Pentax Has A Monochrome Camera — Fujifilm Should, too!

Pentax just announced the K3 III Monochrome DSLR. Yes, a black-and-white only camera!

I find a few things intriguing by this. First, a lot of people say that there’s no market for such a camera, that only the Leica enthusiasts with Leica-like budgets will buy a monochrome-only camera. Yet Pentax apparently disagrees. I hope they’re right. It’s certainly a risk that they’re taking, but I think it will do well enough simply based on all the initial hype, which there’s quite a bit of.

The Pentax K3 III Monochrome (such an uninspired name, right?) has a 26-megapixel APS-C sensor inside. Sound familiar? My guess is that it’s the same Sony sensor that’s found in Fujifilm X-Trans IV models, just with the color filter array removed. I could be wrong about that. Perhaps more importantly, this monochrome sensor is clearly available for camera makers to buy, because Pentax is doing so, which means Fujifilm could, too.

The price difference that Pentax is charging for the monochrome vs the regular model is $500. That seems pretty steep, but it’s a niche product, so a premium should be expected. I suspect that Fujifilm would likely charge a similar amount—$300 to $500—for a monochrome version of one of their models, if they were to make one.

I’ve been suggesting for years that Fujifilm should make a dedicated black-and-white camera, and call it the Acros Edition. Why? 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 higher perceived resolution, as pictures will appear more richly detailed, and there’s more shadow latitude, which improves dynamic range and high-ISO capabilities. You can also use color filters just like with black-and-white film. It’s definitely not a camera that everyone will want, but some—myself included—will line up for it the day it is announced.

Basically, it will have only the Acros film simulation, and the same JPEG options as other X-Trans cameras (except no Color or White Balance). I can imagine Fujifilm offering a stronger Grain option than what’s currently available on the other models, and perhaps an Acros Hi and Acros Low, for higher or lower contrast rendering. I’d also like to see a lifted shadow option for a faded look. The X-Pan aspect ratio should absolutely be included. Otherwise, I don’t think too many modifications will be required to the menu.

Hopefully Fujifilm is already working on this. They should be, anyway, but they’re probably not. Ideally, it would be an X-Pro or X100 model, but at this point I’d take any, except for the X-S or X-H lines. Seriously, a Fujifilm X-Pro3 Acros Edition or X100V Acros Edition would be simply incredible! It would definitely catch people’s attention. If Fujifilm wants a WOW product, this is it right here.


  1. Don · April 16

    I’ve been yappin about a Fujifilm Monochrome since 2015. Why they don’t is beyond. They would kill it, unless there’s some sort of legal agreement because of Leica?

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

      I think Fujifilm believes that there isn’t a sufficient market to justify it, but, if that’s the case, I really believe they are underestimating how many would buy.

  2. Randy Pollock · April 16

    Why is no one speaking to FujiFilm about this? Are we not a community and one that is passionate about their products and yet I have never heard of anyone speaking directly to Fuji Managers or even higher up and expressing a desire and a market for such a camera. If they are willing to make a X-Pro3 why would they not make a monochrome version of a new X-Pro or 100 line?

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

      I couldn’t even tell you how to speak to Fuji Managers or higher ups. I’d love to speak with them, but I have no idea where to even start. And perhaps that is the problem….
      The best I’ve been able to figure out is to write about it on this blog, and cross my fingers and hope that someone at Fujifilm reads it; however, that’s a bit of a long shot, I believe.

      • Randy Pollock · April 17

        I would think the best chance would be to reach out to Fuji Ambassadors as they are the closest people to tickle the ears of the Fuji Managers.

      • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

        From what I know….

        The Japan office is the only one that matters. The Japan office will listen to the North America regional office sometimes with a grain of salt, but they don’t listen to the other regional offices at all. The other regional offices, if it is something important, will try to get the North America office to talk to Fujifilm Japan about whatever it is, because that’s their best bet. I have spoken with someone at the North America regional office a couple of times (like literally twice), and on one occasion they felt something worthwhile enough to send to Japan, where it was (apparently) immediately rejected.

