Yesterday saw the launch of the Leica M Monochrom, that is the first digital camera in history with a black and white sensor.
I am sure it will cause the rise of quite a few eye-brows, indeed why produce such a camera? Why not simply convert to B&W when needed and keep color capability ? Without getting into technicalities, a B&W only sensor will produce sharper pictures since it does not have to interpret colors. It will also allow higher ISO performance (up to IS010'000) compared its color sibling (M9). So really, for people that exclusively shoot B&W, like to hang out in dark jazz clubs, and want the ultimate performance, this is the dream camera. Of course if one can afford the hefty $8'000 price tag.
Leica also announced a new lens, that is the 50mm Summicron F2 APO at a price of $7'000. So if you do believe you are the modern reincarnation of Henri Cartier-Bresson, it will take $15'000 of your cash to match his gear with Leica's best in their current product line (M Monochrom + 50mm Cron APO). I guess you now wish you'd reincarnated in Warren Buffet and be a lousy photographer. Otherwise, buy a film Leica and process your B&W's at the local lab. (before it becomes a restaurant … see last picture below)
Inspired by Leica's new product announcement, I set my normal Leica M9 into B&W mode this morning and hit the streets of Rishikesh. The pictures below are all out of camera JPG's which some curves adjustments. In my opinion, the pictures are already plenty sharp, I don’t see any need for more in street photography.
And anyways, color rules, doesn't it ? (click on pictures for high res)
All pictures taken with Leica M9 and 35mm Lux Asph