In this first article, Thorsten Overgaard goes over the possibilities of the Leica SL3 and the future of medium format. More coming.
When is the Leica SL3 coming?
By Thorsten von Overgaard
Leica SL3 release date?
How did I know you would be asking that? Judging from the Leica SL release (October 15, 2015) to Leica SL2 (November 6, 2019) release, the Leica SL3 could be announced around spring 2024 (or if a surprise release, as early as November 2023). But remember that the Leica SL2 in silver was released in June 2023, so that put the release of the Leica SL3 towards 2024. With release date meaning that the camera is announced and some will be available on the day. And then the traditional Leica waiting list game will set in where dealers and customers will have to wait for production to catch up with the usual higher demand.
When will the Leica SL3 be released?
What will be new on the Leica SL3?
Not much to change, other than the usual updates such as more megapixels, higher ISO, and faster everything.
The Leica SL was a game-changer for the industry when it was released in 2015, and since then Canon R and Nikon Z have followed in the exact footsteps of Leica's genius idea of making a camera for the future that can take any type of lens.
At a time where the camera industry was certain that dSLR (digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras and tthe once also oh-so-popular "mirrorless cameras" would be taken over by smartphones .... oops! ... Leica reinvented the game with a system camera that would wax enthusiasm with photographers and have them invest in a whole new camera system. It really did work! Not surprisingly, because if something was popular once, it can become popular again.
The key in the Leica SL series is the "L-mount" that Leica's optical designer Peter Karbe designed and specified. His vision was to make a large enough bayonet diameter (but yet as compact as possible) that would allow for any future type of lens design – from 8mm fish-eye to 1600mm tele. The next step for Leica was to get Sigma, Panasonic (and more recently DJI drone manufacturer, Samyang, Astro and Blackmagic) on board in the "L-Mount Alliance," which means that they all make lenses that fit an L-mount camera (such as Leica SL3, Panasonic S cameras, and Blackmagic Cinema cameras). And then third-party lens designers like 7artisans and others joined the party and now offer L-mount lenses.
Leica and Panasonic have been working together on cameras since 2000, and it seems that Leica relies on Panasonic to do the heavy lifting in research and development in electronics and manufacturing, while Leica has a unique position as the world's superior lens designer and a very long tradition for making almost indestructible mechanics.
And if someone frowns at this, consider that Panasonic is about high-end technology and the right price to hit big sales numbers while Leica is about high quality and simplicity to satisfy the relatively few connoisseurs that want the best quality at (almost) any cost. It seems a pretty good merger of intentions and skills, somewhat like Porsche working with Volkswagen, without making the same products, but sharing technology and production know-how. (Porsche designed the first VW Beetle in 1938).
It stands as a testimony to it all that Leica made the Leica SL despite that 'everybody knew' the future would be smartphones. While Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, and many other big camera brands clearly were studying graphs of market trends and concluded the days of mirrorless and DSLR were ending soon, Leica saw the same graphs but still knew what was right: Smartphone cameras may be handy, but the world needs real cameras. So they made the Leica SL, a real camera. And what do you know? The world did need it, and it's been selling like hot cakes since 2015. So much that Nikon, Canon, and all followed their lead with Nikon Z (2018), Canon R (2018).
What it tells you is that Leica has a tradition of making cameras the way they should be, rather than trying to match what is modern or popular, and this is a good case study showing that this is how inventions and progress are made.
Anyone in their right mind would say, "No, why would it?" Then again, if we consider that the Leica Q3 (2023) was introduced with a flip-up screen, then the question is what we call "a good question". It may be just what the Leica SL3 needs to set it apart from the previous models. If the camera needs it, or if you need it for your photography, that is another question. But let's just say that it could happen. The Leica SL3 could in fact be equipped with a flip-up screen making it more versatile for video recording and for all types of photography.
Particularly as the Leica SL3 will be promoted also as a great video camera, a screen enabling you to do videos of yourself while seeing the screen... it's not that far out. And technically speaking, camera producers need to use features and parts that are used in other camera models as well. The main reason we got touch screens on cameras is because the widespread use of smartphones makes it easier to commission a touch screen than an ordinary screen.
The movie "Blonde" (2022) was shot with Leitz Cine Summilux-C lenses on ARRI Alexa XT cameras. Cinematographer: Chayse Irvin.
Leica SL3 will have lots of video features
Since the Leica SL (2015) was introduced, it was clear that it had an excellent sensor for video. So great that the expensive Leitz Cine lenses, Leica S lenses, classic Leica R lenses, Leica M, and Leica SL lenses were fitted for all sorts of video projects.
The original Leica SL (2015) is so great for video that it is the one I use for my Magic of Light Television with a set of wireless microphones connected. The remote control of video supplied in the Leica Fotos App are great, but for most video projects, you need a great EVF, screen, connections, and focus/auto-focus. All of which will improve in the Leica SL3 with the Panasonic S1H/BS1H and Panasonic S5iix as the role models to the degree it is feasible (the S1H is a dedicated video model, the SL3 is a still camera).
The Leica Q3 (2023) already introduced 8K video, so 8K is very likely in the Leica SL3. The Panasonic S1H (6K in 2019) managed to make it onto the Netflix list of approved cameras for productions, and that should be the goal for the Leica SL3 as well. Panasonic has a product heritage of video cameras. Hopefully, some of that know-how has influenced the Leica SL3.
Unlimited video recording time, raw footage, and all that. Yes.
The Leica SL2-S at work with all the connections in use.
Leica SL3 Auto Focus improved: The need for speed
The speed of autofocus is to a camera what distance range is for electric cars. Everything can be great and fine, but the camera brands with the fastest autofocus are simply the overall winner. Personally, I am no fan of any particular autofocus system. In fact, I prefer manual focusing even on the Leica SL and the Leica Q even though they offer autofocus. This gives me the freedom also to use manual focus lenses on the Leica SL3, like an old Minolta 85/1.2 lens or a Leica 50mm Noctilux f/0.95.
But the speed of autofocus is something Leica has worked on since the first Leica T model (2014) where they openly would envy Sony for the lightning-fast autofocus Sony cameras seemed miraculously to perform (a secret recipe for fast AF as well-kept as the recipe for Coca Cola).
With the new economical Leica 50mm Summicro-SL f/2.0 (2023) and Leica 35mm Summicron-SL f/2.0 (2023) that are more lightweight, they also have faster autofocus speed than previous Leica SL lenses. And Panasonic, who as we just spoke about, is on the backseat on technology development, released their new autofocus detection systems in the Lumix S5II, potentially putting them in line with the latest offerings from Sony, Canon, and Nikon. For video recording, the new AF system has gotten rave reviews.
It is almost unlikely that the Leica SL3 would not ditch the contrast-detect autofocus for a new hybrid phase-detect system (also known as 'PDAF,' which stands for phase detection autofocus). Call it what you'd like, and use any method you'd like, the autofocus is going to be faster in Leica SL3.
The Leica SL (2015) and Leica SL2 (2019) are full-frame cameras, meaning a 24x36mm sensor size. This is the classic format that Leica made popular when they introduced the first Leica in 1925 and thus made 'full frame' the de facto standard for most photography ever since.
But Leica dabbled with wanting to be Hasselblad in the early 2000s and, hence, introduced the Leica S in September 2008 with a 'medium format' 45x30mm sensor. The back story was that Leica wanted to buy Hasselblad, but they wouldn't sell. Hence, the majority owner of Leica Camera AG, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, decided to make a Leica S medium format camera and embarked on the expensive research and development process to make that a reality. True or not, it's a good story, and even better because the Leica S became successful enough to justify the efforts. But even better, the Leica S became the predecessor of the subject we are discussing here: The Leica SL3.
The Leica S is in many ways the grandfather of the Leica SL because, without the daring development of the Leica S, the technology platform from which the Leica SL is derived wouldn't exist. The Leica SL is, in simple terms, a mini version of the powerful and very high-end Leica S system. Stephan Schulz, who was in charge of the Leica S evolution at Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar, is now responsible for the Leica SL3. In the odd irony of life, the future Leica S may take its lessons from the Leica SL.
Leica S medium format discontinued as of September 2023
Leica semi-officially and a bit prematurely announced in September 2023 (via this French article) that the Leica S is now discontinued. There are ongoing discussions internally at Leica on how to break the news, but I think it can be said as simply as this: The Leica SL2 and Leica SL3 take Leica S lenses via an adapter, and a future Leica SL with a medium format sensor will become a reality, as early as 2024-2025, which will take Leica S lenses and Leica L lenses (and any other brand).
The Leica S lenses are unique in their image quality and fingerprint, and the Leica S camera bodies are unique with their medium-format sensors. It serves the Leica S lenses well to be used on a Leica SL3, but probably even better on a future medium format L-style camera. More on that later in an upcoming article about the Leica S and Hasselblad that takes a closer look at the history of using Leica S lenses and why they are so superior.
The Leica SL will lead to medium format, I am certain about it. Leica majority owner Dr. Andreas Kaufmann already hinted that Leica would introduce a 'mirrorless medium format' around 2025. But it might be too early to expect it in the Leica SL3. Rather, it is more likely that a new camera model will derive from the size and technology of the Leica SL3 and will have its own price point.
How the SL lenses will perform - if at all - on a medium format version, is a question I haven't even tried to find the answer to. I suspect they'll do the job. But I can tell as much that if you take a Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (2005) manual focusing lens made for the Leica M series, and you mount it on a Hasselblad X1D, not only will it fill the entire 43.8 x 32.9 mm sensor satisfactorily (with slightly darker corners in some cases), it will make the image quality of the Hasselblad explode! A lens of this caliber releases details, color fidelity, and pop that you wouldn't otherwise see the sensor capable of. The Leica SL medium format will be the so-called Leica ProFormat, which is 30x45mm.
Medium format sensors love Leica lenses, that much I can promise.
No, the Leica SL3 will maintain the proportions of the Leica SL2, and an eventual future medium-format version will likely have the same proportions as the Leica SL3 as well.
