By: Thorsten Overgaard. March 31, 2022J. Edited January 27, 2023.
This is a continuous review continued from Page 1 and Page 2. Continues on Page 4 and Page 5.
In this article I will talk about the importance of having a lot of megapixels. Or why it might not be that important. After reading this you will know more about what to think of it.
I asked a few people, "What are megapixels?" and some of the answers people came up with were, "Megapixels means more precision" or "Higher quality", and a few other ideas that all implied that more megapixels is better.
The correct answer is that it is a larger file size with more points. And then there are some open questions as to what else it entails.
When you photograph 60 megapixels, you photograph 9,528 x 6,328 pixels. A pixel is simply a point, or a dot of picture (the word pixel comes from pix, which mean photograph).
So, fundamentally megapixels is how many points/dots are used to make up a photo. Or how many individual points a picture consist of. It has relevance for how large a display you can make of it:
60 Megapixels translates to a 32" x 21" (81 x 53 cm) high-resolution gallery print (300 dots per inch), or a 64 x 42" (162 x 106 cm) normal print (150 dots per inch). If you want to put it on a televisions screen (72 dots per inch), you would need a 132" x 88" (3.3 x 2.2 meter) television screen to display a full 60MP picture.
These are all unreal sizes for most use you could imagine for your photos. Nevertheless, here we are, we have a 60MP camera.
Driving the other evening, with only 30 mph speed in a 2020 Mustang, because there was so much traffic, I would have been better off with a Volvo XC90 that at least would’ve felt like being in my own living room while arriving somewhere in 45 minutes. Or a Chevrolet Nova SS 396 from 1970 would have produced a pleasant sound at that speed (it has a great sound even when parked with the engine on).
Ok, back on subject. Per definition, 60 million pixels enables you to potentially capture more detail in a photo. But come on, how many details that are 1/60,000,000 do you have in the image that would be omitted or divided between two or four pixels in a 24,000,000 pixel camera?
Let's first assume "No, we don't", because any photograph that used to impress us in the history of photography didn't have a lot of details. Most of them wasn't even sharp. Also, when you look at Instagram it's rather limited what you can see of details and even tonality (dynamic range; the range of tones from light to dark). We manage to scroll through photos on rather small screens, sitting in sunshine or a dark space (which are both terrible conditions to view tonality), and yet we can get impressed and emotionally touched by an image. So, apparently it isn't megapixels that determine if a photo is great.
Then again, let’s assume "Yes, we need more megapixels", because apparently we do: We strive for more and more, and we zoom into pictures on the screen, and we see and admire details we wouldn't be able to see without having them on a screen capable of enlarging the file.
There is also the possibility to print. I've printed quite a few 17” x 22" prints (A2 size) as samples and giveaways, and while that size is for a wall, you tend to sit and study them in your hands, and study the quality of detail.
So yes, why the heck not take all the megapixels you can get. It can't hurt, can it?
It may come as a surprise, but here are the megapixels needed to make any of these images to appear in their highest quality for these formats. Any higher resolution you possess will be downscaled to fit the format of the paper or device you are putting it on.
Front page photo of the New York Times website (500x350 pixels)
Instagram (1080 x 1080 pixels)
iPhone 13 Pro (1170 x 2532 pixels)
iPad Pro 11" (1668x 2388 pixels)
Apple MacBook Pro 16" Retina Screen (2234 x 3456)
1080p video resolution still (1080 x 1920)
4K computer screen Eizo or video still (2160 x 3840 pixels)
8.5 x 11" gallery print (A4) (2,550 x 3300 pixels)
14 x 11" gallery print (A3) (4200 x 3300 pixels)
17 x 22" gallery print (A2) (5100 x 6600 pixels)
8K cinema format (4320 x 7680 pixels)
Definitions of resolution: dpi (dots per inch) refers to the number of printed dots contained within one inch of an image printed by a printer. ppi (pixels per inch) refers to the number of pixels contained within one inch of an image displayed on a monitor. The word pixel comes from pix, which mean photograph (light drawing). A large photo is made up of a number of small dots/points each of which are called a pixel. MP (megapixels) is how many million pixels/dots are contained within that format; how many million pixels a device is able to record.
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Thankfully, we can zoom in
If you load a 60MP image onto an iPad, it will downscale it to 3.6MP. It might seem a loss, but then you can use your two fingers to zoom into the details of it. You can zoom in 400% - 500% and you are still looking at a full resolution picture (if you AirDropped the picture to the iPad, because if you sync an image to an iPad, it will be downscaled to a smaller resolution). Often you can zoom much closer before you notice any lack of pixels. Observe a view of the frontpage of the New York Times seen on an iPad, and often that image (which is 0.2MB) can be enlarged to full screen, and it still looks like a normal picture. The iPad is a 458 ppi screen made to show 72 ppi images as if they are high resolution. It also adds a lot of sharpness in order to make anything appear crisp and sharp.
Zooming in on screens has become the new thing to do to prove to oneself and others that one’s lens and sensor in fact can capture a lot of details. It doesn't really make a lot of sense, but then again, buying a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster with a top speed of 216 mpg and driving it in LA where the average speed is 15 mph, doesn't make a lot of sense either. But it's the idea of what it can do and how it was built that makes you enthusiastic about it. When you look at it parked in the driveway it's not a parked car you are looking at, it's the illusion of a noisy fast car made of carbon fiber. And there's only 800 of them in existence. The same with the image, it's the idea of perfect capture of every detail you buy, not the need for actually viewing them.
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Megapixels and image sharpness?
By Thorsten von Overgaard
When is it sharp and detailed enough?
