The weeks upon weeks of reports from the rumor-mills have once again materialized into the world of legitimacy, as Leica has just officially announced the Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH, X2 digital compact, V-Lux 40 point-and-shoot, and last but not least, the Leica M Monochrom – an 18-megapixel full-frame black and white only shooter.
Months ago, we first heard legitimate rumblings that Leica was, in fact, planning on releasing a digital rangefinder, only capable of capturing black-and-white images – a true enthusiast’s camera. Fast forward X amount of days, and countless updates later, and we now have the Leica M Monochrom – a realization of Leica’s once thought to be unlikely undertaking.
The latest addition to the M-series line of digital rangefinders packs an 18MP full-frame monochrome-only sensor, capable of outputting one pixel of data per each pixel captured, delivering “100% sharper images than with color sensors,” according to Leica. Additionally, thanks to the M Monochrom’s CCD sensor, Leica is touting the camera’s exceptional low-light performance, reporting superb noise performance up to ISO 10,000.
*Update – Here’s the first Leica M Monochrom video review, courtesy of Leica-Forum:
Also announced today and priced in that “out of reach for most” range, the $7,195.00 Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH has officially been unveiled and is set to be released alongside the M Monochrom in July. However, If your more of a budget-centric Leica shooter, the German camera and optics manufacturer also revealed the 16-megapixel APS-C size sensored X2 – a digital compact packing an Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 fixed lens priced at $2,000 and the $699.00 successor to their entry level point-and-shoot offering, The V-Lux 40. More details regarding each announcement can be found in the press releases below, after the image break.
LEICA M MONOCHROM: THE FUTURE OF BLACK-AND-WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY
Solms Germany (May 10, 2012) – Leica Camera AG presents the Leica M Monochrom, the world’s first digital camera exclusively for full-frame, 35 mm black-and-white photography. Featuring a sensor designed specifically for this purpose, the new addition to the Leica portfolio enables photographers to capture images in outstanding black-and-white quality, setting entirely new standards. The latest camera in the flagship Leica M-System, the Leica M Monochrom continues the successful story of the Leica rangefinder system, which has written numerous chapters in the history of innovative photography.
“Black-and-white photography is more popular than ever before. Even today, it has lost none of its fascination as an expressive medium, not even for younger generations of photographers. This is confirmed by the numerous monochrome images shown by members of the M-Community, who we are in constant contact with,” said Jesko von Oeynhausen, Product Manager for the M-System at Leica Camera AG. “For the first time ever, we are offering an opportunity to consistently and authentically explore black-and-white photography with the M Monochrom, a tool that is unique in the digital world. The camera’s exclusively black-and-white sensor brings an enormous technical benefit that is reflected in the amazing imaging quality it delivers.”
The 18 MP image sensor of the M Monochrom is perfectly matched to the unique properties of the Leica M-System and the superior performance of Leica M-Lenses. As the sensor does not ‘see’ colors, every pixel records true luminance values – as a result, it delivers ‘true’ black-and-white images that are significantly sharper than comparable exposures from a camera with a color-sensitive sensor.
To allow precise control of tonal values, the Leica M Monochrom offers a raw data histogram display to exhibit original, unprocessed and unmodified raw data. This, combined with a configurable clipping display, allows precise correction or optimization of exposures.
At the touch of a button, images captured by the M Monochrom can be converted with characteristic toning effects from black-and-white film photography (sepia, cold or selenium toning). All users need to do is save the image in JPEG format and select the desired toning effect – simply and conveniently, with no need for post-processing.
The classic, iconic design of the Leica M-cameras is carried forward by the Leica M Monochrom. The matte-black finish of the chromed top deck allows the camera to be an unobtrusive tool. Only an engraved script on the accessory shoe reveals the product name. The camera features particularly soft leather trim with ideal grip that perfectly complements the camera’s discreet character. The camera package also includes a genuine leather carrying strap in premium full-grain cowhide.
The M Monochrom is supplied complete with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, a professional digital workflow solution. The software is available to customers as an online download after product registration. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom offers a wide range of functions for the management, processing and presentation of digital images. For example, this software allows for the creation of simple print layouts, slide shows and photo books.
A full-version of Silver Efex Pro 2, the world’s leading black-and-white image processing software, is also included in the package. Silver Efex Pro 2 offers an impressive collection of unique and powerful, darkroom-inspired tools for the creation of high quality black-and-white images. Silver Efex Pro 2 emulates over 20 different types of black-and-white film to recreate the glory of classical black-and-white film photography. The emulation of each film type is based on the analysis of many rolls of the respective type and guarantees perfect reproduction of the characteristic look of many popular films from ISO 32 to ISO 3200.
