Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Leica or Leica-like?

There is a new kid in town, and it is a Panasonic Leica lens, also known as the Leica 15/1.7 Summilux for the m4/3 mirrorless format, so a 30mm eq.

It will be the ideal companion of the GM1, that we reviewed lately, since it is a v. small lens. Although not a pancake it will be sold in kit soon with the GM1, said Panasonic.

At the moment there are no photo samples, but if we go by the resolution chart and compare it to the best, it will be outstanding:

It has excellent resolution to the very edges, contrast, and good bokeh.

It has also an aperture ring which is useful for reaching good DOF in the Street. It also has good metal construction, which should confer sturdiness, and neat aperture clcks.

Yes, but Purists will object,  still this is not a true Leica, since it is not made by Leica of Solms for the Full Frame 35mm Leica M. 

True. However on April 24th Leica will launch a new line of ILS. The Leica T  typ 701 will be a mirrorless camera made by Panasonic with 16 Mpx and an APS-C sensor, like other cameras on the market. However it will have a $ 3000 price tag., body only, two or three times as much as the best mirrorless. That's Leica quality, assuredly. 

Keep in mind that an M typ 240 model runs in the $ 6800 without a lens! 

Now Leica introduced the mirrorless small sensored Vario last year for $ 2500, but it was a fixed lens camera. Now it's taking a bolder step: mirrorless, small sensor and interchangeable lenses. Why?

IMHO the M models are too expensive and Leica has a much smaller market it deserves.

When Leica crossed the Atlantic to Canada in the 1950s a Leica M3 cost only $ 447, which corrected for inflation would be now $ 3630, according to Ken Rockwell.

Unfortunately it is nowhere near the price of the new M typ 240 which is $ 6800, body only.  Leica prices have spiraled out of control, because collectors are ready to pay them. 

However for photographers it's a different game. Sensors' technology today lasts only three years, so in theory Leica cameras, howsoever beautifully they are made, start to lag behind very quickly, no matter how tank-built they are.

So Leica's reasoning must have been: Let's make a Joint Venture with a mirrorless leader, let's cut prices and expand the market.

Good move, although I prefer to stay with my own Japanese version of a mirroless Leica small sensor, the Olympus E-M5, which is 3 times less expensive, and yet, according to Steve Huff, has the same resolution of an M type.

Being a m4/3, it can still mount a Leica 15/1.7 Summilux which costs $ 599, instead of the 3000 of a Solms' Leica lens. So Leica or Leica like? Today the Leica name is declined in various ways.

I forecast that performance of the new Leica T will be about the same of a m4/3, or a bit better, since Panasonic which builds it for Leica, has no better sensor or technology than Olympus.

Having an APS-C format it will have a larger sensor in the horizontal than m4/3, and therefore a small advantage. Also, build will be exceedingly good and Leica will make primes in Germany for it, while Pansonic will make the zooms in Japan. How's that for a marriage?

Great lenses are even more important on small sensors, so German Leica has another chance to excel, even with a small sensor.

I am sure the Leica T will look and feel gorgeous, and the joint venture is intriguing. So stay in touch for the Leica introduction on April 24th 2014.
Here is the first real image, courtesy Leica rumors:

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