        I really believe that if you don’t have a contact at HQ in Japan (and most Fuji X-Photographers don’t have such a contact), then you don’t have a voice. Or, if you do have a voice, it’s extremely faint. Honestly, Fujifilm needs to work much harder at listening to their customers. That’s my opinion, anyway.

      • Randy Pollock · April 17

        Thanks, that’s all good information to know.

      • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

        I will add, also, that I’ve spoken to a couple of really well connected (and well known) photographers within the industry, and they have both told me that of all the camera brands, Fujifilm is the worst at outreach and customer input and such. One told me a nightmare story dealing with Fujifilm managers… this photographer loves his Fujifilm camera, but is done speaking with or dealing with Fujifilm corporate, and will never do so again (we’re talking about a household name in photography, btw). So I think Fujifilm has a TON of room for improvement in this regard, and I hope they address it.

  3. richardnoll · April 16

    I’d buy one. Xpro Acros or X100 Acros. They stuff themselves out there with the Xpro3 screen. Why not this? Be cool if they changed the intern as l spot meter to read zones and EVs as well. Filters could be the typical and maybe a 10 or 15 stop ND.

  4. Sean Sullivan · April 16

    Pentax can make a Monochrome DSLR but they can’t enter the Mirrorless world?

    • Uwe · April 16

      I think Pentax could enter the Mirrorless world, but they don’t want to. I think one of the most importent reasons: Currently you can use all lenses for Pentax made since about the mid-70s. Mirrorless makes only sense with with a new mount. And it will need years and a lot of money for a meanwhile quite small company like Pentax to get everything on the road that customers want. So in my opinion everything makes sense what Pentax does.

      • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

        They should have done it years ago if they were going to, but now it’s kind of too late for them, I think.

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

      I think the problem is that they’d have to either make a new lens system, or use K-Mount but with a protruding neck to mount the lens on, which kind of defeats some of the advantage of mirrorless. Pentax should have jumped into mirrorless a decade or more ago, but at this point it’s kind of too late. I personally think they should release some fixed-lens cameras, bigger and more camera-styled than the Ricoh GR (think X100…). I bet people would buy that even if they have no interest in DSLRs.

      • Sean Sullivan · April 17

        Pentax did have the Q series which was a Mirrorless system but they abandoned it.

      • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

        If I remember correctly it had a tiny sensor, correct? It was like point-and-shoot digicam or cellphone sensor in an interchangeable-lens system, if I’m not mistaken.

      • Sean Sullivan · April 18

        It did have a tiny sensor but a full line of lenses so Pentax do have R&D to make a new mount if they want to.

      • Ritchie Roesch · April 18

        They should have made an APS-C mirrorless at that time. I suspect that Pentax is selling considerably fewer cameras now than back then, so it would be even more difficult in 2023 than ten years ago I would think. In my opinion, their ship sailed without them on it, and now they’re “stuck” with the DSLR. They can make the best of it, though, and this Monochrome camera is one such example.

      • Uwe · April 20

        I think the situation would not have been different from today. I remember very well how it was when Pentax announced the full frame K-1 7 years ago. Everyone was moaning about the lack of lenses, even though Pentax sold new full-frame lenses and you could use all the used lenses from the last 40 years, so there wasn’t nothing. But with a mirrorless camera with a new mount there really would have been nothing. Then you can look at the pace at which Pentax is developing new lenses (personally I don’t mind, I have everything I need). And now think what it would be like if there would be another completely different mount line. I don’t think that would be good. But we probably don’t have to discuss about mirrors or mirrorless in general, mostly the different sites won’t come together anymore … as you can expect I like the mirror and would not go into mirrorlesses in the next future … 😉 … But I see a chance for Pentax if they will be the last DSLR manufacturer at the market as not everyone will accept the mirrorless way.

      • Ritchie Roesch · April 21

        I think when Pentax decided a few years back not to make an APS-C mirrorless system, their path was set. Either way was a risk, but I think they went with what they felt was the safest route forward. Playing it safe isn’t always good, and time will tell if it was the right path. I don’t think they’ll gain much, if any, new market share… not many newbies are going for DSLRs… at this point they’re just hoping their current customers don’t leave for another brand. I think the Ricoh GR IIIx was smart. I think a bigger, retro-styled fixed-lens camera more similar to the X100 (maybe inspired by the ME Super) would sell well. Otherwise, doing things like this monochrome model is what they need in order to get noticed. If they keep it up they should be able to stay in business awhile longer.

