Rumors flew, but one was right, the big one
So, unless you have been hiding under a rock or are in sensory deprivation detention you will not have failed to notice that there was quite a significant announcement from Solms yesterday. But what does it mean for photographers?
Yes, that is right, the rumours were true…The Leica M Monochrom was released yesterday. That was the big news, and it was a masterstroke in viral marketing from Leica. A few months back someone let it ‘slip’ that there may be a b&w sensor Leica coming out, and the internet went mental. Talk about market research, the heads of marketing must have been rubbing their hands with glee.
But what does it mean for us? It means a lot, mainly in the we are going to have to save a lot of money of be prepared to part with vital organs. But, it also marks a milestone in black and white photography. To have an exclusively black and white digital rangefinder is something that we could not have even dreamed of a few years ago, but now it is here. From what I understand the sensor is very well balanced and I am hearing great things about the iso range. This signifies a coming of age for digital photography, that a company would be prepared to release a completely monochrome camera tells us that they absolutely have the photographer in mind.
It was very important for Leica to get this right first time and not have any issues, not just because they are now a prestige brand, but also because of a historical significance. Leica first started making cameras when there was only black and white photography, and in some ways this camera is a nod to those roots. This camera is going to change the way the digital shooters look at their pictures for sure.
But, this camera does have one significant drawback in my opinion…the price. In the recent years anything Leica has become more expensive. And Leica has always been something of a desirable brand, but $8000 is going to put this out of reach of all but the most dedicated or loaded of shooters. This is a very capable camera and it certainly looks the part too, but I am not sure that the price is within the realms of reality. As they say the proof is in the pudding, so we shall have to see when I get my hands on one of these.
And get my hands on one of these I will. I shall be attending the Japan Leica function this week and I will be able to have a go on the camera and test it out. I will come back with more information about my thoughts so watch this space.
If you want to get all speccy about this camera and read the official bumph then you can go over to the lovely people at LeicaRumors and they have it all there.
For me the big news that came out of Berlin was the release of the new APO Summicron 50mm ASPH lens. This is a lens that I never thought they would release, as Leica often stated that they simply could not improve on the summicron. In my opinion the last version of the 50mm is one of the finest lenses ever crafted so I am very excited to see what the results of this one will be. Leica said in the past they would not release an ASPH 50mm Summicron, because there was simply no point, as you “could not improve on perfection”. Well, I guess that they have either managed to find a way to jam one in there, or they have actually managed to improve on the lens. Time will tell and we will see the results of this lens being shot very soon, as I am sure they have already given a few out to influential phoblographers (sadly, not me :( )
Again though I am a little bit shocked by the price. $7000 is a whole load of money for a lens, a really large amount and there is obviously going to be a massive wait for this lens too. I know that Leica is a brand, and it does make some really exceptional products, but prices like this are going to make even the most steadfast of Leica fans wince.
There was a lot more news in Berlin, with the release of a whole swathe of products. But this was not the big announcement that everyone thought it would be, no M10. You are going to have to wait for Photokina for that one folks, Leica have booked a whole hall, so you know they are going to be doing something very big.
There is going to be a whole lot of chatter about these products online over the next few days, and I have no doubt that there will be a lot of mud slinging too. I would like to hear your views on this announcement. Be frank, or George, but be honest. Tell me what you really think about the news and what it means for photographers. I am excited by the releases, but I don’t think I will be buying them any time soon, they are just too rich for my blood. Had the Monochrom been the same release price as an M9 I would have put an order in today. What are your thoughts on Leica’s new releases? Will you be buying anything? Comment and get yourself some CameraKarma.
Want to read more about this camera? Then you can click on the following links:
Steve Huff: http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/tag/leica-monochrome/
Leica Rumors: http://leicarumors.com/
Sample images at DP review: http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/reviewsamples/albums/leica-m-monochrom-preview-samples