But now that you ask, a smaller Leica L-mount body is expected in 2024. You might remember the Leica CL (2017, Typ 7323), which was a Leica L-mount camera with an APS-C format sensor. It was a camera I personally was not very impressed with due to reasons of build quality and overall un-simplified controls (see my video review here). Leica announced in 2022 that they would discontinue the Leica CL and any other APS-C format cameras like the Leica TL2 (2017) and focus on full-frame format cameras in the future. Many Leica CL users were genuinely disappointed. I would say the disappointment was so significant that even I started giving long looks at Leica CL cameras for sale. 'Should I get one before it's too late?'
It seems the Leica CL will come back in some form, with a full-frame sensor, just as I expect a compact new camera model to come out that takes Leica M lenses, based on the design of the Leica Q. Wait, did I just say that? Please do me a favor and erase that mention from your memory. But do keep an eye out for the new Leica CL with a full-frame sensor in 2024-2025.
On a side note, the comparable Nikon Z9 is almost twice as heavy (1340g) as the Leica SL (840g), so even you and I might feel the Leica SL is a larger camera, it is still fairly compact in comparison. Canon R3 is 1015g.
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Medium format is here to come back
The idea of medium format always was to have a lot of details, definition, sharpness, and less noise (as the noise particles are relatively smaller when the format is larger). Perfect for product photos, architecture, landscape, and fashion, which has always been the home court for medium format.
Oh yes, medium format also has a different look because the depth of field changes with the format. Medium format is just excellent for portraits, for example, it gives a unique dreamy look that no photography or any painter can make.
Then it happened that "full frame is the new medium format" because as the megapixels and all sensors went up, the need for a large sensor to capture a lot of pixels just ceased to exist. We could meet for a cup of coffee and agree that medium format is soon dead and that the Leica S, Hasselblad, and them all will die soon.
Well, the 101 of photography is that things change. While we might have agreed in the year 2000 that nobody would ever want or need a 50MP sensor, that is not how we see things anymore. Even a teenager demands a 50MP sensor in his smartphone.
The limit for how minute details sensors and lenses can capture, and how minute details screens and printers can display, seems to have no upper limit as time goes by. It's all very logical if you look at television. We all thought it was so "sharp and detailed" back then, but today we look at the same resolution and wonder how we could even tell the faces from each other in that muddy blur of a screen image. In other words, what we can imagine about the future might not be as clear and accurate as what the world looks like when seen from that said future.
And then there is this to it: The past seemed so great at the time, but often when you revisit the past of cameras, lenses, smartphones, cars, and similar, you realize how far we have come and how well the technology of the past fulfilled our expectations then, but that our expectations have moved on since.
My iPhone 1 with System OS 1.0 that I bought (again) in 2023. It was the future back in June 2007, but realistically, now it is just cute ... and history so ancient it feels revisiting a past life.
All this to say this: A medium format sensor in a Leica SL3 is not out of the question. Rather, the question is, "How do we get it in there?"
Good thing it means that the Leica S quality will be affordable - in the Leica way. The future medium format Leica SL camera will share platform with Leica SL3 and cost less than the $20,000 Leica S3 (2020), and my guess is that you can get a Leica SL medium format camera for $10,000 or less. Fujifilm GFX 100 II (2023) is $7,500 and Hasselblad X2D (2022) is $8,200.
The Hasselblad is the iconic medium format fans talk about, but if you examine the great photos and portraits of the film days, you will notice that most of the photos were made on Mamiya and Pentax 67.
Where this leave the future of medium format, your guess is as good as mine. But medium format is coming back.
Sean Connery by Herb Ritts using Mamiya 6x7 medium format.
Moving sideways while maintaining the past
Sideways product development would be to make other editions of something that already works. As opposed to making new editions and scrapping the old ones.
To return to the Porsche and VW example, Ferdinands Porsche's grandson, Ferdinand Piech, became chief of Volkswagen 1993 - 2002. His revolutionary "platform strategy," which involved using the same basic design for different car models and adding bespoke components on top, allowed scale and was credited with saving the company. Fundamentally, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Porshce, VW, Bentley, Lamborghini and Ducati are now all part of a platform from which different brands and features arise. Yet, no one would dare say they are the same cars.
Why invent something new if what exists already does the job? The risk is that innovation for the sake of making new features just makes things more complicated, smart and less useable. As in the Leica M11 that is very innovative, but not as useable as the Leica M10.
The economy is kept going by buying, using, throwing out and buying anew, helped by the idea that products are being improved and thus one should buy the newer model. Modern economy, marketing and consumerism dictate that one buy a new of everything now and then 'to keep the economy going'.
A funny fact is that, in the Leica community, whenever a product is particular good, many tend to buy two of them so as to not having to live without it. Some of the examples of this is Leica Digilux 2 (2004) and the Leica R9 DMR (digital back 2006), as well as Leica M9 (2009), which are all owned in multiple copies by many.
While all I seem to talk about is "the next model", I acutally prefer to keep using something that works and that is familiar.
There should be room for more types of models, rather than one new model replacing the previous model every 18 or 36 months. The world has changed, I don't need a new model. I need an improved model. Which leads to this:
The Leica SL is a marvelous platform. From the first moment I got one in my hands, I saw it as a box with a sensor that I could put any lens on. A machine to record pictures. It was rather perfect when it came out in 2015, and the Leica SL2 offered a few ergonomic improvements and simplification of the user experience.
I would personally prefer to go with updates rather than new models. I have all Leica digital Leica cameras since 2004, some of them I have two or three of, and I have used everyone of them extensively. I have taken thousands of pictures, and written about them.
The viewpoint I have arrived at at this point is that it really doesn't matter that much which camera I use. It's the same photos I make.
A funny fact of the modern consumerism economy is that the more products you have on the shelf, the more you sell. This is particularly true when we are talking about retail shelves because the more choices offered that are yours, the more you would sell. As long as each product is profitable to make, it's all good.
This is even more true for Leica, where you meet many who have several, if not all, of the models offered. The result is that Leica releases about a new product a month: a new lens, an updated lens, a camera model, or a variation of a model.
The problem arises when the previous model becomes unavailable, as if we all agreed that new is better. With Leica users, it seems to be mostly that the older and more classic, the better. Apple has also adopted this sideways product development strategy in which they offer a new model every 18 months, but they maintain the availability of the previous models. They don't even bother to rename them. Thus, there is iPhone 15, iPhone 14, iPhone 13, and iPhone SE on the shelf. Fundamentally, there are 7 years of iPhone models to choose from, except the SE model that has been upgraded for speed every two years to stay current. You go to the store because of all the buzz about the new model, but maybe you like a color better that is offered only in an older model – or you happen to have three children, and they all want a new iPhone
How Leica perform their business model is not my problem. I look at it as a user and what I would want. And when someone ask me, "Should I upgrade to the new model?", there is only one choice in that question. Instead the question should be, "Which model should I get?" and then go buy that model as new.
Leica is different in the longevity of each camera model, because unlike a smartphone, a Leica M camera is 'as good as new' even 10, 20 or sometimes 50 years old. There is a large and profitable second-hand market due to this, which is what have kept independent dealers afloat for decades, and something Leica incresingly have wanted to gain control of. Leica Store Paris was the only store in the world that had second-hand a few years back, now almost all Leica Store's offer second-hand.
Both Apple and Leica have moved in the direction of maintaining previous models while releasing new models. But they've done it with one foot in each camp. On one hand, you want to have everybody throw away their old device and buy the new one. On the other hand, it is logical that if something is great, then why abandon it for a new one?
What if it doesn't get better than this?
Richard Gere on Horse 1, Poundridge, 1993. Photographed on Maniya by Herb Ritts.
Leica SL3: Realism vs Consumerism
In my personal choice of equipment, I move sideways. I tend to buy all that is new, but in my continuous production, I use old and new. The only factor is, how does it work for me?
In my recent travels, I brought a Leica SL (2015), Leica SL2 (2019), Leica M9 (2009), Leica M9 Monochrom (2012), Leica M10-R (2021), and a Leica M11 (2022). As you know, the big news in any camera is the megapixels. Always more. But my personal experience is that whether it's 18MP or 60MP doesn't change much. Not even the improved dynamic range that the last 14 years of technological development supposedly should have provided makes any significant difference to what I do and what I like in final photos.
It is almost like this: The simpler, the better. Even with dynamic range, the simpler and actually very limited dynamic range of the past - 6-stop dynamic range of film vs. 15 stops for the best digital sensors now - is somehow easier to deal with. Or, it just doesn't matter for the result.
The test is as simple as this: I have never had anybody look at my photos and ask for more dynamic range or more pixels. So it cannot matter much, can it? Yet, it is the main attraction in any new camera model in recent years.
My revolutionary new approach to my choice of cameras and lenses has become, 'Which camera and lens will make me enthusiastic to use today?' That's how one morning in London, it occurred to me that I could take the Leica SL2 out for the day. Childish to admit, but I had completely forgotten that I had the Leica SL2 with me, so when I pondered between the Leica M11, Leica M10-R, or Leica M Monochrom, realizing I could go with the Leica SL2 made me really enthusiastic!
Can I tell from the photo if it is one or the other camera? No, I cannot. Looking at a picture without my notes, I wouldn't be sure which camera I used. Often I presume a camera model based on the year the photo was taken. If I look at a photo from 2014, it was most likely the Leica M240. If the photo is from 2019, it was most likely the Leica M10. The file does contain keywords indicating which camera and lens were used, and I almost always have to check to make sure. It's never that I see a photo and instantly know it was taken with that camera. Even a color photo made into black and white can look like it was taken with the Leica M Monochrom. That is how little, in practical terms, the model, the dynamic range, the megapixels, and all play in. It means nothing.
What does mean something is how it feels to use the camera. Is it easy to carry at all times? Does it help you get the shot (and not get in the way of getting it)? Does it make you want to take the camera with you and use it?
Those are the things that make you love a camera like the Leica M9, the Nikon F2, the Leica M6, the Canon A1, the Canon 5D, and so on (and secretly hope they will always be around).
But cameras do not stay around. Soon comes the next model, and the previous one is discontinued. In some cases, it's a blessing, but oftentimes it blurs the concept of what was actually really good.
The Leica SL2-S (2020) is one example of sideways innovation. It's a Leica SL2, but in many ways, it is also the previous Leica SL (2015) with logical evolution added, and it was released as an alternative to the new Leica SL2 a year later.
