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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the recent Leica announcements

I’ve taken some time to absorb the specs, the prices, the intentions, and the implications of the recent Leica product announcements, and have distilled them into this pithy good/bad/ugly form. Enjoy, ignore, whatever.

Leica M9-P "Edition Hermès"

Leica M9-P “Edition Hermès” © Leica Camera

Leica M Monochrom

  • The Good – The sensor, the sensor, the sensor; a black-and-white sensor. This is great news. All that filter-induced loss of light and resolution, be gone. This promises serious resolution and high-ISO gains.
  • The Bad – A base ISO of 320 means that fast lens shooters will have to invest in some ND filters if they want to use lenses wide open in bright light. Just when you thought the IR filter debacle from the M8 was over…
  • The Ugly – The rear LCD. You remember the D80 from 2005? Well that is the standard of the LCD on this $8000 camera. 2.5 inches, and 230k dots. I cannot fathom an excuse for including this component on a camera costing this much money.

Leica Summicron 50mm Asph

  • The Good – A real statement of intent and evidence of Leica’s excellence in optics. Technically unmatched as a standard lens?
  • The Bad – The hood is a built-in extender. Personally I’d want a vented chunk of a hood on this for protection of that front element. Plus, I don’t think it’s a good looking lens. The proportions are wrong, with that thin barrel tip.
  • The Ugly – The price: $7,195. For a moderate f2 50mm normal lens. That’s not $71.95, that’s $7,195.

Leica M9-P Hermes Edition

  • The Good – A special edition with a genuinely unique body, not just an engraving or recovering. Matching lenses. Sumptuous presentation.
  • The Bad – No hotshoe? For the sake of a smooth clean top plate the’ve sacrificed the ability to use flash or external viewfinders. Want to use a 21mm lens? Guess you better stick that viewfinder on with superglue, or something.
  • The Ugly – The price: $25,000 or $50,000, depending on the kit chosen. Once again, those orders of magnitude have been checked and verified.

Leica X2

  • The Good – Upgraded 16MP APS-C sensor. And  hurrah, some sort of viewfinder….
  • The Bad – …oh. It’s a rebadged panasonic VF-2 that takes one look at the pocket you used to keep you X1 in and says: “Nah, you don’t want to go in there”.
  • The Ugly –
    The rear LCD. See above. Ridiculous. All that work on a reworked flash, whereas that space should be used for a pop-up optical viewfinder. Fact.

Leica S-Adapter H

  • The Good – Intriguing – an adapter that allows the use of Hasselblad H lenses – including autofocus, no less – on a Leica S2 body.
  • The Bad – Doesn’t say much for Leica’s predicted ability to meet demand for their S lenses (and don’t get me started on the absence of a lens between 35mm and 70mm).
  • The Ugly – The price: $2,000. Think what that can buy you. Now think about a metal ring with some fancy contacts. Now think about that $2000 again.

Checkout DPReview’s Leica announcement news at: http://www.dpreview.com/news/tag/leica

Leica site: http://us.leica-camera.com/photography/new_products/

Leica S-photography site: http://s.leica-camera.com/

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