I'll admit, while I do love B&W photography, living in a paradise where color is so abundant, I find myself shooting more color slide film than anything. Even when I travel, I will typically always shoot color, then convert later using Nik Silverfx. Not the purest way to do things, but when you have a brick and mortar store dependent on sales, ultimately you do what makes more sense for the business. I have tried the old version of the Leica Monochrom, but I've never been impressed with the M9 bodies. Well, when Leica announced they would release a new version based on the 240 bodies, I knew I would fall in love. Since my workhorse cameras are all film, it's nice to have a camera to travel with where I could see a few shots instantly.
If you're not up to speed on the technical jumbo, you can read what's going on in the camera on Leica's website. In simplest terms, Leica removed the color filter in front of the sensor, which means the camera only records luminance values. The quality and three-dimensional aesthetic of the files is nothing short of amazing, especially when using B+W red filters. Leica caters to photographers that believe less is more (not in terms of price, though.) The camera is extremely basic in terms of functions, which is one reason I love it. For all the shots below I used Leica's 16-18-21 lens. Typically, I don't shoot that wide, but this lens is crazy sharp from corner to corner. It's not the fastest lens, but I would never walk around with that lens in low light conditions. My initial thought after seeing the images on a larger screen, was the three dimensional look, they almost popped out of the screen. By no means am I a Leica expert, but I have shot a lot of Leica's in the past ten years, this is my favorite Leica to date (with the MP being a close second). Even on the small LCD screen, the images look stunning. You really can't replicate the quality of the files even when converting from a high resolution camera, something is always lost in the B&W conversion.
Now the real question, do I like the look more than my favorite B&W film stock? Yes! With landscape images anyways! I feel like landscape images don't need that extra grungy-ness that film adds, unless your name is Sebastio Salgado. Another impressive aspect is the high iso capabilities, which in the past, Leica's performs terribly in this area. I understand this camera is not for everyone and would be a hard purchase to justify for the everyday photographer. But if B&W is your specialty and you're an avid printer, add this camera to your arsenal! Currently, I'm picking a few images to print as platinum palladium prints so stay tuned. I believe that process will really give the three dimensional files justice.