New Leica M Monochrom, X2 and V-LUX 40 Cameras; a Lens and Other Goodies

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Leica has always been at the forefront of the camera industry in regard to design and performance. Its unequaled combination of German design and precision with regard to imaging quality illustrates how it continuously pushes boundaries in a refined and respectable manner. The new cameras that have just been released include the first black-and-white full frame sensor digital camera, a highly compact and well-performing camera and an easy-to-use point and shoot. Even more, Leica has also announced the development of a new M-mount lens and a lens adapter that lets photographer use Hasselblad H-system lenses on Leica S camera bodies. These new products show Leica’s commitment to remain at the precipice of technology while still keeping one foot solidly planted in tradition and history.

Leica M Monochrom

A highly unique and ultimately fine-tuned machine, the Leica M Monochrom is the first full frame black-and-white digital camera. This camera revolves around an 18 megapixel full frame 23.9 x 35.8mm CCD sensor that can only see and process in black-and-white. The benefits of creating a sensor so specialized in application is that it delivers unparalleled image quality and sharpness. By removing the sensor’s ability to process color, light is broken down into more simple values of light. Each pixel garners the qualities of having distinguishable, objective brightness values and subsequently results in images that have outstanding sharpness and natural brilliance. The CCD sensor also provides exceptionally low noise levels, even when photographing at a maximum ISO of 10000. All of this, combined with Leica’s line of M-mount lenses, strives to produce image quality that could only be expected from cameras with a significantly larger medium-format sensor.

The level of detail attainable by this newly designed sensor is complemented by a raw data histogram for the most exacting control of luminance variances. Since the data being received by the sensor is raw, unprocessed and uninterpolated, users will have the utmost control over the resulting appearance of files. There is also a parameter-clipping warning that is integral to gaining the maximum in control over this technology; this warning enables you confine your exposures well within the already extended dynamic range possible.

Since this camera’s design revolves around monochrome imagery, it clearly takes into consideration toning capabilities that are characteristic to analog black-and-white printing. You can apply sepia, selenium or cool toning capabilities directly to your imagery, all of which are refined against the look of a darkroom printed silver gelatin print.

In keeping with Leica’s mission to produce highly capable cameras that are also aesthetically pleasing, this camera is nearly indistinguishable from Leica’s famed line of M cameras. The body features a matte-black chrome top cover and a lower portion laminated with soft, tactile leatherette. Both of these materials suggest discretion and luxury, which is even further elevated by having the camera’s name appear only once, engraved on the accessory shoe. An optional handgrip is also available to allow for a better grip on the body while keeping in line with the same black chrome and leather trim finish.

The M Monochrom comes packaged with Silver Efex Pro, a unique and powerful black-and-white imaging tool. This software has been designed specifically for handling monochrome imagery and revolves around darkroom-inspired tools and functions. This program has the ability to emulate more than 20 different black-and-white emulsion types to hark back to classic chemical processes.

Taking yet another page from analog black-and-white photography, Leica offers purchasers of the M Monochrom an exclusive service that provides chemically developed black-and-white fiber prints of images created with this camera. In cooperation with the Whitewall processing lab, users can obtain silver gelatin prints of their photographs on genuine fiber barite paper. This service will initially be available only to M Monochrom users, allowing them to work in direct connection with Whitewall Lab. Purchasers of the camera will also receive an original fiber barite print by Jacob Aue Sobol, of Magnum, from a Leica M Monochrom campaign.

Leica X2

The Leica X2 is the successor to the Leica X1 and improves upon its design by incorporating a newly designed sensor, providing the ability to use an optional EVF, the inclusion of a pop-up flash, and featuring a refined design including leather trim and full-metal chassis. The newly developed APS-C-sized CMOS sensor features a 16.1-megapixel resolution and exhibits low image noise, high sensitivity and an extended dynamic range. Considering the size of the camera, 4.9 x 2.7 x 2”, the size of this sensor is disproportionately large and as such is capable of producing stunning imagery with great depth and detail. This sensor is further enhanced with the inclusion of a Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 (35mm equivalent) lens. This slightly wide angle lens is a classic focal length and features unparalleled sharpness and quality. A reformatted autofocus system has increased precision and speed and incorporates face detection and customizable focus segments, allowing users to concentrate more on imagery and less on toiling with camera settings. Lastly, Leica has improved upon the already well-realized design of the X1 and has further aligned the X2 to be more reminiscent of their benchmark M-series.

