Jon Stapley lists the best cameras for black and white photography. Here’s the kit you need to shoot dramatic, unforgettable monochrome images.

When picking the best cameras for black and white photography, you’re thinking about slightly different priorities than you would be if you were shooting in full colour. Monochrome photography is a unique discipline, full of its own special challenges and rewards, and if you’re committed to shooting in this style, it makes sense to pick up a camera that is suited to it. Many manufacturers are aware that there are plenty of photographers out there who prefer to shoot in monochrome, and have kitted out their cameras with dedicated black and white modes. Indeed, some have gone the whole hog and brought out cameras that only shoot in black and white. As such, there’s lots to choose from.

We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the world of black and white cameras and find the one that’s right for you. One thing to note is that we’re only dealing with digital models – you can check out our best film guides if you’re interested in shooting black and white analogue images. All the cameras on this list are perfect for creating striking, dramatic black and white images, whether you want to shoot monochrome in-camera or convert the images later in software. If you’re interested in learning more about the process, Will Cheung’s complete guide to black and white photography is a great introduction to the key concepts.

How to choose the best cameras for black and white

So what are the priorities for picking a camera that’s going to capture fantastic black and white images? Dynamic range is of huge importance – this refers to the difference between the darkest and lightest tones in an image, and is critical if you want to create monochrome images with depth and tonality. Cameras with larger sensors offer greater dynamic range, however they are also larger and more expensive (see our guide to camera sensor sizes for more on this). Sharpness is just as important in monochrome as it is in colour, so you also may want to pick a camera with a fast, accurate autofocus system.

You may want to pick up a “true” monochrome camera – one that only shoots black and white. This will deliver the best raw monochrome image quality, but such models tend to be very expensive. Using a regular colour camera is the way most people will probably go, and many manufacturers pack their models with fantastic in-camera monochrome modes, particularly Fujifilm. The third option is to have a colour camera converted to shoot black and white images by a specialist – this is especially good if you shoot infrared photography. Check out to learn more.

With all that in mind, let’s get into the best cameras for black and white.

Best camera for black and white overall: Leica Q2 Monochrom

Best cameras for black and white photography - Leica Q2 Monochrom

Leica Q2 Monochrom. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Compact camera
  • 47.3MP full-frame monochrome sensor; 28mm f/1.7 lens
  • Up to 20 fps burst shooting with electronic shutter; 10fps mechanical
  • ISO 100 – 100,000
  • 225 autofocus points
  • Price: £5,000 / $6,195

While it is easier than ever to convert an image to black and white post-capture, a dedicated black and white camera with a monochrome sensor delivers genuine advantages. You get more detail, better dynamic range, lower noise and high ISOs. If you know you’re going to shoot in black and white exclusively, this model is well worth considering.

The Leica Q2 Monochrom is the best black and white camera you can buy. Sleek in looks and superb in handling, it’s one of the most immersive shooting experiences out there. The autofocus is excellent, though as we mentioned in our review, many enthusiasts will likely prefer to use the superb manual focusing experience that employs the focus ring and a precise focus-peaking system.

With a 47.3MP full-frame sensor and a stabilised 28mm f/1.7 lens, the Leica Q2 Monochrom delivers fantastic monochrome images. It’s ridiculously expensive, obviously, but if you can justify the outlay, it’s a camera like no other.


  • Sublime handling experience
  • Stellar image quality
  • High resolution


  • Absurdly expensive
  • 28mm is quite wide

Read why we gave the Leica Q2 Monochrom five stars

Best beginner camera for black and white photography: Fujifilm X-T30 II

Best cameras for black and white - Fujifilm X-T30 Mark ii

Fujifilm X-T30 Mark II Camera Body. Photo credit: Joshua Waller

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS IV APS-C sensor
  • Up to 30 fps burst shooting with electronic shutter (cropped), 20 fps uncropped
  • ISO 80 – 51,200 (extended)
  • 425 autofocus points
  • Price: £769 / $ 899 (body only)

The X-T30 II is a refresh of one of Fujifilm’s popular cameras in its mirrorless X series. It’s one of the best-value mirrorless cameras out there and we gave it high praise in our review. The film simulation modes on this camera will be of particular interest to black and white photographers. These fine creations do exactly what it sounds like, and allow you to emulate classic film stocks.

The Acros mode simulates the classic fine-grain film, delivering ultra-sharp images full of detail. Both this and the classic Monochrome mode can be used with red, green or yellow filters for different effects. The tactile, dial-based handling experience of the X-T30 II also feels like a throwback to film cameras of yesteryear.


  • B&W film simulation modes
  • Lots of physical controls


  • Some badly placed buttons
  • No in-body stabilisation

Read our full review of the Fujifilm X-T30 II

Best black and white rangefinder camera: Leica M10 Monochrom

Best cameras for black and white - Leica M10 Monochrom

The M10 Monochrom sports a large, bright optical viewfinder. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Digital rangefinder camera
  • 40.9MP monochrome full-frame sensor
  • 4.5 fps burst shooting
  • ISO 160 – 100,000
  • Rangefinder focusing
  • Price: £7,000 / $8,995 (body only)

The Leica M10 Monochrom is essentially a supercar. It’s unwieldy, it’s absurdly expensive and it’s only going to appeal to a tiny slice of the population. But if you count yourself among them, then this monochrome rangefinder could be the best buy you’ll ever make. As we said in our review, the experience of using this camera is incredible – that rich, high-resolution sensor captures the finest details, and the focusing experience of a rangefinder, while tricky to master, is immensely satisfying once you get it down.

