any regard to the... obtainability... of the camera, the samples on DPReview are very impressive. I'm not normally a pixel peeper but have a look at the detail in the corners for the Space Needle shot and the shot on the beach. That's equal or better to what I get with 120 B&W 100 ISO film shot at f/8 on a sunny day.

I am not worried. The camera will sell.

It is good it is leica that reintroduce bw cameras. Lightroom and Aperture is not really made for raw bw. Neither of them cn ignore the status to support Leica cameras, so both will improve the software to support bw raw files. Foevon raw files are not well supported, so it need to be an respected camera producer otherwise it will die.

The price only gives then the time they need to develop the software. If it had been a cheaper camera the users would not be mercible and it might flop.

Ha ha, fooled em I did! I've already got me one of them there mon-e-o-chrome cameras. Gloating as I snap of the plastic cap and inhale that comforting and familiar aroma of Tri-X and eye the M4-2. Thirty six chances to fail....but thirty six chances to win too.

Oh, if Nikon offered a B&W-only D5100 and it didn't sell well, people would argue that only "serious" photographers would go for a B&W-only camera and the D5100 obviously wasn't serious enough.

As a matter of principle, I'm glad that somebody has decided to have a go at this idea. I also happen to like Leica, though more for their past contributions than their present trajectory.

But I can't shake the feeling that this camera is a lot more about making a statement (both for Leica and the purchasers) than about photography, and that I find a little sad.

Mike

I think this is the perfect sort of thing for Leica to do since realistically only 10(*) people actually want a camera like this, so it's just not practical for anyone else to tool up a factory to make a machine like this.

(*) By "10" I mean some miniscule number of people compared to the already relatively small number of people who would even buy a high end (i.e. $600 and up) digital camera.

... proof of concept depends on a product that's an outlier in some other way.... worried ... the very first ... the Sigma DP1

Interesting you mention the Sigma DP1 in your addendum. The MM9 is said to be so potentially good because of the lack of AA-filter and Bayer-pattern ... both "features" being base-specs of the FOVEON sensor inside the Sigma DP1 (and the SD1). And these cameras shine in B&W photography. The three sensor layers add their light-gathering-capabilities allowing flexible editing.

The MM9 has one single layer to feed it's DR ...

I've got a copy of the Wallace Heaton Blue Book for 1969. This shows the prices of all photo equipment available in the UK at that time. All prices in pounds

Price comparisons:-
Nikon F with 50mm F2 218
Leicaflex with 50mm F2 406
Canon QL with 50mm F1.8 130
Leica M4 with 50mm F2 283

Further examples of prices
Olympus Trip 34
Olympus 35SP 58
Hasselblad 500C with 80mm F2.8 Planar 328
John

Addendum to my earlier remarks:
My disappointment with Leica's May 10 announcements did not grow from the "M Mono". I really did not care about a potential M10. I'm M-ed-up for life.

My disappointment was with the X2. I had it on what seemed like good authority that Leica was preparing to dump that outdated X1 and replace it with a "mirrorless" APC-C and a new lens system, similar to what Fujifilm introduced with the X-Pro 1. That, so the story went, was why Leica's lens production had been so inexplicably constipated for 2 years; the elves were making new types of lenses.

Now it turns out that the elves were actually sleeping in their hollow tree. The X2 is hopelessly outdated in every way.

And did the world really need a new 50mm M lens, particularly when Leica can't seem to manufacture its existing lens line-up with regularity?

If some folks enjoy using a one-eyed M9 camera that's fine with me. (Hopefully it will soon be available through Leica's "ala carte" system in ostrich skin or tartan plaid.) But it sure seems to me that Leica continues to barricade itself into its German fortress, admitting only true believers across the moat.

Meanwhile the rest of the burgeoning photo world is out there kickin' ass and takin' names with today's amazing array of innovative, high-performance/wide-option cameras costing <= 10% of a one-eyed M.

"David - 2012 Summicron 50mm = $7,195? That can't be right. In Switzerland it's listed at 2,340 CHF inc. sales tax, while the M9-P is 7,490 CHF. (Although exchange rates are all haywire, I always think that 1CHF = 1USD is a fair comparison)"

The $7,195 is for the APO version announced yesterday:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/860529-REG/Leica_11141_APO_Summicron_M_50mm_f_2_0_ASPH.html

It may be the extreme example, but I think that it is generally true that the Leica lenses have gone up in price more rapidly than the cameras. Arguably, the difference in quality between Leica lenses and others has gone up faster, too.

All a bit rich for my blood.

David

A specific reference - in June 1968 in Tangier (Morocco) the seller's offer at same price :
- A Pentax Spotmatic with S/Takumar 1.4/50
- A Leica M3 with Summicron 2/50

I chose the Spotmatic as more "modern" with its integrated cell. Never regret, the Spotmatic still works, except the cell, and S/Tak is yellow ...yellow as a light Y2 filter ! Tremendous use value. But no resale value.

In term of investment the Net Present Value of the Leica is infinitely superior. It's really the camera of the 0.1%!

It's monochrome, all right . . . . green . . .lots of folding green.

The M-M is a no brainer for Leica. It was obviously requested by Leica users and can come off the same assembly line as the M9P, just making a few modifications (or, subtractions). Only time and user reports will tell how good it actually is, not the opinions of those who have never even held an M9.

@ John Camp | Thursday, 10 May 2012 at 09:09 PM:

John, you bring up something that is one of the things that delights me about my NEX-7 and makes it all worthwhile: the ability to previsualize the image in monochrome through the viewfinder in real-time. It's been a revolution for me.