Available in either silver or black, the X2’s all-metal chassis and leather trim provide stability and heft while maintaining a compact form. In terms of functional design, the ability to quickly oscillate between fully manual or automatic shooting is paramount and helps to separate this camera from typical point and shoots. Users can easily modify aperture and shutter speeds via the physical dials on the top of the camera body and can further manipulate the look of photos through menu settings. Live view is supported on the 2.7-inch rear LCD for clear monitoring and playback, and an optional EVF can provide high resolution, eye-level viewing.

Also available in Silver

Leica V-LUX 40

The friendliest of the newly introduced cameras, the Leica V-LUX 40 is a highly capable imaging device in a highly compact size. This camera features a 1/2.33-inch CMOS sensor with an effective resolution of 14.1 megapixels. This newly developed sensor enables extended low-light sensitivity to ISO 3200 and an increase in image quality when compared to its predecessor, the V-LUX 30. In front of the sensor is a Leica DC-Vario-Elmar 4.3-86mm f/3.3-6.4 lens (24-480mm equivalent). This 20x zoom lens provides a wide variety of focal lengths, suitable for almost any situation. Additionally, the lens incorporates aspherical elements for increased resolution as well as reduction in aberrations and distortion. Full HD movie recording is supported in the AVCHD 1080/50p format as well as the Internet-friendly MP4 file format. A continuous shooting rate of 10 fps in full resolution or up to 60 fps in high-speed mode makes this an ideal camera for carrying on the go or bringing to sporting events. An integrated GPS module has also been incorporated into the design and automatically embeds locational information into the metadata of your images, allowing you to plot your routes on maps after returning home. Creative modes like miniature world, retro and panorama also lend a more fun functionality to this camera. Menu navigation, image playback and live view monitoring is possible on the 3” 460K dot rear touch-screen LCD. For post-processing work, Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Adobe Premiere 10 are bundled with the camera.

Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH Lens

In addition to the newly announced cameras, Leica has also introduced a new M-mount lens, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. This lens follows the long-lasting tradition of combining clarity, contrast and detail across the entire spectrum of apertures, including the wide maximum aperture of 1:2.0. The design of the lens has been optimized for the highest level of sharpness no matter the subject distance or aperture being used, and also contributes to producing highly aesthetic bokeh. This normal-length lens has an apochromatic correction feature which helps to suppress errors in color reproduction and minimize color fringing. The benefits of this correction enable photographers to gain reliably sharp and consistent imagery, especially noticeable when making large prints. Also helping to reduce flare, a built-in lens hood has been incorporated into the design and can be extended and retracted by simply rotating. Also included with this lens are a milled brass lens cap, rear cap and leather case.

Leica S-Adapter H

The S-Adapter H will allow Leica S2 owners to use Hasselblad H-system lenses with the S2 or S-P cameras. This adapter will support automatic diaphragm capabilities, both auto and manual focusing abilities, and give focus indication when working in manual mode. The adapter is also compatible when using the lens’s center shutter at speeds up to 1/750 sec. or the camera’s focal plane shutter at speeds up to 1/4000 sec. In addition to the new adapter being available, Leica is also issuing a firmware update for S2 camera users to allow the use of H-system lenses and improve flash synchronization at 1/125 sec. with a focal plane shutter.

