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Leica S mirrorless under development

doccdiamond

Member
Just read an interview in a Swiss online magazine that Stefan Daniel (VP Leica Technology development ?) officially confirmed an S mirrorless camera under development. Recently there was a rumor at leicarumors.com but now it is official. No specs or timeframe so far…
Even the local Leica Store confirmed it today… I wonder if they modify the lenses as well?
 

TechTalk

Active member
Google Translate version and link:

A question about the top model S: A mirrorless S is haunting the rumor mill. What can you say about that?

A mirrorless S is actually a logical progression, so it's not surprising that speculation is making the rounds. Here's the fact: A mirrorless S is in the works, but it's difficult to predict anything further in the future. There are so many impasses with the procurement of materials, assemblies and electronic parts that we are currently unable to make any concrete statements about the time of the market launch of the next S.


https://www-fotointern-ch.translate.goog/archiv/2022/05/22/In conversation with Leica Technical Manager Stefan Daniel
 

Paul Spinnler

Active member
My undersrtanding is that all Leica S lenses will be 100% retro compatible and the investment is very safe and on top of that, clearly, I would expect them to bring out a new range of high end lenses. Think of APO summciron style for S4. The S lenses are no slouch with resolution exceeding 100 mpx, but the S3 lenses were calculated for a mirror format so the new lenses would expectedly be more compact. I would definitely pick up S lenses now as they will still exceed the sensor resolution of the new S and have their own timeless character ... I find the APO SL lenses to be clinical due to perfection; sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. I suppose this will be the closing master piece of Karbe to develop the last S generation alongside any leading designs for the 60 MPX+ era of the M system.

The new sensor will be probably a Sony one, maybe the 100 MPX one given economics of doing again their own thing (expensive!). Would assume something like 2024 ... would also never sell the S3 - it has a unique sensor based off of the Towejazz topology with a dual gain structure. Noise is very low and DR very high and colour science unique. Something for connaisseurs.

The mirrorless S will be the ultimate Leica. It is essentially a camera which will be able to adapt all Leica lenses - imagine that! M, SL, S Mirror, S Mirrorless in a high end body ... I think it will blast away Hassy X ... if they are smart they will price it at 10-15k with "standard" lenses around 5-7k ... let's also hope there is a gem in there, ie a noctilux for the S4, but that will cost a lot ... would assume this is the project of the decade, meaning the new S line will be done be end of the 2020s and then there is the question if they will set it up from the get go to be video friendly (manual zoomable) and a life cycle goal to last through the 2030s ... remember the current S line as we know it was announced in 2009, meaning when the S4 hits the market in 2014 with new lenses it will have had a life cycle of 15 years with the lenses still being fit for purpose!

I really hope that this decade we will see some breakthroughs in dynamic range as evidenced by Arri's new Alexa 35 with real 17 stops, ie more than negative film ...
 
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TechTalk

Active member
The S lenses are no slouch with resolution exceeding 100 mpx
Lens resolution cannot be measured in megapixels. Lens resolution and sensor resolution are independent. The combined (lens + sensor) image resolution is always less than either the lens or sensor resolution because neither resolves with 100%. MTF.

If you use any sensor and change to a higher resolution lens, image resolution increases. If you take any lens and combine it with a higher resolution sensor, image resolution increases.
 

PabloR

Member
well. Actually, take a reflex system and move to mirrorless is a truly piece of shi*

the size, what would you do with the free space of the mirror?

Nikon and canon has done mirrorless from and old reflex system. Error.

once again, Hasselblad has choose the correct path.

Leica S reflex system has born in the mirrorless age. As Phase One XF, first generation of digital reflex in the mirrorless time ?????? while Hasselblad was on their 6th generation, with video, and launching a truly mirrorles size system for the same format than Leica S.

no way, clumsy boys.

shot with your phone, is the future haha
 

Paul Spinnler

Active member
Lens resolution cannot be measured in megapixels. Lens resolution and sensor resolution are independent. The combined (lens + sensor) image resolution is always less than either the lens or sensor resolution because neither resolves with 100%. MTF.

