Leica 90 mm Thambar-M

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Quick, which one is the new lens? It’s the one on the right.

What’s that line: everything new is old again? Leica has reached back into its classic lens bin and come up with the Thambar-M 90 mm f/2.2, the modern version of a 1935 soft-focus lens, designed for portraiture. The optical design of its ancestor remains almost unchanged. The only difference is that the four elements in three groups that make up the design have now been single-coated to protect the glass against environmental influences and surface corrosion. The 20 blades of its iris deliver a unique bokeh with perfectly round rendition of point light sources.

The soft look of the Thambar is the result of intentionally accepted under-correction of spherical aberration. This under-correction increases towards the edges of the optical system with the consequence that not only the depth of focus, but also the degree of softening can be precisely controlled by means of the stepless aperture setting. The effect is more pronounced as apertures increase, and is continually reduced as the lens is stopped down to smaller apertures.

The design of the original lens has been almost completely preserved. The black paint finish, the proportions of the lens and its aperture engravings in red and white correspond to the appearance of the original. In addition to this, slight modifications have been made that bring the lens into line with the current, minimalist design of modern M-series lenses. These include the knurling, the lettering and scales and the specific use of sharp edges and bevelling.

The Leica Thambar-M 90 mm f/2.2 will be on sale from mid-November.


Leica TL2

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Leica has unveiled the next model in its TL series, the TL2, which the company notes are machined from a single block of aluminium (or aluminum, as we in N.Am. say).

The TL2 is equipped with a newly developed, 24-megapixel CMOS sensor in APS-C format that, in combination with an equally new Maestro II series high-performance image processor, are said to guarantee outstanding picture quality with impressive dynamic range, excellent contrast and colour rendition, exceptional sharpness and finest resolution of details.

The camera also offers various video recording modes, such as 4K (3840 x 2160p at 30 frames per second), full HD (1920 x 1080p at 60 frames per second), HD (1280 x 720p at 60 frames per second or slow motion [SLOMO] captured at 120 frames per second).

The TL2 is said to offer “enormously improved” AF speed and precision. For instance, the camera focuses sharply on subjects in around only 165 milliseconds, and thus focuses up to three times faster than the previous model. The new image processor not only plays a significant role in its faster autofocus, but also to the considerably shorter start-up time. Another new development is an electronically controlled shutter that enables silent exposures at shutter speeds up to 1/40,000 sec. and an increase in the continuous shooting rate from 7 to a maximum of 20 frames per second.

Thanks to the integrated Wi-Fi module of the TL2 and the function for setting up a mobile hotspot, pictures and video can be conveniently transferred by wireless to smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs from anywhere and then, for example, be shared by email, on Facebook, Instagram or other social media. Data can also be transferred by cable with the camera’s integrated HDMI and USB 3.0 ports. The USB port also enables recharging without a battery charger – for example from a laptop computer or an external power bank.

With the TL App available for both iOS and Android devices, smartphones or tablets become electronic viewfinders and offer remote control of various exposure-relevant parameters such as the shutter speed and aperture. The TL App also makes it much easier to capture photos and video from unusual angles, with a self-timer or with longer shutter speeds.

By grouping menu items according to related functions, the menu of the TL2 is now more clearly and logically structured and makes camera handling easier and even more intuitive than before. With the MyCamera menu, the user interface can be further personalized to meet the photographer’s preferences or particular needs.

Thanks to significantly increased reactivity and up to eight times faster response when using the 3.7-inch LCD touchscreen, camera handling is said to be even more efficient and intuitive. The only other controls are four ergonomically positioned control elements that are intuitive in their operation.

The TL2 will be offered in a choice of two different colours. The design of both the silver and black versions of the camera has been slightly revised in comparison with its predecessor. In addition to chamfered edges the body also features redesigned control elements that have been modified not only in visual style, but also provides what Leica terms “a new haptic experience” – great for those of us who get our jollies touching things.

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.