By Claire Reilly

High-end camera brand Leica has today demonstrated its desire to capture both ends of the digital imaging market, launching a selection of new camera products ranging in price from $750 up to $11,000. And if you think that hefty price tag will buy you all the colours of the rainbow, think again – the $11,000 model only shoots in black and white.

Known as the Leica M Monochrom, the camera is being billed by Leica as “the world’s first digital camera exclusively for full-frame, 35 millimetre black-and-white photography,” designed specifically for photographers who specialise in all things monochrome.

Explaining the rationale behind the creation of the 18-megapixel, RRP $10,999 device was Jesko von Oeynhausen, product manager for the M-System at Leica Camera AG.

“Black-and-white photography is more popular than ever before,” said von Oeynhausen. “Even today, it has lost nothing of its fascination as an expressive medium, not even for younger generations of photographers.

“With the M Monochrom, we now offer, for the first time ever, an opportunity to consistently and authentically explore black-and-white photography with a tool that is unique in the digital world. The camera’s exclusively black-and-white sensor brings an enormous technical benefit that is reflected in the amazing imaging quality it delivers.”

As it doesn’t shoot in colour, Leica says the M Monochrom delivers “true” black-and-white photographs that are sharper than images shot on cameras with a colour sensor, because “every pixel records true luminance values”.

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If you’re after something a little kinder to the wallet (and capable of recording a few more hues), Leica has also announced the launch of the V-Lux 40 (RRP $749).

The 15.3-megapixel camera is an update of the previously released V-Lux 30, and features an autofocus speed of 0.1 seconds, integrated GPS, continuous shooting of up to 60 frames per second, 20x zoom and a range of creative picture effects such as panorama and miniature mode. It also features an LCD touch screen and mp4 video recording with stereo sound.

Finally, Leica has added to its X-line range with the Leica X2 (RRP $2,499), a German-made follow up to the X1.

It features a 16.5-megapixel CMOS sensor and a Leica Elmarit 24 mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens, which Leica bills as “a classic focal length for photojournalism”. It features a pop-up flash, a 2.7-inch screen and an all-metal construction with leather trim, and is available in silver or black finishes.

“It adapts to all shooting situations with enormous flexibility and enables fast, extremely precise and almost silent focusing. The camera’s profile is complemented by numerous setting options from full manual control to automatic functions and an intuitive handling concept.

“All this, together with its elegant and stylish design, makes the Leica X2 the ideal premium-class compact camera for discerning photographers who wish to concentrate completely on their subjects and appreciate creative and true-to-life pictures.”

All three cameras will be available from authorised Leica dealers – the X2 and V-Lux 40 are both available now, while the M Monochrom will be available from the end of July.

If grey is the colour of our times, then the Leica M Monochrom will pick up every shade, thanks to its dedicated black-and-white sensor.