Panasonic 8-18 mm lens

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Panasonic has announced a new Micro Four Thirds zoom lens, the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18 mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH., the equivalent of a 16-36 mm lens in full format.

The lens features Panasonic’s Nano Surface Coating technology to minimize ghosting and flaring. The lens also boasts a rugged, dust/splash-proof design and is freeze-proof.

Filter size is 67 mm.

Comprised of 15 elements in 10 groups, the lens system features an aspherical ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lens, three aspherical lenses, two ED lenses and an UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index) lens. The use of these lenses, according to Panasonic, effectively suppresses spherical distortion or chromatic aberration to achieve high resolution and contrast from centre to corners.

The company also notes the new lens excels in video recording performance. In addition to silent operation achieved by an inner focus drive system, the micro-step drive system in the aperture control section helps the camera to smoothly capture brightness changes when zooming or panning. The optical design achieves exceptional barycentric stability to minimize image shifts during zooming, says the company, which also notes the AF tracking performance when zooming is also improved thanks to high-speed frame analysis for focus control.

Leica M10

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leica-m10Let’s let the folks at Leica lead things off with an overview of the new M10. It, they say, “embodies the essence of everything that is truly important for photography like no other camera before.” My!

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts. With a top plate depth of 33.75 mm, four mm less than that of its close relative, the Leica M (Typ 240), the M10 is the slimmest digital M.

The rangefinder’s field of view has been enlarged by 30 percent and the magnification factor has been increased to 0.73. Eye-relief – the optimum distance of the eye from the viewfinder eyepiece – has also been increased, by 50 percent, making it much more comfortable to use, particularly for photographers who wear glasses.

Inside the smaller body is a 24-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor developed especially for this camera, with “significant improvements” in all parameters relevant to imaging performance: dynamic range, contrast rendition, sharpness, and resolution. Its pixel and microlens architecture enables a particularly large aperture – even rays of light arriving at the sensor from oblique angles are precisely captured by its photodiodes, notes the company; this has been further improved in comparison with the previous generation. The glass cover plate of the sensor acts as an infrared cut-off filter and thus also avoids undesirable refraction of incoming light by additional layers of glass. There’s no low-pass filter.

Thanks to the new design of the sensor, the ISO sensitivity range has been expanded, now allowing exposures at values between ISO 100 and 50,000 with considerably improved noise characteristics at higher ISO settings.

The camera sports the latest-generation Maestro II image processor, a 2 GB buffer memory and offers sequential shooting at up to 5 frames per second at full resolution. The M10 is the fastest M-Camera ever made, says the company.

In addition to this, the processor allows the loupe function to be freely positioned for even better assessment of sharpness. This new function can be used not only on the camera’s monitor screen, but also in conjunction with the Visoflex electronic viewfinder (EVF) with 2.4-megapixel resolution. The viewfinder features a swivel function for shooting from unusual angles and an integrated GPS module that can be switched in for geotagging image files.

The controls on the camera’s back are limited to the joystick control and just three buttons for Play, Live View and Menu. The M10 also offers a freely-configurable Favourites Menu for the definition of a profile of personally relevant functions.

One of the most distinctive features of the M10 is the ISO setting dial on the top plate. For the first time in a digital Leica M, all essential shooting parameters such as focusing, aperture, shutter speed and ISO value can be selected manually without using the menu – or even switching on the camera.

The M10 is the first M-Camera with integrated WLAN connectivity. This enables fast, wireless transfer of pictures to Apple mobile devices. The Leica M-App also enables the direct transfer of RAW data in DNG format to mobile devices for further processing with suitable apps from iOS Version 10.2. The M10 can also be remotely controlled by WLAN from a smartphone or tablet.

The Leica M10 is available now.

Panasonic 12-60 mm lens

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pansonic-12-60-lensPanasonic has a new standard zoom digital interchangeable lens, the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH. / POWER O.I.S. (equivalent: 24-120 mm), the first lens in what the company says is the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-4.0 Series.

