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Archive 2013 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format
  
 
edwardkaraa
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p.2 #1 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


It is unfortunately true that the S system is mainly used by dentists. If you search for online images, a lot of the photos are point and shoot grade, snapshots. But if you can sieve the good stuff, it's really amazing. The S system can deliver amazing results that I find to be several notches above what the other players are delivering. That sensor/glass combination is unbeatable. If I ever needed MF, I will certainly get the Leica.


May 10, 2013 at 02:35 AM
Mescalamba
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p.2 #2 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


There is quite a bit of real photographes using S2 (or S).

And yes, they are bigger than Hasselblad by quite big margin. Second maker is Phase One, which is doing their best to survive. Pentax status is bit "unknown" ATM, tho its not exactly major player at MF field (but not that small company overall). There is still I think Sinar, but I dont know much about them, certainly they are not big.

Leica actually is big company (and wealthy). Not compared to Canon or Sony, but to MF market, yes.

About that AF. Difference between most MF systems is that AF in Leica case actually works and it works about as good as any regular dSLR AF. Pentax 645D AF is pretty close to it too (and 645D has actually one special benefit, same level weather sealing as K-7 had, only weather sealed MF camera).

Otherwise S system has best lens in MF world. And if you ever glimpsed throu that OVF, you will never forget it (even tho you will wish for that to happen ).

Im not sure about re-inventing MF, cause they did something similar to Olympus 4/3s, just in MF world. While that idea isnt bad (and after all, m4/3s is what 4/3 was supposed to be), usually one buys MF camera cause they need really big sensor and/or a lot of mpix. Neither of that Leica S offers (ofc that sensor is still pretty big).

Its not really medium format, its more like supercharged dSLR. Or at least was until D800 happend. But obviously it has benefit of having same mpix, with bigger sensor = easier to feed with most MF lens. That and S lens are a lot different league than anything for dSLRs today.



May 10, 2013 at 02:43 AM
sflxn
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p.2 #3 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Leica is actually onto something here. They've made some pretty smart assumptions:

1. MF sensors are not progressing fast enough and starting to hit a wall. The MF camera makers are probably not financially able to fund R&D into body and lens improvement fast enough to entice the pro market if sensor progress stalls. FF is rapidly encroaching on MF's megapixel territory.

2. Most MF owners are rich hobbyists. Which brands screams luxury more? Leica, Hasselblad, Phase One?

I see their strategy. I think Leica can become the dominant MF maker as the professional MF market for Phase One and Hasselblad shrinks and all the rich hobbyists switches to Leica. I think they know what they're doing.



May 10, 2013 at 02:44 AM
corposant
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p.2 #4 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


sflxn wrote:
Within 5 years time, we're going to see the next generation of FF lenses from all the players, and those will not be $2k lenses. I think we'll likely see $3-5k prime lenses from all the FF players in the coming years.


If prices for lenses reach that level, I wonder if enthusiasts will still want to pay for them and support further development.



May 10, 2013 at 03:09 AM
edwardkaraa
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p.2 #5 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


corposant wrote:
If prices for lenses reach that level, I wonder if enthusiasts will still want to pay for them and support further development.


+1

Especially if they're the size and weight of the Zeiss 55/1.4.



May 10, 2013 at 03:14 AM
Tariq Gibran
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p.2 #6 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


edwardkaraa wrote:
+1

Especially if they're the size and weight of the Zeiss 55/1.4.


Those systems will be aimed at the Pro market that would view such price/ performance as relatively inexpensive compared to say MF.


Edited on May 10, 2013 at 04:27 AM · View previous versions



May 10, 2013 at 04:23 AM
edwardkaraa
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p.2 #7 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Tariq Gibran wrote:
Those systems will be aimed at the Pro market who would view such price/ performance as relatively inexpensive compared to say MF.


Yep, agreed that for the pro market.

