In the world of Leica lenses, most seem to be either a 35 or 50mm photographer. I used to be a true 50mm lens afficionado, but in the last three years I have gravitated towards 35mm. In my opinion, 35mm is the ideal travel and environmental focal length. It is not too wide and if you do not come too close the lens is still very flattering for environmental portraits.
2022 was an exciting year for Leica Camera AG that released two remade 35mm lenses: The Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 “Close Focus” (and two extra aperture blades), and the reissue of the 1961-classic and legendary – often mythical – Leica 35mm f/1.4 “Steel Rim”.
Both are Summilux f/1.4 lenses, but besides sharing the same focal length and aperture, they couldn’t be further apart when it comes to character and rendering. Let me elaborate on my experiences with the Steel Rim:
Leica has a long history with 35mm lenses. In the film days they wanted to offer a small but very fast lens. Which led to the birth of the first 35mm Summilux Steel Rim (1961), which also is the most compact Summilux you can find. A very compact lens with a signature glow, as well as halos it you tease it a bit.
This 35mm Summilux “Steel Rim” was the only Leica lens to have a prominent steel front ring for mounting it’s OLLUX hood (which is also included with the remade 2022 version), and with no more mystery to it than just that, it came to be known as the “Steel Rim”.
Not perfect, but beautiful
The Leica 35mm Summilux-M Steel Rim is not a perfect lens. It has its shortcomings – which also define the refined and special character that is the reason for the re-issue. (Another reason for the re-issue is that the original 1961-model is so rare that the price of one can easily set you $40,000 back).
The 35mm Steel Rim is soft wide open, has a lot of chromatic aberrations, creates halos and has some wild bokeh.
You could say that it is the opposite of the modern 35mm APO-Summicron-M. What was so far the shortcomings of 1961-technology, even when the lens designer Dr. Walter Mandler and his staff tried their hardest back then, is now considered soulful and charming – and worth a reissue. Be happy you live in a time where both the imperfect 1961 is again available, alongside the latest and greatest in the 35mm APO designed by lens designer Peter Karbe and his team, where all the charming imperfections has been corrected.
35mm Steel Rim used to be a very limited lens
The 35mm Steel Rim had a very short production run of only 7,500 units between 1961 and 1966 as product catalog no 11 869. It came in two versions: The one we see today (made to fit the Leica M2 then), as well as a Goggled version (to fit them Leica M3 then). And in two color variants, the standard silver chrome and the extremely rare black one. All with an infinity lock where the lens is supposed to be locked at infinity focusing when not in use.
All the 35mm Steel Rim lenses came with the unique OLLUX hood made for just this lens and not compatible with any other Leica lenses. The OLLUX hood is a clip-on shade and the original from 1961 was and is sold for up to $2,000 on eBay and in camera stores.
The filter thread on the original Steel Rim is 41mm, which the Steel Rim shared with the 50mm Summarit f/1.5. Also not a usual filter size – most Leica lenses are 39mm, 46mm, 49mm and 60mm.
The Goggled version (for Leica M2) can focus down to 0.65m whereas the non-goggled version’s closest focusing distance is t 1m. On the collector market the non-Goggled version is much more appreciated and hence is almost double the value of the goggled version.
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The history of Leica 35mm Leica Summilux lenses
The Leica 35mm Steel Rim (1961) was replaced with the Leica 35mm Summilux f/1.4 Version II (1966 ), the so-called “Pre ASPH”, version no 11 870) with the transitional model sharing the same optical formula as the Steel Rim, but the lens received “a slight redesign to accommodate a different lens shade with Series VII filter compatibility.”
This second version went on to be produced for nearly 30 years, until it was upgraded to an aspherical model Leica 35mm Summilux-M Aspherical f/1.4 III (1990), the so-called Double-Aspherical, catalog no 11 873.
After a short run of this first Aspherical lens that was hand-grinded and now rare and expensive, the Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Version IV (1996), catalog no 11 874; and then the Leica 35mm FLE (2010), "Floating ELemements" model no 11 663 that was the first Leica lens to have floating elements so as to accommodate the very precise glass focusing surface of the digital sensor in the Leica M9.
I am fortunate to have owned the original Steel Rim with OLLUX shade for a while, and now the new one: I was of course more than happy when the product manager of Leica Camera AG offered me to beta test this lens so I could compare the 2022 reissue with the original 1961 version.
