Home Cameras/Lenses Leica A new monochrome camera arrives — priced at £2,250

A new monochrome camera arrives — priced at £2,250


Nearly eleven years after Leica stunned the photographic world with a series-production black and white rangefinder, the Monochrom, a second manufacturer has entered the monochrome market. However, instead of featuring a full-frame sensor, the newcomer features a 25.7 MP sensor specially designed for black-and-white photography.

New monochrome sensor, cosmetic updates

The Pentax K-3 III Monochrome is a DSLR based on the existing colour K-3 Mark III which is the flagship APSC camera in the range. Physically, the Monochrome is similar in design but incorporates cosmetic updates, including white backlight illumination for the screen and a black-and-white visual scheme as default. The word “Monochrome” is displayed above the screen.

Pentax summarises the benefits of a monochrome sensor: “A typical colour image sensor composes a black-and-white image by converting the colour data to monochrome. This new custom sensor does not have to convert any data because it can reflect the brightness obtained by each pixel in the image, thus producing extra-fine sharpness in images that only the monochrome-specific sensor can deliver.”

The camera includes three special customisable image modes for monochrome photography, including a “hard” mode for high-contrast images and a “soft” to record high-key but low-contrast pictures.

The Pentax K-3 Mark III Monochrome will arrive in Ricoh-authorised retailers later in April. The US price is set at $2,200 (before tax), €2,500 and £2,250 (both including tax).

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  1. Ref. my earlier comment today: “There’s likely a good potential market for a mirrorless L-mount monochrom(e) sensor camera …”, I’ve since discovered that in the USA, Llewellyn Data Processing offer both monochrome converted cameras and mono conversions to customers’ own cameras. Accessing LDP’s website reveals all their sensor conversion possibilities (to mono, UV, IR etc.) – made possible by their purchase of specialist but ‘surplus’ sensor modification apparatus. It’s possible to buy from LDP a Sony A6000 APS-C monochrome sensor modified camera for $2300. UK buyers need to factor in shipping, customs duty and VAT which would likely total 30%? additional; thus total cost c. $3000. Could be a cost effective purchase enabling use of Leica M, LTM land R lenses (via adapters) on a pocketable? Sony A6000 24mp APS-C mirrorless monochrome platform – and with very useful ‘live view’. LDP also offer monochrome converted Leica digital compact cameras as listed in their ‘ONLINE STORE’ section. I have not attempted to post actual links to the website as Macfilos’ filtering may not permit same. It’s a very interesting website, particularly regarding how they source their sensor modifcation equipment / apparatus. Potential buyers of LDP’s monochrome modified cameras should check any available reviews of same – which I’ve yet to find / read myself – but there are sample pix on LDP’s website.

    • Llewellyn Data Processing quoted me $2500 U.S. to convert a Nikon Df. So I said to myself, “You already have two F2 bodies you hung on to. You have a D800E body for film scanning. You can buy a lot of actual B&W film and processing for $2500. In fact you still have a lot of chromogenic B&W film.”

      So I took my advice.

  2. There’s likely a good potential market for a mirrorless L-mount monochrom(e) sensor camera – something that Panasonic or Sigma would be very capable of developing – but Leica Camera AG might object ref its effect on M monochrom sales. A regular mirrorless camera is far better suited to pure monochrome imaging than a rangefinder camera by virtue of better compatibility with wide angle and telephoto lenses. And mirrorless cameras are better suited to ‘live view’ ETTR exposure adjustments than, e.g., the Pentax K-3 III Monochrome. I can imagine that Leica Camera AG’s reaction to an L-mount monochrom(e) body would not be favourable – and existing Leica M Monochrom users might view it as the potential death knell to further M Monochrom development. However, an L-mount monochrom(e) would likely increase L-mount lenses’ sales – including Leica SL lenses – thus furthering the L-mount’s reputation as being “THE” universal lens mount.

    • I for one would love to see a monochrome S1rII or S5II! My preference would be for an SL3 Monochrom, but I understand any reluctance Leica may have in such a machine.

    • I quote:
      “A regular mirrorless camera is far better suited to pure monochrome imaging than a rangefinder camera by virtue of better compatibility with wide angle and telephoto lenses”

      I really disagree with this – all the M lenses play very well with the M sensors with their thin stacks – including the wides – and you can always use an EVF – nothing wrong with having a mirrorless camera and I applaud Pentax, but it almost certainly won’t be good with M lenses (because of a thick sensor stack, which is helpful with telecentric lenses).

      As for Leica – I think it would expand the market, and they would benefit from that as well, so I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t sign the end of M-Monochrom development

      I do agree that an L mount mono camera would be welcome

      • Hello Jono, I use e.g., Canon FD 500mm and 800mm tele lenses with my Panasonic S1R and SL 601. Ref using same with an M digital rangefinder, their ‘add-on’ accessory EVFs vary in quality depending on model – and the S1R offers image stabilisation. I also use ancient Novoflex achromat ‘telescope’ lenses (as distinct from telephoto). I would not contemplate using e.g., an M10 with the aforementioned lenses – unless hitching a Zacuto optical finder to the monitor. My Leica R 19mm Mk II gives very good results with the S1R and SL 601 but I have not tried the lens with an M digital rangefinder. I should have omitted ‘wide angle’ from my original comment.

        • Hi Dunk
          Well – the ‘wide angle’ bit was the whole rationale.
          If you’d said
          “A regular mirrorless camera is far better suited to pure monochrome imaging than a rangefinder camera for use with telephoto lenses” then I wouldn’t have complained!
          Actually – if you’d said “M cameras are rubbish with telephotos” I’d agreed with that too!

  3. I agree. It would be a huge success. The referenced article above is apparently only for the matte special edition of the monochrome but I believe the conclusion remains valid. It will be a success for Pentax and a GR IV M would even be more successful. In the meanwhile the GR III continues to surprise me. I have a tendency to underutilize it and most of the time use more “serious” cameras but every time I do use it I am surprised by how good it truly is.

    • I tend to have the same relationship with the GR. It is a highly competent camera which is good to use and produces excellent-quality images. But it is so discrete and (dare I say) bland that it is easy not to take it too seriously. This is a mistake, as we know. A couple of months ago, I sold my Q2 at a good price to pave the way for the upcoming Q3, so I have been carrying the GRIII where I would otherwise have carried the Q. It is light and fits in a pocket so that I have stopped carrying a camera bag; it is always ready and doesn’t disappoint.

  4. What is even more satisfying to me than a new monochrome camera, is a new DSLR. I wish Nikon would do the same.

  5. FWIW, Phase One released the 39MP Achromatic digital back in 2009. As far as I know the Phase One 645 with the Achromatic digital back was the first monochrome camera. It cost $41,990 at the time of release.

    • Embargoed until 14.00! We had details in advance but, of course, can’t release until the appointed time…


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