I'm not working professionally anymore, but I have no problem with the pricing of the new Zeiss line. In fact I find it cheap compared to Leica. But I do have a problem with size/weight especially that I'm not getting any younger



May 10, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Tariq Gibran
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p.2 #8 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


I would not care for the size/ weight either. It really wouldn't be much different than a MF rig I guess as far as that goes.

Anything's "cheap" compared to Leica!



May 10, 2013 at 04:31 AM
redisburning
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p.2 #9 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


edwardkaraa wrote:
I'm not working professionally anymore, but I have no problem with the pricing of the new Zeiss line. In fact I find it cheap compared to Leica. But I do have a problem with size/weight especially that I'm not getting any younger


I will carry them for you, if you buy them Edward

on a general note, can we spare the "it's a dentist camera" line? the alt forum has the single highest concentration of rich hobbyists I have ever seen on a photo forum. this place embarrasses even RFF in that regard, and that is a website ostensibly dedicated to a very expensive subset of cameras (have you seen the prices on an S3 2000 lately?).

but seriously who cares? this is usually the one place I dont have to hear "it doesnt matter what gear you use hurr durr" when I want to buy a new lens. can we not lose that, please?

ps before you ask I wish I was a ****ing dentist.



May 10, 2013 at 04:49 AM
edwardkaraa
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p.2 #10 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Point well taken, red. Maybe you can carry the S + lenses for me in the future


May 10, 2013 at 05:05 AM
 

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Tariq Gibran
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p.2 #11 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


redisburning wrote:
the alt forum has the single highest concentration of rich hobbyists I have ever seen on a photo forum. this place embarrasses even RFF in that regard, and that is a website ostensibly dedicated to a very expensive subset of cameras (have you seen the prices on an S3 2000 lately?).

but seriously who cares? this is usually the one place I dont have to hear "it doesnt matter what gear you use hurr durr" when I want to buy a new lens. can we not lose that, please?

ps before you ask I wish I was a ****ing dentist.


I agree with the "who cares" part but I also think the Alt forum has it's share of Pro's, Semi-Pro's, retired Pros, Engineers (who specialize in areas related to optics/ sensors/ cameras), Photo Educators and so on. It's not all Hobbyist, which helps explain the higher end gear and, for the most part, the higher quality of discussion.



May 10, 2013 at 05:16 AM
corposant
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p.2 #12 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Tariq Gibran wrote:
Those systems will be aimed at the Pro market that would view such price/ performance as relatively inexpensive compared to say MF.


How much do you think the prices of Hasselblad or Leica S lenses are determined not only by raw materials/R&D vs. how many they actually plan to sell? I think if DSLR lenses start to reach that sort of pricing, wouldn't a "pro" just buy into the medium format system?

All I am saying is, at some point there have to be diminishing financial returns the more expensive 35mm systems get.



May 10, 2013 at 05:48 AM
Spyro P.
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p.2 #13 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


redisburning wrote:
ps before you ask I wish I was a ****ing dentist.

nah you dont, it's already bad enough you're a photographer

http://au.businessinsider.com/jobs-commit-suicide-2010-10?op=1#1-dentists-are-545-times-more-likely-to-commit-suicide-than-average-13

Photographers are 2.50 times more likely to commit suicide than average
Dentists are 5.45 times more likely to commit suicide than average



May 10, 2013 at 06:30 AM
Emacs
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p.2 #14 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


First mirrorless MF will make any S stuff outdated.


May 10, 2013 at 06:41 AM
carstenw
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p.2 #15 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Oh dear, what a mess.

I think we can safely assume that Leica doesn't lie, but since this is marketing, careful reading is required...

Strange to think of Leica in that way - the larger player capable of "scale". It just doesn't ring true overall.

Right, neither was it stated that way. They are larger and more capable of scale in the medium format digital market.

Ten years ahead! I realize they're referring to MF competition, but they gotta be kidding. Let's take the just released M240 as an example and see which of its features was even up to date (on the release date) comparing to any 2013 P&S.

