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View Full Version : We need a new "Leica"



crispi
10-22-2008, 10:27 AM
Hello everybody

Some time ago I was talking to a friend cinematographer about the stills camera of our dreams.
Basically, we both agreed that digital photography needs a new Leica, philosophically speaking. Ever since we've migrated to digital photography, we've lost the Leica. There is nothing in the world today that compares to it, in terms of image quality relative to its size and ease of use.
I never even actually held a Leica in my hands, ever. But I know what it stands for. And we miss that in cameras today.

A few points.

--Size, Pt. 1
Most SLRs today are good cameras, but they're too damn big! My old 1977 Olympus SLR is much smaller -- this came to me as a surprise after not having held it in my hands for a few years.
So keep it small. I'm sure Cartier-Bresson would agree. Big size is more a matter of prestige than anything else. Start being modest again.

--Size, Pt. 2 or: The Viewfinder
Also, the 1977 Olympus has a viewfinder image that is more than double the size of my DSLR's viewfinder. You can imagine the world of difference.
So make it big.
I'm not sure I care about an optical viewfinder. I think I'd be happier seeing right away if I'm exposing correctly. If go digital, why not all the way. A live histogram display in the EVF would be nice. (I have a hunch the RED DSLR won't have an optical viewfinder anyway, but I wouldn't bet more than 20 bucks on that.)

--Handling
Make it simple. Exposure, Aperture and ISO-setting. Three separate knobs. Maybe White Balance also, but I'm also comfortable setting that in the menu.

--Lenses
A set of small, light-weight prime lenses, with good f-stops (2,0 is all I need).

--Sensor size
Full Frame 36x24 mm

--Surprise me!
Surprise me with a completely new approach. Only because it has been done a million times before doesn't mean it couldn't be done any other way. There are a lot of mistakes camera manufacturers are doing today, so learn from them.

A lot of this stuff was tried to be achieved by the Olympus OM SLR system in the '70s. (I wasn't even born yet back then.) Compact, lightweight, low shutter noise. It seems nowadays cameras try to be exactly the opposite.

By the way, this is my first post here. Today I had the chance to test one of Berlin, Germany's first rentable RED ONEs and I'm thrilled.

Cristian.

Tico Llaurador
10-22-2008, 10:58 AM
Oh, you'll be surprised alright. Leave it to RED to do that. Their specialty.

Thomas Dobbie
10-22-2008, 11:14 AM
Hi crispi,
Welcome.
My first camera was an Olympus OM1,and it was revolutionary in it's day compared to the large and clunky Nikon's,I think it was the F2, and the Canon F1,both were tanks.
My personal camera (the one I take everywhere with me) is the Leica M8 with a 50mm 1.4 Summilux. You can't get a simpler camera to use,and the build quality is outstanding.
I would however have to disagree with you about an EVF,I love it on the Red,but I wouldn't want to shoot stills with one,and I suspect that Mr Jannard wouldn't want to either.
Tom.

Joseph Ward
10-22-2008, 11:27 AM
I agree with what you are saying. I own an Olympus OM-1 MD and its still(no pun intended) is amazingly small and lightweight. On the other hand the Canon T90 is what has become the standard for Canon SLR camera bodies, its bigger but more ergonomic. I think film still went as far as it needed to go but not digital yet. Small form factor will get better and as well as simplicity. Red seems to point to non OVF, and mirror-less DSMC, if this means anything, but we'll see soon.

Wil Klassen
10-22-2008, 11:50 AM
Hello everybody

...There is nothing in the world today that compares to it, in terms of image quality relative to its size and ease of use.
I never even actually held a Leica in my hands, ever. But I know what it stands for. And we miss that in cameras today...

Cristian.

I was recently given a leica M3 Rangefinder (from my grandfather, who bought it from his company in 1956 for $10, because no one knew how to use it but him, :) ) and it still works like new and shoots like a dream. Been through many 35mm cameras, SLR's and DSLR's, but none in 50 years will shoot like the leica does.

Lee Jay
10-22-2008, 03:22 PM
That sounds like just about the opposite of what I'm interested in. My AE-1 with 50/1.8 was far smaller than my 5D with 35/1.4L, but that it's problem - it's just horrible to hold and use. The 5D is exactly the right size for my hands (and I have small hands) and the 35L is about the minimum size that allows easy placement of my left hand under the lens. I also have a far smaller Rebel XT and I just loathe using that thing for any length of time because it's just so hard to hold onto.