  Leica M Monochrom Leica X2 Leica V-LUX 40
Camera Type Digital rangefinder Digital point and shoot Digital point and shoot
Lens Mount Leica M N/A N/A
Lens N/A Leica Elmarit 24 mm (35mm equiv.) Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3-86mm (24-480mm equiv.)
Lens Construction N/A 8 elements in 6 groups (1 aspherical lens) 12 elements in 10 groups (3 aspherical elements)
Aperture Range N/A f/2.8-16 f/3.3-6.4
Focusing Range N/A 12" / 30 cm-infinity W: 19.7” / 50 cm-infinity
T: 79” / 200 cm-infinity
Macro W: 1.2” / 3 cm-infinity
Macro T: 39.3” / 100 cm-infinity
Focusing Options N/A 1 point, 11 points, spot, face detection Face Detection, AF Tracking, multi points, 1 point, Spot, Touch Field
Optical Zoom N/A N/A 20x
Digital Zoom N/A N/A 4x
Image Sensor Monochrome CCD CMOS CMOS
Sensor Size 23.9 x 35.8mm APS-C 1/2.33"
Effective Pixels 18MP 16.1MP 15.3MP
Resolution DNG: 5212 x 3468 (18MP), JPEG: 5216 x 3472 (18MP), 3840 x 2592 (10MP), 2592 x 1728 (4.5MP), 1728 x 1152 (2MP), 1280 x 864 (1MP) JPEG in 3:2 format: 4928 × 3264 pixels (16.1MP), 4288 × 2856 pixels (12.2MP), 3264 × 2160 pixels (7.1MP), 2144 × 1424 pixels (3.1MP), 1632 × 1080 pixels (1.8MP). DNG in 3:2 format: 4944 × 3272 pixels (16.2MP) 16:9: 4320 x 2432, 3648 x 2056, 3072 x 1782, 2560 x 1440, 1920 x 1080, 640 x 360
3:2: 4320 x 2880, 3648 x 2432, 3072 x 2048, 2560 x 1712, 2048 x 1360, 640 x 424
4:3: 4320 x 3240, 3648 x 2736, 3072 x 2304, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 640 x 480
1:1: 3232 x 3232, 2736 x 2736, 2304 x 2304, 1920 x 1920, 1536 x 1536, 480 x 480
Movie Resolution N/A N/A 16:9 format AVCHD
1080 p: 1920 x 1080 (max. 29 min. per clip)
1080i: 1920 x 1080 (max. 29 min. per clip)
720 p: 1280 x 720 (max: 29 min. per clip)
MP4:
16:9: 1920 x 1080 (max. 29 min per clip)
1280 x 720 (max. 29 min. per clip)
4:3: 640 x 480 (max. 29 min per clip)
Quick Time Motion JPEG (high speed video)
3D Resolution N/A N/A 16:9: 1920 x 1080 (MPO format)
Image Formats DNG (RAW), JPEG DNG (RAW), JPEG Not specified by manufacturer
File Size DNG: 18MB (compressed), 36MB (uncompressed)
JPEG: Approx. 2-10MB
Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Color Spaces sRGB Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Memory Cards SD (up to 2GB), SDHC (up to 32GB) SD, SDHC, SDXC SD (up to 2GB), SDHC (up to 32GB), SDXC (64GB)
Internal Memory N/A Approx. 110MB Approx. 12MB
Exposure Metering Center-weighted TTL with variable aperture Smart multi-segment metering, center-weighted metering, selective (spot) metering Multi-field, Center weighted, Spot
White Balance Not specified by manufacturer Auto, halogen, daylight, flash, cloudy, shade,
electronic flash, 2 manual settings, manual
color temperature setting with fine tuning
Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, Manual setting
Sensitivity Range EV: 1-21 Auto, ISO 100-12500 Auto, ISO 100-3200
Exposure Compensation Not specified by manufacturer +/-3 EV in 1/3 steps +/-2 EV in 1/3 steps
Exposure Mode Automatic, Manual Automatic program (P), automatic aperture priority (A), automatic shutter priority (S), Manual setting (M) Program mode (P), Aperture priority (A), Shutter speed priority (S), Manual Setting (M)
Exposure Settings N/A Standard, dynamic, natural, b/w natural, b/w
high contrast
Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Panorama Shot, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Handheld Night Shot, HDR, Food, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, Sunset, High Sens., Glass Through, High Speed Video
