The new Leica S

Leica S is the new medium format camera from Leica Camera AG. As expected, the camera uses the same 37.5MP sensor and has several improvements. See the press release below for more details. The Leica S is priced at $21,950.

The synthesis of optimum imaging quality, perfect handling and outstanding speed 

Solms, Germany (September 17, 2012) - Leica Camera presents a new camera in the Leica S-System portfolio, a revolutionary digital camera concept to meet supreme professional requirements. The next generation in the successful line, the Leica S offers increased imaging quality and sensor sensitivity, predictive autofocus, higher speed and improved handling. Numerous enhanced functions contribute to the camera’s further acceleration and greater security of the professional photographic workflow. In addition to the new camera body, three lenses have been added to the S-System portfolio, significantly expanding the capabilities of the system: the Leica Super-Elmar-S 24 mm f/3.5 ASPH. super-wide, the Leica Vario-Elmar-S 30-90 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. and the Leica TS-APO-Elmar-S 120 mm f/5.6 ASPH. tilt/shift lens.

“This expansion of the system is further confirmation that the dedicated digital concept of the S-System sets new standards in the world of medium format photography while providing the speed and handling of a 35 mm SLR,” said Stephan Schulz, Head of Professional Imaging at Leica Camera AG. “In terms of its rugged resilience, reliability and versatility, the new Leica S is the first choice for photographers who refuse to make compromises.”

New Image And Sensor Board For More Quality And Higher Speed

One of the most remarkable innovations in the Leica S is its new image and sensor board. The upgrade of these electronic components has led to the increased imaging quality of the Leica S, as well as the improvement of noise characteristics, natural color rendition and the precision of its white balance. The latter function has now been extended to include a ‘Grey Card’ option that allows photographers to shoot a subject with a neutral grey area, such as a grey card, and define the white balance determined as a reference for all following photos to ensure a consistently precise color mood from beginning to end of a shoot. The extended sensitivity range of the sensor at both ends gives photographers more freedom of choice in the selection of exposure parameters. For example, the lower basic ISO setting of 100 allows longer working at maximum aperture in extremely bright conditions, while the maximum sensitivity of ISO 1600 enables them to capture noise-free images even under difficult lighting conditions. In addition, the double buffer memory of 2 GB and support of transfer rates up to 166 MB/s enables photographers to shoot continuous sequences of more than twice as many (up to 32) consecutive images in RAW format, at a full resolution of 37.5 MP. There is no limit to the number of consecutive images that may be captured in JPEG format. Images can be

saved parallel to the original files in a choice of 37.5, 9.3 and 2.3 megapixels to provide photographers with a preview of the work in progress straight from the camera at the desired resolution.

Fast, Predictive Autofocus Module For Subjects In Motion

The upgraded autofocus module not only increases the speed, but also enhances focusing precision. In combination with its fascinating imaging quality, the Leica S sets new standards for professional action photography. To ensure that moving subjects remain sharp and can be swiftly tracked, the Leica S features a predictive autofocus. The camera compares past movements of the subject and computes the location of the subject at the time of exposure. The autofocus locks on to this computed point before the shutter release is pressed.

GPS System And Leveling Aid For Precision And Uncomplicated Workflows

The Leica S is the only professional camera to feature an integrated GPS module that can add the geographical positioning data of the exposure location to the Exif data of an image whenever necessary. This function allows the precise synchronization of the system time (internal clock) for any worldwide location where satellite signals can be received. With software (the professional image administration and processing tool, Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 4 is supplied with the camera), every image can be shown on a map and tagged with a location name that can be used to locate the image in the future. The new dual-axis leveling aid (spirit level) displays its readout in the viewfinder to allow photographers to align the subject with absolute precision in the horizontal and vertical plane without the need for external aids.

Optimized Handling

The monitor screen offers a resolution of 920,000 pixels, a 3" diagonal and full sRGB color space, as well as increased contrast and brightness to allow for greater precision when assessing images. The glass covering plate of the monitor screen is manufactured from tough, scratch-resistant Corning®Gorilla®Glass. The increased viewfinder coverage of 98 percent, additional information displayed in the viewfinder, optimization of the camera menu and a softer rubber coating for better grip all make the new camera easy to handle. Significantly faster navigation in the camera menu is now possible with the new integrated joystick control located on the back. Greater security in the control of studio flash systems is afforded by the new LEMO flash sync socket.

Advantages Of The S-System

The new Leica S possesses all the standard quality characteristics of the S-System including the large (30 x 45 mm) Leica Pro Format sensor and its microlens layer that guarantees consistently uniform brightness from corner to corner. Resembling all S-Lenses, the camera is extremely rugged and sealed against environmental influences such as dust and rain. The unique dual shutter concept offers photographers the choice of using the camera’s fast focal plane shutter or the central shutter of CS-version lenses that allows flash sync at shutter speeds up to 1/1000th of a second. The eight Leica S-System lenses currently available (five of which will also be available with a central shutter) offer photographers all focal lengths and a first-class tilt/shift lens. Furthermore, a wide range of medium format lenses from a number of other manufacturers can easily be mounted on the Leica S using adapters such as the S-Adapter H, which allows the use of Hasselblad H-Lenses with full support of all functions including autofocus, central shutter control and automatic aperture control.

