The sensor inside the Leica Q Typ 116 is most likely produced by TowerJazz – an Israeli semiconductor manufacturer with tight relations to Panasonic

In a recent interview Leica confirmed that the sensor inside the Q Typ 116 camera is not made by Sony or CMOSIS. So, who is the manufacturer of this sensor? One very plausible option is TowerJazz - an Israeli semiconductor manufacturer with tight relations to Panasonic who has produced sensors for CMOSIS in the past. Here are some interesting links/quotes:

"Our top five customers excluding Panasonic grew a 11% in revenue second quarter over the first quarter this year, with the next grouping of customers 6 through 10 having grown at 14% quarter-over-quarter, an extremely strong annualized rate. We are currently experiencing very, very strong customer demand." (source: TowerJazz latest earnings call)

"We have won another customer for the very high end photography market in our 12-inch Fab." (TowerJazz during their Q2 financial report)

TowerJazz Talks about Panasonic CIS Process (source).

TowerJazz has already produced 12MP CMOS image sensors for CMOSIS - the sensor supplier for the Leica M 240 (source).

Another headline from 2013: "Panasonic said in talks to sell three chip plants to TowerJazz".

49% of TowerJazz is owned by Panasonic Corporation. They have three manufacturing facilities in Hokuriku, Japan (source).

TowerJazz and Panasonic announced a joint venture in 2014 (source).

And finally, a comment from forum member:

"I join a camera & lens review talk group in China, there is a guy who have been working in Sony semiconductor told us Leica Q`s structure & looking is designed by Leica, its electronic system came from Panasonic, the Summilux lens was designed by Konica Minolta and produced by Panasonic. The CMOS is designed by Tower-Jazz Panasonic an new Israeli semiconductor company with 49% Panasonic share, and the foundry is STMicroelectronics same foundry with Leica M 240."

Some of the links above were submitted by Kevin Purcell in this blog comment.

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  • Kevin Purcell

    Perhaps you should give credit to the person who originally suggested this (i.e. me) two days ago on the Q interview thread. You just took my links and quoted some text.

    Credit where credit’s due.


    I actually saw someone post about this on L Camera Forum shortly after the cameras release (maybe you Kevin?) and then looked at the Tower Jazz website and drew the same conclusion. With so much technology coming from Panasonic and this companies involvement with them it only makes sense.

  • Cinekpol

    Konica Minolta lens in Leica? You can’t make this shit up.

    • Les

      It wouldn’t be the first time. Look-up the Leica CL and Minolta CLE. I’m pretty sure that some of the R lenses came from Minolta as well, and of course the R3, R4, R5, RE, R6 and R7 were based on Minolta cameras.
      Leica also famously licensed their AF technology to Minolta for the Maxxum cameras.
      There’s nothing special in the air at Wetzlar that makes lenses better. Leica realizes this, and they haven’t been shy about subcontracting to other companies that can meet their quality expectations.

      • Cinekpol

        Yea, but that was back in a day when Minolta was one of the more important players on a photography market. A lot, and I mean: A lot changed since these days.

        • Les

          Evidently Leica believes that Minolta can build lenses to Leica’s specifications.

          • I have the Leica Q for few weeks now and I have no complains about the 28 Summilux lens, for both image and build quality. If that reports is true, my guess is that they did that for cost cutting. As a result the price of the Q is lower than what I was expecting it to be.

          • When I’ll be back from holidays I’ll have to send my Q to have its sensor cleaned. An f16 shot at the clear sky showed an incrdible amount of specks: I don’t know what should be blamed, I think that a camera like the Q deserves to have a dust proof body+lens

          • CHD

            Yes, no excuse for a fixed lens camera with a dirty sensor….that’s brutal. At least I can clean my M240 myself, but with a fixed lens I can just imagine what Leica will charge for a sensor clean. Really, this should be under warranty.