For the production of high-quality black-and-white prints, Leica Camera AG also offers a unique service in collaboration with Whitewall. After registering their Leica M Monochrom on the Leica website, customers can have their digital images from the M Monochrom printed on premium-quality baryte paper. These prints can be ordered from Whitewall through a personal link.
From photojournalism and available light photography to discreet, artistically aesthetic, creative compositions – the Leica M Monochrom adapts flexibly to every application and enables the expression of personal photographic style and consciously creative composition. The enormous potential performance of the current M-Lens portfolio, with focal lengths from 16 to 135 mm, is also fully accessible. In line with Leica’s renowned commitment to extreme system compatibility, almost all lenses of the Leica M range built since 1954 can still be used on the M Monochrom.
All characteristic properties of the Leica rangefinder system are also present in the new Leica M Monochrom. This, for instance, also includes the system’s intuitive and discreet handling. Its manual focusing based on the combined viewfinder and rangefinder concept and aperture priority exposure mode is an aid to photographers rather than placing undesired limitations on their creative freedom. In combination with the monitor display on the back of the camera, the simple menu navigation needs only a few control elements to enable rapid access to the entire range of camera functions. Together with its compact construction, the camera’s almost silent shutter benefits discreet and unobtrusive photography. Photographers can even select the appropriate moment for re-cocking the shutter. When longer exposure times requiring an extremely steady camera stance are essential, a slight pressure on the shutter release button in ‘soft release’ mode is sufficient.
All functions of the Leica M Monochrom are constructed with extreme robustness and a long working life in mind. Its one-piece, full-metal housing, made from a high-strength magnesium alloy, and the top deck and bottom plate, machined from solid brass blanks, provide perfect protection for its precious inner mechanisms. The digital components and shutter assembly of the M Monochrom are similarly constructed with a view to a lifetime of endurance. For photographers, this provides absolute reliability over decades of use. The experienced hands of Leica technicians at the factory in Solms are responsible for the assembly and calibration of M Monochrom bodies and the precise testing of all mechanical and electrical components. Leica Customer Care has decades of experience in repairs and maintenance and therefore creates a solid foundation for long life and enduring value. Even today, the service department maintains and repairs all M-Cameras built since 1954.
The Leica M-System has played a significant role in the development of the company’s performance in recent years. The annual figures have been correspondingly positive since the launch of the Leica M9 in September 2009 and are now registering record revenues.
The Leica M Monochrom in black chrome will be available from Leica dealers including the Leica Store Washington DC beginning in late July 2012.
LEICA APO-SUMMICRON-M 50 MM F/2 ASPH.: THE NEW MILESTONE IN LENS CONSTRUCTION
Solms, Germany (May 10, 2012) – Leica Camera AG presents a new milestone in the history of lens construction: the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. With the goal of creating a lens that fully achieves the opportunities offered by high-resolution camera systems, Leica engineers have successfully redefined the limits of what is technically possible. The result is an extremely high-performance lens that sets entirely new standards and currently stands as an exceptional talent amongst the standard lenses of the Leica M portfolio.
This new reference lens achieves the best test results ever seen in the Leica M-Lens program. The MTF curves of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. that describe the contrast of fine details and, in turn, the image sharpness, confirm its outstanding performance. Even the finest details are resolved with more than 50% contrast across the entire image field. This previously unattained value confirms the exceptional positioning of this lens. All images captured with the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. in any photographic situation show extreme sharpness and resolution of details from corner to corner of the image. Additionally, the apochromatic correction of the lens minimizes chromatic aberration on sharp edges to ensure natural rendition of every detail. As a result, photographers benefit from the best possible reproduction results at any print size.
The outstanding performance of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. is founded on the perfect interaction of all its design and construction parameters, from optical calculation and choice of materials to the sophisticated and elaborate manufacturing and finishing of the lens. Together with more than 150 years of experience in the design and construction of optical instruments, Leica’s reputation as the manufacturer of the world’s best lenses is once again emphasized.
The new design of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. is based on the optical design of its predecessor that has been on the market since 1979 and is the oldest lens represented in the Leica M portfolio. The classical specifications, 50 mm focal length and a maximum aperture of f2, offered an ideal starting point for further development. As such, Leica’s expert lens designers were able to concentrate exclusively on the improvement of imaging quality within these standard specifications.
In its optical design, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. is oriented on particular features of the Summilux-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. and the Summilux-M 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH. lenses. For instance, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. also incorporates a floating element. The lens group behind the diaphragm is designed as a floating element that changes its position relative to the front group during focusing, ensuring that the lens achieves outstanding imaging quality throughout its focusing range, including at closer focusing distances.
