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Friday, 14 April 2023


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I'm a bit confused. Wouldn't the OVF view still be in color? How would this help you ignore color? I too find shooting in monochrome with a color viewfinder to be really distracting, which is why I have one mirrorless camera permanently set to monochrome. It's a whole different shooting experience.

[I can only answer for myself, not for others...as I shoot I visualize the final result. It doesn't matter what the viewfinder shows. In fact I dislike seeing B&W in the viewfinder because it will usually be quite far off from what my own final result would look like. --Mike]

the photo is not the monochrome it has a grey logo

[The source is the Ricoh Imaging home page:


Where it is labeled as the Pentax K-3 III Monochrome. --Mike]

or is that grey?

Can anyone point me towards a review that does a careful comparison of images taken with one of these versus images taken with a "color" sensor and then photoshopped to B&W?

I am curious about these cameras but I confess to having the feeling that such cameras are the photographic equivalent of $2,000 stereo cables.

I find this release to be wonderful, as it only expands the realm of possibilities (aka "options").

I applaud Ricoh/Pentax for making this deep leap into niche cameras (well, DSLRs are kinds of "niche" now, too, aren't they?). I hope other manufacturers follow suit, at hopefully reasonable price points.

I won't be buying one. It is not something I need. But I am happy it exists.

I just shoot in B&W JPEG and never see the image in color. That is other than through the OVF. With no alternative to B&W it's just like the film days shooting Tri-X. YMMV.

I applaud Pentax too, but for me personally $2200 plus a lens is a bit steep for the experience. Esp. considering I have a few film cameras and I could put a roll of B&W film in one if I wanted the monochrome only mindset.

I am happy for b&w enthusiasts. Quite an early-season bonanza for such a niche. It should also help swell the 2nd hand mono market.

Mon appetit!

I am happy to see Pentax do this. If Fuji ever released a B&W-only body (or an X100 camera), I'd rent one since I've got some lovely lenses to try with it. But truth be told, I continue to enjoy B&W film with my 4x5 and 120 cameras and have no plans to change unless film becomes unavailable. I sometimes shoot an IR 590nm X-E2 because I enjoy what I can do with it in B&W. I try not to emphasize the IR as much as the B&W tonalities, and so far, it has worked for what I like.

Leica now has 4 M Monochrom iterations (and the Q2 Monochrom). Three of them were derived by removing the Bayer array from an existing color-based M sensor: the MM (from the M9); the M246 (from the M240); and, the M11-based Monochrom. The M10 Monochrom, however, was not derived from M10 sensor technology. Instead, the M10 Monochrom and M10-R were based on entirely new sensor design, and initiated at the same time. The M10M was supposedly designed specifically with black and white in mind, whatever that might mean from a technical perspective, which is above my pay grade. I do know that tonal responses differ between the various M Monochroms. The M10-R was released a bit later due to the time it took to refine the color technology and output.

I disagree about starting with a cheap model so everyone can try it, because almost nobody wants to give up color. Ricoh was right to offer a premium model to test the waters with the pocketbooks of the well-heeled, then go downmarket if it turns out to be a hit. This is what the electric car market did. It's what Apple did with the iPhone. Risk reduction.

Using this camera would greatly reduce my decision paralysis and probably result in better photos, but I'd likely find myself taking duplicate pics with my phone just to have a record of the moment in color, undermining the experience. Still, I have the urge to try it. The convenience of highlight-weighted metering and IBIS, plus the reasonable price of the DA Limiteds, is making this tough to resist.

Addendum: Can we blame Leica for making "monochrom" a premium concept? Can we blame Ricoh for wanting to capitalize on that?

Like many of you, I ‘cut my photographic teeth’ using black and white film, developing and then printing enlargements. I always thought black and white photography was a ‘thinking’ photographer’s game, so to speak. I put countless rolls of Kodak Tri-X through a number of Pentax 6X7 bodies over the decades. They are excellent cameras and lenses. I still have two of them.