Flash Unit Attachment Hot shoe Hot shoe N/A
Flash Sync Time 1/180 sec. Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Built-In Flash No Yes Yes
Flash Modes N/A Auto, flash exposure correction, red-eye
correction, fill-in flash, slow sync, studio, 1st /
2nd curtain sync
AUTO, AUTO with pre-flash (to reduce red-eye effect), AUTO with slower shutter speeds and pre flash, On, Off
Flash Range N/A Not specified by manufacturer W (ISO Auto): 2-21’ / 0.6-6.4 m
T (ISO Auto): 3.3-10.8’ / 1-3.3 m
Flash Exposure Metering Control with center-weighted TTL pre-flash metering Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Flash Measurement Cell 2 silicon photo diodes with collection lens on the camera
bottom
Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Flash Exposure Compensation ±3 1/3-EV in 1/3-EV steps Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Viewfinder Optical rangefinder with automatic parallax compensation N/A (optional EVF) N/A
Eyepiece Adjusted to -0.5 dpt (-3 to +3 dpt lenses optional) N/A N/A
Magnification 0.68 N/A N/A
Effective Metering Basis 47.1 mm (mechanical metering basis 69.25mm x viewfinder
magnification 0.68 times)
N/A N/A
LCD Monitor 2.5" 230 K-dot TFT-LCD 2.7" 230 K-dot TFT-LCD 3.0" 460.8 K-dot TFT-LCD touchscreen
Playback Modes Not specified by manufacturer 16 thumbnails, single frame, magnify (16 ×
max.), image rotation, deletion protection
Not specified by manufacturer
Microphone/Speaker N/A N/A Stereo/Mono
Shutter Type Microprocessor-controlled, ultra-quiet metal leaf slotted shutter
with vertical movement
Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Shutter Speeds 32-1/4000 sec., bulb (up to 240 sec.) 30-1/2000 sec. 15-1/2000 sec.
Continuous Shooting 2 fps, up to 8 frames 5 fps, up to 8 frames 10 fps, up to 10 frames
Self-Timer 2, 12 sec. Not specified by manufacturer 2, 10 sec.
GPS N/A N/A Geodetic Data System: WGS84
PictBridge N/A Not specified by manufacturer Yes
Power Supply Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, 1900 mAh 3.7 V Leica BP-DC8 rechargeable lithium-ion battery Leica BP-DC7 rechargeable lithium-ion battery, 895 mAh 3.6 V
Battery Capacity Not specified by manufacturer Approx. 450 exposures/charge Approx. 260 exposures/charge
Charger 100-240 V AC, 50/60 Hz, automatic switching, or 12/24 V
DC; Output: 4.2 V DC, 800 mA
Leica BC-D8 N/A
Construction All-metal case made of die-cast magnesium; synthetic leather
covering. Cap and base plate made of brass, black chrome finish,
sapphire glass monitor cover
Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Operating Temperature 32-104°F / 0-40°C Not specified by manufacturer 32-104°F / 0-40°C
Interface 5-pin mini-USB 2.0 HDMI out, USB 2.0 Mini HDMI (type C), USB 2.0, A/V
Languages German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Traditional
Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Russian
Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Compatibility Windows 7 SP1, Vista SP2, XP SP2
Mac OS X 10.6.8 or higher
Not specified by manufacturer Not specified by manufacturer
Dimenstions 5.5 x 1.5 x 3.2" / 13.9 x 3.7 x 8 cm 4.9 x 2.7 x 2" / 12.4 x 6.9 x 5.2 cm 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.3" / 10.5 x 5.9 x 2.8 cm
Weight 1.3 lb / 600 g 12.2 oz / 345 g 7.4 oz / 210 g