If you hold up a letter size (A4) paper in front of your face, a distance of 13" (40cm) distance is probably the closest you would care to look at it. If you move it any closer, you won’t be able to see all of the paper in your viewing field.
The reality of viewing photos is that we look at small images close to us and larger images at a distance. So this is different than the idea of resolution, which implies we look at everything close up.
No, we don’t look at everything in detail. We seldom do, in fact. We look at relative distances, and thus the resolution needed is the same no matter the size, because fundamentally, it's the same photo we look at. The smartphone fills out maybe 10% of your viewing area when held at a normal distance of 35-50cm, and if that image was printed on a billboard, you would look at the billboard from a distance of maybe 50-100 meters and it would still fill only 10% of your viewing area. It’s the same picture ratio in your viewing area even though these are very different sizes of medium.
Hence, a larger print does not need more resolution or sharpness for it to look great in a large print. Here is a photo of Mars shown scaled down to this screen.
7MP picture shown in 315 x 208 pixel format
315 x 208 pixel picture shown in 315 x 208 pixels.
As you can see, it makes no difference what the original size of the Mars photo above is, because it's scaled down to fit the space on the screen you are looking at right now. But then zoomed into, here is a 100% crop of the same photo:
Making a 7MP photo into a 300MP photo without loss
Now you might learn something new, because you can make a 7MP photo into a 300MP photo file without any loss. You simply open the image in Photoshop, and then you go to Image > Image Size > and then you set the size to 300 ppi (pixels/inch) and the longest side to 22,000 pixels (the shortest side will scale itself to 14,000-16,000 pixels, depending on the proportions of the image.)
Now you have a 300MP file, which is equivalent to a 6 x 4 feet gallery print (180 x 120 cm), and the file size when saved in JPG is about 140MB, or 4GB if saved in tiff format.
The reason that it's not a pretty sight in the above photo is that it's a grainy 7MP file we scaled into. The photo has those grains from previous over-sharpening, likely because the Mars rover has only a 4MP camera and it was already upscaled to 7MP. But when you upscale in Photoshop, nothing more is added, and nothing is changed. We just zoomed in, closer than anybody normally would, to a six foot wide photo!
As another example, let's upsize this 60MP photo from the Leica M11 to a 350MP photo for a 6 x 4 feet large print (180cm x 120 cm). This one hasn’t been sharpened, so it’s clean even when blown up.
In Photoshop you go to Image > Image Size > and then you set the size to 300 ppi (pixels/inch) and the longest side to 22,000 pixels (the shortest side will scale itself to 14,000 to 16,000 pixels, depending on the proportions of the image).
Now look at the crop below of the full size 6 feet tall photo. It's not a pretty sight, and that's because you have your face all the way up to what is a 6 feet tall print. Now, move 10 or 20 feet back and look at your screen, and that's how this would look on a wall. Look at both the Mars photo and the eye here from 10-20 feet away and you will see it’s “the same photo” as when you looked at the entire photo on the screen.
Also, compare the crop of the Mars photo and the Eye and notice if you can see any difference: Which was a 7MP and which was a 60MP file? At a proper distance of 20-30 feet you likely can’t tell which was done from which camera.
Same photo, different sizes and distances. You look at a smartphone at a 14-20" distance (35-50cm), a computer screen at a 20-30" distance (50-70cm), a television at a 10-14' distance (3-4 meters), a large 6 feet gallery print at a 7-16' distance (2-5 meters), a billboard a 100-330' distance (30-100 meters). Same picture in terms of size-ratio to your eye’s viewing field. Only when you zoom closer you can see the grain in the Mars photo, or the blur in the eye photo.
But notice there is no pixilation, only blur or grain, no matter how close you go.
The key in making large prints is to avoid "pixilation", which is when you enlarge or zoom a photo to a point where there are no more pixel details to fill out the paper or screen. Data is missing, in other words. If you imagine you have a birthday party for 10 kids but 100 show up, the one cake that you made is not enough. There’s going to be "pixilation" because there's not enough cake to fill the desire of the kids. So, if you could photoshop that cake, you could simply make it 10x larger, and there would be enough cake for all 100 kids. That's the miracle of Photoshop. Same cake, different size.
Pixilation is when the printer or screen is fed too few pixels to fill out the screen or paper. So by upscaling it, you make more pixels of the same photo, and then there are pixels enough to fill out the space. The printer simply copies pixels to cover an 8 times larger area (or more), in order to fill out the space.
Does anybody really care if photos are sharp?
The reality is that nobody really cares to notice whether a photo is sharp. By way of example, I have a this Helmut Newton photo on my wall in a signed 14”x17” print, and wouldn’t you know that many people who have seen this have never commented on its sharpness?
Zero! … Nobody ever looked at it and said, "Wow, it's amazing how sharp her eyes are". And likewise, nobody ever commented, "The lamp to the right is not in focus", just like nobody ever commented about the level of film grains.
So, whatever people are looking at in photos, they are not concerned about sharpness or grain (with the exception of camera reviewers).
The exception, I have learned, is when people buy large prints in galleries as decorations for their homes. In this case, sharp prints sell better than non-sharp prints. These are photos bought as interior decoration, not because it's a famous photographer or an historic document.
One of my classic exhibition photographs is "The Dior Lady" from 2010. For "The Salzburg Collection" for the Leica Galerie Salzburg exhibition in 2012, I made a wall-size print on aluboard; that's a glossy photo paper laminated onto aluminium, and with a protective layer on top, that hangs on the wall without frame.
The original photo was cropped and tilted from an 18MP file of the Leica M9 to an 8MP file, which was then scaled up in Photoship to be 160cm tall in 300 dpi ... a 288MP file size.
