As top-end still cameras add more and more multi-media functionality, Leica has launched a camera that does a lot less. The promise of course being that what it does do, it does very well. The Leica M Monochrom (the clue is in the title) is the first digital camera to shoot only in black and white.

Leica claims that excusing the camera - a new variant of the M9 rangefinder, first launched in 2009 - of colour duties means that the sensor can concentrate on dealing with light and shade, making for sharper images with much less noise. (And what noise there is, says Leica, is a finer, better sort of noise).

Given that most photographers shooting digitally work in colour before converting to black and white during processing, the M Monochrom is a genuinely radical proposition. But it shares the M9’s rugged construction and good looks with matt black chrome top plate and super soft leather trim. And like all M-class Leicas, the M Monochrom is built like a battleship.

Leica has also launched the Leica M9-P ‘Edition Hermès’, the third special edition it has produced with the French fashion brand. It comes with an ochre leather trim and an even more pared down and elegant body design. The Edition Hermés will be available in two limited edition sets.