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Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Review

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Review - We review the brand-new Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) with a new 24 megapixel black and white CMOS sensor.

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Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) in Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Leica M Monochrom Typ246 (2)

Leica's new Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) is the latest monochrome digital rangefinder, updating the original 18 megapixel Leica M Monochrom, with a new 24 megapixel black and white CMOS sensor. Using a purely monochrome sensor there is no need for a colour filter or anti-aliasing filter, so there is no interpolation giving sharp images, as each pixel is simply used for detail. This also gives higher sensitivity and improved performance when using higher ISO settings. 

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Features

The camera shares the same size and body as the Leica M (Typ 240), but with a black matt finish which is said to be the most discreet Leica ever released, with no Leica red dot to make it stand out, which will be of benefit due to the value of the camera, having an RRP of £5750. 

Leica M Monochrom Typ246 (3)

The 24-megapixel sensor is a black and white version of the 24-megapixel sensor used in the Leica M (Typ 240), made by Belgium company CMOSIS. The sensor has an ISO range of ISO320 to ISO25000 and records 14bit RAW (DNG) files with no noise reduction applied. Noise reduction is applied to JPEG images. 

The camera has a 2GB buffer memory, as well as the Leica Maestro processor, which is said to be 3x faster than the predecessor using in the original Leica Monochrom. The new processor is said to give almost 4fps in continuous shooting mode, with the ability to take up to 30 frames in sequence. 

Leica M Monochrom Typ246 (1)

The rear features a high-resolution 3inch screen, with 921,600 pixels and is scratch resistant with sapphire crystal glass and an anti-reflective coating. The camera features live view which enables 5x or 10x focus peaking with a red, green or blue highlight line to aid focusing. This works in both stills and video. 

The camera records 1080 FullHD video, and the camera features a built-in mono microphone, and an optional stereo attachment is available. Using the Leica M Adapter-R you can use R-series lenses. Using the same body as the Leica M (Typ 240), it is compatible with the same range of accessories, which includes the optional electronic viewfinder (EVF), GPS, flash, stereo mic, and a range of cases. 

Leica M Monochrom Typ246 (5)
 

The design of the new Leica 50mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/2 match the new Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246), and the M range now includes 7 cameras in total. The M Monochrom (Typ 246) has an RRP of £5750 GBP and includes Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which compares favourably to the RRP of the original Monochrom of £6100. The new M Monochrom (Typ 246) is available now. Leica is also introducing a range of black and white filters in yellow/orange/green in 39mm and 46mm fitment, from July. 

Key Features

  • 24 megapixel Full Frame monochrome CMOS sensor
  • Leica M bayonet with sensor for six-bit coding
  • Adobe DNG raw recording
  • 3inch screen, 921k dots
  • Full HD Video, 25/24fps
  • 60s-1/4000s, 1/180s flash sync speed
  • ISO320 - ISO25000 (extended)
  • 3-4fps continuous shooting
  • Dual-axis electronic level
  • Magnesium alloy body 
  • Splash proof camera body
  • 800 shot battery life (when not using live view)
  • 2-year warranty

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Handling

Leica M Monochrom Typ246 (4)

The camera has a solid weight and reassuring heft feeling heavier than it looks, thanks to an all-metal die-cast magnesium body, with brass top and base panels. The grip covering the camera body is made from synthetic leather.  

With minimal external controls, the top features a shutter speed dial, and the on / off switch doubles as the control for the drive mode, letting you choose from single, continuous and self-timer shooting. The shutter release also has a screw thread for screw-thread release cables, another "old school" way of shooting. There is also the addition of an 'M' button which is used to start and stop video recording. The bottom of the camera has a rather old fashioned bottom plate that needs to be removed to gain access to the memory and battery compartments, although this does provide good protection for these. There is a metal surround around the optical viewfinder, which will not be ideal for people wearing glasses.

Leica M Monochrom Typ246 (7)

The back controls give you access to LV (Live view), play, delete, ISO, Menu, and set, along with a four-way controller with middle Info button, and a scroll wheel. By default the camera's rear screen is off, leaving you to take photos using the viewfinder. The rear 4-way controller and scroll wheel are now black, which makes this camera more subtle when compared to the M 240.

As with other Leica M cameras, it is manual focus only, with just the centre of the frame being the focus area. You can focus through the optical viewfinder, then re-compose if your subject is off-frame. Or if you become familiar with your camera through practise you can get good at estimating the focus distance, set the focus on the subject and have the camera focused before you hold the camera up to your eye, so that when it is held up to your eye you can take the photo straight away, capturing the instant moment.

