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Wednesday, 12 April 2023


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This may well be a regular question for those others of us that are greatly interested in this - recommended current* lenses?

With thanks in advance!

(* - from someone with a few K-bayonet ones lurking about from the early 1980s.)

Great news regarding the Monochrome camera. I hope the price is not outrageous since I think if it’s too high sales will not be great. I applaud PENTAX for taking a chance on this. Please, please, make it affordable, I would love to be able to buy into the system.

Like most people here, I came up decades before digital and have a lot of real world experience shooting B&W film in rangefinder, SLRs and TLR cameras. We accepted the "see it in color and mentally imagine it in monochrome" way of working because... well, we had to.

But it is 2023 and most of the camera world is now mirrorless, meaning that we can see the clear tones of light and shadow in the finder. We can "install" filters through the menu in seconds to adjust contrast and how various colors are rendered in grey, and again, we can see it before hitting the shutter release. In short, there's no reason to work digitally in monochrome with a 1950s veiwfinder.

I applaud the effort, but I hope it doesn't crash another brand that didn't see the market as it is for the majority of shooters.

Was always amazed how color took off mid seventies with the likes of Graham and Eggleston- despite the ridiculously low ASA. Perhaps people have just forgotten what good B&W looks like in the interim…

Hi Mike, you should check out this reviewer, he doesn’t dive into the specs but is interested in the tonal qualities of the sensor. He also makes some interesting comments at the end of the video regarding the viewfinder which seem to chime with your requirements for a monochrome camera.


Hi Mike, just an FYI, the announcement is up on DPREVIEW as of 6PM NY time today. Cheers, Ned

I've never gotten how "the exception that proves the rule" proves the rule, or means anything. One of my least favorite aphorisms.

Well done Pentax! My own K3iii happens to be on the desk, so I compared it with the camera at the link.

The controls all seem to have the same functions, except that the white balance button (left one on the four way controller) is now the Fx button, and while the right button is still the way to choose a custom image, the options of course must be different.

I see that where my camera has certain controls marked with coloured symbols and letters, the monochrome has everything in white or (I think) silver.

But where "PENTAX" and "K-3iii" on my one are in white, on the monochrome they are light grey; the only way to tell between the colour and black & white versions of the camera from the front. Nice and understated.

You wrote that photographic gear doesn't do it for you. I've forgotten if you have access to a Sigma Quattro (with its monochrome mode from a full colour sensor). I'd bet that if you got hold of the new Pentax (still miss my K3!) for a 3 way comparison you'd enjoy it(?) and many of us would really like to know your opinions.

William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, Joel Meyerowitz and many other color photography artists would heartily disagree with the skewed history you've presented here. And with good reason. Color imaging in art hit its stride as soon as Kodak started producing reliable color film. Just ask Nan Goldin. Or Elliott Porter. Or Irving Penn. Or Deborah Turbeville. Or Ernst Hass. Etc. Etc.

currently B&W is undergoing a huge renaissance. See Allan Schaller and Paul Reid ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GviJ12TppAI&t=204s). Their work is hugely popular. And legions of street photographers are along for the ride.

[Meyerowitz, Shore and Eggleston are '70s photographers primarily, although Meyerowitz was using color before that--but he came from the world of advertising in the beginning. Porter was using color from the 1940s, and Cosindas was invited to be a beta tester for Edwin Land's color Polaroid film in 1962. Nobody knew who Eggleston was before Szarkowski "discovered" him in 1976, which is really the date from which color became acceptable in the art world--and even then there was pushback for at least another decade. Before that it was decidedly amateur, downmarket, "popular," crass--the province of illustration, magazines, ads, and snapshots. Revisionist history notwithstanding. --Mike]

The list price is $2200. So maybe the same as what you paided for your Sigma monochrome.
So don't feel bad.
I might be tempted by this in the future. I like my monochrome pi, but would be interesting to see what a native monochrome camera can do.

[I think the fp was $1700-1800 with the lens and viewfinder, neither of which normally comes with the camera, and the conversion was $1,235. So about $3k including lens. I'm very sorry to hear the Pentax will be $2,200. Too much. --Mike]

If it weren't for Leica, there wouldn't even be any dedicated cameras for B&W, apart from conversions and a few specialty products here and there.

