Leica has announced the M-Monochrom, a new M-series digital rangefinder camera with an 18.01 million image pixel, black-and-white only, 35mm format CCD sensor. Digital Photography Review has published a brief hands-on preview of the camera.
The sensor in the M-Monochrom is evidently a modified version of the color sensor in the M9 camera. The monochrome sensor has no color filter array, which improves sensitivity and, because it requires no color demosaicing interpolation, promises substantially better resolution than an 18-megapixel color sensor. Like the M9, the M-Monochrom also does not use an anti-aliasing filter.
The improved sensitivity has allowed Leica to raise the camera's maximum ISO to 10,000 from the 2,500 maximum of the M9. In most other respects, the M-Monochrom appears similar to the M9.
The M-Monochrom is scheduled to become available in the U.S. in late July, 2012. It will reportedly sell for a suggested street price of about US$7,950 in the U.S.
Alongside the M-Monochrom, Leica also announced the X2, a fixed-lens compact with a 16.01 million image pixel APS-C format sensor. It's available now and for a suggested price of US$1,995 in the U.S.
(Updated 5/11/2012, 10:30 EST to add information on the X2 and pricing and availability.)