1. Welcome to Mu-43.com—a friendly Micro 4/3 camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

EM1 monochrom idea

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by tomO2013, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    I've been shooting some film recently and it's gotten me thinking again - possibly/probably this idea is massively driven by nostalgia (I still have an Olympus Trip that I shoot with TriX400).
    However knowing full well that it would be a niche product and as such it would command somewhat of a premium over the non-niche version of the EM1. I would absolutely love for Olympus to provide a niche monochrom EM1 camera. Yes I know that it's possible to shoot with the B&W scene mode enabled (I sometimes shoot in grainy / gritty mode or whatever it's called so that I can pre-visualize in B&W as I'm taking a shot).
    Removing the bayer filter though (while limiting the camera to pure B&W functionality) would massively expand it's low light and resolution capabilities beyond what they are today. Leica have taken this approach with the M Monochrom, but it is reserved for the very wealthy. A poor mans monochrom would work very well for most people and coupled with the excellent set of m43 lenses, would make for a beautiful black and white shooting experience.
    I know there were rumors of a Samsung NX variant with monochrom capabilities...
    It's just a thought....
  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I suspect that it would sell poorly and Olympus is no in a financial position to play around with these things.
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
  3. jeffryscott

    jeffryscott Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 2, 2010
    There is a certain appeal to something like that, but practical it is not in this reality.

    I vaguely remember rumors of some sort of anniversary model and I've fantasized about a digital OM-1 or 3, pure manual, using OM lenses. I know it won't happen, and know it makes no sense, but make it monochrome and how cool would that be? Buying a real OM-1 or 3 and Tri-X would be much cheaper though.
  4. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I see this idea thrown about from time to time. I've looked at the files from the monochrome only cameras or the Sigma DP cameras.

    There is a slight difference in the image rendering, but not enough for me to drop everything and pay for it.

    The B&W conversion process I have with my current cameras works well and I and others have no real complaints about the B&W I produce.

    If you want to pre visualize in B&W, you can always shoot RAW + JPG.

    I appreciate the flexibility that shooting in camera provides and processing to B&W later.

    As others have said, I'm sure the financial aspect also plays into it with other camera makers, not just Olympus.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  5. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Of course you guys are 100% right. It is only wishful thinking on my part. I find it strange that Leica is the only company that has attempted such a market strategy and embraced the niche. Perhaps their high margins and loyal customer base make it a less risky strategy.
  6. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I took a few shots with a Leica Monochrom recently and on looking at the files later, I wasn't blown away by them at all. A mono conversion from a Bayer-sensor works pretty well. The DP1 Merrill OTOH seems to generate very nice mono conversions with excellent micro-contrast.
  7. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
  8. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
  9. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I thought the Monochrome sounded like a great idea (apart from the cost) when I first heard about it but then I came to learn that there were some interesting hidden drawbacks. The first is that one thing the Bayer filter does is give you 3 colour channels which is actually an advantage when it comes to highlights since you can recover a fair bit successfully provided you don't blow all 3 channels. There's only one channel with a monochrome sensor and if you blow your highlights then they're blown. You have no leeway for recovery with blown highlights. The other interesting thing is that the Bayer filter reduces the sensitivity of the sensor so you end up with a slower base ISO setting. You lose that also with a monochrome sensor so if you want slow exposures in good light then you're going to find even more use/need for a strong ND filter but it also has to be said that the gain in sensor sensitivity is an advantage if you like shooting in low light.

    The other thing about the Bayer filter and converting images to black and white is that you have control over the colour channels which gives you a fair bit more flexibility in altering the tonal response and doing things like darkening or lightening skies or adjusting skin tones than you have with a monochrome sensor where your only control over those things is the use of colour filters like we needed to do back in the days of black and white film.

    Those aren't insurmountable problems by any means but it does mean that you have to expose a bit differently than you would with a camera with a Bayer filter on the sensor. Despite all that I could still be tempted by a monochrome sensor micro four thirds body at a reasonable price.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. andyw

    andyw Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 27, 2010
    Surrey. UK
    To keep costs down they could do a mono version of the GM1 or a modern take (mono version) of the classic GF-1. The E-M1 is still £899 body only here in the UK so a mono version would be around £1500 at a guess. If they did a small, simple body with half a decent grip for about £600 then I would deff get one providing the camera would do a similar process that the Leica does. I have played with the Leica Monochrome and it's a real dream of a camera for me but at over £6000 it's way way out of my financial league. The connection Panasonic has with Leica could mean transfer of information to be easy between the companies and a reasonably priced M4/3 Mono camera body. We live in hope!
  11. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Instead of an EM1, they could do an EM10 to keep the cost down.
  12. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Phase One Achromatic+

    I've been saving up for a Leica Monochrom for almost a year now.. I got to compare its resulting files with a B&W conversion workflow that I use with my Leica M9. Local shop had a demo. The Monochrom blew me away... The samples I've seen posted online are equally as impressive... Its subtle.. is it worth it? that's a different discussion.

    Leica works closely with a relatively small manufacturer (Trusense Imaging) to produce the sensor for the Monochrom which is based on the CCD found in the M9. That's part of the reason for the high cost of the Monochrom. This is also why I highly doubt that this type of technical information will be shared with Panasonic or anyone else for that matter. There is even some doubt as to the next generation of Leica Monochrom as Leica's latest M's are CMOS based.

    I would surmise that Olympus buys their sensors in bulk to keep the cost down. They couldn't do that for a niche product that uses a monochrome sensor.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  13. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I think it would be very interesting to play around with a MonoChrom. A cheaper E-M1 or E-M10 based one would be great. There is just something about seeing images in B&W as you shoot that makes the experience just... different. It's hard to explain.

    That being said, it would be hard to justify manufacturing or purchasing such a camera.
  14. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Unless you're Leica and can sell M Monochrom bodies for $7200, it'd be a poor decision for Olympus financially to pull off something like this, especially considering they're not in the greatest financial position to even risk such a venture. The market for a B&W only camera, no matter how good, is very limited Even with the M Monochrome, you can get very similar results using a Ricoh GR. Exact no, but close enough that for most people, the difference in price of $6600 (plus thousands more for a Leica lens) may not really be worth it. Just a thought.
  15. andyw

    andyw Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 27, 2010
    Surrey. UK
    I can see more chance that Olympus would do a monochrome camera body even though Panasonic have the obvious good relationship with Leica. Either will do for me but I just think Olympus would do a better job.
  16. "Massively expand" might be overstating things just a bit.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Who knew there would be hyperbole on the internet. :p 
  18. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
  19. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    OM-D's have 2 B&W modes; iirc only one is in the Art or Scene menu:
    Grainy B&W

    See above; the EVF and LCD will be in B&W in both those modes.

    (I know this is not the same as removing the Bayer filter)

    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  20. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Thanks but no thanks.

    I would not be interested in repurchasing various red, orange, yellow, green, and blue filters that can have a great effect on B&W images. Nor would I want to care, maintain and carry such gear when I went out to shoot.

    And without the red, green, and blues in the original file I don’t see how it would be possible to post process a B&W similar to using colored filters.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.