Is the new Pixii Max the best option for color AND black-and-white photography? (2024)

By Sebastian Oakley

published

Could the new Pixii Max rangefinder be the best solution for photographers wanting the best of both worlds?

Is the new Pixii Max the best option for color AND black-and-white photography? (1)

We're still awaiting the full specs of the new Pixii Max rangefinder camera, though it sounds like I hit the nail on the head when I wrote what I wanted to see from it.

However, one confirmed spec got me thinking more about the system – and how it could be the one and only camera for photographers who want a true monochrome camera (Monochrom, if you're a Leica user) that can also shoot color.

I'm not a very technical person, but getting a genuine monochrome image from a camera that also shoots color with a Bayer filter sensor hasn't been 'truly' possible before – until Pixii did so with its Monochrome camera, which can also shoot color.

Well, now this technology has been further developed and integrated into its latest offering, with its new 24MP full-frame sensor. And it got me thinking: could this be the best all-in-one for those who want authentic monochrome images while also having the opportunity to shoot color?

As a photographer who has been shooting exclusively in black-and-white for over a year, and someone who only shoots black-and-white film with my Leica M2, I can say there are times that I just want to shoot color and times when I want a true black-and-white experience – like shooting on the Leica M11 Monochrom.

But thanks to some clever tech, Pixii Camera has managed to merge the two in an exciting and possibly industry-leading way. Basically, Pixii explains that all camera sensors are born monochrome, and at the silicon level each sensor pixel-counts the intensity of light – basically "seeing" in shades of grey, before the Bayer filter is added to record color.

Because of this, Pixii managed to engineer the quantity of light that can hit a defined pixel on the sensor through the Bayer filter – enabling Pixii to recreate the response of the underlying monochrome sensor, which then produces a true 16-bit monochrome RAW DNG image.

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Is the new Pixii Max the best option for color AND black-and-white photography? (3)

It all sounds like complete wizardry to me, but it would enable many photographers like myself that want true monochrome images, while also having the benefit of shooting color by simply sliding a slider within the camera app on your phone towards either Mono or Bayer (for color images)

Pixii also acknowledged that there is a slight trade-off for this magical sensor when you look at the FAQs on its website, and I've included the full Q&A below to help offer clarity:

Q: "But I shall only be able to attain the ultimate performance with a monochrome-only sensor, right?!"

Pixii

: "Sure. All other things being equal, a non-Bayer sensor gives you that extra stop of sensitivity at the same gain level and a tad more resolution as well. Please consider also that the camera itself is only part of the equation and that, without equally performant lenses, this little bit of extra performance can easily be lost. You just need to decide whether the marginal performance increase justifies buying another dedicated ."

Is the new Pixii Max the best option for color AND black-and-white photography? (4)

Maybe this is a bit of a marketing spin to make you invest your hard-earned cash into the Pixii system rather than blowing it all on a new Leica M11 Monochrom. But the Pixii Max does something that Leicas currently can't: it takes true 16-bit RAW DNG monochrome images, while also shooting true color images at a moment's notice.

I'd love to get my hands on one to fully test this theory of mine out, as I see it would mean I'm only carrying one camera round, rather than two if I want to shoot a day full of color and black-and-white. Yes, I can just change the color profile to Black and White on my Leica – but that's not true monochrome!

So if anyone at Pixii Camera is reading this, or anyone who knows people at Pixii, then send them this article – I want to get my hands on a Max and see this awesome feature in the flesh!

You might be interested in the best cameras for black and white photography, or perhaps the best film cameras, or maybe even the best rangefinder cameras.

Is the new Pixii Max the best option for color AND black-and-white photography? (5)

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Is the new Pixii Max the best option for color AND black-and-white photography? (7)

Sebastian Oakley

Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specializing in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound, and many more for various advertising campaigns, books, and pre/post-event highlights.

He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science, and is a Master of Arts in Publishing. He is a member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected into BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association.

He is familiar with and shows great interest in street, medium, and large format photography with products by Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa, and Sinar. Sebastian has also used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI, and everything in between. He now spends his spare time using his trusted Leica M-E or Leica M2 shooting Street photography or general life as he sees it, usually in Black and White.

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Is the new Pixii Max the best option for color AND black-and-white photography? (2024)

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