Designed for both stills and video, all of the lenses in this series feature a 9-blade diaphragm to give the aperture a rounded shape for an attractively smooth effect in out-of-focus areas when shooting at larger aperture settings. All lenses also use Panasonic’s Nano Surface Coating technology to minimize ghosts and flaring. They boast a rugged, dust/splash-proof design and are even freeze-proof to withstand professional use under harsh conditions.

The 12-60 mm lens comprises 14 elements in 12 groups, and features four aspherical lenses and two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lenses to suppress spherical distortion or chromatic aberration.

The POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) effectively compensates for blurring, says the company, making it easy to shoot even in dim lighting. The lens works with the Dual I.S. (Image Stabilizer), 5-axis Dual I.S., and 5-axis Dual I.S.2 systems when mounted on an applicable Lumix mirrorless cameras.

The linear motor enables the camera to comply with the sensor drive at 240 fps to take full advantage of cameras with high-speed, high-precision Contrast AF.

Notably, says Panasonic, the new lens excels in video recording performance. In addition to the silent operation achieved by the inner focus drive system, the micro-step drive system in the aperture control section helps the camera to smoothly catch up to brightness changes when zooming or panning. The optical design achieves exceptional barycentric stability to minimize image shifts during zooming. The AF tracking performance in zooming is also improved thanks to high-speed frame analysis for focus control.

Panasonic says the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-4.0 Series lineup will expand with additional lenses; an 8-18mm (16-36 mm equivalent) and 50-200 mm (100-400 mm equivalent) are presently under development.

Leica TL

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leica-tlBuilding on the Leica T camera system, the Leica TL embraces all its features and adds to them. One of these is the doubling of the size of its internal buffer memory to 32 GB. Other new features are improved autofocus, especially in AF-C mode, and optimized compatibility with lenses from other Leica camera systems. For instance, the TL supports SL lenses with OIS and allows the use of R-System lenses in combination with the R-Adapter L. A new Leica TL app offers additional options for sharing pictures by email or on social networks and is now available for Android as well as iOS devices.

The TL will in available in three colour options: silver and black (identical in design and construction), while the titanium-coloured option is distinguished by a bevelled edge (chamfer) to the top and bottom plates.

In combination with its high-performance image processor, the APS-C-format CMOS image sensor of the TL is said to guarantee exceptional imaging quality and deliver brilliant pictures with outstanding contrast, finest detail resolution and natural colour rendition.

leica-tl-topThe TL-System currently has six lenses: the Leica Summicron-TL 23 mm f/2 ASPH. and the Summilux-TL 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH., and the APO­Macro-Elmarit-TL 60 mm f/2.8 ASPH.; Leica Super-Vario­Elmar-TL 11–23 mm f/3.5–4.5 ASPH., Vario-Elmar-TL 18–56 mm f/3.5–5.6 ASPH. and APO-Vario-Elmar-TL 55–135 mm f/3.5–4.5 ASPH.

Each camera body is machined from a single block of aluminum in the Leica factory.

The ‘control centre’ is a 3.7-­inch touchscreen display. Numerous functions in capture and playback mode can be controlled simply by touching the screen. The only other controls are four ergonomically positioned control elements. The freely configurable MyCamera menu offers even greater flexibility, even in spontaneous snapshot situations. This means the photographer always has fast access to the most frequently used features and personalised presets, says Leica.

Thanks to its integrated WiFi module and the function for setting up its own mobile hotspot, the TL can transfer stills and videos by WLAN to smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop PCs and allows users to share their pictures and films by email, on Facebook or other social networks. A free Leica TL app for iOS and Android devices is available with the release of the camera. The company notes a particularly practical feature of the app is the remote function. This lets users connect a smartphone or tablet to the camera by WLAN as an electronic viewfinder for the TL and offers remote control of shutter speed and aperture settings.

The camera shoots JPEG stills and HD MP4 video.

Leica 28 mm lens

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leica-28-mmEverything old is new again. Here’s the new Leica Summaron-M 28 mm f/5.6, looking just like the original, manufactured from 1955 (screw mount) until 1963. The optical design and mechanical construction are identical to those of its predecessor.

It sports an exceptionally short length of less than two centimetres, a clearly laid out depth of field scale and long focus throw for precise pre-focusing.