The Leica M10-R (2020) is another example of sideways innovation. It's a Leica M10, but with an increased 40MP sensor, which is what one would expect in the next model. But here, it's a half-time release between the previous and the next model, and probably the best Leica M model available still. The Leica M10 models are well-tested and do the job. The Leica M10 model was a result of simplifications, a return to what had worked before and what the users liked, with the addition of an ISO dial (in itself a return to what used to sit on the top left of the camera, so the innovation was rather how to bring it back in a way that made sense and added usability that fit the camera).
The Leica M6 (1982-2002) was launched again in 2022, and the point was that it was exactly the same camera as it used to be. Nothing added, nothing changed. Just the same good old camera available as brand new from the factory.
In terms of the Leica SL, the original Leica SL has a really good sensor for video. And for stills, it has a beautiful look that some would call more of a film look and less of a digital look (The same is the case for the original Leica Q (2015) that has a more film-like look than the Leica Q2 (2019) and Leica Q3 (2023)).
The Leica SL2-S is sort of the Leica SL in a better body, with a better and simpler menu and fewer and more logical navigation buttons. The Leica SL2 with 47Mp is almost overkill.
I think the Leica SL2-S should have a long life ahead of it. It's a great, well-tested camera with an excellent 24MP sensor for stills and video. It's the Canon 5D of Leica's (by which I mean that the original Canon 5D (2005) was great for video and the next generations never surpassed it).
As consumers we are swimming upstream against a strong current of terminology and severe gadgeteerism. Idealism in short supply. Maybe the innovation was better invested in improving the image quality (not the number of pixels but how the overall image looks and feels), the battery time, a further simplification of menu, afamiliar feeling usability, improvements of the camera's balance and strap system.
The Leica SL2 already had higher scores on dynamic range on the DxO database than the Sony a1 and Nikon Z9, and the Leica S3 (2020) had extremely good dynamic range. All to point out that image quality usually is a center of attention for Leica. They have a staff of 30+ people working on output quality. The Leica M11 is the one fruit on the tree that didn't turn out that well in image quality, but let's not discuss that here.
Image quality is more than dynamic range, and it is certainly more than megapixels and resolution, though they all play a role in helping deliver the overall image quality.
Image quality, for me, is the overall clarity of the image, how natural it is, to the degree you feel you can touch the texture in an image and actually would feel the real texture of a tree, a face, a shirt, or a wooden table in the photo. And if not that; does it touch you emotionally?
Clarity is a refined word for sharpness because sharpness alone is often obtained by sharpening the edges of things to make them actually sharp, something our eyes don't do. We use our eyes to sense things. Have you ever wondered how, when you see a metal spoon with your eyes, you intuitively know, before touching it, what its temperature is going to be, how much it weighs, how it will sound when it hits another material?
Perception is not two-dimensional, and thus it is not about megapixels and sharpness, or even how many details are in the picture. It's about sensing things.
All of this to say that the sensor's ability to record this is an essential part of photography (and filmmaking). The other element that comes into play is the optical performance of the lens. This is the reason APO lenses exist and are so interesting, as they can capture every detail as if it were right there. Yet there is more to it than just APO; there is a lens designer's knowledge of how to compose glass types, coatings, aspherical elements, grinding, a simplistic or complex construction of optical elements. There is an art to lens design that machines cannot replicate because there are choices to be made on how to sense things rather than record them in two dimensions.
And then there is the final touch to it all, and that is you, because you direct the frame, the eventual use of selective focus, the scene and its light, tones, shapes, and colors. In fact, you are so essential to the image quality that even with not very high standards of optics or sensors, you could make a photo appear as if it was created with the best technology ever available.
The art of creating a photograph can transcend the available technical technology. A still from 'A.I. Artificial Intelligence,' (2001) shot with the Panavision Millennium XL2 and Zeiss Super Speed lens. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and director Steven Spielberg.
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Leica SL3 has 20% better battery performance
The Leica SL3 will take the new battery, BP-SCL6 (2200 mHa), which has an 20% optimized performance over the BP-SCL4 battery that was made for Leica SL, Leica SL2 and Leica Q2. This improved battery was released in 2023 for the Leica Q3 and also works for the Leica SL2 and SL2-S when you update their firmware.
Battery-comsumption is a weak point for any camera. The Leica SL models use battery for auto focus, screen/EVF and storing/playback of images, not to mention wireless features. You just can't enought battery power, so it's something that Leica have been working on improving. Reducing power comsumption in camera, but also put more mHa into each battery without making the battery larger or heavier.
Wireless charging is not likely to be a feature for the Leica SL3. The Leica Q3 has wireless charging, but only when attaching a handgrip to the camera that allow for wireless charging.
An USB-C connection for charging the Leica SL3 directly via cable to computer or charger is more likely.
Leica SL3 design philosophy?
It will look and feel as the previous Leica SL2, with minor adjustments. I expect the ports to include USB-C and maybe an upgraded quality of mini-jack plugs. These ports are hidden - which they should be as long as you don't need them.
The mini joystick on the back might change location or design, but there is really no reason for it. It has worked flawlessly so far. I use the mini joystick on the back of the camera for focus aid and not really anything else. For that, it is placed in the right place, and I would hate to see it moved to the right side of the screen (where it is on Q3 and M11).
If the Leica SL3 had a thumb support by the thumb wheel on the back, I wouldn't be surprised. It would provide an even firmer grip on the camera.
Apart from these small changes, the Leica SL3 embodies what is great about the SL series: It's a box to capture images onto its sensor. As such, you can mount Leica SL lenses on it, or any other brand or type of lens via an adapter. This is so unique, and what is called 'hybrid' - that a camera can capture any image projected onto its sensor.
It makes it incredibly versatile and simple to work with. In the case of the Leica SL, the button design and placement of buttons are so simple and intuitive that not much really needs to change.
Some have expressed a wish for more Fn buttons (Function buttons you can program), but I don't see a need for any more.
I could wish for a more attractive paint and covering of the Leica SL3. There's something about the aluminum bodies of SL and Q that is a little worn after some use, but also beautifully machine-like. I sometimes dream of a slightly different texture of the paint or a slightly different covering for the body. If we get it this time, you will know soon enough.
Ferrari 330 GTC (1966).
Leica SL3 is a super-versatile camera
The Leica SL is built to be a producer, a machine, for the studio, and for photographers who don't mind carrying a bit of equipment. While we probably cannot disagree that the Ferrari 330 GTC above is a beautiful design, this type of aesthetic look was clearly not what Leica aimed for when they made the first Leica SL in 2015. They aimed for a machine that can fundamentally handle any type of photo.
The Leica SL maybe is more like a Land Rover in it's design philosophy. Here Queen Elizabeth II with her Leica M, family and Land Rover.
The Leica SL concept is a metal box you can put a lens on, with as few dials, buttons, and features as possible. Imagine you take a Sony or Fujifilm camera, and then as an important Leica step, you remove every button, dial, blinking lamp, beeping sound, and menu item you can find to get rid of. Then you change it to a square box, and for future-proof functionality, you calculate the bayonet diameter so it will never be a problem for any future lens design. And then you fundamentally have a Leica SL. It does all that other cameras do, but it does it simpler.
You fine-tune the camera body a bit with a handgrip and a beautiful EVF, and it feels really good to use. And I guess someone at Leica made some thoughts about the inside of the camera, how to have space and flexibility for any future technology that they would like to fit inside.
With this rather simple basic concept, you can now mount any lens in the world, as long as you can find an adapter. But mainly, you can mount any Leica lens since the 1930s when it was a screw mount, any M lens mount, any Leica R mount lens, and then you can start exploring old and new lenses from other brands such as Hasselblad, Minolta, Nikon, etc.
Add to it all the tight, tank-like design of a Leica, made to last, and each button made to please the user who feels they are handling an expensive, professional device.
Only cost is size. You cannot make this philosophy work on a small camera body. If you want a small camera, you fundamentally want another type of camera that can only do some but not all.
Leica in Wetzlar, Germany was not destined to make SLR cameras. Yet they ended up making some, then not making any, and then inventing the mirrorless full-frame Leica SL. This is the short story.
In 1908, Oskar Barnack got the idea to make a compact camera. "Small negative, big print" was his concept. Back then, a camera was a large wooden box on a tripod, and the one operating it was usually versatile in chemistry and optics. It wasn't for normal people or hobbyists. Living in that reality, the idea of making a small camera was revolutionary.
Oskar Barnack made a prototype of the camera, and in the Ernst Leitz Factory (as it was called then), it went back and forth if they dared to take it on. They were the largest manufacturer of microscopes, and the Leitz family was one of the most wealthy in Germany. World War I (1914-1918) changed everything, and one of the things it changed was that Ernst Leitz lost a large part of the world market for telescopes. Despite the hard times for the economy, Mr. Leitz, against all advice, decided to move forward with the camera. He liked the idea, and he also saw it as a way to expand the company so they could employ the people in their community.
One of the original prototypes of the first Leica, in this case Oskar Barnack's personal camera, was sold on auction in 2022 for 14,400,000 Euro.
Read the article here.
In 1925, the first Leica camera was launched, and apart from its size, it also introduced and helped popularize the 24x36mm negative (also known as the "full frame" format). Amidst ridicule and laughter, the camera became a success first in Germany and soon worldwide. By the 1950s, any respectable professional press photographer used the Leica.
The first Leica SLR camera
By the 1960s, so-called SLR cameras started gaining overwhelming popularity. SLR means Single Lens Reflex and simply means that one, via a mirror, can see through the lens when framing and focusing. Initially, Leica probably thought of it as a stupid design and unnecessary compared to the superior, simple, and well-made Leica. But as time went by, they realized they had to come up with a better answer than just pretending it wasn't happening.
The camera they made was the Leicaflex film camera (1964), and it was built like a tank. In many ways, it feels and sounds like a Leica M film camera, except it has a reflex mechanism and a mirror.