In live view manually focusing the lens automatically activates focus peaking, and it is easy to see when the subject is in focus thanks to the red, green or blue (customisable) outlines on-screen. The screen refresh rate is quite slow, however screen quality is good. The Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) is compatible with the Leica EVF2 electronic viewfinder, which was released with the Leica X2.

The top M button is used to start and stop video recording, and the front button can be used to enter focus peaking when in live view. Highlight / shadow clipping can be setup. The menus are rather basic but are clear and easy to read. Once you are familiar with them you shouldn't need to use them very often, instead using the rear ISO button and set button to change the most regularly changed options. 

Leica M Monochrom Typ246 (8)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 800 shots according to Leica / CIPA test results, when not using live-view. This is excellent and should last you a very good length of time before you need to recharge or change your battery. 

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response 0.1secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 0.8secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.3secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
3.6fps (20 shots)
Continuous Shooting - RAW 3fps (20 shots)


Shutter response is very quick whether using the camera traditionally or when using Live view. 

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Sample Photos

Sample photos - Like the original Leica M Monochrom, images are generally slightly under-exposued rather than over-exposed, although with higher default levels of contrast, meaning you get pleasing images straight from the camera. For the best results additional processing is recommended, to suit your tastes. The levels of detail it's possible to record with the camera is impressive. 

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Lens test images

Using the AdobeDNG raw files it is possible to recover lost highlight and shadow detail that may be lost in JPEG images. There is also very high levels of detail, even when viewing images at 100%, and as the ISO setting increases the camera continues to record good levels of detail without noise becoming ugly. With a full-frame sensor, and the use of bright lenses it's possible to get pleasing background blur (or bokeh). An example of an image that has been processed further can be seen in the ePHOTOzine gallery

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Other sample images

Images © Ragnar Axelsson, Leica

Leica has provided a number of full size sample photos, which can be seen above, showing the levels of detail possible with the new camera. 

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) ISO test images

The ISO setting ranges from ISO320 to ISO25000. Photographs taken at higher ISO settings such as ISO12500 show some signs of noise, however the noise displayed shows a pleasing film-like quality, thanks to there being no issues caused by colour sensors. There is obviously none of the pesky colour noise in images that you would usually get when using high ISO settings on a normal camera. Whilst ISO25000 shows the highest levels of noise, detail is still retained, meaning that it should be possible to shoot at this high ISO setting and still get usable images. 

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) White-balance test images

Auto White Balance (AWB) - There are no white balance settings, so we've taken these photos to show the detail captured and response of the camera under tungsten and fluorescent lighting rather than colour information.

Video - Video options include 1920x1080 full HD video, at 25 or 24fps, and there are manual microphone sensitivity settings, as well as wind reduction. As the camera does not feature optical image stabilisation, nor electronic or digital image stabilisation, a tripod or sturdy support is recommended for video use. For better audio quality, the optional stereo microphone would be recommended. Sample videos can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel.

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Verdict

The Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) will be a welcome update to those who want to shoot in black and white, and uses the Typ 240 camera body to bring all the latest features to the monochrome camera. Improvements include a high resolution 3 inch screen, optional EVF, quicker continuous shooting and an improved buffer, along with live view and full HD video. Focus peaking can now be used and thanks to a red highlight makes it easy to quick focus the camera for those that haven't yet learnt to focus by distance.

The original Leica Monochrom was planned as a limited run of monochrome cameras, however the popularity and demand for the camera meant that Leica ended up turning the camera into a production model. Thanks to the original cameras success, Leica has now released the M Monochrom (Typ 246), which is also a production camera (rather than a limited edition), and with the updates, we would expect this new camera to be popular with those who have a love for black and white photography. Whilst the M Monochrom (Typ 246) will not be for everyone, the performance on offer and image quality available will make this camera extremely desirable. We enjoyed our time shooting with the camera, and were impressed by the results possible, however there will be those that simply don't get on with shooting with a rangefinder, which is still a manual camera, requiring manual focus and aperture settings.  

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Pros

Full-frame 24megapixel black and white CMOS sensor
Live view and focus peaking
Monochrome FullHD video recording 
Impressive resolution and detail
Unique black and white digital rangefinder
High ISO noise performance
Adobe Lightroom included
AdobeDNG raw images
Excellent build quality
2 year warranty 

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Cons

Cost - although could be justified
Rangefinder with manual focus and aperture

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) brings the monochrome Leica M digital rangefinder up to date, and offers exceptional black and white image quality.

