Leica has recently unveiled the Leica M11 Monochrom, adding another impressive camera to their Leica M series. It feels like just yesterday we were discussing the innovative features of the Leica M11, and now we have yet another new addition to the lineup. In 2021, Leica introduced the new Leica M11 and later reintroduced the Leica M6. With the recent release of the Leica M11 Monochrom, it is evident that Leica is fully committed to the Leica M system, which has stood the test of time as the oldest surviving camera system and continues to thrive today more than ever.
Leica's first M Monochrom, also known as M9 Monochrom, was launched in 2012 and marked a significant departure from the digital camera trends of the time. Not only did the M Monochrom lack common features such as autofocus, but it left color photography all together. While some photographers loved it, others didn't understand it, but this is the nature of the Monochrom, it is for true Black & White Photography enthusiasts. Nevertheless, the first M Monochrom set the tone for future digital M cameras. Leica eventually released a color and black and white version of the same camera chassis with the M 240 and, subsequently, the M10. Leica's commitment to the art of black and white photography, documentary photography, and film photography is the reason behind this approach. The Leica Monochrom is a unique tool that forces photographers to think and work differently behind the lens compared to using a color camera. It is an experience reminiscent of shooting with a roll of B&W film, where the photographer is locked into shooting black and white for the next 24-36 exposures. The M11, M11 Monochrom, and recently reintroduced M6 all reflect Leica's dedication to this ethos of the M camera. With both the digital color and analog sides of the equation established, the new Leica M11 Monochrom could be the perfect bridge between the two fronts, but we'll let you decide that after reading through our thoughts below and hopefully stopping in to Leica Store SF or a Camera West Leica boutique and trying one yourself.
The Leica M11 Monochrom begins shipping immediately. Please join the pre-order waitlist, and a Leica Store SF team member will contact you to set up your order. View the link below to read the full specs and shop M11 Monochrom.
How does the new Leica M11 Monochrom compare to similar cameras on the market? While we will present a breakdown of the key differences in the table below, there are a couple of noteworthy distinctions between the M11 and M11 Monochrom we would like to point out. First, the M11 Monochrom has 256 GB of internal storage, whereas the M11 has only 64 GB. Second, the M11 Monochrom boasts a sapphire glass display on the back of the camera, while the M11 has a Gorilla glass display. These significant differences make the M11 Monochrom a more valuable option compared to the standard M11.
Leica M11 Monochrom
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Leica M10 Monochrom
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Accompany Carlo as he thoroughly tests the capabilities of the new BSI Monochrom sensor in the M11 Monochrom to explore its limits.
What sets the Leica M11 Monochrom apart from other cameras is its unique sensor. Unlike color sensors, the Monochrom sensor lacks a Beyer color filter, resulting in increased light hitting the sensor, higher resolution, and improved low-light sensitivity. Because of this, every monochrome version has slightly outperformed its color counterpart in low-light performance and resolution.The Leica M11 Monochrom sensor incorporates Back-lit Sensor (BSI) technology, which was introduced with the Leica M11. This combination of BSI technology and the Monochrom sensor's freedom from the Bayer filter is groundbreaking. The new M11 Monochrom has the most comprehensive ISO range of any Leica M camera, ranging from ISO 125-200,000, making it revolutionary.The new BSI Monochrom sensor allows for multi-resolution options for DNG or JPEG images in 60, 36, or 18-megapixel variants. While the focus was mainly on 60mp images in the test, the ability to have lower-resolution images without sacrificing dynamic range and a better rendering of noise at lower resolutions makes this feature highly attractive.
*Please note these were taken with an M11 Monochrom test camera with Beta firmware. We ran into issues with banding appearing in extreme ISO images due to Adobe software not fully supporting the camera. This will be fixed by the launch of the camera.
We highly recommend watching Carlo’s video review of the M11 Monochrom to get a first hand look at the images he made and his throughs on the results produced from the Leica M11 Monochrom.
While you have a massive range of ISO, the general rules of a sensor’s ISO still apply. The sensor's maximum efficiency will be found at the base ISO of 125. At ISO 125, images appear extremely clean, the dynamic range is at its fullest, and you can take full advantage of these benefits from the M11M’s sensor when at that base ISO. Now, with a massive range of ISO, you have far more latitude in the ISO range to achieve a photo still while taking advantage of the M11 Monochrom’s sensor. We found that ISO’s up to 6400, you really have full freedom to do as you wish. ISO’s above this point show more grain, and you will have to be the judge of how much of that grain you will enjoy. Even at ISO 200,000, you can still produce a usable image with pleasing film grain. Think of Tri-X pushed or Ilford Delta 3200. Both of these films have a distinct look and render pleasing film grain. We would liken the max ISO of the M11M to these types of film stocks.
As mentioned before, the lack of a Beyer filter means that the M11 Monocrhom does not see in color. Manipulating color before it hits the sensor is a great way to change the tonality of your image. Everybody has a different preference on color filters, but we recommend trying out an Orange, Green or Red filter on the Monochrom sensor if you have not already. In addition, there are specific toning options made available in the menu of the Leica Monochrom for Sepia, Blue, and Selenium toning.
