Leica Cameras?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by LERsince1991, May 25, 2009.

  1. LERsince1991 macrumors 65816

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    #1
    I came across a concept for the Leica S3 camera not so long ago and was impressed so looked at their cameras... Wow

    I couldn't find much info though.

    Are these THE BEST cameras you can get?
    Where can people buy them from?
    Why are they the best (if so)?
    Does ANYONE own one?
    HOW MUCH?

    I was very intrigued

    Luke.
     
  2. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    #2
    Yup, it is one camera that will make you wow, both in performance and the price :D

    Well I wont say it as the best because I haven't seen a image test produced by it and compare it to Nikon D3x or Canon 1Ds, also the lack of buttons and top LCD is questionable, but this is Leica we are talking about, they are known for doing things different. Also the term The Best camera doesn't really exist, you can have the best camera in the world but doesn't necessarily means you will be having the best photos ;) But of course you must have the proper eq if you are covering events or certain aspect of photography.
    The image quality from specs look to be real promising though, especially with larger sensor then a FF :eek:

    Hmm, not sure. I don't think its released yet. Should be from Leica Authorized Dealer :)

    Leica is known for their optics and are considered as legendary but Im not sure you can call them the best, one of the best to me is better suited.

    very few pros in the world does, I don't think these pros will post their pictures taken by a S3 in forums anyway and if I'm not mistaken, the camera is not even release yet.

    Hmm, I'm not sure but I am quite sure it will be more expensive then Canon 1Ds or Nikon D3x also once you add in the cost of the lenses, it will be so expensive that maybe you can afford 2 1Ds or D3x :eek:
     
  3. LERsince1991 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #3
    What about Leica in general?

    S2? price? availability? etc...
    Whats their cheapest DSLR and how does that compare?
    It looks like a very intriguing company with cool products.
     
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #4
    Eeeh, if you already ask about `the cheapest dslr,' then the S3 is probably not for you. Leica's S2 is supposed to compete with medium format bodies with digibacks. The medium format bodies with digiback alone go for $20k+ easily in that price range (there are cheaper ones, AFAIK the prices start at $10k). Then you have to add lenses. The S2 will be in this price range (although I don't remember the exact prices).

    The S2 is not a competitor to Nikon's D3x or Canon's 1Ds Mark III. If you want high resolution as affordable prices, have a look at Canon's 5D Mark II. But their resolution is significantly lower than that of the Leica or other medium format digibacks.
     
  5. LERsince1991 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #5
    not 'the' cheapest, 'their' cheapest as in what other DSLR cameras do Leica do.
    I'm probably going to buy a Canon 1000D soon. Just really interested in high end stuff like macbooks haha :p

    Are S2's available?
     
  6. jpfisher macrumors regular

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    #6
    You mean the S2? Or did I miss an announcement?

    Certainly the best 35mm or digital rangefinder that is available, you won't find many arguments to the contrary.

    B&H, Adorama, Calumet, Kirkland, Popflash, KEH, etc etc etc...

    Compact, stellar optics, built like tanks, and -- just like the Sham Wow -- the Germans make good stuff.

    Lots of people.

    I just got a Leica CL for $250. The M8 is currently fetching around $3000 on the used market, $4000 new.
     
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #7
    Leica is not the best company for SLRs (do they count as SLRs? they're sensors are different...). their best glass, though, competes with Zeiss for the top spots...but they're all (as far as i know) manual focus lenses. are you willing to deal with that?

    the best traditional SLR is probably a Canon 1Ds MkIII (currently), though when compared to medium format, its advantages reduce to portability and high-ISO performance. the S2 is sort of a sub-medium format camera, and so gains some advantages of that sensor size.
     
  8. jpfisher macrumors regular

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    #8
    ^

    SLR has nothing to do with the sensor or sensor size. The R & upcoming S series from Leica are SLRs. Many medium format cameras are SLR designs.

    The M series are rangefinders, not SLRs at all. You look through a dedicated viewfinder, not the lens.
     