I remember standing before my composition, camera on a tripod, and trying to learn how not to see color. First, I would attempt to visually assess overall tonal range to understand if I needed to overexpose and underdevelop the film to reduce contrast, expose normally or underexpose and later add development time to increase contrast. I would measure the brightest highlights to darkest shadows, both with the objective of retaining detail. Usually, I needed to use a spot meter but as I gained experience, I could figure it out on my own. Then, the hard part. Looking at the scene and trying only to see tonal brightness and not color. That took a lot of effort. Did the greens of foliage or grass adjacent to reds, blues, oranges or even other greens have the same brightness values? With color removed would the various color objects stand out or merge into an indistinguishable blob in a print? Then the decision had to be made whether or not a filter was necessary and what color filter was needed to create tonal separation? After studying the scene and making those decisions, finally, lock up the mirror and actuate the shutter. I loved every second of the process. I liked it because it made me thoroughly think things through unlike now with the conveniences and technical superiority of digital photography.

Using the Leica M11 Monochrome and the Pentax K3 Mark III remind me of how one would have to shift their photographic thinking to achieve the desired results. I don’t think it would be as easy as one would think if one has only photographed digitally and in color.

All said and done, however, I wouldn’t go back to those days. Digital photography is so much more versatile, easier, straightforward and, in many ways, more satisfying.

"Exterior design reflecting the monochrome photography concept"

Does this mean the infamous Pentax 'green button' is a mid-tone grey as well? :^p

I find that having a monochrome Z6 and a color Z7 is quite nice. Every so often I feel a need to try color photography, so I pick up the "color camera" and only shoot color. Sometimes the switch is jarring, and the colors can seem off-putting after a long time in black and white, but overall the experience is good. Then when I return to black and white, I appreciate it even more.

I like the idea of a sensor designed for black and white. Maybe the never to arrive "organic sensor" from Panasonic and Fuji will have a black and white version.

A monochrome camera selects and converts the colour tones for you.
If you do the conversion from colour you surely have a much greater control over that process. NIK Silver Efex has presets which will mimic a wide range of vintage B/W films.
Can a monochrome do that?

I suspect the Fuji SuperCCD SR II was the sensor you were trying to remember. It worked very nicely in the S5 Pro.

I am reminded of a visit to Canyon de Chelly with a John Sexton workshop. We all drove to a viewpoint and had been admonished not to leave anything of value in our vehicles. I was shooting with an ARCA 4x5 and Fuji Acros at the time. I left my Nikon D200 in my motel room.

Upon arrival we saw one of the most beautiful double rainbows I'd ever seen over the canyon. Where was my color camera? It was in my room at the motel. Needless to say I was not pleased.

This is not one of the greatest tragedies in the world but, at the time, it was frustrating.

For this and many other reasons, (I produce a fair number of monochrome images), I'll never give up my color sensor.

Hear! Hear! As I have indicated, this offering isn't quite for me, but I am glad Pentax is taking some chances, mixing it up, testing the waters etc. etc.

I loved the tonality of silver gelatin prints, and I loved what I could produce with silver halide materials back in the day.

But maybe there were lots of folks who were "doin' it" with B&W back in the day _because_ they could have some control over the process and the final output. And when the digital revolution came along, it put those do-it-yourselfers in the driver's seat, albeit with a much more complicated and variable process.

And, let's face it: for me (and most of us) this is play. Not a calorie of food on my table nor scrape of leather on my children's feet depends on my making an image. So all I ask myself is: "does it look like fun?" The answer to that is, "yes" -- Photo World looks more fun with a dedicated B&W camera in it.

I know what I want -- I just can't afford it and no one makes it, at least not for the consumer market: an 8x10 inch b&w sensor to slip in the ol' Zone IV. Why? To count the pores and the mustache hairs, obviously. To have that Irving Penn/Richard Avedon textural quality. To go 'em one betta!