The actual original frame and the crop used for The Dior Lady.
'Bokeh' is how the shape of out-of-focus areas look. The word bokeh comes Japanese. It can be quite beautiful, like music to the eye.
Closing in on details
One of the exciting things about large prints is the details you now see. As in the photo to the right where it's the top left corner of the photo you can study "in peson' facing the large print.
And no, there is no pixelation, and even there is nothing sharp to grab onto in this crop, it is very alive and real when you look at it.
It's the emotion from a photograph or painting you experience, not the sharpness.
Which reminds me that the lens designer of Leica, Peter Karbe once said to me, as a comment on lens qualtiy and resolution, "The closer you go, the more you see". Which is both true in the case of a detailed lens recorded on a sensor with a lot of megapixels, but also in the case of having a large print of a blurred area where you see the details you never really saw before.
The wall-size photoraphic print
It's a nice image, but when it gets printed and put on a wall it comes to life and eminates a very special atmosphere. And alarge print dominates the room. In the Leica Galerie Salzburg we made a 125 x 180 cm print for the top of the stairs.
From outside the gallery, when you walked by on the street, your eye would catch The Dior Girl on top of the stairs in the very back of the gallery. Even far away, it dominates the space and the view.
Currently we're experimenting with silk prints for framing, fashion designs and more. It's printing on silk, and one of the ones we're doing is my photograph, "Robin Isabella in Istanbul" which is a beautiful photo in colors.
Put onto a silk, it really glows. There are new details in the window frame, the wallpaper, the texture of the chair, and more that simply becomes objects of beauty to study in detail.
This is a 24MP file upscaled to 96MP for the silk printing in 300 dpi.
The printing on silk adds a new texture and tactile experience to the photograph that can only be experienced when you stand in front of it, or touch the silk. There's a flow to the details of the image suddenly.
The last thing that comes to mind when wiewing this wonder, is megapixels ...
"Robin in Istanbul" on a 105 cm wide silk print is a 24MP file up-scaled to 96MP for print on silk.
Digital Zoom in the Leica M11
By Thorsten von Overgaard
Then Leica M11 came up with this "Digital zoom" thing
When you've read the above, you will see that you seldom need the full 60MP file. You have so much inventory of pixels available that you can crop an image to a much smaller size and still have enough pixels to present a full resolution photo on an iPad, a larger screen, or in print.
Leica therefore added a digital crop function into the Leica M11. I gave it a try.
In the Leica M11 camera, I can choose (1.3X or) 1.8X crop in the menu by going to screen 3 > Digital Zoom > 1.8x, and now my 90mm is a 162mm tele lens that gives me files in the size of 33MP. In the EVF, we will see the full 90mm frame, and then there are frame lines showing the 1.8x crop.
I can get even closer, because if I am happy with just a 3MP file, I can crop even further in Lightroom, Capture One or Photoshop and thus crop the image to be equivalent to a 540mm lens!
I can always crop even closer in editing on the computer.
I can also put on the longest Leica M tele lens, which is 135mm (now 240mm in 1.8x crop), or if I use a Leica M to R adapter I can put on my 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8 and make it into a 720mm lens producing 33MP files, or a 2400mm lens producing 10MP files.
What I might occasionally have been missing for the Leica M is long tele lenses. When I did more varied reportage photos for Associated Press and Getty Images, I would for example arrive to a concert with Kylie Minogue, and somebody had decided that the press should be in the back of the concert hall instead of in front of the stage. Then you need a tele lens, which is what most Canon photographers have, because press usually had a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 zoom as their standard equipment. And here I am with my 35-70mm f/2.8 expecting to be a few meters away from her.
In light of all I covered above, this is logically something that can be done. Will I do it often? No, I don't think so, but the whole thing serves to illustrate how much horsepower - an overflow of megapixels - you have in a 60MP Leica M11 camera. I wouldn't say digital zoom is something that makes me happy to do or makes me feel like an accomplished photographer, but it works for most things. Think about that looking back to the 1990's, when the first Nikon professional digital cameras had 1MP sensors!
Digital crop is something Leica first introduced in the Leica Q and Leica Q2. When you consider the Leica Q2 has a 47MP sensor and an excellent 28mm f/1.7 fixed lens, you can easily crop a photo to look as if you had a 75mm lens on the camera, and still have enough inventory to present a print or a good image on the screen.
The Leica Q2 has crop lines for 35mm, 50mm and 75mm within its fixed 28mm lens frame.
The Leica M11 sensor is optimized for low light photography, using a sensor that is backside illuminated (BSI), which the Leica SL2-S (2021) was the first Leica to implement (and people have been happy with that, so don't worry). Backside is simply changing the layers of electronics and moving the light-sensitive region to the front of the sensor – let's stay with that simple explanation. Ther is not, as the name backside illuminated could suggest, light added from the backside of the sensor.
The sensor is likely the Sony sensor from 2020, which from birth has "auto-focus pixels" on top of the traditional "image pixels" (a so-called OSPDAF sensor type = On Sensor Phase Detect Autofocus). But as the Leica M sensor doesn't need to support auto focus, that layer has been removed.
Also, a Leica M sensor fetures a thinner protective glass cover than traditional sensors, so as to save space and avoid reflections. The backlit sensor is already more compact than a traditional sensor, so we're moving in the right direction.
And then there is the final touch, which is the micro lenses to handle the Leica M wide angles. The layers on the Leica M11 lens are quite special, featuring the micro lenses that are unique for Leica, a non-Bayer color filter (!) as well as thin IR and thin UV filter glasses that also act as protective glass on the sensor surface.