Full-Res JPEG photos From the Leica M11 Monochrom.
In the last week, we at Leica Store San Francisco had the privilege of testing out the new Leica M11 Monochrom. Our team members have their unique photography styles and approaches, and we wanted to showcase a small sample of our work to offer a wider perspective on this latest release from Leica.
"While working with the new Leica M11 Monochrom I decided to use the Leica 50mm 0.95 lens and make photographs at the 18 and 60-megapixel settings. The M11 Monochrom most certainly does not disappoint in what the created DNG files present, in-depth and tonality, via its density range. In hand, the M11M presents me with the familiarity of ergonomics, whether it be a Leica film or digital body, and presents outstanding imaging capability suitable for all projects that I would wish to endeavor."
- Leica M11 Monochrom
- Leica 50mm F0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH
"I have been devoted to the Leica Q2 Monochrom since the camera's release, which left the majority of my M lenses by the wayside. While testing out the M11 Monochrom, I rediscovered my excitement for the vintage optics, some in my kit that date back to the 1930's. For these images, I used the Leica 50mm f1 Noctilux from 1982, as well as a Leica 7.3cm Hector from 1936."
- Leica 50mm F1.0 Noctilux-M ASPH (Pre-ASPH)
"The Leica M11 Monochrom is one of the most impressive digital cameras that I've had the pleasure of using. Whether I take the camera out during the day or night, indoors or outdoors, I know that the sensor can handle any lighting situation and give me dramatic results to make a striking print. I cannot wait to see the photos that people take with this new system."
- Leica 28mm F1.4 Summilux-M ASPH
- Leica 90mm Macro-Elmar-M
- Leica 35mm f2.8 Summaron
- Leica 16-18-21mm Tri-Elmar-M ASPH
"During a brief outing in downtown San Francisco, I had the opportunity to test the performance of the new Leica M11 Monochrom. Despite the harsh lighting conditions in the middle of the day, I was impressed by the camera's ability to capture a wide range of densities and tonalities. Even in highly contrasted scenes, I was able to retain nearly all of the intricate details. Besides its advanced capabilities, the camera still manages to maintain a familiar feel of the M family. This makes me get to use without sacrificing the comfort of a familiar setup."
- Leica 35mm F2.0 APO-Summicron-M ASPH
"Although I primarily work with film in my personal photography, the new Leica M11 Monochrom presented a pleasant and seamless shooting experience. To me the Leica M11 Monochrom it felt like I was using my Leica M-A loaded with Tri-X 400 but I could see the results in an instant, if I wished. The removal of the color array filter in combination with the 60mp backside illuminated sensor from the M11 rendered both day and night scenes with plenty of tonality and detail, an outstanding density range. This combination provided me, I feel, the same flexibility that I feel I have while printing in the darkroom."
- Leica 28mm F2.0 Summicron-M ASPH
- Leica 50mm F2.0 APO-Summicron-M ASPH
Experience Leica M11 Monochrom Photography Come To Life:
We have collaborated with Digital Silver Imaging, and we are thrilled to announce that we will have a gallery of handpicked images on display in-store starting today. Digital Silver Imaging specializes in Digital Silver Prints, which are genuine silver gelatin black and white prints. Their unique process blends digital technology with traditional analog printing methods to create authentic black-and-white fine art prints. We welcome you to visit our store to witness these exceptional prints firsthand. As a special treat, we will have a 60-inch print produced from the Monochrom in a digital silver print, showcasing the M11 Monochrom's true beauty. Additionally, we will be partnering with Digital Silver Imaging to offer a complimentary 13x19 fine art print to every photographer who purchases a Leica camera from Leica Store SF, including the new M11 Monochrom. We believe that photography's true joy comes when it takes on physical form, whether in the form of a book or a fine art print, and we are thrilled to share this opportunity with all of you.
Learn More about Digital Silver Imaging
The Leica Monochrom is the Leica M camera for the Black & White photographer. We believe that practicing black-and-white photography can benefit any photographer. Even photographers who predominantly shoot in color, taking photos in black and white provides a wholly unique experience, and using a Leica Monochrom takes it to the next level. Several of us at Leica Store SF have been using the Leica Monochrom for an extended period, including previous models of the camera. Working and thinking in a Monochrom environment shifts one's focus from distracting colors to light, composition, and contrast. Maybe you've never tried a Leica M Monochom camera before, if not we invite you to do so!
The Leica M11 Monochrom merges everything we appreciate about the Leica M into a single camera. The Leica M is simple, and the M11M lacks color, autofocus, and other "digital noise" features found in other cameras. One could argue that the M11M is the most analog modern digital Leica M. We anticipated the day when we would see the M11's technology incorporated into a new Monochrom camera, and that day has finally arrived. The Leica M11 Monochrom offers an unprecedented level of creative freedom and opens up endless possibilities for the photographer behind the lens. We are excited to witness the stunning moments captured in black and white by photographers who use this camera, and how it will inspire their work like never before.