The upcoming Leica Monochrome rangefinder will have a M9 styled body

The upcoming Leica Monochrome digital rangefinder (with a black and white only sensor) will have a M9-like body. We are not going to see a new M10 camera on May 10 - a completely new M10 will probably be announced in September during Photokina. I am still trying to get a confirmation on whether the new Leica Monochrome will have a LCD screen or not, but the new camera is expected to have very clean/noise free high-ISO capabilities (probably compared to the current M9).

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  • SO getting one back screen or not, I’m hoping slightly thinner like my M7 and maybe that rewind crank they were mentioning?

    • Harold Ellis

      if it will be under 3k, no AA filter and full frame, i am in!

      • Regular

        Ich auch! 🙂

  • B&W only? Very disappointing for me. 😐

    • Regular

      That’s non-sense, it is a new product, not the successor of the M9.

  • spam

    The obvious thing to do would be a M9 BW with only the bayer filter removed and upgraded processing. Designing a completely new model for BW don’t make much sense to me. Using a modified M9 would allow procuction in low quantities without too much R&D.

    • Harold Ellis

      well sensor in M9 is old (and bad) tech now, so it would make no sense.
      i would prefer the chop from the B&W Phase One. That thing is awesome. Had it for one weekend and if leica would produce something which would equal full frame crop of that one, it would change the world for me

      • spam

        I wouldn’t say the M9-sensor is bad although it’s cerainly not state of the art. I doubt that Leica has the resources to develop many camera in parallell and I’d expect a M10 and the new mirrorless system would have top priorities. Using as much as possible of the M9 would make it much easier to bring out a new B&W model than developing it with a new sensor. We’ll see in a couple of weeks though, both if it’s real and what technology they’ve used.

      • SDK

        The M9’s Kodak sensor may not be the best available, but it’s far from bad. It compares quite well with similar vintage, medium resolution sensors from Nikon and Canon. Many people have used M9 cameras to take wonderful (and technically adequate) pictures, just like photographers using other digital or film cameras.

        • Harold Ellis

          i believe that even leica fanatics would start questioning the decision to use the old sensor on new camera.

  • Dan

    What’s disappointing about a black and white camera only being black and white? It’s an interesting idea. It’ll really strip back notions of modern photography. If it does black and white very very well (lots of micro contrast/high dynamic range etc) then it could be very special indeed. If you want colour then you can get an M9. If you prefer B&W then I’m sure it’ll be perfect.

    • Like the post says, it’ll be better than a M9 but if they’re actually using the same M9 sensor (sans colour), it’s so far behind as it is, shooting B&W is still not going to make it compare favourably to Canon and Nikon FF offerings. In other words, Canon/Nikon FF cameras will have similar levels of SNR in colour and shooting them in B&W will make things even cleaner.

      But there are theoretical benefits to be had from a pure B&W sensor as opposed to converting a colour image to B&W. We’ll see what really happens…

  • Marc Matteo

    If it indeed does have a rear LCD then it’s a pointless camera. If you want “very clean/noise free high-ISO capabilities” then get a D800 — it’ll be cheaper and better — and you’ll be able to shoot color too!

    But if you want a camera for photographers (who don’t chimp), then drop the LCD and leave the skill in the viewfinder. That would be a wonderful device.

    But, sadly, it will undoubtedly be prohibitively expensive, and therefore only useful as jewelry for collectors.

    • Regular

      That the interesting point. Maybe Leica intends to release a substantially cheaper digital M? In that case, it makes sense to remove the AA filter, the bayer filter, and the rear LCD.
      Didn’t Leica previously stated that the full frame sensor was the most expensive part in the M9?

      A more affordable M would be just great!

      • It’s not going to be substantially cheaper just by removing the AA filter and the (cheap) LCD. It would have to be manufactured in the Far East (China, Thailand, Vietnam… pick your poison) and be marketed as a photographic tool, not as a luxury accessory. I have bad news for you: Leica ain’t going to allow that. In fact, I expect this camera to be even more expensive than the M9.

        • John

          You hate because you are on umemployment.

        • Daryl

          Do you have any information on the M10? Would this information contribute to your thought that B/W special edition is an interim?


      • jeff

        Well, removing the AA filter wouldn’t take long…digital M’s don’t have one in the first place. Duh.

    • I have the feeling that this Leica Monochrome may be another limited edition model just to keep sales going until September when the M10 will be announced.

