Leica released not one, but three high-end cameras in Photokina, the M-E, the M, and the new S. Out of the three, the new M is the most revolutionary since it is the first Leica M series to use a CMOS sensor instead of a CCD sensor.
One thing that is different with Leica’s naming scheme is that they are not adding a number after the model. So the M will not be known as the M10, and the S will not be known as the S3. I guess we will have to call it M (2012) or M (10th generation)
As mentioned above, the new M is revolutionary because it will be the first time that Leica is going to use a 24MP CMOS full-frame sensor instead of a CCD sensor. The manufacturer is a small Belgium company called Cmosis. With this CMOS sensor, Leica will for the first time offer Live View and 1080p HD video recording. The great thing about this Live View mode, however, is that you can use Live View Focus Peaking and Live View Zoom to manually focus. Other highlights include ISO 200-6400 and the ability to use Leica M– and R-lenses.
The 3” LCD screen has 920k dot resolution and is protected by Corning ® Gorilla ® Glass. Finally, the new M will also be using the Leica Maestro image processor from the Leica S2 medium format camera.
The M will be available in black or chrome in the early 2013 for $6,950.
The Leica M-E is a stripped down version of the previous generation Leica M9 with an 18MP CCD full-frame sensor. At $5,450, it is the most “affordable” M rangefinder in Leica’s history. It does have a smaller LCD screen than the M, with only 2.5” screen and 230k dot resolution. The ISO range is limited to ISO160-2500, as well.
Leica says that it is limiting the M-E’s to only essential photographic functions like manual focus, shutter priority, and aperture priority, and manual mode. The Leica M-E will be available September 2012 for $5,450.
The new and improved Leica S medium format camera uses the same 37.5MP sensor, but now has double the memory buffer at 2GB that can process up to 32 RAW consecutive images. The ISO range has been increased from ISO100-1600. It is also the only medium format camera that will have a built-in GPS module.
The screen is similar to the Leica M, as well, with a 3” diagonal size and 920k dot resolution and a Corning ® Gorilla ® Glass protection. The Leica S is priced at $21,950.
There will be a super-limited edition of the Leica M that will be up for a charity auction. The major deal with this Leica M is that it will be designed the legendary Apple designer, Jonathan Ive, and that there will only be one unit made. Anyone want to start a group pool for it?
Apple Leica mock-up
This won’t be the first time that Leica reached out to a star designer from another industry. The Leica M9 Titanium was designed by AUDI/VW designer Walter de’Silva. It only cost $31,300. Yes, $31,300, not $13,300.
Leica M9 Titanium by Walter de’Silva
NEW: THE Leica M
The perfection of digital rangefinder technology
Solms, Germany (September 17, 2012) – Leica Camera presents a groundbreaking milestone in the nearly 60 year history of the Leica rangefinder system: The Leica M. Setting entirely new standards, the Leica M unites the ultimate in rangefinder precision with cutting edge digital technology. As the first camera to implement a newly designed CMOS image sensor and to feature additional focusing methods and functions such as Live View and Full HD video capability, it is the most versatile Leica rangefinder model ever. Remaining true to the legendary values of the M-System, the Leica M not only provides the advantages of rangefinder photography, but also for the first time, offers compatibility with Leica R legacy lenses. As with every innovation and development since the flagship line’s inception, the Leica M was created to capture fleeting moments of time and transform them into living history.
The Leica M also marks the beginning of a new era in the Leica product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the enduring and long-term significance of the respective systems.
In every respect, the new Leica M is the most innovative and versatile model the modern M-System has ever created. Looking to the future, the Leica M is the first in a long line of Leica rangefinder cameras to feature a completely new development in sensor technology; the Leica Max CMOS image sensor. This 24 MP, full 35 mm format sensor was designed and constructed in collaboration with CMOSIS especially for the camera and its use with M- and R-Lenses. This new development successfully transfers the characteristic advantages of CCD sensors, such as natural and brilliant color rendition and impressive reproduction of details, to a CMOS sensor.
