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.