As with all the reissues it isn’t an exact copy, Leica have adjusted both the outer and inner mechanics. The outer dimensions are different, which implies that one cannot use the new OLLUX shade on an old Steel Rim and vice-versa. The reissue Steel Rim also swapped out the 41mm filter thread for a 46mm thread.
Whole this might be unfortunate for owners of an original Steel Rim who lost their shade, this make the Steel Rim available to new users with a more standardized 46mm thread, and as a bonus prevents Frankenstein models appearing on the collector market.
The reissue comes with two shades: the OLLUX-styled shade and a more traditional threaded round shade which allow to stack 46mm filters between the lens and the shade (which unfortunately produces vignetting - Leica is working on another deisng of this. You can get the Thorsten Overgaard E46 ventilated shade which has a screw for 52mm filter in the front so as to aboid vignetting on the Steel Rim). The lens itself is made from brass and satin silver chrome finish like the original, though lacks the brass elements inside the original had, which makes the reissue lighter (211g) compared to the original (233g).
The second shade for the Steel Rim is an E46 ventilated shade so you can use filters (Leica product no 12 486). Unfortunately this one produces vignetting, so Leica is working on making another version. Or use the Overgaard E46 ventilated shade. Photo: David Farkas.
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Leica Summilux Steel Rim 2022: Updated coating
Leica’s optical engineers have copied the original formula of the lens but the coatings have been improved and this means there will be a small difference in rendering between the original and the reissue Steel Rim.
I have noticed this when testing both, the original Steel Rim has an even wilder bokeh, more glow and crazy reflections when using it with a light source close to the lens. Don’t get me wrong: the reissue is very close in rendering to the original one with a significant glow when shooting wide open, a very dreamy bokeh and often crazy halos. It is soft wide open (but sharper than the 90mm f/2.2 Thambar and even the Noctilux 50mm f1.2), very sharp in the center once stopped down to f/2.8.
The size and the dual character of this lens makes it a wonderful travel companion. I love this lens for portraiture as it is sharp enough wide open, but creates soft skin textures and a drawing which I can’t get with any other 35mm lenses. The only downside for me is the 1 meter close focus, but as I that precent to move too close when doing portraits (which would result in distortion) this is not a big drawback for me.
Ergonomically speaking, the aperture and focus ring are very close to each other, and this needs some time to get used to. Focusing and aperture are very smooth but decisive.
When we speak about the King of the Night, we often think about the Noctilux range but I feel the Steel Rim comes alive at night. It is the lens I would bring to a smoky jazz club or a bar, but also street scenes and Christmas markets. The results of the Steel Rim are often unpredictable, which makes it a very fun lens to use.
The biggest strength of the vintage line of lenses like the 28mm Summaron f/5.6, the 90mm Thambar f/2.2 and the 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 is theirs classic rendering in a new improved package.
Lenses which often are too expensive on the used market are now available to all Leica enthusiasts, and with better coatings and a warranty. I always find it a pity to see that collectors do not use these heritage lenses much, keeping them on display in a collection. Like a classic car should be driven, all these gems are meant to be used.
Over the few months I used this lens I must admit I left my original Steel Rim in the closet and instead enjoyed the reissue. I took it everywhere for some of my new work with professional models, on holidays and even to a wedding in Italy.
It is a classic 35mm lens which has such a different character compared to the other modern offerings from Leica. I believe this is a very good addition to any collection!
Could it be used as a daily driver? Maybe, yes. It is small and once stopped down it becomes very sharp, but I would expect most would add this vintage lens to a combination of a modern 35mm lens like the 35mm f/1.4 FLE or the 35mm APO f/2.0.
On request by many I have created a special dedicated Facebook group for this lens where you can find photos taken with the Steel Rim. And of course on my Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/milanswolfsphotography
1:2/50 the description says. But what does it mean?
1: - Basically means 1 divided with. But why is it on the front of the lens? If you look close, a lens will often say 1:2/50mm on the front, meaning it is a 50mm lens with an f/2.0 apterture. The 1: itself is a ratio, that indicates that the aperture diameter (25mm) is the ratio of 50mm divided with 2.
It's a strange way of writing product information on modern products, but here's how it's right:
a) A lens is called a 50mm lens because there is 50mm from the sensor to the center of focus inside the lens.
b) A lens is f/2.0 when the widest opening is 50mm divided with 2 = The lens opening is 25mm in diameter at it's widest. Had it been an f/2.8 lens (1:2.8/50), the widest aperture opening would be 50mm divided with 2.8 = 17.8mm.