Thomas Dobbie
10-22-2008, 04:13 PM
It's what you get used to,I've been using Leica M's for 20 years,and they just have a natural feeling in my hand. I never use a neck strap,always a wrist strap and have the camera ready by my side,you can bring the camera to your eye easily and the range finder focusing is quick and accurate.I always find myself searching for focus with an SLR,and then the shot's gone.I never seem to be able to judge the distance correctly with the SLR,but with the range finder I know pretty accurately what the distance is and where to put the focus.I think it's something to do with the direct vision,I've often noticed that photographers who shoot with SLR's are always looking through the lens.
I've got a couple of Leica R's but I always come back to the range finder.
I only use the M's for personal work,all my pro work is in the studio.
Sorry if this got a bit off topic. I can't wait to see what Red's got up it's sleeve,Mr Jannard seems not to be a man to make idle boast's,so whatever is coming is going to pretty spectacular.
Tom.

Steve Sanacore
10-22-2008, 04:21 PM
The Leica M8 was a good try but still not what I want. I am hoping the M9 (if there ever is one), to have a full frame chip, and a solution to the IR problems of the M8. I am looking forward to the S3 system, but not for portability.

I hope Jim makes a small rangefinder sized camera with FF chip and fast f2 zoom.

Thomas Dobbie
10-22-2008, 04:43 PM
Hi Steve,
I agree it's not perfect,a full frame chip would be great,and a solution to the IR problem would be good.
I only shoot B&W with it so it doesn't really effect me.
BTW obviously the raw capture is colour,but I have my preview set for B&W and I run a script when I import the shots.
Interestingly Leica themselves have apparently said that with current chip technology a full frame sensor is not possible,I believe it's all about the FFD and the distortion created on the sensor by oblique light reaching it. It's also a problem that Canon have with there full frame camera's,the results I've seen with wide angle lenses have been patchy.
Tom

Steve Sanacore
10-22-2008, 06:10 PM
Hi Steve,
I agree it's not perfect,a full frame chip would be great,and a solution to the IR problem would be good.
I only shoot B&W with it so it doesn't really effect me.
BTW obviously the raw capture is colour,but I have my preview set for B&W and I run a script when I import the shots.
Interestingly Leica themselves have apparently said that with current chip technology a full frame sensor is not possible,I believe it's all about the FFD and the distortion created on the sensor by oblique light reaching it. It's also a problem that Canon have with there full frame camera's,the results I've seen with wide angle lenses have been patchy.
Tom

I think the problem is with the M lenses, which as you say are just way too close to the film plane to work with a sensor at the current state of technology. As far as my Canon 1DsMk3, i have no problems with my Leica R wide angles, only the Canon optics are a bit soft in comparison. But no problems with vignetting that I can see.

Other than the M8, there is just nothing in between the pocket size cameras that suffer from miniature chip syndrome, or medium sized SLRs (XTI sized). I see a few fixed lenses cameras coming out, but what good is a fixed lens camera with a fixed focal length?

Seems like a big hole in the market place..... you listening Jim??

mrthieme
10-23-2008, 02:57 AM
Hello all, first time poster, long time lurker. I'm a "soccerdad" from suburban Detroit with no experience in video but a great love of photography and growing fascination for motion capture, I've been watching Red with great interest since they announced their intentions with the R1.

I have always wanted to see what they would do in the DSLR space, and am dying to hear some more details. IMO the big guys in still cameras carefully dole out the incremental improvements every 12 months or so, always making sure to dumb down each model enough to leave room for an upgrade, which always means buying a new body. I like the idea of someone coming in and maybe showing them a new way to serve us.

I'll agree with the idea of a new Leica, simple, elegant operation trumps lots of bells and whistles for me, but I'm picturing something more modular like a new Hasselblad 501. I like being able to choose what things I don't need.

Thomas Dobbie
10-23-2008, 05:31 AM
Nothing wrong with being a "soccerdad",after all Jim Jannard started out as an amateur.Be warned,the fascination turns into an obsession,it's like an itch that gets so bad that you have to scratch it and the more you scratch it the worse it gets,but it's the most satisfying itch I've ever experienced,and Mr Jannard's itch has led him to revolutionise the cinema industry.