This was only referring to the medium format digital market, so the comparison with M240 is irrelevant. One might debate the truth of it nonetheless, but so far there are no hard facts to show it wrong, I think.

It is to the best of my knowledge the only MF digital camera to handle like a large 35mm SLR.

Mamiya tried with the ZD camera, which was a failure. I think the other manufacturers took this as a sign that the market didn't want it, rather than that it was a flawed implementation.

Leica S makes other MF gear look cheap.

Maybe if you compare standard lenses, but overall, not really. There are many very expensive lenses and cameras in this market. Leica is at the high end, sure, but the build quality is also way past the Mamiya DF, for example, so this is in line and not unexpected.

Phase One seems to have been smart and worked close with Dalsa and appears to get preferential treatment.

Phase One has used both Kodak and Dalsa in the past, as have others like Sinar. Why do you say that they get preferential treatment?

Wouldn't that be something? A MF camera with the latest and greatest Sony sensor tech available?

I am not aware of much call for that among the real professional photographers who use medium format (I am leaving out faux-professionals like Michael Reichmann and friends, who used plentiful money earned elsewhere to bootstrap/support a second career).

The medium format sensors have "designed" colours in a way that we haven't seen since film, with each manufacturer choosing their own niche. Leaf, for example, has focused on skin tones. There is nothing Sony currently makes which would compete with that. Sony's strength is low noise and features, not necessarily the kind of colour response which drives people to medium format. Anyway, I cannot imagine that Sony has much interest in this market; it is tiny. Hasselblad's Lunar experiment, apart from being an almost certain flop, is more of a desperate bid from Hasselblad at relevance in a tough business.

I am sure that real live view in a medium format sensor would be welcome, especially for the landscapers and architectural photographers who currently use very expensive mechanical contraptions as a substitute (like the Sinar arTec), but I doubt that the crowd would be willing to sacrifice anything in the colour capabilities, so Sony would have to seriously up their game in CFA research, or at least implementation.

They had to start from zero, so it's not necessarily a benefit that you're not a legacy system - yet. I would also think that the non-modular approach and frightening depreciation of the body/sensor combination is something to consider for some potential users.

Exactly right, except that I am almost certain that after 2 years of non-stop sell-out cameras and lenses, Leica has already paid that off. The modular approach is an interesting option, but something that very, very few take advantage of. Even the modular viewfinder is something that the market leader, Phase One, has ditched a long time ago, which doesn't seem to bother their customers. The depreciation is moderate, if you don't hold onto your stuff for too long. Pros can write off this stuff anyway, and they are the primary target for much of medium format.

From what I've read, they have the best lens for sure, but at 2x the prices that Hasselblad and Phase One are asking?

That is a much smaller markup than Leica's typical markup in the 135 arena, so I don't get your point. Leica is very successful (financially) in three areas: rebadged compacts (!), M, and S, so why the question mark?

If Nikon does pull out that 56mp D4x that's rumored, it will be interesting to see how confident Leica is then.

I don't see how that affects Leica. The D800 already offer 36MP to Leica's 37MP, and this hasn't stopped Leica from selling every S body and lens they can build. These are simply different markets, and Leica is niche enough not to be affected. The resolution game is more or less over, IMO, except for the landscape art market, perhaps, where the IQ180 continues to reign supreme.

The sensor in the Leica S2 is much, much smaller than the other MF players.

Depends what you compare. The Leica sensor is roughly the same size as the very popular 44x33mm sensor size. It is much smaller than the full 645 size sensors, yes, but they are also much more expensive. It was never Leica's plan to take over the high-end medium format market, simply to carve out a new niche between 135 and medium format DSLRs.

I had always questioned Leica's decision to go to the MF digital format. As a long time Leica R user, Leica had a ready made following of users to make a digital R10. That was planned for release after the introduction of the S2. But, this was later an abandoned project.

