Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Leica Camera

Well, actually there are a few new cameras that have been announced from Leica. There is the V-Lux40, a 20x compact digicam. The X2 with a 16 MP sensor and a 36mm equivalent f/2.8 lens that will sell for around $2000. The limited edition, deluxe M9-P Hermes, which is the regular M9-P, but with silver chrome finish and ocre-colored calfskin trim. It will come with matching 50mm lens and a matching calfskin strap for $25,000. There's also a three lens kit with a Hermes camera bag for $50,000, if you want to go all the way.

The "big" news is the M-Monochrom, a variant of the M9-P. As its name implies, the M-Monochrom will be a black-and-white only digital camera. Its 18 MP sensor will not capture any color info and because of that, it will have extended ISO settings up to 10,000 ISO, the regular M9-P only goes up to 2,500, and it will be capable of capturing substantially higher resolution. The M-Monochrom body will sell for a bit less than $8000.

So is this the ultimate black-and-white shooting machine? Maybe. Purists will likely applaud this move as it allows photographers to shoot as if they were using B&W film and use color filters like they used to do. But it's definitely a niche camera with limited appeal among most photographers. But then you could say that about most Leica cameras. And the price will keep it out of the hands of most photographers, as it is for most Leica products. As a long time B&W photographer, I've come to appreciate the flexibility of digital when it comes to creating B&W images, like being able to individually adjust the tonal response of colors within a scene, similar to how colored filters change tonal relationships in B&W film, but being able to manipulate several different colors at once. You could never do that with film and I like that ability. Anyway, kudos to Leica for going their own way and not being afraid to try something different, even if it is a bit old fashioned.