Leica continued to make the SLR cameras, known as Leica R cameras, and made the most amazing Leica R lenses to fit them. In 2004, Leica released the first digital Leica R, which they did by making the DRM 10MP back that could be fitted on the Leica R8 and Leica R9 film camera. This back was and is one of the most amazing things ever made and was made together with Kodak and Imacon. However, when Imacon was sold to Hasselblad, they couldn't produce more digital backs. For a long moment, like a few years, lovers of the Leica R lenses waited for the Leica R10 digital camera. But Leica then announced that they would not make it. Instead, the R lenses could be used on the Leica M240 via a sensor.
But that is not the end of the story. It is about to take a surprising turn. Read on...
Big surprise, in 2015, Leica made not "the digital Leica R," but an entirely new concept, which was the Leica SL where SL stands for Single Lens and Reflex is omitted: Simply because there is no mirror and no prism to reflect the image into a viewfinder.
As mentioned elsewhere, nobody expected anybody to ever make a large camera again the size of an SLR camera. But that was exactly what Leica did. The Leica SL has the feel and size of a traditional SLR camera, except it is mirrorless (or "hybrid" as they are also called because you can put any lens on them).
The rest is legend: Nikon, Canon, and everybody else followed the trend in a matter of two years.
In retrospect, the Leica SL3 is the correct camera to come out with when we look at the origin of Leica. The Leicaflex was an answer to the threat from primarily Japanese camera producers that made SLRs very popular. But essentially, the SLR concept is a bit chunky and "not very Leica." In that sense, it was right to cancel the whole SLR idea in 2009. And it was also correct in 2015 to reinvent the idea of a camera from scratch rather than a mirrorless version of an SLR.
The joystick on the Leica SL3 is indispensable. When you manually focus, you press it to zoom in so you can nail the focus. When you use auto-focus lenses, you press it to focus on the spot where the focus point is. This is usually a faster and easier way to place the focus and nail it than using the shutter release button. And it aligns with the special feature that even with a Leica L auto-focus lens, you can fine-tune the focus to your liking by simply moving the focusing ring on the lens.
The joystick on the Leica SL. I press it so as to use it to pre-focus in AF, or to zoom in to focus in manual mode. "Joystick" is a word that comes from aircrafts (also called "centre stick") that the pilot uses for control and direction, similar to the way it is used in computer games these days.
A camera strap for Leica SL3 that works for you
A camera should hang across the chest and the camera body itself should rest by your hip (on the belt if you use one). This way the camera is always ready, and you don't have to keep preventing it from falling off your shoulder (as it would if it is was hanging over the shoulder and not across the chest). When hanging across the chest, it simply sits there. You can move it to the back of the body to keep it out of the way, or move it to the front if that feels better. Or let it hang on the side of the body.
The Leica SL has a special strap lug, and I made my own Magnum strap to make it feel lighter and more comfortable to wear. It brings it very close to feeling like it is a small Leica M camera - or as close as you can get, I suppose.
Sitting higher than the hip, the camera will bump into your stomach, and if lower, it will bump onto your leg.
A strap length of 125cm is what works for most people, and 145cm if you are tall and/or have some volume.
The "Magnum" camera strap for the Leica SL2 and Leica S models.
As I always wear a camera, it has to be an integrated part of what I wear and my lifestyle. The Leica SL (2015) and Leica SL2 (2020) and I have had a difficult time with this, because the way the SL camera body is made, and with the size of the lenses, it is a bit on the bulky side sitting in a 45 degree angle out from the hip so that the edge of the camera bottom bangs my hip. Also, the weight of the Leica SL2 is edging the level where it can easily become one of those cameras you leave at home.
How to solve this? Without coming across as eccentric, this "how to always wear a Leica SL2" has been a real problem. This is how the Leica SL never became my camera of choice. How could I use a camera I couldn't stand to carry?
The solution was to make my own straps. While the result is truly a simple strap, the work to get there was a long and cumbersome road. Credit is owed to Rock'n'Roll Camera Straps because they make great SL straps that work to some degree. And there are other straps that work, because we are all different.
But for me, the Magnum strap (made for myself) is so simple that wearing the Leica SL2 now approximates the feeling of freedom I get wearing a Leica M.
If the Leica SL2 doesn't work for you, it might be the strap. Take the effort and expense to try different straps until you get it right.
The Magnum strap: It's so simple that you may exclaim, "Of course". Simply one piece of soft Italian calfskin without any stitching or piecing things together. I don't think you can remove anything from this anymore, it's been stripped of all unnecessary parts. But I can tell you we stitched and glued and made all sorts of complicated compromise prototypes before we arrived at the simplest of all solutions. Simply a strap.
My good friend Rob is one of the people I know who abandoned the Leica M system and often carries two Leica SL bodies. He uses an double BlackRapid strap for that, which means you are really strapped up and dressed for photography. Here is his Leica SL with the 24-90mm zoom and an "Always Wear A Camera" Leica SL camera bag that I designed.
Internal memory in Leica SL3?
I would like to see one of the SD-card slots disappear and be replaced by internal memory for backup. Not a big thing, and some people insist on using two SD cards simoustanely, either for backup or to store different file types on each card. I always just use one card and wouldn't miss the second SD-card slot.
I like the idea of having internal memory in case I forget the SD card or something happens to it. Internal memory is very likely as we've seen it come to the Leica M11 and Leica Q3. The first Leica with interrnal memory was the Leica T (2014) that had 16Gb of internal memory.
The second SD card slot could also be replaced with one for CompactFlash as it was done in the Leica S. But there might not be space as the CompactFlash is larger cards than SD (as well as faster and more expensive).
A continued Leica SL2-S at a lower price?
Nothing in the Leica tradition of doing things indicate they would ever consider reducing the price of a model over time. A Leica model usually holds it's price (and might go up now and then due to inflation adjustments), and then is discontinued. The pattern seen with other camera brands where a model decrease in price over a period of 3-4 years ... not at Leica.
But if one of the previous models was continued as the low price as entry model, it might be a good idea.
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Manual focus with the Leica SL3
The Leica SL3 is excellent for manual focusting, thanks to the very high-end EVF. This is useful not only for Leica lenses you want to focus manually, but also for all other brand manual focusing lenses.
The SL lenses offer auto focus on the Leiac SL3, but also the added possibility to fine-tune the focus by simply turning the focusing ring on the lens. The example would be where the AF focus on the glasses on a face, but you want the eyes to be in focus. The EVF makes it easy to see when what is in focus, and the feature that you can turn the focusing ring to adjust make it wasy to turn it to get the eyes and not the frames in focus.
The EVF of the Leica SL is what makes many Leica M users buy a Leica SL, because they can easily see and focus demandng lenses like the Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 or Leica 75mm Noctilux f/1.25. Also, Leica M lenses offer a different look, often with much more individual look. In short, the Leica SL lenses are made for perfection, which can move it all to a sort of uniform and perfect look. The Leica M lenses have personality. Speaking of which, the Leica S lenses made for medium format is extreme perfection with personality, and as such stands somewhere between the special look of Leica M lenses and perfect uniform look of the Leica SL lenses. The S lenses fit right onto the Leica SL3 with an adapter and are a bit more expensive (but then you are ready for when the SL comes with medium format sensor).
Leica SL2-S with a 70mm f/2.5 Leica S lens
The EVF of the Leica SL is what makes many Leica M users buy a Leica SL, because they can easily see and focus demandng lenses like the Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 or Leica 75mm Noctilux f/1.25. Also, Leica M lenses offer a different look, often with much more individual look. In short, the Leica SL lenses are made for perfection, which can move it all to a sort of uniform and perfect look. The Leica M lenses have personality. Speaking of which, the Leica S lenses made for medium format is extreme perfection with personality, and as such stands somewhere between the special look of Leica M lenses and perfect uniform look of the Leica SL lenses. The S lenses fit right onto the Leica SL3 with an adapter and are a bit more expensive (but then you are ready for when the SL comes with medium format sensor).
The sensor in the Leica SL3 is a big surprise because it will be the next step. Or it may be as predictable as the same sensor as the Leica M11 and Leica Q3, both of which are 60MP.
That said, a sensor is one thing, and often a matter of where Leica can get them from, in what numbers and at what price. It's a piece of hardware, and more important is the fitting and adjustment done at Leica to get the look, clarity, and color fidelity they want.
How convenient it would be if all sensors in all Leica cameras were 60MP for a while, and you could use the same sensor in all cameras. I doubt it is as simple as that.
Global shutter in the Leica SL3?
A global shutter is one that is able to freeze the image in one go and, as such, prevent rolling shutter and warping. A CMOS sensor reads line by line of the sensor, and that means there is a delay from capturing the first part of the image to the last, which causes wobbling, rolling shutter, and warping of the image.
The problem with global shutters is they produce more heat and take up more space. No doubt they are coming. But so far, the cost of them has been on image quality.
In the current CMOS sensors, the readout time of sensors is of importance because even when you photograph at 1/8000 second, the sensor is still reading the data slower than that, and line by line. And thus, despite a shutter speed so fast it should freeze it all, it doesn't.
Nikon Z9 and Sony A1 have readout speeds of 1/270th of a second, whereas the Leica M11 and Sony A7rII have a readout speed of 1/10th second. The Leica SL and Leica SL2 have readout times of around 1/30, which has been good enough so far, but not as perfect as what we all want: All captured in one go.
Expect improvements, but not perfection in the Leica SL3.
Backlit sensor in the Leica SL3?
I think backlit sensors are the future, and already implemented in the Leica M11 and Leica SL2-S, and is mandatory in the Leica SL3.
The Leica SL3 is a full-frame camera, meaning the sensor is 24x36mm. To make a point, Leica abandoned all smaller format sensor camera models since 2022.
The only reason I mention it is that Nikon and Canon still make camera series with smaller sensors. So just for clarification, I will underline that the Leica SL3 is, of course, full-frame.
What does "full-frame" mean? Well, it means that the format of the sensor is 24x36mm, which is the traditional film format since Leica made the first Leica in 1925, and which has since been the standard for all "35mm film cameras" (a film roll is 35mm high and contains 36 picture frames of each 24x36mm).
Not quite important for you who use a digital camera or a smartphone, what the sensor size is. But then it actually is; because the larger the sensor, the more you get the artistic look of "depth of field," meaning that you focus on a person in the foreground and the background is blurred. This cannot be done with small sensors, so that is what you are missing out on with a smartphone or a digital camera with an APS-C sensor (16.7 x 25.1 mm).