But for now, you have to admit that it's cool that Pentax is imagining what's just beyond the horizon.

I was looking forward to this day to read all your joyful and extatic comments, in awe of the luck to finally have such camera in the market.
Only to find:
- That it should be even less expensive, to be worthwile.
- Still the world at large does not get (and mostly lacks the experience to) why it's such a big deal.
Ok, whatever.
In any event, i myself shot and developed quite a bit of B&W with film (and printed some too), just because it was way easier, faster and cheaper than slides (KC, please). Never liked it, never got it...
Of course i'm also color insensitive and tone blind, besides mediocre photographer; but i still enjoy it :-)

[Maybe I'm a bit traumatized by all the B&W hate there's been over the years. Not so much here. I'll review the Pentax when availability permits it. --Mike]

Howdy Mike,

You're not a fan of color photography. Perhaps you need a banner on your website stating that ideology clearly as the "teacher" gets grumpier?

I'll close by quoting Ernst Haas:
"I still do not understand all these problematic discussions about color versus black and white. I love both, but they do speak a different language within the same frame. Both are fascinating."

Good light to you,

Well for me the price is just too high, especially if you’re new to Pentax and now another trio of lenses to acquire, no thanks based on dollars only. Mike and others have noted why not a cheaper monochrome camera vs the flagship camera, a fixed lens Monochrome camera I would be happy with, price, price, price.

I suspect the proof will be in the print with this one.You can see some of the increased tonality / resolution in the YouTube videos but where this camera will really shine is in B&W output.
Ricoh-Imaging also had a limited edition of the K-3iii Monochrome, a 'Matte Black' version with a different finish but they had to suspend sales as demand outstripped planned supply. Japanese Photography Twitter seemed to pretty excited and enthusiastic about this release.

I applaud Pentax for making this camera. The more choices there are the better for all photographers. Apparently Pentax is also planning on making a film camera in the near future:


I'm sure that will get plenty of people's underwear in a bunch also.......

". . . unless they shot a lot of B&W film in pre-digital days, most photographers have actually not experienced what it's like to shoot with a dedicated monochrome camera."

Been there, developed the film, printed it, didn't like it; longed for equal control over color. Scanned color film and PS arrived. Happy!

Then, I could skip the film/scan stage! Happy, often ecstatic, ever since.

Our kitchen table for dinner yesterday:

So I'm stuck in an odd position in all of this. Sometime back, I purchased a Pentax camera and a bag of Pentax lenses which never got used. The camera is now basically obsolete but the lenses are all completely compatible with the K3. The odd thing is, I don't really much believe in the whole monochrome business -- that is, that a monochrome camera is discernibly better than B&W conversions from color. But I have all these lenses...which (unreasonably) tempts me to buy the Pentax monochrome, thereby throwing good money after bad. In researching the whole "monochrome has more resolution" business, I found a site that looks pretty good. The researcher agrees that monochrome gives you better resolution, but his proofs suggest to me that the improvement is so small that's it's virtually (but not quite) imaginary. The site is here:


So what to do? I could, more cheaply, buy the color K3 and convert, but I already have two cameras as good or better than the K3, so that's not a solution. A conundrum.

An easy, affordable thing for Ricoh/Pentax to do would be to put together a monochrome version of the Ricoh GR3x camera by dropping this sensor into that camera. 40mm FOV, pocketable BW camera. Many in the GR community are hoping for this. I would be the first to pre-order one.

The real way to make a cheap, dedicated b&w camera is with software. You say, one can change the settings, so it's too easy to switch back.

Fine, do it as firmware. You want black and white? Change your camera firmware so that it only provides black and white images. You can select the color filter in a menu and "film type" in a menu. If you want to switch back, you have to update the firmware back to color. Firmware, of course, is just software that is harder to swap out.

If anything, this is better than the film days. Swapping firmware is more friction than choosing to load a roll of color film.