There was a time back when I was shooting for a living that I could fairly reliably look at a scene and know how it would look in B&W. I've found that is a skill that requires constant use to keep, and I lost it years ago when I ceased shooting ten hours a day six days a week.

Actually to extend cb's comment as well as Percy - the announcement of a monochrome camera breaks up the monotony of a normal Thursday afternoon...

Gordon, I shoot Leica too, but--Olympus supersized? With the EM-5 coming out, I don't think so. Hmmm, a compact mirrorless camera, almost as quiet as a M9, and which can also shoot monochrome in addition to color,and also shoot up to ISO 12,800, AND which has image stabilizing, etc, etc,--and all for $1,000 or so...

Can't help wondering with MFT coming on, if Leica may not be in for the same kind of drubbing it got in 1959, when it fluffed the whole SLR thing.

Olympus "can't sell that kind of camera"? Hell, they don't need to.

"BTW What could be the reason for not having the red Leica logo on the B&W camera? I would think that the logo, and its prominence on their cameras, is an important marketing tool for Leica. Are they not proud of their new camera?"

Well if it had the big red meatball then it would hardly be a monochrome camera would it, although it does make you wonder how they will make a LHSA version with no red dot to swap out for black.

Entry level Leica gear snobs like to show off the Leica branding. More advanced Leica gear snobs like to cover the Leica branding with gaffers tape, because they know that all their gear peers recognize an M camera dot or not.

You can still use actual colored filters on the thing, you know. Also, it's not QUITE the same as being stuck with one film, since the sensor's likely to have a lot more dynamic range than film, so you'll get to set up your response curve in post.

All that said, I'd be interested to know what the relative color response of the sensor is. I sort of assume that they've engineered it to be pretty flat across the visible spectrum, but it would be interesting to me to know how. With Bayer Arrays, do all the colors in the filter transmit equally, or do they compensate for a bias in the sensor by making the greens different from the the blues different from the reds?

"Darin,

Open Lightroom
Press Ctrl-A
Press V

Problem solved."

Not solved. :) All that does is convert the photo to B&W, which you can do in almost any photo editing program just as easily. You still have to see it in color first, still have to remember which files were supposed to be B&W--a nightmare if you have a large number of files on your card. Sigh.

Oh, to dream of having computers do what you want them to do and do it automatically!

--Darin

I do not know if the price of $1,600 quoted by Ctein for an M4-2 in 1979 is a list price, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that on 3/9/79 a new M4-2 body actually cost $899. The certainty and precise date are due to the fact that I still have the invoice from 47th Street Photo, NYC. It was a mistake to buy the M4-2 so soon after its introduction, as by January 1981, after the initial fever, it was selling for $700.

I finally took a long close look at all the image samples that DPR put up, full size. The couple high iso shots, in particular the iso 1600 one, look almost as clean as base iso, a huge change from the color M9. Detail is indeed very, very good, super real. But a little concerning, on several of the portraits skin is totally blown out in areas, leaving white nothingness. Might just be a case of the shooters getting used to how it exposes, but it might have an extra abrupt highlight rolloff.

Since you mentioned Shelby cobra in your post today, let's remember the man whose name this car takes: Carroll Shelby, who passed away today.

Darin: "You still have to see it in color first, still have to remember which files were supposed to be B&W--a nightmare if you have a large number of files on your card."

Darin I have found this possible if you use the native software that comes with the camera, but not with Lightroom / Aperture etc. You can fudge it with Lightroom / Aperture by shooting dual RAW/JPEG and setting up the program to display the jpeg as the primary file.

For example, with Nikon D700:
- Set Picture Control to Monochrome
- Import and edit / manage images with CaptureNX / ViewNX, which preserves picture control setting in preview and edit windows

Fuji X100 - same thing (replace 'Picture Control' with 'Film Simulation') but use Silkypix.

A D7000 with a B&W sensor would be a great camera. But I'm not holding my breath. For now my F 100, with all of it's interchangeable sensors (film) will have to do.

Ikonoskop is making a B&W digital cine camera. "B&W Cinematography! To celebrate the free spirit of filmmaking, and paying respect to the masters of the art, Ikonoskop is now introducing the first black and white Digital Cinema Camera: A-cam DII Panchromatic Edition Carl T. Dreyer. http://www.ikonoskop.com/blog/a-cam-dii-pancromatic/ The Color version sells for about $10,000.00, no price yet for the B&W version.

Dear Luis,

All my prices were LIST prices WITH lens.

For Mike's purpose, that was as good a reference point as any.

pax / Ctein

In 1972 you could buy a new OM1 or SRT-101 (top of the line model from Olympus and Minolta (now Sony)) for just over $200 US with "standard" lens. A new Nikon F2 was all the way up to $350 for same. A Hasselblad C/M 500 with 80mm lens was $800. A decent Mamiya 2-1/4 was about half the price of a Hasselblad.

Things were much cheaper, relatively speaking, then. Especially Japanese professional grade equipment. Those prices are discounted New York prices- yes, retailers actually got to choose what price to sell at, before they caved to monopolistic price fixing by manufacturers.

By 1979 you could buy a very nice used M3+Summicron for around $500, and a nice Rolleiflex 2.8F for the same.

hugh crawford,
"gear peers" is an excellent phrase, and I shall make an effort to use it as often as possible. :)
Will

Am I really the only one sensing the irony in the fact, that Leica chose Aue-Sobol as the one to exemplify the "unrivalled" dynamic range and tonal scale of this new camera?
Sure, Aue-Sobol is a good photographer and an interesting artist. But his style and philosophy goes totally against Leicas (and many others) arguments about why this camera is needed....

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