Leica S2

by on September 22, 2008

in Leica

Leica has dropped quite the shocker on everyone with their new Leica S2, which is a relatively compact DSLR with a monstrous 37.5-megapixel sensor.  The shocking part is that the sensor size is 56% larger than a 35mm (or full frame) sensor found in “pro” level DSLRs.  Kind of makes Canon’s 21.1 megapixel 1Ds Mark III look kind of quaint, eh?  Leica has announced a number of lenses to accompany the new system as well.

September 23, 2008: LEICA S2 – Remarkable new camera from Germany redefines the professional DSLR class with a custom 37.5-megapixel, 30 x 45 mm sensor built into a 35mm-sized body.

Some companies tweak the features. At Leica, we transform the concept. That’s why the introduction of the flagship Leica S2 is not merely an incremental advance. It is nothing less than a watershed event that sets an entirely new performance standard for professional digital SLRS.

With a custom 37.5-megapixel, 30 x 45 mm sensor that is 56% larger than full frame, it establishes parameters of imaging excellence that are well beyond those obtainable by conventional pro-caliber DSLRs. In the Leica tradition, it utilizes the classic 3:2 aspect ratio that corresponds to the human field of vision and is widely acclaimed as the “Leica Format.”

In designing this brilliant new camera, Leica’s engineers took a close look at the best existing DSLR designs and then synergized them into a radical but practical new camera that combines the performance parameters of a medium-format digital camera with the ergonomics, form factor, and handling ease of a 35mm SLR. The result is the new Leica S2, an entirely new, finely crafted, professional tool developed in-house by Leica with hands-on input from some of the most renowned professional photographers in the world.

It incorporates an advanced new dual shutter system with in-body focal-plane shutter for fast lenses, and in-lens leaf shutters for high flash sync speeds, an ultra-high-precision autofocusing system, a new series of lenses designed for the highest possible performance with the new sensor, and a Maestro image processing system that provides twice the speed of comparable medium-format backs, reduces power consumption, and provides in-camera JPEG capability. Remarkably, all of this has been incorporated into a camera that is smaller than a full-size professional 35mm SLR, and still has the unmistakable look and feel of a Leica.

Like Leica cameras of the past, we designed the new Leica S2 from the inside out, and its robust styling is a classic example of form following function. We began with a cutting-edge, large-format CCD sensor and literally configured the camera around it rather than adapting existing technologies. In this way we achieved a new level of performance without sacrificing size or convenience. Yes the S2 Leica is our latest masterpiece, an unequivocal statement to the world that showcases our technological prowess. But it is more than just a technological tour de force.

It is a statement of Leica’s continuing pre-eminence in the world of imaging that goes back nearly 100 years. Perhaps that is why our top executives in Germany have compared the announcement of the Leica S2 to the debut of the first Leica, the legendary model A in 1925. That seminal camera did nothing less than redefine 35mm photography in the 20th century and we believe that the Leica S2 may well do the same for DSLR photography in the 21st.

With Salzburg ACM Projektentwicklungs GmbH as its new owner, Leica Camera AG is entering a new era. Following in-depth and successful re-structuring, the business can now concentrate on investing in new products. Leica has made a quantum leap in the field of digital technology, enabling it to combine the advantages of highly developed digital technology with the classic Leica values concerning optics, mechanics and optimal image results.

The result of this is uncompromising cutting-edge technology; the LEICA S2 is the first to offer all these things to professional digital photographers. The LEICA S system sets the trend for future Leica products in terms of technology and leads the way for future product ideas from Leica Camera AG.

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{ 3 comments }

1 Marcel September 22, 2008 at 11:28 pm

How much? Somewhere between a Canon 1Ds and a Hasselblad?

The Leica website shows the S2 with eight lenses…

I’m speculating, but this kind of spills the beans on the upcoming Nikon MX format doesn’t it? Of course that’s only if any of the rumors on the MX format are true…Interesting, but now I wonder if Nikon will still/ever bring out a D3x, with higher mp’s, but still based on 35mm format, or will they just move straight up to the MX format?? I guess they’ll watch the reception Leica gets.

I also note that Leica and Phase One have agreed to a new long-term alliance. I wonder where that leaves Mamiya? Maybe P1 will own 50% of the industry in a few years…

Let’s go further with this…maybe, 35mm will eventually disappear in the wake of all these new formats…MX, S2, micro-4/3′s…

Regardless, it’s a bold new step for Leica – something they’ve definitely needed as of late. Kudos to them!

2 LJP September 25, 2008 at 8:57 pm

Very interesting product, but if one reads the new pricing on the Hasselblad cameras, an H3DII-39 with an 80mm lens is 5000 Euros less than the reported price for the Leica S2 body only…

For those counting, that’s 2mp more for 5K Euros less for the Hasselblad which is a mature system that has been developing for several years now…

3 Amanda Maier September 27, 2008 at 5:28 pm

This is the real sensation of the Photokina. It seems that Leica with its new investor from Austria got new ideas (and the necessary money). When the price is acceptable, I’ll could give away my 4 Nikons and 12 lenses for that system. From Nikon we hear nothing, only rumors. The D 90 was topped one week later by Canons D 5 Mk II (except regarding the price) and I think they could loose influence in the market. Why don`t they bring a camera with higher resolution, an anti-vibration system on the sensor like Sony`s a900 and lenses like the Zeiss 35/2??? Silence everywhere.

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