New Leica M 0.8 cinema lenses announced

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The previously rumored new line of Leica M cinema lenses are now officially announced by CW Sonderoptic. Here are the details:

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Introducing the Leica M 0.8 Lenses

Introducing the Leica M 0.8 Lenses, a Dynamic Solution for the World of Moving Pictures

CW Sonderoptic, sister company to Leica Camera, will introduce the new Leica M 0.8 lenses at a series of trade shows in September, including IBC, Cinec and Photokina. The Leica M 0.8 lenses bring the iconic look and character of Leica’s legendary M glass directly to the world of moving pictures by making it easier than ever to work with these lenses in true cinema applications.

Unique Character for Moving Pictures

For over 60 years the Leica M full frame lenses have inspired photographers and cinematographers alike with their unique interpretation of light, skin tones and color. Now, thanks to a series of design innovations, the new Leica M 0.8 lenses can bring that classic look to a variety of professional cine cameras.

The Leica M 0.8 lenses retain all the classic image characteristics of the regular Leica M lenses, but feature a smooth iris rotation and larger 0.8 module / 32 pitch gear rings for focus and iris. Redesigned mechanics allow them to work seamlessly with traditional cine accessories. They will be purpose-built, assembled and calibrated on the regular Leica M line at Leica Camera in Wetzlar.

CW selected 5 lenses for this series, choosing the fastest in each focal length. The lenses will be available individually or as a set and include:

  • 21mm f/1.4
  • 24mm f/1.4
  • 28mm f/1.4
  • 35mm f/1.4
  • 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux

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Where the lenses will really make their mark is in the look that they will deliver to all cameras regardless of sensor size. Gerhard Baier, Managing Director of CW Sonderoptic, said, “The character of the Leica M 0.8 lenses is truly unlike anything else in the cinema world at this time. The way they render light and the way they treat skin tones and highlights and focus roll off – they have an emotional tone that is almost impossible to put into words. We are very excited to bring this new opportunity for creativity to the industry.”

Big Images from Small Lenses

Designed for full frame (24x36mm) sensors and film stocks, the M 0.8 lenses will cover larger sensors like RED’s Dragon 8K VistaVision, Sony a7 series and the Leica SL. Smaller sensor cameras like Super35 and S35+ will benefit from using more of the sweet spot of the lens. With weights ranging from 320g (.7 lb) to 700g (1.5 lb) they are an ideal option for weight-conscious configurations like drones and gimbals. Their short length from 5.8cm (2.3 inches) to 7.7cm (3 inches) lends them to compact camera work and tight spaces.

The M 0.8 lenses will retain the existing Leica M mount, which is necessary to maintain their compact size. RED’s DSMC and DSMC2 designs allow the use of their Leica M Mount on all of their cameras with interchangeable mounts, including Scarlet, Epic, Weapon 6K, Weapon 8K VV and Helium 8K. A modified OLPF will be required for RED cameras and will be available directly from CW. Adapters are also widely available for Sony E and FZ mount cameras, including the Sony a7 series, FS5, FS7, F5 and F55. The lenses of course work well on the Leica SL camera, which shoots high quality 4K and HD video.

The new M 0.8 gear rings are custom-made for each focal length and anodized, fitted and calibrated to match the rest of the lens housing. They are designed to be incorporated during initial assembly, but not to be added to existing lenses.

The lenses are expected to start delivering in Q1 2017 and will be available through CW Sonderoptic’s global reseller network. Current estimated prices per lens range from €5300 for the 35mm to €12,000 for the 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux.

Via CW Sonderoptic

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  • I don’t know why you would want to do this, the M lenses have far too much vignetting and field curvature for cinema work.

    • Les

      These 5 lenses are recent designs, and have a very different “look” compared to Mandler-era lenses.

      • THEFLAPDONG

        But still there’s lens breathing, bad mechanics, inconveniently far MFD, and star-shaped apertures to deal with.

      • I know, I own 3 of them but I’m not sure what your point is. Compared to cine lenses, the M lenses are not consistent in their colour or contrast. The contrast it higher than most DP would want, the field curvature means that measuring out your focus distance is not feasible without stopping way down, which means adding more light and vignetting is death for any shot where the camera moves. They’re so small that attaching a follow focus will be a pain, etc, etc. The list goes on.

        • Les

          CW Sonderoptic has been serving the cinema market for a while. You shouldn’t assume that they don’t know what their customers want.

          I disagree that high contrast is a bad thing. There are tons of modifiers that can lower contrast, but there’s no good way to increase it. I guess you can turn all the knobs to “11” in post, but that always look terrible.