Can the Leica lenses provide enough resolution for the Leica SL3?
n short, yes. The SL lenses are designed for very high definition, as part of the forward-thinking concept lens designer Peter Karbe defined with the bayonet of the Leica SL and the possibility of making 'any future lens' without getting into limitations of bayonet size, distance to the sensor, or other factors. Peter Karbe himself mentioned to me that 200MP sensors would not be a problem, and I think we could get to 500MP sensors before anyone would consider updating the SL lenses for higher resolution.
In the Leica M lens lineup, lenses designed in recent years, after 2010, are also optimized for what the digital future could bring, which means their resolution power (lines per mm) was doubled as part of the design. Lenses before that were designed for the resolution of film.
All this talk about Leica SL3 when we should be talking about lenses
When Leica releases a camera like the Leica SL3, it will be compared to Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, and will be measured and compared on megapixels, precision, speed of AF, IBIS, and all those things.
But what really makes the Leica SL system unique and worth having are the Leica lenses made for the Leica SL system. For the serious connoisseur, it's all about the lenses, and they are the entry point to the SL system.
Fate has it that the L-alliance now allows us to use Sigma, Panasonic, and other lens brands on a Leica SL body, but it won't take long before you start longing for the best possible, and that would be Leica. You could also get Leica SL lenses and put them on a Panasonic camera, but it would be hard to convince yourself that you are getting the optimum quality if you don't put them where they belong: on a Leica SL body.
The Leica SL is a machine, a tool. It's great the way it is built, how simple the operations are made. What makes it art is the Leica lenses you put on it.
The Leica SL3 rumors?
The rumors of the Leica SL3 are true. It is coming. As stated above, it will be a new improved version and in many ways look and feel the same as the Leica SL2.
Expect the SL3 to be evolutionary, not revolutionary
All in all, don't expect much new in the Leica SL3. Expect what works, with a few improvements, and an addition of those of the features other brands like Sony and Fujifilm come up with, that make sense to have.
Let's say the Leica SL3 is released in May 2024 officially, that doesn't mean that it will be widely available by the release date. Usually Leica cameras are on waiting list, so you actually got quite some time before you have to answer the question to yourself, "should I upgrade to the Leica SL3?"
If you are new to the Leica SL system, the Leica SL3 is the most likely entry point. The alternative would be the Leica SL2-S if you need less megapixels and want a great camera for a good price. If I had only one Leica SL, it would be the Leica SL2-S.
How to be the first to get a Leica SL3?
Usually, finding a smaller Leica dealer and ask to be put on a waiting list long before the camera is released, is the way to get a new Leica camera early. At a smaller dealer, you might be (one of) the first one on the list, whereas at large dealers and online websites, you will enter a longer waiting list. All dealers will get some, and then after the first initial release, they will be dripping out evenly to all deales, but with the main deliveries to the Leica Stores.
So you see, there's a window there to get your hands on some of the first by being in line at a smaller dealer that get a few cameras, but doesn't have a huge list. I got one of the first Leica M9 (2009) cameras when it was released by finding one online the same day. The next Leica M240 (2013) I had already reserved and prepaid for at Leica Store Vienna, so when they got their two first ones, one of them was mine. The Leica Q (2015) I got by being at the Leica Store Berlin the morning their own demo and the first two cameras arrived to the store. I wasn't sure I wanted it - it was a brand-new camera then - so I took it for a swing to the cafe on the other side of the street, and everybody around the table at breakfast fell in love with the Leica Q. It was an easy decision by then. I loved it, they had it in stock. As Woody Allen says, "80 percent of success in life is just showing up."
People often presume I get cameras for free from Leica Camera, but I actually work independently. I don't have an NDA and I don't get free stuff or kickback. I work for users like you, not for the Leica company. Which is why I can say about any Leica product what I want, or say nothing at all. Only in the case of the Leica TL2 I got a prototype to use for 2-3 months and thus had my article ready with lots of photos and user experience tips the same day the camera was released. The Leica TL2 fitted perfectly into my travel schedule and what I was doing at that time.
But mostly, I buy my new Leica camera or Leica lens, and then I take my sweet time to use it and release my articles and videos as I get inspired and have something to say. As most Leica owners get their cameras months or years after the release, they won't really be needing my reviews and user reports till later. The valuable information about any new camera is from personal use in the field over a longer time.
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1:2/50 the description says.
But what does it mean?
1: = Basically means 1 divided with. On the lens to the right, it means that the diameter of the hole throught he lens is 25mm.
We would normall call it a 50mm f/2.0 lens. The writing of 1:2/50 is a tradition from the 1800's of specifying a lens, which reveals quite a bit about the construction: Focal length 50mm simply means that the distance from center of focus inside the lens to the focusing plane (the sensor or film) is 50mm, and the aperture of f/2 or 1:2 means that the diameter of the hole the light comes throught is 25mm (50mm divided with 2 = 25mm).
In traditional lens design, one could usually tell from looking at the length of a lens if it was a 400mm, 100mm or 35mm. Newer designs with mirrors (in tele lenses) and more corrections (in wide lenses) can make the size of the lenses shorter or longer, but the distance from center of focus to sensor in a modern 50mm lens will still be 50mm for a 50mm and 400mm for a 400mm, and so on.
See Focal length and Aperture further down for more.
a) 35mm lens is a lens that has a viewing angle of view is 63°vertically, 54° horizontally and 38° vertically within a 35mm film frame or "full-frame" 24x36mm digital format. See Focal length further down.
b) 35mm focal length: the distance from center of focus inside the lens to the focusing plane (the sensor or film) is 35mm.
35mm film format (also known as full-frame)
c) 35mm film format (also known as full-frame in digital sensors) was a standard film format that came about in 1892 where the width of the film roll was 35mm, and it's been the most used format ever since. Only a format of 24 x 36mm is used for the photo on the film roll.
35mm film format was first used in 1892 by William Dickson and Thomas Edison for moving pictures with frames of 24 x 18mm, using film supplied by George Eastman (Kodak), and this became the international standard for motion picture negative film in 1909. Later other motion picture formats came about, such as Academy Ratio (22 x 16 mm), Widescreen (21.95 x 18.6 mm), Super 35 (24.89 x 18.66 mm) and Techiscope (22 x 9.47 mm).
The inventor of the Leica camera, Oskar Barnack, built his prototype Ur-Leica in 1913 as a device to test film stock and\ motion picture lenses and had it patented. Putting 35mm film format into a small camera gave him the idea "small negative, large print" and he decided to increase the size of each frame on the 35mm film to 24x36mm (for more detail and sharpness), and then invented an enlarger to make large prints from the small negative. The length of a film, 36 pictures, is said to have become the standard because that was how far Oskar Barnack could stretch his arms (when cutting film from larger rolls to put them into film rolls for the Leica camera).
d) 35mm equivalent is often given as a standard when talking about lenses in small compact-cameras or large format cameras with other sensor/film format than the 24 x 36mm frame. Example: A camera with a 12 x 18 mm sensor has a 14mm lens on it, and even the lens is actually a 14mm, it is specified as a 28mm lens because the viewing angle that ends up on the sensor is equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm of full-frame camera.
The Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M
ASPH f/2.0 lens
a) 50mm lens is a lens that has a viewing angle of view is 47° vertically, 40° horizontally and 27° vertically within a 35mm film frame.
b) 50mm means there is 50mm from the center of focus inside the lens to the focal plane (sensor or film).
c) 50mm lens is often compared to the human eye. Not because of viewing angle (how wide it sees) but because of size ratio (how it sees). The 50mm lens is the lens that comes closest to the size that the human eye see things. Whereas the human eye has a much wider angle of view [120-200°] than the 50mm lens [47°].
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.
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.
AF = Auto Focus. The idea is that the camera does the focusing itself (the word auto comes from Greek "self").
AF Assist Lamp = A little red lamp that some cameras have on the front, which 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. The AF assist lamp can be turned off in the menu.
AOV - angle of view = Is the angle a lens 'see'. A 35mm lens has a 54° angle of view horizontally. Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120-200° angle of viewn ags.
Aperture = The same function as the iris and pupil has in the eye. The pupil in the eye is the dark circular opening in the center of the iris of the eye, varying in size to regulate the amount of light reaching the retina (the sensor area inside the eye).
Aperture on a camera is the f/ stop on the camera that regulates how much light passes through the lens by increasing or decreasing the hole through the lens. On a f/2.0 lens the lens is fully open" at f/2.0. At f/2.8 the aperture inside the lens make the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/2.0 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 (50mm divided with f/2.0 = the hole is 25 mm in diameter).
Besides regulating the amount of light (so as to match the correct exposure), the aperture also affects the dept of field: , which is how deep the sharpness is. To get the sough-after photos with narrow depth of field where the background is blurry, the lens has to be wide open at f/2.0 or so. Stopping the lens down to f/8 or f/16 will result on more depth of field, meaning the background will start becoming in focus. To maintain narrow depth of field, one can use the ISO sensitivity and/or the shutter speed to match the correct exposure (as aperture is only one of three ways to control the exposure; the correct amount of light). ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.
Aperture Priority Mode = When the Leica SL2 display shows a large A, the camera is set to “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).
APO corrected basically means that the red, green and blue has been corrected to meet more precisely in the same spot. Clarity of colors and definition of details would be the result.
APO = in lens terminology stands for "apochromatically corrected". In most lenses, optical design concentrates the focus of blue light and green light into a single plane, but red light falls slightly into another plane of focus. In APO lenses, the design and expense has been put in to making red light focus on the same plane as blue and green. Under a microscope you would see that all light subject is now in focus, creating a sharper image overall. Many manufacturers offer APO designs, but in most of these only the very center of the lens is APO corrected. Leica prides itself on making most of the frame APO corrected.
APo-correction has traditionally been used for long tele lenses (and periscopes), but in recent years APO-correction has been applied to 50mm and wide angle lenses as well. One will notice that the colors are really bright and alive, almost more real than to the eye, in lenses like the Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 and 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.
