Leica goes black

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition
DISKRESJON: Det nye Leica-kameraet er myntet på dem som vil fotografere diskret. Men blant kjennere vil det vel vekke oppmerksomhet likevel? (Foto: Leica)

Leica has launched a matte black special edition of its black-and-white camera, the Leica M Monochrom.

Leica will produce a limited number of units of the “new” camera. The list price is already at collectors’ price level. What’s the price, you said? Read on, and you will see.

Purity and function

An aesthetic that marries purity with function. That is Leica’s own attempt at describing the idea of the new camera. The model name is Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition.

As you know, the word “stealth” is used to describe spy airplanes and bombers flying at high altitude. They are built in a material and painted in colors that make it almost impossible to detect the aircraft, neither visually nor by radar, radio, or laser.

B-2 Spirit bomber
STEALTH: The American B-2 Spirit bomber is a stealth plane which may have inspired the design of the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition. (Photo: USGov Military-Air Force, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons)

New York design

A dedicated Leica photographer in New York, Mr. Marcus Wainwright, is responsible for the design of the camera. He is the founder and owner of the New York fashion brand “rag & bone”.

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Mr. Wainright is deeply involved in black-and-white photography. He got the idea of designing a Leica model which reflects the fact that many users of Leica’s black-and-white camera prefer to take their pictures in a low-light environment. Many of them are particularly fond of the fast lenses that you can find in Leica’s lens portfolio, lenses fit for photographing in dark surroundings.

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition
IN DAYLIGHT: This is how the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition looks in daylight. (Photo: Leica)

The Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition is quite possibly the most discreet camera on the market today, says Leica. Both camera and lens are dressed in an unassuming black matte finish and minimal branding to eliminate any distractions from purity and integrity of the design.

A jet-black smooth cowhide leather trim adds a layer of texture to the camera and an excellent grip for the on-the-go photographer.

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition
GLOWING: The engravings on the dark Leica camera are crafted with a fluorescent paint glowing in the dark. (Photo: Leica)

Glowing in the dark

The adaption to the dark side goes further, though. You adjust the settings of a Leica rangefinder camera by turning the aperture ring on the lens or turning the shutter speed wheel. Mr. Wainright and his Leica friends added a sort of a non-stealth design element here.

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition
A CLEAN LOOK: The Leica M Monochrom Stealth Edition has a clean design viewed from any angle. (Photo: Leica)

The most important engravings for photographic settings are highlighted on both the camera and the lens, each crafted with a striking glow in dark fluorescent paint for optimal use in low-light situations.

“This is a unique design element which makes the camera very handy in dark surroundings”, says the Norwegian Leica distributor, Bresson A/S, in the press release.

The image sensor of the Leica M Monochrome is liberated from color filters, recording only luminance values to capture light with unparalleled sharpness and integrity, even at high ISO ranges, says Leica.

Low amount of image noise

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition
35MM: The Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition comes with a compact 35mm wide-angle lens. (Photo: Leica)

The technical specifications of the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition are identical to those of the standard edition. It is a combination of low-level image noise, a bright viewfinder, minimal vibration during exposure, and fast lenses making the camera particularly suitable for photographing in tricky light surroundings.

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Moderate wide-angle lens

In addition to the camera body, the package includes an adapted lens, which is a moderate wide-angle lens, the Summicron-M 35mm f2 ASPH. The lens is built in a matching matte black color with fluorescent text and number engravings.

The lens comes with a rectangular metal lens hood.


Finally, let’s check the price. For comparison, the price of the ordinary Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) is NOK 74,000, according to the Norwegian distributor, Bresson A/S. (US price $7,550/B&H).

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition
CARRYING STRAP: A soft black carrying strap is included. (Photo: Leica)

But only 125 copies of the new Stealth Edition will be built and sold worldwide. Each copy will bear a distinctive serial number. The set will include a comfortable black fabric carrying strap, a metal front cap for the lens, and a certificate of authenticity. Leica says the US price will be $15,750. In Norway, the price is set at NOK 153,000, according to Bresson A/S.

“Sony is one of the big boys now”

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Stealth Edition
THE BACK SIDE: Even the rear side of the new Leica camera is designed with discretion in mind. (Photo: Leica)

The new camera will be available at select Leica stores on March 20, 2018.

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246)
THE REGULAR: For comparison, this is how the regular Leica M Monochrom looks. This is a fairly discrete camera, too. (Photo: Leica)

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