The realization of the apochromatic correction of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. involved the use of specially formulated glasses based on original developments from the former Leitz glass laboratory. The use of such glasses requires great effort and many years of experience. As a result of the consistent advancement of optical processes, working with these high-quality glasses has been refined to such a fine art that they are integrated in the best possible quality into Leica lenses as evidenced today in the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH.
As a particularly reliable product with enduring value and made in Germany, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. is manufactured from only the best materials and is assembled in an elaborate process completely by hand at Leica’s factory in Solms. The combination of cutting-edge technologies and painstaking manufacturing procedures guarantees the consistently excellent quality of every single Leica lens.
The Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. in black finish will be available from Leica dealers including the Leica Store Washington DC from late July 2012.
LEICA X2: THE NEXT GENERATION OF THE LEICA COMPACT DIGITAL CAMERA
Solms, Germany (May 10, 2012) – Leica Camera AG presents the X2, a new addition to the X-line of compact digital cameras. Handmade at Leica’s headquarters in Germany, the Leica X2 features a new APS-C-format professional CMOS image sensor with over 16.5 megapixels (effective 16.2 MP). In combination with the high-performance Leica Elmarit 24 mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens, a classic focal length for photojournalism, this sensor ensures maximum image quality and sparkling brilliance. With its refined styling and high-performance technical features, the Leica X2 offers unsurpassed performance in a compact package.
The Leica X2’s autofocus system has also been enhanced, allowing the camera to adapt to all shooting situations with enormous flexibility and enabling fast, extremely precise and almost silent focusing. The camera’s profile is complemented by numerous setting options from full manual control to automatic functions and an intuitive handling concept. These features make the Leica X2 the ideal premium-class compact camera for discerning photographers who wish to concentrate completely on their subjects and appreciate creative and true-to-life pictures.
The CMOS image sensor of the X2 is unusually large for a camera in the compact segment. Despite its high resolution of over 16 megapixels, each individual pixel on the sensor is very large, allowing the X2 to gather more light. The resulting benefits include low image noise, a high dynamic range and accurate color differentiation. The crop factor of the sensor is 1.5 in comparison with 35-mm film format, meaning that the Leica Elmarit 24 mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens of the Leica X2 becomes a universal reportage lens with an effective 35-mm-equivalent focal length of 36 millimeters. This is considered to be a classic focal length amongst prime lenses and has captured innumerable iconic images. The moderate wide-angle character and natural rendition of dimensions by the high-performance lens of the X2 open up a broad spectrum of different options for capturing those decisive moments in outstanding, authentic and richly detailed picture quality.
As a result of its simple operating concept, the Leica X2 offers clearly laid-out functions and intuitive handling. At the same time, it offers an impressive range of automatic and versatile manual setting options. Thanks to the ease of switching between manual and automatic control, photographers can concentrate completely on composing their subjects and choosing the decisive instant to shoot in any situation. The dials on the top deck provide grip when setting the shutter speed and aperture. Moreover, changing the plane of focus, the white balance and other imaging parameters allows photographers to consciously influence the look or mood of their images. In live view mode, the generously sized high-contrast 2.7″ monitor offers photographers complete control at all times and a bright and detailed view, even in strong light.
The features offered by the Leica X2 provide greater creative freedom and a wide range of photographic options. For instance, the Leica X2’s large sensor and fast lens make it ideal for shooting in available light. The camera also features a pop-up flash that can be activated whenever an additional light source is required. If more lighting power and flexibility are required, the accessory shoe of the X2 offers full compatibility with the Leica SF 24D and SF 58 system flash units.
The Leica X2 is characterized by clear lines and an intensely focused design concept. The linearity of its design and its compact, handy form are reminiscent of the Leica M-cameras. This, in combination with its robust, all-metal construction and premium, high-grip leather trim makes the X2 a classic Leica camera in both looks and feel. The camera is available in a discreet black or elegant silver finish.
An extensive range of accessories is also available to adapt the Leica X2 to each photographer’s individual photographic needs and style. A new offering is the Viso-Flex high-resolution electronic accessory finder with 1.4 megapixels and a 90° swivel function for shooting from unusual angles. Also available is a bright-line mirror finder that can be mounted on the accessory shoe and ensures a bright and clear view at all times, with no drain on the camera battery. An accessory handgrip increases the hold and stability of the camera and makes it easier to shoot one-handed. Leica continues to offer a comprehensive range of bags and cases: a premium-quality black leather case to match the elegance of the X2, an ergonomically designed camera protector in untreated leather, an ever-ready case in organically tanned cowhide to protect the camera during use and a system bag that offers more room for the camera and a range of accessories.
Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom®, a professional digital workflow solution for Apple Mac® OS X and Microsoft Windows®, is also included in the X2 package. This digital image processing software offers a wide range of functions for the management, processing and presentation of digital images. Leica X2 customers can download the software free from the Leica website after registering their camera.
The Leica X2 is available now through Leica dealers including the Leica Store Washington DC. The optional accessories will be available after the market launch of the camera.
LEICA V-LUX 40: COMPACT CAMERA WITH AN EXTENSIVE RANGE OF FEATURES
Solms, Germany (May 10, 2012) – Leica Camera AG presents the V-Lux 40, a new addition to Leica’s digital compact camera portfolio. Incorporating numerous new features in comparison with its predecessor, the Leica V-Lux 30, this latest model offers greater performance of its 15.3-megapixel (effective 14.1 MP), 1/2.33″ CMOS sensor and a Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3–86 mm f/3.3–6.4 ASPH. lens with a zoom range now extended to 20×. As a result of the broadened range of focal lengths, now equivalent to 24 to 480 mm in 35-mm format, the Leica V-Lux 40 is a much more versatile camera. In addition, the LCD touch screen ensures the fast and simple handling of the camera. Its compact design, comprehensive functions and additional features, such as an integrated GPS module or video recording in full HD quality, make the V-Lux 40 the ideal companion for capturing lasting memories whether traveling the world or enjoying time with family at home.
The Leica V-Lux 40’s new 15.3-megapixel (effective 14.1 MP), 1/2.33″ CMOS image sensor guarantees outstanding picture quality in all situations. It enables a higher dynamic range as well as particularly low-noise images at sensitivities up to ISO 3200. In comparison to its predecessor, the Leica V-Lux 40 now offers significantly improved image quality, even in low light. Additionally, an autofocus speed of 0.1 seconds enables even faster focusing on moving subjects.
The enormous range of focal lengths covered by the V-Lux 40’s Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3–86 mm f/3.3–6.4 ASPH. zoom lens (equivalent to 24 to 480 millimeters in 35-mm format) makes it ideal for almost all photographic situations. For expansive landscapes, finely detailed macro studies at short distances or for shots of distant objects with its super-telephoto setting, this Leica lens with high-precision aspherical lenses and an image stabilizer delivers outstanding results for all still images and video recordings.
The Leica V-Lux 40 offers a comprehensive range of camera functions. Users can choose from a diverse selection of creative imaging options, from a continuous shooting rate of ten frames per second at full resolution and 60 frames per second in high-speed mode, to creative modes with effects like miniature, panorama and retro.
Ideal for capturing video, the Leica V-Lux 40’s entire 20× zoom range is available during recording. In addition, an integrated stereo microphone with an electronic wind noise filter guarantees a crystal-clear soundtrack. Videos can now also be saved in Internet-friendly MP4 format and uploaded directly to social media or mobile devices, for example, without any need for conversion.
An integrated GPS module completes the list of features and functions offered by the V-Lux 40, allowing users to save the geographical coordinates and local time of every shot captured in the Exif data of the image files.* In addition, the camera can display the sightseeing highlights of the immediate neighborhood (1,000,000 so-called ‘points of interest’). A DVD included in the package contains maps of important cities and regions. After transfer to an SD memory card, these can be uploaded to the camera and used for orientation in unfamiliar places. Photos can be stored in the maps as thumbnail images.
The new design of the Leica V-Lux 40 is dominated by classic black. Chromed elements set contrasting accents and complement the camera’s refined and timelessly elegant look. Particularly easy handling is ensured by a large, 3-inch LCD touch screen that allows users to select or set numerous functions in capture and review mode simply by touching controls displayed on the monitor screen. This oversized screen has a diagonal of 7.5 centimeters and its resolution of 460,000 pixels displays images with outstanding brilliance. As a result, the Leica V-Lux 40 is an ideal tool for reliable and precise assessment of images both during composition and after capture.
The Leica V-Lux 40 is available now from Leica dealers including the Leica Store Washington DC. The camera is supplied with an extensive software package comprised of Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 10 for still-image processing and Adobe® Premiere® Elements 10, designed especially for video processing. A strong and resilient leather case is also available as an optional extra.
* It is possible that GPS tagging may not function in the People’s Republic of China and neighboring regions. Satellite signal reception may be impossible, depending on the location. In such cases, the positioning data may be recorded inaccurately or not at all.