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18-Megapixel Leica M Monochrom vs Nikon D800 Black & White

Pre-order the Leica M Monochrom at B&H Photo.

Leica has announced an 18-megapixel Leica M camera body with a monochrome sensor, the Leica M Monochrom (spelled “Monochrom” as this is the German spelling of the word). See my previous comments.

First, I don’t think the Leica M Monochrom will appeal to very many shooters, but I think it will appeal to far more than anyone expects. Second, it has a crummy low-res LCD. Third, I really want one.

I confess that after looking at the samples over at dpreview.com that I was (a) not at all happy that Leica did not deem me qualified to receive a pre-release camera, and (b) the images are stunning. So they’re black and white, not color. And that’s just fine for some subjects.

To my eye, the 18-megapixel Leica M Monochrom images have to be considered equivalent to ~30 megapixels with a color sensor, perhaps even 36 megapixels. Ultra-clean and free of Bayer pattern artifacts as with a color sensor.

Wither the D800 in black and white?

Will a 36-megapixel Nikon D800 image downsampled to 18 megapixels and converted to black and white achieve similar effects? Possibly. And maybe not. It is something I plan to explore when I can do a direct comparison.

But for NOW, I present six Nikon D800 images downsampled to 18 megapixels and converted to black and white. They look good. Really good.

So for $3K you can get a superlative black and white camera (the Nikon D800), with $5K left over for several top-notch Zeiss lenses. Or you can buy one Leica M Monochrom camera body without a lens and without Live View and with a low-res LCD and manual focus, etc. Its images will have to be really outstanding to justify the cost and lack of flexibility. And they might well be worth it. I look forward to finding out.

Nikon D800 + Coastal Optics 60/4 APO, converted to black and white
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