May 152012

The World as a Shade of Grey

My psychologist tells me I should be more accepting of compliments and give the self deprecating humor a rest.  I was very happy to see that my comments on the Leica-M Monochrom were quoted on Forbes.  I did get a chuckle when they referred to me as “renowned.”  Oh well, you take the compliments when you can get them. : )

Is the camera you own a test of your sanity? Image from DP Review

They could hardly care about the details of the camera, rather they are primarily concerned with interesting marketing/product strategies.  As much as the forums are lit up with every conceivable complaint, I think the M-Monochrom is a stroke of brilliance.  It is a highly specialized product that will be of profound interest to a handful of photographers around the world.  I BET that in the next year, we will see other camera companies doing the same thing, because a BW only camera has its advantages.  At the moment Leica is the on the forefront.  Sure other companies have developed BW sensors, but none have such a dedicated bunch of BW shooters who are willing to pay the sticker price.  See theForbes article about the Leica M-Monochrom here.

Top view of the Leica M-Monochrom & 50mm APO-Summicron.

Did Leica Just Release a Camera That Can Only Take Black-and-White Photos?

Now here’s a new product introduction that is both gutsy andmakes a world of sense. Germany’s Leica Camera AG has just released the M Monochrom, a black-and-white only version of its M9 digital rangefinder camera. It’s the only such camera on the market. At first blush you might think there’s a good reason. Why would anyone plunk down $8,000 for a color-blind camera when any smartphone can take pictures that can easily be converted into monochrome? And you would be right be right: about 99.9% of mankind have no use for such a thing.

But, as in many other categories, people with specialized needs or desires are willing to pay a massive premium for a product that excels in a highly specialized way. People who buy Leica fit that bill (once you subtract certain hipsters, midlife-crisers and trophy wives who buy Leicas as expensive necklaces). Leica photographers are more likely to shoot in black and white, or at night. They are also obsessive about sharpness. Now consider that a black and white sensor can deliver 100% sharper images and minimal image noise up to ISO 10,000, and you have the perfect camera for exactly these purposes.

As renowned Leica photographer Adam Marelli puts it:

The M-Monochrom is a specialized solution to a certain set of photographic problems.  If a tool only has to do two or three things, it gives it a huge advantage over is competition.  I expect the experience of using the camera to be very agreeable.  It will end the conflict of “should it be a color picture or a BW?”  Problem solved, its black and white.  One less thing to think about.

At ISO 10,000 you can take a picture in candle light that will easily rival Delta 3200 film pushed a stop or two.  This is a huge bonus.  And as a professional, if you sell a single image in a gallery with the camera the it pays for itself.

Because it is so unique, the Leica M Monochrom will receive a ton of attention from photo buffs and in the photography-related media – advertising not just itself but the entire company. Case in point: as of this writing, Leica’s Web sitetook minutes to load (on a 50mbps line) because of massive traffic.

What at first seemed like a hare-brained scheme turns out to be a brilliant new product idea. Sometimes, it pays to zig when others zag.

  5 Responses to “Quoted in Forbes on the Leica Monochrom”

  1. First I have to say that I’m glad that I’ve found your site! Your insights & knowledge on composition and love for photography are very helpful and inspiring. I make sure to check your site every day and look forward to your future posts! Do you mind if I put a link to your site on my own blog?

  2. Sweet, it is deserved.
    Man, Forbes huh. :)

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