Besides celebrating the official opening of the new headquarters of Leica Camera AG., Leica surprised everyone with the introduction of several new items.
First on the list is a new, non-electronic film (yes, film!) camera, the Leica M-A. It emphasizes the continued commitment of Leica to no digital cameras and keeps them solidly as the only major camera manufacturer to do so.
Next is the new LEICA SUMMILUX-M 28 mm f/1.4 ASPH,. One of the fastest 28mm lenses on the market. Little else is known at this time, but we will report on this new lens as soon as additional information is available.
Not to be outdone by wide angle photography, another new introduction was the LEICA MACRO-ELMAR-M 90 mm f/4 and the LEICA MACRO-ADAPTER-M. The official Leica press release states:
With the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4, Leica Camera AG presents a new, collapsible macro lens for the Leica M-System. As in the case of the previous generation of this lens, its performance has been optimised to cover the entire working range, from infinity to the closest macro focusing distance. This makes the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 ideal not only as a moderate, universal telephoto lens, but also as a macro lens with exceptional imaging performance at close focusing distances. For example, in combination with the new Leica Macro- Adapter-M, specially designed and constructed for use with the Live View function of the Leica M, it allows photographers to capture spectacular close-up exposures at a reproduction ratio of up to 1:2.
The Leica Macro-Adapter-M is designed to be mounted between the camera and the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4. Its integrated helical screw system allows a variable extension of the lens of between 18 and 30 mm and thus enables the variation of the reproduction ratio. When mounted on the adapter, the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 can also be used in its collapsed position for exposures up to infinity. Thanks to a new locking function, this allows photographers to set any distance from 41 cm (reproduction ratio 1:2) to infinity without having to dismount the adapter.
As the Macro-Adapter-M is also compatible with other M lenses, it offers Leica M photographers an even wider range of opportunities for creative composition and additional variety in reportage portfolios. With Leica lenses from 50 mm and greater, it enables macro exposures up to a reproduction ratio of 1:2 and, with wide-angle lenses, even larger ratios. The lens-to-subject distance decreases with decreasing focal lengths. The use of the adapter with 28, 35 or 50 mm lenses creates fascinating effects. The short distance from the subject creates extremely distorted perspectives and highly selective sharpness. Because, in contrast to a macro lens design, the imaging performance of these lenses is not optimised for such close focusing distances, it is advisable to stop them down by one or two aperture values. The use of the Macro-Adapter-M with lenses with focal lengths of less than 28 mm is not recommended, as the lens-to-subject distance must be extremely short to allow correct focusing.
Without the adapter, the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 is an extremely versatile telephoto lens – for example, for portraits with shallow depth of field and in travel photography for capturing details in landscapes. For reportage photography, the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 allows photographers to capture discreet shots at a greater distance from their subjects. In comparison, the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 is a compact and lightweight alternative to existing Leica M-Lenses of this focal length. When not in use, the lens can be collapsed to save valuable space in the camera bag.
The optical design of the new Leica-Macro Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 comprises four lens elements in four groups. Its imaging performance is very good across the entire image field. Even wide open, at f/4, the lens delivers near optimum performance. This high imaging performance is preserved almost completely in its closest focusing range. The only significant effect of stopping the lens down is an increase in the depth of focus.
The Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 and the Leica Macro-Adapter-M will be available from June 2014.
In addition, there are the Leica M Edition 100: Leica M-A and Leica Monochrom in Stainless Steel. The pure non-electronic Leica M-A is based on the LEICA MP.
All of the visible metal parts both of the Leica M-A and the Leica Monochrom are made of solid stainless steel. In addition, there is a set of three Summilux lenses with 28, 35 and 50mm focal length. The Leica M Edition 100 is limited to 101 pieces worldwide.
The official Leica press release states:
This year, Leica Camera AG is celebrating 100 years of Leica photography. On the occasion of this special anniversary, the company has already announced two special centennial editions – the Leica S Edition 100 and the Leica D-Lux 6 Edition 100. And now, a uniquely special highlight will be presented in the course of the official opening celebration for the new Leica headquarters in the Leitz Park complex in Wetzlar on 23 May 2014: the Leica M Edition 100.
As the first Leica special edition of its kind, the Leica M Edition 100 brings together a purely mechanical rangefinder camera for film photography – the Leica M-A – with a digital M (Leica M Monochrom) in one set. The combination of these two cameras is unique. Its symbolic character as an homage to the beginnings of Leica 35 mm photography and, in particular, to black-and-white photography makes the centennial edition truly special. This applies, above all, to its high-quality construction and finish: for the first time ever, both Leica cameras and the lenses in this set are made from solid stainless steel.
Both cameras stand as symbols for the origins of Leica photography and the present day. The Leica M-A, with technical specifications based on the currently available Leica MP film camera, is a direct descendent of the Ur-Leica. Many of the elements Oskar Barnack invented for the Ur-Leica are revisited in this new camera. These include the fabric focal-plane shutter, the accessory shoe and removable baseplate – and of course it is built for using film. Alternatively, the second camera, a Leica M Monochrom, is the contemporary variation of the theme composed a century ago by Oskar Barnack. As the world’s first camera conceived exclusively for black-and-white 35 mm digital photography, and featuring a sensor specifically designed for this purpose, it carries the traditions of black-and-white photography into the digital age and sets entirely new standards of imaging quality.
Alongside the exclusive combination of products, above all the premium finish is one of the outstanding features of the Leica M Edition 100. This is the first time that stainless steel – a material that is extremely difficult to work with – has been employed for the visible metallic elements of Leica products. A special protective coating applied by a Swiss company protects the exposed surfaces against finger marks. Resistant and durable in equal measure, this material guarantees enduring value preservation and lends the products a refined character with a silky sheen. The premium appearance of both camera bodies is further complemented by the application of a special black leather trim.
The set also includes three Leica Summilux-M lenses with focal lengths of 28, 35 and 50 mm. Renowned for their combination of extremely compact size, speed and exceptional imaging quality, they ideally reflect the characteristic performance criteria with which Leica lenses contributed to the establishment of the brand as a legend. The M centennial set will be supplied in a black anodized aluminium case constructed by Rimowa especially for Leica. Inside, the case is subdivided into compartments precisely tailored to the individual components of the set and lined with real leather in black. The set also includes Kodak TRI-X 400 black-and-white film for use with the M-A. This film is considered a classic in the genres of art photography and reportage and is still renowned and extremely popular for its unmistakable look in prints. Special engraving on the top plate of the body commemorates the centennial, as do the unique serial numbers that end with the four digits of the years between 1914 and 2014.
The Leica M Edition 100 is strictly limited to 101 sets for the entire global market. The cameras and lenses will be available exclusively as sets from Leica Stores and Boutiques from June 2014; none of the items contained in the sets will be available as separate items.
More news to follow...