  5. juanimal · April 16

    Those ideas of yours for Fujifilm sound really good. My fight against my impulses to buy another camera would be really hard.

  6. Butch · April 16

    Do you still need a color array over the sensor for the Acros simulation? If you want the red yellow and green filter options. You can’t just leave the sensor there and put color filters over the lens because the bear sensor probably does not behave the same as chemical film would in the presence of colored filters. So you still need to know the color information about the image so that you can have software that causes the information from the sensor to react The same as chemical film.

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

      It wouldn’t have a color array, and the +G, +R, +Y options wouldn’t exist. But color filters would work, just like on B&W film! At least they do on the Leica Monochrom models, so I assume they will for Pentax and would for Fujifilm.

  7. Barry Studd · April 16

    Hi, Ritchie, if Fuji doesn’t will you get the Pentax? I’ll be tempted, love B&W.

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

      Probably not. I’m just not interested in shooting with a DSLR. However, if Pentax sent me one I wouldn’t refuse…. 🤣

      • Barry Studd · April 17

        An X100 monochrome would be great, and an XE!

      • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

        Yeah, I’d go for either! 😀

  8. paul · April 16

    I’m very happy to buy an XPro Acros version … where’s the petition to sign?

    • Skygantic76 · April 17

      I’m with Paul on this sign me up for an XPro Acros edition!

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

      I bet a lot of people would sign it!

  9. Gianni · April 17

    I would say an XT series so i can change the lenses.

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

      I’d prefer an X-Pro (which can also change lenses), but if Fujifilm did it on an X-T model (or even X-E), I’d still buy it the first day of preorders.

  10. fcheval · April 17

    What I don’t understand is : why they did it on K3 and not on RICOH GR III ? Maybe because it’s not a pentax ? 🤔

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 17

      I’d buy a Ricoh GR III Monochrome….

    • theBitterFig · April 17

      I’ve heard some folks testing monocrome cameras say that they really seem to work better with optical finders. It’s generally best to protect the highlights, so this will kill the shadows on rear screens and EVFs, and make composition harder. With the immense size of the K3iii’s prism finder, it ought to be a joy to look through.

      The other thing is that the K3iii has a lot more potential as a landscape camera, with the weather resistance and stuff like pixel shift for extra high resolution, whereas the GRiii doesn’t really do the job (it does it’s own jobs well, but there are things it just doesn’t work for). Paired with the DA* 16-50/2.8 PLM, this would be a beast for B&W landscape work.

      But some of it is that folks asked. Seems as though Pentax asked the community which kind of special edition K3iii they wanted, and the community said Monochrome, and here it is.

      • Ritchie Roesch · April 18

        I’ve used the GR cameras for landscapes… I have a large print on the wall captured in the mountains of Utah I’m looking at right now. 😀

        I would think that an electronic viewfinder would be best so that you can “see” in monochrome. I shot B&W exclusively on my X100V for about six months last year… don’t know why it would be any different if the sensor was B&W-only vs shooting with the Acros sim—the EVF did just fine with Acros. But with film, you don’t know what you’re going to get until it’s developed. Interesting things to think about, I suppose.

        A lot within the Fujifilm community have asked, too… maybe Ricoh is listening a little more closely to their customers? Bravo to Pentax for making it.

      • theBitterFig · April 21

        RE: GR and Landscapes. Totally fair. Just about all new cameras today are really excellent at lots of things. I still think that the K-3 has a lot to offer as a base model, too.

        RE: Viewfinders. That’s certainly something I’ve found helpful. I just recall the review of the K3iiiM by Samuel Streetlife, and his point was that on something like a GRiii, when you’re trying hard not to clip highlights, this is often hard on a screen’s dynamic range. An eye’s visible range is just bigger, so it can be easier to see shadow detail that an EVF would just render as all black. I guess all my point is would be that an x100 monochrome makes more sense than a x70.