 

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Specifications

ManufacturerLeica
Image Sensor
Pixels24Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5952
Pixels (H)3968
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeFull Frame
Sensor Size (width)35.8mm
Sensor Size (height)23.9mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921,600 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Manual
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest60sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Manual
  • A
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • TTL
ISO sensitivity320 - 25000
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder
Viewfinder ResolutionNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting3.9fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS25, 24fps
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Interface
HDMINo Data
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiNo
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLi-ion battery (included), 7.4V, 1800 mAh
Battery Life (CIPA rating)No Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsBattery, charger with power cables for EU and USA (different in some markets), 12V charging cable, carrying strap, accessory port cover, body cap
Dimensions
Weight680g
Width138.6mm
Height80mm
Depth42mm

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Photographs taken using the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246)

St Mary's Lighthouse - Whitley BayCenturies to here.Low force, Tees ValleyDunstonborough Castle looking towards The CheviotCows, Clouds and CastleLobster PotsGarden 1Toby DogNo eye contactOreo SellersSunlit TreeCanal WalkerThe eyes are the windows to the soul!Evening sunlight slanting onto pine treesAutumn's bounty

Comments


sasan 5 36 England
30 Apr 2015 3:05PM
I'm die to see that people who buy this colorkillerGrin

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dannyr 9 46 United Kingdom
30 Apr 2015 6:12PM
"We review the brand-new Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) with a new 24 megapixel black and white CMOS sensor."

"Leica has provided a number of full size sample photos"

"We will add our more usual studio images when we have the camera in the office"

Sooooooo you don't have the camera, and haven't taken any pictures with it. Don't you think this is more of a first impression rather then a review Smile
josa 6 25 Czech Republic
30 Apr 2015 6:27PM
The winter pics are ama amazing, the ones from a city not. Clearly aimed at artist/landscape photographers.
1 May 2015 10:20AM
Darn it ! The card on my Leica is full. Does anybody want it, for scrap purposes ?
1 May 2015 1:36PM
At 5750, how about including an interchangeable colour sensor in the package? With film cameras at least you can choose the film - colour or black&white. Rolleiflex even constructed the 2000/3003 35mm system with interchangeable film backs, and you could change mid-roll, so it's possible.
Fizzer 3 8 United States
2 May 2015 3:06PM
This is obviously aimed at the professional color blind photographer with a LOT more money than sense!

I don't know what Leica is smoking over there, but I want a bag!
joshwa Plus
7 852 United Kingdom
5 May 2015 9:45AM

Quote:"We review the brand-new Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) with a new 24 megapixel black and white CMOS sensor."

"Leica has provided a number of full size sample photos"

"We will add our more usual studio images when we have the camera in the office"

Sooooooo you don't have the camera, and haven't taken any pictures with it. Don't you think this is more of a first impression rather then a review Smile



The set of photos credited to Leica are provided by Leica, the rest taken by us.
6 May 2015 12:54PM
It takes a special kind of stupid to spend $7,000 on a black and white, manual focus camera. But then again, it might have a really nice paper bag carrying case to accompany it, so I might be hasty in my judgement.
dannyr 9 46 United Kingdom
6 May 2015 1:53PM
Fair enough Joshwa, I though they were done by Leica as well. Now the review's been completed my comment does look a bit stupid Blush
6 May 2015 7:41PM
will you (anyone) be able to tell if an image has been taken on one of these super duper machines or on any DSLR and monochromised if viewed on a computer?
franken Plus
15 4.7k 4 United Kingdom
7 May 2015 7:49AM
You're paying for the name really.

There are so many other ways of achieving similar results at a fraction of the cost of this camera.
joshwa Plus
7 852 United Kingdom
18 Jun 2015 11:27AM
Full review now live, thanks
themak 4 1.0k Scotland
18 Jun 2015 11:41AM
Some nice pictures of one-trick ponies here. Seems to be a Leica speciality.
19 Jun 2015 8:00AM
Decimal point in the price us still in the wrong place though
Niknut Plus
8 1.9k 76 United Kingdom
19 Jun 2015 4:05PM
I don't understand why the thing's limited to mono images ???......the market for such a beast must be miniscule; unless it's a
deliberate ploy to make it a collectors piece ??
It's so easy to convert digital colour to mono, with lots of control over tonal values in Photoshop, that makes this beastie just
one big question mark !!!!!!!!!!!!!......& at 5750, it's just a joke !!!!
The only thing in it's favour is the image quality...............Smile
Fma7 3 836 United Kingdom
19 Jun 2015 7:47PM
Poseur toy
24 Jun 2015 2:23PM
I would be interested to see a comparison with the X Pro1 B&W out of camera images, I cant see the Leica justifying the price difference.
smitbar 10 136 England
10 Sep 2015 11:42PM
Silly money for a basic camera Smile

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