Leica has n’t made any revolutionary changes to the basic design of M cameras in the past 60 years, so it ‘s no surprise that the Monochrom is closely identical to the top-end color M rangefinder, the M-P ( Typ 240 ) ( $ 4,649.95 at Amazon ) ( Opens in a new window ). It measures 3.2 by 5.5 by 1.7 inches ( HWD ), but is clayey for its size at 1.5 pounds. The slant is due to the materials used in the M ‘s design ; it has a magnesium alloy body with brass top and bed plates. Leica offers the Monochrom as a black body only ; unlike the M and M-P it is a total darkness chrome polish preferably than black paint. Black chrome is more durable and wo n’t wear away to show the brass underneath with use. The chrome besides has a more flat front, as opposed to the glossy black paint that Leica uses in its coloring material Typ 240 cameras .
Reading: Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Review
The M ‘s finder and coupled rangefinder focus organization set the Monochrom apart from other mirrorless cameras. The finder is fixed, capturing the populace at a fisheye 0.68x magnification. Depending on which lens you attach, frame lines are projected to show you the field of view that it will capture. The Monochrom has three pairs of lines : 28mm and 90mm, 35m and 135mm, and 50mm and 75mm. A preview lever sits on the front plate and is most comfortably activated using your leave hand ; it allows you to override the mechanically projected lines. The think is that you can get an estimate about how a unlike lens would capture a view without having to change lenses.
Older digital ( and all film ) M bodies use ambient light to illuminate frame lines. The Monochrom ( Typ 246 ) uses LED lights rather. There ‘s some good and bad with that method. The good is that the frame lines are visible even in very benighted environments, and you can choose between white and bolshevik lines. The downside is that the Monochrom must be turned on to view the frame lines. What ‘s a definite improvement over the original Monochrom is human body telephone line accuracy—the older version of the camera had frame lines that were optimized for fairly close concenter ( about 3 feet ), which means that they were n’t that accurate when focusing on more distant objects. The newfangled Typ 246 has frame lines that are most accurate at about 6 feet, which gives you a better rig for most photographs. If you are focusing identical airless ( Leica lenses are generally limited to about 2.3 feet ), you ‘ll find that your frame is narrower than what the lines show, but you can always switch to Live View for a rightfully accurate preview of your photograph.
Focus top out, which highlights in-focus areas of your image in bolshevik, is available when working in Live View. You can use the rear LCD to work in this modality, or frame shots using the optional Visoflex EVF2 electronic finder ( $ 568 ). If you can still find an Olympus VF-2, which is no longer in production, that will work vitamin a well. You can besides magnify the scene of the frame—pressing the eloquent control clitoris on the confront plate ( easily reached with your right index finger when holding the television camera ) will magnify it by 5x or 10x. The rear manipulate wheel toggles the exaggeration factor, but alone the claim plaza of the frame can be magnified—you ca n’t change the sphere as you can with most early mirrorless cameras.
When not working in Live View, the movement restraint release and rise steering wheel are used in concurrence to dial in exposure recompense. It ‘s adjustable in third-stop increments from -3 to +3 EV. If you prefer steer control over EV, you can change a context ( via the menu ) and use the rear steering wheel for calculate adjustment, without the necessitate to hold the front clitoris while turning it. The lens exhaust is the other silver push button on the front of the torso. Like all digital M television camera, the lens ride has an optical scanner that reads a 6-bit code on modern Leica lenses to identify the lens, save that information in the EXIF data, and perform ocular corrections that improve image quality at the edges of the frame of reference. If you ‘re using a lens that is n’t coded you can manually select it from a list of lenses stored in the television camera. That ‘s helpful if you regularly shoot with an older lens, or are using a Leica R or another manual focus SLR lens via a mechanical arranger.
The top plate is largely bare on one side, caparison just the internal microphone at the far left. The hot shoe sits in the in-between ; a protective cover is included to cover both it and the accessory port that sits below the shoe. You ‘ll want to leave the cover on as it completes the M ‘s dust and splash protection. The shutter speed dial sits to the right of the shoe ( it can be adjusted from 8 seconds through 1/4,000-second and besides has automatic and bulb settings ). The office throw and shutter turn are next in note ; the switch controls the drive mode as well with Single, Continuous, and Self-Timer positions. And last there ‘s the silver M button that starts and stops video recording.
A column of buttons sits to the left of the back LCD ( Live View toggle switch, Play, Delete, ISO, Menu, and Set ). Most are self-explanatory, although you should be mindful that in addition to confirming choices, Set is used to launch a individual page menu that allows for adjustment of ISO, image and video recording quality settings, exposure settings, and drug user profiles. A directional pad with center Info push button sits to the correct of the LCD, merely below the rear control wheel.