        Given what are often the small-ish benefits of a monochrome sensor (the quality of converted B&W jpegs is very high, often even at high ISO), I think the camera that makes the most sense to release as monochrome first is the most versatile one. For Fuji, I think an X-Pro makes the most sense. But a second release? If Ricoh follows up the K-3 with a GR special edition, I’d love that for GR fans.

      • Ritchie Roesch · April 21

        I think you are right: the X-Pro line makes the most sense. I hope that Fujifilm does it! 😀

  11. Mike Richards · April 17

    A successor to the X100V with IBIS and a monochrome, 26 or 40mp, sensor would be amazing!

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 18

      I’d be surprised if Fujifilm added IBIS to the X100 series. You never know, but I wouldn’t count on that happening; however, it would be amazing if they did!

  12. theBitterFig · April 17

    Just so anyone considering a K3iiiM knows, the DA Limited lenses are fantastic, and generally quite cheap on the used market. Most can be had in the $200-$300 range, and they’re just gems. The green ring ones, particularly the 15mm and 21mm, produce amazing sunstars with their 7 straight aperture blades. The 35 Macro is brilliant, the 40mm is basically a body cap, and the 70mm short telephoto is a pancake. They’ve all got gorgeous rendering, really small and light, but alas no weather sealing. Just about all the new zooms have WR, though. They’re also all screw-drive AF, so if a bit of noise bothers you, stick to Fuji film sims.

    The system doesn’t really have a tonne of options for a fast-fifty equivalent (an affordable 35/2 and pricey but lovely 31/1.8, both FF lenses), but the DA Limiteds are so nice that you don’t really miss it much.

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 18

      Thanks for the info… I had a 35mm f/2.8 at one point (an old manual lens) that I remember liking.

  13. St · April 21

    Agree. In 3 years I didnt shot 2 color images with my XT30

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 21

      There would definitely be buyers if Fujifilm released a monochrome-only camera. I hope they do!

  14. Ben · April 24

    I have been wanting a dedicated B&W camera for a few years now. I have really good color micro 4/3rds already, the improvements there will only be slight.

    But for a dedicated B&W… this would be tremendous imo. I will get whomever comes out with one first — Panasonic or Olympus in m4/3, or Fuji. That definitely includes an X100V form factor/single focal length. Still might go for the X100V for this purpose, we’ll see.

    • Ritchie Roesch · April 25

      I think, if anything, Pentax has proven that a market exists for such a camera. I hope Fujifilm jumps at the opportunity.

  15. Larry Adams · August 14

    Not a lot of understanding anymore of how b&w film works compared to electronic sensors.

    Very few consumer b&w films were truly panchromatic, like a sensor with the color filter array removed may be. Ever notice that there are twice as many green filters/pixels on an electronic sensor array? That is not because the sensor has poor green sensitivity, but because human vision sees green much brighter than it really is. So you need to tilt the results toward human vision, or the results will look to humans like very dark greens in a color image and very dark grays in the originally green areas of a b&w image.

    So… b&w films made for pictures for people were not flat in response. There were extra film grains that responded more to green light than to other wavelengths… just as we have more green pixels than red or blue on a sensor made for people (as opposed to strictly scientific) pictures.

    How does a color-filter-less array account for that? Add an actual physical green filter in the image path? Can’t do it electronically, since the monochrome array has no idea which luminosity info is green, and which is from other colors.

    Of course, you don’t need to imitate film to do proper digital monochrome. It’s just instructional to see how the film makers like Fujifilm and Kodak did it once upon a time.

    • Ritchie Roesch · August 15

      I don’t think this is very true, unless I’m misunderstanding what you are saying. Most B&W films were less sensitive to green than many of the other wavelengths. A study of the LOG Sensitivity charts reveals that pretty clearly.

      As for digital sensors, Green is often picked as the luminosity color—the one that records the brightness of light, not just the color—because green is often closest to 18% grey. In fact, back in the day, it was common to meter off of green grass or a tree or bush, if you didn’t have a grey card handy. Any of the three colors could be used for luminosity—in fact, Sigma made a sensor with Blue as the luminosity color, where 50% of the pixels were Blue, 25% were Green and 25% were Red. The colors from that sensor are considered some of the best by any camera, but it never caught on due to a number of factors.

