Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) review

Leica's black-and-white-only rangefinder camera gets an upgraded sensor, screen and processor

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246

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In 2015 we really are not short of cameras, and in truth many of the cameras we see do much the same thing. The Leica Monochrom (Type 246) stands out not just because it offers something different, but also because the difference it offers is worthwhile and well done. There is no doubt it is an expensive beast, but if your thing is shooting in black and white and you want the best quality you can achieve with a really pleasing, authentic shooting experience, then the Leica M-Monochrom (Type 246) may well be for you.

There are some things that could be done better, such as the level of viewfinder information and the exposure compensation button, and in an ideal world I'd really like more dynamic range and ISO 100, but even with these shortcomings there isn't too much to touch what this camera can do – and there is certainly no direct competition.

The Leica M-Monochrom (Type 246) is an exceptional camera in so many ways, from the way it's designed, the way it works and the way its images look. Owning one means a life of manual focusing and getting used to using a rangefinder – which just takes time to learn – and a lack of many of the other modern conveniences we have become used to. It also means though that your images will be sharper, more detailed and cleaner at all ISO settings, and for that there are plenty of people prepared to pay the asking price.

Is this a better solution than shooting colour with a DSLR and converting to monochrome? Yes, if image quality is your number one priority. No, if convenience is.

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246)

The Leica's monochrome sensor makes it extremely specialized, but the payback is in the quality of the results.

We liked

The look, feel and design of the camera, but mostly the outstanding image quality it produces. The uncompressed raw files are like nothing else, they work easily and they are stuffed to the gills with information. Coupled with Leica's first class M lenses, the Monochrom (Typ 246) is a route to clean, correct and distortion-free picture taking.

The updates to the screen, the sensor, the frame guides and the processor have all made this a significantly better camera than the previous model.

We disliked

The worst thing for most people about the Monochrom (Typ 246) will be the price. The kit I want, a body and three lenses, costs £12,750 which is a serious pile of money when compared to what it would get you from other brands.

The other things I'd like to see changed or improved are the ISO range, the dynamic range, the metering and the exposure compensation access.


A very fine specialist camera which comes at a price that reflects the quality of its build and engineering as much as it does its picture quality. Those brought up on autofocus DSLRs will find it difficult to get used to, with its rangefinder focusing and limited list of features, but we could all quickly get used to the image quality. You have to be a pretty committed black and white shooter to consider the Monochrom (Typ 246) and it really isn't for everyone, but if great monochromatic images are your aim and money not enough of an object this is the camera for you.