          • Uh, it’s actually the opposite, it’s quite easy to add contrast to a scene, that’s what Davinici and Lustre are all about. It’s really difficult to remove contrast from in color correction, which is why experienced DP’s shoot flat and apply a contrast curve via a monitor LUT on set so that it looks good to the Director.

          • And as for Sonderoptic, they’ve only been around 6 years or so, I’ve been working in the film industry for 20 years, so I believe I know a thing or two as well. Sonderoptic just manages Leica’s cinema lenses, nothing else, they’re a small player compared to Cooke, Panavision and Zeiss. We did a camera test on one movie last year between Cooke, Panavision and Leica and the DP didn’t like the Leica ones, he complained about the contrast and that they were too sharp. He went with Panavision Primos lenses. The M lenses have more contrast than the cine lenses, btw.

  • George

    I’m a cinematographer and passionate M user. I’ve never had the desire to put my M lenses on a cinema camera. CW Sonderoptic has done great work with their Leica C Summilux and Summicron lenses. But they are a very different design than Leica rangefinder lenses, and for good reasons.

    • Bo Dez

      There are many who have been wanting M Lenses on Red Cameras, but their design meant use was restricted only to a couple lenses. I know many people who will be very excited about these I’m one of them!

  • Adam

    umm…. Am I missing something? Aren’t these just M lenses with focusing gears? Seriously starting to think the employees are just pulling an emperors new clothes on whomever is signing the cheques at Leica.
    (please don’t bring up iris control, I can de-click an iris in ten minutes with a screwdriver.)

    • Bo Dez

      No, many M lenses can’t be used with the Red cameras because their design was not the right shape. So I would imagine these are an all new housing, and perhaps the profile of the rear element has been changed to work with such cameras, something that makes a lot of sense and will be welcomed by a lot of people.

      • Adam

        Bo, I think you’re giving them to much credit. I’m very familiar with the M lens design and proportionate to each other in the group these all look to be standard M casings with focusing gears attached. Again perhaps I’m missing something here.. Oh wait, I might be now that I notice the focusing scales are painted a different colour 😉

        Kidding aside, the 50APO is one fine lens for video. Reminds me of Spielberg’s look in the movie Munich (with the type of flare and all).

    • Les

      Adam,

      These are M lenses with focus gears. Just like the Zeiss CP lenses are just SLR lenses with focus gears, and the new Sigma Cinema line are just Art lenses with focus gears.

      There’s a market for that type of thing. It’s meant for the core of the narrative video/film market that doesn’t want to bother with adapted lenses, but won’t pay for high-end cinema lenses. Basically anything with a six-to-low-seven figure budget. I’m sure you will find these lenses on shows with higher and lower budgets, but that’s the core market.

      Leica and CW Sonderoptic are providing factory-modified lenses to compete with third-party options.

      • THEFLAPDONG

        Thing is this Leica set is being marketed at much higher prices than Zeiss CP’s and the new Japanese rehoused cine lenses, and those are real cinema lenses, whereas this Leica set is just M lenses declicked with gears slapped on them. Not to mention Veydra and Xeen lower down the rung.

        I love Leica for photo, but I don’t know what sane videographer would drop some $30k on a set of these.

      • Adam

        Almost all the CP lenses had to be reworked to limit the focus breathing etc. otherwise people would have just used ZF lenses with gears on them. You can buy custom gears that can be firmly and permanently attached and they work very well (permanently until of course you have them removed).

    • THEFLAPDONG

      I agree this set of lenses is embarrassing and pretty transparently a scam.

      But I’m not sure one can declick an M lens in ten minutes with a screwdriver the way you can with an R lens or an SLR manual lens whose aperture mechanisms are in the back. Maybe you have special skills.

      • Adam

        It’s not difficult, but to be fair you need a few tools. And a bit more then ten minutes… But you’ve done R lenses, so you get the idea.

      • Bo Dez

        No, no, I think you miss the point, the said “they have an emotional tone that is almost impossible to put into words”

        You don’t need anything else, do you?

  • Bo Dez

    “they have an emotional tone that is almost impossible to put into words”

    Oh dear Leica.

  • yama naka

    Wow..

    Leica may sell Auto Focus grip for M.

  • Fiatlux

    Why “0.8”?

    EDIT: Seems to be related to the focusing gear (0.8 module gear rings, whatever that means).

    • the 0.8 is the gear pitch of the M-Mount cine lenses that fits all follow focus and remote focus systems in professional film production

  • sperdynamite

    David Fincher just shit himself. Though on 2nd thought he has access to Master Primes which are probably better than these luxury market lenses.

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