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Friday, 10 May 2013


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I don't know why this post made me think of this, but back in the 90's, the closest thing I ever saw to an great example of a Hasselblad/Zeiss lens, was the Fuji stuff for the Fuji 6X8...interesting now, (I think), that Fuji manufactures the lenses for Hasselblad digital stuff (although maybe not the glass?).

Interesting to note as a side light, to the videographers I knew, the Fuji zoom lens was almost on every thing, it was ubiquitous! But they all thought that that the lenses were just OK. At the time, Nikon was experimenting with making video zooms as well (I think they dropped out of that professional market), and my buddy bought one for his pro Sony Betacam. When he sold his Sony kit with that lens in the early 2000's, I think there was a bidding war based on guys trying to get that lens!

Thank you Jack and Mike. The google link worked and it is an interesting article.In particular, Schulz makes the following statement:
"The S-System lenses have been designed from scratch, and optimized, for digital imaging – a crucial distinction. With film, there is nothing between surface of the film and the lens. But with digital, you have layers of glass between the sensor and the lens (for example the glass that protects the sensor). These layers of glass have an impact on performance. Lenses designed for medium format film obviously didn’t account for the layers of glass. The result is some degradation of image quality when such lenses are used in digital. Our made-for digital lenses, on the other hand, were designed only with digital sensors in mind. The result is a significant difference in image quality."
I have a mix of old film lenses and digital camera lenses (mostly Nikon, but not all). and can't say that I have seen any reliable difference in performance. For my film lenses, I think their performance is essentially the same in either medium, and I don't see any clearly assignable preferance for the new lenses. Now, I'm assuming that the primary difference Schulz is addressing is sharpness/resolution. But maybe not. It could be chromatic abberation or something else. I wonder what experience others have had, Do you see a real difference between 'film designed' and 'digital designed' lenses, or do you think other makers even consider this factor?

I knew digital medium format was a niche, but wow - the sales figures quoted makes them seem almost like collectibles. Which at the current rate things are going, they may soon be.


This link works


The direct link may turn out to be a challenge, but here is what I used:

His claimed 20% market share of a 6000 unit market size means 1,200 S cameras a year under constrained production.

To me irrelevant, like an interview with Luca de Montezemolo about his thoughts about Ferrari....I which Leica all the best, but I guess the Nikon D800 is rather close at their heels (and with a better low light performance I guess as well). It's all about a niche market in which real usefulness can be discussed since 16 Mpixel is enough for a spread in a glossy anyway.So shooting a fashion shoot with a medium format back is nice, but hey as long as a guy named Terry gets his shots past a girl named Anna and they are shot with a GF1, who am I to take all this serious :-).

And for all else there are some nifty solutions on the market.....saw a 8 shot NEX to Mamiya coupling the other day......8 x 24 - overlap = 140 Mpixel using the full image circle of the medium format lens. Cool, yeps verry cool. The contraption was made by Photodiox as I recall and it was called a Vizilex Rhinocam.......

Greets, Ed.

Interesting article. But I have trouble being able to tell is some of the comments made are factual, or just a sales pitch (or BS, if you prefer to call it that).

For instance : "...medium format lenses were designed to mask the imperfections of an uneven recording surface – by not providing peak sharpness."

Is that true? Or some of the other contentions?

[Welcome to my world. Talking to representatives of consumer product manufacturers is always like that. It's a mix of analysis, real information, PR, and salesmanship...often with an unseen emphasis on the company's current insider marketing strategies or specific messages they'd like to get across about their competition. I'm not talking about this interview in particular, just generally. --Mike]

I've been tempted by the Leica S for a long time now, but as a well heeled amateur, it's hard to justify the cost. That is, until I saw two mint condition bodies for sale for $9,999 at Allen's Camera in PA. Now that is very tempting. But then the cost of the lenses is ridiculous. Not saying not worth it, but just in the stratosphere.

Does anybody know where I can get the Lensbaby in Leica S mount?