With tremendous high-ISO performance and impressive dynamic range, this is some of the finest monochrome image quality it’s possible to get. Of course, as this is Leica, that comes at a cost. A quite significant cost.


  • Large viewfinder and first-class rangefinder
  • Superlative image quality


  • Even more ludicrously expensive
  • Touchscreen could be better integrated

Read our review of the Leica M10 Monochrom

Best black and white camera for travel: Panasonic Lumix GX9

Best cameras for black and white - Panasonic GX9

Panasonic GX9. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 20.3MP Four Thirds sensor
  • 9 fps burst shooting
  • ISO 160 – 25,600 (extended)
  • 49 autofocus points
  • Price: £600 / $797

One of the most enduringly popular cameras in the Lumix G mirrorless range, the Panasonic Lumix GX9 is a wonderful take-everywhere camera. It’s got an impressive tilting 1240k-dot LCD screen that makes it easy to shoot from all sorts of different angles and its autofocus system is snappy and accurate – though can sometimes struggle with moving subjects.

In our review, we highly rated the Panasonic Lumix GX9 as a street photography camera. One of the things we praised was its attractive L. Monochrome mode. This features is designed to emulate the look of black and white film, with even the option to add a grain effect. Also available is L. Monochrome D, which can be used to bring out additional detail in the darker areas of the frame.


  • Lightweight and portable
  • Arty monochrome modes
  • Large lens selection


  • AF tracking hit-and-miss
  • Controls awkward when using viewfinder

Best cheap black and white camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is an inexpensive, entry-level camera with monochrome options. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 20MP Four Thirds sensor
  • 15fps continuous shooting
  • ISO 80 – 25,600 (extended)
  • 121 autofocus points
  • Price: £649 / $699 body-only

For an affordable route into monochrome photography, we’d definitely recommend the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. It’s a Micro Four Thirds camera, meaning you’ve got loads of lenses to choose from just as with the Lumix GX9 above. Despite its small size and relatively beginner-friendly price, the E-M10 Mark Iv packs in plenty of features that see it punching above its weight, such as highly effective 5-axis stabilisation, Live Composite mode for long exposures, and more.

Monochrome-wise, the E-M10 Mark IV offers in-camera Monochrome picture modes, with the option to add colour tints as though you were using a physical filter. For images with a bit more pop, you can also use Olympus’s digital Art Filter modes in monochrome. Give your images a bit more punch with the Dramatic Tone Art Filter, or add a bit of grain for a filmic effect – it’s all there to play with.


  • Small and portable
  • Excellent monochrome JPEG quality
  • Affordable price tag


  • Smaller sensor affects dynamic range
  • Aging autofocus system

Read our Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review.

Best medium-format black and white camera: Fujifilm GFX50S II

Fujifilm GFX50S II in hand (Andy Westlake)

The Fujifilm GFX50S II is an affordable route into medium-format. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Medium format mirrorless camera
  • 51.4MP medium format sensor
  • 3fps continuous shooting
  • ISO 50 – 102,400 (extended)
  • 117 or 425 autofocus points
  • Price: £3,499 / $3,999

For monochrome photographers, digital medium format can be a great medium to explore. The stunning tonality and dynamic range offered by the larger sensor is ideal for creating rich, striking monochrome images. Also, the famous Film Simulation modes offered by Fujifilm are present and correct on the GFX 50S II. These include once again the simulation of Acros, one of Fujifilm’s most popular b&w stocks, and a more general Monochrome mode, with options for yellow, red, or green filters.

Medium format is expensive. Always has been. But the Fujifilm GFX 50S II is one of the most affordable routes into medium format, with a sub-£4,000 price that undercuts pretty much all of the competition. We couldn’t help but give it the full five stars in our review, as the image quality you get for the price is simply sublime. It’s also nowhere near as bulky and unwieldy as other medium-format systems. Granted, you’re not going to get the kind of speed in autofocus and shooting as you get with smaller-sensor system cameras, but then again, that’s not the reason anyone buys medium format.


  • Gorgeous image quality
  • Superb monochrome modes
  • Highly effective stabilisation
  • Cheaper than most medium format cameras…


  • … though still expensive
  • Slower than other cameras

Read our Fujifilm GFX50S II review.

