Back in Black: Leica Unveils M11 Monochrom, Improved 50mm f/1.404/13/2023
The Leica M11 Monochrom weds timeless style with one of the most unique digital sensor designs in the world. Built around a 60MP monochrome BSI CMOS sensor, the latest iteration of Leica’s Monochrom line produces striking black-and-white stills with incredible detail and dynamic range. Housed in an M11’s body, dipped in black paint, this chic camera continues Leica’s digital twist on the storied tradition of black-and-white photography. Accompanying the new rangefinder is the refreshed Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens: a bright, compact prime updated to match the capabilities of Leica’s latest M-series sensors.
The M11 Monochrom is the fourth M-series black-and-white rangefinder from Leica. Like its predecessors, it courts discerning photographers who demand the highest-quality grayscale images a digital camera can render. It all starts with a 60MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor liberated from a color filter array (CFA). This strategic omission eliminates the need for color interpolation, resulting in sharper black-and-white images. Ditching a CFA also boosts the base ISO of the camera, since less light is lost along its way to the sensor, mitigating noise in images.
The new Monochrom adopts the M11’s Triple Resolution Technology, which allows 18MP, 36MP, or 60MP capture using the camera’s entire sensor. By pixel binning instead of cropping, lower-resolution images feature boosted dynamic range and less noise. It flexes an expanded ISO range of 125 to 200,000 and the highest dynamic range from an M-series Monochrom camera to date.
It wouldn’t be a Monochrom without a fresh coat of black paint. The M11’s goth sibling drops Leica’s classic red-dot branding, substituting an aesthetic synonymous with its name: black buttons replace silver and gray markings replace red.
Beyond its monochromatic attributes, the new camera shares many key specs with its colorful sibling. This includes a 0.73x-magnification viewfinder with frame selector to facilitate lens swapping. On-camera interface remains as straightforward and tactile as ever, and its weight is the same as the black version of the M11. A 2.95" 2.3m-dot touchscreen LCD with live view stabilization provides a secondary means of focusing and capture for non-purists.
The M11 Monochrom features an internal memory boost from 64GB to 256GB for an all-in-one shooting experience. File transfer is possible directly to your iPhone via the FOTOS app using an (included) dedicated cable, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth.
Leica’s updated Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens serves as a worthy complement to the M11 Monochrom. Available in silver or—you guessed it, black, it pairs a beloved focal length with a fast maximum aperture to make a perfect prime for street, portrait, or everyday photography.
The new 50mm f/1.4 follows in the footsteps of the recently refreshed version of the 35mm f/1.4: smaller build and improved image rendering. Minimum focusing distance has been cut down from 27.6 inches to 17.7 inches for close-up capture. Its aperture blade count has been bumped up from nine to eleven, producing more rounded bokeh and natural looking out-of-focus areas. Finally, it includes an extendable hood for streamlined storage and use and accepts a 46mm front filter.
Have you used Leica’s Monochrom cameras? Is it true that the brand's shutters won’t release unless you are wearing all black? Set the record straight in the Comments section, below!