Apochromat; ORIGIN early 20th century, made of the two words; apo (Greek origin, away from) and chromatic (Latin origin, meaing relating to color).
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 SL2 the base ISO is 100, for the Leica M9 is 160 ISO, for Leica M240 it is 200 ISO. For Leica M10 it is around 160 ISO. For Leica M Monochrom (2012) 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.
Max Berek (1886-1949) was lens designer who joined Ernst Leitz Optische Werke in 1912 and became the head of the microscope development where he also designed the first lenses for the company's new adventure into photography, the Leica introduced in 1925. In particular, he calculated the Elmax 50mm f/3.5 lens for the so-called Ur-Leica.
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.'.
C = Continuous shooting (a series of photos), or in "AFc" it stands for continious Auto Focusing, that the AF keeps focusing onthe subject till the phto has been taken.
Cam = A Leica transmission system for the Leica R lenses, seen as metal parts inside the lens bayonet. (A cam is a rotatingpartinmachinery, designedtomakesliding contact with another part).
1-cam lenses (1964-68) was a curved chrome-bar between the mount and the rear lens element to transfer the aperture setting on the lens to the Leicaflex camera. 2-cam lenses (1968-76) came with the Leicaflex SL that supported TTL (Through The Lens light metering). Leica moved the curved cam to the opposite side of the lens mount. To make newer lenses could compatible with previous Leicaflex cameras, the first cam was maintained. The 2-cam is not recommended on the R8 and R9. 3-cam lenses (1976-96): The Leica R3, which was developed in cooperation with Minolta, introduced a different coupling mechanism, which was an adition to the 1-cam and 2-cam. The 3-cam is in the form of a triple-stepped, black projection on the inside of the lens bayonet. The 3-cam function on any Leicaflex, R3 and forward to Leica R9. R-cam lenses (aka "R-cam only", "R-only): (1986-09). In 2086 Leica started to produce R-lenses that only had the third, stepped cam, but lacked the first and second cams. These lenses would not transmit any aperture information to the Leicaflex/SL/SL2 models, and Leica changed the shape of the lens mount slightly so the R-cam lenses (alternatively called "R-cam only", "R-only", "three-cam only", or "3-cam only" lenses) could not be mounted on the Leicaflex, Leicaflex SL and Leicaflex SL2.
(For more om ROM contacts for Leica R8/Leica R9 (1996-2009), see ROM futher down).
CAM compatibility of Leica R lenses:
Camera comes from Chambre, mostly in relation to Spanish soldiers’ rooms. Obscura means 'dark', so a dark room is basically the derivation for the word camera.
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).
CCD sensor (as used in Leica M8, M9, Leica S)= (Charged Coupling Devices) - The first digital cameras used CCD to turn images from analog light signals into digital pixels. They're made through a special manufacturing process that allows the conversion to take place in the chip without distortion. This creates high quality sensors that produce excellent images. But, because they require special manufacturing, they are more expensive than their newer CMOS counter parts.
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.
An acronym for "(C)lean, (L)ubricate & (A)djust", whereby the item is merely re-lubricated, fine-adjusted and calibrated rather than repaired. "I just got my equipment back from CLA at Leica"
CMOS sensor (as used in Leica CL, Leica T/TL/TL2, Leica M10, 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.
Compact Camera - A camera that is compact, usually the same as a point-and-shoot or beginners camera. See my article Leica Compact Cameras.
Contrast - The degree of difference between tones in a picture. Latin contra- ‘against’ + stare ‘stand.’
Normal to low contrast
Contact strip = Electronic strip of contacs between lens and camera. The Leica L mount system (2013) features a Leica L bayonet with contact strip for communication between lens. It is simply contacts that allow communication back and forth between camera and lens: Share information to the camera about aperture, focal length and focusing distance of the lens (which in the Leica TL, Leica SL and Leica SL2 is used to calculate and display depth of field calculations inside the electronic viewfinder). The contact strip supply power and control to the lens for the auto focus and aperture.
Leica L-mount lenses with contact strip
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 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.
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 Prom.
DIS = Digital Image Stabilization. This is a feature often offered in video recorders and sometimes for tele lens still photography (so as to avoid motion blur when the lens is moving during slow shutter speeds)
For example the Leica Q offers DIS but the factory recommend to set it to OFF. (The DIS is set to off from the factory because it can affect the image quality negatively, according to product director Stefan Daniel in an interview).
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.
The lines on this 28mm lens indicates the DOF. Here the focus is on infinity, and if the lens is stopped down to f/1.6, objects from 1.8 meter to ininity will be 'acceptable sharp'.
DOF = Depth of Field (or Depth of Focus), an expression for how deep the focus is, or (more often use to express) how narrow the area of focus is. This is how much of the image, measured in depth or ditance, will be in focus or "acceptable sharp".
The appearance of the DOF is determined by:
1) aperture (the smaller the aperture hole is, the deeper is the depth of field, and opposite, the wider open a lens you se, the more narrow will the DOF be) and
2) distance to the subject (the farther away, the larger area is sharp; the closer the subject in focus is, the more narrow the DOF gets)..
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, like f/1.4 and f/0.95 lenses, 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).
in modern cameras like the Leica SL2, the camera has a DOF scale inside the viewfinder. As DOF is the same for all lens brands and designs, only depending on focal length, distance and aperture f-stop, the camera can calculate it and show a 'digital DOF scale" in the viewfinder.
Depth Of Field scale from Fujifilm, same lens with different aperture settings from f/2.0 to f/8.0.
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’.
E - Diameter in Leica filters and screw diameter, as in E46 which means that the filter diameter is 49mm for this lens. In general language, one would see Ø46 used, as Ø is the general symbol for diameter.
Elmar = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f3.5 . Historically derived from the original 1925 50mm f3.5 Elmax lens, which was an acronym of (E)rnst (L)ieca and Professor (Max) Berek, designer of the original lenses. Later that year the 50mm f3.5 Elmar superceded the Elmax, which was discontinued due to its complexity and high cost of manufacture.
Elmarit = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f2.8 . The name is obviously derived from the earlier (and slower) "Elmar" designation. Not every f/2.8 lens is called an "Elmarit" though, the most obvious current exception being the 50mm f2.8 Elmar-M collapsible lens which for nostalgia and marketing reasons has kept the original 1930's Elmar name (the 50mm f3.5 collapsible Elmar, manufactured 1930-59, was one of Leica's most famous and popular lenses). Vario-Elmarit (and Vario-Summicron, etc) is Leica Camera AG's name for zoom lenses.
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.
FLE = See "Floating Elements"
Flickering in the EVF is very normal and will appear often without the vertical lines you see in the EVF will be in the picture.
Floating elements (a group of lenses or can also be s aingle lens element). .
Floating Elements (FLE) = Near focus correction in a lens by having a single lens or a group of lenses floating independently of the other lenses. Most lenses are born with poor performance at their closest focusing distance. Center sharpness may be good, but aberrations and corner softness increase when you’re shooting closeups. Floating elements are lens elements outside of the primary focus group that change position when the lens is focused on a close object, correcting aberrations and improving close up performance. Floating Elements originally was coined by Canon in the 1960's and quickly became the general term for this feature. Other brands came up with new names for the same thing, Minolta called it Floating Focusing, Nikon used the term Close-Range Correction (CRC), Leica call it FLE/Floating Elements.
Floating elements are for close-focus improvement of image quality and not for reducing "focus shift". Floating elements by themselves cannot reduce focus shift, but by reducing the impact of focus distance on performance, they give the designers more freedom in other areas - which could include minimising focus shift.
(As a side-note, when a lens "rattler when moved, it is not the floating elements "floating around" but can be the IS (Image Stabilization) elements for elense that has that, AF elements for auto focus lenses, or the aperture cage that rattles (as in the case of the Leica 35mm Summilux-M f/1.4 FLE - if you stop down the Summilux to f/16, the sound is usually not there).
Fn = Short for Function. It's a button or wheel you can program.
The Leica TL2 and Leica CL has two Fn wheels (wheels you can program to different functions after your likings).
A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle
Focal length = Originally focal length referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens (28mm, 50mm, 400mm, etc). Today one call it effective focal length (EFL) as a 400mm lens is not nessesarily 400mm long due to optical constructions that can make it shorter. The 35-420mm zoom on the Leica V-Lux 1 is for example only ca. 135 mm long. 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.
Focus shift = That the focus of a lens shifts as the aperture changes. For example, if one focus a 50mm lens at f/2.0 and then stop the aperture down to f/8, the focus may change, especially noticeable in close focusing. Modern lenses with floating elements (FLE) where the floating elements adjust for image quality in close-focusing may also help avoid focus shift.
Full Frame is "king of photography"
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. The "full frame" technically deifinition thouhg is a sensor that camtures the full frame in one go (as the early sensors as in Leica S1 scanned the image/senor over a period of time).
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).
Hybrid camera = "Mirrorless" digital camera. A digital camera that accepts different lenses and can do so bedcuase it does not use a mirror to reflect the image into a prism viewfinder and does not need mechanical or electronic connections between lens and camera to activate a mirror. A mirrorless camera, in theory, can accept any lens via adapter; and some adapters manage to include signals from the lens to the camera (about f-stop, model of lens, etc) and signals from the camera to the lens (auto focus control, aperture control, etc).
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 TL2 sensor is around 100-150 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 the same 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.
Leica L-mount bayonet.
L-mount = Lens bayonet mount introduced by Leica for the Leica T in 2014 and used for Leica TL, Leica CL and Leica SL. Since 2019 the L-mount has also been shared with Panasonic, Sigma and others who produce cameras and lenses that are compatible with Leica L cameras and lenses lenses, and vice versa.
The L-mount has a diameter of 51.6 millimeter which is big enough for any design we could wish to design, and at the same time compact enough for the L-mount to be used on compact cameras such as Leica TL and Leica CL with APS-C sensor sizes. Leica chief lens designer Peter Karbe spent years calculating this ideal size, large enouhg for any design, yet as compact as possible. Read my article "Small Camera, Large Print" (2019) with interview with lens designer Peter Karbe for more.
After Leica introduced this new bayonet mount in 2014, Nikon (Z-mount 55mm), Fuji (G-mount 65mm) and Canon (RF-mount 54mm) followed with similar new bayonet mounts, but with bigger diameter, making them less able to produce compact lenses.
