I’m no stranger to Leica’s monochrome cameras. I’ve owned the first two rangefinder iterations (one twice), although I haven’t yet set hands on the M10M. But I do know what to expect from an all black-and-white sensor.
Yet the Q2 Monochrom is something else. For starters, it’s based on what I think is my all-time favourite camera, the Leica Q. The first Q was a blast, and I hardly had it out of my hands in 2015 and 2016. Then came the 47MP Q2, a Q-cake with plenty of icing to tempt me back.
Now, just yesterday, I read all about the Q2 Monochrom, I wrote up the announcement, and I processed Jonathan Slack’s excellent hands-on review. It was easy to convince myself that I’d sit this one out. After all, I have the Q2, and Silver Efex Pro 2 does a wonderful job of creating high-impact B&W images from the standard colour fare. Why bother.
Twenty-four hours later, though, a courier drew up at Macfilos Towers bearing a dinky little PELI 1300 case. Inside, safely cosseted, was a Q2 Monochrom, a charger, strap and two batteries. It’s mine if only pretend, for the next nine days.
As soon as I placed it on my desk, I felt lust rising. This beast, in its unashamedly monochrome clothes, is simply stunning. By comparison, my colourful Q2 is a bit of a harlot, tempting the unwary with its orange, red and white trappings. The Monochrom, on the other hand, is the epitome of good taste, prim and a little proper. And that makes it all the more alluring.
It would be a cold-hearted photographer who, setting eyes on the Q2 Monochrom, wasn’t at least a little bit in love. Me, I’m head over heels purely on appearances. I am sure I will spend the next week trying to convince myself I don’t want such a camera in my life.
This lust is completely irrational, as I know. I don’t need a dedicated monochrome camera. I don’t want a dedicated monochrome camera. At least, that’s the story at the moment, and I hope to stick to it. But I haven’t yet clicked the shutter and who knows what I might find?
UI, UX and UKnow
As with the colour version with which I am thoroughly familiar, the Monochrom has that intuitive WYSIWYG set of controls—speed, aperture, focus all adjustable in seconds and checkable at a glance. Combined with the new Leica menu system and its superb quick-view screen, controlled by a minimal of knobs and buttons, this is my favourite UI. The Q2 provides a pretty damn good UX, too. U Know you want me, says the Monochrom sitting all innocent like on my desk.
Tomorrow I shall take the loan camera for walkies. Can’t go far because I’m locked down, so don’t expect shots of exotic locations. But I’ll familiarise myself with the Monochrom and see if I think it’s worth buying over the Q2. Or, more to the point, worth having in addition to the Q2.
To help me wrestle with this first-world problem, I’ve attached a Match Technical Thumbs Up, so I get the same handling as I do with the Q2. For some reason, I have two of these. One, with the domed top profile, is resident on the Q2 and the spare has the flat profile which is on the new camera. Both are in black paint which doesn’t go at all well with the gorgeous matte black of the Monochrom body.
The big question is whether or not I will be able to resist the charms of the Q2 Monochrom. I’m made of stout stuff but, come on, there are limits. I’m only human after all.