It is important to remember that converted colour cameras are just colour blind colour cameras. Without dedicated monochrome firmware they might be ‘dedicated’ to B&W but they are far, far from optimised for tonality or B&W performance.


Would be a natural for Fuji, but Pentax B&W beats them to it.

All my personal photography is black & white.

I don't feel the slightest need for a monochrome camera.

Now a dedicated OEM monochrome printer / printer driver combination that is understandable by mere mortals, that would be cool.

Way to go Pentax!!! I consider would buying this except for they don't really have the lenses for APSC that I would want, especially 28 and 35. Too bad Fuji isn't going to release a Monochrome camera. I shoot Fuji and they have all the lenses I want. And no, I don't want to spend $9,000 on a camera and $2,000-$3,000+ apiece on lenses. Actually I can't afford that because of the stray dogs I have taken in. If someone really wants to talk about inflation, take a look at pet food prices lately. Steak is probably cheaper. Where I live in Texas people seem to be dumping their dogs constantly. The last one I took in cost $1,700 right out of the gate on vet bills.....sigh.......... I am hoping Pentax has success with this because I like Pentax and because I hope it encourages Fuji to release a Monochrome X100 or X Pro camera.

If this happens, it would be nice if a competent reviewer would compare the monochrome to a conversion from a color sensor, just to show us the differences.

Ironic that Pentax just might be the last camera body announcement on DPR.

Just plain ironic. Go to DPR and read the spite in the comments section from non-Pentax/Ricoh users.

PS: No I will not buy one as I am old and do not need another camrea. ;)

I think this might be a shot in the arm for Pentax. Well done! Fuji where are you?

There are YouTube videos already. Samuel Streetlife popped up in my feed with a review of it tonight.


After all these years I still get a little thrill when something interesting pokes its head up like this. The hype is working: I am prepared (preparing) to want one.

I still "see" in B&W -- I think of the mid-century color photographers who really seemed to get what could be done with color, as opposed to B&W. Saul Leiter and Harry Callahan come to mind, although both "spoke" eloquently in B&W as well. But even with the ease of contrast sliders and digital cameras that are technically capable of more (everything) than the chromes of the film days, I have never even approached that level of performance once.

I have made do with Silver FX Pro and a bunch of other tricks. And, like many TOP readers I am sure, the M-Monochrome has always been on a wishlist and never in my camera cabinet. Other things kept intruding. . . like a new roof, a kid's education, food . . y'know, the basics.

So let's see what Pentax can bring. If it is competitively priced. . . .well, let's just see.

I had no doubt that B&W film would survive—it's so vastly much simpler than color film, both the emulsion on the film, and the processing chemistry, that you can make it at home if you really have to. (See also, coating your own monochrome printing paper, as is done for some of the exotic processes even yet.) And that also means a smaller market would keep niche manufacturers going.

Guess I'll get the ketchup out to eat my hat tomorrow

For me, the conversion occurred when color pigment prints became available and we finally had a flexible, affordable way to create more lasting images on a wide variety of surfaces.

Fantastic! I hope it is a bit cheaper than the Leica Monochrom. Next: time for Fuji to offer their version.

When will the standard D crowd start trying to marginalize Pentax's new camera?

I worked in black and white for years, and colour too. I still have a working darkroom. However, I just don't see the point in a camera that has an important creative option removed from it. In the film days I had to carry two bodies if I thought I might need colour and monochrome. Now I don't have to and I can easily apply colour dependant tonal changes afterwards.

Well, I guess it's cheap when you compare it to the Leica M Monochrom, but out of my price range for now or I'd be ordering one ASAP!

That said, I'm hoping they'll follow it up with a Ricoh GR Monochrome as I'd want one of those more.

Let's remember, Mike, that the reason you gave to explain why you can't be happy with shooting in B&W mode on a normal mirrorless camera, is extremely rare. Namely, that you have a sort of 'mental block' where just *knowing* that the camera is working in colour behind the scenes is too off-putting for you. Even though the camera is displaying B&W in the viewfinder and back screen, and the photographer is working in B&W on the camera. Most people don’t have this issue, and can happily and creatively work in B&W when the camera is set to B&W mode.