Three DNG file sizes all based on full-frame sensor
The Leica M11 is a 60MP camera, but it also features the possibility to "downscale" the DNG file (raw file) to 37MP or 18MP. This might even result in higher dynamic range for those smaller raw files (which I shall return to in the next article). It's called Pixel Binning.
The point, however, would first and foremost file size management.
Each size of raw files utilizes the full sensor format, sort of three different layers (of image size, even the sensor is referred to as "dual layer"; but that is about the IR and UV filter), and can be seen as a way to accommodate those who still think the 18MP of Leica M9 was sufficient, or the ones that think 37MP is the sweet spot for digital sensors (which is something that has been going around; that digital sensors shouldn't be more than 40MP max).
The market wants 60 MP, but it's a commitment in terms of computer workflow, space and speed and all. So the Leica M11 delivers all the options, and in 14 bit color depth and lossless quality. Which is fair: A bit better than the Leica M10 2017) and M10-R (2020), on level with the Leica SL2 that also delivers 14 bit color depth, and almost as good as the flagship medium format cameras Leica S (2012) and Leica S3 (2018) that specifies 14 bit but deliver close to 15 bit.
The bit is simply how many color tones the sensor can see and record. If you are old enough, you remember when a PC had green letters on the screen. The first color computers delivered 8 colors, and then it went to 256 and onwards over the years. And here we are. 15 bit is the same as 32,768 colors or 4 trillion shades.
"Why 60MP?" you may wonder, and that is just how things go. Convenient for larger prints, though you could make any smaller file size large enough in Photoshop, as I just went overg. But higher pixel count means less moire also (detailed patterns and ilines clashing in an image), and possibly also better definition of colors (which I cover on the Page 2 of this review).
Now to something different. The personal freedoms of movement and expression have been under pressure again and again throughout history. But freedom cannot be erased.
The history books are filled with examples where one can see that those who discriminate and suppress always end up losing. You can’t keep everybody a fool all of the time.
Long story short. I went traveling around the world and offered my free sunset walks the last couple of years. Under the slogan “Walk with Me” I got to meet a lot of people and walk the streets with fellow enthusiasts in New York, Istanbul, Paris, London, Zagreb, Copenhagen, Berlin, Belgrade and many other cities to offer some relief for the mind and something for the camera to record. See the dates of my upcoming photo workshops and masterclasses here.
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The Leica M11 user report and review
by Thorsten Overgaard continues on Page 4 when available --->
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.
AF = Auto Focus. The idea is that the camera does the focusing itself (the word auto comes from Greek "self").
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 shutter speed dial on top of a Leica M camera is set to A, it is short for “Aperture Priority” and allows the user to set a specific aperture value (f-number) while the camera selects a shutter speed to match it that will result in proper exposure based on the lighting conditions as measured by the camera's light meter. In other words, you set the aperture as priority (f/1.4 for example), and the camera calculates a shutter speed (1/250 of a second) that matches that. If you change the aperture to f/2.0 by changing the aperture ring on the lens, the camera will re-calculate the speed to 1/125 so as to get the same amount of light to hit the sensor (f/2.0 is half the light through the lens as f/1.4 and 1/125 if twice the amount of light on the sensor as 1/250).
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 M9 is 160 ISO, for Leica M240 it is 200 ISO. For Leica M10 it is around 160 ISO.. For Leica M11 it is 64 ISO. For Leica M Monochrom it is 320 ISO. For Leica Q and Leica Q2 it is around 100 ISO. For Panasonic Lumix S it is 200 ISO. For most Canon cameras the base ISO is around 100, for most Nikon cameras it is around 200 ISO.
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.
Bizofurex = A Leica Visoflex electronic viewfinder name for the new electronic viewfinder thatr was planned to be made for the Leica M10 introduction in 2017. Dues to too high expenses molding a new viewfinder, Leica decided to stay with the Leica visoflex EVF 020 that was originally med for the Leica T.
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.'.
BSI = Backlit sensor = Back-Illuminated Sensor (also known as BI = Backside Illumination) sensor that uses a novel arrangement of the imaging elements to increase the amount of light captured and thereby improve low-light performance. These sensor types were first used for low-light security cameras and astronomy sensors, and then was brought into wider use, in the A7 II (2015), Nikon 850D (2017), Leica SL2-S (2021) and Leica M11 (2022), to increase the cameras performance in low light (high ISO).
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.
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 M11, 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.
Collapsible - Usually refers to a collapsible lens such as the Leica 50mm Elmarit-M f/2.8 Collapsible, or Leica 90mm Macro Elmar-M f4.0 Collapsible, etc. A collapsible lens is one that can collaps into a compact lens when not in use.
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
Depth - Distance between front and back. Distance from viewer and object. See DOF in this list.
Digilux (Digital Lux) = A series of compact digital cameras by Leica Camera AG developed with Fuji from 1998, and then with Panasonic since 2002. The first models, Leica Digilux (1998) and Leica Digilux Zoom (2000) and Leica Digilux 4.3 (2000). With Panasonic, Leica Camera AG made the Leica Digilux 1 (2002), Digilux 2 (2004) and Leica Digilux 3 (2006). See my article Leica Digital Compact Cameras for more. Lux comes from Latin and means Light.