If you use any sensor and change to a higher resolution lens, image resolution increases. If you take any lens and combine it with a higher resolution sensor, image resolution increases.
You can express the resolution the lens was designed for in megapixels. The sensor area of the S is known and by targeting a 100 megapixel sensor resolution you can derive the pixel pitch and therefore the target Nyquist frequency and then you design for MFT50% which is roughly 1/2 Nyquist and then you make sure your lenses more or less hitt that lp/mm requirement up to the edges. This is how Leica designs Lenses - they solve for a target sensor resolution in the future and make sure the optical system can reach the necessary contrast levels. I didn't speak of system MTF.
 

TechTalk

Active member
It's a very common misconception that lenses have some level of "megapixel resolution". They don't. Lens design is concerned with what's in front of the lens and resolving as much subject detail as possible — along with many other design parameters like speed, size, weight, cost, and a host of aberrations to control, etc.

Roger Cicala of Lensrentals wrote about this in pretty easy to understand terms in an appendix to an article. I'm lazy and he's a better writer, so I'll just quote some of it and link the article. The relevant portion is at the bottom of the linked article...

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2019/10/more-ultra-high-resolution-mtf-experiments

"I get asked several times a week if this lens or that is ‘capable of resolving’ this number of megapixels. Some people seem to think a lens should be ‘certified’ for a certain number of pixels or something. That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of it works.

Lots of people think that will be ‘whichever is less of the camera and lens.’ For example, my camera can resolve 61 megapixels, but my lens can only resolve 30 megapixels, so all I can see is 30 megapixels.

That’s not how it works. How it does work is very simple math: System MTF = Camera MTF x Lens MTF. MTF maxes at 1.0 because 1.0 is perfect. So let’s say my camera MTF is 0.7, and my lens MTF is 0.7, then my system MTF is 0.49 (Lens MTF x Camera MTF). This is actually a pretty reasonable system.

Now, let’s say I get a much better camera with much higher resolution; the camera MTF is 0.9. The system MTF with the same lens also increases: 0.7 X 0.9 = 0.63. On the other hand, I could do the same thing if I bought a much better lens and kept it on the same camera. The camera basically never ‘out resolves the lens.’

If you have a reasonably good lens and/or a reasonably good camera, upgrading either one upgrades your images. If you ask something like ‘is my camera going to out resolve this lens’ you sound silly."
 

rdeloe

Well-known member
It's a very common misconception that lenses have some level of "megapixel resolution". They don't. Lens design is concerned with what's in front of the lens and resolving as much subject detail as possible — along with many other design parameters like speed, size, weight, cost, and a host of aberrations to control, etc.

Roger Cicala of Lensrentals wrote about this in pretty easy to understand terms in an appendix to an article. I'm lazy and he's a better writer, so I'll just quote some of it and link the article. The relevant portion is at the bottom of the linked article...

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2019/10/more-ultra-high-resolution-mtf-experiments

"I get asked several times a week if this lens or that is ‘capable of resolving’ this number of megapixels. Some people seem to think a lens should be ‘certified’ for a certain number of pixels or something. That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of it works.

Lots of people think that will be ‘whichever is less of the camera and lens.’ For example, my camera can resolve 61 megapixels, but my lens can only resolve 30 megapixels, so all I can see is 30 megapixels.

That’s not how it works. How it does work is very simple math: System MTF = Camera MTF x Lens MTF. MTF maxes at 1.0 because 1.0 is perfect. So let’s say my camera MTF is 0.7, and my lens MTF is 0.7, then my system MTF is 0.49 (Lens MTF x Camera MTF). This is actually a pretty reasonable system.

Now, let’s say I get a much better camera with much higher resolution; the camera MTF is 0.9. The system MTF with the same lens also increases: 0.7 X 0.9 = 0.63. On the other hand, I could do the same thing if I bought a much better lens and kept it on the same camera. The camera basically never ‘out resolves the lens.’

If you have a reasonably good lens and/or a reasonably good camera, upgrading either one upgrades your images. If you ask something like ‘is my camera going to out resolve this lens’ you sound silly."
I was just looking for that article the other day! Now it's bookmarked.
 

TechTalk

Active member
I really hope that this decade we will see some breakthroughs in dynamic range as evidenced by Arri's new Alexa 35 with real 17 stops, ie more than negative film ...
Thanks for mentioning the Alexa 35. I wasn't aware of it. What Arri did 12 years ago with the original Alexa sensor and its simultaneous dual gain readout has been the standard for comparison in digital cinema until now. Looking forward to reading up on the new design.
 

Paul Spinnler

Active member
I am sorry this is not correct and you are massively confounding things ...

