Leica is renowned for making premium, specialist cameras, and it's very much lived up to its billing with the new Leica M10 Monochrom – a black-and-white, full-frame rangefinder that costs more than the Canon 1DX Mark III. And, quite possibly, your car.
The M10 Monochrom isn't the first black-and-white digital camera Leica has produced (that was the M Monochrom in 2012), but it does bring some new additions to the concept, including a new 40MP full-frame monochrome sensor.
The German company calls this “the best black-and-white sensor Leica have made”, which bodes well because we were already impressed with the detail and sharpness produced by Leica's last color-free camera, the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246).
That 40MP sensor brings plenty of potential for image cropping, of course, but should also mean far superior results to simply converting a color camera's images to black-and-white. This is because, without the colored filters that cover a standard camera's sensor, more light can reach the M10 Monochrom's photodiodes. In other words, every pixel can be harnessed to produce tack-sharp detail.
Of course, great photos aren't just about sharpness and detail, and Leica has boosted the M10 Monochrom's dynamic range compared to the Typ 246, with its sensitivity range now going from ISO 160 to 100,000. Leica says the camera's dynamic range is approaching an impressive 15 stops.
One other bonus for street photographers is that the M10 Monochrom inherits the same silent shutter as the Leica M10-P, which is good news because we found that shutter to be practically inaudible.
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But at what cost?
In fact, aside from its 40MP full-frame monochrome sensor and extended ISO range, the M10 Monochrom is basically a black-and-white version of the M10-P.
The cameras share the same handling and design, with the M10 Monochrom having a similar brass and magnesium-alloy body with black chrome finish. To match the stealthiness of that silent shutter, there's no Leica logo on the camera either – just in case that bright red dot scuppers your chance of capturing the perfect street snap.
Of course, the final big question is the M10 Monochrom's price tag. We may be underselling the value of your car in our headline, but it's available to buy today for $8,300 / £7,250 (about AU$13,729), which makes it pricier than Canon's new pro sports flagship DSLR, the 1DX Mark III, and about the same price as 36 Sonos One speakers. Well, nobody ever said that being an ultra-specialist Leica photographer was going to be affordable.
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