Back in Black: Leica Unveils M11 Monochrom, Improved 50mm f/1.4

04/13/2023Link14

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. 

Leica M11 Monochrom With the Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH
Leica M11 Monochrom with the Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH

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.

Photographer Fatma Almosa
Photographer Fatma Almosa
Photographer Andre D Wagner
Photographer Andre D Wagner

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!

Comments

14 Comments

theoretically these cameras have higher res and lower noise. While true, the difference isn't that great because a) these two things aren't limitations with modern sensors and b) there is more r&d put into color sensors, so any advantage at the time of release will be gone within a year or two when the next gen of color sensors comes out. 

Every skilled image editor knows firsthand that in order to create the finest B&W image, you start with an RGB file. The idea that you leave out color detail to improve sharpness is utter nonsense in theory and not borne out by the rather shoddy examples of BW imagery used for this advert. There are no real benefits to removing the color array except perhaps lowered cost of manufacture. As a matter of fact even all classic BW large format landscape work used yellow orange red filtration on panchromatic film, thus intelligently using the spectrum to get far finer results than this could give.

It's a lovely camera and if I had it I'd use it and eventually be aggravated at it's limits. It's an insult to anyone who actually understands digital image science. I love to be intelligently corrected, anyone who can is invited to do so. PS if there is a value to this path to BW, it's that you are forced into limits, which is marginally helpful.

Every pixel of a sensor is RGB and usually Infrared and UV sensitive too, that is why there is a need to add a color array filter and a low pass filter to the sensors so that an RGB file can be generated and Infrared and UV light is blocked from being recorded to all the pixels.
Panchromatic film, like this Leica's sensor, is sensitive to the entire color spectrum and yellow orange red filtration works the same way for both, but not the same with a sensor that has a color filter array on it.
The RGB color filter array puts a red filter on a third of the sensors pixels, a green filter on the other third of the pixels, and a blue filter on the final third of the pixels so that the camera can generate an RGB file.
But if you want to adjust the red filter in an RGB file to be turned into a B&W image so that the sky darkens, you are only effecting a third of the image file, diluting the purity of the effect.
On this Leica, you have to do the filtering the old school way and add it to the camera lens, but the benefit is that all the pixels red sensitivity is effected like panchromatic film.
So this Leica gives you the best B&W imaging a digital sensor can get, you just have to do in camera color filtering because you won't have the option to do it in post.

So think of a camera with a color array filter like color film stock, and one with out like panchromatic film stock. Every skilled image editor knows B&W film makes far superior B&W prints than printing from Color film because every grain of B&W film is RGB sensitive and Color film grain has individual grains to capture the red and green and blue light.
I hope I have explained this clearly enough for you that you now see why this camera rocks at B&W images over ones that use a color array filter.

Its even easier to Google what benefits removing a color filter array has for black and white photography, I really don't understand the need to comment on something publicly that you seem to know nothing about

The best BW, as any smart editor knows, is created from an RGB source. The idea that you fail to include data to get better is something only a Googler might believe.

Do you realize or care how condescending you sound?  "Every skilled image editor knows..." "as any smart editor knows..."  You really come across as a pre-adolescent jerk who thinks he knows everything.  There's no point debating or discussing the matter with you because you don't really seem to be a very open-minded person.  Suffice it is to say that different people have different requirements.  Some people (like you) prefer to work with a base color image.  Others more likely to purchase this camera prefer to work with a base B&W image; they actually enjoy the limitations and the demand it poses for their photographic skills.  As for benefits of removing the demosaicing filter, you couldn't be more wrong.  There is a notable difference as anyone who's used these camera can attest to. 

What is important is that users are not misled. You offer nothing but childish/failed  attempt to insult.

C.K if you really feel it is important that users are not misled, why are you misleading them?
Hopefully it is just because you don't know what you are talking about, and that you are not trying to be malicious.
Every pixel is RGB and usually Infrared and UV sensitive too.
Panchromatic film, like this Leica's sensor, is sensitive to the entire color spectrum and yellow orange red filtration works the same way for both, but not the same with a sensor that has a color filter array on it.
The RGB color filter array puts a red filter on a third of the sensors pixels, a green filter on the other third of the pixels, and a blue filter on the final third of the pixels so that the camera can generate an RGB file.
But if you want to adjust the red filter in an RGB file to be turned into a B&W image so that the sky darkens, you are only effecting a third of the image file, diluting the purity of the effect.
On this Leica, you have to do the filtering the old school way and add it to the camera lens, but the benefit is that all the pixels red sensitivity is effected like panchromatic film.
So this Leica gives you the best B&W imaging a digital sensor can get, you just have to do in camera color filtering because you won't have the option to do it in post.
I hope I have explained this clearly enough for you that you now see why this camera rocks at B&W images over ones that use a color array filter.

It's so easy to make a color photo monochromatic these days, I really don't understand the need for this camera. 

There are multiple reasons so let me give one good one. The ability to use a deep red filter to achieve wonderful clarity on a hazy day. A red filter over a color array will eliminate over 50% of the pixel information. An attempt at post production manipulation will have a similar loss. 

The "best" (as in that with the strongest creative possibility) BW is absolutely derived from an RGB source and the effects of any filter other than a polarizer can be had in Photoshop absolutely without "losing pixel information" as you cloudily put it. You should not misinform here!

Furthermore, using masks of infinite variety the red/yellow etc filter effect can be had in Photoshop selectively and non-destructively; limited to the sky and without data loss, while concurrently a proper green filter effect can be simulated for for the Earth.

You might notice that Leica intelligently refrains from making your claim, and limits themselves to sharpness claims, dubious because past extremely sharp gains are trivial (one wonders why the examples are not sharpness specific).

 

friend., the idea is not to try to customize in Lightroom what you can do with a filter.. the idea is you with the concepts and the technique of the machine you can achieve it alone