Better yet, it should be possible to make a b&w SD card. It's just software. What the card does is, it sees a jpeg, and it desaturates it. RAW is left alone. The manufacturer makes a selection of cards, each having its own curve for desaturation. This can't possibly be harder than what Eye-fi was doing, which was putting wifi on SD cards.

Fully loaded cost of this? I dunno, more than $100k, less than a $million. Does it amortize out into units sold? Probably not.

But all of this is easier and cheaper than doing all of that and shipping it as a camera!

How many people considering buying a monochrome camera will, in practice, after a first brief flurry, find themselves carrying in their bag a colour camera as well, and 'second-guessing colour' anyway?

I mean, you would have to NOT HAVE A PHONE IN YOUR POCKET to truly eliminate one's tendency to second-guess the image in colour if one has a colour option near to hand.

mmm, maybe it's just an excuse, this idea that switching one's camera to mono mode will pollute one's mind with colour-option thoughts. One or two people might genuinely have this incapacity (incapable of ignoring a colour option that is near to hand), but most are probably kidding themselves in order to justify a purchase of something relatively exotic. Myself, I am not by any means famed for my discipline (putting it mildly), yet I have had no issues whatsoever putting my mirrorless camera to monochrome mode for entire outings or multiple consecutive outings, or even for a period of over a month, with no limits to creativity or slipping into colour thinking.


PS I wonder if people who race cars can only get the best out of themselves if they don't drive a street car day-to-day? I hope nobody thinks the answer is yes. The human mind is perfectly capable of switching modes and delivering 100% in each.

[Try it for a while before you judge. --Mike]

" Color is everything, black and white is more."
- Dominic Rouse

" Black and white erases time from the equation."
- Jason Peterson

" Color is descriptive. Black and white interpretive."
- Elliott Erwit

I set my fuji x100t to B&W in the viewfinder/screen .... but I'm too scared to set it to jpeg only (I may need the raw data one day!!!), so when I upload the pictures to my PC they revert to colour because the B&W isn't baked in. I wonder if I could set capture one to convert them to B&W import so I never see the hidden colour info?

Go Pentax! I know what it's like to shoot with genetically dedicated monochrome eyes. 8^)

So, Mike, have you ever tried to print b&w at home, on your home printer???
Good b&w photos on PAPER are nearly impossible to print at home, you need a dedicated b&w printer.
Mike, you never speak of this! ...

I believe IR conversion of cameras is popular. At least there are a lot of boutique suppliers offering the service and they appear to be plenty busy. I had my X-T1 converted for a couple of hundred pounds. IR cameras with the 720nm or higher filters are B&W cameras only because in colour mode the output is horrible. The output is not always freaky IR effects. Depending on subject and lighting conditions, the results can be sometimes be similar to traditional visible light B&W, or at least an unusual variant.

It's a cheap way of experiencing a b&W only camera if you've never shot B&W film.

Here's a link to my online IR gallery where you can see plenty of examples of how IR conversions veer between the IR look and a more sedate B&W look.


An EVF is an advantage over an OVF because you can see the look you're going to get in the viewfinder. I'd not bother with an OVF myself because of this.

Is it time for more discussion of B&W printers, or print services?

@PDLanum… even using a color-based digital camera, one doesn’t need saturation (or hue) sliders in PP with B&W conversions. Color hue and saturation have no effect on black and white tonalities, regardless the camera. “Seeing” in black and white is about luminance/brightness. HSL sliders? Ignore the first two.


For me, the main benefit of a monochrome-based camera is that it allows me to shoot without looking for, or being distracted by, potential color pics. It becomes a mindset.

X-PRO-4 Monochrome. Sounds good, uh?

[That would be the obvious candidate. Good for people who like either kind of viewfinder. --Mike]

DSLR and not mirrorless. Still have a color finder and have to do the B&W mind conversion. A step in the right direction. When a mirrorless mono camera arrives (not Leica) I'll take a closer look.