AEL = Auto Exposure Lock. This is a function that can be used when you want to reframe the scene, but keep the current exposure from changing. By default the Leica Q locks both Exposure and Focus when you press the release button half down.
AFL = Auto Focus Lock. This is a function that can be used when you want to reframe the scene, but keep the current focusing from changing. By default the Leica Q locks both Exposure and Focus when you press the release button half down.
AF = Auto Focus. The idea is that the camera does the focusing itself (the word auto comes from Greek "self").
AF Assist Lamp = The little red lamp on the front of the Leica Q that will light up in dark places so as to help the Auto Focus to see in the dark. If you put a hand in front of the lens and press the shutter release button you can see it in action.
Aperture = The f/ stop on the camera that regulates how much light passes through the lens. On a f/1.7 lens the lens is fully open" at f/1.7. At f/2.0 the aperture inside the lens make the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/1.7 passes through. For each f/-stop (4.0 - 5.6 - 8.0 - 11 - 16) you halve the light. The aperture of the lens is basically the focal length divided with the f/-stop = size of the hole (28mm divided with f/1.7 = the hole is 45 mm). ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
The camera in Aperture Priority Mode
Aperture Priority Mode. When the shutter speed dial on top of a Leica camera is set to A, it is short for “Aperture Priority” and allows the user to set a specific aperture value (f-number) while the camera selects a shutter speed to match it that will result in proper exposure based on the lighting conditions as measured by the camera's light meter. In other words, you set the aperture as priority (f/1.4 for example), and the camera calculates a shutter speed (1/250 of a second) that matches that. If you change the aperture to f/2.0 by changing the aperture ring on the lens, the camera will re-calculate the speed to 1/125 so as to get the same amount of light to hit the sensor (f/2.0 is half the light through the lens as f/1.4 and 1/125 if twice the amount of light on the sensor as 1/250).
ASPH = (Aspherical lens) stands for "aspheric design".
Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius
of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by
grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design
however restricts the number of optical corrections that can
be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible.
ASPH lenses (a-spherical, meaning non-spherical), however, involve usually 1 element that does
*not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements
can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic,
or 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element
is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical")
shape. This design allows Leica to introduce corrections
into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically,
the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation)
due to increased correction of the image, in a package not
significantly bigger than the spherical version.
There is another Aspherical lens manufacture technique: an uneven coating layer is applied to a spherical lens. The coating is thicker on the edges (or on the center, depending). Canon "Lens Work II" calls these "simulated" aspherical lenses. Simulated and Glass-Molded (GMo) asphericals show up in non-L Canon lenses, while the L lenses have actual ground aspheric elements.
A- means non, or without.From Latin, ex.
Sphere: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira "ball".
Normal spheric lens (grinded)
ASPH (note the shape of the glass as result of pressing rather than grinding)
Auto- means “self”. The idea is that when a camera has auto-(something), it does that (something) by itself.
Banding = Noise in digital images. Horizontal lines in a horizontal picture (if the camera is in portrait mode/vertical, the lines will obviously be vertical). It's simply noise; the result of uncontrolled algorithms working overtime with an image the sensor really can't see because it's very dark. (If your image has vertical lines in it, it is more likely that the sensor needs remapping).
This image at 6400 ISO, underexposed and then brought up to correct exposure in Lightroom, displays banding: Horizontal lines in the image. Leica M-D 262 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.
Base ISO = The ISO the digital sensor was born with. Even a digital sensor goes from say 50 ISO to 25,000 ISO, it only has one base ISO. Any other setting is an algorithm that figures out how the image whould look if there was 64 times more light, or half the light, etc.
When you go down from Base ISO (for example 200 to 100 ISO), you can expect a
decrease in quality. When you go up, the decrease is much less. For some sensors, you loose 2-3 stops by going down 1 step in ISO, but can go 8 steps up and only loose 1 stop in dynamic range. Basically, your ISO range should be from Base ISO and as far up as you can, before you see visible decrease in quality (mostly 3200 ISO - 6400 ISO).
Base ISO for Leica M9 is 160 ISO, for Leica M240 it is 200 ISO. For Leica M10 it is around 160 ISO. For Leica M Monochrom it is 320 ISO. For Leica Q and Leica Q2 it is around 100 ISO. For Panasonic Lumix S it is 200 ISO. For most Canon cameras the base ISO is around 100, for most Nikon cameras it is around 200 ISO.