      The overall point that a digital monochrome sensor would react to light differently than film—at least by a little—is probably true, but, as seen in all the wonderful images captured with these monochrome-only cameras, it’s not likely to any significant degree. In practical use, I don’t think it matters.

  16. Larry Adams · September 6

    I must be saying it wrong, since I agree with most of your response. Except for the LOG charts, which I find show a flat curve for most “panchromatic” films, not a dip in the green frequency. The odd exception is Acros! There you will find a distinct drop-off at the red end of the visible spectrum.

    I hope to get the modified to monochrome X-H1 back from MaxMax this week. Then I can start testing that versus the regular X-H1 for b&w photography.

  17. Mark Scheuern · September 18

    It would be an instant buy for me. I’d love a Q2 Monochrom but a bit beyond my budget.

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 19

      Leica is outside my budget, as well. But an option under $3,000 (hopefully well under) would be intriguing for sure—an instant buy.

      • Don · September 19

        I Don’t know what’s going on. Why Fujifilm is not responding to this issue. I wonder, what’s the problem? It’s understood that there are many many genres that Black & White is the obvious choice. Just do it already! Offer the choice. The visual difference is obvious. I’ve seen the tests. Black and White sensors see better.

      • Ritchie Roesch · September 19

        I think it would be quite successful, but apparently Fujifilm feels differently. I hope they do it, though.

  18. Larry Adams · September 19

    Ditto. Still waiting for the monochrome conversion of my X-H1 by MaxMax. He has a bit of a backlog it seems. (Three weeks so far.) I’ll let you know how it turned out when it happens….

  19. Ivan · 23 Days Ago

    I agree that Fujifilm believes there’s not enough of a market. The benefits of a monochrome sensor are appreciated by some but in general seem to be a hard sell.

    I understand you’re not into DSLRs but the KF, K3M3 and K1M2 running the latest firmware have what I feel is a very creative assortment of image styles plus filters that can be laid on top. You could come up with some fantastic recipes. I’m really enjoying the new “Gold” and “Satobi” with +3 saturation (probably the most Fujifilm-like). I do wish Pentax had a current mirrorless body, even if just a K-01 successor with PDAF and a hot shoe EVF.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 23 Days Ago

      I used to have a couple of Pentax DSLRs a long time ago. They sold compelling products. I think Pentax made a huge mistake avoiding (for the most part) mirrorless… and I understand why they did. I completely “get it” but I still think, in the end, it was the wrong move. Personally, I have zero interest in DSLRs, and I think the majority of people feel similarly, and it’s just going to get “worse” for Pentax as time goes on. They need to take some big chances—the B&W-only camera was one, and the Ricoh GR IIIx was another, but it needs to be a lot more—if they’re going to have a chance at surviving as a brand. It’s still possible for them to turn things around, but they need to act a lot faster than they have been for the last decade. In the end, I don’t think they will, and either they go under completely or they just remain super niche (and maybe they sell off the Ricoh GR brand to another company). That’s my opinion, anyway. In all sincerity, I wish them the best of luck, because I have a fondness for the brand—perhaps out of nostalgia—and I’d like to see them stick around if they’re able to.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Larry Adams · 23 Days Ago

      Unfortunately, our choices are very limited at the moment. The X-H1 I sent to MaxMax for monochrome conversion 10 weeks ago has not been worked on. Communication with Dan Llewellyn is non-existent, just one e-mail a couple of weeks after the camera got there acknowledging its receipt, with no replies to a couple of short inquiries from me since then about possible estimates for when the conversion might get done. At this point I have no faith that anything will ever be done or that I will ever hear from Dan or see my old X-H1 again. I’ll let you know if he ever gets back to me, but for the moment I would take MaxMax conversions off the list of possible monochrome conversions.

      • Ritchie Roesch · 21 Days Ago

        I’m sorry this happened. I hope that you get your camera back.

      • Larry Adams · 21 Days Ago

        Thanks. It also could be just that Dan is just way behind in work promised and not checking/answering his e-mails in a responsible fashion. I hope.

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