  9. LERsince1991 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #9
  10. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    This thread has been pretty confused. We're talking about tens of thousands of dollars for the S2. I am not sure beyond that. Yes, it's autofocus. The sensor is bigger than that in other DSLRs, even the 'full frame' ones. It's a relatively specialst camera, I'm sure it will be lovely but far too expensive for most sensible people.

    Googling or one of the more specialist forums might be more helpful if you want genuine information.
     
  11. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #12
    If you need a camera with a sensor larger then what Nikon and Canon call "Full Frame" then the Leica is a good option. It's actually not the most expensive option either.

    Is it the "best"? What are you shooting? I would not use it for in-studio product photography and it would not be the camera to have at the sidelines at a football game. I think they are best suited to "people photography" when you need very smooth colors and very low noise. A medium format digital camera can give you a competitive edge.

    Are they expensive? A pro photographer with a Leica has spent less on his equipment than most professional plumbers spend on their equipment. Look at the ratio of capital equipment to yearly gross income -- Cameras are cheap compared to the capital requirements of other businesses. (I think this is way we have such an over supply of photographers.)
     
  13. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #13
    Just as a frame of reference, Mamiya medium format digital cameras go for $10,000 and up these days.
     
  14. jampat macrumors 6502a

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  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #15
    Darn. I just sold a Mamiya MF system for $2,000. It was an RB67 system.

    The price depends on the exact model number, what lenses are included and so on. But you have to think about price relative to how it will be used. If you are shooting a big advertising shoot for (say) a new car ad you might have a $50K budget. When you consider the price of the model(s) make up artest, assistant photographers and any rented gear (like a huge flying "silk", water trucks,.) and then location permit fees. I've even seen them cut the side and roof off a car to get interior shots. $10K is not a lot of money in the big picture of commercial photography.

    I shot MF film and had 35mm Nikon gear too. There was a dramatic, night/day difference in image quality. 35mm just can't compete with 6x7. Not only is the frame larger but the Mamiya, Leica or Ziess lenses rally are good. But you can't shoot sports or action with such a large camera.

    A great quote from Ansel Adams is "Use the largest camera that will get the shot." And then in the next sentence he shows a shot that he says he could have only taken with his pocketable Leica rangfinder. (an M3, I think it was)
     
  16. wheelhot macrumors 68020

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    #16
    Yup, ChrisA is correct especially the Ansel Adams part, each camera has its own uses and specialty, but for the average pro photographer, a Canon or Nikon will do just fine, the ones who uses Hassel, or some medium format camera is when the client is paying them huge bucks.

    But I do wonder though, if Zeiss makes such great glasses, how do you explain Zeiss glass found on Sony DSLR? Which is just around Canon L / Nikon standard? I heard that it is just as good but not by any means better then Canon L or Nikon FX glasses.
     
  17. Abraxsis macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #17
    Generally speaking, when it comes to Leica, the old adage "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" comes to mind. The Leica brand pre-date WWII and even then it was used by some of the more well known photographers. I think Henri Cartier-Bresson was in fact one of the first people to utilize the camera in the field regularly. As for the prices, Leica does make a few sub-$1000 cameras (the C-LUX and D-LUX lines) they are usually just rebadged Panasonic cameras. You can usually get the Panasonic version for 35-50% off the Leica version.

    In my opinion you don't actually get a "real" Leica until you get into the rangefinder line, and if you're talking Digital then you're looking at several thousand dollars (3000-6000 depends on accessories) for an entry level M8 (I believe there is one previous digi Leica ranger, the M7 which is actually MORE expensive than the M8). I think the best way to sum this up is the fact that the leather case for an M8 is MORE than a lower priced middle range camera (which I define as 150-200USD)

    (Leather Case) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000U9KFIS
    (Leica M8 Body Only) http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/462012-USA/Leica_10702_M8_Rangefinder_Digital_Camera.html
    (D-LUX 4) http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/578316-USA/Leica_18352_D_LUX_4_Digital_Camera.html
     
  18. carlgo macrumors 68000

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    #18
    Leicas are real neat and precise cameras that are fun to use, absurdly expensive and which are not necessarily going to get you better photos or be more reliable than Nikons or Canons (or similar).