Bokeh = The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens: It's a matter of taste and usually photographers discuss a 'nice' or 'pleasant' bokeh (the out-of-focus area is always unsharp, which is why the quality discussed is if one likes the way it renders or not by a particular lens). The closer you get to something, the 'more' bokeh' you get (in that the focus becomes less for the background and foreground at close distances than at long distances). ORIGIN from Japanese 'bo-ke' which mean 'fuzzines' or 'blur.'.
Camera -is today’s short name for Camera Obscura (meaning “a dark room”). CamerameansChambre and was used only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers’ rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”. In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”. Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
Why is it called a "camera"..?
The word Camera is today's short name for Camera Obscura (which originally means “a dark room”).
Origin of the word Obscura means "dark" or "covered", and the word Camera meansChambre and was used originally only as a Latin or alien word, actually only for Spanish soldiers' rooms, until popularized in connection with photography in 1727: “Camera Obscura”.
In 1793 the slang term “camera” was used by Sterne Tr. Shandy: “Will make drawings of you in the camera” and by Foster (1878), “The eye is a camera”.
Ibn-al-Haytham mentioned Camera Obscura in his "Book of Optics" in 1021.
The concept of Camera Obscura was described by Iraqi scientist Ibn-al-Haytham in his book, “Book of Optics” (1021) and by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500; popularized and made widely known in 1589 by Baptista Porta when he mentioned the principle in his book “Natural Magic”. Johannes Kepler mentions Camera Obscura in 1604.
Camera = chambre (room), Obscura = dark (or cover).
C = Continuous shooting. In the menu of the Leica Q2 under the menu point Continuous Shooting you can define if the Continuous should be Low (3 fps), Medium (5 fps) or High (19 fps).
Central Shutter = Some lenses, for example the Leica S lenses and the Leica Q where a shutter is located in the lens itself. In most cameras there is a shutter curtain just in front of the sensor, and in SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras there is also a mirror in front of the shutter curtain.
In the Leica T/TL/TL2 the shutter is in front of the sensor, but only acts to "refresh" the sensor. In the Leica TL2, there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter times. A digital shutter is simply "turning on/off the recording of the sensor.
CMOS sensor (as used in Leica CL, Leica T/TL/TL2, Leica M 240, Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, Leica S Typ 007, Leica SL, Leica Q, Leica Q2, Leica M10, Leica X, Leica D-Lux, etc.) = (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) chips use transistors at each pixel to move the charge through traditional wires. This offers flexibility because each pixel is treated individually. Traditional manufacturing processes are used to make CMOS. It's the same as creating microchips. Because they're easier to produce, CMOS sensors are cheaper than CCD sensors. CMOS allow Live View and use less energy than CCD.
Contrast - The degree of difference between tones in a picture. Latin contra- ‘against’ + stare ‘stand.’
CS = Central Shutter = As in the Leica S lenses for the Leica S where a shutter is located in the lens itself. In most cameras there is a shutter curtain just in front of the sensor, and in SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras there is also a mirror in front of the shutter curtain.
In the Leica Q and Leica Digilux 2 the shutter is in the lens which makes the camera mirrorless as well as very quiet because there is not a metal shutter curtain going up and down in front of the sensor.
Depth - Distance between front and back. Distance from viewer and object.
Digital Zoom = Refers to zooming in on a scene digitally. All that happens is that the camera zooms into the area of the sensor and records only that. The quality will be less as it's a smaller part of the same recording. Zoom is originally used for an optical zoom lens where optics move inside the lens so as to enlarge the subject optically. This does not reduce the image quality/resolution the same way as digital zoom does. Generally, digital zoom can be performed on any picture later in the computer as it's in essence simply a crop.
In the Leica QDigital Zoom refers to the possibility to change the crop from 28mm to 35mm or 50mm (and for the Leica Q2, 75mm as well). Choosing a different "digital zoom" simply shows frame lines for the chosen focal length in the EVF and in the final image (that is in fact the full 28mm frame), there is a pre-selected crop for the chosen frame when you open the image in Lightroom or Capture One Pro.
Digital Shutter = A digital shutter is simply "turning on/off the recording of the sensor. In the "old days" this had to be done with an actual mechanical shutter curtain; a metal curtain in front of the sensor (or film) that goes up for 1/125th of a second, for example. In the Leica TL2, there is a mechanical shutter curtain from 30 sec. to 1/4000 shutter times, and digital shutter from 1/4100 to 1/40,000 shutter times.