Unfortunately all the major manufacturers are making their systems tighter and more integrated. It's understandable because it gives them much more control over the final image,with corrections for lens aberrations,auto this,auto that, being applied in camera.
And although you can switch a lot of this off in the professional cameras,they are making it harder and harder to do so,burying commands way down in sub menu's etc.
I think every camera and lens manufacturer would want to have total control,and eliminate the possibility of any technically bad images being produced by their equipment.Every technically bad image that gets attributed to a particular camera brings out a multitude of critics,who don't seem to always have a balanced view.
Just look at the Red One,it's not an easy camera to use,and yes there have been a lot of technically questionable images produced with it,but in the right hands it's capable of magic,that point still gets drowned by the sea of negative criticism.
I've never heard anybody say an Arri or Panavision camera was crap just because the DP got the exposure or lighting wrong,but the Red One seems to get blamed for every operators inabilities.

While the concept of the old Hasselblad V system is a good starting point,I suspect that the Red Team are thinking a lot more 'out of the box' than that,and I don't think we'll see such an integrated design as the original concept for Scarlet was.
Like with the Red One ,they will give photographers all the options they need to do a good job, as well as the means to hang themselves should they prove to be wanting. The most important point is that they will do it at a price which will give so many more people the option to participate and we might just find some undiscovered talent lurking out there.A decent Hasselblad system cost's considerably more than a Red One and that puts it beyond the reach of many.
It's only a few weeks now until the announcement.
Interesting time's for the whole image industry at the moment.
Sorry,I just realised that I was rambling,better get back to work.
Tom.

spitfire44
10-23-2008, 07:09 AM
maybe I missed it somewhere in this thread but Leica has a new DSLR system coming out......the S2.


body size is near the 35mm range with a 37.5 megapixels chip that measures 30 x 45 mm.....A big chip

http://en.leica-camera.com/photography/s_system/



looks like it'll be expensive though.


Eric

Thomas Dobbie
10-23-2008, 07:47 AM
I understand from what I've read that it's going to be about 15000 euro.
Roughly same as a Red One body.
If that's true then the lenses are going to approach Ultra Prime territory.
I'm currently using the Phase One P45+ which is 39 megapixels.
I must say that the quality you get is many times greater than the best DSLR's.
Downside is very large file sizes and all the associated workflow issues that goes with them.
Tom.

Steve Sanacore
10-23-2008, 08:00 AM
Got a price last week on the new Leica S3 body of $18000US. Not too bad, but the lenses will probably be at least as much as the R lenses are. Looks like it will be in the Hassy territory, but my money is on the Leica for image quality, although it's really too early to tell what reality will bring us. Up till now I have been underwhelmed by any of the medium format options for me. So I am hoping that the Leica will be a step towards the quality we were used to in the old days when it came to optics.

Thomas Dobbie
10-23-2008, 08:18 AM
I think we just have to play a waiting game at the moment,there's going to be a lot of changes next year.
I've been happy with my P45 it came closer than anything else I've used to the promise that digital holds,but it's far from perfect.
Tom.

J. Bernard Vallon
10-23-2008, 08:24 AM
Has everyone heard the nikon rumor?

http://www.slashgear.com/nikon-mx-rumors-407mp-medium-format-dslr-in-early-2009-2917589/

Supposedly
recent Nikon lenses have been purposefully over-provisioned with “larger image circle than needed for 2436″.

mrthieme
10-23-2008, 08:28 AM
Thomas, this is an exciting time to make images, hardware and software progressing so quickly. My perspective as an amateur enthusiast is much different than a working pro, the Leica s2 is so far outside my means it might as well not exist. I am hoping for something within reach of the little guys like myself. The ability to use some old quality glass off the used market would be great ( so would affordable new glass!)

I have been assuming dsmc will not have a reflex optical finder, is the r1 evf good enough for manual focusing?

Thomas Dobbie
10-23-2008, 08:57 AM
The R1 EVF is excellent,I haven't used too many but it's certainly the best I've used.
It's quite natural to use it with the R1 and I adapt to it without thinking,but I've never used a cinema film camera with an optical viewfinder,I'm sure guy's that are used to that will find it strange to use an EVF.
I think I would find it difficult using an EVF with a still's camera,although like everything else you would compensate and get used to it.
I only used to only use a 10x8 view camera,and I got completely thrown whenever I had to use a small camera like a Hasselblad with it's bright viewfinder,which of course was really dull in comparison to a 35mm SLR's viewfinder.
I wouldn't dismiss an EVF on a still camera though.
Tom.