    • SDK

      It seems like it would be foolish to leave off the LCD. One of the best things about digital cameras is being able to check exposure and histogram on the LCD. It’s quite necessary for night and low light photography. You don’t have to “chimp” ever exposure but it’s good to check occasionally to make sure you are not doing something wrong. Even experienced photographers make mistakes, and digital photography can be less forgiving of mistakes than silver based photography.

      • Mikael

        Really. There is no need for an LCD. Especially b&w photograhers used to film will have no issues exposing correctly and certainly trust their skills not to have to check on a screen.

        • hexx

          how would you change ISO, format your card, preview/delete photos from the card, set basic stuff like time and date and so on??? I’m just asking if I’m missing something but it doesn’t make much sense to me to drop a LCD from digital camera

          • Never Generate

            no preview/delete – just like film.

            for ISO – sd cards must be formatted/configured on computer first with a fixed iso – just like film.


        • SDK

          There is also no need to leave off an LCD screen. If this rumored camera were to be based on the M9 chassis, omitting the LCD and adding on more dials and buttons to control ISO, format cards, etc. would likely make it cost more than an M9P. Any photographer who dislikes using the LCD screen can turn off automatic previews, only using the screen for controls. Without a screen a photographer who needs to be careful about exposure (especially night photographers doing long exposures on a tripod) would find the camera much harder to use than a film camera with compensation developed b&w film or C41 monochrome film, both of which would have high enough dynamic range to compensate for less than perfect exposure, unlike digital sensors. Without a screen, a photographer could only use 6 bit coded wideangle lenses, though that would only effect light fall off with a monochrome sensor and so is a minor issue. I really see no advantage to a screen-less digital camera.

    • lol… you talk as if affording a Leica, randomly shooting in a crowded place and getting a few shots that are highly subjective is real photography. Open your mind…

      • hexx

        + 100 – nice one 😉 some of the comments here make just want to scream ‘all my senses burn!!!’

  • Bryan Campbell

    Being a digital camera I don’t know how they would manage without an LCD? How do we delete images off our card? How do we know how many shots we have left? This isn’t film.

    • Athlon

      >How do we delete images off our card?
      You couldn’t delete images on your film roll, could you?

      >How do we know how many shots we have left?
      M8-like, slightly modified digital counter (that’d also indicate the battery level).

      • hexx

        “You couldn’t delete images on your film roll, could you”
        and you’re not shooting on a roll of film on digital camera, or are you?

        • Athlon

          I could.

          Just shoot until the battery or SD card depletes; go home; unload the SD on the computer whilst charging the battery. Done.
          I fail to see what’s so difficult here.

          • hexx

            well, it sounds like a lot of inconvenience to me 🙂 but that’s just me, I’m sure they’ve done proper research if they decided to go without LCD and they have a target group.

          • SDK

            Well, Athlon, as your battery dies no LCD might be a recipe for the last few frames not writing correctly to the SD card. These frames would likely have corruption artifacts such as streaks through the image. I suppose they could have a batter check button and LEDs, but the M9 by contrast flashes a warning screen on its LCD as you get below 25% charge. That’s very useful, though I wish the threshold were 10 or 15%.

  • george

    maybe on may 10 they will ship the lens i ordered half a year ago (much more exciting than a b&w only camera)

  • Daryl

    No lcd could mean a iphone/android interface that sends jpg image immediately, this would solve the large screen/small camera dilema and give resolution that is outstanding. Remember, you heard it here first.

  • Nobody Special

    I doubt very much they will introduce anything other than a ‘stripped-down’ body – not really different from the M9 – as LR Admin., states.

    In my last dredges of Leica loyalty that remain, I have a shred of hope they do, or show more than that in May. I mean, they REALLY, HAVE to bring SOMETHING more than a monochrome M camera….if such a beast would have the seemless gradation of an 8×10 inch B&W negative, well, they may have something. But still, if that’s it until Photokina they may once again come across as promising more than they deliver.

  • CRB

    No mirrorless APS-C for now? thanks.

  • MB

    I really like the idea.
    Removing Bayer filter will give up to 3 times as much light per pixel and it will be resistant to most CFA problems like moire etc. If you have Leica lenses and you are in BW photography this could be a dream camera.

    @CRB It will actually be mirrorless full frame.

  • Scott

    Leica made titanium M9s that most of us can’t afford, and for those who can, won’t use them. They engineered myriad special editions for M6, M7, M8, M9 that belong to no where but the boxes they came with.

    At least with this Monochrome M, they are giving people a photo-taking tool. I see lots of people who shoot black and white in this digital age. Sean Reid does most of his reviews with black and white images. Seal asked for an M9 without LDC screen (not sure if he wanted a B&W though). For them, this Monochrome M is really a god-send. The market is there for the Monochrome M–people who actually make images with the camera.

    Don’t complain just because it doesn’t fit your niche. Leica did say that there’s something else, a “whole range of product launches”, so keep watching out for them.


    A B&W M9 in May, and an M10 in September? Is that suitable for Leica? May be it will disappoint the customers. Isn’t it better to just announce a classic m10 and an M10 B&W one?

  • CHD

    So what do you do when you don’t have a colour sensor with decent high ISO….release a B&W only version instead with high ISO capability, call it a feature, and sell it as a limited edition model.

    I will never cease to marvel at Leica’s uncanny ability to leverage their brand to the absolute fullest. Stay tuned for a lime green, Ostrich leather version of this new model roughly 2 years from now…and maybe, just maybe we’ll see a true M10 in the next decade….which will be obsolete before it hits the shelves. Thank God for the lenses….

    • Huggs

      That is an interesting take on this story and it makes sense.

  • I shoot color exclusively in my business but when I shoot for myself with my M9 I only shoot B&W. Sounds like a good move by Leica . Theres a bunch of us “B&W” guys still around. And who cares about the makeup of the sensors.

  • Oh, I wish I hadn’t bought an X-Pro1 and waited for this, IF, it really is only BW w/ no rear LCD. I hate shooting color, and only do so for the fact that I can adjust the color channels in PS, but to physically forced to shoot BW filters again would make me do what I’m too lazy to do now. Color do everything cameras make for lazy photographers, fat ones too.

  • Pierre

    I would love one of these if they were in the current m8 price range. I doubt that will happen but I can dream… They definitely won’t be shaving off any price by getting rid of the LCD, the m8-m9 LCD’s are worse than $100 point and shoots.

    • Scott

      Dream on… it’s not happening. Witness how the Leica MP went from $2500 at its introduction in 2003 to $5000 now. The M8 is an estranged member of the Leica family: it suffered from too many bad raps from the start, most were corrected and the world learned to live with the IR issues (M9’s black aren’t that black). If you want a real Leica, the M8 is a good choice as it hovers about $2000 used.

      • Harold Ellis

        m8 is not full frame, it was temporally crotch cropped sensor. no thanks.

      • It’s the M5 of digital

  • John Harvey

    They should make a camera back like the Epson RD1. The hideaway LCD is cool and makes for the best of both worlds. I’m really surprised that no one else has replicated this design yet.

    • Huggs

      I remember rumors of an RD2 last year. How cool would that be?

  • santela

    Leica sure knows how to market their garbage… What do you do when ur sensor sucks at high ISO? Make it BW only, call it limited edition, and sell for twice the price! Someone will buy it.

    • CHD

      Santela……seriously …….did use just copy and paste my post from earlier???

  • what it really sounds like to me, is that if they do come out with such a camera, it would be the beginning of the end for their film line. that would make me very very sad indeed. i hope i’m wrong. but given the way that leica likes to de things… they’ll probably pitch saying something like “capturing the experience of traditional photography, with the practicality of today” . i still shoot my film M’s very often i would like to keep doing it for a very very long time.

  • anon

    what a missed opportunity, m10 on may 10…makes sense to me.

  • Karen G

    Porsche will produce affordable 911… but without wheels… but with good music.

  • Every camera has its place. A digital FF Leica rangefinder’s place, in photography, is where a person needs a compact camera with a FF sensor.

    But their sensors are rubbish (in terms of image quality as well as reliability, as has been popularised recently). I wouldn’t touch a Leica digital RF with a stick if I wanted images in which I could bury my face for quality. Leica users know this very well too. So why talk about improved quality from the B&W M?

    So what’s the reason for not getting (or sticking to) the M9 that can do both colour and B&W? Sure, the dedicated B&W model will have a slight edge in image quality but, again, RF-style photography is the only thing a M is good for. If you want better image quality you’ve been lying to yourselves in to thinking Leica digital is the right path.

