Leica recently announced a new digital camera that is actually quite interesting. The M Monochrom is a digital rangefinder that captures exclusively in black-and-white. It's in the same body as their popular M9, but the innards are a bit different.
The M Monochrom is interesting because it's different. It's both classic and modern. It's a one-trick pony, but, boy, what a trick!
Because the sensor doesn't require an anti-aliasing or bayer filter, you get more resolution, more sharpness, and less digital noise. If you primarily make black-and-white photographs, the M Monochrom is an amazing tool to have.
But it comes with a price: an MSRP of $8,000!
There is another camera that is able to do what the M Monochrome does but better: the Nikon D800E. Yes, the D800E is not a strictly black-and-white camera, but so what? With a retail price about 60% less than the Leica, it seems like a much more practical choice.
Another alternative is the Fuji X-Pro1, which has an MSRP about 80% less than the Leica. It would be very hard to spot the differences in images created with these two cameras. The cameras themselves even look similar, but the Fuji has many more bells-and-whistles.
Leica owners tend to be passionate about their equipment, and surely there are enough of them for Leica to make a profit from the M Monochrom. And there will be some people with money to spare who will buy the new camera just for the novelty of it. But I really doubt the camera will prove to be practical for the vast majority of photographers.
Still, I like the idea of a digital black-and-white camera. Maybe another camera manufacturer will produce a cheaper equivalent camera in the near future.