In my last post I suggested that Fujifilm should make a monochrome camera like the Leica M10 Monochrom. I wasn’t planning to say anymore about it, but the response I received from that article compelled me to type out this one. The majority of those who replied, either in a comment under that post, via Instagram, or through email, said that they would consider buying a black-and-white-only camera if Fujifilm made one. Some of you had great ideas for it. There’s a chance that someone at Fujifilm reads Fuji X Weekly, so I’m writing this with that in mind.
I had suggested that, if Fujifilm did make a monochrome camera, it should either be in an X-Pro3 or X100V body, and they should call it “X-Pro3 Acros” or “X100V Acros” after their film and film simulation of the same name. It was pointed out to me that it doesn’t have to be in those bodies. It could be in a cheaper body, such as the X-T200, and since it doesn’t require any special sensor, just one without a color filter array, and would have a stripped down menu, the camera could potentially be made affordable. The less expensive the camera is, the more copies it will sell. Of all the body suggestions that I received, the X-E3 was the most popular choice for a monochrome camera by Fuji X Weekly readers.
Someone had an interesting idea for a feature on a monochrome camera: color filters. The X100F has a built-in neutral-density filter, so why couldn’t a monochrome camera have built-in yellow, red and green filters (and perhaps blue)? Click a button and the filter of choice is applied. That made me wonder: is it possible to have a color filter array that can be turned on and off? With the click of a button, perhaps the X-Pro4 can become a monochrome camera, and with another click it’s back to normal. That would be cool! It might be completely impossible, but I’m sure someone smarter than I can figure it out.
The second largest response that I got from my last post, not far behind the “I want that” replies, is, “would a monochrome camera even produce better results than what I can already get with the Acros film simulation?” My initial response was, heck yes! You get a big bump in resolution. But then I was shown two different YouTube videos that do blind tests between the Leica M10 Monochrom and the Fujifilm X-T3 (here and here), and it changed my mind. I did the blind test in both videos, and I was surprised by the results. In the first blind test, which compares the Leica with the Fujifilm and a Sony A7 III, the author uses the Monochrome film simulation, and not Acros, on the X-T3. Even so, the camera that I blindly picked as I looked at the pictures was the Fujifilm. I watched the blind test part twice before making up my mind and viewing the reveal. In the second video, which compares the Leica against another Leica monochrome camera and the Fujifilm and actual film, the author uses both the Monochrome and Acros film simulations. There were five pictures to choose from, and a few looked very close so it was more difficult to pick a favorite. I was surprised that the one I picked was the X-T3 with the Monochrome film simulation. Again, I watched the blind test part twice before deciding and viewing the reveal.
I’m not sure how much stock one can put into YouTube videos, where it’s difficult to really appreciate the pictures. Even so, I made two conclusions: Fujifilm cameras are especially great for black-and-white photography and I need to shoot more with the Monochrome film simulation. I use Acros on my X-T30, but it’s about time that I create a recipe using the Monochrome film simulation, which is apparently better than I gave it credit for.
Would a Fujifilm monochrome camera be awesome? Yes, it would! Would it be better at black-and-white than your current Fujifilm camera? Probably, but not by a big margin, that’s for sure. Perhaps if you print very large, that’s when the monochrome camera would be advantageous. I would still buy one if Fujifilm made one, but it’s good to reaffirm that Fujifilm is already superb at black-and-white photography, and I’m not missing much by not owning a monochrome-only camera.
In closing, I’m very curious what your results are with the blind tests. If you watched the videos, please let me know in the comments what your results were. Which camera made the best black-and-white pictures in your opinion? Thanks!