Digital rangefinders= The Leica M camera originates from 1925 and have been existing as film camera in many models. From 2006, the first Leica M digital rangefinder was launched, Leica M8. The Leica M7 (2002) is a film camera, so the new mode was Leia M8 and the main difference was that it had a crop digital sensor. The Next Leica M9 had a full-frame 24x36mm sensor. The Leica M240 had many features supposedly requested by users, the most noticeable was live view via a CMOS sensor, electronic viewfinder and video recording. Leica M10 was a return to the original Leica simplicity, including being a smaller body resembling the film cameras, and video and other features and buttons had been removed, a simplified menu created, and most noticeable an ISO dial to set the ISO on a wheel on the top left of the camera, very similar to the similar looking dial on older Leica film cameras where this dial was a rewind function for the film. Leica M11 (2022) was simplified even further, with a new sensor design that was designed to resemble classic color photography closer (Kodachrome and Leica M9 colors), yet featuring new technology such as triple-resolution sensor (where the sensor as a fourth function is also used as light meter), digital shutter and a new design where the battery is part of the bottom plate (no battery door, and no more bottom plate).
Digital Shutter = Electronic Shutter (see in this list).
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 + XMP file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XMP contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken, as well as editing data when the photo is edited in Lightroom or Capture One.
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. Camera producers provide a Camera profile with their camera, and Adobe makes their own 'refined' Adobe Raw camera profile for all new cameras.
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.
Leitz Summicron DR (Dual Range) f/2.0 (order no SOOIC-MN).
DR = Dual Range lens. This is a type of Leitz/Leica lens that works as macro (near focus range) and normal lens, and comes with googles/"Eyes" for the macro function. The 50/2 Dual Range Summicron was made from 1956 to 1968, only in chrome, with a near-focusing range as close to 478mm.
You mount the googles/"Eyes" to focus at close range. If you use the lens in normal range, you can take off the googles/"Eyes"
The googles/"Eyes" can be critical for which camera the lens fits on. the Leica M6 TTL requires that the plastic tab onthe eyes is removed; and other Leica M models likewise. It fits on the Leica MP, M2, M3 and oterh models. .
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.
Electronic Shutter = A shutter that operates silently by turning the cameras imaging sensor on and off to control exposure, rather than a traditional shutter where a foldable metal curtain keeps the sensor in the dark and goes up for a brief moment moment, like 1/125th of a second, and exposes the sensor to light. In the Leica TL2 (2017), 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 speeds. In the Leica M11 (2022) an electronic shutter can be activated from 60 seconds to 1/16000th second while a mechanical shutter goes from 60 minutes to 1/4000th second..The word shutter simply means to close something, like with a curtain. It comes from "desist from speaking" (14th century).
Electronic ViewFinder = See EVF.
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.
Elmax lens named after = Ernst Leitz + Max Berak. Ernst Leitz was the founder of Ernst Leitz Optical Industry which later became Leica. Professor Dr.Max Berak was employed at Leica in 1912 and was the architech of the first Leica lens which Ernst Leitz asked him to design for the "Barnack's camera" (the 1913-prototype named after Oscar Barnack who invented it). The lens was a f/3.5 50mm and was known as the Leitz Anstigmat and later the Elmax.
The Leitz Elmax 50mm f/3,5 (1925-1961) on the Leica A camera (1925) camera. Photo by Marco Cavina.
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. Some cameras have built-in EVF (Leica CL, Leica SL, Leica Q, etc), others you can attach an EVF (Leica TL2, Leica M240, Leica M10, Leica M11).
Traditionally a viewfinder is adeviceon a camerashowingthe fieldofviewofthe lens, used in framing and focusing the picture. Some rangefinder cameras simply have optics that show an area in front of the camera with frames indicating what will be recorded on the film or sensor. SLR cameras have mirror and prisms so you see theough the lens of the camera. Electrnic viewfinders show on a small display inside the viewfinder what the sensor see.
The EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) on the Leica SL.
EXIF =Exchangeable Image File, a file generated in camera and enclosed in the image file that contains recording information on the image such as shutter speed, exposure compensation, what metering system was used, aperture setting, ISO setting, date and time the image was taken, whitebalance, which lens was used, camera model and serial number. Some images may even store GPS information so you can see where the image were taken. The data from the EXIF file continues to follow any later editions of the image and can be read in photo editing software such as Capture One and Lightroom, as well as Photoshop (go to the menu File > File Info). There is also software available that can read EXIF data from any file, like Exifdata.com.
The EXIF data is all the information about shutter speed, metering method, ISO, etc. - and then some more that you don't see on the screen (such as camera model, serial number, lens used, etc).
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/1.25 is the size of the "hole through" the lens, the aperture. f/1.25 means focal length divided with 1.25. In the Leica 75mm NoctiluxM ASPH f/1.25, the "hole through" the lens at f/1.25 is 60mm in diameter. At f/1.4 the "the hole through" is 53.5mm in diameter. At f/4 the "hole through" is 18.75mm in diameter.
Each step smaller from f/1.4 to f/2.0 to f/2.8 to f/4.0 and son on is a reduction ofthe light to half for each step. The Noctilux f/1.25 therefore lets 50% more light in through the lens than a 75/1.4 Summilux.
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.
Filters = Glass filters you put in front of the lens. A much used filter is the claer UV filter that is supposed to protects the front of the lens. Other filters are color filters that add effects to black and white photography by changing the color balance. Other filters are ND (Neutral Density) filters that reduce the amount of light coming through (used for for example video recordings as video is usuallu filmed at 1/50th second shutter speed and thus most lenses are too bright wide open. Or they are used for long exposure photography in order to record for example stars movements over the sky. Other filters are filters that create star effects, or blur the view, and almost any effect you can think of.
A traditional Yellow filter in 49mm diameter to screw onto the front of the lens. The yellow filter is used for black and white photography where it slightly darkens skies, helps to cut through haze, and improves overall contrast. Yellows and reds within the scene are also lightened.
