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Is This the Best Black and White Camera Out There?

Black and white cameras are a bit of a rarity, but those who use them generally swear by the way they render images. The new Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder offers an impressive range of features paired with a top-of-the-line sensor, and it may just be the best black and white option yet. 

Coming to you from Gajan Balan, this great video review takes a look at the new Leica M11 Monochrom rangefinder camera. Now the fourth generation of the company's black and white cameras, the M11 Monochrom brings an advanced array of modern features:

  • 60-megapixel sensor
  • No color filter array, allowing the camera to record only luminance for improved clarity, depth, and resolution
  • Higher sensitivity range: ISO 125-200,000
  • Triple Resolution Technology for 18-, 36-, or 60-megapixel output, with improved dynamic range and noise levels
  • Maestro III Image Processor
  • Electronic shutter of up to 1/16,000 s for working with wide-aperture lenses
  • Automatic parallax correction and frame selection with options for 35mm/135mm, 28mm/90mm, and 50mm/75mm focal length pairs
  • Live view electronic stabilization
  • USB-C connectivity

Altogether, the M11 looks like quite an interesting and modernized camera that really calls to a pure form of photography. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Balan.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Nice, but there's a lot I'd rather do with $9,000!

The Rolex might be the world's best "monochrome" automatic chronograph, but anything with a Valjous 7750 movement will keep time as well.

He's comparing the detail of the M11 Monochrom images to his Leica SL2-S images, and comments on how the M11 Monochrom has more detail.
60mp Monochrom vs 24mp SL2-S - the Monochrom has more detail? really??? I wonder why (must be the B&W).

Well, to be fair, without a Bayer filter, a monochrome sensor should approach† four times the resolution. So, he's really comparing 60 megapixels with as little as six!

† Yea, I realize there's some DSP magic going on when a colour image is de-Bayered. But a naive implementation would indeed have one-quarter of the resolution.

Well, that is part of the comparison process. Of course I assume different editing software uses different algorithms for B&W conversions, so there's that as well.
But for a start, how about a comparison between the regular Leica M11 60mp color image converted to monochrome compared to a native 60mp monochrome image from the M11 Monochrom.

Leica M11 w/35mm lens is ~$15K. I shoot with my Sony and a comparable 35mm lens in B&W profile mode at less than a third of the cost, with the significant benefit of full color RAW for post processing the channels in B&W. Leica seems more of a luxury fashion statement than an image maker's tool.