Leica's Latest Is a Beautiful Black and White Machine That'll Cost Ya $6,000

Illustration for article titled Leicas Latest Is a Beautiful Black and White Machine Thatll Cost Ya $6,000
Image: Leica

You don’t need to buy a Leica to get professional-level photos. It certainly won’t hurt, but a Leica is an object that tells the world you are either quite serious, have a ton of cash to burn, or a little bit of both. So, if you’re going to buy a Leica, why not buy a weird Leica?

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On Tuesday, Leica announced the launch of its first autofocus Monochrom camera. The company has previously offered cameras that exclusively shoot black and white in its manual M-series, but it’s now bringing a dedicated monochrome sensor to its Q2 line of compact cams. If you like the Q2 body standard and features, they’re all here except for the signature red logo—it’s a monochrome camera inside and out.

The 47-megapixel full-frame sensor in the Q2 Monochrom has been tuned to capture more detail in a black-and-white image than its color-focused counterparts. Leica says it has an ISO range of 100-100,000, while the color model tops out at ISO 50,000. But Leica insists that this isn’t about comparing apples to apples, rather the Monochrom sensor is a total redesign, and, in turn, it’ll cost you around $6,000—a bit more than a color Q2.

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Illustration for article titled Leicas Latest Is a Beautiful Black and White Machine Thatll Cost Ya $6,000
Screenshot: Leica

In addition to its body and autofocus capabilities (less than .15 seconds), the Q2 Monochrom sets itself apart from the M series in that it includes the ability to shoot 4K video at 30 or 24 FPS. Further specs include a fixed 28mm f/1.7 lens, a 3.68-megapixel OLED viewfinder, Bluetooth LE for connecting to a smartphone, an IP52 weather-resistance rating, and the ability to capture up to 13 stops of light. The fixed lens also has the ability to switch to macro mode, giving users a close focus distance of 17 cm.

The audience for this camera is tiny. If you’re a professional, you don’t need me to tell you if it’s what you’re looking for—check out the specs for yourself. Anyone looking to get into high-end photography would get a comparable and more versatile camera at a cheaper price with Sony’s A7S III. But beginners with money to burn could benefit from being forced to focus on black and white composition as they get acquainted with the finer points of the craft, and having the autofocus option also makes it a little friendlier for newbs.

Versatility isn’t everything, and there’s something very satisfying about ogling a dedicated tool for a specific job that is finely crafted and costs an obscene amount of money.

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DISCUSSION

AbrahamDonne
AbrahamDonne

Anyone looking to get into high-end photography would get a comparable and more versatile camera at a cheaper price with Sony’s A7S III.

The A7sIII looks to be a killer, but it’s very much a video-centric camera. At 12 mp, there’s very little room for cropping. It’s really a filmmaker’s camera. I mean, you CAN use it as a photography camera, and it will produce beautiful images; however, if we’re looking for versatility, I’d be much quicker to recommend the plain-Jane Sony A7III, which has a meaningfully-higher MP count and stunningly sharp oversampled 4k. You save a lot of money while getting significantly more flexibility with how you take photos.

In the same price range, there is also the Canon EOS R6 or the Nikon z5 and z6II. Personally, I like the Sony best, but anyone interested in seriously getting into photography would be well-served by any of those camera. Plus, they’re all a fraction of the price of the Leica or the A7SIII.

The sub-$2000 price point for full frame mirrorless is getting crowded. A couple years ago, Sony owned it. Now, Nikon and Canon are really fighting to muscle in, realizing that they’re late to the game, and the competition means better, more affordable cameras for all of us. This is a good time to be getting into photography. Your dollar goes a lot further today than it did even a few years ago.