Last month, Leica announced the Q2 Monochrom camera. This is their fourth monochrome camera over the last 8 years. It is especially interesting as it is the first non-rangefinder camera with a black and white sensor.
I think it’s worth starting with a little history of monochrome cameras. Back in the early days of digital capture Kodak ruled the world with cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars. In 1991 they they introduced the DCS 100 DM3 with a 1.3 mp mono- chrome sensor. This was based on the Nikon F3 camera, and it had a separate DSU (Digital Storage Unit), which went over the photographer’s shoulder (and was extremely heavy). It cost around $25,000. There is a fascinating article about it at Nikonweb (see references at the end of this article).
In those days the demosaicing process was not as good as it is now, and that camera produced two or three times the definition of the normal colour version. Combined sales of the colour and monochrome versions were apparently 987 cameras.
In 2001 they produced a 6 mp black and white sensor behemoth based on the Nikon F5. The Kodak DCS 760M. By now there was competition from Nikon with the D1 and D1x and the price was a slightly more manageable $8000. There is a very good write up of this camera by Pete Myers on Luminous Landscape.