Just pick up an old SLR in a charity shop. I picked up a Pentax MX with a 50/1.7 lens for £15 the other day, new batteries for a couple of quid and a roll of Kodak BW400CN or Ilford 400 XP2 that goes through the standard lab C41 process. It is worth a try to see what “real” B&W can do. Total outlay around £30 and you get 36 prints from it. I’m not a big fan of digital black and white conversions as they never seem to really have to punch that film B&W does but each to their own.
Are there other B&W cameras other than the Leica? Anyway, to get B&W to work you need a lot of contrast naturally in the picture, it is easier with people than with landscapes. To get more punch in the phots try fiddling with the white balance before converting to black and white, you can get it ridiculously off and get the conversions to look better. In the olden days you’d use green filters for example to help with skin tones and orange filters to get clouds to appear. Experiment! Some extra grain might even help set the mood.
That’s a really good idea – I will try that, thanks. As for film, I sort of inherited quite a few film cameras, including a leica. But I must admit, the convenience of digital suits me at the moment (with 2 small children and no childcare yet). I would like to go back to it when I have more time though.