    The greatest advances in industry have taken place in production technology. Really good cameras can be made cheaply and the actual photographic results are very similar, regardless of price.

    The photo giants have vast resources and do a great job in the electronics and programming. These days, this is a big part of photography.

    Unfortunately, Leicas are so expensive that many are bought for collections and live as closet queens that never get out to actually shoot photos.

    That being said, I will buy one if I win the lotto and I promise to actually use it.
     
  19. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #19
    I was at the LCS and the rep from Leica was there. I actually got to hold the M8, and take a pic with it.

    What a really nice camera, plus the pics were incredible!

    AFA the price - if you have to ask... :eek:

    If you have a Canon or Panasonic or Olympus, you can use lens adapters, which don't have any optics. I plan on getting one and an older, cheaper Leica lens...
     
  20. BanjoBanker macrumors 6502

    BanjoBanker

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    #20
    While I do not have a new Leica digital camera, I do have a 50+ year old Leica IIIc 35mm range finder camera. It is the only film camera I use any more. The images it makes are spectacular and the build quality is unbelievable. It has the firsst 1/1000th of a second shutter and to this day the shutter speeds are accurate. Is a new Leica worth the cost? That depends on your ability to pay. Comparing a Leica to a Nikon is like comparing a Ford Explorer to a Range Rover. They are similar in size and both function well. To those whose income is such that a $80k SUV is affordable, the Rover is better. There is also a certain exclusivity involved. People still oooh and ahh over my IIIc, even after 50 years. "Oh, a Leica!" is a fairly common comment. Leicas are wonderful cameras if you can afford them, but I would not say they are "the Best," only damn close.
     
  21. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #21
    I think comparing a Leica to a Nikon is more like comparing a digital watch to a handmade, certified chronometer swiss watch - the digital watch is probably more accurate telling time, but the mechanical watch has that certain character that can't be replicated... soul.

    In comparing the Ford Explorer vs Range Rover, the Explorer, while having it's own reliability issues no doubt, is actually more dependable than the Range Rover (sad, but true) and they both hit a serious bottom on depreciation a few years down the road, but Leica rangefinder cameras are probably worth more now than when they were new. There's definitely a collectibility factor with the mechanically engineered stuff, especially German.

    If I were going to do 35mm black and white film photography, I'd have to get an old Leica. I'm not sure what it is about their image quality, but something about how the light plays through the glass is unique. But for digital, I'll never be able to afford Leica... :(
     
  22. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #22
    just because it's has Zeiss in its name doesn't mean its great. Zeiss just happens to make many of the best lenses out there...and they all happen to be manual focus.

    similarly, among Canon lenses, the world-class ones are the 85/1.2, 135/2, and 200/2, out of how many?
     
  23. Abraxsis macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #23

    Exactly. My mom has been an optician for a number of years and as such I have learned quite a bit about glass as a substance and strata instead of just something you look through. Glass has varying refractive indexes and, like diamonds, varying levels of clarity based on the amount of imperfections in the glass. It even comes down to the type and purity of the original materials that the glass is made from. These same properties play a role in newer polycarbonate based optics as well.

    This is why high end film scanners are usually more expensive than their retail store counterparts, the glass used in these types of devices must have extremely high photon transmission ratings and be pure enough not to cause things like newton rings and color aberrations.

    Zeiss is an optics company, just like DeBeers is a diamond house. Just because something is labelled as a De Beers diamond doesn't mean that everything is going to be a flawless, perfect color/clarity stone. Zeiss, like De Beers and any other company, has varying levels of quality across their lines. From budget glass to high end Pro stuff, the former is what you see in crap cameras which is usually only a ploy from the camera manufacturer too gain an air of legitimacy, where none really exists. To close the circle of this explanation, its the different between Pro lenses and kit lenses. They both do the job, but the Pro lens will have superior optical clarity and sharpness ... not to mention the pricetag to match.
     
  24. Knomad macrumors newbie

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    #24
    As a longtime Leica rangefinder (film) shooter, perhaps I can answer a few of your questions.