          • My Q is two months old, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be under warranty.
            I think that perhaps the issue is due to a less carefull quality control: I’ve asked Ming Thein if he has the same problem, reading that like me he carries the Q everywhere, even in “bad” places (dusty, humid and so on), but he told me after a test that its camera is ok.
            I wonder if I could ask Leica to seal/close the mic holes near the hot shoe… (I don’t take videos at all)
            Lens looks perfectly clean, no dust inside of it, therefore dust must have entered from some other place.
            A stellar camera, love everything of it, but this issue really disappointed me.
            The kind guy at the Leica Store immediatly contacted the customer service, and after a couple of hours I was asked to send a DNG of a clear sky or blank wall.
            I appreciate how fast they reacted, and I hope they will also fix the problem, or at least clean the sensor.
            Then I’ll have to wrap the camera each time I carry it around.

          • Justtakethepicture

            That’s a little disconcerting. Please keep us updated on the outcome.

          • Almost forgot to reply!

            After a month I received a phone call from the Leica Store, saying that my Q was waiting for me. The next day I drove there and to my surprise there was a brand new Q for me.
            The guy at the store insisted with the Motherhouse to have my camera replaced and not simply repaired/cleaned because a) the Q should not have such issues b) Leica should show what does “Leica” mean.
            I’ve written about it in my short “review”

          • Justtakethepicture

            Thanks for the update, much appreciated. Glad to hear they stepped up and replaced it.

            I know what I’m getting for Christmas now.

          • Nice review, thanks – I added it to the list of Q reviews:

          • fjfjjj

            If you think there’s dust entering through the mic holes, why not just apply a little gaffer’s?

          • Perhaps I should have done earlier.. If Leica could close them from the inside, the better: I don’t like the idea of putting gaffer on a brand new camera, but I will do it once the sensor will be cleaned.

          • Do you know if your camera came like that out of the factory or it got the spots after you started using it?

          • Honestly I can’t say, I have to check some early photos, but usually these dots and tiny bits of fabric appear when shooting on a plain sky/surface: at f.5.6 you can see them if you know what to look for in the image. At f7.1 (my usual daylight landscape aperture) I need to remove them in LR.
            Once I’ll have access to my computer I’ll check.
            I remember I had to remove some dots from images I had taken for a customer, and while I was doing it in post processing I was cursing myself because I didn’t check the lens before doing the assignment: I was thinking these dots were simply dust over the lens filter, while actually they are inside the camera.
            At this point I’m not pointing my finger at anyone, not even the guy who did the QQ: I’d like to have the sensor cleaned and Leica to clearly tell me that a) I was unlucky but this could happen again b) it won’t happen again because they fixed the problem or c) this will eventually happen again. At that point I will know how much more care the camera needs when in use.
            Sure, I can’t think to bring it with me in “difficult” assignments, and that’s a real pity..

          • fjfjjj

            If Cosina can do it for Zeiss, Minolta can do it for Leica… 🙂

    • fjfjjj

      Not so surprising. A few Minolta “MD-Rokkor” models were rebranded as Leica lenses for the R-system (with additional QA). The Minolta 90mm f/4 Rokkor was actually a rebranded German-made Elmar.

      • JLMILES

        Same design but each company used different glass on both the 40 and 90.

        • fjfjjj

          Are you saying that Minolta manufactured lenses in Germany?

          • JLMILES

            Each company produced their own lens with the same specs, Summicron in Germany and Rokkor in Japan. They each used their own glass in the process.

            “Leitz designed and produced the Summicron-C 40mm in Germany. Minolta produced the M-Rokkor 40mm f/2, which was an optical design identical the Leica Summicron-C 40mm and manufactured it in Tokyo with Minolta glass.”


          • Les

            It looks like most of that page is lifted from the Leica lens compendium, without attribution.

          • every post on that webpage is lifted from somewhere (I assume all without permission)

          • fjfjjj

            “the 90/4 Rokkor is actually a German produced 90/4 Elmar with the Rokkor name on it”

    • Licheus

      Not quite related but after various Leica, Zeiss and CV lenses I chose the Konica UC-Hexanon 35/2 to be the permanently attached to my M7. Not necessarily outperforming the latest aspherical Summicrons but it’s just so damn well made.

      Konishiroku knows its drill from day 1.

    • Dan
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