The rear display is a 3-inch LCD with a 921k-dot resoluteness. Despite the M being a black and white camera, it is a color panel. You can see this in menu, or if you opt to use crimson focus top out, or when reviewing images shot with a reddish brown, aristocratic, or selenium tint ( all three are available in-camera, and can be applied subtly or strongly ). You ‘ll have no issues reviewing photos to confirm focus and framing using the LCD, and you wo n’t have to worry about scratching it thanks to its sapphire glass protective cover.
The ‘re no Wi-Fi here—Leica has put it in more late ground-up designs, including the full-frame Q ( $ 4,649.95 at Amazon ) ( Opens in a new windowpane ) —but it does support radio memory cards like the Eyefi Mobi Pro ( $ 4,649.95 at Amazon ) ( Opens in a newly window ). The brass bottom plate limits the rate of the Eyefi wag, but it does include a cutout ( covered by rubber ) over the wag time slot. If your call is following to the Monochrom during Eyefi transfers they ‘ll work without issue.
Performance and Image Quality
You do n’t have to worry about any sort of interim between pressing the shutter and taking a photograph with the Monochrom, there ‘s no autofocus system to slow that serve down. There is a delay when powering up the television camera, however—it takes about 2.2 seconds to start. Burst shoot is n’t the typical forte of a rangefinder, but the Monochrom is fairly respectable at 3.4fps in its continuous mode. It can slow down at higher ISOs—it managed just 2fps at ISO 8000—so be mindful of that. The number of images you can capture at 3.4fps before the camera slows down varies based on file format ; I managed 18 Raw+DNG, 38 Raw DNG, and 22 JPGs in testing.
The Typ 246 is n’t the inaugural black and white digital camera to hit the market, but it ‘s one of alone a handful. It ‘s easy enough to desaturate a tinge digital persona, and software like Silver Efex Pro ( which was included in the first Monochrom, but not with this one ) can add grain effects to simulate many authoritative film stocks if you ‘re going for that count. so why buy a camera that does n’t shoot in color ?
From a technical position, a black and white picture detector captures more detail than a color detector because there ‘s no necessitate to interpolate detail in images. Each and every one of the Monochrom ‘s 24 million pixels captures data. With a color detector there ‘s a Bayer filter ( Opens in a new window ) that makes each pixel medium to either bluing, green, or crimson, and the camera ‘s picture central processing unit ( or the Raw converter of your choice ) interpolates the missing semblance information to create a full-color persona. I set up a flying photograph on my kitchen board with both the M ( Typ 240 ) and the Monochrom, shooting a electrostatic subject at f/8 with the Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. ( $ 4,649.95 at Amazon ) ( Opens in a new window ). I desaturated the color visualize and took a close look at the photos side by side in Lightroom. There ‘s no question that the Monochrom shows more detail ; it ‘s specially luminary in the print pattern at the edge of a Kleenex box ; the dots from the color print march are clear-cut and visible in the Monochrom effigy, but blur together in the snapshot captured by the M ( Typ 240 ). The double below is a exaggerated opinion of a side-by-side comparison of the two images ; the Monochrom is on the leave and the M ( Typ 240 ) on the mighty.
But it ‘s not just the resolution advantage—although if you try to capture texture with your function, and frequently print images, that ‘s surely a sell point. The Monochrom is able to recover details in both highlight and shadows that color sensors ca n’t quite manage, and has a big advantage in abject light. Its visualize detector has a basis ISO rat of 320 ( compared with 200 for the M—the Bayer detector cuts out some incoming light ) and can be pushed ampere high as ISO 25000. The M ( Typ 240 ) is only able to be pushed to ISO 6400.
See How We Test Digital Cameras
Imatest ( Opens in a new window ) tells us the Typ 246 keeps noise under 1.5 percentage through ISO 1600 when shooting JPG images at default option settings. That ‘s not a great leave for a discolor television camera, but since there is no color noise to speak of, the randomness is much more like movie grain. I took a close front at images from our ISO quiz succession ( and have included pixel-level crops in the slideshow that accompanies this review ) and, to my eye, JPG images show identical impregnable detail through ISO 6400. There ‘s a little drop fidelity at ISO 12500 and 25000.
The Monochrom besides captures Raw trope in DNG format. Raw files retain more data than JPGs, so you have more room to open up shadows and make other exposure adjustments. And there ‘s no make noise decrease applied, so you can shoot all the way through ISO 25000 and capture images with crisp detail—although noise is noticeable when pushing the television camera that far. But even at the top ISO, it ‘s a fairly fine pattern, not far off from what you ‘d get with a good ISO 400 film stock.