In combination with the high-performance Leica Maestro processor that is also employed in Leica S cameras, this new full format sensor guarantees maximum imaging quality and speed. Now, all elements in the image creation chain, from the lens to the image file, are under complete control of the Leica engineers. This guarantees the ultimate in imaging performance and quality. An additional highlight is the low power consumption of the components that, in conjunction with the particularly high capacity of the battery, ensures outstanding performance over a long period of use.
In 1954, the launch of the M-System opened new horizons in reportage and artistic photography. Now at the dawn of a new era in the system’s technology, the Leica M offers a multitude of new features. The first of these are Live View and Live View Focus. Image composition can now take place in real time with the view of the subject through the lens. The sharpness, exposure and color content of images can now be precisely assessed on the camera’s large, 3-inch, high-resolution monitor screen with 920,000 pixels. The glass covering plate of the monitor screen is manufactured from particularly tough and scratch-resistant Corning®Gorilla®Glass. The new Live View function allows photographers to have access to entirely new opportunities that, in combination with the outstanding performance of Leica M– and R-Lenses, go far beyond the classical capabilities of rangefinder photography. This applies particularly to macro and telephoto photography, but also allows even more discreet shooting. In combination with M- and R-Lenses, the camera’s new 1080p Full HD video capability also opens up further opportunities to record memories as they happen.
Ever in pursuit of capturing Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Decisive Moment,” the Leica M offers two additional focusing methods that can be activated quickly and easily with the new focus button. M-Photographers now have even more options for capturing outstandingly sharp images. The new ‘Live View Zoom’ option enables up to 10 x magnification for precise assessment of the sharpness of subject details or the close focusing limit. The second aid to focusing is ‘Live View Focus Peaking’. Here, contours in the subject are automatically displayed as red lines to allow simple and convenient focus assessment. Focusing precision can be assessed on the basis of the intensity of the lines displayed.
The Leica M’s features are optimally combined with the typical values of the Leica rangefinder system and guarantee the accustomed dependability of the Leica M in all photographic situations, from available light photography to discreet and aesthetic fine-art image composition. In line with the principles of the M-Philosophy, all functions and features are designed and constructed for absolute robustness and a long working life. The top deck and the base plate of the Leica M are machined from solid brass blanks and the full-metal chassis is a completely self-contained diecast element manufactured from high-strength magnesium alloy. Special rubber seals protect the camera body against dust, spray and moisture.
The new rangefinder camera is also a typical M due to its intuitive handling concept with direct manual setting options and fast access to functions. The enhanced layout and particular user-friendliness of the menu interface guarantees a clear and uncomplicated overview of all camera settings at all times. Dedicated button controls have been provided for the Live View and new focusing functions. Live View Zoom and Live View Focus Peaking can be selected with the new focus button on the front of the camera. User profiles can be programmed with any camera and shooting settings, stored under an arbitrary name. They can be accessed quickly whenever required for particular situations and can now also be saved to an SD memory card. For increased comfort in use and harkening to the film advance lever of Leica film cameras, the Leica M now provides an ergonomically formed thumb rest with an integrated setting dial at the top right on the back of the top deck. This ensures that the camera can be held securely in even the most demanding situations.
A wide range of optional accessories is also available for the new Leica M. A particular highlight of the range is a new Leica R-Adapter M that allows almost all R-Lenses ever built to be mounted on the camera. The use of Leica R-System lenses now opens up vast new possibilities for zoom, telephoto and macro photography.
Further accessories are the Leica EVF2, Visoflex electronic viewfinder and a multifunctional handgrip-M with an integrated GPS module that, in combination with optional finger loops in various sizes (S, M and L), helps to ensure safe and steady handling of the camera and lens system. The range also includes a Leica Microphone Adapter set for perfect sound with video recordings.
The Leica M will be available from Leica dealers, including the Leica Store Washington DC, in early 2013 in a choice of black paint or silver chrome finish.
NEW: THE Leica M-E
The fascination of M-Photography reduced to essentials
Solms, Germany (September 17, 2012) – Leica Camera presents a new model in the Leica rangefinder system, the Leica M-E. Possessing the high level of technology perfected in the nearly six decades since the M-System’s introduction, the Leica M-E represents the essence of rangefinder photography. Rather than offering all that is technically possible, it is limited to only those functions that create a better image. These essentials include the M-System’s typical rapid manual focusing with the viewfinder/rangefinder and the focusing ring of the lens, as well as the option of selecting automatically determined or manually set shutter speeds. It is the ideal entry-level model for photographers wishing to experience the fascination of M-Photography or require a secondary camera that performs at an optimum level without fail.