DIS = Digital Image Stabilization. This is a feature often offered in video recorders and some times for tele lens still photography (so as to avoid motion blur when the lens is moving during slow shutter speeds).
Lens distortion looks like this. The lines are not straight. Our eye uses distortion correction. Lens designers can design lenses so they have very little distortion, or they can make less complicated lens designs and "fix" the distortion in software.
Distortion = In photo optics/lenses: When straight lines in a scene don't remain straight because of optical aberration.
Lens designers can correct for distortion to a degree so the whole image field is perfect corrected and all lines remain straight. In modern lens design many designs rely on Software Distortion Correction (SDC).
The eye adjusts for distortion so we always see vertical and horizontal lines straight when we look at things. Even when you get new prescription glasses (if you use such), you will often experience distortion in your new glasses. After a few days they eyes have adjusted for the glasses and the distortion you saw to begin with is now gone. Software Distortion Correction (SDC) is far behind what the human eye can perform of adjustments. (Also see my definition on Perspective for more on the eye and optics)
DNG = Digital Negative, an open standard developed by Adobe. It is a single file that contains the raw image data from the sensor of the camera as well as date, time, GPS, focal length, settings, etc.
The alternative is a RAW file + XLM file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XML contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken.
A Camera Raw profile (that is specific for that camera) in the computer helps the software program, for example Adobe Lightroom, to translate the RAW data into the image.
A raw file (or DNG) is simply the full recording of digital data (1's and 0's) from the sensor. In the computer, the sensor data is translated into the exact colors, via a camera profile.
DOF = Depth of Field. This is how much of the image will be in focus or "acceptable sharp". The DOF is determined by the subject distance (the farther away, the larger area is sharp; the closer the focus is, the less of the lage is sharp), the lens aperture (the depth of field is narrow at f/1.4 and larger at f/5.6) and the focal length of the lens (tele lenses has very narrow depth of field whereas wide angle lenses has a wide depth of field) and film or sensor size (small-sensor cameras has a wide depth of field wheras medium format or large format cameras has a very narrow depth of field). As an example, a Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4 lens is sharp all over the focus field from 2 meter to infinity when set at a distance of 3 meters at f/3.4. The DOF scale measurement on top of the Leica lenses shows lines for each f-stop that indicates from which distance to which distance the image will be sharp. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance (which can be used to do selective focus; making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catches the viewers eye).
Depth Of Field scale from Fujifilm.
Dynamic range. The grade of ‘contrast range’ (or number of tones) a film or sensor, or simply a photograph, possess between bright and dark tones. The human eye is said to have a dynamic range of 10-14 ‘stops’ (but because we scan area by area and compile a concept of the overall scene, they eye is often thought to have a much higher dynamic range), Film used to have 7-13 ‘stops’ and some modern sensors have up to 15-17 ‘stops’.
EVF = Electronic ViewFinder. A viewfinder where you look at a small screen through optics/prisms. The advantage is that you see what the sensor sees.
Exposure Bracketing = The possibility to set the camera to automatically record a series of images where the exposure is above and below what the camera measures. The idea is that at least one of the images will be correctly exposed.
f/ (f-stop, also known as aperture).
f- (focal length). Often given in mm, for example 90mm. In the past they were often given in cm or inch, for example 9.5 cm or 3.2 inch.
f-stop = the ratio of the focal length (for example 50mm) of a camera lens to the diameter of the aperture being used for a particular shot. (E.g., f/8, indicating that the focal length is eight times the diameter of the aperture hole: 50mm/8 = 6,25 mm); or the other way around, the hole is the focal length divided with 8).
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: from f (denoting the focal length) and number.
One f-stop is a doubling or halving of the light going through the lens to the film, by adjusting the aperture riing. Adjusting the f-setting from f 1.4 to f.2.0 is halving the light that goes through the lens. Most Leica lenses has half f-stops to enable the photographer to adjust the light more precicely.
Flare = Burst of light. Internal reflections between (and within) lens elements inside a lens. Mostly, flare has a characteristic "space travel" look to it, making it cool. Particularly in older lenses with less or no coating of the glass surfaces to suppress this, it can be a really cool effect. In newer lens designs, the coatings and overall design try to suppress flare and any reflections to a degree, so that there is seldom any flare to be picked up (moving the lens to pick up a strong sunbeam), but instead a "milking out" (or "ghosting") of a circular area of the frame; meaning simply overexposed without any flare-looking flares.
Sunlight creating (fairly supressed) flare in the bottom right quadrant of the image of a modern lens.