    • regular

      I may be wrong, but I think that most visitors of a website called “Leica Rumors” will be interested in RF-style photography.
      Sure, high iso is great, but to forget about your camera size and weight is an excellent sensation too.

      Maybe you’ve lost yourself on the way to I-Shoot-With-A-Tripod Rumors?

      • Pete

        love it!

      • RF this that blah blah… Leica people cry foul any time a valid argument is put forth about RFs. A photographer understands the pros and cons of each system and uses the best tool whether it’s a RF, SLR or something else to get the shot.

        So, some of these Leica people are not photographers… they should be called rangefinderlogists.

        PS: That i-shoot-with-a-tripod-rumors wasn’t bad actually. Would’ve registered the domain if I had more time. I of course handhold cameras that need tripods… but you wouldn’t know 🙂

    • Daryl

      Leica sensors are rubbish?

      Are you out of your mind? The Leica M9 has an outstanding sensor, and competes very well with high mp sensors of Canon/Nikon of their generation.
      It also competes nicely with my Phase One back that is 31mp.
      The Leica users that I know are very happy with the sensor and it’s only recently (2 and 1/2 years after introduction) that the camera is now readily available.

      • Outstanding sensor? No. Outdated? Yes. It was outdated by at least a generation at the time it was launched. I mean, the M9 took the crown from the Sony a900 as the noisiest FF sensor. The a900 has less noise than a M9! Nuf said.

        Then there’s the radial blooming because of the shoddy off-set microlenses method. On an interchangeable lens system, this is nothing less than an engineering hack job.

        Which is followed by aliasing artifacts. Of course, typical Leica buyers never totally understood photography to spend so much one system and format. So they mistake the sharp jagged aliasing artifacts for sharpness.

        And that is without even considering the issues with colour accuracy. Don’t forget the sensor failures too.

    • Banksie

      I think the new Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 is rubbish. I wouldn’t touch one with a stick if I wanted true performance from a car. Plus they aren’t reliable as I have read in the Lamborghini forums.

      The only thing they are good for is driving fast. I’d be lying to myself if I thought a Lamborghini would be the right path for true automotive performance.

      I’ve never actually driven one. But that’s what I think and that’s all that matters according to me.

      • You must think Leica and Lamborghini are comparable because they both start with a “L”. Typical Leica fan logic I must say.

        Other than that, Leica images are like cheap webcam images next to some of the camera systems out there.

        • Banksie

          Who’s talking about Leicas? I was talking about Lamborghinis. Despite that I’ve never owned one nor driven one, I hate them because I want to hate them just on principle alone and with no real empirical reason to hate them. Therefore they stink. And people who own them are stupid, which means I know better because I am better and smarter and can say so on the interwebs.

      • hexx

        actually you are wrong, new Aventador is different than previous Lambos, Audi owns them and there’s more of Audi’s quality inside and outside than before, it’s also easier to drive, safer, economical and so on 😉 it’s not like previous models which were for real drivers.

  • Ken Elliott

    Some time ago, I thought I wanted a B+W digital camera. Then I realized that such a camera – lacking color data – would force me to use lens filters again. With a RGB sensor, I can use the Photoshop Channel Mixer to duplicate the effect of physical filters, but with a great deal more control. I came to the conclusion that I’m better off converting to B+W in post.

    But I see the appeal of a B+W M9 and I bet it becomes highly collectible.

    • I fully agree with Ken, a B&W sensor sounds cool, but you actually lose a lot of editing freedom of your B&W images. You will indeed have to resort again to lens filters, which will deteriorate the image quality and the amount of light hitting the sensor…

      For now it doesn’t seem like a killer feature for me.

      • “You will indeed have to resort again to lens filters”

        You have much to learn about this subject. So hold off on those big purchases… you’ll thank me later.

        • Bram Platel

          Could you clarify what you mean?

  • Andrew

    It seems very unlikely to invite everybody to an event just to introduce
    a special edition B&W M9…
    There are several things Leica “should” introduce this year, sooner rather than later:
    – modern M10 with live view and EVF (can be an option like Sony for NEX-5N)
    – X2
    – a mirrorless compact camera accepting both M and R lenses, ideally full frame,
    it would be extremely hard to compete against Sony, Fuji, Ricoh etc if it’s not FF…

    • True… anyone who comes up with a FF in a MILC is going to have an edge. But we automatically assume the image quality would be comparable to others. When we look at the M8 and M9 we know competitiveness in terms of image quality has not been a concern for Leica. But still a FF is a FF so there will be some benefits. If they price is really cheap, as in X1 cheap, a lot of people will buy it regardless.

