Leica M9 Monochrom pictures and hands-on

A flurry of Leica launches last week caught our attention, not least thanks to the addition of the Leica M9-M Monochrom - the first rangefinder camera with a dedicated, full-frame black and white sensor. Heck, from what we can recall it's the first non-medium-format camera with a dedicated black and white sensor.

The Monochrom - that's right, drop the "e" and say it in a very German accent for extra coolness - shoots files in black and white. That means its Raw files are true black and white renders.

Specialist? For sure. But it's clever stuff. Based on the same sensor as the original M9, at least in terms of its full-frame size, the M9 Monochrom doesn't need the usual colour array found in most, if not all, digital cameras. This means no interpolation - the process of the camera "educatedly guessing" accurate colours at each pixel site - is required, instead a super-accurate greyscale reading is taken for precision tonality.

The print we saw on fibre paper in the Leica studio - printed by Whitewall in Germany, a company offering an exclusive digital-meets-wet process for Leica M users - looked like a stand-out example of how classic black and white photography should look.

Lovely though all this may sound, its £6,120 price tag will leave many jaws on the floor. Oh, and that's without the 50mm Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH lens that you can see in our hands-on pictures - that'll set you back a further £5,400.

Quirky genius or photographic snobbery gone mad? What's your view of the M9 Monochrom?