Fn = Short for Function. It's a button you can program. In the Leica Q it is by default set to be White Balance, so when you press it, you can choose which White Balance setting you want. You can press again and another function comes up. To complicate matters more, you can program the FN button to your own likes.
A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle
Focal length = On the Leica Q it is 28mm and originally referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens. Nobody uses that measurement, except those who construct lenses! For users of lenses, focal length refers to how wide the lens sees. The viewing angle, which is often given in for example 90° viewing angle for a 21mm lens, 74° viewing angle for a 28mm lens, 6° viewing angle for a 400mm lens, etc.
Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120° to 200° angle of view, but focus only in the center.
Focus, in - Sharp and clear in appearance. Focus - “The burning point (of a lens or mirror)”. In Latin the word focus meant fireplace or hearth. The word was probably first employed outside of its Latin literal use as “the burning point of a lens or mirror” in optics, and then came to mean any central point. The German astronomer Johannes Kepler first recorded the word in this sense in 1604.
Full Frame (FF) = The size of the sensor is 24 x 36mm which is the format Oskar Barnack and Leica Camera AG invented with the first Leica that was introduced in 1925. Many other formats invented since, such as APS, APS-C and all usually refer to Full Frame ratio, by which it means what size they have compared to Full Frame.
Full Frame is "king of photography"
The 24 x 36mm Full Frame format is so "king of photography" that it has continued to be the ideal for all cameras. Besides this, there exists Large Format cameras such as 4x5" (100 x 125 mm) and Medium Format 6x6 (60 x 60mm amongst other sizes in that area).
Hue = A color or shade depending on the dominant wavelength of red, green or blue. The word Hue comes from Swedish hy which is "skin complexion". It is independent of intensity, so often (in computer editing programs for example), Hue is an adjustment along Saturation which is (intensity of color as compared to white).
ISO = Light sensitivity of the camera sensor is given in ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It's a standard that was used in film and is now used in all digital cameras also. The base ISO for the Leica Q sensor is 100 ISO which means that this is what the sensor "sees". All other levels are computer algorithms calculating the effect as if the sensor could "see" more (hence noise at higher ISO levels).
ISO goes in steps of doubling: When the ISO is raised from 100 ISO to 200 ISO, the camera only need half the amount of light to make a picture. For each step in ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc the light sensitivity is doubled for the sensor (and the camera sensor only need half the light of the previous ISO to record the same image).
JPEG = A standard for picture format made in the 1990's by Joint Photographic Experts Group). Mostly referred to as JPG as in L1003455.JPG which would be the name for a JPG file from the camera.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - normally f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In the Leica Q the lens is a Summilux even it is a f/1.7 and not f/1.4.
LCOS (viewfinder screen in the Leica Q and Leica Q2) = Liquid crystal on silicon is a high-quality method for near-eye displays, better than LCD (Liquid-crystal display). There are two broad categories of LCoS displays: Three-panel and single-panel. In three-panel designs, there is one display chip per color, and the images are combined optically. In single-panel designs, one display chip shows the red, green, and blue components in succession with the observer's eyes relied upon to combine the color stream.
Leica = A compound word derived from " (Lei)tz" and "(ca)mera". Apparently they were originally going to use "LECA", but another camera company already used a similar name in France, so they inserted the 'i' to prevent any confusion.
Lens hood = (also called a Lens shade). A tube or ring attached to the front of a camera lens to prevent unwanted light from reaching the lens and sensor. In the past where lenses were not coated to prevent internal reflections inside the lens, the lens hood was often essential. These days where lenses are coated, the shade serves just as much as decoration and protection (bumper) as well. ORIGIN Old English hod; related to Dutch hoed, German Hut 'hat,' also to hat.
Lens hood or Lens shade attached to the front of the lens to prevent light rays from the side to hit the optics, which could introduce unwanted light and hence reduce contrast of the image. These days where lenses are coated, the shade serves as decoration and protection as well.
Level Gauge = This is a tool in the viewfinder to see if you hold the camera 100% horizontal and/or vertical. You can turn it on in the Menu > Photo Live View Setup > Level Gauge > On.
Light = Tiny particles called photons that behaves like both waves and particles. Light makes objects visible by reflecting off of them, and in photography that reflecting off of subjects is what creates textures, shapes, colors and luminance. Light in its natural form (emanating from the sun) also gives life to plants and living things, and makes (most) people happier. So far, nobody has been able to determine exactly what light is. The word photography means “writing with light” (photo = light, -graphy = writing). Read more about light in my book Finding the Magic of Light.
