Save $5,000 by getting a monochrome Fuji X-Pro1 or X100S instead of a Leica

Feb 20, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Save $5,000 by getting a monochrome Fuji X-Pro1 or X100S instead of a Leica

Feb 20, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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When Fuji released the X-Pro1 and X100S, they became instant hits. Relatively small cameras with amazing image quality. Many photographers added one to their kit as a lightweight alternative to a DSLR for personal use. Others completely replaced their DSLRs with the new Fuji offerings as their new main bodies. People loved them.

A couple of months after the X-Pro1 launch, Leica announced their new M Monochrome black & white only digital rangefinder. This was the first commercially available black & white digital camera. 2012 was turning out to be an interesting year. But the price tag of almost $8,000 put it out of reach to most photographers. Since then, a lot have asked Fuji to produce a less expensive alternative. Now, black & white versions of the X-Pro1 and X100S are available, although not from Fuji.

Fujifilm management had considered monochrome X-Pro to be a “sales opportunity for Fujifilm”, but it all depended on the demand. In response to the statement FujiRumors launched a poll. Although, it didn’t go quite as hoped. It showed that demand was kinda low. And a year later, Fujifilm announced that any plans to make mono versions of their cameras had been dropped.

Instead, they simply preferred to go with the black and white “film simulation” modes. They deemed the results were practically identical. And given the apparently lack of real demand, one can understand why.

Now, though, that’s all changed thanks to Maxmax. Monochrome sensors are actually a relatively straightforward thing. Essentially you just remove the colour array from the surface of the sensor. Or, in the case of the Leica M Monochrom, you just don’t install one in the first place. Then the sensor is simply seeing brightness levels, not colour information. Maxmax do say that the Fujis present some rather unique challenges, though.

They also say that they “compare quite favorably to the Leica M but with higher performance in many respects”. They also boast a much lower price. The Leica M still costs $7,500. The Fuji X100S-M is $2,600. The Fuji X-Pro1-M costs a mere $2,425. Ok, so they’re still quite expensive, especially compared to the stock camera. But, at third the price of the Leica, they’re a much more affordable option.

I have to say, I’m too terribly impressed by the sample photos shown on the Maxmax website. But, I’d still be curious to see how they compare side-by-side with the Leica on the same scenes.

For now, I think I’ll just stick to film for black & white.

[via Fujistas]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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8 responses to “Save $5,000 by getting a monochrome Fuji X-Pro1 or X100S instead of a Leica”

  1. Paul Richards Avatar
    Paul Richards

    No reason to buy a mono only camera. Way too limiting. Any differences in the images would be extremely small, even if you could see any

  2. Nelly Zagloba Van Cleeff Avatar
    Nelly Zagloba Van Cleeff

    Like… Both my Canon DSLR have a monochrome option. Shoot in raw, you always have the option to convert to color later.
    This is for people who have way too much money and they don’t know what to do with it.
    Also… Vintage camera with a B&W roll… Just saying…

  3. Richard Snippe Avatar
    Richard Snippe

    Audi vs a Peugeot it brings you to your destination. but the experience and the feeling is different. It’s a bit of a style icon.

  4. Stewart Norton Avatar
    Stewart Norton

    Not sure what data is stored in the mono raw files but converting to b&w in lightroom gives you control over how the colours are rendered in black and white.

  5. Paul Monaghan Avatar
    Paul Monaghan

    Or buy a Sigma Merrill camera and use the BW mode in SPP which lets you select just one of the three color layers of the sensor and is actually decent at iso 6400 using the top blue layer only.

    1. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
      Gvido Mūrnieks

      Get out with your reasonable argument!
      This is a place for $hit slinging from brand fanatics.

      1. Paul Monaghan Avatar
        Paul Monaghan

        I always try to be reasonable :)

  6. Ferdinand Gikelly Avatar
    Ferdinand Gikelly

    The difference comes from the bayer matrix and the anti-aliasing filter. They reduce image quality. Without these filters you have a better photos in B & W. The B&W mode can’t produce a good photos if you want real photos in black and white. This is why Leica produced the monochrom M camera.