Successor to the Leica S2, the new Leica S features the same 37.5-megapixel resolution but comes with a new image and sensor board that promises improved noise characteristics and an extended sensitivity range. In addition, the Leica S offers a range of new features - some of them unique -, predictive autofocus, integrated GPS, higher speed and enhanced handling. The Leica S is scheduled to be available in the UK at a suggested retail price of £16,000 including VAT from December 2012.
Éeica Press Release
The new LEICA S: improved image quality, handling and speed set new standards in digital medium format photography
Photokina, Cologne, 17 September 2012: Leica Camera AG today presents a new camera in the Leica S-System portfolio: the Leica S. A logical development of the successful Leica S2, the new Leica S offers a further increase in image quality and sensor sensitivity, predictive autofocus, higher speed and enhanced handling. Numerous additional features, some of them unique, contribute to an improved professional workflow. In addition to the new camera body, three new 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.
Stephan Schulz, head of Professional Imaging at Leica Camera AG, said, “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. Viewed 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 notable innovations in the Leica S is its new image and sensor board. The upgrade of these electronic components has successfully increased the image quality of the Leica S, as well as improving its noise characteristics, natural colour rendition and white balance precision. 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 colour mood from the beginning to the 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: 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 users to capture noise-free images, even under difficult lighting conditions. The doubling of the buffer memory to 2 GB and support of transfer rates up to 166 MB/s enables photographers to shoot continuous sequences of up to 32 consecutive images in RAW format – at full resolution of 37.5 MP. The number of images that can be captured consecutively in JPG format is only limited by the capacity of the memory card used. Images can now be saved in parallel to the original files in a choice of 37.5, 9.3 and 2.3 megapixels to provide customers 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 adds to focusing precision. To ensure that moving subjects stay 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. In combination with its superior image quality, the Leica S now sets new standards for professional action photography.
GPS system and levelling aid for precision and uncomplicated workflows
The Leica S is currently the only professional camera to feature an integrated GPS module that can add the geographic positioning information of the exposure location to the Exif data of an image, when required. This function also allows the precise synchronisation of the system time (internal clock) for any worldwide location where satellite signals can be received. With appropriate 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 levelling 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.
The monitor screen now offers a resolution of 920,000 pixels, a 3” diagonal and full sRGB colour space, as well as increased contrast and brightness, to allow even greater precision when assessing images. The glass covering plate of the monitor screen is manufactured from tough and scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass. Numerous other improvements have been added to make the photographer’s work easier: for instance, increased viewfinder coverage of 98 per cent, additional information displayed in the viewfinder, optimisation of the camera menu and a softer rubber coating for better grip. Significantly faster navigation in the camera menu is now possible with the new integrated joystick control, which is located on the back of the camera. More secure control of studio flash systems is afforded by the new LEMO flash sync socket.
Proven advantages of the S-System
The Leica S possesses all the proven quality characteristics of the S-System. These include the large, 30 x 45 mm, Leica Pro Format sensor and its microlens layer that guarantees consistently uniform brightness from corner to corner. The camera is extremely ruggedly built and sealed against environmental influences such as dust and rain, as with all S-Lenses. The system’s 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, which allows flash sync at shutter speeds up to 1/1000th of a second.
The eight currently available Leica S-System lenses (five of which will also be available with a central shutter) offer photographers all important focal lengths and a first-class tilt/shift lens. At the same time, a wide range of medium format lenses from a number of other manufacturers can be easily mounted on the Leica S using appropriate adapters. Of particular interest is 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.
Further features, such as secure cable connections, multi-function memory card slots, further improved energy efficiency and the scratch resistant monitor glass, also guarantee that photographers never have to make compromises when they choose a Leica S. The Leica S stands alone as an ideal and extremely reliable tool for achieving maximum quality results in the studio and on location, under even the most unfavourable shooting conditions.
The Leica S is supplied complete with the Leica Protection Plan. The LPP offers photographers an extended warranty for a period of three years, a replacement camera to cover possible repair times, and numerous other benefits.
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 emphasise the long-term significance and enduring value of the respective systems.
Pricing and availability
The Leica S is scheduled to be available in the UK at a suggested retail price of £16,000 inc VAT from December 2012 from authorised Leica S dealers including the Leica Store Mayfair.