One disadvantage to the detector ‘s ISO 320 base sensitivity is photography in brilliantly light up conditions. The Typ 246 has a shutter that can fire ampere promptly as 1/4,000-second, so it can be a challenge to shoot at wide apertures—especially if you use the 50mm Noctilux-M f/0.95 ASPH. ( $ 10,995 ). A yellow filter is constantly a good idea for black and white photography, so you may want to opt for a stronger one that cuts out more light—they vary from 1/2-stop to 2 stops of light loss. But a 3-stop neutral density percolate is besides a good option if you want to shoot at a wide aperture, particularly if you ‘re shooting with the captive of capturing a bit of motion blur in images.
Video is recorded at 1080p or 720p timbre at 24 or 25 frames per second. Those frame of reference rates give footage a cinematic expression, but you do n’t have the choice of recording at a more traditional 30fps, which delivers smoother motion. Images are crispen, but show the rubber effect associate with a roll shutter during flying pans and when recording fast motion. The M has an inner microphone, but you ‘ll want to add the Microphone Adapter Set ( $ 195 ), which plugs into the accessary port and mounts in the hot shoe, for more unplayful video work. digression from the shoe and accessory port, the Monochrom does n’t have any kind digtal ports. The SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot is accessed by removing the baseplate. There is an optional Multifunctional Handgrip ( $ 895 ) that replaces the baseplate and adds a front grip, GPS, and USB port.
technical foul reasons away, there ‘s besides a certain mentality that goes with picking up a television camera that shoots only in black and whiten. sure, you can set your SLR or point-and-shoot to capture monochrome images, but the temptation is constantly there to turn it off—and if blast in Raw format, images from a color television camera will always be in color. Using the Monochrom is not unlike loading an M3 ( Opens in a new window ) with a roll out of Tri-X. although you do n’t have the choice to change to color after 36 exposures .
When I shoot with the Typ 246, and when I ‘ve used the original Monochrom in the by, I remember how much I appreciate the purity of black and egg white shooting. Of naturally, there are subjects for which color is a better option. But after a few weeks with the Monochrom in my hands I started to see more shots in black and white, even when holding a camera that shoots in color. My position is a fiddling bit out of the ordinary, as I ‘m frequently shooting with the intention of using shots as art to run in my reviews, and a black and white conversion is n’t indicative of the spirit a particular camera or lens is going to deliver. But if I were shooting for myself alone, I would n’t discount choosing the Monochrom as my chief camera. Paul Simon was amiss ; not everything looks worse in black and white .
But let ‘s not forget that the Leica M Monochrom ( Typ 246 ) is, for most of us, an expensive television camera. Leica did cut its cost when compared with its predecessor, but $ 7,450 is nothing to sneeze at. And if you ‘ve got a good investment in M glaze, or just do n’t see the EVF offered by the Sony Alpha 7 II ( or one of its siblings ) as an reasonable option to a true rangefinder, you ‘ll need to spend Leica money to scratch that itch. Color Leicas, even the current M ( Typ 240 ) are more readily available on the practice market, but it ‘s rare to find even the original Monochrom at a substantial discount .
That ‘s commodity news program for photographers who own the original Monochrom and are mulling an upgrade. It ‘s held its value reasonably well, which makes the theme moving up to the Typ 246 a act easier to stomach. And there are real benefits to upgrading—you get frame lines that are more accurate at common shooting distances, a battery with a much higher capacity, a modern rear LCD, video recording support, and a higher lead ISO for low light photography. Those perks are besides argue to choose the Typ 246 over the original Monochrom if you ‘re shopping for a new television camera .
The Leica M Monochrom ( Typ 246 ) may have a narrow appeal, but photographers who work entirely in black and white are in for a actual treat. Its detector does a better job capturing fine texture than the color equivalent, there ‘s batch of latitude to bring out details in shadows and recover information from highlights when working in Raw format, and it excels in dim conditions. It ‘s easy to fall in love with the Monochrom ; I surely have. But I ‘m not quite uncoerced to call it Editors ‘ Choice ; the Sony Alpha 7 II is a much more low-cost ( and hardheaded ) option for photographers who want a compress full-frame camera that can use Leica M lenses, and the M ( Typ 240 ) is besides there for rangefinder devotees who wish to shoot in color. But if you constantly kept a deep-freeze wax of Tri-X, with nary a roll of Portra to be found, the Typ 246 is the television camera that you ‘ve been waiting for .
Leica M Monochrom ( Typ 246 )
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MSRP $ 7,450.00
The Bottom Line
The manual focus, black and white-only Leica M Monochrom ( Typ 246 ) rangefinder camera is n’t for everyone. But if it ‘s for you, you ‘ll love it .
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