[It works better if you just hold it in front of the opening. --Mike]

If one doesn't mind 'settling' for a measly S2 (the last version preceding the new S), a basically 'as new' demo with a 70 Summarit S lens (56 mm equivalent) can be purchased from some dealers for roughly $11,000 less than retail not long ago, still with a full year warranty. The resultant $15,000 or so cost is still huge for most, but it does provide 'entry' to the S world.

Pros who bought the S2 early on and who waited a very long time for the lenses to hit the market are likely not pleased with current trade-in values if they decide to upgrade to the new S, but that also creates used market opportunities for others.

I'm not in this crowd, but I did some research recently, just out of curiosity, while I wait for the new M to go though its teething issues.

" Do you see a real difference between 'film designed' and 'digital designed' lenses"

The only difference that could matter imnsho, would be angle of rays and/or telecentricity. The glass-over-the-sensor argument doesn't make sense or hold water. At least not without more proof than what is in that interview.

I've not used an S-System camera yet ... but I'm somewhat wary not to because I think I'll want it, badly. With Leica, there's always exists this price performance question, asked by those who compare their cameras against other brands.

This interview confirms that I think this comparison is almost irrelevant -- for the people who want THIS particular camera, they will buy it. It was never made for you, if you were ever wondering. It smacks of snobbery, but when you are building a product for a niche market, it makes a lot of sense.


If you are a hobbyist with disposable income, nice camera that Leica S. If you have a steady stream of high-end clients that will feed you enough work to pay for the camera and a few lenses over the course of a fiscal year, nice cmaera that Leica S. If you are a pro photographer and are able to satisfy clients with a 35mm dSLR, an unnecessary camera that Leica S.

Dang it, Mike, you made me go to the Leica web site and drool again. Downloaded all the brochures and spent the evening wishing.

An S2 with the three Summarits? I'd have to sell nearly everything else I own, alas, but, oh, it could so be worth it. Not sure what I'd do with it, none of my photography needs anything even close to what it brings to the table. Still, I'd love to try doing my favorite landscapes, all those usual suspects, with one just to see what I could see.

I am not in that market but if my wait for the CVF is still a wait for another year, I might get a 645D instead. I note S support adapter to Hasseblad (not sync with his message) as well as 67 lens. I suspect the competitor is not really what he named. The 645D have the similar size sensor, weather proved, mobile etc. and got reasonable lens. Hence, whilst S might be "better", if 800E is too tense for you, 645D should be considered as viable alternative as I am thinking in the year to come.

I said tense is the feel I got when doing small format cf with large/medium format is that the picture is very dense. I cannot tell why but even if one look at the same pixel count, after reducing to even web level, the large/medium pic is more relax. I cannot say why.

William Barnett-Lewis said..."Still, I'd love to try doing my favorite landscapes, all those usual suspects, with one just to see what I could see."

Well, you could splurge (or ask your significant other for a special gift) and get an S2 and a lens for about $600 for a 2-day weekend (qualifies as daily rate). The danger, of course, is that you'll love it.


But, read my prior post regarding current S2 costs...still huge, but now closer to only two D800E's rather than three and a half (body only)!

I believe "designed for digital" lenses have coatings on the rear element to deal with light reflected off the sensor. Film reflects less light.

I have been using the S2 for over two years and can attest to the S-System lenses being just stunning - better than anything I have ever used which includes, Hasselblad, Fujinon, Rodenstock, Schneider, Pentax 67, Mamiya, Olympus, Canon, Nikon etc etc. The 120 macro is crazy sharp with a superb bokeh - I'd love to put it on some sort of hi-res MDB like an IQ280 to see what it can really do.

One thing to consider regarding cost is that they are virtually future proof - the 37.5MB sensor in the S2 and S does not come close to doing justice to the lenses' resolving abilities. Anything they might bring out with a higher pixel count will work with these lenses, and they are built to last too. I'd wouldn't be surprised if they would resolve fully on a sensor of over 120MP.

I am still waiting to get my hands on the new 24mm, in fact any of the new stuff. It's slow arriving in Australia, the M240 has only just arrived but I expect to get my grubby paws on the new toys in the next few weeks with a bit of luck.

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