As a result, you cannot take advantage of the tonal flexibility available to artist photographers with the freedom to manipulate a colour raw file to B&W in any way they want, while still "working in B&W" in the field.

It’s the rarity of your incapacity that justifies camera makers not producing these monochrome cameras.

The real reason Leica sells B&W cameras excludes *your* reason, and is two-fold:-
- The Veblen goods factor attracts many who want it more the more it costs and the more it is exclusive, niche and ‘cool’
- The ultra-purists who think a B&W camera is more pure if it only shoots in B&W, so that’s what they want. On principle. The same people who want a stills camera that only shoots stills. Or a 3-layer sensor that mimics the 3 cones of the eye. It’s not about the results, it’s not about the mental creativity, it’s about the principle.

Pentax don’t have access to the first part above, so they are appealing to the purity-for-purity’s-sake buyers. Following Leica but without access to the main Leica market. Good luck Pentax.


I would be interested in how many of us would buy the Pentax B&W DSLR. My guess is that you would be able to count them on the fingers on one hand. I would also wager that 80-90% of Leica M Monochroms sold don't even get unboxed, or of they do, the shutter count would not cross 100. In the Leica Users Group there are only two members who use it at all regularly, and my guess is that there would be, at best, 5-6 list members who own it. A niche is called so for a reason, and I cannot figure out how it would benefit the major manufacturers in any meaningful way to release one.

I think you are wrong about the reasons that colour photography was not actively curated by galleries, etc.. Colour photography was not regarded as an archival medium and it was only when the more modern versions of Kodachrome, e.g. II and 25/64 became available in the early 1960s, together with Cibachrome type print materials, that it became accepted.

Nothing to do with artistic merit.

RE I've never gotten how "the exception that proves the rule" proves the rule

"Proves" is used in the sense of "tests" or "challenges."

I agree with what Albert Smith said:
But it is 2023 and most of the camera world is now mirrorless, meaning that we can see the clear tones of light and shadow in the finder. We can "install" filters through the menu in seconds to adjust contrast and how various colors are rendered in grey, and again, we can see it before hitting the shutter release. In short, there's no reason to work digitally in monochrome with a 1950s viewfinder.

I believe that color was good for viewing the areas in a scene, but that black and white was better for viewing the lines in a scene.

Then again, processing black and white in the darkroom was much simpler than processing color.

The video Bryan linked to above is actually quite enjoyable. Usually I don't like video reviews. I'm happy with my modified Z6-M but I hope Pentax sells plenty of these. Someday I would like a camera designed for monochrome like this, with suitable profiles and DNG output.

The reviewer ends up comparing images with a standard K3 III, and says that other than low light performance and some detail differences, he doesn't see too much difference. It was the experience that was different, and he liked it.

Most elaborate and late April Fools’ joke ever?!

It feels very Goldilocks to me. APS-C with no filter array and (presumably) a recentish underlying sensor (compared to what’s been inside micro-four thirds offerings). Seeing the world as-is with an SLR so as to train the eyes to look for tone.

I’ve sought a system that would take me back to learning B&W photography in this digital age. I’ve had many false starts with buying MF film cameras, film scanners, etc, mostly so I could continue to learn that visualization of the world, an effort “on pause” since I left university years ago. But there were many barriers in those recent schemes— real life got in the way of my hope for that hobbyist effort, and also the equipment itself failed because of its age.

So this is a super cool development. I wonder if there will be a used market for these when I’d be able to invest? If I had Mike’s eye and training I’d be happy with a converted camera like he is/has, but I need the exercise of real world seeing and then B&W-only results.

Gosh, I’d be even more pleased, triply elated, if someone geuninely resurrected Polaroid pack film. It was hands down my favorite hands-tied way of shooting B&W. I’ve got a few of those cameras in storage that I miss playing with.

Please believe me: I don't want to be negative, not ungrateful, but I so wish SONY had done it, because they already have such a large market share.
I already have digital cameras from Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Sony,- I just can't invest in yet another camera system now,- that would just be too wacky.

I hope Sony introduces a monochrome model. I'd love to shoot video and stills with a monochrome sensor.

