Fujifilm Monochrome

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Mountains Dressed In Monochrome – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

Leica recently announced the M10 Monochrom, which is their third black-and-white only camera. It can’t capture a color picture because it doesn’t have a Bayer array. It only does black-and-white photography. Fujifilm should do something similar, even though most won’t buy it.

Believe it or not, there’s actually an advantage to a monochrome sensor. With a typical Bayer color array, only 50% of the light-sensitive sensor elements are recording luminosity information, while the other 50% are recording color information. With an X-Trans sensor, 55% of the light-sensitive sensor elements are recording luminosity information while 45% are recording color information. With a monochrome sensor, 100% of the light-sensitive sensor elements are recording luminosity information. Because of this, you get a higher perceived resolution, as pictures will appear more richly detailed, and there’s more shadow latitude, which also improves high-ISO capabilities. You can also use color filters like with black-and-white film.

I think an X-Pro3-M, a black-and-white only version of the X-Pro3, or an X100V-M, a black-and-white only version of the upcoming X100V, would do well enough commercially. Yes, it’s clearly a niche product, as there’s only a tiny market for it, yet Leica found a way to make it profitable, and Fujifilm could, too. There are plenty of photographers who use their X-Pro or X100 series camera to only shoot black-and-white. A Monochrome version would make things simpler for them, while improving perceived resolution, dynamic range and high-ISO. And, Fujifilm has a cool marketing angle: call it the X-Pro3 Acros or X100V Acros. People would eat that up. Increase the price a couple hundred dollars and it would sell well enough to be profitable, in my non-expert opinion.

The flip side to this is that Fujifilm X-Trans cameras, particularly X-Trans III and IV cameras that have the Acros film simulation, are already fantastic for black-and-white photography. Would a monochrome-only camera really produce enough of an improved image to justify buying one? I think that’s a tough question to answer, but my guess is probably not for most people. Still, a monochrome-only camera wouldn’t be for “most people” as it would be for a very small crowd, and for those people the difference would indeed justify buying it. For most, your current X-Trans camera is a great black-and-white photography tool, and there’s no need to get a monochrome-only camera. Some, however, would absolutely love to have one, and I think there’s enough of those people that such a camera could be profitable for Fujifilm, if they ever wished to create one. I hope they do.

26 comments

  1. Roby Ferrero · January 26

    It would be really interesting if they made a couple of Monochrome cameras in Fujifilm. Even at the same price, considering that they have everything ready.

    Perhaps the same price would entice more to purchase, thus making it a niche product, but a little less.

    I think there is a difference between a monochrome camera and Acros simulation.
    Maybe not much, maybe someone wouldn’t pay more for a small difference. For sure it would be more ideal for black and white.

    I’ve always wanted a monochrome camera, even as a single camera body. But since I use the X-Trans matrix I have changed my mind about digital color; I would be sorry not to take a color photo home when it surprises me.

    But two camera bodies ..

    What’s good, in any case, is that with our Fujifilm we make a fantastic black and white !!!

    Regards

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 26

      I would love a black and white only camera, but I am certainly not going to pay the $8k that Leica charges. If Fujifilm made one and it was under $2K, I would find a way to buy it. Thank you for the input!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a friend who mono converted a Nikon D810.

    There is a noticeable difference in resolution and sharpness.

    If Fuji brought out an X camera mono. I’d be a buyer for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 26

      I looked into that conversion. It’s not cheap whatsoever! If Fujifilm made a monochrome camera, as long as it wasn’t too expensive, I’d figure out a way to buy it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Darius Marley · January 26

    Imagine a mirrorless Fuji mono with no flash, no shoe, no external controls, weather sealed, X-mount, LCD touchscreen with full controls, optional external battery pack port, 1TB SSD built-in, wireless data transfer… basically a rubberized cube with lens in front, tilting LCD on top, and tripod thread on the bottom. Super niche, minimal, rugged, and super MINE if they made it! Hey, a guy can dream, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marc Beebe · January 26

    The Monochrom is another example of “we made it simpler so it costs more”, like mirrorless cameras.
    Although we can see the technical advantages, it is not a practical device and wouldn’t find much market appeal. Since the average user couldn’t tell the difference between an image taken with a dedicate B&W camera and a desaturated picture from a smartphone companies aren’t willing to invest in such a product. They need either mass sales or large profit margins to justify anything. That’s why the Leica is priced like a good used car.
    If any company wants to indulge in niche cameras for the artistic market they’ve got to make them cheap enough that starving artists can afford one. The Leica is aimed not at that crowd, but at the scientific users who will be able to make good use of it attached to telescopes and such.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 26

      I think Leica is also a status camera, so those who want to feel superior will spend the money to have it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ricardo Richon Guzman · January 26

    I would definitely buy a Monochrome X100V if available as my everyday camera. As a fetish camera really hahaha

    Monochrome and Across do a really good job and having colors on the same camera is awesome also, but the detail of a dedicated monochrome is awesome.

    Now that I think a bit more about it , a interchangeable lens camera is better than a fixed !!! so an X-T3M (Monochrome) for me please!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kenneth · January 26

    Don´t forget Sigmas Foveon sensor, what I read it´s stunning in BW to. Never tried myself but I´m tempted to.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. chrijo · January 27

    FYI

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 27

      That’s really interesting. Thank you for sharing! I don’t know how much you can gather from a YouTube video, and I don’t know why the Monochrome film simulation was used instead of Acros. Interestingly enough, in the blind test, I chose the Fujifilm pictures as my favorite, Leica as second and Sony as third. What did you think?

      Like

  8. Francis.R. · January 27

    I don’t see myself buying a monochrome camera, as I love color, but if I would I wonder if companies could built-in the color filters in the same fashion of the ND filter in the Fujifilm X100 series.

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 27

      That would be interesting if the color array could somehow be turned on and off. That would be a pretty cool feature.

      Like

      • Francis.R. · January 28

        Of course! like the nd filter in the X100. One could activate the red filter to get deeper skies and so on. But well, maybe there is a question of space or so for three physical glasses : )

        Like

  9. James Symmonds · January 27

    I’d seriously consider a monochrome camera if it had B&W film sims. Straight monochrome doesn’t excite me too much but Acros definitely does. Until I came across your site and some of the color sims, I usually only shot Acros.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 27

      It would probably have Acros and that’s it. If you wanted +Y, +R, etc., you’d have to use color filters.

      Like

  10. Pingback: Fujifilm Monochrome, Part 2 | Fuji X Weekly
  11. Quan · January 30

    “yet Leica found a way to make it profitable”

    That’s because they charge more than FOUR TIMES as much as an X-Pro3!

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 30

      Yes, but their normal is that. It’s not like their cameras are usually the same price as an X-Pro3 and the monochrome version is four times more. And, even at that price, they find enough people to buy it.

      Like

      • Quan · January 31

        Hi Ritchie, yes, that’s a “normal” price for Leica, but the point is, I’m quite sure their margin (price markup) is *substantially* higher than Fuji, and therein lies the substantive difference: they have to move far fewer units to break even.

        Like

      • Ritchie Roesch · January 31

        Yes. There are basically two models: large margin and few copies, or small margin and many copies. Leica belongs in the first group, Fujifilm in the second. I don’t think that necessarily means that Fujifilm couldn’t make a profitable monochrome camera, especially if it was kept “affordable” to give it the best opportunity to sell maximum copies, but I do think they’d have to charge more for it because it will sell fewer copies. I’m not a business expert by any means, just a backseat driver.

        Like

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