Cologne gets first look at new Leica S (Type 007) medium format camera

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The Leica S (Type 007) will be the new flagship S-series model (Photo: Paul Ridden/Gizmag)

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Leica has used Photokina to reveal its new medium format line-up by announcing two new models. The new flagship Leica S (Type 007) brings the benefits of a CMOS sensor and features a wide ISO range, faster continuous shooting and 4K video recording, while the entry-level Leica S-E offers users a slightly more affordable way of getting into medium format Leica photography.

Leica S (Type 007)

Following on from cameras like the Hasselblad H5D-50c, Phase One IQ250 and Pentax 645Z, the Leica S (Type 007) is the latest medium format camera to feature a CMOS sensor. In this case it's a 37.5-megapixel one which measures 30 x 45 mm. It does away with a low-pass filter for sharper images, can record 13 stops of dynamic range, and is paired with Leica's Maestro II image processor.

As such, the new camera features an ISO range of 100 to 6,400, making it more useful in a variety of lighting conditions than previous models. It can capture images at a burst rate of 3.5 frames per second, and a 2 GB buffer memory means that 32 DNG files can be recorded in sequence, and there's no limit if shooting JPEGs.

The camera also features Live View and the ability to record 4K (4096 × 2160) video at 24 fps, or Full HD 1080p video at 30/25/24 fps. It can output a clean HDMI video stream for recording on an external device. Autofocus is said to be improved and now faster, more reliable and more precise than on previous models.

Around back there's a three-inch TFT LCD, which features 921,600 pixels, and is protected by a plate of scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass. Measuring 160 × 80 × 120 mm (6.3 x 3.1 x 4.7 in) the camera weighs in at 1260 g (44 oz). This weight is probably because it uses a full-metal chassis in die-cast aluminum with high-grip plastic coating, a magnesium alloy top deck, and baseplate in fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate.

Built-in GPS can record geographical positioning data and the camera’s integrated WLAN module can be used in combination with an app for smart devices. This allows wireless remote control of the camera, and remote image assessment in Live View mode.

The Leica S (Type 007) will be available in the second quarter of 2015, and will set you back US$25,400.

Leica S-E (Type 006)

The newly announced Leica S-E (Type 006) is designed as an entry-level model for the Leica S medium-format system. As such, it doesn't have quite the same specs as its bigger sibling, but comes with a considerably more affordable price tag.

Inside, there's a proven 37.5-megapixel CCD sensor (30 x 45 mm), with micro-lenses to ensure uniform brightness from corner to corner. It has an ISO range of 100 to 1,600 which is wide for a CCD medium format camera, and a continuous shooting speed of 1.5 fps. As with the Leica S, there's a 2 GB buffer memory to keep things moving along smoothly.

A unique dual-shutter system gives photographers the ability to use the camera’s fast focal plane shutter with speeds up to 1/4000 sec, or the electronically-controlled central shutter of the CS lenses that allows flash sync at shutter speeds up to 1/1000 sec. As you would expect, the camera can use S-mount lenses, and is compatible with many other medium format glass when using adapters.

Like the Leica S, the Leica S-E is a rugged and robust camera designed to survive dust and rain, thanks to its die-cast magnesium alloy chassis and sealing. It measures a familiar 160 × 80 × 120 mm (6.3 x 3.1 x 4.7 in) and weighs 1260 g (44 oz), and on the rear there's a three-inch TFT LCD with 921,600 pixels.

The Leica S-E will be available from September and will cost $16,900.

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