Flare = Burst of light. Internal reflections between (and within) lens elements inside a lens. Mostly, flare has a characteristic "space travel" look to it, making it cool. Particularly in older lenses with less or no coating of the glass surfaces to suppress this, it can be a really cool effect. In newer lens designs, the coatings and overall design try to suppress flare and any reflections to a degree, so that there is seldom any flare to be picked up (moving the lens to pick up a strong sunbeam), but instead a "milking out" (or "ghosting") of a circular area of the frame; meaning simply overexposed without any flare-looking flares.
Sunlight creating (fairly supressed) flare in the bottom right quadrant of the image of a modern lens.
Lens Flare in Star Trek (2013). JJ Abrams famously said, "I know there's too much lens flare ... I just love it so much. But I think admitting you're an addict is the first step towards recovery (ha ha)"
FLE = See "Floating Elements"
Flickering = blinking light. This may result in "banding like" horizontal stripes in an image, or simply that the light you see isn't in the picture, or it looks different. For example, you take a photo in light, and the result you get is darker. You take another, and now it is all right. The reason is that some light blinks. Here's the difference within one second (notice how the light in the room, the wall light and the sign light all flicker):
Flickering light causing different result in each frame becasuse the light blinks faster than the eye sees, but slow enough to be caught on camera. Here at shutter time 1/1500 sec, four pictures within a second.
Often you will see that you take a portrait indoor in an office, and from frame to frame the person has shade on one side of the face in one photo, but not the next.
Flickering ligh is a new challenge that photographers face, which is flicering light that looks good to the eye, but result in different results in a photo. Through cinema and photography history, the three standard high-quality light soruces have been daylight (from the sun), daylight HMI (5400 Kelvin Hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide lamps) and tungsten lamps (3200 Kelvin). When I say high-quality, it's because those are the light types that ensure high color quality (see the definition of CRI - Color Rendering Index in my "Leica and Photography Definitions page") and how quality light traditionally has a score above 90 CRI).
In recent years we have seen "light that flickers" because it has a pulse, such as stage light, photo lamps, video lights and of course indoor and outdoor late night lamps using LED (Light-emitting diode), compact fluorescent lightbulp-shaped lamps and other low-energy lamps (such as halogen). These light also generally have lower CRI (Color Rendering Index) below 90, and even lamps that are stated to have 90 CRI or higher, may mis out on the important red and blue tones, which will make it impossible to get the colors right, espoecially skin tones). If a stage has one or more low-quality lights (which they thend to have), these will pollute the colors of the scene to some degree.
Banding as result of electronic shutter, and often also if the ISO is high.
Flickering horizontal stripes (or "banding"-looking stripes) may appear when you use electronic shutter, and you are photographing with one or more light sources that flickers.
When the electronic shutter is on, you are usually at higher shutter speeds than 1/2000, which means there it would be possible to go down to a lower ISO, and to activater the mechanical shutter. (In some cameras you can choose to use electronic shutter throughout the entire range, which would make the camera completely silent; and this alone may cause horizontal stripes/banding if one or more lights in the room flickers).
Flickering in the EVF is very normal and will apear 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 function button or wheel on a camera that you can program (focus zoom, turning acessories on/off, one-click to set white balance, one-click to call up a particular menu setting).
The Leica M11 has a Fn button on top.
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.
Frame lines = the lines inside a viwfinder that indicates the edger of the frame. In a Leica M, the viewfinder always is as wide view as 24-28mm. A mechanical contach on the lens (triggers the camreas frame selector) so the viewfinder shows the frame line of that lens. In the Leica M, the frame lines comes in sets, so there are alwaus twop sets of frame lines shown at any time (see illustration below).
(This is different than in most cameras where you only see what the lens captures: SLR cameras was the evolution in 1940's where the image from the lens was displayed directly onto a matte screen inside the camera via a mirror.
Later mirrorless cameras, the viewfinder shows the exact picture that the sensor sees through the lens).
Frame lines of the Leica M, here showing the set of 35mm and 90mm framelines.
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).
Ghosting = Secondary light or image from internal reflections between (and within) lens elements inside a lens. The reflected light may not always be in focus, so overall it looks like a "milked out" image. A subject in focus has brightened patches in front of it that come from reflections inside the lens. the most elementary look of ghosting is when you look in a rear-view mirror in a car at night and you see doubles of the headlights behind you (a strong one and a weaker one), because the headlights are reflected in a layer of clear glass on top of the mirror glass.
Degrees of ghosting from strong sunlight entering from outside the frame. To the right the outside light has been shielded with a shade.
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).
Also see Base ISO in this list.
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.
LCC = acronym for Lens Cast Correction, which is a tool in phtoo editing (Capture One) that can help correct common issues that arise when using wide angle lenses. The "cast" is typical color cast, meaning that the color goes in an unwanted direction; snow in a photo has too much blue, so you correct it to have less blue and look like white snow. In Copture One, one create an LCC master profile which contains adjustment of color cast, dust spot removal and more, and then that LCC file can be applied to any photo in a series (of for example landscapes or architecture photos).
A screen on a camera is often referred to as "LCD Screen" for no particular reason (illustration is the back of the Leica Q2 special limited "James Bond/Daniel Craig & Greg Williams" version (2021).
LCD = Screen. LCD itself means liquid crystal display, which is slightly irrelevant (what it is made of) as the expression is mostly used to simply mean "screen".
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. The Leica name and logo is owned by Leica Microsystems GmbH.
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 R6.2, Leica R7, Leica R8, 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) that 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. 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.
The "light balance" scale in the camera menu.