Best black and white camera for street photography: Ricoh GR III / GR IIIx

Best cameras for black and white photography - Ricoh GRIII

Ricoh GRIII in hand. Photo credit: Michael Topham

At a glance:

  • Compact camera
  • 24.2MP APS-C sensor; 18.3mm f/2.8 (28mm equivalent) lens
  • 4 fps burst shooting
  • ISO 100 – 102,400
  • Hybrid autofocus system
  • Price: £850 / $996

The Ricoh GR III is a photographer’s camera. It’s designed for street shooting, for taking everywhere with you, and for capturing instantaneous moments – and as such, it’s ideal for dramatic, black and white imagery. It has excellent dynamic range, which also helps for monochrome shooting, and its fixed 28mm equivalent f/2.8 lens is versatile in a host of situations.

One thing to be aware of is that the GR III has no viewfinder, and also no means of attaching one. You have to be comfortable composing with the rear screen. Also, as we mentioned in our review, its autofocus can sometimes hunt in low light.

If 28mm is too wide for you, then consider also the Ricoh GR IIIx. It’s essentially an identical camera that has a 40mm equivalent lens. You can read our full, in-depth review to learn more about it.


  • Excellent touchscreen experience
  • Travel-friendly setup
  • 40mm option available


  • No viewfinder option
  • Poor AF in low light

Our review of the Ricoh GR III
Our review of the Ricoh GR IIIx

Best second-hand black and white camera: Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246)

Best camera for black and white photos - Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246)

Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246). Photo credit: Callum McInerney-Riley

At a glance:

  • Digital rangefinder camera
  • 24MP monochrome full-frame sensor
  • 4 fps burst shooting
  • ISO 320 – 100,000
  • Rangefinder focusing
  • Contemporary second-hand street price around £3,000 / $4,000

We first published our Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) review back in 2015. At that time, it was retailing for £5,750 body-only, but these days on the second-hand market, we’ve seen it going for as little as £2,879. While that’s still a chunk of change, it’s also a hell of a saving on a frankly exceptional camera.

With a dedicated monochrome sensor, this Leica rangefinder is optimised for black and white imaging, delivering exceptional dynamic range and quality. Having the Leica M mount also gives you access to some of the finest lenses money can buy.


  • Exceptional dynamic range
  • Price has come down since launch


  • Still very pricey
  • Rangefinder focusing takes practice

Read our five-star review of the Leica M Monochrom

Best black and white camera with a viewfinder: Fujifilm X-Pro3

Fujifilm X-Pro3

Fujifilm X-Pro3. Photo credit: Michael Topham

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS IV APS-C sensor
  • Up to 30 fps burst shooting with electronic shutter (cropped), 20 fps uncropped
  • ISO 80 – 51,200 (extended)
  • 425 autofocus points
  • Price: $1,799 / £1,534 /  (body only)

It takes a lot for a camera to surprise us nowadays, so our attention was immediately caught by Fujifilm’s bold X-Pro3. Its reversed, “fold-down” rear screen isn’t visible during normal shooting, encouraging the user to immerse themselves in the viewfinder experience, without the constant “chimping” at the rear screen that can plague digital photography. It essentially provides a rangefinder-style experience without the expense or difficulty of a rangefinder camera.

Does it work? That’s up to you. We loved it in our Fujifilm X-Pro3 review, but also acknowledged it won’t be for everyone. There are cheaper cameras in the Fuji stable with similar or identical imaging setups and without the handling quirks. However, the retro experience of using an X-Pro3 feels so perfectly right for black and white shooting that we simply had to include it here.


  • Immersive, rangefinder-style experience
  • Excellent B&W modes


  • “Invisible” screen won’t be for everyone
  • Cheap Fuji X options available

Read our full review of the Fujifilm X-Pro3

Best weatherproof black and white camera: Panasonic Lumix S5

Best cameras for monochrome - Panasonic Lumix S5

Panasonic Lumix S5. Photo credit: Michael Topham

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 24.2MP full-frame sensor
  • 7 fps continuous shooting
  • ISO 50 – 204,800 (extended)
  • 225 autofocus points
  • Price: $1,697 / £1,600 (body only)

Just like the Lumix GX9, the Panasonic Lumix S5 has the L.MONOCHROME designed specifically to optimise black and white shooting – only now, they’re paired up with a full-frame sensor. The Lumix S5 is capable of capturing images with the kind of hugely impressive dynamic range that’s perfect for black and white photography. It does so in a body that’s both lightweight and weatherproof.

As we mentioned in our full review, the lightness of the Lumix S5 addresses some of the criticisms users had of previous Lumix S cameras. We also had a lot of time for the 20-60mm kit lens you can buy it with, which is an excellent all-purpose optic.

Panasonic has since released an upgrade to this camera, the Panasonic Lumix S5 II, which fixes the sluggish autofocus and adds a raft of video updates. We’re sticking with the more affordable original as our pick for now, but the Mark II version is worth consideration if you have a higher budget and prioritise fast focusing.


  • Full-frame in a light body
  • Splash/dust resistant


  • Sluggish burst mode
  • Rivals have better AF

Read our full review of the Panasonic Lumix S5

Written by Jon Stapley with additional information by Joshua Waller

Are you looking to improve your black and white photography? Read more on monochrome with these articles:

How to shoot stunning black and white portraits
How to convert images to black and white in Adobe Lightroom
Black and white street photography: Tips and techniques from the experts

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