Photographers never face compromises when they choose a Leica S due to details such as secure cable connections, multifunctional memory card slots, further improved energy efficiency and scratch resistant monitor glass. The Leica S stands alone as an ideal and extremely reliable tool for achieving maximum quality results both in the studio and on location, under even the most unfavorable conditions.

Together with the new Leica M, the Leica S marks the beginning of a new era in Leica’s product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the long-term significance and enduring value of the respective systems.

Purchase of the Leica S includes the Leica Protection Plan, offering photographers an extended warranty for a period of three years, as well as a replacement camera during repair. The Leica S will be available from select Leica dealers, including the Leica Store Washington DC, beginning in December 2012.

Camera type: Digital medium-format single lens reflex camera for use with Leica S-Lenses.
Image sensor
Type: Low Noise CCD-Sensor with microlenses and microlens shift
Size: 30 . 45 mm (Leica Pro Format)
Aspect ratio: 2:3
Resolution: 37.5 megapixels
Pixel pitch: 6 μm
Dynamic range: 12 stops
Color depth: 16 bits per pixel
Color spaces: sRGB, Adobe RGB, ECI RGB 2.0.
White balance: Presets: Daylight, cloudy, shade, incandescent, HMI, fluorescent warm, fluorescent cool, flash, grey card (determined from image) / automatic / color temperature (Kelvin)
Low-pass filter / IR filter: No / on sensor
Moiré suppression: In external image processing software (e.g. with the Adobe® Lightroom® software provided with the camera)
Sensitivity range: ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (manually or automatically controlled)
Lens mount: Leica S-Bayonet for Leica S-Lenses
Focal length: Dependent on Leica S-Lens attached, conversion factor to 35 mm film equivalent 0.8.
Type: Predictive AF with center cross-sensor defined by cross-hairs on the focusing screen, focusing drive integrated in lenses
AF modes: Selectable modes AF s (single) = focus priority, AF c (continuous) = release priority, MF (manual), manual override of AF settings possible at all times
AF memory: Second resistance point hold on shutter release, lock for single exposure or constant by setting with 5-way control
Manual focus: With lens focusing ring
Exposure setting
Exposure metering: Exposure metering through the lens (TTL)
Metering modes: Multi-segment metering (5 fields), center-weighted integral metering, selective (spot) metering (3.5% of image frame)
AE lock: Second resistance point hold on shutter release, lock for single exposure or constant by setting with 5-way control
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  • Al.Ban

    Show me the money?

  • Carlo

    Sure the D800E is more interesting that a camera that has the ass between reflex and medium format.

    The positive thing is that the lens are from the start covering the quality of the S3 sensor.

    The worse is the sensivity of 1600 ISO and the price. No doubt that this camera has excellent lens & sensor but who’s able to justify this price when you’re able to have an exellent ff D800/E for an equivalent image quality at list for publications in magazines?

    • fjfjjj

      “equivalent image quality” my ass

      This has been discussed to death, but if you think smaller formats can match larger ones, you haven’t tried.

    • Craig

      Carlo, besides not knowing what you are talking about with IQ, you are sorely confused about reflex cameras: The Rollie, Hasselblad, Mamyia, Pentax, Broncia and other I have forgotten are all reflex cameras.

    • tkpenalty

      Carlos, have you actually used one before?

      Equivalent image quality? No. The highlight detail on mainstream cameras does not come close to this.

      Although I’m well out of the price bracket target, I have to say no other camera handles highlights like this. 12 stops is a massive understatement of the S line’s highlight dynamic range/capability.

  • Nobody Special

    I would never buy an S camera new – no way – the body does handle well – it’s a excellent design, but it should be for $22K. The lenses however, to me, are reasonably priced.

    I’d buy a heavily scratched and dented S body – but then again – not likely. This is a camera with a very limited market given it’s price and ‘new-ness’ in the market and I doubt that I’d find a really used one as it seems most are used in studio or in ‘controlled’ conditions/location shoots. As nice as the D800 is, it’s not an equivalent to an S camera or most other large sensor MF cameras.

    But then, I’ll still take a 4×5 transparency instead of the S. Cheaper, and all together a different animal.

  • “Together with the new Leica M, the Leica S marks the beginning of a new era in Leica’s product naming policy. In future, Leica M and S model names will omit the number suffix to emphasize the long-term significance and enduring value of the respective systems.”

    … What in the blazes does that mean???

    • Scorpius

      It means that they are adapting apples new strategy of dropping the numbers the usually designated the edition.. All future M’s will simply be M and the next S will still be simply known as an S not S3 or S4… Just like the iPad 3 is simply labeled iPad..

  • PhilK

    Regarding “medium format” vs “conventional” or “small sensor” cameras:

    The sensor size of the D800 is 24×36 mm. The sensor size of the S series is 30×45 mm. That is a fairly small difference.

    Traditional medium format film cameras had a film aperture of at minimum, 45×60 mm, while most were either 60×60 mm, 60×70 mm or even 60×90 mm.

    So while the S series is clearly a nice product, it’s not because the sensor is substantially larger than a full-frame “conventional” DSLR sensor.

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