Live View = This is the ability to see the image the sensor see, live, via the screen of a digital camera, or via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
MACRO = Macro lens. The Leica Q2 lens can be turned to Macro which enables you to go close so as to enlarge smaller subjects. The word macro comes from Greek makros ‘long, large.’
Maestro II - A processor developed first as Maestro for the Leica S2 and upgraded to Maestro II for the Leica S (Typ 007). The Leica Q has a Mestro II (Leica Q edition) processor developed by SocioNext Inc. based on Fujitsu's Mibeault architecture.
Megapixel (or MP) - Millions of pixels. See pixel further down. How many units of RGB is recorded by a given sensor by taking height x widt. A Leica M10 delivers a 5952 x 3968 pixel file = 23,617,536 piexls. On a screen the resolution you choose determines the size of the image. Say you have a 5000 pixel wide file and your screen is set for 8000 pixels wide. Then the image will fill only the 5000 pixels fo the 8000 and the rest will be empty, If you then change the screen resolution to 5000 wide, the image would be able to fill out the whole screen.
Meßsucher (rangefinder or distance finder) = Mess = range, sucher = finder. It is always correctly written with the "ß". There are technically not three "s", rather the "ß" and one "s" because it is a word constructed by the combining of two precise words.
mm = millimeter(s), as in a 50mm lens. (Earlier in lens history lenses focal length was given in cm = centimeters; as in a 5 cm lens). For anyone used to centimeters and millimeters, it’s no wonder. But if you grew up with inches, feet and yards, you may have had a hard time grasping what a 50mm lens was. But as lenses were designed first in Europe, the metric system with centimeters and millimeters was used to describe lenses.
The reason a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens is that there is 50mm from the focus plane (the film or sensor) to the center of focus inside the lens. When photography was a young subject, it was engineers who made it all, and the users were expected to understand. The engineers were so into the making of the lenses, that it apparently never dawned upon them that today’s users would think of a 21mm lens as a wide angle lens rather than a lens where there is 21mm from the sensor to the center of focus inside the optics.
ND = Neutral Density filters are grey filters that functions as 'sunglasses' for lenses. They simply block the light so that a lens can work at for example f/1.7 in sunshine.
ND (Neutral Density) filters to put in front of lenses to reduce the amount of light that comes in. They don't have any other effect than that and doesn't change contrast, color or anything.
NFC = Near field communication is a technology that enables smartphones and cameras (or other devices) to establish radio communication with each other by touching the devices together or bringing them into proximity to a distance of typically 10 cm (3.9 in) or less.
PASM in the menu of the Leica Q is most likely is made up from the letters of a mode dial on a traditional camera. Nobody knows for sure.
PASM (screen mode) = Basically means that you are in control of the camera and haven't selected any of the Screen Modes available in the Leica Q menu. PASM is most likely short for P = Program Mode / A = Aperture Priority / S = Shutter Priority / M = Manual Control (... what Moron comes up with those silly abbreviation; and then don't explain them in the manual?).
Pixel - Made up word from Pix (picture) and el (element). A pixel is the smallest full-color (RGB) element in a digital imaging device. The physical size of a pixel depends on how you've set the resolution for the display screen. The color and tonal intensity of a pixel are variable, meaning that each pixel contains RGB. This is different from a camera sensor's small eyes (photosite) that are an intensity of either red, green or blue. You could say that the digital sensor's photosite (where each unit collects just one color; red, green or blue) is the input technology, whereas the pixels on a screen (where each pixel contains red, green and blue) is the output device. So while sensors are measured in megapixels (mega = million), it's their output unit of pixels, and not the input unit of photosites that is measured and stated. See illustration below.
S = Single image. When the ring by the shutter release on top of the camera (or in the menu of a digital camera in case it does not have this ring on the ourside) is moved from OFF to S, the camera takes only one photo at the time (Single). The other possibility is Continuous where the camera takes pictures continiously as long as the shutter release button is helt down. (see above).
Saturation: How colorful, intense or pure the color is. Less saturation would be less colorful, more saturation would be more colorful. In today’s photography, de-saturating a photo on the computer will gradually make it less and less colorful; and full de-saturation would make it into a black and white photo.
Sensor = A device that detects a physical property (like light) and records it. A camera sensor is a plane plate with thousands of small “eyes” with (photosites) a lens in front of each (CFA, Color Filter Array), which each individually records the amount of red, green and blue light rays that comes through the lens. Together, Red, Green and Blue form all colors of the spectrum, which becomes a pixel. Sensor comes from Latin sens- ‘perceived’.