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.
Leicaflex was Leica's first single lens reflex (SLR) camera, released in 1964. It is a very solid, fully manual SLR with an exceptionally bright viewfinder. The Leicaflex SL and Leicaflex SL2 and Leicafles MOT (enabling attachment of motor winder) came after, and then Leica went onto Leica R3 that it developed with Minolta, then Leica R4, Leica R5, Leica 6.2, Leica 7, Leica 8, Leica R9.
My Leitz Leicaflex SL (1973) film camera in black, here with 50 mm Summicron-R f/2.0 from Canada.
The word lens derives from lentil, because of the similar shape.
Lens - A piece of glass or similarly transparent material (like water or plastic). It has a shape so that it can direct light rays. The word “Lens” is used both for single piece of glass as well as a camera lens with several lenses that works together. The word lens if often used to refer to the entire camea lens, which is usually compose of seberal lens elements. From ‘lentil’ because similar in shape.
A camera lens consists of several shaped lens elements of glass. The lenses can also be made of simple cheap plastic as in "kit lenses" (sold with a camera as a kit to make a workable cheap package), but it is mostly very exotic glass (that can be heavy or light in weight, very hard or very soft in surface (esay to scratch or very resistant) with each optical glass recipe made to develop very specific qualities in how the glass and final lens treats light. As a general rule, high quality glass is soft, which is why some lenses has as their front and back element, a non-optical lens element that is there to protect the actual optical glass from scratches. As a side noite, Leica made their own glass laboraty, The Leitz Glass Laboratory, from 1949-1989, which deveopled 35 new glass types and took out more than 2,000 patents of glass recipes from more than 50,000 experimental melts of glass. These designs, or recipes, are still used today by the lens designers to obtain very specific optical results. Other lens manufacturers in the world of course have had their glass laboratories, and today one will find an interchange of glass patents amongst production facilities that service Leica, Nikon,, Fuji and so on with optical lens elements.
Lens hood = (also called a Lens shade or Ventilated 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 or ventilated shade. In the picture is a ventilated shade with clip-on mount to a 50mm f/2.0 lens. Ventilated means it has openings that allow for view from the viewfinder.
Lens names of Leica distinguish which widest aperture the lens has:
f/0.95 - f/1.25
f/ 1.2 (Leica-designed Panasonic lens)
f/ 1.4 - f/1.7
f/2.4 - 2.5
f/1.9 - f/6.3 (used 1930-1960 for screw mount lenses only)
f/2.8 - f/4.5
f/3.5 (only used 1921-1925 for the 50mm Elmax f/3.5)
f/2.8 - f/6.8 (used for tele lenses)
Bubble Level Gauge to mount onto the flash shoe.
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.
Before level gauge was integrated as a digitized feature in modern digital camers, it was a Bubble Level Gauge / Spirit Level you put on top of the camera.
The idea is to be able to get 100% vertical and horizontal lines (because if you tilt the camera slightly, the horizon will not be horizontal, and of you tilt the camera forward or backwards, the lines of for example vertical buildings will not be vertical.
Digitized level gauge in a Leica M10-P. You tilt the camera up and down (front/back and left/right) till the level is completely straight.
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, or via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
M (as in "M3", "M6", "M7" etc.)
A) The M originally stands for "Messsucher", which is German "Meßsucher" for "Rangefinder". The "3" in M3 was chosen because of the three bright line finders for the 50, 90 and 135 mm lenses. Later the numbers of the M cameras were more or less chosen to follow each other.
M-body evolution in chronologic order:
M3 - MP - M2 - M1 - MD - MDA - M4 - M5 - CL - MD-2 - M4-2 - M4-P - M6 - M6 TTL - M7 - MP - M8 - M8.2 - M9 - M9-P - MM (black and white sensor) - ME (Type 220) - Leica M (Type 240) - Leica M-P 240 - Leica M 246 Monochrom - Leica M-A (type 127, film camera) - Leica M 262 - Leica M-D 262 (without a screen) - Leica M10 - Leica M10-P, Leica M10 Monochrom, Leica M10-R.
B) M also refer to M-mount as the M bayonet that couple the Leica M lenses to the Leica M camera. Before the M bayonet the coupling between the camera and lens was screwmount.
C) M nowadays refer to the Leica M line of cameras rather than the "Messsucher".
The Leica M bayonet on the Leica M10.
M-mount: The Leica M-mount is a bayonet that was introduced with the Leica M3 camera in 1954 and has been used on all subsequent Leica M cameras, as well as on the Epson R-D1, Konica Hexar RF, Minolta CLE, Ricoh GXR, Rollei 35RF, Voigtländer Bessa, and Zeiss Ikon cameras (2019).
Compared to the previous screw mount (M39), the M mount requires a quick turn of the lens, and ithe lens is mounted. The patent for the M-bayonet ("Bajonettvorrichtung für die lösbare Verbindung zweier Kamerateile") was registered by Ernst Leitz GmbH 10 February 1950 (patent number DE853384). Hugo Wehrenfennig was credited with the invention.
MACRO = Macro lens. The Leica 60mm APO-Elmarit-Macro-R ASPH f/2.8 is a 60mm lens for portraits, landscapes, etc. as well as a near focus macro lens. The Leica Q lens can be turned to Macro which enables you to go close so as to enlarge smaller subjects. The Leica M cameras becomes Macro when you add a Macro ring "Oufro" or "Leica Macro M Adapter" that increases the lens' distance to the sensor. 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. Leica M10 also has a Maestro II processor, but seemingly developed further for this model. Leica SL and Leica SL2 have Maestro processors as well.
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.
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.
(Leica and others made lenses for a while with either meter scale or feet scale; but then eventually started including meter and feet on all the lenses (two scales, usually distinguished with different colors). However, the lens' focal length remained always 50mm, 75mm and so on).
The reason a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens is that there is 50mm from the focus plane (the film or sensor surface) 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.
a) Stands for Mechanical Perfection, as in the Leica M-P.
b) Megapixels (millions of pixels).
c) Megaphotosites (millions of photosites).
Noctilux = Also known as "King of the Night" because "Nocti" means Night and "Lux" means Light. The f/1.0 lenes from Leica are named "Noctilux". The first Leica Noctilux lens was the 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 which shortly after it's introduction was improved to the 50mm Noctilux f/1.0. In the current model the f-stop has been improved further to f/0.95.
"Noctilux" refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.0 . "Nocti" for nocturnal (occurring or happening at night; ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from late Latin nocturnalis, from Latin nocturnus ‘of the night,’ from nox, noct- ‘night.), "lux" for light. The Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 is famous for enabling the photographer to take photos even there is only candleligts to lit the scene. See the article "Leica Noctilux - King of the Night"
The Noctilux "King of the Night" lens. From left the f/0.95 in silver (same on the camera, in black), the f/1.0 in the back and the rare and expensive first model, the f/1.2 in the front.
Number, on this site Leica catalog numbers or order numbers. Some the numbers changed depending on the number of cams in the lens: The Elmarit-R f2.8/135mm started life as No. 11 111, however when fitted with 2 cams for the SL became No. 11 211, yet another No. for the 3 cams lens and a fourth number for 3 cam only at the end of its life. Number changes also applied to M lenses depending on whether they were screw-thread, bayonet or for M3 with “spectacles”. Thus the No. in the Thorsten Overgaard Leica Lens Compendium list is a guideline but not a comlete list of existing catalog numbers.
OIS = Optical Image Stabilization. This is used in tele lenses where blurring motion of the camera from inevitable vibrations are adjusted by the lens. At low shutter speeds and/or with long lenses, any slight movement would result in a picture with "motion blur" unsharpness. The Leica TL2 supports optical image stabilization when A) OIS is turned on in the camera menu, and B) when you use lenses with OIS (the Leica SL longer lenses has OIS). An alternative is EIS = Electronic Image Stabilization, which the Leica T has. Here the problem of "motion blur" is corrected electronically after, which might lead to image degradation. However, the larger the sensor resolution, the less one will notice small 'degradation'.
Optic = Eye or vision. From French optique or medieval Latin opticus, from Greek optikos, from optos ‘seen.’
PASM = is short for P = Program Mode / A = Aperture Priority Mode / S = Shutter Priority Mode / M = Manual Control Mode. On some cameras, these P, A, S and M are choices on a wheel on top of the camera, or in the menu. On the Leica SL2 you choose between them by pressing the scrolling the thumbs wheel.
Perspective - The way objects appear to the eye; their relative position and distance. Also, selective focus (foreground and background out of focus) can change the perception of perspective (also see Three-dimensional). A wide angle "widens" the perspective and makes objects further away appear smaller than they are to the eye; and objects closer, relatively larger than they are to the eye. A tele lens will "flatten" the perspective and often objects further away will appear relatively larger than close objects than they are in real life. A 50mm lens is the one closest to the perspective and enlargement ratio of the human eye.
Vanishing points are the points where lines meet. This is how you make perspective in paintings and drawings (and some times make movie sets or theatre stages appear more three-dimensional than they are)
Painters works with vanishing points, which is where the lines meet, so as to create an illusion of perspective and three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional painting or drawing.
The human eye corrects for perspective to an extreme degree. We always see vertical lines vertical and horisontal lines horisontal: The eye has a angle of view equivalent to an 8mm wide angle lens, a size ratio equivalent to a 50mm lens and we focus on relatively small area of the viewing field - one at the time. Three things happens that are worth paying attention to:
1) We compile areas of our view that we focus on, to one conceptual image that "we see". Ansel Adams, the great American landscape photographer pointed out that a large camera used for landscape photography capture every detail in focus and sharp so you can view it in detail after; but the eye does not see everything in focus when you try to compose the landscape photography, the eye scans only one part at a time and stitch the idea together. This makes composing or prevision of a landscape photography challenging.
2) We compile areas of our view that we individually adjust the exposure of. A camera adjust the exposure of the whole image frame to one exposure. That's why what looks like a nice picture to the eye of houses in sunshine with a blue sky above, becomes a photograph of darker buildings with a bright white sky: The camera simply can't take one picture that compare to what we "compiled" with our eyes, adjusting for each type of light.