The article starts with this sentence:

"How do you tack when one of your core audiences melts away?"

And according to public knowledge, this is true. The Leica R system could not keep up with the competition, in spite of excellent lenses, and had to be abandoned. It was not possible to catch up, and the existing customers were not keeping it afloat. The investment magnitude was not justified by the expected returns. Not so with the S system, which has turned out to be an excellent choice.

There are several howlers that do him no favours:

'To compensate for this unevenness, medium format lenses were designed to mask the imperfections of an uneven recording surface Ė by not providing peak sharpness.'

'Lenses designed for (medium format) film obviously didnít account for the layers of glass. The result is some degradation of image quality when such lenses are used in digital...The result is a significant difference in image quality.'


I don't see the problem with that quote? Film flatness was very much an issue with medium format. Contax experimented with a 220 vacuum back, which was very well regarded. Clearly, lens design needs to take this into account. Why design a magnificently sharp lens which requires absolute film flatness, when you can't achieve that?

It's like this, they're all running like they're being chased by a pack of wolves. 35mm FF has eaten so much of the pro market that MF has pushed up into ever ridiculously high-end market, with prices to show for it.

MF digital has been very expensive all along, the only significant price movement was to accommodate the newer, larger sensors. It may even be that MF digital is more affordable today than it ever was, exactly the opposite to your claim. In fact, MF film was also very expensive. Look at the 203FE and similar high-end cameras. Not at the level of digital, but as a system, not that far off either.

It's sad they chose this cul-de-sac rather than re-introduce the R series, a la ZE/F.

It has worked out very well for them. Leica is primarily an optics cameras, but they have never made lenses for other companies' systems, this just isn't their DNA. Do we know that the Z lenses have worked out well for Zeiss? The profits can't be that great, with affordable prices combining with expensive manufacturing and materials, and profits split between two partners. I don't see much for Leica to want to emulate there. It works for Zeiss, I suppose.

I had no idea Leica was so poorly managed and informed.

An incredibly blind statement. Leica is worth more today than ever before, and cannot make cameras and lenses fast enough to satisfy their market.

Leica LCA1

Forget Nikon as they are sensor customers, not makers

Nikon doesn't manufacture sensors (which has turned out to be a distinct advantage when comparing to Canon), but they do design sensors. Some of their most successful cameras have been powered by Nikon-designed sensors.

Leica's not really for photographers, it's for dentists/doctors/lawyers who want a bling camera.

If the massively oversimplifying and generally useless stereotype had not already been invented, you would have just done so. Congratulations. Independent thinking is great, you should try it sometime.

I won't comment on Leica since they have a knack for recovering. Your comments on the high end Zeiss is exactly what I think is going to happen as FF 35mm gets pushed by smartphone into ever high end markets.

What? DLSR sales are up this year, even in the face of competition from mirrorless systems. Phones only put pressure on compacts, not DSLRs. More than even medium format, the typical DSLR sold is probably a status symbol. Probably almost all owners of Rebels and such would be better off with some mirrorless.

First mirrorless MF will make any S stuff outdated.

What a vapid statement. Who will make the lenses for it? Medium format, just like any other system camera is all about the lenses, and no one does that better than Leica (although the new Zeiss 55/1.4 may reach that level too?).



May 10, 2013 at 08:46 AM
sirimiri
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p.2 #16 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


Yes, but Phase One did sort of "inherit" the Mamiya 645AF system by acquisition, is it not so? Thus one might argue that passive inertia has led them to this place, rather than active choice.

I was at a gallery show a few months ago, where one of the assistants plainly stated that there is a new Phase body in the works and that it would feature discreet finders. I'll never see that guy again so whether he's the fool or I am...we shall see!