Screen Mode = A menu point in the Leica Q that allow you to choose different pre-programmed ways of recording stills with the camera. For example Sunset, Snow/Beach, Fireworks, etc.
Nobody knows what the modes does but they sound helpful. Panorama (move the camera and it takes a series of images; just like iPhone) and Time Lapse (interval of images to record change) are also in the Screen Mode menu and may be useful. All screen modes are equally undefined in the manual, so all you can do is try and see if you can figure out what happened. PASM is the setting you use to avoid any pre-programmed modes (see above.
SDC = Software Distortion Correction. A correction of lens distortion (not straight lines) applied in the camera and which is part of the DNG or RAW file. In Lightroom or Capture One Pro the SDC of the camera file is applied automatically (and cannot be removed), in software like AccuRaw one can open the DNG file without the SDC correction. Sean Reid Reviews have written a good article on what SDC is and does in "Software Distortion Correction".
SDC (Software Distortion Correction): In Lightroom the correction profile for the Fujinon 23mm is applied automatically and cannot be turned off.If you go into Develop mode in Lightroom and look under Lens Correction > Profile, you will see a message in the bottom with an exclamation mark. When you click on that, you get the message above.
Shutter speed dial - The dial on top of the Leica M where you can set the shutter speed manually. It can also be set to A which stands for Aperture Priority (where the camera suggests a shutter speed; or when you move the dial away from A, the camera will show arrows in the viewfinder, suggesting which direction to change the Aperture to, to get the correct exposure).
Shutter speed dial set to 1/1000 of a second.
SLR = Abbreviation for Single-Lens Reflex; the lens that forms the image on the film/sensor also provides the image in the viewfinder via a mirror. The Leica Q has no traditional viewfinder and no mirror. the image seen in the EVF is what the sensor sees.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities). In Leica terminology a Summilux is always a f/1.4 lens and a Summicron is a f/2.0 lens. In the Leica Q2 the lens is f/1.7 but is called a Summilux because it is closer to f/1.4 than f/2.0.
Three-dimensional = Having the three dimensions of height, width and depth. In photography and lens design, three-dimensional effect is also the perception of even small micro-details; the texture of skin can appear flat and dead or three-dimensional and alive. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of depth. Also see Perspective.
Ventilated Shade - A shade is a hood in front of a lens that provides shade from light going straight onto the lens from outside what you are photographing, which could cause internal reflections like flare, which would make the picture less contrasty.
The ventilated shade has holes so it doesn't obstructs the view from the viewfinder. In many of today’s mirrorless cameras where there is no viewfinder looking ver the lens, so there is no actual need for a ventilated shade; but they are considered classic or vintage looking and are still in high demand. It makes no difference for the purpose of the shade (to create shadow) if it is ventilated or not.
Ventilated Shade for the Leica Q. I make ventilated shades for most lenses and sell them from here.
Viewfinder = a device on a camera showing the field of view of the lens.
1) A built-in viewfinder in a camera that simply show the frame you get when you look through the viewfinder.
2) A rangefinder viewfinder which is also used to focus the lens. In Leica M cameras two pictures has to meet and lay 'on top of each other' for the picture to be in focus.
3) An external viewfinder, usually on top of the camera in the flash shoe, so as to show the field of view of lenses wider than what the built-in viewfinder can show (15mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm etc viewfinders exist)
4) Very simple "aiming-devices" on top of a camera that is simply a metal frame without any optics. Just a frame, as for example very old cameras (the original Leica), or when using cameras in diving where you can't look through the camera.
5) A Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) that shows what the sensor sees "live".
- Milan Swolfs & Thorsten Overgaard
Index of Thorsten Overgaard's user review pages on Leica M9, Leica M9-P, Leica M-E, Leica M9 Monochrom, Leica M10, Leica M10-P, Leica M10-D, Leica M10-R, Leica M10 Monohcrom, Leica M11, Leica M 240, Leica M-D 262, Leica M Monochrom 246, Leica SL, Leica SL2, Leica SL2-S, as well as Leica TL2, Leica CL, Leica Q, Leica Q2 and Leica Q2 Monochrom:
Leica Digital Camera Reviews by Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish-American multiple award-winning photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops to photographers. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via email.
You can follow Thorsten Overgaard at his television channel magicoflight.tv.
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