Leica S

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(Okay, this is beyond the norm for the great majority of us, but it is interesting. It also will be expensive.)

The new Leica S medium-format pro camera 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.

The upgrade of the image and sensor board components has led to the increased imaging quality of the Leica S, says the company, as well as the improvement of noise characteristics, natural colour 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 colour from beginning to end of a shoot.

The sensitivity range of the sensor is extended at both ends, the lower basic ISO setting of 100 and the maximum sensitivity of ISO 1600.

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.

The upgraded autofocus module not only increases the speed, but also enhances focusing precision.

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.

Leica says the 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 (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 levelling aid (spirit level) displays its readout in the viewfinder to allow photographers to align the subject with precision in the horizontal and vertical plane without the need for external aids.

The monitor screen is 3-inches diagonal. Full sRGB color space as well as increased contrast and brightness 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 a new flash synch socket.

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.

The camera is extremely rugged and sealed against 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 synch at shutter speeds up to 1/1000th of a second.

There are eight Leica S-System lenses currently available; a wide range of medium format lenses from a number of other manufacturers can easily be mounted on the Leica S using adapters.

By the way, 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,” notes the company.

The Leica S is scheduled for December availability.

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