      Also let’s not forget… there’s no proper MILC with a APS-C or larger sensor and built-in stabilisation. Pentax guys blew this in their decision to use the K-mount which is useless for anyone other than K-mount users who want to use large DSLR lenses.

  • Never Generate

    Don’t understand the demand for an EVF on a RF. Being able to focus with the RF even when in the dark of night, even if the lens is stopped down to f22 is one of the RFs merits.
    If you wan’t to focus with a n EVF – which jacks up under the same conditions I just described – then get an EVIL camera instead.

    • hexx

      i guess there’s not much focusing needed at f/22 😉

      • hexx

        i guess that was a joke, because using f/22 in low light would require very high ISO which M9 can’t do or very long exposure time, in which case it’s tripod work, which is always slow

    • Andrew

      I can’t understand why Leica snobs can not accept the existence
      of an OPTIONAL EVF. You don’t like it – don’t put it on.
      You don’t like live view – don’t use it. A high quality LCD bothers you too?
      All those things would make that camera great, but I guess it’s more
      important to be different than other cheap cameras on the market,
      so you have an explanation for being “unique” and a “true” photographer.
      And no, there is no other full frame camera on the market accepting
      Leica M lenses, so we can not get another camera “instead”.

      • Nobody Special

        99% of the reason the M design hasn’t advanced or changed is because Leica hasn’t been able to figure out it’s being led around by the nose by ‘traditionalists’.

        That’s fine – but not very ‘imaginative’ – the M body could have taken a big leap forward by simply adopting the M5 control cluster that was MUCH easier to use than the still-in-use 1954 design. Leica could EASILY have a ‘Traditonal M Line’ or body AND have a newer design that would make the M concept easier to use and just plain updated.

        • Daryl

          It’s true that the Leica is basically a slight update to the M3, in many ways this is an excellent design. If Nikon updated the F3 to digital I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase it.

          • Nobody Special

            Yes, an excellent design for it’s day. Having used the M5 for many years – one gets used to the longer body and totally enjoys the logical control layout AND the metering information IN THE FINDER.

            There are still reasons to upgrade and make a product easier to use, your F3 idea is appealing….my ideal DSLR is based on the Leicaflex SL2, still the easiest handling SLR ever made……just a joy to use.

  • Each to its own. As for me, I like color and will not venture into dedicated b&w model, but I applaud Leica for trying. BTW, wasn’t it Kodak who had a b&w version of their SLRs? I wonder how that did in sales?

  • Daryl

    Nobody Special re: Leicaflex SL2 – great camera, if dx users could look thru the viewfinder they would see what a bright big beautiful finder looks like, best of the best, but I would take a F3 for it’s greater versatility, size, simple design and solid build.

    • Nobody Special

      I would agree. I would choose the F3 for it’s versatility – but – I’d have it next to my SL2’s!!!

      I did own an F3T and I did like it – it was a nicely packaged design – I remember feeling that it didn’t have a feel of quality as the F2’s before it – but it did keep going and going……. I’ve always thought that with electronic shutters and software of today, the SL2 would be an easy assembly and relatively cheaper to build as a DSLR. But usual, Leica doesn’t seem to interested in my ideas!!!!! I do send them to them……

  • anon

    it will have the same sensor as nikon d800. except without the bayer filter

  • What about an e-ink display? It will make sense on a monochrom m9.

    • KitHB

      Xavier, I like your idea of e-ink for a mono display. Not sure how many shades of grey current e-ink can do, but for extending battery life – good idea.

  • Just dreaming…

    Why can’t Leica just make a monochrome digital back that would retrofit onto an M6, M5, M4, M3… etc. Could the electronics and battery fit in the space where the 135 format film cassette went and are sensors now thinner than the rear pressure plate of a film camera?

    Then all those magnificent classic cameras would come alive again. You’d have to wind the shutter the old fashioned way, but hey! Just imagine using the rewind crank to scroll through control menus!

    • SDK

      And its ISO/WB etc. could be controlled via Bluetooth wireless from an iPod/iPhone/iPad/Android device, which could also show previews and histograms…

  • Robert Kaufman

    Unconfirmed sightings says that these were shot on a new monochrome Leica.

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