Advantages of rangefinder photography include the ability for photographers to become a part of the action and frame whatever they wish to capture in the viewfinder, while still perceiving what is going on outside the viewfinder frame. The crucial moment becomes predictable, and can thus be captured at precisely the right instant. Featuring the proven, high-resolution, 18 MP CCD sensor in full 35 mm format, the Leica M-E offers maximum imaging quality. Perfectly attuned to its role in the extremely compact M-System and the superior performance of M-Lenses, this particular sensor type possesses a high sensitivity to light. These characteristics lead to an unmistakably individual kind of photography.
The Leica M-E’s most distinctive feature is a minimalistic, purist, design statement. The top deck and base plate are discreetly finished in unobtrusive anthracite grey. The application of a new leather trim with enhanced grip characteristics ideally complements the camera’s timeless design.
The Leica M-System portfolio provides perfect tools for capturing a moment discretely, silently and without hesitation, allowing photographers to become a part of the scene. Together with the new Leica M and the Leica M Monochrom, the world’s first digital black and white camera in 35 mm format, the latest digital generation of the Leica M now offers three rangefinder cameras.
Additionally, the Leica M-E package includes the latest version of Leica Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to assist photographers with viewing, editing and managing digital images. The Leica M-E is available now from Leica dealers, including the Leica Store Washington DC.
About the Leica M-System
Since 1954, the Leica M system has stood for an unmistakable, individual kind of photography and a very conscious photographic style. Because, with a Leica M, the photographer becomes a part of the action in the process of capturing challenging and creative images. The rangefinder frames precisely the shot the photographer envisages while allowing a clear view of what is going on outside the viewfinder frame. This allows the photographer to predict the decisive moment and capture it discreetly and reliably at the right moment – in all fields, from photojournalism and ‘available light’ exposures to discreet and aesthetic fine-art images. The functions of the Leica M rangefinder camera are consistently constructed for extreme robustness and a long working life. Highest quality materials, elaborate manufacturing processes and painstaking manual assembly guarantee functional reliability for decades to come. Full backward system compatibility – almost all lenses of the Leica M range built since 1954 can still be used on the latest M camera models – is an important factor in the enduring value of the M series.
NEW: LEICA S
The synthesis of optimum imaging quality, perfect handling and outstanding speed
Solms, Germany (September 17, 2012) – Leica Camera presents a new camera in the Leica S- System portfolio, a revolutionary digital camera concept to meet supreme professional requirements. The next generation in the successful line, the Leica S offers increased imaging quality and sensor sensitivity, predictive autofocus, higher speed and improved handling. Numerous enhanced functions contribute to the camera’s further acceleration and greater security of the professional photographic workflow. In addition to the new camera body, three lenses have been added to the S-System portfolio, significantly expanding the capabilities of the system: the Leica Super-Elmar-S 24 mm f/3.5 ASPH. super-wide, the Leica Vario-Elmar-S 30-90 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. and the Leica TS-APO- Elmar-S 120 mm f/5.6 ASPH. tilt/shift lens.
“This expansion of the system is further confirmation that the dedicated digital concept of the S- System sets new standards in the world of medium format photography while providing the speed and handling of a 35 mm SLR,” said Stephan Schulz, Head of Professional Imaging at Leica Camera AG. “In terms of its rugged resilience, reliability and versatility, the new Leica S is the first choice for photographers who refuse to make compromises.”
