Leica is introducing a limited edition version of its Monochrom camera that better speaks to its black-and-white-only sensor by dressing the camera almost entirely in black — and it looks fantastic.
The new “stealth edition” of the Monochrom (Typ 246) will sell for $15,750, around twice as much as the standard version, but you do get something for that increased cost. Most importantly, the stealth edition is bundled with a lens — the Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH — that normally sells for around $3,000, whereas the standard version comes body only. That means you’re only paying $5,000 or so for the limited edition design flairs.
Still, if you’re the kind of person who spends ludicrous amounts of money on Leica cameras, there are worse ways to spend your money. The stealth edition blacks out every silver, yellow, and red highlight on both the camera and the lens and replaces the grip with a smoother leather to create a sleek, matte black look. Altogether, there isn’t a ton that’s different from the standard Monochrom (it’s not like there was a bunch of color in the first place), but the changes are enough to make a difference.
There are still a few spots of color on the stealth edition. Select markings on the lens and shutter speed dial are white so that they stand out, and those white markings will glow green when they’re in the dark. The fact that nearly all other markings on the camera are black on black (instead of the easier-to-read white or yellow on black used on the standard model) could very well hurt the camera’s usability, but it’s not like anyone buys a Leica for its ease of use, so I can’t imagine there’ll be many complaints.
In fact, there really can’t be many complaints, because Leica is only making 125 of these. They’ll go on sale March 20th; presumably, if you are rich enough to afford one, you will know how to get it.
Leica says the stealth edition was made in collaboration with Rag & Bone founder and CEO Marcus Wainwright. Other than the visual changes, everything else about the camera remains the same.
The Monochrom camera was first introduced in 2012 and then updated as the Type 246 in 2015. Unlike normal digital cameras, the Monochrom doesn’t have a filter over its sensor allowing it to collect color data. The downside is that this camera is physically incapable of shooting color — it really is black-and-white only — but the benefit is that, by removing a filter from the lens, the camera is able to gather even more light and detail, creating richer and sharper black-and-white images than any color camera could create.