Light Balance = That the amount of light is correct, or is under-exposed or over-exposed. Not a common expression, but is used in camera manuals for the scale that shows how the exposure compensation is set, or indicates a scale that shows what the camera thinks the exposure should be adjusted to.
Live View = This is the ability to see the image the sensor see, live, via the screen on the back of the camera, or via an electronic viewfinder (EVF).
LMT - Leica Thread-Mount: Also known as M39, is the screw mounted lenses for Leica cameras. It’s a simple as that; you screw on the lens, and back in 1932, the possibility to change the lens was the big news hwen introduced by Leica on the Leica III. The M39 system was updated with the M Bayonet from 1954 for the Leica M3. The M bayonet is a quick way to change lenses and is the current mount for Leica M digital rangefinders.
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, Leica M11.
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.
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.
Leica M9 is a model name for the Leica M9 that was introduced on September 9, 2009 (as the first full-frame digital Leica M). It was the latest model designation using the M and a number. From their next model, Leica Camera AG introduced a new model system so each camera would simply be a Leica M but then with a model designation like Typ 240, Typ 246, Typ M-D 262 and so on. The idea was inspired from Apple who name their computers for example MacBook Pro and then it has a sub- model number designation which model it is (and which would define speed of processor, etc).
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 III - A processor developed first as Maestro for the Leica S2 (Maestro) and upgraded to Maestro II for the Leica S (Typ 007). The Leica Q and Leica Q2 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. The Leica M11 (2022) has a Maestro III processor.
Mandler, Dr. Walter (1922 - 2005)
Legendary Leica lens designer and CEO of Ernst Leitz Canada (ELCAN) 1952-1985. Read more inLeica History.
Dr. Walter Mandler (center) at the Ernst Leitz Camera factory.
Megapixel (or MP) - Millions of pixels. See pixel further down. How many units of RGB is recorded by a given sensor by taking height x widt. A Leica M10 delivers a 5952 x 3968 pixel file = 23,617,536 piexls. On a screen the resolution you choose determines the size of the image. Say you have a 5000 pixel wide file and your screen is set for 8000 pixels wide. Then the image will fill only the 5000 pixels fo the 8000 and the rest will be empty, If you then change the screen resolution to 5000 wide, the image would be able to fill out the whole screen.
Meßsucher = (rangefinder or distance finder) = Mess = range, sucher = finder. It is always correctly written with the "ß". There are technically not three "s", rather the "ß" and one "s" because it is a word constructed by the combining of two precise words.
mm = millimeter(s), as in a 50mm lens. (Earlier in lens history lenses focal length was given in cm = centimeters; as in a 5 cm lens). For anyone used to centimeters and millimeters, it’s no wonder. But if you grew up with inches, feet and yards, you may have had a hard time grasping what a 50mm lens was. But as lenses were designed first in Europe, the metric system with centimeters and millimeters was used to describe lenses.
(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).
Neutral Density filters are grey filters function as 'sunglasses' for lenses. They simply block the light so that a lens can work at for example f/0.95 or f/2.0 in sunshine.
If a camera is set to 200 ISO and the maximum shutter speed is 1/4.000, this will usually result that the lens has to be at f/2.8 or smaller aperture in sunshine. Else the image will over-exposed. So in order til stay within the maximum shutter speed of 1/4.000 and still use a lightstrong lens wide open, one mount a ND-filter that reduce the light with 3 stops (8X) or 6 stops (64x).
For video ND-filters are used quite a lot (as the shutter speed for video is 1/60), and ND-filters are also used to reduce the light for really long multi-exposures at night (stop-motion video and stills).
ND-filters also exist as variable ND-filters so one can adjust the amount of light going through from for example 1 stop (2X) to 6 stops (64X).
ND-filters also exist as graduated ND-filters where the top of the filter is dark and then gradually tone over in no filter (so as to reduce the skylight in a landscape for example).
The ND filters are called Neutral because it is a neutral filter. It doesn't change colors, only the amount of light.
ND-filters / gray-filters.
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.’
OSPDAF (sensor type) = On Sensor Phase Detect Autofocus, which is a digital sensor where the main imaging sensor has "focus pixels" added in a layer on top of the traditional image pixels that are used for autofocus. First introduced in 2010 by Fujifilm on F300EXR and used in the first smartphone in 2014, Samsung Galaxy S5.
PASM on a cameras 'program wheel'
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.
PDAF = Phase Detect Autofocus. Used in canon EOS 5D Mark IV in 2016 where a dSLR camera use mirrors to reflect copies of the main sensor’s light at a dedicated phase detection sensor. Compact cameras and smartphone cameras has the AF sensors built on to he sensor itself so as to be more compact (OSPDAF = On sensor Phase Detect Autofocus). The alternative to PDAF is CDAF (Contrast Detection Auto-Focus).
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.
The word Perspective comes from the latin word for optics (perspicere, per- ‘through’ + specere ‘to look’), and so-called Renaissance painting is simply painting done within the framework of optics and the linear perspective it presents.
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.
Q - The Leica Q model was released in 2015 as a full-frame 24MP digital compact camera featuring a fixed auto-focus and 28mm f/1.7 lens with macro, amd upgraded with a larger 51MP sensor (same concept) Leica Q2 in 2019. See my article Compact Leica Cameras for more.
R = Resolution, in the name Leica M10-R camera model (2020).
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.
"Rattle" = Noise from something moving around inside a lens when moved or shaken, as if something is loose: When a lens "rattle" 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).
Rigid - Refers usually to the Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "Rigid" of 1956.
It is called "Rigid" because, unlike the 50mm Collapsible, this one is not able to be changed.