New Image And Sensor Board For More Quality And Higher Speed
One of the most remarkable innovations in the Leica S is its new image and sensor board. The upgrade of these electronic components has led to the increased imaging quality of the Leica S, as well as the improvement of noise characteristics, natural color rendition and the precision of its white balance. The latter function has now been extended to include a ‘Grey Card’ option that allows photographers to shoot a subject with a neutral grey area, such as a grey card, and define the white balance determined as a reference for all following photos to ensure a consistently precise color mood from beginning to end of a shoot. The extended sensitivity range of the sensor at both ends gives photographers more freedom of choice in the selection of exposure parameters. For example, the lower basic ISO setting of 100 allows longer working at maximum aperture in extremely bright conditions, while the maximum sensitivity of ISO 1600 enables them to capture noise-free images even under difficult lighting conditions. In addition, the double buffer memory of 2 GB and support of transfer rates up to 166 MB/s enables photographers to shoot continuous sequences of more than twice as many (up to 32) consecutive images in RAW format, at a full resolution of 37.5 MP. There is no limit to the number of consecutive images that may be captured in JPEG format. Images can be saved parallel to the original files in a choice of 37.5, 9.3 and 2.3 megapixels to provide photographers with a preview of the work in progress straight from the camera at the desired resolution.
Fast, Predictive Autofocus Module For Subjects In Motion
The upgraded autofocus module not only increases the speed, but also enhances focusing precision. In combination with its fascinating imaging quality, the Leica S sets new standards for professional action photography. To ensure that moving subjects remain sharp and can be swiftly tracked, the Leica S features a predictive autofocus. The camera compares past movements of the subject and computes the location of the subject at the time of exposure. The autofocus locks on to this computed point before the shutter release is pressed.
GPS System And Leveling Aid For Precision And Uncomplicated Workflows
The Leica S is the only professional camera to feature an integrated GPS module that can add the geographical positioning data of the exposure location to the Exif data of an image whenever necessary. This function allows the precise synchronization of the system time (internal clock) for any worldwide location where satellite signals can be received. With software (the professional image administration and processing tool, Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 4 is supplied with the camera), every image can be shown on a map and tagged with a location name that can be used to locate the image in the future. The new dual-axis leveling aid (spirit level) displays its readout in the viewfinder to allow photographers to align the subject with absolute precision in the horizontal and vertical plane without the need for external aids.
The monitor screen offers a resolution of 920,000 pixels, a 3″ diagonal and full sRGB color space, as well as increased contrast and brightness to allow for greater precision when assessing images. The glass covering plate of the monitor screen is manufactured from tough, scratch-resistant Corning®Gorilla®Glass. The increased viewfinder coverage of 98 percent, additional information displayed in the viewfinder, optimization of the camera menu and a softer rubber coating for better grip all make the new camera easy to handle. Significantly faster navigation in the camera menu is now possible with the new integrated joystick control located on the back. Greater security in the control of studio flash systems is afforded by the new LEMO flash sync socket.
Advantages Of The S-System
The new Leica S possesses all the standard quality characteristics of the S-System including the large (30 x 45 mm) Leica Pro Format sensor and its microlens layer that guarantees consistently uniform brightness from corner to corner. Resembling all S-Lenses, the camera is extremely rugged and sealed against environmental influences such as dust and rain. The unique dual shutter concept offers photographers the choice of using the camera’s fast focal plane shutter or the central shutter of CS-version lenses that allows flash sync at shutter speeds up to 1/1000th of a second. The eight Leica S-System lenses currently available (five of which will also be available with a central shutter) offer photographers all focal lengths and a first-class tilt/shift lens. Furthermore, a wide range of medium format lenses from a number of other manufacturers can easily be mounted on the Leica S using adapters such as the S-Adapter H, which allows the use of Hasselblad H-Lenses with full support of all functions including autofocus, central shutter control and automatic aperture control.
Photographers never face compromises when they choose a Leica S due to details such as secure cable connections, multifunctional memory card slots, further improved energy efficiency and scratch resistant monitor glass. The Leica S stands alone as an ideal and extremely reliable tool for achieving maximum quality results both in the studio and on location, under even the most unfavorable conditions.
Together with the new Leica M, the Leica S marks the beginning of a new era in Leica’s product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the long-term significance and enduring value of the respective systems.
Purchase of the Leica S includes the Leica Protection Plan, offering photographers an extended warranty for a period of three years, as well as a replacement camera during repair. The Leica S will be available from select Leica dealers, including the Leica Store Washington DC, beginning in December 2012.