But, I write it here for all to see

As to depreciation schedules, well you've got to have the income to claim the deductions, otherwise you'll be in trouble one day, sooner than later.


carstenw wrote:
Exactly right, except that I am almost certain that after 2 years of non-stop sell-out cameras and lenses, Leica has already paid that off. The modular approach is an interesting option, but something that very, very few take advantage of. Even the modular viewfinder is something that the market leader, Phase One, has ditched a long time ago, which doesn't seem to bother their customers. The depreciation is moderate, if you don't hold onto your stuff for too long. Pros can write off this stuff anyway, and they are the primary target for much of medium format.


sirimiri wrote:
They had to start from zero, so it's not necessarily a benefit that you're not a legacy system - yet. I would also think that the non-modular approach and frightening depreciation of the body/sensor combination is something to consider for some potential users.



May 10, 2013 at 09:05 AM
edwardkaraa
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p.2 #17 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


corposant wrote:
How much do you think the prices of Hasselblad or Leica S lenses are determined not only by raw materials/R&D vs. how many they actually plan to sell? I think if DSLR lenses start to reach that sort of pricing, wouldn't a "pro" just buy into the medium format system?

All I am saying is, at some point there have to be diminishing financial returns the more expensive 35mm systems get.


That was exactly my point, not only pricewise, but also size and weight wise. Past a certain price/weight/size point, I am sure there are more incentives for a working photographer to switch to MF rather than use oversized FF equipment.



May 10, 2013 at 09:19 AM
carstenw
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p.2 #18 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


sirimiri wrote:
Yes, but Phase One did sort of "inherit" the Mamiya 645AF system by acquisition, is it not so? Thus one might argue that passive inertia has led them to this place, rather than active choice.


Their hand was forced. When medium format digital really got started some years ago, the preferred setup was a Hasselblad body and a Phase One back. The problem was that the camera/lens market was hard and the profits not so great, whereas the digital back market was lucrative, so Hasselblad joined with Imacon, who made backs and also film scanners, closing another hole in Hasselblad's portfolio. The problem was that even after this, the pros preferred the Phase One backs, which were arguably better. With the H3D Hasselblad closed this hole, in a tremendously unpopular move, which required matched backs and cameras. The H2/Phase combo kept being most popular for a while, also in rental shops, but with time it was clear that Phase One needed another solution. They partnered with Mamiya, whose digital back attempts had flopped, but Phase didn't have enough control over the cameras, and Mamiya wasn't doing well, so eventually Phase bought Mamiya out of necessity. This partnered the most well regarded back manufacturer with the least well regarded body and lens manufacturer. They have steadily improved the bodies and lenses over time, but the perception remains. Phase needs that super body, and Mamiya can build it, but it hasn't happened yet. It's isn't so trivial, and it costs a bunch to tool up...

I was at a gallery show a few months ago, where one of the assistants plainly stated that there is a new Phase body in the works and that it would feature discreet finders. I'll never see that guy again so whether he's the fool or I am...we shall see!

This has been rumoured for years. Let's see. One of the problems is that Leica has set the standard very high, and Phase surely wants to come out on top... With Phase buying Leaf, the Hy6 is an option, but they don't seem to want to go that way, sadly. I guess it would compete with the Mamiya lineup.

As to depreciation schedules, well you've got to have the income to claim the deductions, otherwise you'll be in trouble one day, sooner than later.

Who doesn't have the income shouldn't get into medium format digital...



May 10, 2013 at 09:28 AM
Beni
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p.2 #19 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


The DF is a horrible body to use but the Leica? No dual dial? What is it, a canon rebel?


May 10, 2013 at 10:11 AM
Makten
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p.2 #20 · Leica S-System and the future of Medium-Format


JaKo wrote:
Ten years ahead! I realize they're referring to MF competition, but they gotta be kidding. Let's take the just released M240 as an example and see which of its features was even up to date (on the release date) comparing to any 2013 P&S.


Still they are 4 years ahead with the M system, since there still are no other smallish FF ICL cameras. Personally I don't care for "features".



May 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM
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