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Leica Lenses the Future

agp

Well-Known Member
There have been a couple of articles in the professional photographic press recently about the increasing quality of digital sensors. One thing which intrigues me is that a single pixel in a digital sensor is now smaller than a single grain of silver on a slow-speecd film. As a result, even the best film lenses (such as Leica!) don't have the resolving power to make the most of these sensors. By the way, I know that there are other issues such as the direction the light hits the sensor, and the intrinsic character of the lens. Apparently the new digital lenses are required to have greater resolving power than film lenses.

According to one review, a 22Mp sensor in a medium format camera is equivalent quality to 5"x4" film. Yes, I know that they are very expensive, but the price will surely come down.

Just looking for a discussion here.
 

cmdr

Active Member
Dear Andrew,

The digital camera market is still taking off, and some might feel that the image quality of the best digital SLR's currently available easily surpass that of film as far as resolution and grain are concerned. From my understanding, and from what I have heard from people who really know, digital still has a ways to go before it will catch up to the type of images one can produce with film, especially when making those bigger enlargements. Have a look at this site,
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Let me know what you think.

Regards,
Dale
 

agp

Well-Known Member
Thank you, Dale, for the comments and the very interesting article, which explains the workings of the digital camera very clearly. However, I wasn't thinking about the actual camera, but the quality of the lenses. This is the bit which made me think, from the British Journal of Photography, 2 March: "... The pixel pitch of current digital sensors is much smaller than the resolution circle of film ... Most lenses have never been designed to meet these changing specifications." When you think about it, lenses when designed would obviously be designed for the recording medium available at the time. Perhaps the goalposts have now been moved! I suspect that if Leica do not hurry with a digital M and the release of the digital R they will continue to have problems. Maybe they should even bring out a cheaper digital point and shoot! However, times ARE changing, and I suspect that if they do not move with those times I will end up selling my beloved Leica equipment. After all, I want to take the best photos I can, and Leica need to continue to produce the best or it is not worth using.
 

simons1

New Member
Pretty nice discussion,

but if you are comparing the size of the light sensitive structures, you should take into consideration that there ist much free room on a CCD sensor and the light resistive parts are only covering about less than 50%. This means, you can't presume the resolution of both systems only by the minimal structure size. Simon
 

scottmcl

New Member
The idea of a new Leica digital P&S is a truly excellent one, for many reasons. First, it's a camera independent of the M lens line and attendant design issues, hence it could be release earlier. Second, it would show that Leica can design a truly magnificent lens for the digital sensor. Third, it might set a new standard for high end digital P&S cameras.

I'd propose a Leica CM-d (or whatever). Nice CM style body. Not too big, not too small. Good build quality. Use an APS size sensor. Support up to ISO 1600, good noise control, etc. Finally, to exhibit Leica lens prowess, outfit the camera with a superb, fast "tri-elmar" lens design instead of a zoom. Support 28/35/50,. 35/50/75 or some like combination. We're looking at f2 or f2.8 speed. Whatever is feasible on an APS sensor and with P&S lens form factor. A zoom is an option, but quality needs to be excellent. While I'd love to see an optical viewfinder, I don't know if this is a reasonable request :)

Oddly, right now, there is not yet a market developed for really high performance P&S digi-cams. Leica could well set the standard here and move some cameras.

Scott
 

cmdr

Active Member
Dear Andrew,

I am glad that you had an opportunity to read that article on digital versus film that I had brought to your attention. Certainly, the idea of discussing arguments in favor of X or Z lens or of a particular technology versus an emerging technology can be relentless and damaging to the art and enjoyment of one just going about his or her passion of enjoying photography. If we could ask Mr. Lothar Kolsch whether the more recent Leica optical designs were calculated with the CCD digital element in consideration, his reply would be a most interesting addition to our discussion. Overall, I still find today that the quality and performance of Leica lenses both R and M, are to be preferred. If we look back at the basic philosophy of Oskar Barnak, that is, having a small negative but being able to produce a superb enlargement, then we can see that this still holds true today.

Many press and media photographers use whatever photographic tools are necessary to get the job done. In fact, most news organizations today have totally eliminated their darkrooms and have replaced them with a digital workflow. We must maintain our perspective that our aspirations photographically speaking, should be consistant with our own individual needs and requirements and not based on the direction of where the statis quo is headed.

Yes, the digital R back will be available within the next few months, and an M digital will probably be introduced at some point in time. Keep using whatever tools you need to use to accomplish whatever you need to accomplish or desire to do, and at the end of the day, appreciate and feel good about the images that you have made.

Regards,
Dale
 

agp

Well-Known Member
This is becoming even more interesting. Thanks for the comments. I was thinking about Leica producing a relatively cheap point and shoot that an average consumer would buy. It could quite easily be made in Japan, just have some typically Leica styling points (perhaps even made out of plastic!). That was Leica will be able to continue as a viable company. After all, their profits have taken a considerable plunge this year, and they have to survive in an increasingly competitive market.
 

songura

Active Member
I've bought a Panasonic digital camera which has a Leica lens. I was trying to get pictures of Leica quality in digital way. But now I feel frustrated and I think the digital cameras would destroy photography and film camera tradition. People now talk about size of CCD, reduction of noise. You can't tell the lens diffrence of Leica, Cannon, Nikon. And I think digital cameras will never catch up the film cameras. They are diffrent things.
 

agp

Well-Known Member
I have just read Songura's interesting post. At the moment, for the consumer, I think you're right. At the high end, though, I am afraid that film has already been overtaken. For ex&le, the full-frame Canon digital has 16 million pixels. Regular comments in the press say the pictures are much superior in result to film. The incredibly expensive Leaf digital backs for medium/large format are fantastic. At the moment they are beyond even most dedicated Leica users' means, but the price will come down, and I don't think it will take so long.

I don't think that the digital technology is there yet, and the Panasonic is just a reasonable digital camera, and that is all. I would not expect it to compete with a film Leica - YET.

Leica are going to have to move. They will get left behind, and an increasingly smaller group of real afficionados will buy them. They cannot run a company with a small market like that. They need to get off their high horse and produce attractive, reasonably-priced digital cameras for the consumer market. This implies that I am anti-Leica. I am not (I have an M7, M2 and four lenses, and think they're great. My favourite cameras.)

Look at Canon. They have a lot of the market because they aim different products at different people. It is possible to buy a Canon SLR with lens for very considerably less than £200. It is then possible to move up through their equipment, and end with a 16Mp digital for Leica prices. From each of these cameras they make a profit, and the company is doing well.

A little bit off the subject of lens quality, but I think that Leica are being silly.
 

jorks

Member
>Millions and zillions of pixels probably give lovely 'high-quality' pictures with extremely high resolution and fine detail. But grain, with its randomness and irregularity is different and, to my eyes, more beautiful than pixels -- not only in the sharp, in-focus areas but in the blurry bokeh bits. I agree with those who say digital photography and film photography are in many ways different media, capable of different messages mainly because the way of seeing and doing is different. Each has its place.
 
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