Leica's surprise announcement of the Leica S2 pretty much blows the bubbles off every other press release coming out of Photokina, or anywhere else in the photo world as of late. Sure, reasonably priced, full-frame DSLRs are cool; but a 37.5-megapixel medium-format sensor that's 56% larger (30 x 45 mm) than the so-called competition, and in a smaller body no less, is downright awesome.
Ballyhoo aside, the Leica S2 is a gorgeous machine. Similar in style to Leica's classic R8/R9 SLR cameras, it is clean looking and understated when compared to all other DSLRs on the market. Buttons, toggles and switches are minimal and the menus displayed on the camera's 3-inch 460,000-dot LCD are as simple as those found on Leica's first DSLR venture, the Module R. The new camera, designed and built in Germany, features an all-metal body that is both dust proof and waterproof.
While frame-per-second burst rate figures haven't been released, Leica claims the new camera is twice as fast as Hasselblad's H-series cameras, which depending on the model, can capture images at a bit over one frame per second.
To complement the new camera, Leica is concurrently introducing seven bayonet-mount S series lenses that should keep everybody happy. Included in the lineup are a 24mm ultra-wide, 35mm wide, 70mm standard lens, 100mm "portrait" lens, 120mm macro, 180mm telephoto and a 30mm tilt/shift lens. Although autofocus in design (with the exception of the 30 mm tilt/shift), manual focusing with electronic focus-confirmation is also possible with each of the S-series optics. Like the S2 camera body, the new lenses are also waterproof and dust proof.
Aside from a conventional focal-plane shutter in the camera body for wider-aperture lenses, each of the Leica-S optics also contains an internal leaf shutter to enable high-speed flash sync up to 1/4000th-second.
Images can be captured in a choice of DNG, RAW and/or JPEG formats onto CompactFlash or SDHC memory cards. According to Leica, you can store up to 400 RAW-format images on a 32GB card. An optional vertical grip that features a second shutter release, control wheel and space for a second battery will also be available for the new camera. The exact price of the new camera is yet to be announced, but we strongly recommend you start saving up.
Stay tuned for a full-blown test of the Leica S2 in an upcoming newsletter. We don't know about you, but we can't wait.