The optical design of 6 elements in 4 groups is identical to that of its ancestor. The historic optical design of the original lens has remained completely unchanged, says the company. However, the outward appearance of the new lens has been harmonized with the contemporary looks of the current portfolio of Leica M-Lenses. This applies to the Leica M bayonet mount with 6-bit coding, the shape of the focusing lock button, the diameter of the aperture ring and the style of the knurling on the barrel and rings. The style and construction of the lens hood reflects the original.

The lens is made in Germany and assembled in an elaborate process entirely by hand. Therefore, if you want one, you’ll have to pre-order it, and wait. Leica says that, “due to the strong demand, long delivery times must be taken into account, especially in the first few months.”

Leica M-D

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With phantom lens
With phantom lens

Film cameras didn’t have LCDs, early digital cameras didn’t have them, but now LCDs have become ubiquitous. Except for the new digital Leica M-D rangefinder, which doesn’t have a monitor screen. Shades of the Leica M film cameras.

The Leica M-D is the first serial production model of the digital M family to be made without a monitor screen. The usual location of the screen on the back of the camera is now taken by the ISO sensitivity setting dial.

Although the M-D embodies the entire range of technical advantages perfected over decades in the Leica rangefinder system, says the company, it intentionally omits all but the most essential technical features. All you get is shutter speed dial, aperture adjustment, focusing (manual), and ISO adjustment.

LCD conspicuously absent
LCD conspicuously absent

This, says Leica, concentrates your thinking on the essential, i.e. the picture.

The technical features of the M-D are based on those of the Leica M (Typ 262), including a high-resolution CMOS full-frame sensor, albeit one which doesn’t do video recording nor Live View.

Resolution is 24-megapixels. The processor is Leica’s Maestro. Exposures are saved exclusively as RAW data in DNG format.

Available now. If you have to ask the price, as the saying goes . . .

Leica 90–280 mm lens

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Leica 90 280The latest addition to the Leica SL system lens portfolio is the APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8-4, which slots in neatly after the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90 mm f/2.8–4 ASPH lens.

The company says the new lens will impress you with its “outstanding optical and mechanical precision.”

It features integrated optical image stabilization (OIS) worth up to 3.5 stops.

This zoom is an entirely new design and with dual internal focusing for fast and quiet autofocus and constantly high imaging performance throughout the zoom range, says Leica.

Closest focusing is 0.6 m at 90 mm and 1.4 m at 280 mm, and a reproduction ratio of 1:4.8 to 1:5.

The lens is sealed against dust, splash-proof and features a detachable tripod plate for easier handling.

The lens’ design comprises 23 elements (in seven moving groups), seven of which are made from glasses with anomalous partial dispersion for minimizing chromatic aberrations. The movement of the two focusing elements is provided by a newly developed drive concept with linear positioning of the lenses by stepping motors. A special feature of this is that the overall length of the lens does not change when either focusing or zooming. The hood supplied with the lens suppresses undesirable reflections and stray light and prevents flare.

A lockable rotating tripod collar allows the lens to be fixed at any angle. The collar has detents every 90 degrees.

The Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8-4 lens will be available almost immediately.

Leica X-U

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Leica-X-ULeica has unveiled the Leica X-U (Typ 113), its first model designed specifically for extreme outdoor and underwater use. So, it’s waterproof, shock-resistant, winterized, and dust-sealed.

It uses an APS-C format CMOS sensor of 16.5-megapixels, and a fixed Leica Summilux 23 mm f/1.7 ASPH lens. Leica notes that with its rugged underwater protection filter, the fully waterproofed camera guarantees pictures with exceptional brightness and clarity under even the harshest conditions and at depths of up to 49 feet.

Although all settings and features can each be changed individually, the options for automatic functions and the high-resolution, 3-inch LCD monitor help photographers find the precise settings in seconds, notes the company. The underwater snapshot button makes it easy to capture an image at the press of a button, without having to search through a menu.

