Thursday, March 05, 2009

PMA 2009 – Updates on the Leica S2

Thank you for all the comments and questions that you submitted. I made a list and went back to Leica on Wednesday for some answers. I hope I was able to answer everything. If not, post a comment and I'll try to ask today.


Q: How will service be handled?

A: All sales, service, marketing and support will be handled 100% through Leica and Leica dealers. The service structure will be handled completely differently to how it is now. Leica is fully aware of the missteps of the past and is creating a new infrastructure to handle pro-level support, both at Leica and through the dealer network. They realize the importance of service and support and understand that fast, reliable support is crucial to the success of the S2.


Q: Will there be live video display when tethered?

A: No. The sensor architecture doesn't currently support this, but Leica is looking at developing this, along with live view on the LCD for future cameras.


Q: Will there be an AF-on button on the vertical grip as well?

A: Yes. This is already in the works.


Q: What about a picture of the AF-on button?

A: This hasn't been added to the cameras brought to PMA.


Q: What software will support the S2 for RAW processing?

A: Leica and Phase One have a strategic alliance in place. Capture One was optimized for use with the M8, DMR, and D-Lux 4. The M8 and D-Lux 4 ship with a licensed copy of C1. Leica would obviously like to continue this with the S2, provided it provides the absolute best image quality available. Of course, the S2 uses the DNG format for storing RAW images, meaning that the photographer will be able to use whichever software he or she is most comfortable with. If a photographer is using Lightroom or Aperture for his workflow now, he would be able to continue using that software. And, because no lens correction is necessary, there would be very little sacrifice in overall quality.


Q: When will the vertical grip ship?

A: The grip will either ship with the camera at introduction, or a few weeks later. So, this should be readily available from the outset.


Q: When will Wi-Fi be available and will the EyeFi SD card work in the S2?

A: Leica has not tested the EyeFi card, but did explain that there would be a fair amount of RF interference in the camera body. The memory card door will be metal and might also block or degrade a wireless signal. So, until they test it, we probably won't know until someone with a production S2 tries it out and posts the results online.


Q: Where are the wide angle lenses?

A: The camera will most likely be available in late summer and will ship with the 70, 120, and 180. The 35 and the 30-90 zoom will ship a month or two later in early fall. The 35 is wide and the 30-90 covers a lot of bases for most non-studio shooters (no leaf shutter). The 24 will be the next up, shipping most likely in late fall. Leica realizes the need for wide angle lenses. As I posted online yesterday, it took Hasselblad four years between the H-system introduction and the availability of a 28mm lens. Mamiya only recently came out with their 28mm lens as well, about a decade into the 645AF system. So, I think Leica is way ahead of the curve here.


Q: There is a large gap between 35 and 70. Will this be filled?

A: The 30-90 zoom will certainly cover this gap. As far as fixed lenses go, Leica is, first and foremost, an optics company. While the system is shown with the first nine lenses, we need to assume that Leica will flesh out the lens lineup in the coming months and years. Just for a bit of perspective, I heard Dr. Kaufmann speak at the 2007 LHSA meeting where he said that Leica would be bringing 24 new lenses to market in the next 18 months. So far, Leica has introduced 1 7 new lenses since then! There are no less than 20 different lenses for the M system now, and about half of them are designs less than five years old. Leica is an optics company. They don't depend on partners to make lenses for them, meaning if and when they see a need for a lens, they can design and manufacture that lens on their time schedule and to their exact specifications. This is a huge advantage.


Q: How much will it cost?

A: Leica is still not saying, except to reemphasize that the S2 will be competitive vs. existing MFD systems in the marketplace. The bottom line here is that we all (myself included) will have to wait to see what the price will be.


I hope this helps clarify things a bit. I went out last night and got to shoot with the new 18mm Super-Elmar and the 24mm Summilux. I will post pictures a bit later. Now, I have to run. About 20 forum members from the L-Camera-Forum and the GetDPI forum are joining me for a VIP demo of the S2 at the Leica booth this morning. Thanks again for the questions and comments.

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At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you David for the answers.

Would you find out about the mirror lockup, please?

Is there an easily-accessible button for mirror-lockup, and does it work in conjunction with the auto-bracketing, staying up until the series of exposures are finished?

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you ask about sensor cleaning as well?

Thanks again,

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

It is a disappointment for any studio shooter that the S2 will not support tethered live view.

May you clarify if non-live view tethering will be possible in C1?
Svetlana L.
Moscow, Russia

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So curious about the price.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks, David

Hasselblad's H4D-40 is taking the legs out from under the S2. It weighs only an extra 215 gms, not bad for a MFC with a 4:3 aspect ratio AND they already have a full lineup of excellent lenses to choose from, including a 35MM equivalent of 22MM in their wide angle prime (HCD 4/28). Sensor cleaning is much easier with the H4D as opposed to the S2 (no automatic sensor cleaning, so you have to work in a deep hole to clean).

More importantly to me, Hasselblad already has a 35MM equivalent 28-72 Zoom with their HC 4.0-5.6/35-90. My bet is Leica's similar zoom will outweigh the 1410gm HC 35-90 by around 200 or more gms, making weight a moot issue altogether!

Lastly, the H4D price is almost 5K less then the S2!

Leica might have the best glass, but I doubt most of us can see the difference when up against the HC lineup.

David, do you have any idea what Leica's 30-90 1:3.5 zoom will weigh?


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