We should all enjoy our toys without cheap shots, like mine, for such a niche product. I'm one of those who grew up with b&w film and spent 40 years in the wet darkroom but the flexibility of having a color sensor that will allow the most intricate corrections to a monochrome image simply destroys the romance of a dedicated monochrome sensor.

The thought of going back to all those filters just to get what I can do now in 10 seconds with a slider in Lightroom leaves me quite cold. I see it a a solution looking for a problem (that has already been solved.) If the current crop of black and white images doesn't satisfy you, go out and make better ones. My current work in digital black and white is far superior to what I produced after hours of struggle and sweat in the wet darkroom.

I’d love to hear the economic reason / argument why Fuji havnt yet done this. There’s unquestionably a market (admittedly small) for these products. I wonder how much the R&D costs of producing an X-Pro equivalent would actually be? (Presumably greater than the anticipated market for the product).

Converting a digital colour image to B&W is vastly superior to Monocrome only. Honestly only 10% of my photos get converted to B&W. I will only carry one camera with a superb F1.2 lens. (I have the 3 Olympus f1.2 lenses,,,,all I need) Sadly this camera will have few takers unless you own other Pentax lenses.

And not to be outdone, Leica have just announced a M11 monochrom. Anyone else joining the party?

World’s first autofocus interchangable-lens monochrome camera. How many years and months until Leica catches up?

Sorry, Trevor Johnson. I lived in NYC in the mid '70s when the color revolution (and that would be the correct term to use) in photography occurred. It had absolutely nothing, nada, zip to do with the availability of archival color mediums and Absolutely Everything to do with the changing winds of artistic taste and fashion. Seemingly overnight, major galleries went from exhibiting exclusively in the lingua franca of B&W to diving headfirst into the meteoric bandwagon of color photography. No one wanted to be the last person in. It was the seminal influence of photographers like: Eggleston who led the charge at MOMA in this sea change of aesthetics in the photo art world, buttressed by the likes of Graham who introduced serious photojournalism to art via color (while traditional pros feinted), and Parr who effectively juggled and combined color, art and journalism at his own personal whim.

Color film(s) and materials saw minor changes as you well point out (eg- Kodachrome II and X morphed into Kodachrome 25 and 64, respectively), but saw no great technological advances (still the very same ASA). I can also assure you that no major gallery exhibited Cibachromes- those were predominantly the dominion of those on a budget (like me), and generally looked pretty dang awful. Instead, galleries dealt in and exhibited mostly C-prints- notoriously anything but archival!

Mike—You say that “When I was young, virtually all serious photography was B&W, with only a few ‘exceptions that proved the rule’ such as Eliot Porter and Marie Cosindas gaining any traction within accepted art circles.” Also that “Virtually all ‘serious’ photographers worked in B&W. Color was denigrated as "decorative" or "literal" and was thought to be the province of commercial photography on the one hand and demotic snapshooters on the other.” WOW! That sure doesn’t jibe with my own memory when growing up (35 miles from Manhattan) some 30 years before you.

From my perspective, it seemed like B/W photography began to wane in 1946, when Kodachrome (ASA 10) got released, color negative films reached the pop market, and Life, Look, Liberty, National Geographic, and Collier’s (national magazines) all hit new circulation records. Yes, I realize that you exempted commercial photography, but that’s the niche that ruled the profession. Corporate advertising, corporate publications, and picture oriented pop-market magazine photography was distinctly biased toward an editorial preference for color, and that part of the business was way bigger than those “art circles” that you cite. Yes, art and portraiture still embraced B/W, but that just wasn’t the way the trade was trending when I was young—and you arrived lots later.

By 1993, when you were in your early 30s, color reversal film heavily dominated commercial photography, and color negative film outsold B/W film by a Big Sur landslide, so it’s hard for me to believe that “virtually all serious photography was [then] B&W”.

I haven't tried a monochrome sensor yet. For my now limited B&W work, I've become addicted to being able to apply colour filters in post. I'm not sure I want to go back to having to carry and remembering to change filters - that is, assuming I'll remember which filter to use and when. Please keep posting your experiences with your Sigma, Mike!

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