This is a pretty wild rumor, but extremely interesting nonetheless. Leicarumors is reporting that the German camera maker could also be unveiling a digital camera with a black and white only sensor at its upcoming event in Berlin.
Obviously this would be a niche product, but would offer some obvious advantages to Leica’s discerning fan base. Almost all digital camera sensors feature a color filter array in order to be able to record a color image. A typical array features red, green and blue filters that essentially cut out other wavelengths to allow incoming light of that particular color only. The intensity of each color is then recorded and used to recreate the color image. Because of the color filter array, sensors are essentially throwing away a large amount of light that would otherwise hit the sensor. You can see how the most common type of filter, the Bayer color filter, works below.
Now a black and white sensor does not need a filter, so all light would be able to hit the sensor. Also, you would essentially be quadrupling the size of each cell, since you don’t need separate red, greed and blue cells. The result would be much higher sensitivity, higher resolution and lower noise. Another potential feature would be infrared photography, for a host of very interesting creative effects.
PhaseOne is currently the only maker of a black and white sensor, the 39 megapixel medium format Achromatic+. As PhaseOne states:
possibly the most unusual and most inspirational value of the Achromatic+ back photographically, is the ability to shoot with no filters and record IR and visible spectrum down to UV. This can lead to images that are truly exciting for Fine-Art photographers.
We would guess that this new camera would only be a limited run product and not the M9 successor, i.e. the M10. The rumor also claims that the new black-and-white Leica camera with not have an LCD display, which does seem a bit odd, but we expect anything from Leica. Now if we were to add fuel to conspiracy theories, you’ll notice that the Leica invite to the event in May below is in black and white only.
- May 13 2012 Watch The Making of the Leica M9-P Edition Hermès limited edition
- May 10 2012 Leica M Monochrom digital camera sees black-and-white
- Mar 24 2012 The white Leica M9-P limited edition is for the très riches
- Mar 15 2012 Leica M10 and X1 successor to be announced on May 10th?
- Dec 10 2011 Leica V-Lux 3 superzoom announced, a Panasonic Lumix FZ150 with a red dot