Rigid means stiff, uable to be forced out of shape. Not able to be changed. From Latin rigere, "be stiff".
The name is a little confusion nowadays as all or most lenses are rigid today, but back in 1925-1956, many lenses were collapsible so the camera was compact when not in use. Just like compact cameras today often has a lens that extrudes when the camera is turned on, and collaps into the camera body when the camera is turned off.
(R)ange (F)inder - the mechano-optical mechanism which allows M Leicas to focus.
Alternative meaning - RF is also shorthand for Hexar RF , Konica's motorised "M-lens-compatible" rangefinder camera released in 2000.
S = Single image. When the ring by the shutter release on top of the camera (or in the menu of a digital camera in case it does not have this ring on the ourside) is moved from OFF to S, the camera takes only one photo at the time (Single). The other possibility is Continuous where the camera takes pictures continiously as long as the shutter release button is helt down. (see above).
Saturation: How colorful, intense or pure the color is. Less saturation would be less colorful, more saturation would be more colorful. In today’s photography, de-saturating a photo on the computer will gradually make it less and less colorful; and full de-saturation would make it into a black and white photo.
Sensor = A device that detects a physical property (like light) and records it. A camera sensor is a plane plate with thousands of small “eyes” with (photosites) a lens in front of each (CFA, Color Filter Array), which each individually records the amount of red, green and blue light rays that comes through the lens. Together, Red, Green and Blue form all colors of the spectrum, which becomes a pixel. Sensor comes from Latin sens- ‘perceived’.
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.
Sharpness - See “Focus”
Shutter speed dial - The dial on top of the Leica M where you can set the shutter speed manually. It can also be set to A which stands for Aperture Priority (where the camera suggests a shutter speed; or when you move the dial away from A, the camera will show arrows in the viewfinder, suggesting which direction to change the Aperture to, to get the correct exposure).
The number on the dial refers to the shutter speeds. "4000" is 1/4000th of a second (one second divided with 4,000).
Shutter speed dial set to A (Aperture priority where the camera automatically suggest an shutter speed based on the aperture of the lens). The other settings are manual shutter time settings. "B" is short for Bulb where the shutter is open for as long as the shutter release is pressed (max 60 minutes in the Leica M11). The little "thunder symbol" between number 250 and 135 is a symbol indicating that this is the flash synchronizing setting (1/180th of s a second).
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 (used by Leica for theeir Leica SL (2015) digital cameras. The point is that there is no Reflex mirror (See SLR in the list).
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.
Leitz Wetzlar Mikro-Summar 42mm f/4.5 lens anno 1910 might be the first lens carrying the name Summar.
Summar - (or a story of name development) The 1933 lens 50mm f2.0 Summar: It started out as Summar(f2.0), then the Summitar (f2.0 in 1939), then the Summarex(f1.5 in 1948), then the Summaron(35mm f.2.8 in 1948, then later f2.0, f3.5 and f5.6 lenses), then the Summarit (f1.5 in 1949 and used again for the 40mm f2.4 on the Leica Minilux in 1995, then again for the 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm Summarit f2.5 in 2007) then the Summicron(f2.0 in 1953 for the collabsible 50mm) and finally the Summilux(50mm f1.4 in 1959).
ORIGIN of Summar is unknown.
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.’
Thambar Leitz Thambar 90mm f.2.2. At most about 3000 were made, originally, probably in eight batches, starting with 226xxx (built in 1934) and going through 283xxx, 311xxx, 375xxx, 416xxx, 472xxx, 511xxx, and 540xxx (about 1939/1940). But then the Thambar was re-launched in 2018, exactly the same lens.
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".
A device mounted between the Leica M camera and a lens, containing a mirror mechanism like in a SLR camera, thus allowing the M user to 'preview' a picture using a tele lens larger than 135mm which is the maximum covered by the framelines in the Leica viewfinder. In 2012 Leica made the electronic Visoflex for the Leica M240, which is an electronic viewfinder (see EVF in this list).
Leica Visoflex EVF2 electronic viewfinder.
You can also use the Olympus VF-2 which essentially is the same.
The Leitz VisoFlex came out in 1951 as a way to implement a mirror on a Leica M. The first version exist for screw mount lenses and M mount lenses.
The black rubberized, textured material used to cover Leica camera bodies prior to the 1980s. It actually was made of vulcanised rubber (hence the name) and was and remains much loved by professionals because of its solid, sure grip.
WLAN = German short for WiFi. In camera menus, Leica may refer to WLAN, which is simply German for WiFi, (and for some reason they refuse to believe that the rest of the world doesn't call it for WLAN like they do). WLAN stands for wirelesslocal area network.
X1 - The Leica X1 was released in September 2009, the Leica X2 in 2012, and Leica X Typ 113 was released in September 2014, all with a fixed 23mm f/1.7 lens. Leica X Vario Typ 107 and Leica X-E Typ 102 was released later. A Leica X-U underwater edition was released in 2026. See my article Compact Leica Cameras for more.
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.
Index of Thorsten Overgaard's user review pages on Leica M9, Leica M9-P, Leica M-E, Leica M9 Monochrom, Leica M10, Leica M10-P, Leica M10-D, Leica M10-R, Leica M10 Monohcrom, Leica M11, Leica M 240, Leica M-D 262, Leica M Monochrom 246, Leica SL, Leica SL2, Leica SL2-S, as well as Leica TL2, Leica CL, Leica Q, Leica Q2 and Leica Q2 Monochrom:
Leica Digital Camera Reviews by Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish-American multiple award-winning photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops to photographers. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via email.
You can follow Thorsten Overgaard at his television channel magicoflight.tv.
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