Made in Germany in collaboration with Audi Design, the stylish and minimal design of the Leica X-U is said to ensure easy, intuitive handling and ultimate precision. The sleek, eye-catching camera features a top plate made from premium aluminum and an anti-slip TPE protective armour. Control dials are also aluminum. There’s an integrated flash above the lens. The X-U’s non-slip body features a hardened protective cover for the monitor screen, with a failsafe double locking system for the battery compartment and memory card slot.

The full HD video function of the camera records video in a choice of 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 pixel resolution at 30 frames per second in MP4 video format.

The Leica X-U (Typ 113) apparently will be available by the end of January.

Three Leica M lenses

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Summicron-M 35 mm f2 ASPH, now also in silver
Summicron-M 35 mm f/2 ASPH, now also in silver

Leica has introduced next-generation models of three of its classic M lenses: the Leica M Summicron-M 35 mm f/2 ASPH, Leica Summicron-M 28 mm f/2 ASPH and Leica Elmarit-M 28 mm f/2.8 ASPH. Leica says each delivers enhanced image performance and quality, thanks to new optical designs.

Additional improvements to the lenses include a more robust construction, now featuring a full metal rectangular lens hood with thread mount, and a threaded protection ring for the front of the lens when the hood is not attached. The lens cap is now also made of metal.

Summicron-M 28 mm f2 ASPH
Summicron-M 28 mm f/2 ASPH

The 35 mm prime lens delivers superior image performance and a unique bokeh, notes the company. Images are said to be pin-sharp with rich contrast, and almost completely free from distortion. The optical design has seven elements in five groups, and the lens weighs 252 g without hood and lens caps. The lens will be available in either black or silver anodized finish.

At its maximum aperture, the 28 mm f/2 is said to deliver rich contrast, a soft and smooth bokeh, and extremely high resolution. Improvements within the optical design in this new generation lens have made it possible to achieve superior image performance across the entire image field, Leica says. There’s also significant reduction of image field curvature for better resolution of details from corner to corner. The lens has nine elements in six groups and weighs 257 g without hood and caps.

Elmarit-M 28 mm f2.8 ASPH
Elmarit-M 28 mm f/2.8 ASPH

Leica says the 28 mm f/2.8 lens is the most compact lens in the entire portfolio of Leica M lenses. Compared to the previous model, this new generation lens offers significantly reduced image field curvature, which brings considerably improved image performance with high resolution and brilliant resolution of details, the company says. Leica says the lens is practically distortion-free from infinity to its closest focusing distance of 0.7 m. This lens has eight elements in six groups and weighs 175 g without hood and caps.

While there’s been no official word on Canadian pricing or availability, the lenses likely will be available by the beginning of February.

Leica M (Typ 262)

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Leica M Typ 262There is a direct ancestral link between the circa-1954 Leica M3 I used many years ago to the Leica M (Typ 262) just announced by Leica. Granted, the new camera is digital and the M3 was a 35 mm film camera, but the new model looks similar, also is a rangefinder, and uses the same lens mount.

The Typ 262 joins the Leica M and M-P (Typ 240) and the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246).

The company says the new M (Typ 262) “represents Leica M photography in its purest form, concentrating on the most essential features.” It is being described as the entry-level model, although that won’t mean inexpensive.

As with the other digital M cameras, the Typ 262 features a high-resolution CMOS full-frame sensor, designed exclusively for rangefinder photography, but excludes video recording and Live View. The 24-megapixel sensor delivers exceptional image quality and extreme sensitivity, says Leica. The camera’s Maestro processor guarantees fast processing of captured images, adds the company.

The top plate is made from durable aluminum, making the camera about 100 g lighter, and even more ergonomic than its sister models. The words ’Made in Germany’ are engraved on the back of the camera. Further differences include a smaller Leica logo and a ‘step’ at the end of the top plate, which are both features reminiscent of the design of the Leica M9.

Leica says the Typ 262’s shutter is barely audible. The camera features a shutter cocking system that is considerably quieter in single exposure mode than that of the Typ 240, and enables a shutter release frequency of up to two frames per second. In continuous mode, the Typ 262 has the same sequential shooting speed as its sister model and shoots up to three frames per second.

Word has it the camera will start shipping before the end of November.