Only available in Japan? Let me guess: You can make a trip to Japan, buy it there, take some nice photos in the process, pay whatever import customs and taxes you have to pay, and still save money as compared to when you buy the Leica.

BTW: I would not want either of the two.

Colour is too beautiful to renounce on it at least as option. And what is good enough for Sebastião Salgado is good enough for me. He nowadays photographs with a digital camera (RGB, of course) and then runs the photos through DxO Film Pack, one of the Black and White Presets. Yes, the software is so good it works for Salgado!

I certainly don’t “begrudge” anyone using a mono only camera, it’s just that, to me, it seems frivolous. A solution in search of a problem.

I really enjoyed Samuel’s review that you posted. Thoughtful and balanced. He had a few really great images! Love when reviewers have a real eye for photos.

“Last point: the Pentax is for the Japanese homeland market, full stop.”

Mike, just to clarify, the camera will be available in all markets. Here in the U.S. shipments start on April 28th. I already received mine last Thursday. My understanding is availability will be limited, but it’s not like the GR special edition kits where they specifically only made “x”number of units for example.

Cheers, Ned

If it were full frame and 60 megapixels, I might be tempted to augment my D810 + Sigma Art lenses. With an APS-C sensor and only 25 megapixels, no cigar. I'm a tripod-using landscape photographer who still occasionally shoots 8x10 black and white film. With the digital camera, everything except family shapshots ends up a monochrome print. So I should be the target customer. Closer, Pentax, but still so far.

Ricoh, please, please, please, put this into a Ricoh GRIII!

I'm a little disappointed that the PEN-F hasn't been mentioned. I know it's just just a lowly micro four-thirds camera, and maybe "pretending" to be a rangefinder (?), and people only bought it because it might be collectible someday or it looks cute... But...

I've had mine for almost 7-years, and for more than a year, my only camera. My favorite color prints were made with it, not with either my FF or APS-C Nikons.

Several months ago I decided to start seriously playing with the monochrome modes -- you know, the ones you access on that ugly, obtrusive and mostly useless front dial? But I keep playing with the tone curve settings and B&W filter selections trying to find an acceptable SOOC B&W jpeg.

When in the the Mono mode, you see the B&W image in the viewfinder. As I adjust any of the various settings, they are seen in either the VF or rear LCD, in real-time. And the jpeg is already B&W. The raw has to be processed anyway, so converting and tweaking/playing in OM Workspace is no big deal.

I've only shot B&W off-and-on occasionally over the past almost 60 years, including both 35mm and 120 roll film. But what I saw in my viewfinder was in color not in B&W, and I never learned to "translate" in my mind's eye.

Anyway, with the PEN-F, I don't have to.

(I do have a couple of more-than acceptable Pentax K-mount lenses if anyone should want to give me a K3-3 ;) )

Well it could be a while before my GAS is fulfilled :(


Is this the right place to highlight how curious our nomenclature (in English) is for this subject? We talk about "black and white" photography yet obviously we desire more than those two extremes. It's as if we called colour photography "red and green".

Yet monochrome is also not the correct term, since this includes any set of gradations based on a hue. For example, a design that uses only cyan ink is monochromatic.

It's only if we remove the chroma component of colour entirely that we are left with what is correctly termed an achromatic image. But to confuse matters further, in photography we refer to a lens designed to minimise chromatic aberrations as achromatic... even though it passes hues just fine.

All this to say: Congratulations Ricoh on the Pentax K3 III Achromatic!

There's a lot of confusion over why anyone would get a monochrome only camera. But the real reason isn't the slight added detail. It's the same reason as when you shoot with mono film in 2023 even though you can shoot and scan C41 film and edit that scan just like a digital file, including convert it to mono...

The reason is that it removes choice, simplifies the myriad of conflicting options, gives you marching orders. Allows you to refine within the restriction of monochrome without the second thoughts associated with capturing scenes with a Bayered camera and taking the color out later.

We've been so programmed to want cameras that do more, more, more that we can't admit we want simplicity.

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