Are Leica's Monochrom Cameras Worth It?

Leica cameras are well known for commanding premium prices, but their users are often fiercely loyal to the brand and experience. Leica's Monochrom cameras are no different when it comes to price, but is it worth dropping that much money on a camera that only shoots in black and white? This interesting video discusses the topic. 

Coming to you from Ted Forbes with The Art of Photography, this great video discusses shooting with Leica's Monochrom cameras, namely the M10 Monochrom and Q2 Monochrom. Personally, if I had the funds to grab a Leica camera, I would definitely grab a Monochrom model. Using a Leica is very much about the pure experience of photography, and shooting only in black and white really augments that, at least in my opinion, plus there are some real benefits to the monochrome sensor. On the other hand, if you want the experience of shooting in black and white without spending a lot of money on a Monochrom camera, remember that most mirrorless cameras will allow you to set the viewfinder picture style to monochrome. If you are shooting in raw, your resulting images will still be in color, so don't worry about losing that option. Check out the video above for Forbes' full thoughts. 

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Timothy Roper's picture

If you're a B&W shooter--or, dare I say it, artist--then not having to look at a color RAW version makes all the difference in the world. From pre-visualization to the final edit, a monochrom camera keeps it pure and like film (which isn't always practical to shoot). A color image in the mix throws everything off kilter and breaks the spell. And if that sounds like a bunch of artsy-fartsy bs, well, maybe for you it is. But remember, we all have our peculiarities, and many more of them when it comes to creating art. Choosing an expensive camera that "only" shoots B&W is nothing compared to, say, choosing human excrement to create...well, I won't go there right now!

Mike Ditz's picture

How do film shooters/artists deal with having to convert the real world to BW? I wonder if there is some sort of "system" ;)

Timothy Roper's picture

They learn to "see in terms of the medium" by doing. And the more you do it, the better you get (like with most things). It's a process with a feedback loop, not a system. Although for B&W photographers, the Zone System does help, as it's a way to organize the visualization of where *you* want to place the tones in a composition. But I would argue that, at it's core, the Zone System isn't really a system.

James Cowman's picture

Point Number 3 is nonsense. Composition is critical regardless if it’s color or black and white. Additionally, I’m bored with the question are Leica's worth it. The only photographers that ask this question have never owned one.

Timothy Roper's picture

I don't agree with any of Ted's points in the video, even though I own an M monochrom. He didn't do a very good job on this one.

barry cash's picture

Biggest issue going back to B&W from Color Digital is being able to adjust single colors before converting to B&W.

Shooting in B&W with Hollywood lighting indoors can do and get great images, but outdoors rare when that special lighting is around.

Best thing for me is set the LCD on the camera to show a B&W film simulation, take the raw photo and PP in color and then using one of the many B&W conversion methods create the B&W image.

Paolo Bugnone's picture

Tbh I think monochrome Leicas are actually worht more than normal Leicas, at least they are selling you something with unique capabilities.

Andrew Eaton's picture

A Phase One XT IQ4 150MP Achromatic would be worth playing with :-]

Erpillar Bendy's picture

They are "worth it", but way WAY out of my budget.