3) Objects (on a table, for example) in the bottom of our viewing field will appear 100% perspective corrected - to a degree that it is impossible to correct in optics, with or without software correction. A wide angle lens, even with little distortion, will exaggerate the proportions of the closet part so it - to the eye - looks wrong.
Perspective correction - In software like Adobe Lightroom and Capture One Pro there is often a feature to correct perspective (and distortion) like seen below. You can change perspective this way, or at least make believe: If you correct a tall building on teh vertical lines, you will notice that the height of the windows doesn't match the perspective. If the building is with straight lines, the windows should all be of the same size. But a tall building seen from below and corrected with software will have taller windows (closer to camera) in the bottom than in the top (further away from the camera originally).
A graphic illustration of the typical Bayer Color Filter Array on an RGB sensor. It's called a Bayer filter because Bryce Bayer of Eastman Kodak invented the technology of filtering incoming light into RGB and distribute it into the the photosites that each read just one color (R/G/G/B).
Photosite - The unit in a digital camera sensor that records intensity of either red, green or blue. Unlike the output of a sensor, measured in pixels (and where each pixel contains RGB), the photosite records only one color each, and it's intensity (how bright it is). A photosite can not distinguish colors, which is why there is a Color Filter Array (basically a prism) above them to filter the colors and send information to the photosite if 's a R, G og B color. See illustration below. In a monochrome sensor (as in the Leica M Monochrom and the Phase One Achromatic), all photosites are recording intensity of light only as there is no concern which color it is, and there is no color filter.
The ratio of photosites to pixels is not a given. Each block of 4 contiguous photosites contains one photosite sensitive to low wavelengths (blue), one photosite sensitive to high wavelengths (red), and two identical photosites sensitive to medium wavelengths (green). So four photosites would be the minimum to create one 'full-color' pixel. Apart from that, depends on the sensor specifications, which is different from brand to brand. Sometimes four photosites (two Green, one Red and one Blue) makes up one pixel, at other times it's more photosites to one pixel; and there is also pixels sampled from photosites across (sort of overlapping patterns).
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.
R - Reflex: The Leica R cameras (2009) is the SLR cameras from Leica. The first Leicaflex (1964) feels like a Leica M, built as a tank, and with reflex and fits Leica R lenses. Over the production time of the Leica R system, a number of magic lenses from fisheye to 800mm were made for this system (as well as a made-to-order 1600mm lens for a prince in Qatar). Also a number of zoom lenses was made for the Leica R system. Many of the lenses are being used for cinema in their next life, especially the wide angle and the 50/1.4, but also the 280mm APO f/2.8 tele lens was retrofitted with a PL mount and used for the Joker movie in 2019.
The Leicaflex series (1964 - 1976) was modernized with the Leica R3 (1976) that was made together with Minolta , and then Leica went on with Leica R4, Leica R5, Leica 6.2, Leica R7, Leica R8 and Leica R9. The latter two models got a digital 10MP back made as an accessory in 2004 (CCD-sensor made with Imacon and Kodak). You simply took off the film back and mounted a digital back (and could change back to film if you wanted to). See my Leica DMR article. The Leica R system was retired in 2009 when the production of new lenses stopped. Leica Camera AG said then that the plans fot the R10 camera had been retired as it was not feasible to maintain an SLR system. Though, in 2016 Leica opresented the Leica SL system which is a SLR camera without reflex and instead is mirrorless cameras, and with a new series of L-mount lenses. The Leica SL (and Leica M) can use Leica R lenses via adapter.
ROM = Read-Only Memory contacts on the Leica R lenses (1996-2009) with information about lens model and calibration of aperture (each lens was finetuned at the factory and the exact data stored in the ROM of the lens).
The Leica R8 and Leica R9 featured electronic contacts in the cameras bayonet mount that could take advantage of lens-specific information to correct for lens vignetting, adjust the zoom reflector on flash according to lens focal length, or to correctly display aperture information. The ROM chip came with all newly sold lenses since 1996, but could also be retrofitted by Leica to older lenses. The lenses with ROM contact could be used on older Leica R cameras such as the Leica R3 - Leica R7 cameras, but not on the plder Leicaflex cameras.
The later Leica L mount system (2013) features a Leica L bayonet with contact strip for communication between lens, which looks very much like the ROM contracts. In the Leica L system, this strip of contacts share information to the camera about aperture, focal length and focusing distance (which in the Leica TL and Leica SL is used to calculate and display depth of field calculations inside the electronic viewfinder). But the contact strip goes both ways, so here comes power and control from the camera to perform auto focus, control the aperture and more.
ROM contacts on an Leica R lens
Leica L-mount lenses with control strip that looks like ROM contacts.
Contacts inside the Leica SL that connects with the control strip of the lens.
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).
S = Leica S medium format dSLR camera model and Leica S auto focus lenses (2008-2023). The Leica S2 (2008) with 37MP CCD sensor, Leica S Typ 006 (2012), Leica S Typ 007 (2014) with CMOS sensor and Leica S3 (2018). As if October 2023, Leica announced the end of the Leica S lines, which will be replaced by a new hybrid mirrorless offering.
The Leica S system as it was introduced in 2008 with four lenses to begin with.
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’.
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.
Six-bit code (6-bit code) - An engraving on the flange of M-lenses that makes it possible for digital M-cameras to recognize the lens that has been mounted. The camera can include information on the attached lens and its focal length in EXIF data and make digital corrections for lens-specific flaws, such as color-cast or vignetting. Six-bit coding was introduced for all M-lenses sold since 2006, but many older lenses can be retrofitted with the code at Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar.
SL - Abbreviation for Single-Lens with a reference back to SLR (see definitiomn below).
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. Newer camera models has aen EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) that displays in the viewfinder what the sensor sees in real-time.
The great thing about being a lens designer is that you get to name the lens. Dr. Max Berek who worked for Leitz from 1912 till his death in 1949 named lenses after his two favorite dogs. One was Sumamrex named after his dog Rex, the other Hektor named after his dog Hektor.
Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/1.5.
Summicron = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/2.0 . There are many guesses how this name came about, a popular one being that the "summi" came from "summit" (summit means the highest point of a hill or mountain; the highest attainable level of achievement) while the "cron" came from "chroma" (ie. for colour). Not so: The name (Summi)cron was used because the lens used Crown glass for the first time, which Leitz bought from Chance Brothers in England. The first batch of lenses were named Summikron (Crown = Krone in Deutsch). The Summi(cron) is a development from the orignal Summar (the 50mm f2.0 lens anno 1933). Vario-Summicron, Vario-Elmarit is Leica Camera AG's name for zoom lenses, for example the Vario-Summicron f/2.0 as the one that is on the Leica Digilux 2.
Summilux = Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f/1.4 , "-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.
Lens nomenclature - short-hand for " telephoto " (tele- is a combining form, meaning to or at a distance) and used in names of instruments for operating over long distances : telemeter. The name has been used for a number of tele lenses from Leica.
ORIGIN: from Greek t?le- ‘far off.’
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.
Leica T is the compact camera developed by Leica Camera in 2014 as a touch-screen operated camera that can take the Leica L mount lenses made for this camera and the Leica SL and Leica CL. This camera series was names Leica TL later. See my article Compact Leica Cameras for more.
(T)hrough (T)he (L)ens light metering, usually WRT the flash metering capabilities built into the R6.2, R8, R9, M7 & M6TTL cameras.
V-Lux is a series of compact SLR-like digital cameras by Leica Camera AG developed with Panasonic since 2006, starting with the Leica V-Lux 1 (2006), V-Lux 2 (2010), V-Lux 3 (2011), V-Lux 4 (2012), V-Lux Typ 114 (2014), V-Lux 5 (2018). See my article "Compact Digital Leica Cameras".
To add confusion, Leica also made a Leica V-Lux 20 in 2010, V-Lux 30 in 2011 and a Leica V-Lux 40 in 2012 that was a temporarily renaming of the Leica C-Lux series.
Vario- is the Leica Camera AG name for zoom lenses. Vario-Elmarit, Vario-Elmar and Vario-Summicron and so on.
Ventilated shade on a 35mm of Elliott Erwitt's Leica MP camera.
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. Also known as the German word "Messucher" (or Meßsucher).
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 vider 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".
Zone System -A system of 11 greytones. Ansel Adams worked out the Zone System in the 1940's with Fred Archer. It may look as simply a grey scale (and it is) but it's the use that has troubled many. If you use a normal external light meter, it will give you the exact amount of light and you can expose your photograph based on that and it will be correct.
What Ansel Adams basically did was that he studied (by measuring with a spot meter), what the exact grey tones were of the sky, the clouds, the sand, the water, the skin and so on at different times of the day.
You could say that he built up a conceptual understanding of how different materials of different colors and reflective surface would look in black and white at different times of day (or different light conditions). He also realized that a tone changes for the human eye depending on it's size and in which context of other tones it is seen.
In short, you could say that the Zone System is know how something would look in black and white when looking at a scenery. Some who have struggled with the Zone System have done so because they think it is a rule. It is not.
How Ansel Adams made New Mexico look:
How most people see New Mexico:
The artistic use of the Zone System.
Ansel Adams developed the Zone System to understand light for himself, but also as a fundament for teaching the light, exposure and making the final photograph. How will it look if you do the usual, and what will it look like if you manipulate it. But most interstingly; how do you work with light, cameras and photographic materials to achieve the look you envision.
The Zone System is meant as a basis on which to create your own aesthetic style and communication. Photography is painting with light. The greyscale is our palette. Ideally we should have a conceptual understanding of the tones and be able to use them intuitive. That was his vision for us all.
Ø - Diameter. As in Ø49 for example which means that the filter diameter is 49mm for this lens (or if a filter is Ø49, it is 49mm in diameter and fits that Ø49 lens). Leica uses E to express their filters sizes, as in E49 for a 49mm filter size.
- 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.
I am in constant orbit teaching
Leica and photography workshops.
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new place when doing my workshop.
30% of my students are women.
35% of my students dotwo or more workshops.
95% are Leica users.
Age range is from 15 to 87 years
with the majority in the 30-55 range.
Skill level ranges from two weeks
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