Lens systems have in the physical realm clearly measurable contrast and this is usually tested / measured in contrast of line pairs per mm. This can be measured by very specialized equipment which lens manufacturers have (and before that calculated in lens design software which will always have a higher theoretical output than the real prototypes). Imatest produced chrome on glass targets for example for this purpose of measuring line pairs (https://www.imatest.com/docs/sharpness/).

When one states that a certain lens system resolves a certain amount of megapixels there is always an underlying sensor size which is implicitly thought about. Because: pixels (ie max. line pairs) * sensor dimensions equal megapixels.

In the case of S lenses it is the sensor area of the S sensor. So what you then do when designing a lens is that you define a certain amount of resolution the sensor (the "camera") might maximally have in the future, eg 100 megapixels from the perspective of the year 2009. Of course lens design has other parameters like in reality most importantly the achievable market price, dimensions (which is why we don't have a Noctilux 90 for example), requirements around materiality, sealing, focus system, etc.

This implies a certain pixel size given you know the size of the S sensor which then implies a maximum of line pairs per mm you could record given the amount of pixels vertically and horizontally. In 35mm for example the SL's target pixel pitch of a 100 megapixels in terms of target sensor resolution equates to a pitch of 2.9μ m. The resulting Nyquist frequency is 172lp/mm and if you look at the MTF chart of SL 2.0 35 APO you will see that it reaches c. 50% MTF tangentially with c.74lp/mm.

Optical systems increased in measurable contrast significantly over the years - the 138mm Rodenstock has much higher resolution (contrast) compared to a lens 20 years ago. Or the SK35 XL vs. the 38 XL for that matter.

So the S lenses were designed to resolve with enough contrast c. 50% MTF across the S frame in view of a 100 megapixel sensor ... so what you don't get is that the megapixels refer to a relative size of a sensor size for which a lens system is designed for.

Regarding the quote above - this is something else. He is just talking about the theoretical system MTF and how the relationship between lens and camera MTF is; the reality is that lens designs can be designed to resolve higher LP / mm (which you can plot in terms of contrast via the MTF plot) - it just takes more (larger) lens elements, different types of glass, coatigns, higher tolerances, etc. to achieve higher LP / mm and depending on the reference sensor size you can then easily express the lens system's resolution in terms of megapixels for that capture device as long as you know its dimensions. You also need to understand that there is an element of a definition whereby you say that a certain threshold of contrast, e.g. 50%, is required for one to say that the lens resolves "sharply" a certain amount of line pairs on an MTF plot.

What this means is that if you take any lens and use it on increasingly higher megapixel sensors (theoretically) you will see that if the scene is detailed enough (ie not a white wall, but sth contrasty like very fine line patterns on white) that at one point the contrast between the lines and the white will decrease below a threshold where we would consider the lens not resolving the details enough anymore or being "unsharp*. The newest lenses can resolve to a much higher standard than older lenses. You can express this threshold as megapixels in reference to a capture device size (35mm, 54x40mm, etc.).

The statement that the Leica S lenses resolve c.100 megapixels comes directly from Mr. Karbe with whom I discussed this. And the Leica optics team has been quoted on occasions to say that the APO SL lenses resolve 100 megapixels up to the edges and even more at the centre ... ie on a smaller sensor that the S! In that regard the APO SL line is unmatched to my knowledge in 35mm consumer lens land. An APO SL 50 will stay sharp even with a 150 megapixel sensor in the middle and up to a 100 megapixel to the edges according to the published MTF plots. Which is nothing short of astounding IMHO.

Best
Paul


It's a very common misconception that lenses have some level of "megapixel resolution". They don't. Lens design is concerned with what's in front of the lens and resolving as much subject detail as possible — along with many other design parameters like speed, size, weight, cost, and a host of aberrations to control, etc.

Roger Cicala of Lensrentals wrote about this in pretty easy to understand terms in an appendix to an article. I'm lazy and he's a better writer, so I'll just quote some of it and link the article. The relevant portion is at the bottom of the linked article...

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2019/10/more-ultra-high-resolution-mtf-experiments

"I get asked several times a week if this lens or that is ‘capable of resolving’ this number of megapixels. Some people seem to think a lens should be ‘certified’ for a certain number of pixels or something. That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of it works.