Steve Sanacore
10-23-2008, 09:26 AM
I agree Tom, my first Leica digilux 2 had a digital viewfinder and I had no problem adapting to it. Thought the same thing looking through the RED EVF. I see no reason to keep the optical viewfinders on and camera for future designs as long as the resolution is high enough to see fine detail.

Thomas Dobbie
10-23-2008, 10:01 AM
Actually Steve,the more I use the R1 EVF the more I really like it,especially in combination with the 7" Pro Monitor.A system like this would be great on a still camera,especially in the studio for still life work.
Tom.

Charles Angus
10-23-2008, 02:48 PM
I have to second the comment that small is NOT good.

My 20d with grip is slightly too small for my hands. A bit bigger would be nice.

Joseph Ward
10-23-2008, 08:37 PM
What is the average hand size?

Ege Eden
10-23-2008, 10:40 PM
Was Cartier-Bresson's Leica M8 or M7?

mrthieme
10-24-2008, 05:34 AM
another bonus with evf that I never considered would be the ability to show a magnified crop with boosted ISO which would never be possible with an optical one. This would help a great deal.

Steve Sanacore
10-24-2008, 05:58 AM
Was Cartier-Bresson's Leica M8 or M7?

You're kidding right?

Probably an M3.

crispi
10-24-2008, 06:32 PM
There's one thing that is an issue with EVFs, and that's eye fatigue. Has any of you used the Red's EVF for a long time?
I've also used mostly optical viewfinders on film cameras until now and I was sure I wouldn't like RED's EVF, especially since a lot of my colleagues were complaining about eye fatigue when using video cameras for a prolongued time. BUT unfortunately it wasn't the case. I found it natural to look through the EVF, although I didn't like that effect where you move your eyes around the image and you see R-G-B. I don't know what it's called, but some video projectors have it also.
I'm sure resolution in these things will get better and we'll have EVFs exclusively one day.

But there's another topic I'd like to ask you about, something which I've expressly left off my first post because I thought it would be too controversial for some hard-core photographers.

Namely auto focus.

I never use it. My lenses are all manual, like on a film camera. (Nobody complains about the RED ONE not having auto focus, now do they?)
Part of the reason I don't use is that I never liked the way it is implemented. There was always something unnatural to me to have to choose an auto focusing point or to have to auto focus and reframe.
It always felt much more natural to just leave my left hand do the focusing "almost by itself", so the focus would always be where I wanted it to be.
If you don't get what I'm saying and you rely heavily on auto focus in your professional work, try getting a good manual lens with long focusing distance. Use it for a while, and you'll notice how you start to see things differently and your brain will get new impulses. That's because you will make focusing an active part of your picture-taking, which it should always be.


Now to get the focus back to our topic, the DSMC.

I have no idea how Red would implement an auto-focus system. Would they go for a proprietary system and build it themselves by scratch? Or do you expect them just to licence it from another company? If yes, which one? It's not just a matter of making different lens mounts anymore, it's also the electronics.

Cristian.

Lee Jay
10-24-2008, 07:19 PM
One of the biggest advantages of modern SLRs over manual film cameras is AI-servo. Quite simply, this feature makes possible images that were virtually unthinkable with manual focus. Try doing manual focus on a subject that moves through the entire depth-of-field every 40ms and you'll see just how impossible it is.

Thomas Dobbie
10-25-2008, 02:50 AM
Nothing against autofocus,I don't use it personally,but I know a lot of guy's who do. Depends if it suits what you do,most pro shooters I know use it selectively,even the guy's who shoot sports and wildlife,it's a good idea not to become too reliant on it.
I agree though,that there are things you can't do very easily without it.
Just another tool.
Tom.

Ken Chan
10-26-2008, 02:39 PM
Actually Red is similar to Leica as they both have red dots. :tongue:
I just hope Red doesn't follow Leica in making premium priced low volume products.

crispi
10-26-2008, 04:45 PM
I just hope Red doesn't follow Leica in making premium priced low volume products.

Good point.

Jannard
10-26-2008, 09:43 PM
You just need to say tuned on Nov. 13th.

Jim

Joseph Ward
10-26-2008, 10:33 PM
You just need to say tuned on Nov. 13th.

Jim

Sometimes you make me so Red!!!:ranting2: I hate waiting! LOL

Thanks for the update!

John K
10-26-2008, 11:25 PM
You just need to say tuned on Nov. 13th.

Jim

Why Nov 13, though? A Thursday?
I could never get the hang of Thursdays:clown2: