Le­ica Steals The Show

ProPhoto - - NEWS PHOTOKINA 2014 -

After all the ef­fort that went into its 100th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions and the open­ing of its new fac­tory in Wet­zlar back in May, Le­ica could have been for­given for tak­ing things easy at Pho­tok­ina. In­stead it launched the most ex­ten­sive range of new prod­ucts we’ve ever seen from the fa­mous ‘red dot’ mar­que. Count ’em… S (Typ 007), S-E, (Typ 006), M-A (Typ 127), X (Typ 113), X-E (Typ 102), D-Lux (Typ 109), V-Lux (Typ 114), M Edi­tion 60, a new range of Sum­marit-M lenses (35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm), a 100mm f2.0 lens for the S Sys­tem and the two ad­di­tion lenses for the T Sys­tem (11-23mm and 55-135mm) that were promised back at the cam­era’s launch.

OK, so let’s sort out this lit­tle lot. Firstly, Le­ica has dropped con­sec­u­tive model num­ber­ing so ev­ery­thing now just bears the pre­fix of its sys­tem (i.e. ‘S’,‘T’, ‘X’, etc), but you’ve still got to iden­tify the model hence the ‘Typ XXX’ des­ig­na­tion which, frankly, seems to be just a bit clunky. The idea is to pre­serve value in the su­per­seded model, but Le­ica is do­ing this any­way by giv­ing them a slight makeover and re-re­leas­ing them as a lower-priced ‘E’ vari­ant. So the S-E is the pre­vi­ous S (re­tain­ing the lat­ter’s Typ 006 des­ig­na­tion) and the X-E is the pre­vi­ous X (and still Typ 102). The con­sumer­level V-Lux and D-Lux fixed-lens mod­els now also

adopt this model nam­ing scheme, de­spite be­ing sourced from Pana­sonic. In­ci­den­tally, the new D-Lux is Le­ica’s ver­sion of the Lu­mix LX100 which was also a Pho­tok­ina star, com­bin­ing a Four-Thirds size sen­sor with a built-in EVF and Le­ica-ap­proved 24-75mm (35mm equiv­a­lent) zoom lens. The sen­sor has an ef­fec­tive res­o­lu­tion of 12.8 megapix­els and the EVF has a res­o­lu­tion of 2.76 megadots. It looks pretty en­tic­ing wear­ing the Pana­sonic badge, but is even more at­trac­tive as a Le­ica.

The new Typ 007 S joins the CMOS revo­lu­tion in dig­i­tal medium for­mat cam­era sys­tems, but its new sen­sor re­tains the same res­o­lu­tion as the Typ 006’s CCD. How­ever, in con­cert with a nex­tgen ‘Maestro II’ pro­ces­sor, it al­lows for a much faster con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed of 3.5 fps and it can also record 4K video. Max­i­mum sen­si­tiv­ity is equiv­a­lent to ISO 6400. The new S also has a 2.0 GB buf­fer mem­ory, a re­vised AF sys­tem with a pre­dic­tive func­tion, a built-in GPS re­ceiver and dual axis lev­el­ling dis­plays. Avail­abil­ity is from early in 2015.

Per­haps ap­pro­pri­ately as the leg­endary M Sys­tem cel­e­brates its 60th birth­day, there were some in­ter­est­ing new re­leases in this cat­e­gory. The ‘incog­nito’ M-P was an­nounced ahead of the show and it’s es­sen­tially a Typ 240 dig­i­tal M mi­nus badges, but with a big­ger 2.0 GB buf­fer mem­ory, a man­ual im­age frame se­lec­tor and a scratch-resistant sap­phire crys­tal face­plate on the mon­i­tor screen. Like the 35mm MP, the ‘Le­ica’ mark­ing on the M-P’s top plate is the orig­i­nal clas­si­cal script.

Talk­ing of the MP, Le­ica is left as the world’s largest man­u­fac­turer of 35mm film cam­eras and ac­tu­ally launched a new model at Pho­tok­ina called the M-A (Typ 127). This is the ‘road-go­ing’ ver­sion of the limited edi­tion an­nounced in the very ex­clu­sive kit to cel­e­brate the cen­te­nary, but it’s man­u­fac­tured con­ven­tion­ally rather than ma­chined from stain­less steel blocks (although it’s still hand-built). The ‘A’, by the way, stands for ‘ana­logue’. Avail­able in ei­ther black or sil­ver, the purely me­chan­i­cal M-A also has dis­creet badg­ing and is priced at $5700 for the cam­era body (which is sup­plied with some Ko­dak Tri-X 400 B&W film, also 60 years old this year).

Per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing of the new M Sys­tem mod­els though is the limited edi­tion re­leased to com­mem­o­rate the 60th an­niver­sary. It’s a dig­i­tal cam­era – es­sen­tially the M-P – but it lacks an LCD mon­i­tor screen so its op­er­a­tions are dis­tilled down to just fo­cus­ing, aper­ture, shut­ter speed and ISO. Ob­vi­ously also lack­ing any menus, the M Edi­tion 60 cap­tures only Adobe DNG RAW files. Only 600 ex­am­ples will be built and it has a stain­less steel bodyshell with an­thracite-coloured leather in­serts.

Le­ica says the M Edi­tion 60 avoids “the con­stant dis­trac­tion of tech­ni­cal fea­tures and the check­ing of menu set­tings and con­trols”, but it’s hard to see any­body ac­tu­ally us­ing such a po­ten­tially valu­able col­lec­tor’s cam­era. Room then, maybe, for a pro­duc­tion ver­sion down the track? After the M-A, any­thing is pos­si­ble from Le­ica. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.le­ica-cam­era.com

Le­ica M Edi­tion 60. Only 600 will be built.

Le­ica S (Typ 007).

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