    First, a bit of history. Leica of course goes way back. The concept of using 35mm film in a small, compact camera was a radical innovation in the 1930s. In 1954, the M3 was introduced, the first bayonet lens mount Leica, claimed by some to be the "best" Leica M. Through the late 50s it was THE photojournalists camera. With the introduction of the Nikon F in 1959... another major innovation, but in an SLR... the balance of marketing power gradually shifted from Germany to Japan, and from rangefinders to SLRs. However, the Leica M stayed in favor with many journalists and editorial and fashion photographers (for example, Jeanloup Sieff and Marc Riboud) at least through the late 1970s.

    Since then, the Leica M has been largely a street photography and art camera... most famous for street photography because of its small size, near silent shutter, rapid framing ability, and discreet appearance. Many working pros use a Leica for their personal work. For me, it's my primary camera, but I no longer shoot pro, now I do gallery exhibits. Thus I don't need to worry about speed or long telephotos.

    I can't speak to the Leica R system (the film SLRs) because I've never used them. The M8 is sweet (digital, 10MP), and uses M lenses with a 1.3 crop factor. The S system is not really out there yet, it sounds promising but thus far untested. It's the first real attempt by Leica to go after the top-end modern working pro. But note that in this market, folks are already spending tens of thousands on medium format digital backs, and depreciating their gear, so high cost is just part of the game.

    What's special about Leica? Again this is based on the M-system rangefinders. But they are very special cameras, although not for everyone... nearly useless for shooting sports, for example.

    They are solid, exquisitely balanced, minimalist... only seven moving controls on most models. Nothing to get in the way of the picture. Even the M8 has stayed true to that approach, with much simpler menus than most digital cameras.

    Then there's the glass. Leica optics are legendary for good reason. While they're as sharp as anything made, sharper than the 35mm negative can handle in some cases... which only means that the lens is not your limiting factor, unlike with many cameras... it's really the less tangible things that set the lenses apart. There's a smooth tonal rendering, legendary bokeh (rendering of out of focus highlights in the background in a pleasing way), saturated colors, and just... the Leica look, which is impossible to describe in words. They're also among the very few lenses which perform well wide open, and of course one would expect no less of lenses often used in low available light. They work well with the M bodies, it's not hard to handhold and get sharp results down to 1/15th second or even slower, with nice balance and no SLR mirror slap vibration. Typically, I can get good results at two stops less light with my Leica than with my DSLR.

    Looking through a quality rangefinder is a revelation, once you get used to it. You can actually see (gasp!) unlike through the tiny dim tunnel of the typical DSLR, which assume that everyone uses auto focus and thus viewfinders are an engineering afterthought. I'd expect quality viewing from Leica SLRs, although I haven't looked.

    Cost? Yes, they're expensive. With functional models (excluding the collector pieces), you mostly get what you pay for. Quality build, reliability, high resale value. I paid $1700 US for a brand new M6TTL 0.85x nine years ago, and that same body today is worth, on the used market, just about what I paid for it. So all I've lost is inflation. I've been through two DSLRs during that time, and last year paid $1800 US for a Nikon D300, which is currently worth perhaps a bit more than half that much if I tried to sell it right now. In two more years it will be hopelessly obsolete and worth a fraction of the original cost.

    Lenses are the real cost for Leicas. The common ones, 1980s or 1990s vintage 50mm and some 35mm lenses, can be found used for as "little" as $500-$800 US. But look for anything relatively new, or especially fast, or exotic (extreme wide angles, or the f/1.0 Noctilux) and it's going to cost you. But, I basically use two lenses, a 50 and a 35, both 20 years old, and rarely want more. The entire kit could fit in my jacket pockets, which is great for travel.

    Hope that provides a little background. I'd expect the S series to be scary expensive, but then they're going after the relatively small top-end commercial market. If you're in a major city, you could perhaps rent one for the weekend once they're readily available. Go to the Leica website http://us.leica-camera.com/home/ to keep up with the press releases.
     
  25. LERsince1991 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #25
    Lots of great info here thanks everyone!
    I feel like I know Leica now haha :p

    The S1's look awesome.

    One last thing, do Leica DSLR's hold their value as well as the film. Say I bought a Leica S2 or Digilux in a few years could I expect not to loose much on it?
     

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