Lots of people think that will be ‘whichever is less of the camera and lens.’ For example, my camera can resolve 61 megapixels, but my lens can only resolve 30 megapixels, so all I can see is 30 megapixels.

That’s not how it works. How it does work is very simple math: System MTF = Camera MTF x Lens MTF. MTF maxes at 1.0 because 1.0 is perfect. So let’s say my camera MTF is 0.7, and my lens MTF is 0.7, then my system MTF is 0.49 (Lens MTF x Camera MTF). This is actually a pretty reasonable system.

Now, let’s say I get a much better camera with much higher resolution; the camera MTF is 0.9. The system MTF with the same lens also increases: 0.7 X 0.9 = 0.63. On the other hand, I could do the same thing if I bought a much better lens and kept it on the same camera. The camera basically never ‘out resolves the lens.’

If you have a reasonably good lens and/or a reasonably good camera, upgrading either one upgrades your images. If you ask something like ‘is my camera going to out resolve this lens’ you sound silly."
 
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The mirrorless S will be the ultimate Leica.
Arguably, we have that today with the Leica SL family - via adapters pretty much anything can be attached - M, R, L and S. Obviously the Leica S lenses are short-changed a bit since it's a 36x24mm sensor vs their native 45x30mm sensor.

Whatever Leica cooks up, price is going to be a major obstacle. WIth a SL2 at $6995 USD, where does that put a Leica S mirrorless - $10-12k? Do they continue with the S3 price point? Meanwhile a GFX 100s is $6k and a X1D II is $5750.

Curious to see what Leica cooks up, but I'm guessing it will come with some epic sticker shock.
 

MGrayson

Subscriber and Workshop Member
On the debate over the theoretical impossibility of a lens/sensor sharpness measure, I'll add only this:
In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.
 
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glenerrolrd

Workshop Member
Arguably, we have that today with the Leica SL family - via adapters pretty much anything can be attached - M, R, L and S. Obviously the Leica S lenses are short-changed a bit since it's a 36x24mm sensor vs their native 45x30mm sensor.

Whatever Leica cooks up, price is going to be a major obstacle. WIth a SL2 at $6995 USD, where does that put a Leica S mirrorless - $10-12k? Do they continue with the S3 price point? Meanwhile a GFX 100s is $6k and a X1D II is $5750.

Curious to see what Leica cooks up, but I'm guessing it will come with some epic sticker shock.
Leica has found (like most other ultra premium products ) there is little if any price resistance . Once you get beyond a certain price point it no longer matters . The GFX and X1D are dipping into the high end of the mirrorless 35mm(FF) range . There a small price difference really matters . Not so with the Leica gear ....anything in that $10-20K range will sell and with lenses now at the $7-10K range .. a decent 4 lens kit costs over $50K .
The key is that the gear really has to be "The Best" or at least perceived as the best . This, of course , is often based on the type of photography you enjoy and your subjective feel for the gear and the aesthetics of its files .

Fuji , Hasselblad ,Leica and Phase One have each developed vastly different product/pricing strategies for the medium format market . Fuji for sure wants the volume that low pricing brings and really wants to pull from the huge base of high end FF (Sony,Canon and Nikon ) users . HB wants an elegant , uber high quality low volume product line that is not state of the art but excels at traditional image quality . Phase One wants the cost is no object ...the very best image quality possible for those that can afford it . Leica s S is the super premium ,low volume ,high cost medium format for those that appreciate the Leica lenses and the brand tradition .

Each has a place in the medium format market and there really is no wrong answer . Not sure HB should be competing directly against Fuji ..seems like a losing proposition . But Leica will surely not try to line up against Fuji or Hasselblad .
 

TechTalk

Active member
In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.
It's always a pleasure to see a pearl of wisdom threaded with a pearl of wit!

I occasionally make the effort to present some fact for people to contemplate with the theory (and hope) in mind that it will make some difference in their understanding of a subject. In practice, it often makes little difference. The practical lesson gained from experience is that it's best to say what I have to say and move on and avoid getting trapped on a merry-go-round of debate. It seems to work out better for everyone.
 

TechTalk

Active member
...Fuji , Hasselblad ,Leica and Phase One have each developed vastly different product/pricing strategies for the medium format market...

...Each has a place in the medium format market and there really is no wrong answer...
I'm quite pleased with the variety of systems that exist today in the medium format market. The broader the differences in their designs and concepts, the better I like it.
 
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