Leica's new Monochrom Typ 246 hits London streets in minuscule quantities
Earlier today I got my hands on the new Monochrom Typ 246 for the first time. This is the only display model around, at Leica Store Mayfair, and as far as I know no dealers have demonstrators as yet. I'm told that supplies are going to be limited for some time.
There is nothing remarkable about this camera at first sight. It looks and feels just like an M-P and shares that camera's absence of front branding. Like the M-P it has the tougher rear screen. It also gets the 2GB system memory that trebles the speed of rapid shooting compared with the standard M240 as I explained in my earlier test of the M-P.
While the Maestro CMOS sensor is similar to that in the M, the absence of the colour filter means that the pixels are not having to multi-task. Instead of arguing over colours, they can concentrate on pure shades of black and white. All of them doing the same thing. The result is that a B&W sensor can often out-resolve a considerably denser colour chip. For instance, it was said that the M9-based Monochrom (which I tested in 2013) with its 18MP black-and-white sensor could compare with a 36MP colour sensor in terms of resolution.
The first Monochrom was decidedly a star in the amount of detail it collected, with the opportunity to recover underexposed areas to an uncanny degree. Blown highlights, on the other hand, were trickier and sometimes impossible to mend. For that reason, with the original Monochrom, it was advisable to underexpose a tad. Whether this quirk also applies to the Typ 246 remains to be seen.
I am on Leica's list for a press loaner but even they are in short supply. I hope to bring you a more extended view of this inspiring tool for the monochrome enthusiast in the near future.
In the photo below Leica Store's Clement Lauchard plays model for a quick snap with the shop's sole Monochrom (and the great 50mm Apo-Summicron lens which was introduced to complement the first Monochrom in May 2012). In case you are wondering, the top photograph was not taken with a Leica Monochrom because the only one in captivity is in the picture.